Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tyler/Lauren: Dirty Laundry

Did you ever find yourself getting in a fight, like an honest-to-god shouting match, that you were so determined to win, you just couldn't let go, but after it was all over, you wondered how you ever got sucked into it? Why you even cared to begin with?

I had such a fight the other night with Paul, Lauren's stepdad. I've been trying to pitch in around the house - do chores now and again, put my downtime to good use so I don't just sleep all day and mope about my situation. Besides, I know that with Susan out cleaning other peoples' houses, she has limited energy to put toward her own place. I'm trying to be a good kid for these people, but I guess it's such a turnaround from Lauren's typically self-centered teenage attitude that it's aroused suspicion.

It started with a load of laundry. I've picked out a few preferred articles of clothing that, as compared to other parts of Lauren's wardrobe, I prefer. It ain't all the "masculine" stuff, either, sweats and hoodies, because the way the weather fluctuates, the skin-baring stuff does come in handy as part of a layered... thing (ensemble, I think the word would be.) But there's a difference between a pair of butt-revealing jean shorts and a pair of more modest cargos. Similarly, there are undergarments that, as a 30-year-old in a teen body, I think are more appropriate for me to utilize. I got so tired of waiting for these items to come through the wash that I just started doing my own laundry. Then I got the bright idea to just start doing everyone's laundry. And this went on for a few weeks.

Then Paul caught me doing it and asked what the hell I was up to. I told him, honestly and innocently, I was just trying to be helpful while I had time, and he said that wasn't my responsibility, and that there were reasons we didn't do laundry as often as I wanted, because electricity and water bills and peak hours... shit he thinks I don't know about.

I don't know why I couldn't just swallow my pride, but I said I had a right to do some stuff for myself if I wanted. He said I was being a brat and said "I don't know what your ulterior motive is here but I know you've got one." I told him he was just being cheap, and that he was a joke... and things kind of spiraled outward from there. It was like an out-of-body experience... I could see and hear myself screeching at this man and turning red with oddly tearful anger, for, like, no reason at all.

It's possible my temper gets the better of me sometimes. I'll admit, this is something that predates my trip to Maine, but it's fair to say that lately I have a lot more reasons to feel provoked lately.

But yeah, I am not great at conflict resolution. Sue me.

Anyway, I got a talking to, and promised to help out less around the house unless asked to (???) so now I'm back to basically being idle and frustrated. I don't know what the issue is between Paul and Lauren, but it's clear this dynamic is gonna be a problem going forward.

On the plus side...

Yes, there are positives to this whole ordeal. Meg has talked about how much better she feels without the injury/disability/whatever the polite term is for her bad leg. I didn't have anything that wrong with me, but it's hard to deny that over the course of three decades I had gotten dinged up a fair bit, and waking up every morning feeling like a practically freshly-made human feels great. Of course, it's hard to drag myself out of bed before 10, but once I'm up I am up, and find myself staying awake until after 2 AM and only going to bed because I figure it's time, not just collapsing onto a couch.

The most noticeable change is to my tongue. Since this body didn't have years of smoking (lay off me, I quit eventually) my tastebuds pop a lot more. Everything tastes better, from fruit (and those giant blended smoothees they sell at the mall) to steak... leading me to over-stuffing my little stomach and getting sick. I had a problem on the weekend where we got ice cream and... dude, I ate way too much ice cream, and I felt it later for a while, but if that's my biggest vice in this body, I'm winning.

Anyway, I'm starting to remember why teenagers feel so invincible.

In fact, the only major unexpected complaints -- you know, besides decrease in size, upper body strength, and generally being treated like an unwanted stepkid -- is that I seem to be getting headaches with an alarming frequency, and I find myself very un-coordinated. I walked into a lamppost outside the other day while texting which... my God, I really have become a teenager. I should probably just stop writing this right now.

Oh yeah, and if you were still wondering about the pageant thing... that's a subject for another time. Let's just say, we're still in negotiations.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Annette/Ravi: Finally heading out

It wasn't long after that last entry that Gretchen showed up to find two strange guys in her room, and I guess we're lucky she didn't call the cops. I tried to explain about the curse, reminding her of the blog and its premise, leading up to "I'm Annette and this is Benny, the guy from last night."

She didn't believe it, of course, what with it being ridiculous. I wonder how many people changed by this place's curse have been told that they can do what they want with their fellow role-players, but she didn't sign sign up for it so just take your luggage and don't be weird. So we did.

Benny stared a little as we left, and I chuckled. "Bet you wish that you'd wound up with her instead of me last night."

"Not going there, Annie. Besides, you're not allowed to pull that sort of girl word-trap any more anyway."

I stroked my mustache. "I'm not?" I smiled nervously, hoping we didn't look weird because of it. "Ah, well. Although I guess it's 'Ravi' now. And it's never been 'Annie' anyway, or even just 'Ann' very often."


"Either I or my mother liked how it sounded when I was little, and there was one girl in my class who really insisted on 'Anne', so there you are. Or there you were." I sighed. "'Ravi'. It's going to take me forever to learn to respond to that. How do you think you'll do with 'Jordan'?"

"If he's just sliding back into his life as a girl, I don't think many people are calling him by name too often."

"Ouch! That's sad, but I guess easy enough for you. I've got a fiancee! The letter doesn't make them sound like the lovey-dovey, PDAs-all-the-time couple, but..." I let it tail off. What could one say.

He offered to by me a burger with what was left of his pants money, and I almost said yes before remembering that the letter said Ravi's family didn't eat beef. Even though nobody would know or find it strange here in Maine,what if years of not eating burgers meant it turned his stomach. Anyway, it was good practice, although that's easy to say after a week.

Most folks who changed left the Inn pretty quickly - lives to "return to" and all that - but Benny and I hung around. I called Ravi's job, and while they were as mad about him not showing up as you might expect, I think that the part of the curse that keeps people from believing you has a compensating effect where they buy into some bad clam chowder making you too sick to call for two weeks much more easily than they should. He wouldn't be back on the schedule until Tuesday, though, so we sort of broke our new bodies in in a place that was familiar to him and kept and eye on the Inn. Gretchen was really freaked out to have the place to herself for the last couple of days, although I chatted with her a couple times on Facebook to say I was having fun and would be back home in a couple of weeks, which should the case providing he/she doesn't pull a Jordan. Benny checked in with some of his friends, but they kind of ignored him, even more than Gretch did with me.

Last night, we sat down on the beach with some ice cream after seeing what looked like a nice married couple checking into our room, and took stock. He wondered if they'd keep their sexes or pull some sort of switcheroo, and I shrugged. So far, I didn't think the sex change was that big a deal physically, although the way some of the early folks on this blog carried on about having a vagina, you'd think it was the end of the world rather than something half the world did more or less without complaining. We took bets about whether he'd find himself in a crappy Boston apartment when he switched back, or if they'd try to keep it together long-distance.

He shrugged. "I could do that. More going on there than in the winter here, but I never felt like picking up and moving after high school." He shifted a bit. "Tell me something. I couldn't think of anything to tell my friends that would convince them I was who I said I was, but you looked like you had something to tell Gretchen. Why didn't you?"

"I almost did. It was on the tip of my tongue, but I was kind of terrified that it would just convince her that I would tell someone her secrets for the purpose of a game."

He pulled me in for a little side-hug and messed with my hair at that. I don't know whether it was a buddy thing or him liking me but not while we look like this. Then it was back to our second hotel room of the trip to rest up. Got a long trip to New York today!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tori: Freefall

Friday night, the Boy and I went out for dinner and a walk. He's lived in Philly for a few years without seeing much besides the college campus, so I took him on a bit of a tour, pointing out all my favourite spots to sit and people watch. I had to resist the urge to tell him stories about how I used to spend hours on end walking the city when I first got here - given that I'm technically supposed to be a native to this city - but it did bring back odd memories of being a scared boy-turned-girl looking for... I'm not sure what. Distraction, maybe. Peace of mind, security... stability. A way of looking at this "curse" to make me think it was going to be okay. Something just short of a "why" or a "how," because I knew I wasn't going to get that.

As we walked along, our conversation turned somewhat deep. He talked about his ambitions, his desire to travel, see the world, break out of his shell. I told him I never gave much thought to traveling...I'm a little set in my ways. I didn't dare explain that it was because only five years ago I changed my entire life right down to every cell in my body... that's not really something you talk about on a third date. I did tell him that distance had ruined a relationship for me before, and he added that he wouldn't even think of leaving Philly if he was seeing someone seriously.

I entwined my arm around his.

So there I was, on a cool July evening, dressed in heels and a maybe-too-light dress that lifted just a few inches in the breeze... with a low neckline that he would just have to glance sideways down at me to see all the way down... walking alongside a man, holding close, looking around at buildings but really just wanting to look at him.

I felt good. Not the L-word, per se, but a good kind of nervous and excited that I haven't been for a while, because I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere after dating around and being lonely for too long.

