Monday, April 18, 2016

It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood...

The weather was really nice today. Warm, low 70's, just the right weather for a nice walk. My first excursion was an eight block walk to Wawa for cigarettes. I decided to do something today I hadn't done since I've been here. Since it was so nice and warm, instead of my standard jeans and t-shirt/sweatshirt combo, I wore a pretty light dress I got from Old Navy.

It's sooo much more comfortable to wear a dress instead of pants on a hot day. It makes walking easier too. That leisurely stroll took about an hour, with another half hour or so waiting at Koch's Deli for a truly awesome hot corned beef hoagie. Koch's is so popular that you inevitably end up waiting a while to get your sandwich, but it's so worth it.

When I got home, I ate my sandwich and after a little while I decided I wanted some booze. At first I'd planned on picking up a six-pack of beer, but just my luck the place on Walnut Street a couple of blocks from the apartment only sells by the case. Fuck that. Even if I could fit a case of beer in my fridge, I just don't want that much beer around. I'm fat enough, thank you, and I refuse to drink light beer because most of it tastes like piss water.

So, off to destination #2, an actual liquor store on Chestnut, a couple of blocks in the other direction. I ended up coming home from there with a large bottle of pre-mixed Margaritas. That works.

Today was the most pleasant day in Philly weatherwise since I moved here. I did a lot of walking and got plenty of sunshine and exercise. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Two Down, Two To Go

Today I did something that I knew it had to be done, but it hurt my heart to do it. I sold my RAV4.

I fucking loved that car, but I didn't really have a choice. I can't drive two cars, and as much as I loved the RAV, it doesn't make any sense to keep the car with 193K miles on it and sell the one with 51K.

Even though I have to give up my favorite of all the cars I've ever owned, the Corolla is a pretty decent substitute, especially now that I have a Sirius radio installed. It's in good shape, drives well, and has a 6-disc CD player, perfect for those long drives from Philly to central Jersey. It's also an automatic and while I loved the 5-speed manual transmission in the RAV, the Corolla's automatic is much easier to deal with driving in and around Philly especially. The RAV was a great car for Jersey, but not so great for living in a big city like Philadelphia.

Bon voyage, my baby. I hope your next owner treats you well.


Now that the RAV is dealt with, I have to get the Corolla titled and registered in Pennsylvania. I've already got PA insurance on it, but now I have to go to the New Jersey DMV, transfer the title from my mother to me and then take that to PennDOT and title and register it here. This, I know, is going to cost me even more time and money. With every move, there's another fee to be paid. I can't wait until I'm finally done with this crap. 

Oh yeah, and there's still the birth certificate to deal with. I'm going to order a certified copy of my name change judgment (because there's no way in hell I'm parting with the original) and mail that in along with the other necessary documents and a check (of course) to finally get that changed.

I did finally get my new passport in the mail the other day so that should help to smooth over any ID issues I may have to deal with in the meantime.

I think once all that's done I'm going to buy myself a big bottle of tequila, some margarita mix, and roll myself a nice, big fatty to celebrate. Hell, I've earned it.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Oy Fucking Vey

So I'm sitting here writing this at a quarter to four in the morning because the guy I share a kitchen with had the bright idea to heat up pizza at 3am without using a baking tray or foil. So of course, on top of him waking me up from a sound sleep the cheese dripped and charred the bottom of the oven, filling the apartment with smoke and the stink of burnt pizza.

I turned the thing off, but by then it was too late. The entire apartment is now filled with a haze and so I have no choice but to sit here now with the windows open when the temperature is around freezing outside.

The oven is now unusable of course. He's either going to clean that shit up tomorrow or I'll be having a conversation with the landlord. He didn't even bother to check on it while it was heating. It could have easily started a grease fire and burned the whole fucking place down.


Apparently he's mistaking this apartment for a college dorm room. One way or another, he will be disabused of that notion and quickly, because this shit ain't happening a second time, even if I have to install a hook and eye to keep him out once I go to bed.

This is my home and I will not put up with this shit.

