Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cal/Angie: One thing leads to another

After my little snit with Derek, I went into work the next day feeling totally drained.

I arrived at 10:00 to find a nice hot cup of tea waiting for me, courtesy of David, my co-worker.

It's some kind of berry concoction, I don't know the exact ingredients. It's Angie's favourite, and apparently David is under standing orders to bring one in whenever they are working together. I have to admit, it's grown on me, and the gesture is nice, but I feel like I'm taking advantage of him. He's refused my offers to pay him back.

I lifted it to my lips, which were still sore and sensitive from the night before, so I drank gingerly. David noticed my odd behavior and quickly asked me what was wrong.

I sighed, "Nothing, trust me. Just roommate problems."

"I see. You and princess perfect aren't getting along. What a surprise."

"Tch. She's definitely not perfect."

"I told you it was a mistake to move in with her," he said.

"You have no idea. She's just so entitled, she thinks the whole world revolves around her and she doesn't have to work for anything. She just really pushes my buttons lately."

I pointed out my bruised lip. He clasped his hands over my shoulders to get a closer look. "Wow, Ang, that's really not like you."

I couldn't focus on what he was saying. He's not that big of a guy, but he's tall enough that he had to slouch down to get eye-to-eye with me, and his mannish proportions reminded me how small everything about me currently is. Plus, he has a pretty rugged look that makes me feel embarrassed for dressing even somewhat daintily. He has a full beard!

We got to talking some more and he kind of went off about how "out of sorts" I've been lately. "You've lost your spark, you know? You lack energy, you lack focus and optimism, you're just not you. Everything you do is so withdrawn and tentative. Like you're worried about something all the time."

"Yeah, you could say that."

"It's just like you to worry all the time. I think Mona's become a toxic presence in your life. That's just my opinion, from the outside, but you really don't seem enthusiastic about the arrangement. And I hate to see you like that."

"Well thanks for your concern," I said, "There's just nothing I can do about it."

"Well there is one thing," he said, "And it seems like you haven't done it in a while."

My eyes bugged out. He wasn't suggesting--

No, he put his fingers to his lips to signify smoking marijuana. I breathed a sigh of relief, although this is also not something I'm up for. I mean, I hate to sound like a total prude or whatever, but I've never done drugs, I've barely even drank. But all this seems like a pretty big part of Angie's life.

So what to do... it's not like partaking in these habits ruined Angie's life, at least not visibly from where I'm standing. I know PSAs tend to exaggerate things, but I still have no urge. But either I keep on not doing it and people take note of how out of character it is, or I do it and I take another step in the direction of being "Angie" instead of Cal.

But maybe he has a point. There's a reason people start doing this right? And doesn't "suddenly turning into the opposite sex and being far from home" fit the bill? People smoke and drink to get away from their shitty life, so if anyone's got a good reason it's me.

I haven't taken him up on his offer - apparently there is a regular group from the store and friends that meet up for this sort of thing, so I'm guessing it would be okay just to tag along sometime, if I'm ever willing.

Talk about peer pressure, though.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tori: Talking through it

I've been having these weirdly intense FB chat and text conversations with Sara lately. I guess it kind of dawned on both of us that I'm all she has right now. Everyone she knows from her old life thinks she's happily married and living in Delaware. Everyone she knows now thinks she's Cliff. Thom ran off back to the inn and has yet to be heard from. If she needs to vent to someone about what's really going on in her life, all she has is me. I've told her that if she wants, she's free to contribute to the blog, but she hasn't yet. She doesn't see herself as a writer, I suppose. She's not uncomfortable with me updating you guys on her situation, though, so hopefully I don't overstep my bounds. You already know plenty about everything anyway.

It's weird to have to talk her through this. To be someone's rock. She and Thom were together as long as I've known them, and while it hasn't always been smooth sailing, the idea that they were in it for the long haul, meant to be together, that was firm in my mind. But the Inn does strange things to people.

I guess you just need a deeper connection than your bodies. Even when it's not just "physical," that change in roles really does change everything, as we've seen. From what I understand, the breakup was a protracted process, even before I "discovered" them in Buffalo. They were just keeping it together long enough to get back to the Inn, and when I convinced Sara not to go back, that was it. Part of me feels responsible but I don't doubt that I did the right thing. In the end it was Sara's decision and I have nothing to apologize for. I'm worried about Thom, but if the fact that we haven't heard from him is any indication, I did the right thing.

Thom, if you're reading this... being "the woman" can't really have been that bad, can it? I hope wherever you are now, that you're satisfied. You lost a good thing.

I guess I just have that rational "male" side to me leftover, to where I can convince myself it's okay, and move on, and just don't know what to say to someone, a friend, a person I care about, who is still mourning that loss months later, still wishing things could be different even though there were reasons it all ended. I try to understand, Thom was a huge part of her life. You can't just close that off... but I guess I've never had that. As much as I miss Buddy or Alex, I know why it ended with both of them and I'm fine with it.

