Friday, July 31, 2009

Greg/Priya: My to do list.

As I mentioned before, Im a hotel manager. That means I have to co-ordinated the comings and goings of several different departments serving a few hundred rooms. One of the most effective tools when managing is making lists of what is to be done. And thats exactly what I did the morning I woke up after my last post.



1. Contact the real Priya

I used Priya's cell phone, and not my own, to call "Emily David" Monday evening. I presume she must have caller ID, because when she answered the phone she sounded nervous.



"Hello?" she said slowly



"Priya?" I asked



"Yep, although from the sounds of it your the one who looks the part more" she replied



"Its me, Greg" I said quickly and quietly



"Greg" She said in disbelief "But how?"



"Apparently the Inn changes you into the person who stayed in the room before you. We booked the same room, remember?" I explained



"Oh Greg, Im so sorry..." She started



"Dont be, its not your fault and i guess it could be a lot worse. Believe me"



We talked for a few minutes and she gave me some more info on how to be her. Then we hung up and I move on to the next item on the list.



2. Call Amber

My dear sweet fiancee has spent the last few days with no idea of where neither her best friend nor her future hubby were. I called her and explained that we were both ok. I made up a lie about how there is terrible reception in maine, and I was in Boston for a few days, spontaneously. I also told her I saw Greg just as I left. I dont know how im gonna verify that, Ill probably send her an email as Greg, or AIM, since she cant tell that im a tiny little Indian girl when you use those media. Ill just have to make sure i fill in the new Greg, whoever thats gonna be.

3. Write my note
Its weird sitting down writing a note to a stranger telling them that they are gonna have to live your life. I explained the basics about my life and family, and who i was, and who i was now, and that ill still be in the same city so we'll see each other, which should be a help for him. I gave him Priya's contact information for when he gets to Chicago.

4. Get to Chicago
Priya had a plane ticket out of Logan Airport to Chicago for July 18th. Clearly she didnt use it. Its now expired and useless to me. I however, have a ticket for August 1st. The problem is, it was in my name. Fortuneatly with a little talking to with the airline aided by intimate knowledge of myself and a working knowledge of Priya, I was able to get the names switched on the ticket. How "new greg" will get home is beyond me, but If he needs to use a credit card of mine ill be ok with it. Theres a lot of minor details tha can become challenges around here, and ill need to have help when I try to solve them, which brings me to my last item:

5. Read this whole blog
Right now im at the part where Art and Ashlyn are living in Boston, whcih means i got a long ways to go, but ive got time to kill before my flight tommorow. Its comforting that im not the first guy to go through with this and that a few others have written down tips and hints on howto deal with the whole mess.

So ive got some reading to, until then, ill keep you posted

-Greg, or as i should get used to saying "Priya"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Know yourself

My friend Justin - a guy I've written about a few times here - had a theory about women. Well it was about people in general but he always applied it to women. He used to say there were three things you had to do to get to know someone.

One: Ask them about themselves.

Two: Ask other people about them.

Three: Go through their stuff.

I'm not sure how serious about that last one he was, but it's definitely how I've gotten to know about Tori. Obviously the base of the first one was covered by the letter Tori left me, but you've always got to beware of the way people talk about themselves. Only someone with serious self-loathing issues would emphasize how their life had gone horribly wrong and they wound up living with their parents after a failed shot at being a hairdresser. Hiding the embarrassing parts of her life (I don't know why, I was bound to find out) left her letter irritatingly vague.

I've gotten access to Tori's old emails too - both her inbox and outbox. At first I was just fascinated at the level of intimate detail I was getting about this stranger's life, until I realized it was now my life to lead. Then I got a little depressed. Tori shows a really unhealthy judgmental attitude in some of these things, ripping into people she sometimes describes as her best friends, and the way she talked about her ex-boss it's no wonder she got canned, and I wonder how badly this is affecting my job search.

I can't exactly go up to these people and ask them what they think of Tori. Her two best friends, Sara and Raine, went to Europe this summer, leaving her here - her big getaway was to Maine with Rob. I can't help but imagine that maybe Sara and Raine really didn't want her on the trip with them.

The most feedback I've gotten is from Mae. She's kind of an annoying presence in that she's always carping at me, but I like to think she and I would've gotten along okay if I was a teenager in my past life. I would've understood her better than I would have understood Tori. She and Tori are pretty much opposites.

I don't want to say Tori's an airhead and Mae is brainy. Tori looks to have done half-decent in school - not honor roll or anything but not a failure. She went to beauty school instead of college so I can't really discern much more from that other than, you know, she was good with hair and stuff. She writes pretty literately, with some run-on-sentences that make me have to re-read sometimes, and occasionally she mixes up "you're/your" and such. Not a big deal as far as I'm concerned.

Mae is sarcastic, very down-to-Earth, a bit lazy. has good taste in movies and music (better than Tori's in my opinion.) Dresses rebelliously but conservatively - mostly in black, very grungy/punky. A fair bit curvier than Tori, and not quite as tall but we're close. Natural blonde hair with dark streaks.

I kind of want to get to know her, to get along with her, as long as I'm stuck here but she's given me the evil eye every time we get near each other, despite a peaceful co-existence. She tries to ignore me, and I'm trying to at least be polite to her. Maybe indicate that Tori has changed somehow, even if I can't make her understand how.

It seems to be working okay. Tuesday I came into the family room and flopped down in a chair to rest my eyes after another annoying interview - they're getting better - when Mae came in and started flipping through the channels.

"What's the matter Vic? Pimps aren't hiring?"

"Nah," I said by reflex, "They gave the job to your mom."

I looked over at her - she was half confused, half amused. It took me a moment to realize "her mom" was "my mom" too. Then we both laughed a bit. That broke the month-long ice a little. We sat and watched daytime TV without further incident. I still don't think she's my biggest fan, but I'm thinking she doesn't hate me either. I've got an older brother, I know sibling relationships can be complicated.

I'm hoping, in time "Cliff" will appear more obviously behind Tori's appearance. I like to think I was a pretty likable guy, so having hostility in my life is a little annoying.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Alia/Rob: Comments, complaints, concerns.

I haven't given myself a lot of time to sit and pity myself, but there have been moments when I feel truly helpless. I feel like Cliff has maybe succumbed to it a bit more than I have. I've been reading up, preparing for this teaching gig I've been stuck with. Cliff has been thrown a bit more headlong into chaos and it shows in the exhaustion on her face.

That's not to say I've been getting along perfectly. A few days after I got to Philly I began to feel a little ill, and soon after figured out why. Nicotine cravings. Fuck. Rob was a smoker.

I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. Well, not tobacco anyway. Todd used to at one point and I hated it. It made him smell like my dad, who also smoked. I found this big carton of cigarettes in the cupboard - hell, there were a few packs in my luggage in a pocket I had overlooked. I had to get them out of the house.

I considered smoking them. Briefly. But then I decided I'm not just going to do things because Rob did them. Not if I'm not already inclined to do so. So I went out and got nicotine gum, and scrapped the cigs. It's been working, for the most part, but I hate feeling dependent on anything. I think the point is, I'll get over it.

The other nagging problem is, well... Rob is not that young. He's 30, but I feel old before my time. I go for long walks and come home feeling sore, especially in the mornings. The smoker's cough doesn't help. When Todd and Bryan were over, we stayed up Saturday night (after seeing The Hangover) smoking weed and eating Doritos, kind of like old times. Except they kept making stupid Mexican jokes. Calling me George Lopez and whatnot. I took offense to that. At least they didn't call me Carlos Mencia.

I wound up with a massive case of heartburn. I'm not somebody who, you know, indulges in that way a whole lot. I can live without it. But it really hammered home how far forward I've been sent as far as wear and tear.

And then of course, the sex thing. I don't know what to make of my penis. It's all wonky. I'll see a cute guy and maybe I'll get a half of an erection, and the feeling of having half an erection will give me a full one... and then I'll feel like I'm cheating on Todd, and it'll wear off. And then I'll see a woman... and I don't even know. Suddenly there's something very appealing about women I mostly would've thought were stupid bitches at a first glance.

Not that I never thought they were attractive. I mean look. I know what a hot girl looks like. I never really felt all that curious, but there have been some very good-looking women I knew that I maybe might've considered beyond my actual sexual preference. And now, thanks to this stupid penis, I can't ignore that feeling. And the standard is a bit lower. Is it me? Is it my mind, exploiting a curiosity I always tried to suppress? Or is the body deciding for itself what it likes? It's too confusing. I don't want to do anything!

Which brings me to the problem of Rob's... relationships. Yes, he was seeing Tori at the time of their transformation. Right now, they're a couple down in Louisville. The thing is, Rob also had other, previous relationships he wasn't entirely done with.

The type of relationship that requires paperwork and legal action to dissolve.

He was fucking married. Or divorced. Or getting divorced, I should say.

So for now that's my problem. I'm supposed to go down to his lawyer's office to sign things soon. Whatever, I guess I don't really care, it was just annoying to find out I had to take care of this stuff.

So that's that.

-Alia

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Todd: The City of Brotherly Love, so to speak.

I'm guessing new-Kalli and new-Julia were at the Inn with Greg down there. I have yet to hear from them, or Anne-Marie on the subject of them. Despite having returned to my body, and being eager to get on with my life as best I can, I feel a responsibility to help those who have been transformed. So if there's anything any of the new folks need, feel free to seek me out. In the meantime, though, Bry and I took flight. first stop NYC, then Philly.

I had wanted to go visit Darren/Jaime, but hadn't thought to bring her contact information, and wasn't in the mood to go on a (wo)manhunt. The fact that I couldn't reach her was a bit of a relief. As much as I wanted to check in and see how she was, our last meeting was not exactly the easiest thing for either of us. I was kind of a dick to her and I wanted to apologize, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized my presence might just upset her more. Last time I checked, she was slowly growing more comfortable with being a woman and starting to get on with her life, but I think some of what I said rattled her a little bit. If she's made more progress, seeing me and Bry as the guys we are might just undo it. Maybe what she needs is to move past the Inn and the blog and everything, like Ginessa.

So it wasn't much of a stay in New York and we headed out to Philadelphia, a city we stopped in briefly last year before we ever transformed. It was the last place I ever had sex with a woman, after a concert by the Bloody Knuckles, the guilt of which inspired me to reconcile with Alia, and then go to Maine. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was just over a year.

