Monday, March 02, 2020

Val: Under the knife

Around the holidays things started to get weird between me and Rafe. It can be a very sentimental time, even though neither of us are sentimental people, and it's hard not to succumb to the urge a little and behave a certain way.  Something about holiday cheer and togetherness makes it hard to just enjoy casual sex for what it is.

Around New Years Eve we found ourselves having an obligatory "What are we?" Conversation. Are we exclusive? No, but neither of us is seeing anyone else. Do we go out on dates? I said it would be acceptable but he said it was outside his comfort zone (to put ot mildly.) In my head I had echoes of someone or other saying "Why buy the cow..." even though I didn't even grow up as a woman. I had to field awkward dating questions from Valerie's mother over the holidays, and deflected by saying I was out there, and that's all. It deepened the already sour feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I spend time with that family.

In January I decided, kinda unilaterally, to downplay my thing with Rafe. Call it a Resolution if you must. It had been a few months of great sex with someone who wasn't interested in more. Why not look again?

Instead, online I found the usual collection of way-too-self-absorbed boy-men in suits who think all women are impressed by a decent suit and a nice car (in this city? Please.)

It was a lot like last year's round of boredom-inducing matchups, only this time I actually had sex with a few of them. None of them had much potential for long term, but I wanted the experience. Whereas before I avoided sex because I didn't want to feel used, now I embrace it because I wanted to do the using.

I think I have screwed myself up because I can only bring myself to sleep with a guy if I dislike him now. I know I should respect my body enough not to just let anyone have it, but I also respect it enough to give it things that will feel good, at least for the night. But if I think I have feelings for a guy? I dare not complicate it with sex.

Besides, I was worried they wouldn't want me soon. At the end of January I did something I have been dreaming about for years... having my breast reduction surgery.

Having boobs of any kind is great about 10% of the time. Times when you want the attention they bring. Times when you are wearing something flattering but not uncomfortable. Times when you are literally naked, on top or below (or in front of) someone and feeling them bounce up and down and against your ribcage in response to something very pleasurable. The rest of the time they are a frightful inconvenience, and when they are 8% of your overall body weight (I did the math!) they are a literal pain.

I had made up my mind months ago and went through a battery of consultations and examinations. Recieving healthcare as a woman in this country is not overall simple of convenient but my doctor - a man - acknowledged that on my frame, these breasts are too much by a lot.

Before the surgery, I texted both Kevin and Rafe, the men in my life who I had kept at arms length of weeks or months. Kevin wished me well, Rafe didn't reapond rigbt away. I also texted my sister and Meg, and of course Maddie and Ariel knew - who has taken Charli's old room and made a really good late night talking partner since both of us are effectively single.

Before they put me under, the Doctor said something to the effect of "Just think, when you wake up, you'll have a whole new different body." I probably laughed way too hard, involuntarily, and confused him.

Then they wheeled me in, put me under, and that was that.

Afterward, as I woke up, in my groggy state, my first thought was to grab for them. I think I thought I was back to the Inn necause Maddie recalled me babbling about "Am I me? Am I me?" Before long, I came to ajd had a chance to examine.

It was amazing. The scars are barely noticeable. They're still pretty big actually, but much, much smaller than before. I might actually be able to shop in regular places for tops and bras. Wear sundresses. Jog. See my feet. They're reshaped into perfectly symmetrical orbs. Almost too perfect. It bugs me how I've lost a certain natural appearance. I don't want people to think I have fake boobz.

Part of me was excited - I looked great. I felt free. Part of me was sad, as I worried I might be - I had lost something that had come to be a part of me, as frustrating and inconvenient and painful as they could be. Never in all my years of wandering as Tyler or drifting from life to life via the Inn had I felt so attached to anything, let alone body parts I wasn't even born with. I worried about not being appreciative of the body I had inherited, but Cynthia has told me this was a dream of hers too.

It's like being a new me, with the losses and gains that implies, but I get to keep being me, which is exciting.

Once I got back into street clothes, Maddie and Ariel were gobsmacked. It was so different and yet it looked so rigbt. They were very supportive and very complimentary. They got me a card and pampered me while I recuperated.

Rafe eventually did text me back, saying that he was happy for me, in a weirdly brief manner. But that's him.

One other reason for the timing... Meg's weddig is coming up. And I wanted it all oit of the way so I could wear a nice dress and feel good about myself because the obly person I ever really loved is getting married and I need to be there to support her.

If it ain't too obvious to say, I really do feel a weight off my shoulders. I had been hemming and hawing so long, and now it's done and I don't regret it.

