Friday, October 30, 2015

Lane/Kari: Performance Review

Before I begin this post, I'd like to point out the excitement I got from my last one. I got a comment! I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but it kinda was. When I saw the little notification I may have "eeped" a bit. Not a scared "eep", just a high pitched sound of excitement. Not quite a "squee", which is usually accompanied by rapidly clapping your hands together, but definitely an involuntary exclamation of excitement that I noticed girls do and that I somehow picked up from being around them more.

Seriously though, I began doing this to clear my head and while I know that people read this to have one of them interact with me...it somehow made it seem like people were listening, and it felt a bit therapeutic. So to answer your question, Anonymous, no Jaime did call but he did text. Just not anything interesting. Just hi. I wasn't too keen on stringing him along so I just kinda...didn't answer back. I feel like a bit of a bitch but I think he took the hint.

On to the real reason I'm posting. Work stuff. I'd thought I'd caught a break when my new body had a job at the same type of company as my old body, but since I'm just the receptionist it doesn't really carryover. This company could make novelty wigs and I would probably be doing the same thing and using as much knowledge of investing as I do working at this investment firm.

The thing is, I'm a great receptionist. Like really really good. It isn't rocket science, but it can overwhelm you if you don't stay on top of it. Clients can be left on hold or even forgotten, wrong extensions could be used, messages could be lost, important faxes might go to the wrong place. Within a week I had learned the system that Kari used and withing two weeks I had improved on it, using parts of the software that she either didn't know about or didn't bother using.

It didn't go unnoticed either since my co-workers seem appreciative, especially the women who have started being nice to me. The men were always nice to me, even if it was mostly poor attempts at flirting. A lot of them think that this is The Office and they're Jim Halpert and they can impress the pretty (and humble) receptionist by walking up and telling some lame joke they just saw on Reddit because they don't know that she had just read the same joke a few hours earlier. But the women? The women were cold to me. Not anything catty or mean directly, but a few looks here and there and a couple of times they'd stop talking when I entered the Ladies' room, which is perfectly fine by me because that isn't a place for talking and one of the more irritating little differences of being a girl.

The women? Less of a warm atmosphere. I don't know if they knew that Kari was screwing the boss or they just suspected it and observed evidence of it, but you could understand how someone who went to college and worked to get a job would look down on someone they thought was only there because of who they slept with. I might sound a bit arrogant if I say part of it was that Kari is the prettiest girl in the office, by a landslide, and she used to dress a lot more sexily and I can see how that would be construed as unprofessional.

In fact I know it was, since the first compliment I got from one of them was how much more "professional" I seemed lately. It was from Joanne, the woman who had filled in for Kari while she had been in Maine. She was in her late thirties it seemed, but she was low on the totem pole of analysts at the firm so she was the one who filled in, but her resentment seemed to have evaporated in the last four months (Has it been that long?!). She and the other ladies have stopped with the bathroom cold shoulder and have commenced with smiles and greetings when I walk into the break room. They also ask me to sign office birthday cards now. So, you're welcome Kari, you're co-workers don't hate you anymore.

My new, hard working, reputation was part of the reason I was kind of excited for my performance review last Thursday. In my old job performance reviews weren't just how you behaved at work but also a rigorous review of your portfolio and work and how much profit you made the firm, and if it wasn't enough you didn't get a Christmas bonus, and if it was too low you got fired. Very stressful stuff. This time? I wasn't in charge of anything that important and I was doing a bang up job at it, everyone seemed to think so....which is why I was annoyed but not truly surprised how it went down.

Walking into Latherman's office I could smell the cologne in the air, not cheap stuff but even a little bit of decent cologne goes along way. I sit down in the chair across from his desk, hands crossed in my lap, ankles crossed on the floor. A very professional yet feminine way of sitting that I've been working on perfecting so that I'm not slouching confidently with my legs spread open.

Latherman gives me this look as if he's trying to either make me feel small or make himself seem bigger. He holds up the paper that has my performance review. "I have to say Kari, I'm a little disappointed in you. This review is significantly worse than last years, and you were doing so well this year before falling off."

I cock one eyebrow a little, knowing what a complete load of bullshit that is. If anything the opposite is true, my work has gotten a lot better in the last four months. "How do you mean, Mr. Latherman?"

"Nick" he says

"How has my performance fallen off, Nick" I repeat.

"You used to go the extra mile" he begins "You'd stay late, work weekends. You had a real commitment to this company. Now you just come in at 9 and leave at 5."

Not seeing just how being able to do the same work in less time was a detriment, I pressed further. "If you notice, all of my work has been done before I leave, I've just needed to spend more time at home in recent months."

"Really?" He says with a sleazy smirk "That's not what those photos on your Instagram show." I'm not sure which is weirder, a man that age using Instagram or following his secretary. "It just seems you aren't making the same effort. The last time you and I worked overtime together was that trip to Maine."

Something about the way he said "Work Overtime" made everything click in my mind. This wasn't "I think your a bad receptionist" this was "We used to have sex and now we aren't having sex and I don't like that so I'm going to make it seem like its your fault"

I looked at the photo on his desk of him, a woman who I presumed was his wife, and two kids. Shameless. "And what do you suggest I do, Nick?" I say, not breaking my poker face.

"Well for starters, the way you've been dressing isn't up to snuff. Remember, you're first face clients see when they walk in the door. You want to be looking your best. That means dressing like you give a damn and maybe putting on some makeup."

I was livid. Boiling inside. I've worked long enough that I've had to sit through enough sexual harassment videos and this was a pretty clear cut case. I should have walked out. Quit and called HR, the Labor Department, and a ball-busting lawyer. I should have at least told him off, that he wasn't nearly as successful as he thinks he is and his small potatoes regional financial firm would be a mid afternoon snack for some of the brokers I've worked with, both male and female. I really should have punched him.

Thats what I would have done, if I had been me. But I'm not me. I'm Kari. Me has an MBA and a sizable nest egg if I ever had to make a move like that. I have options. Kari doesn't. She doesn't have her GED even, she has a kid, an apartment, and a car payment to make. She needed this job and she wasn't likely to find one better. It disgusted me that she had to sleep with the boss and be office eye candy to get it, but that was her decision. Quitting would probably put her on welfare, with me having to fill out all the paperwork.

I bit my lip and said "I'll take that into consideration" before heading home for the day.

When I got home I poured myself a drink and headed to the bedroom, looking through the closet. Now I was really glad I went out with Rosita to the club. I found the outfits that Kari normally wore to work. Short skirts with pantyhose, tight pants, low cut blouses. If I could survive a night of being grinded and groped I could survive 8 hours a day with some dirty old man staring at my ass. Its not like he wasn't doing it before.

And for the last week that's what I did. Receptionist-ing isn't any harder in a skirt or 3 inch heels, although you are more cognizant of the fact that youre wearing them, and some of the ladies gave me a couple of dirty looks, but overall my increased job performance allowed them to overlook the cleavage.

Latherman seemed to approve, he gave Kari a small raise.

-Lane

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tori: Things are good...right?

Sometimes I regret the fact that I never experienced sex as a man. The few women (mostly one woman) I ever had in my life did give me a certain level of intimacy, but basically 99.9% of my experience is from the female side of the equation. It would be nice to know what it is like to be a man exerting his power over a female partner - and arguably that desire is what led me to pursue my arrangement with Chuck and Jules earlier this year (ultimately, I didn't feel so assertive when we came down to it.) There will always be doubt about what could have been, but I've made my peace with that, it's part of me for the rest of my life. For the most part I'm pretty happy with the way things have worked out. And for the a lot of that part, I'm ecstatic.

Men can be disappointing. Not just as sexual partners, where even the best can be very inconsistent (whereas I seem to be able to accomplish my goal for them just by being present - I've won some of my highest marks on nights when I simply did nothing at all.) but as emotional support. Loving them is difficult.

I like Cute Hipster Mike a lot. I'm very happy with him. He's friendly, funny, charming, sweet, smart... he's not some mindless careerist, he has his own definition of success in life that I find really appealing.

And he's, well... good in bed. Great. Amazing. When he wants to be. We can go for long, long periods of time some nights, and at times when most men would be peaking, he has just been getting started. That's amazing. He has moves I've never seen before. And while in my quieter moments I sometimes let myself think "What if things had turned out different," in the heat of the moment, there's no time for such thoughts, because the only thing going through my head is "Yes, yes, more! I want to be fucked like this for the rest of my life!" He makes me feel like an incredible being of pure sexual delight, and he makes me feel sexy and desirable in a way I couldn't have been in my old life. In a way I couldn't even have been at an earlier point in this life. When we're at our best, when I'm feeling his movement radiating through my entire body, his hands guiding my hips or massaging my soft parts, I feel like I am where I belong.

