Thursday, September 28, 2006

Art: Severely mixed blessings

The others think I'm taking this unusually well, which is probably the case. So long as they don't think I'm taking it suspiciously well, I guess. I don't know why that is; maybe there's a part me that's glad to put parts of my life behind me, at least for a while; maybe there's another part that likes the idea of collecting new experiences and perspectives to later write about. Either one of those is gone, and I figure I'm a quivering blob of jelly.

That said, when I got into the bathroom this morning at nine-thirty, took off my pajama pants, and saw little red spots on my plain white cotton panties, I screamed like a little girl.

I suppose that's appropriate, right? But that really confirms it. I'd sort of had the idea that we'd only changed on the surface, that even though we looked like women, that we'd just been sort of pushed and pulled into other shapes. After all, when someone has a sex-change operation, they don't actually implant functional ovaries and the like, they just re-shape existing tissue. But if I'm menstruating - menstruating, for crying out loud - then these changes are more than skin deep.

So, guys - if you haven't had a visitor yet, it's coming. We've got the equipment for it.

There's supplies and stuff in the bathroom, of course - Elizabeth lives here, after all, so there's pads and pills in the medicine cabinet. I guess I'd better start taking those, now that I know when Elizabeth's - my - period starts. I'd avoided it, since I remember reading somewhere that birth control pills can cause someone to be feminized, and I don't need to get more like that.

I settled in for a day of feeling sorry for myself, until around two when Raymond calls to say he's got the use of the firm's Red Sox season tickets tonight. Good seats, he says - the home plate pavillion. Am I working tonight?

No, I'm not. And, hey, since I hope to be myself again before spring training, it might be my only chance to see Fenway while I'm out here. Since I'm not really feeling that yucky, I say sure, why not. I rummage through Liz's drawers, find out the only Sox shirt she has is a pink babydoll thing with Manny Ramirez's name on the back. My estimate of her taste drops a bit, but, hey, you cheer for the hand you're dealt.

I meet him in front of the ballpark, and, wow, it's different than going to an A's or even Giants game. Now, understand, I like the Coliseum, but it is out in the middle of nowhere. Pac Bell is downtown, but the area around Fenway Park is just all dedicated to baseball on a game day. I poke around the souvenir stores for something less pink, and eventually Raymond arrives. He's got the tickets, and we head up.

And up, and up. We're almost up in the broadcast booths, and there's a bar and buffet behind us. It's seriously nice, and I almost can't believe this ballpark is almost ninety years old. They deliver dinner right to our seats, and Ray tells me that the seats themselves are much more comfortable than where they usually sit.

The game was close through six innings, and then it just became a complete ass-kicking, with the Devil Rays scoring nine runs in the seventh. The folks around us were getting ugly, but I couldn't really join in whole-heartedly - neither one's my team. It was just a crazy baseball game I could watch without a real rooting interest, though I went along with the rest of the crowd.

Ray was pretty cool - he'd never been in seats this good - in Boston, they cost something like three times what pretty good seats cost even to see the Giants - and I gather Elizabeth isn't nearly as a big a fan as he is, so he was offering helpful information all night. He even offered to leave during the ugliness, but I could tell he was expecting "Big Papi" to do something miraculous, so we stayed.

And then braved the "T" afterward. It's crazy; after every game, roughly twenty thousand people try to squeeze through Kenmore station. By the time we got through and into a car, we were squished together in a manner which, if I were in his shoes, I would not have found altogether unpleasant.

I suppose he didn't have to keep his hands on my butt, or occasionally kiss me, but we were a dating couple sharing the same space on the subway; it's what people do. And I suppose my head might have been a little off from the morning's events and the three seven-dollar beers, so I was just kind of going along. I didn't push him away, but I didn't really encourage him, either. The most I did was pucker my lips when he leaned over to kiss, because otherwise he might have looked like a fool. But I knew, in the back of my head, where this was going.

We got back to the apartment and went to the bedroom; I made some comment about him having to be up early tomorrow, but he said he could handle it. He peeled my shirt off and smiled at what he found, even though I don't have nearly what Jake does up there. He said something about it having been much too long, then started to unzip my pants. It felt weird to have him undress me and not seem to expect me to do much in return - when I bed a girl, there's a little more give-and-take - but maybe this is their thing. He'd gotten my pants down when he saw the little wingy things of the pad protruding from my panties and stopped. "It's that time of month?"

"Looks like", I said.

"I thought that wasn't till next week."

I suppose I shouldn't be creeped out that he knew Liz's cycle; after all, they've been dating and living together a while. Apparently, when I turned into this, I picked up where Elizabeth left off, so her cycle was on hold for three weeks. Or at least, that's my best explanation. I didn't think of that until later, though, and just shrugged. He backed off, looking apolagetic, saying he was sorry, and usually I'm the one who objects...

Whatever, I say. It's kind of gross, and now the moment's gone anyway. He apologizes, and heads to the bathroom as quickly as he can.

Weird end to the day. Who would have thought, thirteen hours earlier, that I'd be glad to be having my period?


Monday, September 25, 2006

Arthur: Money, Honey.

I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but I was kind of working Elizabeth's job for free for the past couple weeks. At least it felt that way; Elizabeth is paid via direct deposit and her ATM card was not something she included with her luggage. I didn't think it was a big deal at first, since I figured I'd cash her check and start a new checking account. Besides, who wants to just leave their ATM card around for a stranger to find? Maybe you'll get lucky and the nightmare will end, and you'd rather not have your account depleted.

But, once I started to assume her life, things got tricky. I'd done the same thing, and kept my ATM card, but I gave it to Jeremy after withdrawing a couple hundred bucks last Wednesday. The plan had been to go to the bank and report my card stolen, but what if they ask for a PIN or something? Describing why it's identity theft is an amusing thought, but no-one will believe me anyway.

Fortunately, it doesn't look like it'll come to that. I got an envelope in the mail today that had "Elizabeth Lee" on it - just like that, in quotes. The postmark was from Montreal, which was kind of unexpected. I'm glad it had the quotes as some kind of signal that it's supposed to be for me. I'm still a little nervous opening Liz's mail, which is silly, considering I wear her clothes and sleep next to her boyfriend and I can't make people believe I'm not her. I still don't want to invade her privacy any more than I absolutely have to, even though that seems to be a lot.

So, I open it up, and the first thing that falls out is a debit card, along with another letter from the real Elizabeth Lee. She says that she's living in Montreal under the name of Marie Desjardins, but not to write to her or try to communicate unless it's a real emergency. Marie's boyfriend is bad news, and jealous at that, and he's already kind of freaking out over her suddenly being much more comfortable speaking l'anglais. Heck, part of the reason she was sending me her old ATM card was so that he wouldn't find it and ask questions. She says that if I need to get in touch with her, it's probably best to do it through Ashlyn. I got her address for Jean-Michel Therriot, which is apparently Ashlyn's new name. But contact her sparingly, too.

This makes things a little easier, I guess, but it also pulls me into her life deeper. I'm not writing anything but this right now; I'm working her job. Now I'm just a little deeper into her life. Convenient or not, it's not the direction I want to be going.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn-- magic boobs and girls night out

After being “Eye candy” at the Patriots game, I spent most of the following week looking for work. As Jake I liked to work. My job as a motion graphics artist (I did graphics for television) was interesting and paid well. Plus people generally thought I had a cool job—people would ask what I did for a living, and I would say something like “Did you see the commercial with the aliens that buy a spaceship from the used car salesman? I did the aliens.” The reactions were always the same—“You did that!? That was amazing!” I pretended to be modest, but deep down I am an artist, and artists like to hear good things about their work. I guess I liked the attention I got as well.

These days I’m getting much more attention than I ever did as Jake. Unfortunately it isn’t work related. No, I get noticed everywhere I go because I have magic boobs. I say magic because my boobs seem to affect all those around me. People, mostly men, but a few women too—can not keep their eyes off of them. As Jake I had a girlfriend accuse me of having “elevator eyes” and she was right, I was admiring her curves. I wondered how she could tell where I was looking, and let me tell you: Guys it is incredibly obvious. Imagine trying to have a conversation with someone who was staring down at the floor. It is not subtle; you are not getting away with anything.

On the plus side, my magic boobs attract free things. I have been given more free things in this time as Ashlyn than I have in my entire life as Jake. People WANT to give me things. I have received free cab rides, been given free tickets to movies, and free food. Managers at restaurants suddenly appear at my table and say the meal is on them. I start going to a Starbucks at the same time everyday, and soon I start finding my order is there waiting for me when I walk in—and it is on the house. I’m constantly amazed by what people do to get close to my boobs.

