Thursday, May 28, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Panic attack

Sorry about the delay. I was only at the hospital a short while, and then I got caught up with Anne-Marie stuff the last couple days I forgot to update you guys. Reading the message back, it must've seemed quite alarming... at the time I felt very urgent about it, and didn't know the details.

When we got there, the McClays were already there. They brought us up to speed, saying "Ellie" had collapsed in her room, unconscious, but was awake now. Apparently, she'd suffered a panic attack. She was asking for me, but Trudy didn't want to let me go in there alone. She didn't understand why I should go talk to her, and I guess there was no way for me to properly explain it. So I let her come in.

I sat down next to her, that weak-looking, bleary-eyed girl who hardly resembles the man who'd been my friend a year ago. She weakly smiled a wide, bright grin. Trudy hovered nearby.

"What happened?" I asked.

She told me she could hardly explain it... she was in her room doing homework, and her mind started to wander... she could barely describe exactly what she was thinking about, but it seemed to trigger this attack. She started to hyperventilate, feel dizzy, then... blackout. I've known Bry a long time and he's been able to deal with a lot in his life, so this is just so bizarre, to see him put down by homework.

So I asked "Is it about the trip? Are you feeling nervous?" Trudy flashes a disapproving glare.

She leans into me and mutters, "It's complicated." She has yet to explain exactly how, but I've told her she should check in on the blog when she feels ready.

She's out of the hospital now. They're thinking of getting her on anti-anxiety meds to prevent further episodes.

I'm just shocked, you know? Bry's a pretty resilient guy. He was like a rock to me, really stable. I'm feeling a little guilty I haven't been there for him as much as he was for me, back in the day. There's obviously a lot going on.

So there it is.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Bryan's in the hospital

I was about to write another post, and then I got the call.

I'll let you know what's happening when I find out. I'm on my way out the door now.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Meet the Johnsons

Julia's message, as "Ken Johnson" was vague about who exactly "Ken Johnson" was, perhaps deliberately. Maybe she had explained in an earlier, now lost, e-mail, or perhaps she just didn't want to come out with it. It stood to reason Ken's a guy and maybe Julia finds that embarrassing. In any case, in my message to her I was upfront about wanting to know her situation, as it relates to our plans.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about the response I got. I was considering just posting the letter in its complete form here and letting you be the judges, but this is somewhat personal stuff and she never said I could, per se, so I'll just tell you what I think I can get away with.

On their Maine trip, which would've been mid/late-June 2008, Julia and Kalli awoke in the bodies of Ken and Sasha Johnson. When I heard those names I thought 'married couple' but no. Ken and Sasha were 16-year-old fraternal twins. How they arrived at the Trading Post is a story that makes me want to rant a fair bit.

Moving from Upstate New York to Washington, the Johnsons parked their kids with their Grandparents in Maine while everything got settled with their new home. Apparently Ken and Sasha weren't the most... well-behaved teens, and began raising hell pretty much immediately. Exhausted by the kids' late nights, rebellious behaviour and drinking/drug use (sheesh this sounds familiar) they offered the opportunity to pay for the kids' stay at, you guessed it, the Trading Post, where they will be trusted to look after themselves and free to basically raise hell.

Now here's where a red flag goes up for me. Every so often, after I was transformed, I wondered if maybe someone haddone this to me on purpose. Alia's parents, who were supposed to stay at the Inn, didn't care much for me, and I'd done a lot to push her to the brink over the years too. What if one of them knew the secret? What if someone planned to change me?? On occasion I've let paranoia creep in and entertained those thoughts, but I never really figured it was all that likely. But this? Come on, Grandpa and Grandma Johnson. I've got no proof but out of all the motels and lodges nearby, why this?

So not long after discovering their new bodies (a new gender for Julia, a new race for Kalli,) they were brought "home" by their new grandparents, who insisted there was nothing amiss with them. Not long after, they were shipped out to Washington, where they started high school again.

So the status report is this. They can't make it back out to Maine, because they have no way to get here. They also don't know the whereabouts of the old Ken and Sasha, who barely wrote anything in the way of notes, forcing them to figure everything out on the go. Lastly, they don't seem to want to come back, which also bothers me a little. I can understand to some degree if your body's been stolen, like Ashlyn or Art, or if someone's made it impossible, but Anne-Marie and Ellie are going back, and it looks like there will be a new Julia and Kalli this summer, which is a shame.

"Ken" says to me, they never really gave much thought to whether they could come back or how they might do it. They just went along with it, and apparently they made for better Johnsons than the old Ken and Sasha did. They are appreciating high school more than most teenagers do (and probably having less of a crisis than Bry is) and "Ken" didn't even mention whether he'd found it difficult to adapt to boyhood.

