Monday, September 29, 2014

Tyler/Lauren: In need of a hobby

Despite the occasional unpleasant encounter with a male, things have gotten pretty simple for me. I get up, I go to school, I go home and slink out of sight until dinner time. It's not the most fulfilling existence, but it seems to be working. I have a lineup of classes that keeps me out of trouble, even if they ain't exactly the most mentally taxing courses. For a month or so I felt like I was flying under the radar nicely.

Now that I'm "basically surviving," I feel the need for more. I've always been a restless person, and honestly "doing nothing" just ain't my style. I'm not one to sit and spin his wheels. Course, this gets me in a bit of trouble now and again... has made me make some poor decisions in the past I would rather not discuss right now, and even in recent times has probably influenced a lot of the dumb crap I've done as Lauren, including but not limited to the pageant.

But I need to find a thing. Something to put my energy toward to keep me outta trouble. At first, it was all about girl-time, keeping up Lauren's social circle, but more and more that incorporates the girls' boyfriends, and I feel a little... outside that, you know what I mean? (Karlee and Dana don't currently have boyfriends, but Dana's a major flirt and Karlee is obsessed with Lauren's ex Seann, so romances still crop up when they're around.) Talking to these girls about their relationships, or even school or their other ambitions, just isn't doing it for me. I need something to do that's more my speed.

I think I found it when I saw a flyer posted in the halls looking for a tech crew for the drama dept's  production of Oklahoma.

Now, I think the faculty adviser, Mr. Foley, half expected Lauren to be going in to audition - it's a musical after all and Lauren was quite a singer and certainly no stranger to the spotlight - but I've decided that that glitzy crap isn't for me. I got up on that stage for the pageant and just about pissed myself when it came time to do anything more than answer questions. But lighting direction? Prop and set management? That's damn near real physical labor. And as opposed to autoshop or woodshop, I won't be dealing with a bunch of alpha male wannabe hoodlums, but sensitive, artsy drama kids. Hell, half the crew is women, let alone the cast. Hell, Dana got the lead. I may not have had the most glowing things to say about her a few paragraphs ago, but she's still a bud of mine, and she's cool and I'm glad I'll be spending a bit more time around her.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jane/Wes: First Impressions

I'll leave it to "Bianca" to fill you in on what's going on with her... she's told me some and hinted she isn't done contributing to this blog, but being caught up in this "Agency" business, she feels like she should keep her mouth shut.

Me, on the other hand, I guess I've got freedom of speech. While she was basically assigned her new life, I was just the unlucky sucker who wound up filling the extra room nearby. I say "unlucky..." I mean, nobody would get excited about having their whole life upended this way, but if you have to do it, I recommend going this way.

So let's double back a while. When I arrived in Chicago, Wes Baker's life was waiting for me. He makes a good living as an exec for this conglomerate, drives a pretty sweet car, wears nice suits (which his body wears very well, I must say,) lives alone in a spacious apartment... like, I've basically become Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother. This isn't a life I ever aspired to or saw myself living, but it has its perks.

When I arrived, I got the lay of the land, examining everything from my fashion options to what remained in the fridge and pantry, before deciding it was only right to inform the real Wes Baker that I had taken custody of his, well, life. "Bianca" told me that the real Bianca's whereabouts were not currently known to her, and she didn't even know if the change was consensual on her part. Wes was like me, I gathered... an unwilling participant in this situation. Wes' phone had lost its charge since it had been left to me, and in the craziness of my post-change days I hadn't thought to even look at it. When I plugged it in, I found numerous text messages from an number listed as Casey Duggan, declaring, "This is Wes Baker. Contact me immediately." "I am expecting a call from you - Wes." "I need you to tell me when you get this message." Et cetera.

When I dialed the number, which had an area code for back in Maine, a woman's voice answered tersely: "Hello?"

"Um, I'm looking for... Casey?"

A pause, and then, "Hold on."

I pondered for a second. He hadn't said so in his documents, but Casey is a gender-neutral name. I wondered if maybe this dashing man had gone the opposite direction. Maybe his distress was causing him to panic more than usual.

I didn't have much time with the thought before a voice returned to the phone. "Hello?"

The voice was a squeaky, crackling one... that if a pubescent teenage boy, if I wasn't mistaken

I cleared my throat and did my best to sound polite. "Is this... Wes?"

"Yes," he answered excitedly. "Who's this?"

"It's, well... you. Well, I'm the person who became you."

"I can tell that, idiot," he snapped back, "Who are you, though?"

I timidly explained my story, but he cut me off before I could get much further than "BA in Fine Arts." "Oh God," he sneered. "A chick in my body, and an artsy one at that." His broad Chicago accent made his disgust come across even more vividly.

