Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Andi/Andy: Weird Christmas Break

For those who feel like I left my last post on a cliffhanger, Andy's date with Len was, sadly, not a disaster. I'm mostly happy about that, I guess. As much as it puts them on a path to having sex before we switch back, it's not like I want Andy to feel like his friend is rejecting him, and I sort of like the idea that he might find me attractive, even if a lot of it comes from actually clicking with his friend. It kind of took talking to Mom and Dad about it to think about it that way, and I don't know if I really fell it, but it could be worse. Andy isn't really that hot on getting that intimate with a guy anyway, so he'll probably be able to take it slow.

Plus, it's created more excuses to hang out with my friend Shawna.  Andy kind of likes to have me around when he and Len are out to kind of cool things off and warn him when he's getting out of character, so we find a way to invite her to keep anyone from feeling like a third wheel.  At first, it was super-awkward - she knew what was up in general, if not the extent of it, obviously, and didn't know what to say to "Andy" when "Andi" and "Len" were focusing on each other, but, hey, she suddenly realizes she can talk to "him"-slash-me.  It kind of works out.

Or I hope it does.  If she's trying to send me signals that I should ask her out...

At least being on break means we're not dealing with school right now.  It looks like there's another round of Covid chaos coming up, but at least it's not spending all day worried we'll get called out for not being nearly as knowledgeable in the classroom as we are on our homework - we try to write our own essays and stuff even if we can't take our own tests, hoping like heck that schools aren't going to weight SATs much because we can't fake that.  It's really stressful trying to be both Andi and Andy depending on the hour.

Especially for Christmas!  Since Mom and Dad know the truth and we weren't Zooming with the grandparents to start the morning, we must have looked weird under the tree, with the guy psyched about the Taylor Swift album on vinyl and the girl whooping at some football player's bobblehead (we're not total stereotypes but we're not exactly the opposite of what you'd think if you saw us with our normal bodies).  Mom and Dad like taking reaction pictures, which look screwy, although we kind of had fun recreating them so that they could have some to post on Facebook.  We kind of hammed it up a bit.

Still, the calls with the grandparents were awkward.  They'd mailed us presents from Florida and wanted to watch us open them, so I fake looking excited at what they got Andy and he acts like the hat with the pom-pom on it is way cuter than it is.  I mean, it's pretty cute, but he's not exactly into cute for himself, so he overdoes it a bit.

Lying to them sucks.  Lying to everyone sucks, but lying to them sucks more, and I hate that I'm kind of relieved that they couldn't fly up for the holidays so that I didn't have to be lying to them full time.


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Jordan/Yuan-Wei: How Did I Become the Voice of Reason?

I hit "new post" to offer some advice to Andi after reading her post, but just doing that made me pause, because who the heck am I to offer expertise?  Like, I fell into a situation where it seems like I know what I'm doing and have the resources to cushion my stumbles, and every once in a while I get Jonah asking me something like I'd know better just because I graduated college a couple times and now I'm acting like I can just jump into Andi's issues.

But, you know what, I kind of can.  At least enough to say it's okay to be freaked out.

I mean, you look at the way people stop posting individually or sometimes the entire blog gets real quiet for months on end, and you might think that when there's no relationship drama or external circumstances messing with chances to get back to the Inn, you're supposed to just have completely acclimated after a few months or whatever, but it's been seven and a half years for me and it's still weird as hell sometimes - fuck, it's weird more often than not, both because or in spite of being able to let family and friends in.

Anyway, I can speak to her specific situation a bit - go ahead and let a guy suddenly having an interest in Andy-as-you throw you!  Maybe you never though of him that way, but he sounds like he was a big deal and it's totally natural to have trouble with the idea that someone else is being a better you than you could be.  Benny dropped a huge chunk of fat that I'd just accepted and had girls looking at him in ways that they never looked at me, and even before Kareena, I had a lump in my stomach about fucking that up and then was mad about what he'd taken from me.  Yeah, I relinquished it willingly, but I had to, or else I'd be the asshole, right, and in a really bad situation with a good person.

