Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Valerie: The Changes Never Stop

I found out recently that I'm lactose intolerant.

I had been feeling very gross off and on recently and I couldn't put my finger on why. Well, I guess I had some kind of an inkling but I probably dismissed it because I knew I never had a problem with it before. But the other week we were decorating out Apartment Christmas Tree and that meant lots of boozy Egg Nog, and that ended with me in the bathroom until 3 AM and turning down Rafe for the night (he was disappointed, and very immature about it when I told him why.)

I know this barely sounds like news, but it is to me. I had really hoped I was done being surprised by my body. We've reached a good place, me and it. I know when I'm about to start my period, I found a good sleeping position, and I think I've figured out where all my erogenous zones are (some would surprise you.) Then it goes and throws me a curveball - it's changed.

Changed. Huh. Funny that. It was like I took for granted that the body I inherited from the original Val would always be what it was. But the truth is, we are all changing all the time, in ways we barely notice. Sometimes it's health, sometimes it's taste. And it don't take a magical Inn to spark these changes sometimes. Things are going to change and keep changing.

So on that note...

I made a consultation for next week to get my breasts reduced. It's crazy that it has taken me this long to woman up and do it... it's been a year now since Cynthia gifted me with the money to do so if I so desired, because that was a goal of hers, but she was living hand-to-mouth (and dared not ask her high-earning-but-indebted fiance for the cash.)

It wasn't a goal of mine. Sure, my boobs and I haven't always gotten along. I know what it's like to be a woman with much smaller breasts, as Lauren and Judith. But both of those lives seem just as alien to me as Tyler's. I identify myself as Valerie, and Valerie's body is this. Short and busty.

Well, there's no making me taller.

In a way I had made my peace with them. I always have complaints - they're damned inconvenient, it's hard to find nice clothes that fit, they make me sore, they draw a ton of attention and the minute I forget I have them, I knock something over on the counter with them or dip them in ketchup.

But they're mine. I'm attached to them because I woke up with them as part of me when I began being Valerie, and I identify them as a defining characteristic of myself-as-her. Not to mention sometimes the attention they attract is not unwanted, and deep down there's still a kernel of a man inside of me who thinks it's stupendous to wake up every morning and scrub up the hugest pair of breasts I've ever seen.

But they're biologically wrong. They are literally too big for my body and I'm pretty sure a lot of damage has already been done. In my head, my reluctance comes from the idea of getting rid of my breasts entirely and suddenly becoming flat. It would change my life but also I worry it would leave me feeling less like a woman (Meg has reminded me over and over that this is the wrong way to think.) They're roughly an H cup (once you get this big, sizes are really just approximate) and I could probably go down to a full C and still feel sexy and busty and proportionate and healthy all at once, but it's scary because that is like making this body into something other than the one I woke up in and after all this time I value that stability. Even if it leaves me unable to sleep on my stomach.

Truth is, it's stupid not to do. I guess I just wanted more time to be sure. Knowing my body is changing on me in strange ways kind of spurred me to think about this again.

(Feels self up)

Get them while you can...

-Val

Friday, November 15, 2019

Simon/Joy: That Thing Is Heavier Than It Looks!

My man has good timing.  Or maybe just phenomenal retention of details over time.  It will have to remain a mystery, because I'm not going to dredge up the thing that would answer the question one way or another with him.

It's been roughly a year since one of his visits to California lined up with me being at a low point, as the man living my life dropped a "Save The Date" on me to say he was going to stay as Simon for, presumably, life.  That date was last weekend, but instead of moping around some dismal wedding venue in Cleveland, feeling conflicted about what message bringing my rich boyfriend sends to the man who stole my life, I was lying on the beach in Jamaica, letting a charming Scottish man fetch me vodka martinis, pondering getting a Honey Ryder bikini for selfie purposes, even if I don't quite have the same sort of curves Ursula Andress did.

Indeed, by Sunday night I was relaxed and content by the campfire, showing Iain how to make s'mores, which are apparently not a big thing in Scotland.  I was thinking of it as just a vacation, not connected with that other thing, so I was genuinely surprised when, as we were about to dose the fire, he got down on one knee, pulled a jewelry box from somewhere, and asked me to marry him.

I stopped beating for a moment.  I don't know what goes through a real girl's mind then but I had so many thoughts all at once.  I had never imagined seeing this scene from this perspective, looking down at at a man on one knee with the ring extended toward me like the really cheesy bit in a 3D movie, and there's an amazing feeling when it hits you that someone likes you enough to make this offer.

And also, I did itI've played the part of a woman so successfully that there was nothing in the back of his mind that made proposing feel wrong.  I'd made him like the parts of me that were different from the original Joy, maybe even more, because he hadn't asked her.  And, yes, I'd landed myself a rich husband, one who would give me peace and security no matter what else being Joy threw at me.  It was the biggest sales job I've ever done, with the biggest commission.

You may say that sounds mercenary and awful, but I didn't feel any guilt as I said "yes" with genuine delighted surprise and let him slide the ring onto my finger.  I'm not the first pretty girl to use my good looks to lock in a comfortable life, and I won't be the last - and most of the others grew up learning how to navigate the world as a woman.

And I do love him.  It's probably not the same way a regular woman lives a man, but I feel good when I'm around him and warmer as he held me and kissed me.  I feel a bit of envy where most girls probably just feel desire, and I probably measure him against what I'd do in a similar situation more than his other girlfriends have, but he scores well, so what of it?

All of that did make it feel different when we had sex as soon as getting back to the hotel room.  We'd liked each other before; now we belonged to each other, and we were both a bit more aggressive and careful with what we were holding.  I think I may have enjoyed it bit more, too - it was almost like back when I first discovered my clit and was learning new ways to stimulate it with each new guy.  No pressure, just fun.

Still, when I got into the shower afterward, taking off my earrings and necklace and other jewelry, I looked at the ring and had a brief moment where I didn't know whether to take it off or not, thinking that girls who had planned to get married since they were kids knew but I didn't because I'm a fake.  I decided not to take it off, but it took a second, and Iain noticed the hesitation.  He thought it was funny when I said that I'd just realized I'd never be totally naked again.

I had a quick moment of panic when we got to the airport because of it.  I think that most of us guys the Inn turned into girls tend to go light on jewelry, and I always take it off before going through airport security, but obviously this wasn't coming off.  It was a silly thing to worry about - did I think every engaged woman or married couple took these things off and risked losing them in the x-ray machine? - but I didn't think about it until that moment.

Then we got home and it was time to show off the ring, and that was kind of weird.  Not at first - Sir Robert was the first person we told and showed, and he was just as sweet as can be.  Weathers and some of the other help may not have been completely pleased - I get the feeling some of them see Iain marrying an American who isn't rich as beneath him and somehow them by extension - but to hell with them.  I may be able to fire them if they give me crap by this time next year.

I haven't made a while lot of female friends of my own here yet - we travel, split time between the manor and London, and lots of Iain's friends are couples anyway - so that's kind of weird.  I see them with him, and my first instinct is to kind of be causal, but he wants to tell them, and I get it.  It's a big deal, and a really nice ring, after all, and I've certainly liked it when a girl showed off a gift I gave her in my old life, but it kind of starts to feel one-sided at a certain point.  He's not wearing a ring showing that he's claimed and off the market, and I've got to relate the whole story of him getting down on one knee like I was surprised and flattered and not like this is something I've been working toward, even though I'm pretty sure some of these women were just as mercenary as me.

Joy's parents are thrilled, but I'm already wondering what the next year's going to be like.  The bride's family isn't people who can be minimized when wedding planning, but I've been living my own life.  They probably know a lot more about Joy's dream wedding than I do, and I'm guessing it might be useful.  I don't have a dream wedding, after all, and living her dream is probably better than just going through the motions.

After which I'll be Joy McKinnon.  I suppose I should be a little sad about that, but it's not like "Kershaw" means that much to me.

Still, there's a lot coming up, because I've got this ring on my finger, even if most of my life is staying the same.

-Simon/Joy

Monday, November 11, 2019

Valerie: Two and a Half Men

I don't really count myself as half a man anymore, but the reference is too apt not to use. For my purposes it's better if I think of myself as all-woman, and yet maybe that's not true either.

One night after Rafe and I had sex, we got to talking - it's rare, but it happens and honestly when he feels chatty we do have a good chemistry. I was talking about some of my negative experiences in dating, and he said it wasn't surprising that I couldn't find a match.

Slightly offended, I asked why.

"Well, don't take this the wrong way, but... you're kind of like, basically a dude."

I stared a hole right through him. Of course I knew what he was talking about, but I didn't want to.

"Is that so," I asked.

"Yeah, I don't know what it is about you, but you're the opposite of every girl."

"Why, because I like sports and don't love shopping?"

"No - you actually do like shopping. And you cook and clean."

"And these things are usually considered girly..." I said.

"It's your attitude. I've been taking sociology classes. Gender studies. It's like you weren't socialized like a normal chick. You seem like you could hardly give a fuck about relationships and intimacy and communicating, you're more about straight-up facts and details. You're a little more masculine, a little colder and harder than other chicks."

"First of all," I said with annoyance, "It can't be right to stereotype a whole gender like that." I was trying desperately - maybe ironically but here's where we're at - to downplay the idea that I am a guy inside.

"Maybe," Rafe admitted, "But there's something unusual about you, and I bet after one date most guys can sense it, and they decide you're too much trouble. Or like, dating you would be too much like dating a guy."

"Isn't that what most guys want?"

"They think they do," he said, "but then they have it and it's like... oh, shit, this is weird."

"And it's not weird for you?"

"I'm not dating you," he noted pointedly. "Or maybe I'm a little gay, I don't know."

"Me neither," I said, and quickly got us off the topic.