Which I guess means that I've still never really been in love, not to that extent... and that's really sad to me. But it's the hard truth, and far from the hardest thing any of us has had to face in life.

*Looks at "Forward" tattoo* Yep, this thing is paying for itself.

I just hope I'm doing a good job being "there for her." I want her to know her feelings count and that everything that's happened isn't her fault and... I don't know. See? No good at this.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cal / Angie: Enough is enough

I don't know how much longer I can live like this.

Not necessarily "as a girl," although a look at the calendar shows that I'm going to have to brace myself in the next couple days, but as this way in particular. See, I don't know what kind of arrangement Mona and Angie had before Derek and I became them, but Mona hardly has a cent to her name and that means that the entire rent bill comes out of my measly paycheck. Groceries too. I'm basically feeding and housing this girl who does nothing but sit on the couch and watch reality TV and cartoons while I'm out there trying to pick up extra shifts at a not-very-busy holistic store.

I was going over my/Angie's bank account online and let out a grunt of frustration. Derek's response to this was "Don't do that, you're not sexy when you make that noise."

"I'm not trying to be sexy," I said, "I'm trying to scrape together enough money to keep us afloat. You need to find a job."

"Don't tell me what to do," he snapped back.

"I'm not telling you what to do, I'm telling you what we need. We can't survive like this. We're not at home with our parents paying for every little thing. I work my ass off for 45 hours a week and we can barely make rent. You do nothing, I'm sick of it!"

"Well it's not easy, there's no jobs," he whined. I called bullshit on that. We went back and forth for a while, I said he had to basically take the next thing that came up.

"God what are you, on your period already?"

My face got hot, my heart started pounding. I just couldn't take it anymore. The last thing I needed was him to start condescending and getting all sexist on me when he's on the same boat as I am AND making it worse for us by not working.

"Get up," I said walking over to him.

He did. He stood straight up and puffed his ample chest out. As we currently stand, I am about 5'4 and he's closer to 5'11 so he basically towers over me. My eye level is basically his chest.

"See something you like?" he quipped.

I balled my hand up into a fist, I clenched my teeth with rage, and I took a swing.

I missed, fell over and busted my lip on the coffee table. He laughed his ass off and I started to cry uncontrollably. I felt like shit.

"It's not fair," I whimpered, "I'm the one who has to do all the work and you expect to just sit on your ass, for what, a year? Are you mental? That's not how it works, Derek."

"I'm sorry," he cackled, "I just can't take you seriously! It's like fighting my little sister!"

"Don't call me that!" I screeched, "It's not funny! We're fucked! WE. ARE. FUCKED."

I took a breath and then added "And I'm not on my period... but I guess I'm PMS-ing pretty hard. I'm really stressed out right now and I don't know what do to."

"All right," he said, calming himself down, "Don't cry. Please. I'm sorry." He sat next to me. "I'm not used to this, I didn't think... I guess I thought it was okay. I'll find something."

Then he kissed me on my head like I was his fucking pet, and sat back down on the couch. He's got a job interview tomorrow, but somehow I still feel like the loser in all this.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tori: Another night in.

After my last few attempts at dating, it feels like the universe just wants me to be alone.

I like to think I've grown, that I'm strong enough now that I won't date people just to keep from being alone. Part of me views solitude as a waste of a good body and youth - a return to old habits, comfort and extreme introversion. But for years I was so caught up with the men in my life that I almost used the mas a distraction: I became a girlfriend so I wouldn't have to learn how to really be Tori on my own. Now I am, and I look over at my closet and think "I could put on something sexy and go out and meet boys," and instead I think "Nah, let's have a Netflix night instead."

Raine came back from her trip a while ago, and we've been bonding. She's eager to get back into the dating game so I've been drafted into the wingwoman role, but I'm not overly comfortable with that. Dudes use wingmen because they're uncomfortable or insecure (I speak from experience) and Raine doesn't have that problem. Really, she just doesn't want to go out alone. I guess that makes her feel too easy or something. Not that I judge.

But there's something in the back of my mind... the "real" Alex (or maybe he wasn't the real one!) who dated Raine while in the body of our gay friend Danny told me he'd be back to try to get a second chance with her. I'm not sure how I feel about that, to be honest. For all I know he's a good guy (really, what do I actually know about him?) with honest intentions, but he's still involved with those Agency people, the ones who "my" Alex worked for. To my knowledge he hasn't made his return yet, and I doubt he'll make himself known when he does. I feel better off not knowing. It's better than lying. But that just makes me paranoid.

At least I've got Sara to talk to. Weird to think of her living up there in Buffalo, in the body that used to be mine. S/he's grateful, I think, to have me to talk to about her experience (and the feeling is mutual.) Especially now that Thom/Randi... well.

He went back, without her.

I told them what I knew, and I tried to convince them it was not a great idea, that they were basically walking into it. They had a disagreement over how to handle this information. He went, she stayed. We haven't heard from him since. Thom, that is - I say "him" even though the last time I saw him, he was a she. Now who knows what he is.