But he has his off nights too, where he just doesn't seem that into it, where he just wants it quickly and doesn't take as much care as he could. So I settle for what I can get and wait for next time. it's not bad, and it's unfair to expect 110% every time out, but when someone gets you hooked on fine dining, a microwave dinner doesn't really cut it.

That's sort of a metaphor for our whole relationship, too. He likes me a lot, he makes that clear. We're not sure yet if it's love, and he's resisted attempts for me to label it. But what's wrong with wanting a little stability? It's been months. We should be stable. I feel like we're past the "Oh, it's still new" phase. I don't have any doubts, and I don't know where his would be coming from. But maybe I'm skipping ahead a bit.

I'm falling for him. The L-word is imminent. But if I let it out and he doesn't have one ready to match it... guys, that's going to hurt.

Sometimes he takes too long to respond to my texts and I get worried. Sometimes he blows me off at the last minute, but he apologizes profusely. And I try not to let it sting, but... I can't like him less than I do, and I can't seem to make him need me the way I'm starting to need him. I've never felt so out of sync with someone I liked so much, and so desperate to make it work.

I'm one frustrated girl.

But when it's good... when we're lying on the couch watching late night TV, when I get to wake up with him on a Sunday morning, when he does send me thoughtful texts or cute in jokes... my heart gets all fluttery.

Who is this guy? What is this power he has over me?

I mean, who would have thought being a girl would make me such a... girl?

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-wei: Back to School

I've been trying not to rub Benjamin's face in how good the life he might have had if he spoke Chinese can be, but let's face it - not only is it pretty fucking sweet at times, but if you were making a return visit to the Trading Post Inn, knew that your old life was gone, and could choose any room in the place without screwing over anybody else, you would probably choose someone like Lee Yuan-Wei, for three reasons.

First, she's young and hot, and all things being equal, that's better than the alternative. Maybe all things aren't equal - maybe you've got issues with changing ethnicity, and, fuck, I wouldn't exactly be down with giving up my dick if I hadn't had a year to get used to being without it. But within whatever bounds you set, it is nice to wake up and like the naked body that you see in the mirror.  I like looking down and seeing good-sized boobs and nice legs whenever I want to.  I am finding that I mostly like people talking to me rather than looking away. You deal with more assholes, but you have more choices.

(Her family being rich probably goes under this category - the fact is, the Inn's clientele probably tends to fall within a certain income bracket, with Yuan-wei being an outlier who was only there by accident. You're generally going to wind up "not poor, but not exactly wealthy" 99% of the time.)
Second, she's a college student. Practically, this is way better than having to dive into a job without any sort of training; you'll be expected to screw up and learn. If you know that this is for the long term, you can either point your new life at something familiar or whatever you've decided you should have done instead.

Plus, college itself is awesome. There are parties, clubs, an environment full of young people with similar interests, student days and discounts... If you've been through it before, you're probably remembering having more free time and figuring that will only increase with experience. Shit, I started missing college about a month into my first job and suspect that for a lot of us, the main thing that keeps us from going back for a masters/PhD within a couple of years is the student loans that need to be fed.

As for the last thing... Maybe she isn't officially one yet, but she's at least on the path to being an actor or actress. I'll bet a whole fuckton of people who have visited the Inn and wind up stuck in some other life wind up doing community theater or auditioning for something because, shit, everyone knows that there's good money in it if you make it to the top and we spend our whole lives pretending to be someone else - we obviously have a head up on all the normal people who we'd be auditioning against, right?

Well, most people have had practice pretending to be someone else.  I stayed in and tried to be myself as much as circumstances would allow, and while I don't regret it much at all, it means that I don't have nearly the experience in finding ways to turn someone wanting something from me into a way to discover something about who "Lee Yuan-wei" is expected to be while simultaneously satisfying that expectation.

Which is a problem, because she has chosen the most painfully fucking social major possible.
Me, I majored in computer science, and while not all of the stereotypes were true about everyone, there were certainly a lot of us that lived like Morlocks, coding deep into the night, finishing off a two-liter of Mountain Dew, and maybe doing the same with World of Warcraft if there wasn't something due that week. Not everybody was like this, and there were some classes where they put you on teams to work on a larger assignment - some where that was the whole point - but you can get through a lot of a CS major by doing the reading, coding, and showing up for the final.

Theater? Not a fucking chance!

ALL of the courses Yuan-Wei signed up for are pretty much mandatory-attendance. Even if we're just watching a movie, they get stopped and we've got to discuss the scene, and one of the professors is old and absent-minded enough that he'll frequently wander back to his desk and make notes about who is participating and who isn't, and probably which ones of us are saying stupid shit that gets laughed at.

And that's before you get to the actual acting classes.

I'm only in one right now, and it's a really bizarre thing in that there aren't a lot of concrete things to learn - no "this is how you cry on cue" stuff, really - but a whole lot of talking, trying to relate what's in the text to something from your own life to try and bring some emotion out. tn don't suck at reading something and getting what it needs, but it sometimes feels like my classmates, who took similar courses with Yuan-wei last year, are suggesting things that I can't access and making me feel like I have to hold back because they know "me" better than I do and me trying to inject myself into it just makes me come off as insincere.

There is also not a whole lot of immediate, reliable feedback. I don't have the practice that the original Yuan-wei did, and it's kind of like being in the batting cage but not seeing where the balls you hit are heading. I often feel like I'm really nailing something only to be told that I'm way off.

Most of my classmates seem nice, though the guys seem way nicer.  I don't think it's too conceited to chalk a lot of that up to them wanting to fuck me - I still get that feeling when I see myself in the mirror - but it holds for the gay guys and the ones who just aren't into Asian chicks as well. At first, I had it down to the inverse - envious of my hotness and family wealth, and a bit of how Benjamin warned me that men really have no inkling of how competitive girls can be (unless it's over them).  It turns out, though, that theater is just a hyper-competitive major here - something like 70% wash out by the end of their sophomore year - which, naturally, is where I landed.

Of course, it's not just competitive as a major in this particular college, but as an activity. I'm not a rival for the guys in the program, but there are only so many female leads, strong supporting roles, and so on down to complete background players to go around. And it's not like there are many under the school's umbrella - stuff I'd get actual credit toward a degree for - specifically for Asian women and thus with a smaller field.

I don't think many of my female classmates are actively sabotaging me, but I sort of suspect it might be in the backs of their minds. I don't know how necessary it may actually be - even the auditions I feel like I crush don't seem to set much reaction at all.

Will I fall far behind if I don't get a role in a fall production? I don't know. Just have to keep fucking trying, I guess - if I'm going to be the best possible Yuan-wei I can be, the way Benny is impressing people as me, I'm going to have to get the hang of it.

-Jordo / Yuan-Wei / Missy

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lane/Kari: Ladies' Night Out

The weekend before was an experience, to say the least. So far I'd been staying on the sidelines, laying low, and slowly dipping my toes into the metaphorical pool womanhood. Saturday night was like being shoved in unexpectedly with all your clothes on and your cell phone in your pocket and the water being very very cold. That metaphorical shove came from Kari's BFF Rosita (She actually goes by Rosie, which is short for Rosario, but since one of Erin's friends also has that name I'll call her Rosita here, which is apparently what her Mom calls her).

I had texted Rosita telling her to come over at 3, because I needed help getting ready. The excuse I gave her was I had no idea what outfit to wear after not going out for so long and needed her advice. She was happy to oblige, on the condition that I let her wear something from my closet. I didn't have a problem with her borrowing Kari's clothes, since technically I was borrowing them too. A few minutes after Ashely had left for a friend's the doorbell rang and my answering it was met with a squee and a hug from a girl overjoyed to see her friend after a long time. "Chica, I missed you so much!" More hugs. More squee-ing.

I'm gonna take a moment here to comment on the "Chica" part. One major reason I've been avoiding talking to Kari's family and close friends is that I don't speak Spanish. I studied it for a few years in high school and I know a lot of words, but actually being able to casually rapid fire speak and understand, not even close. Part of my fear stemmed from reading this blog, way back when Arthur got turned into Liz and it appeared to all her friends and family that she suddenly seemed to forget how t speak Korean. Of all the little lies I have to tell on a daily basis, I was hoping to have to avoid being a Latina girl who no longer spoke Spanish. This is actually a whole thing with me, suddenly belonging to a different culture and being a little squeamish about behaving incorrectly or even offensively. My conversation earlier in the week with Kari helped assuage that a little. She was born here and her family had been in the states since the 70s, and while she could speak Spanish her family and friends mostly spoke English with a little slang mixed in, hence "Chica".