It was a few weeks into my new casual non-relationship with Rafe. Things were going about as well as could be expected. I was still hanging out with Kevin, although there was a definite change in our relationship. I didn't feel the need to tell him I was sleeping with somebody else - being that he had passed up every opportunity he had, I figured I didn't owe him an explanation, and at the time I still wasn't sure if Rafe and I were a thing worth mentioning.

I've been doing my best to keep things separate. On Halloween, for example, I let it slip to Rafe that I didn't have any other plans that night. I haven't met Kevin's kids yet because, well, I'm not "that person" and it doesn't seem fair, to any of us, for the kids to get to know me if this isn't really a relationship. It's something we've spoken about over coffee, during our many soul-searching chats.

Rafe seemed a little "off" when I proposed we do something for the night. It struck me that he may have thought I was trying to back him into a, god forbid, boyfriend-girlfriend type situation. So I scrambled to explain, which I probably shouldn't have had to do, that I really just mean I would be up for doing anything and it would be best (ie, I would feel more comfortable, as a single woman) if there was someone there I knew.

He stifled his irritation and we made some plans, but I was regretting it. I was flashing back to the previous year when I was starting to pin some boyfriend-type expectations on him and he made it clear he wasn't interested in the role. I wondered if I was putting myself through too much of a wringer again.

The night was fixing to be a shitshow of epic proportions. He insisted we arrive separately. He didn't wear a costume, which made me feel silly for wearing a cowgirl getup, with Daisy Dukes and my boobs basically all the way out under a gingham shirt, in my one industrial-strength pushup bra. But whatever - I looked cute and hot at the same time, and he looked like a dope because everyone else was in costume.

He made it clear he wasn't there to keep me company, chatting up every girl he could meet - and striking out with pretty much all of them. I'll admit I felt a twinge of jealousy. It's hard to say why. We're not exclusive. I give lots of my time and attention to a whole other guy. It's unfair to expect Rafe to only be with me. And yet the idea of him going home with anyone but me really bugged me.

I hated feeling that way. So I downed some tequila and hit the dance floor.

I can't stress this enough - I cannot dance. Whatever rhythm women naturally possess was not handed down to me when I became one. But I have hips and other parts that are fun to shake awkwardly, and men are usually just impressed enough by the sight of a woman in motion that talent doesn't really play into it.

Men started to chat me up. Because of the walls I keep around myself, I guess, it doesn't happen often - it's not like I hit the clubs in my spare time, it's not like I seek attention usually, but when I want it, I get it.

Only problem is, when I got it, I found I really didn't want it. Men can be such a nuisance. Few of them have anything interesting to say, mostly they're just looking for ways to compliment your body and impress you with their job or their money. Then it's so hard to get away it feels like you're stuck. I like them better when they're shutting up and getting physical. So I danced with a few guys, which made me feel less claustrophobic. With enough liquor and the right atmosphere you kinda don't notice they're starting to get bolder, take liberties, put their hands in places where they wouldn't with the lights on. You don't mind, it's all in fun... but your mind starts to wander.

One guy was dressed as Dustin from Stranger Things - no, not interested in making out with someone dressed as a child. Another guy was he grim reaper, but the face paint was off-putting. Every guy, there was some reason not to cut loose.

I checked on Rafe. He was having fun but it was clear he was giving up on the game. So when I came back to him, he was more open to it. I asked him if he wanted to get out of there, and he said of course, and that was how we ended up back at my place for the night.

That was when we had that conversation. It's been ringing in my ears ever since. It bugged me enough to be told I seemed like a guy - I know I'll never be someone who was born to be a woman, but I like to think I've grown into it and pass nicely as one. It actually hurt to hear that wasn't necessarily the case.

I definitely thought things didn't work out with any of my dates because I had rejected them - because I'm at a point in my life where the directionless boys I was attracting didn't meet the standards of what I wanted to be with. But none of them seemed too driven to be with me either.

I think that's why I like being with Kevin. He's the only guy I've met in this life who is older and more experienced than me, and I guess feeling young brings out the girlish youthfulness that makes me feel feminine. I feel like I'm the person I really want to  e when I'm around him. I feel like I'm taking care of his emotional needs in a way I never thought I could, and he does the same for me, in away - but at a distance. It hurts and yet it makes me feel good.

This shit is complicated. No wonder why I need sweaty, unemotional sex with Rafe to ease my mind.

Between the two it really feels like I have it all, and yet... it never seems to come together.

-Val

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Jonah/Krystle: Costume Season

I don't really think my childhood was weird, or even different in a way that's out of line with being Krystle, but every once in a while, I get reminded that I might be the weird guy in some situations even if I'd never heard of the Trading Post Inn. 

Like, Sunday afternoon, Calvin's friend Annalise had a six-hour layover in Boston on the way from Bangor to Atlanta, so we decided to meet for an early dinner.  She asks what Little Moira is up to, and I say mostly blocks, although she can't decide if she wants to be an architect or Godzilla.  She says that at least that's Halloween sorted, and I chuckle, saying that she add the second person today to talk about getting a Halloween costume for a girl who isn't even three yet, and the first time, can you believe it, was right outside church!

Annalise gives me the "I don't expect people under fifty to mention church" look (something,  thankfully, Calvin doesn't do anymore) before glancing at Calvin, who shrugs and then looking back at me.  "Is..... that weird?"

I shrug.  "Only if you think suddenly talking up a pagan celebration of witchcraft outside the Lord's house is weird."

Annalise half-chuckles and nods, saying that's fair, but Calvin looks like I've just said something ridiculous. 

"If that's how you feel, why'd you say you were up for Big Stu's party on Saturday?"

Because I honestly hadn't given the date much thought when I answered Calvin's text, I thought.

"Because I am!  I'm looking forward to it, I just think Halloween stuff a at church is kind of out of place, is all!" I said.

Don't get the wrong idea, it's not like I don't like Halloween; even though my parents would make annual noises about how it was a gateway to satanism and paganism, they handed candy out and bought me a costume while I was in elementary school so I wouldn't be given a hard time, and what kid doesn't like candy?  It just sort of fell away as I got older, and my friends and I were just getting old enough to, you know, appreciate the particular sort of effort girls were staying to put into their costumes, which got the talk about this being a different sort of temptation started.

Anyway, we weren't building Hell Houses or anything, but Halloween was always kind of four other people, and I was never really in a place to even think of dressing up before now, even though Jordan would always talk about how much fun it was and I should give it a try.

Big Stu's Halloween party, I soon gathered, was not one where folks generally did the minimum, and part of the days activities would be going out and finding a fun, sexy couple's costume.  Which, naturally, somehow manages to be sexier for the girl than the guy, although Calvin was actually pretty cool about that - if I was going to be a French maid, he was going to be the pool boy rather than the butler.  Maybe he wouldn't have before, but all our gym dates have given him some pretty good abs, so he could rock the crop-top without it being a total joke.

I was a bit alarmed when I saw what the pair cost - that is not a lot of fabric per dollar - but Calvin paid, although I was on my own when we stopped to the discount shoe store on account of me not having a pair of black four-inch heels to complete the costume.  Apparently it's something a girl really shouldn't be without, but I never replaced the pair I inherited from Krystle after I dripped something heavy on the box they were in.  Maybe they were expensive, maybe not, but I hadn't paid for them and they looked scary, so I had no trouble throwing them away.

I didn't freak out about all the skin it showed as much as I expected I would over the next week - the bottom is long enough to cover my butt and a pair of pantyhose can make you feel much less naked.  I got good feedback when I sent a picture to Jordan, too - she said I should show my shoulders off a little more next summer, and though I initially groaned when she asked if I had an underwire bra that pushed my breasts up more, I had to admit it seemed to be what the costume was made for.

I got a bit of a self-confidence boost when I changed on Saturday night and made my way into the living room; Moira pronounced "Mommy pretty", followed by Momma Kamen saying "Mommy's something", then saying that if she didn't know better, she'd think I was back at "my" old job.  I stick out my tongue and said it wasn't like Calvin was the only one showing off, because he looked pretty hot in his own costume.

Since we live at opposite ends of the T, we decided to meet in the middle, but I started feeling like an idiot about halfway through the walk to my station.  It's only couple blocks, but it's uphill, and even though I've seen women carrying shoes by their heels while eating flats that don't match the rest of their outfits all the time while living in the city, I never picked it up as something I should do.  I wasn't going to be that kind of girl, after all, not really thinking that she might be on her way to or from a date with one guy she really likes.  Our even a job interview.

We met at Park Street, trying to figure out the right route because the Orange Line was shut down.  I smirked a bit at his bare legs and flip-flops sticking out from under his coat.  "Looking sexy."

"So are you, for real.  I didn't expect you to get your hair done."

"I apparently own a wig."  I pulled it back to show him the natural do scrunched up underneath the straight hair.  "Nothing else I did worked with the costume, and I ain't getting no perm for no party."

"Fair enough!"

Anyway, it's a party.  Calvin's game night friends are there, as well as a bunch of friends-of-friends.  I've probably met most of them over the course of the past year, although they seem to remember me better than I remember them individually, but to be fair, I kind of stick out in a crowd of white guys who went to college to study how to make money as a subject all on its own. Calvin knows how I look in the middle of this, keeping guys from slapping my butt when we bobbed for apples despite the fact that the whole point was probably scoping out our butts and boobs as we leaned over, although I didn't really think of that until I felt my breasts feeling like they'd slide out of my bra if it given just a little encouragement.  A couple of times I went from feeling kind of glad to have a hand at my back as I tried to chat while standing in four-inch heels after a few drinks only to not entirely be sure what to do as it started moving lower.