Of course I wonder whether a new reservation is even possible this close to the trip, I don't even know. I guess I just wanted everything to get back in its place. Maybe after a year some pieces just don't fit.

Well, if Ken and Sasha are fine with their new lives, then I guess good for them. I've got bigger fish to fry. (Literally, we're having seafood tonight and I should get cooking.)


Friday, May 22, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Horoscope

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. It was also my birthday - my 24th birthday, as Todd. I felt a little weird about it, like, I wanted people to acknowledge me in some way, and of course they weren't going to, except for a cursory note from Bry. The good thing is, Anne-Marie's birthday is early next month, (June 10? I should double-check that) so I can just pretend. I find it interesting that we're both Geminis. Double-natured. How apropos.

In case you were curious, I've covered Hayley's, Conner's and now my birthday on here... Hal's is in September, and last year it was extremely awkward, because I had still not yet come to terms with what it means to be Anne-Marie. Hard to believe how far I've come in just a year. Last year, I celebrated my own birthday by doing acid at an all-night party in Virginia Beach, after which Bryan and I woke up with a pair of Norwegian sisters. How things change.

That said, I mentioned my and Anne-Marie's star sign. I don't know if I'm still supposed to follow my own horoscope in this body, or what... I mean, assuming it isn't all mumbo-jumbo. For pretty obvious reasons I'm a little more open to the idea that there's something big out there ever since I woke up in this woman's body. So it was a little... weird... when I went online yesterday and read this:

For those of us born on: May 21
Happy birthday! In the months ahead you are going to need all your reserves of energy, at least certainly in the first few months of the coming year. There are strong possibilities of a move of some kind: changing school, career or maybe even a complete relocation. Thanks to the pesky influence of Mercury a number of things will prove to be much more complicated than initially thought. Romantic relationships may need careful handling. However, once everything settles down the rest of year looks like a process of collecting the rewards for so much hard work earlier. Especially well aspected are relationships with your immediate family and it may well be that you are the centre of a major family celebration towards the end of the year!

Is it just me, or is that kind of a bad sign? "Strong possibilities for a move of some kind" seems to refer to the Inn, but what could be "More complicated than initially thought"?? I already think it's pretty damn complicated! And that business about romantic relationships. Christ. Then again, I am looking forward to "collecting the rewards" of my hard work.

Freaky stuff.

Anyway, I really just wanted to relax all day, especially after getting spooked like that. Like I said, it was a gorgeous day, and we've opened the pool up, so I put on a two-piece bathing suit and did some dives, then just lay out by it in the sun.

Then I heard a knock on the fence. "Hello?" I groaned. Donna.

"I hope you don't mind," she said, "I heard the splashing and I was wondering if you might want some company."

I say up and peered at her over the frames of my sunglasses. "I don't think that's such a good idea, Donna." Mentally, I added, Because I hate you.

"Oh come on now, Anne-Marie. Sorry - Todd. We don't even have to talk. I just want someone to lie out in the sun with."

I sighed. "Fine. But no Inn-talk."

"I went twenty years without saying a word about that Inn to anyone. I can manage." She took a seat on the cabana chair next to mine, and removed her skirt and top to reveal a bikini probably not meant for a woman her age (but I gritted my teeth to see how well she filled it out.)

The problem as I see it, is that any conversation we could have would be framed by the knowledge we have about each other - or in my case, the lack of knowledge, and the suspicion there's more to her than meets the eye. But she was good to her word and lay there quietly as I dozed off.

I was awakened a moment later to hear her adjusting the cabana chair to its horizontal position. But what I really noticed was that she had decided to go topless.

"Donna!" I cried out. "God, your boobs!"

She just looked at me nonchalantly. "What, is there a problem? You don't have to look. I mean, you can if you want, I don't mind."

I didn't know how to react. "Aren't you worried about someone seeing you?"

She looked around. The yard was pretty well-enclosed, nobody from the surrounding houses could see, and the backyard backs onto a ravine anyhow. "It's just you, and you seemed to be asleep. I suppose you're just going to live with tanlines?"

I adjusted the strap of my bikini top and found that the tanline had already started to set in. She turned her back to me. "Listen, I'm gonna lie on my stomach here. Would you get the sunscreen?" I reluctantly agreed. It was like a scene from a really cheap porno, and if I hadn't felt so emasculated I might've been turned on.

She lay on her front and closed her eyes. Satisfied, and kinda emboldened by her words, I removed my top, making sure covering was within reach in case someone came by.

Sleepily, she broke her promise. "So tell me... when you first found out you were a woman... did you spend a lot of time looking at yourself?"