Last Friday night the power of my boobs reached a new high—Billie, Jordan and I went out dancing and bar hopping. I wasn’t something I had wanted to do, but when they asked if wanted to go and I immediately said no, they turned on the pressure. Apparently Ashlyn has been a real bad roommate in the past. Jordan started listing all the reasons “I” owed the two of them, and I had no defense, for all I know the original Ashlyn was a real pain in the ass. I give in, I want to be on good terms with my roommates—rent is due in a week and I am still a little short. “Why do you guys want me to come?” I ask. Billie and Jordan give each other a look like I asked something odd. “You know.” Jordan said rolling her eyes and walking away.

Later that night, when I first stepped out of my room and said I was ready, the two of them took a look at me and almost simultaneously asked “You’re wearing that?” They demanded I change out of my jeans and t-shirt. I ended up in something they picked out, and Billie helped me with my hair and makeup. What they picked out were some tight red pants and a white “cami” top that really showed off my boobs. Even worse, the pants were so form-fitting that I had to wear a thong. Apparently it is some big social crime to show panty lines.

We grab a cab and head into Boston—a place called Cactus club. They had amazing margaritas. The margaritas kind of made me homesick for Texas—you can get them everywhere there. I downed two of them. Funny, I really started to loosen up after that. We were a popular group; lots of people joined us at our table. After a while I quit worrying about being a girl, and just started to have a good time.

About a hour later, Jordan leans over and asks me and Billie if we are ready to go to “Dad’s” which is short for “Dad’s beantown diner”. At the time, I didn’t know “dad’s” was a dance club, so I gave her an enthusiastic yes. She then slides over the bar tab to me. It had all of our drinks on it, as well as some of our “friends” who stopped by our table. It wasn’t the hugest of bar tabs, but in my financial state, I really couldn’t afford to be buying everyone drinks. “You want me to pay this?” I ask her incredulously.

“No.” She says, “Just do that thing you do.”

My thing? She reminds me, giving me an odd look—“You know, the thing where you stand up, wave the tab in the air and say: this is my bar tab, going once, going twice…”

I could not quite grasp what was supposed to happen, but it was apparently something Ashlyn had done in the past. I was drunk enough to give it a try.

I stood up, waving the bar tab over my head. “This is my bar tab.” I pause, feeling like an idiot. “Going once, going twice—“

Three guys suddenly appeared in front on me, one was faster than the other two and he snatched the tab out of my hand. He turned to the other guys and gave them a “too slow.” He introduced himself as Mike and said he would love to pay my tab. I then realized why Billie and Jordan wanted me to tag along—they wanted to borrow my magical boobs.

I ended up giving Mike my phone number—not because I wanted too, but because I felt obligated to after he spent so much money on me. Billie leaned in and said to him that “we” were heading over to “Dad’s” and maybe we would see him over there.

As we walked out of the Cactus club Billie said to me that Mike was really cute. I say I didn’t notice, and she shakes her head. “It must be good to be you, cute guys fighting over your bar tabs.”

The dance club was packed, and there was a line out front. I started to get into line, and Jordan and Billie looked disappointed. “What about talking to the guy at the door?” Jordan asks, “He might know you.”

I walk up to the guy at the door and give him a big smile. To the annoyance of everyone in line, we were let right in.

A few drinks later, I was brave enough to follow Jordan and Billie onto the dance floor. The lights were flashing, the music was loud and I danced with the girls. I really didn’t know what I was doing, so I just mimicked some of the women near me. No one seemed to notice, and it was really kind of fun, so I really started to let go and get into it.

I kept drinking and dancing and at some point I was no longer just dancing with the girls. Mike had shown up, and I danced with him and some other guys. It felt so good on the dance floor, I just didn’t care. I had been so stressed for so long—even before I became Ashlyn, I hardly took any time off, I was all about work—it felt good to just cut loose and not worry about anything.

Then suddenly I was dancing with Josh. He said he had talked to Dean and found out I had gone dancing—and he wanted to see if he could have a dance with me. I considered walking off the dance floor, but I had already danced with just about everyone, one more wasn’t going to kill me. I decided to not make it a big deal—I just wasn’t going to let him get too close, he stole a kiss the last time I saw him.

So we danced. We take a break, he buys me another drink. In the back of my mind I was wondering how much Ashlyn could drink—little alarm bells were going off—but when you have already crossed the “I’ve drank too much” line, you tend to ignore the warnings.

Billie and Jordan catch up with us, and let me know they have had enough, and were going home. Was I coming with them? I hesitated and Joss said if I wanted to stay longer, he would take care of me.

So I stayed, and we danced some more. At some point I forgot to keep some distance between us, and our bodies started rubbing against each other. I remember that when I looked at him, I wasn’t attracted to him—he was just another good looking guy, and that really didn’t do much for me—but when I closed my eyes, and I could feel his hands running over my body…suddenly I felt like I was on fire.

We started kissing on the dance floor. This time the kisses were not stolen, because I was kissing back.

I woke up the next morning hung over, in a bed I didn’t recognize, wearing a t-shirt that wasn’t mine and my thong. I was completely disoriented, my brain sluggish. Then I put all the evidence together.


I jump out off bed, but my legs were not ready for that, and I fell to the floor. As I was thrashing about, Josh came into the room; he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and looked like he had been up for a while.

He helps me up, and I punch him.

He falls back, more surprised than hurt. “Fuck! Ash, what did you do that for?”
“You son of a bitch! You knew I was drunk! You took advantage of me!” I screamed at him.

“You don’t remember what happened after the dance club.” It was a statement, not a question. He starts laughing—which really infuriates me. I start kicking him while he is down.

“No! Ash! We didn’t do anything! I swear!” He then goes on to tell me that I had all but passed out on the dance floor, so we took a cab to my house—only I apparently had lost my keys. So instead of knocking on the door and waking everyone up, I asked to stay at his place. Unfortunately, during the short walk to Josh’s I became sick and threw up—getting some of it on my clothes. Josh basically carried me in, undressed me, cleaned me up and put me to bed. He had slept on the couch.

Feeling very foolish, I apologized. We wash my clothes and had breakfast together. Josh had ran out and gotten us donuts and coffee. The coffee was amazing. I asked Josh what kind it was and he grinned. “It your favorite.”

I get dressed, hesitate, but give him a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks for taking care of me.”

It’s a short distance, so I decided to walk home. All the way home, what was really running though my mind: Why did I ask Josh if I could stay at his place? Why didn’t I just wake someone up? And what would have happened if I hadn’t thrown up?

Damn. I meant to go over some things from the trip to Maine, but I guess I needed to get Friday night out of my head and onto the page. I’ll catch up later.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Arthur: Back to Maine

Liz's cell phone rang at around eight o'clock yesterday morning, and it took me a moment to connect the "Ashlyn" it displayed with Jake. I flipped it open while looking through the closet. "Hey."

"Hey. So, at the risk of sounding completely like how I look, what should I wear?"

"It's a beach and the weather isn't bad; how about a bikini?"

"Fuck you."

I looked at the girl in the mirror, wearing just panties and an oversized t-shirt, and had to admit the prospect was kind of appealing. "I don't know," I said, "I'm trying to go for 'I'm at least trying not to make her look bad, so return the favor.' But not too sexy."

"Hmmm..." I could almost hear Jake getting frustrated; I'd seen the contents of Ashlyn's suitcases. She liked tight and low-cut; I wouldn't be surprised if Jake had a hard time finding stuff that fit between "on the make" and "lounging around the apartment".

For my part, I settled on white capris, sandals, and a blue tank-top with a neckline that didn't dip too low. Kind of girly, I suppose, but comfortable without being much of a come-on. I made sure to grab a sweater in case it got cold. I printed a couple sets of directions out - Jake only lives a few miles from me, but there's no rhyme or reason to the one-way streets around here. I adjusted the seat - Raymond isn't as tall as I was, but he's taller than I am - put on some sunglasses and headed toward Lechmere.

Man, I hope where Jake is living is inexpensive. It was on the other side of some neighborhood where all the signs are in Portugese, and maybe it's been too long since I've been Ashlyn's age, but it seems like a small apartment for five people. Or I've just been spoiled - before everything changed, I'd been living in the house where I grew up since my mother needed someone to look after her, while Liz & Ray have a pretty nice apartment for people in their mid-twenties.

