Monday, May 21, 2018

Lindsey/Magda: Age-Appropriate

The air-travel business can be weird, its own little culture that's kind of old-fashioned (to be polite) and sexist in ways that show up in strange ways even if you're not us.  For example, about a month ago, Harmon started wearing skirts to work at every opportunity, and minis at that, a couple inches above the knee.  I was kind of excited to see the change, because even my boyfriend finally accepting that he's got great legs is not exactly the best way a relationship can go, I figured that maybe him being more cool with the present shape of his body might mean we could be more at ease hanging out together, even if it's doing mother-daughter stuff.

Nope.  Apparently, short skirts are a privilege that flight attendants get after they've gone through a probationary period, and it's not just that Harmon can be more than a little status-conscious, but pilots and other airline/airport staff use it to identify who might be young and wide-eyed.  It's actually not unusual for some women to stick with lower hemlines to continue attracting that sort of interest, but that's not Harmon.  I was a bit surprised that this was the tradeoff he went for, but apparently it's gotten some persistent group of guys on his back, even if the cost is passengers giving him more of that sort of attention. 

Myself, I was getting Magda's annual physical, which was a couple hours filled with tricky questions.  Do I find myself getting tired more easily than I did a year ago?  Yeah, but I was in my twenties a year ago!

I kid, but I do kind of kick myself for not doing it when I first arrived in Oakland after the Inn and not dragging Harmon along.  It seems like an obvious, sensible first step to living someone else's life, although I guess a lot of the time people aren't ready to be poked and prodded and have all those changes made real in clinical terms.  Heck, I might have considered being off this one and leaving it for the real Magda if I'd realized that the doctor was going to advise scheduling a mammogram.

There's a part of me that's kind of upset that, paging through the blog, it doesn't seem like anyone who started out as a guy has been subjected to one of those (only Tyler seems to have hit the right window, but apparently "Judith" was spared).  I'm not sure whether it will be better or worse in twenty years when my real body has enough miles on it for one to be recommended, since I'm not so busty.

I wound up joking about this with some of the other middle-aged ladies at the airport while we were having lunch (well, not the "my real body" part), saying it was awful and we shouldn't put up with it.  Someone saw a guy with a vendor's badge stiffening and asked if women taking about they're bodies made him uncomfortable, and he just said no, but that a mammogram saved his sister's life, which changed the discussion a bit.  Didn't make it bad, though, especially when I informed him that the doctor didn't find any sort of lump.  He was pretty cool about not rising to the bait that the other ladies waved in front of him where my breasts were concerned.

I ran into him again the next day when I was grabbing a Diet Coke from his newsstand, and we had a few minutes to talk.  I felt a little strange when he complimented my English and accent, since he'd been in the country roughly the same length of time as the real Magda and still messed it up occasionally, but given that I've talked to her on the phone and can probably only tell that she's an immigrant because I already knew, it's okay, I guess. 

It got busy, he asked if I wanted to pick the conversation we were having up after work, and I said yes without realizing I'd just made a date.  I was about to try and find a way to ball or, but Harmon texted to say he'd been assigned to a flight, and I kind of figured, better than sitting home alone.  It's not like anything was going to happen.

I can't pretend that I didn't feel a little excited as I ditched my uniform and impulsively grabbed a skirt, camisole, and cardigan rather than the jeans and sweater that had been my first intention.  I want really trying to impress this guy, but it had kind of felt different from the others who hit on me/Magda, and I kind of didn't want to say he wasn't worth the effort while still not doing enough to make me feel bad about doing this for someone other than my boyfriend (or at least the guy who will be my boyfriend again in a couple of months).  I apologized when I returned to the living room - I'd offered him a drink, but he doesn't touch alcohol - and he said it was nothing.

We found a nice place to eat - vegetarian - and chatted.  His kids are in college and couldn't wait to get out of the house, so he thought it must be nice to have "Alicia" still around.  It didn't take a whole lot of fusing the details to say I appreciated it but it was certainly a different dynamic.  He bragged about his kids a lot, got on the subject of traffic and public transportation, and similar stuff.  He was a bit surprised at how easily I swiped notifications away and texted someone back on my phone, but left that behind when I mentioned that one was informing me that my mammogram was clear.  He seemed pretty relieved, and blushed like crazy when I suggested he wanted to get his hands on those breasts and didn't want to accidentally run across any gross cancer.

Mostly, though, it wasn't really sexual; he just seemed to like me.  He spent a lot of time listening, which was kind of a new experience.  A lot of guys my own real age just seem to have nothing to say to women and ones Harmon's age, when they're not even hornier than younger guys, tend to feel (rightly or wrongly) that they've got more to pass on to you than vice versa, whether they're actually teachers or not.  And, I admit, I've always kind of liked that, but having a guy really talk to me like a peer, someone with shared experiences and interests, that was kind of cool too.

We saw a movie afterward, and I've got to admit, as much as I liked this guy's company and respect, it was one of those "women past menopause want romance too" things, and it did kind of remind me that, despite current appearances, we didn't really have that much in common.  I let him drive me home, said it was nice making friends with him, and then started browsing Netflix until I feel asleep on the couch.  I told myself that I didn't really need to feel lousy about stepping out on Harmon, but by the time I woke up the next morning, I did wonder what "back to normal" is going to be like.


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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

J.T./Elaine: No more excuses and no more time

Sorry for being so quiet the last couple months, but things at work have really had me wanting to keep things on the down-low, as they (we?) say.  The day after Valentine's was a complete nightmare, as one person in the office wound up going home with another after a night of drinking, only for her to find out that he had his entire apartment wired for video and sound, and when she told him that this was just going to be a one-time thing, he was able to email the entire office video from the night before.  She quit, he was fired, everybody got to do online sexual-harassment training courses, and there was no way Daryl and I were saying a word while everyone was walking on eggshells, despite everyone knowing why I'd left early that evening.

Which is a shame, because it was pretty great and those stories are better told fresh.