On the positive side, I had a very interesting and encouraging phone call with a friend I hadn't spoken to in a while earlier this evening. More work, very interesting and personally satisfying work, may be in the offing. Too early to know any more at this point, but the possibilities are definitely intriguing. Hopefully I'll know more soon. Suddenly, it's going to be a busy weekend for me...that is, assuming I can stay awake after dealing with this oven nonsense.

Well, I think enough of the smoke is gone, and I'm inebriated enough, that I'm going to try to go back to sleep, if I can. I usually have a hard time sleeping when I'm pissed off and that is definitely the case right now.

Goddess save me from fucking kids.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Being City Girl

So, I'm very proud of myself today. I accomplished stuff.

Setting out from the apartment at about 11:30 or so, I walked over to a nearby wash and fold where you can do your laundry or have them do it for you for 75 cents a pound. Normally I would do my own laundry in the machines in the basement of my building, but they've been broken for a while now. I just don't have the time to sit in a laundromat doing it myself right now, but I must get it done. I asked them if they'd use special laundry detergent and color-safe bleach I bought myself because I have a very high sensitivity to the regular stuff and wearing stuff washed in it makes me itch like crazy. The lady there agreed to do it, so I'll bring a pile of stuff over there tomorrow.

After that, I took a several block walk to Everlasting Tattoo over on 43rd and Pine where I got my semicolon freshened up. It had lost a little color in the middle of both the colon and the dot:

On the way back toward the apartment, I made a major discovery. A little hole-in-the-wall Jewish deli  at 43rd and Spruce that absolutely kicks ass. I have a feeling I'll be using them a lot.

After stopping at home and eating the delicious roast beef hoagie I bought at Koch's Deli, I took a quick trip to the supermarket a block away to pick up a few things, then it was back home, done with my errands for the day.

It's interesting how I'm still in the stage where I'm discovering new things about my neighborhood almost every time I go out. I can't wait til the weather warms up a bit so I can do this more frequently.

I must admit I've surprised myself with how quickly and easily I'm re-adapting to urban living. It's been almost 32 years since I lived in a major city (I'm not sure if a city with one main drag and not much of a real downtown like Atlantic City really qualifies), but I haven't had many real problems adjusting. There have been some surprises and unexpected moments along the way to be sure, but nothing I couldn't handle. Honestly, I feel more at home in Philly than I ever did in North Brunswick, as if this, or at least a place like this, is where I belong.

So yeah, I think I'm a city girl now, in a way I've never been before. Last time, I was still living as a guy. This time, I'm me, and it feels right, in a way it never has before.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

Bigotry or Stupidity? You Decide.

I bet you thought this was another post about my Pennsylvania driver's license, right? Well, not exactly.

I originally began the process of updating my New York City birth certificate in order to make it easier to get my Pennsylvania driver's license, but I managed to accomplish that goal without it. Still, it would make life easier all around if my birth certificate has an F on it, and even if I never use it for anything I believe it's appropriate to have it done.

 It was while I was still trying to get the driver's license done that I took my manila envelope with all my identity documents to a huge old office building on Worth Street in downtown Manhattan. It wasn't an easy trip for me. Not only did I have to spend the better part of three hours getting there, I had to go into an area of the city I hadn't been in since before the towers fell.

When I was a teenage punk rocker living in Manhattan, I worked as a messenger for an insurance brokerage. It was 1980 and of course, unlike today there was no such thing as an electronic signature then so all legal documents, such as the insurance binders my brokerage produced for its clients, had to be signed by hand. My job was to take these binders downtown from the brokerage in midtown on Madison Avenue and have them signed by the representatives of the insurance companies headquartered downtown in the Wall Street area.

My first stop of the day was always the World Trade Center. I knew those buildings like the back of my hand, and I knew the people who worked in them. I was there every weekday morning for at least a couple of hours getting binders signed on various floors of both towers before moving on to other brokerages in the area.

When the towers fell 21 years later, it felt to me like part of my youth had been stolen from me. Even after all these years, I still haven't worked up the courage to visit ground zero.

As the cab approached the area, all I could focus on was the Freedom Tower as it loomed higher above the other buildings ahead. As I'd expected, it was an unsettling feeling, like I'd returned to a familiar place that at the same time was completely different. I wasn't at all disappointed when I got out of the cab at my destination and other buildings blocked it from view.

