Friday, November 27, 2009

Alia/Rob: Life is like Super Mario Bros...

You can't go backwards.

That's something stupid Todd used to say, or probably still says, whenever someone makes a mistake or expresses regret about something. Every time he said it it would remind me to make my decisions more carefully, although it's not like Mario had to face a lot of tough decisions (stomp on the Koopa or don't.)

He actually said it to me the night I was transformed into Rob. He was comforting me and I was still in shock trying to come to terms with it, and I was bitching about how I should never have followed "him" to Maine, and he looked right at me and said it "Life is like Super Mario Bros... you can't go backwards." That's how I knew I was talking to my Todd. I still don't know how the impostor had me fooled, but "he" kept to himself a lot anyway... and Todd does have that reclusive side. It should've put up a red flag no matter what but hey, we had more than a slight rough patch.

Which is why I'm taking this thing with Rob's ex-wife quite cautiously. I don't want to screw something up. Even if I get the escape hatch in the summer and get to go back to my estrogen and progesterone, I'm still reckoning with two other peoples' lives; Rob's and Ingrid's... especially Ingrid's, since she has no idea who I really am.

Whatever it is about me, she likes. I can tell she's still physically attracted to Rob. In the course of managing my diet and even without any serious exercise, I've trimmed down a belt notch or two. This seems to be very common with Inn folks. I've also got a woman's eye for grooming; I wasn't ever that image-obsessed but I do know how I like my men. No Mario-stache, for example.

Come to think about it, it's not hard to see why she might be attracted to Alia-Rob. I don't talk to her like an enemy, I barely have the ability to acknowledge "our" past, let alone resent it. I talk to her like an intelligent, respectable individual, and I think she appreciates that. And then I got carried away and struck up a little flirtation, or I encouraged the flirtation she was sending out, maybe because I'm bored or lonely or because I feel bad about her situation. This is the incident I described here.

I'd spent a lot of time since then thinking about her. I've never been looked at, or spoken to, that way, by a woman before. Not even the lesbians I've known have ever been into me. The feeling of being wanted by a woman (and if my intuition serves, she does want me/Rob) is so different from the feeling of being wanted by a man. A man will usually pursue, and a woman wants to be chased (put in extremely generalized terms.) I've chased once or twice, particularly later in relationships once I've already been pursued (cough, Maine, cough) but this is different. This isn't about me wanting a boy to notice me. This is about getting the girl. The idea started to consume me a little bit.

When Greg/Priya wrote "Im surprised I held out longer than Alia, idve thought shed try it within 5 minutes of getting a penis." I was more than a little offended, not just by the lack of apostrophes (I am playing an English teacher after all) but by the notion that while it's okay for a man to be scared and overwhelmed by having female genitalia, that a woman would suddenly go hog wild.

No offense, friend, but why the hell would that be? Haven't I been just as traumatized as you? Shouldn't I be just as uncomfortable and overwhelmed? For a long while, I had no interest in indulging that particular hobby, even when Rob's body clearly wanted me to. The nights Todd stayed over (sorry dear) were very hard, pun intended, but I went past them because I was extremely overwhelmed by what was happening. Then I got so wrapped up in living Rob's life I barely had time to think about stuff like that.

But the sad truth is... I didn't outlast you. Not by my calendar. Back in October, I discovered some nudie pics on Rob's computer, pics of his ex-wife. Maybe he still carries a torch over her, maybe he hadn't gotten around to deleting them, maybe they're just good spank material. Personally, I found them arresting, and come to think of it, that may be the reason I find myself so infatuated by her.

So I did it. I didn't want to write about it at the time because it was embarrassing but now that Greg's come out with it, I might as well own up. What can I say... I found the process of getting there... more of a destination for a man than a journey. It happened just as I'd expect, but I was not prepared for how good it felt... for just an instant. And then it didn't feel so great and I thought I would never want to do it again, and I went down and felt sleepy.

But I did do it again, as time went by and I thought more about the good part than the aftermath, each time looking forward to that moment of glory followed by the leveling off as blood returns to the rest of me. Comparing the two is really... no easy feat. There's something imminently practical about doing this as a man, with a concrete beginning middle and end, and I actually kind of like that. I never really liked doing it to my own body, so the experience I am comparing it to is the more total sexual experience (what can I say? I don't do anything halfway.) Can't say a man's is worse, but definitely can't say it's better than a woman's at its best... the debate remains open I guess.

The opportunity arose, over the Thanksgiving holiday, to see Ingrid again. Rob's family is all in the Southwest and Ingrid told me that while it would be highly inappropriate to invite me over, she was thinking of me, and why not get a drink Thursday night?

So that's exactly what we did. I don't know what my objective was but I'd be lying if the notion of embracing the male perspective and seducing her hadn't popped into my mind. The night was going well, much like our earlier meeting, I was able to joke around with her and not seem too unlike Rob (probably due to Inn magic.) It got to the point where if I'd wanted her, I probably could have had her.

And then Mario popped back into my head at the end of the night. We were sitting in my car, saying "Yeah, I had a good time too" and all that, and the moment of truth came and I realized "If I do this, here and now... that's it. I've committed to something. I can't undo this." It's a thought I'd had all too often as a woman, and perhaps should have listened to more. She fumbled in asking me whether I might like to come in for a cup of coffee, and I told her no, it was late, I think I'll just go to bed. I gave her an awkward driver's seat hug and said I'd see her again. She got out and walked up to her building and I could sense her teeth and fists were clenched.