Anyway, as much as I don't think I'll ever love Halloween as much as Jordan, I kind of get why she likes it so much.  You spend so much time trying to be just the right amount of whatever - sexy, nerdy, a fan of something, professional - that it's really fun to dress up and say this is part of who you are.  I didn't exactly come by this sort of sexiness honestly, but it's part of me now, and I think Calvin liked playing at being super laid-back as the pool boy.  I mentioned it to him as we got on the train, and he said he knew that the pool boy always stopped by the servants' quarters after his work was done, to which I replied that it was awful close to the nursery, but maybe there was a boathouse where he hung out...

Obviously we got each other out of our costumes at his place with all the role-playing.  That thought vanished from my head the next morning, though, as I woke up and started calculating time to get back to Momma Kamen's, shower, deal with the hair that had become a real mess under the wig, get Moira ready, and head to church.  I'm guessing there aren't a lot of churchgoers at Big Stu's parties, because my schedule would be really tight.

I kissed him as I ran out the door, texting a picture of myself on the subway with my hair a mess and my heels in my hand, saying there ain't no walk of shame like a Halloween walk of shame, smiling a bit when he said I had nothing to be ashamed of.  Not sure Momma Kamen thought the same thing, or anybody in the church where we usually arrive a bit earlier.

Suffice it to say, I did not go with the push-up bra and heels when I took my daughter trick-or-treating last night (a day early, but I both had to work tonight and a lot of people were putting to beat the rain); I wouldn't have gone with the costume at all but Moira's Godzilla costume is now her favorite pajamas, and she said "Mommy too!" a lot.  I will wear them at work tonight to win a bet with Moira's namesake, although it better not give her or Ashlyn any long-term ideas.

And then it goes into the closet for who knows how long, because when else am I going to use it?  Halloween may not entirely be the work of Satan, but I'm not sure it's appropriate to donate something like that to Goodwill or another charity collecting clothes for the needy.

-Jonah/Krystle

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Valerie: Nothing stays secret for long here...

Two Friday nights ago was supposed to be a big night. Kevin was taking me to a ball - an actual damn ball, a fundraiser for a charity he is involved with. I definitely felt strange about accepting the invite. After all, he and I had been in every romantic situation you could imagine - spending quiet nights in cooking together, going on long walks, taking a weekend getaway upstate. We've practically been living in one of those Nicholas Sparks movies for months, but we never get to the big kiss. That's off the table. I'm aware of that. A big elegant ball seemed like it would only be the latest.

I was getting frustrated. My feelings weren't dissipating as fast as I'd hoped, and now they were mutating a little bit. Selfishly, the romantic feelings I had for him were starting to twist into negativity, even though it's not his fault he doesn't reciprocate. I had agreed to be his friend, and it started to feel like I was becoming something of a surrogate girlfriend - certain rights and responsibilities without all of the privileges. It leaves me feeling a little empty, like he's using me for this role without being able to give back what I would like for it. And then I feel bad because he's been nothing but honest with me.

I put so much effort in. I had Maddie do my make-up and help with my hair since I'm still amateur at the curling wand and any cosmetics beyond mascara and lip gloss. (Contouring? What is that?) Ariel helped me accessorize by lending earrings, necklace, and bracelets she thought would go with the dress. Neither could help me with shoes since I have the tiniest feet known to man, but we picked some out together. Kevin, flashing his money around, paid for a gown I had picked out, the one thing I didn't hate which would properly cover my proportions. Something sparkly and silky. Years ago I hated dressing this way because it put me on display in a way I really did not want to be. Now... it's still not me, but for the right night it could be. I'm in a body I feel is mine, and it does wonders for my self esteem to see people light up when they get a look at me. I never thought I would say this fondly but, I looked and felt like a princess.

The night was good. He was his usual charming self and I was my usual not-so-smooth self, a roughneck in heels. I probably drank too much and made an ass of myself, but I think that happens to be part of my appeal as I make inappropriately lowbrow jokes around his friends and colleagues. We dined, we mingled, we even danced, although he was a bit stiff, and I am honestly just a terrible dancer anyway. All the guys I talked to referred to me as "Kevin's girlfriend" and neither of us corrected hem. To me, that sexually charged energy was still there. My heart was beating faster at his touch, at his looks, and I was sick about it.

Flash forward to the next morning at my apartment. My gown is on the floor of the living room. The girls are having coffee. I come out in my robe to a thunderous applause and cheers of "Ow oww!" My face goes hot, blushing. I don't really like people knowing when I've had sex as a woman, which is so weird to me, because when I'm actually having it I'm the happiest I've ever been and I shouldn't be ashamed of that. I wave them off. "Really, it's nothing, nothing."

"Nothing??" Ariel coughs, "You've been after this guy for months, and he was like a brick wall. You finally broke through? Damn girl, I knew you knew how to use that body."

"That... I... it's really not..."

"Tell us all about it," Charli said. "We need tea, sis!"

"Maddie, talk some sense into your twin, please," I implored. "I could use just a little bit of privacy."

"If I could control her, I would have years ago..." Maddie shrugged.

"Whatever he was doing in there sounded like it was working," Charli said.

"I don't want to talk about it," I said, "I just want some coffee and to go back to bed."

I crossed over to the coffee maker. Maddie gave me this look. I turned away.

"Oh, no," she said.

"No--" I abruptly said.

"I know that look."

"It's not..." I stammered.

She rushed over to my bedroom door, over my protests of privacy.

She threw it wide open and saw him there, a blanket barely covering his junk.

"Morning Maddie," Rafe said with that stupid, goofy, smug grin he gets. "Where's the coffee?"

"Vaa-aa-aal!!" Maddie shrieked, while Charli and Ariel laughed their damn heads off and I shrunk with embarrassment like a turtle.

The truth is, it had been brewing for a while, and I was fully aware of it. After Rafe came back to the shop, we got into some of our old patterns of bantering and bickering, and basically flirting constantly under the guise of constantly being irritated with each other. And the truth is he is extremely irritating but in all that, he's the one guy I've met in my entire time as Valerie who treats me like a regular person, with faults and flaws as well as my own unique appeal.

I had basically decided I was probably going to screw him again weeks ago. At the end of summer a bunch of us from the shop went out to Coney Island. I hadn't been there since my time with Josh, so it still held some associations for me, so I was feeling a bit vulnerable and maybe a little susceptible. We ended up playing some beach games, including a weirdly physical game of capture the flag, and... well, I don't know. I'm there in my one-piece swimsuit with my tits bouncing around, he's there in his shorts and no shirt, and I'm just thinking "Damn, this is working for me." And in all these years I've learned damn well enough not to fight it when I catch myself drawn to anyone or anything.

So at the end of the ball, when Kevin gave me a very chaste, thanks for coming out, you're such a good friend, I really value what we have here, I just thought... that's it. That's as far as it goes. I will be his friend but I am going to have to stop playing make-believe. I texted Rafe to be at my front door, and told Kevin I was texting Maddie to let her know I'd be home soon. Kevin saw me home,  and once his cab was out of sight, Rafe emerged from the darkness, vaping annoyingly (is that redundant or what?)

He had to gloat that he'd been expecting the text for some time, which nearly ruined it, but also made it frustratingly hotter.

Honestly, all this time I had myself convinced he was bad for me and I had to stay away, but for what? When we were first hooking up, I kept him at arm's length because I thought I was going to be a man again sometime soon, and the last thing I needed was to catch feelings. The fact that he was clearly not boyfriend material was a handy shield.

Now, I have a guy who is boyfriend material but doesn't want to touch me. And on the other hand I have a guy who I like being around and really like to have sex with, and any reason I might think he is bad for me is just my brain confusing things. Is he a jerk sometimes, undependable, and in need of some growing up?

Sounds a bit like Tyler Blake circa 2014, and look how he turned out.

The bottom line is, I didn't give in and let myself stay as Valerie to lock myself up in a tower like Rapunzel. It felt so good to be looked at, touched and kissed, after all the foreplay at the ball went nowhere. To be able to strip down to the nice, lacy underwear I was wearing and have the guy in the room gape at me, not awkwardly avoid looking. To have a pair of hands fondle my breasts, and year, to have a guy screw me.

I just... really, really hoped I would be able to keep it under wraps longer than a night so that I could figure out how to handle things. After all my crowing about how he was bad for me and if I ever find myself tempted to go back there you should just lock me up, there was no escaping judgment. Doubly because I think all the girls are rooting for me with Kevin. But as it always seems to be the case with me, the circumstances are too unique, too complicated, for a simple answer.

There's guilt too. If Kevin ain't my boyfriend, and Rafe isn't neither, do I owe either of them anything? They both seem to be getting what they want out of me, and between the two of them, add up to one halfway decent, if problematic, boyfriend type person.

This has been Val's loveline, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Stephen as Shona - Don't Call Me Cursed

Several weeks ago I transformed into a woman... semi-voluntarily. I had it all explained to me ahead of time, what was going to happen and how I should deal with it. I didn't expect it to really happen - if I did I probably would have taken Jenn's word for it and moved on, but it's true that I never would have believed any of it if it didn't happen to me. I'm living proof.

When it happened, I took as much time as I felt I could spare to get my bearings about it. Try to move through the strangeness of it all. There's the shock of finding out that magic is real, and what might that mean - which my brain filed under "things to wonder about but not expect answers." In the more immediate moment, I had pressing concerns.

As you know, Shona's body is much larger than average for a woman. When you picture men becoming women perhaps you are imagining model-pretty young things with tiny waists and large breasts, but you know very well that women come in all shapes and sizes. I myself was - am, in my normal life - a husky, bearded gentleman, so neither of us are society's definition of perfection. That doesn't mean it hasn't been a major adjustment.