Friday night we arrived at Alia's, or rather Rob Garcia's place. It was a small ground-level apartment. Pretty cramped, but neat and tidy -- after picking up after the likes of me for a few years, Alia can clean for anyone. Actually, that's something we fought about, but in the future will very doubtfully be an issue.

We were too tired to do anything that first night, other than have a couple drinks and catch up on old times. I tried very hard to get over the awkwardness of seeing the girl I've known and loved so long sitting in the body of this 200-pound almost middle-aged (about the same age as Anne-Marie, maybe a bit younger) guy. She vented a little bit about how irritated she'd been, back when she was herself and she thought I was totally ignoring her. I repeatedly said it was all in the past - not even my past - but she said it was during that time she realized how important I was to her, because of how frustrated she got with my absence.

I sighed, "Now look at us. I feel like an idiot for following you to Maine. god, if I'd trusted you, or the person who said he was you..."

"Well," I sighed, "What's done is done, that's what I say. I mean, look. Not three months, ago, I had a vagina."

"Me too," Bryan piped in.

Alia laughed, "God, guys. I still can't imagine it. you, Todd, are the biggest gynophobe I ever met."

"Is that a word?"

"It is now. you never wanted to know about my periods or birth control or anything."

"That's typical!" I defended myself.

"You didn't even like looking at my pussy. I remember you used to clamp your eyes closed."

"Too much information!" Bryan covered his ears. I was embarrassed.

"I'm just saying, Todd, I would've loved to see the look on your face the first time you got your monthly. or the first time you had sex. You had sex with a dude! I still can't believe that!"

"I used to do this trick," I explained, "It's like, double-consciousness. I would imagine that I was Hal - Anne-Marie's husband - and you were Anne-Marie."

"That doesn't make sense."

"it was a psychological thing, to like, deal with the pleasure. I imagined the times we fucked, and substituted whatever pleasure I felt for pleasure I imagined I'd given you."

"Gee, that's real romantic, thanks stud," she said sarcastically. "How'd that work for you?"

"Surprisingly well. I had a couple badass orgasms, I tell you."

Alia glanced over at Bryan, who was just shaking his head. "Don't look at me, I stayed celibate the whole time out of respect for Ellie's purity. Believe me, I could've gotten to third with Leanne, probably after only a few weeks."

"Somehow, I'm skeptical." I shook my head.

"Well, okay. I mean, whatever I did with myself, that's my own business. I sure as hell won't tell you guys, because I know you'll just write it on the blog, and I think that might be illegal since I was 14 friggin' years old."

"True enough. I hope you did restrain yourself."

"Damn right I did."

Alia turned back to me, "So Todd, are you, like, worried about any lingering effects?"

"What do you mean, like I'll want to wear a bra around the house or something?"

"No," she laughed half-drunkenly at her own awkward question, "I mean, like, after having sex with Hal all those times. What if you don't like having sex with girls anymore?"

"Are you kidding me?! If anything I'll like it more now that I know how to be good at it. I don't wanna be anywhere near anyone else's dick, no offense sweetie."

"None taken."

"Of course, if you get back to Toronto next year and decide you dig girls, well, we'll deal with that when it happens."

"Uh huh. Sure. Don't count on it, buddy."

Around 1 AM, we started to get sleepy. There was a lot of awkwardness about sleeping arrangements. I could sense Alia trying to accommodate the 'whole she's a guy, I'm a guy, we're not really together' thing, but in the end I just cut the crap and said "Look, Alia, you know I love you, and we're both mature people here. I'm capable of sleeping in bed with you and not fixating on sex."

"I dunno," she said, leading me back to her room, "Can I trust you not to just whip it out? You've pulled that trick once or twice."

"Like I said," I told her, "I'm done with other guys' dicks. No offense."

She extended her hand - her big ole man-hand. "Friends?"

"Friends."

So we slept, fully clothed, in Rob's bed. And that's all that happened, pervs. Although, when I woke up, I guess we had started spooning at some point during the night, because my arm was trapped under her. Awkward.

Saturday, we invited Cliff to hang out with us as we went for lunch, movie, dinner, drinks. We were sitting on a patio, and she came up wearing short shorts and a camisole with a bag slung over her shoulder, the strap crossing between her boobs. From her last post, I'd expected her to arrive wearing baggy trousers and a large overcoat, but I guess she's turning toward the "girl clothes" thing by degrees, which is good.

I mean, I take it from my own experience - it's a constant tug of war, yes, between the way the world sees you and the way you want to see yourself. But you're not doing yourself any favours if you don't make the compromise, because there's not a whole lot you can do about the way your body looks. Unless you've got the time, energy and money to track down a whole wardrobe of more gender-neutral stuff, it's best to work with what you've been given. Anne-Marie had that kind of time and money, but I didn't feel it was mine to spend. Cliff clearly doesn't, until she finally gets herself a job she's living off savings.

Because the truth is, whether you're wearing jeans or a skirt, you still haven't got a penis, so nobody's going to look at you the way you want them to. I hated it, believe me, and it took months before I was secure enough with myself to put it out of mind. I don't expect Cliff to reach that conclusion any faster.

She's a nice person, but the change has really put her into an awkward frame of mind. She seemed shy, out of her element, awkward. Rigid. Not that I blame her. I felt my own personality being suppressed for months after the change and I hated it. I wanted to reassure her, tell her everything was going to be okay, but if someone had told me in September how I'd feel about womanhood in April, I wouldn't have wanted to hear it. So I just let her be.

I've called Cliff "her" and yet also called Alia "her." I was hanging out with this guy, Alia-in-Rob's-body all weekend but in the abstract I still think of her as a girl. I think it may just be because I know Alia so well, and see her personality emerging from behind Rob's face, whereas not only did I never really know Cliff, I didn't sense "him" letting "his" personality out much, so to me, Cliff is this shy girl, and Alia, despite her appearance, is still the girl I always knew, which is in a way quite reassuring.

So there's that. Bry told me later he was fighting off the urge to hit on Cliff the entire time. Nice.

We hit the road again Sunday but have yet to reach Toronto. We stopped off in Niagara Falls for the night/day. As soon as we were over the border, Bry kissed the ground.

Welcome home.

We'll be having dinner here, and then head home in time to go to bed tonight in our own beds. That's going to be weird. But in an awesome way.

We're only a few kilometers away from putting this entire experience behind us. And, I guess, our lives will be beginning again at last.

I'll get back to you soon as something happens
-Todd

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Greg: Perhaps I shouldve done more than just skim

Of course, even if I had read every post in this blog and learned of the TRUE nature of the Inn, would I have believed it? Or would I chalk it up to eccentric and elaborate fiction due to the "curse"? Is that what most readers out there think?



As you may have guessed by now, I, like almost every other regular poster here, have changed. And aslo like almost every other poster, I'm a woman (I wonder if there's any reason for that?). But not Just any woman. Today I woke up to the face of Priya Patel, who happens to be a very good friend of mine. She also happens to be the best friend of my fiancee.



I guess i dont need to fill you all in on the gory details. Im not sure how helpful i would be since I wasnt awake during my transfomation. It was basically go to bed as Greg, then wake up to screaming all around me.



The Inn has full length mirrors in all of its rooms, I dont know if thats intentional or coincidental. I dont know how others have described waking up as someone else,but heres my take. You KNOW something is off when you wake up. In my case, it was Priyas long black hair falling in my face, the fact that my arms and hands were now a completely different color, and the shifting of her breasts. But it doesnt really HIT you till you look in the mirror and see someone else's image doing the things your doing.

I guess my experience might be different than most of the other posters here, as I recognized that face in the mirror. Priya and I booked room 2 consecutively as part of an online 2 for 1 offer. She was supposed to check out and return to Chicago last saturday, but Amber (my fiancee) hadnt heard from her yet and was getting worried. Turns out, Priya did check out...just not as Priya.

To continue the story, the screamin led me into the hallway, still wearing an now over sized tshirt. (I had been wearing boxers,but they didnt stay up on my new frame, so i just went into the hall commando...no one noticed, all the important stuf was covered up).

In the hallway were a dozen or so very confused people. Housewives, children, old people, college students. People were screaming at each other and claiming to be other people, only to be told that no one else knew what was going on.

After about an hour, a black girl about 20 emerged from her room with a piece of paper. "Hey guys, check the closets! There's notes and luggage that helps explain it.

I ducked backed into the room and opened the closet. (I travel light and live out of my suitcase, so I didnt open the closet once). Inside were Priya's suitcases and an envelope containing the following note:

"Dear whoever,

If you can read this, that means your me. Apparnently this hotel causes you to change into the person who stayed here before you.

My name is Priya Patel and Im a teacher from Chicago, or rather, you are now. I currently look like an Emily David, and I apparently have to act like her, which means im in New Jersey right now doing whatever she does. And that means youre gonna have to go to Chicago to do what I do.
"

The note continued with details of Priya's life and contact information for her as emily.

This all happened sunday. Ive got a lot to sort out and do. Luckily i can stay at the Inn for another week.

Ill keep ya posted

-Greg

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Some warning would've been nice!!

I have been having a bitch of a day.

It began with blood. Enough to make me realize exactly where it was coming from. Fuck my life. Needless to say it took me by surprise. I've been Tori for a few weeks now, I guess I should have realized, but that was seriously the furthest thing from my imagination. Maybe I was expecting a little more warning beforehand, or maybe I didn't recognize the "signs" but either way - fuck!! I can't even bring myself write the word because it's so humiliating. So I fled to the washroom to find whatever I'm supposed to use, and stashed my laundry in the machine, and while I was freaking out, I got a phone call from one of the places I applied to work, a coffee shop.

I wanted to say "Are you kidding me? I can't leave the house like this!" but I guess that's not really an excuse, is it. They wanted me to interview today, and I'm not really in a place to say no. I had just over an hour to get myself ready and get down there, thanks to my tendency to sleep until 11 since being here.