As I thought about it on the way home I thought back on it. Women really don't like putting themselves out there and being turned down. She is going to have, at best, a mixed view of this evening. There is a chance she'll never give me another chance again. That would work for me and allow me to continue living my life without interference from potential romantic partners... with the uncomfortable side effect that she's not too pleased with my teasing. May even have had a negative effect on her self-esteem, which I would feel guilty about, if so.

Then I realized... there's a chance this whole incident has just made her want more. If she really did like what she saw, then she probably isn't going to take the soft rejection as the end of it.

I don't know which is the case, and I don't know what to do about either.

Hey, just because I am actually a woman doesn't mean I understand them. We're complicated.

-Alia/Rob

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Open book test

I am not Tori. Not yet, anyway.

I look like her, I wear her clothes, her jewelery. I paint her nails sometimes and have worn her make-up. Everyone calls me by her name. When I look in the mirror, it's her I see, but I think there's still a difference between my playing Tori and if I was being Tori. I think that takes time. I've read this blog cover to cover by now, some periods I've re-read too. Art and Jake aren't Art and Jake anymore, they're Penny and Ashlyn. Those are their lives and they have spent enough time living them, and they were handed over the controls to them. I'm still Cliff, and all the things I don't know about the woman I am supposed to be could fill a book. Several books, in fact.......

It all started a few weekends ago, after my little Halloween layabout. I've definitely bonded with Mae in a way Tori wouldn't have, probably because she, being a tomboy, has a bit of dislike for the girly-girlness of Tori. I'm trying to bring "Tori" and Cliff closer together so I can really be comfortable until I get my body back *(knock on wood!) And I guess that person is just someone Mae is more interested in talking to.

So of course there's still a bit of hostility but it's more kidding, more friendly. We've bonded.

And I mean, we've bonded to the point where she is telling me a lot about her life, specifically her relationship with Ed.

I mainly just listen, and when she asks for advice I try to give my honest opinion, but it's clearly not the same opinion as a girl of Tori's age and experience would have. It my be better, because when she complains about not understanding what Ed means when he says he's doing something, I might understand better than a real woman.

But understand how overwhelmed I am by this development. I have had female friends, but they kept me in the dark about their sex lives, and those few relationships I had never had sex lives to speak of. No woman has ever told me what she really thinks about sex or dating or anything. It's a complete mystery to me. Do women like having sex? I never even thought about it, I assumed it was just something they put up with.

I haven't... done... what Greg has done, because part of me does not want to know. I don't want that side of Tori to be opened up in me because in a way, I'd rather never know the answers than find out something I don't want to.

So Mae tells me last weekend that she and Ed have started to get serious enough that she wants to start having sex with him, to lose her virginity to him, in the near future, probably by the end of the year. And I really did not know what to say about that. She was clearly looking for the response of a woman who has had her fair share of sex, who might have regrets or advice or anything, but I was just... blank, obviously. Male or female I have lived my life sexually neutral, not for lack of trying.

Now, if I can barely imagine what sex is like for a man, then I have absolutely no clue what sex is like for a woman. I think she wanted me to either sell her on it, or to dissuade her and tell her it's not worth it. And I couldn't say either. As much as I've grown protective of Mae - she really is like my little sister, and I don't want some punk getting with her and hurting her. But it would be a bit hypocritical of me to warn her off that, because of how much time and energy I spent in my life trying to get laid, and I know not all teenage boys are supercreeps.

So I told her what any stupid book might've, which is, you know, be smart, be safe, um, don't make fun of his penis. She seemed underwhelmed by what I had to say. I was too. She actually got a little mad at me, because she thought I was holding out on her. She wanted to know what it was like for me. The fact that I couldn't answer the question "What was your first time like for you?" really seemed to set her off, set us back on our bonding. It really hurt.

When I realized what had happened, I started digging through Tori's stuff for artifacts of her life, things that would tell me what I needed. I hit the jackpot when I unearthed her diaries.

They were in a giant box in her closet, not terribly discrete but then again she'd just moved back home. Eight books of varying shapes and sizes, one a year dating back to junior high. They're not all full, but they're organized. I flipped open the first one, and immediately regretted it, and not just because it was, well, the very unfocused thoughts of a 12-year-old girl. I felt guilty, and I felt scared.

It's stupid to feel guilty. I know these thoughts were never meant to be read by anyone other than Tori, but at the same time, it's a part of the world I have landed in, and it's the easiest way to answer all the questions I have about the life I am living. This life is, at least for now, as much mine as it was the girl who wrote these. What right does she have to keep secrets from me? If I wanted to, I could go out and sully her good name, ruin her life, her fate is in my hands, and if she can't trust me with her past, what am I doing living in her present?

I respect her right to privacy, but speaking as someone who has access to her naked body whenever I want it, it's a bit much to ask that I not read any of these books. (And it's not like she has verbally requested I not do it. I haven't even spoken to her lately.)

So what's to stop me? Like I said... fear. Fear of what I might uncover. Fear that it might somehow mutate my mind beyond what's already happened. I know it's stupid, but you know, whatever's in those books, once I read them, can't be un-read. I'm worried that putting myself so deeply into Tori will force me away from Cliff. I don't know what I'm getting into here.

I know, it's... stupid. Stupidly complicated. I'm over-analyzing as always.

I think I'm probably going to get around to reading them, one way or the other. The curiosity, frankly, is killing me.

