Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lane/Karina: Well, That Explains the Stretchmarks

So after reading a lot of posts here I'm not quite sure what Inn etiquette is on money. Whose are you allowed to use, your own or do you have to use the bank accounts that come with the body? I decided last week to use my own, since I had it, Karina didn't, and I needed it because I needed to buy a plane ticked from Maine to Michigan on less than one week's notice and my credit card worked online for that purpose. On the second day I also had the bright idea of taking out the maximum daily allowance from my ATM card so I would have cash for the trip and emergencies. So despite the unease of being a tiny little Latina woman with a large sum of cash, I've got a little over 1000 dollars to get settled in in this new life.

I made mention of that fact when I wrote my note before leaving (Because I'm a courteous person who wouldn't leave a stranger hanging in such a scary position). I don't like to brag about money but lets just say I was in a financial position where a couple thousand dollars isn't going to hurt anyone who gets my new life. It was Sunday morning when I dropped my key off and bid goodbye to Old Orchard Beach to live the life of this strange woman who I knew almost nothing about.

The TSA is annoying when you're in your own body and downright frightening when you're in another person's. It didn't help that the airport was my first real time out in public surrounded by a lot of people in this body, trying to pretend to be her. As I went through the search line all I could think was "They'll know. They'll have to know." Clearly they didn't know and I didn't even get screened for additional searches, although the agents did check me out as I passed through the bodyscanner and it made me really uncomfortable.

One benefit of my new body is that being smaller means planes are more comfortable. My real body is fairly tall with long legs that get smashed by the seat in front of me but being Karina meant having room to spare on the brief two hour plane ride to Detroit.

Once I landed I grabbed my seemingly heavy bag and found the first real curveball of my trip: Where's my car? The purse had a key with the Toyota logo on it, but there wasn't any description of the model, color, license plate, or anything that might let me know which of the dozens of cars in the long term parking would be mine. After about half an hour of walking through the lot pushing the "panic" button on the keychain in hopes of setting off the alarm but to no avail, I gave up and called in an Uber. It was an expensive ride from Detroit to Trenton but apparently taxis in Detroit are some of the worst in the country.

After being dropped off and tipping well, I was standing in the parking lot of an apartment building (with a used Corolla that responded to the keychain nearby) in a neighborhood that wasn't awful. It wasn't pleasant exactly but it wasn't really scary. As I made my way through the halls I got a few nods of familiarity from the neighbors but none of them seemed too interested in talking to Karina. Finally after lugging my suitcase to the correct apartment number I opened the door and found the second real curveball of my trip. Sitting on the couch, glued to her phone, was a teenage girl.

I had to think quickly on how to approach. She was about 16 so she clearly wasn't the roommate and she did look very similarly to what I looked like now so she was probably a relative. Maybe a sister. But with no note I had no idea how to address her or interact with her so I just said "I'm home".

"Finally" She said rather annoyed without looking up from her phone "The cable got cut off and you need to pay the bill"

So clearly not the breadwinner of the house. I found myself having to do something that I do a lot since being in this body: Get clever. While my new housemate turned her attention back to the phone, strangely unconcerned that I had been gone for almost 4 weeks, I started snooping. On the table in the small kitchen was a pile of mail, including the aforementioned cable bill and most of it addressed to either Karina or Kari Cruz. But there was ONE letter from Trenton High School addressed to "The Parent(s) of Ashley Cruz. Some snooping in a very messy master bedroom found a birth certificate and several medical records confirming that I was now the proud mother of Ashely, and judging by the lack of wedding ring and male clothes/accoutrement around the house I was a single parent.

So this changes things drastically. Now instead of trying to survive for the year hoping not to get myself fired, killed, or in jail I have to spend my time making sure Ashely's life doesn't get too messed up because her mom has no idea what to do raising her all of a sudden. She's 16, but I'm not sure if that makes things easier or harder.

So Karina, if you're reading this, I could REALLY use some help and direction here, especially since I don't even know how you make money to put food on the table or buy her clothes or all of the other expensive things that kids require.


P.S. In regards to the post title, yes I did notice that there were stretch marks on my abdomen and yes I did notice them while I was naked and yes I have seen my body new naked because I shower daily. It was uncomfortable enough to experience at first and its still pretty uncomfortable to put it in words. Luckily there are dozens of other writers on this blog who have done the same for you.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Annette/Ravi: Feeling Invisible

Before getting into my week, can I just say that Jordan's version of last Sunday's activity was a bit exaggerated? Not to the point where he's lying or anything, but I kind of suspect that whatever issues he has with this Tina girl going back to high school are coloring his recollection. I also think that he decided that if he was going to wind up in some sort of girls-competing-over-a-man thing, it was going to be so big that he couldn't help but be drawn into it.

Still, I have been encouraging him to enjoy the whole "being a girl" thing while he can. I've missed it, for sure, especially since being a guy is so much the default in our world that I seldom feel like I'm doing anything special.  Fun clothes/hair/perfumes are fun, after all, and it seems easier to fall into a really reserved rut as a man.   On the other hand,  Lane mentioned that most of the bloggers on this site are guys-turned-girls, but that's kind of natural - one thing I've found is that guys tend to have the life that everyone else is supposed to, and good storytelling is about overcoming challenges.  I suppose there were a few days at Ravi's job when I could have written ''today at work, I had a problem with a co-worker, and when I took it to a manager, he listened to me like I knew what I was talking about and didn't stare at my chest at all!" or ''I was walking down the street and at no point did some skeevy guy/ girl get close enough that I felt the need to cross the street."  But that would be kind of boring.

Some girls might write about that; I've been fortunate enough in my life that I didn't find it that odd; I grew up in a nice place and mostly around good people.  So it's not shocking when people treat me-as-Ravi with some sort of respect. It's just realizing later that it happens ALL THE TIME!  Maybe someday a lady who really gets angry upon realizing this will wind up staying at the Inn and contributing to the blog; I just didn't have that sort of "well, duh" thing in me when I realized it.

