Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Brandon/Laura: My Life and the Plan

When I first posted here, I posted my "change story" and didn't post again for another month. This left a reader to post a comment that said "So are you just enjoying your life so much that you decided to stop posting". I vehemently denied this and went on to post a 4 part update of every little detail in my life.

Since then, I guess the poster was right. Things are going good for me. Its not like I actively ENJOY living as Laura, but I'm very comfortable and it could be a helluva lot worse.

Work is going fantastic, strangely enough. After the first few month of direct coaching from the real Laura via Instant Messenger, I really got the hang of it. Laura's sales figures are only down 7% from last year (which, when you consider the market, isn't that bad). I may even have a career doing this when i get back to my old life, if only I could put this on my resume. "9 months experience as actual mortgage broker".

My personal life is actually manageable too. For the first few weeks I was scared to death to have anything to do with any of Laura's friends, afraid that I would blow my cover, but that attitude only arose more suspicion and at the real Laura's behest I started hanging out with them.

According to Laura's facebook (an INVALUABLE tool), she has around 350 friends. Now, she doesn't actually hang out with all them, at least not frequently. Her main group of friends is only 3 thick: Nadine, Lila, and Jasmine. All three of them are very cute and Jasmine is downright gorgeous. You know how when you go to a bar or a club, there are various groups of girls giggling and being obnoxious the whole time? Those are my new friends. I am one of them. We go out to places, have a few cosmos, or appltinis, or Smirnoff ices, and just be loud and girly. The first night we did this all I could think was "I'm going to kill them, or kill myself", but you'd be surprised what premium malt liquor does to make this tolerable. (I tried ordering a gin and tonic once, but the puzzled looks they all gave me made this a one time occurrence)

When we're not drinking, we're shopping, or going to movies, or going to restaurants or just enjoying the single life. I'm able to keep up in the conversation by just talking about work, the news, or the lives of my new friends. One topic I'm not well versed on, is boys.

You see, despite loving the single life, all of Laura's friends seem to want to not be single, and are always meeting new and interesting guys. They ll often go home with guys we meet, and sometimes they ll have a few more dates, but none of them have succeeded in bagging a husband (the closest anyone got was Jasmine, she had a bf for a whole month). I have not done any of this, which was a huge surprise to my friends.

Apparently, Laura was...sexually assertive...that's the nicest word that exists for it. She enjoyed sex. Before she met Jack (her ex), she used to play the field. Her phone is full of guys names that I doubt she called on a regular basis (this also probably explains the throng of facebook friends). I just don't want to get involved with anything because in a way, this still doesn't feel like my life.

Not like that would bother Laura one bit, she gave me the green light to do whomever I felt like as long as I was safe. I didn't even bring up the subject, it just came up one day when we were talking right after she had sex as Marissa with Marissa's boyfriend for the first time. It was basically "Oh, by the way, if you need to get some in my body go right ahead, just make sure you use a condom or make sure hes gotten all the STD tests and is clean". I had no intention of getting some, but I did get her birth control shot in December just so she's not thrown off schedule.

And for those of you who are wondering, yes this body has needs. I experienced it just like Todd did after a few months. Fortunately, unlike Todd I don't have a husband, and also unlike Anne Marie, Laura had a drawer full of toys to help me take care of business, just so I can keep my sanity.

ANYWAY, despite being soundly comfortable in this life, I set a plan in motion to get back to my old body. I'm probably one of the luckier ones at the inn, as there isn't anybody running around in the world living as me. My body is still somewhere in Limbo, still waiting to be bestowed on the next guest who stays in room 8 when the Inn reopens. After reading this blog and the story of Paul Miller, I decided that I wasn't going to let people think I disappeared for a year. As a result, Brandon went to Europe. I still email all my family and friends as my old self to let them know what a great time I'm having and that I'll be back sometime in May. So far, no one is the wiser, although I will have to say my digital camera was stolen when i "return" with no photographic evidence of my trip.

Last month, I woke up at the crack of dawn and frantically dialed the number for the Trading Post Inn. This was the very first day to make reservations and I didn't want to leave anything to chance. Apparently this was a common idea, as the line was busy for a full 10 minutes.

When I finally got through, I tried to make my reservation for room 8, only to find out that it was already booked. This mortified me. I couldn't think if it was booked by someone who didn't know about the curse or by someone who didn't know about the caveat of having to stay in the same room. All I knew was that I had to be in room 8 on the night of the change. I booked room 10 instead, and made up my mind to find a way into room 8 this May.

Laura called later that day to confirm her reservation 2 weeks later, she was able to get the right room, but I explained to her my situation and told her Id let her know what room to stay in to get her body back, whether it was 8 or 10.

