Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Jadyn / Jaci - No More Money

In order to finance all the partying that I love to do, I decided that I’d have to get a job. YUK! Even worse no place in town is hiring except the nursing home, Shady Acres Nursing Home. Me wiping old people butts, very funny indeed. But I went and applied for the job anyway.

I had my interview this morning. The place seems to be very clean and the people that I met are very nice. Not at all what I was expecting for a nursing home. The only one I’ve ever been in was the one Grandma was in and that one smelled of old people, you know, pee and stuff. I survived the interview just fine and they said they’d call me when they had made a decision.

They called this afternoon. I have a job. I have to take a state test and pass that first but they’ve agreed to pay for that. I was given the option of taking a class to study for the test but I am so not into school. That was Jaci’s thing not mine. I test on Monday. Assuming I pass the test I start work next Tuesday. This should be interesting…wish me luck!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ashlyn--My life is an open book

It’s always odd meeting someone who has read the blog. It was true for when I met Jessica, and it turned out true for Louise Torrence. Having read the blog she did know how to bribe me to get me to meet with her; she suggested we meet at Starbucks, and the drinks were on her--not that she needed to bribe me; I’m always up for meeting victims of the Trading Post inn.

As I walked into the Cambridgeside mall Starbuck and I instantly recognized the form of Marie Desjardins; I had met “her” a few times around New Years when I went to Canada as Jean-Michel’s date. I walked over to the beautiful dark haired woman “Louise?” I ask.

She looks up from the book she was reading, surprised. “Sorry. I was totally absorbed; I didn’t see you come in.”

‘Marie’ was in her mid-twenties and had an attractive face and large expressive brown eyes. She was tallish and had a curvy, elegant figure which wasn’t totally hidden in her conservative style of dress. She wore a no nonsense white blouse and a long blue skirt. I felt a little self conscious because I dressed totally the opposite—denim micro mini skirt and a top that was very much like a red Polo except it was tight and it’s neckline plunged way farther than a normal Polo. I keep thinking I need to buy some more conservative clothing—but then again, what’s the fun in that? Besides, it's summer, and it has actually gotten hot lately--not Texas hot, but hot enough that I wanted to wear as little clothing as necessary.

We shook hands, and I sat in the seat across from her. Because of the shortness of the skirt I had to be careful sitting down, and had to cross my legs. This seems to amuse Louise. She puts a bookmark into her Mary Higgins Clark mystery novel and set the book aside. “Thanks for meeting me.” She says.

“No problem. I like to help out when it comes to things about the Inn. I assume this is mine?” I was pointing to the second Starbucks cup sitting on the table.

“Grande non-fat chai, right?” She asked.

I nod my head. “Thank you. I can’t believe you picked up that little detail up from the blog.”

She smiled. “You are welcome. I’m an avid reader and I tend to remember what I read. I’m one of those people who always carry a book or two with them. When I found your blog I ate it up like candy; it seemed like the thing to do now that I too am a victim of the Inn. It’s been the best resource so far as to what has happened to me.”

My hair was in my face, so I brush it back over an ear, and pick up my chai and take a sip. I can feel all the stress leaving my body. “That is so good.”

She watches me for a moment. “I don’t want to sound rude, “ she says carefully, “but you don’t come off as ‘manish’ at all.”

I laughed. “Expecting to see some trace of the man inside? Well you have to remember, I’ve been Ashlyn for nearly a year now. I’ve had plenty of time to adapt—or at least I have gotten really good at mimicking women.”

“Amazing. I don’t know if I would have done so well if I had woken up a man instead of Marie. Some of the other guests who were with me at the Inn crossed gender lines, we had one man, now a woman, threaten suicide.” She said.

“You’ve read the blog, I was a mess in the beginning as well. I equate the curse of the Inn to the death of someone very close—at first it hurts like hell, but as time passes it gets easier. I hope that guy doesn’t do something drastic.”

We sit for a moment, drinking our coffees and she changes the subject. “I’m looking for Marie Desjardins.” She says.

“I’m looking at her.” I joked.

“The original Marie.” Her face said she didn’t think I was funny.

“And you think I can help you find her somehow?” I ask.

“Elizabeth thought so.”

“Liz doesn’t read the blog, and she’s got her head buried in the sand. She doesn’t know I put basically everything I know about the Inn into the blog. Why do you want to find this woman anyway? She obviously didn’t want to have anything to do with her old life.”

“Her mother died. She deserves to know that. Family is important; I would have thought you would appreciate that.” She states.

I must have given her a blank stare, not following her line of thought.

“Because you lost your family at such a young age. Family seems to be important to you now.”

There it was again, she knew details of my life than you don’t expect from a total stranger. She was right, I never really got over losing my parents as Jake; and Ashlyn’s parents—my parents now—have been away on a business trip all summer. It was amazing to me how fast I bonded with them and how I missed them.

“Besides, she might be interested in getting her old life back if she knew she could be free of André Trudeau. Jean-Michel thinks he knows a way to do that.”

Okay, she had made several good points. She had won me over to her line of thinking. “How is Jean-Michel these days?”

Louise shrugs. “I don’t know how to answer that. I really haven’t known him that long. I would say he seems to be thriving under the circumstances.” She says. “Handsome man.” She adds.

“Yes he is.” I agreed—it just kind out slipped out. I realized a month ago I started noticing how Matt—the boyfriend—was in such good shape. And when a good looking guy would come into Headlights, all the girls would gather and gush over the guy—and let me tell you, girls are just as bad as guys when it comes to objectifying the opposite sex. “Did you see his ass? Omigod!” Lately, I’ve been able to see what they were pointing out.

I change the subject. “I don’t know how much help I could be in finding the original Marie, but I may know someone who might be just the person you need.”


“She’s coming to visit me in a couple of days. Jessica.”

“The police detective who is now a teenage girl.” She remembered.

