Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tori: Under one roof

Since Buddy's job ended last week, he's been staying with me in Philly while we start moving my stuff over to my new place at Raine's. Sara's nearly moved out, so I can go over there anytime I want... I'm just having a hard time saying goodbye to the family.

I'm hoping having Buddy around will give me that motivation, because it's a little awkward knowing that dad will go down to the kitchen in the morning and see the guy who is banging his daughter sitting at the kitchen table. I mean, he's a cool guy and he takes it in stride, but I guess I imagine it's a front, like he'd rather not see that. I know I'd rather he didn't.

Really, it's been a remarkable step for our relationship. Before this, it was mainly about trying to keep the lines of communication open between sex. Now we're actually have to be together and do stuff. I mean, it's a lot of work. I'm used to having a lot of space and nothing to do, and now... it seems like we've always got to be doing something together.

I've been in relationships before. I never had sex as a guy, but I very nearly married my long-term girlfriend, so I know what it's like. I've just gotten so used to having nobody around that it's hard to update my routine. After the first few nights, we even started going to bed without having sex. I didn't know what to do. He wasn't even hard.

Now that I'm not working at the telemarketer, I was worried it would just be us sitting around the house all day bored, and then we'd eventually realize we didn't have much in common (totally not true) but I did get a new job. Thankfully it wasn't as hard as last time, because in the time since I've worked there I've managed to get enough new contacts and references that speak to me as a person (not just a hairdresser, as Tori was) that I got a job at one of the first places where I applied. This was especially weird since it was just past the holidays, so I wouldn't have thought it would be available.

It's nothing much, just a little clothing shop, a little boutique that opened up. I guess I got a bit of a feel for it since shopping with Raine. I've only worked like 20 hours per week since I started, but the girls there are really nice. The main catch is that they prefer we wear the stuff we sell, so I can't go to work in jeans and a t-shirt anymore (not that I thought I would be.) The clothes themselves aren't that remarkable, although I do look good in them.

Of course, this became a thing with Buddy, who's always tried to get me to dress sexier for him. I told him, here I thought I was sexy no matter what, and he says yes, but he'd rather I look the part. I just rolled my eyes instead of starting another fight over it. I think it bothers him when I make decisions that aren't based around him. That could be a problem later.

Sigh, this whole Houston thing. I don't know if I'm going to want to go, but I don't feel like ending it with him. And I really don't know if I trust myself going back to being single. Last time I was single, I was dead-set against going home with anybody, now I don't know that my judgment will be so intact. That's not a very good reason for keeping a relationship. And I really do like him. Maybe I love him, definitely when he's not being an asshead about my hair or my outfits or my job or my life. But do I "Houston-love" him? I'm getting ahead of myself. I won't even be done "school" until April. He knows I'll be here until at least then. I just need to keep the relationship afloat until that.

The family seems to like him. He says all the right things to mom and dad, he even won Mae over, so she doesn't judge me for dating him. Although if she nudges me and says "You should let him get you pregnant soon" again, I'm gonna smack her.

We're in a good place, I just need to be ready for it all to change.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Max: The Grind

Hectic early days of transformation turned into routine. Life slowed down. My life became a blur of work and home, nothing really seemed important. I was in serious danger of going on autopilot, which is bad news. When you step into someone else's body and life, stagnancy is hard to stave off, because you just don't know what to do.

I had the monkey on my back of attraction to Melanie. I would catch myself glancing her way at dinner, trying to find moments when she wasn't looking to get a glimpse of her face, her body. Wondering, if I was feeling this way about her, what was to stop her from thinking about me? But I was loaded with doubt. It wasn't likely she was there yet, not to mention, her "sister" slash "girlfriend" or whatever you want to think about their relationship, in plain view of the both of us. I couldn't in flinch in Melanie's direction without Tanya being aware. For a few weeks I barely spoke to anyone.

