Friday, August 20, 2010

Cliff/Tori: I was having such a good week, too.

The summer has been great for getting myself lost in my own totally undramatic life. Work, friends, family... I lead a comfortable life, it's true. This past week was particularly enjoyable until today.

A little after I came to Philadelphia last year, it was Mae's birthday. August 11th, to be specific. As you can understand, I was too caught up in my own crap to care about this random girl's 16th birthday. She was basically a stranger, and I had recently found myself transformed, moved, unemployed and whatever problem you want to put on that list. I was feeling sorry for myself, resentful of my surroundings, afraid and confronted on all sides. It was a real, real long time before I began to feel comfortable in Tori's family. The fact that I have at all says something about how awesome these people have been.

For her birthday, mom took her to a piercing place on Saturday to get a nose stud put in. I went along out of interest. When I first became Tori I had pierced ears, of course, and even put them to use during my Torification last fall, but like many of the aspects of that little experiment, I got tired of keeping up with them and stopped wearing earrings altogether. This led to the piercings closing up, and me being too lazy/focused on other things to get them done. But, I figured, since we were already there... it was a little gesture to show myself my current balance between the man I was and the woman I've become. My own woman.

I did stop just short of getting a tattoo that of my old initials -- "JHC" -- just because I don't go for that sort of thing. Plus, everyone might think it stands for Jesus H. Christ.

It was a nice family gathering after that, seeing many of those obscure cousins I still don't feel comfortable around. Aunts wondering why I'm not seeing anyone (and me getting surprisingly flustered at the question.) Always nice to hang around and be Ken's little sister. He was pretty concerned with wedding stuff, which was odd to me. I've never known a guy to take much interest in that aspect, but he professed his desire to me not to have his wedding be "lame," which amused me.

At the end of the night, with the guests all cleared out, mom took a look around the room and declared her desire to re-paint the place. Like, immediately. In the year I've been here, she's always slightly tweaking the look of the place, and on at least one occasion I came home from work and the furniture was re-arranged, but this was a new level of impulsiveness.

So after I got to learn how exhausting it is to move furniture around in a petite female body, I decided to escape the chaos by shacking up with Raine at her parents' still-empty place.

The week that ensued was one of the most relaxing of my entire time as Tori. No family, no pets, nothing but my one friend, and sometimes our other friends. She doesn't even bug me when I don't feel like hanging out, just leaves me be. Besides, Guy has been around a lot to keep her busy. And you may think "Oh that must be awkward, if they're constantly screwing around," but the truth is, if they are, they're being a little more discreet about it than mom & dad Pearce ever are.

I've gotten to learn a lot about Raine just be staying at her place. Since it's her parents' place, I try to minimize my impact by constantly washing dishes and clearing away debris. She tells me not to worry, but I can't help it. Call it a compulsion I've had since I became Tori, not to disturb the original state of things. That's how I was for the first several months of the change, before I got, possibly, too comfortable.

If only I could have her comfort with the scenario. I never realized, but Raine is really, really, um, free with her body. If she's not going out, she doesn't bother to get dressed, and has spent entire days in a pair of shorts and bra, or a swimsuit, or less. It's really more irksome to me than anything, since I can't help but look, but I'm always disappointed by what I see and how it does or doesn't affect me. It doesn't turn me on, but it still fascinates me on some weird, perverse level, so I have to remind myself not to gawk (even though, let's face it, it's pretty out of the ordinary in any context.)

Guy, luckily, has not let me catch him in any state beyond shirtless, which could be awkward for any number of reasons.

Things were going really well, until today, when I was talking to Cyndi at work. Back when we first met, it seemed like Cyndi really wanted to be my friend, and for a long while was the one I felt most comfortable around, since she had no prior relationship with Tori, no expectations for how I was supposed to react. as time went by and Sara and Raine noticed my behavior less and less, I depended on Cyndi less for companionship, which was fair enough since after the summer began, she started getting a lot of modeling jobs. See, the reason I felt so attached to Cyndi was that she is probably the most attractive woman who has ever spoken to me. And she'd never been anything but sweet and accommodating of my weirdness, and back in March, I even helped her through a spat she had with her boyfriend, Leo.