Upon entering 125 Worth Street, I was directed to a line for those wishing to change their birth certificates to have my documents checked before joining yet another line to actually have it done. I waited on this line for the better part of an hour, and then the clerk checking papers told me that I needed to have a copy of my name change petition as well as a copy of the actual judgment in order for it to be processed.

As I left the building, I looked south and briefly considered walking the several blocks in that direction to visit Ground Zero and finally pay my respects to people and a place that were an integral part of my life for a while. In the end, I walked up to the corner, flagged down a cab, and headed back to Penn Station to catch a train back to central New Jersey, where my car was parked. I just wasn't ready.

A few days later, I decided that even though I'd already gotten my Pennsylvania license, it was still a good idea to change my birth certificate. I called the organization that had published the instructions I'd followed to complete the process, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) and see if that clerk was right or, as had been the case with Philly, he had given me bad information due to either ignorance or bigotry.

I spoke to one of the lawyers there, and she told me that I shouldn't have even bothered to go to Worth Street but rather I should do it by mail. She also told me that the clerk was wrong, I didn't need a copy of the petition, but I did need to get a certified copy of the judgment because they'd keep it and I didn't want to give up the original.

So here we go again.

This is turning out to be a fairly expensive proposition. Between fees paid to various agencies and travel expenses to update my driver's license, passport, and birth certificate, I estimate that this will end up costing me somewhere in the neighborhood of about $400...and with the exception of changing my license from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, this is just to update already existing documents to reflect current information. Renewing my passport, because I asked for expedited service when I thought I'd need it as ID to get the license done, cost me $170 plus postage and photo fees all by itself. Nice little racket they got going there. At least I know that check has already been cashed so I expect my passport soon.

So now the next step is to order, and of course pay for, a certified copy of my name change judgment and send that off to NYC with yet another check.

One down, two to go.

I can't imagine what I'd do if, like so many other trans folks, I didn't have the resources to finance this little operation. Something's just not right about this whole process.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Taking A Day Off and Then, A Miracle

I've really been annoyed about this whole driver's license thing, and so I decided to call a lawyer friend who handles trans-relevant legal issues and see if she had any advice for me as to how to deal with it. Her response wasn't the one I expected. She believes that the people at the PennDOT agency I've been going to have been intentionally discriminating against me because I'm trans and suggested I try a different agency. That's what I did today, but by the time I spoke to her it was too late in the day to get it done yesterday, plus I needed to deposit my rent check.

So, for those reasons and my frazzled nerves, I decided to take the day off...well, sort of.

First, I went to the bank and deposited my rent check. Then I went to the local post office and applied for passport renewal. After that, I went home and had lunch. A while later, I decided that since I had basically nothing to do for the rest of the day, I'd do something I'd wanted to do for a while: upgrade my phone.

I've had an LG Optimus L90 for a long time now, and I haven't been happy with it for a while. It only has 8 gig of memory and so I was constantly having to delete stuff if I wanted to put new apps on there. So I went to the local T-Mobile store and got myself a Samsung Galaxy S7 with 32 GB memory. I love the thing. I also got myself a charger case and they threw in a set of Beats headphones.

All in all, I did about a mile or so of walking to and from the store, plus about 3/4 of a mile to and from the bank and the post office earlier in the day. I always do better when I have a goal in mind rather than just walking for the sake of just getting some exercise.


Today I woke up early and drove out to the PennDOT agency on the other side of town. It was like night and day. Seriously.

After a 20 minute ride, I walk in and get a number which is called before I even have time to sit down. I present all my ID, the same ID I presented at the other office, and several minutes later, I walk out of the agency with this:

Amazing. I'll get my official permanent license in the mail sometime in the next couple of weeks.

So the next step is to get my car registered and insured in PA. I'll start on that process next week. 

The difference between the way they handled my license at these different offices is truly stunning. I'm inclined to believe that my lawyer friend was right and the real issue here wasn't my ID but rather the anti-trans bigotry of those who work at the downtown office. Either that, or they're just stupid and didn't know how to handle a license for a trans person, which I find a bit difficult to believe.

So, new phone, new license, warm and sunny spring weather in Philly. Maybe things are looking up.