I knew Shona's body very well because I dated her for years. I know her struggles as much as any partner can, and now I've started to know them much more intimately. And as time goes by I'll learn them more. To be a woman who looks this way is very different from being a woman who looks like Jenn as Paola, or some of the others I've read about (some of whom I've seen in pictures.) In some ways it's closer to being a man, but in other ways it's so very, indescribably different.

I couldn't not notice the difference between being me and being her. I couldn't help but feel the new sway of my hips as I walked around the room, the jiggle of pair of breasts if I move too suddenly, the pointed absence of a bundle of external genitals swinging between my legs. It was hard not to focus on that, but I worked to normalize it as best I could. Now, I go all day without thinking it's weird that I'm lacking my penis. I forget a pair of boobs are hanging from my chest until they knock into something. Absentmindedly, I might rub my chin and realize not only is it bare, nothing more than a few wisps have grown there in weeks.

But at the time, I really stood there thinking, "This is going to take some getting used to." Having long hair is strange. Wearing clothes designed for women - and more or less fitting into them - is strange. I am currently wearing jeans that absolutely do not obscure the curve of my hips and ass and the lack of any kind of bulge between my legs. For weeks, wearing these things made me feel like I was on display. Many of Shona's tops are not understated - pinks and yellows and colors I would not choose for myself. Tops for women often come with plunging necklines or strange ruffles or other random design elements that draw attention to themselves, where I'm really more of a basic polo or checked shirt kind of guy.

All the pockets are useless. That's nuts.

My thing is, knowing Shona, and I have this weird desire to be the Shona I knew, not myself-as-woman. I'm lucky to know a bit about what she liked wearing and how she presented herself, but that doesn't mean I am able to recreate it. What do I know about makeup? What do I even know about maintaining long, silky hair? And yet when I look in the mirror and see rough skin, frizzy hair, puffy eyes, I feel like I am failing rather than doing my best to cope with an immensely strange situation. One piece at a time I am figuring out ways to bring that person back.

Some people call the Inn "cursed", and no doubt for those unlucky enough to trip into this lifestyle, that's what it is. For me, it's distinctly not. I walked in knowing there was a real possibility - if not one I necessarily believed in - that all this was real, and took a calculated risk. What did I have to lose? The worst case scenario was that my body was transformed into that of my favorite person in the world. (The possibility that things might go awry and I would become a total stranger never occurred to me either.) That I would spend nearly a year learning what it's like to live as a woman, and then have a safety net of being able to return. I'm a scientist by trade, so having that kind of data is irresistible to me.

Put it this way. You'd be surprised to learn Santa Claus exists - but you've heard of Santa Claus.

You wouldn't be surprised by my observations of course, but it's one thing to know the difference between a female body and a male one, another to live it. For days, I spent hours just walking around feeling my thighs rub together, my hips and butt swaying, going up and down stairs to feel my boobs and belly jiggle. I think constantly about how hungry or thirsty, hot or cold I am, trying to mark it in comparison to what I'm used to from my natural body. How long I go between meals or bathroom breaks, when I get tired, what it feels like to be intoxicated or drink caffeinated beverages. I noted down a nearly hourly journal of my first menstrual period two weeks ago - it was not fun but it was very informative.

If I were more of a sociologist maybe I could observe different peoples' reactions when I enter a room, but so far all I've got is "Sometimes people don't know what to look at when they see me."

For me, this isn't something to sit around and be miserable about. It's a learning opportunity.

My main problem is... it's left me all very lonely. Perhaps I would have been better off thinking Jenn was Shona. I know it would not have been better for her but I could go through life blindly not knowing the woman I love essentially disappeared from my life, and instead I have her face to remind me. There is an emptiness in my gut where it comes to her. And now that I know she really did leave, I hope to find out what became of her, to speak to her about all this.

But so far, nothing.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Daryl/Magda: Wine O'Clock

J.T. is home this weekend, and thank God.  It's not just that I've missed him, but I've started missing me.  Not having someone around who knows that I'm not the same on the inside as on the outside was not quite exactly what I expected it to be, but it does make me wonder how far off the day is when I think of myself entirely as Magda.

That seemed impossible the last time I blogged, but I sometimes think that the Inn wants us to take the places of the people we've become, and the only thing holding us back from doing so is our own stubbornness and attachment to other things.  J.T. is my link to my old life, so while he's away, it's easy to slip into the things a woman in Magda's position does.

I've been working in this airport long enough to know my co-workers, so it's not particularly strange when they invite me to join them for a drink after work, although some do raise an eyebrow when I actually accept.  I'm worried that I won't fit in, but it's actually easier in some ways than fitting in with J.T.'s friends, who assume I've got little to say to them.  We've got work, a after all, and if you've ever been standing behind an unreasonable person while waiting in line, you know airline workers are going to have a list of grievances at the end of the day.

On top of that, there's a lot of physical things that I kind of don't realize are wearing me down until I'm not doing them any more.  Just walking down the street with a bunch of 5'6" women in their forties is kind of a revelation w when you spend most of your time trying to match the pace of younger, taller men because you think that you should be able to do so, even if you leave heels completely out of it.  So is ordering a glass of wine instead of beer or liquor.  I gather the health benefits are mostly bunk - most of the benefit ascribed to having a glass of wine or two a day also correlate to the other dietary choices wine-drinkers make - but it seems to match my palate and throat better.  It's strange but true.

They don't just talk about work, though, and the topic turning to kids is where things started getting a little surreal for me.  I can go weeks without giving Harmon a lot of conscious thought - it takes a moment or two for me to recognize that all the selfies and stuff "Alicia" posts on social media is kind of a performance as opposed to just the amounts of some ordinary girl when I'm scrolling through my phone, and then I take a moment to think about whether I'll ever go that native.

I hadn't actually watched his YouTube channel until one of the ladies was talking about how her kids don't listen to the radio or watch TV but just go to YouTube and I mentioned that my daughter had a channel just to have something to say.  Someone got out a tablet and we watched them, and I was kind of surprised how much he seemed to be enjoying himself, even doing a couple in the uniform I remember him taking off as soon as he would get home during our time living together.

(I mentioned them to Lindsey, who I kind of keep in touch with every now and then, saying that Harmon must finally be staying to enjoy his new life, but she doesn't buy it, thinking he'd just found a way to exploit himself or the next person who becomes Alicia just like he always did girls like her.)

A couple of weeks of this made me pretty happy when Jenn texted and asked if I'd take her to a movie because people keep carding her when she tries to buy a ticket to Hustlers.  I kind of laugh but say yes, heading out to the Bronx on my next day off to meet up.

She's not at the theater when I arrive and hadn't sending me messages, so I get a bit worried and walk to her address.

I get buzzed up when I say it's Magda for Paola, but when I open the door, it's her "Mom", adding that she's sorry, but the school confiscates students' phones when they've got detention.  I ask what that is about, and she just shrugs.  "I try to just let Jenn be, but if she's anything like me, she is not taking the whole racism thing well.  Pray you don't ever have to find out just how many awful ways there are to refer to Latinas in general and Puerto Ricans specially!"

I actually smiled a bit at that.  "I am a black man under all this, you know."

"Right!  Sorry!  Jenn told me.  Is it okay if I say you wear your new skin well, though?"

"I hope so; gotta keep a younger man interested, after all."

"I hear that, even if my guy sometimes seems to forget that he agreed just as much as I did overnight."  We laughed, and then she said that maybe we should lean into the middle-aged woman stereotype and have a couple glasses of wine while we wait.  Like I said, I'm willing.

It's more or less like doing the same thing with real middle-aged women; we tell stories and laugh a bit too loud, only hers are about trying to come up with excuses for why a grown man in the body of a ten-year-old girl is acting out at school and mine are about subjecting myself to a mammogram because I'd been wearing bras a size too small.  Maybe it was the wine talking, but I feel like she's the first person to find my story of trusting fate with J.T. romantic without reservation.

We were on our second glasses when Jenn and her "sister" arrived and ditched their things.  The others turned down the chance to come along, much to Jenn's relief.  I guess I technically wound up part of a fake family too, but Harmon/Alicia is not someone I have to deal with regularly.

"So, detention.  What's that about?"

I was trying to make conversation as we headed to the box office, but she just grunted.  "I'm pretty sure you mean well, Daryl, but can I just hang out with someone who will treat me as an adult and not talk about high school?"

"Sure, no problem.  So, you've been in New York longer than me - should I root for the Knicks or the Nets?"

She didn't really have an opinion on that, but it did get her to talk about the differences between the boroughs a bit, and how there could be bigger differences in traveling a few stops on the subway than across the country, and that was before trying to bluff how good your Spanish was.

The movie itself want bag, although I was expecting a heist more than a scam.  Jenn liked it, although I tried not to look in her direction too often, because I'd feel guilty even though I know she's not really a kid and is not like I've ever really been any sort of prude about what teenagers song some boobs or hearing the word "fuck".  What kind of middle-aged white woman am I becoming?

One who at least can joke about how J-Lo being 50 makes me both feel better about the age that the Inn made me and also kind of saggy in spots, I guess.  Jenn laughed at that, and asked if I'd ever tried any of those shoes, because she once bought a really ridiculous pair to give her boyfriend an anniversary surprise and felt ridiculous.  I said the original Magda had a pair, and I tried them on while sitting on the bed, but knew I'd fall flat on my face if I tried to stand, so they went to Goodwill.  She just pushed hers to the back of the closet and almost completely forgot them, but now she wonders what became of them, since she hasn't heard about new-Jenn breaking her neck.

"That got dark."

"Yeah, I'm just...  I don't know.  You ever wish you could go to therapy for this?"

"Every damn day."

"Now try it when you're not old enough to drink and have to get up for school every morning."  She yawned, and we split up at the subway.

I've got to admit, I'm really excited about J.T. Being back home tonight.  I'm ready to feel like myself again.