So I rushed through a quick, gross shower, tried blow-drying my hair for a while before deciding it would dry naturally on the way over there, and tried to focus on dressing myself. When I first got here I separated Tori's clothes into things I would feel comfortable in (t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and jeans) and stuff I didn't want to touch (tight tops, things that revealed a lot of cleavage or bare skin, skirts, lacy underwear.) I went braless at first, then gave the bra a try and decided I liked it and maybe I wasn't giving too much of my manhood up if I wore one, especially if I was wearing a white top.

My point is, to look presentable I had to go through the second category. Not that I was baring cleavage, it was a white button-up blouse and a knee-length black skirt, because it was humid as hell out there, and pants would've kept me warm.

So I bit the bullet and went into a fully female costume for the first time.

It was... weird, walking around town, a purse slung over my arm, skirt flapping around my legs a little bit... I felt really, I dunno, out there. It was a pretty odd feeling, I don't know if I'll wear the skirts again if I can avoid it. But what was worse when I finally ended up at the place, my hair had frizzed out pretty bad. I guess humidity does that to Tori. I should have brought a hair tie or something. Maybe there's some kind of hair stuff I'm supposed to use? I'm clueless.

So with all this frantic stuff in mind - plus I hadn't eaten all day - my head was elsewhere through the interview, while she's asking me about Tori's experience waiting tables and doing hair, why "I'm" no longer a hairdresser, and I'm just all like "Oh you know, I made some decisions, it wasn't for me, I want to find something new" just really unconvincing. I sounded like someone who had gotten fired and wanted to cover for it (which is true - Tori had a bit of a falling out with her last boss, which puts me in an awkward place listing her as a reference on my resume.) I really don't think I got the job.

So by this point it's after 1 PM and I'm starving so I go to a sandwich place and order myself a nice big Philly Cheesesteak, and about halfway through I'm realizing how badly I overestimate Tori's stomach. I shouldn't be surprised, she's a pretty slight girl, but damnit I was enjoying that sandwich, I would've liked to finish it!

So while I'm sitting there, being mocked by this meaty bastard, I hear a buzzing sound in my purse. Tori's cell phone. I hate answering that phone but in this case it was important. It was my number.

I try to deepen my voice, to no avail. "Hello?"

"Hullo, is this John Clifford then?"

"Uh, yeah," I grunt in my most masculine way. I don't know why... I'd already written about my situation in my letter.

"I'da called you sooner but your phone was outta juice." I'd forgotten my charger before leaving for the trip. "Damn strange situation we find ourselves in, eh mate?"

I agree that it is and he starts telling my about himself. His name's Willy Taylor, originally from Birmingham, England (which explained the crazy accent he had on) but came to America to find work. I asked what he thought about temporarily living my life and he said he'd do his best. "You're in computers, yeah? That was my line at one point. I'm a bit of a renaissance man myself, I think I might be able to manage." That was a relief.

He assured me repeatedly that he intended to help me fix myself so we could go back the way things were. He laughed, saying "From the sounds of things you got hit a wee bit worse than I did." I grumbled at that. It's still not funny, and I don't like being pitied.

The way I see it, it shouldn't matter who you get transformed into... it's only right to want to go back, back to what you know, back to what's safe, right? Back to what's familiar.

Well. I was glad to get that settled, so there was some positivity today. The reality of someone else living my life has started to wash over me. I feel like I'm going to want to talk to him a lot.

So after I got off the phone with him, I wantered around town a little bit and called Alia to see if he wanted to hang out or something, but he was busy. I got home after 4 and the place was a bit of a mess, and Mae was lying on the couch eating yogurt. I looked at the place and groaned, knowing that for whatever reason I was gonna be the one asked to pick up the place. Hearing my groan, not knowing the Cliff-thoughts that were going behind it, Mae called me a bitch (or rather, told me "not to be a bitch") and I just shook my head and went back to my room.

Seriously though. FML.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Greg: Is anyone else bored?

So I found a flyer with a link to this blog on it, saying its an online guestbook and message board. Id imagine its been used for that at some point in its 3 year history, even tho the first posts read like a bunch of guys talking poker and lately its become a way for a couple to publicly air their relationship issues.

Anyway, my name is Greg Schmitt, and Im a 24 year old Hotel Manager from Chicago. I was supposed to be here with my fiance on a lover's weekend, but she just HAD to go into work at her job as a pharmacy. But the tickets were non refundable, we got them as a 2 for 1 booking on Travelocity. Her best friend stayed here the 2 weeks before me.

Anyway, like i said, im taken, but if anyone else staying at the inn wants to hang out, Im 24 and love baseball, drinking, and exploring new places. Im staying in Room 2 if anyone's interested.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Back off, world

Damnit will you people please stop talking about sex??

Look, I don't know how the rest of you are coping, but I want that idea as far away from me as I can get. I don't even like going out in form-fitting clothes because I know guys are looking at me, it's embarrassing and annoying and a lot of other things.

But look if I'm going to be telling you all my entire life story while I'm here there's something I guess you should know about me. I guess it's the reason why all this stuff has made me so comfortable.

I'm a virgin. Or I was a virgin? As Cliff, I'm a virgin and I guess I still am, but I'm assuming Tori has gone all the way. But that doesn't really count for me. So before the transformation I was a 27-year-old virgin male.

It wasn't by choice, believe me. The first girl I ever "dated" was long distance, from age 16-17, nearly 2 years, and then we broke it off when I found out she wasn't really serious about it. It hurt. A couple years later, when I was in college, I met a girl. She had a fairly religious upbringing and wanted to save herself, and I respected that. I dated her for four and a half years and we never did anything serious. I never felt bad about it until she broke up with me, and I haven't seen anyone seriously since then. Three years. Nothing.

The first naked girl I ever saw in person was my own self in a mirror. How do you think that made me feel, huh?

I mean, listen. I don't obsess about it. I do try to meet girls and it's just never worked out, but with all that has happened... my penis taken away from me before I ever got a chance to use it... like I wasted 27 years of maleness just to be re-assigned to a new life where it's not even an option. Sex? No thank you. I'll just go be a priest or a nun or something.

Right now I'm just sitting on my butt waiting to hear back from some of those jobs I've applied to. Some of them are pretty crappy but I need to get out of this house. Mostly I'm either on the internet reading this blog, or trying to make sense of Tori's social life through Facebook, or sitting on the porch reading.

While "mom" and "dad" are out of the house, and Mae (Leah Mae, to be exact) is usually off with her friends, I'm trying to be a nice person and keep busy by keeping the place tidy and doing other chores... although I have to wait until somebody asks because I feel awkward about taking the liberty like that.

So it's not like I've got a lot else to think about. I spent a long time trying to convince myself that sex isn't the most important thing in the world. The idea never really took hold.

Ughhh I need a job!

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Todd: Mama told me not to come

Anne-Marie and Ellie stopped by on Friday.

They're back to normal. At least, she certainly seemed normal, although perhaps if something went awry she may have been covering up, and part of me is concerned that is the case, but from all appearances her transformation went on without a hitch. I never met Deb, so seeing Anne-Marie in that body was as close as I've gotten to an "out-of-body experience" in this entire ordeal. Meeting the woman whose body I'd occupied for nearly a year. I mean, obviously I'd met her, but meeting her in her own skin feels like something new.

While Bry and I are squatting at Julia and Kalli's quarters, Anne-Marie and Ellie are going back to their proper homes. So they came by and confirmed for us that everything was okay. Anne-Marie was set to deliver some kind of heartfelt speech about how much she appreciated what I had done for her, and I told her it wasn't necessary. Any ethical person would've done the same (or better) and I'd be lying if I said I didn't get anything out of the experience. A nice house, a good life, a look at family life from a different perspective. There were times, after I became comfortable with womanhood, when I wondered whether Donna was right and I was meant to stay. But I knew I wasn't. And as much as I enjoyed my time, I was glad to leave.

Ellie said nothing. She had this very cold look on her face, like she was being punished. I can understand why she might have some bitter feelings about the entire situation. She had a taste of independence and now will have to wait a few more years before she can get back to where Kalli was. I hope she appreciates what a good life she has, though.

She might also still be annoyed with Bry for the lesbian thing, but, well, he's only human.

When I spoke to Alia about Donna, she was very understanding. I think I was hoping, a little bit, for her to be furious with me. I felt like I needed someone to tell me what an asshole I was. But she left me off the hook, maybe understanding that it had been so long since I'd had a penis to use, the urge was ... too much to ignore. Maybe because she believed I was punishing her for Sean Flaherty, but that's nobody's fault, it was a no-win situation. Now we all know what the score is.

(I just realized I've called her "she" in this blog repeatedly. Inaccurate as that may be, I don't really feel comfortable saying "he" for her.)

I don't know if she's going to be doing anything, you know, with her new set of privates this year. I'm sure she doesn't plan on it, but neither did I, and sometimes you get caught up in another person's life, that becomes part of the role you play. I told her she'd be crazy not to try it at least once. She said "Haha Todd. Just because you only ever thought with your penis doesn't mean I'm gonna think with mine." I told her, "We'll see." So long as she doesn't go falling in love, staying as Rob, I give her free reign. She's not really my girlfriend right now, is she? Well, I plan on abstaining this year, but like I said, I think she'd be crazy to.

But again, as she said, she's got more important matters to think of than who she's buggering. Right now, I guess I don't. When I get back to Toronto, I've got to start rebuilding my life, trying to account for the year I lost and finding a new direction. I guess some of that might be of interest to the readers of this blog, but if you don't hear much from me, it's because my life will have, finally, thankfully, gotten boring to talk about.

Then again, I anticipate meeting the new Alia will be... well, interesting, and horrifying, on certain levels. So I'll check in on that. I don't know whether she's spoken to my Alia yet, but if so she hasn't told me.

Bry and I haven't decided whether or not to stick around and meet the new Julia and Kalli. It could be useful to make more connections with other victims, but we're both starting to feel that wanderlust. We're thinking of hitting a few other cities before we head for home - Philadelphia, of course, and probably NYC on the way.

Personally, I can't wait to get on the road again.

-Todd

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Alia/Rob: Sexx Laws

Judging by the fact that he was the entire reason I went to Maine - no simple feat from Toronto, quite honestly - you can assume how important Todd is to me. Not just as a boyfriend, as someone I loved spending time with, but as an influence on the person I am. As many times as he has hurt me over the years, I will never want to rid my life of him, I think, because a lot about the person I became when I branched out on my own was thanks to him.