"I'm worried sick," Sara told me, "The fact that he hasn't even reached out to me is really worrying."

I wish I had words to comfort her, some assurance that he was in a good way, but I'm just as freaked. When I was spilling my guts about all my paranoid theories about the Agency or whatever, part of me really did not want to believe it went that far. Now, though...

Maybe a night out would do me good. Clear my head.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Trish / Robbie: The Deep End

On Sunday night, "Keisha" and I went to dinner with "our" parents. I hadn't seen James in some time, and from his last post I half expected him to show up with his face garishly painted with makeup wearing a low cut top and stripper heels. But no, he seems to have this "feminine" thing down, at least reasonably enough that an outsider wouldn't ask questions. You could nitpick the details, but he actually looked quite swqeet.

It was an awkward dinner, though. I have not spent much time talking to any of the "Lowell Crew" since we got here, besides occasionally advisory texts to the "gals." The girl in me wants to gossip and swap stories, but the guys kinda backpedal when I ask how they feel about being girls. And at a family dinner where we're "in character" there's not much opportunity to do so. James actually performed well, he's a very outgoing, charismatic guy when he wants to be, even though he had to account for hwy Keisha wasn't "looking for work in her field" at the moment. He was still very vibrant and easygoing, the opposite of me.

Since we got to Vancouver, I've been working Robbie's job, painting houses. It's really just a summer job, and while Rob's in University I managed to get his courses deferred. There was some bureaucracy there but really it's just a matter of pushing the right buttons and waiting for confirmation. Working from 7 til 6 some days, I come home exhausted so I don't socialize much, but driving to different work sites every day has given me both an appreciation for the city here, and a lot more comfort driving than I used to have. It's all about diving in the deep end, I suppose.

I drove James home after dinner and we got to talking. He had this grin on his face as the conversation turned to certain sensitive subjects. I won't say what he's asking about (you can probably guess!) but it's not anything I felt comfortable talking about with him, let alone revealing on this blog. Not just because it's personal, but because I don't even know how to put it. It's like losing one sense and gaining another.

I think being a girl has mellowed him out a bit. He's toned down his "player" persona and really comes across as a caring, thoughtful person. That might just be his feminine tone of voice, though. I've had to remind myself several times while talking with him that this is an 18-year-old guy trapped in a woman's body. He's really leaned in to the act.

As for me... well, I don't know. I'm not trying to be a "guy" but I guess I'm not being that girly, either. All the physical labor helps. A level of activity that would have made me cringe back then is now basically all I do, and then I get home and I feel a little sore but I wake up in the morning and I'm ready to go. I feel resilient and powerful.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cal / Angie: Day in day out

It's already become freakishly normal. I crawl out of bed at 7:30 in the morning, stretch, and slink to the washroom. I sit on the toilet. I brush my teeth. I undress from the tank top and shorts I use as pjs. I run a brush through my hair because I've learned that if I don't, it gets all tangled in the shower and then it's impossible to un-knot. I'm thinking abut cutting it... the way I see it, even if I just get it cut once, it will mostly grow out by the time I give this body back. Assuming I get the chance to. It's only August. It feels like an eternity will pass between now and next spring... and who knows what might happen by then.

That's usually what I'm thinking of, every single morning, see. How whether I like it or not, I'm stuck for now, and if I don't make peace with it soon, it's really going to kill if I can't get back where I belong. I breathe a deep sigh then step into the shower, fussing with the knobs to get the heat just where I want it.

I just stand in there for a while, letting the water fall over me. I used to clamp my eyes shut but there's no point. I already know every inch of skin on this girl, you know? Every hair and mole. The one thing that still kind of excites me is when I soap up, because hey, even if I'm the naked girl, it's still a naked soapy girl. I feel the weight of my dripping wet breasts in my hands and lather them in a circular motion. I'd be lying if I said I didn't at least like that. I get my own private show every morning if I like it or not. And if I'm not in the mood, I just put it out of my mind.

Horrifying, then exciting, then normal, and then sometimes exciting again.

After I turn the water off, I take a moment to try to wring out my hair. If I'm in a hurry, which I usually am, I give it at least a blast with the dryer and wrap it in a towel. Then I slip into a nice warm fuzzy bathrobe and tiptoe back to my room.

I've already talked a bit about what it's like to get dressed, to choose from my options when it comes to clothes. I prefer to cover as much as possible, but Angie seems to have favoured loose, skin-baring clothes. I try to make it so that at least my bra is covered. I think it's weird that so many girls are just cool letting guys see their brastraps. Like, to me, that counts as underwear. But Angie doesn't own a lot of t-shirts and hoodies, which is what I mostly wore as a guy, so I just choose something that looks okay and layer a cardigan over it, despite the heat. (Actually, Vancouver's climate is quite breezy.)

Once I'm sure I've got everything fitted properly and in place, I take one last moment to breathe. That's because I know Derek's out there. He's such a couch potato it's almost revolting. I don't know what he does all day, besides watch TV and maybe play with himself. Must be nice, but we're going to have a PROBLEM soon.