It was an innocent enough question so I answered, "Not really. I mean, not at first. I didn't really want to see. Then as time went by I got used to it, and I got comfortable just being naked, or half-dressed, if I was alone. Then the thrill started to fade a little bit."

"Are you worried you won't like women anymore once you're a guy again?"

If my eyes hadn't been closed, I would've rolled them. "I still like women."

"Well a little birdie told me you'd been with Hal."

I tried to keep my cool and answered truthfully. "Hal has the right equipment to do the job, but I don't find myself getting really excited thinking about him all that much. It's just business."

She sat up. "What do you think of me?"

I opened my eyes and wrapped a towel around myself, feeling exposed. "I don't think you want me to answer that."

"Todd, I can take it."

I stared at her breasts. Then I glanced up at her face. I'd be lying if I didn't feel something. "You look really good... for your age."

She smiled and lay forward again. "Good genetics."

I uncovered myself and lay back again. "So what happened to the original Donna?"

She took a moment to respond and then said, "After we have sex, I'll tell you."

I didn't answer to that. She added, "Mind if I take a dip?"

Feeling somewhat amicable, I said okay, if she put her top on. She slipped it over her head and called me a prude.

I have a lot of mixed impressions of Donna. She's not such a bad person, I guess, just an irritating one. My judgment may be clouded by how good-looking she is, and up-front about her body. I'm still not in favour of her little scheme, but in a weird way, I identify with her.

I just don't want to end up like her.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Get back to where you once belonged

So on the evening of Bry's last day of Grade 9, Friday June 19th, we are going back to the Inn. I've known this for months. I'm really excited about it. But every time I look over at that date on the calendar, I feel a twinge in the pit of my stomach. I get reminded it's still a month away, and as awesome as it's going to be to stand 6' tall and grow facial hair again, there are still things going on in Anne-Marie's life that require my attention.

Hayley's cold lasted longer than we thought. She seemed well enough to come along to the zoo last weekend but it flared up again afterward. Then I realized it wasn't a cold at all, but allergies. So I had to take her to be tested, and then convince her it wasn't so bad to get shots, which was a difficult conversation. Then on top of all that stress I had to swing by the drug store for some Midol, because, well, goddamn.

It was there, while Hayley was off browsing the magazine rack, that I ran into Donna. Every so often I remember the last major conversation I had with her and it gets me mad, so you can imagine how I was feeling on this occasion. She started browsing the menstrual aids as well. I was hoping to ignore her when she struck up a conversation.

"Menopause can't come soon enough," she says.

I glared at her. She looked over and smirked at me. I grumbled, "I won't be around for it, thankfully."

She snorts, "How could I forget? After the scene you made at my place. You've made it quite clear you mean to go back wherever you came from. Kansas?"

"Canada. Is there something you want from me?"

She reminds me about her offer. "I don't know why you hate me, Anne-Marie. I don't know why you avoid me and why I have to stalk you in the drug store just to have a chat. We have something in common, we just don't have the same opinion about it."

"Why don't you just tell me who you were?" I ask.

"Why do you care? Why does it matter?"

I didn't even have an answer for that. I just assumed it was quid pro quo when I told her my story.

She came in closer and gave me something of a death glare. "When you came back, and I realized what you were... it brought up so much emotion. So much guilt. You have no idea. For the first time in decades I feel like I'm lying about who I am. And I don't like that." Just like a woman, making me feel like the bad guy. "But what's done is done, and if you want to know, you know what to give me in return."

I told her I remembered. She wanted sex. I excused myself to the checkout and asked Hayley if she'd rather I buy her a Motorcycle Mag or Guns & Ammo. She laughed and handed me a copy of InTouch.

Every time I talk to Donna it really gets my nerves up. She has a real attitude about her past that is troubling for me and only makes me want to know more about her, which of course comes with a premium. I'm wondering whether I really have to do this, to wrap up the question of Donna's identity once and for all.

Of course, some mysteries are easier to solve...

Last Sunday, when I was at "Julia's" place, I was there to do more than deliver a simple Happy Mother's Day message. I had a hunch I wanted to follow up. I didn't want to talk about it until it was resolved, but I might as well bring it up to clear my mind.

Sometime ago Anne-Marie and Ellie admitted they really hadn't been in touch with the original Julia and Kalli. I found this troubling because in arranging all these return trips, I feel it would be awesome if everything could just be wrapped up nicely. Unfortunately, the only info they could provide was the last name "Johnson" and a mention of Washington State. Apparently they just didn't see fit to include all this info in their original letters. I figured it was one of two things. Either it didn't occur to them to provide this in the event a return was possible, or they didn't want a return at all. The paranoid dude in me was thinking the latter.

