It's been just over 2 months since I declared to the world my intentions to abandon the life I was born with and assume the one I was given. Choosing to stay where the inn puts you gives you an entirely new perspective on things. Last year my sole underlying focus was to get back to Maine intact and do whatever it took to survive in the interim. If it hadn't been for Ashley I might have been a little more reckless with Kari's life and done things like quit my job and dress like a slob. The whole experience felt like a very realistic VR game almost.
That attitude still lingered a bit when I got back to Michigan for good. There are some behaviors that have crept into my lifestyle that don't make sense for a grown woman who has to deal with the consequences of her actions. There are also things about my current situation that I'd like to improve but required too much effort to do before I saw any reward.
I never made lists like this when I was Lane. Life was simpler then and while work was complicated I had an assistant. Stacy. I hadn't thought about her in months before yesterday but I now have sympathy for just how difficult that kind of work can be. When I became Kari, I thought about using lists to keep all the new aspects of life in order, but when you're a working mom the world is just too random and chaotic to have any chance of keeping track of it with a list. Still, this new life requires a concentrated effort to make it truly mine, and effort requires organization. So these are some of these things:
1. Get My GED
My job is actually pretty well paying for a high school dropout, but I'm not a high school dropout. I kind of coasted through high school and college and got good enough grades and had a family that supported me throughout. I never realized how much I took my education for granted until I no longer had it. Or rather, I no longer can prove that I have it. I've got all the knowledge and skills that I developed but nobody believes that I do.
Adriana asked me the other day why I just didn't move up from the receptionist desk and move to a brokerage position, and while I'd never do that because the hours required would be overwhelming it was a reminder that the entire world sees me as someone who isn't as capable because I lack the requisite pieces of paper.
I had thought that I could just take a test and get the high school equivalency and move forward from there but that's not the case. I've got to take classes in the evening to make sure I'm ready.
2. Lose some weight
There are a lot of things I miss and don't miss about testosterone, but by far the biggest drawback of having so little now is my metabolism is shot. My body tells itself to store calories instead of burning them and while I don't even eat near the same stuff and amounts of it as I did when I was male, it still catches up with me.
I look at myself naked in the mirror a lot again. When I first became Kari I hesitated lingering because I was scared of my foreign body. When the fear subsided it gave way to curiosity and I found myself staring, poking, and even stroking in the mirror before getting in the shower. It was less than three months before I was over that and came to get used to this reflection being mine. Nowadays I stare because that reflection is in a different context. Before it was "this is some other person that you look like for the rest of the year" now it's "You look like this for the rest of your life...Kari"
That's my long winded way of admitting that I've gained some weight. Fitness hasn't been a priority because this body wasn't in exercising shape when I got it and having extra creme cheese on your bagel is something you say yes too when you won't be around to see the long term consequences of your actions. I'm up maybe 20 pounds...probably a little more. I didn't mind at first because it went straight to my hips and ass and made them look even
better. Now it's starting to go to my stomach and thighs and there's a bit of a cottage cheese effect that I'm not pleased with. It's not that I'm vain now that I'm female, but I'm also conscious of the fact that this is my forever body so keeping the heart and lungs in good shape is probably a good idea. Plus 20 pounds doesn't sound like much but in one year it is. At that rate in 5 years it would be 100 lbs and suddenly life is a lot less pleasant.
Ashley saw me looking at gym brochures and invited me to go running with her. I told her maybe but the answer to that is a hard no. I'm still a fairly competitive man on some level and having a teenage girl run both faster and farther than me isn't something the remnants of my ego is ready to deal with.
3. Learn Spanish
Something I haven't really talked about is suddenly becoming Mexican. I would be lying if I said it was no big deal, because I get treated differently than I did when I was white by both other races and other Latinos. I kind of just brushed the whole thing aside because in a way it felt disrespectful to participate too much in the culture. Almost like I would be wearing "brown face" and I didn't feel comfortable behaving in ways that would indicate I had actually had 30 years being raised in that environment.
I fully intend to live the next 30 years as a Latina, so I'm going to do everything I can to embrace it. So far that's meant listening to the Spanish music station in the car and trying to reproduce some of Pilar's (Another thing to get used to, calling her "Mama") authentic recipes.
Kari was raised in an bi-lingual environment and speaks fluent Spanish. I had a year of high school elective stuff so unless I want to know where the library is, I can't communicate with old friends and relatives. I feel I owe it to these people who brought their language with them to a new country and teach it to Kari to at least try to learn it so it doesn't seem like I'm rejecting my newfound heritage.
I'm thinking my best bet is secretly taking a community college class because I've heard mixed reviews of digital language learners. The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself and communicate with native speakers. While I have no shortage of those in my life, including Ashley, it would arouse to much suspicion if the girl who was speaking Spanish since she was 2 now had the same vocabulary that she did when she was 2. Maybe I'll start watching Univision.
4. Make new friends
People go through different sets of friends through the different stages of their lives. You start with a set of friends that you play with during elementary school. I was best friends with Rich Van Horn because our names were close in the alphabet and we sat near each other. Then as you head into junior high and raging hormones cause you to create your own personality you start hanging out with a clique that shares your similar interests. Sometimes this clique lasts or sometimes it's traded in for a new set of friends in high school who are quickly abandoned once you make it to college. College friends last a lot longer and if you're lucky enough to stay in the same city as some of them after graduation they're your adult friends. When you're 30 you don't need or want to make new friends, which is good because it's really hard to do so.
I'm in the uniquely difficult situation of having inherited a set of friends that I didn't make and if I had spent my entirely life in this body, probably wouldn't have made. Kari's family is now my family because of genetics. Family usually comes from your body. Friends come from your mind and personality. Now that "Karina Cruz" has a different mind and personality, her friends no longer match.
Rosita noticed this. Rosita is Kari's best friend since forever and the two of them have been partying and being irresponsible since before Ashley was born. (Which is probably why Ashley was born to a 14 year old mother...) and I hung out with her when it made sense to maintain Kari's life. Now that this is my life, I really don't have any need to do those things with her.
We've had an argument about it recently. She didn't like that I kept blowing her off on weekends to stay in or spend time with Ashley. She told me I was turning into a boring house mother and I asked what was wrong with that. She said she didn't understand what had happened to me lately.
The curse prevents her from understanding that she and I are no longer compatible personalities and that sucks for both of us. Her because she lost a friend to the Inn, me because it means I need to find myself a new set of friends. I will say that meeting new people is easier when you're a woman. We're more social with each other and talking to strangers isn't awkward. The one disadvantage is that there are plenty of men who are super friendly with the intention of trying to be much more than friends.
The ladies at work have been catty and bitchy to me throughout my tenure at Latherman financial because they didn't like that I was sleeping with the boss. Even though that's over I'm not sure those are the types of people I want to be friends with on a daily basis. Maybe I'll meet new people in GED class.
Anyway, those are the things that I'm focusing on as I try and get more than comfortable in this body and life. It helps to write things like this down so I'll probably keep all of you updated on my transition from "man in a woman's body" to a "Woman who happened to have lived in a man's body before".