I was nervous, of course, because even though I've treated a lot of this like playing a part, I would probably have put out earlier if that's entirely how I was approaching it.  I held those feelings at bay for a while - buying sexy new underwear was like going to wardrobe, and chats with Elaine told me that, yes, this was in character.  I told myself that it would be fun to do a "sex scene" without weird blocking and simulation.  But then I spent all day bumping into Daryl, trading mild innuendo, and being reminded that he wasn't playing a part, but getting closer to the girl he liked.

I mostly put it out of my mind, and maybe drank a bit more than I've tended to do since figuring out Elaine's capacity.  I agreed that there was still plenty more to do after a delicious dinner, got in the Uber which took us to his apartment, and then let him kiss the heck out of me when we got in the door.

My body responded, and it was kind of intense.  Guys see nipples get stiff and we act like they're little erections because that's what we know, but it's the whole breast, and just to start; I swear there's not a single pay off my body that didn't feel some sort of arousal, and that was before my other girl parts started lubricating themselves.  I should probably be extremely happy that Daryl was enough of a gentleman to pause and put a condom on without me bringing it up, because that was kind of the last thing on my mind.

He was good at hitting the spot; I came two or three times that night.  I can't tell you that it was the best sex of my life, but as the end of a dry spell and as satisfaction of a lot of pent-up curiosity, it was sure as heck one of my most memorable sexual experiences!  I think he enjoyed it, too, even if it was mostly from my sounding pretty enthusiastic.

We did it again on the next few dates, and it was kind of fun discovering what I liked and what I was cool with doing.  Maybe it's just because I haven't been at it as long as some of the others, or something, but it kind of seems like less than most.  I'm not into being picked up and manhandled the way Missy apparently is, and I guess I'm kind of insistent about being on top.  Strong preference, anyway.  And if you're going to take my bra off, you'd better use your hands to support the girls - unless it's the morning after, the bouncing is just a little too much at the end of the day.

(This is the biggest thing I'm taking back to manhood - taking a bit of a load off the back during sexy times can really be appreciated, so long as he stops sort of squeezing too hard!)

It was kind of crazy for a lot of February - there was a solid week where our friends just didn't see us, and then every date had to end that way.  Then I had my period, and although I was nervous about ending the night early, he was cool with it.  Then there was a night when he said he had to get up early for an errand, and I kind of worried that maybe me being a man in my head was hurting things, but it was just that night, and eventually we just kind of got to being boyfriend and girlfriend, and sex is just one of the things we do.

And he turns out to be a pretty great boyfriend.  I'm not sure how good a girlfriend I am, but he's good at handling my weird man-in-a-woman's-body moods and occasionally being ignorant about stuff.  We have a fun time going out, and it's not just me being one of the guys.  It's been fun dates, I've been able to open up with him more than you'd think, considering that I'm always kind of giving him am alternate version of the truth.  He trusts me enough to do the same, which is more than I deserve, given the situation.

It's been kind of hard keeping things "secret" at work, enough so that it was a running joke at the wrap party on Friday (not what they called it, but what it felt like) that we'd finally be able to not put on a front.  Which is ironic, since the Inn opens on Thursday.

That's probably for the best, I suppose - as much as I did okay in Elaine's job, I'm not eager to take another contract, and I've felt a stronger itch to write and perform music in the last few weeks, and I've certainly got new sources of inspiration, although I suspect I'll have to disguise them somewhat once I'm presenting as a white male again.

I'm not sure whether I hope the real Elaine likes Daryl or not.  I've come to enjoy getting too know her via email and stuff the last few months, and I guess it's kind of good that she's developed a crush - she'll try to make it work and not break a good guy's heart.  It's just that this has been my thing for the past few months, and it's a weird thing to hand off, even if I don't want to actually be the one who breaks up with Daryl.

Good thing that won't be my problem in another couple weeks - not that explaining why we vanished from the face of the Earth for eight months will be any easier!


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Monday, April 30, 2018

Tyler/Valerie: Cut to the song

Maybe you've picked up on this... sometimes I can be very stupid. I can be emotional, irrational, go off half-cocked... and I don't necessarily have to be female to do it. I acted that way as a lot a man (as you may know) and if anything female hormones maybe have had a moderating effect on these tendencies. This is contrary to what every man reading this probably thinks, but I'm living proof.

So what was so stupid? I bet you can guess, but I'll tell it anyway.

Last Friday was Ryan's open mic performance at the piano bar. I went to support him, because I've been there all through the preparation for this, and it didn't seem like Alexa was going to be there (what a shock.) I didn't want to let on that I may have been developing a sort of crush on him, so I rounded up the gals, Brigette and Maddie, and even halfheartedly invited Rafe, who said he'd be busy that night. Fair enough, I was just being polite.

Still, we all agreed to "do it up," looks-wise. Pete doesn't need much effort, and Maddie is very cute, but personally I always feel rather dingy and in need of special effort to look good. So we got the styling want out to make my hair do those elegant long spirals, spent a lot of time trying to perfect my makeup, found a special pair of not-overly-comfortable heels, and of course... The Dress.

I had noticed this dress in Val's closet not long after I arrived. It's a nice navy blue dress, a bit more elegant than a cocktail dress, but still very sexy - with a lacy cutout in the breast to show cleavage while still providing some modesty. She doesn't own many garments like it, as I'm guessing stuff like this is hard to find in Val's proportions. I wonder if it was custom-fit or modified. It was a little snug in the belly (sue me, I've munched a few cookies at the shop on my break) but looked hot. Beautiful, even.

When we arrived who is the first person we see but Rafe, cleaned up rather nicely I'm slightly embarrassed to admit.

"I thought you were busy?" I said, kind of annoyed.

"Oh, I moved some stuff around, no big deal," he shrugged.

Only Rafe could find a way to do something nice and be annoying about it.

So after a drink or so, it's Ryan's set. He plays a couple of instrumental piano jazz pieces that the crowd appreciates. Then he says "Thanks, I'm gonna do something a little different now... but I haven't formally rehearsed. I just need some help. Would Valerie Stewart come up here?"