-Magdaryl

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Harmon Keller/Alicia Polawski: _______ with Alicia

Though I ultimately opted against adding more salacious content to the Instagram amount that I inherited from Alicia, I did find myself curious about what I could do with itbeyond simply treating it as a repository of photographs for future reference.  I may, after all, find my next set of circumstances one where an understanding of the market dynamics of social media could be quite valuable, and the best way to learn new things is through experimentation.

So, if the content was not going to change much, what other variables could I consider?  Engagement seemed the most obvious, so I started replying to comments, and occasionally following the accounts of one's that had something interesting to say.  I would occasionally make notes on what certain people liked or questioned, keeping it in mind when taking photographs.  Look a bit wanton when mostly undressed for the men, excited when trying new clothes on for the women, make sure there is both something familiar and obscure when sightseeing.  When following someone else, especially one with a larger audience than oneself, comment quickly and simply if she just wants validation; ask questions if she seems to be looking for people who share her interests.

It seems simple enough, but with the right raw materials and the discipline to post regularly enough that one's followers don't feel neglected, one can grow an audience fairly quickly; by the end of July I had gone from 20,000 followers to 75,000.

And my roommates treated this as some kind of accomplishment!  I had changed very little about how I lived my life, but having total strangers "like" what they saw apparently made that life noteworthy, rather than cause to roll their eyes and treat me as an antisocial snob.  They started asking questions about what I'd been up to, and recommendations for what to see in cities that they had visited more often than I had.

I did hit a plateau in August, and thought that might be the end of the experiment, which was something of a relief - the amount of time these "influencer" people must spend on targeted interaction and filtering the most grotesque things that people try top attach to their profiles while not coming off as heavy-handed or some such must be extensive, as I found that an account which posted roughly a picture or two a day might need an hour's maintenance every night.  I was quite ready to simply go back to using the site for my original propose and let those other people continue to pay attention or not as they would.

But then one of the comments caught my eye, saying that I should have a podcast or a YouTube channel.  I had given something along those lines some thought, of course, every time somebody said that a place I had visited and my description of it was interesting, but I was thinking more in terms of a book.  This suggestion seemed more in line with what somebody my apparent age would do.

I mentioned this idly to "Barbie" and her eyes practically lit up, and she quickly opened the locker at the foot of her bed to pull out a video camera, then scooted to the other side of the room to point it at me.  The lens moved and then the red light came on, and she asked me about my favorite place to fly.

"I'd rather not."

"No, you totally should!  Come on - what's the place you're always tempted to over-bid on?"

I roll my eyes and start talking about a sculpture garden in New Mexico which is far from my favorite destination, mentioning how the dry air preserves the work although the hippies who live in the area are nearly as amusing.  I expect her to turn it off, but she doesn't, instead waiting until I'm done and saying it was "awesome", and that I must have wanted to be a teacher before getting into this.  I told her I'd given it some thought.

She says this could be the basis for a channel, that there are men who go on for hours on YouTube about how new science-fiction films are evidence of a conspiracy against the male gender, and I am far more interesting and attractive than they are.  Not untrue, I admit, and we eventually start having out the idea of the channel/"show".  She comes up with the title, saying that even if I never actually do anything more risqué than wearing a short skirt, it will get attention, even if it really means I can do shows on whatever I want (and looks at me blankly when I say it's straight out of The Match Game).

The next day is a mutual day off for us, so we crisscrossed the city with her camera, me delivering "lectures" on the various pieces of WPA at in the area, something that one would think people her age would know about, what with their belief that everyone is an artist or a "maker" deserving of support and fondness for politicians who openly identify as socialist, though I suppose their not reading history is why they need videos like these to spoon-feed it to them.  And though I describe them as lectures, they are not much like standing in a classroom.  There s just Barbie and the camera, telling me to smile more, flirt, or "pretend [I am] telling [my] boyfriend about one of [my] favorite things". 

Ridiculous, even if it does apparently make for good Internet video.  We waited a bit to post it, making a few others at various stops and shooting some new footage as we got more familiar with the process, eventually deciding to bank a few before starting to upload them on Thursday mornings and regularly mention them on my social media accounts over the next few days.

We sent the first one out before working a round-trip to Dallas on September 5th, and she was disappointed to see it did not immediately get many views, and just almost forgot about it until my phone started buzzing while I was in the shower.  I didn't recognize the name of the daughter of s some celebrity who has not herself accomplished anything who re-tweeted our link, but Barbie did, her eyes going wide as she opened her laptop.  The counter on my new YouTube channel was incrementing quite rapidly.  "Is this unusual?"

She looked from it to me, eyes wide.  "Is this unusual?  It's huge!  You're huge!"  Or faces were close, and out of nowhere, she kissed me on the lips.

I did not see this coming, but I had not forgotten how to respond, kissing her back and pulling her closer.  For all that the sensation of our breasts together was surprising, it was not unpleasant, and she has a quite impressive bottom which was soon in my hands, being pulled from her seat.  I unzipped her uniform while she worked the buttons on my pajamas, and soon we were on my bed, her back to my chest, my hands spring her breasts while I kissed her neck.  Soon one found its way lower, and I found that I had not completely lost practice in pleasing a woman.

She seemed to come out of her trance when she turned around and kneeled on the floor, her face being level with my pelvis seeming to surprise her.  "I'm sorry, I can't...  I shouldn't have...  I've never..."  And then she started crying.

I was briefly annoyed, but tried to shrug it off.  "Not to worry," I said while replacing my pajama top, "we were excited, and this was something of a first for me as well.  Now, go take your turn in the shower and when you come back, it will be like it never happened."

"Yeah, that's probably for best."  She pulled a t-shirt and sweatpants from her dresser and headed for the bathroom.

We have been cordial since, continuing to work on the channel and mostly assigned to the same flights.  I do, on occasion, find myself curious about what would have happened had she not gotten cold feet - she is the sort of young woman that I have long favored, even if she does not have the same academic background - but this shape obviously makes circumstances different.  In the meantime, we work together both in the air and on the ground.

-Harmon Keller

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Jordan/Yuan-wei: Not Seeing a Master Plan Yet

Jacky kind of left his post-Inn visit to chance, but that is not how Chen-ai operates.  I may not know what her whole deal is about, but she had never sprung anything on me that hasn't taken some planning, even if I never see it coming.

Take last night.  My co-workers and I are rolling out of the building at around 9:30pm - something can't miss its Christmas release date, and, no, it's not Star Wars - and doing the usual when we've been hit with that much unpaid overtime:  Grabbing a snack at the taco truck a couple blocks away, because we've worked straight through dinner and who is going to want to fucking cook by the time we make our way home through traffic?  Add some beers from a nearby convenience store, and it makes for a fine end-of-week bitch session.

It's my turn to buy the beer, and I'm walking back to the truck when a bright green convertible slams on the brakes and turns into the lot.  The driver gets out, a blonde wearing a sparkly pink dress that shows pretty much all of her legs and has a plunging neckline that makes it clear she's got the sort of slender build to go braless, plus matching stiletto heels and dark sunglasses.  She makes a beeline in my direction.  "Missy?"

My colleagues raise their eyebrows, and I'm pretty confused too.  "Do I--?"

She takes off the glasses, and it's suddenly more obvious that the blonde hair is a dye job.  "It's me!  Bingbing!  Oh my god, the look on your face!"  She quickly pulls a phone out of a handbag, shoves herself against me, and takes a tongue-out selfie with one hand while extending the two fingers with the other.  "Can you believe this?  Missy and I grew up together in Hong Kong, and then I'm out here doing a scavenger hunt of all things, and I find her!  What are the odds?"

All my friends are smirking like seeing me uncomfortable is hilarious.  Rafik is the first to respond.  "If you want to catch up--"

"No way."

"Yes!  We're supposed to do this with partners, but since I'm between boyfriends...  Oh, you're still hung up on that!   But that was ages ago, and we were totally different people!"

I sighed.  "Fine.  Whatever you say."

Chen-ai/Bingbing squealed, and everyone made a point of calling me "Missy" as I got in the car, barely shutting the door before she hit the gas and tore out onto the highway, leaving me grabbing hold of the door while trying to buckle my seat belt, and soon work was out of sight (along my own car, I suddenly realized).  I looked over at Chen-ai, expecting her to drop the act, but she just switched to Cantonese.

"I should have done this years ago!  Is this what it felt like for you, seeing Yuan-wei's face in the mirror after choosing not to go back to being that fatty again?  So light and sexy and full of energy and free?"

"No!  What the fuck is wrong with you?"

She didn't say anything for a few minutes, and then seemed a little more serious and like the Chen-ai I remembered as we pulled into a gas station.  "You know, it's going to go a lot better between us if you just let some things go.   I promise."  She reached into what passed for a back seat and pulled out a garment bag, then nodded toward the restrooms.  "C'mon, go get changed."

I thought of refusing, but we were kind of out in the middle of nowhere and pissing her off was maybe not a great idea.  I snatched the bag and went to the back of the station, hoping this wasn't how I got left behind.

It was a really nice dress, as sparkly as hers but not quite so low-cut, even if there was no wearing a bra with it.  The cut (and underwire) pushed my tits up and in, anyway.  The matching handbag was just big enough for phone, wallet, lipstick, keys, and pepper spray; the matching shoes were also stilettos, and I felt a little wobbly from not having really gone out in a while (and folks were just going to have to deal with my unpainted toenails).

Chen-ai hadn't abandoned me, so I tried to play it cool.  "Pink and blue dresses?  Trying to say something?"

"Nah, it's just funny.  We've got a private joke."  She let me get secure in my seat before driving off this time.

We were in the city a half-hour later, able to walk past a round-the-block line at a club.  She asked what I was drinking, I said a 7-Up, and she said "Bicardi & 7, got it."  Before I could say no, it was in my hands.