That said, my hunch was this: if Julia and Kalli wanted to come back, they probably would have e-mailed Anne and/or Ellie at some point. Maybe. It's been almost a year, though, and if nothing had turned up in the Inbox yet, chances are it wasn't going to.

So when I hopped on "Julia's" computer and checked her Spam folder, I damn near shouted out "Eureka!" Sitting right on the cusp of the 30-day deletion cycle was an early-April message from Ken Johnson.

The writer, the original Julia, basically went on a tirade about how mad she was none of the previous e-mails had been responded to, but that didn't mean she was going to give up. That even if there was no way back, she still felt she was owed some acknowledgment that her life was in good hands. (My summary, not her words exactly.)

I noted down her e-mail address and headed home, trying to mentally draft a response. After a couple days I had it all written out.

I explained who I was, and why none of "Ken's" letters had reached "Julia." I told her she didn't have to worry about her body's status, she was safe and gainfully employed in Connecticut. The good news, I said, is that changing back is possible, all you need to do is be in Maine at the right time in the right room. I said I hoped to hear back from her soon, and gave the address to the Blog.

I have yet to get a response, but I will let you know when I've got it, if I feel comfortable doing so. Hopefully, we can get these people into the proper room, but one step at a time...

That's all for tonight.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Mother's Day

My first and hopefully last Mother's Day as a mom. It was a... surreal experience. The family really made an effort to keep the focus on me, which I'm not only not used to, but actively try to avoid. I was prepared to get some attention today but wasn't sure how it would manifest itself.

In the morning I was given a few cards by the kids and some flowers by Hal. I don't really know what to do with them, but they're in water for now until they die. It was a gorgeous day, and we went out, with Hal's mother Lucille, to the Beardsley Zoo. It was nice, and reminds me of some old times I used to have with Bryan. We were kicked out of the Metro Toronto Zoo because apparently they don't like people walking around high and taunting Macaws. Anyway, this was a fun day too... Connor really entertained me by doing funny impressions or making up facts about basically every animal we saw. He's a real crack-up.

Anyway, Lucille took some time to speak with me. I didn't want to mention, you know, how sad it must be to be without her husband, and she had another topic in mind. She said I had to find a way to end this rivalry with Trudy. She said she understood that her daughter could be difficult and that the situation was largely not my fault, but it hurt her to see the two of us sniping so much. I told her I'd do what I could and asked if she would have the same talk with Trudy. Lucille sighed and said she loved her daughter and was proud of all she accomplished, but that she was not a people person, and not much of a "forgive and forgetter." Well it's nice to know Lucille's sympathies lie with me.

After dinner - a somewhat embarrassing display by Hal that made me a little more proud of what I've learned to do in the past nine months - I excused myself to run some errands. Hal insisted, "No sweetie, you're not running any errands today, let me do it." Using a bit of quick wit, I simply leaned in close and told him I needed to by more feminine hygiene products. He backed off. I get a kick out of how squeamish men are about this kind of stuff, because that totally used to be me. Most of us simply do not have the time or inclination to learn the facts about a woman's body, because it might ruin the mystique. In a way, I'm worried it has for me, but knowing a bit more about how to use the equipment will probably up my skill level once I get back to the home team.

The errand of course had nothing to do with Tampax, but was a visit out to "Julia and Kalli's" place. I had gotten a little card for Anne-Marie, because I feel guilty she doesn't get to spend this time with her family. She claimed not to have much time to talk, and when I asked why, I heard the toilet flush. She jumped, more than she would have if it were just "Kalli." Waiting to see who was about to emerge from that washroom put me on edge.

It was Jack, the guy I'd met at the supermarket and passed along to Julia. Julia asked to meet him down by the car, we'd only be a little while longer.

I don't know why I was so shocked. Like I said, I introduced them (more or less) but I guess I was just expecting "Julia" to say "Thanks but not thanks." She had a distinct look of guilt on her face. I didn't know what to think. So I just asked for an explanation. She was reluctant, but I assured her I wouldn't judge.

She said, "When I found out Ellie was getting serious with that Todd Jones boy, I got really nervous about what might happen. So it started as a reason for me to... tag along. To double date. I haven't been single in so long, I just thought it was so thrilling to have a boy looking at me like that."

With some reluctance I asked, "Have you two... hooked up?"

"Todd I don't know if that's really your business."

I twisted my lips uncomfortably. "Well maybe, but Anne... I've been having sex with your husband for three months now. Like I said I'm really not here to judge you, I just need to know where you stand."

She sighed. "We haven't yet. We've been taking it slow because he just got out of his relationship and I... I still love my husband, Todd, I want you to remember that."