“Right. Only now she’s a high school graduate. If anyone could help you, she can.”

Louise seemed extremely excited about meeting Jessica. Jess is coming up to visit and hang out in Boston for a few days. “I want to let my hair down and act like a teenage girl for a while; and have some fun.” She said to me on the phone. I guess she decided I was the person to do that with. I hope she doesn’t mind I added something to her plate.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Trip / Kat - I like purple

Tonight, I just wanted to sit back and relax. I watched TV... and found myself bored out of my mind. As I was glancing around, trying to think of something to do - I noticed that the polish on my toenails was chipping a bit. The first thought to cross my mind was that I needed to re-polish them before someone saw how bad they looked.

It wasn't until I was choosing a new color that I realized that these thoughts were not normal for me... for the real me, Trip. I had to sit down. The realization that I was adapting to being a girl was disheartening.

As I thought back over the past few weeks I shook my head at how "normal" it's been to have to sit down every time I needed to pee, or to shave my legs when I shower (especially so, if I get dressed up to go to church or to a family function). These things should feel foreign to me - they're not things that I would normally do... if I were still myself.

Sure, I've always wondered what being a girl would be like... but for it all to be so real, and to feel so normal. I never expected that. I guess I still expected that it would feel different. Now that these things feel normal, will I have to re-adjust when... if, I get my old life back?

If I get my old life back... I'm not sure if I will - Frank has no body to return to now, and I can't bring myself to ask him his plans right now. Not to mention that Kat seems disinterested in her own life back here. I'm getting the distinct impression that she likes her new life too much to return to this one. I don't know what to do.

I do want my old life back. Being a girl isn't as much fun as I thought it would be. Still, it wouldn't be right of me to force anyone to visit that cursed inn just so I can get my own life back... I don't think I could do that to anyone. Besides, Frank doesn't have a body to return to. The thought crossed my mind to let him have Kat's body if she doesn't want to return to her own life too - but it's not my body to give away like that... and I don't really want to ask her and have her get mad at me just for thinking such a thing. Of course, I don't see Frank really being too enthusiastic to take that offer anyhow.

I guess there's one bright spot if I'm stuck in this body... I'm younger and healthier than I was.

I guess that's all I can do right now - try think of the positive things. Both Jadyn and Kat seem to be ignoring me and Frank's been spending most of his free time with Dorris. Leaving me much to my own devices.

Speaking of Frank and Dorris spending time together - that bothers me a bit - well, not so much that they're spending time together... but that the talk around town is that "Trip" and "Jadyn" make a great couple. I mean, Jadyn's been a friend for more years than I can remember, but we were never that close - and after reading her post... well, we are still two different people with different views on and values in life. I still love her (like a friend) and will continue to consider her my friend - even if she's not someone I would date... well, if we were still ourselves.

I feel very alone, even in a crowd, lately.

Anyhow, the purple looks good - I like purple... and right now, it's the small pleasures that keep me sane.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Jadyn / Jaci - Always Wear Sunscreen!

Last night I missed my date with George, all due to a nasty little sunburn.

Last Saturday for "my" birthday Jaci's friends took me canoing down the river. It's been a while since I've been canoing so it was something different and fun. All in all not a bad way to spend the day, and a really great excuse to get drunk. Seeing how Jaci and I are both very fair-skinned I applied plenty of sunscreen, or so I thought. I even reapplied every half hour during our 5 1/2 hour trip.

You'd think that with all that sunscreen ( I should've bought stock in the stuff) that I'd still be the same pasty white color that I started out as. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. I did a pretty good job of applying sunscreen but missed a very, very important area... MY BOOBS! At first I didn't think the burn was all that bad. It was only a little bit red after all. It got worse, much worse. I had to cancel my date with George last night, and instead took an a very expensive trip to the ER. It appears that my "little" sunburn is in fact a 2nd degree burn and was infected. 3 prescriptions and a lot of embarrassment later I'm back at home. BY MYSELF! Totally not the way I had planned to spend my night.

Ever since this damn switch, transformation, curse, or whatever you want to call it, I've been pretty pissed off. I mean my life wasn't the best but it sure was better than Jaci's boring life. I know Trip's been wanting my advice on girl stuff and I've been ignoring him, mostly because I still blame him for this. Give me some time, I'll forgive him eventually - I just can't stay mad at him forever. I don't know why this happened to me but I've decided to play with the cards I've been dealt.

So, I've taken it upon myself to liven things up a bit. Jaci used to stay home on the weekends or go out with her friends to the movies. Me, however, I like to party so I've been hitting bars in search of fun and adventure. Thank God Jaci's 21! I must mention that finding fun and adventure in a small town is nearly impossible. Every weekend since I returned to Iowa I've been "out on the town." This will be the 1st weekend that I haven't gotten to have any "fun" since Maine, if you know what I mean. I'm NOT happy at all!

In the words of Baz Luhrmann... "If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it... Trust me on the sunscreen."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Louisa Torrence: The previous Marie

Elizabeth Lee spent the better part of a year living the life of Marie Desjardins, and from reading her letter, I got the impression she was afraid much of that time. I don't blame her; she is young and used to having a large family to support her; being dropped into Marie's life must have been especially terrifying for her, and her transformed friend Ashlyn seems to have fed her paranoia, albeit unintentionally. I suspect someone else was scaring him, although that might not necessarily be the case; dropped into the life of a criminal, his life genuinely was coming under more scrutiny.

