Friday, November 28, 2008

Todd/Anne-Marie: Turkey Day Blues...

Someday I might look back on this and laugh. I really hope so anyway, because if so, yesterday things just got really effin' funny.

Sometimes, being Anne-Marie is actually bearable. She has it made - an affluent husband who barely wants anything to do with her sexually (maybe not such a plus for an actual woman), financial security in uncertain times, two comparatively well-behaved kids (insofar as none of them are out getting arrested) freedom to live life as she pleases. Again, maybe this doesn't do much for Anne herself, but to me it's a major win... nobody seems intent on bothering me or expecting me to do things I don't want to just because of the woman I look like.

At least... until the holidays started rolling around.

I don't even like dealing with my own family, but at the Adkisson household a big family thanksgiving is a big deal. Anne's monther-in-law is coming in from Rhode Island, and Trudy and I had to collaborate with Hal's other brother's wife Jen, to create this big turkey dinner. I've gotten a little better at cooking over the last few months, to the point where I'm confident nothing I make will kill these people, but I haven't gotten so much better at dealing with Trudy.

It seems I stepped into some drama between Trudy and Anne-Marie, stemming partly from Anne-Marie's preoccupation with being Ellie's "cool aunt." Jen's actually pretty cool - close in age to Bry and I - but is too shy to fill that role. So she nervously stayed in the corner while Trudy passive-aggressively bossed me around, and I just took it, festering secretly over what a bitchy control freak she is.

At the end of the day, I just wanted to scream "THIS ISN'T MY FUCKING FAMILY" but that might not exactly play well.

It doesn't help my case that, as often as possible, I take Bry out on Saturday afternoons for coffee and guy talk. She probably sees these as being primarily about her, and sometimes they are, but mostly they're just excuses to talk about how weird it still is to use Kotex.

Then there was the other visitor complicating things, and I'm not talking about Aunt Flo (who thankfully missed the party.) I'm talking about Ms. Julia DiFrancesco, a girl I first met back in late September. I wanted to bring her up before but I guess I never got around to it.

One rainy afternoon in September I heard a knock at the door. This girl stood there, terrified and soaked. Young - maybe 21 or 22 - and quite stunning, with a good tan, slender body, and long curly brown hair (which was sopping wet and therefore very frizzy.) I figured maybe she was some other Adkisson family member I hadn't heard about yet.

"A-a-anne-M-m-marie?" she said through chattering teeth. I nodded. She asked if she could come in. I've always been wary about strangers in the house - part and parcel of being a city kid - but I'd been in such strange circumstances already I figured what did I have to lose?

"It's m-me," she said, waving off the cab in the driveway as she stepped in, clutching her arms to warm up. I looked at her uncomprehendingly, "You... who?"

"I'm... you. I'm Anne-Marie."

I just stared at her, stunned. I had so many questions I wanted to ask her and I didn't know where to begin. The most pressing thought in my mind is, " Ellie okay?" I don't even know why I asked, but having seen Bry's little face all that time I thought of that poor little girl trapped in a world she may have no idea about.

"She's fine..." she walked further into the house. "May I take a shower first, then we'll talk?"

I almost said "Be my guest," but stopped myself, realizing I was more her guest than anything. So I just said "Sure" and waited to hear the water running after she went upstairs. Then I just sat and thought, somewhat rocked to the core... this girl was the woman whose body I was in. Is she going to want this body back? I looked down at my cleavage - aged, a little saggy compared to her tight, nubile body. If she didn't, could I in good conscience give it to some stranger? I started to feel guilty, and responsible for some very heavy moral issues.

She came down the stairs, barefoot and wearing my - her - bathrobe. We sat down in the kitchen. With her wet hair hanging down behind her tanned, gorgeous face, I began to get a little... well let's just say I've seen Joseph W. Sarno movies begin this way. But anyway.

"What's your name?" I asked her. "I mean the name of... who you... became?" It's awkward trying to come up with vocabulary for our predicament.

"Julia..." she told me. "I'm Julia DiFrancesco and Ellie is Kalli Jackson. We - they - were students are the University of South Carolina, on vacation. After everything, we didn't think either of us could handle the life of a student, especially not Ellie, so we did the only thing we could think of... come back here."

I was wary, "What do you... uh... plan to do?"