We attracted attention, and though we weren't attached at the hip for the next three hours, I would always find her near me after a while.  I'm not going to lie, there were moments when I was a bit carried away by the great DJ, the cool light show, and the very hip crowd.  Some folks bought me really expensive drinks, and I do have the phone number of an actor who went from flattered that I recognized his face to curious when I said it was from putting it on a stuntman's body.

But Chen-ai seemed to being having an even better time, grinding on the biggest stars in the place, screaming that she loved that song, flirting and getting numbers from people half her age like it wasn't fucking weird at all.  Every once in a while, she'd make sure to introduce me to one, taking about how he might be a really good contact to have, or saying he'd been looking my way.

I guess she didn't quite know how much Bingbing could hold, because after a while she put her arm around my shoulders and said she needed me to drive her to the hotel.  I disentangled myself from the finance creep who was hitting on me, got her to the sidewalk, and took the key when the valet returned.

The car was annoyingly fun to drive, and the hotel was five-star.  I tried to drop her at the elevator, but she grabbed my hand, half-drunkenly saying we had to talk.  Her room was a suite, of course, and she had apparently already used the place's app to order room service, remembering how I liked my steak.

Hungry from not having my tacos hours ago, I attacked it right away, looking up to see her smiling.

"So what's this all about?  Making sure I can see how well you planned everything and prepared to fit in so that I don't try and push back?"

She gave a little "ugh!" gap, like the accusation was me being paranoid.  "Fitting in's not that hard, Jordo.  Like, all those eighties and nineties movies and TV shows you millennials watch, that's us.  Not that much has changed other than the phones!  And as for what it's about, like I said, it's easier for everyone if we get along.  Everyone thinks we're best friends anyway."

"Right, you want to be my friend."

"Why is that so hard to believe?  I told you that I'm impressed by how you handled all this, I stepped in when I saw Carlotta and Giorgia were trying to mess with your life, I've shared what I know about the Inn.  I know it's not great that I never really learned to play the part of a good mother because I resented Yuan-wei and that I like you better than her, but now I don't have to!"

"If you like me so much, why did you make me dump Jacky?"

"Did that turn out to be a bad thing?  Look, it's not your fault that you never developed the instinct for when guys are trouble the way other girls do, but were you going to listen to the woman you imagine is some sort of supervillain if I said he set off alarms?  Obviously not.  I figured maybe a little time as a woman would have made him appreciate you more, but from how receptive you seemed to be to other guys tonight, I'm guessing it didn't turn out that way."

I didn't concede the point, but I didn't say anything.

"Besides, you're going to want me by your side when they start asking about your mother."

That was what I was waiting for.  She said it in the same casual, fun-loving way as everything else, but a chill went up my spine and I carefully set my fork down.  "Chen-ai, what did you do?"

"Nothing, really, but my old identity is in limbo, so when nobody sees her for a few weeks, there will be some questions, especially if anybody finds out she's not at that place I checked myself into."  She gave me a look like I was the one making trouble.  "What?  It's not exactly easy to disappear for long enough to overstay a visa.  But I trust you to cover for me!"

"You expect me to cover for you?"

"I wouldn't have given you power of attorney otherwise, although I admit, I did figure you'd be coming to your friend Bingbing for advice."  She shrugged.

"What the fuck else?"

"What do you mean?"

"What sort of other fucking mess have you stuck me with?"

"There's no other mess, and the business runs itself."  I crossed my arms and stared bullets.  "Okay, fine, I put ten million dollars into a numbered amount.  Hong Kong dollars, not U.S., I'm not greedy or anything.  It's just kind of like start-up money."

"You did what?!!?"

"Hey, I earned that money, and I deserve to take some with me!  It shouldn't affect you at all - I didn't touch your trust fund, and barring any sort of emergency, nobody will have any reason to freak out and call the police about how your frugal, sensible mother hasn't been seen in weeks if you just stay in California and let our employees do their thing."

I pushed away from the table.  "There's the fucking threat."

She stood up and chased after me.  "It's not a threat, Jordan, it's precautions, just in case something went wrong or I got homesick.  I didn't even see the need to tell you before you started interrogating me because I could see you're so happy here and such a good person.  Trust me, we're going to be great friends by this time next year.  Maid of honor at my wedding."

I snorted, and she ignored it.  A big, genuine-seeming yawn escaped her.  "Wow, I haven't had a night like that in twenty years!  I've got to crash.  The hotel laid out a toiletries in the other bathroom and some really great pajamas in the other bedroom, so we can talk more in the morning if you want."  She hadn't taken her heels off, and giggled as she had to find her balance on the way to the bathroom.

I said hell no to that, calling to charge a cab to the room as soon as she had closed the door.  I'd been watching my drinks, but I still felt pretty drowsy when I got home, and feel asleep right away.

This morning, there were text messages from "Bingbing", saying she understood this was going to take some time, and since she had to go back to Hong Kong anyway, she'd give me my space.  Then the selfie she took at the start of the night.

The whole night almost doesn't even feel real, even with that stupidly nice dress hanging by the hamper.  There's got to be some sort of angle.  There's no fucking way that Chen-ai really thinks we're going to be besties after all she's done, unless she's crazier than I thought.

-Jordo

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Jonah/Krystle: Job-Hunting

I like working at The Changeling compared to other jobs I could have - I've got a boss who understands my weird Inn-related quirks, I spend a lot of time with my best friend, and the hours work so that Momma Kamen can watch Little Moira rather than hiring a sitter most nights.  And, yeah, the tops have been better this summer, and not entirely because I'm less worried about Good smiting me down for wearing shorts and a scoop-necked t-shirt.  All the time at the gym had me able to carry trays easier, and having a boyfriend actually makes me less nervous dealing with people.  I don't flirt, but I'm less worried about being friendly, because I'm sure that there's not something else going on in my head.

But it's still waiting tables, and while Ashlyn and Moira don't pay the tipped minimum wage (in part because Moira says that tipping is, and I quote, house-shite), what you make is pretty dependent on how busy it is and what sort of mood the customers are in, and that's kind of scary.  I read something online about how one emergency can wipe most people's savings out, and that's kind of me.  Like, a couple weeks ago, Little Moira had a really bad night, wheezing instead of crying, and I might have wound up spending everything I've saved up on a trip to the emergency room if Dad hadn't texted back with something to try first.

Yeah,  Dad.  I'm not really back on speaking terms with my real patents, but when my baby girl gets sick, pride goes out the window, and apparently Dad feels the same way.  A situation like that does make you focus a little more on making sure that you can handle emergencies, and not just that; families come in with kids not much older than Moira in preschool.  On the one hand, I kind of don't know if she needs it - she's curious, can count to ten, likes being read to, and makes friends at the park, so what's something formal that costs more than I'd make working the hours she's there going to get us?  But it just seems so expected...

So I've started looking for other jobs, and, wow, there is not a whole lot out there for a woman with nothing more than a high-school diploma and the work history that Krystle and I have accumulated.  Not a lot guaranteeing that I'd work enough hours to get insurance at all.

The résumé is also kind of a problem.  Calvin wanted to help when I told him I was thinking of looking for something, but once you get back past my work history and into Krystle's, it's kind of a minefield.  I've mostly been saying that "I" was kind of a mess until getting pregnant served as a wake-up call and he hasn't pushed, and who wants to put something more specific down as bullet points?  Not like anyone I want to work for wants to see that, either, but it does leave a pretty noticeable hole between Krystle's high school graduation and my first stint at The Changeling.

Also kind of tricky:  Interview clothes.  I'm pretty comfortable with my body these days, but every professional-looking skirt I try on seems to be saying "look at my butt!", especially when I'm also wearing heels.  Like, they work when I'm sitting with my legs crossed, but not once I'm on my feet.  Tops are tricky too, if you're built like me and don't want your breasts getting all the attention.  Momma Kamen insisted on altering my jacket, grumbling about how trying to fit us into clothes made for white women without curves are part of how they keep the sisters down.

She got weirdly emotional seeing me dressed up once everything matched and I'd pulled my hair back into a bun and put on makeup, saying there were days she didn't think her daughters would get this far.  I told her not to count her chickens, but kind of got it when I looked in the mirror.  Obviously not nearly as strange as the first time I saw Krystle's face and body, or when I watched a baby grow in it, but my first impression was that I looked like I was wearing a Halloween costume.  Not quite "sexy businesswoman", but not church clothes, or the casual tomboy/busy single mom I think of myself as being, and not like any pictures I've seen of Krystle.  More grown-up, I guess, another version of us.

I didn't get the receptionist job I interviewed for in that outfit, maybe because of those doubts.  Maybe the next one, though.  It's another thing I do now that I didn't before.

-Jonah/Krystle

Monday, September 16, 2019

Steven/Shona(!!): Seeing is believing

It was 3:30 in the morning on Sunday. I rolled over in bed barely awake. I want to say I felt different but in my mind I was just... groggy and tired. I raised a hand to scratch an itch on my chest,  and immediately discovered - to my great displeasure - that it was extremely sensitive.

And squishy.

I would say that I "bolted" upright, but that would be a misstatement because it takes a different amount of muscle necessary to bolt upright in my old body vs. my new one and I guess my brain hadn't caught the difference, so it was more like a failed crunch. I got very disoriented and fumbled around for the lamp, then tried to slowly ease myself upright. By that time it was impossible to ignore all my wobbly bits.

It was real. All real. And all me.

I look like Shona now. I didn't quite at 3:30 AM but I was getting there. More and more mass ballooned out of my body. By that point my clothes were restricting me very badly where they weren't outright ripped. I should have anticipated that what I was wearing would not feel good if I were to transform into Shona while wearing it. I guess that's a function of not really believing it was going to happen, and not really thinking that critically about what would happen if it did. Scratch one pair of boxers (the V-neck I was wearing survived in stretched-out form, but left marks on my upper arms.)