I can see the dining area from my station at work. Every time a pretty woman walks in I look over at her and try to think of her the way I had thought of Melanie. Sometimes I could see it taking shape. the way the blonde in the black dress might flick her hair to the side, or how the hipster girl with the glasses might look naked... and I thought to myself, I have the desire and the opportunity to go talk to any woman out there, if I want to. So what was stopping me?

A hot woman would walk into the store, and I know she's hot... like, guys, I know you have trouble admitting it when one of your own is attractive (and even pretend like you don't know) but women know. One of the guys in the kitchen would give me a nudge, and I'd just shrug like "She's ok," because she wasn't giving me that feeling.

Then the guy eventually asked, "Come on, man. What are you, gay?" And that question bothered me, so I just said "I don't know, maybe," expecting him to keep making fun of me for it.

But he didn't, oddly enough, he just went back to his work and said "Okay, let me know if you figure it out." Canadians!

Then a few weeks later, Melanie must've noticed I was acting weird around her, because she cornered me and kinda called me on it. She came down to the basement while I was playing Mario on the Wii and sat down next to me. I had no choice but to sit and talk with her.

"I just notice you getting really shifty around me, looking in my direction. We never talk, you don't hang around much. What's going on?"

She's got this "girl" thing down. Maybe it was the spell of the Inn putting her in that light for me, but she seemed so sensitive and delicate in her mannerisms I nearly spilled my guts.

But instead, I just kind of stammered out a response along the lines of, "Oh, I've just been giving you guys space, you know. I worry about you guys. I know this wasn't your first choice for how to end up..." I struggled to complete the thought, "It must be taking a real toll on you and her, and I'm not her favourite person, so I thought it'd be safer to just... keep my distance."

"Don't say that," she said, "Tanya thinks very well of you. She just doesn't show it well. She had a lot of anger pointed at you at the beginning, but I told her over and over that you had no more control over this than we did. Now she just wishes she felt like she could talk to you."

It's sad -- I had thought Tanya and I had had a nice moment early on, but I guess she wasn't immediately convinced about me. In faking concern for the two of them (well, it was real but not the real answer to her question) I found out how hard we had to work to bridge the gap between us.

I turned the subject over to two of them. "How are you guys... doing"

"Us?" she smiled that pretty, innocent smile, "There isn't really an 'us' anymore. We're done. Just don't tell her. I don't think she's ready to hear it."

"Oh really?"

"Well, come on, Max. Let's be honest here. We're not only both girls, but we're sisters, living under their mother's roof. It's been very hard to feel like a couple."

"Do you feel like sisters?"

She laughed, "To be honest, I feel like we're strangers. She still wants to talk to me like I'm a man, but there's this very obvious fact that I'm not. And it's sick, but this whole change has shown me how weak our relationship was. I'm starting to feel like it was always about sex for us. Without that, without planning dates and talking about work, and... and fucking, we don't have a lot of common ground."

"Sounds like you've thought about it."

"Believe me, I'll miss it. I'll miss her, but she's gone. She's not the woman I loved-- thought I loved. And I'm not her man anymore."

"But you say she's not ready to hear it?"

"I don't think so."

"So what does this mean for you?"

"It means..." she sighed. I watched her breasts raise and lower softly. "It means I live my life. This life. And she lives hers. And whatever happens to us, happens."

"And how does it feel you'll be living, at least for a while, as a girl?"

She scrunched her face up with a smile, "I'd rather not talk about it. Is that weird? I mean, I feel really comfortable around you and everything, I just... I'm not ready to dig into it. It's very... one day at a time. I know you used to be a girl, and Tanya's been really good about stuff, but I'm not going to want to start talking about it for a while yet."

"Well, whenever you're ready to talk, I'll be here."

"Thanks," she said, then laughed slightly, "That almost sounded like a come-on!"

