Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jonah/Krystle: The past four months

Most guests start writing way before now, but I never liked writing in school, and I've just been so embarrassed.  I wouldn't do it now, but Benjamin and that author lady say it really helps.  And with Christmas coming up, I feel like I'm going to need a lot of help to feel normal, so, hi.  I'm Krystle Kamen, and have been since August.

I'm really Jonah Glass.  I was part of the youth group that was at the Inn at the same time as Jordan/Deirdre/Missy and Annette/Ravi/Benjamin, although I don't think they ever referred to me specifically aside from being one of the guys that got turned into couples.  Which was fine, I guess; I didn't exactly want people Googling me and finding that then.  But, I don't know, maybe knowing what I'm going through, even if they don't believe it, will help.  Somehow.

Anyway, like I said, I'm Jonah Glass, and I came to the Trading Post Inn as part of a church youth group from New Hampshire.  We had all sorts of activities planned, but on the very first night, the Inn did its thing.  I went to bed as sixteen-year-old Jonah Glass, male, the only African-American in the group.  And when I woke up, I was older, very female, and no longer the only black person - my roommate Joseph now had dark skin as well, as given that he looked like he was in his late twenties and kind of there by a rough road, I was pretty scared to wake up and see him leaning over my bed, shrieking even before I realized how different my voice sounded and what my body was like.  Fortunately, he turned away when I sat up, which is when I looked down, saw how much I'd changed, and lifted a sheet up to cover my chest, as much from myself as from this other man.  He at least seemed to have some idea what was going on, asking if I was Jonah and then slowly turning around when I said I was and that I was covered up.  He hands me the paper Annette - Benjamin, now - had slipped under the door, and we go look for her - him - and get the lowdown.  That's when we learn our situation.   I had become Krystle, Joseph had become Lamont (you'll excuse me for not using anybody else's last names), and judging from the letters that they left us, the thing we most had in common was not graduating from high school.

Fortunately, they lived in the Boston area, so we weren't stuck traveling too far.  It seemed to take me forever to get dressed before catching the train, though - undressing made me feel really nervous - I nearly threw up a couple times - and it is really hard to put that very-much-needed brassiere on the first time when you can't handle looking at or touching your own body.  It was even more strange when we took the train down to Boston - some of the female members of the group tried to tell me I shouldn't worry, others seemed kind of disgusted that I had this shape, and the guys seemed really conflicted looking at me, like feeling any sort of lust was doubly terrible because I was really a guy inside.

Then we get "home" and, well, things get worse.

Lamont, apparently, was on parole, and if going out of state for a vacation wasn't a violation, then missing a check-in because there was no Lamont for a couple of weeks is.  Police officers knocked on the door of "our" apartment just a couple days after we got back and took Joseph away.  It's apparently a misdemeanor drug possession charge, and if he doesn't cause trouble in jail, he'll be out by the time we can go back to the Inn and get our regular lives back.  But that leaves me alone in the apartment having to pay rent and utilities, and I can't go to work, because Krystle is a stripper.

What am I supposed to do with that?  I talk to my friends, and I get way more "hey, with the body you've got, not knowing how to dance should just be a minor problem" than I'd like, while the others are telling me that God will show me the way if I just pray and do what I know to be right, and I know that's true, but it's so hard when the guy from the club is calling and yelling and not only is Krystle's checking account pretty much empty but I can't even find the paperwork that has the address I should be mailing a rent check to.  I try to find other work, but putting down "exotic dancer" as your last job makes people assume that you're on drugs and maybe Krystle was - it would explain why she's so broke.  Maybe it would explain why I was even more panicked than some of my friends?  I don't really know how withdrawal works, and what I could find online didn't help answer any questions.  Eventually the management company for the building I'm in figures out that they're not getting rent and evicts me.

I've at least got Benjamin's number, but it's not like he can put me up - he's in a tiny apartment that he's sharing with a bunch of other guys, and...  I'm not ready for that, even if he did have room.  He says it's probably not good that I've spent so much time since the Inn holed up in Krystle's place not dealing with people.  We try to get hold of Missy, but I guess the start of November is really busy for her, but for whatever reason, I wind up having to move in with Krystle's family.

I don't want to sound to proud, or be too proud, like that's beneath me, but...  It's not always easy to be black in the part of New Hampshire where my family lives.  Most of the neighbors are great, and I've got a bunch of friends both at school and the church, but there are also a lot of people who may not say it directly, but tend to think of us a certain way, forcing us to prove that we're not trouble.  And that way is kind of like the Kamen family:  Krystle's mother seems to be a saint, but her father is nowhere to be found.  There's a photograph of a brother who is no longer with them.  "My" older sister by a year, Karla, is twenty-five and has three kids with three different fathers.  That's all crammed into two bedrooms, with me on the couch.

I think they can tell that this embarrasses me, that I feel like I should be in a better situation.  Based on how Karla talks, Krystle has always kind of been like that, but it's worse now, because I'm speaking with proper grammar and praying a lot more often than Krystle ever did, and she thinks I'm putting on airs, like Krystle decided she was too good for the family a few years back what she started stripping and now I've decided I'm too good for that.  I don't know, there's a lot of issues between the two of them, and while I'm happy to look after the kids to help earn my keep, she gets mad at that, especially when the father of the baby looks at me, and telling her I don't like that attention does not get me sympathy.

Please don't think I'm ungrateful.  I try to remind myself that this has to be part of God's plan, that maybe I'm supposed to help this family, although I'm not sure exactly how I can.  Maybe it's to help me learn humility.  I could be in the same situation as my other friends who are constantly afraid of messing up someone's life, or even Joseph.  I visit him whenever I can, although this doesn't please Karla or "Momma" Kamen at all, although they can't understand.  It's just so hard.

It's been a bit better lately.  There's a pop-up toy store in a mall out in the suburbs that hired me, and although it's a lot of hours for what is apparently not nearly enough pay for me to find my own place, I'm not nervous when I go to the ATM for right now, and while the employee discount is small, it will get the niece and nephews something under the tree.  Because all of the Kamen women were working some long hours, we didn't get to have a proper Thanksgiving dinner until a week and a half after the holiday, but Karla and I managed to get through it without fighting.

And while I'm sure Benjamin will talk about it more, meeting some of the other people who have been through this in the area gives me a little hope, especially the writer's husband Raymond, who went through all this and eventually became himself again, and says that he understands a lot of people much better than he would have if he hadn't.

Still, right now, I'm reading messages about friends going to movies while I'm babysitting kids who won't go to sleep.  Karla was supposed to be back an hour and a half ago and I've got to take over an hour of public transportation to get to work by nine tomorrow morning, and I seem to need more sleep with this body than I did before.

I know it could be much worse, and I try to remember that Joseph and some of my other friends probably need more prayers than I do.  But I'm feeling really frazzled right now, and I guess this helps a little.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lane/Kari: The Easy Way Out

My last post generated a lot of feedback. Well, more than usual. 5 comments is a lot for a little blog like this. I got a lot of people offering encouragement and a few saying they wouldn't judge me no matter what I decided. A lot of the advice was helpful and some of it came a little too late.

Friday evening I was reading a comment telling me that unemployment wouldn't be so bad. That I could avoid eviction and go on government assistance and not have to have sex with Latherman to keep a job. I was all set to formulate a plan and take things in a whole new direction. I was going to fill out the proper paperwork and fix up a resume and face the world. That determination lasted an hour, maybe less.

I started reading Kari's lease and while eviction is, as one commenter put it, a "slow process", it isn't without penalties in the interim. There's only a 5 day grace period for late rent before the eviction papers are filed. During the process a 20 dollar per day late fee applies on top of the rent, as well as any and all court fees from the process of filing. This would quickly add up in to the hundreds of dollars and put me further behind than before.

Then there's government assistance. I've never been one of those rich bankers who looks down on the lower classes and people who had to get help from the state. I lived in New York City, I've seen poverty and realize that some people can't do it all on their own. Sadly a lot of other people DO feel that way and because of the way they vote, getting these programs is a long and extensive process.

For one thing, you can't just get cash assistance for being poor anymore. In the 90s they changed it so that you can get 5 years of a very small amount of money...lifetime. And Kari had used her 5 years up right after she turned 18 and was struggling with a 4 year old. Food stamps require a mountain of paperwork and a long and extensive interview and a drug test. Section 8 is even worse, and not only is there a wait list but our current apartment isn't qualified, I'd have to move and uproot Ashley from all of her friends to a neighborhood that is most likely not the best environment for her. The whole rigmarole was intimidating and seemed like so much effort for a life I was only going to live for a few more months, turning it back to it's rightful owner upside down and in some ways much worse.

I don't know if this line of thinking is sound, or if it's just something I told myself, but I thought about what would make things worse overall for Kari...and Ashley. Me personally, Lane, hated the idea of it want and would consider it the worst option. Kari...the real Kari...didn't share that sentiment. From my conversation with her it didn't appear that she minded having sex with Latherman, in fact she might even like the situation. I don't think she's only sleeping with him to keep her job, from what I understand they were having sex before she was hired, the job was a favor.

The more I thought along those lines, the more I considered it. I probably talked myself into it sometime that night but I didn't officially make my decision until Saturday afternoon when I took a second shower in the middle of the afternoon. I picked out a simple black dress, tight fitting but not too tight. I did my hair the best I could, which involved a nice headband. I put on my makeup, something I've picked up pretty well from various experimentation sessions with Rosita. I even sprung for a small gold necklace and matching earrings. I tried to not not to over do it, to not look like a hooker considering what I was about to do. I put the hotel key that Latherman had given me into my purse and headed towards the door.

Ashley was in the living room.

"Going out?" She asked

"Yep. Heading into the city" I said, more nervous than I should be

"Is Aunt Rosita going with you?"

"Nope, just me and some other friends"

"Don't drink and drive" She said with a face that was concerned but also trying to appear all teenage and nonchalant.