Being around Rosita I didn't feel the need to overdo it and try to convince her I was Kari, which is another new thing with me. When I first got here I was always nervous at her job or around Ashley but despite my best efforts they always commented on how I was acting weirdly. So with Rosita I figured I might as well just act naturally, and if she says something just make some half-assed excuse, besides its not like the curse would allow her to believe the truth if I told her.

Rosita is actually about the same size as Kari, height and width wise. Her boobs are a little bigger and her bottom is a little smaller, but she would have no problem wearing anything in her closet. She's wearing sweatpants and a tshirt with her hair in a ponytail, but her makeup was already done and she looked pretty. Objectively. One thing I've noticed in my few months as a woman is that I can still tell when a girl is pretty, but I can tell it knowing my judgment isn't being clouded by testosterone. If I were still a man I'd probably find Rosita sexually attractive, but now its more appreciation than desire.

We headed into the bedroom and she opened up the closet. "You take a shower while I pick out outfits" she directed as she started pulling hangers out of the section that I never really touched.

I waited until I was in the bathroom to strip, even though Rosita probably wouldn't have noticed or cared if I did it in her presence, she'd probably seen this body naked dozens of times. Women are less weird about getting naked in front of each other I've noticed, but I still haven't adapted. Once I was nude I stared at myself in the mirror like I did most times. Maybe a different face is something you get used to, people like Tori seemed to have, but I'm not at that point yet, mainly because I intend for this to be temporary.

I took my time in the shower, because this body has more sensitive skin and hot water feel heavenly now. I washed my hair because I hadn't in awhile, knowing that Rosita would be able to dry it and do something with it. Lifepro tip if you ever find yourself a woman: always be aware of the weather and time you have later before you get your hair wet, it takes forever to dry. I also hadn't shaved my legs in awhile since I wore mostly pants to work, but figured whatever Rosita had in mind wardrobe-wise wasn't going to include comfortable slacks. I used the lady razor and shaving cream I bought myself, Kari didn't have her own. Apparently waxing was more her style. I briefly considered keeping her monthly appointment but chickened out because 1)Ow and 2)Waxing is really expensive, like 120 dollars for everything she normally had done.

Once I was all clean and smooth I toweled off and covered myself in some bodyspray that I've come to enjoy before putting on a robe and heading back to my bedroom. Rosita had covered my bed with clothes, all dresses, skirts, and bits of fabric I couldn't immediately identify just by looking at it. "Have you decided yet?" I said clearing some space and sitting on the bed.

"This" she said with an excited grin "Would be so perfect. I don't think I've ever seen you wear it." She was holding up a dress that was zebra print which looked like it barely went halfway down the thigh and squeezed everything.

"I was thinking pants maybe?" I said

"Great Idea" She said "Show off the booty"

Not my reasoning, but I was glad she agreed until she pulled a pair of white pants off the bed that looked like they were made of leather. I took them and a pair of black panties and went down the hall into the bathroom to put them on. I got the pants about a quarterway up my thigh before they got tight and halfway up before they stopped moving anymore. Not only could I not slide them up...I couldn't slide them down either.

I was glad Ashley was out of the house, otherwise she would have seen me waddling down the hall topless and would have probably laughed harder than Rosita giggled when she saw me. "Little help?" I asked, laughing myself when I saw in the full length mirror. Rosita hand me stand up and yanked and tugged and tried to get the pants up and after a few minutes and a couple of painful yelps she gave in. "Its not gonna happen, Chica, you're butt is too big"

Getting them off required me lying back on the bed with my legs in the air while she got the pants off without damaging them. "Have you put on weight since I last saw you? When was the last time you went to the gym?" she asked

I honestly didn't know. I didn't weigh myself when I first became Kari and I never really thought about it. I don't normally eat poorly, I never did as a man, but if Kari normally went to the gym and I stopped this body's smaller size and slower metabolism might have sent any excess calories straight to my ass and thighs. I usually wear loose fitting stuff at work and sweatpants around the house, so its possible I wouldn't noticed an extra inch, but leather pants would make it apparent.

Rosita looked at all the clothes on the bed in thought. "I don't think any of this is going to fit". This was only a slight setback as she headed back into the closet and I could hear her digging in the back. She emerged with a red flowered dress that looked like it was made of a stretchy material. "I knew you'd still have this" She said with a sly smile "After all the fun we used to have in it. Its from a few years after you had Ashely, and you were a little bigger than, it should it. "Try it on"

She handed me the dress and as I was leaving she said "Do it here in case you get stuck again, tubby". Her tone was playful, but the word kind of stung. I stepped into the dress and wiggled it up snugly over my hips. As Rosita zipped me up she gave me a pat on back "Perfect". She straightened out the hem "But you'll have to lose the panties, they're showing".

Not wanting to walk around commando in a dress, I slipped out of the bikini briefs and grabbed a thong. Those had been weird to get used to at first but after a few minutes you barely notice them. Hiking the dress up, I slid them up between my cheeks and over my hips before smoothing the dress back down again. I caught a glimpse of my dress in the mirror. Rosita did have a great eye for fashion, I'll give her that. This dress looked amazing on me, hugging every curve and showing off my breasts despite giving just a little bit of support. I turned to the side a little bit and saw that Rosita wasn't kidding, I did have a nice ass when I wore clothes that would show it off.

When I turned around I saw Rosita had stripped and was now standing naked holding the zebra striped dress. I averted my gaze as she put it on until the had me zip her up. It looked great on her, I will admit, and she even joked about keeping it if I don't fit into it again.

Once we were dressed I sat down in the small chair in the bedroom while she did my hair and makeup. It was kinda like getting a haircut, except she expected me to talk back. I mainly listened to her gossip, and told her a few things that had being going on with Ashley, as well as complain about some of the girls at work. I think I may have gotten the hang of "girl talk".

When she was finished she turned the swivel chair around to the vanity mirror and I gasped. I was...gorgeous. I don't know if I ever really described what Kari looked like, but she has smooth brown skin, big deep brown eyes, full lips and high cheek bones. Pretty features even when I'm just wearing business attire or ponytail and yoga pants around the house. Rosita is a cosmetologist and she really knew how to make my face pop. She knew just which colors and styles to use. She had plucked my eyebrows thin, which had hurt a little but now they perfectly framed my eyes. Kari's eyes might just be her best feature, and Rosita had shaded them so they somehow appeared bright and mysterious while at the same time dusky. I pushed my lips together and tasted the lipstick that made them seem even fuller than normal. The only way to describe how I felt was...good. Being pretty made up for the whole being a girl and single mom shocker and it made me feel confident. I smiled instinctively and this only made me look prettier.

Fortunately either the real Kari isn't good with hair and makeup or Rosita is so good she'd rather do it herself, but she didn't ask me to return the favor. She sat chatting and primping in front of the mirror while I played with my phone (and took a few selfies).


*********************************************

I let Rosita drive because I didn't know where the club she wanted to go to was, but we took my car because I had more gas. The Detroit Metro is weird because the bigger suburbs function as their only little mini-cities, and Trenton has a lot of cool bars to go to and have a drink, but Rosita wanted to head into the city where there would be more people as well as a younger crowd.

When I first moved here I was surprised by what I found. From what you see on the news a lot of people would think that Detroit was giant black hole of blight with a Mad Max like populace, and while there are a lot of spots where I wouldn't go to in my old body, let alone this tiny and weak one, there are actually some really nice areas, particularly Downtown and Midtown. Cheap rent has brought in a lot of recent college grads and small businesses to those areas, including the one that I work for. There are dozens of fun little hipster bars right near my work we could have gone to, but we skipped those and headed to the neighborhood in the southwest part of the city called Mexicantown, which if you couldn't guess, was the city's traditionally Latino neighborhood.

We parked in a guarded parking deck, one thing you have to love about the Motor City is that its built for cars and there is ample parking and it can be quite cheap if there isn't a sporting event nearby. The cool autumn air hit me as I focused on walking in heels, making sure to take short enough strides that this mini dress didn't ride up and give everyone watching a show.

The club had a pretty long line, what with it being Saturday night and I was about to suggest going someplace less crowded when Rosita walked up to the bouncer and said "We're on the list" in a causal manner.

The bouncer looked at us for a second, never once consulted a clipboard or "list" of any sort, and let us through. Apparently "We're on the list" means "We're sexy women and you want us in your club so that people will buy alcohol for us." Sound business strategy actually.

The crowd was actually pretty diverse despite being in a Latino neighborhood, because, again, hipsters. We headed for the bar and Rosita ordered a Cosmo while I asked for some light lager made by Bell's. I was about to pay for it when I heard a voice say "I got it", followed by two guys standing next to us and smiling.