My eyes go wide. My face flushes red. I know exactly what he's thinking. I mouth "No. NO." but he keeps egging me on and the crowd does too... I thought this place would be too classy for that sort of thing.

Last week while I was watching him rehearse, he pointed out that I do a lot of humming along and singing. "Oh," I said, "I guess I didn't notice." Even though it's been pointed out that I do this absent-mindedly a lot when I'm cooking or cleaning or anything.

"I never knew you had such a nice voice," he said. "Is that new?"

"Uh," I squeaked, "You could say that." The reason is, when I was Lauren I had to take those singing lessons and I took a bit of a liking to it, to where it did become a habit.

"You wanna sing something for me?"

"Uh, sure..." I said, doing my best to sound uncertain even as I was feeling a little spellbound by his music.

"I think this is one you'd know..." he said, and he began to tap something out on the keyboard... it took me a few bars to realize he was doing a loungey version of "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. I smiled.

"She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean, she was the best damn woman that I... ever seen...

It was good. It was great. Incredible, even. It was as close to the experience of having sex as you can get with your clothes on, as far as I'm concerned. It made me fall a little deeper and realize this is a serious crush, and it's a problem because he's with Alexa and I'm not planning on being Val much longer.

But that was just in the confines of Ryan's room. And now he was twisting my arm into re-enacting that moment in front of a room full of strangers. And fucking Rafe. And I couldn't say no. Part of me honestly didn't want to, but I really, really didn't want to be put in that situation.

But I was on my second glass on wine. What the hell. Pass me the microphone.

It was a little messy - obviously we hadn't rehearsed and it really showed. But the crowd did like it. I just had to step outside my body.

But when I got back in, I realized it was hot. Really hot. Like, ready to drop my clothes on the floor. I was shaking.

I did a bashful little curtsy and went back to my seats, to general high fives and backslapping from Maddie and Pete, and a smug little nod of approval from Rafe.

Ryan closed with "Sunrise," the song I am very, very sure he wrote about Val when they were in high school. And the whole time he was singing, he was looking in my direction. I felt very weird, and very strange about it.

Then after he was done, I heard a very prominent source of applause at the back of the room. Alexa had arrived. What had she seen? What would she think? It was like a splash of cold water.

Once Ryan stepped down, she rushed over to embrace him. Then as they reached the table, she also smiled at me and said "Val, that was so good! Great job." So she had seen it, and either she didn't think anything was wrong with it, or she was just being very, very proper.

I was embarrassed, and drunk, and feeling very ill-at-ease about what had happened. And I needed to deflect any possible evidence that there was anything between Ryan and me, so I started paying more attention to Rafe. And I have to say, he was game... that secret charm he keeps buried inside, he let it out and really reveled in the fact that I was sort of hanging off him. Soon I actually did get caught up in the moment and forgot my problem. Pete, the Ultimate Wingwoman, whiaked Maddy away juat as she may have been getting suspicious.

I don't want to blame it all on the alcohol, because probably the reason I was drinking so much is because I hoped this would be the outcome. I could blame it on the hormones... I have noticed I feel pangs of loneliness very strongly now, and part of me wonders if that's leftover chemicals from Val caving Josh's intimacy and partnership. Or if it's just all me. I don't know.

I invited Rafe to walk me home. He was acting very sheepish like he didn't know what was going on, but he obviously did. The small talk dwindled into some pretty awkward exchanges at it became clear that we had run out of stuff to say, and both somewhat knew where the night was going, but couldn't acknowledge it yet. It waa hard to walk the line of up front but not desperate.

"You were, uh... really great up there, by the way," he said in an uncharacteristic show of sincerity.

"Thanks," I smiled, "I really wasn't expecting it. I also didn't think that crowd would be into that song..."

"Oh come on, who doesn't like AC/DC?"

When we got to my building, I took a deep breath and asked... " want to come up?"

He cocked an eyebrow. "Are you sure? Because look, I don't wanna play any games here. If I go up there, I'm expecting... you know."

I twisted my mouth, and nodded. "Yeah... I know."

"All right, sweet," he said, nearly ruining it for himself right there. Grinning and bearing it, I buzzed us in.

After checking to make sure the coast was clear, I ushered him into my room. We got off to an awkward start... I mean, how could we not? I'm still something of a novice at being "the girl," even after my time with Josh. There was the process of working out how to fit ourselves together with the height difference, undressing in a subtle and sexy way instead of just stripping down businesslike... personally I don't think I'm very seductive but luckily for me, when you look a certain way, you would have to work very hard against yourself to turn a guy off.

As far as details... I'll have to stop myself. I don't want to give all the play by play, but there's a few key notes I've been thinking about since. It was a blur, but I was definitely there for every second of it. I will say it was good - more intense than the delicate style I was used to from Kitty. Better than I honestly intended. And it felt different than in Judith's body, in some very good ways.

I could tell he enjoyed himself. I could tell he was looking forward to seeing and touching my body this way after months of knowing each other. He took great pleasure in fondling and playing with my boobs, which was actually quite stimulating for me as well... it's just a relief they're good for something other than knocking over coffee cups. And for a formerly heterosexual man whose eyes have been awakened to sex from the female perspective, even though I didn't initially see him as any kind of sexy, a lot of what he had going on really did it for me. (And I don't know what it is, but he smelled great.)

He made some moves that I might have objected to if it hadn't been "in the moment," some I found I enjoyed despite myself, some I would probably ask him not to repeat (if this should ever happen again.) It was not very tender, and the first round was very much about him, but I got some pleasure there. The second round was slower, with more time for me.

Afterwards, I lay there feeling very conflicted. I was on an endorphin high but I felt myself crashing down and I wasn't suddenly in love with him or anything. He was still a pest that I could only intermittently get along with, and maybe I deserved better, but I had no time or energy to spend looking for that. It didn't feel good inside knowing how proud he probably was of himself for "conquering" me when it depended entirely on my own loneliness and dejection. I felt used, but I had also used him, so who's to say what's wrong?