So, it's probably a little too late because your brother went on his date while you were posting, and maybe it was a comedic disaster that will never be repeated.  But if it's not, tell him it bugs you so that he can slam on the brakes before it gets too late.  He's your brother, and I as much as Max would probably be pissed at me for horning in on his dating life just because it intersected with my life, I'm pretty sure he'd listed.

It's probably going to be nothing, though.  I mean, yeah, you see some people get all caught up in their new hormones and rewired brains and meet someone new or see someone with different eyes and just fucking go for it, but most of the time, diving into a relationship is hard.  Like, I enjoy getting laid and even going on dates, but when it becomes something else, I'm still trying to figure out how to make it work.  A lot of my not posting this year was because I met a guy and it was going well enough that I didn't want to jinx it, but it still never clicked.  I'm not trying to be the guy, exactly, but never really seemed to click as the girl, and a month ago he got frustrated with something stupid and we ended it.

Then again, you guys are teenagers and probably crazy with hormones and he might dive right in thinking he's just going to hang with his best friend and gets really caught up.

Probably not helpful, that last bit, but you've got to consider the possibility.

See, I suck at this.


Monday, December 13, 2021

Andi/Andy: Help!

Do I have the order right for my names?  I was born Andrea, but now I've got to be my brother Andrew, and since we're twins, our folks always made the effort not to elevate one of us over the other, but it always trips me up in stuff where order is important.

I don't know if I'm going to become a regular poster here, but I lost contact with Krystle-slash-Mackenzie when I changed "back", and I'm hoping that she reads it or her foster dad does or something, or maybe someone who has been in a situation close to mine, because I need some advice and Mom and Dad are being no help whatsoever.

So let's start from the top:  My family went to the Trading Post Inn at the start of summer - me, my brother Andy, my mom and my dad - and you know the drill; we got changed into new people, another family like us, who I guess were locals who had stayed at the Inn while some repairs were done on their house.  It was weird - Mom and Dad became Dad and Mom, and we had to get used to new faces - but mostly I was a year older and Andy a year younger, so I got to do some bonus college visits, but Winona's life was enough like mine that I could handle it, and Krystle was around if we wanted to talk to someone who wouldn't think we were crazy.  And since there weren't a whole lot of people making long trips and stuff because of Covid, we were able to do the backwards-reservation thing during the same summer, meaning we could put it all behind us, although we had to tell the school we'd gotten positive tests while we waited to switch back.

That should have been it, but SOMEONE put mine and Andy's luggage on the wrong sides of the room, and we woke up as each other!

Now, don't get me wrong, I love my brother.  We used to say that we were best friends even before we were born, although we've each got our own friends now and don't even have a lot of the same classes because he's weirdly good at social studies while I'm better at math and stuff like that.  He's also almost a foot taller than me - or I guess I'm a foot taller than him now - so I woke up with my panties digging into my hips and everything else that goes with it, and we both really freaked out when we looked under our shirts and pajamas and stuff.  But we instantly knew we were each in the same boat, so I wasn't mad at him or the other way around.

So, we went to our parents and said this had to get fixed, but they pointed out that there wasn't enough time to do it before the Inn closed for the season, so we'd have to spend our junior year like this.  Which sounded gross, although they said that experiencing life as the opposite sex had been good for them, which sounded REALLY gross, but we at least kind of understood what they were saying in theory.  Still, that's a whole year!

We made it kind of a game for a while.  We may have each had our own friends, but we all still knew each other, so we didn't trip up, and the fact that we have different strengths made it a bit easier to make excuses, because we each had to work a little harder at school to keep up, so not a whole lot of extracurriculars, and neither of us were stars anyway.  If I kind of suck at soccer, whatever, Andy was only on the JV team and wasn't counting on a scholarship or anything.  He bombed my audition for the fall play, but I've never had a big role, and he likes doing tech anyway.  We kept busy.

Somewhere in there, we started having to deal with health-class stuff, which was nasty, but we handled it pretty well, if we do say so ourselves.