I felt irritated by that. I'm a reasonable, capable person... I felt like maybe I had a chance at doing well enough in his shoes and giving his body back to him with minimal scuffing on his life. But the way he spat the word "Chick" reeked to me, let alone my choice of career... and was just the tip of the iceberg.

"Trust me," I said, "I didn't choose this. I'd rather not..." cause waves, I was probably going to say.

"Look, baby," he said, "No offense, I get that you didn't ask for this, but don't fuck with my shit. You sound like you're already in way over your head. I want weekly reports. I want you to get an audio recorder and send me every meeting you sit in on. I want you to tell me every interaction you have at the office, everything that gets said to you and everything you say in response, so I can grade you at how good a job you do at being me. You don't talk to anybody I don't approve of. After work, you go straight home and do nothing without my say-so. I swear, if you part my hair the wrong way, I'll find out about it. Get me?"

"Yeah," I huffed, unable to gather my thoughts to say anything else, "I get you."

Then I hung up.

I paced around the room angrily for a moment. The absurdity struck me of somebody with that voice issuing such vitriol. Maybe he was just insecure... feeling out of control for the first time, stuck in the body of a kid. I'd get antsy if I was in his position. But he struck me immediately as a nasty customer. No sooner had I put the phone down when it started to buzz again. I decided not to answer, so he left me message after message outlining in strict terms the finer points of being Wes Baker: dietary, recreational, professional conduct, finances...

I went to his bedroom. It was very much a man's space, with a solitary dresser and a closet full of those nice suits I was describing. Like the rest of the apartment it hardly looked lived in, but maybe that was because he was going on vacation. The bathroom was full of haircare and shaving products. It had a full length mirror on the back of the door.

I scowled at my reflection. This was a face that belonged to a total asshole. But it had piercing blue eyes and a strong jaw.

It figures, a guy who looks and lives like this would not cede control of his life very easily. It was clear he was used to grooming every bit of his life, obsessed with status symbols and superficial shit. I hated his attitude and resented his treatment of me, but I couldn't argue with the results. He took life a certain way, and it got him far.

There was even something of a thrill as that realization came over me, albeit a shameful one... if I was becoming infatuated with the man whose body I inhabit, he wouldn't be the first asshole who got my attention. Just the most successful.

I laid down on top of the covers, fully clothed and put my hands over my face. I looked like a million bucks, but felt like nothing at all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Meg/Tasha: Ungrateful

Sometimes I forget what I look like. Not my literal appearance... it's hard to ignore 32Fs under my top, or the long blonde hair I would never have had in my real life... but the way people expect me to act because of how I look.

In my regular life I looked, well, pretty much exactly how I felt. I was short, a bit out of shape, with an unimpressive figure and short dark hair and a permanent scowl. In fact, it wasn't that unusual for people to think I was a lesbian... not that I cared what people thought (but I was, and am, pretty much just a boring straight gal.) Now with legs up to here and more breasts than I know what to do with, people look at me like, well, I've looked this way my entire life.

Simply put, I look approachable, and I'm really not.

Ever since we got here, I have been doing Tasha's job, waitressing at some dive bar. I showed up on "my" first day to find the girls all wearing cutoff shorts and low cut black tops and I felt a sting in my gut, like I had no business standing next to these women, dressing that way, showing off my "goods." But a glance in the mirror reminded me that I have those same assets, if not more. I was embarrassed about a body I no longer had. If I wanted to flaunt it, I could.

I didn't really want to, though - I still wanted to just wear cardigans and slacks and curl up with a book and a cup of tea. But my income since arriving in PA has pretty well depended on bending over, smiling, walking away slowly with a swivel in my hips. I've gotten the hang of acting the part of a bombshell, but when I'm by myself I'm still really a shy, clumsy, bookish girl.

I guess I haven't gotten that good at being Tasha though... I can tell that I'm the lowest tip-earner on the waitstaff, regulars bolt right for other girls' sections if they can. I think it's because I caught onto which ones were leches who wanted to bug me, offer to take me on trips and investigate whether they had a shot at taking me away from my "boyfriend." I developed a nasty habit of dawdling with their drinks, not checking up, not giving more than a cursory nod when they asked how I was doing. And before long they stopped.

I guess I'm not in the drink-serving business, I'm in the people pleasing business. Having a body like this gets you a lot of attention, but you have to know how to deal with it, stifle your own discomfort, and play the game. People feel entitled to my time, like if they pay me a compliment they deserve to be treated well. It makes me long for the days when it wasn't an issue, when I didn't have to worry about concealing myself because I was ready-made invisible. I still occasionally got harassment -- including the ever popular request from strangers on the street that I smile as if it was any of their business -- but it was the exception rather than the rule. Now, it feels like anytime I leave the house I'm under the microscope.