I should have slept naked, but it was chilly at night. As you know from Jenn's descriptions, Shona is an XXXL. I'm a pretty stocky guy, I wear larges or extra-larges depending on the brand. Nothing I own would have been appropriate for a woman with such wide hips, prominent behind, belly, breasts and arms. Now I have all of those.

I timidly made my way over to the mirror, but on the way over it's not like I could pretend I was ignorant of what was going on. The flesh of my thighs rubbed together and I only needed to look down very slightly to see my new figure. When I finally made it, it wassuch a weird creature - half my face, half hers, and not in a cute "What would our baby look like" way. Her nose and eyes with my jaw and brow... grotesque. My beard was fading into my face, my hairline was moving forward and her long locks were inching out.

I turned away for the remainder. My body continued to swell. I knew how big she is, but it's very different when you're feeling it from the inside.

Fear and panic mixed with elation. As terrifying as this experience was, it was on some level what I wanted - answers, or at least leads on them. Confirmation that the world isn't totally crazy and yet it is - magic is real! In some form at least! And it's happening to me! I suspected I would feel miserable about the exact outcome later, but for the time being... wow. Wow! I have boobs! And... well, you know the rest.

In the morning, I did another v-chat with "Paola." She practically squealed with delight when she saw Shona's face - tired and not made-up, but really there - over top of my mug. She asked if I believed everything now, and I said what choice did I have?

She asked if I had any regrets about my decision. It took me a moment but I said no. I needed to do this. Yeah, it's not the most convenient form to be in, but I have a lot of good memories with this face and I was nearly moved to tears when I finally did see it again in the light of day.

It's not like I want to be a woman, but I really badly didn't want to be myself anymore either. And there's a very specific reason why, if this was going to happen, I was okay with it. It has to do with what I have since read that Jenn wrote about her time in this body.

I've known Shona since we were teenagers, and we've been together for a while. Her being this size has been part of my life for years. Maybe I never could have understood what she went through on a day to day basis like this, but I have seen her through lots of situations, including times when I needed to reassure her or comfort her. She never let her size get in the way of living her life.

And honestly, she deserves better than someone who is going to look in the mirror and say to themselves "This person is flawed. She is broken because she's so big." Jenn seems like a  well-meaning person, but I don't want the person who winds up with Shona's life - if it's to be permanent or whatever - to look at it as a curse. I want them to be able to love who she is the way I always thought Shona did. That was in the back of my mind when Jenn told me about how she felt about being Shona, before I knew it was real - she was saying things I just never thought Shona would really say about herself, even in her darkest moments.

I'm not ignorant. I know her appearance doesn't meet certain societal standards, and it would habe been willfully ignorant of me to pretend a woman this size doesn't experience inconveniences and challenges than a skinnier woman.

Shona is beautiful. Jenn even agreed when she saw her Insta account that she was very pretty. And to me, it's not a "beautiful for a fat girl" kind of beauty. It's real beauty. And she exuded it inside and out. And all I want - for whatever the duration of my time as her - is to embody that. I think she deserves somebody wearing her body who can see that.

In the meantime... I guess I'll go back to Gainesville and rebuild her life for her, in case she ever does decide to come back. I hope that I can find her and speak with her and learn what she is feeling. What's become of her. Hopefully, now that I know what the Inn does, we can pick up where we left off.

More thoughts later

-Steven/Shona (Stona? Sheven?)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Steven: Made it

I have been going over all the possibilities in my mind and none of it really adds up. So I have come to Maine in search of answers. I managed to avoid Dorian and have found a fairly nice spot to vacation. Since being here, I've seen sights, mingled, had some good craft beers, and played cards with the older ladies who checked in ahead of me. It's been days and I'm starting to doubt anything weird will be happening anytime soon.

I know Shona. She's a lot of things. A raconteur. A kidder. A biting wit. Incisive. Intuitive. Caring. Loyal. Friendly but guarded. A secret Trekkie. Sometimes she withholds information or her true feelings, but other times she is very outspoken. But I have never known her to lie, not to me. And if she did, it wouldn't be some crazy story about a body-swapping Inn.

Which would make it all the more diabolical if it was a lie. But to what end?

I say "Shona" told me this. I am halfway convinced that the person I was talking to - the person I made love to - was not my real girlfriend, but only after she insisted for days this was true and at the end of one of the worst days of my life.

At the beginning it was like "Okay Keet, if you want some space I can give it," And not point out how unnecessary her story was. (Keet - short for Parakeet - is my pet name for her.)

After I got canned, I was driving around wondering who to call, and I got to Shona in my contacts. My finger was over her name and I had this weird hesitation, and it kind of hit me - maybe her story is true. What a weird time to think about that. Maybe I was thinking it because in my own way in that moment I no longer wanted my own life

You have to understand. From the time she came back from Maine until the day she told me her story, and beyond, I really felt I was in the presence of my girlfriend. I didn't clue in that her laugh was different or her walk, or the light in her eyes. Yes, the hiking was out of character, but that's a woman's prerogative. Did she become distant? Sure, but if you knew Shona that might not be so unexpected.

There are things that make a lot more sense if the Inn is true, but I wouldn't call any of them nonsense. She expressed a lot more concern and self-consciousness over her physical appearance than the woman I know. She didn't laugh at things I swore she would find funny. And yeah maybe she seemed a little lost when discussing the past but who spends much time discussing the past with someone they've been seeing for years?

See there's always an explanation.

I have the following theories:

1) This is her kooky way of breaking up with me, and she has more capacity for Fantasy stuff than I thought

2) This is some crazy con, and the first part was to make me fall in love with her so I would be more susceptible to it.

3) It's all true, and my Shona is somewhere out there, and she left me without saying goodbye, and frankly I am owed an explanation.

4) Body-swapping is real, but this is still a con, and I am letting myself get taken for a ride. This is something I fear in the put of my stomach, but "Jenn" - if she is who she says - has put a lot of work into making herself seem genuine on this blog.

5) Shona has had a delusional break from reality, which is perhaps both the most  troubling and the most likely.

I need answers and the fact that I'm willing to entertain the idea that this Inn does what it's said to do shows I am desperate. Yes, it was my idea to come. I told Shona -- Jenn -- I guess out of hopes she would come clean and that the story I was rapidly coming to believe was in fact fake news. Instead she said "If you're going, you have to become me." In the moment it seemed like a sensible plan. It was like playing chicken.

I got here and there was an unlocked suitcase full of Shona's clothes. If this works, in a few days time they will be my clothes. Think about the implications of that - you don't have to, there appears to be a full decade of writing on the subject!

And I'm walking into this willingly? That probably shows how little stock I put in the story, despite all the evidence. But hey, I'm here aren't I?

Earlier I had a Skype convo with a young girl purporting to be "Jenn." Seeing her meant nothing to me and I could not put in my brain that this was the same person who I had bid Bon Voyage to days earlier. I thought about asking her to tell me something only Jenn would know,  but there are ways to prepare for that. And besides, I don't know Jenn all that well.

Maybe I didn't know Shona as well as I thought either?

Well depending how things break this weekend, I might have a year to find out.

For now,
-Steven

Friday, September 13, 2019

Jordan/Yuan-wei: My (Ex) Boyfriend's Back (to Normal)

You know what's kind of fucking disturbing?  I know that Jacky's recent trip back to the Inn (I guess at the same time Jenn became Paola) is the first in a series of events that is probably going to play havoc with my life as Yuan-wei, but my biggest question is when I became such a goddamn feminist?

I don't think it was in just the past week or so, although I kind of shrugged off the naked text Jacky sent after the change.  He was naked and erect, but whatever; I imagine if I'd gotten my dick back after a year as Deirdre, I'd have been pretty excited.  Hell, I'd probably be pretty excited if it happened tomorrow.  Especially since whoever the last Jacky was, they kept him in good shape, maybe not quite like Benny did as me, but that a high bar.  It wasn't like a picture with just a dick, and good on him for still feeling good about his body after the other perspectives he's been getting.  I sent him a thumbs-up, meaning congratulations.  He asked what I was up to that weekend, I sent a shrug emoji ("I don't know"), and went back to whatever I was doing.

Fast-forward to the weekend, where I'm trying to clean my house and there's a knock on my door.  The camera shows its him, so I decide too be mature and talk to him, because all this shit can do a number on you and make you make bad decisions.  I buzz him in, not really thinking about what I'm wearing (crop-top, shorts, flip-flops) until he's looking me up and down.  I look back a bit - I haven't had many boyfriend's, but I've learned from real girls that there's no shame in trying to see how they've done without you, and also trying to see what some time thinking he'd be stuck as Bingbing has done to his taste in clothes, grooming, etc.  Tough to tell.

"So," I say after offering him a beer, "got any secret intel on why Chen-ai decided to pull up stakes and run now, besides the protests?"

"No, fake-me quit the job and deleted everything.  Hell, I'm going to have to buy a new laptop when I get home and already got a new phone because he went at them with a hammer.  Maybe there's some hardcopy back in Hong Kong, but he seems pretty thorough."

"Fuck.  Chen-ai is going to screw me over somehow, I just know it."

"Yeah, but look at the bright side - your new mother probably won't care if we're together or not!"

I stopped, right in the middle of reaching for a bottle in the back of the bottom shelf, then straightened up.  "Wait, what?  Are you serious?"

"Hey, I get that you broke up with me because of all this weird stuff, and Chen-ai being in the middle is scary.  I was mad for a while, but now that I see how it can mess with a person I won't hold it against you."

"You won't hold anything against me?  I'm sorry, when all of this went down, which of us told the other person what was going on, and which of us kept quiet about who they really were and fucked their ex's brother for a year?"