I've talked a bit about this before the transformation. In our first year of University, I was struggling against my perception of myself... I had always been a shy, quiet, well-behaved smart girl. Certain things are expected of a girl of my upbringing, not that my parents are, like, millionaires, but they were well off and I did well in school. So I didn't party in high school, I didn't drink, my friends and I mainly got together on Saturday nights to watch movies and play board games. I was also quite sheltered - stuck in a comfort zone, and I hated it.

Todd was the one who broke down that sheltered and made it a point to show me how to have fun. I didn't understand what he liked about me, until I realized he really wanted to date someone smarter then himself, and maybe I could influence him as much as he did me. And I think I did, although I was really very disappointed when he dropped out. I think he regrets that, and I hope when he gets back to Toronto he does something about it

So, whereas I didn't know much about music and movies before Todd, he's shown me a lot of interesting things. So I titled this entry after a Beck song, because he's an artist Todd and I both always enjoyed, and because, well, it fits. I've got some serious shit to sort out. And I'm not even talking about Rob's situation.

Before Todd wrote up this entry, we talked on MSN a while, and he told me exactly what had happened. He conveyed, as best as an MSN convo can, a great sense of guilt and remorse about what had happened between him and Donna.

It's always been complicated, between Todd and I... and certainly not being helped by our current situations.

Well, after a lot of frustrated temple-rubbing, I forgave the bastard. I feel like such a stupid girl for standing by the guy after something like that, like one of those politicians' wives who stand in the background while they give a press conference about all the prostitutes they've had sex with. Sometimes, I really hate myself for loving that guy.

I guess we just both... understand something about the situation. We were barely on speaking terms before he left for the States, and after "he" got back, we definitely weren't boyfriend and girlfriend, and I'm still angry about being made to believe that person was my Todd, because I was so unbelievably mad at him for ignoring me the way he did - like all "he" really wanted was to be my friend, and he tried at that but my feelings for him never went away. Putting that year out of my mind is going to be very hard.

So I slept with other guys, I did. I'll admit it. I slutted around for a little while, I'm not proud of it. It was my pathetic attempt at revenge but it turns out the only people I was hurting were myself, and a man who didn't deserve it (Todd, when I finally told him.) So I accepted the Donna thing as punishment, even though he claims not to have enjoyed it.

Part of me wants to be with him again. Part of me wants to drop everything in Philadelphia and run back to Toronto with him, but I know I can't do that. I've been given responsibilities here, and I don't want to fuck Roberto's life up too badly, if I can get out of it. Besides, as open-minded as Todd is, I think he's been given enough male attention lately. I know he probably seemed very bold about the whole thing on here, but when he opened up to me about it, it seemed very painful for him to recall. I can't be with him like this.

So I've made a decision. We've made a decision. This year doesn't count. Nor does last year. We'll find our way back to each other as soon as we can, but until then, we've got to live our lives and not worry about sexual politics. I still don't know if I'm going to do anything... or who I would want to do it with... I'm kind of just thinking of keeping my head down and living like a monk this year. And maybe he'll do the same. But whether that actually happens or not, we both know that we belong together, and when this is all over, we will be.

Besides, I've got bigger problems right now than who I, or anyone else, is fucking.

So that's it. The gist of it all is: we're not together, not right now, so we shouldn't act like we are, or feel guilty about anything we end up doing.

......I really hope this doesn't blow up in our faces. I'm feeling like an idiot for even typing it.

Well, here goes nothing.

-Alia

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alia/Rob: The Walking Tour of Philadelphia and Rob Garcia's Life

Philly looks considerably different from what I've seen of it in Rocky and the opening of Fresh Prince. It's a pretty nice city, although not without its slums. I don't begrudge a city its slums. I hate what they represent... I tend to fear the people who live there... but I don't think they ruin cities. Maybe because I grew up in a Toronto suburb that is renowned for its wealth, I have a bit of detachment from the subject. I just think the visual is... appealing, on a certain level. They add character to a city brimming with life.

It's a nice town. Lots of character. A ton of history, obviously. I've spent a lot of this week just kind of floating around, looking like a tourist, trying not to get lost, observing the city. Taking it all in. My temporary home. Probably a lot more impressive than the bland suburban hell Todd described me. He'd never lived in suburbia before.

Naturally I can't compare this city favorably to Toronto. I love that city. I think it's a bit underrated by the world, although maybe somewhat overrated by some of its citizens. I'm not much of a hockey fan but it'll feel very familiar when the season starts up again. Actually, it won't, because Penguin fans are a lot more accustomed to winning than Leafs fans (although they always seem so disappointed. There's nothing like Canadians, I tell you.)

This is going to sound stupid, but I've been making a conscious effort to de-feminize. I don't want to say I'm "embracing" manhood (or at least, stereotypical maleness) at this point as much as being realistic. The transformation didn't immediately alter the way I walk or talk or think. I feel self-conscious behaving like a girl in this thick, hairy body. So I want to act the part a little bit. Be a bit of a slouch. Take big manly steps. Keep my hands in my pockets. Hah! Pockets. Not that I didn't own anything with pockets but my God these pants are roomy. And I can understand why.

I'm swinging some lumber here. Ladies... (jk.)

In seriousness though, the walking around has gotten me a bit acclimated not only to Philadelphia, but being seen in public as Rob. I keep trying to refrain from looking at females too long because they'll probably think I'm checking them out, but I haven't managed to let my reflexes catch up with me in that way just yet. Nobody thinks much of a girl casting glances another girl's way, if she's pretty or well-dressed, but looking like I do, it's creepy and I know it.

I keep trying to get Cliff out, but she's still really bummed. And I understand, to some degree - hey, man, we're all going through some really weird stuff right now - but it's only practical. She's acknowledged she can't hide in her room for a whole year.

Oh yeah, guys, shaving still annoys me. Plus, make one little crack and suddenly people go "Hey what's the big deal?" I've read enough of this blog to see ex-boys complain plenty about stuff I dealt with every day of my life without much of a thought. (Boys feel bad about waking up one morning with boobs? Try waiting for them to slowly, painfully grow in. Moving on.) I don't mean to be a bitch, but can I at least have this one complaint? It's still weird for me, so far.

Anyway, I'm getting all of this exploration out of the way, because my freedom is on a timer. In September I'll have to go do Rob's job, which feels like one of the surprisingly daunting side-effects of this transformation. Doing somebody else's job. It feels like the set-up for a bad reality show. Cliff? Luckily unemployed, albeit underqualified for stuff. Todd, as Anne-Marie was a housewfie, which is a different kind of job. Bry? Got to go to school all day! Me? I've gotta be the teacher. Figures. I always was the responsible one out of us three. (No offense, guys, but you know you would agree.)

Teacher. Surprisingly - and luckily - I'm not teaching Spanish. The Mexican guy is actually allowed to teach other subjects. Rob is teaching English and History. History, particularly American history, I'm not so good at. English? I was an English major. I have my BA in it and I was in the middle of post-grad studies. I've TA'd a few times, I know how to run a class... sort of. Okay sure, the situation is quite different but the idea is the same... right?

Well damn, this isn't the place for self-doubt. I can do this. I've got to.

Well, hopefully I'll believe in myself by the time I have to start inspiring young minds.

-Alia

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Todd: The Whole Truth

A couple of days ago, I paid a visit to Donna. You guys remember Donna, right? Slightly older than Anne-Marie, married with a few kids, vehemently opposed to me getting my body back? That Donna.

To say it was weird arriving in that neighbourhood, that's an understatement. Imagine going back to a place you lived when you were a kid, and seeing everyone you knew, all the houses you were familiar with completely the same, the memories of afternoons spent by the pool still fresh in your mind... but you're a stranger. Not enough time has passed that you can say "this place has changed so much," like when you come back as an adult. I didn't expect it to bother me that much. I didn't realize how attached I'd become to that little neighbourhood... at the time I thought of it more like a quiet, lonely prison, albeit a colourful one.

So I walk up to Donna's door and ring the bell. She answers, dressed in shorts and a pink top with spaghetti straps. No bra. She looks at me for a moment, trying to place my face, and asks, "Can I help you?"

I bite my lip a moment and grumble. "Donna, it's me. It's Todd." I tried to give her a very stern glare.

"Todd. From... Maine?"

"That's right."

She takes a deep breath and sighs. I take it to mean she's disappointed about something - whether the fact that I actually went and transformed, or something about my physical appearance, I have no idea. She invites me in and offers iced tea, which I decline politely.

"I was just thinking about going for a swim. Did you bring trunks?" No. "You can borrow some of Andrew's if you like." Andrew, her husband, who was in the city at the time, and on whom she'd planned to cheat with me. No thanks. "Well you can just swim in that, I'm sure it''ll be fine." I was wearing khaki shorts. Again, I declined, I wasn't interested in a swim, although it was a warm day. I didn't consider this a social call. "Suit yourself." She goes upstairs to change.

When she came back down, she was wearing a bikini, showing off those surprisingly tight abs of hers, and I've helped myself to some iced tea anyhow. She leads me to the backyard. "If you just want to come sit outside a while, I hope you won't be too bored while I swim." All I wanted was to get down to business but she seemed to delight in dragging it out. I sat on a reclining chair and she did a few dives and laps.

it wasn't that long ago that Donna and I had a really nice moment by the pool in Anne-Marie's backyard. Beneath the surface between us there's always been some kind of tension I didn't really understand, regarding my intention to become myself again. But on that day we were able to put it aside and be quite friendly.

At this point, she's making a point to be sexy for my benefit, working her curves by the poolside. I tried to resist looking, because I've been feeling a lot of guilt about the whole Alia thing. I really wanted to make a fresh start and go home and be with her, but I knew that was not possible. Not yet anyway.

Eventually she gets out of the pool and towels off. Finally I ask her.

"Donna, why didn't you want me to go back to Maine? Does it have something to do with the person you used to be?"

She sits up next to me and gets this faraway look in her eye.

"It was 1981. I still remember the shock of waking up that morning and being changed, but it didn't hit me as hard as some other people. There were a lot of girls there, running around in a panic begging for answers. I remember feeling very calm, I had this... this feeling that everything was going to turn out okay, even though I didn't know what the hell was going on. I said there were a lot of girls, because the people we'd turned into were from a girl's high school, they were the junior debate team. Ages 14-16. I was 14."