Which kind of gets us in the general area of what I'm writing about.  Last week was our birthday, and though we hadn't really had joint parties for the past few years because that feels like kid stuff, Mom and Dad suggested we do it this year, and we liked the idea.  It winds up being kind of lame - it's cold and even though we see each other at school all the time and know that we're all vaccinated, folks get nervous in basements when we're not masked and it's weird when we are.  It breaks up kind of early, with just me and Andy's best friend Len hanging around playing some video game while he's giving my friend Shawna a ride home.

"Hey," he says, "I'm gonna ask you something and you don't have to answer if it's weird."

"Trust me," I say, "I'm okay with weird."

"So, I never thought of your sister this way, but for the past couple of months, there's been something different about her, and I was wondering if you'd freak if I asked her out."

I dropped the controller, obviously.

I don't want to make it sound like I've got a crush or anything - Len's been just Andy's friend for as long as I can remember, and I got so used to him as Andy's friend that I never started looking at him that way even when our bodies changed.  And his sure did change - he got tall quick, he's kind of got a perfect physique for the swim team, and he has to shave about twice as often as I do now.  He dated girls a year or two older than him freshman and sophomore years.  Even if I wasn't Andy's twin sister, he'd be out of my league.

Not that I'm unappealing as myself or anything.  I always figured I was average, but I could be a bit more if I put a little work in - my skin and hair were good and I wasn't totally flat or anything.  A little makeup, a lot of brushing, etc., etc.  Andy hasn't been one of those guys you read about on this blog who dives into girly shit or anything and hasn't really developed in a way I hadn't yet - he's maybe in a little better shape than I was before because he enjoys running, but it's not like he's wearing shorts and belly-shirts to show it off, just wedges and chunky-heeled boots on occasion because he feels short - so it's not like he's suddenly the sort of girl that Len notices.

I stalled, saying that "Andi" was her own person and all that, the kind of thing I'd say to Shawna if she suddenly decided my brother was hot, but it kind of felt like it wasn't me talking.  Len left soon after, saying not to tell anyone, but obviously I grabbed Andy when he got back and told him everything.

At first, he looked like he was going to puke, and we laughed at it, him eventually saying it was a terrible idea.  We decided that we'd play it cool - I'd say I was okay with it as him, he'd say it was too weird for him as me, and nobody gets hurt.  We just made one stupid assumption, that Len would ask him one-on-one.

He didn't.  Len asked my brother out in front of all my friends, who of course all said he had to say yes, so he did, and now they're out having dinner before seeing West Side Story (that he's seeing it before me despite me being the real theater girl would be so annoying even if Len wasn't involved!).

I don't really feel like I should be too worried about anything happening tonight, but are we doing the right thing here?  Is this the start of a slippery slope, or something that just messes with our heads even after we change back?


Thursday, July 08, 2021

Eddie/Theresa: Being Theresa

As impossible as my life has been for the last three weeks or so, I can't imagine what it must be like for the vast majority of people who go to that place and wind up tossed into a new position which is not only out of their experience, but which itself has been left in the lurch, with nobody to help them except maybe someone else who is equally confused.  As much as it's still a shock each morning to wake up as Theresa Moreau and reacquaint myself with all the female things that I'm not yet taking for granted, I at least grew up in her hometown, and was at least a passing acquaintance, if only because I was a little better in school than people expected and was on the same sports teams with the kids who had some money.  I was even kind of friends with Austin, at least during baseball season, so there's a part of me that wants to forgive him for doing this to me, although I mostly just want him to fix it and make this as painless as it can be.

On the other hand, the people who took the place of Austin and Theresa during the past two years?  They are the literal best.  I didn't mention it in the last post or two, but I get the impression that they were an older couple, and just fantastically organized.  It's not just the new underthings and stuff, but the bedrooms had slip cases containing three-ring binders which themselves had printouts slipped into plastic sleeves, filled with pictures, maps, and relevant information side-by-side.  Even though they must have expected the real Theresa back, the information that they would have found useful - that Theresa's friend Lana had twins named Gil and Phil, or that the frozen custard place had to run a fundraiser not to close permanently - is still helpful to me.  They also seemed to anticipate something possibly going awry, including some more basic information, or putting little tabs in the textbooks Theresa used to study for her realtor's exam so I know what's especially important (although I guess they could just be leftover from when the sub did the same).