He was ready when I knocked on the door; he'd gone with sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt, with the red hair in a hasty ponytail. And make-up. Not a lot, but more than the none I was wearing. I commented on it, and he said he'd been pounding the pavement looking for work for the past week, and putting it on for that was becoming part of the morning routine. I asked how that was going, and he grumbled something about a million college kids taking all the jobs Ashlyn was qualified for. I said that was rough, and we got in the car. Jake grimaced as the seat belt cut a path between his breasts, looking at my smaller bustline in something like envy.

We chit-chatted for a while about that sort of thing. He shivered at the idea of sharing a bed, although I told him it's only really annoying in the morning, when you wake up in a spooning position or an arm on top of you. Otherwise, at least for right now, our schedules work out that Raymond doesn't have much of a chance to act on any friskiness. After running out of small talk, since the blog sort of keeps us updated on what the other is doing, we turned on the radio. I asked which station he'd done that job for; he said WBCN, but neither of us knew what the frequency was. We found it eventually, but lost the signal after a half-hour or so.

We both got noticeably tense as we got closer to Old Orchard. The whole coast area even seemed a little spooky, with half the businesses closed up now that tourist season was mostly over. Places like York and Wells aren't exactly ghost towns, but they seem about half-full. When we got to Old Orchard, it had changed from a tourist spot to a small town, with the stopped rides of the amusement park eerily still.

Seeing a lot of hotels closed down for the season, we half-wondered if that would be the case for The Trading Post, and what it would mean if so. It wasn't, but trying to visit the place reminded us just how off-kilter it was. We questioned whether we should stop at the hotel where we'd picked up our keys, deciding against it. It really hit us just how strange it was that the place didn't have any on-site staff, or at least none we'd seen while there. That's not normal, but we never seriously questioned it. I wondered if maybe the place somehow suppresses doubts, like how whenever we try to tell someone about what happened to us, they just dismiss it out of hand.

Because there seems to be something to that. I rang the doorbell, and caught my breath when the guy who answered it was, well, me, at least physically. The posture was different, as was the accent, but when he asked who we were, and I said "Arthur Milligan", there was doubt on his face. "Really", he said, then shook his head. "I suppose someone has to be. Jeremy Boyd." And here's the weird thing, when he gave his name (which he pronounced almost like "Germy"), I didn't believe him on some gut level. I had to think that something similar had happened to me to fight back the instinct that he wasn't who he appeared to be. I never had to do that for any of the guys who changed the same time I did, but maybe it's because it was the same event.

Jeremy then gives Jake a twice-over and asks who he is. When Jake answers, the guy looks really doubtful, but then laughs and says Jake sure traded up. Jake asks if he'd feel that way if he was the one who had to cart those boobs around, and Jeremy says, no, but then again, he had looked good. Jake makes a comment about the new me being a charmer. Jeremy apologizes, invites us in, and asks if we all got turned into such "hot bitches". We say, yeah, more or less. He offers us beers from the fridge, which we accept, and lifts his. "In all seriousness, here's to you guys. I can at least try to get Artie's body back in shape, but no time in the gym can get you back to normal."

Gee, that beer tastes a bit bitter.

A perfect facsimile of Dex walks by and looks at us. "Who are they?" "They are who me and Steve turned into. The guy just shakes his head and walks on. Jeremy turns back to us. "I still don't know his deal. If he's even a he - I don't think I ever saw him come in. Steve thinks the changes happen when the house is full for the first time, and that guy must of got in late."

"Yeah," I said, "that's how it seemed to work for us."

A couple other folks wandered through. "Mark" was pulling his impromptu roommate around by the hand in a way that made me wonder if one of them was a kid, but I didn't ask. I probably should have, in case Mark or any of the others start posting more regularly or returning emails, but I was kind of tunnel-visioned toward the guy wearing my sking. Besides, most of the group had evidently already left, called home by the jobs and families we had been ripped away from. "Jake" arrived with pizza, and I thought the real Jake was going to faint. He was kind enough to share, and the four of us had a somewhat uncomfortable lunch.

Afterward, Steven, the "new Jake", asked if he and Jake could talk privately. We all figured that was a pretty good idea, let the new uses quiz us on anything we might have left out of our letters. Jeremy and I decided to walk on the boardwalk. I told him I'd finished the Maxim aritcle and sent it in, and asked if he'd talked to my editor about the autobiography. He said that had been pushed back, but there were a couple other people calling. He actually said he was sorry to hear about my mom, and asked about my dad; I told him I hadn't heard from him in years and that suited me fine. He nodded, said he hears that, but thinks he should probably know something since who knew when we could fix this. I said we'd figure out a way, and in fact I was planning to spend the rest of the afternoon in the local library to see if any research could turn up information on the inn. Maybe he'd like to join, split the work? He said thanks, but no thanks; he was a soldier, not a scholar (light infantry, in fact), and would only get in my way. I thanked him, said to give me a call if he was going to go back to California via Boston and maybe we'd meet up. Then we parted ways.

Jake was going to meet me at the library, but apparently he and Steve had more to talk about than Jeremy and I did. Just as well; my time there was not well-spent. Old Orchard Beach is too small for a daily of its own, and the local weekly didn't have anything about the Trading Post (or even its location) going back a few years. The Portland Press Herald turned up nothing in an internet search, and I apparently would have to go to a larger library to find it on microfilm. I really had no idea how much I took the internet for granted until I heard the word "microfilm".

Jake and I met up at about four o'clock, so that we could get home early enough for Raymond not to know I was gone all day. I asked what he and Steven had talked about, and he said a fair amount was spent trying to teach him his job, and the rest... well, not my place. He wondered what his life would be like if he could get back to it in a few months, and I had to agree - Jeremy did not exactly speak like a writer.

So we drove home, though I've at least resolved to try to get back up here sometime to do a little more research.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Arthur: Heart-to-heart with a stranger

The theater's projection room scares me. It's a long room that runs parallel to the hallway between theaters, with great big 35 millimeter projectors every twenty feet or so, fed by large rotating platters stacked three high, each pointing into different theaters. A couple have things attached to provide digital sound; all of them have digital projectors for either the pre-show advertising or movies that come on hard drives rather than film. In one corner, there's a work table for assembling and disassembling prints As a manager, Liz is supposed to be qualified to do all this, and I have no doubt she is. Fortunately for me, not only is an assembled film is bulky, heavy, and unweildy, but the head manager apparently subscribes to the "women and machines don't mix" mindset. Thus, I've not yet had to actually try my hand at making those crazy things run. I've got no doubt I could learn, but I have been paying attention every time I go up there, I don't think they're going to make the little Korean girl run the projectors any time soon.

This is a roundabout way of explaining why I haven't had much to do with Elizabeth's friend and co-worker Zoe yet. Most of the time, a theater can operate with two or three people, and on slow days that's almost overkill - Liz's workplace is a ten-plex, but it's a sort of art-house ten-plex, which translates into the patrons being pretty good about not throwing popcorn all over the place, so there's one manager up in the booth, one of us down on the floor, and one college kid or senior citizen selling tickets, selling candy, ripping tickets, cleaning the theater, and probably either getting homework done or solving sudokus during the day. Weeknights, we've got separate people sellinng tickets and candy and an usher who also cleans the theaters. Friday night to Sunday night, there might be a few more people on. Anyway, most of the time, there's only two managers on duty, and the other one is almost always a guy, since otherwise either Zoe or I would be working the machines. Generally, we'll see each other in passing as our shifts overlap by a half hour.

Saturday night, though, both of us were on, and while there wasn't initially a lot of time for chatting, things quieted down a little around eight o'clock, with us in the locked office counting the incredible amount of money a theater makes on a busy night and making sure it matched up with recorded sales. It's boring work, and I yawned. She chuckled, and commented that she was surprised I was still here. I asked her what she meant, and she said "I" had been working at this theater since college, having been a manager for three years now, and come on, she stopped really liking the job after one. "I tell you", she said, "when you missed those shifts after vacation, I thought you'd just decided to hell with it and walked away.

As tempting as that sounds, I said, I don't exactly have anything else lined up. I didn't mention not wanting to leave Liz's life as much like I found it as I could or not knowing what else she was really qualified for.

She asks if I have to. Ray's making pretty good money, after all, and it would be a good time to take some time off, not let that drama diploma go to waste. Do some auditions, shake the rust off. After all, she says, it's not like this is how Liz always dreamed of being in show business.