"You don't uh... want to spend the night, do you?" I asked awkwardly as we lay there in the 'afterglow.'

He grunted, "Uh... not really."

"Okay, you can, um... go whenever."

He took that as his cue to sit right up and start pulling his pants on. Which was a little bit insulting but it was exactly what I said.

As I saw him out to the living room, I said, "Hey, don't go, uh, blabbing about this yet, okay? I need to think about what happened tonight."

"Sure," he said, a little bitterly. "Whatever you want. Hey, I'm here for you anytime."

"Thanks," I said warily, knowing all too well he would be interested in another round sometime. I gave him a really awkward hug and saw him out.

We haven't talked since, and I don't necessarily mind. I just want to live what left of my life here.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Jonah/Krystle: "Mama"

It's been a while since I've updated, but any of you with kids probably know what I've been finding out - that just because Little Moira has gotten better about sleeping through the night, she finds other ways to wear me out.  She seems to have spent roughly a week crawling before she started walking, and she tried to get into everything.  She's incredibly curious, changes favorite foods all the time, and is just a little ham.

She's also got the craziest sense of timing.  A couple months ago, Krystle and I got the emails saying that reservations for the Inn would be going on sale, and we messaged back and forth like crazy for a couple of hours.  She ran down a list of what she was planning to do with her body first, I counted by saying that Moira would wake up crying just as soon as she had lowered herself into that bubble bath, and we eventually got to our next things (Krystle had made her way to Africa as me by then, so our schedules are kind of out of sync).  A couple weeks later, we booked three blocks for late spring:  One for me to become some unknown person, one for Krystle to become herself again, and then one for me to get my life back.  My folks grumbled at the expense, but were extremely pleased with the thought of the weirdness being in the rear-view mirror.

And then, that night, Little Moira decided to say her first word.  She was in the bathtub, hair up in little puffs, pushing some toys around, making little noises.  I said that was a boat, asked if she could say "boat", and then nearly fell over when she looked up and said "mama".

I don't think I'd really been avoiding that word deliberately, but I think somewhere in the back of my head, I knew that I want encouraging Moira to say that particular word because I knew that I would eventually be myself again, and we'd made that effort for people not to think I was her parent, so I probably shouldn't get used to the idea.  So it was always "can you say dolly?" or "can you say Grampa?" or something like that.  I'm not even exactly sure where she got "mama" from, now that I think of it.  Maybe a visitor - or, I guess, everyone we know who's not in on the whole Inn thing.  But she did, and in the moment we were all so excited that we didn't give it more thought beyond that.

But then she kept doing it.  Other words came, sure, but that was the one she had the best handle on, and it started to get to me.  On the one hand, it felt really good, especially when she'd hug or kiss me at the same time, but eventually I started feeling guilty about what was going to happen in a couple months.

I reached out to ask the other Inn people I knew, not really asking specific questions and mostly not getting really specific thoughts.  Only Mrs. Kim really seemed to get what I was trying to ask and seemed ready to tell me the thing I needed to hear in no uncertain terms.  I guess that on some level you just have to have the experience.

So I looked at my schedule and asked Krystle if we could schedule a private video call for the next night I had off, one where she didn't have to tory about being overheard or interrupted.  She said yes, and that not I dragged my laptop out into the living room, hoped it to the big TV, and asked Mom and Dad to come out before I started the call.  Krystle was a bit surprised to see the living room when the connection was made, and they raised their eyebrows at it.  I think they kind of knew them what I was going to say, but couldn't quite bring themselves to believe it.

I couldn't either, to be honest, and I was shaking, but I did it anyway.  "So, um, I don't know if I'm the lady one to figure out how this story goes, but even if I am, I guess I've gotta be the one to say it.
"I'm not going back to the Inn.  Not this summer, and probably never."

My folks took a moment or two to process it, sitting there in shock, but Krystle wasn't shocked into silence.  "The f--- you say you're not going to go back to the Inn?"

"I...  I've been thinking it over, ever since Moira called me Mama, and I just can't imagine not being her mother.  She's been inside me, and then with me every day, and the thought of letting her go...  I just can't!"

"Then adopt her!  I promise, I won't put up a fight - I might've done that anyway!"

"And deny her the only mother she's ever known?  What if she doesn't recognize me and doesn't take to me?  I could ruin her life!"

Dad put his hand on my knee.  "Don't worry about that, son.  Kids are resilient - soon, it will be like this never happened."

"And then later?  When we have to tell her that her mother gave her up, add that onto the other lies?"

"It won't be like that.  I can't guarantee it, but--"

"But why take the risk?"


"I know!  And I'm sorry!  But everything else seems worse!"  I turned to my father.  "You always told me to do what's right - what kind of person would I be if I didn't put being Moira's mother first?"

"You'd be my son."  He sounded as hurt as angry to say it.  "You'd be my son again."

It hurt, and I tried to tell him that as long as he thinks of me that way, I still would be, but it sounded weird coming out.   I looked at Mom, which felt a bit desperate - she's taken the whole thing with magic and me being a girl even harder than Dad - but I figured that if Mrs. Lincoln-Kim would get that the bond between a mother and her child is so important, surely my own mother would.  "You get it, right, Mom?  You never would have let me go?"

"I understand, Jonah, but this is how God tests us, to make sure we don't behave selfishly, or go against how he made us.  You've already failed that test once, by lying with a man,  but God gave you a second chance!  Don't throw it back in his face!"

I felt punched in the gut, but also angry.  "Moira isn't a test!  She's her own person, a blessing!  How can you even suggest--"

That's the moment I knew I was on my own, that my folks and Krystle just weren't going to understand.  It's hard to blame them - we've all got strong ideas of what our lives should be, and it's not this.  There's a way to get closer to that.  But you heat people talking about how they love their kids more than their own lives, and normally that just means you'll die for them.  But I love my daughter so much...