(Speaking of subs - I've had emails from the new me.  He seems nice enough - or would "they" be more appropriate, since he or she is uncomfortable enough with sharing information about their real life to the point where they haven't even volunteered that much information? - but I try not to think too much about what they're doing on a daily basis)

All that preparation didn't mean that my first week "back from vacation" wasn't difficult, but I'm trying not to imagine how it would have gone if I didn't have Austin doing my makeup or if I didn't know where Cedar Woods was.  I still got seemingly good-natured jokes about my mind still being on the beach when I was a little slow to respond at times, and certain things about showing houses and condos still elude me, let alone the exact current zoning regulations for when somebody asks about putting a deck on the back of a place.  I've rented ever since graduation, so all of the talk about offers, escrow, and closing feels like a test I'm constantly studying for and having to pass.

That's at least something that can be studied, and I can apply myself.  I've had jobs where I was kind of learning on the fly before.  It's the moments in between, when the phones aren't ringing and the four of us in the office are just chatting that are often the hardest to navigate.  I expected the other young woman to have the strongest opinion on me staying with Theresa's natural hair color, but it's actually the other guy, a few years older than me, and it makes me really uncomfortable.  He's got a girlfriend, and I suspect Theresa turned him down some time ago, so what's it matter to him that my hair is "drab"?  Is he going to be checking out my ass constantly if I ever start wearing skirts and heels?

That's not happening any time soon, though, if only because I kind of feel lost with Theresa's clothes on the weekend, and Austin's helping is sometimes not helping.  The first Saturday, I figured it was the weekend, so I grabbed some shorts and a t-shirt, but it didn't quite look or feel right (beyond the question of how ladies' jeans fit, whether they go halfway to the knee or to the ankle).  I was expecting dressing for work to be tricky, but I suddenly realized that I had thought about women's casual clothes even less.  I just knew a girl looked good or real good, but never paid attention to why, or where the line was between what she wears to a club, a concert, or just hanging around.  We haven't been doing a lot of "hanging out" - needing to read up on this other life is a handy excuse - but Austin's parents have been known to drop in, there's occasional shopping to do, and the Fourth of July was last weekend.

And that's where it gets super-weird.  From the way he describes his last couple years, Austin spent a lot of time on looking good as a girl, but if you think it's kind of creepy when a guy tells his girlfriend to wear, triple that for when that "girlfriend" is actually a guy not totally sold on "sexy" and the plan is to hang out with Austin's family, including his big brother who likes to make jokes about how if they don't get married soon, he's going to steal Theresa from him.  I'm just glad the weekend of the holiday was rainy and unseasonably cool, so I could wear jeans and a long-sleeved tee rather than the U.S. flag crop-top and the tiny shorts that go with it.

I suppose that I'll find a way to be Theresa that also lets me be myself a bit over the coming months - most folks either seem to manage that or get completely swallowed by their new life, and I still can't imagine that.  It's still hard to imagine finding the right middle ground right now, though.


Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Harmon Keller/Alicia Polawski: Assets

The obvious puns that come with my trying to ascertain the value of Alicia's identity are crude, but fitting.  My current measurements are enviable, or desirable, depending upon one's perspective, but how does one properly value them?  I began asking this not hypothetically, but practically - I planned to use relinquishing this shape to one for whom it perhaps came more naturally in order to both start the next phase of my life in a more financially stable situation and to perhaps have more ability to select that next phase rather than have it happen randomly.  One might not believe that the Inn is a marketplace, but it is, much as any place where money is exchanged for a product is a marketplace.  It is simply a highly irrational one:  Most people who arrive at the Inn for the first time have no idea what they are actually purchasing, while the vast majority who return put such a high value on returning to their previous situations that they fail to weigh any other factors at all.

