Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tori: Christmas is here again

This is my fourth Christmas as a woman. This year, because there's not a ton going on in my life, I found myself thinking back to the first one.

I remember the stress of getting presents for a "family" that still felt largely like strangers, or at most recent acquaintances. I remember drilling the "real" Tori for ideas for mom and my brother Ken and my relief that I could relate somewhat to my new tech-loving dad and tomboyish sister Mae.

I remember having to feign excitement on Christmas morning as I opened boxes of cosmetics and fashions and jewellery that reminded me how uncomfortable I was in my new body, how the world wanted me to look, how much I didn't know. It was intimidating and scary and frustrating and annoying... and because I was "playing" Tori, I had to smile.

Then a little later I took it all out and laid all the clothes out on my bed and thought how it wasn't any different from what I was already wearing... clothes are clothes, after all, and even more, these would be clothes that the first Tori never wore, stuff that was all mine from the first go, picked out for me by someone with a better sense than I had. It was like how I went shopping with Karen when I visited her down in Louisville.

I'm still not exactly a fashionista, but I at least enjoy buying clothes, and I certainly don't mind dressing up now and again, if the situation calls for it. Most importantly, I enjoy, rather than resent, getting them as gifts. As a man I didn't need much in the way of new clothing, and it's still true that most of the year if I know I want something I buy it for myself... but the unexpected upside to the world of women is that there are always more clothes and accessories. Once I would have thought they were just for frivolous, style-obsessed girly girls, but even basic chicks like me can appreciate a nice-fitting top or a cool scarf.

It's taken a few years, but I've finally gotten the hang of these extended family gatherings... there were so many uncles and aunts and cousins I just never saw often enough to learn their names. It's been long enough that cousins who were just tweens when I met them are blossoming into wonderful gawky teens.

When Ken and Jana arrived with the baby, the family all congregated around to hear their tales of new parenthood. I'll admit, I love them as much as anything in this whole world but I've seen a lot of them lately, and I've heard all the stories, and they had a lot of people to catch up with, so I excused myself to the basement to idly putter around.

Surprisingly, I was followed by my sister Mae. One of my early great memories was from that first Christmas, bonding with Ken. Mae and I have gotten closer, but she remains elusive. I've been wrapped up in my own life too, so I don't blame her, that I don't really know what's going on with her.

I welcomed her into the rec room and cracked her a beer. "Don't tell anyone I gave you this."

"Everyone knows I drink," she said.

"Yeah, but I'm not supposed to approve."

"So how are you doing?" she asked, "With the breakup and all."

A few years ago she wouldn't have asked, except to bait me for snark, but she seemed genuinely interested. "Honestly? I don't know. Alex and I left things off on such a... weird note. But I miss him."

"Think you'd get back together?" she swigged.

"Out of the question. The reason we broke up... well, he wasn't who I thought he was. There were things between us that can't be undone. I have to move forward. But it's weird... none of that changes the way I feel about him, and somehow that's worse."

"You and your drama," she said. "If you like someone, just stay with them. Figure it out."

"Some things are more important than one guy or another," I told her with a smile, "And believe me, when it comes down to it, as much as I liked him... loved him... that's all he was. One guy. There was only so much... there was only so far I was willing to go to be with him. What he wanted, no guy is worth."

"And what was that?"

"Hm.... I don't know," I admitted. "Control, I think."

We talked a bit longer before finally being called back for dinner and other shenanigans. In my happy, drunken phase, I found myself wondering about the new - that is, the real - Alex, what he was doing with that life. It wouldn't be too hard for me to find him, I know he's still out there... but I convinced myself it would be selfish and perverse to assume I had any place in his life just because I dated someone who looked like him.

Then just as I was getting used to the idea of moving on, I found out one more thing. Sara and Thom bought a house in Delaware. These two people I've known almost as long as I've been this person, are headed out into the world to start their lives together. They're the same age as this body and considerably younger than my old one... but they're ready. And I'm nowhere near that. And that's just been nagging at me. I hope I haven't just been wasting my time, you know? The extra years I got from becoming Tori. I have to remember that I'm not really as old as I feel... I've still got time. There's a lot of fun I can have.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Matt/Gabrielle: This is...wrong

When I was in junior high health class we watched a video about peer pressure and how it wasn't cool to give in when your friends made it seem like you weren't cool for drinking or doing drugs or having sex. I honestly never understood the last one, because while there was peer encouragement to have sex there weren't exactly a lot of opportunities to feel pressured, at least not for me, I wasn't that cool in junior high. But rest assured, if some girl were pressuring me into having sex, junior high me would have jumped at the chance.