He's just ALWAYS there. Usually he falls asleep on the couch at night, so when I get up it wakes him up. And when I get home in the evening, he's still there. I'm trying to get him to clean the place, do dishes, maybe even cook and do laundry, but I think he just thinks of this as a vacation and he doesn't have to do anything. I hate that kind of self-important attitude. I just feel so intimidated by him, and maybe it's because of the way he looks. For one, he's way taller than me, so anytime I get upset he just stands up and stares me down and basically dares me to challenge him. I'm not going to attack someone who's 6 inches taller than me and a girl - even if I'm technically one too.

I think maybe I'm just conditioned to be forgiving to attractive women, which Derek sadly is, and he's aware of it.

I've heard otherwise, but I'm not willing to accept the idea that I might be one too. Sometimes when Derek's feeling nice, he'll call me "Bright Eyes" in a really sweet tone on voice. The other day I was running around picking up garbage and he said "Hey, you know your butt really jiggles when you walk around like that."

I froze and turned to him. "Don't tell me that."

"Maybe it's just because you're so clenched tight. Get the stick out of there."

And I was just burning with anger because if he thinks that, then guys I work with, or see in the store, probably noticed and think even worse things. Every time I think I'm getting comfortable and acting like myself, I notice some guy give me the "look" and it sends a chill up my spine. Like, no thank you, I'm not interested. Gluh. Can't I just be? Or maybe it's my fault, and I need to learn to take a compliment about this body.

I just need a break, a little privacy and space. I'm starting to get edgy here with this routine.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Roy / Christine: What men want

It was Friday night and I was done work for the weekend. I got home, kicked off my shoes and went upstairs to change. I heard his voice through the door: "I ordered Chinese for dinner, hope that's okay."

I sigh. Eating take-out as often as we do is not good for the body. The poor guy can't cook and I don't always have the energy when I get home, so this is our compromise. I just try not too eat too much of it. So after a quiet sigh to myself, I call back, "Okay!"

He cracks the door open and I can see him peek at me. I turn, throwing my arms over my half-dressed body, as if he hasn't seen this body naked hundreds of times over their years together. Maybe so, but it's not my choice to let him see. After a month, he's hardly a stranger to me, though. I've had relationships move much faster than this.

I e-mailed Christine after a while, saying "What about sex?" And her response amounted to "I don't want to think about it." Hardly encouraging, but not a bitter opposition. I try to psych myself into it as he approaches, and I let my arms fall from covering my breasts. He wraps his arms around my waist, letting them sit just above my butt. My hands press against his soft, hairy chest.

He tilts his head down and kisses me. I like being kissed. It's kissing back that I've had to get used to, in all honesty. Our tongues dance around each other and he pushes me toward the bed. I can feel his hardness poking into me. What's more, I can feel the wheels turning in my own body. I'm getting wet.

I don't want to have sex with him, though. I still just can't get used to the idea, as much as I've grown accustomed to his presence, and the physical reality of being a woman. My whole anatomy down there still features a part that I've never used, that I just don't feel right about sharing with him yet. But there is something else I can do, and I suspect he'll prefer it. I slide his pants off him, boxers and all, and begin to lower my head to his lap. He practically squeals with joy. I really think most married men would rather get a blowjob than sex. They don't have to do anything. And personally, I'm a bit of a pro at this. If I like someone, I'm all too happy to provide this service. For my own sake, too, the more conventional position isn't something I'm ready for yet. I wouldn't know what to expect and I'm not eager to take that liberty with Christine's body. Yet.

He's not used to this kind of treatment and it shows. He lasts barely a minute, leaving me to tend to the mess. It's just as well, because the food will be here soon. We lie side by side and he wraps his arms around me. I breathe a deep sigh of contentment. He whispers a "thank you" in my ear and I get a little tingle. That comfort I spoke of has already turned to something else. I tentatively slip my fingers down the front of my panties, possibly without him even knowing, but before I can get more than a vague sense of what I'm feeling down there, the doorbell rings. He gets up and pulls on his pants to answer it, and I consider continuing without him, but think better of it.

We eat quietly, with almost no comment on what has just happened. He's afraid to ask questions, because he doesn't want to undo the spell I'm under, whatever possessed his wife to add that to their usual routine. For the rest of the night I was pretty pleased with myself.

The next morning was a different story, as I regarded my body sadly in the mirror. I inherited a body full of bumps and lumps and while a lot of people might be okay with that, including Terry, I'm just not. I don't like the way my gut sags and love-handles bulge, the way I get tired just standing around all day. I'm not THAT far overweight for Christine's body type but it's enough to make a difference and certainly not up to the standards I set for myself. Being fine with yourself is one thing but being truly happy with your body is another. I can't go on like this, falling into Christine's patterns just because it's what she did. I need to take care of this body in a way she didn't. I wouldn't be happy with myself if I didn't try. Call it a project. I know women's fitness is a lot different from men's, and it might not even necessarily be about losing pounds as much as it is about firming and toning up, eating right and improving conditioning. This is who I am, and for the duration of my time as Christine, it's going to be who she is, too. That's final. Time to get to work.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Tori: Forward

It's been sort of quiet here, lately. I've been working in the background, offering my sympathies to Matt and Lila for their mix-up, advising the folks out in Vancouver as much as I can... dealing with Thom and Sara.