Uncomfortable as that was, it wasn't unexpected. I've been to clubs before, I've been a man in a club before, I know that guys are going to buy pretty girls drinks. So I smiled and took a sip while they introduced themselves. Enrique, the one who had decided to flirt with me was a nice enough guy but a bit of a bore. He talked about music mostly and we didn't exactly have the same tastes and it was a little loud to carry on an interesting conversation anyway. As I finished my beer I looked over at Rosita and saw she was equally uninterested we thanked them for the drinks and made an excuse to leave the bar area, which meant being dragged to the dance floor.

I was never much of a dancer before, in fact I looked downright silly doing it. Typical "White guy who doesn't know what to do with his arms" and I had a good sense of humor about it. Becoming Kari didn't automatically make me a better dancer, but nobody called me out on it when I basically did what Rosita did. It helps that for girls dancing is a lot of hip moving and butt wiggling, and thats more easily accomplished when you have more pronounced hips and butt. And you know what? It's fun. Like really fun to just let loose and feel sexy and move with the music. I don't know how long we were doing it but we must have had four more drinks bought for us, Cosmos for me but I didn't feel like correcting the order or drinking a ton of beer.

Five drinks in this body is not the same as five drinks in my old body, and my inhibitions had definitely dropped. So much so that I didn't jump away when this guy came up behind me and started dancing with me. I wasn't quite over my paralyzing fear of being touched by men, which wasn't helped by the constant awkward advances of my boss but tonight I didn't mind that this guy had his arm around my waist and was grinding his crotch into my ass.

He expertly twirled me around, so that we were face to face, or rather face to chest. I remember thinking that he was tall, and wondered if I had been that tall. He wrapped his arm around me and we danced till the end of this song, and the next song, and the one after that. When I needed a break I looked over at Rosita who was at a table sitting on the lap of a tall black guy with a shaved head, who I briefly remember thinking was pretty cute. Turns out he and the guy I had been dancing with had also been friends, and we sat down at their table.

Rosita was too engrossed with talking and occasional kissing to pay attention to me, so I had another Cosmo while I talked with Jaime, the guy I'd been dancing with, about...truth is I don't really remember what. He must of been pretty funny because I remember laughing a lot, but that also might have been the Cosmos talking. Whatever they were saying they eventually said to my brain that my bladder was full, and I headed off to the ladies room, or rather the line to the ladies room.

After about 10 minutes of concentrating on not wetting myself in public I made it into the restroom and...wow. Any myth about girls being cleaner and neater than guys either isn't true or goes way out the window when girls have been drinking. I'm not going to got into graphic detail other than ew, and I had to concentrate and hover. While I was trying to avoid falling I imagined this was why a lot of girls went to the bathroom in pairs, and maybe I should have asked Rosita to join me.

In fact I really should have considering when I finally made it out to table both Rosita and her guy were gone, leaving just Jaime there with another Cosmo for me. I asked him if he had seen my friend, and he said no and then began chatting me up again. I was a little worried until I decided to check my phone and saw a text from Rosita saying she had gone home with him and not to wait up.

This sobered me up a bit. Not because I was judging Rosita, she's a grown woman and she can do whatever she wants with her body. Just the realization that the guy had made his move at exactly the right time and that Jaime was apparently a pretty damn good wingman. I suddenly found myself wondering what his expectations of ME were, and the fastest way for me to set him straight.

He pushed the cosmo over to me and I shook it off "Actually I need to be going" I say to him, standing up wobbily.

"So soon?" he asks

"Yeah, my daughter has somewhere to be tomorrow" I say with emphasis on the word daughter. I find that mentioning Ashley is a useful tool for getting a lot of men to lose interest. Jaime wasn't one of those men, and he seemed to understand, but he asked for my number. Not having the good sense to give him a fake one I scribbled my real number down on a napkin and headed out the door.

I was luckily enough that despite being way to drunk to drive, I was lucid enough to know that I shouldn't. I leaned against the side of the building, in the well lit area near the bouncer, and used my phone to call an Uber, because Detroit taxis are some of the worst in the country. I had brought along 60 dollars for drinks, and wound up not using any of it because drinks were bought for me all night, which was good because the Uber ride was about 38 dollars after a generous tip. I managed to make it into the apartment but not into the bed, just collapsing on the couch.

****************************

I woke up the next morning to a voice standing over me saying "Where's the car?"

I looked up at Ashley, who had a look of worry and annoyance on her face

"It's in Detroit" I say groggily, yawning

"So you didn't crash it?" a tone of relief was in her voice

"I didn't drive it" I corrected her

"Responsible. I'm impressed" she said making me think that the real Karina might not have thought twice about driving home with 5 or 6 drinks in her. "Pull your dress down, your ass is showing"

I looked back and saw that she was right, my cheeks were out there for everyone to see. I straitened the dress and sat up, my once fashionable hair now in my face. Brushing it back I saw Ashley putting a mug on the coffee table.

"Whats this?" I ask

"Hot water, honey, and lemon. For that hangover you probably have" she said walking out of the room without ever looking back. I couldn't tell if she was disappointed or not.

-Lane

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Erin/Chris: Men at Work

When Chris visited the Inn, it disrupted a lot of his plans. He was nearly done law school and had a very good internship waiting for him to finish his education. He figured he had time to squeeze in a quick vacation, but oops, one day he wakes up in a new person's body, and then some weeks later I'm in his shoes, with no job and no real prospects.

Even though he's considerably younger than I am, his resume is pretty impressive. He's spent summers working at some pretty well-known companies since he was in high school. He's well educated. And what can I say, he's a pretty handsome fellow (in certain lights) so he should be able to make a good impression at an interview.

The problem is, nobody's hiring. He even gave me leads on several companies where he had contacts that could tide me over until I could hand his body back off to him, and they expressed remorse that they didn't have room for me. It was a bit of a relief: I have office experience, but in sleepy Midwestern supply chain firms. I don't think I'm ready for the big city pressure cooker. I don't know if I ever would be.

So I went a way that the real Chris DeVito probably wouldn't have dreamed. They always need janitors.

Okay, it's not ideal, but what was I going to do, start a career? I'm planning to do as little disruption to Chris' life arc as possible. So I spend a few months scrubbing toilets. It gives me the money I need to afford rent on a nice Brooklyn apartment. Keeps me out of trouble. And it's not that disgusting.

Besides, it makes me feel like such a man, which I kind of like. After work, I go out with "the guys" to a sports bar to watch baseball and listen to what the guys talk about (turns out it's mostly women, in less than glowing terms.) I don't always relate, and sometimes duck out early, but I find it important to maintain some outside activities, and this is my best option. I invite Rosie sometimes, but she's... not feeling it. The media has her really spooked and she's convinced that just by going outside in New York City, looking like a black man, she's putting her life in danger. I wish I could convince her otherwise, but... well, you've seen the news this past year.

So she's become something of a shut-in, and I'm, well... not flourishing exactly, but I'm making friends, keeping my head down. Except not.

Because one night a few weeks ago, I was out at the bar, heading back from the washroom (urinals, I get such a kick out of those things) when I felt someone grab my elbow and say "Chris! Chris!" in a distinctly New York accent.

It still takes me a second to realize that name refers to me.

I turned and there's this absolutely gorgeous girl looking at me, waiting for me to recognize her. She was wearing a low cut top and short skirt, even though the weather had taken a chilly turn. This is my nightmare, in a way: in the time I've been Chris, I've managed to avoid accidentally bumping into anyone he knows while going about my business. This is someone I haven't encountered in my research about Chris' life.

I probably stood there with my jaw open like an idiot for thirty seconds (both in shock and, well, admiration for her appearance) before I formulated an answer: "Oh, I didn't see you there!"

She motioned for a hug in a way that suggested this gesture wasn't a given between us, but that if I allowed it she'd like it. I let her, but I made it a quick one, briefly resting my chin on her shoulder (being taller but not a giant is quite nice in these scenarios.) I decided I was really going to fake my way through this: "How... are you?"

"I'm good!" she said, "Still dong the receptionist thing, occasionally going on auditions though."

"Right, right. Of course," I said, "I hope that works out for you."

She looked at me like she was trying to figure something out: "I heard you, like... dropped out? You ditched articling and now you're unemployed?"

Whoever this person was, she was obviously privy to the grapevine of my life.

"Well that's... sort of true. I just let the stress get to me, I needed a break. I'll probably get back to it in a year or so."

"A year?" she gasped, "Wow, that's really unlike you. That's not the driven Chris DeVito I know. Aren't you worried your opportunities are going to dry up?"