Lastly, I will also be going back to Buffalo this week for Thanksgiving. I have mixed feelings about this, but I've missed my family a lot and I want to make sure Willy is doing okay by my life. I know it'll be weird, my family seeing me in this state, but I just realized that the last three months have been the longest I've gone without speaking to my parents. Funny how they'll never know that. Perhaps I will bring those diaries for reading material on the bus.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Penny: "Slutty" Halloween costumes and how I now see the appeal

I only had time for a quick response when Greg wrote his entry about "slutty halloween costumes and dreams", which is too bad, because it was something I was thinking about for a good chunk of October and since, and it's an interesting reminder of how this curse seems to constantly find new ways of reminding us how things are different for other people.

Even before becoming a woman, I never really liked the word "slut". Maybe others have different impressions of the word, but it always seemed like a particularly vicious one to me. It's an ugly-sounding word, in the same family as "fuck" and "cunt", showing what sort of disdain one holds the people referred to in. It implies something worse than mere promiscuity, like the person in question has little or nothing to offer but sexual gratification, and knows it. You generally won't see that sort of nuance in dictionary definitions of the word, and maybe it doesn't exist anywhere but in my mind. But it's there; I've certainly had opportunity to back off using it in print because it seemed meaner and more presumptive than I wanted.

But I'd use it in casual conversation, especially around October 31st, when friends and I would express either appreciation or disdain for the young women who dressed up that way. And for my first few years as Liz and Nell, I didn't have any desire to dress that way - You change from a man into a woman, and a lot of the time, you're going to hate your new form. You resent every different organ and curve, and no way in hell do you want to emphasize them; that's loser stuff, if it's a fight to be yourself. I'd actively resist sexing myself up for Halloween when Lyn tried to get me to, and found that whole cheerleader thing mortifying. This year, though...

Lyn thinks that the trip to Montreal flipped some sort of switch in my brain, and maybe it did in terms of having to acknowledge that I am, physically, a woman, albeit one who lived her life as a man until a bit more than three years ago. I'm not a man in a woman's body, and I'm not sure there's such a thing. We are our bodies, and when your learned responses contradict your physical ones, they're maybe not wrong, but they're fighting an uphill battle. And perhaps more to the point, I have a woman's place in the world. The doesn't mean that nature intends me to make babies and cook for a man and be nurturing, but that when people interact with me, they're interacting with a woman.

And I think, for a lot of us in this situation, we resist that. Even Lyn, I think, did so in her fashion. She didn't just try to be a woman, but a fantasy woman, how men think someone with her face and hair and rack should behave. She's not sure about this hypothesis, but I tell her it's nothing to be ashamed of. I think a lot of women who had never been men do it. I did something pretty similar; I often acted like someone pretending to be a woman, trying to fake it. Ever since deciding to "be Penny" rather than "pretend to be Nell", I've tried to stop, and just react on my own. Sometimes it pegs me as a weird girl, but much more often, it doesn't. Given the same situations, a lot of us will react the same way, whether we spent the first two-plus decades of our life as someone else or not.

For instance, more attention is paid to women's appearance than it is for men. It's indisputable. Back in my Arthur days, if I were to come into a newsroom with stubble because I hadn't had time to shave, I wouldn't get much reaction, certainly nothing compared to the askance looks I get now if I show up without the usual make-up. If you look at the Boston Today sports pages, the photo that runs with a male columnist's work doesn't include his legs. And so on. Women are expected to look nice.

And, maybe it's because I'm young and tall and fit, but the standard I'm held to doesn't really bother me in a vacuum, or many of the women I know. We envy the extra time men have and resent being treated like ornaments, but it feels good to look nice. I like smiling at what I see in the mirror, and when I have drinks with a female friend, we can compliment each completely outside of sexual interest or our chances of landing/keeping a man. What drives me nuts is the line. The one that says, on this side, you look nice, professional, and/or sharp, but on this side, you look too sexual; you're trying to show someone else up, or you're using your looks to get ahead.

Now, I run a lot, I do a bunch of sit-ups, and I eat right even when I'd really like to have that gigantic bag of peanut butter cups, and it leaves me with a pretty damn good body. My legs, in particular, rock. I'm proud of them, so why shouldn't I show them off? But most of the time, I can't, not without having people think less of me. It drives me nuts, and I can't imagine I'm the only woman who feels that way.

And that's why skimpy Halloween costumes are awesome. Halloween costumes may once have been about scaring ghosts and demons away, but it's evolved into something else. People who think a good Halloween costume is one where you can't be recognized don't get it, in my opinion: It's about fantasy, yes, but part of that fantasy is being recognizable, acknowledging that this sexuality is part of who you are and not having people think the less of you.

So that's why I did it up a bit this year. Lyn and Matt had already decided what they were doing - Lyn got inspired by Rachel Nichols's cameo in the new Star Trek movie and bought herself a Starfleet uniform and a tub of green makeup, while her boyfriend just went with the black Kirk outfit. In past years, she confesses, she might have purchased a lot more makeup and a lot less fabric and gone for Poison Ivy, but I think part of the image she wanted to present this year was being smart and capable. Still, she was excited about me asking for help choosing a superhero.

I went with Black Canary. The costume involves high-heeled boots, fishnets, a blonde wig, and a black top with a cartoonish zipper to show off my cleavage; which was enhanced by stuffing my underwire with a couple chicken breasts. I looked kind of ridiculous - would a real superhero wear a leather jacket but leave her ass hanging out of what basically amounts to a one-piece swimsuit? - but I've got to admit, it was nice to have the results of my workout regimen out there, and have folks say, damn, that's nice!