Well, I say, it's not like Ray and "I" are married... She says we may as well be, that he and Liz have been dating since their junior year of high school and the only reason it didn't happen sooner is because they didn't want to be seen as dating the only other Korean in the school district because, hey, only other Korean. Well, I say, I'm really not ready to not be earning your own money. Suit yourself, she says.

Ah, well. I'm not totally against leaching off Ray a little - Jake and I are going to quietly borrow his car and head back up to Old Orchard this Wednesday to see what's going on at the inn. I hope we're able to learn something, or at least make sure our lives are in good hands.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--the girl can grill

Saturday night my roommates invited a bunch of friends over to barbecue. At first I really hated the idea, and considered ducking out of the party and going to a movie. I could always lie, and tell them I had a date or something. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good barbecue, it’s just meeting people who have some kind of history with Ashlyn is mentally exhausting, and I always come off as an idiot.

I have been dealing with it for about a week now with my roommates, a few examples:

J.J. wants to know if I finished the book she loaned me last month. Of course, I have no idea what she is talking about. She tells me about the book, trying to jog my memory. She says this is an important book to her, it had been a gift from a friend—and I can only shrug. I end up looking brainless, and she walks away mad.

I walk into the kitchen while Dean is cooking, he says to me “Will you hand me a plate, I think this is nearly done.” I then end up going through several cabinets before finding the plates, Dean watching me the whole time. He gives me a funny look and I mumble “I forgot where we keep the plates.”

Girl talk about old boyfriends is the worst of all. Billie came running up to me all upset about some guy she has been dating—apparently Ashlyn had dated the guy briefly, and she wanted to complain to someone who would understand her situation and compare notes. I tried to fake my way through the conversation, but when she started asking me things like “Was he selfish in bed with you?” I immediately tried to get out of the conversation. She persisted. “Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m not exciting enough in bed. What about oral? You used to give him oral, right? Do you think that will help?” That was one mental image I could have done without. I did the best I could, but I could tell Billie walked away frustrated with me.

The only roommate I haven’t annoyed is Logan—but I have been avoiding him. Whenever our paths do cross, he flirts with me. He rubs my shoulders, wraps his arm around me or threatens to tickle me again. I told him I would kick his ass if he ever did that again, but he still walks by and make “tickling” motions with his fingers.

So I had pretty much decided to bail on the barbecue, until they started to prepare to cook. It became apparent to me that none of my roommates knew a thing about barbecue. I started by just offering a little advice on marinating the meat, and soon I was running the whole show.

It actually worked out well for me—it gave me something to do and still allowed me to meet some of my new friends for the first time. I never had to worry about awkward moments in conversation because I always had an out—I would suddenly need to check on the grill.

Then ex-boyfriend showed up.
I was working away on some kabobs, when I hear a “I didn’t know you could cook” behind me. I look over my shoulder and see a tall, good looking guy with dark hair and brown eyes.

“Josh.” I say to him—he took it as a hello, but in reality I was guessing.

“Hello beautiful. I’ve missed you.” He says to me.

He leans in to casually “kiss me hello”, but I stop him by putting a plate of burger patties in his hands.

“Make yourself useful—put these on the table.” He gives me a slight hurt look, but walks away.

I managed to have a good time for the next hour or two—Ashlyn, I—have some really cool friends. It probably helped that I had been drinking wine all evening, and I was a bit tipsy, so I wasn’t so self-conscious about talking to people. Everyone loved the barbecue, and asked me where I learned to cook it like that. I told them “It came to me in my sleep one night.” When you consider I woke up as Ashlyn one morning, that is actually kind of true.

I knew I wasn’t going to make it all night without talking to Josh again—and I was right.

He caught me alone at the dessert table, as I was going for my second nutter butter cookie.

“I thought you hated those.”

I shrugged. “What can I say? Tastes change.”

“Look, Ash—“ He starts.

I stop him. “Not here, let’s go out to the patio.”

It was a bit cool outside. Boston is dipping into the fifties at night. I had to give Joss credit, he thought to grab his jacket on the way out, and he handed it to me.

I hesitated, but took it. I remembered all the jackets I had given up over the years, and I felt I was due one back. It felt warm and smelled good. I was surprised by the later; I have a very picky nose these days.

I had been thinking about the Josh problem for a while now, ever since I heard his heart felt voice messages. I considered being cruel to the man—maybe say things to him to drive him away, maybe lie and say I found someone else.

I couldn’t bring myself to do it—I identified with him too much. I new what it was like to lose a woman you loved. Besides, the original Ashlyn asked me to be nice to him.

So I was kind, and told him some half-truths. I told him he was a wonderful man, but my life was a wreck—and I couldn’t think about being in a serious relationship without fixing the things wrong in my life.

“It’s time for Ashlyn to grow up and stop being a kid.” I tell him. “I need to get a job, pay bills…other grown up stuff.” I give him a cute smile.

He wasn’t happy about it, but I could tell he agreed with some of what I was saying. I’m guessing that anyone who has ever met the original Ashlyn would think the girl needed to get her act together.

I was less inhibited because of all the wine and I gave this guy I met a few hours ago a warm hug—I was thinking it would be what the real Ashlyn would want. “I need you to stop calling me everyday and to give me some space—so I can get my life together.”

He sighed deeply. “All right Ash. Whatever makes you happy.”

Pleased with myself, I let him go. Mission accomplished. I turned to go back inside, but he quickly put his arm around me and pulled me close to him. I looked up at him surprised—and he kissed me.

I was stunned. Before I could get my brain to start working again, the kiss was over and he had gone back inside.

Sunday morning—

I woke up the next day with a slight hang over. I drug myself out of bed and into the tub. Freshly scrubbed, and with freshly shaven legs, I put on some workout clothes, toss my radio station outfit into a bag, and head out to catch the T. My experience in television production gave me some insight—I had seen actresses show up to the set in sweats, a baseball cap and no makeup turned into goddesses by the makeup person. I was betting that this was the same kind of situation.

I get to the radio station and from there I end up riding in a van with several of the other “Promo girls” to Gillette stadium—home of the Patriots. The ride was interesting. No one apparently knew Ashlyn so I was able to participate in conversation without having to over think every word.

We arrive, and are immediately sent to the makeup guy. This one guy, his name was Stephan, took care of us all, both hair and makeup. He was a whirling dervish of activity. He was a nice guy too—whenever I would ask questions he would take the time to explain some of the things he was doing; I learned a few things about hair and makeup from the guy. As he was working on my hair I asked him about going with a shorter hair style. “Are you crazy? You have amazing hair!” He seemed genuinely offended by the idea. When he finished with me, he handed me his card. He said if I wanted to learn more about makeup he was willing to teach me—if I would allow him to do different styles of makeup on me in his shop, and take pictures for his portfolio. I said I would think about it.

He walked away and I turned and stared into the mirror. I was stunned by how much better I looked with professional makeup. I had been doing the bare minimum for days, mostly just lipstick--Stephan had done things to bring out the green of my eyes, and to make my already full lips look even fuller. It was kind of scary.

We then head over to a changing room to get into our outfits. I was kind of looking forward to this part; I was going to have a great view of a bunch of very attractive women in various stages of undress.

After we were all in the outfits, Mike the radio guy got us all together and basically laid out the ground rules:

We were to be fun, attractive and smiling at all times. We had to remain in heels the entire time. If someone wanted to get a picture with one of us, we would do so. If some guy got to be too free with his hands, we were not to create a scene, but call Mike or one of the other guys over to take care of it. We were to hand out the calendars, but mostly our job was to attract people to the area where the radio station had set up it’s event—so be friendly.

So I was friendly. Somewhere in the process I realized that when a pretty girl makes conversation with a guy—and is just being friendly—it comes off as flirting. I thought back to Kat, the beer wench at the beer festival and realized how incredibly wrong I had interpreted her intentions. I was just like her, being friendly and just trying to get through a job.

I also figured out that I had something over the other girls—I know a thing or two about sports. As Jake I was constantly listening to sports radio, it gave me something to talk about with the guys who were trying to chat me up.

Five hours later my feet were killing me. I don’t know how real women wear heels all the time—also my face hurt from all the smiling I had to do.

Over all I survived my experience as a “Promo girl”—I only had to signal to Mike twice to get some guy with roaming hands away from me. I collected my money and caught the van back to Boston.


and Art, I'm definately up for a trip to the Inn.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Arthur - Time with the boyfriend

You guys complaining about your current situation should take a long, hard look at the ratio between people and beds where you live. It's definitely 2:1 here, and it's far from a comfortable situation. Raymond hasn't tried to jump my bones yet, but how long is that going to last?