I'm a happy gal.

-Valerie

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Steven as Shona: Call me crazy

Stir crazy that is. All I do is go to work at a big box store, eat and sleep. I'm not enriching my life in any particular way, or the world. At least when I was the Ice Cream Man, I was something.

I am not a social butterfly by nature and being Shona has not changed that. She has friends but they never really got along with me, so as long as I am wearing her life they are somewhat persona non grata. Thst leaves my work acquaintances. Most of the girls... maybe they don't see me as one of their own because, well, it could be a lot of things. I never learned how to break the ice with females and just being one hasn't made it easier. Most of the women who work with me are older, younger, or moms. We don't share the same worldview or interests... the ones whose lives most closely resemble mine are the ex pep squadders in cosmetics and I don't have much common ground with them besides our biological gender. Similarly, none of the guys know what to make of me because they see me as a woman, but not as a potential sex partner, so I'm just nothing. I can't even be "one of the guys" because I was never that to begin with - I had to google who was in the Superbowl when I found myself invited to the work Superbowl party.

I went just because what else was I going to do on a random Sunday night? I did find it fun, and wound up talking to Kenny more than anyone. Kenny didn't know Shona well, but he did know me. So it's been interesting getting to know him all over again from this angle.

He confided to me, later, he had a crush on one of the makeup girls, Allie. I counseled maybe he should look elsewhere - Allie is model thin and kind of dumb and if I'm being honest, self absorbed. I guess I'm forgetting what kind of effect a nice pair of breasts and a thin waist can have on a certain type of man. He's hoping I can do something to get that set up, but that would require me to strike up a relationship of my own with her, which seems intimidating and pointless.

Still, he's a friend and he deserves happiness. I'd like to help. I just wish he would look somewhere else for it.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Valerie: Holidazed

The Holidays saw me running ragged. Not only did I have to do as much as I could to spend time with "my family" - that is, Val's family, which is, you know, my family now, seemingly everyone from my past wanted to crop back up all of a sudden.

It started when Dylan's parents said they were considering visiting New York, and wanted to know if I was still living there and wanted to see my former "kid." I was struck - It feels like multiple lifetimes ago that I was Judith, and being reminded of it brought up unexpected emotions. Echoes of the guilt I felt about whether I was a good parent, nostalgia for having that kiddo in my life, the fraught nature of my relationship with Kitty. I have enough baggage as Valerie now, it's hard to even think of stuff from when I was that person.

But since it came up, I became very excited about the possibility of seeing him. I told his parents to bring him to the subway near my apartment - it would be best if my roomies didn't see any of this - and I could show him around Manhattan for a day.

Dylan arrived with his mom. She put on a friendly, but neutral, face, as we shook hands. I asked how she had been.

"Not bad, all things considered," she sighed, "It's been a long few years. Lots of adjusting. I can't say I'm happy with the way things worked out, but going back to my old body is just... not happening. So this is it for me, and we make the best of it."

"Right," I nodded. I had forgotten that Dylan's parents wound up getting switched, and I supposed their aversion to the Inn made them decide never to try to go back. It would be a lot to expect everyone to thrive this way, I guess, but I hope s/he doesn't bring too much bitterness home. She gave me a few ground rules then went off back to the hotel.

Dylan smiled when he saw me, and stooped down to give me a big hug. "Woah!" he said, "I mean, I've seen pictures, but I totally forgot you look like this now. I still think of you as... well... when you were Judith I could sometimes tell you were a guy in there. But now...?"

"Yeah, yeah," I said. "Well, let's get over our shock. This is me, and yes, I do think of myself as a woman, but I'm still me."

"That's great," he said, "So cool. You know, the kids at my school are just now starting to learn about LGBTQ and gender identity and stuff. It sucks that I can't tell them what I've lived through."

"Yeah, sometimes you really do wish you could explain it to people," I sighed. "By the way, holy crap you got tall. I mean, I got short, but you got tall."

Dylan is 15 now, and stands 6' tall. He told me about his love for basketball, and his other hobbies - he writes now, and does a little bit of music. He played me some stuff off his Soundcloud - not really my thing, but not bad.

We went to some markets, saw the Museum of Natural History, and hit up one of my favorite lunch spots. There was the inevitable moment where I had to take my coat off and he glanced at my chest, but he tried to play it cool and generally kept his eyes north. I get it, they're impressive. For what it's worth, I was wesring a loose sweater, not something that invites attention, but thry do a good enough job of that o their own.

He told me he reads the blog, which makes me a little embarrassed considering most of what I post here is about my sex life.