My mind slipped back to the way I was before I ever went to Maine - as it inevitably does from time to time - how I would've been uninterested in male companionship, how I was bad at finding female partners. How much I hated myself and just wished I could be different. And when I did become different, in a way I never anticipated, how quickly things started to change for me. And yes, it took a while to appreciate and even understand the ways it can be good, but right now, just being with someone, male or female, who wants to get to know you and spend time with you... that's a gift.

We can to a stop at a crosswalk, and I turned to him and smile. He smiled back. I wrapped my arms around the back of his neck and leaned in. He leaned over and kissed me. A chill went up my spine.

This is the why. It's not why it happened, but it's why I stopped being upset that it did. This feeling I never had before a few years ago. And while I know from experience that things like this can go away in the blink of an eye, for the moment, I'm feeling great.

I'm still trying to take it slow with him. I'm sure (since I haven't totally forgotten what it's like to be a guy) he'd jump into bed with me tonight if I asked, and part of me wants to do just that and skip the formalities, but I like this phase. Just freefalling into someone's world.

Well, maybe next week ;)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tyler/Lauren: Not-My-Selfies

See? Wordplay. I think my mood's starting to improve.

When all the pics from the junior prom went up, I got a million or so notifications on Lauren's Facebook and other social media, so I couldn't help but browse through them. It's weird how even though I know what I look like - I've seen my reflection plenty of times, run my fingers through this hair, dressed this body - I'm not used to identifying it as myself in pictures. I see a group of girls, and I think "I'm in here somewhere... which one is me?" Thank god for tagging, I guess... although I stick out like a sore thumb, looking miserable and comparatively unkempt, trying desperately to forget myself and have a good time despite my situation.

It's a little perverse to want to relive one of the most awkward, frustrating, humiliating nights of my life, but I think part of me craves order... like, I want to look at those pictures and see a group of people who are okay with things, at least for a night. I want confirmation that I'm passing, as weird as that sounds, that these girls and boys don't look at me and see a man dressed up as a young woman, because the idea of anyone knowing the truth about me is somehow worse than the charade.

Then again, the few where I'm smiling - pretty damn fakely - are more ghastly than the ones where I have a blank expression.

I look at them for a while, then I have to close the browser because it gets too damn depressing, to think of wedging myself into that dress and those heels and completely lock "Tyler" away and pretend I'm Lauren and having a great time, amidst sweaty writhing teenagers gyrating to loud, obnoxious DJ music.

Yep, it's official, I'm still a tired 30-year-old guy inside.

Anyway, I guess I'm just writing here because I have to do something besides click through Netflix, bug Meghan to hang out, sleep, and dodge Lauren's friends. They're nice girls, but I have nothing in common with them, and as much as I owe it to Lauren to be good to the people in her life, my brain simply isn't wired to care about the Kardashians or TMZ any of the other things they gab about. I get surrounded by them and I get overwhelmed by all this shallow nonsense, and suddenly I have a newfound respect for girlfriends I've had who had to endure conversations between me and my buddies about Double-A Baseball.

The worst is when they talk about boys, though. There's a pretty wide range of attitude among the group -- some are very reserved and some are filthy. I don't know if this is all based on experience or just their runaway imaginations, but I could do without knowing what all these teenage girls have done and what they think I'm up to. I'm getting the impression that Lauren was at the latter end of that spectrum, because often when the conversation gets blue, they turn to me for some input. I mostly shrug it off or make some vague attempt at a dick joke, but... you know, those kinds of gags are different depending on the source and audience. Still, I've found these girls go crazy for a good "that's what she said." They're young, so it's still pretty fresh to them.

"Team Lauren"

The other day, Susan - or as I have to call her to her face, "mom," - noticed my roots were starting to show. I guess Lauren's hair was a little too blonde to be real, but I didn't really think about it. And truth be told, the whole roots showing thing doesn't bother me, either as a guy who sees it on women, or as the person whose hair is currently two-toned. She said she'd make me an appointment for a touch-up, and I feigned against it, like "Oh, maybe I'll just go back to my normal color."

She looked shocked, and she took a hushed tone, saying "So... does that mean you're changing your mind about August?"

I didn't know what she was talking about, but she was spooked.

At first, I thought she meant this trip she and the husband were taking up to Lake Erie in August for a week. The kids have to go, but as the resident 17-year-old I was given the option to stay behind and fend for myself. Which, being a grown man who is used to a certain level of independence, I opted for.

But what could any of that have to do wit my hair color?

I found out afterward that Lauren was set to enter into the Miss Teen Allegheny pageant later in August.

Son. of. a. bitch.

Suddenly, certain things about Lauren make sense. The vast cosmetic supply, the body-displaying outfits (complete with "why would a teen need this" push-up bras) the prom obsession, the "inspo" folder of her laptop full of images of beauty queens, the wonky eating habits that I inherited and have worked against for weeks (putting on eight pounds in the process, which I consider good), the singing lessons. Shit, shitty, shit.

She seems dreadfully worried that I'll drop out, because I guess Lauren isn't much of a committer and this seemed like the first thing she ever set her mind to. Sue seems very invested in the idea of her daughter following through on this.

So I'm in the middle of this, as usual - trying to navigate between what I want, what Lauren would want, and what Lauren's parents want. I don't think I'm up for it, but if you asked me a few months ago if I'd be up for any of this, the answer would be a resounding hell no. It's up to me to decide how much "taking one for the team" this needs to involve.

Am I just a member of "Team Lauren" or the captain?

The bottom line is, I don't have to do this if I don't want to, and I don't... but how bad will the blowback be? I know some of these middle-class social climbers can really get caught up living through their kids, and that appears to be exactly what this is. Does Lauren have much of an opinion on the matter? She hasn't really been quick about returning my texts.

I look at that miserable girl in the prom dress though... who in their right mind would want that girl to go onstage?

Annette: So how much is the joke on me?

Here I was, thinking I'd been too clever by half, blogging worried I couldn't live up to the standard I set for myself or the other people who contributed to this "project", and when I finally decide, heck with it, I'm gonna have some fun and stop worrying, WHAM!

And before anyone asks in the comments, I did have some fun last night. Benny not only had the biggest dick I've ever seen in person (out of, admittedly, about three), but he knew what to do with it and everything else like he'd been practicing since the age of fifteen just like he claimed. I learned stuff last night, let me tell you!

But the most important thing I learned was that at least some people on the blog are for real. I was awake when it happened - I'd been feeling the buzz that some people who stayed here talked about all night, but just figured it was beer-buzz or general arousal, so when Benny finally tapped out at quarter past one, I was still awake, spending some time texting Gretch to compare notes and screwing around online. As soon as it started, I remembered how Penny Lincoln described it as like reverse liposuction all over, and while I've never had the frontwards version, that was what it felt like. I thought that maybe I was really super drunk or that maybe Benny had hit me with something stronger, but then I started feeling my panties and sleeping shorts starting to dig into my hips, and I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack as I pull them down and see some stuff that really should be inside pushing out, although I guess that once that's happening, they're really not the same things they were before.

So, I was definitely becoming a dude. I sort of figured that's what my "assignment" or "challenge" would be from the luggage, but which one? From the way my skin was darkening, though, it was pretty clear: I was turning into Ravi Kapoor. Which meant that the super-hot guy I'd been with...

Yep. Jordan Chang, unless there was another kind of heavy Asian-American dude in the building two weeks ago.

I shook him awake, and while he had a moment of freaking out because the guy leaning over the bed wasn't wearing pants of any sort, seeing the distinct lack of six-pack abs on his body was probably worse. He didn't really believe that there was a curse until I dragged him into the bathroom - I'm a little stronger now than he was heavier, so it took some effort, but not as much as it would have - and he saw his new face with the eyes and the half-grown facial hair (and I must admit, my own mustache seemed as weird as the penis).

Accusations were made, since I seemed to know what was going on. I told him about the blog, but how I'd naturally thought it was a fiction/game. He seemed to buy my apology, though asked me to go put some pants on. I did, while he kept cupping his gut and wondering why there were no clothes for him. I pulled up Jordan's blog entry on the subject, and he shrugged it off, saying he got it, but if Deirdre was so petite, what did Jordan think he was going to do with his underwear? Not that Benny was really thrilled at the prospect of wearing someone else's shorts, even if his boxers were now a different sort of tight fit.

We opted against waking everybody up, although we did hang out in the lobby until other people started waking up. Either I was the de facto expert this late in the summer - I figure that the people trying to get their body back must taper off from almost all of the Inn in May to just a few by mid-July - or nobody else wanted to speak up. Benny was a sweetheart, stepping up to defend me even though I'm apparently just as much of a man as he is right now. After everyone seemed more or less settled, we hit an ATM with Ravi's card and I gave him some money to go get a change of clothes or two. It'll be beach stuff, because that's what the shops in OOB sell, but I take it that's what he wears most of the time anyway, even when he's not trying to pick up 18-year-old tourist girls.

Gretchen hasn't shown up at the Inn yet - she went home with Benny's roommate - and I'm glad she didn't get caught up in this. I've been half-writing texts to her all morning, trying to figure out what to say or come up with a story, but this may just be impossible to explain. I hope she doesn't freak out about me "disappearing" too much.

Well, time to give the letter another read and see just what sort of mess I'll be heading into.