"Oh, it'll work out, I'm sure," I said.

"Now you're scaring me," she said, looking at me suspiciously, "I mean, where was this attitude when we were going out?"

Oh... dang.

I stammered a response along the lines of "Well, I'm just trying something different, I don't think I've changed too much as a person..."

"Sure, uh huh," she said in disbelief. "Listen, my friends are about to leave, but I'm not sure I'm ready to go yet... do you want to have a drink?"

My immediate instinct was that it wasn't a good idea. This person had a past with Chris - a romantic past that I knew nothing about. If she wanted to re-hash old times, I was screwed. I politely excused myself and said "Maybe later, I'm... with people."

"Yeah, totally. I get it," she said, obviously disappointed.

I went back with the guys, and they were going on about some uninteresting topic like the Yankees' playoff chances, and I found my attention drifting. I looked back over my shoulder to see if she was there.

I didn't see her.

I went home feeling relieved, but also regretful. Maybe I could have talked to this woman as just a friend. I have really missed female companionship. She seemed really nice, I felt like I could trust myself not to cross a line.

But it wasn't until I was lying awake until 3 AM that night still thinking what if I had had that drink with her that I started to suspect it was more than friendship I wanted.

It's stupid. The last thing I need at this time in my life is to complicate Chris' with romantic entanglements. I'm smarter and better than to put him through that. "You don't really like her, because you don't know her. It just some stupid hormonal response because she smiled at you."

And I thought - that's so weird, that a woman smiling at me is all it takes. The right woman, smiling the right way, I tried to dismiss it, but my body was telling me a different story.

I can't pin down what, exactly, does it for me. My impulses didn't change overnight, but they do seem to have changed. I would have thought it was like my brain would send a message to my genitals: "I find that person attractive, please react," but it's more like... the genitals see it first. Chris' body reacts and I have to interpret what exactly just happened. No wonder men think with their dicks, it seems to be the only part of my body that knows what it wants. And right then, it was sending me a very strong message.

I'm not dumb, but I am inexperienced. I tried to just fall asleep with it, but it was like an alarm was going off in my head. "Something's started, you have to finish it!" Even if I never meant to start anything.

So, for the third or fourth time since I've been here - and the first that involved a genuine response to another human being - I pulled out the lotion and the tissues and went to "work."

It's weird. It's like a race to the finish. You just... want to keep going, chasing a pleasure that's just out of reach, until finally you catch it, the bubble bursts, and well, you've got a mess on your hands. And then you want nothing to do with anything afterward. Like, there's a fraction of a second of really good feeling, and then you're just left wondering what the point of it all was, not at all like the experience of a woman. With that knowledge in hand, it's actually not surprising that sexually-minded men come to enjoy the perks of womanhood - no offense to my host gender.

But then the next day you find yourself craving that feeling, or the chase of it, all over again, and suddenly male lust makes a lot of sad sense to me. And I'm stuck with it. (And that episode of Seinfeld with "The Contest" also seems funnier.)

It's like I'm in puberty. By Chris' age, men are supposed to be more or less used to all this, but it's new to me, so I'm feeling this surge of hormones that's all very novel. I think I'm more sensitive... that explains how just a bit of touch and conversation could linger with me so long. hopefully things even out and I don't become some kind of sex crazed maniac.

The next day, I couldn't shake her from my head, so I e-mailed Chris and asked her who she was, based on a description and her reference to being a receptionist and going on auditions. He explained that this was Andrea Molinaro, who he dated for a few months off and on last year. "She's trouble, you should stay away."

She didn't give me much of a bad vibe from our brief conversation, but it was brief, so he would know better than I would. But he didn't tell me I had to stay away, he just suggested, implying that I had some say in the matter.

Anytime I've been back to that bar in the weeks since, I've checked the place to see if she was there. No luck since.

I feel... pretty conflicted about that. The smart thing is to keep my head down and get through this year, but... I'm going a little stir crazy here, would it kill me to branch out a little? As long as I play it safe?

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Lane/Kari: I Have a Reputation to Keep Up...Apparently.

A week and a half in, I'm proud to report that Operation Keep Ashley busy is a resounding success. Not only has having an activity keeping Ashley busy until 5 most evenings and 7 other evenings, having that activity be cross country means that she is absolutely exhausted when she gets home. I think she must be up to running three miles a day, which is more than I could do back when I had my relatively fit body, and probably 12 times farther than I could run in this one. She barely has enough energy for her homework and eating dinner before she passes out, no time to sneak out scantily clad on a school night. Now I just need to keep her in line on the weekends.

Earlier I had mentioned that my weekends consisted mostly of sleeping in, doing chores, and catching up to whatever else needed catching up to. Lately they've included college football, which drew a confused line of questioning from Ashley as to why I all of a sudden thought sports were so important and why I wasn't rooting for one of the two major programs in this state. I shrugged her off and hoped the curse would keep her from being to suspicious. I may have to pretend to be a Latina Secretary, but I'm not going to miss game day, even if Syracuse sucks this year. My recent bout of homebody-ness has attracted attention...from Kari.


Whoever cursed the Trading Post Inn lived so long ago that the couldn't have imagined things like Facebook or Twitter, ways for cursed guests to keep track of their old lives even several thousand miles away. Its probably a good thing they couldn't conceive of something like the internet, otherwise they might have included it in their curse to prevent blogs where people can congregate and work their way around the curse. Anyway, that's precisely what the real Kari had been doing. She's been logging in from her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, liking and retweeting and occasionally commenting on her friends' photos. This apparently led to all sorts of social media messages from her core group about how they never hung out anymore and they were worried about her mental well being and this affected Kari so she gave me a call.

"You need to stop being a shut in" She said "People are starting to suspect something is up with me"

Its a good thing this was over the phone, because I was seriously rolling my eyes at her. She doesn't leave a note, doesn't keep in contact, never calls to mention or check up on her daughter. Never gives advice on work or even thought to tell me that there was a sordid affair with her boss, but she calls to tell me that her Instagram feed could use a few more recent photos.

I bit my lip, wanting to yell at her but not wanting to cause drama. "If I hung out with your friends, they'd DEFINITELY know something was different."

"If you stay inside the whole year, I'll lose all my friends" She said, almost pleading "You don't want to mess up my life like that, do you? Isn't that what your blog is all about, keeping appearances?"

She kinda had a point. I don't know how much of this blog she's read but the unwritten rule is, if you're going to be someone temporarily, you need to try not to mess things up. Its why I stick at this job that I hate, I don't want Kari and Ashley to be homeless when she gets back. I could've headed back to my apartment and lived off of my savings for a year, but with all due respect to Jordan, that's kind of a dick movie. Even if I didn't know about Ashley at the time, I'd still be drastically messing up someone's life and I don't want that on my conscience. I think as long as it's not anything immoral or truly uncomfortable, I kind of have to do what Kari would do. So as much as I'd love to sit on my butt and watch sports this weekend, I'm going to have to socialize. (It helps that as I type this the Yankees are failing miserably to score a run).

As much as I asked Kari about her life, I never really asked her about her friends. For some reason I didn't bother to ask who she hung out with or how close she was to people. We spent the next hour going through her facebook friends, all 300 or so of them, and she mentioning how she knew them. Most were school people or passing acquaintances, there were only about 10 she would see on a weekly or even monthly basis. In the process I got a lot of questions answered that she hadn't been so forthcoming about earlier. Details on co-workers, family, neighbors...things that she just didn't feel up to talking about the few times I'd called her before.

The person I most needed to talk to in order to fit in with the social group was Rosie, her best friend since high school who lived in the town just north of here. When I first texted her she didn't seem surprised about the long layoff between contact, because the real Kari had been sending her facebook messages here and there, but she was pleased to hear from me. A little organization and scheduling and she's coming over here Saturday night and we're going "out".

I'm not entirely sure what that's going to entail, but I'll do my best to roll with it and not screw anything up.


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Annette/Benjamin: Practice Date Night

The funny thing about writing about yourself is that, in trying to get an idea across through your own experiences, you can often wind up presenting a fairly skewed version of reality. The last few weeks haven't been nearly as despairing as you might think from reading about me looking for work - that process did, after all, overlap the trip to New York. Weirdness that comes from seeing Benny, Kareena, and Ravi aside, that was a lot of fun.

There was more fun to be had later. Looking through the shoebox of stuff that Ronan had left behind, I found a couple of things he didn't tell me about. I sent him a message on Facebook, but when he didn't respond after a half-hour or so, I called Missy.