So until then I'm just living the life. Deep undercover.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Expectations.

I would like to believe I have it easy. I would like to believe *(as Donna seems to) that I have been given a gift of a new life all wrapped up in a pretty little bow. An amazing house, an extremely stable upper-middle class (lower upper class?) financial state, nice car, a "husband" who is a decent guy, if slightly inattentive and short-tempered at times, and two kids who generally stay out of trouble. But even with all that going for me, there are so many caveats that come with this life that I simply cannot wait to leave.

It's a matter of responsibility and expectations. Like, I'm technically a mom - a parent and a woman. So even though I don't talk abut it much, I have to take care of these kids, as well as Hal. I keep the place cleanish, I cook meals, do laundry, and grocery shop... things I barely had the urge to do when I was only looking after myself. Yes, oftentimes I can count on Julia's help, but last week she and Kalli went back down to South Carolina. Kalli's mom was sick and they were basically forced to go by the real Kalli's family. And Anne-Marie of course doesn't want Ellie traveling by herself, so she got a week off from Hal's office and went down there with her.

But whatever. I'm managing. It's been good, except when it's not. It's very stressful keeping so many pots on the stove and when I need to vent, well - I've got two choices: this computer and Bryan, who mainly just makes fun of it. So it's hard not to just go completely bitchcakes on everyone sometimes.

Which is why I found it really surprising when Hayley came into the living room while I was watching TV the other night, and asked in an accusing voice, "What is wrong with you lately?"

I just looked at her. What a question. I couldn't even begin, so I just sat there until I could finally say, "Excuse me?"

"Mom I didn't want to point this out or anything, but you've been acting really weird for a long time and I thought it was nothing but it's starting to bug me. So is something going on, or what?"

"What do you mean is something going on?"

"I dunno. With you and dad, or something? Are you guys fighting or something? Did I do something wrong? You're always really weird around me and I don't get it."

While it would be really helpful for me to just say "I'm not your mother," I think that at best that would serve only to confuse her, and at worst, likely traumatize her for life. So I turn off the TV and sit up straight. "Honey, come here." She sits down. "Nothing's wrong." (Lie.) "Your father and I are getting along fine." (Truth.) "But I really want to hear what's on your mind, so please start at the beginning." (Half-truth.)

"I don't know I just feel like... you don't care about me anymore. We don't talk like we used to and I miss it." A tear fell down her cheek and she sniffled, "And it really hurts, 'cause... it's a week to my birthday and you haven't even asked me about it or anything, it's like you forgot."

I feel like an idiot. I mean, there's no way I could've known - Anne-Marie sure as hell didn't warn me - but Hayley here is really hurting. And I'm just stunned at all this stuff that's pouring out of her. I wrapped an arm around her and she leaned her head on my shoulder. She goes on, "I overheard you talking about going to Maine with Ellie and I just... it's like you care about her more than me and she's not your daughter!" Full-blown waterworks by now. My heart is racing with guilt. "Why won't you take me to Maine, mom? Why do you care so much about her?"

I froze only a moment while I started to put some pieces together in my head. I had already been a pretty good liar before it became a fact of life that I would always be lying. Because the best lies are based in truth, this is what I said:

"Honey," I ran my fingers through her hair as she cozied up to me. "I know that sounds harsh, but you've got to understand... Ellie... just wants a little trip away from her mom. You wouldn't like it in Maine, it's not a very nice place, and it's not open in the wintertime. So I just had to make the arrangements now. But for you..." This is where my mind started to search until finally I pulled it out of my subconscious, "I've got something a lot nicer for you. I was going to make it a surprise, but if you don't like it you can tell me now. For your birthday, you and I are going... to New York! I'm going to take you for the weekend, and we'll go to a spa and see the town and do lots of fun things. What do you say?"

She stopped sobbing for a moment. She pulled her chin up and look at me. And by God she broke out the biggest smile I've seen on a girl in years. "Mom, that sounds so awesome! Thank you!" And she kissed me on the cheek and bounded off, wiping away the remaining tears.

And I sat there thinking, okay, now I've got to arrange this. And as my body shook off the leftover guilt that had settled in the pit of my stomach, I felt a lump of anger in my throat that I even felt guilty about this at all. After all, like I said, this was not my fault, it shouldn't be my responsibility, and it's just another thing that is expected of me that I don't want and shouldn't have to deal with. Yes, I'm glad to do something nice for this girl on her birthday, but... goddamn. The point is, no matter how many chores I do, meals I cook, rooms I clean... I'm not a mom, not deep inside, and I feel like it's going to kill me if I keep having to pretend like this.