"You were 14 afterward, what were you before?" I asked. She ignored me, stood, and led me inside to the kitchen.

"I found this one girl, sitting, crying. Understandably confused. She told me her name was Tyler, and she was 11 years old, and she didn't understand what was going on. I told her it was magic, that we'd been given a gift. She said she didn't want it. All she wanted was her parents, but all she had were two other girls claiming they were her parents. I told her to stay with me and I'd help her."

Ï wanted to object to this part of the story, tell her it was wrong to encourage that person to ignore her parents, but I guess, being under stress like that, it's hard to say what's right and wrong to do. So I let her continue.

"Tyler's parents became 16-year-olds. Tyler and I became 14. The people who became the supervisors tried to gather us all together according to who we said we were, but it didn't matter in the long run. Tyler - Stephanie, now - didn't get to see her parents much after that, after we got back to our new home. She had new parents, a new life. One of the parents had to move away. I think I heard the other eventually went back to Maine, and then who knows what became of her. I was there for Stephanie, though. I was there to be her friend. We never spoke much about who we'd been, we agreed to just continue living our lives. I figured, what was the difference for her, she was 11, she hadn't had much of a life, and after a while I don't think she remembered much about being a boy. We didn't obsess about getting our lives back, Todd, because neither of us wanted them back. We weren't those people anymore."

My heart felt heavy. I felt really bad for this boy whose life was altered beyond recognition, and who didn't even seem to understand the gravity of what had happened. He lost three of the most crucial years of youth when you really start to learn what you are about. I can only imagine how humiliating those first years after the change had been.

Donna continued. "Steph moved away for college, and I stayed around here. We lost touch over the years. I missed her, because even though I'd been surrounded by girls who had gone through the same thing at school, she was the only one who mattered to me. She was my maid of honor, but like everything else, she drifted away from me. I miss her, Todd. I didn't realize it until you came into my life."

"I'm sorry to hear that..."

"I've been a woman my entire life, Todd. Stephanie, by now, probably barely remembers anything else. I want to know about you. How much pain did you feel when your body was taken away from you? How many lonely nights did you spend fearing you would never have it back? How much suffering could've been undone by letting it go?"

I don't answer.

"How guilty did you feel... when you let Hal inside of you for the first time? And how much did you hate that you liked it?"

Again, I say nothing. She begins to undo her bikini top.

"You're a very brave man for going back, no matter what I said. For facing that year of torture and taking control of your life again. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, Todd. I want to help you. Don't you want to feel like a man again?" She stepped closer, her bare breasts glistening in the afternoon sunlight coming in through the kitchen window. She whispered, "There's nobody else here. I want to help you." She came in close and kissed me, and as much as I wanted to resist, as much as I wanted to step away, I didn't. I don't know. I was feeling very caught up in the moment. It's been so long since I had a penis, I forgot how hard it is to resist when something gets you going.

Come to think of it, I think she may have spiked the Iced Tea, but that's neither here nor there.

I throw myself on the mercy of the blog. I'm no saint. I feel like an asshole. I've been a man for only a couple weeks, I've been dying every time I see an attractive woman, knowing my girl is a 30-year-old dude. I'm only human.

So I slept with her. Fuck. I feel ashamed of myself for typing it, for falling prey to her whims, because I said I wouldn't, I just didn't anticipate how easily I could be persuaded. I guess, not really feeling much attraction to her when I was a woman (not feeling much attraction to anybody) made me underestimate what a powerful tool attraction is. Plus, having a new understanding of the terrain gave me a lot of new material (Alia, you'd better be looking forward to your return, because if I take nothing else out of this experience it's that.) Not to go into too much depth, every time I touched her, I had, like, a sense-memory of my times as Anne-Marie, and it was... a very intense experience.

When we finished, she breathlessly intoned to me, "You have no idea how long I've waited for something like that. Andrew isn't very interested in me anymore. I think he may be off women, but he keeps me around for his image." How romantic.

"I hate to tell you, Todd, because I know as soon as I tell you about myself you'll be gone. You'll have everything you want from me, you'll have no reason to return. But fair's fair. I'll give you what you really want to know, for your little internet website thing. Don't say you didn't get anything out of this." She rolls over and slips on a kimono, sitting on the edge of the bed, head turned to face me.

"I wasn't much younger than I am now. I was 39 years old the first time I went to that Inn. And I had nobody. I had nothing to my name in the whole world. Maybe you know something about loneliness, it does strange things to you. My mother was... ill, and I spent so much of my life looking after her that when she finally died, I didn't know what to do with myself. My best years were gone, my family was virtually nonexistent... no siblings, aunts and uncles turned their backs on me, dad nowhere to be found. Just me alone, burying my mother, and left by myself in the house where she raised me. I'm not saying what I did was right, but I didn't know what else to do. I was broke and I never wanted to see the house again." She had a haunted quiver in her voice as she continued.

"So I burned it. I let it burn to the ground and I went to Maine to hide, to gather myself up, to figure out my next move. Believe me, as soon as it was done, I snapped out of it, I wondered what I had done, I was horrified with myself. But what was done was done, and I had to decide how to proceed. And then I was given a gift, Todd. I was given a new body, a new life, right in my hour of need. As far as I was concerned, it wasn't random, it was release. I was set free from the burdens of my old life and given a clean slate. That's why I didn't want you to go back, Todd, because I thought... I just thought it was a miracle, what happens there. I guess you know better."

By this point, I'm fed up and ready to leave. I start dressing. "Yeah. Not a miracle, Donna. Peoples' lives get deeply and often irreversibly ruined because of that Inn. Did you ever think about the woman who was probably in prison for arson because of what you did? Where's her miracle, Donna?"

Before she could answer, I said "Fuck it" and was gone.

So there it is, Donna's story. I never even got to hear her real name, but I don't suppose it matters. If I ever felt like I would regret not staying as Anne-Marie, not giving in and living that life, I think those feelings are completely gone. It's a bit of a relief to know she was always a psycho even before the inn.

I'm just worried now that I've, like... destabilized her. She knows about the Inn and it doesn't seem like she cares much about other peoples' well-being. I hope she doesn't do something crazy someday.

Well, I can worry about it, but... I guess it's out of my hands. Time to move on.

-Todd

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cliff/Tori: The next steps

I've been hiding out this week. I feel like if I don't go out, don't leave this room, don't move, don't be seen, it isn't really real. As if I can just shut my eyes and won't feel female anymore. I haven't even felt like writing about it because that means facing it. But I can't avoid it, can I? I'm in this for the long haul.

I don't know anybody here, I don't have anything to do, I'm trapped. Hiding turned out to be the worst thing. I'm stuck in Tori's room, going through her things.

I guess she'd been through kind of an... upheaval in her life. She's 22, she was working as a hair stylist, but was fired from her salon. Unable to find a new job and running low on money, she moved back in with her parents. There are still a ton of moving boxes around here. I've looked through them for some clue as to who this girl is that I'm supposed to be. One box was full of old magazines. Vogue, Seventeen, that sort of thing. I feel like, if I flipped through them, I'd get some clue as to how to be Tori, but... I don't know. It doesn't interest me. Being a girl doesn't interest me, reading about hair and make-up and clothes definitely doesn't interest me.

Back on topic. Tori had packed up her life and moved in with her parents, and somehow met Roberto. I think her plan was to shack up with him after Maine, even though they hadn't known each other long. He must've seemed like a pretty stable guy, from what I've heard from Alia.

Yeah, I'm keeping in contact with Alia. She....... He was good enough to forgive me for making a pass at her when we first met. I feel really dumb about that. It really wasn't even my usual technique. I'm not that guy. Well, I'm not any guy right now. (God that was lame, I can't even laugh about this yet.)

So I've been sulking around the house all week, and Tori's mom and dad have kind of kept their distance, but I feel like they don't like it. I don't blame them I guess. As far as they can tell, their daughter seems like she's just given up on life, no drive to regain her job or even leave the house, or even speak to them. I've made small talk here and there, they're nice people, but I have yet to attempt a real conversation about this... arrangement. Like I said, I'm hiding, from them in particular.

Tori has two siblings. An older brother, Ken, who is obviously out of the house, and a younger sister, Mae, who is turning 16, and of course, lives here. I don't think she cares for Tori being back. So I've gotten the stinkeye from her at the dinner table too. I eat mostly in my room.

I don't know what to do. I've got to find something to do with myself. If I just sit here in this dim, box-filled room watching Seinfeld re-runs I'm going to go crazy (as if I haven't already.)

So right now my plan is to get out and find a job. I guess, you know, not a career or anything, just something I can do to earn some money while I'm here, to get me out of the house and keep my mind occupied. I don't care if I have to flip burgers or pour coffee or what. I'm a relatively smart, experienced man in a pretty good-looking girl's body. Someone's gotta want me.

But damn... where to start?

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Alia/Rob: Help yourself.

As you know by now, we were only at the Inn for about a day after the transformation. It was a harrowing day and I'm still not totally settled from it. This is all so new, being in a strange town away from familiar faces and sights. Being in a strange body with parts I'm not familiar with...

Well, I'm familiar with the parts, but not from this angle. Having a penis is a very... novel feeling. I don't want to say "overrated" because a lot of women have this idea that peeing standing up would be so cool, but I still sit, basically on instinct. And I could use more control over erections, but I'm hoping that will come in time because I don't hear too many men complaining about it past puberty.

And shaving. God, that's going to be lame, but necessary.

Well by the end of that first day, people were still confused and scared, and irritated with George and Jan for attempting to provide answers but not being able to answer everything. I was very lucky I had Todd to help me through it. The person I really feel bad for is Cliff.

I don't know how much influence the Inn has in how it transforms people. If what Todd was telling me is true, it's based on physical location. There must be more to it than that - when does the "transformation" begin? When does one body officially become another, and where is that "data" stored? - but it's the most sensible answer. So the randomness, or lack of randomness, yields some very daunting results. Men become women, lovers become siblings, people age or change race, or get geographically scattered. Strangers become companions...

