Thursday, December 28, 2006

Arthur: Busy holidays

I haven't had much time to write lately, because it's been crazy around here. I understood, in a vague way, that Christmas was a hectic time for families, but I hadn't really encountered that first-hand in years. My mother has been sick, and before that we'd sort of been cut off from the rest of her family. I won't get into the reasons why; it's tied up with why we didn't talk with my father, even up to the end. It's private, it's got nothing to do with the Trading Post, and that's the last I'll be talking about it.

This year was something else again. Suddenly I've got to shop for a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, a nephew, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and, oh yeah, a boyfriend, only one of whom I've spent any particular amount of time with. I've got to do this with more time spent at work, because the studios are just starting to roll out their prestige pictures, and we're sort of a prestige-picture theater.

The real Liz's letter was a big help. She's been window-shopping for her family up in Montreal, seeing things that she thinks Tara, Winston, or Billy would like and wishing she could buy them and send them down. I was happy to do what I could, of course, because I figure I'm just minding the store until she gets back. Advice like that helps me do so better, and makes me not appear to be a complete idiot when exchanging gifts on Christmas morning.

Now, that was strange - all last week, I had Liz's mother calling me and asking if I was going to stay over Christmas Eve. I told her I had to work, but she said that was okay, any time I could get there was fine. Apparently, even though Liz is a grown woman, since she's still single, she has to adhere to the kids' rules at Christmas and stay at the family house. Of course, since Ray was in the same position, we wound up driving out to the suburbs at eleven o'clock on the twenty-fourth, with him dropping me off at Casa del Lee. Sleep fast, because Mother Lee is going to be up at five to put a ham in the oven, even though Tara, Dae-su, and Billy won't be out until at least ten. It was very American, even if Liz's mother did say grace in Korean before dinner. Still, there was a lot of talk about getting married during that dinner, and there's really no subject that makes me more uncomfortable.

It was a huge relief to get to work afterwards, even if it was a shift and a half with Stewart. That relationship is just becoming weirder and weirder to me - the ability to feel honestly deceptive is nice, but he's started to flirt with me at work, although it becomes slightly more cryptic double entendres when Zoe is around. I get the feeling he's wanting to move the relationship public, and that really messes with my head: I know this is what Liz wants, but I don't feel up to making it happen myself. And since I'm so unused to this side of the male-female dynamic, I don't know whether I really trust my reading of hte signals.

Anyway, it was particularly annoying on Monday because I was looking forward to a full day at work where I can just put in my time, be the boss of the high school and college kids (along with a senior citizen or two) in a nice, organizationally-decreed dynamic, and think about practical matters like making sure that the concession stand has enough popcorn, regularly emptying the box office's drops, and communicating to the guy in the booth that cinema one is out of focus or that they're using a flat lens on a scope film. I don't need that time to be fraught with personal business, where I have to be Elizabeth Lee, human being, as opposed to Miss Lee, Assistant Manager.

Fortunately, it's been a busy week, and Zoe has been kind enough to catch the flu and require me to cover her shifts, so there's been little time with Raymond, who has an uncharacteristically light schedule this week and apparently got some talking to from his folks about being unmarried. It's starting to feel like I can't just keep the status quo going, which scares the heck out of me. I really don't want to mess Liz's life up for her.

Of course, Jake probably loved the holidays just because of all this togetherness and drama, but it just feels like trouble to me.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Arthur: Holiday commitments

I didn't get much Christmas shopping done when I met Jake last week; my current plan is to make an evening of it with Raymond tomorrow night. Quite frankly, he probably knows Elizabeth's family far better than I do, so he'll be able to say yes and no to what are almost completely random choices. Besides, it'll be payback for getting dragged to another boring law firm party tonight.

The only thing I wound up buying at the mall on Thursday was a new red dress, something a little Christmas-y with a snowflake print. It's fun, I look kind of cute in it, especially with the matching sparkly red stockings and Santa hat, but I'm kind of amazed that the weather is right for it. It was cold when I bought it, but there's been a patch of warm days lately. That's confusing, really - you hear all about the New England winter, but if this is it, then there are evenings when I'll take Boston's winter over San Francisco's summer. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be wearing a dress that's a halter up top and which stops above the knee tonight, if I was back home.

With the caveat that if I was back home, I'd probably be myself, of course.

Anyway, that's what I've got planned for the next couple evenings. Getting those days off means that I'm pulling a couple doubles later this week, along with working both Christmas Even and Christmas evening. Not that I mind; it keeps me out of the Lees' holiday celebrations. Jake may have really enjoyed his Thanksgiving with Ashlyn's family, but it goes to show how different our respective baggage is. He's been without his family for a while, so a big family dinner is like revisiting a childhood memory for him; it hasn't even been a year since I lost my mother, and I can't say I've got good memories of my father, so the big nuclear family gathering feels like a parody to me. It's not my life, I don't know how to act in that situation, and I'm taking what rightly belongs to Elizabeth.

She doesn't really seem to hold it against me. I received my first letter from her in over a month yesterday. On the good side, it did have a helpful list of Christmas shopping suggestions, along with some helpful "don'ts": Her father is allergic to chocolate, so if I had followed my usual strategy of buying candy for everyone who hadn't been checked off my shopping list two days before Christmas, that would have been... awkward.

She said she was sorry she hadn't written sooner, but it's apparently been a crazy couple months for her. Like me, she wound up inheriting a boyfriend, but hers is one André Trudeau, a notable figure in organized crime up there. Or, at least, a "suspected" one. According to Liz, he's always been paranoid, but last month there was a major organized crime crackdown in Quebec. For the most part, it focused on Italian families, which means it's been something of an opportunity for the Trudeaus - it created a power vacuum for them to move into. On the plus side, it meant that the nasty guy twice her age isn't coming by quite so often, but when he is, he's quite insistent and not happy that "Marie" now prefers speaking English to trying to get by in her high school French. The big downside is that André's paranoia has gone through the roof, and he's constantly worried about someone close betraying him - someone like his twenty-five year-old mistress.

So Liz is being watched. Some of the time, she's being watched by "Jean-Michel Therriot", that is to say, Ashlyn, and there's a little pressure off, but Ashlyn says that doesn't mean she's particularly trusted - Trudeau has software loaded on their computers to track web browsing and keypresses (which is why her letters are written by hand), and since Ashlyn is occasionally told to keep tabs some of her "colleagues", it stands to reason that she's being watched, too. Besides, Ashlyn doesn't keep tabs on Liz that much these days - Trudeau apparently got a little upset when "Marie" and "Jean-Michel" stayed in Old Orchard a few days longer than expected, and wants to nip anything going on between them in the bud.

Liz shudders to think what would have become of them if Ashlyn hadn't been able to blend in - the Providence area has a good-sized French-Canadian population, so Ashlyn was already somewhat familiar with the language and accent (that, and she had dated the occasional hockey player). Liz really wants out badly, though; she's already making plans for how to accomplish it.

It's sobering. As much as I'm not thrilled with living Liz's life, I can certainly see why she wants it back. I'm going to feel pretty bad enjoying her family dinner, knowing where she is.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--Christmas shopping

Last Thursday Art and I planned to get together and do a little Christmas shopping. We’ve been meaning to get together for a little while now, but our schedules have been conflicting. I’ve been taking every extra shift the restaurant would give me, and apparently the holidays are busy times at theaters, keeping “Liz” busy as well.

We decided to meet at the CambridgeSide Mall, specifically, the Starbucks.

Like so many things in my life, even what I drink at Starbucks has changed. I now drink a “grande non-fat chai”. I still do a little promotion work on the side, and one day after a gig a bunch of the other girls and I stepped into a Starbucks. Every one of them ordered the “grande non-fat chai”. I guess peer pressure got to me, so I got one as well—It was really good, so I have been drinking them every since.

Art was a few minutes late, so when I saw an empty table I grabbed it.

In my previous life as Jake, I had no trouble eating a meal alone, sitting at a bar alone, or drinking a coffee at Starbucks alone. I didn’t have a problem with it, and the people around me didn’t have a problem with it. As Ashlyn however, I can’t seem to get five minutes peace. No sooner than I sit down than some guy is in my personal space trying to make small talk. I realize I am partially to blame—I dress like I am looking for the attention.

Art walks in as I am getting rid of the second guy who was angling for my phone number. Art waves and gets in line for a coffee. Art was looking pretty good in a red sweater and black pants; I could also tell he had made an effort with his hair and makeup. Drink in hand; he took the seat across from me.

Art takes a long sip of his coffee and you could physically see him relax. “So, you said on the phone you had some big news; did you find out something about your secret admirer? “

I reached into my purse and pulled out a handwritten letter. I slide it across the table to him.

“Actually, no. This is something new. This letter came to me at work two days ago.”

Dear “Ashlyn”,

Much to my surprise I ran across your blog on the internet and felt a need to contact you. I called many restaurants in Cambridge area, and through trial and error I was able to find a lounge that had a redhead waitress named Ashlyn. I hope you don’t mind me sending this to you at work.

My name is Jessica and we have something in common. Seven years ago I was a guest at the Trading Post Inn, and I too haven’t been the same person since.

The letter went into details about who she once was and who she was now. She said she sent me a letter because she wanted to talk to others who had the same experience as she did—but didn’t want to make her life too public in the blog. She did say I could share some of the basics—like before the transformation she was also a male, and was a 40 year old police officer. She was transformed into a ten year old girl. She was seventeen now, about to graduate from high school for the second time.

“Wow, that’s rough. Not only having to go through high school twice, but having to go through puberty twice.” Art commented.

The letter went on giving details about how she had grown up and adapted to her new life. There were a few items of interest. Apparently her parents had not accompanied the original Jessica when she went to the Inn. Jessica went with the family of her best friend at the time. When “Jessica” was returned to her parents, the magic kicked in and her new family never thought twice that their little girl was saying she was not as she appeared to be—and even though she had knowledge way above that of a normal 10 year old, no amount of persuasion was able to convince her new parents.

Her “best friend’s” family, also all transformed victims, moved away a few months later, and she had no one to talk about what happened to her. After a while she even began to doubt herself, maybe she just imagined her whole previous life.

Then one day, she got in an argument with her mother—for the umpteenth time she made the argument that she was not really her daughter. For the first time, the woman listened; she still wasn’t totally convinced, but whatever “power” that kept people from believing was gone—in its place was standard disbelief that the impossible was possible. After several more arguments, Jessica was finally able to convince her mother.