In a way, it's odd that he hasn't, really. I mean, the way I figure it, I arrived at the Trading Post back on August 22nd. The inn seems to rent its rooms in two-week blocks, so Liz might have been there as early as the 8th. Even if we assume that she and Ashlyn didn't show up until a week later, just eating half of their reservation - and from the financial situation Jake describes, I can't really see Ashlyn being in a position to do that, unless she just grabbed the extra room opportunistically because Raymond couldn't go. That could be it; Raymond seems to be a busy guy and Ashlyn seems to be the type of girl who would just grab the opportunity. Still, assume they got there the 15th. She changes soon after - that's why she kept calling, right, figuring we'd change right away - so there's no Elizabeth of any sort, period, until a week after I get there and change. Then I hang around there for a few days, avoid spending any time in bed with him... So it's been almost a month since Raymond and Elizabeth have slept together, and I've turned into a fairly cute girl.

Not that I want him to show any sexual interest in me; I just think it's kind of odd. There doesn't seem to be any problem with his and Elizabeth's relationship. We finally had some time to spend together this weekend, and he seems like a nice enough guy. He picked me up after I finished my Saturday-afternoon shift (I hadn't even realized he had a car), drove us to a nice little restaurant somewhere south of Boston proper, and talked about the week. Apparently he's getting absolutely slammed at work, in part because one of the cases the firm is working on is a local publisher's dispute with a Korean printer, and the firm wants him involved in conference calls at all hours because he speaks the language. I ask him how long that's going to last, and he thinks it'll be another couple of weeks. Good for me, I guess, although rough on him.

The food was delicious, and afterward we had a nice walk through the center of town, doing a little window shopping. Lots of small talk, and when we got back to Cambridge, I was pretty pooped. I was a little nervous when he got into bed with me, but he was a perfect gentleman. If he noticed I was incredible tense, he didn't mention it, and just let me have my side of the bed. The next night was similar, even after a lazy Sunday working on the Globe and Times crosswords together. We also watched the Red Sox game together. I think I managed to not look ignorant, although apparently even die-hard fans of the team can look ignorant right now.

I don't seem to have aroused any suspicion, which is good, I guess. I'm not making much progress on finding out how to be myself again, but I don't seem to be messing up Ms. Lee's life any. Still, it's kind of frightening that I can just be dropped into her life and pull it off just because I now look and sound like her. She and Raymond seem to have been together a long time; you'd think he'd know instinctively that something was amiss. But he doesn't. That's kind of sad, I think.


Oh, BTW - Jake, Vinny: Raymond seldom uses his car during the week, just taking the "T" into work. Either of you up for a quick road trip to Old Orchard to maybe talk to the Inn's current residents in person, maybe see if there's something we can sniff out? It's not even a hundred miles away.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--Broke and ticklish

I’m not sure what Ashlyn did with all of her free time. She apparently only took part time jobs, and in-between those jobs she apparently window shopped, partied and went clubbing.

Worse, she really needed to work. All of her credit cards are maxed out, and she is in major debt. Digging through her “files” which consisted of just a cardboard box filled with random receipts and payment stubs; I got the impression that she may not have ever paid her taxes. I got this impression mostly from the stacks of threatening letters from the IRS.

Her checking account has 39 dollars in it. I guess I should be thrilled it is not over-drawn. I don’t know how she planned on paying her rent—I had to use a big hunk of the moneys I took out of the Jake Mathews account to pay that and the late fees. She also has student’s loans to pay off—not that she finished school, she dropped out of college her sophomore year.

She—I am in a financial mess.

I’m not sure what to do about this. I have to live Ashlyn’s life with frame of mind that this might be forever—so I have to fix this mess.

I remembered the voicemail with a job, so I called back Mike with the radio station. He still wanted Ashlyn for the job Sunday, so I got as much info about the job as I could. Basically it consisted of wearing an outfit provided by the radio station and passing out 2007 calendars to people as they entered Gillette stadium to see the Patriots game. It sounded like brainless work, and I could only imagine what the “outfit” would look like. I had seen girls at radio promotions before; they were always scantily dressed. I was about to turn him down, when he told me what he was willing to pay for just a few hours of work. I was stunned—it was a lot of money to just stand around and pass out calendars.

As we were talking on the phone I booted up the Mac notebook and looked up the radio station on the internet. I found pictures of old events on the site and a few with “promotion girls”. The outfit consisted of “short shorts”, heels, and a tiny t-shirt with the logo of the radio station plastered across the front.

He then told me he would pay me in cash at the end of the game—I swallowed my pride and told him I would take the job.

He told me when and where to be on Sunday, and to come by the station on Friday to pick up my outfit. He also said there would a “hair and makeup guy” on location because they planned on getting a little coverage for the Boston news. He said if I wanted my makeup done, to show up a couple of hours early.

I hung up the phone and spent the rest of the day practicing walking around in heels. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, and I move fairly well as long as I avoided stairs and walked slowly.

On Friday I went to one of the branches of the City of Cambridge Library to do more research on “magic” “body-swapping” and “weird phenomenon in Maine”. I also got a library card—Ashlyn didn’t have one. I checked out books on hairstyles and applying makeup. I skimmed the books for a while at the house, and then did a little job hunting online. The plan was to find work that doesn’t involve wearing skimpy outfits. I quickly learned I was in trouble. Ashlyn had no job history to speak of—so it was beginning to look like a receptionist or a waitress job.

Only I can’t type. You would think a guy who spends as much time on a computer as I did would have learned to type—but it never came to me. I’m more of a mouse guy.

So that really only left being a waitress. I told myself it was only until I could get enough monies together to buy a computer and the software I needed. I would then start building a portfolio and get into freelance graphics.

A few depressing hours of job hunting later, I felt I needed to get out of the house again. Both Logan and Billie were in the house today, and they both felt a need to chat me up. I couldn’t walk anywhere in the house without a “Hey, Ash, what’s with you and Joss?” or “Does this top look good on me?” The final straw was when I was alone in the kitchen with Logan. He gives me a look and says “Ever since you got back from your trip, you’ve been so serious Ash, is everything okay?” I fake a big smile and tell him everything is alright. He says he doesn’t believe me, and then walks up very close to me, and leans down, putting his face near mine. I froze thinking he was about to kiss me—but I would be wrong.

He reached out and began to tickle me. Within moments he had me down on the floor, screeching with laughter, begging him to stop. I was at his complete mercy, not nearly strong enough to make him stop. I very nearly peed myself. Eventually he does stop, gives me a “friendly” kiss on the top of the head and leaves me lying on the floor exhausted. “Cheer up Ash,” he says leaving the room, “Things will get better soon, a girl as hot as you won’t go without a boyfriend long.” The moment I recover, I jump up and exit the house.

I caught the “T” (what people call the subway here) into Boston. I walked around Boston, getting the feel for the city. For the geographically challenged reading this blog, the cities of Boston and Cambridge border each other—they are separated by the river Charles.

I then stopped by the radio station and picked up my uniform for Sunday. I went home, took a bath, and shaved my legs—I had been putting it off. I wanted to “test drive” the outfit from the radio station, to try it on and see if I had the nerve to wear it in front of people. To do that I needed freshly shaved legs.

I slip on the outfit and looked into the mirror. Yep, the outfit didn’t hide much--tight little shirt that left my middle exposed and shorts that looked painted on. I used my some of the things I learned from the library books and did my hair and makeup.

I stepped out of my room and caught Logan and Dean playing games on the xbox .

Both men stopped and gave a look. “What do you think?” I asked, and gave them a little spin.

They both gave me big goofy grins. “You look hot!”

I sat down between them and announced I had the next game.

After a while I forgot what I looked like, and what I was dressed like, and started to have a good time. It was almost like I was one of the guys--except when I caught them checking me out when they thought I was not looking.

I decided I could survive the job on Sunday.

I’ll have to get into Sunday’s antics later. Right now I need to stop writing this blog and head out and find a job as a waitress.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


When I first stepped into my new home I was immediately assaulted with questions and accusations. “Are you okay? Where have you been? Why didn’t you call? Do you have your part of the rent?” It’s was a difficult position to be in—these people knew me—or at least they think they know me--and I knew very little about them. Fortunately, the original Ashlyn described my new roommates on the “dvd letter”. Those descriptions proved good enough to allow me to bluff through the first initial conversations.