"So," I said, "there are these two tickets to Friday night's Red Sox game here, and there's no reason why Ronan and... his wife, I guess we'll call her, wouldn't be coming down here to use them, especially since he must have figured on being himself again by game day, but I can't get hold of them. Would us using the tickets be awful?"

Missy thought for a second on the other end of the line. "If he was planning on using it after he changed back, then wouldn't he have been planning on going with Sandra?"

I hadn't thought of that. "You're right! We would be stealing Sandra's date! Fuck her!"

Missy approved of my enthusiasm, at least, and we agreed to meet up in front of Gate C before game time. I quickly recalled that I had a shift that night, but it's Boston, and even when it's the end of a losing season and you've just started a new job, saying that you have Sox tickets excuses any need for last-minute schedule shuffling. I'd have to pull a double on Sunday, but no big deal.

We both wound up getting there fairly early - I was nervous about the Green Line being even more of a nightmare than usual and she lives close enough that it was a short walk when she saw me tweet out a selfie in front of the "Teammates" statue.

(Is having a social media presence weird in our situation? Or maybe just at the start? I kind of feel like I'm misrepresenting myself or Benny, but if this is me for either the rest of my life or an open-ended amount of time, I want to be out there.)

Messy showed up about ten or fifteen minutes later, and even though she's short compared to some in the crowd, she was tough to miss. She wasn't the only Asian girl, not by a long shot, but I suspect that there's something about her gait, especially in flats that don't force her to be especially feminine, that says "guy in girl's body" to those of us in the know.

Plus, she was doing her best to bend the brim of a newly-purchased Mets cap despite her fairly small hands. It didn't quite match the rest of her outfit - white top with polka dots and a scoop neckline, new-looking red canvas sneakers, and jeans that I swear must have been specifically tailored to her legs and butt - but it hardly ruined the effect, either.

"You say that you don't dress up for me, but, damn, you look nice."

She shrugged, trying to give the impression that this just happened but not blushing enough to sell it. "I inherited a closet full of nice stuff, is all."

"Uh-huh. Still trying to root for the old team?"

"Just because I'm living here now doesn't make me a Red Sox fan, and this is the Mets' best team in years..."

There was a bit of an auto ward silence for a moment, which Missy made a little weirder by commenting that it must look kind of like "Benny & Missy" was still a thing. I joked that if this were the case, the evening would have started with dinner, at which point Missy sort of cocked her head toward the various spots behind the ballpark and pointed out that we could skip stadium sausages. Since I was, in fact, kind of hungry, we went into the one with what looked like the shortest line, since there was just an hour or so until the game.

Conversation was kind of slow, at first, I think because she had read my previous entry and didn't want to depress me with how much fun she was having at college. I appreciated it, although it was weird, and after about ten minutes I asked if there was some other Trading Post-like place in Hong Kong, because considerate, stylish Missy seemed like a different person than caustic slob Jordan.  She had a bit of attitude when asking if that was a compliment or complaint, and then rolled her eyes when I said to never mind as a result.

The food, at least, was pretty decent, although she sighed a bit when she got halfway through her burger and said that should probably be it for her. I started eating fries off her plate and asked if she missed overeating.

She shrugged. "Not more than I like looking cute." Then she smiled and struck a pose with her head tilted and resting on clasped hands, before sticking her tongue out at me.

When the bill came, she reached out to take it even though it had been placed more on my side of the table than hers, actually coming off her chair a bit to do so, and though the server wasn't that old - mid-thirties, I would guess - she was apparently a bit of a traditionalist about certain things, because she gave me a disapproving look, like I was sub-human if I didn't snatch that leatherette folder with the receipt in it out of her hands right away.

Missy took a second to notice, and there was a moment when it looked like she thought she'd screwed up, but instead her eyes got a "mind your own business" look as she pulled a credit card out of her wallet, stuck it into the plastic holder, and held the whole thing out so that the waitress had to take it from her hand.

It was a weirdly contentious moment, so I tried to be playful once we were by ourselves again. "Forget who's the girl on this date?"

"No, it's just that getting something to eat was my idea and I... Fine, maybe a little. I didn't go out with guys as Deirdre so I didn't develop the habit of thinking someone else might pay."

I sensed there was something she wasn't saying, either about our respective bank accounts or what dating had been like for Jordan before the Inn, but maybe that was more on my mind than hers.  "Well, I clearly have to practice being the guy in that situation. It was actually a weird thing when I was Ravi - I usually paid when going out with Kareena, but when it was with other guys, it was sort of expected that we'd take a minute to figure out how it was going to work."

Once the bill came back, I talked Missy out of leaving a tiny tip, and we headed to Fenway. She made a big show of not being impressed, because everything in CitiField and Yankee Stadium (along with their predecessors) was bigger and newer, and Wally is apparently no Mr. Met.

Fortunately, it was a pretty great game. We were in the right-field bleachers, close enough to the visiting bullpen to yell abuse if we were in that sort of mood, although it wasn't the sort of game where that happened. Rich Hill, a local guy who was out of baseball at one point shut the Orioles down, and Bogaerts almost overtook Pedroia between third and home. I kind of wonder if I sounded like some jackass guy mansplaining baseball to the foreign girl at any point, even if I was mostly giving names because her favorite team was in the NL.

The end was terrific, with Hill almost giving up a home run with two out in the ninth, except Mookie Betts jumped and went halfway into the bullpen, using his throwing arm to brace himself and haul the ball back onto the field for the last at of the game.

Fenway went nuts! Everyone was screaming, and even Missy was excited enough by that point to start jumping up and down.  At some point, her hat flew off, and being distracted by that had her next bounce carry her in my direction. I caught her, stumbled a bit...

And then we were kissing.

It just sort of happened - her bottom had sort of landed in my hands, she grabbed at my back for support, and with our faces so close together, it was like instinct just took over.

It was really nice - she has soft lips, her breasts were pressed into my chest, and her butt felt great!  As soon as I felt her tongue on mine, though, I let go and let her drop, taking a step back as she released her own grasp, just in case I were to set hard and make things really weird.

"I'm sorry!" I couldn't think of anything else to say, especially around a bunch of people starting to leave the ballpark and some wanting to get past us.

She crouched down to get her cap, giving me a dear line of sight down her top, and it didn't set my dick off or anything, but it just suddenly seemed like a thing that add be misinterpreted. After picking it up, she stood and started walking backward, keeping eye contact. "It's okay."

People behind me wanting to set out, I walked toward her. ''Are you sure?"

There wasn't much more she could do but say "yes" as the route to the concourse and gate just became a serious mass of people, and I kind of lost track of her until we were out on Landsdowne Street and the crowd thinned out a bit. She was smiling at my embarrassment. "Some game. And that ending!"

"Stop it!"

"What? You're a good kisser!"  She started doing a butt-swaying one-foot-directly-in-front-of-the-other walk in my direction. "What else are you good at, I wonder?"

"Cut it out! I was just excited and then you were right on top of of me! It wasn't about you, exactly."

She crossed her arms and then used them to push her breasts up so that there was a fair amount of cleavage peeking out of her top. "That's not a very nice thing to tell a girl!"

I turned and started to walk away, but only made it a step or two before turning around. "What is with you? Why aren't you freaking out?  That's your first kiss as a girl; it should have come from a guy that really wants you as a woman, not the person who taught you how to put on make-up and bras and is still kind of weirded out that some switch has been flipped in his brain to make him start  to like girls!"

She dropped the coquette act and shrugged. "I was glad it was someone who understood who he was kissing."

"Oh. I guess that makes sense." A lot of sense, really.  "But you know that the next guy probably won't."

"Probably not." She put her Mets cap back on, pulling her ponytail through the hole. "I'm just glad you were my first!"

She said that with a breathy sarcasm, and I pulled the cap down over her eyes. ''If you're going to be all teen love story, I'm going to have to walk you home."

She lifted her cap and then held out an elbow. "Might as well; nothing to do in this town after 8pm for those of us too young to drink." We were passing the movie theater and she looked up at the listings. "Unless you want to help me pass as a Chinese film major by checking out the new Johnnie To movie? It's a musical about the financial crisis!"

"Yeah, I think we've done enough of the pretend date for tonight."

"You sure?" She smiled while asking. "It's okay, I'm going with some of 'my' school friends tomorrow. Good chance to practice my Mandarin, at least."

We chatted about some other stuff - baseball was safe.  It wasn't long before we got to her building, and she got a bit silly again. "Want to come up?"

I played along a bit. "Do I look like that kind of guy?"

"From what you told me..."

I gave her the finger, and she mimed catching a blown kiss against her chest. I opened the rest of my hand, turned around, and started walking away.