Maybe it's because I'm older, or because I grew up with less than Elizabeth, but I know a little more about men like André Trudeau. He is a dangerous man, but he can be handled. The trick is to not make it seem as though you're trying to escape - to give him a chance to impress you. So I told him something that might in a roundabout way be considered the truth - that I ("Marie") had a sister in America, and that she deserved to know about our mother's passing from me. I embellished details - that we had met a couple times at the Trading Post, that she had been given up for adoption as a baby - and told him that I didn't know exactly how long I would be, since I only had a vague idea of where she lived. "Jean-Michel" backed my story up. André was upset, of course - I can see where Elizabeth got the idea that keeping secrets from him was a bad idea - but he fancies himself a romantic, so it pleased him to offer his assistance. So he gave me a debit card, and neither of us mentioned that my using it would allow him to track my movements.

After that little tête-à-tête, Jean-Michel pulled me aside. "Do you think you can really do it? Do you think you can find the original Marie?"

I shrugged. "I can try. If not, I'll at least be on my own. Maybe I can string things along for long enough that André finds some other pretty young thing to focus his energy on, and if I can't stay in America, I can always re-enter the country somewhere out west. I hear Vancouver is nice."

"Not a bad plan. I just ask - if you do find Marie, you'll probably find the original Jean-Michel. I don't want to say too much, but there's a safe that I don't know the combination for, and if my guess as to what's inside it is correct... Well, I suspect André wouldn't be much of a problem for anybody after that."

I didn't think much of that comment at the time, because I'd never met Jean-Michel in his Ashlyn days; this was just what he was like to me. I spent much of Monday and Tuesday finishing up some legal things, and getting Mme. Desjardins's house listed. I didn't break the lease on Marie's apartment - André pays for that anyway, and why signal that I'm not planning on coming back? I gave the lawyers and realtors my mobile phone number, so that they could contact me and I could arrange to be near a fax machine if they had any documents that needed Marie's signature.

After that, I flew to Boston, checked into a Cambridge hotel, looked up Elizabeth Lee and Raymond Kim in the phone book, and headed over to their place. I could have called first, but felt that I would have had nothing if she turned me down flat. This seemed to be something she was inclined to do; she looked a little like she'd seen a ghost when she answered the door.

She apologized, saying that she expected me earlier, if I was going to visit her at all. I told her about the circumstances, and she said she understood. She'd only spent a little time with her apparent mother when she was living as Marie - Claire and Marie were a bit distant even before the inn worked its voodoo - so didn't have much attachment. Still, she said, it's rough too think of that sort of thing happening and not being around for it. She looked down at her engagement ring, and smiled a little. "Can you imagine if Arthur had said yes when my fiancé proposed the first time? It would have been the same result, but to miss it..."

I complemented her on the ring, and she smiled. "I guess that's one good thing to take away from my time as Marie - I learned to appreciate a good thing. Now I just want to live my real life in peace."

I said that was what I was trying to do, in a way - get Marie some important news from her real life. Elizabeth shrugged. "I wish I could tell you something, but she pretty specifically gave me no way to contact her."

I thanked her for her time, and was about to leave when she got an idea. "Hang on... I'm not really that interested in how the inn works or anything about it; like I said, I just want to live my life. But Ashlyn -- the new Ashlyn -- is. Maybe she can help you out."

Which brings me up to date; I've left a message with Ashlyn; hopefully we'll be able to meet soon.


Arthur: Treading carefully

Sometimes, it seems like trying not to do something is the surest way to do it. I was bound and determined not to wind up with Drew, and yet...

Well, you know how it goes. You've got something in common, you see each other on business... You wind up just spending a lot of time together. Maybe you feel that the whole idea of a relationship is wrong, and something casual is perhaps even worse. But it's tough to resist sometimes.

Plus, after visiting Lyn, I felt a few different things. I was kind of jealous of how she's just living her life without thinking about her next trip to the Inn, or having to worry about being someone else someday. I've got no desire for a lot of the details of her life, but just feeling like you're in control of your life is something I miss.

And, I admit, it also felt good to remind myself how fit I feel. As R.J., Drew's in pretty good shape, too, and a lot of my time is spent around professional athletes. Heck, even what friends of Nell's I meet (I'm going to see Cassie again this weekend) tend to be fitness nuts. It's a reminder that I'm in a pretty good position right now.

So, a couple weeks ago, after I get the good news that "Nell" will be co-anchoring one CalSports's late-night highlight shows a couple times a week, Drew and I go out drinking. We get back to his place. One thing leads to another. And... it's good.

I told him that I don't think this is going to be a big thing - I'm still looking to get my body back, or at least give Nell back hers, and I know he and New Drew are trying to work scheduling out, even if it doesn't seem like it's going to happen until next spring. He says that's fine; it's just nice to have a girl call him "Drew" in bed, although calling her "Arthur" is a bit of a buzzkill. I tell him I used to go by "A.J." as a kid, and he seems to like that.

This could become a great big disaster, but I don't think it will. We're both going into it with our eyes wide open.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Louisa Torrence: My story

I hope the others reading (and writing) this don't mind that I'm breaking up their "ex-boy's club". As you can see from my name, I started out a woman, but that doesn't mean that the change hasn't been a big adjustment. I won't presume to speak for any of the others who have stayed at the inn, but I should imagine that even if fate worked it so that you became your own twin sister, there would still be a fair amount of adjustment, and as much as some of these differences have been a pleasure, even those occasionally catch me off-guard.

Allow me to give you the short version of my life: I was born in Louisiana, long enough ago that I don't care to give you the exact year, somehow managed to stay out of trouble growing up, even though a number of my friends did not. I moved to Baton Rouge when my mother had to sell the house I grew up in; it was there that I met Frank, who would be my husband for almost twenty five years, before the cancer took him last fall. In the meantime, I have worked as a telephone operator, secretary, and, for the past ten years, as a high-school librarian. Frank and I never had children; I'm unsure whether it was him, me, or some combination of the two.

My friends and co-workers at the school booked the room at the Trading Post Inn for me, saying it would be good for me to get away during the summer months, when our small house would feel particularly empty. After waking up as someone else, I have occasionally wondered if any of them knew what was happening, and thought I could do with an entirely new start.