Her plan, as it turned out, was to work for her husband as a receptionist. Ellie isn't qualified to do much (in real terms) but has been working as a weekday nanny for another rich family in the neighbourhood. Julia actually had an impressive clerical resume that Anne was going to find it hard to live up to, but she could at least do the job well enough to get by, once she got hired.

All she wanted was to make me aware she was in town, and that she would help me any way she could. After all that business, she finally asked me who I was. I gave her a G-rated version - that I was a young man from Canada - and let that just sink in.

She gave me this sad - beautiful yet very sympathetic - look and wrapped her arms around me. And she whispered, "I'm so sorry" and just... held me. I tentatively hugged her back, wondering how weird it must be to hug yourself. Then again, that was probably before I read the bits about Jean-Michel.

Before she left, I asked her, somewhat more kittenishly than I would like to, "Do you... plan to change back?" And she, standing by the door, holding the umbrella I lent her - hers, by right - gave me that sad-eyed look again, and sighed. "I don't know."

Then she was gone.

Except she wasn't, of course, and got the job. And I called her for advice whenever I needed to understand something about Trudy or the kids or Hal or my vagina or whatever, which was often enough... but I guess we never really became friends, more like a professional relationship. And not only that, but from Hal's perspective, we didn't know each other well at all, and Julia certainly wasn't his wife. So one day a few weeks ago, over dinner he says to me, "You know my receptionist Julia?"

I nearly did a spit-take, trying to figure out how to respond. "Um... sure?"

"Well I've been thinking," he says, "She's been here a few months from South Carolina, doesn't know anyone, no family here, no boyfriend or anything. What would you say if I invited her over for Thanksgiving?"

And I just gaze at him, wide-eyed, trying to figure out an in-character response. I've been pretty good at keeping the Anne-Marie character consistent off the cuff, but when something like this comes up, it really throws my game. All I can think of is how awkward, or confusing, or bizarre it might be, rather than the natural Anne-Marie response of "Sure, if she wants to." finally, I did say that, and we all got on with our lives.

So in this house yesterday, we've got all the Adkisson/McClays, including the real Julia introducing herself to family she's already known for years, including her own daughter and son. And there's me and Bryan trying not to act like buddies, or discuss our entire lives with Julia, or anything. What's that old saying? Three people can keep a secret - if two of them are dead. Or if there's a magically-imposed silence on them anyway.

And then, after dinner, while we're doing the dishes, Trudy nudges me and says, "I hope you don't think anything's going on between Hal and that girl. My brother would never do such a thing."

And the funny thing is... that thought hadn't even crossed my mind. And I just laughed and said, "Of course not," secretly kinda hoping maybe there was and wondering why I would care. It would be oddly appropriate, I think, and sweet in a really sick way. Except for the part about potentially breaking up a family.

When I realized that, I suddenly got very nervous.

Most people just have to worry about leftover turkey... not leftover lives.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Todd/Anne-Marie: My First Bra...

There's something about a chilly November afternoon that makes me want to crank the heater and lounge around in my underwear. Don't judge me, it's not like there's anyone else around. And maybe Anne-Marie's body has some, er, wear-and-tear from the kids, but she's still young and in half-decent shape.

Maybe I'm just weird but a lot of the time I'm more comfortable like this than when wearing Anne-Marie's clothes. Maybe because I'm alone and don't have to pretend or feel like I'm being judged on the authenticity of my Anne-Marieness. Maybe because after a while I get tired of the blouses and khakis or mom-jeans or skirts. I do wear the skirts, not often, but sometimes. But I guess I ought to take this opportunity to discuss something that might gain further insight into my perspective on female apparel.

See, that day at the Inn, when I woke up in Anne-Marie's body... it was shocking, it was horrifying, it was impossible to believe even as I felt my own tits. But as I moved through the day and eventually had to dress myself, well... it wasn't the first time I'd ever worn women's clothes. not the first time for a skirt or a camisole or a pair of panties or a bra. No sir. Not Bryan's either.

Back in the day - mostly in high school - one of the bands Bry and I played for was called the Mercy Mamas. I played bass, Bry played lead guitar, Tom Davidson played drums and sometimes we had a guy on keyboards whose name I forget. Bry and I shared vocals. Anyway, we had done a few open mic nights and were going to close the school's talent show when Bry had the idea of dressing in drag. For some reason - probably because I was high - I went along with it, and Bry went out and got all this gear - dresses, skirts, nylons, even bras and panties. He's always been a pretty extreme guy when he gets to something. Looking back I think he maybe just wanted an excuse to play dress-up even though there was nothing unusual about his behaviour while in drag. He didn't affect a character, it wasn't a Rocky Horror or To Wong Foo thing... he was just Bryan in drag, only slightly more outrageous than usual.