It wasn't the same in the house after that.  I thought, maybe, after the shock, maybe they would all understand given time, but the next night, while I was at work, I felt panicked.  I couldn't believe that my folks would actually hurt Moira, but they still might "solve the problem" - drive a hundred miles and leave her somewhere safe, spin a story about me being the one to do it when the police checked her fingerprints - and as much as I know I couldn't even think that, I couldn't stop.

So while they were at work, I packed what I could, drove the cat to the nearest stop on the Downeaster, and took the train into Boston.  Momma Kamen was glad to see Little Moira, a little disappointed to see me, but not really disappointed in me.  I'm not sure how much she's joking and how much she's serious about not being able to handle the quiet since Karla moved out, but she's making things pretty easy.  Ashlyn and Moira hired me back at The Changeling.

Which is what I am now, I guess, based on what they tell me about the Irish myth, a fake Krystle taking the place of the real one, without any pretense of it being temporary any more.  It doesn't escape my notice that the changelings are usually the monsters in those stories, and the people who take over others' lives despite the others wanting them back are the villains when Inn people tell their stories.  I guess I'll just have to live with it and see how God judges me later.  For now, though, I'll just have to live with that, so long as Little Moira keeps calling me her Mama.


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Monday, April 16, 2018

Tyler/Valerie: Guys...

How much time do you spend with someone else's boyfriend before it becomes inappropriate?

It's not my fault. At first Ryan's mini-rehearsals were a group affair - since everyone in the apartment would usually be able to hear him working anyway, he decided to make that the theme of the hang-out. But that got old for the guys after two sessions. Alexa did her best to seem very interested in Ryan's music at first, but when he noticed she had a tendency to pull out her phone while he was practicing, he stopped asking her to sit in. When it was just the two of us in his room, a bit of a red flag went up in my head. "I can go, you know... leave you to it."

"No, no, stay," he insisted, "You always give good feedback. Plus I always love when you hum along."

When he said it, I tried to take it as an innocent compliment but it really didn't seem like something a guy with a girlfriend should be saying. Still, I guess my self-esteem is a little down because getting even that level of approval felt like a real buzz. I just had to keep in mind... I mean, I'm a mature person, I know where the line is.

Alexa may not be my favorite person ever, but I would never do anything to break her trust.

I keep thinking I should just stop hanging out with Ryan. I don't think I'm off base by saying it really seems like he's starting to develop - or really, re-develop - feelings for me/Valerie. The way he looks at me is a little more than friendly. And being around him, even if I'm not consciously egging him on/"tempting" him, seems like I'm just I'm fanning those flames.

But then I think... isn't that his problem, to manage his his own actions? I know I'm just on the right side of innocent and friendly. He is a grown-ass man too, in a relationship to boot, so it's up to him to not flirt, not let his eye wander, and if he's not happy with his relationship, to do something about it his own damn self.

But whatever. He hasn't outright said anything to me, and I'm not about to mess things up by bringing it up unless I have to, with only a few months left in my time as Valerie (we are booked for July, which feels very far, but will be here before we know it.) It almost feels silly to worry about any of this.

But he did play me thing song a few nights ago, called "Sunset"... and it was really beautiful and sweet and sincere... and I couldn't help but think it was probably about me... just because there's a line about "I spent a lifetime chasing your glow, just to know, you're always on the other side of that horizon..." which seems to be about his ongoing crush on Valerie from before... and hey, my hair is sort of an orangey-yellow "sunset" color...

Maybe I'm just turning toward Ryan because I'm somewhat bothered by the other men in my life... or should I say just the one other, Rafe. For a while after we hung out those few times, I could tell he was angling to get in my panties, so I worked to shut that down. Then he started recognizing me as the closet thing to a "bro" there, someone he could talk to about "guy stuff," which is great, sure. If he needs an outlet, I can slip into that old mindset. He's kinda fun and amusing, in that immature way, hiding how smart and capable he actually is. I wanted to give him a fair shake.

Then I started hearing these weird, like, barely-hidden messages in what he was saying, like he's going out of his way to be obnoxious. He would tell me about a Tinder hook-up he had, saying "Man, her boobs were so big... almost as big as yours... and honestly, it was too much. Too big! There's gotta be a limit. You can't do anything with them once they get to a certain size. Like anything beyond a C-Cup, it's just a hassle."

Or, "She was good and tall... you know, I like to look a girl right in the eye, just a little bit shorter than me. Or maybe even taller than me. I'd love to date a chick who was over 6 feet tall. I probably couldn't date anyone below 5'6... no offense."

Privately I'm fuming, but if I acknowledge the potshots at my appearance, I'm a "bad sport" or too self-involved. Honestly, I think he's trying to get under my skin like a kid on the playground, because he likes me too...

I know what you're thinking, Miss Self-Absorbed over here, thinks everyone likes her... well listen, you get used to seeing the signs and reading into things like that.

But hell, work isn't very stimulating and there's not a lot else going on. This is pretty much all I have to think about... which makes me a little sad, but at least I've gotten over being sad about being female in the first place, so I just put on something sexy and go out drinking with Brigette to cheer myself up. We let ourselves get hit on, come right to the brink of going home with someone and then give them the slip. Pete swears one of these days he's going to go through with it, and I want to empower that. Me, I could take it or leave it... I don't need to "find out" what sex is like, so I don't need to get laid just for the sake of getting laid. But the clock is ticking, and who knows who we'll be next time, so I think if she wants it she should have some fun.

Me, I'm looking into online courses that maybe I could take in my next life... depending on how things go, you know... just an idle thought. I don't want to pour coffee or flip eggs for the rest of my days...


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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Tyler the Valerie: Frustration... and relief

Yesterday was one of those rough days that really underscored how frustrating life could be. Not that I would blame it all on being transformed, although if I never had been to that Inn it's hard to imagine myself having any of these problems... but things might not be as different as I'd like to think. Yes, I'd still be male (and trust me, being female has a way of compounding every single one of you daily issues in sometimes unexpected ways) but would things be that good? I've got to wonder.