Maybe that part was aimed more at the girls, who were fighting off horny boys like myself. I can commiserate lately because it seems like everyone expects me to be sexual when I don't feel like it at all. Going from a man in my 20s to a woman in my 30s there is a steep drop off in sex drive, so much so that I don't actively notice it because sex is the furthest thing from my mind. Between the soreness constant jiggling and the stress of child raising and home making (oh, and my period. THAT was interesting), I don't have the time to feel sexy.

This of course is a great disappointment to Dustin, who is suddenly finding himself in a sexless marriage with a woman he understands less and less each day. I feel bad for the guy, I really do, but that doesn't mean I'm going to do something I'm not comfortable doing. Some of the readers of this blog aren't helping either. I guess they think that most every man who turned into a woman and wrote about it had sex at some point that eventually I'll have to do so. I've gotten comments saying “Give him a blowjob” or “How about a handjob” and the worst “You're going to have to do it SOMETIME”. Seriously guys, that's right out of the cheesy video. This past week however I received sexual pressure from a more disturbing place: Lacey.

Dustin and Isabella were out of the house last Saturday and I was in the bedroom just out of the shower and getting dressed when I felt two hands grab my behind. Thinking it was Dustin needing the brush off I turned around and saw Lacey grinning at me.

“You really do have a nice ass for someone youre age” she teased

“Out” I ordered “I'm getting dressed”

“Not like I haven't seen most of it before” she said with a flirty grin that looked a little creepy “Although I wouldn't mind seeing the rest of it” and with that she put her arms on my hips and kissed my neck.

I pushed her off “What are you DOING?”

“We have the house to ourselves all day” she shrugged “I figured we could fool around. It's been awhile”

“ARE YOU INSANE?” I whisper-screamed

“Why not?”

“I'm your MOTHER” I hissed

“No, youre my boyfriend” she said matter of factly. “In the body of some random woman who I don't really see as my mother. My mother lives in New York”

“So you see me as a potential lover?”

“I see you as MY lover. The one I've been in a long term monogamous relationship with for a long time. Besides, when else are we going to have an opportunity to have sex like this? With me as the man, and you as the woman. You can't tell me you aren't curious.”

I digested what she said for a moment. This was Lacey. The woman I've slept with countless times. We were the same people on the inside and I didn't see my son when I looked at her, just some teenager. But all I thought about the scene towards the end of Back to the Future, where Marty is in the car about to make out with his mom in the back of the car and she looks at him and stops and says “This is wrong”. For all she knew he was Calvin Klein. She had no conscious idea that it was her son or even that she would have a son, but something inside her told her not to do that. I felt something similar. I know Lacey is not Wesley and I know Wesley is not my son, but there's some innate feeling inside of me that I get when I look at her or Isabella. I never gave birth to them nor have I raised them, but I still feel SOMETHING I can't put my finger on.

“No” I said firmly “Its just wrong. I'm your mother so its incest, you're under 18 so its statutory rape, and I'm not comfortable being a girl so its weird. We aren't having sex like this”

“At all?” she said annoyed “Well then its going to be a LONG year, because I am constantly horny.”

“Get some porno, its all over the internet”

“I did that like the 2nd day here” she explained “It helped, but it's not the real thing. I want the real thing. A lot. This thing has a hair trigger, how the hell do men get anything done?”

“It kind of dies down when you get older, but yeah at 14 you just gotta deal with it”

“Yeah, well I'll be in my room dealing with it. Knock first if you come in”

She left and I finished getting dressed. We had an awkward dinner that night with me unable to make eye contact with her. I remember being 14 and feel kind of bad for her but theres no way I'm crossing that many taboos, no matter how much I care for her.