Similarly, I did not rush to the laptop upon realizing I could wear light-colored pants without checking the calendar.  You just don't write about not doing something.

That's not the sort of invisibility I was planning to write about; I meant being gay.

Not every gay person is invisible, but I feel like I am as Ravi. Jordan says that I don't have "the voice", and I'll take his word for it. The women I deal with don't seem to have any sixth sense that I'm out of play, and my ability to recognize other gay men and be recognized in return just doesn't seem to be there. Maybe it takes a while (and experience) to develop and my personality is straight-girl enough that I don't give the right signals.  I don't know.  I just know that about 90% of the phone numbers I've been offered at work are those of Indian women (or their daughters), and none have been from guys.

In some ways it's like the feeling of being changed by the Inn all over again - folks look at you and they can't see that there's this big, foundational part of who you are that they just assume fits into some sort of standard set of assumptions, when it really doesn't.  On the other hand, you can just say "I'm gay" and people will often at least accept it. I'm not sure where the eventually feeling like it's normal comes in.

Not that you can assume that. Ravi is starting to really be a pain in the ass, because he thinks all the sex he's having with Gary's ex-girlfriend (or would that technically be an ex-ex-girlfriend, now?) proves he was never gay, and I'm just looking at guys now because I'm still a girl inside. I kind of want that to be true, but I really don't think it works that way - who you're attracted to seems to mostly be biology, although personality gives big bumps in one direction or another.

Not that he's consistent about it. If I point out that Jordan notices guys, even if he chooses not to act on it because he doesn't want being penetrated in his head when he turns back (or because he's Jordan and generally anti-social), that doesn't mean these things apply to Ravi. And if I'm attracted to guys because of really being a girl, why do I get a lot more out of giving than receiving, so to speak? Obviously, that's his inherent masculinity doing what it can to overpower my feminine presence in his body.

It's all confused bullshit, and I feel dumb for respecting it, like I should explain everything to Kareena and then sleep with every moderately attractive man in Manhattan so that he's forced to deal with things when his back here in a month.  I know "outing" is mostly frowned upon - I've read a bit on the subject, and an awful number of people commit suicide when it happens to them, making me wake up in cold sweats about even having posted about it here - but is it right to just let Kareena go on like this thing with Ravi will ever amount to anything happy and fulfilling?

I am treating her kind of terribly right now, after all, canceling things and then heading down to a bar, trying a new micro-brew, and seeing if I can make things spark with a guy. There's this one I've met up with three times in the last week (including the initial acquaintance), and I like him - he seems to know all the local bands, makes great jokes, has been to India and knows a lot more about "my" culture than I do. I'm sort of keeping it friendly for now, because he doesn't deserve delusions of long-term commitment any more than Kareena does, though I kind of also think that maybe if I stretch things out, and present a great guy to Ravi on a silver platter, maybe he'll accept reality and try to make things work.

It's not fair to anyone. I know that. But, damn it, I'm lonely and even though I know that the most practical thing is to just keep a lid on everything until we go back to the Inn, it feels wrong! Everybody has been telling me all my life not to keep what I feel bottled up or denied, and even if it's only temporary, I feel like spending time with this guy, including time in bed, and not having an excuse not to (that anybody would believe) really sacks.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tyler/Lauren: Last Leg

I'm on the home stretch. It's literally just weeks before Meg and I go back to Maine. All of our ducks are in a row, except that one. You know, the one where I get my old body back. Meg doesn't believe me when I say I'm fine with it. Maybe I don't prefer things this way, but there's no use fighting or crying. What's done is done and I can live with it, because I have to.

Meg was right about something. She told me I should write more on the blog. I was never in the mood, and for a lot of the winter, my laptop was busted so my computer usage was homework-only, but it's not like I couldn't have done it at school in the resource room on lunchbreak, or crept down to the family PC after Paul and Sue were in bed. I just didn't want to. I didn't want to talk about what was happening with me - happening to me, happening around me - because it was embarrassing and I didn't want to admit it mattered.

Anyway, what it comes down to is I want to tell a story about me, but since I wasn't blogging much in January and February (and March and...) I need to fill you in on some details.

It starts with Mark. I met him back in the fall when I worked on the school's production of Oklahoma. He liked my carpentry skills, maturity and sense of humor. I liked that he wasn't a totally obvious jerk about wanting my attention. I could've pushed him away better, for his own good, and if he knew the truth about me he'd probably run screaming. I didn't feel anything that I would identify as attraction toward him... appreciation for his awkward charm, maybe, but it's not like he overwhelmed my now-girly hormones to the point where I couldn't keep my drawers on. Besides, I was, and am, in love with someone else, on a level I could never feel for Mark. It was that person I was thinking about as I laid in bed at night unable to sleep, that person I imagined myself holding and being held by.

"It's just a crush," I said, "He'll get over it." The problem was, I wasn't helping, more like I was encouraging him. I'm a pretty solitary person, but life can be lonely when you don't look like yourself and are stuck in the world of teens. Dana, Karlee and Ginnifer weren't enough, because as nice as they were, they were not my people. Compared with Mark, I couldn't be myself. I couldn't talk movies, music or politics with them. If I let my goofy side out, they'd look at me like I'd gone insane. Meg is "my people," but I had limited access to her, and she has expressed disapproval whenever I get flirty around here. Then in the middle of this crisis of mine, she went through a crisis of her own.

We fought a bit about that. I didn't like her behavior, I didn't think she was capable of something like that. It shocked me and bothered me and I wasn't mature about it, but neither was she.

All through January, before the line was crossed, when she was musing idly about "I'm thinking about Mykal again, I can tell he likes me, what should I do?" I was already getting fed up. I wanted to tell her how wrong it would be for her to lead Mykal on in any way, but I held her in too much esteem to get real with her and use tough language - instead of "That would be idiotic and selfish" I simply said "That sounds like a bad idea." She didn't listen. And me, I was too busy pursuing bad ideas of my own.