What Cliff didn't tell you is that Tori, the woman he became, was at the Inn with Rob. They're both from Philly, they were lovers, although why they had two rooms not one, I can only guess. Maybe it was a booking issue. Maybe Tori needed her privacy.

It was my job to drive her back to Philly, to drop her with her new family. As overwhelmed as I was by the whole experience, Cliff took it far harder. She kept talking about that first time we met, before the change, when I asked to switch rooms and he (at the time "he,") tried to use it to get sex.

Not the best first impression.

But I felt bad for him after the change. I can tell he's not really the frat boy type, he was trying to put on an act because his friends make it work. Ironically, I suppose, you find out who someone really is after they become someone else.

The entire ride, which lasted about 9 hours with stops, she obsessed over that first conversation. If it works the way Todd said, if Cliff gave me the room that first night, we'd both have our proper parts and could deal with it from there. I'd be Tori and Cliff would be Rob. That's true, sure (probably) but how could he have known? How could anyone? Yeah, it was obnoxious, but it's not like he was obligated to give me the room. All I wanted was a damn ocean view.

So I dropped her off, leaving my contact information so that we can help each other as best we can. I've just been hanging around Rob's place for the last few days, trying to get the feel for it. I've tidied up a bit, trying to take some ownership of it. It's a bit of a sty. Clothes all over the place, a rank "lived-in" smell I hope I'll get used to. Eating his food, a lot of which went bad over his extended vacation. Reading old blog entries.

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this "Todd/Anne-Marie" thing. Reading his old posts, it sounds so much like him, so much more than he did when I thought Deb was him. I feel like an idiot for not seeing it, but there's the curse of the Inn to blame for that.

Overwhelming really is the word. I want to struggle, I want to be safe and familiar and sane, but there's no way that can happen so for now I've got to go with the flow.

Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with myself. Rob's a high school teacher, which means I've got nearly 2 months to myself.

Well, I helped myself to some of his beer. That'll help pass time...

-Alia

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Ashlyn: Is this all my fault?

Damn.

I didn’t think anything would come of it. It seemed so harmless--but I should have known better. I've been dealing with "my secret admirer" - the man/woman/demon, for all I know, that we've taken to calling Pygmalion - for longer than any of the rest. Not always wisely—obviously--but I've seen enough to know better. But I also accepted my new life much earlier than everyone I know in the same situation (except maybe Jessica), and being Ashlyn is something I'm invested in, in all its details.

Art's a sweetie - she called me today, as soon as her interview with the police was over, to warn me. She figured it was a long shot, but if something had happened to one person who's been to the Inn, and another was falsely implicated, she figured it could involve all of us, or at least more than her and Liz.

She didn't know how right she was. It involved at least one more. It involved me.

A year and a half ago, Pygmalion sent me a DVD which was basically a sex tape. It scared the hell out of me at the time, but after a few days, I realized that was silly. So the original Ashlyn had made a sex tape. Big deal. I knew she'd been promiscuous, and it wasn't any big secret from the rest of the world. So what if Matt found out? It was from at least a year and a half earlier.

Of course, I didn't figure the man was anybody important. It turns out he was. Nobody I'd recognize, me being from Texas and the guy not being very well-known outside of Providence. Maybe not even inside Providence, but he's married to money and not interested in his infidelities becoming well known. So that's hanging over my head for a year when I get another letter, asking me to do one little thing: Just get "Penny" and Ray into a social situation every now and again.

What's the harm in that? Art would probably appreciate it, even though she would never do it herself.

If I'd known it was going as far as it did, I would have told Art what I'd done, especially since I'd seen how on edge Liz has been. But nothing seemed to have come of it. I was waiting for another letter, since this bit of manipulation didn't seem to accomplish anything. But...

I'm worried. Pygmalion, as far as we can tell, works by influence, setting things up in ways that are nearly untraceable. Was I the first step in some sort of Rube Goldberg device that ended with Liz killing Ray in a jealous rage?

I hope not. But that's the way it looks.

-Lyn

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Todd: Return to Connecticut.

Now, this feels weird. The rest of Friday was, as you can imagine, quite hectic, explaining everything to Alia and then to that Cliff guy... or should I say Tori? Listen man, I feel your pain, but the physical thing really isn't that big a deal after a while. Living someone else's life can be stressful, but at least from what you told me, you're not expected to be married to anyone.

That was a drag.

But, well, I'm a free man again, I guess. I'm still incredibly bummed out about Alia being a man. I was really excited about getting back to the guy side of the guy-girl equation. I don't want to confuse the issue too much, but I was only interested in men as long as I had a vagina.

That said, it's been an awkward few days. There were some pretty girls kicking around Maine before we left but I was in too much shock to notice them, and I felt bad for those at the inn, like Cliff. She's a bit of a knockout, a small, thin thing. Petite. I'm sorry for saying so, but she's going to have to deal with it.

Being male again is just... a shocking experience. It's a little like losing a sense - going deaf or hard of smelling. I feel like part of the way I perceived the world for the past year had to do with my female anatomy and it's just... gone. Maybe female intuition is a real thing, or maybe this had nothing to do with it. At the same time, I feel like my body is coursing with power, with energy. Just from being tall and having thicker muscles.

George and Jan eventually found me and Bryan and invited me to help explain as best we could. I told him I'd rather not, but I'd come by for the support. They'd remained a couple - this time both white, this time George the woman and Jan the male. Not young, but certainly not as old as they were originally, so I guess their journey continues.

So Bry, Alia and I stood awkwardly in back while these two explained to the remaining crowd of 8 or so confused, scared people what had happened and how to proceed. The problem with explaining things is that people thing you had something to do with it, and they think you have all the answers. George has clearly been around a lot, but there are things nobody knows. (How or why the Inn does what it does, for starters, would be a big one.) The crowd got restless and dispersed still somewhat confused and now bitter about the whole ordeal. I felt bad for them.

I spent the rest of the day talking to Alia. god, it was weird, looking at that guy and trying to talk to him like he was the girl I've always known. But he humoured me, did his best not to make it too awkward (oh yes Alia sweetheart, I'm labeling you a "he" from now on.) I asked him if he was one of those women who curses their anatomy every so often and thought having a penis would be convenient.

He sighed and said that sometimes, sure, a lot of women feel that way, but rarely do they make it a legitimate desire. Women - I know firsthand - are often very in tune with their bodies. Lord knows they're all unique enough, and there's a lot going on that men (who have never been woman) simply don't understand. He continued to marvel at the notion I had lived for a year as a woman, impressed I had come through it alive and hoped I had learned.

I said I had, but more about growing up than, say, having a vagina. I might've learned the same lesson had I become Hal. Only then I'd have had to be a dentist. Hrm.

I told him not to give up, that it was surprisingly easy to "become" someone else, if you're left to your own devices a lot of the time. He said that still didn't sound appealing and I don't blame him. But he knows, from seeing me, how possible it is to come back, and we're counting on it.

He got this embarrassed look on his face. "Todd, I've slept with Sean Flaherty a few times over the last year. It started out as a ploy for your attention, but I guess... obviously it didn't work. I know we're not going to be together, not for a while, but if you meet someone, feel free to..."

I said, "God, Allie, no! You only banged Sean because you didn't know it wasn't me! I only banged Hal because I felt obligated to..."

"Please don't say 'banged.'"

"Whatever. My point is, if I do anything now, it'd be like cheating."

"That never stopped you before."

"Well, I'm... a new man." I declared boldly. That made him chuckle. Really it was more of a giggle, which was a tad unnerving.

"Todd, I can't say I'll make the same promise, I mean, while I'm Roberto. I just... I don't want you to miss out on stuff because of me. You haven't had a penis in a year!"

I didn't tell him this, but, I guess there's only one way to deal with that. See, I'm back in Connecticut today (checkout was Saturday) staying at "Julia" and "Kalli's" apartment while they return to Maine, because I still think I may be able to close up this Donna chapter, maybe without even doing anything serious with her.

But I guess I'm prepared to do that, too... I really don't intend to do anything with anyone else when we get back to Toronto, but Alia was right... I haven't been able to use my own penis is such a long time. It's pretty tempting.

I don't know how I'm gonna handle that yet, but, I'm sure I'll figure something out.

So, we parted ways on Saturday, leaving behind all the frilly underthings and purses and make-up that vexed us oh so long when we were ladies. Bryan folded up those little Ellie clothes and laughed. "holy shit dude - I was wearing this little thing two days ago?" It's been quite a ride. We also said goodbye to George and Jan, who appeared to inherit a pair of twin girls. There'd been a bickering couple kicking around the Inn for the last few days, and though I didn't ask, if I had guess from the way they interacted with each other I'd say this was them, which I guess is unfortunate... but then again this isn't exactly the lottery for anyone else.

So since there's nothing immediately waiting for me in Toronto, Bry and I are just kicking it in Connecticut for a while, then we might make a few more rounds. It's been a while since I looked in on Darren/Jaime, so we might do New York a little later, and then of course, Philly, to see "Rob" before heading back up north.

I'll keep you posted.
-Todd

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Art/Penny: Something is very much not right.

I know I've done wrong by Liz, but never in a million years would I do what the police seemed to be suggesting today. I know they were mostly trying to put a scare into me, maybe get me to shake something loose that maybe isn't even self-incriminating, but perhaps something that I didn't even know I knew, but, man, the implications of what they were suggesting.

Remember how I mentioned last week that Liz and Ray eloped? It appears that they never made it to Vegas. Nobody knew this, however - their families put in a call to the Cambridge P.D. when the pair didn't come back on the day their note said they would, after conducting their own little amateur investigation. Liz had apparently allowed her parents to use her Expedia account on the rare times they traveled, so that they could rack up some sort of rewards points faster, and they checked it out to see that Liz had booked a trip to Vegas. When they called the hotel, though, they were told that Liz and Ray had never checked in. That's when they called the police, who found out that they'd never gotten on the plane.

At least, that's what I think was the case. The detectives might have been fudging the details, trying to catch me in a lie. I'm apparently some sort of prime suspect, because the neighbors reported that Liz and Ray had been fighting about a woman in the days leading up to their disappearance, and someone (Zoey, I'll bet) gave them my name. Normally, they say, it's not a jealous girlfriend they suspect in cases like this, but looking at you...