Jessica had a theory that people you spend a lot of time with start to build up immunity to the “magic” that kept people from believing the transformed. Total strangers would still never believe you, but given time, friends and family could—with the right convincing.

Unfortunately, to much time had gone by at this point, and Jessica and her mother were unable to find out what happened to the original Jessica. They are still hunting for her.

“Wow.” Art said after several moments of silence.

“Yeah. Made me wonder if we should create an email address for the blog, somewhere where victims of the Inn could email us, and tell us their experiences. Maybe we could help some people.” I say.

“We’d probably get a lot of kooks, and worse, our first instinct will be to not believe them because of the “magic”. But it still might be a good idea.” Art says thoughtfully.
“You know what else this means? If her story is real, then in theory we could tell people who we really are.” I say to him.

We mull on that for a while.

Art changed the subject. “Do you think it is strange that we haven’t heard from anyone else in our group from the Inn? I would have thought when I posted that we might have found a solution to getting our old lives back, we would’ve heard from everyone.”

I thought that was weird as well, and I told him so. “You would have thought we would have at least heard from Jeff. He kept up with the blog for a while.”

“I suppose,” Art says thoughtfully, “It’s possible the others just assimilated into their new lives and lost interest in the blog—or keeping in contact with us.”

I shook my head no. “That just doesn’t feel like what’s going on to me. I’ll admit I’ve gotten pretty comfortable in Ashlyn’s skin—but a day doesn’t go by that I don’t want my old life back. I think something weird is going on.”

Art gives me a look. “Speaking of weird, have you found out anything on that secret admirer of yours? Is there anything to be worried about?”

“Call it women’s intuition, but my gut says there is something going on there. I’m going to swing by Anthony’s strip club. I called him and he said he still had the envelope the gift certificate came in. There’s a return address.”

“He couldn’t just give you the address over the phone?”

“He wouldn’t give it to me over the phone—said he liked seeing me in person.” I shrugged.

“I hope you plan to keep all your clothes on.”

“That’s my current plan, yeah.”

It was my turn to change the subject.

“So…” I start cautiously, “How’s your sex life?”

Art groaned and rolled his eyes. “I knew this was coming.”

“Hell yeah, it’s coming. We’re all girls here right? Let’s have some girl talk.” I was giving him some good natured ribbing, but it was also a subject I wanted to talk about. Funny, as a guy you could have never gotten me to discuss this stuff, as a chick it seemed easier to discuss.

“What’s to talk about? You read the blog, you know what happened.” Art said.

“I want to know if sex is better as a woman.” I decided to be direct. “I’ve been avoiding it. But with you taking the plunge, and the fact I have been reading Ashlyn’s diaries, it’s got me wondering if it is something I might need to experience before we switch back to our old lives. It might be a once in a lifetime experience.”

“Ashlyn’s diaries talk about her sexual exploits?” Art asks.

“The girl was a walking, breathing sexual amusement park. Don’t change the subject. So is sex better as a woman?”

He hesitates. “Some things yes, some things no. Plus, I’ve yet to have an orgasm.”

“Now that’s something I can tell you about.” I think I blushed slightly. “If you aren’t having an orgasm then you are really missing out. I think I mentioned in the blog I found Ash’s sex toys—I’ve gotten fairly proficient at using some of them, and I can’t stress this enough, if you are not having an orgasm during sex, you are really missing out.”

“Are you thinking about sleeping with Josh?” Art asked bluntly.

“I don’t know. I haven’t even decided if it is something I want to do. Josh is a nice guy and I trust him…”

“And he is in love with Ashlyn.” Art gives me a serious look. “Do you remember Kim Swanson?”

Kim Swanson was someone I was in love with a lifetime ago. She was sexy and smart. I had it really bad for her and she knew it. I was blinded by my feelings and did many dumb things—including “loaning” her large sums of money. She used me.

“What? Are you accusing me of using Josh? I haven’t asked him for anything!” I was angry.

“You don't have to ask him for anything, JAKE, believe me - he sits around thinking about what he can do for ASHLYN without you even asking. Who got you the job at the lounge?”

SHIT. Art was right. I was no better than Kim Swanson.

We sit in silence for a minute until Art breaks it. “Come on, we’ve Christmas shopping to do. I’m really struggling with what to get everybody.”

“Why?” I ask.

“Well, take Ray for example. I want to get him something Liz would give him. I can’t seem to come up with anything.”

I shook my head, “Dude, I think you are trying wwwaaaaaayyyyyy to hard. Just get him something any guy would want for Christmas—You have an advantage over all the other women in the world in knowing what guys like.”

“Okay, maybe. But I still have all these Korean relatives to worry about.” Art persisted.

“I think you are over thinking things.”

We get up and head out into the extremely crowded mall.

“I forgot to ask you what sex positions are best as a woman.” I nearly have to yell over the Christmas music and noise of the crowd.

“Too late.” Art says, “Girl talk is over for today. Now it’s time to move onto the shopping portion of our afternoon. ” He points over to Cambridge Sound Works. “Let’s go in there.”

Becoming a woman hadn’t improved my ability to shop. For the next 3 hours we fought the crowds until we were exhausted.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Arthur: There is something exciting about an illicit affair

... even if it's not YOUR illicit affair.

I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time defending my position of having the occasional rendez-vous with Liz's boss while thinking Jake should be really careful about leading Josh on. It's about having a goal - when I have sex with Stewart, it's all about being able to leave Elizabeth Lee a note saying "your life is just how you left it" five months from now. When Jake brings someone Ashlyn had broken up with home to meet her parents, well, what are you trying to accomplish there?

That said - I am having sex with Stewart, once or twice a week. And I have to admit, I do enjoy it most of the time, at the time. Aside from the fact that we're physiologically wired to enjoy the process of procreation, I'm learning stuff - Stewart is an enthusiastic, talented lover. There's plenty of stuff that's not knowing the book, because when I'm myself again, I want it to be a part of my arsenal, rather than shared with anybody willing to part with twenty-four ninety-five. He's good enough that I think I really should have had an orgasm by now, but he's cool about that. I don't know whether he's viewing it as a challenge or he considers it nothing to worry about based on his own pleasure and my lack of expressed disappointment. But I think that what I like most of all isn't the actual sex or feeling like I'm helping Liz.

It's the secrecy.

Consider the irony, for a second - I spend pretty much all of every day, except the occasions when I'm writing this or meeting up with Jake, implicitly deceiving everybody around me. I feel bad about lying to everyone around me, but there's nothing I can do about it, and the tension from knowing I'm lying just makes me more tense. But, of course, showing that I'm tense would be terrible, because Elizabeth Lee has no reason to be tense and any attempt to explain it will just be shrugged off.

But when I'm with Stewart - I'm doing something I'm not supposed to be doing! I'm "cheating on my boyfriend", so I've got as much license to feel nervous and guilty and out of place as I want. Well, as nervous/guilty/out-of-place as I do at any rate.

So, of course, because it's okay to be nervous, I'm probably not as uncomfortable as I should be. I mean, sure, there's the whole "I can't believe I'm going to let him put that in there issue, but around that, when we're eating or "just happening" to show up for the same movie at the same time, I feel like I can actually let my guard down a little because any crack that appears in my armor has a routine explanation.

The really funny thing is, it's spreading into the rest of my assumed life - last night, Zoe thought I was being a bit weird. She was right; I'd gotten an email from Jeremy saying that "we" were off the ghost-writing gig, because pages were coming in late and short of the expected quality. That stung, at first, because I have been doing a fair amount of editing and re-writing of what Jeremy sends me, but I obviously can't put the same effort into that I could if I didn't have Liz's full-time job, Liz's "real life", and my own research project all vying for my time. It stings - I've got a pretty good reputation for professionalism, and I hate the idea of having a black mark on my record when I take my life back. Plus, some of the complaints are because I've only really been able to get a sense of what the client wants based upon the notes Jeremy takes in the interviews, and they suck. Plus, I don't have as much time as I'd like because apparently everyone involved has ceded the actual research on the Inn to me, and it's not a small task. I'd really like to hear from Drew, for instance - lawyers are good at research, and he's probably still got some Lexis access, which would make searching for information a whole hell of a lot easier.

As I said, with all that going on, the double-life stress is probably showing on my face more than usual. Zoe notices it, comments on it, and just as I'm thinking "how do I explain it?", Stewart shows up for his shift. Then the inspiration hits me - I don't have to cover for all that, or try to make it appear normal - I just have to cover for "secretly screwing my boss behind my boyfriend's back". I can do that; I admit without pride that I have cheated on a girlfriend in the past, so I know how to handle this situation for a while.

Only for a while, though. Still, I figure that under normal circumstances, Zoe or someone will realize what's up before May, and I'm not sure how to deal with that inevitability. It's something to write Liz about, because I really don't want to deviate too far from her wishes.

But in the meantime, it's nice to have a "regular" secret; it's great cover for the strange one.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--Finally, Thanksgiving Part 2

So, back to Thanksgiving.

My mom turned out to be psychic. She said I would show up with a guy and she was right. No one was more surprised than me.

The day after my “mom” called me and invited me to Thanksgiving dinner, I had the condo to myself. All of my roommates had left to visit their various families for the holiday. Normally I might take the opportunity to put on some music, slip into some lingerie and do a little dancing in front of the large mirror in my bedroom. I managed to resist the urge and gave into a different one—I decided to clean the condo.

My roommates are slobs. I’ve always been a neat freak. I like clean surfaces and can’t stand to see dirty dishes lying around. If anything, turning into Ashlyn has made my need for cleanliness even worse. Suddenly I can’t stand certain smells. My ability to handle anything gross is way down since turning into Ashlyn: A week ago I walk through the kitchen and for the millionth time noticed the apple sitting on the counter. It had been there for a month and looked like it. I had told myself that my roommates were not going to change their behavior if I kept cleaning up their messes. I couldn’t take it anymore. I angrily grabbed the apple to throw it into the trash—only when I grabbed it, the rotten apple squished in my hand.

The feeling was disgusting. I screamed.

To my embarrassment, Logan came running in wanting to know what was wrong.

I meekly showed him my hand covered with apple guts.