The weird thing is, self-consciousness hasn't gone away. I fret more than ever about how my clothes fit, whether I'm slouching, how my hair and makeup looks (as in, I almost never used to wear it beyond some light mascara) and my weight... I had basically decided not to care about a lot of this at all, and my life was fine, and then I was given this body and basically told "don't ruin it." Gah!

(If I can further twist this superficial little body obsession kick of mine, no matter what light I see it in, I'm convinced my old face was prettier... but that's just my opinion and I don't think the men seem to mind this face too much...)

Here's how insecure I am... I didn't want to talk about this. It's taken so much goading to open up about my life. Even though these are real problems for me (not only is it killing my self-esteem, it's actively hurting my bank account to make less tips) and I go to bed some nights crying, I felt too embarrassed to bring this to you, the only demographic in the world who might understand what I'm saying, because it seems so whiny. Oh, the poor girl gains a body that others would kill for overnight. My closest friend in the world right now is a grown man in a teenage girl's body, so anytime I even think I have problems, I think about Tyler, and what he's gone through.

And that just makes me feel worse, because holy crap, that guy can deal.

All things considered, he doesn't take as many opportunities to freak out as I think he could. Yes, he vents, he moans, but at the end of the day, the guy is taking this whole situation on the chin. We went out for lunch yesterday, and he was telling me about his experiences at school, going on and on as if it was the most normal thing, barely even "breaking character," as far as I could tell... like the Tyler I met in Maine and the "Lauren" I teased for prancing around in a Beauty Pageant weren't two separate people at all, or an act... like he's found a way to crack open Lauren's life and absorb it into his own, instead of fighting with it, like I have.

Look, this is all from the outside, I don't know the depths of his inner turmoil. Maybe he hides it well. I don't want to go so far as to insinuate he's enjoying any of this. Just that when he can run down embarrassing conversations between his classmates while gleefully chowing down on a fast food burger, punctuating every story with this haughty teenage hair flick that is part affectation and part parody... I envy the guy. At least he seems together.

So I go home and I sigh... "poor me." I have the company of Wade, who is starting to sense that something is bothering "his girl." And he's a nice enough guy, almost smart and artistic enough for me, but still very immature, contentious about the stupidest, most trivial stuff. I can't connect with him, not only because he doesn't understand, but the degree to which he does understand he is just desperate to write off my problems and tell me things are fine. Or imply that there are simple solutions, when there aren't.

"You don't like your job? Just quit."

Yeah right. It's not my job to quit... although, I may not have a choice soon. I'm already getting less shifts, down to Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only. I need a hobby, or a second job, or some friends with my own interests.

I don't know... when I got dragged into this mess, I made it known to Tyler that I was not looking for a relationship, and yet here I am going through the motions of one, living each day in the scenario I was actively avoiding. I feel like Wade can sense I'm not giving my all.

Besides, if I take that attitude and quit, where does it end? Breakup with Wade, new apartment, haircut, breast reduction? Don't think I haven't considered it. I don't really feel sexier a lot of the time, just sore, objectified, and annoyed at the way my boobs fall into my armpits when I lie down. I want to be me again in the worst way and I feel so ungrateful. It feels like all this beauty is wasted on me, and I'm a jerk for complaining about a body that is supposedly "ideal," and in any case closer to what I started with than Tyler did.

I never asked to be a frigging Barbie doll.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tyler/Lauren: Arm's length

One of the first things I did when I arrived in Lauren's life was to end her relationship with her boyfriend of several months, Seann. It was a cold, logical decision that Lauren was really not thrilled I had to make, but she conceded that the idea of a grown man playing girlfriend to a teenage boy has way too many unseemly elements. When I called her to discuss it, there were tears on her end, and I think that was a moment that summed up, for her, how truly fucked up this situation is. Whereas she and the real Tasha have been playing house out in Texas for the past summer, I've been here keeping things moving in her life as best I can, in a way that is comfortable for me to deal with. I told her this may mean her social life takes a nosedive, and that whatever her plans for after high school were might have to get pushed back, because I'm not learning for her. But I'm trying to be a good person while wearing her face.

When I actually went through with the breakup, it was with a ruthless detachment that got a lot of names thrown my way, and some rumors that for all I know are completely accurate. But Lauren can rest assured that she has a few friends that seem really true to her, and who have been fairly kind to me.