- Annette

Monday, July 21, 2014

Annette: Got to write it somewhere

Get on my for acting like nothing happens unless I tweet it if you want, but this guy who is currently in the convenience store buying us some beer is soooooo hot that I can't believe he's actually coming back to the hotel room with me instead of Gretchen. I mean, sure, she's got her own boy she's messing around with tonight, but I kind of feel like I'm punching a bit over my weight. It won't be my first time or anything, but it will certainly be my first time with someone who's not in high school and who the really hot girls would have given their number to.

Laugh at me for posting it here if you want, but I feel like I've got to tell somebody and I'm not going to put it on Twitter or Facebook where my mom can see it!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Annette: Not disappointed

During a creative writing class sophomore year, the teacher brought in his old Dungeons & Dragons set - I know it was old because a couple of kids kind of snorted, and what's up with that? You find out that someone likes the same kind of uncommon thing you do and your first reaction is to mock them for not looking it the same way or enough? Anyway, he brings this in, has us "roll up" characters, and then once we've got these attributes all in place we start to play. It's fun, but the point of the lesson is to get us to think about building a character organically - we may be starting with certain things arbitrarily set, so we've got to work backwards to figure out how he or she got to that point, and then once the game starts, we were told to invent an explanation for why we passed our failed on any dice throw. It was hard, especially since you weren't allowed to contradict what anyone else said. And "what she said", obviously, wasn't allowed. That's kind of where I am right now; every time I think I've got a handle on what I want to write when we get some sort of signal to do a change, I'll find someone already done it or it doesn't fit, or, you know, real-world stuff that's not easy to research on my phone. (Or maybe I'm just saying this so that I can set up an "oh my good, it really happened and it's not like I thought later) Fortunately, Gretchen is much more sensible than me, and whenever she sees me writing ideas down in a notebook, points out that I can do that on the beach, and then once we're there, she finds other stuff for us to do, or we meet some folks, and I remember that this is a vacation, and there will be plenty of time for writing challenges and the like come fall. Truth be told, I think she kind of resents my spending time on this. It's tough to say this without sounding like a swollen-headed bitch, but who knows how many more chances to hang out like this we'll have? She's going to Orono in the fall, which is a good school, but it'll make hanging out together difficult. So I'm not going to write much more at all unless I get super-inspired, and just hang around with my friend. -Annette

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tori: Get it together, Pearce

So I went out on a couple of dates with Boy-X. He was nice, and maybe there weren't sparks, but I quite enjoyed his company, and I felt like conversationally we were a good match. That's important to me.

Then after a couple of weeks, the texts started to drop off, and I found myself freaking out a little. "What did I say wrong? What can I say to get him back on my side? What can I do to make him like me?" I thought things were going fine. I was having these private little freakouts with my phone, wishing that little light would blink.

Normally, especially in past lives, I would walk away. I would take the hint, suck it up, and go try my luck somewhere else. And I'd feel terrible about myself, like a loser nobody wanted, and even since I've been in this body I've felt pretty crummy over the years: turning into a fairly attractive woman hasn't dulled my ability to find flaws in myself. But in this case, I decided I had it. I wasn't going to give up that easy: I'd seen what was out there, and I liked this guy, and I was going to get to the bottom of this.

"Hey," I said after two days (yes, it only took two days of silence to break me) "Do you like me?"

I swear, I haven't felt so tense since, well... best not get into it. Still, it was very nervous.

A while later he texted back "Yeah... I think so."

Hrm. Not promising.

Then he continued: "I'm just really intimidated. You've got things figured out, you're in a good place, and I just... don't know what I think about life right now."

Ding. It hadn't occurred to me that someone else in the world might be insecure. Get out of your own head once in a while, Pearce. The idea that my life might seem full to an outsider has never occurred to me... certainly not while I'm sitting at home on my butt, slinging my bras over the furniture and wondering if I have enough room to get a cat.

Now, when I was a guy, I would sit around, wondering why some girl I liked couldn't take an interest in me. Well here I am, taking an interest in a guy not that unlike my old self... and he damn well better appreciate it.

After a moment's thought, I told him that I was plenty insecure myself, and that the things he was worrying about weren't things that bothered me: that I enjoyed his company, and if he enjoyed mine, we should see each other more.

After an incredibly tense twenty minute wait, he responded... very positively.

So we started making plans, and tonight I'm having him over to hang out. You know, real casual. I'm not getting my expectations up, but all the same, it'll be nice to have someone I can call up once in a while. Someone I like.

I'm on a bit of a high right now, not just because someone likes me, and not just because I put in some work to make sure things were square, but because I suddenly saw where he was with his life: uncertain, intimidated and nervous, and I made him feel better. I did a good thing for someone, had an impact. I just feel so psyched right now. It used to be, I was the one who needed constant pep talks.

Five years does amazing things to a person.

PS That's right... 10 days ago was the five-year anniversary of 27-year-old John Henry Clifford becoming 22-year-old Victoria Pearce. I'm back to the age I started at... and I feel so good about it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Gary (Ravi); "Two Strikes Against"

I've only been here about a week but I can sort of understand why the original Gary was perhaps not all that driven to pass the bar and join the other family business - his father's law firm.  Working at this place is some long hours - Isaac and Isaiah may be there before me to make the bagels every morning, and they're pretty spry for octogenarians, but they do run down fairly early in the afternoon, even if they do schedule themselves for the whole day.  They lean on me - Gary - a little more than they like to admit to themselves, I think; even though they've got a number of capable people working for them, this is still a family business that they started with Gary's late grandfather, and as the only member of the family who works here, I'm the one they prefer to trust when they can't oversee things personally, which often means closing and receiving deliveries.

It's not a bad gig, though.  I compared it to the electronics-store customer service job I had back in New York when I first started examining the life I had inherited, but there are some pretty important differences.  You don't really have regulars doing tech support, for instance, and the guys who come in every Tuesday for new records and movies (who grow fewer and fewer) don't exactly chat much; they just take what they want from the front shelf and go straight to the check-out.  Here, though, I've seen a few people multiple times even though I've only been here a week and the place is closed Saturdays, and unlike the guy with the computer that won't start, they like talking.  Folks come here expecting to leave happy and wanting to come back, and that's a huge deal.

And while I didn't know any of them a week and a half ago, it's not like they expect any sort of depth to these running conversations.  When people do find it strange that you don't remember their names, "I was away for a while" usually does it, and if that doesn't work, "my fiancee dumped me so I have a lot on my mind" does the trick.

Most of the time.

Last night, just as I was getting ready to close, a girl comes in.  From the ground up, she's wearing three-inch heels, a tight miniskirt, a top that shows equal amounts of belly and cleavage, and plenty of jewelry and makeup.  Objectively, it's kind of tacky, but she's got what it takes to make it work.  I'm just paying her the normal sexy-girl-in-the-shop attention when she saunters up to the counter and asks why I haven't called, what with the ginger bitch being gone a couple weeks.

Maybe don't stammer and grimace quite the way that the original Gary would, but I do the same sort of thing.  "Kristina."

Kristina, you may guess, is the psycho ex that I was told about, and she sort of gives off that vibe.  From what I can tell, she and Gary dated in high school, broke up when he went to college, reconnected for a summer and then she wouldn't let go, either thinking this was destiny or realizing that her best chance at landing a lawyer or the like, and that this future lawyer was working in a deli didn't much phase her.  She apparently scared a few girlfriends off, at least until Deirdre outlasted her.

Not that she really announced herself as nuts beyond disparaging Deirdre.  She certainly seemed reasonable enough, although maybe she was giving me a skewed recounting of their high school days.  It was kind of fun and instructive, though; she mentioned some places that I probably should check out to learn more about Gary's life.

She hung around to close, which was kind of surprising; she didn't really seem to be overstaying.  I passed on getting a drink with her, and she didn't get nuts or anything.  I'll obviously be passing - between original-Gary saying that getting involved with her would be out of character and me already having someone, it would cause everybody trouble.

I've got to admit, though - the idea that Jordan could have wound up looking like THAT had things broken a little differently is making my head spin.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Meg/Tasha: Visitation

At least a couple of times per week, when Wade's out of the house and I don't have any responsibilities, I have Tyler over for lunch or coffee. Maybe watch a movie or TV and try to forget how insane our lives are. This is easier said than done. While I can sit still and try to ignore the differences in my body, Tyler is living much more up close and personal with the changes.

We settled the argument of "who has it worse" overall, but I think I won some points by re-framing the question of "would you rather be you right now, or me?" He looks over my body, notices the men's running shoes by the door, and admits that the life of a somewhat solitary teenage girl is preferable to that of a grown woman with a love life.

I said, "You broke up with Lauren's boyfriend, no questions asked. And that's fine, that works. If I had come in here and told Wade I had to leave, it becomes a question of who gets the apartment, where do I go, how do I face the real Tasha..."

"I would've--" he said, pausing to carefully consider his words, "I would've still dumped the guy, sorry. Not that I object to how you're playing this, but for me, it would be too much."