She should watch that video, maybe she'd quit trying to pressure me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tori: Easier but not easy

Every so often I read this blog and I hear about people who are in the same or similar situation to mine from a few years ago... people who are in a body, a life totally different from their own. Matt's case strikes me because even though the body I am in is nothing like Gabrielle's... and neither is my life... I feel like I relate greatly to him in this state. Even out of respect, I call him "him" despite the fact that his body is female, because at that time I would've wanted to be called "him" too... it's a sanity thing.

As I commented, I hope that Matt, as many of our colleagues do, finds his way to his proper body. If he doesn't though - or at least in the meantime while he can't... I'll say what I can to comfort him. And that's that it gets easier. I'm sure he's already noticed. It gets easier every day to look yourself in the mirror and see a person you can identify as yourself. It gets easier to do things you never thought you'd have to, for your appearance or for your everyday life... it gets easier to play the part, maybe because there's a part of that person left inside of us - there's so much we don't understand about the brain and body - or maybe because we're just adaptable. It gets easier to dress and act and become someone else. Scarily easy, too. I was thinking about this the other day and it made me sad.

I was thinking about friends from high school, some of whom I had long lost touch with before my transformation. I think, fantasize even about how much different life would have been if I had been this instead of that. If I would have been someone I liked or if I would have been like the real Tori. I know the exact sort of people the real Tori was friends with then. They weren't my biggest fans and I wasn't theirs.

It's gotten easier for me to be Tori now, but it remains hard, maybe even harder, to forget I ever was Cliff. To pretend like I don't have a past, that I didn't always wear a bra and makeup. I feel guilty that I take a much greater interest in my looks today than the girls who shared my interests in high school (probably the reason why I didn't date them... I was fantasizing about the Toris of the world!)

When I was at Sara and Thoms wedding I ended up getting a little drunk and having a heart-to-heart with some distant relative of Thom's, this 17-year-old kid named Adam. He looked so intimidated by me and I temporarily forgot what effect someone with my looks has on a kid like that. I was ducking out from all the be-suited bros on the dancefloor and he was sitting apart.

I asked him if he was having a good time. He feigned yes, but I got him to admit he felt uncomfortable. I said I knew what he meant... when I as his age I would've rather been at home than dragged out to an event like this, especially without anyone I knew. He seemed confused by this and I told him "You'll just have to take my word for it, I didn't always look like this." Once I put him at ease he was a nice kid to talk to, opening up about his school life and home life. I overlooked the fact that he was transfixed by my chest, because the poor kid probably doesn't have a lot of female friends... although if he wants to get some he should probably knock that off.

Anyway, since I've been thinking about that, it occurred to me that I've hardly been out since, and have really let my social life take a hit since my breakup with Alex. I realized that if I want to meet a guy, I'm going to have to actually meet a guy. I don't feel like I can trust that another one will just fall into my lap. It's almost time to get out there. Scary thought. I've never been "out there" before.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Matt/Gabrielle: Thankful that its Over

No, “it” isn't over. I did not change back into myself. That's not why its been a couple of weeks since I posted. I'm still in Florida. I'm still in Gabrielle. I'm just in a bit more trouble. I had hoped to post once a week or so in hopes of keeping myself sane and reminding me who I really am, but that got derailed recently by something I could never think about again: Thanksgiving.

I know right? Who doesn't like thanksgiving? It's the ultimate American holiday. Non denominational, tons of food, football. It's worth spending time around relatives just to lounge around and enjoy yourself. What you don't always think of is the fact that behind every thanksgiving dinner is someone busting their ass in the kitchen, and this year that person was me and I didn't want to do it. Blame traditional gender roles or something but cooking thanksgiving dinner was something I would never in my wildest dreams have seen myself doing, but all of a sudden I was responsible for cooking a huge variety of foods I didn't know how to cook.

I tried to beg out of it, but Dustin wouldn't let me. “You're the one who insisted that we have it at our house this year, you argued with my mom for days before she agreed to it. You' can't back out now, plus I've already bought most of the food”. So once again I was locked into a situation created by something that Gabrielle said before I was her. (This happens quite a lot, that woman has said lots of things that have caused me grief, chief among them: I do).

I figured if I had to do it, I was going to do it as simple as possible. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, yams were the menu items. Stereotypical thanksgiving food, nothing fancy or tricky. I went online for instructions on how to cook them and got up 5am Thursday to being prepping.