Whether or not they thought that, I have one regardless. My new name is Marie Desjardins, and I'm not even an American citizen anymore; Marie was born and grew up here in Montreal. She's got a nice little apartment here, and the people she knows down at the museum seem very nice as well. The problem, as people who have been reading for a while probably well know, is her boyfriend.

André Trudeau is older than I had been before changing, though not by that much. He's a gangster, though, and I knew enough people like them in my younger years not to want anything to do with him, no matter how legitimate he's made himself look or how sexy his Québèçois accent may be. I do not like him, although it gets worse if I am near him and a mirror at the same time. If I think of him acting possessive of me as I see myself in my own mind, that is unpleasant; when I see him attempting to use this girl, that is distasteful.

I should not even have to face it. The previous person living Marie's life, Elizabeth Lee, left me a note in which she laid the situation out for me, strongly suggesting I not go to Montreal. I had been intending to follow her advice, and was planning to head back to Louisiana and see if I could establish a life there underneath immigration's radar. I had all but booked a ticket when Marie's telephone rang. The woman on the other end had gone to school with Marie, and apparently still lived near Marie's mother. Madame Desjardins was in a bad state, she said - Marie's mother had collapsed earlier in the weekend, and the doctors couldn't figure out why...

I couldn't bring myself to say that it wasn't my mother; stranger though she may be, she deserved to have her family near her. By the time I returned, the doctors had found the blood clot and told me that it was in a very difficult position. They showed me records of the mini-strokes she was having to warn me before letting me visit her. She may not recognize you, they said. I told them that was fine.

She did recognize her daughter, but didn't seem to remember much of her recent life. This Claire Desjardins was about my actual age, and since I knew she wouldn't like the truth about André, I made stuff up. My bayou French sounds different from her Quebec dialect, so I let her believe that I had been doing volunteer work in New Orleans and picked up the accent there. She liked that much better than I imagine she would have liked the truth.

I liked her, and wish I got to know her better before the clot got worse, and the doctors had to operate. They told me it was a long-shot at that point, and she never did come out of her coma afterwards. She passed on the twelfth.

I handled the funeral arrangements, which were painfully familiar from last year. A lot of Mme. Desjardins's friends showed up, and some family. All expected me to recognize them, but crying kept me from having to call anybody by name.

I had a hard time believing it when a handsome young man leaned over and whispered that he wasn't who he appeared either, and we should talk. All of staying at the inn had learned through experience that people don't believe us when we say who we really are, but it was frightening to feel it myself. I just felt certain that he wasn't telling the truth, even though I had experienced something similar. I pushed through it, though, and we met for breakfast the next morning.

His name was Jean-Michel Therriot, though he'd originally been born Ashlyn Shelley. He says he's very sorry about the timing, and that Miss Lee's plan had been for me to be able to make a clean break. We make a little chit-chat - despite having the inn in common, we really don't have much to talk about. He recommends a lawyer to help me deal with the disposition of Marie's mother's assets - I have no need of a house in Montreal, and could use the money from its sale since the "clean break" plan left me with funeral expenses but no job. I rented some storage space, in case there's things that the real Marie would like to keep.

Not that it looks terribly easy to find out - Marie seems to have fallen into a hole and pulled it in after her, which doesn't seem like a bad idea - I might do the same, and André Trudeau has been fairly hands-off, owing to circumstances. But even if she has walked away from her old life, she deserves to know her mother is gone.

I've got a few documents left to sign here early next week, and then I think I'll head to Boston. If I'm going to find the real Marie, surely Elizabeth Lee is the first person to talk to.


Trip / Kat - Empty celebrations...

This weekend is Rock Lake's little summer festival, AND Jaci's birthday. With the latest stuff going on with Frank and Dorris, I'm just not feeling all that festive or celebratory.

Frank told dad that he was going to be gone this afternoon, and that he wouldn't be back until Monday morning. Dad looked concerned, and I'm still surprised that he didn't question what and why, but he simple acknowledged with a nod of the head, then they both resumed what they were doing.

Frank assured me that he and Dorris will be coming back - that it wouldn't be fair to Jadyn and I if they didn't, but that they needed some time to say goodbye to their past, and to think about the future. I guess that's one less thing for me to worry about.

After I'm done with chores this morning - I'm going to have to visit Jadyn and discuss how we're going to pull this weekend off without anything looking out-of-place. With everyone coming home for the festival, I'm not looking forward to trying to pass myself off as Kat to all of her friends. I'd rather just stay in bed all weekend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Trip / Kat - New Frank, Found

Frank approached me this morning, concerned about why he and Dorris hadn't heard from the people who had become them. Frank wanted to know if I could use the internet to find them. I told him I could try.

Little did I know how easy it would be to find them.

The articles I found online didn't provide many details. Just that the bodies were found washed-up on shore, and that the officials speculated that the couple had sailed out too far in the small boat they rented and capsized.

I couldn't tell if the new Frank & Dorris read the letters left for them, or why they hadn't contacted Frank and Dorris. I had no indication of when they were changed by the Inn, or how many days had elapsed from that point. There were just too many unanswered questions.

I know the news has to be bothering Frank - I, myself, am finding it difficult to sleep tonight. I'm kept awake by thoughts of now that Frank has lost his body permanently - what if it's too much for him and he wants to die... what if he commits suicide while he's got my body?

I don't think he'd do that - but... I mean, if you're faced with the loss of such an important part of yourself - and you know that you may have had some small part in "killing" another person - what would you do, what would you feel like. I can't put myself in his place, and I hope I never face the same fate. I can't imagine the guilt he must feel - even though none of it can really be blamed on him.