And they did; at the parties I went to, I may not have been the center of attention (as much as I was showing it off, there were certainly some folks who wanted it more), but I attracted some attention, especially from the guys in spandex. I didn't get drunk enough to do anything stupid, but I did wind up telling a lot of people that I had a boyfriend, and he was just out of town.

Lyn took me aside after she heard that, after I'd turned one of Matt's firefighter friends who needed no padding to fill out his Superman costume, reminding me that it's been two moths without Ray calling, email, or anything, but I shrugged it off. That "I love you" bomb was something we both needed time to process. I know it may sound weird, considering I haven't exactly been a complete nun since my first visit to the Inn, but being ready to really give myself to a certain man doesn't mean I'm ready to just casually do it with any man.

Of course, I'm not just waiting for him to feel the same way. Here's hoping that the pictures from the parties that I sent him prove tempting!

-Penny

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Greg/Priya: Flexibility

So back when I was in school, there was always one kid in the class who was the teachers pet. One kid that would kiss the teachers butt and theyd love him for it. It used to bother me so when I involuntarily became I teacher I promised I wouldnt play favorites. This has proven hard for me, not becuase I dislike some of my students, but becuase one little guy in particular is just so awesome.

His name is Lloyd. Yes, Lloyd. Not a common moniker these days with all the emilys and madisons and jacobs and bellas and edwards. Its actually Lloyd IV, according to his official transcript (which is funny, because hes a kindergartner). I guess after 3 Lloyds a 4th one is inevitable. This kid is a real go getter. He loves school and is an absolute joy to teach, if you can say thats what he does. A lot of the stuff he just already knows, must have good parents. He actually works with his classmates to help them out. Hes funny, bright, helpful, and on Monday he was inspirational.

It was after Lunch and almost naptime (which, by the way, if they had in every grade youd have a much lower dropout rate in this country) and I was getting the nap mats out and lining them up. Well one mat was rolled up and wouldnt stay down, the corner would keep sticking up. So I was on it trying to hold it down when Lloyd comes up to me and says "Namaste, Ms. Priya" to which I turn around and say "Excuse me"

"Namaste" he replied "Its what they say in Yoga. You looked like you were doing Yoga on that mat. Its Indian, just like you."

Now, if thats not well read, its intuitive. Because I dont think Ive ever actually told the Kids that I was Indian because I didnt think it mattered. But Lloyd gave me a great idea.

Because for the past week, I havent rode my bike at all. If youve ever been to Chicago in November, the cold and the wind chill make it tough to go outside, let alone propel yourself into it on a bike. But ive been starting to lose progress on my weight loss so I needed a new form of exercise and Lloyd gave me the idea: Yoga. Its indoors, it doesnt take long, and its really good for you. And there was a Yoga studio by my apartment. I signed up for a beginner class 3 days a week for one hour.

Yesterday was my first session. There were about 9 other people, 8 of them girls. This seemed like it would be much better than the gym. The instructors name was Wes, and I liked him immediately because he was able to say my name correctly without hearin it first (Its PREE-YA not PRY-AH)

We started off with basic stretches. Wes would do them first and wed imitate him. Turns out, Im AWESOME at Yoga. I was able to go down much farther than most of the class and had not trouble at all. I later found out is because the real Priya had been doing yoga since she was 12 and her body was extremely flexible from it, even after 4 months of not doing it. The only thing I had trouble with was technique and Wes helped me out with that, he was very "hands on" meaning he would move my legs or arms into the correct position. The weird thing is, I kinda liked it.

After class he came up to me and told me I was a natural at yoga and he hoped Id stick with it. He then asked me what part of India my family was from, I told him I wasnt sure. He said that was too bad because hed spent about 3 years over there and he loved it. We chatted for a little while and then I went home.

One thing most people dont realize is that Yoga makes you sweaty. VERY sweaty and I needed a shower when I got home. Im gonna pause here for a moment to warn you that this next part gets very personal.

For the last month or so, My body had been experiencing symptoms similar to what Todd had described in one of his posts as Anne-Marie. The foggy headedness, the insomnia, the tension, in short, I was horny. And having spent the last hour in tight pants, stretching out , and having a guy touch you while doing so only served to make me hornier. On top of that coming home and getting into a steamy shower and rubbing yourself with soap isnt the best remedy for that either. By the time I got out of the shower, I was going insane.

What can I say? I did what i had to. I took of my robe, collapsed on the bed and started "exploring". It wasnt completley foreign to me, I did have a fiancee after all, but it was a lot different from this angle. After about half an hour (long time, I know) i was done. I didnt quite "finish" (or at least I dont think i did, i wouldnt know what it felt like) but I was able to think straight again.

Its weird to talk about but i figured I need to say somthing to somebody, and I wasnt gonna tell Priya about this (altho she does sometimes read this blog). I know im not the first changed guy to relay his female sexual experiences here , altho of my "class" I am the first one to do so. Im surprised I held out longer than Alia, idve thought shed try it within 5 minutes of getting a penis.

So yeah. That what I did yesterday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Greg/Priya: Homecoming game

So in the 11 days since my last post, ive started paying more attention to my dreams, and Im happy to report that about half the time in my dreams Im Greg, and the other half Im Priya. Basically what Penny described in the comments section of that post. Thankfully it seems my subconscious hasnt forgotten my true identity.