I was a little behind schedule when people started arriving at 9. Apparently “family thanksgiving” meant Dustin' brother, his wife and their two kids, his sister, her husband, and their three kids and my newly acquired mortal enemy, his mother Georgia.

At first meeting, Georgia seemed like a nice person. She came in the door all smiles and hugs, especially for her sons and the children all seemed to love hugging and getting presents from Yaya Georgia (I think that's what it was). She's a pretty unassuming woman to look at. Less than 5 feet tall, gray hair in a bun, a rounded shape, and a heavy Greek accent she looked quite normal for someone in her 60s. However if I had to guess I'd put her actual age closer to 200 owing to what can only be a pact with Satan.

After her initial greetings and catching up she came into the kitchen to help me cook, and by help me cook I mean passive-aggressively reminding me why she was the better person to do it. Apparently she and the real Gabrielle had argued for weeks over where to have the meal and eventually the old woman reluctantly agreed.

While she was reminding me that this difficult undertaking was what I wanted she was also criticizing, she was quite good at that. She had a criticism for everything. “You're chopping that too large. you're chopping that too small. Not enough seasoning. You're behind schedule. Not enough traditional Greek dishes. You've gained weight. My son hasn't gained enough weight. I need more grandchildren.” It is a testament to my patience that that woman made it out of the house alive after doing that in close proximity to me and several knives. This is Florida. I've seen Dexter. I think I could get rid of a body if I had too.

Whenever one of the other women would come in to the kitchen to offer to lend a hand Georgia would remind them loudly about I had insisted that I could do it myself and go off on some other obnoxious tangent that would cause them to smile sympathetically at me and go in the other room.

In a way I can see why Gabrielle would volunteer for this. To me Georgia is a pain in the ass who I shouldn't have to see that many more times but for her she has to be a presence in her life. If I had to accept that I might go past ignoring while silently wanting to kill to actively trying to shut her up. Being able to upstage her at cooking would have done just that if the Inn hadn't intervened.

I cornered Lacey and tried to talk her into helping hoping she'd understand the true nature of my plight but no such luck.

“Sorry, Mom. Grandma seems like a bitch” she told me “And besides, I'm male bonding with my 'cousins'. We're swapping sexual conquest stories These guys are so full of shit. They know nothing about the female anatomy”

“And what are you telling them?”

“Accurate info. For the sake of their future girlfriends”

So while my real significant other was corrupting/enlightening two teenage boys my fake significant other was drinking beer watching football while I tried not to stab his mother and prepare thanksgiving.

Sadly for all my effort and learning of recipes I still managed to overcook the turkey. Not burned per se but it was a nice dark brown and quite noticeably dry. That of course meant I overcooked the stuffing. On top of that the mashed potatoes were lumpy and I didn't even try the yams since I didn't know what they were supposed to taste like in the first place. The cranberry sauce was perfect because all I had to do was open a can but overall it was a subpar dinner.

Everyone at the table could tell but politely choked it down and thanked me for making it. All except Georgia. She barely touched it and spent the entire meal with a look of smug vindication on her face. Almost as if to say: “SEE. I TOLD you she was a terrible cook. The horrible woman who stole my son away makes awful food. I was RIGHT”

After everyone went home I poured myself some wine and made a secret phone call to the real Gabrielle. She wanted details on how her family was doing and I told her of the debacle dinner. She told me it was her fault for getting me into it and thanked me for my effort.

My efforts were less appreciated when I went upstairs to bed that night and Dustin was awake.

“So that went terribly” he said not looking up

“Hey, I tried to get out of it” I reminded him

“And if I knew you were just going to mail it in I would have let you”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you did a half ass job. You're a much better cook than that and you know it. You just didn't do your best. You've been doing that a lot lately. Every since you got back from Maine. Which is weird because that trip had the opposite effect on Wesley”

“Well I'm sorry I all of a sudden don't meet your standards in the kitchen anymore”

“Not just the kitchen” he mumbled

“What does that mean?”

“It's been months” he said with rolled eyes and raised eyebrows

“Oh don't even bring THAT up” I said “Go sleep on the couch”

He laughed at me and rolled over, clearly not taking that threat seriously. “Goodnight, Gabi”

Marriage is nothing like on TV.