I needed some way to focus my frustration. So as soon as I took out my frustration on my pillows, I phoned up Donna. I got voicemail. "Listen Lady, I know we haven't talked in a while, but I think it's time we laid it all out there. I'm going to Maine this summer, and I'm going to New York this weekend, and in between, you're gonna tell me everything there is to know about Donna Hayes."

It meant to sound a lot more threatening than it did. She hasn't called me back yet.

But anyway. If any of you transformees in NYC want to get in touch now would be the time. I think I might be able to work something out...

-Todd/Anne-Marie

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bryan/Ellie: Figuring my stuff out.

I've felt really strange lately. You try walking down the halls of a school where half the people - boys and girls - are taller than you, and half of every set of eyes glances over you when they pass, either to eye-fuck you or judge you, or both.

I look different now than I did when I started. Over the Christmas break "it" happened... I had to get new bras and tops because I had outgrown my old ones. Ellie's boobs are coming in and nothing can stop them.

This isn't really easy to talk about with a bunch of strangers but then again everyone around here is a stranger to me in one way or the other...... emily doesn't really know who I am and it would just be embarrassing to talk about with Todd (although clearly he reads this) and there's no way in hell i'm gonna sit down with the McClays and talk about this. So I might as well just let it all out here and hope it works?

I think I've figured out why I was feeling so shitty for so long, and I guess I'll just have to continue feeling that way. We were in the locker room before gym class. Every guy's fantasy, right? A free pass to the ladies' change room and nobody's the wiser. Except I have felt super-self-conscious lately because I've seen girls pick on each other for glancing around the wrong way. Plus I realized that since I've been Ellie I've put about 20 pounds on her body. I didn't think anything of it but when you got from 115 to 135, in 6 months, that's a fair bit, and it's not all in the boobs. I can't stop putting on weight even though it's not like I eat like a pig or anything. It's weird. 

Anyway, I was trying to keep to myself when my friend Emily coems up beside me and starts talking about Valentine's day. Her kinda-boyfriend Mike was gonna be out of town for the weekend and she says please can we do girls' night? And while she's telling me all this I realize she's just standing there changing out of her top and her bra and she's letting her breasts just hang in my face... and first I get lost in thought, thinking "wow, hers are still so much bigger than mine, but they look good and she seems happy with them..." and then I think how nice that is to look at, and it's all I can do not to stare at them, and that's when I realize how badly I've wanted to stare at them this entire time and that feeling I've been getting... well, that's me getting turned on. I mean, I think I like Emily. I don't know if this is me, Bryan, regular guy talking, or Ellie's body talking, but whatever it is, I can't ignore.

So suddenly I'm all nervous and wondering whether she can tell and I'm just like "Yeah, let's hang out Saturday night it'll be so fun" and I just want to stop looking but I can't bring myself to and she doesn't even notice. She finished putting her gym shirt on and walks away and I just stand there catching my breath like I've just finished a marathon, like, holy crap.

I guess I just didn't realize it before, but I really am back in high school, and I don't feel like I'm 24 anymore. I feel like a 14-year-old too intimidated to go after something she wants... especially since I came to the (embarrassing yet relieving) conclusion that what I want is girls! Specifically, this girl, who has been my best friend for months! Oh God how embarrassing.

Well I couldn't bring myself to cancel. I showed up at her place around 8:30 and it seemed like she was alone. We hung out in room for a while watching movies, trying to get my mind off how much I want her. Eventually I get up to go to the washroom down the hall.

On my way back I passed an open bedroom - her brother's. I wasn't paying much mind but as I walked by something caught my eye... his guitar. I haven't played in months, since before I was Ellie. It was a nice red Epiphone, a fairly decent quality not unlike what I used to play. I just stood there in the doorway staring at it when I heard footsteps behind me. A deep voice said, "Can I help you?"

I turned and saw him towering over me. Her brother, Dennis. He's maybe 6' or more. I stammered, "Uh, I'm just looking at your guitar." I felt like a dwarf or something.

"Oh yeah, you like it? I got it for Christmas. I wanted the Les Paul but this one's good too."

I blurted out, "I had a Les Paul..." then I realized Ellie probably doesn't know crap about guitars so I corrected myself, "I mean, I had an uncle who had one. But he sold it. I used to play it a bit."

"Oh yeah?" he goes and sits down on his bed and turns on his amp. "You any good?"

I shrug nervously. In actuality I'm excellent but I keep forgetting who I look like. He starts playing the opening to Stairway to Heaven, and messes up a couple times, but he sounds like he's got it well practiced. I figure maybe he's maybe had a year or two of lessons and practice. I can't resist showing off - I sit next to him and he passes it over, and I start trying to do Santeria (by Sublime) but Ellie's fingers are a little clumsier than mine so I fumbled a lot.