Mark became my shoulder to cry on, all winter. Anytime I needed to get out of the house, I would invite myself over to his. Anytime Meg was annoying me I would vent to him. Then he would wrap his arms around me, pretend he had any idea what I was babbling about, and tell me I was right even when I wasn't.

He knew not to try to kiss me.

He was just... really good. For a while.

But you can only really drag someone along like that for a short time before they start to ask questions. Like "Why aren't we dating?" "Why are you so comfortable pouring your heart out to me but you won't let me kiss you?" "How long do you expect me to put up with this?" "What do you want from me?"

By February, he would take longer to answer my texts and I would get irritated. "Come on, man, don't leave me hanging" I would nudge him to answer.

"I don't owe you my attention" he answered back.

"We're friends," I said back, matter-of-factly.

"Yeah. Just friends."

Fine, be that way.

Around this time, I had this revealing conversation with Phil about how boys and girls can't just be friends. You'd think "Oh, Tyler, you have a man's brain, you don't need insights from a kid who's lived a decade less than you." But sometimes you need guidance from outside your own situation. I don't remember ever being "just friends" with a girl by choice at that age. I'm sure it's not impossible, but if I liked the girl I wouldn't settle for it.

Mark was my shield. When I was with him, boys didn't target me, Meg's shit didn't bug me. The girls teased me a bit, but all in all I felt better. I wanted to keep that going, but I couldn't make the concessions Mark wanted. I couldn't let him touch me because that would start something I couldn't and wouldn't be able to see through. It wasn't fair, even if he didn't understand why.

So we stopped being friends.

Then I went on Spring Break and found out I was not getting my body back. And when I came back I felt like I had nobody to talk to - I didn't want to open up to Meg, I didn't have Mark, nobody could understand. I wanted to forget, I wanted to take my anxiety out on somebody.

And there was Phil. Living in my freaking basement.

I was having a bad day. Nothing but bad days at that point. He came home to find me loading up a gym bag - I needed to go punch something. "How are you getting there?" I say I'm taking the bus. He notes that I'm a small girl with a rather heavy bag on my shoulder and he has a car. Okay, fine, let's go. He grabs his bag too.

We hit the heavy bags. He commends me on my stance - "You sure don't throw a punch like a girl." I point out that Ronda Rousey exists.

I don't know how we got from there to his bed. It was like a Jedi mind game (yes, I know the term is "trick" but this was worse.) I was so hopped up on adrenaline I just felt like if it was ever going to happen, it would be then. He was kissing me and feeling me all over, I was kissing him back slightly, the voice in the back of my head saying it was wrong starting very quiet, drowned out by the impulse to let it play out... until the voices switched. I just barely had time to come to my senses before I got all the way naked. "No, no, no. Stop. Stop now. I don't want this."

"What do you mean? At the gym you were practically begging for it."

"This is the problem!" I cried out, "Every time I get within hollering distance of a man, he thinks I want his body. I don't. no offence, Phil, you're... cool and all, but this is not what I'm interested in."

"You're a fucking tease," he sneered. "Every day you leer at me, I can tell you're thirsty for it."

I don't remember ever leering. That's all in his head.

I screeched, "I can't have one off day without some dude begging me for sex, then acting like I'm the one with the problem because I don't want it! Get over it, Phil! Go find someone else to fuck!"

He called me a bitch, we didn't talk much after that, and I was alone again.

I broke down and mended fences with Meg and told her all about the new Tyler. I told her this changed nothing - I wasn't going to be Lauren Sherman one second longer than I have to, and I hoped things could go back to being okay between us. She assured me they could... and went on at length about how bad she felt for what she had done to Wade, and to me.

I told her she didn't have to be so hard on herself. People make mistakes. She's only human. It's not like I was never tempted.

"I wouldn't have blamed you," she said. "I know you think you have to resist because you're a man, but I wouldn't think any less of you if dated a boy."

"It's not that," I said. "Boy or girl, there's only one person I want to be with."

She hates it when I say stuff like that. She always tells me we'll have that conversation later. Later will have to be soon.

Things started to get better, and that brings us to my more recent posts. After clearing the air with Meg, and straightening up at school, I reached out to Mark. It started when I went to see the school production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Meg came too, explaining some of the Oscar Wilde background for me, how it was a satire of the London social scene or whatever. It didn't totally land with me, but I guess I kinda related to it, with the putting on false identities and all.

Afterwards, I said hi to some of the friends I had left over from my drama club days, working my way over to Mark, who was helping strike the set.

We struck up a conversation, I kind of apologized for not helping out with the play this semester. He caught me up on stuff with him, and before I knew it it was like the drama between us never happened. He seemed too embarrassed to even mention his behavior.

He asked me about my plans for Prom, and I said that I had a limo booked with the girls and their boyfriends. He said he wasn't sure what he was doing.

"You know..." I said sheepishly, "Plenty of room in the limo... for friends."

He smiled. "I'd like that."

When you're a man it's easy to get bitter about chicks who won't date you. I think Mark and I both kinda absorbed this same lesson about how if you can't be with someone, sometimes it's better to swallow it and keep them as a friend rather than cutting them out. If they mean that much to you.

Life gets lonely as hell sometimes.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Lane: So what if you don’t get a note?

Right. So, to whomever reads this:

I’m assuming by now that all of you reading this blog after almost 9 years know what has happened to me, in fact you all probably knew what was going to happen before it happened. My name is Lane Von Hoekstra, and I’m currently in Maine, and I’m not in my body.
Like seemingly 90 percent of the writers in this blog’s history, I’m currently a woman. I went to bed last night and woke up around sunrise to screams and pounding on doors and a set of breasts on my chest. After scrambling to find a tshirt that was now much too big for me, I went out into the hall to find a 7 year old girl shouting some Spanish curse words at anyone and everyone.

