Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I hope you enjoy this fun holiday.  What are you doing today?

Tonight, I'm going into New York City with friends to attend the annual Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village.  It's a raucous affair with wild costumes.

I came up with a costume idea just yesterday.  I was so sad on Wednesday when the K.C. Royals lost the World Series.  That defeat weighed on me and suddenly -- pop! -- a costume idea occurred to me.  I can be a Zombie Royals Fan!  A Royals fan who's dead but still walking.  There's some truth in that.

The best part is I already had a Royals t-shirt and cap from my visit to their stadium five years ago, so the costume didn't cost a dime.  Only some effort which was fun.

What do you think?  Are you scared?  :-)

Birthday Celebration

My birthday is next Monday (Nov. 3rd).  I'm turning... *gasp* ... old.

To celebrate, I'm inviting three of my best friends -- who all happen to be bloggers -- to dinner at a fancy restaurant.  One of my friends (Meghan) lives in Philly, so she's coming early, spending the day with me and sleeping overnight.  The other friends live in Brooklyn (Michi) and Queens (Megan) which, for those of you unfamiliar with New York, are outer boroughs that are technically part of New York City but outside of Manhattan.  They are about an hour's drive from me.

Last year I had a big birthday party attended by acquaintances and found it oddly unsatisfying.  None of those people know about my transgender nature and I felt isolated.  I felt like I couldn't confide in them and that erected a Berlin Wall between us.  This year, I want to spend time with close friends who understand and accept me for who I am.  That's important.

Do you know MeghanMichi or Megan?  If not, check out their super-cool blogs.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Going Out With A Bang

I can't remember the last time I met anyone as charming as the Two Birds, Megan & Nora.  They are so nice I want to become their fourth sister.  (They already have three.)

We ate dinner together tonight and the conversation never stopped.  They said such interesting things.  Megan & Nora have smart perspectives and express them in entertaining ways.  They're the kind of people you really want as friends.  (My fingers are crossed!)

They informed me that beneath its polite exterior, "Minnesota nice" behavior sometimes masks passive aggression.  Wikipedia said the same thing but I didn't believe it until Megan & Nora explained it to me.

I promised Nora I wouldn't mention how bad she is with chopsticks.  So I won't say it.  If you learn that, you didn't hear it from me.  :-)

Oh, and did I mention they gave me a scarf?  A very pretty one.  You'll see it soon.

I'm trying to lure these exotic birds to New York with offers of motorcycle rides, theater tickets and fancy birdseed.  I hope the invitation works.  The rest of you are equally invited to visit The Capitol Of The World and hang out with me.  One never has too many friends.


I'm going to gush about my friend Ashley so, if hearing about that is not your thing, move along.  Thank you.

I attended Ashley's Halloween Party last night and had a blast.  Ashley dressed up as Veronica Lake and she nailed it.  The resemblance was uncanny, from the slinky lace gown to the peek-a-boo hairstyle.

The party room was festively filled with Halloween decorations, including spooky pictures and hanging objects.  Ashley made lots of delicious food and desserts.  We played games and shoot pool.  I got to meet Ashley's boyfriend and other guests.  Everyone was jovial and in good cheer.

Before the party, there was buzz on the Internet that BeyoncĂ© might show up.  I'm not at liberty to disclose exactly what happened but some of the male guests were told to put a ring on it...

After the party, I was privileged to spend a few hours with Ashley.  Our conversations touched on interesting and often serious subjects.  We learned more about each other and confirmed that what we already believe is absolutely true.

In George Orwell's allegorical novel "Animal Farm," the official line is that everyone is equal but the startling truth is that some animals "are more equal than others."  In my life, Ashley is more equal than others.  Since the bud of our friendship, I sensed something special about her.  Sure, she's super-intelligent and hysterically funny but I'm talking about something deeper.  Ashley has a rare profundity that resonates with me.  She's mysterious in the most alluring way.  Her appeal is as ineffable as it is intense.  Ashley projects wistfulness that borders on dolor so deep you want to hug her and make her happy.  Clearly, Ashley stands apart from the crowd.  Without trying or even being conscious of it, Ashley emits a strong magnetic pull.