He sighed and grabbed a towel then handed it to me. “Shit Ash, you can be such a girly girl sometimes.”

I don’t think he could have said anything else that could make me feel worse.

So back to cleaning.

I did dishes, I dusted, I vacuumed. I put up the video games and put them in alphabetical order--I know, I’m crazy.

I start to try to rearrange the furniture in the living room. It turned into too much of a job to do by myself. Three months as Ashlyn and I still forget I am not as strong as I was as Jake. Annoyed, I give up and decide it was time to clean myself up.

I undress and walk around the condo nude, it feels sexy. I was on my way to the bathroom to run a bath when my cell phone rings. According to caller ID, it was Josh, the ex-boyfriend. I decided to talk to him later, and continued to the bath.

As Jake, I was a shower man. As Ashlyn, I’ve started to take more baths than showers. I fill the tub with water so hot I can barely get into it, and relax. It feels amazing.

Almost an hour later I get out and discovered I had a problem. I don’t know why I bothered to close the door—I was the only one home.

The door was stuck. I tried everything and every ounce of my strength. The door wouldn’t budge.

Worse, our condo is on the upper floor—so if I could manage to squeeze through the little window in the bathroom I had nowhere to go. Not to mention nothing to wear.
I couldn’t imagine myself shimming down the side of the house in nothing but a towel. I was so screwed.

Fortunately, the one thing that did go right was the fact I had my phone. I had brought it in with me when Josh had called.

I give the ex-boyfriend a call. He was wwwaaaaaayyyyyy to happy to hear from me.

I explain my problem, and after a good laugh, he said he would be right over. He still had a key to the condo.

Twenty minutes later, I hear a knock at the door. “Hello Ash, are you going to be in there much longer? I need to borrow the bathroom.” It was Josh.

“Ha. Ha. So can you get me out of here or what?” I gave myself a look in the mirror. I had used the last twenty minutes to blow dry my hair and apply a little makeup. I had also wrapped a towel around myself.

It took 3 tries of smashing his shoulder into the door, but eventually Josh came busting in.

He sees me in the towel and gives me an appreciative smile.

“My hero.” I tell him.

I leave him in the living room and slip on some clothes. When I get back I offer him a beer and we sit around and talk for a while.

He looks around the place. “You’ve gone on one of your cleaning sprees. The place looks great.”

“Yeah, maybe, I wanted to move the couch, but it was too much for me.” I say.

He jumps up. “Where do you want it?”

I shake my head in disbelief. This guy has it bad for me.

A half hour later we are relaxing in the newly rearranged living room. It looks so much better. We make small talk and he asks what I am doing for Thanksgiving.

“I’m going to Providence and doing the family thing.” Being without family for so long, it felt kind of good to say that. “What about you?”

He shrugged. “I really don’t have much of a plan.”

“You’re not going to see family?” I asked.

He gives me a funny look. “What? Go visit my foster parents? We were not that close. You know that Ash.” He sounded hurt.

I felt terrible. I totally understood his situation. Until I was turned into Ashlyn, it was my situation as well. Holidays were the worst. Nothing like a holiday to remind you how alone you were.

“I wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry. Why don’t you come to Providence with me?”

He resisted at first, but after some gentle prodding from me, he gave in.

“Besides,” I tell him. “Now I can ride with you in your new car.”

Thanksgiving Day.

I decided to dress casual—and to my amusement I put on jeans and a grey Henley top—it was the outfit I first wore when I decided to wear Ashlyn’s clothes for the first time. With my hair and makeup done, I looked very different than that first day.

Providence was only an hour and a half away, so we decided to leave around 10am.
Fortunately, Josh’s car has a high dollar navigation system, so we entered my “parents” address and it gave directions. I told Josh it was fun to use the system—the truth was I had no idea how to get there.

My parents live in a large two story. With the price of housing in New England, it was a pretty good indicator that my new folks were reasonably well off.

We ring the bell, and the door opened to a woman I recognized from some of Ashlyn’s pictures—this was my Mom. I would’ve been able to guess who she was without that knowledge; we had the same red hair color.

“Sweetheart!” She gives me a big hug. Moments later my father appears and he too gives me a hug.

“Welcome home pumpkin.” He tells me.

I introduce Josh to them, and my folks warmly welcome him in. I immediately like my new parents, they were warm, nice people.

We had a houseful—and since my folks had a large house, that was a lot of people. Cousins, Aunts and Uncles and well as friends of my mom and dad were there. It was slightly overwhelming, because of course, I didn’t recognize anyone.

I didn’t cook anything—I don’t think the real Ashlyn cooks anyway—but I did bring some things from the Lounge I work at: mac and cheese, green beans and a peanut butter pie.

All the men had gravitated toward the game room. There was a pool table, a card table, and a big screen tv. I wanted to stay in there with Josh, but I knew I a least needed to make an appearance in the kitchen. I figured it was expected since most of the women were in the kitchen and dining room.

I walk in and ask where I needed to place the things I brought. A cheerful, rotund woman takes my items and hands me a glass of wine. “Happy Thanksgiving Ash!”

I’m a little nervous, so I down it quickly. Someone refills my glass. They might not have a pool table, but these women were having a good time in their own way.

Lunch happened not to long after Josh and I arrived. People sat everywhere, with most of the food set up on a buffet table in the dining room. The food was amazing. I ate so much I new I was going to have to put some extra time on the treadmill after the holiday.

After lunch the women cleaned up as the men shot pool and watched football. It pissed me off. I thought about saying something, but deep down I knew if it wasn’t for being turned into a woman I might have never thought twice about it.

There was a park nearby, and a bunch of the guys started to get a flag football game together. I tell Josh I wanted to play.

“Really?” He asked surprised. “I thought you hated football.”

“I was a cheerleader. How could I cheer for the team if I didn’t like the sport?”

I was the only girl to play. Everyone put their names in a hat and two team captains drew for teams. Josh and I ended up on opposite teams.

I had a great time. Being the only girl the guys greatly underestimated me. Early in the game I was left completely uncovered and easily caught the ball for a touchdown. I spiked the ball and did a little dance.

I also had an unfair advantage—people were very careful around me. I think everyone was afraid of hurting me.

We had previously decided that whatever team was ahead at 3:45pm would be the winners. At four o’clock was the Dallas, Tampa Bay football game and most of the guys wanted to watch it—that included me, as I am a huge Cowboys fan and they are having a great year.

So at 3:30 things didn’t look good for my team as we were 7 points down.
Fourth and goal and if Josh’s team made this there probably wasn’t enough time for my team to catch up.

They hand off the ball to Josh. He had been on of their better players—he was built like a football player, and he was fast. He ran right at me. I panic, and instead of going for the flag that was hanging out of his pocket, I jumped at him and tackled him.

He ended up flat on his back, and I ended up on top of him. Our faces were inches apart.

“This is flag football Ash. Tackling is against the rules.” He laughs at me.

“Sorry I got caught up in it.”

I awkwardly get off of him and reach down, offering my hand to help him up. I wasn’t much help, as he vastly outweighed me.

We lost the game. Because I tackled Josh, they got a first down and basically ran out the clock before scoring a final touchdown.

We walk back to the house. Josh reaches down and takes my hand—so we walked holding hands. I considered saying something or pulling my hand away—but the day had been so perfect, I didn’t want to ruin it. Besides, it was just holding hands.

When we get back my mom takes one look at me and shakes her head. “You’re a mess. If you want to take a shower, you still have plenty of old clothes in your old bedroom.”

It sounded like a good idea—besides, it gave me an excuse to look around Ashlyn’s old bedroom.

Ashlyn’s bedroom was a slight surprise. There were tons of photos—many of them were Ashlyn in a cheerleader’s outfit. There was a megaphone in the corner with “Ashlyn” written in script. The truly surprising thing was the plaques, certificates and trophies—sure a few of them were cheerleader awards, but most weren’t. Ashlyn was an honor student. She won some acting awards. A quick perusal of the room gave the impression of someone who was highly intelligent and highly ambitious. This wasn’t how I pictured Ashlyn. I assumed Ashlyn was the kind of girl that got by on her looks. This room told a different story. I know she hadn’t been doing much with her life when I took it over. I wonder what happened to her? I wonder what knocked this young woman off track?

I showered and found some things I could wear. My mom came into the room as I was getting dressed. It felt odd being nearly naked in front of a total stranger—I just reminded myself that this was my mother. I had nothing she hadn’t seen before.

“Josh seems nice.” She says to me.

“He is nice.” That was true.

She looks at me funny. “Are you acting again? Do you have a roll in something? A play?”

“No.” I say surprised. “Why do you ask?”

“Your accent. I can’t tell what it is supposed to be, but you don’t sound like you are from around here.”

“Some of the people I work with are from out of state—maybe I am picking it up from them.” I lie.

Before I realize it, we talk for nearly an hour. It felt nice to have someone so interested in my life—even if it wasn’t really my life.

We head back into the game room and I find Josh glued to the Cowboys game. The room was packed. Josh was sitting on a couch with several other people. I didn’t see a good place to sit, so I decided to take advantage of being a girl, and went over and sat in Josh’s lap. He didn’t seem to mind.

After the game there were plenty of leftovers—for the second time I ate more in one sitting than I ever had before as Ashlyn. I knew I was going to regret that later.

Eventually it was time go. I had tolerated the hugs when we had first shown up this morning, now I was giving the warm hugs. I liked these people.

“I love you sweetheart.” My Mom says to me.

“I love you too Mom.” I got choked up again when I realize it was about seventeen years since I said that last.

In the car Josh turns to me. “Thanks for inviting me Ash. Holidays are hard when you don’t have any family.”

“I can imagine.” I tell him.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Arthur: Just a bit... um...

I was bouncing randomly around the internet the other day and I saw a weird brouhaha over a comic book publisher naming their new line for teenage girls "Minx". Apparently, there's a little-used definition of the word that means "easy lay" or something like that, and thus folks were complaining that it's a poor choice for a line of books aimed at young girls. Personally, I've never seen that word used that way - I've always seen it as innocent, mischievous at worst - but apparently enough have to raise a minor stink.