I bit my tongue. It almost was.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tori C: A rough night for Victoria and her Buddy

When I got to New York, I was definitely expecting Buddy to be surprised at my new hairstyle, but I didn't expect him to flip out about it. I mean, it seems so innocent. It's just hair, it's not what defines me, it's not who I am. In fact, having short hair might make me more myself.

But when I took off my hat (a silly wool cap with ear flaps) and he saw what had happened, he just stared a while. "Well, that's... wow."

"Cute, right?"

He winced. "Uh, maybe? I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know? Everyone else has said it's nice."

"Well everyone else isn't dating you. I kinda would've liked a head's up at least."

"What's the big deal? It's just hair!"

Then he goes off on this whole thing about communication and trust and whatever, and how we're long distance so we should be paying special attention to that kind of thing because he can't be near me all the time -- and when I ask him just what is that supposed to mean, he says to drop it, it was a poor choice of words. I don't push the issue, but it still sticks with me.

I told him I didn't tell him because it was spur of the moment, and if I'd spent time talking to anyone about it, I probably wouldn't have done it, even though I'm happy with it. He insists I should have, and accuses me of making "a lot" of spur-of-the-moment decisions lately. Leaving my job, moving in with Raine. I guess he feels like we're on shaky ground. It seemed like neither of us could say the right thing, because I told him not to be insecure, and that sent him off into the snow for a few hours.

I had already called Ken to see if I could crash on their couch, if this fight was going to last all night, but I wanted him to come back first. I ordered up some food to tide me over since the two of us were clearly not eating together. He came back around 7, drunk, but I guess he hadn't eaten since he was mad I hadn't ordered anything for him.

I tried to apologize, but things just got worse until I finally just had to leave. I was in tears again, worrying about fucking up my first serious relationship as a girl right when it was starting to get good.

Ken and Jana were just about ready to get to bed by the time I arrived. And so was I, so I laid out on the couch with a comforter and tried to get some rest. Before I fell asleep, I heard a buzz in my purse. A text message from Buddy.

"I'm so sorry. I love you so much."

That hit like a fist in the face, and I spent so much time staring at it, trying to figure out what I wanted to say in response that I fell asleep without answering.

It didn't come up again the next day when we met up for breakfast, at this little corner cafe we like. Mostly we just talked about the future. In February, I'm starting night courses in computer repair -- it isn't anything I need to re-learn, but nobody knows that. Mainly I just want to brush up and get certified. It's a 6-week course and then I'll probably be able to get a job and just go on living my life.

That's when he told me he was moving around again. He's got a new gig in Houston, and if he's lucky it might become permanent. I went stone cold at this. If we were having this much trouble with him just a state over, how were we going to do with half a country between us?

Then he told me he was thinking, if it turns permanent, and we're in a good place, how would I feel about moving to Houston with him?

And I just didn't know what to think about it. Uproot myself again, leave this city, leave the family, commit, and basically give up the option to become Cliff again? I mean, I am basically done with that life, but I guess I just thought it would make an effective back-up plan if I ever needed it. I haven't even heard from Willie in months. Last I heard he was in England still.

I told him we'd see what happened. It's a possibility. But deep down it really feels like just too much to handle. To completely base my lie around this relationship? That would be different.

We went to the bus depot, and he told me to think about it and I said I would. I gave him a big hug and a kiss -- his lips were ice cold but his breath was so warm. We just stood there a while in our winter coats, holding each other, and he said to me, "Have a nice trip, Vic."

I looked up at him. He's never called me Vic before. I asked him where that came from and he said, "Your family all calls you Vic. I thought maybe I could call you that, too. Maybe since you're changing your life, you might like a new name. New haircut, new identity."

I smiled. It was a little bit of a dig, but kinda sweet also? Like, mean but also being cute, after all, it's a guy's name, and he makes it a point to remind me any time I do or say anything guyish, including my short hair. I told him it was all right if he wanted to keep calling me that. I've learned not to get too attached to names. You never know when you might wake up with a new one.