After about 10 minutes of insanity someone came out with a piece of paper telling us to check our rooms for notes, from the people whose bodies we were in. The hallway cleared and I headed back to my room and opened the closet for the first time to find a suitcase, a purse, but no note. I pawed through the suitcase and found women’s clothing and toiletries and some very racy lingerie…but no note. The purse had 35 dollars in cash, makeup, brush, tampon, an expired plane ticket, a wallet with a Michigan driver’s license featuring an awful picture of my new face…but no note.

The license was something to go on at least, apparently my new name is Karina Cruz from Trenton, MI. A little googling told me it was a suburb of Detroit, although the address on the card is to an apartment so I’m not sure how well off she could be.
So today I spent asking everyone if they knew anything but nobody around town seemed to recognize my face. Finally I found a flyer in the lobby for this blog, which I didn’t pay attention to at all probably due to this “curse” that I’m reading about. It’s a bit daunting to see that people have been writing about this place for almost a decade and I couldn’t decide whether to read from the beginning to see what Arthur/Liz or Ashlyn wrote or keep up with the goings on of the current posters. I decided to do a little bit of both.

A few months of pawing through scary tales of what I’d have to deal with, I got the brilliant idea to use this blog to work on my problems. So I emailed the Outlook address listed on the front page and within an hour I got a response from someone named Alia with a password and was encouraged to write my experiences, that it helped not only her but people who were reading it.

So. Karina Cruz, if you are reading this please contact your old body. I have your old cell phone all charged but the service seems to be shut off so email might be the best bet. Also if anyone who stayed at the inn a couple of weeks ago and transformed with her, contact me and we can see if I can get some clues.

Thanks in advance,

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jordan /"Deirdre": Beach Day

If you had told me a year ago that I would ever wind up in a bikini, I would have called you a damn liar, but that happened Sunday. It was weird.

I blame Benny and my brother Max equally. When we showed up at my house with Benny looking more fit than I usually am, Max decided to put a call in to the coach of his 9-man team to see if they had any openings.  There were, although he was skeptical that I would be much of an addition. Then Max called "me" and Benny, feeling kind of bored after the seasonal job he picked up for December ended, decided that it sounded like fun, and when the coach saw how Benny had not only remade my body but apparently picked up some pretty decent volleyball skills while no-one was looking, he started thinking that maybe "Jordan" could play.

At first I didn't give it much thought - as you can maybe tell from how he never posted here, Benny hangs out with us but also pretty much does his own thing; I half suspected I'd get my life back and find out I've got a girlfriend that I'd somehow never seen before. I find that a little less likely to be the case now, because a few days ago he came home from practice and said that since we've all made our back-to-normal reservations at the Inn (August can't come soon enough!), maybe I should get to know the guys.

I didn't really want to, since I was figuring that it would make the most sense to have "Jordan" quit the team before Benny left for the Inn, but even in that case, those guys would think they knew me, and I didn't really want some chunk of New York's Chinese-American community to think I was a flake when I "forgot" them. Besides, now that my contract job is done, I've got a bunch of free time on my hands too, and there really is a limit to how much Xbox you can play, especially when you have a girl's voice.

Of course, his next day with the team is at the beach, rather than on asphalt, so a swimsuit is in order.  At least, it is according to Annette, who overhears the conversation and makes sure that she pitches the idea while his still there and can say that, well all the other girlfriends will probably be wearing one, like he knows and like I'm really his fucking girlfriend.  Annette sees me about to say that more or less verbatim and takes a different tack, saying that if I'm at the beach, I might actually feel like going swimming, so why not be ready?

Dumb reason, I guess, but as this whole year spent as someone other than ourselves winds down, Annette starts to talk about learning something from the experience, not necessarily in terms of a moral lesson, but just practical stuff like "the guys who say they need to spread their legs out on the bus or crush their junk are full of shit" or that it does take longer for women to get in and out of the bathroom.  Maybe knowing what it's like ("it" covering a lot of territory) might be useful someday!

It sounds a lot better when she says it, I guess.

So, on Friday, I headed out to the shopping center where she works at Ravi's dead-end job and we stopped in a department store before her shift. They had a brand-new display of ladies' swimwear up, and having one-pieces with Marvel characters and Mets branding made me look through them for longer than I probably would otherwise. I didn't go with any of them - but got a simple yellow one, along with a blue two-piece. I didn't really want that one, but Annette somehow talked me into a pair of short-shorts using the "you don't want 'your' girlfriend to look like some sort of frump, do you?" logic and then pointed out that the one-piece would look kind of weird sticking out of them.

Trying them on wasn't as stressful as girls make it out to be - they're not sized as precisely as bras and I'm not fucking worried about guys thinking I'm fat. I have put on a little weight since this happened, but not a lot - that time I got sick didn't really seem like something to fight through, and though I still really like ice cream, the main effect seems to be that I'm softer all over, with a less bony ass and something approaching a real B cup up top.

As if a shopping bag full of girls' beach stuff wasn't enough, Annette also suggested that maybe it was hairdo time, though she left me to my own devices there.

All that in hand, I got to experience making a guy late on Sunday. Anybody who wants to snicker at that without ever having shaved his or her legs can bite me.

At the time, putting the swimsuit on wasn't a big deal; it was just like putting on underwear, and actually kind of more comfortable; since I hadn't gone for just triangles, it was a little looser than usual. Almost more like guys' underwear, in a way; when I took a step, I didn't feel a "covered/uncovered" line across my cheek.  Once I had shirt, shorts, and sandals on, I didn't think much about it.

Benny did have a little fun making the "bae made me late" explanation when we got to the beach, but it's not like anybody there got why it was supposed to be funny. His team wasn't even in the first match, so it didn't really matter.