"Hey!" I turned around to see her running toward me, getting about halfway and stopping. "Maybe we can do another practice date sometime, get the paying for stuff and paying the right compliments down before trying it on the rubes."

I chuckled, turned around, and called out goodbye.

It had been a weird night, but it was good practice - and she did feel pretty good up against me.  As much as I can't really see going any further than that with Missy, this being a heterosexual man thing could be fun.

- Annette/Benjamin

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Saturday, October 03, 2015

Tyler/Alan: Fools rush in...

...but sometimes it would be fun to be foolish.

I never meant to give Meg to impression that I expected her to get her body back and immediately fall in love with me. Let's face it... we didn't even know who I was going to wind up as, and as much as we like to think we're enlightened, there are limits to what you can put a person through. My becoming Alan definitely helped things along, but she was coming out of a very difficult year and I never wanted to make her think she owed me a chance to jump into a relationship asap. I could be patient.

When she decided she was ready, we made a date that we decided would be a good night for it - Gene would be at a late meeting, we'd have the place to ourselves (although if we were going to really work as a couple we can't keep tiptoeing around him... we just needed a bit of privacy to get the ball rolling.) As we laid in bed, still clothed, she paused a second and asked, "You're not going to turn around and tell the blog about this afterward, are you?"

"Of course not," I said. "Not right away, anyway."


She slugged me with the pillow. I probably deserved it, but I had a pretty solid case: I've been female, young and celibate for over a year. I was very interested - and I suspected that others would be too - in finding out how it felt after all that time. She was usually pretty coy about her sex life with Wade, so I wanted to be respectful, but... I mean, they know we're sleeping in the same bed.

"Okay," she relented, "Just don't give any embarrassing details... about what I'm like."

Trust me, even if I did, it would all be complimentary.

Honestly, I was the one who felt embarrassed. It was like starting from square one. Alan's body is differently-proportioned than mine, all gangly limbs and a long, thin torso. I got aches and cramps in places I didn't expect to. Not to mention, I was so overwhelmed by the sensation that, well, I couldn't quite handle it. When our first round was over, I buried my face in the pillow: "I'm so sorry I just put you through that."

She held me in her arms and smiled, "It was good, no, really."

"I'll work on it, I promise."

"You don't have anything to apologize for," she assured me. "Don't be so hard on yourself."

I couldn't help but sulk a bit. "I wanted it to be better. The best ever. Worth the wait. But I can't... it's like I don't even know my own body..."

"You don't. This isn't Tyler's body. It's new for you. It takes time. I'm here with you."

I looked at her beautiful face and smiled. "I know. I feel better already."

It would be nice to think that my time as a she lent me some insight into processing, verbalizing and dealing with my feelings, but the truth is, it may have just made me better at bottling it all up. Think about it: I only had Meg to rely on for support, and she was supportive, but I didn't want to mope to her all the time. I wanted to be the brave, stalwart man I didn't appear to be but felt I was. I didn't want to be a victim or weak. Whatever pain I had, I hid as best I could. So now I'm back to being a man and I still do that, still don't want to show any vulnerability. Still have the impulse to lash out when things go bad and I can't hide it.

But I have her understanding, her patience, her support. Holy shit, I am a lucky man.

Things have improved, slowly but surely, as we've found our rhythm. It just feels so incredible and... meaningful. And I guess, the fact that I know a bit about how it all works for her (oh, don't look at me like that, it was my body) makes me feel like this is just something... bigger and better. No matter how (ahem) long it lasts.

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Friday, October 02, 2015

Innbox: The Stevensons

Tori here! I thought I would take a break from updating you on the sordid details of my life to dig into our inbox. Since I set up the new account we've had some correspondences with a few fellow Inn victims, some of whom have agreed to share their stories but don't want to make themselves regular contributors here (not that they wouldn't be welcome.) In fact, our first write-in comes from someone who was at the Inn not long after one of our familiar faces...

Don't forget, if you have an experience you'd like to share with us, please contact us at TradingPostStories@outlook.com! All are welcome!

--

Dear Trading Post,

I have spent weeks attempting to decide whether this site is legitimate or not, whether I could feel comfortable sharing my story. But reading over the accounts from this summer, the timing and details line up. I can tell that what happened to me was indeed shared by people who are writing at this site. I feel satisfied that we are in, as much as can ever be expeted from the internet, a safe space. But all the same, I will proceed cautiously.

My name, by birth, is Glenn Stevenson. I work in middle management at a delivery company in Illinois. I am 47 years old, balding, with a wiry frame and angular features. At least, that's the image I have of myself in my mind's eye. The story in the mirror is quite different, albeit not as much so as some of those who write here. I would never compare what I have gone through personally with some of the traumas many of you have faced, but the curse did hit those around me quite badly.

I was a visitor to the Inn in late July 2015, just after Tyler and Meg were there according to this blog. I was visiting with my 17-year-old son, Mason (not his real name, but I will use it henceforth) and a friend of mine, Leon, whom I had befriended at a support group for divorced men. Which is to say, he needed a drinking buddy, and glommed onto me. When someone from our group recommended a trip to Maine to clear my head and bond with my son, Leon tagged along.

It was important to me to spend quality time with my son this summer. His mother and I split up when he was very young, and I did not see him very much because they moved often. Then a year ago, she accepted a position working with underprivileged communities in Central America and he wanted to stay in the States, so he moved in with me. Suddenly I was a full-time father again for the first time in nearly a decade - and my son was practically a stranger. It was a very difficult school year for him - he is (or was) quite overweight, shy and introverted, and while I don't necessarily oppose the way his mother raised him, I would like to think I would have helped him learn to get out of his shell if I was around, a valuable skill when you are always the new kid in town. Instead, he seemed behind, a bit immature for his age, smart but not socially comfortable yet.

From the moment we arrived, I struggled getting much interaction with him - he is very enamored of screens and not so much the beach - and neither of us were particularly fond of the rustic, almost haunted stillness of the Inn. Leon seemed unfazed, though, and started drinking as planned as soon as we arrived. It became clear that I had to spend more time attending to my friend than my son, especially when he would leer and make comments at some of the female beachgoers. There was a single woman in our age group, Cathy, in one of the rooms, but Leon dismissed her (a shame since she seemed interested in him and I didn't see him doing any better,) and focussed on younger ladies to the point of almost starting a fistfight at one of the bars in town with some college boys whose girls he was chatting up. I did my best to run interference and not encourage him.

It was a few days in. I had taken to letting Leon sleep in my room so that I could keep an eye on him, and Mason was sleeping in Leon's room a couple of doors down. I woke up at 4 AM to various cries for help and some shuffling in other rooms. I tried to shake Leon awake, to no avail. Sensing something amiss, I immediately rushed to my where my son as sleeping to make sure he was ok.

I knocked on the door and called in, "Mason? It's dad..." I started to turn the knob and softly open the door, in case he was asleep. "Mason? I'm coming in."

"Dad?" answered a decidedly unfamiliar voice. "What's happening?"

I clicked on the light and I did not see my son. I saw a very thin girl with curly brown hair propped up in bed wearing my son's Wolverine tee shirt.

"Who are you? Where's Mason?" I was in some proportion angry and scared, but mostly confused because it wasn't like my son to invite strange girls to sleep in his bed.

Especially when the next words out of her mouth were "I'm Mason. Who are you?"

I was about to say "No you're not," which seemed absurd to have to say, but she seemed shocked at the sound of her own voice. She held out a long strand of hair in her fingertips, pulling its curls straight, which she gaped at in awe and horror, like it was the first time she had ever seen it. I could see a strange wave of understanding come over her face.

She whipped the covers off her legs and examined them, as if for the first time. I wasn't sure what I was looking at at all, but she was wearing my son's boxers, which were way too big for her. She pulled the elastic band away and gaped for a moment at what she found, in further surprise.

"No way, no...!" she gasped. "What? What happened?"

I turned my head away, modestly.

She stood, grabbed the shorts to hold them up, then sat down woozily. She just stared in space.

"Listen, I want an explanation," I demanded. "Where is my son? Where is Mason Stevenson?" Around this moment, when I raised my voice, I started to notice its timbre wasn't quite right. And neither was the hand I was waving at him, which lacked my telltale wristwatch tan and (ahem) hairy knuckles. I got distracted examining it.

"Is it you? Dad?" the girl asked. "Are you Glenn Stevenson?"

"How do you know my name?" I asked with suspicion and irritation.

"I'm your son," she said, looking at me, seemingly on the brink of tears, "I'm Mason. Is this a dream, or did this really happen?"