A lot of the things that were bugging me were not really gender-related, mind you. It was just a tougher-than-usual day to withstand. There was the usual bullshit with the boy-children I live with, with the place looking like as much of a wreck and the whole gang is totally apathetic about it. Then I worked all day shorthanded due to an illness, with some big pop-up event happening down the block that led to a 300% increase in traffic and only me and Maddie to cover it. Everyone who we could have called in had other plans, except Rafe, who declined because he was "not feeling it today."

So the two of us were absolutely killing ourselves trying to fill five orders a minute, sweating through my best bra, with entitled suit-bros eager to debate who got what order wrong and how until they get a refund, like I have time for any of this, as if there isn't a line out the door. So by the end of nine hours - oh yes, I stayed an extra hour - I was tired, and all of my parts, from my shoulders and back down to my knees and ankles, were sore to the bone. (In case you weren't aware, having breasts this size on such a petite frame really taxes your muscles, especially when you have to spend all day bending down, stretching up, and just generally on your feet.) And I had been so eager to get out of the apartment that morning that I skipped breakfast, which made me so hungry by the time I took my break that I was too faint and nauseous to actually eat. I won't repeat that mistake again... probably.

By the time it was over I did not want to do anything, but oh, I had already agreed to go out with Pete/Brigette because she had gotten us on the list for this hot new piano bar. Plus, I had given her a minor earful when she was nowhere to be found and I "had to" crash at Rafe's that one night, (even though it wasn't so bad at the time - my current anger at him notwithstanding.) So I didn't think I would be able to get out of it, and I actually didn't want to because I was dying for some Inn-Victim company so I could complain about what's really bugging me for once.

I ranted and raved for twenty minutes while Pete wrestled Brigette's hair into a really nice up-do. I scoured tall-thin Brigette's wardrobe for something that might fit stumpy-booby me, eventually coming a cross a top that was probably meant to be billowy, but clung to me decently, and a skirt-tight combo that I didn't hate putting on.

I complained, a bit, about how hard it was to find clothes that fit nicely, and Pete, ever the optimist, complimented Valerie's looks, saying she had a great figure.

I rolled my eyes, "Great to look at, I suppose, but not always fun to live in."

She paused, considered my case, and shrugged, "Let's find you some shoes."

I  was a little miffed that Pete didn't take my grievances seriously. If anyone could understand what I'm going through, it's him/her. But I've learned over the past year that Pete isn't wired to dwell on these things, which I envy a bit, but am also baffled by. Am I to believe that nothing bad has happened to him since being Brigette? No depression or dismay, hardly even a gender-related faux-pas? If there has, he has hardly mentioned it.

So we went out to the bar, this very upscale piano joint Pete heard  about through Brigette's connections. I would have felt out of place here in any one of my lives, but P is able to glide in like she owns the place.

As soon as we are seated, we're approached by these two women. "Brigette!" one called out with an enthusiastic wave and a goofy smile, dragging her friend over. Pete looked at me for a second, with that all-too-familiar expression of "Crap, now I have to pretend I know these people."

Then Girl #1 says, "Comment ca va, Cherie?" which I recognize as French. And she natters on for a minute or so with hardly a breath, in French, on whatever she had been up to since the last time she saw (the real) Brigette.

I look over at Pete, like "Wow, how do we get out of this?"

And Pete looks lost for just a second before she replies... in what I can only assume was proper, flawless French, and before you know it the three of them are having a long conversation in that language like they're total BFF's, and I'm stuck on the outside.

Eventually they all start laughing, and I ask Pete what was so funny, and she says, "Oh, I asked if they'd mind speaking  English, because it's a little rude to speak French in front of an American, and she said 'That's the point!'"

"Huh, charming," I sneered.

Pete asked them to introduce themselves to me, as a sly way of getting their names, Caroline and Maryse.

They talked for a while about the New York Art Scene, which is how they knew Brigette. I had zero to say in any language, so I just grabbed a glass of wine and sipped liberally. When they finally moved on to their own thing and said adieu, I huffed to Pete, "You speak French?"

"Oh, that? Yeah, um, I picked it up years ago along with a few other languages. I'm just glad they weren't Russian."

I rolled my eyes but made nothing further of it. We got a table and moved away from the subject when the next frustrating thing happened. A familiar voice crept up behind me, "Look who it is! Mind if we join?"

I turned and saw Ryan and Alexa hovering over me. "Woah, what are you guys doing here?" I asked.

"Alexa's dad told us about this place," Ryan said. He was looking sharp as hell in a suit that fit just right, and Alexa was looking typically glamorous in a cocktail dress with a plunging neckline that showed off her perfect, trim body.

"Well, that's all well and good that you three are such piano lovers," I said, "Or maybe you're jsut here for the hors d'ouevres. I'd kill for a plate of wings, but I don't think they serve them at a place like this."

Ryan smiled, "There's a bar down the block, Austin's, best wings in the city. Top five at least."

"I'm there," I grinned back, "Might have to leave these two behind, they're not dressed for it."

"Ew," Alexa sneered, "I don't even like wings."

"Blasphemy," I laughed, "Ryan, what are you doing with a girl who doesn't like wings?"

"She has other good qualities," he looked her over fondly. She didn't seem to appreciate the remark.

"Ry, I'm bored, let's go dance," she whined. He said he didn't feel like it yet and needed another drink, so she went by herself to sway in the crowd as the piano man played some kind of jazz thing.

There was a long moment and Ryan said, "You don't like her, do you?"

"I didn't say anything!" I protested. "Maybe I razzed her a bit."

"It's okay, she's a little stuck up, I know," he said.

"And boring," Pete nodded.

"Pe--Brigette!" I scolded.

"What? We were all thinking it!" She laughed.

"I apologize for my tactless friend," I said.

Ryan changed the subject quickly, "So, you and the guys still fighting?" asking about my interactions with the roommates.

"Yeah, uh, I didn't move in to become a human dishwasher, Ryan."

"They're a little bitter because I got you a good deal," Ryan said, "Alexa's dad owns the place."