I laughed, "I'm really out of practice, sorry."

He smiled, "No, that was good. What's your name again?"

It took me a moment "El...lie."

At this point, Emily is watching us from the doorway, probably none to impressed. We go back to her room.

She asks me, "Was my brother hitting on you?" I tell her no, not really (although I'm positive he was,) he was just showing me his guitar. She sighs and says "He's such a loser" and I say, "He seems like a cool guy."

She glares at me a little bit, before finally asking, "Do you... like him?"

I think I started blushing at this point. "What? No, God no..." I'm all flustered. "I mean, he's not my type he's... I don't even like..." I can't finish my statement until I find the words, "...he's old?" He's only 17. It's not unheard of to date that kind of distance, but sounds like a good enough excuse.

"Okay, yeah. Good. I dunno, that just seems kinda weird, if you did. I mean, he's my brother."

"Yeah, totally." The movie was over.

She lays back on her bed, takes a deep breath and says "Hey Ellie...... can you imagine yourself having sex?"

Now I'm even more shocked and embarrassed. Suddenly a mental imagine of a guy - Dennis - standing naked in front of me is in my mind and I'm trying to figure it all out. "Uh, no... not really."

"Me neither. Kinda. Maybe someday with Mike, I just don't... I dunno."

"Well, we're kinda young."

"I hear him and his friends talking about sex all the time. Why are they so into it?"

Since I kinda know the answer, I try to phrase it in a way a girl that age might know. "Um, well you know... I hear that like, most guys start getting boners when they're like 12."

"Ew, don't say that word."

"What, boners? Boners?" I laugh, and she seems disgusted but also on the verge of laughter. "Boners!" I start singing. "Emily loves boners, each and every day...!"

"Don't be gross!" She tosses a pillow at me. "I mean seriously... what do you think they're... like? Have you ever seen one?"

I shrug. Then there's a pause and I said something kinda stupid. "...I think I was a guy in a past life."

She laughs, "I can totally see that. Ellie, don't take this the wrong way, but I think you are a guy."

I rested my head on the edge of her bed and muttered quietly, kinda sadly, "That... would be awesome."

She bounced on the bed and laughed, "Dude, don't be weird. If you were a guy we couldn't be friends. I just don't think guys and girls can be friends, you know? They'd always be thinking about having sex. What's the most you've ever done with a boy?"

I shrugged, "I haven't ever, uh, kissed one."

"Tammy West said you and Brian Maynard used to go out in eighth grade."

I paused. More of Ellie's past I didn't know. "We didn't, uh... do anything."

"How far would you go with a boy? If you were me, how far would you go with Mike?"

"I dunno. First base?"

"What's first base?"

"It's, uh... like, kissing. Just kissing. Why, what have you done?"

"He's touched my boob a couple times," she made an uncomfortable face, "It kinda hurt."

I smiled. "Boys don't know anything about boobs. They just wanna touch 'em."

"Hell yeah!" she laughed. Then we slapped each other five.

Dennis appeared in the doorway. "Hey, uh, I'm going out to a party. Might not be home tonight. Don't tell mom, 'kay?"

"Ellie loves you," Emily blurted out laughing. I turned away and shouted, "No!" I don't know how seriously he took it... he just kinda left without saying anything.

We talked for a few more hours before going to sleep. I was thinking we were gonna do head-to-toe, but she said she didn't want my feet in her face, so we slept beside each other. The smell of her hair drove me crazy. I was kind of in a daze for the next couple days. So much of a daze that back at school later that week, I ran into Dennis and didn't even notice. Just walked by him on my way to gym...

"Hey wait Ellie!"

I turned around, felt worried. "Yeah?"

"Listen, I know you're into guitars and stuff, and I know you're friends with my sister, but, like, if you ever wanted to come over? Like if she's not around and you just want to chill with me and just jam... I've got an old acoustic in my basement, if you don't mind playing that."

My mind starts to drift. I started to think how weird it would be to just be near a guy without Emily being around, especially her brother. Then I think aobut how embarrassed I was at my display, and how long it's been since I played guitar regularly and how much I miss it, even if Ellie's little fingers can't quite do what I used to. I must've just stood there for like 30 seconds until I finally snapped out of it and ran off blurting, "Um I dunno maybe? I'll talk to you later, I got class, bye..." and just bolted.

I've kinda been avoiding thinking about it all week. I'm just really uncomfortable. Talking about it helps, but I think I'm gonna have to do something eventually...... right? God I feel gross.