One of those friends is Karlee. She's a sweet, bubbly girl, short and curvy, with a breathy voice and a bit of an... immature, shall we say, energy. She's actually quite sweet, as far as I've seen, but I would think she's just not emotionally ready for a boyfriend, which is why she hasn't had one. She's just too much of a kid.

Until the party I accidentally threw a month ago, where she and Seann went off on their own for a while, and... dot dot dot.

She came back, giddy as a squirrel with an acorn, and good for her I guess, but I'm worried she's developed a bit of an infatuation with this boy. He doesn't seem to have paid much attention to her for the rest of the summer, he just wanted a bit of a fling. And from my perspective, that's just boys being boys, but I never saw the way a girl might get attached afterward, making something serious out of nothing.

Days after that happened, Karlee and I had a talk where she confessed all, frantically apologizing to me for crossing the line with "my ex." I told her to go for it if it makes her happy, because "Seann and I" were far, far in the past, to put it mildly. Then she plied me for ways to win Seann over, and I had to fake my way through a sort of girly pep talk about "just be yourself, and if he likes you, he'll show it." In reality I think she should find someone who is interested in her, because I'm sure he's out there in the sea of hormones that is high school. Probably too shy to say anything.

Nothing appears to have developed yet, in that direction, and Karlee seems to be respecting my space and leaving me out of it, but I get regular updates from "our" friend Ginnifer. Karlee is privately obsessed with Seann, but way too shy to say or do anything about it. Meanwhile, Seann seems like he could hardly notice Karlee's existence.

Reading back those last three paragraphs, I feel like I've really gone deep cover on this one. Sorry, I don't know why I thought that all was important to say, but I guess it's all to say that thanks to that fairly public (even though I tried to be discreet) breakup, it's public knowledge since we got back to school that Lauren Sherman is "on the market," especially after a summer largely spent in seclusion.

I'm not, of course - I'm not sure how to get the word out about that, but it's become clear that male attention is not conditional on wearing makeup or having my roots properly dyed. I look roughly as ragged as Lauren has in her entire life, with a smattering in acne around my cheeks and forehead and unkempt hair, but boys still think it's a good idea to try.

So I was in the cafeteria yesterday, eating a chicken sandwich, minding my own business, when this guy I recognize but don't really know came and sat next to me, backwards on the bench so he could lean back on the table, propped back on his elbows. He made his leg touch mine.

"Hey Laur," he said, "You got any plans for the weekend?"

All the color drains right out of my face. I look up at this guy. He's leaning into me somewhat. He's got this cocky face on, staring directly down at my chest, discerning the curve of my breasts through my t-shirt.

I feel my face burning. My blood starts racing with this fight-or-flight reflex, like I'm cornered. I have to take a breath and remind myself that this kid is only doing what comes natural.

"No," I say honestly, "No plans."

So immediately, he says "We should do something."

"No thanks," I say, punctuating the statement with a mouthful of chicken. I didn't even have time to play like I wasn't sure what he was getting at, or soften the blow by making up some excuse. "I don't like you that way. No offense or anything."

"Oh," he said, deflated. He lingered a moment before backing away.

This is going to happen. I'm in the mix, in this crazy environment full of hormonal teenagers who all have to coexist. There's nothing I can say or do that will brand me as being as far off the table as I really am. I have to be on this constant defensive of "No, no thanks, not happening, not interested." No room for ambiguity.

I would be thrilled to be friends with these dudes. If I had landed in a 17-year-old boy's body, I'm sure they and I would be tight right now. As douchey as teenagers seem to a grown man, they would be basically my only option. But that's not the world I landed in. To them, I'm like a meal, a prize, an object to pursue. These guys don't have female friends except ones they're trying to date or who are dating their friends. I haven't had a meaningful conversation with a human male in, I can't remember how long... probably some exchange Wade and I had, like when we went away for the weekend. But that's the exception. Mostly they're just paying attention to me long enough for me to signify that, no, I'm not interested.

So I have no choice but to turn toward the girls. When I got back to school last month, anytime I entered a classroom, I immediately sat near a girl, even if it was one I didn't know, so that some guy didn't think I was giving him a signal just by electing to be near him. I need to put half the entire world's population at arm's length for the time being.

This has its own problems: after all these months I still don't totally relate to these girls and that's probably not such a bad thing (remember, grown man.) But, surrounded by teens, I'm definitely feeling the ways my outside doesn't match my inside. Sometimes I see some adult concerns when they start fretting over schools and planning their futures, even occasionally talking about politics, but then they go back to gabbing about who's hooking up and what happens on reality shows and what Taylor Swift wore to some red carpet and I just... glaze over.