Meanwhile, I've just kind of knuckled into the single working gal lifestyle. After those recent dating debacles, I kind of gave into the idea that my romantic life is currently at a low. As much as I want a little something, I can't force it, I can't try to make it work with someone that won't fit my life. All I can do is keep looking.

So imagine my surprise, and slight exasperation, when I got a text from an old flame. Buddy.

He and I left things on kind of a sour noted, you may remember... I broke up with him pretty much specifically to be with Alex. Yeah, that worked out great for me. But it wouldn't have happened if I didn't already have doubts about our relationship. Sometimes it felt like he really got me, and sometimes he seemed totally mystified by me. Hard to blame him. He was my first boyfriend, my training wheels. It was like dating my old self, and sometimes that probably tripped him up. I was attuned to him in a way he couldn't quite be with me, because there will always, always be something he doesn't know about me. That hasn't changed. But that doesn't mean I have a clear conscience.

We've mended things somewhat since then. It starts with a "Happy birthday" on Facebook. It moves on to become a text conversation about a recent movie we both liked. Then occasional catch-ups... "How's Texas," "Good, still working, how's Philly" "Good, just got a new job." And it just kind of snowballs.

So maybe I shouldn't have been shocked when he texted me the other week saying "I'm gonna be in Philly soon. We should get drinks." But all I could think was, "I do not want to deal with this right now."

Plus, I'm not going to lie, part of me thought he was going to come out and say he too was an Inn victim. Hell, he traveled enough. But no.

I needed a treat, though. I've been so good and quiet the past few months, since Nameless Boy and me had our last tryst (boy, that did not end cleanly though.) Buddy will always represent a certain time in my life, and the way things ended does not erase the good times. I like him. I thought I loved him. If it was closure, or healing, or whatever he needed, I could give it. I think we're both mature. That said, I couldn't help but compliment him on his beard, and when he told me I looked great too, I felt myself blush.

It got off to a very awkward start. He asked how Alex was, and I admitted we weren't together anymore. And he kind of screwed his face into this judgmental smirk like "Oh, I would have thought that since you dumped me for him, you two would have to be soulmates." That's not what he said, obviously, but it feels like that's what he was thinking.

I told him that since we've been getting along really well lately, I would rather we not delve into any bitterness, and he agreed that would be wise. He asked if I missed him, and I said that was a really complicated question. He could be difficult, stubborn, frustrating at times... but that's men. Hell, that's women, too. We butted heads. That's natural.

But there was a lot of good that went along with that. Probably more good than bad, overall, it's just that things became unworkable near the end. Him in Houston, me in Philly.

"Was that it?" he asked. "If I stayed in Philly, would we still be together?"

"Probably not," I admitted shamefully. "Because I already met Alex, and he..." I stopped myself. I've learned that pretty much my entire relationship with Alex was pretty much a con, an attempt to induct me into the Agency, the people that use bodies like currency. Everything he was was just designed to win me over, and he had a lot of resources to put toward that. I finally settled on, "It was complicated. And honestly, at the time, Alex seemed like the better choice. I regret that."

And then I felt it. That twinge of release. Admitting that I made a mistake, years ago, when I dumped Buddy for Alex. That sort of opened the floodgates and all my memories of being attracted, being enthralled by Buddy came back. I learned forward and propped up my cleavage. Alex sat up and took notice. It was a lapse in judgment, but a quick one.

"I'm engaged," he said. "Well, I'm getting engaged. I'm planning on proposing when I get back to Houston."

"Oh wow," I said, sitting back. "Um, congratulations. That seems quick... um, I mean, how long have you..."

"Like a year," he said. "Yeah, maybe that is quick, but we're not getting any younger, and we're just... crazy about each other."

"That's amazing," I said, feigning sincerity, "Congratulations again. What's her name? Tell me all about her."

"Her name's Victoria. But she goes by Vicky. She's blonde, short, so cute... 23."

"Okay, you can stop," I said. "That's great to hear, but I've gotta ask... if you're so crazy in love, why are we having drinks right now?"

"Well, I'm here in Philly on a job interview. Actually it's in Trenton, but that's 40 minutes away. And she's a Houston girl, and I'm worried that history's going to repeat itself. So I thought, I don't know, if I take this job, and she doesn't want to move... what are the odds you and I could pick up where we left off?"

Ohhhhhhhhh no.

"Let me tell you," I said with a sigh, "If there's someone you would leave your girlfriend for, given the chance... you should not propose to her. If you really want to marry her, and she doesn't want to leave Houston, don't leave Houston. Don't make the same mistake twice. You and I had great times, but that's the past. There were reasons we broke up, beyond Houston, beyond Alex, beyond anything either of us could comprehend. Trust me on this, Buddy. I don't go backwards. That's something I've learned over the past few years."