"I know."

She continued, "But I've been thinking about it. I've been trying to convince myself that it'd be okay, if I want to... and part of me does, wants to be this woman. But every time we get close, I just... I haven't gone through with it yet. I don't know if I will."

I ran my fingers through my hair and adjusted my bra, a nervous habit. "Well I can't speak for Ellie, but I won't judge you if you take advantage of this situation. I'm doing what I'm doing... and I know what I would want Deb to be doing in my body if I could make her. So I couldn't blame you. But Anne-Marie... don't lead the guy on. This is like Bryan with his girlfriend, except right now we don't know who's going to be Julia in a few months. It could be a 40-year-old dude, or a kid. It's not fair to saddle someone with a relationship like this. If you can avoid it."

She looked down at the floor.

"But look. That's going to happen anyway, I figure. Just go easy on him, and please, please try to make sure this, these feelings, aren't something you bring back from Maine with you."

It was maybe not the best advice in the world. Again, even before all this I had a pretty messed up view of right and wrong in relationships, and this has just opened up all these scary new opportunities, but like I said, I can't personally judge Anne-Marie one way or the other.

Anyway, then I went home, and had pleasant but routine Mother's Day sex with Hal. I tried to enjoy it, but I think after the talk with Anne-Marie, my heart really wasn't in it. I went to bed feeling guilty... even though all this time, I haven't even really been in charge of the decisions I've been making, for good or bad.

I'm starting to think the worst part of this, for me, has been the feeling of not being in control of my own life. Some days I just wanna do something public and drastic and out of character for Anne-Marie just to see if anyone would notice. But no, it's only a month and a half until Bry and I go back. I've been nothing but a placeholder, a substitute, a bookmark for Anne-Marie this entire time. Why would I end that now?


Oh yeah, and Bry sent me this.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Bryan/Ellie: Whatever happens happens

1 AM and blogging. Seems like I only have time to think about my life when I should be sleeping. I guess that says something, but I'm not sure what.

I met "Kalli" - the real Ellie - for the first time at the funeral. She approached me, wiping tears from her eyes, and asked if she could speak to me in private, because she felt really vulnerable being there, being so upset, but not being free to say who she was. We went for a little walk. I got the sense that she wanted to take her mind off the sadness of the moment by having a sort-of normal conversation.

She asked me if she was missing anything interesting. I told her there probably wasn't anything she couldn't do without. I mean, it's only grade 9 (or "ninth grade.") I didn't really know what to say. I kinda wanted to apologize for the way I've been running her life, but the truth is, I'm doing my best and haven't got much to apologize for. But I didn't say anything, and she went on.

"So... what do you like better? Boy or girl?"

Something about the question struck me awkward so I didn't answer right away. I thought it should be obvious.

"I kinda wish the inn turned me into a boy," she said. "I mean everything's been so crazy, right, but since I know we're... going back... I feel like I'm missing out. That would've been so cool. Me with a penis." She snorted some laughter. "Guess I'll never know."

I look down, embarrassed, "I don't think you'd like it. I mean, I can't wait to get back, 'cause that's what I am. I think when your mind and you r body don't match up, something goes... freaky."

"Did you ever read the old posts on the blog? Like that chick Ashlyn. She was a guy, and she seemed to like the change."

"I don't think you're lookin' at it properly," I said, "She made an adjustment, which is really cool, because eventually she learned there was like no chance of going back how things were before. But ever since we figured out how to go back, I've been freaking out basically all the time, because I know I don't belong and I won't be here much longer. If I had to be you forever..." I sighed. "It would be different." I realized I never answered her question. "I like being me, because that's who I am."

"Don't you like anything about being me?"

By this point we were sitting on a bench by the parking lot. I slouched down and looked down at my breasts, at my hands, at my thin little legs. "I like being you sometimes... because Leanne likes you."

She stared off into space for a while and then said "No she doesn't. She doesn't know me."

"Well she likes someone. If I was me when I met her, she probably just would'a wanted to be my friend, call me a breeder and help me pick up other chicks. And that was if she wasn't a teenager. But because I look like you, she... she sees me in a way I wanna see myself." I can feel myself starting to cry a little bit, but I try to sniffle it back. Damnit, don't let this girl think you've gone girly.

"Well I'm really sorry about that," she grumbled, "I mean, you're gonna have to do something about it before we go, because I'm really not interested in that."

"How do you know for sure, though?"

She told me some things that I probably shouldn't put here. I don't think Anne-Marie reads the blog, but I wouldn't wanna betray Ellie's trust be talking about it here where it might get back to her. Suffice it to say it has to do with this Todd Jones guy and what Ellie may or may not be willing to do/already done with him. I told her it still wasn't concrete, and she just said that no matter what she wasn't interested in girls, and was upset at what I was doing with her body.