It's going to be a long year.

Maybe even longer than that. But I don't really want to talk about it, because I still don't know.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tori: Too soon?

So, the other day, on my way over to the Boy's place, I stopped in at a store to bring over some food, beer, and other assorted things. When I got to his apartment, I started to unpack the bag, when I got to the last item: a pack of Tampax Pearl.

"Hey, um..." I said, nervously holding them at my side, "I don't know if this is a weird question, but... would you mind if I kept these here?"

He looked at the box, then at me, then at my breasts I think, then back at the box. The moment was getting uncomfortable, so I tried to joke my way out of it, "Um, not in the kitchen, I mean, in the bathroom."

"Oh, um," he stammered, "Why?"

"Um," I said, "Because I need them sometimes? And I'm here a lot."

We're not really in the casual fling phase of the relationship anymore. I spend entire weekends at his place, and I've had to run out to the pharmacy for a box of tampons while I was staying with him, and I was so embarrassed that I dumped the whole thing into my purse, and threw the box into a trashcan on the street. A glance at my purse looked like I was preparing for a menstrual hurricane of some kind.

But why should I be embarrassed? This is something about being female that everyone knows about, that I've long accepted, and that shouldn't be stigmatized. What harm would it do to keep a spare pack on hand in a place where I am frequently sleeping?

"Are you on your, um, thingy right now?"

"No," I said matter-of-factly, "But I could be tomorrow." My cycle has been really erratic lately. I think it has something to do with the stress at work.

"Can you keep them hidden somewhere? So my roommate doesn't see them?"

Ah, the mysterious roommate. He works nights, and spends a lot of time in his room. I've encountered him like twice.

"What does that matter?" I asked.

"Well, I just don't want him to think I'm whipped," he said.

I was steaming. "Whipped?"

I remember making jokes about my male friends being whipped, when they were getting into relationships. OF course, back then I wasn't in a relationship pretty much ever, so I had no business to be making fun of any of my guy friends making a few concessions for their girlfriends, implying that they were less of a man because God forbid they couldn't make it to Halo night.

My opinion on the matter has changed. Now I think that's a bunch of bullshit.

"I could take them and go home," I said, "Would that stop you from being whipped?"

"No, Tori, I just mean..." he stopped. He didn't have any way to finish that thought. I waited impatiently. Finally, he said, "It's a personal space thing. He might think..." again he was stumped.

I gritted my teeth. "Let's try this again. Your girlfriend wants to know if she can leave some personal items at your place, so that she feels comfortable staying here more."

"Sure," he said, still visibly exasperated, "Do whatever you want, I guess."

Not the answer I was looking for.

I was hoping we wouldn't be sniping at each other so soon. Honestly, 90% of the time he and I are a great match, but he's insecure about the weirdest things. Sometimes I can tell he doesn't believe he should be with me, because I look a certain way and he thinks of himself a certain way. Like I'm some goddess he tricked into being with him, when the truth is I just like him. Then sometimes he says something dumb, picks a fight, and I wonder how much of a future we have. Maybe it's self-sabotage or maybe he just shoots his mouth off, I don't know. I guess if I'm noticing this this early on, it's not a good sign.

There were times I would have bolted at the first sign of a problem... after the last serious relationship, I looked for any excuse not to see someone again. I guess I shouldn't have expected him to be flawless, and again, aside from ruining the occasional moment, he's the best guy I've met in a long time. So I'm trying not to let it bug me too much when he lets his immature, insecure side out.

My God, this really is womanhood, isn't it.

The night was salvageable after that tense moment, and I think he felt guilty, although he didn't say "sorry." And I doubted myself, too... maybe I was just being a bitch, indignant for no good reason. But I can't help how I felt in that moment... insulted that he thought I was somehow "whipping" him, when the subtext of that conversation is that I like having sex with him and staying the night! It's about give-and-take, you know?

It's been a few days, and I've cooled off, but still. It remains to be seen whether this problem gets worse or goes away.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jane/Wes: I'm new here

Hello blogosphere. I guess you already know a bit about me, but I suppose I should fill you in on the details.

My name is Jane Li. I'm 24 years old, a second-generation Chinese-American, but I don't speak the language fluently (and love messing with jerks who don't think I speak English, although that's happening less as I get older.) I have a BA in Fine Arts (pottery is my passion.) I'm 5'4 (with a petite build,) and a native of Cherry Hill, NJ. I love the Pixies and Taylor Swift equally (don't judge me.) I spent the summer backpacking around Europe partly as a way to get over a bad breakup, and when I got back to the States, I decided to stay at the Trading Post Inn.