That... and she's fun.  Ashley makes me laugh; she makes me smile; she makes me think.  I enjoy hearing her thoughts on every subject we discuss.

As thoughtful as she is intriguing, Ashley gave each guest a bag of goodies to take home.  Along with tasty cookies packaged in Fall wrapping, mine had a vampiric rubber-ducky and cute skeleton.

Travelling from New York to Minnesota is certainly a big deal but, without hesitation, it was worth it.  Close friends deserve your best efforts.

What are you doing for Halloween?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Minnesota Nice

It is natural to become accustomed to whatever your environment offers.  For example, when people around you are harried and unfriendly, you expect people to be harried and unfriendly.  That is the case in New York.  As much as I love my hometown, people in general are anxious, rushed and usually indifferent to strangers.  When pressed, they'll even snarl at you.

That attitude is expressed in a local joke. How do you ask for the time in New York?  You go up to someone and say, "Excuse me, Sir  Could you please tell me the time or should I just go fuck myself?"

So it is a culture shock for me to visit Minnesota.  The people here are so different.  They smile as if they know you.  They're friendly for no good reason.  The first few times it happened yesterday, I was unnerved and reflexively grabbed my wallet.  I wondered, "What's the scam?"  In New York, if someone focuses on you with friendliness, they're probably planning to steal your money.

But here they were just being nice!  How odd.  How pleasant.

I mentioned this to Beth and she used a phrase I haven't heard before - "Minnesota nice."  I looked it up and discovered the phrase even has its own meaning on Wikipedia.  That section explains: "Minnesota nice is the stereotypical behavior of people born and raised in Minnesota to be courteous, reserved, and mild-mannered. The cultural characteristics of Minnesota nice include a polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation. It can also refer to traffic behavior, such as slowing down to allow another driver to enter a lane in front of the other person."
Toto, we're not in New York any more...  Each of these behaviors is the opposite of what you expect from people in the Big Apple.
I had a wonderful time visiting Beth.  I met her charming husband Nate and adorable little Ollie.  They're a lovely family.  I visited their home which reminds me strongly of the house I grew up in (e.g., it has a finished basement, used for socializing).  Nate's hobby is brewing beer and he's as passionate about that as I am for motorcycling. 
Nate taught himself the craft of brewing beer and has become very skilled at it.  He brews a variety of different flavors.  He even had a blog about his hobby which, though now dormant, has good information on it.  Nate and Beth are deservedly proud of a full-sized bar Nate built from scratch in their basement; it has seven  taps for beer to flow out of kegs hidden beneath.  The bar is beautifully decorated with real tile and even has polished labels above each tap describing the specific flavor of the beer.  I tried both Raspberrry Porter and Ginger Snap-flavored beers; both were delicious.
Last week, Nate and Beth had an Oktoberfest party in their basement with 30 of their friends.  Beth said they have one every year but skipped last year due to her pregnancy.

Here are pictures of their basement-bar pulled from Nate's blog:

 You quickly get a sense of people when meeting them in person.  Beth showed me her neighborhood, including where her extended family grew up and lives.  She told me about her choir-singing, her job and co-workers, and her friends.  Open and friendly, Beth showed genial hospitality to an out-of-towner and displayed an easy-going nature.  We capped the visit with a terrific meal at a nice restaurant, during which I was introduced to a tasty local beer from Surly Brewing Co.  (I was disappointed to learn that you can't buy Surly beer outside of the region.)
Meeting Beth, Nate and Ollie was a great way to begin my trip to this foreign land.  Now I just need to find a Currency Exchange booth to convert my New York bucks into local Minnesota money.  I hear their bills are designed to be snow-resistant.  :-)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Down Under In Oz!

The magical pink boxing gloves continue their journey around the world. Today, they are in Australia. Yes, the Southern Hemisphere! How cool is that?!

My friend Luan has an attractive blog (Green Tea And Cupcakes) and she wanted a crack at wearing the gloves. She did a terrific job. Her outfit, background and even makeup beautifully complement the gloves. And the big smile on her face is proof of the joy this project can spread.

Go visit Luan's blog and say hello!