I suppose that's why certain words are such trouble. Not just because they're derogatory while male equivalents aren't considered so bad - but because the definition can occasionally be in doubt. Take "bimbo" and "slut", for instance; I've known people who use them interchangeably, but I've never thought of them that way. A bimbo's just promiscuous; she likes getting laid and doesn't require much emotional attachment to make it happen. A slut, though, the way I think of it, does have an emotional component to it, and not a healthy one - there's low self-esteem there, the need to build her worth up somehow. It's sad, really, but the line between sad and contemptible can be tough to locate sometimes.

Then there's all the other ones - "tramp" is like "bimbo" but implies betrayal, "skank" is sort of like slut plus disease... I'm sure we've all got our own personal definitions. I'm thinking of this because I'm trying to figure out just what category I'd put Liz in, and where I'd put myself.

Liz probably doesn't fit into any of those categories. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, say she genuinely cares for both Raymond and Stewart. She may have first wound up with Stewart because things weren't going well with Raymond, but things changed. She just wound up in a bad position, and I wasn't inclined to judge her until she asked me to perpetuate it, and even then, well, what are you going to do in this situation? Extraordinary situations breed extraordinary requests.

But what's my doing so make me? I've done it with Stewart a couple times now, and it's nice but not anything I want to initiate. I haven't screwed Raymond yet, but I think it will happen someday. You can only sleep in the same bed for so long, and there's a part of me that wants to keep this relationship going, because why should Liz be let off the hook by having someone else break up with her boyfriend for her? So here I am, acting as a relationship placeholder out of some perverse sense of obligation. But what else am I going to do? Even if I was inclined to stay in this life and make it my own, I couldn't stay with these guys - they started something with Liz, and it would be kind of despicable for me to usurp that. To be frank, it weirds me out whenever I do something with Ray or Stewart, but then I can at least think of myself as just a sub keeping things as they are until Liz comes back. When I see Jake out with Ashlyn's ex Josh - well, he's my best friend, I guess, but it seems really wrong to me. Those false pretenses seem bigger - Josh is trying to make something happen with Ashlyn, but Ashlyn has made her decision and Jake really shouldn't be leading him on. Even if he winds up somehow attracted to the guy (nasty), it just seems wrong - we may look like the girls these guys fell for, but we're not them. It goes beyond the whole boy-girl thing; even if I'd woken up a different, non-Arthur Milligan man, it would still be wrong.

Arrgh, this is so complicated. I'm really glad that the movie business is in full swing this past week; it kept me busy, even if I did have to spend a weird Thanksgiving day with Liz's and Ray's families. Think of it - Liz and Ray have been together so long that showing up at each others' Thanksgiving dinners was a given, and everyone had questions for about when we'd be taking some next step. We made lame excuses, though nothing as crazy as "sorry, my job's just to maintain the status quo until the real Liz Lee gets back and breaks up with your son."

That's the only time I felt like I've been cheating, sitting surrounded by Ray's parents and siblings. He's not my boyfriend, so why should I feel guilty about screwing someone else? Even if that's how you really feel, though, it's tough to really feel it strongly when you're accepting the privileges of being his girlfriend - even if those privileges are in the form of his mother's pumpkin pie.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--My girl gone wild moment

Before I continue my “recap” of Thanksgiving (at this rate it will be Christmas before I write it), I wanted to put a few words down about removing my top for Anthony and his associates… I think I had a “girl gone wild” moment. Walking around in Ashlyn’s skin is a big turn on. I glance down, I see boobs. I go down the stairs I feel them bounce with every step. When I sit down, I feel the difference in shape of my ass. When I cross my legs I feel the smoothness of those legs—as well as he void between then. I am aware of the taste of lipstick on my lips, the smell of perfume on my body and the odd feeling of wearing a thong.

My point is that I am continuously aware of my body. Even though I have been Ashlyn for 3 months it’s still a new and stimulating experience. I compare it to getting a new car. How long does it take before the new car excitement goes away, and it becomes just a car? It probably takes even longer if you are driving a sports car—and as bodies go, Ashlyn is definitely a sports car. Just like you can get caught up driving a sports car, I think I have gotten caught up in pretending to be Ashlyn. It’s very seductive.

So when Anthony offered me the money to remove my top, I figured why not? It will be wild and sexy, I’ll make some money, and no one will get hurt.

But a funny thing happened the next morning. I felt a little guilty.

This is going to sound dumb—but I can’t seem to find the words to better describe what I am feeling: I feel like I have disrespected my (current) gender.

Maybe it’s me being crazy. I have worn several outfits that left very little to the imagination and it didn’t bother me…why does it make a difference that I went the rest of the distance and let some guys see what little my clothes was hiding?

I just know there is a difference—I guess it is part of being a woman.

More Later,


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--Magic Boobs 2

Okay, I’ll have to continue my “Thanksgiving recap” tomorrow. I wanted to mention a few things that happened last night.

Cambridge is an interesting place. If I was really an attractive single young woman, this might be the perfect place to live. The area is teeming with young singles because of the numerous colleges. Cambridge is also the home to MIT and Harvard. You can almost smell the intelligence in the air. This creates and interesting dynamic that I think affects the people and businesses of Cambridge.

Which brings me to where I work.

It’s an eclectic place. It’s part cocktail lounge and part “mom and pops dinner”. You can get a killer drink and a blue plate special all at the same time. The wait staff is hip and sexy. I struggle with the hip part because I’m really over a decade older than I look—but I make up with the sexy part. I learned early on showing a bit of cleavage and sexy stride got me better tips.

The original Ashlyn was a party girl—and she knew a lot of people. On a fairly often basis, customers of the lounge come running up to me and give me a hug. They give me the old “Wow, where have you been?” or “Are you going to this party or that party?” I’ve gotten pretty adept at pretending I recognize everyone.

Which brings me to table 1 in the private dining room, party of four.

For a Tuesday night we were “in the weeds” which is restaurant slang for being really busy. I was in a funky mood when I had gotten dressed for work, so I probably pushed the sexy thing a little far—short, short skirt and a top that looked painted on. So when I walked up to my “party of four” and it turned out to be a table of middle-aged guys, I new I was going to well in the tips department.

I give them a big smile. “So what can I get you boys this evening?”

“Hello babe.” One of the four acted like he knew me. He had Italian features and his suit looked high dollar.

I hesitated, unsure if I was reading him correctly.

“You don’t remember me!” He feigned being hurt, “How could you forget me? It’s me, Anthony… you danced naked for me during your audition.”

I blushed all the way to my toes, but the little pieces of info clicked into place for me. Right after I decided to live Ashlyn’s life and caught a train to Cambridge, the first thing I did was check the messages on her/my phone. There was a message from an Anthony who ran a strip club—he was disappointed I had decided to turn the job down.

“Anthony! Sorry, it’s kind of dark in here. I didn’t recognize you.” I wasn’t sure how well Ashlyn new this guy, so I leaned over and gave him a hug. I’ve found guys never turn down a hug from a girl as stacked as me.

“So this is what you are doing instead of dancing? What a waste of your talents.” He turns to his companions. “This is the redhead I was telling you about. You should see her tits, they are world class.”

One of the other gentlemen pipes up. “You have any work done?”

The question kind of caught me off guard. It was a rude question, but the guy was so straight forward I could tell he wasn’t trying to be offensive. I really didn’t know, but I didn’t think so, so I told him no.

“Amazing.” He says.

“What I tell you!” Anthony tells his companions.

I took their drink orders, and ran off.

They ended up staying for a couple of hours. I ended up spending a lot of time at their table. At one point they demanded I sit and have a drink with them. Since it was the private dining room I didn’t see the harm. We sit, drink and tell dirty jokes. It was actually kind of fun.

Finally they decide it was time to leave. I present the bill and Anthony pulls out an envelope. From the envelope he pulls out a gift certificate. I see the amount on the certificate.

“Wow. What a nice gift! Someone must really like you. I’ll go get your change.”

“Nah, you keep the change.” He motions for me to come closer. “Actually the gift certificate was an anonymous gift. It just showed up in the mail.”

“Lucky you.” I say.

“No, lucky you.” He replies back.

He pulls out a huge roll of cash. He takes two one hundred dollar bills off the top and shows them to me.

“Come closer.” He says to me.

I get right up next to him.

“Lean down.”

I hesitate, uncertain as to what he was doing—but he had been kind to me all evening, so I decide to trust him.

He looks me in the eyes. “I know why you turned down the job, and I understand. What you don’t know is I run a classy joint—and what you did for us this evening, taking care of four businessmen, making conversation and sharing a drink isn’t all that different from what my girls do at the club.” He pauses. “They just do it with less clothing.”

He folds the bills and slides them down into my cleavage.

“Thank you.” I awkwardly say to him.

I turn to leave.

“How would like to double that two hundred?” He says to me.

“Excuse me?” I was surprised.

“I’d like my business associates to see those world class tits of yours. Take off your top and I’ll tack on another two hundred to the tip.”

A million thoughts entered my head at that moment.
And I was conflicted.

I’ve enjoyed dressing up in short skirts and tight low tops, flaunting my borrowed good looks. It’s like I’ve been in costume in a play, and I have been having fun with the part.
Up to this point it’s been all harmless and fun.

The way these guys were looking at me—this was different. If I did what he asked I would be crossing some kind of line.

The money could help cover my trip to Texas. If I did this, what kind of girl does that make me? And does it matter? I may not be in this body in six months.

I was repulsed, yet intrigued that I could make so much money just for flashing my boobs at these guys.

“Right now? Here? Someone could walk in.” Maybe I was looking for a way to say no without saying it.

“I’ll add another hundred on for the risk.” He took off three one hundred dollar bills off his roll of cash.

“Deal.” I couldn’t believe I said it. My stomach felt sick and my heart started to race.

I reached for my top and I started to quickly pull it off—I had a band aid mentality, do it quickly and get it over with.

“Whoa! Slow down and take it easy. Go nice and slow, let us enjoy it. Give us a show.”

So I take my time. I remove my top and stand there for a moment in my bra. I had worn one of my sexier ones. I reach behind and undo the clasp of my bra. I turn away from the men and totally remove it. I turn back and face them—topless.

I let them get a good look—they paid for it.

The men made all sorts of appreciative noises. “Those are some fine looking tits.” One of them announced.

I walked over to Anthony with my hand out. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card and handed it to me along with the three hundred dollars.

“You could make this kind of money every night.” He says to me. “I have a soft spot for red heads Ash, you still have a job if you want it.”

I get dressed. They watch.