"You don't say," I said. "In that case, marry that girl. And let me live there forever. But kick them out."

"Yeah, we'll see," Ryan smiled, downing the rest of his drink and joining Alexa on the dancefloor.

Eventually the night ran its course and we left. On the way out, we passed Caroline and Maryse in the midst of a very heavy make-out session in full public view. "Huh," I said. "I wouldn't have guessed."

"I got a bit of a vibe," Pete said. "Wasn't sure if it was my imagination or anything. Gotta admit, I'm a little jealous."

"Of what?" I asked."Kissing girls?"

"I can't be the only one frustrated to find myself walled off from my former sexuality... wishing I could be a girl who kisses girls, but every time I think about it something turns me off."

"Yeah," I shrugged, "I guess it sucks..."

"I mean, don't get me wrong. Realistically, I knew that being a woman wasn't automatically going to be a sorority sleepover, but I'm kind of stuck between. I miss the excitement of romance either way. Nothing does it for me these days... I miss the confidence that comes with being a heterosexual man. Or knowing exactly what you are either way. I'm sure you remember what it's like, before you got used to it."

"Used to it?" I snorted, "What makes you think I'm used to anything?"

"Aw, come on, Ty," she said in a sing-song voice. "I see you batting your eyes at Ryan, who I'll admit is objectively a hot guy. And I was around you when you were with Josh, you can't deny you were a little smitten."

"He was all right," I huffed.

"I think you really liked him. I think you enjoyed playing Val's part in their relationship. And I think he was the first person since Meghan who really did anything for you and it hurt a lot when he broke up with you-slash-Valerie. And there's nothing wrong with any of that, like I said, I'm jealous of your ability to like dudes."

"I've seen you be way more flirty than me," I insisted, not even bothering to address the accusations about Josh.

"It's an act," she sighed. "Fake it 'till you make it."

I didn't know what to say but eventually I muttered, "I'd love to tell you it gets easier, but a lot of the time it's just confusing on a whole new level."

Notwithstanding the statements she was making about me - whether they had any truth or not - I kind of appreciated seeing Pete's vulnerable side. To me, he had always been in command of the situation in a way I wasn't - walking into Brigette's life, doing her job, embracing her style and fashion, friending her friends, speaking French and all, and never seeming to complain or stumble.

She walked me home and when we got in, I was somewhat surprised to see Ryan had beaten me
home. I was even more surprised to find him in the kitchen, doing dishes, shirtless.

When I noticed, I maybe gave out a little gasp of "Ry!" He turned and acknowledged me.

"Hey, uh... just thought I'd pitch in. I know I'm always out, but it's my place too and it's only fair."

"Thanks," I said warmly, "If only the other guys had the same attitude." I did my best to keep my eyes on his upper third, probably because of what Pete had said about me, but I had to admit he was more in shape than I thought he would be - better-looking from that perspective than Josh. And after all these years I ought to not have a problem admitting that here.

"They'll come around," he said. "I'll have a word. And hey, I'm sorry I haven't really hung out with you since we, uh, since you moved in."

"Oh, uh, don't worry about it. Things are what they are. It's good training for if I have kids someday," I said somewhat sardonically, and forgetting, just for a second, that I kind of already was a mom.

"You know that piano bar," he said, "Has an open-mic night. Think I might sign up. I know it's not your scene - even though a few years ago you probably would have loved to hang out there every night. But would you come support? I haven't played live in like a yea, and I'm a little nervous."

I didn't realize he was a musician... come to think, when he was around, I did often hear music coming from his room, but I thought it was a recording. He was good.

"Of course," I said warmly, going to pat him on the shoulder, then thinking better of it and pulling back. I bid him an awkward good night.

I went to my room and started to change for bed. And I thought, if I seem as confident in my sexual identity as Pete is saying, I thought, maybe it's time to explore that, and not with someone by circumstance puts me with. In fact, I thought, as I studied my naked body, I had been here all this time and hardly appreciated it.

There is a lot to like, if you can get past the inconveniences and aches. The elegant way my hair sways as my turn my head. The sexy curve of my hips as I prop myself up on the bed. The soft weight of my breasts in my hands as I caress... the sensitivity of my skin, causing me to perk up and feel warm as I slip my fingers down further... taking time for myself, outside my my hang ups and frustrations and finding the good in this situation. "Having my fun" as Valerie suggested I do. I didn't even try to stifle any of the sounds I might have made, inadvertently, as I pleasured myself...

And then just as I was reaching my finishing point, I hear the faint sound of piano music in the other room...

I couldn't help but laugh.

-Tyler, currently Valerie

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Tyler/Valerie: How rumors start

Two nights ago I was doing dishes for the umpteenth time since moving in while the guys (specifically Denny and Trent) were playing Xbox and I decided I'd had it.

"You guys mind helping out?"

"Well there's only one sink," Trent said without pausing the game.

"It's called taking turns," I said.

"Ehh," Denny said, "I cook a lot so it's not exactly fair if I have to do dishes too."

I point out that I don't eat much of the food he makes but I still find myself cleaning it, and when I cook (I'm much better than him anyway) I still do the dishes.. His smartass reply is that that's my choice. Ryan, my one ally around here, was of course out with his girlfriend Alexa.

Trent adds that he "doesn't really know how to clean" and that I'd do a much better job so there was no point in him pitching in. I told him he could figure it out, and if this was my choice then it was time to choose not to. I dropped everything in the sink and walked off.

I was so pissed I went to my room and started texting around to see if I could hang out with - and maybe stay with anyone I knew. Pete was busy of course, (one day I'm going to have to ask exactly what s/he gets up to) and Marie had family over, and with the baby and all there's not usually a good time. That kind of left only one person to answer, and he was all too happy to do so.

"Chickpea!" Rafe opened the door with that big stupid grin on his face  right away when I knocked.

"I regret this already," I sighed.

"I honestly didn't think you were gonna honor that rain check," he said.

"Well, I figured what the hell," I said, "You've toned it down a bit this week."