Because of the reaction we got - which was an incredible uproar from all the students - the principals banned us from ever doing the talent show again (this was our second-last year) but we continued to rehearse as the Mercy Mamas and eventually started playing gigs in little clubs near the University I went to. We were gaining some popularity when I decided I was tired of dressing like a woman - and playing bass, which I was never very good at anyway - so I left. Bryan, who basically just saw the band as a reason to hang out anyway, called it quits too, leaving us with an inexplicable collection of ladies' underthings sitting unused in our closets.

So if you were to ask me how I know how to put on a bra - or apply makeup, for that matter - there's your answer. It's not that I ever wanted to be a woman, I just always remembered the reaction I got at that high school talent show, and had been chasing it ever since. Now, there's nothing about femininity that looks shocking on me. It's depressing. And now I actually have to use the bra.

Ugh. Now I'm bummed. I think I'm gonna go put on some pants. A chill just ran up my spine and made my leg-stubble stand up.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Brandon/Laura: The first month part 4

When i got ahold of Laura and explained the work problem, she understood. Fortuneatly she is a good idea machine, and we sat there for a few hours going over certain papers and how to take care of them. I didnt have a degreee in business like Laura did, but my college degree helped me understand the terms enough to figure out what was going on. She also told me that if i had any questions while i was at work, that I should use Instant Messenger to get ahold of her, and she would either be online or it would go straight to her phone.

After we got done talking, I decided to get on Laura's AIM right then, as well as look at her facebook and myspace. Just to get a feel for her.

Immedieatly after signing on, about 8 different windows popped up, most of them saying "OMG Where have u been" or the like. I guess disappearing for 4 weeks causes your friends to worry like hell about you.

Most of them I could handle, just by saying i stayed an extra few weeks and had no cell phone service. One of them, however, was not satisfied and said she was calling me immediately.

A minute later the pink cell phone lit up, with Nadine displayed on the caller ID. I gulped and answered.

"Why the hell didnt you bother to call, or at least email us! We all thought youd been kidnapped"

I tried to calm her down, and succeed only to have her say "Well we HAVE to catch up, meet me at the starbucks near your building in half an hour." Before i could come up with a protest, she had hung up.

I wasnt going to deal with getting ready again, so i decided workplace attire would have to do. I googled the nearest starbucks, which was right across the street. (I wonder how people mysteriously transplanted into other people's bodies managed without the internet.)

Half an hour later I walked near the starbucks, not sure who i was looking for. I almost went back to the apartment when i heard "Laura". I turned to see a cute brunette about Laura's age waving to me. I sat down next to her and ordered a coffee, black like i usually took it. This invoked a weird look from Nadine but she shook it off.

"Im so glad youre ok, we had all thought youd gone off the deep end after Jack" she said. (Jack, as i found out, was Laura's ex. They had broken up a week before her vacation)

"Well, he had something to do with it, I dunno i just needed some time to myself." I bluffed.

The next hour was a Q & A session, with me answering and bluffing to the best of my abilities. Mostly one word answers, which puzzled Nadine. I explained that work had gotten stressful with the housing crisis and I had a lot of catching up to do. She accepted this and after 2 hours of mindless girltalk I went back home.

The last month has basically been a repeat of the first week. Get up, go to work, avoid co-workers, get help from Laura (ive only screwed up a couple of times). Go home, duck Laura's friends, watch TV, etc.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Brandon/Laura: The first month- Part 3.

When the alarm clock went off wednesday morning i was already awake, lying in bed. I didnt get much sleep that night. I got out of bed and sighed. I didnt sleep in my clothes that night, but i didnt use Laura's sleepwear either. I had just found an tshirt and wore it with my underwear.

I had set the alarm for 6am, even tho i didnt have to be in until 9. That gave me a good margin of error in case i coulnt figure things out. The shower was more in depth than the one I took the day before, because i had to wash and condition my new hair. For good measure i also decided to use the other bottles in there, the bodywash and moisteurizer. I figured if they were in there, they were necessary.

When I got out of the shower i toweled myself off and tried to do that towel turban thing with my wet hair. Didnt work out so well, but i got it all in there. I briefly thought about makeup but decided not to mess with a good thing. Her body may be "plus sized" but Laura has a pretty face. Good skin too, no blemishes anywhere.