That's been something I've noticed from her. Apparently the Real Kari had a habit of driving home from parties and bars when she was in no condition to do so. She's never had an accident, as far as I know (Although I REALLY should look up my driving/criminal records) but it's the kind of thing that would make a kid worry. I've stopped doing that because I'm not going to continue ALL of Kari's bad habits, and she's noticed and quite proud of me.

"Staying overnight. I'll be back in the morning" I say. I don't know what came over me next but I went over and gave her a hug. Right then I knew I wasn't making a mistake. Unemployment would suck and be inconvenient for me for the next five months. Having and unemployed parent would suck and be inconvenient even more so for her for probably longer than that. I wasn't about to uproot this kid's entire life because I was too scared to do what Kari did. That's one less life that didn't need to be messed up by the Trading Post Inn, albeit indirectly.


The MGM Grand in Detroit is right off the interstate with a big enough property that it's far from anything else, making it seem like a bonafide tourist attraction rather than a mildly depressing casino. All the money that people pump into the slot machines make for a pretty nice hotel, and it even had Valet parking, something I didn't think I'd get to experience as Kari.

The key was for a room on the 4th floor and in the elevator I thought one last time about chickening out, but it wasn't that strong a feeling. I put the card into the lock and when it opened I found Latherman sitting on the bed, watching TV. He perked up and smiled when he saw me, not a smirk but a genuine "I'm glad to see you" look.

"I didn't think you'd make it" He said taking me into his arms. I winced a little despite actively trying not to but I played it off by saying

"Ooh, Champagne"

"It's good stuff" he said almost proudly "I'll pour you a glass. But first, a gift" he handed me a bag from Victoria's Secret "Put it on"

I took it into the bathroom and opened the box to pull out a lacy black teddy with matching thong. The material was soft and sheer and having shopped at Vicky's on Black Friday I can tell it wasn't cheap. I carefully put it on and then looked at myself in the mirror. He must have bought it based on what he knew Kari's size to be, not what it was not that I've put on 10 lbs because it was a little tight, but that made it hug my curves even more. I reached up and pulled the headband out of my hair, causing my dark locks to fall down on my shoulders and a little in front of my face, completing the look. I always look pretty. When I'm out dancing and partying I can look downright hot. But standing there, in the hotel bathroom wearing a small piece of lace, I looked sexy. I felt it too, it was empowering. A sense of pride that distracted from the whole situation.

When I opened the door Latherman took me in his arms and gave me a quick kiss and a champagne glass. I took a sip, it was decent stuff. I think that might be another reason Kari runs around with this guy, he does treat her nice when he isn't coercing her financially. Nice hotel, lingerie, champagne...these are things you can't really buy on a receptionist's salary. I missed them and I would be lying if I said I didn't sort of enjoy having them there.

I sat on the bed, sipping my champagne while Nick...I couldn't really think of him as "Mr. Latherman" in this context...and I talked. We gossiped about work, about his hobbies, where he was thinking of traveling on his next vacation. I sat and kept up as best I could while I downed two more glasses of champagne, which helped make the rest of the night easier.

Finally he sat down on the bed next to me and took me into his arms. As he kissed my neck I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and just sorta let instinct take over. Leading up to this I wondered if I'd be able to actually go through with IT. If I somehow wouldn't know how or be able to actually have sex with him. On that bed I found out that I already knew how, or rather Kari knew how, and I could just zone out and let my body react.

And react it did. Neck kissing and especially ear kissing feel REALLY good for girls, or at least they do for me and when he began working his hands lower I felt my nipples get hard and when he went even lower I felt myself getting wet. When he finally took off his clothes and stood in front of me I wasn't disgusted by a naked man, in fact quite the opposite.

Nick wasn't packing much, but it was ready for action as he took me in his arms and turned me around so that I was on my hands and knees on the bed facing the headboard. I guess this is their favorite position and it worked out for the best, because instead of lying and watching in anticipation for him to put it in it just kinda went in as a surprise.

It's a bit ironic that my post is going up right after Yuan-Wei's last one. The one where she describes in vivid detail just how great sex can be for a woman. Maybe she had a better partner than me and she definitely had better circumstances than me because I didn't really feel that same burst of ecstasy. It felt good, I'm not denying that...but it definitely could have felt better. I AM very glad that I'd experimented with Kari's vibrator these last few weeks, just so that the presence of something inside of me wasn't foreign.

I closed my eyes and planted my face into the pillow, letting the sensations hit me and fantasizing about other things than my boss. I was sort of getting into the rhythm and motion of my nipples rubbing against the bedspread when he broke the rhythm, let out a soft moan, and finished. I gasped at the hot feeling inside of me, instantly grateful that I'd taken birth control bills every day since getting this body despite not having a reason to. He pumped a few times before rolling over next to me and saying "I really missed that." And that was it. My first time as a woman. At least Round 1.

After cleaning up I put on the hotel robe and went back out to him ordering room service. I got the most expensive thing on the menu, some really delicious shrimp. Round 2 came a couple hours afterwards when I was watching TV on the bed. He was spooning me and after kissing my shoulder a few times he just kinda...slipped it in. He lasted longer this time, although I'm not certain how much longer, I was watching TV and moaning occasionally to make him think I was more into it than I was. I mean, it felt good, but really it was more of a background sensation. When he finished he was rolled over and was asleep. I stayed up a few more minutes before curling up beside him. At some point during the night he wrapped his arms around me.

He jostled me awake at around 6 Sunday morning, saying he had to get home and spend the day with the family. I tried not to throw up in my mouth a little but got dressed and headed out of the hotel wearing a short dress with messed up hair and runny makeup.


That all happened Saturday night, it's Wednesday night as I'm typing this. I've had four days to process what I've done, three of them I've seen him at work. The strangest thing is, I don't feel bad.

When I wrote my last post I made it seem like I would be selling my dignity and soul for a crappy receptionist job. And yet during and after I don't feel like some cheap woman off of a TV movie. I don't feel like my self worth is lowered. I don't really feel...anything. I've had meaningless sex before. I've slept with women who I had no intention of calling again. I've been with girls where we both knew there wasn't any love involved, just lust.

What I did this weekend was just part of what it meant to live Kari's life. I don't get to pick what that means, I'm not the one who made that decision. But I DID make the decision to continue doing it. Having sex with Latherman was something I decided to do as a consenting adult and people can judge me how they want. Maybe it's not the best way to live your life, but hey, it's only temporary.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-wei: Giving thanks for Getting Laid

Another month, another holiday where I need distraction from my family not being my family anymore. It's kind of weird to have this hitting harder the second time around, but there's no telling myself that it's just this once and things will get back to normal next summer. I've eaten the last holiday dinner with my family, and I didn't even realize it at the time.

Doubling down on that is that everyone, almost, is going home to their families, and while it's weird for Benjamin, it's at least something. I've got Inn-friends and classmates all leaving me behind (maybe the original Yuan-wei would consider around trip to Hong Kong for a long weekend, but I am not nearly so attached to her mother) and a sudden lack of schoolwork and rehearsal to fill my time. So I went for the most efficient possible distraction:

My vagina had not yet been used properly.

Oh, I've had my fingers and a couple of other things down there, and can compare and contrast Deirdre's and Yuan-wei's to a certain extent, but it'd been almost two years since I'd fucked another human being, and I was way past curiosity.

It wasn't hard to find a chance. A chick who looks as good as I do can probably get laid with very little effort if she knows what she is doing - I made this point a lot the first time I was twenty - but I wasn't quite sure where to go on Thanksgiving Day. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts thinks I'm too young for bars, and when I was twenty, I was not exactly hanging out at the places where hot girls who were to young to drink were. And even if I was, I didn't exactly have Yuan-wei's knowledge of what the Boston-based equivalents were.

So I started texting people.  Mostly it was folks I had met at the Chinese Students' Association Halloween Party; as much as it was kind of slow going because I'm not quite so adept at texting in Chinese with those apps, those were the guys who were likely to be around on Thanksgiving.  I guess it's kind of an aggressive move from a girl, but I've got no intention of being some demure young lady, and waiting until some guy texts is not how I'm looking to spend the holiday.  Enough not being with people, you know?

Tsang Chan-sam is the first to respond and I'm not really going to go through the call-and-response because it's pretty much the Mandarin equivalent of what's up, I'm bored, me too, show me your tits, photo in a tight sweater and a caption about buying me dinner for more, plans for later being made.  Then I look at the time and run for the shower and my lady's razor.

I'm not terribly slow getting girled up any more - despite having like four lines in the play I'm in, I've got three costume changes, and if I'm not naturally pretty enough to not need more make-up than I've gotten the hang of, then a fair number of people have been lying to me.  I am indecisive, though - this body came with a lot of clothes, shoes, jewelry, and shit, and while a lot of girls might be able to look in their closet and say "blue dress night", I'm looking at the question of just how sexy I want to look and seeing a lot of options.

Based on my wants and "Sam's" messages, I decided subtle wasn't the way to go, getting out a red number that didn't extend far past my ass and had a pretty forthright neckline, especially since the bra I chose pushed as much into the exposed area as it could.  It was chilly enough that I put some nude pantyhose on over my thong, and pulled out a set of matching red heels.  I still don't quite know what to do with my hair; this was not a night for a ponytail, but I always feel like I'm fumbling around with clips and pins, even when I manage to successfully keep my hair out of my eyes.  There's a curling iron in the bathroom, but I'll save trying that out for when I'll be okay getting a short haircut after I set my hair on fire.