"Like two minutes ago," I snapped, "You were saying you wanted to try being a boy."

"Yeah, just for like, shits and giggles! That's different! If I was a boy and I liked girls that would be okay. And if you're a girl liking boys is okay."

"So it's not okay to like girls if you're a girl?" I'm pretty fucking outraged here.

"No I mean, it's not okay if you're me!"

I just stopped and buried my head in my hands, because there was no goddamn way we were gonna resolve this argument.

So I said "I guess it won't matter in a few months because you can go back to being you and blow whatever guys you want." (Oops, secrets out. Sorry I was just so pissed thinking back on the memory that I just... had to.)

"God Bryan, you're being a bitch here. You got me into this mess and if you don't do something to get out of it, that girl might really get hurt. You know what I'm saying?"

I got her drift -- if I leave it to her to end things with Leanne, she might be a little less nice about it. I didn't like hearing it, but I took it since there's nothing I can do. I wiped more tears away.

"Of all the bodies I could'a woken up in, why yours, goddamnit?"

She stood up to walk away. "I don't want to hurt you guys, Bryan. You seem like a nice guy and I'm sorry about whatever happened that you got so caught up with a teenage relationship. I wish we could've talked sooner, but I got a job in a supermarket a while ago, and that keeps me kinda busy."

My tears turned to laughter. She asked me what was so funny.

I told her, "I worked in a supermarket too. I think I still do, unless Amanda found me a better job."

Then she started laughing, and we laughed together a while, and she left. I went back in, and that's when I started thinking about my great uncle, and Todd told you the rest.

I haven't decided yet what I'm going to do. I've ended a lot of relationships - and had just as many ended for me - but never while it was going so well. Why does my best relationship in years have to be so....... fucked up?

I'm just saying if somewhere down the road, Ellie finds she really likes the feeling she gets from seeing other girls' breasts, I'll laugh my goddamn face off.

I guess what ever happens happens.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Smart girl

In case my last post was too long, let me summarize it: "Tl;dr - Hal cries after we do it and it bums me out."

I have a tendency to ramble here. I mean, I feel like I owe it to you guys to present as much of the story as I can manage, not to mention for my own benefit for when I walk away from this whole thing. So in that respect I feel like I've done a disservice to Connor and Hayley.

I'll be the first to admit that over the past nine months as Anne-Marie I've sort of... failed as a mother. I don't think you can really blame me, but I carry a lot of guilt because of it. As Todd, I really wasn't the kind of guy you would want to have around your 12-year-old daughter. I had my vice. Shit man, I was a vice, and between me and Bryan, we were about as bad an influence as you could hope for without getting arrested.

So for a long time I kept distant from the two of them, and then the birthday things started to happen and I had to revise my decision, because these are vulnerable young kids who need a strong sense of parental guidance, or something. And I realize this, because after looking at the way I was living Anne-Marie's life, and looking back at my life as Todd... it wasn't something I had growing up. And I didn't want Hayley and Connor having that, not when I was in a position to help it.

So that was the first step, realizing there was a problem. The next step was in deciding what to do about it. Kids are pretty sharp, and they realize something's off if you jsut start being all buddy-buddy with them. The New York trip was a part of that, although I had my ulterior motive wanting to meet other Inn people, as well as getting a chance to see a city for once. In the end, it was a short-term solution. I still don't have a long-term one - but I've at least broken the ice.

Tuesday night, around 1 AM I came downstairs after yet another bedroom session with Hal. I was still puzzling about what I could do for him other than sex, because I could tell he's hurting. So I go into the kitchen for a glass of milk, turn on the light, and who should I see but little miss Hayley.

"Isn't it a school night?" I ask.

"I couldn't sleep. I think I'm sick."

I felt an oddly motherly sense of dread, just for a moment. With all this pandemic talk I've suddenly gotten very paranoid, maybe because I'm supposed to be "guardian of the family" and I don't do a particularly good job. But then that panic subsides and realism sets in and I start to joke. I have her open her mouth so I can look at her swollen throat. "Hm," I says, "This doesn't look good at all. Have you been licking any strange pigs lately? Mexican pigs?"

"Mom," she giggles, then coughs, "Don't be so gross. Or racist."

I turn and look at her. A smirk crossed my face. What a clever remark from a little girl like her. "Here sweetie, I'll fix you some herbal tea." I make sure it's non-caffeinated before I set the kettle on.

"So sick you can't sleep, eh?" I ask, sitting across the table from her, "I know that feeling."