I have four roommates, two guys and two girls. The guys are Logan Stiles, and Dean Williams. Dean is an average looking guy with a medium build and sandy blonde hair. His most distinguishing feature is a permanent grin that is pasted on his face—it’s like he always amused by something. Logan was vastly different from Dean; it didn’t take being changed into a woman to realize Logan is a good looking guy. He is tall with dark hair and chiseled features. He also has the look and build of a guy who worked out all the time. I was a little concerned when I first met him because that description would also apply to Ross--the ex-boyfriend I had yet to meet, he is also friends with my roommates and could easily be at the house--and I was afraid of mistaking the two guys. Luckily for me, Logan was wearing a “City of Cambridge Fire Department” t-shirt—and I knew from the dvd that Logan was a fireman.

I found I was instantly annoyed with Logan. Even if I hadn’t changed into Ashlyn and was still Jake, he would be everything I was not—I guess I am envious.

The women are Billie Fraser and Jordan James (she goes by J.J.) Billie is small, with shortish brown hair, large brown eyes and a nice figure. She has a pixie-like quality. Billie also has a cheerleader-like perkiness about her, when I meet her she gave me a big hug. “Welcome home Ash!”

Jordan is classically beautiful. She has blonde hair, blue eyes, a really nice figure and an intelligent and stylish look about her. In contrast to my new self, J.J. has an elegant sexiness about herself, a sense of “class” that makes you think of dinner parties and operas—my new form is overtly sexual and makes you think of porn and strippers.

If I was still Jake, I might have pursued J.J., but oddly, I find myself jealous of J.J. as well. If I have to be a woman, why couldn’t I be more like her? I feel a bit freakish, like a sexy cartoon woman instead of a real woman.

So I am jealous of both Logan and Jordan for different reasons.
I am so screwed up in the head.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Arthur - Not what the schedule board is meant to be used for

Elizabeth and her boyfriend Raymond Kim have a great big dry-erase scheduling thing on their refrigerator, which I presume is so that they can find time to spend together, or at least know where the other is if there's some question. Over the last couple of days, I've been using it to avoid dealing with him until I absolutely have to.

It's surprisingly easy. Someone managing a movie theater is just as likely to work nights as days, as I did the first three days this week. He, I deduce from the law books on the shelf, and certificates on the wall, is a lawyer who only this year graduated from law school and passed the bar. My lawyer friends from my old life often complained that the schedule for a new associate at a downtown firm was brutal, with the expectation being sixty or seventy billable hours a week. So most days, I've been leaving for a shift that starts at five or five-thirty PM well before he comes home, getting in at one-thirty. At that point, I turn on the TV (after discovering that they have the Extra Innings package and a DVR, I've been watching A's games on delay), fall asleep watching it, and still be out when Raymond leaves in the morning. He kissed my forehead as he was leaving Tuesday morning, which made me jerk enough to give him a bloody lip. He hasn't tried it the past couple days.

Elizabeth's job isn't terribly difficult - make sure the concession stand has plenty of candy, collect and count money after each set of shows goes in, cover whenever someone has to take a break, and lock up at the end of the night. I'm kind of lucky that everyone wears nametags; they may suddenly be wondering why Liz is a little distant, but I don't see that I'm looking like an idiot.

I met the Zoe Huston who called Elizabeth Sunday. She wanted to know what was up; she said she's known "me" since junior high and this is the first irresponsible thing she can remember. I said I ate some bad seafood and was sick as a dog for a week. Well, first I tried the truth, but it just seemed to sail right past her.

Raymond will probably be back in a half hour or so; hopefully I'll have come up with a plan by then.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--at the sound of the beep, leave a message

The trip from Old Orchard Beach to Boston gave me some downtime, and I went through the 22 voicemails on my new cell phone. Lots of good info in the messages to help me get a mental picture on the life I stepped into.

5 calls were from bill collectors, which is probably a bad sign for me money-wise.

4 calls were from Ashlyn’s roommates, they were wondering where I was—and more specifically, where my part of the rent was located. Again, not a good sign for me financially.

2 calls were from a “Mike” at some radio station in Boston. He wanted to know if I wanted to work the Patriots game this Sunday. I jotted down his info, planning to call him back. From the sound of some of the previous calls, I might need the money, so I should at least find out what the job is about.

1 call was from my new mom, she just called to say “Hi”, and wanted to know how I was doing. She also wanted to know if “I took that job” and added “We won’t judge you sweetheart. Your father and I will love no matter what…but if this is just a money issue, please, let us help you before you do something you regret. I love you. Call me”.
This worried me. On the DVD Ashlyn didn’t mention anything that I felt would worry a mother.

It didn’t take long to find out what the fuss was about. I received 1 call from an “Anthony” who apparently runs a strip club. He said he was disappointed that I changed my mind about coming to dance. He said with a little improvement in my dance technique, that I and my “red hot little body” would go far. He said he had a weakness for red heads, and if I ever changed my mind there was always a spot open to me.

Great. I was almost a stripper. The thought made me nauseous.

3 calls were from friends of Ashlyn, who wanted to go shopping or clubbing.

3 calls were from guys who said something like “I heard you were back on the market. We ought to go out”.

And 3 calls were from a guy called Josh. The calls from Josh were tough to sit through. The guy really poured his heart out. It was weird to hear someone speak so passionately—and to know that passion was directed at me. I could tell from his messages Josh wasn’t going to give up easily. I was going to have to deal with him.

I set the phone down and start to go through the purse—but the first things I pulled out were tampons and rubbers. I decided the purse could wait for later and slept the rest of the way.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Jake/Ashlyn--clothes make the woman

When Art told me he was going to go to Cambridge and live Elizabeth’s life I was kind of surprised. I just kind of assumed we would all stay around the Inn until some solution was found. But Art pointed out that sooner or later, if the pattern remained the same, someone else was going to have his old life—and he hoped whoever that person was would take care of his life until he got back to it--and he planned to do that for Elizabeth.
He also pointed out he could take the train back if he need to be at the Inn for any reason.

Damn it. Art made a lot of sense.

I had also considered going home to Texas, and holding up in my apartment for a while—but I knew a new Jake Mathews would probably come home some day and I would have no legal right to be there. I might get tossed out on my new shapely butt.

No, Art had the right idea. I decided I was also going to assume Ashlyn’s life—hopefully not forever.

In an odd way, making the decision was a relief—I finally had a plan of action. I had been walking around aimless for days; it felt good to have direction.

The first thing I decided to do was change into some of her clothes. If I was going to make this work, I needed to look the part. I opened up her—no mine—my suitcase. For now, this is my life and this is my stuff. I went through my clothes and was kind of concerned by how small and sexy everything was. Apparently I was the kind of girl that liked to show off her body. What was the phrase? If you got it, flaunt it?

I wasn’t ready for flaunting. I undressed and slid on some panties and a bra. The bra wasn’t that difficult to put on, it wasn’t rocket science or anything.
There were mostly skirts, but there were a couple of pairs of jeans. I grabbed those and what looked like a grey henley t-shirt. I had henley’s in my closet back home, so I felt pretty comfortable putting it on. Unfortunately, this t-shirt hugged my upper body and the neck “scooped” way down my front showing off a bunch of cleavage. My boobs were obviously on display. I considered changing, but looking through everything else the suitcase, this was probably my best choice.

I had found a small digital camera, a phone and a purse in the suitcase—the phone was turned off. I push the button and it came to life, letting me know I had 22 messages. I sat it aside for later.

I picked up the camera and looked at the photos on the memory card. There were several of pictures of Ashlyn and Elizabeth out having a good time on the beach. Art was right; I did now own a bikini and looked amazing in it. I ran across some other non-beach “candid” shots, and used them for references for my hair. I spent an hour and a half before I figured out how to use the “hair clip” thing. It was a plastic clip with interlocking teeth that held a large amount hair up in back. It created what was like a ponytail, but shorter. It was nice to get out from underneath all that hair.

I had no idea what to do about makeup. I did a little browsing on the internet for help, but the information was over-whelming. Too many types of make-up, too many colors, and too many choices.

I almost decided against trying anything, but in the back of my mind I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to wear some. No attractive 23 year old woman would be caught without some kind of makeup. So I experimented with lipstick for a while, until I got to the point where I didn’t look like I was wearing clown paint.

I slid on some shoes without heels and turned and looked in the mirror.