"Trust me, it's a lot for me to handle, too," I sigh. "And I wonder if you're right, but I don't have the guts to wreck someone else's situation. And I wonder if maybe I'm being a little selfish. Like, it was so hard for me to find a boyfriend, part of me doesn't mind co-opting someone else's."

"I remember at least one guy who was pretty into you," he offers, implying himself.

"Don't even," I say, mock-sternly. "This situation is weird enough, I can't even deal with that notion."

I saw him grit his teeth at that, but he knows.

"So..." he said after a lengthy silence, "How... did you handle all that?"

"Do you really want to know this?"

"I'm your friend. You can confide in me. Serious."

"Okay," I said, "At first it was like having a new roommate. I felt like I had to tiptoe around and avoid seeing him, just make myself invisible and not get in the way. Of course, that wasn't going to work. He thinks he knows me, and has a level of comfort around me that I simply can't match. It's off-putting. You know I like to take my time to get to know someone."

"I'm aware," he muttered sarcastically.

"I'm sorry," I said, although I don't know why, "So there were these uncomfortable weeks where if I wanted to watch a movie, and he was around, we'd have to discuss it, and then he'd be right next to me on the couch with his arms around me, and I would have this intense mental discussion with myself about how I felt about this. This is a man that I just met, but he feels like he has the right... and of course from his perspective he does. I started thinking about undergrad, about those girls who would go to parties and get drunk and nuzzle up to some guy they just met and hope he was good. It always made me sick, but I also kind of wanted to be able to do that."

"Okay," he nodded along.

"And eventually..." I said, almost trailing off again, "...I got to the point where I could trick myself and make believe it was just another relationship. My own. Just one that was going a lot faster than I normally did. The guilt is still there, but no matter what, it feels nice to be held, to be looked at. If I just met him as myself, I can think of a hundred reasons, hundred ways it wouldn't work, whether it was him or me or both of us. But coming in... in medias res... skipping the bullshit and just being comfortable. I like that. I'm okay with it, weirdly... for now."

At this point, Ty bolted up and did what I can only describe as an "angry lap." I could see him warring with himself inside, audibly grumbling, but unable or unwilling to express it, possibly because he feels I'm in the right, or because of his own personal feelings, or because he's gotten such a raw deal out of this.

He looked out the window of a minute or so before he asked, "And the sex?"

"That, you don't want to know."

I could almost feel the hurt that response laid on him. There was a heavy silence, and then he looked at the clock and decided he had to go.

For what it's worth, I didn't exactly dive into this... I treated it like a real relationship, where I would hold a guy to at least a three date rule, to make sure I was comfortable, but I think under the circumstances the goalposts for "comfortable" had to be moved.

Call it a guilty pleasure, call it making the best of a bad situation, call it doing the real Tasha a favor by pinch-hitting for her. I've pilloried myself enough over the past month for even looking at Wade. And having him look at me, not knowing what's really behind my eyes, is scary and upsetting and wrong in a way I can't even properly verbalize. But if I do or don't do this, the wrongness isn't going to go away, and maybe it's a flaw in my personality that I want to do it the easiest way possible, to just erase myself and pretend I am Tasha for a while, but guess what, despite years of this blog's existence, there's no handbook for how, exactly, to be someone else.

I just don't want to lose the only meaningful friendship I currently have over it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Annette Grayson: Can't think of an in-character way to do this.

But then again, I don't think "self-aware and prone to deconstruction" is a thing anyone else has tried, and like my AP English teacher said junior year, that's the default setting for certain members of my generation - we can't just enjoy something, we have to live-tweet it and read instant analysis the next morning, and because both we and the generation before us are starting to write so young, all we know is pop-culture and writing, so everything we create and devour is about itself rather than actual experiences we've had.  And, you know, he probably isn't wrong.  But what can I do?  I want to tell stories.

So, hi.  My name's Annette Grayson.  I'm from a small town in Maine that feeds a big regional high school, I graduated in the top 3% of my class, and I'm going to Harvard in the fall to major in English with an emphasis on creative writing.  I'm here for an experience that will broaden my horizons.

Not that I really believe that the Inn is cursed and will turn me into one of the guys who left their luggage in this room!  Aside from that being ridiculous, presenting myself as believing that would be against the rules of the game.  No, the way I figure it, those of us that signed up for a blog account by emailing the address that was surreptitiously slipped under our doors will be told which suitcase to open, be given the details of our new life, and then it will be up to us to research and recount what it's like to live in that person's skin for however long it holds our interest.  It's kind of a game, I think, and I don't know if there's prizes or anything, but maybe I'll get to meet Penny Lincoln at some point and hopefully not be a total fangirl.

She's what led me here, after all.  I love love love the "Pygmalion's Proteges" series, and can't wait for the third book next summer.  A lot of my friends just identify with the themes of rebelling against the adults trying to make them into something else (I know, I'm doing the instant analysis thing rather than just enjoying it), but I really like Penny Lincoln's writing, enough to have read all four of her Lynn Ashford mysteries, and while searching for other things she wrote, I got down to page fifty of a Google search and found this.  I don't know that she wrote any of the Art/Liz/Nell/Penny stories, but they sound like her.  When I found out that there was an actual Trading Post Inn in Old Orchard, I told Gretchen that we had to go there over summer vacation.

That's my best friend Gretchen Hines, by the way, who's my roommate for the next week or two.  She only really goes for the PP books, and she's not interested in any sort of writing challenge, but she's absolutely down for a couple of weeks at the beach while our moms get used to our not being around.  Well, my mom, mostly - it's just been the two of us since dad walked out, and since I tended to study a lot more than go out in high school, we probably had a closer relation than many moms and daughters have, and she joked about this being a trial run.

I'm excited for that, too - I wasn't any sort of shut-in who couldn't get a boyfriend or anything, but I never had to fend for myself as much as Gretch and some other friends did.  Maybe that's what I'll wind up writing about, someone totally independent and with nobody else to rely on.  I kind of can't wait.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jordan Chang - Urban Anonymity

As insane as the whole deal of having everything about your body changed by a cursed inn is, everybody else seems to make everything much harder on themselves than they have to.  They parachute into jobs they don't know how to do, surround themselves with people who expect them to behave a certain way, and in the name of making sure that things stay the same, either screw things up so much that even if things go back to normal, someone has to put their life back together, or they go so native that getting back to their own life is stranger than staying who they are.

I figure that even if I didn't have an apartment to come back to, I still would have come to New York or a place like it after the Inn changed me.  Nobody in my building batted an eye when they saw a white girl going in and out of an apartment formerly occupied by Chinese and Hindu guys, and the turnover in this neighborhood is so constant that they probably assumed I'd come in with someone else's moving van.  If I go to the Chinese place on the corner and order in Mandarin, it's maybe not something that the guy behind the counter sees all the time, but it's not something he hasn't seen before, either.  And I don't have to come up with some explanation when some nosy son of a bitch is all "hey, Deirdre, when did you learn Chinese?" that also has to take into account that she won't know it when she gets her own face back.

That said, I was still a little nervous about this afternoon.  I've spent most of the week in the apartment, working on my contract and then eating takeout and watching Netflix or doing stuff online, but eventually I got frustrated with skipping comic book message board threads out of fear of spoilers.  I pondered going to Comixology to get what I'd missed and catch up right then, but I looked across the room at the long boxes stacked up against the wall and decided that there was no fucking way I was going to let this body change my habits, and resolved to pick the two weeks of comics is missed the next day.

It was a little nerve-wracking; I spent a little more time in the shower than usual and stated at my reflection in the bathroom mirror even longer.  Looking for what, I don't know.  Having someone else's skin gives you this weird feeling that you're going to get caught even when you're not trying to hide.  I wound up deciding my face was clean, putting on a Hulk T-shirt and the only pair of cargo shorts if been able to find in my size on Sunday, and walled to the subway.

There are plenty of decent comic shops in the Bronx and the north end of Manhattan, but I've been going to the same one near Chinatown since I was a kid, and that's where everything  in my subscription had been pulled.  It meant taking the subway quite a ways, which itself was kind of a weird experience - I'm usually able to steady myself pretty well, but even if I've got nothing up top, I've also got skinny legs now, and I'm too damn short to lean in and grab a bar or a strap if someone's in the seat in front of me.  When the car went around a turn, I would have fallen straight to the floor if there weren't people to fall into.  The woman I landed on started to chew me out and I was about to be all "excuse me, bitch" when the guy is been standing in front of stood up and offered me his seat.  He kept looking at me after I sat down, and I thought he was going to try and get my phone number or something, but we were passing through Harlem, and when a woman got on showing more tit than I have (and high heels hallway to my knees), I was forgotten.

Eventually we got to Lower Manhattan, and I went with the crowd that was going my direction.  Being so short made it seem to take longer, but I eventually got there.  The crowd was probably about average for a Saturday afternoon - I'm usually a Wednesday night guy myself - and though I wasn't the only girl in the store, I got some looks.  Nobody went so far as to approach me as I got my stuff out of my folder, at least.  Two weeks' worth was a fair amount for these short arms, though, and somehow corners kept poking my left boob as I looked around the racks for anything I might have missed.  There were one or two.