So Saturday instead of my usual routine of wearing sweatpants and watching football, I went and watched football live, lol. Priya's Alma Mater, Northwestern University, was playing their biggest rival, Illinois, and Priya's parents had tickets and apparently they all go together whenever it happens. Since Im trying not to break any of Priyas tradition or habits, and I kinda wanted to go anyway, I put on my purple and drove up to Evanston.

I had never met Priya's parents in person, although i have talked to her mother almost weekly since i became her. Ive seen a ton of pictures of them but would have trouble picking them out in a crowd. Fortunately I didnt have to do that since Priya's mom is a professor at NU and her parents live in Evanston now. All I had to do was meet them at their house, and i was able to mapquest that.

When I arrived at the Patel's (which,by the way, is not their real surname. I never mentioned it but Patel isnt Priya's real last name. Its her moms maiden name and much more common than her real last name. I didnt want any weirdos googling me) it was an hour before game time so I only had about 15 minutes to catch up with my new parents. They seem nice people, but come off as strict. I think thats a cultural thing. I think it might also have something to do with why the real Priya is ANYTHING but uptight.

We got to Ryan Field right before kickoff. Its weird, because while Priya's dad isnt much for football, her mom LOVES it. She apparently came to the US on a student Visa back in the 70s and picked up on it, which is surprising because NU football was bloody AWFUL during that period. Its funny seeing a 50 something Indian woman get into the game like that.

One thing I hadnt counted on was the fact that so many other alumni would be there, including quite a few Priya went to school with. NU is a pretty small school, especially by Big 10 standards, and all day long people were coming up to me, saying hi, and making small talk. Thankfully, ive been Priya long enough to be able to tell people how her life is going. Its surprising how well you can make conversation with a casual acquaintance despite not knowing that persons name.

The Wildcats beat U of I (yay, i guess) and afterwards we went out to eat and I got to have my first in depth daughter-parent conversation. They asked about work, amber, my love life (they really want grandkids), and what I did for Diwali (nothing). They seem kind of disappointed that the daughter of 2 engineering doctorates teaches Kindergarten.

After dinner it was 5 oclock and I wasnt gonna deal with rush hour traffic so I decided just to crash at their place and go home in the morning. We watched DVDs until Priya's parents went to bed around 9. I went to Priya's old room and had a look around.

Priya is their only child so they had kept her room pretty much intact since they day she left home. It looked like an 17 year old girls room with a few stuffed animals, band posters on the wall, and a pink bedspread. On one of her walls were tons of old photos from her childhood. Including a lot of pictures of a much younger Amber, dating all the way back to grade school. Another wall was dedicated to awards. It was at that moment that I grasped fully just how smart Priya is. There was NHS, honor roll, scholar bowl, math team, culminating with her college diplomas. Thats right, diplomaS, plural. Priya got a double degree in elementary education and chemical engineering. Thank God she chose the former as a career path, because theres no way I could cope with being an engineer.

In one of the desk drawers I found a journal from her high school days. I wanted to read it and it probably wouldve proven VERY useful, but these were her most intimate thoughts and Im her friend, so I decided against it.

After a very strange nights sleep in a tiny bed, I headed back to the city and back to the life of a single gal. Its much more manageable living on my own, but it was nice to feel like part of a family, at least for a weekend.

-Greg.

PS. Im gonna pre empt all you sports buffs out there. NU's REAL homecoming was Oct 24th vs Indiana. The title of this thread is a play on the fact that I went "home" this weekend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Alia/Rob: In Plain Sight

I guess I just don't have the writery instinct that some of the other folks on here do. I guess things have been slow around the blog in general lately, but the fact that it's been more than a month since my last entry and I'm still straining to really formulate my thoughts should say something.

I mean, what can I say? It's another month of Philadelphia, of pleasant enough weather (retaining a bit more warmth than Toronto usually does around this time.) Another month of being Rob Garcia, of facial stubble and hairy legs, of neckties and teenage students. Another month of slight beer gut and sore back slowing me down.

Each morning I sit up in bed, run my fingers through my short black hair and sigh, "It's gonna be okay." Then I just... I don't know, turn off "Alia" and be Rob. It saddens me somewhat to say that I feel like one of those really ineffectual teachers who is clearly phoning it in, lacking in passion... that was the whole reason I rejected my parents' push that I might do this job myself, because I didn't want to do anything I couldn't see myself feeling truly passionate about. And then when I get home, I'm free to more orless be myself again, and free my mind of all the trappings of Rob, even if I'm still physically him. That's when I get home and Todd is online for me to talk with.

Most days, we just share notes, commiserate. I hate to cheat you nice people out of hearing about my experiences, since I mainly sum them up to him and then I don't feel like writing here. And then when I try to, I end up rambling and trying to talk about everything and when I re-read it before posting, I decide it's crap and delete it all. I can be a bit hard on myself.

Anyway, I was telling him about something that happened to me recently and we got to talking about the Inn's "curse." Once your body has been transformed into someone else's you'll believe just about anything. The one that never ceases to amaze me is how it affects the people around me.

Maybe it says something about how we never really know each other. How hard it is to see anything below the surface of another person, and take their behaviour for granted. People act "out of character" all the time, even when they haven't been transformed (...although how can we know?) and even if others notice, and say something about it, it can always be explained as "Oh, I just feel different today."

There's an old philosophy question about, if you take a wooden ship and replace it plank-by-plank, when does it become a different ship? To the outside world, I seem to be the same ship, even though all my planks have been replaced.

In this metaphor, "the ship" is my appearance as Rob... ugh, see what I mean about rambling?