"It's not really 'cause I'm sick," she tells me. "It's 'cause you and dad were being so loud."

Oh. My.

I was caught somewhat off guard, so I tried to play it cool. "Oh, were we being loud? I'm sorry about that."

She asks, "Are you guys fighting? You can tell me."

Now I cough with laughter. "No, we're not fighting."

"Oh," she says, "That's too bad. I didn't think you were, but I thought it was either that or the other thing."

"The other thing?" She just glares at me. Awkward. I start to get hot with embarrassment. "Depends what you mean by that." I know exactly what she means, and she knows I know.

She doesn't even wait for confirmation when she asks, "Is it fun?" Pause. "Does it feel good?"

This, I had not been counting on. All I wanted was a glass of milk and suddenly I've been blindsided into a "talk." I never even had a "talk" with my own mother. All she ever did was tell me to be safe after she found out I was already doing it. Well mom, look at me now. On second thought, don't.

Back to Hayley. I start to stammer what I think a little girl should hear. Sex is bad, don't do it, boys only want one thing. I get halfway through my opening statement "No, it doesn't feel good--" when I stop myself. I lie about enough things every single day. This girl is sharp, she has an excellent bullshit detector. If anyone's ever going to be straight with her, it's going to be me, right now.

"I'm not gonna lie to you," I tell her, "People wouldn't think about it so much if it weren't fun. Boys like it because it's easy for them. Girls like it because it makes boys like them." I'm broaching some extremely dangerous territory. "But it's worth waiting for. And it's very important that you care about the person you're doing it with." I was trying my best not to sound like a hypocrite. So I did the soft sell for abstinence. Frankly, I think I did all right, and I could tell she appreciated me being forthright with her.

If there's one thing I know, it's that telling her sex is bad, or wrong, is only going to make her want to try it for herself, at her earliest opportunity (and if what those alarmist tabloid shows say is true, it could be soon.) I think she's a smart enough girl that she went into the discussion with certain ideas, and my words reassured her.

It was tough, but I think even actual parents have a hard time with this stuff, so I went back to bed proud of myself. I've also made a point to try to be more discrete. Hayley's room is a ways down the hall from the master. Yowza.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Todd/Anne-Marie: Tired of Sex

I was a teenager - maybe in Grade 8 or 9 - when I first heard Weezer's second album Pinkerton. I'd already figured them for one hit wonder status, as good as Buddy Holly was, and their second album didn't seem to contain anything that would be that caliber of hit. Basically, a few years passed and I hadn't heard anything from them so I dismissed them offhand when Bry brought me his copy of this album. I was young, it was 1998 (a few years after the album's release) and I was way into Korn. Ugh.

So he played it for me and I thought it was just noise at first. I didn't want to sit through it, but he basically held me hostage. I think around the 5th track - "Across the Sea" - I started to get it. By the time I heard "El Scorcho" it was like a revelation, and it all came to a crescendo at the end with the dramatic "Falling For You" followed by the sweet, acoustic "Butterfly." It was really the album that made me - and a lot of people my age - want to make music.

I've listened to it maybe a thousand times since. It's an album about a lot of things - desire, yearning, frustration, - universal emotions that seem especially poignant to me now in my current situation. I mean, let's look at some lyrics here...

Tired of Sex
I'm tired / So tired / I'm tired of having sex (so tired) / I'm spread / So thin / I don't know who I am

You know this is breaking me up / You think that I'm some kind of freak, uh huh / But if you come back to me / Then you will surely see / That I'm just fooling around

No Other One
Nobody knows me like her / Nobody knows her like me / We're all we've got and we don't want to be alone

Across the Sea
Why are you so far away from me? / I need help and you're way across the sea / I could never touch you / I think it would be wrong / I've got your letter / You've got my song

The Good Life
When I look in the mirror / I can't believe what I see / Tell me who's that funky dude / Starin' back at me ... Excuse the bitchin / I shouldn't complain / I should have no feeling / 'cause feeling is pain / As everything I need / Is denied me / Everything I want / Is taken away from me / But who do I got to blame / Nobody but me / And I don't wanna be an old man anymore / It's been a year or two since / I was out on the floor / Shakin' booty making sweet love all the night / It's time I got back to the good life

Falling For You
I'd do about anything to get the hell out alive / Or maybe I would rather settle down with you / Holy moly baby wouldn't you know it / Just as I was bustin' loose / I gotta go turn in my rock star card / And get fat and old with you....

I'm sorry for what I did / I did what my body told me to / I didn't mean to do you harm / Everytime I pin down what I think I want it slips away / The ghost slips away...