Whatever.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: My funny family...

Between interesting things going on around here, I have to amuse myself. I can only spend so much of the day vacuuming and folding laundry and other mom chores. Unfortunately, I find myself staying in character as Anne-Marie more and more until something weird hapens that snaps me out of it. Today, it was reading advice columns about Valentine's Day.

As you might expect, I had totally forgotten it was coming up, and nearly had a panic attack until I realized I'm the woman now and it's not really my responsibility. Hell, all I have to do is get naked and mince around a little and Hal will be putty in my hands.

.......not that I want that per se. I'm just saying, from this perspective it's easy to please someone else. I don't know whether Hal actually intends to do anything about it, and I wouldn't mind much if he didn't. What do I need to be fawned over? All he'd be doing is buttering me up for sex anyway. Still, I'd be impressed with a card, and I don't think a rose or two would hurt. It'd be good practise for when his real wife comes back.

(By the way, Bryan, I know you were kidding, but I was hardly "basking in the afterglow of my sexual awakening." When you write stuff like that it's hard to convince people you don't secretly try to write well.)

Anyway, all this is just my roundabout way of thinking about how complicated life is, and how many connections I've got with other people now that I clearly wouldn't have had before. It's like I've gone from being a loner with a few friends and a distant family to, well... part of a unit. Look at what I've got:

Hal & The Kids. Hal can be a huge pain in the ass, stubborn, even obnoxious guy... But we all can, really and but he's not hard to get along with as long as you are willing to play along with the idea that he's the guy in charge. I do follow his lead a lot... he doesn't know that his wife's life has been turned upside down, and all the little things I screw up - peoples' names, recipes Anne-Marie used to be able to do, even the whole "not really being that into sex" thing, he's taken in stride. He has shown me - and vicariously his wife - a great deal of support without being able to understand what she's going through. I don't mind taking care of the Adkissons. They've grown on me, and taught me, I dunno, responsibility, I guess. They can be damanding, but it gives my life kind of a... purpose, for now. Hayley, Anne-Marie's daughter, has grown a little distant, and I feel bad about that. Maybe I've been neglecting her, or maybe she just needs to pull away as she grows up (apparently her 13th birthday is in March. Yikes.) And it's hard, since despite my months of experience as a woman, I don't really know what it's like to be a girl. But I'm trying to fix that. Connor, meanwhile, really seems to like his mom (or maybe just me?) and he's a nice kid. I've been reading with him before bedtime lately. Maybe it sounds corny, but this is the kinda childhood I never had and didn't realize I might've liked. I think I might actually be a pretty okay mom. Half the time, anyway.

Bryan... also known as Ellie. My little niece who has been one of my best friends since grade school. we got put into this weird situation and it's changed the way we relate. Sometimes I have a hard time looking at him, with his girlish face and twinkling eyes, and remembering exactly who is beneath that exterior. And then he speaks, and I remember, it's pure Bryan. Having him to lean on in this time has really helped things for me. to know that I don't have to be Anne-Marie all the time. Things aren't exactly as they used to be... I'm hoping they'll change back when we do, but... well, I'm just thankful for his presence. He's going through a lot right now (hormones, as one astute commenter noted, are clearly part of it.) He's got a lot of parental friction, and some none-too-surprising social anxiety. He'd hate me telling the world this, but I've seen him at his most vulnerable. I just hope he knows I'm there for him.

"Julia" and "Kalli." The real Anne-Marie and Ellie. It's gotten to the point where Hal knows that Julia and I know each other and might not think it so weird that we gal-pal around a bit. At first, I had this assumption, based mostly on her letter and the facts of her life, that Anne-Marie was some tightly-wound frigid soccer mom. But seeing her walking around in Julia's body, I've seen her as a really cool, fun, warm person who deserves her life back. It's weird though. She looks 21, and seems to think, act and talk 21, too. I don't know if she always did, but I just wonder what this experience has done for her. But she's keeping Kalli safe, and trying not to let her grow up too fast (although she can't help herself from sneaking some wine now and again.)

Now, the problem is that Anne-Marie professes to want to go back to Maine, expresses a real desire to get back her life, but trying to make arrangements is like pulling teeth. She's got this idea that Hal might think something is up with the both of us going to the same place within weeks and not coming back for so long. I understand her concern (after all, something is up, which we couldn't explain to him if we tried,) but how else does she expect it to be done? And she's on about money. She doesn't make a lot from Hal, and has to keep both her and Kalli in their low-rent apartment (Ellie contributes what she can, which given her youthful inexperience, isn't much.)