He took a moment to take this all in, then he kind of smirked. "I like that. You don't go backwards. Smart. Don't know that I agree, but whatever works." He then waved over the waitress and we paid our separate checks and parted ways.

And I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a twinge of doubt when I watched him go, about whether that was the right thing to say. Maybe I could've just played his game and told him I'd be there for him and get a happy ending. But I'm so sick all this drama and I don't want to be his escape clause. If he leaves that Vicky chick, it's going to be because he doesn't love her as much as he thinks, and hopefully if he stays with her it's not because he doesn't have a backup lined up.

A few days later I booked an appointment at a tattoo parlor. I've wanted to get a tattoo off and on over the years but I could never decide what, until that conversation hit me, and I decided I could use an ever-present reminder of it. So I drew up a design and had them ink the inside of my right forearm with the word FORWARD and two triangles. I've been in this body for four years, and gosh darnit I want to feel like I left my mark on it. Har har.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Ellie: Cutting in

I never thought it could be good.

For a long while, up to and including coming out to Iris, I was just resigned to the idea that my life was shit. That I had inherited a bunch of anxiety problems from Ellie, and my sexuality - or her sexuality, or our sexuality - compounded those. I felt awful all the time, didn't sleep well, stressed out and broke down time and again over stupid shit, shit that I know in the long run doesn't mean anything, but... yeah. It got to me. It was practically neverending, and trust me, the last thing I wanted to be was a fucking sob story.

Things didn't change after I came out. There was still finals, and graduation, and the vague feeling that people knew and judged me. I asked Emily if people were talking, and she said no. I asked if she had any plans, and she said yeah: she was going back to the Inn.

That hurt a bit. When I was a guy, she was my girlfriend, and I never really got over the guilt of letting her come to Maine with me. What's more, even though we haven't really seen eye to eye all the time since we transformed, I've still relied on her as a friend and confidante. Our relationship has been strained though, because after I admitted to the blog that I was into girls, she took it to mean that I still had feelings for her, and she went out of her way to make it clear that was not in the cards. I didn't say that's what I wanted, and I guess I'd be lying if I said I never imagined... but no, that wouldn't work anyway.

I questioned her decision to go back to the inn, rolling the dice to get a new body, and give Emily's body to someone else, and she reasoned that it was the perfect opportunity. She did the legwork of finishing high school for Emily, and now whoever got the body next wouldn't be tied to any place or life decision. Independence. I had to admit, it was a smart call. And then she said something that made me think twice.

"Do you want to be Emily?"

She's going to the Inn on the last week of the summer, basically leaving Emily's body in limbo all winter. Imagine that. This time next year I could be her. There are certain upsides to that. Emily is more conventionally attractive than Ellie, I would say (though I think I look fine.) Her family still has money, and seems to love and support her. There's also that freedom she was mentioning. And there's the nice big bonus of: she's straight, with no anxiety problems that I know about. I could have such an easy time as her.

But is that what I want for myself? Listen, whoever you are. reading this, I assume you're comfortable in your life. You know it could always be better, but you would think twice before taking that deal, wouldn't you?

In the end, it's not about being gay or straight, it's about taking a way out. I've been with girls, I've been with guys, I've been on both sides. At one point in my life as Ellie I probably would've loved to simplify it again. I remember Fletcher telling me that he had gone back and forth so many times that his sexuality was just a big blur. I'm not at that point and I don't know that I would ever be. There's been points, as Ellie, when I thought I would never be with anyone again. If being Emily meant I could go back and feel something familiar, I would really, truly consider it.

But that's not the whole story.

It was prom night. I convinced Iris to go, even though she's not the most social creature. I spent the whole night keeping her company, and I didn't mind. We're pals. I've spent a lot of time wrapped up in my own shit that it was good to get out and enjoy things, and to have her with me.

We went to an after party, there were drinks. Iris is kind of a lightweight, and before long she was feeling ill, so I walked her home. I had my arm threaded through hers to keep her steady. We got to her house, and she said, "My parents aren't home, mind coming in for a sec?" Sure, of course.

We got in the door. She removed her heels and wrapped her arm around me, gave me a big hug, and said "Ellie... there's something..."

And she didn't finish the thought. She just began kissing me, first on the cheek, then on the lips. It took me a second to get over the shock and pull away.

She seemed confused. "What do you... you... you like girls, don't you?"

"I do, I do," I reminded her, "But I just... I never thought of... doing that."

"I have," she said. "When I first thought maybe you were into girls, I thought maybe... I mean, I hoped it meant you were thinking about it. Then when you told me, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since."

"You're gay?" I said in shock.

"Yes!" she said, drunkenly slurring her words, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you then, I thought... I thought maybe you knew and that's why you were telling me. I couldn't handle it if you rejected me, though."

The idea had never crossed my mind. I guess I need to work on my gaydar.

She looked like she was going to cry, so I sat next to her and said "Just give me a minute, okay, this really surprised me."