The lyrics I've pointed out have to do with a lot of different things in my life... pretending as Anne-Marie while trying to get back to being Todd, relating to Bryan and "Julia," being with Hall ... pining for Alia... I've got a lot on my mind lately. This will probably be a long post and my lyrical analysis definitely increases that.

Maybe I'm seeing parallels where there are non,e or maybe it speaks to how universal these themes truly are. I just think they take on a weird new dimension when I consider my situation... doing things I never thought I would with a life I never asked to have... I mean, a year ago, I never really understood how anybody could get "Tired of Sex." Even when I understood the song as an indication of exhaustion from the rock and roll lifestyle, I still thought sex was an unassailable virtue, one thing that was truly good. Even as a woman, I began to take for granted that sex is enjoyable from either side, as much as I would like to get back on the other team.

But this entire family crisis situation - the funeral and everything - had a weird, unexpected side effect on Hal.

We first had sex in late January. In February and March we averaged, I would say, 6-8 sessions per month. We'd have maybe one go during the week, and then one or two on weekends, tops. I never felt like doing it when I was on my period, and he never asked to.

I became something I kinda looked forward to, the special perk of being Anne-Marie. When I shed my self-consciousness about Anne-Marie's body type and just let myself be free, it became strangely enjoyable to watch this dude get hard for Anne-Marie's body, and then put it to work. I was actually starting to enjoy it, although I never thought Hal was all that great at it (no offense to Anne-Marie.) There was also the fascinating advantage of not having to be "up" to start with, so while I never initiated it, I never had cause to turn it down either.

Eventually I learned to turn off the part of my brain that is averse to being the female part of the equation, partly out of enjoyment, partly out of perspective. I came to realize the person I see in the mirror is not Todd Casey, no matter how much I cling to that identity - I'm not Todd a lot of the time, but sex is basically the only thing there is to enjoy about being Anne-Marie. Nobody is going to look at me and think "that dude is so gay" because, well, gay dudes don't have vaginas. And in a few months, I won't either, so I'll be back to my usual preference. And I am psyched for that, but until then I make due with what I've got - a surprisingly sensitive and able woman's body, and a man who makes for a reliable if un-astounding partner.

Which brings me to the early part of April, when we found out Hal's dad was in the hospital. Right after that, shit started getting turned upside down at Hal's dental practice. I don't know the details, but Anne-Marie/Julia would. Some kind of filing clusterfuck that is at least partly related to her inexperience at filing and resentment from older co-workers. So he's got all that stress and emotional weight on him, good time to relieve your stress with some fucking, right?

I guess stress and grief turn Hal into an unstoppable screwing machine. In the 30 days of April we did it for about 22 of them, way up from our 6-8 average. We didn't do it the week of the funeral since we were all very busy and I happened to be on the rag*, and then afterward it was right back to it.

(*Now there's a feeling I have kept from this blog. I'm so burnt out during those times I tend to avoid the blog, and then I forget to write about it when I come back.)

I don't know when to say enough is enough, please get off me. I don't want to be rude and part of me still likes it, but eventually I've just got to say "Dude... if you keep using that thing it's gonna fall off." I haven't had much occasion declining sex in my life, so I'm not equipped for this discussion. I feel like at his age, he's risking hurting himself or something. But this is not the problem. As annoying as it can be, more sex is not something I'm complaining about at this point. No, the real problem came afterward. Pardon the pun.

After one session Saturday night, I left the bed to let Hal drift off to sleep. I never really got over the part of me that only wanted to take care of business and leave, so what I do most of the time is get up, read a book or surf the internet, and let him drift off, returning to bed about 20 minutes later. I got up, went to the washroom, cleaned myself up a bit, and as I was heading back through the bedroom to the stairs, I heard... sobbing.

Once I realized what was happening, I felt a mixture of pity, guilt, and anger. Pity because of how upset he is, feeling he's had to hide it all this time. Guilt because I'm not equipped to comfort him with anything other than sex, which is clearly not what he needs. Since I'm not really emotionally invested in this whole marriage, I feel awkward trying to comfort him anything more than a cursory pat on the back. Anger, because I'm the only one who can comfort him, I'm all he's got, and I haven't got the ability nor inclination to give the support he needs. It's a fucking reminder that I'm a substitute, a pretender, a liar. I'm not his wife, and after 9 months, I'm still fucking clueless about marriage.

This is a goddamn untenable situation, and I need to get out of it soon.

So all I could do was get back in the bed, hold him, and tell him sympathetically, "It's okay, sweetie." I sounded like an asshole, but it seemed to help.

But I've found that at least that part of me is still male - I find masculine emotional vulnerability uncomfortable, and it's a real turn-off. Now I really am tired of sex.

Never thought I'd see the day.