He picks me up, though, which was kind of cool - Boston traffic sucks, but it's kind of weird to ride public transportation or even a taxi all dressed up.  We don't wind up going anywhere really fancy - Boston's Chinatown doesn't have a lot of really high-end places - and I'm always a little nervous in places where they can probably tell the difference between "Chinese" and "Chinese-American", especially since Sam finds my being a little slow in Mandarin really funny.  He says that's what I get for spending so much of the year fucking a local, and I try and shrug it off - whatever I think of Ronan, he's talking about Benjamin/Annette now.  Fortunately, I don't have to talk a lot - Sam's one of those guys whose favorite subject is himself, and how he really would like to be seen as more than his father's son but doesn't think the economy is great for trying to start something outside the family business (note: this may translate to him not having that much ambition).  His attention to me mostly involves staring at my tits, and maybe someday that'll piss me off, but that night I wanted that more than any questions of what I've been up to.

He's pretty abrupt after dinner - we get into the car, and he's already started kissing me even before I've got my seat belt buckled.  I'm a little freaked out for a second, as it's only my second time having a guy kiss me, and that time with Benjamin was kind of weird.  It's different - he actually puts his hand on my face and pulls me in, and he's kind of pushing, and it's my first real sense that getting intimate with most guys means being aware of how much bigger and stronger they are.  After we've done a bit with our tongues I stick my hand in and push at his chest, telling him that there's got to be a better place for this than an unheated car in a parking garage.  He smiles, says he thought I'd never ask, and drives to his condo.

(Yeah, he's a college senior and has a condo; I thought I wound up part of a rich family!)

It's empty, of course, but the light turns on as soon as he gets in and we don't really mess around once the door closes behind us.  He starts sucking my face again, but because he's a bit taller, he picks me right up, squeezing my butt and pushing me up against a wall.  I kick off one shoe but the other needs a little help before I can get my legs wrapped around his torso.  I probably kick him in the kidneys a couple times trying to do it, because I've really only seen it in movies.  I'd never even been on the receiving end, because of my former girth.

I think that's part of what gets me turned on so fast - having been a large guy before, there's something really fucking amazing about being picked up and moved around, really emphasizing that you have to trust this man and that he's going to be doing something really aggressive soon, and there's something really elemental about male and female roles or something.  I wasn't thinking that at the time; I was unbuttoning his shirt, tracing a line under his pecs with my finger (yeah, it's probably a leftover guy thing, but he wasn't complaining), feel his abs, and sort of knead the muscle a bit.  Then he pushes me up higher on the wall, so that he can start kissing my neck and the tops of my breasts and I feel like I should be doing something other than just smelling his hair so I squeeze him a little harder with my legs.  As if assured by that, he walks us into the bedroom, tossing me onto the bed so that I bounce, letting out a little squeak of delight.

I turn over and get up on my knees, telling him to unzip me, and the dress gets wriggled out of and tossed aside.  I turn over and cross my legs, hoping I look kind of teasing, and he pulls me toward the edge by my feet, straightening me out and giving himself easy access to my breasts.  He doesn't rip the bra off yet, but squeezes and kisses them.  I try to do the same, licking at his chest, moving down until I feel the hard tip of his dick on the bottom of my boob and looking up with a bit of surprise.  He smiled, started unzipping himself while I undid my bra.  He played with my nipples for a few minutes, then pulled down my pantyhose and undies.  For a brief moment, I wondered if this was when I was supposed to say something about a condom, but he already had one in his pocket and put it on.  Then he grabbed my legs, pushed them back until my feet were at his ears, and entered.

Holy fucking shit.

Holy fucking shit!

I mean, I hadn't even tested to see if my legs could bend like that, really, and practically before I've got time to register that there's something sending waves of pleasure from my groin all around my body.  I start screaming with every thrust, and then grab his back and start pulling, until finally something seems to explode.  A bit later (time is sort of out of whack for me right now) I feel him getting soft inside me, and he pulls out and rolls over.  I catch my breath, stare at the ceiling, and smile.  "That was amazing!"

He sits up and kind of laughs.  "That's what I like about you, Yuan-wei.  You always seem so grateful!"

I sit up too, kind of liking the feelings as my breasts hang down as I lean forward, and say "do I?"  I'd kind of been worried about not measuring up to the original Yuan-wei in some way that seemed suspicious, but maybe I shouldn't have worried - he sort of remembered her reaction to him for being positive and me lining up with that.

It could have gotten awkward, but my phone had fallen out of my handbag and started buzzing.  Being the cell-phone slave that I am, I bounded across the room naked to pick it up.  This amused Sam, and he asked if I had another date.

The message was in fact from David Chang.  "Not tonight.  Tomorrow, maybe.  Why, did you think you were the only one I messaged?"

Fortunately, he didn't seem like the jealous type.  "Well, I guess you were just lucky I responded first.  Call you an Uber?"

"Thanks, I'd appreciate that."  I started picking up my things and getting dressed, although I didn't bother with the pantyhose, putting them in the bag.  "Maybe another time, after the show?"

"Maybe; my girlfriend will probably be back in town then."

This is the point where I guess I'm supposed to feel like a horrible slut, but it's not like I knew, and as good as the sex was, he wasn't quite so charming that I was feeling particularly attached. "I guess not, then."  I turned around so he could zip up my dress, then faced him again.  Neither of us had anything to say.  "I'll just wait for the car down in the lobby, then."

So I did, texting David back.  I guess it's weird to arrange one hookup from the site of the last, but we all seemed pretty clear on it.

I suppose I could go through this again, but suffice it to say, this date involved a slightly classier black dress and a movie.  And, yes, the med student knows something about anatomy.

- Yuan-wei/Jordan/"Missy"

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Annette/Benjamin: First for-real dates

So I met a girl, asked her out, and she didn't sense that I was really creepy for asking out a woman who looks a lot like I used to before a magic inn messed with my body twice and bail. Awfully kind of her, that.

I still kind of freaked out about it, though - when went the New York crew, Erin / Chris asked if I spent forever combing my hair before going out because it should take more than just a few minutes to get ready, and I kind of did a little - I spent a lot of time trying to find something non-formal but a little nicer than jeans and a t-shirt in my closet without a whole lot of luck; Benny is a pretty informal guy (I gather that Kareena is trying to upgrade "Jordan's" wardrobe and it's an uphill climb), and while Ronan bought a suit for job interviews, he and Sandra sort of spent the year playing at being me and Benny, so didn't spend much on things they weren't going to keep. I wound up going with something solid navy up top, the least faded jeans, and sneakers that are solid black enough not to call attention to themselves.

Oh, and I waited until about four-thirty, just before heading out, to shave. As much as I got used to Ravi's mustache pretty quickly, the change at the Inn sucked that back into my face, and I don't really love growing facial hair out. I also recall not really digging kissing stubble as a girl, so I figured I might as well get as smooth as possible for if/when we kissed.  Thankfully, I avoided the potential downside to that plan where I am bleeding from several small cuts to my face

We met up in Davis Square, which is actually in Somerville rather than Boston or Cambridge, but actually has some pretty good places to eat and drink. A little bit of a hike for me compared to her, but not as far as I would routinely go in New York.

It took me a bit of time to spot her in the Square - even on a chilly night, it fills up (the ice cream joint had a line out the door despite it being the first weekend of November).  Also, Marybeth was wearing contacts instead of glasses.  I feel kind of silly being thrown by that in real life, but it was day in large part because she seems to really enjoy surprising people or otherwise throwing them for a loop. Telling her that I didn't recognize her without her glasses delighted her.

Less delightful: Apparently the guy asking the girl out is supposed to make reservations, which meant that we wound up spending more time than was anticipated at the bar, waiting for a table to open up, although there were pluses to that, such as some decent beers on tap. Marybeth isn't nearly so enthusiastic about that as me, so I dialed talking about beer back and just drank at a reasonable rate, though not enough to say weird stuff. We mostly talked about books, with me mentioning that being unemployed gave me a bit of time to catch up. but that's not recommended. She's working on a PhD in 19th Century American Literature, joking about how the world doesn't necessarily need more experts on Mark Twain, and it's in fact sort of a vicious circle - she can't find a job in her field of study much better than selling books, so she decides to go back to school for another couple of years, only this seems to make her area of expertise narrower, and so on. I'm kind of not certain whether to be jealous or relieved not to be on that track, and say as much. That led her to ask how a guy with my obvious intelligence and interests (thanks!) managed to avoid college, and I haven't really got a cover story worked out for that yet. She buys that I didn't test well in high school and only really discovered that I like bigger books and such after I'd been out of school awhile, more or less.

When we do get a seat, the food is pretty good, and we're having enough fun talking that it's not a big deal that we're not walking to the theater until 9:30pm or so, only to find that not only is the 10pm Spectre sold out, but it would have been on one of the smaller screens anyway. The only other thing starting then is called "Love", causing us to give each other a look and blurt out "no pressure" at the same time. I pulled out a debit card, was mildly surprised when they handed us two pairs of 3D glasses, and then handed one to Marybeth. We took our seats, put the glasses on, and, you guessed it, there was a dick pointing straight out of the screen in the very first scene.

There's a LOT of sex in that movie, folks,

A LOT of sex.

I mean, after about twenty minutes we just turned and looked at each other in a kind of horror, because in addition to not really being much of a turn-on, it was all in this story of really self-destructive relationships. Just a really, really terrible first-date movie.

At least for me. I mean, it was okay, but even living in New York for a year, I hadn't seen many movies like this. I don't know if it even could have opened in my hometown back in Maine - it's rated NC-17 - and hearing Marybeth sort of segue from how this was a funny story even if it was king of embarrassing to how it was edited and shot was kind of tough. It just reminded me of how, despite looting a bit older, I am way behind her in experience and education.  And, maybe, sophistication; I kind of wonder if I've been leaning on "I've been different people" to justify looking more grown-up than I maybe am to myself.

Since it was almost midnight by that point, we split off rather than try and extend the night a bit.

Because our schedules are both nuts and kind of incompatible, it would be another week and a half before we met back up and actually caught the James Bond movie. It was on the theater's big screen, which is actually really nice - not that much smaller than the Imax screen at the downtown multiplex, really - and it finished up just early enough that we could grab a spot in a bar afterward.