There are those who do treat the Inn as a marketplace, though getting in touch with them can be difficult and the data one gathers scant enough that it becomes difficult to build a model.  Youth, as one might imagine, is the primary variable; though few of the people I have surveyed admit to seeking immortality per se, they will when pressed say that they want as much time as possible should circumstances prevent them from later revisiting, aside from the physical robustness that correlates with youth.  Financial stability is high up there as well, although not so much as one might expect - those who are concerned with it can liquidate assets and place them in a numbered account, after all.  It is a far greater negative influence - nobody wishes to be poor - than positive one.

Sex complicates matters - by and large, there's a noteworthy bias toward male identities being more valuable, at least in this market.  It's not hard to understand why; the biological nuisances and reductions in social status on average can certainly be frustrating.  But appearance can cause great variance, as can things like relationships, real and parasocial alike, more so than men.

"Alicia" is rather well-equipped on those accounts, now.  Although this particular silhouette has never been the one I favored among female companions, I cannot deny that its rounded bosom and buttocks are certainly able to grab another person's attention, particularly when I made an effort to showcase them.  I was, admittedly, ashamed of having this form when I first started living Alicia's life, but over my time as her, it's become easier.  What's the harm of showing some cleavage or using some high heels to accentuate your gait, if it makes men (and women!) more attentive?  One must learn how to set boundaries without actually sounding like one is ruling anything out, but I feel I have done fairly well by that.  Indeed, there are days when I wonder if I have done so well in that area that becoming a man again would have a steep learning curve.

Aside from that, there is the "vlog", which had seemed to have plateaued last fall but which has been gaining audience steadily since then.  Perhaps it has become more useful as people start to seriously consider vacations (or, based upon what I see during the day job, actually travel more), rather than as just a way to experience such things vicariously.  I have also become a better hostess - as much as I have grown more comfortable using my physicality, I cannot deny that my interview skills have improved, and Barbie and I have become better at editing the pieces, on top of my existing skills as a researcher.  We have put together a reasonably popular "show" for the resources we have; it's not unheard of for a new video to get a hundred thousand views in a month.

This makes "_______ with Alicia" an asset that is growing in value, and I am not the only person who has noticed it - various "content networks" have made inquiries, both about the series as it exists and what they envision it to be.  On the other side, I have had others approach me with offers to "professionalize" the series.  Sometimes it is local camera operators, other times editors, other times "producers" whose imagined roles range from the nebulous to the specific and useful.

That is on top of the people representing themselves as "agents", many of whom I suspect are less than legitimate, and other "content producers" who have seen either my series or Jordan's short film and would like me to appear in their videos, generally for "exposure" (looking at the scripts they send, the double-meaning is obvious), but sometimes for money.  Indeed, some of them even appear to have ambitions beyond online videos - short films like Jordan's which they would submit to film festivals, and even a feature-length presentation or two, although I have my doubts those would ever play a theater.

What to do with these?  There seems to be little question that accepting the proper offers would make "Alicia Polawski" a more valuable commodity, but so many of them seem to be very risky, and also time consuming, enough so to make finding a time to actually transfer this life to another difficult.  Already, it seems impossible to do in 2021.  And it also sets up a possibility that I may find ironic should it come to pass - that I might build "Alicia" up into something so valuable that the next iteration would seem to be trading down.  I've occasionally been bemused by some of the younger victims of the Inn deciding to stay as they were after a mere year or two, because they could no longer imagine returning to their old lives - as someone older than most of them, I cannot say that being Alicia yet feels normal enough to make my previous life seem alien, just in terms of the weight of experience - but the idea that I could become attached in the process of building these assets up to their peak value sometimes seems both frightening and amusing.

-Harmon Keller

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Eddie/Theresa: Hair, Wardrobe, and Makeup

The second time waking up as Theresa was in some ways even stranger than the first, because not only was there an alarm jolting me awake, but I was in someone else's home and bed, completely disoriented.  I didn't even know how to silence the alarm on Theresa's iPhone right away, making me nervous that it would wake Austin up and he'd offer to help.