Since then, I resemble a 29-year-old office drone from Chicago named Wes Baker. He's 6' tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed, with broad shoulders, a movie star's jaw, and perfect teeth.

I sussed out what had happened pretty quickly. I mean, when you wake up and there's male anatomy in your tattered underwear, you can't help but draw conclusions. I stepped of of bed, nearly tipped over due to the higher center of gravity, and then caught my "junk" on the inseam of my panties, hobbling me. Such sensitive little things.

I stripped off my clothes and laid on the floor, staring down at my flat(ter) chest, rock-hard abs, and this hairy, veiny... appendage between my legs. I nearly hyperventilated. I laid back and closed my eyes, trying to wish it away, but I could feel it... shifting. "Oh, God, oh God," I whimpered in my newly baritone voice. If this was a dream, it was one I was embarrassed to be having.

I mean, sometimes we think it would be nice to have one of those things, but... actually getting one? Gag.

Once I was well, I tore the room apart looking for clues, and happened upon Wes' luggage. I probably should have put his clothes on then and there, but I couldn't imagine doing so, so I wrapped a towel around my waist and decided to go see what, if anything, had happened to anyone else, and if anyone needed serious help. I didn't even realize I was still wearing the remains of my top.

You don't realize your hands have changed size until you hold something familiar... like a doorknob. It felt like a little rubber ball did in my old hand - I clasped all the way around it. Walking down the hall, I felt like an ungainly, hairy monster.

I was clearly not the only one freaked, so I did as much traffic-direction as I could before I finally found "Bianca," in the room belonging to the girl I had known as "Sophie." She and "Angie" were the only other visitors I had gotten to know, besides the revolting Don Lazar. She seemed very collected, if spooked, and it help put me at ease. The person who had been a sweet-looking, sexily curvy girl about my own age had aged a decade. Her punkish side-swipe hair had become a more conventionally long cut, frizzed out by the heat and lack of care. She looked like she had been having a rough morning. I wanted to go over and comfort her, but I didn't want to make any sudden movements, so I stayed by the door as we talked about the details.

Once the chaos died down, I went back to the bathroom to examine the face that everyone had seen but me.

Like I said, Wes is a good-looking fella. I turned the corner, faced my reflection, and saw this model-like steely blue gaze. I felt my lip quiver when I saw "him." I removed what remained of my top, and found a pair of clean-shaven, well-defined pecs. I held my arms out to the side and flexed a little.

"Holy crap," I thought, "I'm hot."

In fact, all that posing was starting to make me feel a little... uncomfortable, if you catch my drift, and I had to step away from the mirror and take a walk around to get my head on straight. It brought up a lot of really complicated feelings... not to mention physiological responses... to see this really attractive man, someone I would feel fairly intimidated to talk to in person, but he was standing in the mirror.

Here I was, far from home, transformed into a man, expected to live his life. It was heavy, but I could see it would not be without perks.

Then the sadness set in as I realized it was my turn to hand off my life to someone else. As I thought about what I wrote in my version of the letter, about my lack of a steady job, lack of a relationship, lack of any direction, I felt almost ashamed. And I wonder if maybe I didn't argue as emphatically as I should have that they should be careful not to do anything to screw it up for me... that I didn't come across as wanting to go back.

It's not like I'm excited to be this person, but... I mean, it's something to do, right?

It was a little later that I found out it wasn't Bianca and James' first go-around. I don't think they meant to hide it from me... obviously they weren't going to explain it to me the first time we met, and even though I would have appreciated them laying it out for me right away after it happened (especially knowing they wrote me into this blog!) I understand why they didn't. It was a chaotic day, and from what I understand they had a lot of reason to be secretive. But it still felt weird... like, I instantly took a liking to these girls, and I didn't sense anything off about them, except for the fact that they were, well, seemingly Canadian.

But then, as we were preparing to depart for Chicago, I mentioned that if they ever needed help getting through this, I would be there for them. They kind of shared this look of embarrassment, and James nudged Bianca into saying something, and she kind of looked away and admitted "We've kind of done this before."

My jaw dropped. I thought they were just adapting well! It turns out they're a year ahead of me on the curve. My world was rocked, even though it shouldn't have been. This changed everything. I asked them to tell me everything, and they did... a lot of it is covered on this blog, and some of it they swore me to secrecy about, and some of it they just don't know, for instance about this organization they've hooked up with, which set them (and me, I suppose) up with jobs at this company... to what, move numbers around a spreadsheet? I wonder what they're really up to.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Tyler/Lauren: Back to school, but I don't have to like it.

You should have heard the argument I had with Lauren's parents when I suggested I drop out of school.