I stop them there, asking what they mean by "cases like this". That's when they start the "you must have some idea, Ms. Lincoln. There was blood found in their apartment..."

As you might imagine, this was the point where I started getting scared, and by "scared" I mean "terrified". I'm innocent, of course, but I must have started behaving like a guilty person. I started wondering, had I acted like I knew the layout of Liz's and Ray's apartment, even though I told them I'd never been in there? Was I too familiar with other details of their lives in a way that would point suspicion at me? Will they dig up things like intimidating "Arthur Milligan" or two times Penelope Lincoln had disappeared off the face of the Earth without adequate information or tossing away a promising career in television to move cross-country to take a decidedly less glamorous job?

I probably did a really shitty job live-blogging and reporting on the game tonight, which might not have been noticed except that people are going to want to read about Nomar Garciaparra's return in the papers tomorrow. Heck, I was excited about this one, since the A's were my hometown team two lifetimes ago. But, instead, I'm generating scenarios in my head about how I could wind up in jail because of this. There are times when it really doesn't pay to be a writer, especially one who's been trying to plot crimes interesting enough to read about for the last couple years: My mind has been going crazy coming up with this stuff, including a hellishly circular bit where the very fact that I've been researching crime makes me more of a suspect.

I'm probably worrying too much, I know - even with the blood, two adults who had been planning a trip disappearing probably won't be at the top of the cops' list. But it's sure as hell freaking me out.

-Art/Penny

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Cliff: Too much to handle

I guess you'll want to know what's happened. Well, I guess you already know. You probably all knew before I did. I don't want to write about it, I don't want to think about it, don't want anybody to know, but... that doesn't make it any less real. It's real all right, and it's terrifying.

So I'm transformed. I'm a girl. A woman? When does a girl become a woman? At a certain age? Or is it maybe a sex thing? Oh God.

Never mind much about what happened that first day. It was all chaos. If you must know, I knew right away, but I didn't know. Obviously. Like, lying there in bed, I had an idea that something had happened, but how could I have guessed? I was having a dream, and I felt a muscle spasm where there never was a muscle before. That woke me up. And the more I lay there trying to get back to sleep, so this whole thing would go away, the more I couldn't, and the more obvious it was something about my body was different. The long hair under the back of my head was a giveaway. So were the boobs. Oh God.

So I started to investigate. I heard heavy footsteps in the room next door, where that Alia girl had been, and I found three guys in there, and they explained it all. Two of the guys had been there before, and the other guy was Alia, she'd been changed just like me. I guess they all had, but I found out later, the other guys had been changed back. Which is comforting I guess, but for now it doesn't do me much good because I can't get my mind off how different my body is.

So while people were running around in a panic, this chubby lady and a thin guy call a meeting, and they explain to everyone else what Todd already told me. Everyone starts to freak out a bit more. "Who did this? How? Why?" People break down in tears, they pace frantically. I try to keep my cool, but frankly it's very hard because all I want to do is look at my new face. I decided to bite the bullet and look for a "letter" Todd told me I'd probably find.

It was only three pages long, and the girl who wrote it wasn't all that good at composing her thoughts. Her name, which I guess is my name now, was Victoria Pearce. Tori. She's 22 years old, which is a few years younger than me. I'd find that interesting, if it weren't for the fact that I'm a woman either way right now. I tried to comfort myself saying the seemingly random nature of these changes could've made me someone a lot worse, because honestly, and God I shudder to say this, but... Tori's kind of hot. Oh God.

This long dark hair is driving me crazy. I couldn't bring myself to look at this body naked. I did have to change into some of Tori's clothes eventually. I looked through the luggage, it felt like it was mocking me... tight little panties tops that reveal cleavage... will I someday feel comfortable in these clothes? I hope not. But have I got a choice? I wore a hoodie and some shorts.

Immediate needs settled my head began to throb thinking about how serious of a problem this was. Living somebody else's life - somebody else in mine! I can't explain myself to anyone. They're going to expect me to be a girl. What does that even mean? If I just act like myself, but having boobs (and other things?) is that good enough? How am I supposed to pretend to be Tori? I don't know what she's like.

I wanted to call Justin, tell him everything. I tried, and got his voicemail, but before saying anything, I panicked and hung up. All he would've heard is some girl rambling about transformations. He called back twice but I couldn't bring myself to answer. Then he came by.

Fuck! you do not know what misery is until your lifelong friend looks at you like someone he's never seen before, even almost like a piece of meat. He gave me the eye, I could tell. I hope he's not cheating on Randi. He asked me where I was -- where "Cliff" was, and I stammered and said I didn't know, and he got all pissy and drove off.

That was when I realized how fucked I was. That this is real, and I can't go back, not for a long time anyway. And everywhere I go, every time I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or a window, I feel so embarrassed. Humiliated. Helpless.

I'll tell you more about Tori's life later, I guess. I'm exhausted just trying to remember all that, trying to get it down. I'm not made for this. All I can do right now is sit around fixating on how awful everything is.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Alia?: Answers and questions

If anyone out there believes what is going on here I hope you understand it is not easy for me to be typing this... suddenly everything about my life has changed. And I don't just mean the face in the mirror, but my entire understanding of the world around me, not just on a metaphysical level but on a personal one... you have to understand how much it hurt when I started to think Todd no longer cared about me. How much pain I went through, hating Todd for seeming to forget me. Hating myself for letting it bother me so much, like some pathetic girl.

Right now, the realization that that Todd was not my Todd, that my Todd was somewhere else the entire time... that I've been the victim of a huge unthinkable lie for a whole year, that's what's got me so shaken up. It doesn't matter what I look like now, although this is... just as shocking to me, really. And when I first woke up, when I saw what had happened to me, I couldn't believe or understand what exactly had happened. I didn't think it was real. No matter how real it felt, some of the worst dreams feel the same.

Then I heard a knock at the door. I was wary of answering it, but it had urgency to it. A muffled voice from behind the door: "Alia, it's me! It's Todd! I know you're in there!"

Cautiously, I opened the door a crack, and sure enough there he was, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Specifically, a Clash T-shirt that I had given him years ago, and that I thought he'd lost. And what did he see? Not Alia...

I hadn't removed my sleeping clothes yet - a pair of shorts and a tank top - but they were straining against my shoulders, my waist. I was constricted, but I didn't want a look at what I saw underneath. I knew what was there, I could feel it, part of me, but suddenly, seeing Todd, I had pressing issues.

I couldn't look him in the eye as he addressed me. "Alia," he said, "Alia, is that you?" I nodded. "I can explain. Just relax. I can explain everything."

Bryan came and stood in the doorway, letting Todd do the talking. I sat on the bed, and he paced back and forth. He says when he stayed at the Inn last year, he was transformed, and had to live in Connecticut, and some stranger got his body. That's the person I thought was Todd this entire time. A little bit of a tear fell down my cheek, partly from relief, partly from fear. He explains, it's possible to change back, it takes some arrangement, but it works, and he's going to help me as much as he can.

I stood, being nearly eye-to-eye with him for the first time, and wrapped my arms around him. I didn't know what to say. I kissed him, which I thought for a moment might be a bit much but he actually kissed me back for a little bit before breaking away. "Sorry," we both apologized. Then we laughed. Maybe there wasn't anything to apologize for.

So now, in the aftermath of all this emotional fallout, I've got a whole new life to deal with. And that's a scary thing. I've been looking at this face in the mirror and it scares me to think I'm not going to see myself for a very long time. The mustache is going to have to go.

The name on the letter was Roberto Garcia. The best of what I can tell you right now is that he's 31, a high school teacher, a native of Philadelphia. I'm not going to address his marital status right now, but I'm not going to be in the same situation Todd was in. Speaking of which... I keep coming back around to it how weird not only this situation is, but what he's told me about his life this past year.

I feel kind of stupid for not even reading past the first couple of posts. I thought "Wow this goes back a long way, I think I get the idea" around the time it just started to be about a bunch of guys playing poker. I thought it was stupid. I didn't realize what I'd be reading if I just kept going to the end of that first month! Not to mention the fact that Todd's been referencing me repeatedly. In the situation, it's kind of sweet.

Todd Casey. Trapped in a monogamous relationship. A woman. I know it, I've heard it, I've seen proof to suggest all of this is real, but I can't imagine it. That woman who I thought was giving me the evil eye, under her skin was my boyfriend. And all because he wanted to come back to me as soon a she could, he did things that would've been unimaginable... impossible.

Well, I'm going to do my best to come back to him. I've got to. No matter how hard this next year might be, I owe it to him. As scary as the thought is, looking like someone else, living their life, I haven't got a choice.

Alia

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Todd: The Man in the Mirror

It's... it's me.

I'm going to try to write this as quickly as possible, but I don't want to skip over anything. I haven't even gone to check on Alia, because I'm really, really nervous about this whole thing. I stuck my head out the door but there's been no commotion in the hallways. I've heard a couple people in their rooms, but it's hard to get a fix on who's doing what.

It hasn't been easy since coming to the Inn. Knowing that the change was coming eventually, and then finding out about Alia, I found it really hard to fall asleep. Part of me didn't want to, I wanted to know what the experience was, because I hope never to have it again. Part of me thought it would be too horrifying to contemplate, although when I read Brandon's post a few days ago, I felt a bit bolder about it.

Incidentally, the very first night we were here, Bryan saw me changing into my nightie, and asked me why I was even bothering. I said it was for comfort, and she balked -- when that change happens, what's gonna happen to the clothes I was wearing? Nightgown, panties, bra, possibly wrecked when my body gets bigger. I'm not a huge guy, but I don't wanna wreck any of Anne-Marie's clothes. So we both slept in the nude, which was uncomfortable for me on both the physical level (it's been quite chilly here at night) and the "dude cover yourself up" level, because in case you forgot, Ellie's still 15 years old, although Bry's back to his old attitude, joking around about his body and being really cavalier about it.

Well it happened a few hours ago. I was jolted out of a not-so-deep sleep by what felt like the weirdest massage/acupuncture/tattoo sensation, all over my body. I flopped out of bed and flicked on the light switch, scurrying to the washroom to get a better view of what was happening to me.