"Better than the French 3D sex movie?"

"Yeah, things blew up real good!"

She shot me a look that said "come on, I know you're not really that kind of guy" and I smiled back, saying that there's something nice about knowing what you're in for.  Somehow that led to a bit of innuendo, and then back to her place...

And then I got to meet her roommate, who was very nice and seemed to approve of me, though she and her four friends playing some board game with extra rules involving shots kind of made things awkward. We got to Marybeth's room and started making out, but every time it seemed like things were about to get really exciting, there would be a whoop from outside, and while we would laugh, doing so seemed to move the sexiness indicator back.

Then Janna came in and asked what Marybeth had used to clean puke from the carpet last time, and we were done. I kissed her good-bye, and I'm sure Janna was apologizing like crazy once I was gone, but that part of the night was just not going any further.

The really sucky part is that there haven't been any more nights since. Between going home (in quotation marks for me) for Thanksgiving and the post-holiday crunch at retail & restaurants, we haven't been able to get our schedules synched up. At least I know we'll see each other at the signing next week, and I hope we haven't lost too much momentum.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Lane/Kari: Given Notice

This is way out routine for me, I usually only update this once a week, or at least I try to. But something happened to me today and I'm trying to wrap my head around and nobody in my life would understand because they don't know I'm not who I appear to be and writing is cathartic so I'm putting it here.

It has been well documented here that Kari's boss, Nick Latherman, is a creep. Every day at work has come with leering, flirting, and occasional touching that he seems to think are perfectly fine because he was having an affair with the real Kari. Heck, the only reason she was in Maine in the first place is because they were having a weekend away together.

Since I became Kari, the rendevous have stopped and he's not pleased. I thought when I started dressing sexier at work at his "request" during my performance review that he'd be satisfied, but he called me into his office this afternoon right as the work day was ending.

He was sitting behind the desk, looking serious and not his usually perv self. "Sit down, Karina" he said using a name that only strangers really use "We need to talk about your job performance again. Several weeks ago we had a discussion about your drop-off, and you said you'd work to improve it but I haven't seen much effort on your part."

I rolled my eyes and pushed my breasts together slightly with my shoulders. I was wearing a low-cut top with a matching red lacy bra underneath "You said I wasn't dressing 'professionally enough'. Is this still too casual? Would a tank top be more work appropriate?"

"There's no need to get snippy" He said in a tone that I hear from men who don't take me seriously "But there's more than just your attire. You used to stay late at work, work through lunch assisting me, go on business trips. Now you're in at 9, out at 5, and you don't do any of the extras that we agreed would be part of your job description when you were hired?"

It bothered me a bit that he wouldn't just out and say it. Maybe he thought I was taping him, maybe he was taping us. Somehow he managed to seem even slimier by dancing around the subject instead of just saying that I wasn't putting out and that was a problem for him.

"Extras." I repeated "Like our trip to Maine" I mentioned to get indirect confirmation from him.

"Precisely" he said "In fact I don't think we've worked closely together since then." His face and voice softened "Listen, if it was about me leaving you there, I'm sorry. I had family issue and I couldn't escape it. You don't have to freeze me out over it. I would have loved to stay there all weekend with you."

I would have loved that too. He would have wound up with his life turned upside down and if there is any karma in the world he'd have been someone truly physically undesirable. Of course that would also mean there was a 50 percent chance I'd have become him instead, and the idea of looking at his face in the mirror makes me retch a bit.

"Well that trip was a bit of an eye opening experience" I told him despite the fact he could never truly understand why "I re-evaluated a lot of things in my life that weekend"

"Is that so" He said switching back to boss tone. "Well things are tight around here and there might have to be a bit of downsizing. A receptionist is a nice touch but we might be forced to go with an electronic answering service to save money. That would make your main duties redundant and you'd have to show your value to the company in other ways, and I don't think you'd be able to handle an account" He had a smarmy chuckle at that last remark and I wanted to claw his eyes out. Not just because he thought I wasn't qualified for something that I was, but because in this body I wasn't qualified and people looked down on me for it.

"I've got a major client proposal to work on this weekend and they're doing construction on the office this weekend. I've rented a suite at the MGM Grand to work out of." He slid a hotel key across the desk to me "I would really appreciate your help. If you can't make it or decide you no longer want to go the extra mile for this company, then don't bother coming in Monday." He stood up, got his coat, and walked out the door.

I was the last person in the office and my mouth was agape. I was about to be fired for not having sex with my boss. This is the kind of thing that only happens in bad lifetime movies. I took a few deep breaths, fighting back the tears. This was the most undignified moment in my life but I'd be damned if I cried over it.

I made my way outside and instead of going directly to my car I went straight across the street to a small bar. I ordered a shot of whiskey and had to down it in 2 drinks because my tastebuds aren't used to it. I stood there for a few minutes, staring ahead in anger and shock when some guy came up and started hitting on me. That was the last thing I needed so I told him to fuck off, paid, and headed to my car.

Once I was inside I told Ashely to order pizza and locked myself in the bedroom. I pulled my cellphone out of my purse and sent a text to the real Kari. "911. Call immediately", that way she'd interrupt her work day to help me deal with this. 10 minutes later the phone rang.

"What's going on? Did something happen? Is it Ashley?" A frantic female voice asked in hushed tones, clearly at work still.

"Why didn't you ever mention your boss would fire me if I didn't sleep with him?" I said as loud as angrily as I could without Ashely hearing in the next room.

A pause. "I didn't know you had stopped."

"I never fucking started" I sat "Are you crazy? You think I'd just hop into bed with him."

"I dunno, you hopped into all other parts of my life" she said "I thought you just kept that part off of your blog. Although you didn't seem to have a problem telling everyone you played with yourself"

"He says I don't go to a hotel with him Saturday night I'm fired" I said getting the conversation back on topic "What the hell am I supposed to do?"

"I mean, we did have an arrangement" She told me slowly "It's kinda how I got the job."

"So I'm supposed to fuck this guy for employment, like some sort of whore"

"Hey FUCK. YOU." She said in a tone that wasn't so hushed "You don't get to fucking judge me or what I did for money. Look, you're the one who acted all high and mighty about your obligation to live my life and talked shit on my on your fucking website because I didn't leave you a fucking note. Sleep with him or don't, I don't give a shit but the rents due on the 15th and I doubt you'll write a stupid blog entry about how you got me and my daughter kicked out into the cold Michigan winter."

With that she hung up. I had touched a nerve. I could tell she wasn't exactly proud of her situation but she wasn't too proud to fix it. As if she could do anything to fix it, she didn't even have her GED. Latherman apparently found her working as a hostess at a restaurant two years ago and offered her a job after they had begun their tryst.

I broke down crying, not sure what I was going to do. I finally sat down to write this blog post either looking for feedback or to clear my head. She was right about one thing, the rent was due this week. And then the electric after that. And then Christmas. And then in January I need to make a reservation for a trip to Maine.

It's never really a good time to be an unemployed woman with no education, but now is especially a bad time.


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Lane/Kari: Stuffed and Shoved

When Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos snuck up on me, I made a conscious effort not to be caught off guard by holidays in this life. I called Kari and got details on traditions and plans and roles for all the major holidays. I knew weeks ahead of time we were going to her parents for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas Eve. New Years is out with Rosita and some friends at some party in the city. Ashley's Birthday is in March, "My" birthday is in May and all of those dates a few minor ones are written in my phone calendar as well as on the wall calendar in the kitchen. (I bought it when Ashely started school, a little low-tech but its good to have a constant reminder of upcoming events).

Holidays are a big deal, even when they aren't. If you asked any random person to remember a day from the past year, odds are their most vivid memories would be of a holiday. The routine and traditions and happiness that surround them stick in people's minds. If I mess up as Kari on one of these, it would do the most damage, so I'm being proactive.

It also gave me time to prepare for Thanksgiving. Normally Thanksgiving back home involved watching football on the TV, trying to avoid relatives who want to start drama, and drinking when they eventually do. No such luck this year. As much as I hoped for a more progressive viewpoint, apparently traditional gender roles are enforced on Thanksgiving at the Cruz house, which meant that I was going to have to cook....and bake. I was looking up how to make stuff like turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes when I got an email from Kari. Apparently her mom took care of that stuff, I was only responsible for the Cherry Pie and the chili, and she had sent recipes for both.

I know what you're thinking, chili? Yeah, apparently its not a Mexican thing or anything like that, its just some thing the Cruzes (Cruces? I really should look that up) do. Unlike a lot of families they eat Thanksgiving dinner at regular dinner time instead of early afternoon. This means that between breakfast and dinner there's a lot of cooking but not a lot of food ready. The Chili is made the night before in a crock pot which gets turned on very early in the morning so that around lunchtime you have a nice, light meal that's great on a cold day. I was able to make both dishes pretty close to what Kari did, because if there is one thing I've learned to do in this life is follow a recipe. I eat out a lot back in New York, but we can't afford that here so most of the food preparation falls on me and whatever cheap and interesting recipes I can find on the internet. It was a lot of hot dogs and Kraft Macaroni at first, but I've improved since then.

I managed to pull myself away from the cooking a few times to chat with "Dad" and catch a glimpse of a little football. Thanksgiving football is a big deal in Detroit because apparently the tradition got started here or something and Eduardo is a huge Lions fan. He, like everyone in Kari's life, was simultaneously curious and pleasantly surprised at my sudden knowledge of sports, and he was a bit curious about why I was so happy when Dallas lost but it was nice to have some bonding, even it if was artificial.

I actually did a lot of bonding that day, both with Kari's parents and Ashley and it kind of made me a bit emotional. Having my brain dunked in estrogen has really made me susceptible to watery eyes when something kinda sad happens, and all this family time made me miss my real family, dysfunctional as they are. I really don't talk to my parents more than maybe once a month, and I only really ever visit them for holidays and that's mostly out of obligation. I think it's the fact that I've disappeared from their lives and they have no way of knowing, or even believing it. I snuck away during the day and sent a text to Jennifer telling her to give everyone a hug for me, even thought it would be totally out of character. I hugged the Cruz family for Kari, even though there wasn't any specific request to do so.