So I went ahead and made the arrangements in her name, because she needs the same room as me, otherwise this entire scheme is for nothing, and some random just walks into her life (not to mention Ellie's...) Which brings me to...

Deb and Amanda, the current Todd and Bryan. Every time I get nervous that something is going to go wrong with this plot, I e-mail this very detail-minded lady in my body and she reminds me that everything is under control and going according to plan.

There are times when I wonder what things are like for those two. I take for granted that everything about being a woman is wrong, and that I'd rather go back to being a man. But for someone who grew up as a woman and is now a man, would the same hold true? Do they yearn to get back to bras and tampax? Are they eager to spend hours browsing the boutiques and hauling purses? I keep getting this awful feeling in the pit of my gut that manhood is inherently superior/preferable, and that they'd probably just want to keep my body, but Deb seems so sincere... you should hear her go on about the man who should be her husband.

In any case, it just puts me in mind of how much I need to put things right with Alia. I don't want to lose her and I don't know how good a job Deb might be doing of keeping her interested. I want to tell her, "We all make sacrifices, I just banged Anne-Marie's husband, can't you do me the same courtesy?" But no. Anne-Marie never made me do it, and I can't make Deb have feelings for Alia.

The extended family... I mean, consider the real Julia and Kalli. I haven't heard anything about them, and have no idea if Anne-Marie is trying to give them back their lives. Then there's the new Deb and Amanda. The way Deb talks it seems like everything is a go with them, but what is there's a foul-up there? Are they getting their bodies back, or did Deb convince them to roll the dice? We are attempting a chain of no fewer than three physical transitions here. I can't believe I'm just talking about it like I'm planning a vacation. There is so much potential for disaster it is terrifying and makes me want to follow Donna's advice and stay home. But no. It would take a thousand Donnas to keep me from going back to Maine this Summer.

Speaking of whom... in our funny little family, Donna is like the crazy aunt nobody wants anything to do with, but is part of the family portrait nonetheless. I can't ignore her, as much as I want her to go away and leave me be. Those things she said really stuck with me, and now I just want to know who she was, and what happened that made her feel this way. It's going to take some coaxing. Everytime I try to engage her on the topic, she gets pretty evasive.

Art, Ashlyn, Darren, Kat, Brandon, Jessica, Marie... all the rest. Let's face it. We all share a secret that is bigger than life itself. We have nobody to support us but each other (with all due respect to the wonderful readers of this blog who sit patiently through my ramblings like this.) We've shared an experience that is so difficult to communicate or even understand. Whether you have gotten your life back, are still trying to, or have made yourself comfortable in your new one... we are all kin, and we should all share that understanding. I mean, think about how many people go to that Inn every year There must be so many of us floating around, waiting to have their stories told.

It's overwhelming. We're such a big, funny family.

-Todd/Anne-Marie

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Bryan/Ellie: No frills

I don't write here much because obviously Todd is the writer between the two of us. I try sometimes, when I can't sleep, I'll open up my laptop and log in and start trying to talk about life and stuff, and then I just hate what I come up with and delete it. It's not even really anything anyone would be interested, more about being in school than being Ellie. Todd's posts are more interesting, my life is boring. Ellie's life is boring. Whoever's life it is.

But I've been having a shitty day so I thought I'd at least try.

There's this supermarket in Canada - No Frills. It's a discount place, where poor people and cheap people buy discount no name stuff. It's where we did most of our shopping in Toronto and I both hated and loved it. The prices were low enough that you could get some good mileage out of your dollar (when you were a broke ass like me) but the atmosphere was... well, it was no frills. Like shopping in a warehouse - brightly lit one with yellow signs everywhere. It hurt my head. And the aisles were about a cart and a half wide so if you saw some soccer mom or old lady coming the opposite direction it would be a tight squeeze. Anyway though, that was my life and I liked it - no frills. Crappy apartment, cheap groceries, dirty clothes. Did all my shopping at Valu Village, where old people sell their clothes so they can be re-sold to hipsters. A good place for old t-shirts, frayed jeans, corduroys, jackets, plaid shirts, the kinda stuff I loved wearing. My life lately has been the opposite.

Day in day out I have to wear the private school uniform - white blouse, plaid skirt. Ridiculously short plaid skirt. I don't even get it - is the principal (or whoever makes these decisions) trying to drive the teenage boys crazy? I went to a public high school just at the dawn of the thong craze. When a girl wanted to dress slutty, it was by choice.

But that, I can handle. Not having to make decisions about my clothes is fine by me. And I'd be cool wearing granny panties all the time too, if Ellie had any, but no such luck. This is where I weed out the pervs, talking about a 14-year-old's panties. Most of them are too fancy for my care and it's not like anyone's ever gonna see them. But laundry gets down and I've gotta go through em all.