I was a little nervous as I brought my stuff to the counter; the guy there didn't usually work Wednesday nights, but I'd seen him often enough to remember his name.  I was therefore a little nervous when he asked me the name on the sub and I answered "Jordan Chang", but he just entered it into the system and have me my discount.  I figured he must have thought I was picking it up for "me" or something, but he didn't blink when I handed him a debit card with that name.  He barely looked at it, giving more attention to my chest - weird, because he was on a platform and my T-shirt showed no cleavage, so he was looking straight down at nothing - so I don't know whether the incongruity between my name and appearance made any impression.

It was kind of a relief as I walked out of the shop and read my first couple issues over an ice cream from a nearby place, but it started to kind of piss me off a bit on the subway.  I could think of two or three reasons why someone who looks like I do now might be named Jordan Chang, but those only apply when you don't recognize the name.  Shouldn't he have found something weird about it?

Fuck it.  Time to read Batman.


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Gary (Ravi); "Jordan has no idea how many lives she's screwing up!"

I can sort of understand where Jordan's coming from, doing what he's doing, but it's incredibly selfish.  Deirdre's parents stopped by work last night, in tears, wanting to know where their daughter was, and I couldn't very well tell them "a little farmhouse in Quebec", could I?  Well, I suppose I could, but then they might try and go see her, and me directing them toward a late-middle-aged couple is not going to do them any good.

And it probably won't do me any good, either.  I told them the only thing I could think of on short notice - that she and I had a fight at the end of the vacation and she worked off without telling me where she was going - and they both have me this look I really didn't like.

The original Gary and Deirdre aren't happy either.  I sent them an email with a heads-up Monday night, and while their first reaction was along the lines of it not really mattering - that no matter what sort of damage we do to their lives, they'll eventually come back and make things right.  At least, that's the first email; later comes one from Deirdre/Lise about how Gary's/Guillaume's old girlfriend was a complete psycho that it took three years to be completely rid of, so i had better not go restarting that clock!  I assured them that I was already engaged, even if they think a year is a long time.

At the very least, the original Deirdre is going to need a new job she gets back; when I showed up for work alone on Sunday, "Uncle Isaac" and "Uncle Isaiah" made a big show of saying she was fired, she wasn't that good a waitress anyway, but that at the same time I should have said that I was trying to convince her to stay (they constructed this whole narrative of what has happened between their nephew and his fiancee out of very few words on my part).  They say this, at least, but you can tell they're hurt.  I like them; they're like a lot of the old Jewish guys I would see back in New York and assume that they were sort of leaning into the stereotype, and maybe they are - they play it up even more when a gentile comes into the deli, and I kind of wonder if they've internalized it after all this time.

Or maybe, being thrown into this life, I'm just hypersensitive to everything about it.  I just know things would be running a lot smoother for everybody if there were a Deirdre here.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Jordan Chang - Damn you, Trading Post Inn!

It's three-thirty in the morning and I almost wish I was dying.

I usually sleep pretty soundly through the night once I have fallen asleep, but twenty minutes ago I woke up in total fucking pain.  I thought - hoped - at first that it was my body going back to normal, that maybe despite what everyone says about the inn's curse following certain kinds of rules, my time as a girl was only going to last the weekend.  I pulled my pantries off so that my cock and balls wouldn't get crushed, but that moving around just suited things up and made the real problem obvious, and I barely made it to the bathroom in time to puke my guts out.

I'm not pregnant, smart-asses, but it looks like I should probably start ordering the small pizza instead of the medium for the duration.  Maybe I should have figured that out from how many times I had to piss yesterday (can't code without Pepsi Max), but I'm just not used to leaving any pizza in the box.  Besides, when some magical force has changed your body, you kind of don't want to give in.  Those last couple slices just look at you like "can't handle us? why don't you just give in and get a salad, bitch?", and down they go even if it won't be clear that your new tiny girl stomach doesn't have the room for a few hours.

There's other parts of this tiny girl crap that are ridiculous, too.  Because I left all Deirdre's stuff on the train with Ravi, the only clothes I had that really fit me now were the sweats some nameless perv pulled onto me while I was unconscious, and given the shitty A/C in this apartment, they weren't going to be enough, even before you started to consider the underwear situation.  My boxers just weren't going to stay up any more, although I can use my t-shirts as nightshirts now.  Just running into a department store to grab some t-shirts, shorts, and (ugh) panties didn't write get the job done at first, though - I had to go back a second time when I somehow managed to find the one package of panties too small for this ass, and the tees practically covered the pair of shorts that felt like they were groping me.  I was almost afraid I was going to have to buy something from the children's section before finding the extra-small sizes.

At least all of that was able to fade away somewhat during work yesterday.  It's a crappy job that expects miracles, but it let's me do my thing without worrying about how I look.


"Sophie": In love with myself

It's Monday night and I stand in front of the mirror with my phone in my hand. I've selected my very favourite bra and panties: lavender-colored, shear, lacy and skimpy. Through the fabric you can just discern certain details, leaving little to the imagination. I spend ten minutes trying to decide on a pose, turning my body this way and that, examining every inch of exposed and covered flesh... which curves do I highlight? Straight-cleavage? Sideboob? Arch my back and stick my butt/hips out? Should I try to de-emphasize the belly bumps, lumps and lovehandles, the way my midsection ever so slightly over the waist of my panties, or do I just acknowledge that that's a part of me and present it in its full glory? What angle does the light hit me to play down the veins in my breasts, the stretchmarks that streak across my flesh?

Truth is, it doesn't matter, and I take pictures of myself from every possible angle, puckering my (brightly red-coloured) lips and giving bedroom eyes, twisting this way and that, leaning forward, showing myself in every light, imperfections and all. I feel like I better appreciate myself, because sexy underwear isn't cheap in plus sizes, and I look damn good. In all about thirteen pictures are taken... and sent.

The destination of these photos is a man named Dan Reilly, who lives in Rhode Island... and is, in actuality, the original/real Sophie. As we started conferring months ago, about my plans to forgo getting my previous body back, we got kind of close... not physically close, of course, but she admitted she found herself checking out women who resembled her old body more than women who were stereotypically attractive. This coincided with me getting deep into the body-positivity movement, and as we chatted, I somehow got into the habit of sending her racier and racier pictures of her old body. You can interpret this many different psychologically complex ways, but it's been dynamite for my self-esteem, and hers.

I didn't love this body when I first got it. Beyond being confused and scared at not having the only body I ever remembered, it was far from perfect: I was self-conscious about chubby arms, belly, thighs, butt and frankly unmanageably large boobs. Even as I started to accept, even appreciate, being a woman, there were still those problems with the specific body and I found myself wishing I had become Angie or Mona. This body came with so many caveats... as I'm sure Roy would tell you, sometimes even maintaining your shape as a woman is a chore. Then as months went by, I came to like my new home a lot, seeing a lot of great about it, and I was fortunate enough to meet Sophie's friends, who love her body too, and seem to care a lot for the person inside it, whether it's her or me.

And of course, guys love it. They just do. Girls too ;^P just ask James.

(As a sidenote, I never quite knew what to do with myself, who to aim my affections at as Grant, so this transformation has really brought that side of me out... that certainly doesn't seem like an uncommon trend among people who visit the Inn, but in my case it's especially relieving. But I wouldn't be surprised for people who decide such pursuits aren't a healthy use of time...)

So over the past year, I've gone on a journey from being scared, confused, depressed and resentful, to absolutely celebrating the way I look, to the point where I can't imagine being another way. I've even dropped the "Grant" from this post's title, because... well, that guy is gone. Part of me is nostalgic for being him, but... he's not me, you know? My year as Sophie feels more real to me than my whole life as Grant.

Which is scary, because that's exactly what's going to happen soon. I'll be moving on again. I don't know exactly where I'm going to end up, man or woman, young or old... I can only hope I feel as highly about it as I do this one. Maybe having rebuilt that confidence, it won't be a hard transition, or maybe I'll just collapse again. I don't know. My hope is that someday... maybe next year, maybe further... I'll be able to drop the quotation marks from whatever name I have and just be a person for the rest of my life, however long that is.

But the amount of things that have to happen before I can be satisfied for that... I don't even want to think about it.

Once "Dan" has responded, appreciatively, to my photos - and sent some of his own - I dress up and head out. There's a show to get to, some band or another, and the guys are always waiting on me. Oh, but first I forward those pics to my dropbox, and swing by "Keisha's" place... my friends have been asking about her. She made quite an impression the last time I brought her out.

Only another month.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Tyler/Lauren: Status quo

I don't know why, but I figured I would be the "newbie" on this little blog for at least a while, since it doesn't seem like that many people who stay at the Inn, overall, find it (or bother, if they do.) I told Carrie she could contribute if she liked, but she's not much of a writer. As to those who have recently joined "the club" I don't have much in the way of advice, or even comfort. But, uh, good luck I guess?

(Fact about me: I am bad with sympathy/feelings, just ask anyone who's seen me at a funeral.)