I kissed him on the cheek and told him goodbye. I spent the whole ride home wondering what Vic was gonna do next.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tori C: Impulsive behavior

I've been an emotional mess lately. Things aren't even that bad, but I've felt so stressed out by life now that I'm trying to make things happen with it, it makes me just want to hide in my room curled up in a little ball.

I've been packing up my stuff for when I move in with Raine on February 1, into Sara's old room. It's a bit far in advance, but it's important for me to go through all this junk, both inherited from Tori and accumulated by me -- and decide what I want to bring along because I won't have a ton of room to myself. Compared to the last time I had a major life-altering move, I think it's reasonable to want some control.

Sara and Thom will be getting a one-room apartment elsewhere. It's weird how couplehood has pushed them to the edge of our friendship circle. Danny and I hang out way more than I do with Sara, and Raine has her way of keeping guys at arm's length. And me, my boyfriend is over in the next state, for now at least, and the situation's not looking any better.

I'm not especially looking forward to leaving the family behind. I mean, I'll still come over all the time, but I know it's going to change. It's like going off to college all over again, except this time the family has been demonstrably more interested in keeping me around. With all due respect to my "real" family, the Cliffords, they were never as good to me as the Pearces have been. And that's really sad to me. How much I love these people.

Speaking of love... here's the real core of my stress. Last weekend, I was lying in bed with Buddy. I had my lips around his dick -- I'm trying to decide whether I like doing that or if I'm just giving him what I think he wants. And he's running his fingers through my hair and moaning with pleasure, and he says, "Mmm, yeah... I love that."

It made me pause. I guess on its own, it's a meaningless statement, but that word has been working its way out of his lips more and more often. I make a joke about Ewoks, and he says, "I love that you say stuff like that." He sees me in a low-cut black dress and says, "I love you in that." I get out of the shower and he says, "I love your hair when it's wet." It's starting to really get to me, like he's working he way up to saying the three little words. Every time it comes up, he seems to get closer. Later that night, he had his arms around me and we were falling asleep, and he whispers, "I love spending time with you."

I mean, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. We've been together a while now. We have a lot of fun together, he seems to get me. I just never considered the possibility that it was really love and not just... dating. Screwing around. God help me when he actually says it. I don't know how I feel. I never honestly expect to get that close to a human being, not like this.

So I was thinking about all this and stressing out and taking inventory of my stuff when I made a decision, a harmless little decision to cut my hair. Like, all of it. I mean, I didn't shave my head, but I'm definitely rocking the pixie look now.

I had only been to a hair salon a few times since being Tori. My hair has definitely suffered neglect. I just get really uncomfortable with all the ritual of the salon scene, versus the male ability to get in a chair and get out with shorter hair. What's more, even though the long hair has always been a hassle to me, I was so dead-set against altering anything I'd gotten along with being Tori that it had to stay even after I learned I'd be her for a good long while.

So I finally womanned-up and set foot in the salon with a photo of Audrey Hepburn -- as cliche as it is -- and the hairdresser just smiled and said "I'll take care of you, hun."

Like an hour later, my hair was nice and short. No more ponytails or blowing in the breeze, no more waiting hours for it to dry, no more long hairs down the drain or waking up with it all over my face.

The family was taken by surprise, it wasn't like "me," since "I'd" always held my hair with such importance. "It's just something new," I said. Mom thought it looked nice. Dad rolled his eyes. Mae said she was jealous, and boys were going to think I was smart now. Thanks, Mae.

Then I decided to brave snowpocalypse again to go to New York. As nervous as I was about Buddy being in love with me, I was especially interested in his reaction.

It was... not great. Really surprising, actually.

I'd give you the details, but the fight is technically still happening. He went out for a walk in the snow just to cool down. Considering the temperature, it ought to work. I'm thinking about staying with Ken and Jana tonight. Sigh.