My friend Emily has been trying to get me to dress up more on the weekends. I usually favour like, a hoodie and jeans. Basic stuff. A few months ago I ran up a big tab on Trudy's credit card at Snorg Tees so I could have some clothes I liked wearing. She was annoyed but allowed it. Trudy's a champ like that, except when she's being bitchy, which is just about always. What a bitch.

Emily is starting to get really cozy with this guy, Mike, and it's pissing me off. I'd explain this to her but then I'd have to come up with a reason why. My first theory is that he's just a dick and I don't like him. He's a teenage boy trying to bang my friend. But then I thought - so what? I was a teenage boy once and I tried to bang plenty of girls. I can't blame him for that. Then I thought, he's coming between me and my only real friend. It isn't that Emily's the only friend I've got... I've made some progress with Ellie's old pals. I just prefer Emily because she didn't know Ellie (which is probably gonna suck for her once I'm gone.) So yeah, that must be it, right? Because she's spending all her time with him and we never hang out at lunch. Except actually, she keeps inviting me over for dinners and movie nights and sleepovers, and when we cancel, I'm the one who is pulling out. So if anything, she's being the good friend! And I suck!

Todd was no help either. "Aunt Annie" was basking in the afterglow of her sexual awakening when we talked about it, and she suggested I actually liked Mike. And I'm just like "dude, don't even go there." I really don't think that's the case.

I mean, okay, I did kinda cheer her on when it came to the whole Hal thing. But I mean, come on, she was sleeping in the same bed as him, and Anne Marie's been around the block. I go to school with about a thousand gross teenage boys. I don't give any of them a single look.

So I came home late, frustrated, and hungry, and Trudy won't let me have a snack because dinner's on the way. So I got up to my room and got caught up in this flame war on a forum about whether the new Springsteen album sucks (it doesn't,) and whether the new season of Lost is any good (it is.) And dinner's still not ready and the cat won't leave me alone and my tits are driving me crazy and I just spent about 15 minutes beating the shit out of Ellie's stuffed animals, pillows and mattress and crying my fucking eyes out. And Trudy didn't come up to ask what was wrong, and I don't want her to, but I think it's shitty that she didn't.

So yeah. There it all is. Life sucks.

I dunno man. Maybe you'll hear from me again later? Peace.
-Bry/El

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Meet Donna.

It's been a while since my last post. I guess having sex and meeting Donna within the same weekend really threw me off and put me in a weird state of mind about how much I should be saying on this blog.

Not that I don't enjoy being open and honest with whoever is out there reading this - and really, thanks for your support and understanding, but really... when I tried to put into words the whole sex thing, the man-part of my brain (which I like to think is still over 50%) put down a block and told me "No, it is not okay to admit you enjoyed this." After all, if I did, that's a notch in the "don't go back" column, which is admittedly bare. The only points there are "slightly inconvenient" and "possibility of failure." I don't get such a rush out of seeing Hal naked that I think it warrants that kind of analysis. Actually... the first time we did it, it was a little hard for me to keep from laughing.

But I'm not putting it down. It feels pretty good, and I can even see how some women could really enjoy it (I should hope that most women enjoy it more than I have.) I can stomach it. It's a bit like exercise... at first you feel averse to it, then it becomes a welcome part of the routine. But as you can probably tell, I never loved exercise. And this, I can go without.

Ugh, see what I mean? I've just typed all that and I feel so exposed. It's been like 2 weeks and I still don't feel like I can really form a coherent sentence on it. Forget it. What I really want to talk about is Donna.

She had just told me she had been to the Inn once before and it stopped me in my tracks. She led me back into her kitchen, and she served me a cup of tea. I felt something inside me frozen.

According to what I've read, and my experience certainly agrees with this, some kind of magic prevents people from (immediately) drawing the conclusion that you've been magically turned into someone else. This could very well be called common sense, because if you haven't seen such magic in action, there wouldn't be any reason to assume it existed, but there's probably more to it than that. Trying to decipher the notes Anne-Marie and Ellie left before becoming them gave us a headache, but when we woke up in their bodies, well, it became quite clear. So I guess the best way to understand is that seeing is believing... but it's still not that simple.

I looked at Donna, and for all her odd qualities I didn't sense anything supernatural about her. I surmised she must have been a woman, and visited the inn so long ago that she was Donna long enough that Donna became her natural state. But nothing inside of me believed she could ever not have been Donna.

There was a long lull in the conversation around this fact. The reverse, it seemed, has also been true. Yes, it had been a long while since she'd been to Maine, but she could hardly forget what that Inn did. We both just kind of sat, silently sipping, waiting for the conversation to begin itself. I started, by asking a dumb question that was not the most pressing.