They were in the second, and I must admit, I enjoyed seeing that "I'' was playing but Max was on the bench to start the day. All of you who don't have little brothers and think I'm terrible for that can bite me.  I was starting to get into it when Annette and Kareena showed up.

"Just had to get a look, huh?"

Kareena apparently thought I was grunting at her instead of "Ravi", and while she didn't seem to understand my tone, she didn't show much sign that it made a difference. "Are you kidding? Ravi said 'secret Chinese volleyball' and I couldn't resist."

Now, 9-man isn't exactly secret, but we don't go around telling folks who aren't Chinese-American about it. It's basically volleyball, only with nine-man teams that don't rotate positions. You also get one bounce, although that doesn't mean as much on sand as asphalt. In organized leagues, the bulk of the team is required to be of Chinese descent, and the rest should be at least part-Asian. Benny really loves it, saying it's better than regular volleyball, but it's never been a big deal to me.

The ethnicity thing did make it kind of weird, at least for me that day. Benny-slash-Jordan is a pretty good looking guy, so a lot of the Chinese girls were looking at him, and then at me, only there was resentment during the latter.  Tina Chen, in particular, cheered really loud whenever Benny did something good, and if I wasn't as loud, would give me dirty looks for not being quite so enthusiastic, until finally she started walking toward me saying something about a "ginger slut". I wasn't thinking about getting into a catfight much - though the thought of adding that to my "experience list" had a little appeal - but I must have stepped the wrong way because Kareena pushed Tina back and Annette led me the other way. "Trust me," she said, "this is not as sexy as it looks."

I shrugged. "Tina never gave me the time of day in high school," I said. "but I am going to fuck that bitch so hard when I've got my life back!"

"It's not like she'll know."

"Like I'll be defending Deirdre's honor."

Annette sort of rolled her eyes, but didn't say much after Tina "accidentally" spilled two whole large iced coffees on me, drenching all my clothes, just as the match was ending. Benny came over to apologize, saying he didn't know what was with that chick, asking if we were ready to go home. I started to say yes, but Kareena asked Benny how long he'd been playing. He looked at me, but I just sort of gave him a "what do you think" look, and he said just a few months for 9-man, but he'd always played volleyball. Kareena said she never would have guessed, then asked how good he was. He shrugged, and then she grabbed the ball, found a net that was still up, and asked them to leave it up. Then she pulled her dress over her head to reveal a pretty serious one-piece, the kind which you associate with professional athletes became it just looks fucking frictionless, and somehow makes a girl look sexier even though it's covering everything up and holding it in place rather than showing off the goods.  I knew Kareena was too good for Ravi before, but, damn, I was feeling some severe envy of Ravi here, and Annette revealing that he is gay just made it seem like even more of a waste.

I was staring enough that I almost missed her asking the rest of us for a game. "There is no way that you got that good in just a few months, and I want to see what's up for myself. You guys too-"she pointed at me and Annette. "If you guys have been holding out on me..."

It sounds threatening written down, but she was smiling huge while she said it.  Ravi was never a never a really physical person, and Annette probably only a minor upgrade on that account, so I wouldn't be shouted if this was the first outing they had gone on where the athletic part of her really got to come out.

Annette and I gave each other a "you arguing?" look and started walking to the court, sort of pairing up boyfriend/girlfriend, and just as I was getting in place, Tina Chen decides to plow into me with a couple iced coffees, spilling them all over us.

"What the fuck was that for?"

"You don't think I did that on purpose , do you?" Then she proceded to take her shirt off and look at it with a fake pout. "It's ruined!" Addressing Benny much more than me.

My sane first impression was just to say "what-the-fuck-ever" and let it go, but Kareena and Annette were both giving me "bitch should not be allowed to get away with that" looks and I figured I should take my cues from them, but that wasn't it. Tina had been like this her whole damn life, and I didn't really want people thinking that "Jordan" wasn't worth fighting for.  So I took my own shirt off, threw it in her face, and said she could wear it. For added emphasis, I dropped my shorts, shoved them off to the side, and then turned to Benny. "Are we going to play or what?"

Tina may have made some sort of remark about my-shash-Deirdre's breasts, but I tuned it out because my head was full of "you're practically naked on the beach where everyone can see and set at you are you insane?!?"

It may seem hard to believe after a year, but I haven't been undressed this much outside the bathroom very often.  At first, I'd look in the mirror and want to put something asexual on, then I was sharing an apartment with Benny and Annette, and who knew how they would react to me being a tempting target right in front of them? But now here I was, looking like the sort of girl who just whipped them out in front of everyone, a quick breeze reminding me that my ass wasn't entirely covered and I was showing some cleavage, after a longtime wearing loose swim trunks and a t-shirt at the beach.

Annette and Benny looked shocked, but Annette recovered quietly, telling Benny to serve the ball. He did, we started playing, and I maybe couldn't quite put it out of my head, but soon enough Annette and I were expending a lot of energy just trying to keep up with Benny and Kareena, who are good at this and barely seemed to sweat despite it being about eighty.

I think Benny and I won - the scoring got a little fuzzy - and that was pretty impressive, because Annette at least has some size on her side as Ravi and I was having occasional "what if my boobs pop out?" thoughts, even though Annette had assured me that it wasn't an issue with that sort of bikini.

Kareena was impressed by "the new Jordan", which I guess is probably better than the same assessment from the likes of Tina Chen. It still kind of sucked to hear, as I was on the subway with them while Benny went to meet up with Max and the rest of the team, so I was hearing it as "no offense, Deirdre, but I never thought your boyfriend could be bothered to get healthy and do something that didn't involve a keyboard." So that part sucked.

Still, if it means I've got a shot at even the Tina Chens of the world, I kind of can't wait to look like that in a few weeks.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tori: Three to Tango

So, I started this affair with Chuck and Julia back in February. For a while things were great. I mean, if I ignored the nagging feeling in my gut that I was just a piece of meat, they were totally peachy keen.