So for the most part, the people I've dealt with could barely be said to be lifelong close acquaintances of Rob. My inherited work friends seem to be taking more to me than they had when I first arrived, they may know Alia/Rob better than real Rob. How well do you know your casual work acquaintances? And all of Rob's family is back in Arizona.

Yet on the extreme side of things, think about Todd and Bryan last year. Todd was somebody's wife and mother for crying out loud, and at no point in this blog did he ever write about a time when Hal or one of the kids truly seemed put off by "her" (still can't picture Todd as a girl, and yet I've heard some very detailed accounts,) behaviour! I even asked if there was anything he was leaving out, and he said yes, a little bit, but nothing dramatic, otherwise he'd have mentioned it. And Bry was able to get away with wild mood swings because he was stuck in puberty anyway. Anyone who's ever been (or known) a 14-year-old girl wouldn't bat an eye if she ran the whole emotional gauntlet in a few moments, depending on the girl.

And meanwhile, my doppelganger up north seems to be passing decently. Yes, she shies away from situations where she has to be too familiar with people, but she's warming up to my life in a way I'm not sure I'm totally comfortable with. And not much in the way of raised eyebrows. I just find it eerie... the idea of never truly being known. I'm guilty of it myself, I know it from both sides, because as odd as Todd seemed for the year he wasn't himself, I hardly gave it much thought, because well, he was kinda mercurial. (In case you couldn't guess.) Finding out what had really happened was truly Earth-shattering, you can imagine.

I guess you really have to act out if you want to turn heads, and then you might get sent to the rubber room.

Which brings me to the whole reason I started writing here tonight, something I've been putting off. It was a meeting with the one person who I think would've known Rob well enough to say something. His ex-wife, Ingrid.

The ink was dry on the paper. It was all said and done, I had done Rob's job of formally ending his marriage, which is good because I had had enough of her harassing me. But apparently she still had some of his stuff in her trunk, and wanted to hand it off.

I was tempted to tell her to get stuffed, but then thought better; maybe this was stuff Rob wants when he gets back. Might as well just get it over with. So somehow this innocent transfer of property transmuted into a dinner. I don't know what I was expecting, a shadowy encounter in a parking garage perhaps. But I guess this is how grown-ups do it.

Ingrid has been rather hostile to me in the past, I can't deny it. And her bitchy demeanor has inspired less than kind thoughts in me, so I've returned it to some extent. (Funny how acting like a "bitch" while being a man just makes me look like kind of a dick.) But really, I believe in the goodness in people. That's probably why I stuck with Todd so long, and after a few negative encounters I realized that while I had inherited the baggage, I may not be beholden to it.

So I decided, over the dinner, to pour on the honey. We went out to a nice restaurant, she wore make-up and perfume, which to an ex-gal like myself, sent an obvious message ("I'm gonna make you want me but you can't have me.") Rob's gonna hate me for this, but I was excessively polite to her, conciliatory, agreeable. I admitted wrongdoing that I (Alia) had no stake in. Gave her whatever she wanted, argumentatively, and yet acted aloof, like I was completely unaffected by her charms.

Don't get me wrong. She looked great, and I noticed -- and Rob's body noticed. Maybe women are more in touch with the aesthetic than men are, so when a woman becomes a man, rather than the opposite, I can admit when I find a woman attractive. I can definitely appreciate all the work she put in to her appearance, and from this angle I truly understand the elusive allure of a nice set of breasts. (I was aware how men feel about breasts, and I knew how to emphasize them, yet the true connection between the two escaped me until now. Even now I can't articulate exactly the meaning of their effect.)

As we conversed, I used many of the tricks that had been used (deliberately or not...) on me in the past that got me more interested in a man. I disarmed her with humour, I spoke directly to her, maintaining eye contact whenever possible, and yet I also feigned distraction, let my attention wander non-specifically at crucial moments.

I don't think it was a deliberate attempt on my part to lead her on... maybe subconsciously part of me wanted the power of knowing what I know about women, in this position. Maybe it was a secret, passive-aggressive revenge for her confrontational tendencies. Maybe it was a reaction against her "look at me!" outfit. Before I knew it, we were playing a game, and I was not going to be the first to crack.

And in all that, I actually saw her warmer side, probably what attracted Rob to her in the first place. Once the "ice queen" facade melted (some alcohol involved) she was quite lovely, smart and funny, even.

Maybe I got a little carried away. I felt like she must really feel she knows Rob, because she knew him well enough to know she didn't want to be married to him. Yet by the end of the dinner I must have somehow conjured up the spirit of a younger, pre-married Rob. By the end, she was very cheerful and waxed nostalgic. Specifically, she sighed with a smile, "Oh, Rob... why did things have to change? We used to laugh like this a lot..." joking self-effacingly, "We really did ruin it by getting married."

Trying to disarm a mounting situation, I just shrugged, "I guess things change." She agreed, yet subtly implied that the "old Rob" still existed, and had resurfaced now that the marriage had split up.

Um... whoops?

Maybe it was a little intentional, but in an unconscious Freudian way... that I kind of sort of got her interested in me. By the end of the night, she was saying how much fun she'd had, and that we should try this again... leaving it open.

I played it off, but she was insistent, and has e-mailed me since to re-affirm this. I've consulted Todd, who has been not much help by insisting I go through with it. "Fuck it, it doesn't mean anything, you're not going to fall in love with her and it has nothing to do with the real you. Just go for it."

Thanks, Todd. I love you ,but not everyone was blessed with a detached opinion of sex and relationships as you were. As I well know. A lot of boys would actually be quite against this idea.