And so, the day proceeded. It took me a moment to fully process, but seeing the face of one Peter Malinowski in the mirror (so the matching I.D. later informed me,) a rather ruggedly handsome individual with a strong hairline and jaw, if a bit of a paunch that I was starting to become aware of as I moved about more during the day. My concern was for my son - something strange had happened to all of us at the Inn, and as a young man now in the unfamiliar body of a female, he was at the most vulnerable, emotionally. I mustered every bit of parenting I could to get him through that day. And he just sat there, quietly detached, with this blank look on his new face, trying to process it. And I had to pretend like I knew everything would be ok.

I returned to my room and held my breath as I flicked on the light, unsure what I would find: there lay a middle-aged woman sprawled face-down on the side of the bed where Leon had been sleeping. Leon was now Peter's wife, Meredith. And when he woke up, he was not pleased about it.

I tried to break it to him gently, watching over him until he stirred, and asking "Leon, are you awake? I've got some bad, weird news, so brace yourself." He seemed to understand and accept that we had transformed, pretty quickly all things considered, (after a lengthy round of "What the fuck, what the fuck, holy shit, I've got a p*ssy," etc.) He would not stop complaining about it, saying I should be the "chick" and he the "dude." I told him I didn't know how we ended up like we did.

A couple of girls - the real Lauren and Tasha, who had arrived at the Inn under the guise of a young married couple (I had seen them but paid no mind) - took us aside and explained the finer details, after we had picked up most of the broad strokes. While we were conferring, I caught my son fidgeting and examining parts of his body.

"Mase!" I hissed, "Don't touch--- uh, I mean, go someplace private, okay?" He went back to the room, sullen and embarrassed. I wasn't sure what the protocol should be, but I didn't want to give him the impression that his body wasn't his to touch. Still, if I had a daughter, I wouldn't want her fidgeting with her breasts in a crowd of strangers. Leon as doing the same, but I couldn't stop him from doing so. I just wanted him to set more of an example.

"Okay, I'm a chick but do I have to be such an ugly one?" Leon said, examining Meredith's face in the mirror. I wouldn't describe her as ugly, only that she looked her age, which incidentally was still younger than Leon by a bit. She was in her early 40's, with short, light-colored hair, and a few frown lines, bags under her eyes... with a thin waist, but very round hips and thighs, and breasts that Leon described, disturbingly, as "Sag-a-licious."

"Leon, I understand we're all shocked, but could you keep your attitude more appropriate while my son is around? Try to be positive? He doesn't need to dwell on the negatives situation."

Leon scoffed and used some more vulgar language to describe his new appearance. He started drinking quickly.

Tasha and Lauren instructed us that we could probably find some kind of letter or note explaining who the Malinowskis were and what had become of them, and an impassioned plea to safeguard their lives. It seemed the responsible thing to do, if burdensome. But their letter made no mention of a daughter, only a son - Trevor. I had seen a strapping teenage boy around the Inn over the morning but hadn't had time to ask who he was or anything. That turned out to be Cathy, whose appearance inspired jealousy in Leon. She didn't seem too fazed by it either, all things considered.

The note that Trevor had left her was the one that chilled me... because the Malinowski didn't have a daughter. The girl my son now appeared to be was a local girl who snuck away from her parents to spend the night with Trevor. That explained why the baggage we found there wasn't for her, and there was only the barest minimum of personal effects for her stashed away in Trevor's room: one clearly worn set of clothes, and a clutch purse containing a hastily-written note that agreed with Trevor's. It identified her as Brooke Shaner.

I had even seen a posting asking for information on her whereabouts. People were looking for her, and if my son was now her, then taking him across state lines, either to the Malinowski's home in Delaware or mine in Illinois, would be a felony. My heart completely stopped as I realized my only options were to break the law or surrender my son to strangers, leaving him alone and vulnerable and trapped in a strange body that didn't match his mind.

I mulled it over for a bit and concluded Mason was old enough to be involved in the discussions. So at the end of the day I sat him down on the bed. He was a sad sight, shoulders hunched, hair tangled over his girlish face, which was red and streaked by dried tears he clearly didn't want me to see.

"Hey, buddy, listen. We are in a really tough situation right now. You understand, right? What's happened to us?"

"Uh huh," he sighed. "I'm... I turned into a girl."

"Right," I said, "A specific girl. Someone who is missing, someone whose parents are worried right now. And as a parent, I understand what they're going through. And if you walked through their door right now, they would be very happy, very relieved. But if I let that happen, I would feel like I was abandoning you. I have a responsibility to you. And if you don't want to go, I will do my best to protect you and keep you safe."

"I'm so confused," he sniffed, choked up, "You want me to go live with strangers?"

"No I don't want that at all," I insisted, "But like I said, it's a tough choice. And we're going to make it together. I can't get us back to our own lives, our own bodies, but that doesn't mean... I don't think it means we're stuck. Not forever. I'm going to get us out of this."

He froze for a moment, then said quietly, "I don't want to go."

I wrapped my arms around him. He resisted at first - hugs were always kind of an awkward moment between us and now he was in a body that wasn't his and clearly uncomfortable just being touched - but he wrapped his thin arms around me, and I said into his ears "It's going to be okay, I love you, it's going to be okay."

I didn't sleep at all that night. Partly was that after waking up to such a shock, you find it difficult to get comfortable in the Inn. Partly, I was head-to-toe with Leon and had his Meredith-feet in my face (he first demanded I sleep on the floor but I told him that wasn't feasible.) Mostly I was trying to come up with ways to smuggle my son out of the state. Would we go to Illinois first, or Delaware? Would they be looking for her at the airport, or would we have to drive? What if we cut her hair, disguised her with make-up... would we have to hide her in the trunk?

KNOCK KNOCK.

A loud rapping at the door at 6 am. Oh, no, I thought, what now.

My worst fears: a pair of police officers were canvassing the Inn holding a picture of Brooke. "Sorry to wake you sir, but we got a tip that this girl might be at this Inn."

I had to think quick and stammered, "I, um... I think..." I sighed, reluctantly, "Yeah, I think I saw her but I don't know if she's still here."

"But she was here?"

I tried to backpedal "I don't know, there was a girl here but I didn't get a... uh, good look at her."

"Do you mind if we search your room? Just as a precaution."

"I, um... yeah, sure." I gritted my teeth, trying to figure out a way to stall them.

Leon stirred, deeply hung over, "What the fuck, Glenn?"

"These cops are looking for a missing girl... honey," I said, playing husband.

One of them asked, "Your name, sir?"

"P-Peter..." it took me a moment to recall "my" new last name, "Melanski." I got it wrong, but they didn't check. They also didn't ask why my "wife" had called me "Glenn." Leon just laid there, muttering "Fuckin' pigs" under his breath while I tried to hush him.

As soon as they left I scrambled for my phone to text Mason, but I paused... if I warned him, it could be incriminating. If I did anything I could be in trouble. I froze.

I watched them bring my son outside to the Shaner family, who were waiting for their daughter.

I had failed.

When Mason turned to look at me, with a look of fear and confusion on his face, I mouthed, "I tried, I'm so sorry. I love you."

I felt like the worst father, the worst person ever.

I had waited a day to contact the real Malinowskis, currently in Albany, because I didn't know what my plan was going to be. Now it felt like nothing I did mattered, so I agreed to take Leon and Cathy to Delaware. The real Peter is an amenable person, which probably is partly due to currently feeling helplessly trapped in the body of a ten-year-old girl. We started working on plans right away to get everyone back where they belonged, but I could only think of my son.

I worried the whole way about how I was going to contact him, how I was going to rescue him. I didn't have a phone number for Brooke, and he had left his phone in his/Leon's room. But Cathy reminded me that kids today have a huge social media presence, and he would probably still check his own Facebook profile.

I sent him a message from mine: "We are in Delaware. Tell me if you're OK. I still want to help you, to fix this."

It wasn't until the next day that I got a reply: "I'm ok."

I didn't press him for more details, but if I'm being honest, I wanted to shake him until he told me everything he had been through. I had a hard enough time getting two words out of him when things were normal, and now we were separated and there was a chance I'd never see him again. I asked for more details as politely as I could and he just said "Don't really wanna talk about it. Sorry."

I want him to feel like he can come to me, but now there's this huge wedge between us... he's going through something that I can't fully comprehend, and we're so far apart it's like I'm not even his dad. I don't know what to do... but I'm determined to do something.

Anyway, that's my story. So far. Thanks for hearing me out.

-Glenn, "Peter Malinowski" Stevenson

Postscript: I have invited Mr. Stevenson to take part in our blog, and would extend that invitation to any member of his "family." His response was that it took him so long to compose this letter that he didn't see regular contributions as practical, but would consider checking in when he was able to, hopefully when there is good news. Best of luck! -T.

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