There was the wild thrill of it all. I can't deny it. Getting caught up between two bodies, one male, one female, was in a way the perfect situation for me. I hadn't really felt much attraction to women since becoming Tori, but it wasn't as if I was turned off by them. I just stopped seeing them as potential romantic partners, because they stopped seeing me that way, and in time turned me attention to the men who were giving me attention. Which in the end, worked out, because I gained so many valuable female friendships... most of which have sadly fallen away as the girls have gotten on with their lives, moved away, or been tricked into going to the Inn in Sara's case. And I've been eyebrow-deep in work for so long that I couldn't really sustain the kind of romantic relationship (or friendship) I wanted.

So this was win-win. A way to get my (physical) needs served, expand my horizons even further, make up for lost time, and not worry about sustaining an emotional bond.

And I should point out that they were very good about the whole thing. Not just kind about opening their bed up to me, but about making me feel wanted, sexy, pleasured and pleasurable. It wasn't two women sharing one man, it was three people as a unit, together in a kind of physical poetry. Like wow.

It was everything at once: awkward and exciting, uncomfortable and welcoming, friendly and cold. Sexy and mechanical.

Meaningless sex isn't wrong, but after a few months of that, I started to feel like a ho. That's even a lie: I felt like a bit of a ho immediately, but I pushed that thought to the back. I had nothing to be ashamed of. I felt I had reasonable proof that I couldn't sustain a real relationship - my miserable online dating rounds and the frustrating months of on-again-off-again with Boy-X. There was nothing wrong with consenting adults seeking a bit of pleasure. But I felt weird for giving in to that impulse. Then I felt bad for feeling so weird about it, like I couldn't appreciate it or shed my hangups.

"There's gotta be someone out there for me..." I muttered into my pillow some nights, doubtful that what I was saying was true. I reassured myself: "I'm just killing time until I find him. it'll be so much easier when I do." The question was: when would that happen? The more I avoided it, the more I felt the pressure to get back out there and stop fooling around.

Sometimes I hang out with Julia, for drinks or coffees if Chuck's not around, usually at their place so she can watch the kid. I promised I wouldn't see him outside of the context of our agreement (or work) but I never made any such promise about her. At first I hardly felt like I could face her, given the somewhat schoolgirlish crush I held for her husband, but as time wore on I felt more and more close to her, as a person and a woman, not just a sometime-sexual partner.

I confided to her that it was starting to get to me, that I would have to see myself out at the end of the night, sometimes fighting back tears while they stayed in bed and cuddled.

"I don't want you to feel used," she said. "If you're not comfortable..."

"It's not that, I'm just... jealous I guess. I want what you guys have, but I can't ever seem to get it."

"I know it's not easy," she said sympathetically, "But my big sister used to tell me this when I was young and had dating problems: You only have to get it right once. And from where I am now, I see she was right."

That didn't comfort me much. "I feel like my life is too complicated for that opportunity to ever arise."

"Well, if you don't get out there, it won't," she said. "I mean, what we're doing is fun, I'd keep doing it as long as we're all happy, but if you're not, then I don't want you to feel like you don't have options. You owe it to yourself to find happiness."

I sighed, "It's hard for me. I have a pretty demanding job, a ton of baggage, and an inability to decide what I want."

"I disagree," she said.

"With what?"

"All of it," she said, "First, lots of people have jobs. You work around it, and you make time. If he can't take the fact that you're career oriented, he's not for you.

"Second, I think you do know what you want. You're just tempted to settle for less. Don't. Hold out, but don't close yourself off to new possibilities.

"Third, I seriously don't think you have any more baggage than anyone else out there. Don't let it weigh you down."

I wanted to refute that last point, but it would involve bringing up the whole "used to be a guy" thing (as well as the "manipulated by the Agency" thing) and how that affects my dating. It shouldn't: I'm a strong, competent woman with a lot going for me. The right guy would probably help me let go of that baggage once and for all.

"You're also really good looking, smart, fun to be around, and intensely sexual," she said admiringly, "That'll intimidate some guys, but it doesn't have to. Watch out for that, don't let them get away. Just believe in your own heart. Like I said: It only needs to work out once."

For now, I'm keeping up our arrangement, although I wonder if Chuck senses me just going through the motions sometimes, or if it makes a difference. I sat and thought about my next step, and how to go about breaking things off with them, should the occasion arrive.

Which brings me to the dreaded Wedding Season.

I've been invited to a few weddings this summer... sigh... and it's not like I can bring Chuck and Julia. I don't even really mind going stag (or, I guess it's doe? Stag-ette? Whatever, alone.) but you sort of need a buffer, a shield. Weddings are... tough, as a woman. People expect you to be marriage-minded/wedding-minded/baby-minded (ick, no.) If you're single, people expect you to be vulnerable and therefore approachable, and sometimes that attracts good attention, sometimes bad. They're fun, and a lot of pressure, and part of me does not want to deal with them. But I figure diving headlong into this wedding season is just the kick in the ass I need.

I have a wedding coming up for an old friend of Tori's. Someone I know, not necessarily as well as I eventually got to know Raine and Sara, but decently well. Raine, in fact, will be there.

And I thought, well, if he's interested... I should invite Cliff down.

It's potentially a very hairy situation. He hasn't seen anyone from Philly since he was Sara. Maybe meeting them like this is a bad idea, maybe it could be therapeutic, I don't know. At one point he was going to move out to California to be with some girl, but that ended up not working out and he wasn't seeing anyone, so I asked if it wouldn't be too hard to see the old gang, and he said yes.

"As... friends, right?"

"Of course :)" I replied. "You can be my wingman. I'll be your wing girl."

"I don't need a wing girl, haha" he said.

"Oh, cocky much? ;P"

"Recently, yes. But enough about what's between my legs..."

"Don't rub it in, when it was mine I couldn't drum up any interest!"