As I waited for my hair to dry i went into the bedroom wearing only my towel turban and looked into the massive closet for business attire. I was NOT going to wear a skirt so i picked out one of her pantsuits. Got that on without much trouble. Its pretty much a man's suit, except tighter with the buttons on the wrong side. I looked at myself in the full length mirror and was impressed, until i turned around and saw that the tight pants produced serious pantylines. Which i enjoyed on girls as a guy, but i also knew that they were a major faux pas. I sighed and resigned myself that it was thong time. Laura had a LOT of them, in different styles and colors. I just picked a white one, closed my eyes and slipped it on. It wasnt too awful, kinda comfy actually. And it got rid of the pantylines. By this time my hair was dry and needed to be done. Im not a hair stylist so i just brushed it and made a simple ponytail.

When I was ready, it was 8:00. This gave me time to have cornflakes and leave for the office with time to spare. I got into the Jetta with my Mapquest directions, even tho i didnt need them. The office was right down Olive street from the apartment. I arrived there 5 min later. It was NOT a long drive at all. It was only 8:20 when i walked into Smith Brothers Mortgage.

The receptionist's face lit up when she saw me. She was a woman in her 30s who from her nameplate i discovered was named Whitney.

"Oh my God Laura, weve missed you SO much! How was Maine? You sure are in early." She said in a hyper excited voice.

"Yeah, I figured Id get in early to catch up on what i missed" i said

"Good idea, Mr. Smith is already in his office, ill send you in".

With that I went down the hallway to the office of my new boss, Clarence Smith. He was a bald man in his 50s. He smiled when he saw me. "Laura, great to have you back. I hope you enjoyed your much needed vacation."

We chatted briefly about Maine, and then he got into a huge, informative lecture about what i missed. New negotiation strategies for fixed rates, what lenders were suffering from the housing crises, refinancing strategies. I just smiled and nodded. When he finished it was 9 and he said "Well, it looks like its time to get going, ill have Whitney send in your files"

I walked down the corridor until i found the office marked with Laura's name and saw Whitney heaping a big pile of papers on the desk. "Good luck with this" she said.

I closed the door behind me, sat down, looked at the pile of papers, and realized that i knew absolutely NOTHING about brokering mortgages.

If anyone's ever seen that episode of Seinfeld where George gets a job and has no idea how to do it, so he just sits in his office and reorganizes the Penske file, that was me. I put all the papers into accordion folders. I did this for 8 hours. I looked very busy.

At 5 i rushed home and called Laura.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brandon/Laura: The first month: part 2

When I woke up the next morning, things were very uncomfortable. The shock of being Laura had worn off a little bit, but it was still a bit unnerving. The discomfort came from the fact that I had slept in my clothes. Not very comfortable for guys, even less comfortable for girls, because I was wearing a bra, and a things got out of place during the night creating crushing and pinching that made me sore all over.

The first thing I did was undress; mostly. I took off my tshirt, jeans and bra to be less restricted. The second thing i did was pull out my awful pink cell phone and the letter from Laura and called her in New York. It went to voicemail. That made sense as it was 9am here it would be 10 am in New York and "Marissa" was probably at work.

This left me sitting in my underwear looking around a strangers apartment. It really wasnt that out of the ordinary. Bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, livingroom. Spacious too. I gave myself a brief tour, trying not to mess anything up. When i got to the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror, i shuddered again and then realized i probably needed to shower and get dressed.

When i got out, i put on the the bathrobe and headed for the closet. I put on my underwear and bra and was about to pick out some jeans and a tshirt when i heard the cell phone ringing. The caller ID was Marissa's number.

I answered slowly "Hello"

"Wow, its weird hearing yourself" the voice on the other end respoded.

We talke for an hour, since she was on her lunch break, about everything. Apparently she had taken a month for vacation, her two weeks plus a couple years worth of sick days. So the two weeks that her body was in Limbo at the inn were covered since she wasnt due back at work until Tuesday. Which was tommorow. I spent the rest of the day in doors. Watching tv. Laying low before i had to impersonate Laura in public the next day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Brandon/Laura: The first month-Part 1

Sorry I havent posted anything since my change, when adapting to another person's life, blogging isnt a high priority.