So imagine my shock when I was trying to get Cyndi to finally turn up for one of our backyard BBQ pool parties, and she just let out this exasperated sigh and cut loose, basically saying:

"I can't do this. You know I have my own life, right? I'm sick of you trying so hard to be my friend. I don't want to talk to you anymore. You're so unaware of the world around you. You sponge off other people, you coast through life, you complain about being alone in life, but you never do anything to fix it. Look at you. Sometimes you sound like an intelligent, independent person, but there are some times it sounds like you just woke up from a coma or something. The worst part of it is you work here, and what does that say about your personality? You don't even have any ambition. You're coasting" (I'd point out the hypocrisy of her saying this, but she does have those modeling jobs.) "I'm through with you, Tori. You used to be interesting, but now I just don't care. Don't talk to me. I'm done."

And that was... pretty much it. I had no idea she felt like this, but I couldn't stop thinking about it for the rest of the day, couldn't focus on work, went home and couldn't sleep. On the ride home, I started to tear up and struggled to hide my breakdown from the other SEPTA passengers. When I got back to Raine's, I hurried up to the guest room, collapsed in bed and started to bawl.

Here's the fucked-up thing: I know she's wrong. I know the reason it appears I have no ambition is because I can't actually get a job using my real skills. I know I seem whiny despite my looks, but it's because of years and years of shyness and romantic insecurity. I just can't explain any of this to her, and if she was just going to unload on me completely unprovoked, I don't want her as my friend anyway. But that doesn't mean it can't hurt my feelings that somebody thinks of me this way.

Months and months of being okay with my life -- hell, enjoying it -- nearly unraveled by one completely unrelated altercation. It just makes me think, what if I never do go back? That's a real possibility. I've got to stop wasting my time living the status quo left to me by a girl who didn't even want her life back. If the world's already changed me, I need to make changes of my own.


Anonymous said...

What night classes will it take for you to replenish your credentials? How far up that particular academic and professional ladder do you feel the need to go? Do you really desire to return to working in your old position, or is this more an urge to reclaim that much, at least, of what was taken from you? If the latter, it's likely more the forward motion you need and less the particular heading, despite the comforting familiarity.

For all the old skills and knowledge with a basis in technology, it's time to evaluate the changes, not only in the currently-hot technologies, but in the job markets for those who use them. You might find that you'll get better return on your efforts, and greater satisfaction, by branching away from your original objective.

I also suggest that you look for ways in which, even if you can't claim them on a resume, you can leverage new efforts with your old skills and expertise. Some technologies which were trending not so long ago are now settled into being commodities. Maybe the profit's squeezed out of them, but the mastery is now a side-asset in other areas; you'll pick up needed new skills quicker for it, with a greater scope of awareness of the context.

In a real sense, you've been given a redo: you have prior personal experience and insider information on your course ahead. While you're quietly planning ahead and being strategic about it, you can quietly laugh off that entire emodump you received as irrelevant. Besides, its impact will fade into history as you meet new people, who are more your kind anyway, at the college where you take those classes.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Anonymous #1 has a very long way of saying find something you want to do and do it.

Paradoxical said...

This might sound off the wall and a little odd, but there is something you need to learn to do. Go out and have a good time.

Now wait just a moment, I do not mean clubbing, BBQ's, or anything else along those lines. Those are social events which like it or not you have or are adapted to as your new body. Except for those random moments when some little thing like a question or awkward situation snaps you back to a place between selves.

I recommend you go to an expo, convention, sauna, or just something that neither you-old self or new self- has experienced and just let your hair hang down for a few hours without anyone you know or knows 'you' being around.

In short: Get up off that thing and do something till you feel better. Life is full of too many moments to let any one ruin the rest.

Anonymous said...

So, how you been doing? Long time, no blog....