I ate what would be considered a lot for a large man, let alone a tiny woman. I still need to get my eyes in step with my new stomach. And while it is a myth that turkey makes you sleepy it is true that eating a lot of food in general will make you sleepy and I wound up crashing on the couch watching a movie. Ashley wound up curling up on a big chair nearby and without it ever being said it was assumed that we'd be staying the night there because it led into the next family tradition.

Getting up at 4 in the fucking morning to go shopping.

I generally look down on the idea of following up a holiday designed to be thankful with one designed to be ruthless in the pursuit of cheap stuff (And this is coming from an investment banker) but apparently Pilar liked to do the bulk of her Christmas shopping that day to stretch her dollars as far as they'll go. Shopping and I have an interesting relationship since I've taken over Kari's life, in that I really only do it when we need something. Kari didn't really follow that rule as evidenced by the giant closet full of clothes that probably were only worn a few times.

Most of the shopping done that day was done by Pilar for Eduardo and relatives who I'd never met and lived far enough away that probably wouldn't. I mostly gave advice and helped find things in stores. Ashely came along to, and would occasionally stand by an outfit or electronic device and drop obvious hints that she wanted that, and I made mental notes. I am glad we came along, even though I didn't buy anything because store openings that early in the morning are brutal. The crowds are animalistic even, and its mostly middle aged moms pushing each other and occasionally yelling. Ashley and I were there to watch Pilar's back to make sure she didn't get trampled.

It was 5 pm when Ashley and I finally got back to "our" place with a couple of bags that she kept hidden from me and a pile of leftovers. As I curled up on the couch in sweatpants I started thinking about Christmas presents. Not only what to get the Cruz family and what I COULD buy them, but also to get input from Kari. I also composed an email for Jennifer so she could buy stuff for my family and friends and I got a little blue again thinking about them.

It's gonna be a challenging season.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Tyler: Families, and Thanksgiving, and stuff

I've kind of neglected Alan's life a little bit since being here, I'll admit. He has a family back in Wisconsin that loves him very much, and no doubt misses him. And I got a little absorbed re-fashioning his life into my own, that I couldn't help but leave them behind.

From the beginning, there were texts and calls, usually ones I dodged, even though I knew it wasn't fair to Alan or his family or anybody. But I had to distance myself. I felt like I'd spent a year suppressing everything about myself just to fit in and make others feel better, I needed something for me.

I warmed up a little bit, responding to texts and calls more quickly, but I still hardly know these people. I told them I had found work out here and decided to stay a while, which raised questions (Alan was not one to leave his family behind) that of course I dodged. I just wanted them to know their son is OK (he is) and to feel like they could reach me if they have to, but... jeez, they really test that. Every day I get some new update on some neighbor or distant cousin I don't know. But I try to be polite and answer back, "That's interesting" or "Good for them" or "What an asshole," as applicable (then I get chided for strong language.) I also dodge questions about Greta, saying only that we parted ways and I don't know what she's up to (mostly true.) Of course there were questions about how one could just part ways with the woman he probably was going to marry, but I chalked it up to "Personal differences." End of story.

Or so I thought. During a recent call, I had to explain again why I couldn't make it home for Thanksgiving. I let it slip a while ago that I had started a new relationship. And of course Mama Schmidt scoffed about how soon it was to be throwing family traditions away and if she loved me, she'd understand and let me come home. I told her I wasn't exactly being held against my will, and I was sure Thanksgiving would be fine without me.

So yeah, I agreed to go see Meg's family for Thanksgiving. While they didn't exactly "keep it small" (six aunts, five uncles, and 11 cousins were present) these people were all supposed to be strangers to me. Plus it was local, which was a huge bonus. Once Meg let it slip that I worked in a kitchen, her mom insisted I bring a side. Arguing that I mostly cook eggs didn't phase her, so I cooked up a recipe for whisky-infused green beans. Except I kept that first part a secret. They were a big hit.

It was a chaotic, exhausting, wonderful day. Meg is a lot like her mom – same sense of humour, same smile... but with more of a housewifey vibe. She warned me they might judge me because I didn't go to college, but they were very polite... to me. I do think her Mama is a bit judgmental toward her, though. I put my charm into overdrive to win over her dad – a friendly, intellectual guy with a big interest in history (seriously, the guy was loaded with facts about he first Thanksgiving, the Colonial era, and even a fair bit about pre-Columbian times.) Asked him lots of questions, didn't yammer on about myself.

"They really like you," Meg beamed afterward on the drive home. "My Mom is just happy I'm dating again, and Dad seems to think you're really smart."

"Don't know how he got that impression," I smirked, "Guess I'll have to keep him fooled."

Later that night, as we were getting ready for bed, she said something that struck me: "I wish I could meet your parents."

I'm sure she meant well by it, but it caused a real chill to go up my spine. I sat up and looked at her and I just said, maybe a bit coldly, "You don't have to say that."

She looked at me, "No, I mean it. I think it's a shame that I can't... like, share that part of your life. I'm really sorry about it."

"Don't worry. It's gone," I said. "They're gone. It's..." I trailed off, suddenly getting very emotional.

Sensing she had touched a nerve, she wrapped her arms around me. I felt my face get hot. I wondered if I was going to start crying. I took a breath and told her "Even if... even if I was me, even if everything was normal... trust me, it would be okay if you never met my Dad."

"Was he... that bad?"

"Yeah," I said, "We're, uh... not close."

"You never talk much about home. About Mobile, your family, your childhood. Is that why you didn't mind not getting your real body back?"

"It's just complicated."

She took a moment to swallow this. For a second it looked like she was hurt that I wouldn't open up. Then she said, "Whatever you're running from... and you don't have to explain it to me if you don't want to, I'm sure if you're ever ready you will... it's in the past. I didn't mean to remind you of it. But you're here now, with me."

"I know," I said. "Believe me. I know."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Meg: Sleepy times

When I became Tasha, and had to live with Wade, it was the first time in many years I had regularly slept in the same bed as someone else (stuffed animals not included.) You don't even ant to know what kind of mental convincing I had to put myself through just to get under those covers and lie next to him, this strange man who could be anybody, and definitely was someone else's boyfriend.

Eventually, and sooner than I would probably care to admit (because it doesn't make me look good or feel good) I got used to the idea of being a fill-in girlfriend. I forced myself to swallow my pride and use words like "Honey" and "Sweetie" and the occasional "I love you." I got comfortable disrobing around him, lying with him, initiating contact with him.

It should have felt awful, but if I can be honest, the relationship was probably one of the most healthy I have ever had in my life for a while (the summer and fall, until I realized he and I just weren't compatible no matter how much I wanted to play like we were.) I got into it, because after all the hardest part about getting into a relationship: meeting someone, deciding you like them and getting comfortable in their life, was well past. Wade wasn't someone I would choose for myself, but I made it work.

But then there was sleep. For one, we kept different schedules: he worked days in a tattoo parlor, I worked nights as a waitress. On nights where I worked, I would crawl into bed softly beside him and attempt not to wake him. But I would still lie up awake for hours, trying to keep still rather than obey my body's instinct to toss and turn. We had this big double bed, and for comfort's sake I would roll to the edge to put as much space between us. Then after I cheated and earned his forgiveness, I felt like keeping so much distance between us was wrong, so I closed the gap, but in doing so contorted my body into an odd position to wrap my arms around him. I think the lack of comfort - and the fact that I didn't really do much yoga after that - really exacerbated my back problems, leaving me stiff and sore in the mornings.

A couple of nights ago, Tyler and I were getting under the covers, and he looked at me and smiled. I asked what was that about, and he said, "A year ago... when I was Lauren, I used to lie up at night and think about you. To think how nice it would be to be with you. I knew it wasn't possible... not the way I looked, and not where you had to be. But I dreamed of being myself again, and us picking up where we left off. And basically... doing this. Holding you. Waking up next to you."

I told him I was sure there were other things he dreamed of doing with me.

He laughed, "I tried not to think about it too much."

I leaned over and kissed him deeply. Then he wrapped his arms around me and we drifted to sleep.

Since Tyler and I have been together, we have been sleeping closely cuddled together in the little single bed I have brought to various places of residence. I would love to say the fact that only liked Wade but love Tyler has led to me sleeping more soundly, but the physical facts remain, it's just tougher to get a good night's sleep when there's someone else there. In Alan's body, Ty has a long, gangly frame that tangles pretty oddly with my decidedly more squishy one. We fit, but barely, and I've been giving some serious thought to getting a new bed.

It's a bit of a commitment, sure. My bed is nice, but if our future is together, we deserve better. I'm very serious about the direction of this relationship, even if several unknowns remain. Is this Tyler's final stop? He has been frustratingly mum on whether he has ever discussed giving Alan his body back, or what happens next if he does. I'm trying to enjoy the moment, but... well, I'd like to just be a bit more secure, you know?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Innbox: Katie and Jared

Hey guys! Hope you've been having a very good November, and that the weather is good wherever you are. Things have settled down for a bit lately, so I thought I might dip into the Innbox and share a story with you. This one comes to us from "Katie from Jacksonville."

And remember, fellow Inn people, you can always contact me at and tell your tale!


Dear Trading Post,

What a strange life it is for us. I'm sure by comparison to a lot of people, my story isn't all that dramatic, but it's mine, and I feel safe in sharing it with you. About two and a half years ago, I made a fateful visit to the Inn. I was fresh off a breakup and needed cheering up, and my mom, bless her heart, decided what I needed was a getaway. She's always looked out for me, and I guess in the long run it's great that we have had each other's backs through this ordeal.