Obviously they weren't going to see it from my perspective. They don't know their little girl isn't at home right now. They don't know what I'm going through for her sake. It was bad enough I let myself get coaxed into that pageant misadventure, spending another year going through the paces at high school helps nobody. I sure as hell don't think I need to learn anything, and I can't exactly transplant all the knowledge Lauren is supposed to be gaining into her head. All it accomplishes is a year of headaches for me, and it leaves Lauren educationally behind when and if she gets her proper place back. Strictly speaking, the smartest thing for me to do is to stop going to school, work, and let Lauren take the appropriate steps to get her future back on track next fall, hopefully.

But of course, when a 17-year-old girl, who is bright but maybe not focussed - especially since she's expressed erratic behavior in the last few months - sits her parents down and says "I want to stop going to school" it comes off as selfish, short-sighted, lazy, and dumb. Paul, in particular, read me the riot act, callously screaming every epithet he could think of to tell me he thought I was becoming a snotty, entitled brat with a bad attitude who thinks the world revolves around her.

Now, they can't stop me from skipping classes. They can't force me to pass. But I'm an honorable man. I wanted to do this on the up-and-up. That way lies trouble and stupid unnecessary bullshit.

So I found a third option. I reorganized Lauren's class schedule, to de-emphasize academics, and fill it with, for lack of a better word... fluff. Instead of Bio and Calculus, I'll be taking Hospitality - cooking classes, basically. I also picked up something called "Leadership," where I help out younger classes. I kept Gym and, because I can't drop every class with academic value, English. Next semester will have things like History and Government... dry stuff, but I think I'll be able to re-organize that.

So, school's been on for a few weeks now, and if you're looking for hilarious tales of mishaps and faux pas, you can scroll back to the beginning of my time here. It was only two months since I last took classes there, I know the building, I am familiar enough with the people. I can talk more later about the classes themselves later, but so far the schedule change is having the desired effect. Sometimes, this course load is downright fun, (it was especially nice having the Hospitality teacher, Mr. Danes, compliment my knife skills. Which should be pretty good, since I've worked in kitchens before.)

But what's really on my mind has nothing to do with school, and has everything to do with the fact that as a 17-year-old, you have almost zero say in what happens in your life.

Because as of this month, I have a roommate. Kylie was moved into my room, because in Susan's words, "She's growing into a young woman, and she's getting to the age where you can't force her to share a room with her twin brother."

I just about blew a gasket. When Paul and Sue went off on me for wanting to drop out, I sat there and took it, because I knew they had the high ground. I had no argument besides "This is what I want to do, and by the way I'm a 31-year-old man." In this case, it made my blood boil. In this fishbowl of an existence I lead, I have exactly one room in the house where I can escape the prying eyes of a family who expects me to be their little girl, one place that I can designate "Tyler's Zone," even if I had to take down the One Direction posters, and it's Lauren's clothes in the dresser. If, for whatever reason, I'm having a crappy day (perish the thought) I can stomp up to my room, flop down on the bed, and scream into that pillow that carries the scent of probably too much strawberry-scented shampoo. It's my one private lair, where I keep my own secrets as well as Lauren's.

And I feel for Kylie, because she's almost 12, and getting to that age, too, where she is going to need a lair of her own. She's already got the moody, pissy adolescent attitude. But she's also very much just a kid, and having her around is just... a nuisance.

Instead of attacking the situation with reason and logic, I ended up succumbing to my image and the image they have of me, screaming and bitching about how I need my space, and how nothing's mine, and I have no rights... stuff that is all true, but also sounds like the cliche'd arguments of a needy, pissy, bratty teenage girl. I threw a tantrum. If it was someone else, and I had to listen, I probably would have said "Woah, girl, knock it off, nobody's going to take you seriously." But no, I flew off the handle.

When I finally calmed down, I offered another solution: "Hey, so, we've got a basement we're not doing much with... why don't we convert that into a bedroom, and I can live down there?" That sounds like a win-win.

So of course, Paul has a stable of reasons why not: no money to do it, no time for a DIY project, (and not to mention no skills.) The verdict, as I was emphatically told, is that it just wasn't worthwhile to build me a room down there. Honestly, the place looks like someone started finishing it years ago and then gave up halfway through, and whatever it needs would almost be within my limited handyman skills. Okay, maybe I'm giving myself too much credit. I helped someone drywall one time. But shit, I would gladly spend the year in the drafty basement we have right now, rather than rooming with an 11-year-old.