I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Todd: New Years Gig

An old friend of ours who works in the kitchen of a dive club downtown heard that Bry and I had put together a new band and managed to get us a gig on New Years. The place was cramped and sketchy as anything, pretty much a basement, but a gig is a gig, free drinks are free drinks, and it's just generally nice to have something to do on New Years.

Shelby had been nervous playing in front of people for our first gig, but we've been working with her. She even attempted to bring one of her friends from school, a girl in her lit studies class, to the gig. This girl, apparently named Jewel, supposedly did show up but none of us ever saw her. For our part there were a lot of familiar faces around, who were happy to see us back in a band.

We played as part of a showcase, starting at around 10, with a minimal cut of the door and a small number of free drinks. We played about 45 minutes worth of the usual covers and three originals (Bry's been working on "Change You," a Nirvana-esque ode to the Inn that doubles as a metaphor for relationships... it's as good as anything he's ever written.) At Alia's urging, I did a bit more singing than I usually do including a deliberately bad singalong version of Oasis' "Wonderwall." Well, no matter what anyone else in the room says, I will say it was deliberate. But anyway, "Change You" and "Song for Crystal" two of our originals got a huge response, so that was encouraging.

After our set, we hung around a while, drinking and enjoying bands that were either:

a) Better than us
b) Better-rehearsed than us
c) Better friends with the management than us.

It was actually a really nice night, and we had a lot of fun. And then at midnight, I was kissing Alia, and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Bryan and Shelby going at it. This was not an innocent "Hey we're friend's and it's New Years so why not" kiss. This was drunken sloppy "I've wanted this for a while and now is a good enough time" make out. It was pretty ostentatious.

Now, far be it from me to tell Bryan how to live his life, but I had to register my disapproval on a few grounds. First, Shelby just got out of a relationship with her last boyfriend, so it makes me uncomfortable to think Bry had something to do with that, or if he's just a rebound. Neither option is good, although if it's the latter it will just seem like the natural course of events. The former option bothers me because it doesn't reflect well on Bryan. Or Shelby.

Another reason is of course, band romances are a bad idea. It was one thing for a group like Fleetwood Mac to all be screwing each other, they were a huge band. We're just three people that play instruments, and if we're not careful, our rehearsals might quickly become a lame excuse for Bry and Shelby to mess around, and then the band just falls apart. And if they break up, there goes our little group.

So yeah, I take it a little personally. I didn't make much of it at the time, I thought fair enough if they just want to mess around, they should know what they're getting into. Then a few days later we were jamming and I asked if they wanted to get dinner, and they said they already had plans. Ay yi yi.

Bry and I had a conversation where I basically summarized the above points (otherwise I wouldn't have posted them somewhere he could find them) and he answered yeah, good points, but he's gonna just do what he feels is right.


Well, that's on him. Plenty of drummers out there. Plenty of girls, too.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Tori C: Confrontation

I went to New York to see Buddy on New Years, but I wasn't feeling up to our usual brand of fun.

I haven't told him exactly why, but I was in a bad mood because of the night before. I had gone out drinking with Raine and we ran into of all people Cyndi... and Leo.

I got a chill up my spine. Cyndi had seemed much warmer in the past few weeks, chalked up to finding a new boyfriend... I just hadn't realized it was her old boyfriend, the guy I had until recently been banging without commitment.

The sight of the two of them together made me... irrationally angry. I was just coming off my period and a ton of holiday stress and the sudden thought that Leo was so okay breaking it off with me because he was back to her -- the woman he would complain about more often than talking about anything else, because he knew I agreed -- nauseated me. The idea that he may have been screwing her before we "ended" hurt me even more.

I didn't think they'd noticed us in the bar, so I was just about over it when I stepped out to the snowy parking lot to find her waiting there for me in the cold.

I guess she had found out, because she wasn't so sweet to me as she had been recently. Which was fine, since I knew she was a big faker anyway.