"So when did you figure it out? About me?"

She sighed. "In a way, I knew before Anne-Marie did. She was visiting me one day, explaining about this trip she was planning, when she showed me the photographs she'd gotten of the Inn. I recognized it immediately. I wanted to grab her and shake her, and scream 'Don't go, find someplace else to stay!' but she was so enthusiastic about this place. So I rationalized it to myself... oh, it's been so long, maybe the curse is broken and it doesn't do that anymore. After all, it's not like this kind of thing turns up on the news as often as you'd expect."

I thought for a moment about a headline - 12-year-old girl breaks into Manhattan Loft claiming to be high powered executive, institutionalized.

"Then you came back and nothing seemed off about you. I mean seriously. I feel so stupid for not seeing it sooner. I thought either the Inn was fixed, or maybe she stayed at a different place after all, or something."

"And the fact that it took nearly a month for her to come back from the trip?"

"Just didn't register with me, I suppose. Well, then you started avoiding me and being very guarded and I thought, what could possibly be wrong? I knew you and Hal had been having some troubles, but that had nothing to do with me. And slowly, slowly I became more convinced. When you fixed the TV - my Goodness, Anne-Marie couldn't turn the damn thing on half the time - that was the moment. I just knew it right then. And I don't mean to bring up any... awkward emotions or anything, but I just had to ask you. I had to know. And I knew that that the only way to convince you was to tell you I'd been there myself. So what do you think?"

I felt stone-cold. "I don't know what to think. I have a lot of questions."

"Like what?"

"Is there anyone else around here? Like us?" Other than the people I already knew about.

"Not to my knowledge. When I was... changed... I - Donna - was in high school, and all the other girls at the Inn were on her debate team. But we all grew up and spread out. I lost touch with all of them."

I hinted that I wanted to ask who she'd been before.

"Anne Marie," she said. I glared at her - she was calling me by what she knew was not my name, "If it's okay, there is a lot of stuff I'd rather not re-live. I've spent a lot of time building and enjoying my life here."

"Well," I shrugged, "Everybody's got a story, don't they?"

She smiled modestly, "My story wouldn't interest you, I don't think. And you don't have to tell me yours, if you don't want to. I mean, the sooner you let go, the easier it is."

I glared at her. "Uh, what?"

"Well, I mean, in the long run, it doesn't really matter who you were. If you were old or young, black or white." She didn't say 'male or female' but I sensed she meant to, "You're here now, and if you let go of whatever you used to be, you'll be able to appreciate what you have been given."

I started to get hot under the collar. "Uh, I don't really want what I've been given. I don't belong here. As soon as it's possible, I'm going back to Maine and I'm getting my life back."

She seemed shocked. "You can't do that!"

"It's been done."

"I just mean you shouldn't. I don't know who you are, who you were, but you seem like an honest person, and I think Hal and the kids are in good hands with you. You've got a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and you can't just hand it away."

"I didn't ask for this!" I was practically screaming.

"Nobody asks for anything in this life! And everything we do ask for, we don't get. We get what we get, and it's our job to deal with that. That's a lesson I've had 25 long years to learn."

I just shook my head. "I'm going back. I'm giving Anne-Marie her life, her family back."

"They're not hers anymore, wherever she is."

I wanted to tell her she was close by, and that she wanted them back very dearly. Instead, I just stood up.

"I'm going to Maine in June," I asserted.

"What exactly do you think you're going back to?" she asked.

I didn't want to answer that. I just stared at her. Then she said something really unexpected.

"I'm sorry." Talk about a shocking statement. "I stepped over the line. I just think it's a... bad idea."

"Not any worse than going there in the first place."

"That was different. I'm assuming you didn't know what was going to happen. I sure didn't. But look at me. It's been 20 years and I... am so much happier than I ever was before."

"You're telling me that within a year of going to that inn, you wouldn't have gone back if you knew you could get your body back?"

"Things were different back then. People didn't communicate the way they do now. We didn't have e-mail or text messaging... if somebody took your body, it would be no easy feat to get it back."

"Not easy... but not impossible."

"I wouldn't have gone back, no."

I paused for a moment. "I guess you just really didn't have anything to go back to. But that's where we're different."

That's when I turned and left. Things are tense, but I think she's eager to maintain lines of communication with me because of what I know about her. I don't know why she's trying to keep me from going back, but she won't succeed. I still haven't learned who she used to be, but I get the feeling that I wouldn't have liked that person very much, either.

That's all for now.
-Todd/Anne-Marie

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