You'd think he would have anything to say, but he did.  "I was just thrown into all of this and he seemed--"

"Dude, you know what?  I don't care why you did it.  I'm just not gonna be with someone who did, especially when they're gonna be on the other side of the fucking planet getting into who knows what.  I'm sorry, maybe it was just an extreme situation, but we're not going to be like that again."

I put the bottle in my hand on the bar counter between us, not sure what else to do with it.  It gave him a reason to step forward.  "Well, how about one for the road, just to make sure it's all in working order?"

What. The. Fuck.  "Holy shit, are you serious?  No!  It wasn't my job to make sure you feel like a man when we were together, and it's definitely not now!"

"C'mon, you owe me that much!"

"Dude.  No."

"You want it - look at you, you're totally DTF."

"Are you serious?  I didn't really think you were coming - it's just a hot day and I had some sweaty work planned!  Plus, how did you spend two years as a girl and not figure out they don't ever owe someone pussy access?  Was Max just such an incredible, always-around boyfriend that things never got uncomfortable with anyone?"

His hand tightened on the bottle a little, and I worried that maybe I had pushed it too far, counted too much on him being able to see a woman's point of view and not enough on his brain not having been flooded with this much testosterone for two years, but he relaxed a bit and pulled it toward himself.  He took a drink and seemed to calm down a bit.

I exhaled.  "I think you should go."

"Yeah.  I, uh, just thought maybe things could go back to normal."

I spook my head.  "Sorry."

He nodded and went out the door.  There wasn't any calling me a bitch or some colorful Cantonese equivalent under his breath, but I still paid attention until he was in his Uber and driving away, and let out a breath I hadn't realized I was holding.

I brought Annette's contacts up on my phone and was starting a text, but decided I wanted to hear her voice, so I hit the call button.  She answered, probably figuring this was some sort of emergency, and I told her about Jacky's visit.

"Wow.  Are you okay?  I haven't had many scary boyfriends, but there's always a guy or two."

"Yeah, it's just...  I was l kind of attracted to him because he seemed like me, you know?  Same hobbies, told some of the same jokes without prompting, doing the same sort of work, and--"

"Jordo, I love you, but you do realize you were the same sort of asshole, right?  Like, I heard you yelling at people while gaming as Deirdre, and who was that girl at the beach you said you were going to hate-fuck if you became yourself or Benny instead of Yuan-wei?"

"Tina Chen.  Fuck, I haven't thought about that in years.  Shit, was Jacky always like that without me seeing it?"

"I dunno.  It's tough to guess how a guy's going to handle being told no.  He didn't seem the type."

"Okay, now tell me when I started being the chick that lectures guys on that consent and agency shit?  I thought I was the fun bitch!"

She laughed.  "Oh, you are, but I've been a good influence!"

"Thanks a lot!"

"You're welcome, and congratulations on reaching the point in the story where, having learned how women want to be treated, you wake up from this weird dream a better man, confusing everyone around you!"

"You're a weirdo, you know that?"

She said she did, and then we started talking about her new job, apartment, boyfriend, and all that.

It got me spending a little more time looking in the mirror after slowing and changing to go out, though.  I always say that's still me, just in a sexier package, and even when I'm putting on lipstick or a push-up bra or whatever because I want guys to look at me, I figure that's kind of just biology too, but, shit, how much of the guy inside has changed over the past few years, and what would I be if I was suddenly myself again?

-Jordo

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Valerie: Friends Without Benefits

Of all the people to talk to about my dating situation, the one I looked forward to the least was Rafe.

Rafe is back at the shop after an extended time away. Somehow he heard about my hanging around with Kevin, and somehow he got the idea it was any of his business.

"So Chickpea, I heard you got ghosted by Silvertop."

I told him he heard wrong, that Kevin and I were hanging out regularly as friends... with no benefits.

"And he's not trying to get laid? That's weird."

Now, part of me agrees but I would never let him know that. So I tell Rafe it's sad that he doesn't think men and women can be friends without sex, which I also happen to believe (moreso now that I'm a woman maybe than when I was a man.)

"I don't think it's impossible," Rafe shrugged, "I mean, I like to think you and I are friends. But then again, we've already had sex."

"Don't remind me," I grumbled.

"I never heard any complaints," he smirked. I felt a little queasy at that, not the least because it's true and he knows it. It especially stings that I've basically been with nobody since him. But I know he's just trying to push my butrons. Puts me in a no-win situation - either I lose my cool and seem like an uptight woman, or I play along and encourage it.

Understanding men doesn't always help you deal with them.

My girls are more understanding of the situation, to various degrees. Maddie thinks it's cool, but she has specifically said she "ships" me and Kevin, so she holds out hope. Charli is skeptical - I wouldn't say she's a manhater but she is definitely one to question everything that comes out of a man's mouth, so despite his apparent honesty, she sees the possibility of ulterior motives, or just, I don't know, some kind of desire to mess with my head.

Ariel, oddly enough, is the one I've talked about it the most with. She's the one who has most tried to get the sense of my feelings - am I really okay being just friends with Kevin? Teaching him to cook, going on outings to markets and stuff, playing out part of a relationship without ever truly fulfilling it? Am I setting myself up for pain? Am I settling for staying in orbit around a man who, by his own admission, can't love me back, as a way of avoiding trying to find something real?

Am I hoping for something, that I can "break through the shell" as a commentor put it?

I don't know.

I do know that, despite what he's told me about himself, I feel a connection. We've had long talks, had some really cute moments. I made a conscoous decision not to push him away after what he told me. I wanted to show we could get along and I could be in his life without expecting anything. But it hasn't  een wothout challenges.

You know, I think I'm still a little guarded around guys, which probably didn't help my case on the dating scene. I want reasons not to like them and I don't want to try to make them like me. But with Kevin the feeling is very natural. We "vibe." It just stings that being around him kind of gets me worked up and then, well... there's no payoff.

We took a weekend trip upstate. He had a  business meeting and I invited myself along because I wanted to get out of town and see the area. That obviously seems frought, especially since we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast - and you know my history with cute little Inns. But it was nice. We stayed in separate rooms of course.

I imagined we were in Maine. We wake up as different people and suddenly all his baggage melts away and we begin a new life together. That's a rotten fantasy. The man has kids. A life. And I have my own commitment, a commitment to myself to stay as Valerie for good. But I'm not doing much as her except fretting over boys and it's making me crazy.

And besides, I should know well enough that your baggage doesn't just disappear when you get a new body. As far as I'm concerned it only gets bigger.

-Valerie

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Daryl/Magda: Home Alone

I've always been a little wary of people who seem to define themselves in large part based on whatever relationship they're in, which sure must seem a little strange to people reading this, because I literally wouldn't be who I am now if not for being with J.T. and I talk about that a lot because this whole thing is a great but unexpected part of my life with a lot of unexpected details.

And having what I've got with J.T. makes it a lot easier to accept and be who I know myself to be.  It's just...

Well, nobody has a straight career path these days, especially for people like J.T. who know they're going to be jumping from project to project.  Even leaving the Inn out of it, he went from acting on TV to the stage, where people said he had more talent as a singer, so he did that, which led to him getting another job in a play, and now that that's closed, he's booked a four-episode arc on a show shooting in Toronto.  It's not quite back where he started, and his next thing could be anything, but it's a good job.

But it's in Toronto, and leaves me feeling weird and lonely.

He's been out of town three days, and as much as I don't want to be the woman that's all about her boyfriend, I find myself wondering if maybe I am and it makes everything else feel really unnatural.  I get home at the end of the day and clean off my makeup because there's not much reason to keep it on, and without J.T. around it doesn't feel like I'm getting enough layers off.  I look pretty good for a fifty-ish woman, but I've got to confess I've already skipped one trip to the gym.

We'd had an idea of maybe using this time to secure an upgrade so that the age difference isn't quite so striking to outsiders, but even if you know who to talk to, there's kind of a long list of people looking for "younger and prettier".  That whole side of the Inn subculture is kind of gross, when you come right down to it - I don't really think it's like buying and selling people, even if the language can sort of go in that direction, but it can sure feel like a really thorough form of identity theft, even if you verify that the people who originally led a life are giving it up willingly.  J.T. suggested I look at it as next-level plastic surgery, but even that seems creepy.

Anyway, nothing came up, so I've got another fall and winter as Magda, who has to be more than just J.T.'s girlfriend, especially since I don't have a lot of Inn crew nearby.  Pete's someone else in Massachusetts, Jenn hasn't sent new contact information, and Tylerie...  I don't know about her.  Sometimes she just seems like she wants to just act like she's always been Val, sometimes it seems like we just don't have anything to talk about, and sometimes she will say or do something that reminds me that there's a guy from the South who knows his way around a gun in there, and that I wasn't always Polish.  He's never actually done anything to make me fearful, but the stuff that burrows deep into your head when you're young doesn't leave just because you've got new skin.

On that note, I don't hang out with June/Jonah much anymore.  He seems to be acclimating pretty well, which I guess is what school will do for you - even if he was a year older than the other freshman, it was traveling to see the world, and between his own experience, reading the social media and diaries Krystle kept, and just having the confidence to bullshit a bit, he kind of made himself cool.  Too cool to have time for this middle-aged white lady.

So I guess it's time to start actually being one, every once in a while.  I've at least managed to be friendly with everyone at work, so it's not too weird when I finally say yes when someone brings up a girls' night.  Accepting the invitation feels weird - I've spent so much of the past year using J.T. to basically be myself despite looking like Magda, that actually hanging out with other Magdas is very unnerving.  But, I figure, it's not forever - I so plan to get some of these twenty years back next summer - so I might as well give it a try.

-Magdaryl