"I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have done anything, forget it, you don't have to..."

"No, Iris, just wait," I said. "You're my best friend. And I just had no idea."

"If you don't want to ruin the friendship, I understand."

"Well," I said, "What's done is done..."

Then I wrapped my arm around her and pressed my lips to hers. I haven't kissed someone, really kissed them, in a very long time, especially not someone I liked that much. It was like a light went on, I swear.We kissed, then took a break, then kissed some more, then fell asleep on the couch in each others' arms.

When she woke up, she rolled over and looked at me. "I never thought I'd actually lose my virginity on prom night."

I laughed and kissed her, "You hardly lost your virginity."

"Well, when does a lesbian lose her virginity then?"

"I don't know," I admitted, "Guess we have a lot to learn."

"Well, I look forward to it."

Since then, I've wondered if maybe it was a mistake. Maybe, as much as I liked Iris as a friend, maybe certain other aspects of our personalities might prove incompatable. I don't know, maybe I'm overthinking it... but we took this leap and I intend to see it out. I'm tired to stifling myself.

It's just that sometimes I forget that Iris and I aren't really the same age. Whenever I find myself giving in and having fun with her, I remember that my experience is way, way, way beyond hers. Hell, even my experience in this life, let alone the past, is more significant. I can't expect her to live up to my, well, expectations, and I feel bad trying to lay all my baggage and needs at her feet.

So I'm just trying to go along and enjoy what we do have, and worry about the rest later. It's been a really nice month. That's something that I don't say often.

Cal / Angie: Dressing the part

One thing I like about the girl I became is that Angie was kind of a hippie girl, so when it comes to appearances I don't get the sense that I'm acating out of character for her if I don't put in much effort. I go to work in the morning with tangled, messy hair (it's long and reddish brown) and no make-up, and nobody looks at me like I'm out of place (although sometimes I can see flashes of sneers on my way to work, it's not like I care.)

That said, she still did leave some girly things about herself, open for discussion: she does own several things of homemade make-up from all natural ingredients (face creams, lip balms, that kind of thing.) When I woke up as her, her legs and armpits were shaved, and I haven't tended to that. I wonder if maybe I should. It's still summer, and while Vancouver is a pretty breezy place, so I can get away with covering up, she owns a number of tank tops and shorts that I usually wear, so I would feel weird wearing them and revealing the ever-darkening growth under my arms.

That said, like... how do you get into that? Do you just make a night of it? I can remember not too long ago being excited to even get hair under there, and now I'm considering shaving it all off? Should I even be embarrassed, since it's only natural? I know that if I was a guy and I saw a girl who looked like me, I would cringe at seeing hairy armpits and legs. Plus as it's growing in it's really irritating my skin.

Holy crap, I just re-read that paragraph and realized I wrote the phrase "If I was a guy." I almost deleted it and rephrased to closer to what I actually meant, but I dunno... just think about it. I'm not a guy right now. That's been made very obvious by the last week, if the previous weeks of sitting to pee weren't a tipoff. I don't think I'm comfortable making decisions based on how others see me, though, so it's all the better if guys don't like what they see. I don't want them to.

That said, it's eerie how comfortable I have gotten in this body. I'm not so squeamish to undress it, to walk around with it, to bathe it. Clothes are a whole other matter. Angie has a lot of summery dresses and I just don't feel comfy slipping into one of them. I tried one, and I don't like the way they fit or the way they flow down around my legs. Most of them are pretty short, so they can be unpredictable in the breeze, and when I sit down it's basically like sitting directly with my butt to the surface. But she only has a few pairs of shorts, and two pairs of jeans: one low rise, one high waist. The high-waisted ones feel really stuffy and don't really "breathe" in certain ways, and the low rise ones make me feel like they're going to slip down and reveal everything, especially when I bend down to get something off a low shelf. Mainly, I wear shorts and small, low-rise underwear so that they don't creep up.

I've made peace with "the girls," though. They're not huge, but I definitely feel them bobbing around under my top. I like that, during hot days, girls tops tend to have lower necklines so that they air out more, but I suspect it's really just for showing off. It still feels a little weird to have them on the edge of my vision, like, just under my eyeline. For the first few weeks I would wonder "What's that under my... oh, right, those." I think half the time I was literally just staring down at them, amazed at their existence, and I still catch myself idly running my hands over them when I think nobody's looking. Real girls... probably don't do that. But if I may say so, they feel pretty amazing, real soft and sensitive, not like I would have imagined. It just sucks that my only options are to cram them into a bra or let them hang and sway, with all the world watching them go. There's no way for them not to be on display. And they're only a 36B, so even though mine feel hefty, Derek's tits are D-cups. So I can only imagine what lugging those things are like for him. (I should note, though, that he doesn't leave the house and mostly wears sweats.)