It was shocking. Sure, she needed a lot of help in the hair and makeup department, but there stood an attractive young woman, ready to head out.

The rest of the day I spent backing up my laptop to dvds. Art had suggested the idea, and I’m glad he thought of it. I really wanted to take my laptop with me—Ashlyn’s laptop, my new laptop—is a much older model, and is a Mac. My laptop is a very powerful and very new “portable desktop” and a PC. I use it for my work in graphics.

But that isn’t my job anymore. The new Jake will need it for his job. It kills me, but I am going to leave it.

I get done backing everything up and then I set down to write my letter to the new me.
I think the hormones in this new body must be affecting me, because for the first time since the change, I cried.

It was like my best friend had died… only it was me.

When I get done I run out to an ATM and take out some money out of the Jake Mathews account. I had no idea what my new financial situation was, and I was not going to be penniless. There was several thousand in the account, but I only took several hundred. Jake was going to need his money.

I get back to the Inn and pack up everything. I put Jake’s things in the closet with the Letter clearly on top. I decided to give the next guy a little help by putting out in the open.

I'm going to post this, grab my suitcases, and head for the train station—I'm on my way to my new life.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Arthur - Covering

Got another phone call yesterday, though not from the original Elizabeth Lee. It was a co-worker of hers, Zoe something-or-other, wanting to know where "I" was. Apparently she'd covered for Liz missing a few days of work after her vacation ended, but the home office had started to ask questions on Thursday, and if Liz didn't show up for work Monday evening, she'd be fired.

I thanked her, and then sat down to figure out what to do. There's got to be a way to make things right, but in the meantime, well, I've got to do something, right? And if we do figure out how to reverse this curse or spell or whatever we're under, I probably shouldn't mess Liz's life up any more than I'd want the next guy using this room to mess up mine. So, for now, at least, I guess I'll be heading south to Boston and playing at running a movie theater for a while.

Who knows, maybe it'll be a nifty learning experience, and when we manage to undo what this house has done to our bodies, I'll have some new experiences to draw upon for that novel I've always been meaning to write. It might be good for me, right - I've been writing freelance ever since I got out of college, so a lot of my "real-world" experiences are sort of second-hand. It might be useful for my future development to actually do something rather than just research it.

There's a two o'clock train to Boston; if I'm reading Google maps right, I should have just enough time to drop all this luggage off at Elizabeth's apartment before her shift starts at 5:30. I told Jake and Vinny about it, since their new lives appear to be in that area too, but I don't know whether they'll take the same train. They may want to stick around until our reservations are up, see if they can learn anything about the inn or just get used to their new shapes before immersing themselves in new lives. I mean, heck, the remnants of Ernesto seem to be spent, so it's nice out again. Ashlyn and Sarah must have packed bikinis, and it would almost be a shame for them not to at least try that experience, right?

Not that I'd be caught dead walking around in a two-piece swimsuit; I'd just love to see them in one.

So, right now, I'm working on my letter to "the new Arthur". It's strange to write. On the one hand, it feels like the idea of laying out your whole life for someone should be daunting; I've worked with people on biographies, and there's just so many details. But when I sit down to write it, I feel like there isn't really much to my life. My mom died last year, I haven't heard from my dad in years. I've got friends, sure, but I don't have a lot of things that could trip someone up. I don't even have a nine-to-five job; I just take what assignments I can get, so that's transitory. I really want this letter to be longer than it is.

After that, I've got to pack up twice, since I've been wearing Liz's clothes the last few days (though I bought new panties - this is still my body, and I'm not wearing someone else's underwear). I'm trying to think if there's anything of mine I want to keep. My lucky A's cap, I guess, and I bought a flash drive at the camera shop so I could bring some of the contents of my laptop's hard disc with me. But that's it, I guess.

So, time to go to Boston and cover Liz's shift. Hopefully not for too long.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Jake--or is that Ashlyn now?

After three days without a shower, my new sensitive nose couldn’t take it anymore. I don’t know why I was putting it off—I guess I believed that if I started to take an interest in the care of this body, it would be like some form of acceptance. But just like when I got hungry yesterday, life made another demand on me: If I didn’t want that awful smell to follow me around everywhere, I was going to have to take a shower.

I undressed, pulled out the rubber band that has been holding my hair in a ponytail since yesterday, and surrendered to this body’s need to be clean.

The shower felt really, really good. I could feel the stress drain out of me as the hot water sprayed over me. You would think it would feel all sexy to soap up a woman’s body—but that wasn’t the case for me. If anything did feel pleasurable at all, I pushed those thoughts away. I was all business. Washing the hair took a lot more shampoo than I was used to, I could see where it would be easy to go through a bottle very quickly.

I was just stepping out of the shower as there was a knock on the bathroom door.

“Jake, its Art, I’ve got news.”

“Just a second.” I grabbed a towel, hesitated for a second, and then wrapped it around myself in a feminine manor. I couldn’t get the towel to stay in place on its own, so I held it in place with one hand and opened the door.

It’s odd, but I’ve noticed that all the transformed women have turned out kind of hot—and whenever we have dealings with each other, the first thing we do is check each other out. With every conversation there is this awkward pause until we remember that there is a guy somewhere under that attractive exterior. This conversation was no different. What can I say? Art’s new body had an elegant sexy quality about it—and I can’t blame Art either, I’ve seen myself in the mirror. I look like the kind of girl you see on posters in beer stores.

We catch each other gawking and we smile sheepishly at each other. Man does Art have a killer smile. I push that thought away, and focus.

(S)he tells me about how we are not just any women, but apparently we are in the bodies of the last guests of the Inn. That I was living someone else’s life now and my name is Ashlyn. Art added that I needed to look through the luggage that was left for me—that there was probably a note telling me about my new life, and maybe some new clues on what has happened.

I quickly returned to my room, grabbed one of the suitcases that was left for me, and tossed it on the bed. I was still dealing with the towel, and it made opening the suitcase difficult, so I dropped it and slid on a t-shirt that hung on me like a nightshirt. Art had followed me into my room and he probably saw me change, but I didn’t care. I was focused on getting into the bags.

“Um… you need some privacy?” Art asked.

I shook my head no. I had no idea what I was about to find, and I liked having the moral support.

The suitcases were filled with everything you would expect to find in a young woman’s suitcase. I momentarily stopped my search when I ran across a bunch of bras and panties—after having my boobs flop around for the last few days, I was slightly open to the idea of some extra support. Several of the panties were thongs, and I had no interest in those. I set the underwear aside and continued with my search.

No note. I was about to be really upset when Art points out I missed the laptop bag. I open it and there is an older model Mac powerbook with a yellow post it note stuck to it.
The yellow note says “Play the dvd”.

I booted the computer and played the dvd. The video swung around violently for a moment, before settling down, like someone was placing the camera on a tripod as it recorded. The picture showed the room I was staying in, the camera aimed at the bed. A moment later a man in his late twenties/ early thirties steps into the picture and sits on the bed and looks at the camera.

“Hello,” the man said, “Welcome to my life.”

He first gives his *new* name. I don’t know if he would want that information to get out, so I am withholding it for now.

He then tells me my new name is Ashlyn Shelley, and I had just turned 23 a couple of months ago. I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, “near the Lechmere station”—I have no idea what that means—but I room with people to keep costs down. He talks about the roommates and the family that I have just inherited. Apparently, my mother and father live in Rhode Island. I also learned that Art is now “Elizabeth Lee” and we are friends.

He says I work in “promotions”. Radio stations hire me to show up at their events and pass out things to the crowd. That I also work conventions and car shows, that my job was to attract interest in the booth and to pass out “swag”.

He then tells me that he/she/I have just broken up with a guy named Josh. Josh was apparently a good guy, but was getting too serious. “Be nice to him,” the man on the screen says, “He’s in love with you.” He then breaks down for a moment, crying.

The man eventually collects himself. “One last thing, I received a letter from the guy I turned into—I decided to talk to the camera instead—but in my letter, it stated that if I tried to tell someone about what has happened, they would not believe you--that no amount of proof or persuasion would be enough. It’s a part of the magic or something.
I’ve tested it, and he was right. Goodbye Ashlyn, have a nice life.” The video stops.

After spending the last few days in this body, I had resigned myself to the idea that it might take a while to get my old body back—if ever. I had a small amount of comfort in the idea that I could go to my friends and family, and somehow convince them that I was Jake Mathews. I would then have their support, and I could somehow continue my life as I tried to find a way back to the old me.