"I'll rub it any way I want... you gave it to me. Haha, oh God I can't believe you let me make jokes like that."

"I think it's important for people like us to be able to confide in each other. If that means you making gross references to your junk, well, I'll take it."

He told me thanks again, and has periodically messaged me over the weeks to tell me he's actually getting excited to see the old hometown.

This could be fun... or interesting, anyway.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Annette/Ravi: The hell with not writing about it

So, the last time you heard from me was New Year's Eve, and then Jordan asking if anybody knew where I was, then nothing. I've had stuff I wanted to put on the blog, but I was trying to be respectful. I can't say I've got any special reason to talk about it now, but two or three lies stacked up is heavy, and I'm sick of them.

So, anyway, New Year's Eve. Kareena's invited to a party that some of her fellow med school students are having, I'm her plus-one, and it's all going great. Class has been out of session for a few days, so she's actually, you know, around for more than a few hours at a time and even dropping not-so-subtle hints that her roommates are both home for the holidays, so we won't both have a crowded house to deal with. I don't think I've ever seen her frisky in that way, but it's really cute, and I'm really looking forward to the new year.

It's a pretty fun party, although I don't really like parties as much as going out to bars now. It's weird, because although I wasn't a real party girl before, I wasn't shy or anything. Now, though, I always feel like folks will discover I'm seven years younger than I look and really a white girl.  No, that's not right - it's not being found out that scared me, but being found lame. Everybody at parties Ravi would get invited to is his age and has way more life experience than me, and what I do have isn't really usable in conversation.

This one's fun, though I probably am overdoing it with the beer. I like it way more than Kareena finds proper (same with Ravi, for that matter - he doesn't really want a reputation as a drinker when he gets back), and the guys throwing the party have some quality stuff, both in terms of taste and alcohol content. I'm heading off to the kitchen to get another when I try to get through the door at the same time as someone else. We joke about each wanting the last bottle of some brew or other, our eyes lock, and we kiss. It's something I've been missing so it lasts a fair bit longer than a second, and then I spot Kareena out of the corner of my eye, and I run.

To a bar, naturally, because I don't want to talk to Jordan and/or Benny yet, and I don't want to stew. That's when I start drinking enough to forget, and the next thing I know I'm waking up in this guy's bed, both of us very naked, and the sheets sticky.

He's crazy hot - African-American, darker than me, not bulky but really chiseled. He knew whereto find me after Iran off because he'd seen me there before, so we were able to get drunk enough to make a crazy decision together. I said I wished I remembered, he said we could go again, I mentioned my girlfriend, and he gave me one hell of a raised eyebrow. I stuttered, quickly pulled on my pants before he could see that I was starting to get hard again at the suggestion, and ran once more.

I spent most of New Year's Day just wandering the city, never even thinking that Benny, Kareem, and even Jordan might be worried. It was like everything had suddenly come into focus; I would see good-looking guys, and, damn! The lack of urgency to be more than friends with Kareena suddenly made sense.  I whipped out my phone and sent Ravi a text asking why he had left the part about him being gay out of his letter.

THAT got a response, let me tell you!

Ravi vigorously denied it, citing all the sex he was having with Gary's ex-girlfriend, that Jordan didn't seem to be interested in guys, and that I was still just a horny teenage girl inside, and that came out when I was drunk. I said that I really didn't think it worked that way, and would be happy to track this guy down now that I was merely hung over to prove it. Dude did not like that idea, and told me I had better not even think of cheating on Kareena again.

Yeah, in the same exchange as he bragged about banging another girl. I don't know whether that's just him being all-in on living Gary's life or being born a guy.

Still, I did what he asked.  He might have been right, after all, and even if he wasn't, coming out of the closet isn't the sort of thing that you do for someone.  ''Thou shalt not screw up thy identity's life" is kind of an unofficial commandment for Inn guests, and I have tried to do right by Ravi.  So I did what he asked. I kept my mouth shut, my dick in mypants, and when I finally got home that day, I told some story about a dare and my phone being set on silent. Kareena was more upset than either I or Jordan had ever seen her, but nobody became suspicious.

So began the most miserable three months of my life.

I had been lying as a general rule before, I guess, but how I was also lying to the people like Benny and Jordan that I had no reason to be less than honest with. I was worried about my every movement - did I just stare at that guy's butt, and could he tell? Did I walk swishy? Every day that went by, I became more certain that I, as Ravi, was gay, and as a result ever more sure that it was obvious to everyone. It is no way to live.

Being with Kareena was just the worst, because I still thought she was awesome and there wasn't a single way I could behave that wasn't totally unfair to her.  I wanted to tell her but dreaded losing her in my life.  I thought about breaking things off for vague reasons but was scared about what this would mean to her family and Ravi's. For Valentine's Day, I got Jordan and Benny to give me the apartment for the night and then puked as I was hanging decorations. We had a nice dinner and then I took her home.

It was April 7th that I came home from a movie and then just sat in the bathroom crying for a half hour. Jordan, sensitive guy that he is, eventually realized I hadn't looked the door and demanded to know what was going on and if it could wait because he was PMSing and really needed to piss.

So I told him.

He started laughing, so I almost hit him before remembering who was the tiny girl in this situation. He said he was sorry, but did I realize how many times he had wanted to descibe me as "his gay friend" when we were out shopping for some girl thing and I was giving him advice? Not funny, I said, but after a second it was hilarious and I started laughing too.

That didn't actually solve any problems, obviously, although the email I got from Ravi the next day was rather muted in scolding me for telling Jordan; he must have really ripped Ravi a new one. Then, a few days later, he knocked on my door wearing the dress he bought for Christmas, albeit wih sneakers rather than heels, and told me we were going out.

I said no. He ignored me and started digging through Ravi's clothes.  He came up with something hideous. but somehow eventually got me to find something better and dragged me out to the bar I went to after escaping the New Year's Eve party. The guy wasn't there, but he said that it was Friday night, he had a list of bars that catered to the gay and craft-beer crowds on his phone, so we would find him.