On the third morning of our weeklong trip, I awake to find myself transformed... I guess you could say the changes were "minor" compared to what a lot of people go through. I went from 29 years old to 27, shrunk by a few inches and went down a couple of dress sizes. My unruly frizzy brown hair also became straight and blonde. I know, nothing shocking at all about any of this, there's almost no reason for me to speak up, but a new life is a strange experience no matter what.

As I was pondering my own strange transformation, I saw that where my 57-year-old mom had been, was now a strikingly handsome, rugged, 30-year-old man, the husband of my body's original owner! I couldn't believe my eyes and ears as this gentleman called me by my mother's pet name for me, recited facts only she could have known, et cetera et cetera. Insane!

Now, in all the confusion, nobody told us about the blog, or any way back to our old selves... we were coaxed into living as this couple, with the assumption that we would be this way for the rest of our lives! I'm sorry to say, the ship of us returning these bodies to their original occupants seems like it has sailed, as well as us getting our own selves back. We felt resigned to acting like "Katie and Jared"

Don't worry, the story doesn't get gross. Although I had to clear out some very unsettling thoughts relating to the fact that the woman who raised me was now an attractive, age-appropriate man, I assure you I had no intention of playing wife to my own mother. We became more like siblings or best friends.

To her credit, manhood was a good look for her. She took to it like a duck to water. I guess after so many years of being a wife and mother, masculinity is as easy as anything. I could also see her new youth revitalizing her.

And then she met Alice.

You would think it could only happen by accident, but Ma was no fool. She knew what she wanted and what she was getting into. She didn't wait for any new feelings to slowly reveal themselves and then fight them, she was ready and she embraced them, much to my shock! I didn't know it at the time, but only a few months into our time here, she had set up an online dating account and started meeting women! You go, girl!

Alice was my mom's first serious relationship in several years - she and my dad are divorced and she had a few boyfriends after, but always seemed better off single. And when I expressed my shock, she explained that she enjoyed having the chance to be the boyfriend, the partner, that a good woman deserved, instead of having to settle for some of the men she had been with. (She didn't specify whether this included my father, with whom I have a good relationship too.)

Alice is a sweet girl, and obviously very in love with my mom, but... I feel bad for her, since she doesn't know the truth, but that's only a small drawback. My mom treats her like a goddess. She's planning on proposing at Christmas. I voiced my on objections: it's so soon, we have this strange secret that Alice can never be privy to, and she has been hurt before, albeit in another life by a different gender.

But what's worse is that Alice absolutely hates me, for reasons beyond my control.

My main problem is this: Following a quickie divorce (not long after my mom and Alice met,) I am now the ex-wife, and it has raised a lot of questions about why I always seem to be around, why "Jared" is so intent on finding time to hang out with me. She hates me without reason, because even though I have explained I have no feelings for "her man," she believes that she can never truly have him as long as I am in the picture. She and I can only say "It's not like that!" so many times, without offering any true explanation.

So my mom has had to cut me out of her life for the most part, and it stinks.

It's led me to think some pretty drastic thoughts. Since I found this blog, and I know what the Inn is capable of, I sometimes think I should just go back. I have a very good life, but I'm not overly attached to it. Someone else might need it. I'm leery of using this body as leverage or a bargaining chip, but perhaps if certain conditions were met. (And before you asked, the original "Katie" has never contacted me, let alone asked for her body back. Like I said I never even knew it was possible until earlier this year!)

Then I wonder... if I were to go back, if it were all within my control, would I want to be a man? To experience life from the other side of the fence? My mom seems very happy with it, but she also had a very different life from me, with motherhood and divorce and everything. If I go "that way," and it might be fore good, it's like saying I'm done experiencing everything womanhood has to offer - passing on childbirth, motherhood, or even just becoming an eccentric cat lady. And for what... male privilege and a chance to rebuild my relationship with my mother? (Well it certainly seems tempting when you put it that way, but I kind of want to be a mommy someday!)

Looks like I've got a few months to think about that.

I guess this is just to say that even people whose lives aren't 100% upended by the Inn face problems too. It maybe doesn't make for such thrilling reading material, but nobody gets out of there unscathed, I'm sure. And if what I'm going through is just a small sample of the dilemmas faced daily by the rest of you, I genuinely wish for the best, you are all powerful men and women (and others!)

Love to everyone
"Katie" (nevermind my real name, it's gone forever.)
Jacksonville, FL

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lane/Kari: Body Damage

On my last post, someone commented asking if I knew that Darius was going to ask me out and if I was going to say yes. The answer to the first question is yes, the answer to the second is...less clear. I've been asked out by guys before in this body already...a lot. Not just at bars or clubs but random people at work and once even at McDonald's. I'm also still a guy on the inside and I know that you don't put on the moves like Darius did at the banquet without trying to get a date. He texted me a few days after asking to meet up for coffee, and I expressed Ashley's concerns about me dating the relatives of her friends, and that to avoid the awkwardness we should take it slow and start of as just friends.

His response? "Fine by me, but friends can still get coffee together." I took him up on his offer. I was impressed by the man's tenacity as well as the fact that he was willing to work around my schedule. But also, I like talking to him. We have more in common than just sports, he's very interested in local politics and is an economic consultant for the county. If I were in my correct body, he and I could be friends. My entire life is surrounded by Kari's friends, Kari's family, Kari's co-workers and while most of them are nice people I'd like to associate with people who I like to talk to.

It might seem like I'm leading him on, but I did tell him I'd take it slow. That's not a definite time frame. "Slow" could mean 7 or 8 months or however long it takes for me to be out of this body and the real Kari to decide if she wants to date him (She could do, and has done, a lot worse).

As I've said, Ashley is pretty good for keeping creepy guys away, but my plan is for her to be useful for more than that soon. I'd like for her to be able to run errands and do shopping for the house, and for that she's going to need her license. I had promised to do her driver training if she picked a school activity and stuck with it. One season of cross country later and this week we began a teenage rite of passage.

Ashley took the driver's ed course at school the first semester of her sophomore year, which was more than a year ago. I don't care how good of a classroom teacher you have, driving is 15% knowing the rules and 85% experience. Which was a bit of a problem, since she hadn't been behind the wheel in a long time, and I wasn't exactly the best teacher. I learned to drive in high school like all my friends, but I'd been living in New York City for 5 years and didn't do it at all until I got here to this body. And while I was able to draw up memory, I was very rusty. I haven't hit anything, but I've come close a few times. So now here I was having only regularly recently driven for 5 months, giving instruction to someone who had never done it solo and not for a long time.

It's one thing to subconsciously know what to do while driving, it's entirely another to verbalize those tips to someone else and I wasn't doing a very good job of it. We managed to get around the block a few times and out onto a busy street without hitting anyone, the trouble actually occurred in a wide open parking lot of a closed electronics store.

The parking lot was old but the lines from the parking spaces were still there, so it was a good place for Ashely to practice parking a car inbetween them. She kept getting close, but she has a habit of overcorrecting to the right and parking the car at angle or halfway out of the space. On maybe her 8th try I was getting very verbal, telling her when to turn the wheel, when to use the break. "Left now. Now more left. Too far left. Now too far right. Give it the break." Well all of my commands were scrambling her inexperienced brain and instead of hitting the break her foot didn't go over left enough and she hit the accelerator, lunging the car forward and smacking the right side fender into a lamppost.

We're fine. The car didn't get to a high enough speed and we were wearing seat belts, but the car was damaged. It still drives but the front right fender is crumpled and the headlight was smashed and no longer turns on. And since this was a used car that's no longer under warranty, I had to take it to a body shop to get an estimate. 400 dollars, parts and labor. I thought I was being gouged but multiple estimates were similar. Kari has insurance but the deductible is too high for this to be covered.

400 bucks isn't a LOT of money, but for a single mom on a receptionist's salary it isn't very doable, even with my smart money management. So since the car was still operable I drove it with one headlight. (Am I the only one who remembers The Wallflowers?). That is in fact, illegal to do and on Friday driving home I got pulled over.

I don't hate cops, but I don't think anyone really LIKES interacting with them. I don't have a criminal record nor have I ever done anything to warrant being arrested, but every time I see those flashing lights I freeze a little. That was before, when I was a white man with no criminal record. Now I was a Latina woman who may have a history that I never bothered to ask. As the cop was walking to my car I suddenly thought of all the current issues in this country between minorities and police and gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.

Seemingly this cop wasn't racist, or at least not visibly racist against Mexicans and asked for my license and proof of insurance in a very professional manner before telling me that my headlight was out and that was a ticket. As he walked back to his squad car to run Kari's information I looked down at my cleavage and got an idea.

I was on my way home from work, and as I mentioned I've been wearing revealing outfits at the request of my pervert boss. I got it in my mind to try and see if a little flirting would get me out of a ticket. I unbuttoned my blouse to show even more cleavage and almost the tops of my bra cups and hiked my skirt up so that the band of the stockings I was wearing started to show. When the cop came back I looked at him with my big brown eyes, batted my eyelashes, pushed my shoulder blades together, and said "I'm really sorry officer,I must have forgotten to get it fixed. Is there any way you can get me off...with a warning?"

The officer didn't skip a beat and wrote me a 100 dollar ticket. So much for feminine wiles.

If only I could have bent over...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-wei: Halloween #HotGirlProblems

I mentioned how much more social going to school as Yuan-wei in this major than my first go-around in college, but what I kind of held back on is just how many people she knows. Even if I ignore Weibo and other Chinese social networks, it seems like the Facebook page I inherited is always updating, I'm getting calls all the time, and folks just walk up to me after class or in Starbucks or wherever, because they know " me" from somewhere despite Yuan-Wei only arriving here around 14 months or so ago.

It could be more extreme; there's this tall blonde in my play who always seems to be swarmed, but there's a fair supply of white guys that just wouldn't consider Asian girls, and a weird group of nerds that lose interest when they realize I'm not fucking Japanese. Still, the upshot is that I am expected to know a lot of people, there's a fair amount more that want to know me, and it can be overwhelming for the fat kid who spent her first year as a girl hiding out.