Once I’m fully dressed everyone is pleasant again. It’s like it never happened; only I’m 500 + richer.

I know I should be disgusted with myself—but I keep thinking “Those idiots just paid three hundred dollars to see my boobs.”

I walked the gentlemen to the door, wish them a good night, and go back to pick up the check and gift certificate. When I get it, I look at the price again—It more than covered the bill.

There was also some writing on it.

It said: Be sure to ask for Ashlyn. I’m a big fan of hers. From a secret admirer.

I froze when I read it. Anthony probably assumed that the secret admirer was for him—but it doesn’t say “from YOUR secret admirer”. It says “from A secret admirer.

My intuition was telling me that maybe this was my admirer.

I’m not sure what to think. I probably ought to have lunch with Art and run this by him. We’ve got things to talk about anyway. I need to pick on him for sleeping with a dude, and I’m sure he needs to do the same to me for showing my boobs for money.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--Thanksgiving Part 1

Tuesday, a week ago, I was playing my favorite game of dressing up in lingerie in front of my big mirror, when my little pink cell phone rings and I glance at the screen. The caller ID reads: Mom

I’ve been meaning to contact Ashlyn’s parents. I’ve been Ashlyn for nearly 3 months now, and every week since getting over the initial shock of turning into this curvy red head, I have told myself I need to call them.

It’s just that I don’t know how to have a mom and dad. I’ve been without much family for a long time; my parents died 3 weeks before my seventeenth birthday.

In a previous life, I was an animator. To be honest, I was an animator because I needed an outlet for my overactive imagination and creative energies. Having an overactive imagination is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it helped me with a job that I enjoyed doing—but that same imagination has caused me to “live” the last moments of my parent’s life—over and over in my head.

We lived in a suburb of Dallas then, and my folks were out on their “date night”. It was usually just dinner and a movie, but it was their time together. I remember them being very affectionate—to the point they were embarrassing to me whenever I had friends over.

It was a freak accident. They were driving home on highway 75. I imagined my dad had the radio on and tuned to the oldies station—he liked to sing along to the music. Sometimes mom sang with him. Dad would steer with one hand and with other, hold my mother’s hand. That night they were driving behind an eighteen-wheeler which was hauling a fork lift on a flat trailer.

The truck driver knew the height of his truck, and when he read the height of the overpass, he knew his truck would have no problem going under the bridge. What he didn’t consider was the height of the fork lift that sat on the trailer of his truck—or that the persons who loaded the fork lift hadn’t bothered to lower the “forks” all the way to the ground.

The forklift hit the overpass and toppled off the trailer—directly in front of my parent’s car.

The police told me it was all over in seconds—that they didn’t suffer. Unfortunately, another quality an animator needs is a real good sense of time. You would be amazed what you can do in three seconds. Watch a basketball game-- a player can receive the ball, dribble once and shoot the ball to win the game in the last three seconds.

The idea that they might have not had the time to react, but to realize what was about to happen, haunts me.
For the year until I turned eighteen, I lived with my Uncle, my father’s older brother. The man was a traveling salesman and I barely saw him the entire time I stayed under his roof. The situation was fine with me as the man was a mean drunk. To his credit, he wasn’t all bad; he did teach me to play poker.

I’m not looking for sympathy; I’m just trying to make you understand. It’s been seventeen years since I’ve had any kind of family situation—and since I have had three months to get used to boobs jiggling on my chest, I was currently more freaked out about being someone’s daughter than being a girl.

I took a deep breath and answered to phone.

“Hi mom.”

“Ashlyn honey! Are you okay? Why haven’t you called?” My “mother” spoke in a thick New England accent.

I made up some lame excuse about being busy with my new waitress job—she seemed to buy it.

“So your Father and I were wondering if we should expect you on Thursday?”

“Thursday?” I asked.

“Yes, Thursday. Thanksgiving. You know, the time of year when I cook enough food to feed a small army? Your father plants himself in front of the TV to watch football?”

I had vague memories of just that kind of thing happening in my childhood. It sounded nice.

“Well?” She asked impatiently, “Do you have other plans?”

I didn’t have other plans. To be honest, the holiday was barely on my radar—I’ve been working every shift I could at the lounge trying to get ahead a little. It’s been my entire focus for the past couple of weeks. I have a trip to Texas to pay for above my usual expenses.

I looked into the mirror and saw my reflection—long red hair, busty and wearing a black teddy. I had to look away; it felt creepy to be dressed like this while talking to this body’s mother.

“Um no, I don’t have other plans…” I said grabbing a silk robe and slipping it on.

“Then it’s settled. We see you Thursday. You and your plus one.” See said.

“Plus one? I don’t plan to bring anyone.” I say slightly confused.
“Honey, you say that every year, and every year you show up with some young man.”

“This year will be different.” I assure her.

“Whatever. See you Thursday. I’m off to the market. Love you sweetheart. Bye!”

“I love you too Mom.” It felt like I should say that back to her, but I choked up a little—I hadn’t said those words in a long time.

More Later, I’ve got to get to the lounge for work.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Arthur: I did it, okay?

I imagine that that's what anyone reading this probably wants to know. If there's a pool anywhere speculating on who'd be the first to spread his/her legs, then I suppose whoever had me can collect - although there's about a dozen other people who haven't reported in and might have done the same thing.

I barely slept a wink Thursday night. I got home late, wrote my last entry, watched some TV, then walked into the bedroom where I just sort of stared at Raymond lying there. I really didn't want to get in there next to him. I'm not going to say sharing a bed with him has become no big deal over the past couple months; it still stands my hair on end. But what I had planned for the next day took it from being a big deal to a big deal; I couldn't get into the bed next to him. I went back out into the kitchen, booted the computer back up, pondered erasing what I'd written, instead tried to do some research on the Inn, but even if I couldn't sleep, I couldn't concentrate. I don't know what time I finally did conk out, but I was woken up by Ray locking the door on his way out.

I tried going back to the bedroom and flopping down on the now-empty bed, maybe giving myself the excuse of sleeping through my "lunch date", but apparently I'd gotten all the rest I needed. I started pulling clothes out for the day, thinking that I'd just treat it like a normal day, maybe pop in on Jake, when my hand touched the letters from the real Liz at the bottom of the dresser drawer. I felt a little stab of guilt at that, and then the laptop made its "you have mail" noise. I walked over and saw that it was from Jeremy. Not much news out there, just a couple attachments with notes and a chapter from the ghost-writing job I'd been contracted for. I sighed opening them. His writing, quite frankly, sucks, but at least he's trying. I'm not one to believe in signs, but the timing of that was certainly fortuitous.. If that kid can try to write to keep my life warm for when I get back to it, I supposed I could do something for Liz.

So I went to the bathroom and got into the shower. I did the works - shampoo, conditioner, leg-shaving, perfume, make-up, lipstick. I didn't look as good when I was done as when Jake did them for me, but I looked better than okay. I made sure my bra and panties matched, pulled on some pantyhose, and went for a turtleneck and skirt.

I looked at myself in the mirror. Definitely do-able. I wasn't sure I liked that analysis, but I put on some shoes and went outside anyway.

Stewart and I had agreed to meet up across the river in Boston proper. It keeps us from being seen by co-workers, and the Fenway/BU area is far enough away from downtown to make it unlikely we'll stumble across Raymond or anyone who knows Liz that way. We do actually have lunch at Fresh City, where we gossip about work, compare what we've been buying at the local Tower Records's going out of business sale. It was nice, not nearly as tense as I'd feared, and at some points I actually managed to put what we'd come to do out of my head.

Of course, that couldn't last forever, and we eventually walked back to his place. It's got a very settled-in look to it; while I think Ray and Liz have been where they are for less than a year, it wouldn't surprise me if Stewart had been living there since college. It was a single, at least, so there would be no awkward roommate moments with someone else bursting in.

And... We did it.

It was kind of a surreal experience. I hadn't even played with myself since the change, so it was kind of a shock to find that I still had nerves running directly from my groin to by brain's pleasure center. That wasn't the first experience that made an impression; just getting each other undressed was weird. I have to admit, he's kind of good at it, but in part because he knows Liz's body. He knew where I was ticklish, for instance, which took me completely by surprise. He must have seen that I was tense and maybe just assumed because it had been a while for "us", so he found that spot in the small of my back and while arched my back and laughed involuntarily, he pulled up my turtleneck and started kissing my belly. He laid me down on the bed, then pulled the top all the way off so he could work his way up to my breasts. I was shocked to see my nipples getting stiff, and more than a little alarmed - I wasn't supposed to be enjoying this, and even if it was just a physiological reaction...

I felt like I was supposed to be doing something, but I really didn't know what. I mean, his head was down in my torso; I was kind of pinned. I ran my fingers through his hair, but it wasn't really doing anything for me. Neither was feeling his musclar back or bottom; I settled on reaching behind my back to undo my bra when he lifted me up a little. Then we shifted a bit and I could feel that his penis was hard against my leg. Out of a weird sense of self-preservation I reached for my purse and extracted a condom, which probably sped things up a bit. As soon as he saw me doing that, he dropped his pans and oh my god.

I'd like to be all macho and say mine was bigger, but, honestly, it wasn't. Especially considering that I'd never seen mine from a foot away while trying to put a condom on it. Which I did quickly, like I was trying to hide that thing. Then down came my panties, and in it went.

And, like I said, the groin nerve is connected to the happy part of the brain, but... It felt good, but not quite good-sex-good. I liked the sensation, but something was missing, even beyond the obvious. The force of someone thrusting must take some getting used to. I could tell when he came, but I didn't (I'm pretty sure on this - my girlfriends always seemed to know).

Afterward, he made a comment on that, said he was sorry. I made a quip about being out of practice, not immediately realizing that was the perfect set-up for him to request a return engagement. Which he of course did, and I agreed to, even though we both realized our schedules wouldn't overlap again until after Thanksgiving. I felt a little weird saying yes, but if I was going to keep this going for Liz, it was never going to be a one and out thing.

Then I got dressed, and we went our seperate ways until meeting up again at work, where we acted like there was nothing going on. Kind of weird, that. Not quite as weird as spending the weekend with Raymond afterward. I kept expecting myself to feel guilty, but he wasn't my boyfriend, so I wasn't really cheating on him. I guess I'm helping Liz do so, but the way I'm doing it is just to abstract and weird to really make me feel bad on a gut level.