Rob, meanwhile, has been equally unhelpful, warning me to stay away from "the bitch," which is a slightly simplistic view to take, so... I'm not sure I can take that route either. She's in my life one way or the other.

But I got home after that meeting, and I just couldn't stop thinking about those looks she had been giving me... those bedroom eyes, that vibe she'd sent out that very clearly into me. Part of me felt guilty that she was attracted to "Rob" under false pretenses, and part of me felt a little... intrigued by that vibe. It's all very confusing.

There's really no easy way around it now. It's gotten to the point where I have to start making decisions that might affect Rob longer than I plan on staying as him. Sure, it wouldn't hurt Rob personally to break off all contact with his ex-wife... but some part of me doesn't sit well with mending fences with this woman and then giving her a new reason to hate me.

Well, I'll be thinking about it... believe me.
-Alia

PS In case you were wondering, the items Ingrid had to return to Rob were a milk crate of vinyl LPs. There's some good stuff in there, like Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Santana, Emerson Lake & Palmer... okay, maybe not that last one.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Greg/Priya: Slutty Halloween and Priya Dreams

So its been something ridiculous like over a month since I last posted to this blog, hopefully nobody got TOO worried about me. The thing is, I havent really had much to worry about. Im apparently a good teacher, since I got thru my first round of parent teacher conferences without any of the parents thinking that I was really some guy pretending to be a Kindergarten teacher. Although parent teacher conferences for Kindergarten are kinda weird, since I had to use all sorts of eduational terminology because im basically evaluating these kids' learning abilities at a young age. Yeesh, when I type it like that it makes it sound a lot more serious than i take it.



Anyway, Im a good teacher and Ive adapted to the life of one a such. Ive also been a lot more social than I was originally, altho when you consider I was a total hermitress thats not saying much. Ive actually been spending a lot of time with Phil and Mike on the weekends. Just hanging ot and watching football with them.



To clear up a question that was posted on the comments section of my last post: Phil and Mike are not gay. I called Priya and asked what the situation was and she told me that Phil was enganged and Mike and her were just friends and both were definitly on her DNF list, (which she typed up and emailed to me just in case).



Ive also been doing social things with Amber. Not just social obligation stuff, but like really truly interested in doing best friend stuff. The other day I went to Target with her to help her return a shirt. Its not something that I had to do with her but I miss her so much that any chance I can get to be around her I take, even it is just coffee and girl talk.



Of course this leads me to last week and what was probably considered a social obligation. It was halloween and as any red blooded american knows any woman between the ages of 18-35 uses this night as an excuse to dress slutty. I had thought that I, being an example for young children, would not have to dress in such a way because it wouldnt be allowed. I was wrong. Halloween was on a Saturday and I was in for a party with a whole bunch of mine and Ambers friends. (we did have a halloween celebration at the school on Friday. I wore cat ears)



So on Saturday morning, just as I got back from my bike ride and getting ready to watch football, I get a text from Amber saying she had the costumes asking what time I was going over there to get ready for the party. This perplexed me because I have been Priya Patel for almost 4 months now, and I never once bought a halloween costume. Apparently she and Amber had planeed this MONTHS ago (which is apparently something girls do for halloween)

So when I arrived at my old place, the love of my life answered the door dressed like a playboy bunny. Not like nude model, but like a waitress from the old playboy clubs that were open in the 60s. It consisted fo someting that looked like a black one piece swimsuit (with a tail on the butt), fishnet stockings, high heels, and bunny ears. I dont know which was worse, the fact that I had no physical reaction this sight, or that there was a matching outfit inside in my size. And when I say in my size, I mean Priyas size when they bought, and even though my biking and miller lite drinking have resulted in weight loss (4 pounds, yay me), it was a tight squeeze. I didnt look gross or anything, but I definitly filled it out and you could see all my curves. (again, no pics)

So after intensive hair and makeup prepping we were ready to head out. Dee had come home by then and got into her "costume". Apparently Dee was a 1960s ad executive, from some show called Mad Men which I had never seen but it was apparently Dee's favorite show. HER costume consisted of a suit, a hat, some cigarettes (which she didnt light), and a glass of brown liquor. I could not see any of her curves :-/

The party was at our friend Jake's house. Jake is a friend of mine from college and he is good friends with me and Amber, as were most of the people at the party. Most of the non familial guest list to our wedding was in attendance.

This made things difficult for me, becuase while i knew everyone there, not all of them there knew me, at least not in my current form. Some of them knew Priya and some of them didnt. The trouble came about when I said hi to my friend Jerry and he had no idea who I was. I was able to make up a story about overhearing Greg say hi to him. What i couldnt explain away was why I started talking to him. For most guys when a pretty girl talks to him at a party, he automatically things this girl is interested in him and begins to be interested himself. This caused Jerry to flirt with me ALL NIGHT. Now, Jerry is a nice guy and my friend, but Im still not really very comfortable being flirted with yet. Fortuneatly he didnt ask for my number at the end of the night and i stayed pretty sober so as not to do anything stupid. All in all it wasnt bad except for having people I know check me out all night when they thought I wasnt looking.


But that experience wasnt what prompted me to blog. That occured last thursday night when I had the strangest dream. In my dream I was drivng for a very long time until I got to Memphis where I met Amber for ribs. The premise wasnt the strangest thing about it though, the strangest part was after I woke up the next day and realized that during my dream I was Priya. Not Greg.