I tried to be the bigger person, brush her off and go home, but she kept throwing words. She said I was a slut for going after her man. Said I was a bitch because she used to consider em a friend, but she realized how two-faced I was (excuse me?!) But the straw that broke the camel's back was when she began slinging the d-word... a derogatory term for a homosexual female I won't repeat here.

That got my temper up like it's never been. I'm used to crying, used to being. sad and feeling like things are pointless, but I haven't been mad in years. I walked back over to her and shoved her, demanded she take it back. My voice must've gotten really shrill as I tried to put so anger into it. She just repeated her taunt. I shoved her again. She slapped me. Wrong move.

I had a big brother, and I used to get bullied at school. I know a thing or two about fighting, although I've never actually had to fight anyone (just kinda meekly defend myself or roughhouse.) I put her in a headlock. She began to claw and scrape at me and pull my hair, until I let go. She tripped me but I got up in time to scuffle some more with her, and at some point I may have punched her lightly in the boob. She responded by kicking me right in the crotch. And I might not have balls anywhere, but getting hit someplace personal hurts.

Now I was mad. And in pain. And emotionally off the rails. And I just socked her right in the face.

That sent her down for a second. I can tell you she'd never been hit in the face before, and since she models, it must've really shaken her. She just sat there, holding her jaw. Hell, the next day at work her lip was swollen. But there, she was sitting there looking at me, wondering how all this got so far out of hand. And when I unclenched my fist, I had to stop and realized I'd just punched a girl in the face. And whether I'm a girl or not, it felt wrong.

I left work early the next day and took a bus to New York. The whole ride, all I could think about was why things got so far out of hand. Was I mad at Leo for going back to her? Mad at myself for caring? Like I said, the very sight of them being back together unsettled me, but the moment that broke me was when she started laying into me and Raine, and the messed up thing was, a year earlier, I had kissed Raine on New Years and not thought twice about it (well, maybe I had thought twice) and now the insinuation that she and I were "together" was somehow an insult to me? What the fuck has become of me? I hated that I had that reaction.

It made me distant and cold to Buddy when I got to his place. We went to a little gathering with an acquaintance of his, and I just kinda faded into the background like old times. Back at the hotel, when he called me on it, instead of explaining myself to him, I just gave him something I figured I owed him. A little attention... if you know what I mean.

Maybe it was for him, maybe it was for me, maybe it was for show. Maybe it was for something to talk about on this blog.

Either way, it didn't feel great when I woke up with his sticky, bitter taste in my mouth (next time: toothpaste AND mouthwash) still emotionally sore (and a little physically sore) from the past few days.

When I got back to Philly, I handed in my two weeks notice. I had made up my mind, but now seemed like as good a time as any.

As to what I'm doing next... I have some thoughts, but I'll let you know when it happens.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Todd: A Quick MSN Convo

Alia: Hey what are you doing?

Todd: Homework

Alia: Lies

Todd: You can't prove that

Alia: Semester hasn't begun yet

Todd: I have a big assignment due in Jan I wanted to get ahead on

Alia: Still he lies!

Todd: For all you know that's true! I'm really responsible now!!

Alia: You went back to Maine didn't you! What's your name, lady?!

Todd: ...

Todd: Too far.

Alia: You laughed.

Todd: Nuh uh.

Alia: Todd I'm sitting at your desk, watching you on your bed, you're not doing homework. And you laughed.

Todd: K fine. I'm booking a vacation.


Alia: I was gonna say...

Todd: Just pricing New York trips.

Alia: Sounds good.

Todd: Also looking at porn.

Alia: Of course.

Alia: Touching yourself?

Todd: Of course.

Alia: Pics plz.

Todd: http://thechive.com/2010/06/21/so-i-guess-this-is-the-popular-new-pov-sweet-26-photos/?obref=obinsite

Alia: Mmm u so hot i got a boner wanna fuk??

(Three hours of sex ensues)