I just hope that all this does is delay my return to my life a bit, while he and Dorris figure out what they're going to do. I know that sounds crass and selfish, but it is my life, I don't want to be Kat forever... being a girl isn't all it's cracked-up to be.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Trip / Kat - Busy Week

I guess blogging is like dieting - once you stop, it takes such great effort to get back into it again. Speaking of which, I think I need to go on a diet - these clothes keep feeling like they're getting tighter every day.


Last week was a whirlwind of activity. My sister decided to part with her kids for the week, so they can visit the farm. On top of all my chores around the farm, I ended-up with a fair amount of babysitting too. I'm not complaining though - I love them dearly, and keeping busy entertaining a 6 and 10 year-old kept my mind off of my own problems, for the most part.

Wednesday, one of my uncles stopped by on his way back from visiting his son last week as well. That was an event - It was pretty short notice, but we were able to get a decent supper put together for a handful of other family members who were available to stop by and visit. In all, we had nearly 20 bodies to feed - I think we did well for the short notice. Thankfully, we had only to worry about the main course, the sides and desserts were brought by some of our guests.

I can tell you that I don't have any of Kat's cooking skills. My gravy-making skills are still a bit lumpy. On the other hand, I think I've just about got the chicken-frying down.

My cousin Anna pulled me to the side during the night, she was a bit concerned that I... that Kat, hadn't let her know she was back. Anna's 25, and is a bit of a home body - but she's apparently been looking forward to going "clubbing" with recently legal-to-drink Kat. I feigned an enthusiastic approval for a Saturday night expedition, secretly dreading the event all the while.

Being Kat has felt a bit awkward ever since I woke up this way, but trying to figure out what I should wear and how I should look to go clubbing was likely the most confusing and trying thing I've faced since the day after I got home. I couldn't get Jadyn to answer her phone, and Kat's cell seemed to be turned off. I finally just hoped for the best and tried to look nice. I think it took an hour of applying and removing make-up before I got a look I was fairly happy with.

I guess I must have done okay, Anna never mentioned anything... and I felt like some piece of meat in the middle of a pack of wolves that my stomach turned. It took every fiber of my being to not just run out of the bar and lock myself in my room. I had to keep telling myself that this was all normal... that, for now, I looked like an attractive young woman... that this was something that I'd wanted, or at least wondered about for so many years... that every woman probably has to deal with the same thing, and that they all survived. I'm not sure that my attempts to bolster my own confidence were as successful as the alcohol. Anna (and probably every guy in the bar too), kept a cold beer in front of me... Or so I'm told. I don't remember much after the first couple shots of Tequila.

I find it interesting that I was drinking beer most of the night though - it's not something that I've been able to drink in the past... back when I was myself.

One thing that I remember from Saturday night is one of my friends... Trip's friend, Mike, 'pawing' me all night long. I know my initial reaction was a bit muted from what I'd like to have done - but not wanting to destroy Kat's social life, I just tried my best not to draw any attention to his random touches. Although I blame much on the alcohol - I still find it a bit disturbing that after awhile, I'm pretty sure that I was actually starting to enjoy being held and touched by him... and I really want to forget about the kiss. Don't get me wrong, my buddy Mike is a good guy for the most part, but he is an absolute dog when it comes to the way he treats women. I'd have knocked him out had I ever caught him doing to Kat what he did to me Saturday - and it scares me that I had no such thoughts Saturday night. Thank God Anna got me home before I did... well, I don't know... something completely stupid.

I'm going to claim that these memories had more to do with my being sick Sunday morning than the alcohol. I guess this was my first real hangover - I have NEVER felt as ill and wanting-to-die as I did yesterday morning. I guess this body just doesn't deal with alcohol like my old one did.

Today is going to be a long day... I swear, I think I still have a hangover.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ashlyn--Hanging out with Art

It’s good to make money again

It’s official. I’m a Headlights girl. I’ve been one for a week and a half now. I’ve done really well money-wise; I have made close to making two hundred a night when baseball games are playing. I’m becoming a bigger and bigger fan of baseball all the time ;)

I still have mixed feelings about working at Headlights, but it is so good to be able to have some sort of plan to be able to pay my bills. I had to borrow some money from Matt to get through this last month, and it seriously depressed me to do it. I was lucky he was able to help me out; otherwise I don’t know what I would have done. Matt really came through for me when I really needed it—I’m lucky to have him in my life.

Wicked awesome fireworks

Matt had to work the Fourth of July—which makes sense, I bet the fourth is a busy day for all firefighters. I ended up hanging out with Heather and her friend Stacy for the holiday. We had gathered a couple of beach umbrellas, a bunch of towels, and coolers full of food and beer--and headed for the Charles River. We specifically setup in the grassy area across from MIT—yeah, that MIT, as in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where the super smart go to college.

We set up the umbrellas and put our towels on the wet grass--It had been a mostly wet Fourth of July. The rain never really came down hard—mostly it drizzled. We had got to our spot at about 10 that morning and the fireworks were scheduled for nearly 12 hours later. When I pointed that out to Heather she gives me a shrug. “You want a good seat right? You get here later than lunch you can forget about getting a good spot.”

She was right. 250,000 people came to see the fireworks—I was told later that number was way down from the usual half million people. I guess people probably didn’t want to watch fireworks in the rain. I’m glad I did. I had an amazing time hanging out with Heather and Stacy—of course drinking too much might have skewed my memory.

The fireworks ended up being the best I have ever seen, it was like something out of a movie.
“Worth waiting twelve hours for?” Heather asked as we picked up our stuff to head home.

“Hell yeah.” I tell her.

Art’s in town!

The Sheraton Commander Hotel stands out in the Harvard Square area. It is a seven story brick building with an unusual sign—it’s nothing but large bold red letters sitting atop the building, held up by scaffolding. It makes the hotel super easy to find.

I knocked on the door to 512 and Art opened the door. He was dressed in a robe, towel in one hand, cell phone in the other, in the middle on a conversation; he looked like he just got out of the shower. He mouthed “sorry” and waved me into the room.

