Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jonah/Krystle: The past four months

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lane/Kari: The Easy Way Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashley was in the living room.

"Going out?" She asked

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

"Is Aunt Rosita going with you?"

"Nope, just me and some other friends"

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

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

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


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

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

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

"Ooh, Champagne"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

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

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

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

My vagina had not yet been used properly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy fucking shit.

Holy fucking shit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Yuan-wei/Jordan/"Missy"

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Annette/Benjamin: First for-real dates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A LOT of sex.

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

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

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

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

"Better than the French 3D sex movie?"

"Yeah, things blew up real good!"

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

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

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

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


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Lane/Kari: Given Notice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Lane/Kari: Stuffed and Shoved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's gonna be a challenging season.