"Thanks for noticing," He snorted, "I'm not so bad am I?"

I entered and looked around. It was a sty but a one-man sty unlike my place.

"You've got to be aware of your rep. It seems pretty well earned."

An open bag of chips was on the kitchen table. "This dinner?" I took a fee.

"Just the appetizer. Dinner was by Swansons."

"Ew," I rolled my eyes, "Learn to cook. Women love it, as long as you don't make them do the dishes."

"I'll bet you do," he said back, and I wasn't sure if he meant 'you women' or me in particular. I didn't ask.

"Place is pretty nice. You afford it by yourself?"

"My parents help," he said, he said nonchalantly.

"Translation... They pay, while you spend your twenties 'Figuring it out.' I should have smelled the money on you."

He didn't acknowledge that. "Well, come on in. I've even got your favorite ice cream."

"Creepy," I smirked. "So what are we up to tonight?"

"I can think of a few things," he said.

"This should go without saying, but all clothes will remain on for the duration."

"Sure, sure," he said, pretending to be indignant (at least I hope he was pretending.)

I noticed something paused on the TV screen. "What's this?"

"Oh, uh, Riverdale. Kind of a guilty pleasure." He seemed embarrassed.

"That's that show with the sexy Archie and Betty and Veronica?" I wondered whether people Val's age even knew Archie comics before this show came on. (And then I thought, I'm not that much older, am I?)

"Yeah, and there's a murder mystery," he said, I guess trying to make it sound more manly (and failing.)

"Sounds cheesy. I'm in."

"Really? You came all the way over just to watch a show we both agree is probably pretty bad?"

"Why not," I said, "One of the best dates I ever had was staying up on a hotel room watching I, Frankenstein, which was the worst."

"Lucky guy," Rafe said.

"Yeah... He was," I sighed, referring to myself.

"So... Is this a date then?" He asked.

I twisted my mouth, "Let's not go nuts..."

He gave me a beer and flipped the Netflix back to the beginning and we wanted like six or seven weirdly gripping episodes before I started to drift off. He let me lie down with my feet up on his lap - a perk of shortness is that I can do this on any couch and basically stretch all the way out.

He must have crept away sometime and left a wooly blanket on me. I was more tired than I thought I would be. I woke up on the middle of the night to pee - as I do pretty much every night - and was momentarily spooked to find myself still there. When I tried to fall back asleep I got a little paranoid about how I was sleeping on a near-stranger's couch and that he might think I'm leading him on and try to do something to me... But nothing did happen of course. Then my mind started racing in all these other directions about the various stressful, painful aspects of my life, and I felt sad sleeping on this chilly, lumpy sofa alone.

Then before I knew it, it was daylight and he woke me up by sitting down on the couch next to my feet. I must have fallen back asleep eventually.

After asking if I slept okay (and me lying and saying yes) he suggested we hit up his favorite breakfast spot. It was a twenty minute subway ride away and I hadn't showered, but he swore the bagels would be worth it.

"All this way just for bagels? You can get those anywhere."

"How long have you lived in Brooklyn? You should know all bagels are not created equal." Once I tasted the product, I had to admit he was right.

Over breakfast we got to talking. I asked what he wanted to be besides a barista and he said he was a writer. I asked what he wrote and he said he was working on "Something of a semi-autobiographical novel. Basically a memoir."

I teased him a bit. "Oh really! What have you done to warrant a memoir?"

"Hey, I've got plenty of material."

"I'm sure," I snickered.

"Oh and you've had such a fascinating life? What has ever happened to you?"
My face stiffened. "Well, I was recently dumped horribly on my wedding day. That's gotta be good for a few chapters."
He blushed, somewhat acknowledging his faux pas. "I'll give you that," he muttered, his voice mingling embarrassment and irritation. I actually felt a little weird saying it because for a moment it didn't even really feel like it had happened to me, even though it definitely did, and it definitely didn't feel good.
"What else you got?" he said, snapping back into his more obnoxious character.

For a moment I wanted to play the "man magically cursed into living as three different women" card... And hell, even before that I might've had a tale or two worth telling. But as Valerie, I don't think I had much of a case. "Not a lot, I'll admit."

"Well, it isn't the story, you know. It's how you tell it." I hope he noticed me rolling my eyes.

Still, it was nice speaking to him on those terms. I had been hanging out with him for several hours and my skin hadn't crawled once. And I had to admit the bagels were pretty great.

He had the day off but I had the afternoon shift so we went to the coffee shop together. It was almost gentlemanly, until he noticed a woman coming out of the shop who happened to have large pair of breasts. His head snapped in her direction so fast he must have gotten whiplash.

I'd like to think I would usually have taken it on myself to defend her as a new member of the sex, who has had to deal with a fair share of leers, but I guess we had bonded a bit. Still I couldn't let it slide so I let him know how obvious he was by ribbing him about it: "Come on, she was a seven."

He seemed surprised that I would say anything about it, let alone that, but after a beat he regained his composure and said "Yeah but her tits were ten each."

After that remark I felt a little gross for encouraging it. Trying to make locker room guy talk was like putting on clothes that no longer fit. I felt weird for trying so hard to make him think I'm, I dunno, some kind of "cool" girl who acts like a guy... Even though deep down I still think of myself as a guy! Just not, hopefully, a cliche horn dog like him.

I went into the bathroom to put on a fresh pair of underwear, tights and deoderant - a nice thing about femininity is that you can carry all these things in your purse and people won't think much of it. When I came out, one of my co-workers, Maddie, was waiting to tsk tsk me.

"What was that about, you strolling in here with Rafe? Scandal..."

I lied, "We ran into each other on the subway."

"Suuure," she said, rolling her eyes and kind of laughing but keeping some judgment in her voice. I felt pretty bad for the rest of the day. It's weird. I'm kind of making friends with the guy, but I feel like I shouldn't. But as much as he deserves his bad reputation, I hate to admit there's a decent guy in there. It's all part of me lately being very confused about my place in the world.

-Tyler, Valerie

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