“--I’ll meet you in front of the John Harvard Statue at 1pm.” He said to the person on the phone. He gently rubbed his wet hair with the towel as he spoke. I’ve got to go, I’ve got company. Yeah. Later.” Art clicked the phone shut with one hand.

I had only met “Penelope Lincoln” for a few minutes as Art was on his way to California. Art’s new body is tall and attractive with long brown hair and matching brown eyes. His new form screams fitness and vitality—he looks like one of those models on exercise machine commercials, the ones where the girl goes “If you want a body like this…” He was also sporting a perfect bronze tan which I was instantly jealous of—my skin is to fair to have a nice tan, one of the penalties of being a redhead.

The Trading Post Inn “voodoo” was in full effect. Even though I knew this was Art, something kept giving me the feeling I was mistaken, that this person was a stranger to me. I ignored the feeling, and gave Art a big hug.

“Has it really only been a month?” I ask. “I missed you.” I stepped back from him and motioned to his new body. “You know, Liz was attractive, but I think you’ve traded up.”

Art laughed. “I definitely like being taller, and being in really good shape doesn’t suck either. I feel like I could run a marathon.”

There was nowhere to sit, so I sat on a corner of the bed. “Hey, I was planning of going running along the river tomorrow morning. You want to come? I could use the company.”

“What about Logan, your workout buddy?”

“You told me once you thought he had a crush on me; you might have been right. Ever since Matt and I have gotten more ‘serious’ Logan seems to find reasons to avoid me.”

"Too bad. Yeah, I’m up for a good run.”

Art then grabbed some clothes and headed to the bathroom to change—I wonder if he was just being modest or still thinks I have a male brain buried under all this red hair? A minute or two later I hear a blow dryer, and a few minutes after that Art steps out, dressed and brushing his long brown hair.

“Hey, you do this trick with lipstick that makes your lips look fuller…could you show me? We’re shooting a Harvard segment and I’m doing my own makeup.” Art asks.

“Sure.” I jump up and look through Art's collection of cosmetics he inherited. I get him to sit in the only chair in the room and get him to look up at me. “The secret is to outline the lips with a pencil.” I take a lipstick pencil and do so and then fill in with lipstick. “If you want ‘pouty’ lips—“ I then add gloss to the center of the top lip. “—you do this. Done.”

Art get up and looks in the mirror and smiles. “Dude! That’s looks great.” He gives me a look. “You have a talent for this stuff.”

I shrug. “Not as much a talent as a learned skill. I hang out with hot women all the time, we trade tips--Also being vain has caused me to look through more than a few women’s magazines.” I change the subject. “Hey, you want to grab some lunch? Walk over to Bartley’s and grab a burger? I’m starved.”

An hour later we are enjoying burgers and diet cokes. Like always, Bartley’s is packed and we ended up sharing a table with a couple of Harvard students. Matt’s been educating me about the “unwritten rules” in baseball, things that are just understood, but not in the rulebooks. Life in Boston has unwritten rules as well. One of them is that if you are stuck in a small place with people you don’t know, you will respect their privacy and not eavesdrop on their conversations. Of course, if our two table mates did listen in on our conversation, they probably thought we were crazy.

“So no new news on getting your old life back? You still haven’t contacted Jeremy?”

Art shook his head no. “I plan to do it soon, it’s just—“ He paused.

“It’s hard. I know. Before I called Stephen I had a gut feeling that I wasn’t getting my life back.

I put off talking to him because I didn’t want to lose what little hope I had.” I say.

“It’s hard to believe one person could do that to another. Jeremy might be worse than Stephen, he sent people to the Inn to become victims.”

“Still no news from Nell?” I ask between bites.

“Nothing. I’m guessing she’s on the run or in a stockade somewhere. If she was in a stockade, you would think she would have called or written.”

“I ran into Liz a few days ago.” I say.

Art stops eating and gives me a look. “Really? How is she doing?”

“Real well. I ran into her at the Starbucks we used to hang out at. It really messed with my head. For a split second I thought it was you. We sat and talked for a while.”

“So, what’s the scoop? How are things between her and Ray?” Art seemed eager to know.

“She and Ray were able to work out their problems and get over the fact she disappeared for a few weeks…and she accepted Ray’s proposal and they are getting married. She actually asked me to be bridesmaid, said it would seem wrong for Ashlyn not to be there.”

“Wow. That’s—that’s great.”

“Yeah, I thought so too. You should feel proud, your goal was to not screw up Liz’s life and I think you actually made her life better.”

Art smiles. “It nice something good came from all this.” He checked his watch. “I have to go over to Harvard. You are working tonight, right?”

"Yes, but I’m free all day tomorrow. We’re starting the day off with a run, right? What time do you want to meet?”

We decide to meet up at seven, hugged, and went our separate ways.

Where everybody knows your shame

Around 11pm that night the Hostess at Headlights called me over the front entrance. Art and several members of the production crew were standing there, waiting for a table. Art gave me a grin and aimed a camera phone at me, taking a picture. “My crew didn’t believe that one of my best friends worked at Headlights. We decided to stop by for dinner.” I wasn’t exactly trilled.

When I work at Headlights I pretend to be the kind of girl you would expect to see at Headlights. Besides Heather, no one I know has seen me at work—Matt hasn’t even dropped by yet—so I was a little self conscious. I tried to shrug it off—Art knows the real me, right? He won’t think badly of me if do my imitation of a Headlights girl, right? So I turned on the Headlight’s charm and gave them a big smile and slipped into my routine.

“If you guys would follow me, I’ll take extra care of you.” I say to the group.

Art and his crew stayed until a little past midnight. I was self conscious the whole time—I guess I was seeing myself through Art’s eyes, and I was afraid of what he thought of me. I was relieved to finally hand them a bill. Someone produced a digital camera and offered to take a picture of Art and me standing together. I ended up taking pictures with everyone at the table. It was something I was used to doing—guests were always waiting to take pictures with a Headlights girl. Finally, they got up to leave. Art gives me a hug and says “See you in about seven hours!” and they were out the door.