I want to write a lot, but I find myself stuck on the fact that nothing is happening, besides the constant background noise of the family, and Lauren's friends constantly sending her pointless texts that I am obligated to answer back. This generation, I swear, if they can't constantly be in touch with each other they don't know where they are. It's affecting me, too: I'm constantly checking the phone to see if I missed something. Besides that, I think that if I didn't look the way I do, this would almost be a dream existence: all this free time and no responsibility, no job, nobody to look out for. Instead, I'm facing boredom bordering on depression.

Lauren's friends have provided a surrogate entertainment system for me. I've dropped into their lives like one might a soap opera (do those still exist?) It's confusing at first, but once you get to know the characters you become intrigued by their lives. I'm making little diagrams, with Lauren's help, of who's dating who, who dated in the past, who she's on good terms with, who she hates (publicly and privately) who hates her (publicly and assumed) etc etc. Add Seann to that list, who has repeatedly posted the word "whore" on her Facebook wall (although the first time it was "hoar." So there's that.) I find it a little sad that I find this somehow more stimulating than studying for hours on end. I promise not to bore you with the details unless they somehow become relevant. (I mean, what's relevant anymore? Or irrelevant, for that matter?)

More important is what I know about the family. Lauren's mother Susan was married to Paul Sherman for only two years or so - it would seem to be a shotgun wedding, if I've got the timeline right. He moved around a lot, and kept only barely in touch while Susan raised the kid on her own. Sometime later she met Albert Blanchard, who already had a daughter named Tasha  (b. 1992) and was either already divorced, or getting divorced, or maybe still married, Lauren didn't seem to know the full story, and I don't blame her. Tasha and Lauren did grow up together a little bit, because Tasha's mother briefly lost custody to Albert while she was unemployed. Then Tasha turned 18 and moved out on her own.

Susan doesn't really like Tasha, Albert is pretty distant toward Lauren. I think they reckon since she's almost done high school and they've got these other two kids about to hit puberty they can leave Lauren to her own devices... or at least palm her off on her big stepsister. That don't mean they ain't keeping tabs on her - I can't hardly leave the house without them asking where I'll be and who with.

They're not poor - Lauren gets an exorbitant allowance compared to what I got when I was that age (I had an afterschool job, Lauren seems barred from getting one) - but they're not thriving as a one-point-five income family with three mouths to feed, in a bad economy... part of the shrinking middle class, as Meghan pointed out to me.

Susan works part-time as a maid, which counter-intuitively seems to explain why the house isn't overly clean: she doesn't bring her work home with her. She looks permanently exhausted, with bags under her eyes and probably a bit prematurely aged, only in her early 40s but looking a decade older. Albert's a skinny guy who is probably about my old height, and bald except on the sides. He manages a fried chicken place (hello Breaking Bad?) so he's the breadwinner, and brings work home a few nights a week. This is infinitely preferable to Susan's cooking, no offense to her: it's a lot of mac & cheese, hamburger helper, meatloaf... basic meals that remind me of the less pleasant parts of my youth.

I'd kill for a pizza. But anyway, Lauren's constitution and appetite means I don't eat a ton of this stuff anyway. Lauren's skinny, and I know enough about teenage girls to guess why. I don't aim to make a ton of changes to her life, but I would like to get her healthy, enough so that it's not so easy to see her ribs. There's this frustrating clash between what I want to eat and what I can handle eating, which leads to an irritable Tyler.

In fact, speaking of my mood... I don't know, I find myself slightly more emotionally volatile than I am normally. Things that irritate me bother me, that I used to just shrug off as "the way of the world" suddenly strike me down in my core, and I find myself wanting to drop everything and hide in my room. I've become a literal teenager, probably due to swirling hormones mixed with the actual trauma and the fact that, well, there's a lot going on in this life to stress me out and trigger these little moments. I just chafe at being pulled this way and that by Lauren's social group, her family, and my own urge to fuck off and run away. Meghan might be satisfied to know I actually did break down and cry a few times in the last few weeks

Besides the parents, there's also the twins, 11-year-old Kylie and Kevin, running around. Kevin's a little brat (not my first choice of word either) always bringing his friends over and loudly playing XBox. Kid's got a mouth on him, let me tell you. Kylie's at gymnastics three nights a week, so I hardly even saw her until school got out. She's pretty well-behaved, except when she loses her cool, then she wails like a banshee.

She's also got some weird boundary issues. We were at the mall a few weeks ago, and she had me take her into a certain ladies apparel place, where she remarked that she hoped when she grew up she looked more like Tasha than Lauren. Then she puffed out her top with her hands to demonstrate what she meant.

Um... kay. I did not think girls thought much about that before it happened. But it's no different from my friends and I all comparing muscles and pit hair when we were that age (hint: we didn't have much. Yet.)

There's one other thing I've been doing... somewhat reluctantly, somewhat because I'm interested. Lauren was in singing lessons, on Thursday nights, and while I can't exactly pick up where she left off, something tells me Lauren was not that great of a student because nobody seemed all that alarmed by the warbling, self-conscious, off-key rendition of "Do Re Mi" I let off. Still, there are worse hobbies to pursue, I suppose. Beats gymnastics. And slightly easier to fake your way through.

That's pretty much the lowdown on my life, for now, the status quo as it is. When I can, I spend time with Meghan, although with her working nights and me in school there wasn't a lot of time for that until recently. I'll leave it to her to tell you about her life, because for all I know there's things she doesn't want to tell the internet.

I guess all this is my way of defensively wondering if it's a problem how settled I've gotten within a month. I referenced the "Lauren-shaped" dip in the bed, and I feel that's like a perfect metaphor for what's going on. How fucked up it is that this life is all set up for me, and it's not what I'm used to, and even more than a bit uncomfortable, but... it's shaped for me. For Lauren, who I happen to currently be.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Jordan - What is wrong with all of you?

I mean, what the fuck? I turn into a tiny white girl - which is fucked up enough on its own - and Ravi decides to fucking kidnap me because he's afraid we'll lose jobs in some family deli that is not actually owned by his actual family?

Oh, he didn't see it that way, saying he didn't know what else to do after I fainted, and not to worry because he wasn't the one who dressed me (what the fuck?). The actual wedding wasn't planned until next year (WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?), so we wouldn't have to fake too much in public. He told me that there should be a letter in my luggage for me to read, and then chivalrously helped me get it down from the rack because I was so tiny now.

There was, along with a wallet and a phone, but I only sort of pretended to read it. I'd woken up at some point between Exeter and Haverhill, and I got right off the train at that station. Ravi ran to the door and told me I couldn't just do that, but I gave him the finger and the conductor gave him this stern look asking if "we" had a problem. I said no and walked over to the other side of the platform not even knowing that it was only ten minutes until the next train north. I guess Ravi took his seat without much complaint, and I headed back to Maine.

Not that there was a lot of help to be had - in the three hours since Ravi had loaded me on a train, everyone who knew everything seemed to have gotten on a train or taken a cab to the Portland airport to start their new lives or get back to their old ones, and the few people that were left were just crying about not knowing how to be these people or be a man or a woman or black or whatever. But they seemed to be asking the wrong question, really.

Ravi had left the door locked, and while I might have been able to knock it down a day earlier, that wasn't happening, so I went to the other hotel where we checked in and told the guy at the desk that I was locked out of my room. There was as much confusion as you might imagine - I have no idea how they keep records for who checks in and who checks out, and when he finally allowed that a Jordan Chang might still be checked in, he looked at me weird, but I guess that "Jordan" being a girl's name too is the one bit of luck I've had with that place. Anyway, I was able to get my suitcase, rip up the letter Ravi had written for the next person in the room, and write another one. Then I grabbed my stuff, checked out for real, and waited for the 3:05pm train. I had to buy that ticket with Deirdre's card, because they do check IDs on the train, and that sucker was running low enough that a plane ticket wasn't the best idea. But I eventually got to Boston, took the orange line to Back Bay, and from there got into Penn Station at just past 11pm.

By the time I got back to my apartment and lugged the luggage up all these stupid stairs with this scrawny body, it was midnight, and I was ready to drop. Obviously, I hoped to wake up this morning and find out that yesterday was all some strange nightmare, but that's equally obviously not the case. But that doesn't mean I have to stop being Jordan Chang or start being Deirdre O'Connell - I do a shit-ton online, to the extent where most of my work is done via IM rather than voice calls, and I am not going to be a waitress when there's other, much better-paying work that I've already agreed to do. I may look completely different, and I may have to buy a whole lot of new clothes today because I didn't take Deirdre's bag with me when I got off the train, but I'm still myself, no matter how Ravi or anyone else wants to play it!


Saturday, July 05, 2014

Gary (Ravi); "Heading to a New Home"

Long time readers of this blog have probably been waiting for this post a while, expecting something ironic because they probably think it's fictional, but either, way, it's inevitable: I woke up this morning not myself.

It was early, like two-thirty, when people were banging on doors and yelling. It didn't wake Jordan - once he was out in his old body, there was no stirring him, and that doesn't seem to have changed - but I can be a pretty light sleeper. Waking up in the dark, nothing seemed to have changed, but when I got up an answered the door, I thought there was a weird trick of the light going on for how light my skin was. The lady who was at the door asked if it had happened to me, I asked what, and she said turning into someone else, and that the Canadians in the common area said they knew more.