Maybe that'll come if I start really getting into the sex - I mean, you don't feel guilty about just having a little fun with someone else, right?


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--Can I have my life back, pretty please?

I’ve decided to go to Texas and talk to Stephen, the new me, in person. It’s a bit of a waste of money because we could have the conversation on the phone—but I just want to look him in the eye when I ask for my old life back. Art and I have discussed his theory at length now, and he has convinced me. As soon as the Inn is open again, we can start the process of getting our lives back.

My biggest hurdle is the question of whether or not the new Jake will relinquish my life back to me. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that things were going really well for him—that’s really an understatement. Things have gone phenomenal for him; it’s like everything he touches turns to gold. It kind of drove me nuts that someone could walk into my life and do so much better. I’ve discovered through many sleepless nights of obsessed web searching that one of his secrets of success is a business partner--a silent business partner who has invested large sums of cash into the new business. I’ve searched and searched for info on this silent partner, but the best I could come up with were the initials “S.A.”.

It’s been interesting to me how differently Art and I are handling the possibility of returning to our old lives. When I was convinced I was going to spend the rest of my life as Ashlyn, I was really pushing Art and myself to adapt and get on with our lives. I was even looking into classes next semester at Northeastern University and I started taking Ashlyn’s birth control pills. I don’t have any current plans to sleep with a guy, but the curious part of my brain was telling me it might happen some day. So I decided to be prepared. I guess my point is that I was starting to make long range plans as Ashlyn.

Now I’m all confused on what I should be doing. If the original Ashlyn is going to be back in this life in six months, should I sign up for classes she wouldn’t be interested in taking? I’ve promised Josh a second date—and I’ve managed to put him off so far—but the original Ashlyn broke up with this guy, aren’t I doing both of them a disservice by going out on dates with her ex?

Most fascinating is the change in attitude in Art. Now that he doesn’t consider living Liz’s life a lifetime prison sentence, he’s been a lot more comfortable in her skin. Now it’s a big adventure to him and the investigative reporter side of his brain has kicked in. He keeps telling me this going to make a great book someday—I keep telling him he might as well call it fiction because no one will believe it.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Arthur: Looking good doesn't go unnoticed

I only saw Zoe at the movie theater Friday night, but since she can't run the projectors, there obviously had to be another manager there. Lucky me - it was Stewart.

I haven't seen a whole lot of him since he felt me up - he tends to work days, I tend to work nights. It's one part the perk of being head manager and one part the whole thing about not wanting us small (apparently) female types having to wrestle with platters of film. As I've said before, fine with me. Still, tonight we were both assigned the same shift, and though it was relatively uneventful most of the night, there did come a point where I was up in the booth with him.

"So," he says, "I saw you and Ray Friday night. You looked nice."

I told him it was nice of him to say.

"But it looks like it was for nothing - he was out cold by the time the movie ended. That's got to be rough."

Hey, well, it happens.

"It shouldn't happen to a girl like you. You should have everything you want, whenever you want." He smiles in a way that probably charms a lot of girls, and I notice. In, a non-attracted way, of course - like when you notice a guy in a bar or at a party is really working it well.

"What makes you think I don't?"

"I think I know you better than that. Now, you felt like some down-time, that's cool, but I saw that dress you were wearing. It was a signal. A classy, subtle one, but it said you wanted something more than just falling asleep in front of a movie."

Or, I thought, that my best friend picked my clothes. I was going to say something sarcastic when he walked up, lifted my chin with a finger, and rested his other hand on my bottom. Now, I don't want anyone getting into the idea of "the lady doth protest to much" here, because attracted isn't what I was feeling. But I was curious, and I could imagine what this kind of attention meant to Liz. So, I kind looked into his eyes and gave a little half-smile and said that falling asleep in front of a movie wasn't all bad.

"Ah," he says, "but that means it's not all good, either." A buzzer leads him over to where one of the movies is ending, but he turns around and tells me that we could continue this conversation later - say, at lunch tomorrow? It's been a while since we had lunch.

Now, I know what "lunch" is probably code for. And last month I would have vowed to never eat again. But now... Well, this situation is temporary. And Liz wants to come back to this guy. And it would certainly be a learning experience.

... and if I wake up sane tomorrow morning, I can forget that I said it sounded like fun.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Arthur: The upside of someone adapting better than you

I wouldn't say Jake is totally okay with being a girl, or anything close to it, but he's a whole lot better at the outward activities than I am. I really should learn, but ever since finding out some of what was going with the inn, I've been spending every moment I can trying to find out more. Knowledge is like an addiction; you get a small taste and you have to have more.

"More" hasn't been forthcoming, but it takes just as much time to find nothing as it does to find something - more, actually, because you know when you've found something, but when you find nothing, you've got a lot more nothing to find. I let myself get obsessed, and come Friday morning I knew a whole lot about things that had gone on in Old Orchard Beach between five and ten years ago that could be found on the internet. What I did not know was any of the things that would help me not look like a fool or an embarassment at Ray's company party.

I suppose I could have just blown it off - blow Liz's whole life off, maybe find some little one-bedroom apartment to hunker down in for six months, and let her explain after we switch back. But Ray's a nice guy, and I figure that if I want Jeremy to leave my life something like I found it, I should do the same.

So, I called Jake to come over and help me out. It's probably not nearly as good as having a real girl do my make-up, but who else would do it? I listen as he describes what he's doing, maybe a little more attentively than I would have a week earlier. It's a bit paradoxical that I'm more open to learning this girl stuff now that I know there's a way out of it; I guess it just doesn't feel like giving up. It's merely temporary camouflage.

The doesn't make it comfortable. I can get away with relatively casual/androgynous clothing most days, so I was pretty well unprepared for the stuff Jake pulled out of Liz's closet after giving it a good looking over: A little black dress! Thong panties! An underwire bra! Pantyhose! Shoes with a two-inch heel about as thick as my little finger! I kind of spazzed a little at seeing the small but comprehensive pile, but managed to get it all on with some help. Nothing I couldn't reach, but it's good to have someone in the room maknig you do the thing that you don't want to do. Otherwise, I might have put it off and then decided that whatever I was wearing was good enough.

It was still a shock to see myself in the mirror. I'm long past averting my eyes in the bathroom in the morning, and I know I look good, but, still, this was going from girl-next-door cute to something else again. My skin caught the light a certain way, the strapless dress showed off the great shoulders I'd inherited (and somehow seemed to make it look like I had an actual rack and butt), the shoes (and short dress!) showed off my legs, and the necklace Jake found in the jewelry box looked pretty nice, too. I fumbled with the earrings, but I was impressed with what he'd made of me.

So, evidently, was he. "I knew you had it in you. Now don't you wish you'd gone for something sexy for Halloween?"

"Maybe. No, not really. I mean, this isn't serving me up like a piece of meat."

"True, but being a piece of meat's not always so bad. Folks buy you drinks."

I grunted disagreement while getting the tiny watch onto my wrist and loading a purse with the stuff I'd normally keep in pockets.

Eventually, he figured out that I wasn't totally thrilled with the subject and left for his own job before Ray was scheduled to be home. As it turns out, he was late, and slowed down a little more when he got into the apartment and saw me waiting. "Wow, it's been too long since we dressed up." I gave him a little smile that I think Liz might have given him in the same circumstances. He, of course, was already wearing a suit and just had to collect the retirement gift and break out the electric razor before we headed down to the garage.

Once we were in the car, he gave me a peck on the cheek and thanked me for coming. "I know it's kind of a rough night, being there just to make it look like I've got a life outside the office, listening to boring conversation from people you don't know. If it's any consolation, I think everybody's clear on us being Korean-America rather than Japanese or Chinese."

I imagine that could be annoying.

It was, in fact, pretty dire. Most of the partners and associates seemed to be at least ten years older than Ray & Liz, and they'd tell stories full of legal jargon. I wound up spending a bit of time with a couple of the other new associates' girlfriends, including one who was all squealy showing us her engagement ring. I gather Liz has met them before, at other office functions, but I didn't know them. I don't think Liz really fits into that crowd - most of them are either in some extremely busy occupation - other lawyers, doctors, the like - or are at least professional types. Working at a movie theater seems kind of low-rent in comparison. Of course, then there are the ones like ring-girl, who had rich parents and said getting a ring on her finger had been her job. I gave silent thanks that I hadn't landed in that sort of life.

I got a little uncomfortable when the boyfriend of one of the female junior associates mad ethe sort of joking comment about how much time we have without our significant others around and how our attention can wander that is just crying to be taken seriously. It had me kind of wondering if he'd heard something about Liz. Maybe Stewart wasn't the only thing she'd had on the side, but just the one where I'd found out. I put it out of my mind - that way lies madness.

Still, I did recognize that I looked good tonight and Ray might be feeling a little romantic later on. I did what I remembered girls doing to me in that situation - I nursed my drinks but quietly made sure he was well ahead of me. This could have backfired big time if Ray were less of a gentleman, but he didn't get all hands-y, just sort of sluggish.

After the party, I suggested we should go to a movie while we were out and picked the one that ran the longest (The Prestige, two hours and fifteen minutes) and started latest (ten-thirty p.m. on Friday night). My plan worked; he fell asleep in the theater, and I had to have Zoe help me get him to the car.

Kind of cold-blooded of me, I guess, but it worked. He woke up hung over Saturday morning, we had a good time hanging out and playing some pool during the afternoon before I had to go to work, and watched TV after I got back from work Sunday afternoon.

Liz might have been dissatisfied that their relationship had sort of devolved to being roommates who share a bed, but aside from that, he's one of the best roommates I've ever had.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--I'm kind of numb

Short entry tonight.

I did a little more online snooping on Steven, the new Jake tonight. Things are going remarkably well for him. I'm not ready to contact him. We still have things to figure out about getting our old lives back--But I'm concerned that he won't give up my life even if we figure it out.

I may have fun playing dress up and getting all the attention as Ashlyn, but the reality is I still want my old life back.

Worse, when Ashlyn wants her life back, and I can't get my own back--what's to become of me?


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Arthur: Even if you guys aren't writing, you've got to be reading, so listen up...

We may be able to get out of this, with a little patience and planning.