Now even that little bit of hope has been taken from me.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Arthur - Connecting the Dots

Thursday was absolutely chaotic. Drew had the right idea trying to get us together, figure out what was going on, but we were all to panicked and in shock to talk rationally. He's a lawyer, a partner in a firm, and he's used to organizing, trying to get all the facts on the table, but there just weren't many facts. Initially, we were trying to accuse each other, but who knows how to do this? I mean, the closest I've ever been to anything like this is interviewing fake psychics about why they became fake psychics.

It was so chaotic at first that we thought everybody was accounted for just because we got the right headcount; I think only Mark realized that the girl with him wasn't Jeff, but some girl who had blown in the night before, and they were both in the "not saying anything" mode. Probably wise, on her part - if she had started going on in Spanish, a couple of us would have been panicked enough to think she caused it. But since Jeff had run out, we just assumed she was him, and it wasn't until Jeff came back that we realized there was someone else in the inn.

She ran out as we were comparing notes, and it took me most of yesterday to find her. I probably wouldn't have, except she was having an argument with someone at the train station in Spanish, and as I said before, Old Orchard seems more used to accomodating francophones than Spanish-speaking people. She was a little freaked when I said who I was, but she was grateful to have someone who spoke her language, even if what I learned in the California public educational system wasn't quite what she spoke in Peru. She wasn't terribly anxious to come back to the inn, but I think I convinced her by saying that if we were going to find out what had happened to us, the answers were probably there.

The funny thing is, she solved it for us almost without meaning to - she said that Mark had turned into Ginessa, the woman she was looking for. I don't think it had occurred to any of us that we hadn't just changed into women, but into specific women. She said she'd recognized some outfit of Ginessa's in Mark's closet, and when she said that, I ran back to my room, with her asking what she'd said.

I didn't answer her, but just pulled the bags out of the closet, tearing through them until I found a purse. I emptied it out onto the bed, and pulled the wallet out. Right there, on the Massachusetts driver's license, was a somewhat younger version of the face I'd been seeing in the mirror for the past day. The name on that license - and everything else with a name - is "Elizabeth Lee". I held the clothes up, and they were all my new size.

This stuff - it wasn't forgotten - it was left for us, because the old owners didn't need it any more. At least, that's the gist of what was in the letter. I almost missed it, because it fell on the floor while I was tearing through everything else. The envelope said "to the new me", and it gave me a short run-down on Miss Lee's life - her address in Cambridge, an explanation of who the people in the pictures were, a rundown of what her responsibilities at the movie theater (she's a manager), and how she knew Ashlyn - apparently Elizabeth and the girl Jake turned into were roommates for a few months a couple years ago, sharing a summer sublet, before Elizabeth moved in with her boyfriend Ray.

Oh. My. God.

We went back to Mark's room, and found her letter - I guess she's lucky, in that she only turned into a different girl rather than changing sexes - which I did my best to translate for her. I won't give the details; these things are about as personal as you can get, and just because I'm okay sharing what I found out about who I appear to be now doesn't mean I've got the right to do that for someone else. Respect your sources, right?

A couple more things about the letter - the handwriting was very precise and female-looking, although that doesn't mean anything - if the woman with the unlisted number who had been calling Elizabeth's phone is, in fact, Elizabeth herself, then she'd just become another woman. Still, I pulled out a pad and did some quick brown foxes - the handwriting still looks like mine. It's a little smaller, because my hand is smaller, but otherwise it's still the same scrawl. I don't think anything in my mind has changed, just my body (I don't know what the deal with Vinny's accent is; maybe his vocal chords have drastically changed shape or soemthing). But that's enough.

Oh, and the last thing - in the letter, Elizabeth says she's writing it because she got a letter like that from the previous occupant of the room when she changed, and so on back a ways. Which means, this is like a curse or something.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Jake--The first day of the rest of my life?


I guess I heard the screaming as well. I really don’t know why I woke up. I just know that I did—and when I groggily sat up in bed, I was instantly wide awake.

I’m not sure what I noticed first, the long red hair that seemed to be attached to my head, or the prominent boobs that sat on my chest. Slowly, in disbelief, I reached out with hands I did not recognize, and ran my fingers through the hair, softly pulling at it. I felt the pull. I decided to run the same test with the boobs, and I reached out and cupped them. One of my fingers brushed across a nipple, sending a tiny jolt through me. It surprised me, and I screamed like a little girl.

Moments later there was pounding at the bathroom door, and someone broke through.
Funny, I did think to lower my hands so I wouldn’t be caught groping myself. I didn’t think to cover myself. I guess feminine modesty is a learned trait.

The “someone” was a pretty Asian girl. She was small and slim, with short jet black hair. Actually, she was older than a girl, she was a young woman—but the pajamas she was wearing were so big on her, that I got the impression of a little girl wearing her Daddy's clothes.

We gawked at each other for a moment, and she goes “Jake?”—and the rest you know from Art’s entry. I would like to add that Art was very cool under pressure. I felt like I was very close to going right over the mental edge, but having Art around made things kind of better.

The rest of the day was spent comparing notes. I checked out CNN for a while to see if there were any reports of unusual transformations—to see if we were the only ones who woke up in the wrong bodies. I also spent several hours online, searching for anything to help us, but I didn’t find any really useful.

I spent the last few hours of the night drinking alone in my room and examining myself in the mirror. I checked to see if “the carpet matched the drapes” and I found out I am a natural redhead. Eventually I was drunken enough that I could ignore my body enough to fall asleep.

This Morning:

I was really hoping I wouldn’t be writing this today. After the events of yesterday, I was hoping I would wake up this morning and everything would be back to normal. That it was all a weird dream.

No such luck.

When I woke up this morning, I was afraid to move or open my eyes. I was afraid of getting any confirmation that I was still a stranger to myself…that I was still this twenty something busty redhead who has been staring back at me from the mirror.

After several moments, realized I could sense the weight of breasts on my chest, and I could feel the pulling of the long hair that was caught underneath me. I guess if something doesn’t happen soon, and we are stuck this way for a while, I’ll have to do something with my hair when I go to bed.

There were other more subtle clues as well. Two days ago I would have told you that this bed was cozy, with soft sheets. That the temperature was comfortable, and the room had no unpleasant smells. Now the bed feels hard, the sheets have a rough texture, the room cold and I can smell my pile of dirty clothes in the corner of the room. This new body senses the world differently than the old one.

I opened my eyes and looked and looked down my body. Yes, I was definately still female…and damn it, I am so hot—I’m all tits, hips and red hair. It drives me crazy.

I tried to stay in my room for a big part of the day…seeing the others just reinforced what had happened to me. But eventually life makes certain demands on you: I got hungry. I did a quick search of the Inn and all we had was beer. I found that to be ironic.

I decided to head out and grab some food for the group. Just a quick trip, grab some stuff and head back. Besides, I wanted to test someone outside the house a make sure everyone else was seeing what we were seeing. It crossed my mind that maybe we were suffering from some kind of group delusion. Maybe we all went insane at the same time—it’s no weirder a concept that a house full of guys suddenly waking up in women’s bodies.

I change into some sweat pants, a clean t-shirt and some flip flops--my goal being to look as gender neutral and inconspicuous as possible. The boobs really defeated the whole gender neutral thing.

When I get in the rent car I had to adjust all the mirrors and the seat. It was so depressing. The seatbelt was another awkward moment; the diagonal belt went uncomfortably between my boobs. Finally I was off—for about 30 seconds. It took me that long to realize why women wear ponytails. The convertible top was down and the wind blew my hair everywhere, making it hard to see. I stopped and searched the glove box, found a rubber band, and put my hair in a ponytail. I was on my way again.

I did my shopping at a convenience store. As I paid the guy behind the counter, I tried to not be nervous, and come off as a crazy person. The guy, a teenager, kept staring at me—I was pretty sure he was seeing what I was seeing. The guy stared at my chest, it creeped me out… but I needed to hear it. I need someone to tell me I wasn’t crazy.

“Excuse me, can you do me a favor?”

He stops loading the grocery bags and gives me a big smile. “Sure. What do you need?”

“Would you mind describing me? What I look like? Be as honest as you can.”

His eyebrows go up. He looks me over for a moment. “As honest as I can?”

“Please, be brutally honest.” I say.

“I see and incredibly hot redhead with a killer body, dressed in her boyfriend's clothes. That help?”

“Yes.” I say. “I’m not crazy.”

“If you say so.”

--Tired now. More later.