On the other hand, it means that I am never wanting for a distraction when something is bugging me, with Halloween being a perfect case in point. As I think I mentioned last year, Halloween was always a big deal in my family - as my dad would put it, the guys who called him "Chinky" all year would let up because on that day, he could be Bruce Lee - and even when they didn't, he still felt awesome.  That's why our family always gave out the biggest candy bars on the block, why we had a big party, why we made elaborate costumes that at least tried to celebrate our Chinese heritage a little. We fucking love Halloween, and now I was missing out for the second year in a row, and chances of having another one like that are slim, since Benny seems to be doing better each time I check in.

So it's kind of a relief when my "Missy"/"Yuan-wei" email and Facebook accounts started getting chock-full of invitations to Halloween parties. No, they wouldn't be my family's, but they would be parties, I'd get to have some fun being in costume, and it would be really time-consuming in a fun way. It would actually be the first time I could show my handiwork off to folks aside from my family and friends in a few years, too!

It was crazy at first - I think I had invitations to a dozen different parties, but a lot of them had conflicting dates. In a lot of cases, I felt like I was choosing among them almost randomly - while other Inn people might contact their predecessors to figure out which ones were more important to them, I'm trying to make this life mine, and figure out which group would be throwing the best parties versus people who would really hold a grudge if I said no. I'd like a bit more info before making those decisions.

Still, I think I did okay choosing five, and when I heard Blondie talking about how she was going to need so many costumes this year, I was kind of excited. As much as that was multiple times as much work as I'd been anticipating, it was also making up for last year and keeping that energy redirected. I figured I could get away with three, and had fun sketching ideas, only to be confronted right away with how becoming a girl doesn't mean you can do everything you need to.

For instance, although my drawings didn't outright suck, it quickly hit me that I didn't know how to sew at all. That's not entirely a not-prepared-to-be-a-girl thing, because I kind of doubt that Yuan-wei knew how to sew any better than I did - I've got the money to just replace things in her life and haven't found a sewing kit in her apartment - but it's something I always relied on my mom or other women to do, and everybody treated that as natural. Doing it as Yuan-wei, on the other hand, is privilege.

My first instinct was to ask Benjamin, even if I do sometimes feel weird about asking for his help with the life that should have been his.  Fortunately,  while I was worrying about this, one of the folks doing tech stuff on the play asked me about my Halloween plans while we were painting scenery (when you've got four lines, you're expected to pitch in other ways) and she mentioned she had a sewing machine and would show me some of the ropes. I wound up picking up the tab for parts of her costume at The Garment District, but I can afford it and one of the costumes was trickier than I originally thought. Of the others, one was just putting pieces together and the other I could do myself, with her looking over my shoulder.

So, with three costumes prepared, I was ready for the gauntlet!

October 23rd -Superheroes at the old roommate's

So, uh, I guess Cissy was just being polite and didn't really expect me to RSVP, and having RSVPed, didn't expect me to come. She didn't say that, but when her boyfriend opened the door with "Oh... Missy", I kind of got the idea that Yuan-wei would probably have never had much more contact with them even if she hadn't magically been replaced by someone else. Freshman roommates, after all - you're matched up pretty randomly, you don't have much in common in the way of interests, you drift apart.

Especially if you're a nice Southern girl like Cissy and your roommate is not just Chinese-American, but Chinese, which means you can't understand her music, her calls home are at annoying hours, and she just doesn't care about stuff that's a big deal to you. I also got the impression that her boyfriend was maybe a little prejudiced or something. It's something I didn't necessarily stop worrying about looking like Deirdre - I kind of swapped racism for sexism there - but which manifests itself in even more ways now that I've got a Hong Kong passport. Now I'm an "other" who isn't even sort of like them since I grew up here.

Which, apparently, even made my costume worse. I made a pretty damn good Jubilee (from the X-Men) out of stuff I found at Garment District. Maybe not win a prize at a comic convention good, but not bad at all. The guys who liked comics all seemed pretty impressed even if it was the least sexy of the three, but, man, did Cissy's boyfriend take it as a personal affront when I said that Marvel and DC weren't exactly supplying me with a bunch of options.  I guess original Yuan-wei wasn't into comics and this was me and by extension China trying to try steal America's place at the top of something.

So, I left that one early, and probably won't have a lot of contact with Cissy again. Maybe that's for the best.

October 24th - Chinese Students' Association

If wasn't quite whiplash going to the next evening's party, but it was certainly different.
This one was thrown by an organization of Chinese people at various Boston-area colleges, and served as a decent way to see how much my Mandarin had improved from Saturday morning classes and watching a bunch of movies - that a new Mandarin-language movie opens in regular American theaters every week, at least in New York and Boston, is some sort of indicator of how the 21st will likely be the Chinese Century by the time it's all said and done - although the inspiration for my costume was pretty thoroughly Hong Kong.

This was the trickiest costume in some ways - I had a pretty specific idea, and while it looked simple enough, there were several pieces that had to be altered and sewn together.  This is shit I've got to learn to do myself, but I was so glad Amelia was willing to help me with it this time.  I looked so cool and cute in the mirror, and it was kind of exciting to put a long coat on over the costume and take the T into Cambridge with just the headdress and shoes peeking out, like the rest of the world had no idea how awesome I was right at that moment.

That made it pretty gratifying when I checked my coat outside the hotel function room that the Association had booked and got some appreciative looks from both guys and girls.  One of the former, dressed as a pirate, walked up and asked me who I was.

I smiled.  "You like it?  It's from The Cave of the Silken Web, a Shaw Brothers movie my grandmother was in.  She wasn't the main spider-woman trying to seduce Tripitaki, but I think she was the sexiest.  Do I measure up?"

I did a little turn.  The basis of the costume was a bodysuit with fringes covering my panties and butt, straps a lot closer to my neck than the usual, and some decoration on the chest which I had briefly considered replacing with a scoop to show some cleavage, and Amelia did an amazing job of adding shoulders and sleeves made from sheer material with a spiderweb design, attached to a slightly more opaque cape.  The rest of the costume from the movie was a headdress that put a bunch of my hair up and dangled a jewel on my forehead, some earrings, and a pair of sandals with one-inch heels.  Here's a still from the movie to give you an idea:

I added some spider-web pantyhose because Boston in late October is somewhat chillier than a Shaw Brothers soundstage in Hong Kong.  It maybe looked a little less authentic, either in terms of ancient China or late-1960s Hong Kong movies, but I dug it, and so did my new friend.

His name was David Chang, he goes to Harvard Medical School and maybe wasn't a big Shaw Brothers fan beforehand but was at least curious about the Hong Kong film industry and "my" grandmother after that.  It's a weird subject, because I only met Yuan-wei's grandmother for a few hours during my trip to Hong Kong, but I liked her; she had nifty stories about her few years in the movie business but didn't sound particularly wistful about it; I could sort of see why Yuan-wei v1.0 might have had doubts about film as a career versus family with that as an example, even as I could also see her being inspired to become an actress.  But her movie career was at least something I could research; she only did a few movies and only one lead role before marrying and retiring.  She's probably the part of this life that I can feel I can talk about easiest.

Which was good, because I got to repeat that story a lot over the course of the evening, to the point where I memorized bits of it in Mandarin.  This is, apparently, a big difference between me and Original Yuan-wei; while she may mostly have been comfortable with Cantonese speakers, her ambitions had her hanging out with people from the Mainland a lot, so these were a lot of people at the party who greeted me in Mandarin and wanted to catch up.

And of that group, I get the distinct impression that at least Tsang Chan-Sam knows what I look like naked.

I guess that's kind of to be expected. His young. good-looking, and the son of one of the tap dogs at a Beijing film studio. He is probably a damn good fuck-buddy for me to have.  Still, while I don't think I'm particularly hypocritical about guys looking me over - I've done enough time looking at girls like me wishing they were wearing less that I have a hard time objecting to others doing so - it's kind of gross to do it with another girl, wearing less and probably starting the evening with actual thoughts of staking some claim to fuerdai dick, hanging off one's arm.

("Fuerdai" was my new Mandarin word for the night; it translates roughly to "asshole with rich parents". Well, "second-generation entrepreneur", but the first is what people who aren't fuerdai mean when they say it.)

Truth be told, "Sam" didn't really come off that badly to me at first; I wasn't necessarily looking to get picked up but I was wearing a "look-at-me" outfit and not feeling picky about whether the compliments were for the clothes or the bod underneath.  Guy rubbed David the wrong way, and by the end of the evening the type was certainly starting to get to me.

Got a bunch of numbers, though.

October 29th - "Dress sexy"

The next Thursday night, though, was number-collecting craziness. You know that scene in The Social Network where a van drives into Harvard Square and basically drops off a cargo of townies looking to score themselves a Harvard man and dressed to sell them on the idea? That's a real thing. I wasn't quite part of the bulk delivery, but once inside the party, it was tough to tell, especially since my English doesn't have the sort of accent you might expect a foreign student - I don't have much of one anyway, although at parties a little more Queens comes out because I'm yelling or drinking, and that sort of sounds like I'm a local to people who are also drinking and trying to be heard above the din.

It was fun, though.  Back when I first got turned into a woman, there was no way I would have accepted an invitation that had some variant of the work "sexy" in it a dozen times, but I was eager this year.  As much fun as it is going out in the nice clothes I inherited, that wasn't what really got to me as a man - it was the stuff that said I have something you want and I'm going to put it right where you can almost touch it, daring you to take it.  The chance to feel that power in an outfit that makes the inner Jordan crazy was one of the things I most wanted to get out of Halloween.

So, for this one, I did the "sexy schoolgirl" thing - skirt that barely covers my ass, half-shirt and cardigan that shows off a lot of midriff and cleavage (which, yeah, I pushed up and enhanced), white stockings, and four-inch heels.  I took a selfie before heading out because if for some reason I ever wind up changing again, this was something I wanted to remember.