I drove up to Old Orchard again on Friday, looking to do a little more research even though we didn't find out a whole heck of a lot last time. Those discouraging results were part of the reason it took me a month and a half to get back up there, along with trying to work out a time when Jake could come too and Ray wouldn't need the car, especially since the train doesn't run up there during the off-season. After having some caveman paw at me on Halloween, though, I got jarred from my complacency, and decided to just do it myself, because sitting at "home" isn't making me a man again.

I spent some time in the library again, going through weekly newspapers to see if I could find anything strange about the inn that made it into print. There seemed to be a slightly higher than average incidence of police calls coming from there during the summer months, although I wasn't really totaling up the number of times the cops had to come to other hotels to deal with disturbances.

In some ways, I think we got off lucky. In May 2004, someone staying there was arrested for credit card fraud, and spent a night in jail. He'd been missing for months, so the cards had been canceled, but the story had a happy ending when he was "reunited" with his family. And then there was July of 2003...

Someone had hanged himself. Just... couldn't handle the change, I guess, although it didn't show up that way in the story. Maybe the other people staying at the inn had told the cops and the reporters the truth, but nobody ever believes us, so they probably just wrote off any descriptions of the guy "not being himself" as metaphorical.

I'd made it back to 2001 without thinking I'd found something useful before the pattern started to emerge. Nothing unusual happened from October to April. Someone reported missing for months before he used his credit card in May. I'd noticed that the whole town was shut down tight, but I hadn't made the connection. As soon as I did, though, I just left all the papers I'd been scanning on the table and went for the car, driving to the edge of town where the Inn was. I half expected to find it gone, having just disappeared into the evening fog one night, to re-emerge when the season started, but the world wasn't that crazy. It was there, shuttered up, padlocked, just like any other beachfront property.

One good thing about being a freelance writer is that you learn all sorts of little things researching different projects. I drove back to town, found a drugstore that was open, and bought myself some hairpins - thinking to myself that "Liz" probably looked far less suspicious doing so than Art would. Then I drove back, walked around to the rear of the building, making sure that the area behind me was deserted, and started working on the lock.

I was out of practice and had never tried to pick a lock with these fingers, so it took me agonizing minutes where I was afraid I'd get caught. But I got in.

It was chilly - the heat was turned on just enough to keep the pipes from freezing - and I didn't dare turn on the lights even with the shutters closed. Getting arrested would be hard to explain. Fortunately, there was a flashlight in the car. It was almost funny - sneaking around a sort of haunted house so close after Halloween - but also informative.

It was almost three by then, and if I was going to allow myself time to get to work without dealing with traffic, I would have to hurry, so I just broke into one room - my old one. The bed frame was empty; presumably the mattress had been placed in storage for the winter. The phone had no dial tone. But when I opened the closet...

Bingo! The luggage and personal effects of Jeremy Boyd! I used the connecting bathroom to get to the other room, and that closet yielded Stephen Jeffries's stuff. I called Jake right then, but he wasn't picking up; maybe he had another lunch shift or something. I was really pushing time by then, so I locked everything back up and headed to the car.

There was only one other stop I considered making on the way back to Cambridge, but the hotel where we'd picked up our keys way back in August was locked up too.

As soon as I got home I called the service that I'd used to book the room at the inn, and got a pleasant message saying that the Oceanside Property Management staff was taking a well-deserved vacation, but that they would be open to take reservations again after the first of the year. Which is fine; it gives me a little time to get things pulled together. First, I need to get hold of Jeremy, make sure that he, as Art, books his old room for the first window next May. That gets him his old body back and puts my form back in limbo; then when I show up for the second period, I'm me again, I got back home, and put this nightmare behind me.

Of course, before we do that, I should find out the exact nature of this curse - it would suck if trying to outsmart it like that released some sort of evil demon or something. But we've got a minimum of two months to do that, and probably right up until the place opens back up again.

Man! I wish I had more people's numbers and such - it would be a horrible bit of irony if we figured out how to get back to our old lives and people stayed stuck because they weren't keeping in touch.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--Halloween part 2

So the party was picking up steam.

I tried to hang with Art, but between Josh, Josh’s friends and the girls from the radio station, my attention was divided. I lost Art for a little while, and when I found her she was getting a lot of unwanted attention from a guy dressed as Fred Flintstone.

I watched the exchange from a distance—it was amusing. Art would take a step back trying to get away, and Fred would take a step forward and close the gap. I walked over to help rescue a friend.

“Hi Liz! Who’s your friend?”

Art shot me a look. “Would you believe his actual name is Fred?”

I stuck out my hand, and out of reflex Fred did the same. I shook Fred’s hand.

“Nice to meet you Fred. I’m sorry, but I have to steal Liz from you. I need to go to the powder room and I can’t go alone. It’s a girl thing.”

I grab Art by the arm, and lead her away.

“I could have handled that.” Art says, “But thanks away.”

“Your welcome. Having a good time?” I asked.

“Yes. No. I don’t know. That was the third guy who has hit on me. I wasn’t expecting to receive so much attention. It isn’t like I dressed up like…” She made a waving motion toward my costume.

“Like a slut?” I asked slightly defensive.

“Sexy. I didn’t dress up sexy.” She added.

“Like it or not, you are an attractive woman. You’re going to get noticed.” In the distance I see Ray walking up. He’s was obviously looking for Art. “Looks like the boyfriend has finally arrived.”

Art turns, and waves Ray over.

Ray walked over to us. He wrapped an arm Art and kissed her on top of the head.

“Aw, you guys make such a cute looking couple.” I say to them, giving Art a smirk.

“That’s an amazing costume Ash.” Ray says to me. “You couldn’t get Liz to wear something like that? I count on you to be a bad influence.”

“Hey!” Art exclaims. “I’m standing right here.”

We make small talk and eventually Josh shows up, and drags me to the dance floor. It didn’t take much arm twisting—as Ashlyn, I love to dance.

An hour or so later, I see Art waving me down.

“I’ve had enough.” She tells me. “I’m going to tell Ray I’m not feeling well, and I’m ready to leave.”

“Wow, it’s still early. You sure you don’t want to stick around?” I say to her.

“I am so done.”

Art and Ray take off and the rest of the night almost went without incident.


After dancing with Josh for a while, he ran off to the rest room, leaving me alone for a few minutes. A very drunk Susan (blonde in a school girl outfit) staggered up beside me.

“I really don’t know what he sees in you.” She slurs. “You’re nothing but a big breasted gold digging whore.”

“Excuse me?” I was honestly surprised. I wasn’t expecting a personal attack from another woman. I mean, women are sugar and spice, right?

“I said you are nothing but a big breasted gold digging whore—who doesn’t deserve a guy like Josh. Bitch.”

I was unprepared for this, but decided to take the high road. “Look Susan, you’re drunk—“

“How dare you judge me!” She cut me off, swung her arm, and slapped me.

Without even thinking about it, I slapped her back. I realized it was a mistake the moment I did it. I just wanted to get away from this crazy chick—Susan was looking for a fight.

I’m an easy going guy—girl now. It might have been 15 years since I have been in any kind of physical fight. But kind of like I couldn’t go two months as Ashlyn without getting sick, I couldn’t go two months without getting in a cat fight.

Susan jumps me, and to the amusement of the party crowd, a catholic school girl and a sexy pirate wench were rolling around on the floor--hitting, scratching, and pulling hair.

The really sad part is that Susan was kicking my ass. I was getting beat up by a girl. I’ve decided it was because Susan knew how to fight as a girl—I didn’t have a clue.

Security dragged us apart. Josh showed up just in time to see the very end. Fortunately, the police don’t seem to get called in for cat fights.

Josh drove me home—not that we had much choice, security demanded we leave. He asked me if I wanted to go somewhere else, but my costume was torn and I was dying of embarrassment—I just wanted the night to be over.

When we get to my place, Josh parks the car and I apologize for ruining the party and our date.

“Then make it up to me—let’s go out again.” He says.

“Deal.” I go to open the door and get out, but Josh gently places his hand on my arm, stopping me. He leans in and kisses me. I knew when I said I would go out with him to the party that the night might end with a kiss—so I was slightly prepared and tried not freeze up. I also knew that a kiss was my limit and he had no chance of coming inside.

The kiss was nice, but it still feels weird to kiss a guy. I give it a mixed review.

He jumps out of the car, opens my door for me and walks me to my door.

My night was finally over. I walk into my bedroom and look at myself in my big mirror.

I was a mess. “Happy two month anniversary Ashlyn.” I get out of the costume and into bed.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--Halloween part 1

I received a second gift from my secret admirer Wednesday a week ago. It was a bottle of perfume-- Dolce & Gabbana “Light Blue”, with it was a note:

A new scent to go with your new look.
From your secret admirer.

At that point I was still not too worried. I was determined to not read too much into the gifts and notes. I’m guessing Ashlyn was the kind of girl who often received anonymous gifts—and the notes could be interpreted many different ways.

Yesterday morning, Halloween, I received my third gift and now I am officially concerned.

Boots. Not just any boots either—but knee high black leather boots that go perfect with my Halloween costume. It’s like someone knew I had to pass on the boots when I bought my costume—I simply couldn’t afford them. They were also in my size.

The note with the boots said: I thought you might enjoy these, I know I would enjoy seeing you in them. From your secret Admirer. PS—You have the body of a Venus.

All the notes have hinted that my secret admirer knows my secret that I am not really the busty red head I appear to be, but they are just vague enough to mean nothing at all.

Maybe I’m just being paranoid. I’ve shown all three notes to my roommates Billie and Jordan, and they didn’t seem to be too concerned. Then again, they don’t know my secret.

“Besides Ash,” Jordan says to me, with a slightly contempt sound to her voice, “This is sooooo much better than your last secret admirer—The guy who would take pictures of his body parts and send them to you.”

I decided to worry about it later—I had to get ready for work. I was working the lunch shift on Halloween so I could be free that night to go to the party. I had a small problem in the fact I had to wear a costume to work and didn’t want to wear the costume I bought for the party. I’ve noticed food enviably gets on you clothing if you are a waitress, it doesn’t matter how careful you are.

So I started digging through my closet looking for something that would work as a costume. I had given the closet a cursory search months ago when I first arrived in Cambridge, but this time I was going though the boxes I passed on before. I hit pay dirt on things I wasn’t looking for, but could come in very handy.