I dont know much about physiology or psychology but all I know is that when I first started looking like Priya, my brain was still very much Greg and my dreams reflected that. Now, there all Priya. And since you dont remember all your dreams its impossible for me to pinpoint when exactly this started. Has my brain subconsciously adjusted to the fact that I know look like this and now uses this form as my self image? What about all the other posters, past and present, Do/Did you dream in your new body or your original one?

Leave comments or mention in your next entry please.

-Greg (Still)

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Cliff/Tori: All dressed up and no place to ho...

Hurray for me! I'm getting my sense of humor back.

This weekend has been quiet, unusually so. This is mostly because the parents have gone away, leaving me in charge of the house (gee thanks.) Friday night after work I went out to the bar with "the gang:" Thom & Sara, Raine, Cyndi from work, and her boyfriend. It wasn't awkward, and indeed was rather uneventful; we avoided the "fifth and sixth wheel" rut Raine and I got into last time I wrote about it and actually had a nice night. Uneventful.

Saturday, as you must know, was Halloween. I made dinner for Mae and myself. Cooking was something I actually enjoyed for years, since I've been on my own for a while, I started learning to cook since before I left college. Not that I could work in a restaurant or anything, I'm no iron chef. I just know how to cook a decent variety of small meals. You know, like if I ever had a date....... but let's not worry about that now that I am Tori. I will state however that I never thought cooking was a "feminine" trait. My dad was a good cook too, it's important.

Sadly, we didn't have much in the house for me to work with, so I just made spaghetti and meat sauce, which used a somewhat special recipe. And garlic bread. We sat down to eat quietly... Mae and I always have these long awkward silences when it's just the two of us, obviously sibling hostility left over from when Tori was herself. I mean, I'd resent it if I was still at home and my older brother came back and sponged off my parents. I can relate, but I can't make her understand that. So I just have to accept things as they are; there's always going to be some discomfort between us.

Point to ponder: It's one thing to become "a girl." It's another thing to become a different person. It's been said before but this is one of those times that underlined it.

Anyway, not much was said for a while until she broke the ice by remarking how good the food tasted. I played it down, saying it wasn't anything much, but she pressed it, "No, seriously, since when can you cook?"

"It's nothing special, really. Anyone could do this. It's just following directions."

She half-joked "Since when can you follow directions?" I smirked, snorted a quick laugh, and kept eating with no comment. She looked at me and asked, "Are you wearing my shirt?"

I was wearing one of those American Eagle plaid overshirts I bought when I was in Louisville. Mae has a number of similar clothes. I explained this.

"Right," she said, slurping her spaghetti, "When you were visiting your mysterious 'friends' out in Kentucky."

"That's right. Why, what do you think I was doing?"

"I have no idea," she joked, "And frankly, I don't wanna know. I'm just saying, you're copying my style. You've never done that. What's going on with you?"

"I dunno," I shrugged, "People change."

She was finishing up her meal when she changed the tone to an unexpectedly honest one. "You know, I'm sorry if I've been a bitch to you since you came back," she sighed. "You've been really cool lately and I'm starting to think I'm going a bit overboard with some of the stuff I've been saying."

It was really nice to hear, although she didn't need to say it. It was easy for me to keep from taking it seriously, because I knew it wasn't about me anyway, and I have plenty of experience ragging on/being ragged on by my brother and other guys. Maybe Tori wasn't so thick-skinned about it.

"Don't worry, Mae," I said, "I mean, we're (ahem) sisters," that was me clearing my throat so as to not choke on admitting to being someone's sister, "It's what we do."

"I never thought I'd say this, but I'm starting to like the new you. Anyway, I'll probably be out late. Ed's coming to pick me up," her little boyfriend, Raine's brother. "Don't tell mom and dad, okay?"

"You got it." It was a nice moment. I felt trusted.

She left me, alone with the dog. Now, I was supposed to go out and party with Raine and Sara. We were all going to dress up as Disney Princesses. Actually, they were going as Disney princesses (Raine as Belle, Sara as Jasmine.) I got a "sexy Robin Hood" outfit despite their protests; I argued that Disney did Robin Hood too, but they said that was missing the point. Then they joked about wearing a red shirt and no pants and going as Winnie the Pooh. Anyway, I was drawn to the costume because of the, er, gender-type implications, but after trying it on, I felt a little too sexy (plus I could hardly breathe in it) so I decided not to go.

I spent the evening hanging out with the dog, handing out candy and watching movies -- Ghostbusters 1 & 2, then Gremlins 1 & 2. Of course, Gremlins 1 is more of a Christmas movie, but... anyway. Around 9, I hadn't gotten any trick-or-treaters in a while so I turned out the front lights, and as the movies played I stripped out of my costume. Yes, despite what I said about not being able to breathe, I wore the costume because I wanted to wear something and it was either that or a large men's vampire outfit buried in "dad's" closet. Don't worry, I wore a shirt underneath to avoid exposing all the little kids to my cleavage.

Anyway, being the lazy disorganized sort of the night, I neglected to even put on a new layer of clothes. I went about in my bra and panties doing laundry and other household chores. Cleaned the dishes, shaved my legs. I fell asleep on the couch around two, half-dressed cuddling with the dog, with a half a beer on the coffee table.

When Mae got in a little later, she was sure to snap a picture. Not amusing. We talked a little about her date, which is something we hadn't done before.

Back in my own life, I used to go out and party on Halloween, usually making a drunken fool of myself or striking out. I didn't mind a quieter night, but it does get lonely.

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