There would be no avoiding that, but, still, I wanted an hour or so before he was awake to myself.  He'd been either in the room or just out of sight for the past 24 hours, and I was already starting to feel a bit smothered, and though I wasn't really thinking in terms of it being a guy-and-girl thing, the fact that we were in his life and he had experience with both the Inn and being a woman had him tending to take charge.  I don't necessarily feel like I have to be the guy in charge, but between not seeing anyone for a while and the pandemic, I hadn't been spending more time with anyone than a thirty-minute rideshare, so it had felt like a lot.

I stood quietly in the bedroom after I'd silenced the phone, listening to hear if I'd woken Austin.  Apparently not.  I got some of the new underwear out of the drawer and a robe from the closet, and made my way as quietly as I could to the bathroom, quietly shutting the door behind me before looking in the mirror.

Either Theresa gets bedhead too, or there was still some part of me there.  I'd never seen her like that, but seeing half my hair kind of puffy and one side pressed flat made me feel a little more myself.  It inspired me to make a few faces in the mirror, which was kind of reassuring, because I thought maybe Theresa's face wouldn't make the right expressions or something and I'd just look blank instead of looking like I was thinking.

Then it was time; I pulled the t-shirt I'd worn to bed off and saw what I had in the way of breasts.

Given how many people on this site talk about being really big, I guess I am lucky or unlucky, depending on how you look at it.  I'm not quite flat, but I don't look like I've got something attached to my chest.  I had a pretty clear tanline, although my skin wasn't that dark.  I gave them a little poke and even pinched at a nipple a bit and was glad when I didn't just immediately melt into a puddle or anything.

I still avoided looking between my legs more than I had to before taking a shower, which wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Yeah, there's a weird moment or two at my chest being soft and I kind of forgot just how much water and shampoo hair can hold when it's this length, but mostly it felt nice to get a couple day's worth of sweat off, even if it meant I was touching things I had no business touching that way and a little unnerved as I felt my breasts squish and move as I scrubbed.

Drying took a little while, and my first time putting on a bra was a challenge, but I didn't want to ask Austin for help.  I'm don't know why the clasps aren't in the front in most cases - is it an engineering thing, or just a women's clothing traditionally having fasteners in the back?  Seems like that would make things a lot easier.

I brushed my hair into a shape that looked more or less okay, put the robe back on, and took a breath as I left the bathroom.

Austin was awake by then, and looked me over critically, said "Well, you look nice, but not work-nice," and then led me to the dining area, where all of Theresa's makeup products were laid out, and apparently the first lesson was mascara.  And it was weird.

Not just the makeup - although using semi-solid gunk to extend your eyelashes is really weird - but the way Austin seemed to change while putting it on me made me wonder what months of being Theresa would do to me.  He had said the day before that he'd enjoyed being a woman and had wanted to be the one to become Theresa, but it had just been a thing he said - he'd seemed to fall back into being more or less the guy I remembered from high school quickly enough, in terms of voice and mannerisms and stuff, but as he went on about doing this to me, his voice was a bit higher, and he seemed to light up a bit.  And it didn't really feel like envy - he really seemed to enjoy just doing this thing and seeing the results that made me look prettier.

I guess it could be worse.  He didn't really seem to be trying to recreate me as someone he'd be more interested in having sex with, and I guess a lot of people who go to the Inn find themselves on the receiving end of lessons in femininity from people who don't look like they should know anything about it, after all.  Just weird.

The whole morning was like that, and much of the week.  He's been pretty good about starting me slow with the clothing, in that I've managed to stay in pants and flat shoes for almost two weeks, although I think he's dropped by to take me out to lunch a couple of times less to ask me about how things were going than to see how the women in the office were dressing so he could suggest that maybe it's time for skirts, heels, and maybe a different color of lipstick, although he's also pointed out that some of them go with a lighter hair color, like the one in the box on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet.  He also seems to take his time figuring out which earrings and stuff go with which outfits.