The party itself was almost exactly what I'd imagined the cool college parties were like when I was a freshman - they'd hired a DJ, there were tons of girls in sexy costumes, guys who were trying to be just as sexy but were still kind of dorky but charming for it, and an almost never-ending supply of beer.  I haven't had much to drink since changing the second time - not only does my ID say I'm below the legal drinking age, but Massachusetts can make it damn difficult to buy beer without anything but their license.  Not necessarily a big deal, but I have no idea how easy it would be to be sent away based upon my student visa - I've heard people say you have to really watch out, but there are also tons of stories of students with wealthy parents skating because people will wind up looking the other way.  I don't want to test it most nights, but at a party where I'm sure a lot of other folks drinking more than I am are under 21?  Sure, why the fuck not?

I did kind of find myself wondering what it would have been like to do this last year while I was white, though.  I got plenty of attention, including some that was way more touchy than I was used to, but there are some folks out there that don't even seem to see you if you're not the same race.  There was this one guy, talking to some other girls about movies and being pretty funny, and not being the sort of jackass that just wants to hold forth and not actually let the girls show they know their Star Wars trivia as well,  But, man, it was like he couldn't even register that I was there.  His loss, but in some ways it was worse than the guy who squeezed my tit and then fell over, drunk, almost taking my top with him.

Maybe not the greatest idea for Thursday night, though - I was there until 2am, had to take an Uber home, and then go to class hungover.  Maybe not the best Yuan-wei I can be Friday morning.

October 30th - Cast Party

I almost bailed on that night's party, but it was being thrown by the cast of the play and I kind of get the impression that even if you've only got a few lines, you don't want to be seen as letting the team down.  I was never really a group person - I was pretty damn comfortable working independently enough that nobody knew I had turned into a white girl after my trip trip to the Inn - but this me trying to absorb what's good about Yuan-wei's life, and that's part of it.

In a lot of ways, it worked as a nice contrast to the night before and the rest of them.  There was beer, and music, and hanging-out, but this one was with people I already knew - maybe not as well they think I do, but I have been spending time with them for a few weeks, so seeing Rachelle dressed like a Ghostbuster or Ernesto like Batman actually sort of says something to me, another part of them rather than the first clue that I'm trying to figure out.

It was kind of nice to deflect compliments about my costume back to Amelia - I wore the spider-woman outfit again - and talking about her decision to walk away from acting to be a wife and mother.  There was a kind of funny irony to it, in that they couldn't imagine "Missy" doing the same, whether based upon knowing her from last year or just this play.  The original Yuan-wei did, after all, while I walked into it and don't know how super-attached I am to acting yet.

There are some pretty dedicated matchmakers in the group, raising eyebrows every time I danced with somebody, saying it was time for me to get back on the horse after breaking up with "Benny".  And when they heard that Ernesto and I were both going to the same party the next night...

Well, they're good people, but I think I'll enjoy a little less time with them once the play's over.  Everything just gets so drawn together.

October 31st - Zombies!

That last party was zombie-themed, which meant I spent a fair chunk of time Saturday afternoon working on make-up.

I don't know how much my family really loving Halloween, and thus me learning about how to do special-effects makeup, helped me as a girl.  If anything, it's been the other way around; actually having to spend time learning how to make what I put on my face inconspicuous probably helped me with the costume stuff - instead of just a pus-filled blob on my face, I had a pus-filed blob that blended in with the skin around it.  I layered a little foundation over the veins I drew on my arms, legs, and boobs, so they looked like they were under my skin rather than on top of it.  That sort of thing.

It took a while, though, because I had decided to pair it with the schoolgirl costume, which meant that, despite not having as much skin as I did before, I had way more exposed.  I was never going to create a gash across my gut with intestines hanging out before, but it seemed like a great idea this time around.

And, don't get me wrong, it was kind of a hit.  Looking back through "my" Facebook account, Yuan-wei didn't really do much like this last year, and I don't think anybody at the party expected it, especially considering how much help I needed with the cloth part of the costumes.  I wasn't the girl with the sluttiest costume, but I was right up there with the best at both sex appeal and gore.

I get the impression that the folks at this party were the closest to Yuan-wei's real friends from last year; there was a lot more talk about not seeing me around and questions about "Benny" than at the other parties, and one time I was dragged out from the kitchen when some Taylor Swift song popped up, it apparently being a thing for Yuan-wei and the girl who grabbed me.

About two beers into the night, Ernesto found me between conversations and said he really liked my costume.  I smiled, and said I bet he said that to all the half-naked girls.

He laughed.  "Oh, I like that part, but I didn't really see you as a blood and guts sort of gal.  You're such the fashion plate--"

"Not everyone is always like they seem."  It is fun to say things that imply the Inn, folks.

"Oh, I know.  Anyway, I was wondering if you might like to do a little more."

Maybe it was the booze, but I felt just a little bit more in my spine than when a guy typically hits on me.  "A little bit of what?"

"Acting, and make-up - some friends and I are going to be shooting a short horror film I wrote in about a month, but the director broke up with our lead actress and half the make-up guys got hired by a Hollywood production, and even though I didn't conceive the character as Asian--"

"Oh."  Not what I was expecting, but on the other hand.  "That sounds... interesting."

"I know it's kind of short notice, and you'll probably be cramming for finals and stuff, but you'd be saving our lives.  Although--" he pulled out his phone. "--I should probably send some pictures to the director and other producers."  He got a shot of me and then hit send before stumbling a bit back into the party.  "We'll be in touch!"

It was a weird little come-down to hear that.  As much as I think I'd kind of be ready for a real first date, I haven't made it happen yet, and having it held out and then taken away, and then realizing that the short-film thing would probably disappear after he got sober, made me feel a little dejected.  I grabbed another beer and kind of made sure I circulated away from him.

People were going in and out all night, some going to and from other parties, and I was close to being ready to tap out myself when I heard a song I liked, so I came out to the living room/dance floor, shaking it for all of ten seconds before a zombie nurse yelled "you bitch!" and punched me in the face.

Between the alcohol, the three-inch heels, and weighing about half of what I did the last time I figured I might get punched for something, I went down quick.  I put my hand on my nose to check that, yeah, it was bleeding.  I looked up so that I could actually see the face of this girl, and even though her make-up wasn't nearly as elaborate as mine, it took a second because...  Well, at first I wasn't terribly interested in who Benjamin used to be, and lately he hasn't been much into looking at old pictures of himself.  Seeing that face in the flesh was new, and I'd sort of expected it to be his problem.

"What the fuck, Sandra?"

That didn't go over well, as the friends she brought with her started asking if I was such a fucking slut that I couldn't remember the names of all the girls whose boyfriends I stole.  One of them actually tried to stomp me, but I rolled out of the way before the heel of her shoe did some damage.  Ruined my intestines, though.  Still, I was clear-headed enough to scrape my shoes off, stand, and get in a stance I remembered from my wushu classes as a kid, hoping like hell that these girls would assume that any Chinese person holding her hands out like that was a kung fu expert who could fuck them up, because otherwise I was going to get my ass kicked.

Or not; as much as there was probably a good crowd that would have liked to see a couple of chicks in skimpy costumes fight, a lot of people got in between us and suggested it was time to leave.  I said something about not doing anything wrong, but fuck it, and grabbed my coat and shoes and walked to the T.  Of course, it was late enough that the Orange Line was only coming every fifteen minutes or so, which meant I had time to sit, stew, and peel off my makeup while sobering up a little with some coffee.  When it finally did come, I grabbed a seat and closed my eyes for a second, tilting my head back so that the washcloth I had on my nose could hopefully do its job a bit better, thus missing an arm being jammed into the doorway and then the person attached stumbling in and crashing down onto the seat next to me.

Sandra, of course.

She had been well ahead of me in terms of drinking, thus thinking all of the previous half hour was a good idea, so her voice was kind of strange.  "I'm so sorry...  Jordan, right?  I was just looking at pictures of a Halloween party in our house and I got so sad seeing them so that when I saw you I was pissed, even though it makes no sense because it was seeing her as me that set me off and that means I've got no argument with you..."

Okay, so I had been doing this party gauntlet in part as a way to keep busy enough that I wasn't tempted to see what my family was doing on social media, but...  "Fine, whatever, just leave me the fuck alone."

"But why?  She made a mess of both our lives, and ever since Ronan left, there's nobody who understands what it's like.  Folks like us should stick together!"

"Are you serious?"  I was starting to raise my voice, gaining some notice from the folks around us, but I don't know as I was that much louder than the guy on his cell phone on the other side of the car.  "What, you think we're going to come together as some sort of Boston-based cursed-inn support group?  Why don't you ask Benjamin - you know, the real Annette Grayson - how she feels about that idea?  You know, the great person whose life you made a conscious decision to fuck up?  So that while you're suffering by being, what, fifteen years younger and at the country's top university on scholarship, I'm still dealing with periods and language classes and now crazy bitches who think I stole their husband when they're drunk and he's trying to figure out what he can do with his life!  So, no, I don't think I'm going to start hanging around with the person who fucked up my best friend's life!"

With that, I stood up and moved to the other end of the car with as much dignity as is possible while holding a cloth to your nose.  I kept an eye out to see if she was going to try and make a second attempt, but I think she was passed out when I got off at Downtown Crossing to transfer to the Green Line at Park Street.

Kind of a shame that the whole Halloween thing ended like that, because it was, for the most part, fun; if nothing else, it was a concentrated look at the life I have been living for the past few months, or at least the American side of it.  And while I don't want to give Sandra too much credit, I do have to admit that I'd much rather be annoyed by guys grabbing my ass than the way I felt a week later, when Benny finally got around to putting pictures of himself, Kareena, and everyone at the family party on Facebook.

-Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-wei