So I feel like I've got the "average girl" or even "modest hippie girl" look down. I've found what I'm comfortable with. James can keep his experiments, and I'll stick to my routines.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Roy / Christine: Comforts of (someone else's) home

It would be nice to hover outside myself, on a Sunday morning, and just observe Terry and Christine as a couple, lying in bed, having breakfast together, going for a drive. So far this experience has been dotted by nice little things like that, guilty pleasures considering they have been taken from somebody else and given to me.

I have to admit, it's nice to have this level of comfort. I know I've never had a relationship that functions as well as Terry and Christine's probably does. Let's just say I don't tend to date the kind of guys who stay the night and cuddle all morning. There was a time I would never have thought that's what I wanted either.

We've gotten into this nice routine that works fairly well considering who and what I am. I work most days, come home and have dinner. We watch TV and drink wine, snuggled up on the couch, and then go to bed. The young married life. Suits me fine. Besides his occasionally kisses and pats on the butt, Terry isn't overly forward, and now that I've gotten to know him a bit more I don't shudder at the idea of having his arms around me. I'm just trying not to enjoy it too much.

There's the problem, isn't it? This isn't my life and if it were, I probably wouldn't give Terry a second look on the street, let alone sit through date night with him... he's pudgy and balding and currently out of work, and sometimes very particular about things while also having huge blind spots about other things. But I like having stepped into this comfort zone, this well-worn relationship where I'm not trying to impress him, nor he me. Even though I am patently not his wife, he treats me like I am and I just... accept it, I guess. Maybe she and I aren't such different people. Who knows.

Or maybe, and this is a hypothesis that might freak the others out too much if I say it but I need to put it out there... maybe I'm more than just Christine's body right now. I'm not talking about memories or habits or things like that, but that ineffable something that makes a person who they are. I feel like me, like Roy, but I catch myself responding to things ever so slightly differently than Roy would have. We don't know the true nature of this curse, and we don't even know the true nature of the human mind, so how one affects the other is entirely uncharted territory. Maybe Christine left more of herself with me than we could know.

It's not crazy. It's a known fact that concussions, strokes and brain traumas can change peoples' personalities. We like to think we are this single unchanging thing, but we're not, we're a bunch of complicated wires bathing in hormones, and those hormones are provided by the body. My mind, all my memories of myself are currently swimming in the stuff that made Christine who she was. Maybe this isn't news to you readers, but to me it's fascinating and scary. It's like losing yourself, but not.

Maybe it's not that big a deal, or maybe it's just a bigger deal to me than the others because I am "in the thick" of it with Terry here. I'm just saying there might be a deeper reason why the smell of his cologne triggers a strangely warm feeling inside me, why I can both be frustrated with him as a human and find him oddly appealing as a man. And maybe I'm more receptive to it than the others because I've had to think more about who and what I am, in life than these kids who are now wearing the faces of slightly older women and men. I hope that, when and if they realize something truly strange is going on, it doesn't put them off too much.

The difference between them and me is that right now, they have the option to ignore it, and I don't. But at least it doesn't feel as much like torture like I was afraid it would.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Cal / Angie: A Bloody Headache

My period ended up lasting 6 days. Six anguishing days when my new uterus as rebelling against me, my head felt like a lightning storm, my breasts were sore. Six days I can look forward to every month. Days during which I was an impatient nervous wreck, lying curled up in bed, Googling "proper tampon use." This led me to this cute video. When the little girl shouts "Suck it up, this is your life now!" I clenched my teeth. At least it's only my life for a year. Derek, meanwhile, decided to play helpless victim, as if I wasn't going through it at the same time. He guilted me into making a tampon run, because he still doesn't have any money of his own.

I wrote down all my notes, my thoughts and impressions, and e-mailed them to the other ex-guys, in case they'll find them useful. I was reminded of that episode of South Park where the guys think they're getting periods. It felt so bizarre just to write down these details about myself.

Frankly, the fact that half the world goes through an experience like this every month, and I hardly knew anything about it, I'm amazed. And a little saddened. Maybe there should be a bit more open discourse about it. or maybe to women, it's just not that big a deal. Life can't come to a screeching halt for the duration. They learn, they get over it, they move on. I don't know. I guess I will.

I was reading over James' post, and I almost had to laugh. I certainly don't feel very sexy. I feel self-conscious and weird about dressing in another person's clothes, still. Wearing her underwear, clasping her bra over these breasts... like, a lot of these don't match, is there a rule about that? Nobody has objected yet to the way I dress as Angie, but I'm very careful not to wear anything cleavage-revealing. I don't even like wearing anything sleeveless or strapped so that you can see my bra, because that's just so weird to me! And I haven't done laundry since I've gotten here. This body is still so weird and uncomfortable to me that I can't imagine why women put themselves through the heck of makeup and sexy clothes for guys. I know I've gotten a few looks just by being out there au naturel, and it's freaky.

My advice is just to do what's comfortable, and if you're comfortable girling it up then all power to you. Me, I'll stick with the full coverage tops even in summer, and jeans.Even though they don't fit like my old jeans... the way they ride up and whatnot, but I guess that's permissible. After all I don't need as much room down there. God, guys, fashion is weird.