When you last saw me, i was at the Inn for my last night, with a flight to St. Louis in the morning. How I got there took some maneuvering. First, since Laura hadnt planned on having her body in Limbo for 2 weeks, he return plane ticket had expired, leaving me to have to buy a new one. That cost me $281. Heres the kicker, I didnt have that much cash, and none of my credit cards would work in this instance. Why? Because a credit card from a man in Arizona purchasing a plane ticket to be used by a woman in Maine to fly to Missouri raises a red flag. (A BIG one considering what happened to my body) My only choice was to use one of Laura's credit cards, which i rationalized by saying id pay it off while i was in her body. I used the same card to pay for the train ticket to Portland.

After a nervous trek through airport security and a flight home, i found myself at Lambert St. Louis airport, where Laura's car had been parked. I didnt know where tho, just that it was a Blue Volkswagen Jetta (chick car). I wound up walking up and down the parking lot, pushing the panic button on the keychain until the alarm went off. It took me 10 min but i finally found it.

Using mapquest directions i was able to make it from the airport (in the suburbs) to her apartment (downtown) without getting too lost. Upon opening it up i saw just the opposite of my place. This apartment was CLEAN. Everything was spotless and in its place, even her DVDs were alphabetized. I threw my luggage down on the couch, and being dog tired, made it to the bedroom and collapsed on the bed.

Ive got some free time lately, so withing the next few days ill post more.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Todd/Anne-Marie: Things I miss...

There was a moment over the weekend when I realized the power of the inn. You would think I would think about it constantly from the moment I get up in the morning, put on a bra and use the toilet, but that's not what I mean. We bought a ton of Halloween candy and failed to unload all of it. So temptation being what it was I found myself snacking on fun-sized Kit-Kats and Aeros.

Well it turns out, Anne-Marie has never liked chocolate. It apparently had been a long-running joke about how much she disliked the stuff. And strangely enough I found it tasting somewhat bland compared to how I used to feel when eating chocolate. But habits die hard. So when someone saw me uncharacteristically unwrapping a Tootsie roll and asking what was up, I just shrugged it off and said "...things change." And what could anybody say? As vehemently anti-chocolate as Anne-Marie was, here I am, looking like her and eating chocolate and nobody would think it's because Anne-Marie isn't who she seems.

So it got me thinking about the little ways in which my life had changed, and what I miss. I keep a written list in my nightstand drawer to remind myself why I am trying to leave this apparent life of luxury. Here's what I've got.

My penis. That's a given, right? I might as well not even list it because of how obvious it seems, but I never appreciated it until I had to leaf through a book designed for 13-year-old girls to understand my equipment.

Freedom from fashion. Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to Men's wear. A pair of boxer shorts, an undershirt, a hoodie, some jeans, a pair of sneakers... mix and match at leisure. You should see Anne-Marie's wardrobe. It's immense. Simply choosing a pair of panties is a gargantuan task. I never appreciated a girl who mixed-and-matched her underwear until I tried to find the bra that went with the teal Calvins I put on this morning.

Being Canadian. That is to say, being surrounded by Canadians. As similar as our worlds are, there's still something of a culture shock when I am here. It's almost as significant as the shock of crossing the gender line. Almost. Then again, being American at this point in history has its advantages, given I am suddenly allowed to vote in the American election. I won't bore (or possibly alienate) any readers out there with my personal politics, but hey, I'm from Toronto. (Sidenote: Hal and I went to a Halloween party on the weekend. Somehow he convinced me to go as Sarah Palin... I guess I kinda-sorta look like her. That was an unnerving revelation since I don't see why so many people find her attractive.)

Toronto... or any city. In particular, the plethora of choices for food and entertainment, the sense of community. Not having to drive anywhere is also a bonus.

Alia. I haven't spoken to her since I left for Maine. I want to tell her how much this experience has made me appreciate having her in my life.

Youth. I'll admit it. I was a lazy, immature jerk a lot of the time. But I had potential. I still had the means to be anything I wanted. It doesn't feel like Anne-Marie can be much more than the wife of a dentist and the mother of two kids. And that's fine for some people, but me, I need that horizon. I lost ten very important years.

That said, I'm not saying there aren't benefits. Like I said, I get treated with a fair amount of freedom, I get to feel useful by doing the housework, I don't worry about money even amidst this economic crisis... and anytime I want I can touch a pair of boobs.

Every cloud has its silver lining... but every one of them has a touch of grey, to quote Garcia.