I rushed to the bathroom to look in the mirror, and I was kind of shocked - I was white, had a full beard instead of just a mustache, and... Well, I was someone else! I was half-dazed as I walked away, and took a step toward Jordan's bed, but stopped, figuring I might as well know something before waking the lump under the covers.

Apparently, about half the Inn's capacity this week were returned visitors, and they told me what they knew: That the Inn was cursed somehow, that every couple of weeks it would turn the 13 people inside into copies of the last people to stay there, who had turned into the group before that, and so on back for decades, apparently. They said we weren't stuck like this - there was no rule saying you couldn't come back, and if you co-ordinate with the people who will become you, it's possible to build chains to get your real life back. Then two of them looked at each other and said you had to be really careful, because it's about being near where the other person was when they changed and a matter of inches could be a huge deal. They said that's why there was luggage in the room that the maids didn't clear out, because that was part of the ritual - you leave the next person to have your shape your clothes and a letter. Ours actually weren't in our room any more; they were among the things that had ticked Jordan off when we arrived, and he wound up dumping them in the lobby. Fortunately, they hadn't been stolen, so I opened one and found a letter to "the new Gary Goldstein". It turned out that I was now a couple years older and from a Jewish family in the Baltimore suburbs. The rest of his story was sort of like mine, but different in the details - got through college and even law school, though apparently at the bottom of the class, but hadn't passed the bar in three attempts. Not so different from getting a degree in electrical engineering only to wind up with an internship that didn't lead to a job. Working in the family deli sounded better than a big-box electronics store, especially since it led to--

Well, at that point, I rushed back to the room, pulled the covers off Jordan, and gasped. He'd become Deirdre O'Connell, Gary's fiance. Physically, she's about the most un-Jordan-like person you could imagine - about ten inches shorter, Caucasian, the sort of redhead that gets covered in freckles, heart-shaped face, slender neck... Not a classic beauty, maybe, but cute, and less than half his mass - the tank top he had worn to bed was so oversized that a pert little breast was visible in its entirety through the neck hole. I threw the covers back on and just sat there, although I did go to drag the bags back into the room and finish the letter.

I fished out Gary's phone, which had of course lost its charge over the past couple of weeks, and plugged it into one of the chargers, and started writing my own letter. There wasn't much to put in - my job, my parents, Kareena. I figured arranged marriages probably seemed strange to any non-Hindu who became me, but not to worry - we hadn't even had the formal engagement ceremony yet, and she was much too focused on her career for sex, so just be nice to her. Eventually the phone charged enough to show all the messages that had been left for Gary, most wondering where he had been for the past week, and that if I didn't show up for work on Sunday, I was fired, brother's grandkid or no brother's grandkid.

By that time, the sun was rising and a look at the train schedules suggested we get a move on. I was really uncomfortable shaking "Dierdre" awake, but it had to be done. Eventually, she stirred, slapping at me and wanting to know who I was and what the fuck I wanted, and I told her that I was Ravi, and she was right about this place being terrible, but we had to get going. I pulled her out of bed - she was shockingly light compared to how Jordan had been and dragged her into the bathroom so she could see herself in the mirror while telling her everything I'd heard. She fainted dead away.

It sounds kind of funny, but have you ever had someone faint on you? It may not be as freaky as waking up looking like someone else, but it's not as far off as you might think; you just don't know what to do! I tried splashing some water on her face, but apparently Deirdre faints like Jordan sleeps. I ran back into the lobby, and while nobody else could wake her, one of the nice Canadian girls was able to get her into some sweats when I said we had to take the train. Looked at me kind of funny, but seemed to understand when I said that Gary was in enough trouble already.

We split a cab to the train station rather than drag Deirdre, laughing nervously when the cabbie made a joke about how the redhead seemed to enjoy her last night of vacation a little too much. Thankfully, nobody thought my signature on the receipt was too weird when I bought the two tickets to Baltimore, and we're on our way now.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Jordan Chang - Stupid little town

All week, Ravi has been getting on me to have fun.  Which doesn't sound too objectionable, but when people say that, what they really mean I'd to have fun in the way that they want to have fun, which in Ravi's case means finding a bit of sans and just sitting there.  I tried some of that this morning, and it's not nearly as conducive to finding excuses to go somewhere else as you think.  And then, once you finally do get a little bit relaxed, someone asks if you will please move because they're going to be having some sort of sandcastle contest.

Ravi, of course, is cool with it, but then, that's when the first rain of the day comes down.  I'll bet that wound up doing a number on the sand-sculpture thing.   That have is an excuse to walk around a bit and  that led us to the arcade.  It's part of the little amusement park they have by the beach, and not really that big, but it was an okay place to duck into.  Of course, everyone else thought the same thing when in stated raining, so it was hard to get to a machine.

And then when you do, it's like people resent it.  Like, I found a Mario Brothers one, and while Ravi went through his lives pretty quickly, I did okay.  It's actually a lot tougher in the arcade than it is at home, because you're standing and those big sticks cause your hands to cramp up way faster than a D-pad.  Some little kid seemed kind of impressed, but as soon as he says so, his bitch of a babysitter or older sister says something like "of course he is, that's probably all he does every night."

Ravi drags me out before I can say what I really want, which is along the lines of fuck you, what the hell are you doing that's so much more important?  Being a little teenage slut for your jock boyfriends who aren't ever going to amount to shit?  It's probably a good thing I didn't, because the place was filled with middle-aged losers who probably would have passed out and/or called the cops at the thought of their little angels hearing such language (!), like they don't hear it on TV and in games all the time.

It put me in a kind of spur mood for the rest of the day, and I sure as hell want going back to the beach to see all the sand things, because beaches are just full of jerks like that girl, whether they're other girls out guys flaunting how they can walk around in public with their shirts off without people pointing and laughing and probably thinking some racist shit on top of that.  Why couldn't Ravi and Kareena have booked themselves a vacation in a proper city if I was going to wind up using it?

And now Ravi's saying we should head out to the beach, because they do fireworks every Thursday and they'll probably be even bigger for the Fourth of July.  Like they wouldn't have even bigger fireworks at home.  No, I'll just stay in here with my takeout and setting if maybe all the other sheeple going to the beach will actually let me get a decent connection for World of Warcraft.


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Ravi Kapoor; "So you've met Jordan."

As you can probably see from the other night's post, Jordan and I didn't exactly have the smoothest trip up here, and he didn't think the one bed in our room was terribly amusing.  I sort of get where he's coming from; he's probably doing the work of two as a contractor for his old employer and hasn't taken a vacation since that transition.

We got stuff worked out with the folks at the other inn, though, and while the place may not be the most luxurious hotel room I've ever stayed in, it's like my dad always says:  If you're spending enough time in your room to care about the amenities, you're doing vacation wrong.  Honeymoons accepted, of course.

Speaking of those, this vacation wasn't originally supposed to be a honeymoon, but it was going to be me and my fiancee Kareena, who I'm sure even Jordan would about would make much better company, especially if I could get her into a bikini!  I think we really could have used it, too - our parents have had things arranged since practically before mine came to the U.S., and we really didn't get to spend any time together until she started medical school at Columbia.  I sometimes think she's trying to figure a way out of this without offending our parents - we like each other well enough, and I know I certainly get excited whenever she's around, but what does it say when a woman tells her husband-to-be not to come with her to Mumbai for her grandmother's last days?  She says it's not to burden me with an expensive flight and an unknown time away from my job, but I want to be there for her, and think that maybe it would have brought us closer.

Hopefully that's not too selfish a thought.  It at least explains why I'm here in Maine with my roommate rather than a beautiful girl.  And speaking of THAT, I think I'll try and see if I can get him to join me for some of the local seafood now.  He's been holed up in the room coding god knows what all day, and he might as well get some benefit from a couple weeks in New England!


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Tyler/Lauren: School's out...

I had a hard enough time passing high school the first time, so it was a relief that I managed to do it again... squeaking through Lauren's 11th Grade Science final with a 64. That wasn't the only class I had to contend with, but it was the one I found most frustrating. And now, as one commenter asked, I'm looking down the barrel of one more school year as this girl.

It seems like the worst possible option, compared to dropping out and working, and letting Lauren get her GED when she comes back. What's the point in me absorbing an education and earning a diploma that Lauren won't have the relevant knowledge for when she gets back? Even if she never does get back, what's the point in wasting my time?

But that's what it's like being someone else... choices like that are kinda taken away. I have to live under her mom and stepdad's roof and live by their rules. I haven't asked, but saying "Hey guys, I'm gonna drop out of high school for a year but also take a vacation to Maine again in the summer" might take convincing. What I've already discovered is that people don't take teenage girls seriously when they express opinions.

After exams, the big thing was prom. As I told Meg, I wanted to skip it, but Lauren was on the planning committee and my absence would have been noticed. Not that I care, but I was pressed into service keeping things on schedule. That was harrowing, especially when you consider how much I've bungled her personal life already, and what I was wearing.