So this all has been building up over the course of a couple of weeks - some of which was simultaneous with the stupid pageant thing, and I wasn't sure how much of it I wanted to talk about. It just goes to show how many different things can happen at once once you start having to take on someone else's problems. It all just kind of hits me how nothing I can possibly say gets taken seriously. The curse of this body, such as it is, is really starting to hit me hard, in unexpected (but not surprising) ways.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Jordan/"Deirdre " - Can we never talk about my tits again?

It's been hot in the city for the past couple of weeks, and cramming three human beings into my apartment with its shitty air conditioning hasn't been the best, so we've all been a little on edge. I think we've all looked for some sort of excuse to get out of it as much as we could, which is why I was at an afternoon movie a couple days back, only to emerge into a thunderstorm, the sort that doesn't even do anything to get the temperature down. I was able to run to the subway easy enough, but it was still raining and I had a bit of a walk at the other end.

At first, it just ticked me off a little, especially since I haven't gotten a haircut since changing - I inherited a sort of pixie-ish style from Dierdre, but that was almost two months ago, so it's had time to grow out, and nobody tells girls that they're looking kind of shaggy when they don't get a trim every few weeks. I eventually got to my apartment, where Benny and Annette were playing Kinect Sports, although that went off the rails when Benny just started staring at me. I pushed some of that stringy hair out of my face and asked something along the lines of what the fuck are you staring at, perv?

Benny mumbled nothing started playing the game again, but kept looking my direction as I went to get a soda out of the fridge. That's when Annette hit pause, put her controller down, and said "fine, I'll be the one to ask! Jordan, do you even own a bra?"

I looked down, and, okay, my t-shirt was clinging right to my skin, and even if it wasn't particularly stretched, my nipples were making an impression on it. It was just light enough that maybe you could see the dark patch around it, but not really. "For these little things? What's the point?"

Annette started to roll her eyes - his eyes, I guess, because she looks like Ravi - and starts saying that she is not gong to rise to that bait when Benny brings his hands up to his chest, says that he gets it, that I'm used to going without despite having more, but if he could have some support for these "moobs", he would certainly appreciate it.

I threw the soda at him and went to my room. I heard Annette smack the back of Benny head more than saw it, and then a couple of minutes later she knocked on my door. "Hey, can I apologize to your face?" I open, and she steps in.

"I'm sorry for blurting that out. It's just that we all know guys look at any boobs available, and while you may not think you're carrying a lot around up top for one reason or another..." She looked up at some of the comics posters on the wall, and I kind of got the implication. "... you do have enough to get someone's attention. Besides, when mine were that size, I was pretty glad to have a bra on. Heck, as soon as you can wear a training bra, it's kind of nice. I miss mine."


"For real! It made me feel grown up, just as much as... Well, you know." Yeah, I knew. "I mean, I'm bigger and have the other thing and need to shave, but part of me and my routine is missing."

I was a bit skeptical, but the weird thing about Annette is that this really annoyingly optimistic kid comes through even using Ravi's face and voice. "Fine," I said, "we'll go bra shopping."

I bet you'd like a whole lot of talk about going into Victoria's Secret and changing rooms and stuff like that, but it wasn't that exciting. Annette got a ruler and some string and figured out a rough guess at my size, and then we went to the department store and I tried some on. I will say that "vanity sizing" is a real pain in the butt - I'm apparently right on the border between A and B cups, with the more honest brands calling me an A and others saying I'm a B.

Then there was the whole style thing; Annette mostly talked me out of ones that squeezed everything down, saying that it got pretty uncomfortable after a few hours. Eventually, I found a few that were pretty comfortable. Annette insisted I got at least one that traded a bit of comfort for some lift, which was kind of weird. It wasn't that much more of a pinch, but looking in the mirror in the changing room, it was the first time I really saw myself having cleavage without pushing my breasts together with my hands. I noticed the bra was there a bit more, but it didn't really feel like someone squeezing me.

I tried to say no, and Annette tried to talk me out of it. That's when some of the folks in the store who had been kind of amused by this Hindu guy explaining about bras to his petite Irish-looking girlfriend started giving her disapproving looks, which was weird in its own way. As much as I wanted her to back off, it sucks to have people look at me like I needed protecting from some predatory guy who was pressuring me to look sexy. I think I eventually relented more to piss them and their idea that I was some sort of helpless girl off.

The funny thing is, that one hasn't become my favorite bra or anything - I've only been wearing them for a few days, and I do like the ones that I notice the least the most - but the other one does do a bit to make me look less like a kid. I suppose it'll help with not getting carded in bars or something.

But, man, I hope this is the last time we have this conversation in my apartment. You really have no idea what it's like having someone with your proper face talking about your tits that way.