I'm starting to get the hang of it, but I also get the impression that he's not terribly worried about that beyond my being able to touch it up in the afternoon - that aside from brushing my hair, he's pretty content to be in charge of getting me dressed and made-up in the morning.

That's handy.  But weird.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Jonah/Krystle: Not Exactly in the "Never Going Back" category, but...

 ... I've probably pretty close to waiting my last table for a while.

(You thought I meant the Inn, didn't you?  Well, that too, but...)

It's not that I had a bad experience at the Changeling - Moira is still my best friend and Ashlyn is sometimes the only person I can talk to when the feeling of being a huge phony comes over me - though I know that there are a lot of people who were pretty badly exploited in that business.  I'm lucky that Moira, having grown up in her parents' pub in Ireland, brought the idea that servers should be paid a living wage here with her and it's one of the conditions she had on partnering with Ashlyn to open the place.  Lord knows others haven't been so lucky.  Still, they could only pay an hourly wage and shifts were relatively scarce until very recently, especially if you don't have a car with which to do delivery, since it took a while to be at 100% capacity and that means both fewer people working and fewer people to tip per person.  On top of that, tipping has become a real all-or-nothing situation lately:  The folks who demanded that restaurants be open in the middle of a pandemic are lousy tippers, while the folks who are easing their way back into it to the point where they don't take their mask off until they're ready to take their first bite will regularly hit 25-30%.

I'd been picking up what I could when I got a call from the gym, mentioning that they were re-opening and if I'd like to renew my membership.  I wasn't facing the nagging sensation of getting out of shape that Jordan was - you can't slow down that much with an energetic four-year-old - but I wanted to get back to climbing pretty badly.  Sadly, I told them, I couldn't really afford it right now.

I got the feeling that they'd heard that a few times from the sigh on the other end, but then the lady on the other end surprised me by first asking if I was vaccinated and then if I'd like to apply for a job.  I kind of laughed, saying I'd only been climbing for a few months before the pandemic hit, but she said that was good enough for making sure people were strapped into their harnesses properly and, besides, they'd probably start me at the front desk anyway.

So I applied, and I've got an interview tomorrow.  In a week or two, I could be doing that on a regular schedule and even getting benefits.  And the regular schedule sounds pretty good, especially if I can work it around school hours in a couple of months.

That's right, school - Little Moira turned four years old in January, and in Cambridge that means that she is eligible for "junior kindergarten" starting this fall.  And that whole experience has been kind of crazy!  Just forget that I technically never finished high school and it kind of feels like I should have some sort of graduation behind me before having my kid start, but the fact is that I grew up in a fairly small town with one elementary school, so it was one-size fits all, but here there's a lottery and you're expected to make decisions about what direction a four-year-old's life is going to be set on.

It's nuts!  More nuts for me, because if faced with the same decisions, my parents certainly wouldn't have had any way to know that they should prepare their baby boy for being a single mother that everyone thinks used to be a stripper, and here I am, trying to figure out what I want for my little girl even though I know there's just no predicting where life will take her.  It feels so random at times that I can see why some people are tempted to just take care of now and put their kids in the most conveniently located school.

I'm trying not to do that, though.  I suspect that our applications were all kinds of a mess but that it really doesn't matter that much, since I intend to be involved and attentive and all that.  Still, there will be chances to switch things up when we get a better idea of her interests than "she really likes Legos so maybe she'll be an engineer someday."  I'm a little disappointed that she got wait-listed for the Mandarin-immersion program, and hope it's not some "why would a lower-income black girl need to know that?" thing.  Maybe it is a silly bit of ambition I'm putting on her, but Jordan says that languages like that are a lot easier to learn if you start young, and it seems like the sort of thing grown-up Moira could use in 2035.

Listen to me.  2035.  I'm trying to make decisions that will affect another person's life in 2035, when I got here by just falling into a situation randomly and then making one desperate decision that had the exact opposite effect that I intended.  But I guess that's why I'll probably never be going back to the Inn, at least not before 2040 or whenever she graduates college, because it's entirely possible that she may wind up with someone somehow even more ill-suited to all this than me!