God almighty. The week before I was called in for a fitting. I've been walking around in this body for a little while now. As the temperature climbs I'm trying to limit my wardrobe to shorts and tanks, but in a 17-year-old girl's wardrobe those shorts tend to be very short and those tanks tend to dip very low across my chest. So no matter what, unless I'm picking the exact frumpiest things in Lauren's wardrobe (which I have) I am dressing "girly." This, though, was a whole other level: a light blue strapless chiffon number that I was constantly tugging up over my "girls" and worrying about tripping over or stepping on it in the four-inch stilettos. The fact that it only took a day or so of practice to get used to walking in them is a horrifying metaphor for my entire experience so far. On the night itself, I only wore them for a few minutes, then went barefoot. Some of the other girls brought slip-ons for dancing. My plan was to just not dance, especially because I was deep in menstrual pain. And it would have worked (I was doing a good job enduring repeated requests from guys) but the girls all wanted to drag me out on the dancefloor for the fast numbers, because apparently Lauren is a hilarious dancer. I'm sure I lived up to that: I definitely have no innate sense of rhythm, and I was constantly fussing with my dress. It was, admittedly, a little sleeker than the foofy numbers some of the others wore. I was just very aware of the way it draped around my legs when I moved, and then it gave me more than a moment's pause in the restroom.

Then there was the hair and makeup: hours and hours spent in the chair being fussed with every which way, and for what purpose? There is definitely a prom-industrial complex at work here.

It was a pretty terrible night. I sat at the table, picked anxiously at my food, watched teenagers slobber all over each other... got pulled aside every few minutes to check on something or other. I kept noticing Seann, Lauren's prom date who I dumped unceremoniously in my first week at school, casting glances at me from across the room, but even though we still had to share a limo he didn't have the balls to talk to me. Good.

I'm kind of jumping all over the place. I really wish I'd had time and energy to explain what happened at the time, but it's as simple as this: as soon as I got to school, I identified who Lauren's boyfriend was, and I told him I was going through some stuff and it was over. He asked for some further information, but another thing about being a teenage girl is that people kind of expect you to be emotionally volatile, and I know for a fact that teenage boys can't deal with that. It was all an act, of course, motivated by reality, but the tears and the screams of "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! I CAN'T KEEP DOING THIS!" were fake. I think.

Anyway, this sent a bit of a shock through the group, but it's not like they were some legendary couple. They'd only been together for a few months, so all that meant was that Seann and his friends were less keen to eat lunch at the table with Lauren and her friends. The girls were pretty supportive, even if I slightly, perhaps rudely, brushed them off and said I was fine. Anyway, by prom he seemed to be over it, aside from those glances... he was dancing with all the girls. Maybe he got some pity sex.

I skipped the after-party, but because I had permission to be out late I decided to go to one of Lauren's friends' place. That would be Karlee. She's a cute, short brunette, kinda spunky and not too much of an airhead for me to deal with. Of all Lauren's friends, she's the one I've gravitated toward the most. Plus, she had a bottle of wine for us to split, which I was in favor of. She lent me some of her clothes to change into, because we were both tired of the gowns by this point. I shouldn't say it felt odd, since I've been wearing someone else's cloths for a month by that point, but it did feel oddly intimate to be borrowing her clothes. She even changed in front of me, and I took care not to look, because again, she's 17. We sat in her bedroom, and I bluffed my way through a conversation about old times, letting her do the talking. The drunker I got, the more I complained about my period, and she sympathized but I think I really came off as a "first-timer," which surely confused her. This led, somewhat appropriately, about how much easier guys have it, and I asked if she thought it would be better to be a guy, and she said she wasn't sure.

And maybe I'm just coming at this from a certain position, but how could you not be sure?

Then she got a text from her boyfriend, who is a few years older and out of high school (yikes, but can I really judge?) and left me at her place before returning at 4 AM. I'd judge her for that, but it was nice to be alone. We slept head to toe in her little bed. Well, I couldn't sleep. I was too wigged out sharing the bed with this person who thinks she knows me, and has this insane level of comfort around me, but is basically a stranger, and a young girl at that. Also she snored. Also-also, I felt totally shitty from the booze, getting up a few times to puke in her upstairs bathroom. I need to work on upping this girl's tolerance. Practice makes perfect.

The next morning, we got the lowdown from another girl, Ginnifer, about who hooked up with who at the party, who was disappointed I didn't go, and who was kind of glad. Teenage gossip. I guess I've got some enemies, or at least people who aren't fans, which is fair. People hold grudges over stupid things all the time, and this isn't limited to high school. As long as they don't make it a problem, it won't be one in the future.

Now that I can unclench a little, you might hear a bit from me. I have to admit, going out and making appearances as Lauren was kind of therapeutic. It got me out of the funk that settles in whenever I have a moment to think about how fucked-up my situation is, and how I still don't know much about the person who's got my body, besides one cryptic text: "Don't worry, I can handle it." Uh, right. But who are you, pal?

Mostly I'm walking around town, trying to find things that amuse me, and then find my way back home. Getting a lot of sun, unevenly tanning (which I've heard a fair bit from "mom" about.) Thinking about doing some running, something active, but it's too hot to do afternoons, I sleep too late to do mornings, and you won't catch me leaving the house un-escorted after dark in this body. Meg and I have plans to check out the city of Pittsburgh proper, but our schedules haven't lined up until now. Other than that, I guess blogging will have to figure into my coping. I'm sure I'll have plenty to say.

Tori: Tuesday Night is Date Night

The weather is nice, so I figured the least I could do was try to get back into the dating game. I've dabbled a little in online dating... I must really hate myself to go through it, because it's a neverending string of "hey cuties" and "sups" and unsolicited dickpics. Newsflash: There is nothing special about your dick. I'd know.

But I did end up chatting with a nice guy, let's call him Boy-X for now. I still doesn't know if there's someone reading this who might use this information to somehow manipulate the situation against me. I wonder if I should warn him that people who get close to me tend to... get messed with. (Admittedly, Buddy got it in a pretty good way, if he was moved to Houston to get him away from me, since he seems happy. Sigh.) He's a bit younger than me, which is weird because that means he's a fair bit younger than my actual age, but I try not to think about that anymore.

He's freshly out of college, looking at grad school, still trying to figure out who he is. I told him I related, and took longer than average to figure it out. I've developed this joking way of admitting what happened to me, this way of explaining it in a way that feels like it could be true, but isn't.

Anyway, this is the first serious date I've had in a while. It feels weird and stressful, picking a nice dress, picking nice underwear even though I don't intend to let him see it, eternally fussing with my hair. I know guys don't notice these things, like at all, but at the same time if I show up looking like I just came from work I don't think I'll make a good impression either.

Is it weird that I'm writing this? I know you nice readers are always very supportive and interested in what's going on with me, but it feels so... irrelevant, with it being summer and wave after wave of new people getting zapped into wrong bodies, and I always feels so ashamed for caring about my own life and not reaching out to them. I almost don't fit in anymore, I'm so far beyond beginner status on this blog. I worry about this every year.

After my last post, I actually heard from an old friend who objected to my assertion that I have no male friends. "What do you call me?" Sara asked over Facebook.

"A brother, maybe :)" I told him. After all, he's in my old body, my only link to my past, my old family, and Buffalo. It really is important that I keep up with him, more than I have sometimes. Which is why it somewhat shocked me when he said he had some news for me.

"I'm thinking of moving."

Jaw dropped. What?

He explained, "I met this girl a while back, and she lives in California, and it dawned on me during one of our late night texting sessions... what am I staying East for? My ex is long gone. I don't delude myself by thinking I'll go back to the Inn and get my old body back or even a new one. It's time for me to start thinking about what I want, right? You understand, don't you?"

I hesitated for a moment and thought about times I made my own decisions. "Of course..." I remembered vacillating about whether to go to Houston with Buddy or stay in Philly. I stayed because I love Philly, I loved my friends and family here, and I'll admit I was at least partly motivated by interest in Alex, for all that got me. If Sara, as Cliff, doesn't love Buffalo (and being from Buffalo I could hardly argue) then why not?

"It's not like we see each other a lot in person anyway," he said.

"You're right," I admitted, "You're just taking that body--" I initially wrote "my body" but I had to delete it and rephrase "--somewhere else where we can still be Facebook friends."


"And you like this girl?"

"I really do."

"How long have you known her?"

"Three months."

Wow... and already thinking of moving? Okay, no judgment, I swear.

"Good for you," I said. "Get far away from Maine."

"Thanks," he said. "I'm glad I have your blessing. I still don't know for sure, but it's cool you're cool."

"Oh yeah, I'm cool baby."

"Hah. Sure. I can't believe I never noticed you weren't the real Tori."

I wasn't sure if I was stung or pleased by that remark. I just said "Well I am now :)"

Then he said "You're doing great. I know how hard it is."

"That's what she said!"

Laughter, applause, you're welcome.

The conversation made me want to see if I could get in touch with the former Tori, who I think is still down in Louisville doing local TV. It's so weird how time goes by and life gets in the way so you lose track of these people. Sorry again if any of this is upsetting to recent Inn people, but hey, it's life.

Now then. time to stop sitting around in my undies and make a decision about my wardrobe. I really want to knock this guy out so I don't have to keep meeting guys!