I found several photos albums—and better than just pictures, Ashlyn apparently wrote little captions for all the photos. I now know what my new Mom and Dad look like.

I also found several diaries. The most recent one was only a year old. I skimmed it for a moment then put it away for later study—if I am going to live this life for now on, it would be nice to know a little of it’s history.

I found some paperwork to a modeling agency, releases for some photographs, and a box of “Headshots” of Ashlyn—headshots are what actors (and models?) send out as resumes.

Lastly, I found the perfect Halloween costume for work.

Ashlyn’s high school cheerleader’s uniform. If I had found this earlier, I might not have bought they costume I got shopping with Art.

I squeeze into the uniform, put on my pink running shoes, and put my hair up in pig tails. I was ready for work. I pause in front of the big mirror in my room and do a few mock cheerleader poses. Deep down I know it’s unhealthy to be so self absorbed by my reflection, but I just can’t help myself. I wonder if the real Ashlyn was as fond of her reflection as I am?

I made a lot in tips that lunch.

The Party:

According to the packaging, my costume is called “Vixen Pirate Wench with Velvet Double Lace Corset Dress” it’s red and black, and sexy as hell. I couldn’t resist wearing the boots with it. I’m too embarrassed to put in this blog how long I spent on hair and makeup.

Josh picked me up in his brand new blue Acura. I was kind o f envious—I miss my Jeep. In Texas everyone has a car or truck. Here in the North East not everyone does, and for those who do, there is not enough parking.

It felt funny when he opened the door for me, plus I was wearing a short skirt, so getting into the car was a little awkward. The car was pretty, but what really got my attention was the navigation system. Once a geek, always a geek, I guess. I think Josh was a little surprised when I started asking him about the specs.

Like I had planned, Josh also was decked out in a pirate look. His was much more rustic looking, and he purposely hadn’t shaved in several days to add to the look. He looked great. I knew we were going to look great together—which I couldn’t understand why that was important to me.

When we get to the party, I realized the pirate look might not have been the way to go. Pirates were very popular this year. At a glance, it seemed like there were more pirates than any other types of costume.

“I guess we are not going to win most original costume.” I say to Josh.

“Maybe not, but I think you’ve got sexiest in the bag.” He slips an arm around me.

I pull away, trying to not look obvious about it. “Let’s dance.”

We dance. We drink. We have a good time. Josh ran into some friends—three couples—and introduced me to them. We find a table, and take it over.

Susan, a pretty blonde in the group, sits next to me and says, “So you are the Ashlyn that Josh has been talking about. I can see why he’s so crazy about you.” She made pleasant conversation, but seemed cold to me.

Susan was wearing a school girl outfit. The other two women in our group are wearing sexy outfits as well. Sitting there, I realized we all looked like strippers.

We continue to drink and have a good time. I’ve learned to pace myself—in the past I’ve made the mistake of drinking like I was still Jake. I decided my days of getting totally smashed are over—it’s just too dangerous as a woman.

I caught Susan staring at Josh a few times—and whenever Josh said something funny, no one laughed louder than she did. I haven’t been a woman all that long, but my intuition was telling me that Susan had a thing for Josh.

Art showed up late and alone, and I am betting unintentionally, looking very cute in an Oakland Raiders jersey.

I ran over to him and drug him over to our table. “Everyone, this is Liz.”

Josh acted like he knew Liz. Which I guess is possible, but I don’t think the new Liz and Josh have crossed paths yet.

“So where’s Ray?” Josh asked grinning. “I was going to bum some free legal advice from him.”

“Oh he’ll show up. He just had to work late.” Art gives me a look. “I can’t believe you are actually wearing that.”

I shrug. “It’s fun. I still think you would have looked good in the genie costume.”

Things were going great, and then a bunch of the other girls who work as promo girls for the radio station showed up, saw me and joined us at our table. I have had conversations with these women, but nothing to deep or special--now they were acting like we were best friends—and they were waaaaaayyyy ahead of us on drinks. You get enough hot looking drunk women in one area, and guys show up from everywhere. Our little group around a table turned into a huge group with multiple tables pushed together.

Damn. It’s 9am and I’ve got to get ready for work. I’ll finish up Halloween tonight.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Arthur: He does it in the same phone call

I don't yet have a huge list of things that make me wonder whether or not I do them in my real life, but I've just added one to it: Assuming my activities are more important than my girlfriend's.

Obviously, we all do it, because in some ways it's impossible to not be egocentric, but we usually hide it a little better. Then again, I suppose Ray and Liz have been together long enough that it's not really a big deal when he calls to say he's going to be a bit late for the party because of a west-coast conference call and, oh, by the way, make sure you have next Friday off because one of the partners is retiring and it would look really bad if we didn't attend the party.

I don't mean to make Ray sound too bad - he apologized profusely, there will probably be flowers in the living room when I wake up tomorrow, I'll get taken out to eat at someplace expensive on my next night off. And, honestly, I've had girlfriends who do the same thing. It's just something Zoe complained about the other day, with a "men!" attached to the end.

Ah, well. Hopefully this makes for good novel fodder.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Arthur: Sometimes I don't know what's gotten into him/her

Jake's really going native I met up with him this afternoon, since he'd invited me and Ray to some Halloween thing that he'd been given free tickets for and I didn't have any sort of costume picked out. I had stuff I wanted to pick his brain about, anyway, and he's really the only one I talk to these days - even Vinny is tough to get hold of. It's quite disappointing, actually - one would think that we'd have a sort of support group going, but if any of us talk aside from me and Jake, I haven't heard any of it.

We met up just outside Bartley's in Harvard Square, which is a pretty darn good burger place. I'd been poking around the Harvard Book Store (which is apparently different from the Harvard school bookstore; that's called "The Coop") when he gave me a buzz on the cell phone to say he'd gotten off the T. So I went out in the chilly air and waited. I didn't quite spot him by the heads turning, but I couldn't help but find my head turn when he got there. Jake was wearing a white sweater that covered everything while leaving nothing to the imagination, shoes with a kind of blade for a heel, and perfect make-up; his hair seemed to flow just so. I swear, I almost had phantom limb syndrome going on in my panties when he walked up to me and asked where the burgers were. I pointed, we walked, we sat, we ordered.

"So," he says, "this is what I'm thinking of." He puts a few drawings down on the table in front of me, and I'm kind of taken aback. For one thing, they're really good. A little rough, but you can easily tell its supposed to be the two of us, Ray, and I guess this Josh guy in them. I tend to forget that Jake was a "real" artist before getting involved in computer animation, and like I think most people do, I have a hard time recognizing that computer work does actually take artistic ability.

But, of course, that wasn't the first thing I commented on. "Jake--"

"You should probably call me Ashlyn out in public, Liz; wouldn't want people thinking we're some sort of weird transvestites."

"Yeah, well, no-one would be able think that with these costumes, would they? I mean, ours are practically underwear!"

"I suppose, but it's not like we're going to have that many chances to flaunt what we've been given before next summer."

"I'm not looking to flaunt."

"Oh, come on! You wouldn't believe how much fun it is! You get the whole Pygmalion vibe while getting ready, and having people look at you in admiration is a real rush. You really ought to get out of those baggy sweatshirts and sneakers sometime and give it a shot."

I told him I had enough troubles with people being attracted to me as it was, and saw no need to encourage strangers.

"Oh. Well, okay. Still, I'm going to go with something like this - the station's sponsoring it, and I got passes with the understanding that I'd be a little eye candy--"

"And you're just such a hard worker."

"Hey, don't mock the work ethic."

Our food came then, and we dug in. It almost hurt to only get halfway through that delicious burger before feeling full (more than full, really), but they boxed it up and I figured I'd have something to reheat after work (I'm eating the other half right now, actually).

After that, we took a walk over to Hootenanny, in the Garage mall. Evidently "Ashlyn" had been there with lady friends and noticed they sold Halloween costumes as well as ridiculously overpriced clothing. Jake showed me the one he thought would be good for me, but there was no way I was doing the schoolgirl skirt and knee socks thing. I almost considered it for half a second, but then I came to my senses. I said I'd just go to the City Sports across the street and pick up matching football jerseys for me and Ray. Or a Raiders one for me and a Pats for him, just because I can. He seemed a bit disappointed, saying I should at least go for basketball because I had really great legs. Uh, thanks, but Ray kind of doesn't.

We charged our respective purchases (I made him promise to save his receipt, because that looked like a pretty costly one-time-use outfit on a waitress's salary and it could potentially be construed as a business expense) and wandered into the square. We had a couple hours before we had to get to our respective jobs, so we found a spot to sit in down by the river where we could talk.

I had a hard time starting. "So," I said, "you know that letter I got from Liz? There's something I didn't put in the blog."

"What's that?"

"She... she said she was planning to leave Ray for Stewart. That they'd been little more than glorified roommates for over a year, and she hated sneaking around, but that when she was with Stewart..."


"Yeah. And since she's looking for any way she can to get her life back..."

I couldn't finish the thought, and I don't think Jake could either, at first. As much as he seems to enjoy playing dress-up, the fact was, all we really knew about Liz's relationship with Stewart was that it was physical, and that's... a big step, to say the least.

"So what are you going to do?"

"I don't know! I don't exactly feel like I have the right to screw up her life, but at the same time, how can she ask that of me. Not that she does, nowhere in the letter does it say 'please fuck my boyfriends until I get back', but the meaning is pretty clear."

"Well, if you're going to live her life, that's part of what you've got to do."

"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you? You throwing your boobs around and working as hard at looking pretty as you ever have at a real job--"

"Hey, you're the one that said we should try to live out these girls' lives without making waves until we figured out how to fix this! And you knew Liz had one boyfriend - you had to know this was a possibility all along!"

That stung. "I... I thought I'd been let off the hook. If Ray had started getting romantic a couple months ago, I might have done it, but now..."

"Maybe it's time to let go of the idea that we're ever going to be ourselves again. The new Jake seems pretty comfortable, and have you heard from the new you lately?"

"Not for a couple weeks, but that doesn't mean anything. We don't hear from 'Marie' and 'Jean-Michel' very often, but we know they want their lives back."

"You can want all you want... You know what? This is stupid. You're my best friend, the only person I can talk to about this, and I'm not going to ruin that. Whatever you decide, I won't think any less of you."

That's nice to hear, but no help whatsoever when you're trying to make a difficult decision.