By the third bar, he was knocked out and kind of drooling on the-counter; that little body he has as Deirdre is pretty lightweight. But his plan was pretty spot-on, as a familiar face saw me and helped load "Dierdre"into a taxi. We took the next one ourselves, because I wanted to make sure I remembered all of it this time.

I won't give him a name, because it didn't really work out - after about a month he said he couldn't be with me if I was just going to keep stringing Kareena along and wouldn't even tell Benny or anyone but Jordan.  He made a choice not to deal with closet crap, and I wasn't a good enough lay for him to break it.  And, honestly, I respect that; I wouldn't date someone like that either.  But I don't know what I would have done without him, either. There was a tension to being Ravi that I didn't recognize, and I kind of suspect it was the same for the original; a lot of folks just won't face it. I hope, when he gets his life back, he takes a long look at the way he's living and tries to just go with what his body wants. I'm not the first person on this blog to say so, but it really does make things better, if not easier.


Monday, June 08, 2015

Jordan/"Deirdre": No avoiding family at the holidays

Don't give me any shit in the comments for not writing this up at the time; I wouldn't be doing it now except that my project for work is done, I don't know what I'm going to do until we go back to the Inn - and that won't be until later in the summer than we'd like, because someone down the line from us wants to finish a school year, like it's their fucking academic career.

Anyway, I don't want the crap that would come from waking Benny and Annette up by playing Xbox, so I might as well do some catching up.  (Yeah, I started this in the morning!)  In some ways, the holiday I missed most was Halloween; it has always been a big thing in our family. Mostly my Dad; the way he tells it, he could be Bruce Lee then and all the kids in his class who gave the Chinese kid shit most of the time would find him cool. It stuck with him, and our family would always host the best Halloween parties. I wanted to go, but I didn't want to dress up in a girl's costume, among other things. Besides, Benny's first idea for a costume was a samurai, and then after that was Jackie Chan, and that would have kicked off an argument with my brother that he wouldn't have understood, and not just because it was in Cantonese. So we skipped it, and then did the same on Thanksgiving, telling my parents that we would be at Deirdre's family, and Deirdre's that we were at mine, which didn't surprise them.

By Christmas, though, it was too much - skipping that many holidays was driving us nuts, and I don't know if I've got some female genes that are pushing to make me like shopping or something, but I was finding things that might make cool gifts for my family and buying them, not necessarily thinking about the actual giving. Eventually, it became obvious that Benny and I were going to have to show up, and I got this weird sort of insecurity because I would be going as my own girlfriend.

That's fucking weird, folks. Most of the time, I don't give a shit how I look; I did all my work on the computer and even when I went out, I would dress in loose outfits because who needs the shit that comes from guys noticing you?  But while I am perfectly content to be that sort of girl for as long as I've got to be any sort of girl, I'd rather not have my family think that I've got to settle for Deirdre if she's like that. It's fucked up, but I needed to look a bit nicer.

Enter Annette. She had probably been waiting for me to ask for some more help ever since convincing me that yeah, even with these little things, a bra helps, but she is thankfully not one to gloat.  Instead, she helped me pick out a green dress that complemented this body's reddish hair well and looked Christmas-y, but which wasn't really that come-hither, at least from inside. She helped out with hair and make-up, too.

Not that anyone noticed, what with Benny looking all sexy.

I should have expected that, but somehow I didn't. Benny hadn't entirely spent the previous few months in the gym, or running, or whatever else has filled his time with the employment situation kind of tricky.  Point being, he'd gotten results, and it's not a "he did it so gradually that I barely even noticed" thing. I fucking noticed!  I noticed when he bought new pants on my credit cards, I noticed when a girl who never would have walked up to talk to me introduced herself to him, and, yeah, I noticed when he came out of the shower with just a towel around his waist and I felt the need to excuse myself and spend some alone time. Getting turned on by someone else looking like you is WEIRD!

Not quite as weird as my mom seeing him and showering him with compliments, though.  I don't think Benny really had any idea of just how weird it was, because the first salvo would be in Cantonese, and when he said ''English, ma, don't be rude to Deirdre", she would tone it down a little. I didn't quite get the impression that "Deirdre" suddenly wasn't good enough for "Jordan", but his physical transformation was the talk of the day, not the first girl that "I'' had brought home for a holiday since college.

It bugged me at first, but I got over it. Part of it was that Benny didn't let me get shuffled off to the side, keeping a tight grip on my hand so that he wouldn't be stranded in the middle of some Cantonese conversation that was over his head, or even an English-language one without me there to interject "oh, he told me about that!" Unlike a lot ofpeople changed by the Inn, he hasn't had to spend a lot of time living my life specifically, so he needed a lot of help there.

Plus, hey, it was Christmas! Everyone liked the gifts I got them, Dad made eggnog, and even if I was seeing it from a new vantage point, it looked good. Better than "real", maybe, because Benny and my brother didn't get into any arguments, Mom couldn't go on about me needing to eat healthier or dropping dead before I gave her any grandchildren, and for a wonder, Max hadn't done anything to piss our parents off either.

Oh, and Max didn't leer at me or anything.I wasn't really worried about it - he generally only goes for Chinese girls - but I was having a hard time thinking of a worse nightmare scenario than "kid brother finds me hot and tries to steal me away from guy he thinks is me."  Did not even come close to happening; I guess his own last breakup was too recent.

It wound up one of the better days since I got back from the Inn, even if I was damn ready to take the shoes off when I got home. I could see that Annette was really envious, too - Ravi's family exchanges presents on Christmas but it's not as big a deal as Diwali, and on top of that, it was her first holiday away from home and she missed her mom something fierce.

Things got pretty quiet for Benny and me after that, but Annette sure made up for it. But that's her story to tell.