I was feeling a little down—until I saw the size of the tip and the note Art wrote on the bill: ‘Lyn, Thanks for entertaining the guys, we had a great time. See you in the morning! --Nell

I only thought I was in good shape

I’ve admitted to being vain. I think I should be given a little leeway since the body I wear isn’t the one I was born with. Is it wrong that I look in the mirror and find the woman in the reflection to be attractive? Of course deep down, I know I have a problem, after all I’ve become highly proficient and doing my hair and makeup—mostly because of what I liked seeing in the mirror.

Working out kind of fits into feeding my vanity as well. Schedule permitting, I work out every day—so, I considered myself one of the healthiest people I know.

So going running with Art was a huge shock to my pride.

Art showed up at my doorstep exactly at seven. I was a little blurry-eyed, not quite awake; Art was totally alert and ready to go. He even looked good in his sleeveless tracksuit and ponytail.

“Nell’s body doesn’t need much sleep.” He says to me. It made me want to kick him.

We walk toward the Charles River, stopping to stretch occasionally. By the time we reached the river we were ready to go. The temperature was perfect and the river beautiful. There were even a handful of sailboats gracefully cruising along the river.
In my defense, I was fine for the first three miles. By mile five I was breathing hard. By mile seven I was dying.

Art looked like he had just begun to sweat. I collapsed onto one of the benches along the path.

“Are you not tired?” I asked between big gasps of breath.

“A little.” He grins at me.

If I could have moved I really would have kicked him.

He goes back into doing stretches. “This is such a rush. I feel great.”

“I’m so happy for you.” I said sarcastically, I was busy trying not to throw up.

I think Art finally realized I was done running and sat down beside me on the bench. We sat there for a while—I didn’t have any choice, I don’t think my legs were working—and watched the sailboats and crew boats go down the river.

Eventually, I caught my breath.

“So things between you and Matt are going well?” Art asked.

“I think so. We have a good time together, he’s a nice guy and the sex is pretty good, considering.”

“Considering?” Art asks.

“Considering I am really a man in a woman’s body.”

“Oh, that.”

“Tomorrow is Matt’s birthday.” I say.

I could hear Art thinking about the significance of that. I have to give him credit; he is finally getting “girl talk” down. “So… “ He said hesitantly. “ You make a decision on the whole oral sex thing?”

“Yes and no. I’ve decided I am not going to be pressured into doing anything I don’t want to do—so that is probably a no to blowjobs. Matt will probably have to learn to deal with disappointment.”

“That sounds like a fairly healthy, well thought out decision.” Art states.

“Yeah, I am as surprised as you.” It was my turn to hesitate. “Speaking of healthy, well thought out decisions, have you thought much about what you are going to do? I mean, if you are not able to convince Jeremy to do the right thing?”

“Some. I’m not going to dwell on it until after I’ve talked with Jeremy.” His tone of voice said he didn’t want to talk about it.

“Okay. I’m there for you if you want to talk about it. I’ve been through it—still going though it.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

I slowly got off the bench and stood up. I made the “old man noise”—I groaned loudly. “I am so done.”

We walked—slowly—over to the main road and hailed a taxi. “I’m never going running with you again.” I tell Art.

He just laughed.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Arthur: Weekend plans

It looks like I"m starting to get a little extra work from CalSports. Drew is trying to take credit for it, and I've got no doubt that he made sure I got the best terms I could, but there are probably three factors that loom larger than his "mad negotiatin' skillz" to explain why I'm not heading straight back west after the Dragons' latest loss, this time to Philadelphia.

  • It's cheaper to get me from Philly to Boston than to fly someone else cross-country, possibly passing me in the air.

  • So long as I look like Nell, I'm much more photogenic than Mike, and George has told me that they've been hoping to give Nell a larger role for a while.

  • And, of course, anyone with any seniority will be staying in SF to cover the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, while the inexperienced girl wit no clout gets to film a goofy "lacrosse player goes to Harvard" piece and get statements after the Major League Lacrosse All-Star Game.
    Whatever the reasons, I'm doing it, picking up an extra couple hundred bucks to spend a kind of damp weekend back in Boston. I'm a little disappointed that I missed the Fourth, as I've heard they make a really big deal of it in Boston (and probably Philadelphia, too, for that matter). They're going to be keeping me pretty busy, but that's probably a good thing. I don't see myself getting sentimental about my time living Liz's life, but I do admit to feeling an odd impulse to check in on her and Ray. I'm suppressing it, though - I don't want her to feel bad about me not being me, and what does Penelope Lincoln have to say to Raymond Kim?

    I'll try to take the time to see Lyn, although it would be just my luck if she's got a shift at Headlights when I'm free Saturday and Sunday nights. Of course, if she's willing to stay up late, I'm game - after all, there's no point in re-acclimating to Eastern Daylight Time for a three day trip. Heck, it's not quite midnight for me posting this right now.

    Well, there's the tendency of Boston to shut down well before midnight, but other than that...

  • Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    Trip / Kat - Trying to keep up

    If I don't type this up right now, I probably won't get it done until next year.

    With my wrist still a bit sore, I've been avoiding things to inflame the problem... like typing. And then... well, it just didn't seem too important... my life, I really didn't have anything interesting to write about.

    Anyhow, I noticed Sunday that it's about time for my new body to remind me that I'm now a girl. I'm not really looking forward to it - I mean, the timing could be better with the holiday and all. I'm am still not used to what I'm supposed to feel, and when - so trying to prepare myself or plan anything is driving me nuts.