It was... not so slow as to be imperceptible, but not immediate either. My hair had already reverted to a shorter male cut (not really resembling the one I had had when I was last male) and my face was starting to follow suit. Bry joined me, already standing tall alongside me - I guess we had both grown. We looked like mutants for a moment, trapped between sexes, as the flesh on our breasts flattened and hardened. I couldn't bear more than a glance at my genitals, honestly, that shit was scary. It was like watching an alien birth. We didn't converse, except for exclamations of "Oh God, this is fucked up, this is so weird!" in slowly transitioning voices.

And then... it was over. And suddenly instead of a woman and her niece we were just two guys standing naked in a washroom.

Overcome with joy and exhaustion, we stood there looking at ourselves in the mirror. Looking at each other. We hugged.

I mean hey, I've been pretty intimate with a man for the last six months. I think I'm beyond calling "no homo" for crossing swords with my best friend on an occasion like this.

We started going through our luggage, looking for appropriate attire for now. Sweats and that kind of thing. In my Anne-Marie bag, I had my The Clash t-shirt, the one Alia gave me years ago, that I brought to Connecticut, never washed, pulled out every couple weeks when I needed a fading, fleeting reminder of Todd Casey.

For a while we stayed speechless, humbled, relieved, only barely managing to howl with a satisfied laughter or cheer of "Oh man... it's over... it's final over." We went out to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic while the rain continued, and try to figure out what to do about Alia. So far, no clue. Right now I'm trying to gather my thoughts, find the exact words I would've wanted to hear last year, and of course, taking the time to blog it out.

Bry, in his inimitable way, tried to cheer me up by saying "Hey man... maybe she got hotter."

I smiled and put my hand on his shoulder. "That's not possible, man, but thanks."

I figure I'll go over there pretty soon. Alia's kind of an early riser, even on vacation. I don't know whether I should hope she's already seen what's happened, or if I would want to be there for her immediate reaction. Either way it feels like it's not going to be a fun conversation.

But, well, I guess it'll be over with soon.

-Todd

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Todd/Anne-Marie: No way out

"How noble are you?"

So asked one commenter when I described the feeling of seeing Alia here at this godforsaken place, knowing that before long we will all be transformed. Knowing that an uncertain, possibly horrible fate awaits her has put me in a very awkward position.

Do I leave the Inn, stay as Anne-Marie and let me girl go back to her life? Or do I stay, return to myself, and risk her transformation into an old woman, or a kid, or something? At one point I thought about sneaking into her room and checking for luggage left behind, but there never was an opportunity.

What's the noble thing to do, though? I've never considered myself a noble guy, but it's the kind of thing I would aspire to. Is it selfish to want my body back, knowing I won't have her, so that Anne-Marie and Ellie will get back to their own lives (as pointed out be a later commenter?) Or do I sacrifice myself - and Anne-Marie and Ellie - to let her live her normal life? This could be my one chance to get my life back, but is my life worthwhile knowing I did this to her?

George weighed in on the issue. His opinion is that, sooner or later, all of the transformations are going to take place. Plenty of people's lives will be ruined anyway. I was prepared to let a dozen strangers go through the transformation without a word of warning. In this case, I can at least be there for her, and try to explain and help her through it. There's no real choice. No going back.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Arthur/Penny: I'm a horrible woman

I see a new group of people heading back to the Inn, or there for the first time, and I'm tempted to join them. I feel like so much of the last six months has demonstrated that I'm just not cut out for this, and maybe if I go back to the Inn, I'll get myself a male body, and someone who can handle being a woman will get this one.

It's been practically New Year's since I wrote here last, so a bit of recap is probably in order: I met a nice guy at Lyn's party, we went on a few dates, and it was fun. More than fun, actually - I wasn't quite falling in love, but I was enjoying dating, which was a new and exciting experience for me as a woman. I should have written about it, but between work (which now includes live-blogging nearly every game) and the endless rewrites on the book, I kind of didn't want to do any more writing. Besides, whenever I'd meet up with Lyn to talk about it, she'd hit me with good advice about not ruining a good thing by over-thinking it, and blogging is incredibly conducive to over-thinking. So I stayed away while things were good.

And I didn't want to be all self-pitying when things went wrong. It started out small; there were kids running around the restaurant where we were having breakfast one Wednesday morning (yeah, I was enjoying the low-pressure sex, too) in February. It was a vacation week, and we started talking about what we'd done during winter vacations as kids. His stories were funny, but mine must have sounded strange, as I tried to merge what little I know about Nell's youth with a Penny-fied version of my own. It always sounded like I was holding something back, and even though none of it had anything to do with us right now, it must have looked as bad to him as it felt to me.

So we broke up. It sucked, but there's a life lesson to it: You know how it appears that you can tell people about the Inn and have them believe you during big, life-changing moments? Breaking up with someone you've been seeing for a couple months doesn't count. No matter how awful it may feel at the time, this is not a big enough event in your life that you can get anywhere by telling your boyfriend that you used to be someone else, and a cursed inn up in Old Orchard Beach reshaped your body, twice, and that's why you're so guarded and uncertain. It sucks, and it hurts, but apparently it's not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.

Lyn repeated that to me about a dozen times a night that first week. It sort of convinced me. After a while, I was kind of glad, because between my weird schedule, Chance's, hers, and her boyfriend Matt's, we hadn't been seeing much of each other lately, and now everything only had to work out a little bit. She doesn't mind swooping down on certain things like a vulture, either: Even in my first life, I got kind of worked up over breakups, not really enjoying anything that I'd planned to do with my girlfriend when it looked like we would be together for some indefinite period. The hormones I inherited from Nell seem to make it worse, so I wound up giving Lyn a bunch of tickets to games and concerts I'd either bought or been comped.

One of them was for a Bruin's game in early March. I give her the tickets, switch a shift or two to work from the pressbox that night, planning to meet her and Matt after the game. When I've gotten some quotes and filed a game story, I head to a bar down the street from the Garden where I've agreed to meet them after the game. I'm kind of surprised when I find Lyn and it's not Matt she's with, but Ray.

Lyn tells me that Mike had to cover for someone at the firehouse who had food poisoning, and she just happened to run into Ray after she got the call. Ray had to check with Liz, of course, but Liz is busy rehearsing and doesn't much mind him being out with Lyn (probably figures that Lyn, being a former guy and in a long-term relationship, is the safest girl for her fiancé to spend time with). Ray remembers me, from Lyn's party and before, and we all get to talking, and drinking, and laughing, and...

And I don't exactly remember Lyn leaving, because she's got an job interview the next morning. Ray and I had a good time without her, and then we went back to my place and had a really good time.

We were both horrified when we woke up in the morning. He was engaged, and I always figured that Lyn would be the one to make this kind of mistake, not me. He ran off as soon as I shook him awake, and I can't say I blamed him.

He felt bad, though; he turned up at the Boston Today offices to apologize, and I told him there was no need, that I owed him more of an apology than he owed me (left unsaid, of course, is how much contrition we both owed Liz). We went to the Sidebar, had one drink to show there were no hard feelings, and that was that.

A few weeks later, around the end of April, I was at the dressmakers getting something mended when I heard yelling from the next room; it was Liz, having something just short of a tantrum about how everything had to be perfect, and this wasn't, and... Well, I didn't stick around. Ray was going in as I was coming out, and I warned him that he did not want to go in there. He said he had to, but he was running from the room thirty seconds later, saying it wasn't his area of expertise and Liz had thrown him out. He spotted me, ran to catch up, and we chatted as we walked. After we'd turned a corner or two, he pushed me up against the wall and kissed me.

It must have been kind of a funny sight - Ray's around five-eight, and I'm a smidge under six feet even even when I'm not wearing shoes with a one-inch heel like I was that day; he had to stand on tiptoe. I also spend a lot more time in the gym than he does. I don't say this to make fun of Ray, just to point out that he didn't - couldn't, really - force himself on me. I kissed back, and everything after was something we both did, not just him, and not just me.

I say "everything after", but it's not as dramatic as that makes it sound. We would meet on nights when Liz had rehearsal - or, later, performances. He'd complain that she was getting to be a full-on Bridezilla, I'd regale him with what a Boston sports reporter learns that the locals eat up even though it's utterly trivial, we'd drink a bit, and then, about half the time, we'd have sex.

And it was good. Ray gave me my first female orgasm two years ago, and there was something familiar about hooking up with him, but it was new, too. My body type is divergent enough from Liz's that we approached each other differently. I'd let him be on top (I was a little scared of getting crushed as Liz), and there was an urgency to it, as we were stealing time. Both in the short term and in the long term - Ray and Liz had a mid-July wedding date set, and we both knew it would end then. Neither of us is going to cross that line, and we figured Liz would chill out after the wedding itself was over.

Of course, this depended on Liz not finding out.

I don't know how she did; it doesn't much matter. We were just drinking that night, and Liz showed up at the bar still in costume, just completely pissed off. Ray stammered that it was just a drink with a friend, but he's not a good enough liar to stand his ground when Liz asked about the other times. She didn't have much time to waste - she could only stretch intermission by fifteen minutes, so she just stomped out.

Ray followed soon after, saying he was sorry, that the tightly-wound thing was a relatively recent development. It only happened after the second time he proposed to her. Some girls just let the engagement and wedding get into their heads, and it would be different after it was all over and done with. She'd be like the girl who he fell in love with and proposed to.

I don't know about that.

That was a few weeks ago, the last time I saw Ray. I went to Liz's play last week, but she wasn't there. I asked one of the other folks in the audience, and she told me that "the Chinese girl" and her boyfriend had eloped, and were probably still on their honeymoon. I guess they worked things out between them, and I'm glad. Ray's a good guy, he and Liz have loved each other forever, and Liz went through a lot to get back to him.

And that gets us up to today. Let me just apologize to Lyn again for not telling her while it was happening; I suppose it's like Liz not wanting to tell the original Ashlyn about Stewart; you take the "high ground" toward someone who's more overtly sexual and it's just unthinkable to confess you've done something bad.

It does feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, though. It was terrible keeping that sort of thing bottled up. From now on, I'm making a couple rules: No guys with girlfriends/wives/etc., and when someone talks about my past, just say I don't want to talk about it. If that's a deal-breaker for them, so be it. Being in a relationship is supposed to make you feel good, and I'm sick of it doing something else.

- Art/Penny

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