    I'm pretty sure that there's no chance of finding a decent job with Kat's experience... especially this late into the summer season. I mentioned as much to mom & dad at supper last week - they agreed and since then I've been doing chores around the house and farm. It's almost like going through my high school years again... almost. My jobs around the farm are taking care of feeding the animals and helping with other things - no heavy lifting or "dirty" work, because I'm a girl, of course. Now, don't get me wrong - it's not because a woman can't do a "man's job" - that's just the guys being gentlemen and respecting the differences. Trust me, I had to help cook and bake when I was myself all those years ago - though, now... well, I seem to be doing more housework than I remember doing back then - but that could just be me.

    I know that Frank is getting a kick out of every time I scowl at the realization that I'm being treated like a girl. He's told me so and ribs me about it when we're alone - just to get me riled-up. I told him he was lucky he wasn't in my shoes - then regretted the wording when he reminded me that he was, in-fact, in my shoes. His mood turned more somber after that, and I realized that he was probably having a harder time with the change than I was... and he doesn't have the gender thing to deal with. I asked him if he'd heard from his new self yet and he shook his head in the negative.

    That scares me. The fact that he hasn't heard from his new self could mean that he has no way to return to his own body, and that could be a problem for me getting back to my own life. Not that I'm in any huge rush... but not having a way back home isn't very comforting.

    Think positive, think positive - no negative thoughts. There's probably a good reason for the lack of contact.

    Well, I have chores to do in a few minutes. So, I guess that's all you get for now. At least I don't have to wear a skirt and heels for this job.

    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    Arthur: I (something) L.A.

    I'm starting to get the impression that the Dragons aren't exactly a great team. Part of the job of announcing is to be with the audience, and though I had no idea that San Francisco even had a Major League Lacrosse team a scant two months ago, that are still my home team, and having them fall to Los Angeles is a little more galling than the other losses. It's not like the cities really hate each other; it's just a different culture, although I imagine it looks much the same to east-coasters. The biggest sports rivalry out here is in fact a transplanted east-coast one, between the Giants and the Dodgers; as an A's fan, I don't have the same sort of visceral distaste for the Angels; they're just another team in the division.

    We have been playing the "Beat L.A." thing up over the past couple weeks and in promos, though, so I kind of got into it. But the game was only part of the L.A. experience this weekend.

    About a week ago, I got a call from one Cassie Lane, saying that she saw the MLL schedule would have me in L.A. over the weekend, and she wondered if R.J. and I would like to meet her and Jim for dinner after the game. I stumble a little, but she gets into "oh please, please please please, it's been almost a year", so I eventually relent. I've always had a weakness for that tone of voice from a girl. Besides, I figured, if it's been a year since she's seen Nell, I probably wouldn't be too badly at a loss at any point.

    It did mean calling Drew, but that wasn't too big a deal. As I mentioned last time, he asked me to meet him for lunch when I visited him in R.J.'s office, and I was happy to. I've been missing hanging out with 'Lyn, and it's very nice to have someone you can talk with about everything. I asked how the arrangements for getting back were going, and he said that New Drew was willing to switch back whenever Drew said the word, but Drew was trying to hold off until he knew the whereabouts of the real R.J. I wondered if he was maybe with the real Nell, who I hadn't heard from either. I asked about New Drew, saying he must be anxious to get back to his old life, and Drew said that wasn't the case - that his old life wasn't bad, but the guy just had no desire to go back; he was enjoying the feeling of having a new start.

    "Speaking of original lives..."

    I sighed. I still haven't talked to Jeremy Boyd, living the life of Arthur Milligan, even though we've been in the same city for a month. I say that I don't want to look at my own face and not like the person behind it, and, besides... Well, you've been a woman.

    "I'm not sure what you mean."

    "It's... uncomfortable to go to a man and ask for something, even if it's just an explanation. It's like admitting that you're less than them, that you're weaker. You know what I mean?"

    "Not really. I just always made sure that I didn't ask for something where I didn't know the answer, just like in court. And, besides, a lot of the time the guy only thinks he's in the position of strength."

    Mm. I never managed to feel like I was the one in charge where sexuality was involved, so I changed the subject to business. I gave him a rough outline of the mystery story I was thinking about, and he put it in his briefcase to read later. He mentioned a groups people who had contacted him looking to book Nell for speaking engagements - a girls' volleyball camp and some sort of women's group - and it sounds worth doing; the money's almost as good as adding another game to the schedule.

    He asks me if I want to have dinner a few days later, and I say that sounds suspiciously like a date. "I admit it," he says, "I find you very attractive. And it's nice to be with someone who is in the same boat as I am. I know the physical aspect might be weird, but we don't have to push that."

    "Let's... just have dinner."

    We do, and he's good enough not to push for more. Then Cassie calls me, and I call him, and we arrange to meat last night, after the game.

    I hadn't actually seen Cassie before, so I was a bit taken aback upon getting to the restaurant to see that she was Japanese-American, "Cassie" being short for Kasumi. She's nearly as tall as I am; she and Nell played volleyball together in college, but instead of turning pro like Nell did, Cassie took an I.T. job, met James Lane, and got married seven months later; Nell was a bridesmaid.

    They're nice folks, and though there were a couple times I had to fake knowing something from five or ten years ago, Cassie and Jim mostly talked about the present. She's a riot; I found myself falling in with her much faster than I ever did with Zoe.

    Afterwards, Drew and I went to a club - he had made contact with a few people in L.A. and wanted to introduce me to them. I can't remember half of them; there was someone from ESPN, I know, and some guys in publishing. I actually recognized a couple of those - I'd sold an article to the guy from Maxim, for instance. There were just a ton of them, though, and there were drinks being served constantly. I had to give Drew credit; he was taking R.J.'s job pretty seriously.

    But, oh, the hobnobbing was exhausting. I was very happy to get back to the hotel and then fly back here today. I'm a little worried, though - this studio is starting to feel like home.