After lunch, we walked around some more and he told me about his girlfriend.

"It was weird you know. For a long time after I went back, it was like... what am I? I wasn't that into girls before I became one, and by the time I was done being Livie, I kind of did like boys. It took me a long time to sort out... until I met Theresa. Then it was instant."

"I'm happy for you," I said warmly.

He went on, "My parents are worried that hanging out with you is going to make me want to go back to the Inn, because of what you said."

I raised an eyebrow. "Oh really?" I remembered what I said - that someday when he was 18 if he still wanted to, that would be his choice.

"It's tempting," he said. "There was a time I went to bed every night thinking I was gonna be a girl for the rest of my life. I look at Theresa and I see what that would've been like
 Sometimes I get jealous because she's so beautiful. But I'm lucky because I get to be with her."

"So, no going back then," I said, hopefully.

"I don't know. I'm still young. Who knows what I'll want. I'm happy now. But I also know that going back and becoming something else isn't a death sentence."

"Tell that to your dad-- er, mom. Neil."

Dylan snickered. "He's just playing. He thinks if someone like you finds out he doesn't hate being a woman, it's like he lost or something. But he's a lot more like you than he wants to admit. Honestly, I think my mom's almost got him convinced to try for another kid."

"Woahhh," I said, "Now that's a subject I don't need to hear about."

In the end, I told him, that's what the real world is, what every person walking the Earth has to face in one way or another - how much is sucks to feel stuck, but how good it feels to put down roots in the end.

He took this advice in, and reflected on it, then said one more thing. "I'm glad I never got a period."

I wrapped my arm around him. "Be grateful."

For the rest of the holidays, I sleepwalked through some time with "My" Family, and then our little group faced a shakeup as Charli left New York for Brooklyn. Maddie's on-again-off-again boyfriend moved in, which left me feeling crowded and wondering if it's time for me to make a change. I had a pretty interesting year but I was ready for it to end.

More soon

-Val

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Val: On Trial

A little after it came out that I was back to seeing Rafe casually, I was called into the common area for a serious talk.

My roommates - Maddie, Charli, and Ariel, were putting me "on trial." It's a thing we do when one of us does something the others don't like. Sometimes it's for stupid things like getting a bad haircut, and sometimes it's... a little more dramatic than that.

I wasn't surprised, but I was a little irritated. Yes, we all know that Rafe is not the best possible person for me to be with. He's crass and annoying, immature and directionless. Sometimes that irritates me, and sometimes I'm sympathetic because I kind of see some of myself in him.

The charge: That I'm selling myself short by dating someone there's no future with. That I'm hurting myself and others by letting him have me whenever he wants without expecting much in return.

My defense: I'm a grown woman and I went into this with open eyes, and it's honestly prudish to say a woman can't enjoy casual sex without feeling like she's being taken advantage of.

Plus, he's not a bad guy. He's smart, he makes me laugh, and, let's not be modest here, he's a great lay.

Do I see myself settling down with him? No, of course not. But fate put me back into my mid-20's, biologically speaking - do I need to be with my soulmate right now? If so, where is he?

He and I know the deal. No commitment, no strings attached. We're honest about what we're doing. Last time, I got antsy because I was craving an emotional relationship he couldn't offer, plus I thought I was going back to the Inn. I had a year of solitude to see if I could make that emotional relationship, and... nothing.

Well, not nothing.

See, that was a big part of Maddie's case against, as she led the prosecution. She felt like I was short-changing Kevin, and that I had cut off any progress we were making toward true coupledom by dividing my attention between him and Rafe. Maddie "ships" me with Kevin.

I told her it wasn't going to happen - Kevin was a rock I couldn't budge. I put all my best moves on him and he never seemed to see me as more than a companion. Nothing I was doing with Rafe violated that arrangement or gave me any reason to feel bad.

"Okay then," she said. "Then why don't you talk to  Kevin about it?"

That made me nervous.

Kevin knows that sometimes I'm not available, or that sometimes I have to hurry home for something, but I have never specified that it's so that I can sleep with another guy. I don't really think it's any of his business and he's never indicated to me that it would bother him. And yet, the idea of bringing it up to him did seem very... heavy.

I told him the next time I was over there. I was making risotto and he was watching, giving me those gooey eyes that, in another person would normally mean "I want to jump your bones right now." The guilt was gnawing at me.

"So..." I said as I stirred, "I think you should know I'm kind of seeing someone."

His gaze didn't break. A long pregnant pause held in the air.

"Go on..." he said, his voice hard to read the way men sometimes are.

"Well, it's not serious," I stammered nervously, "But, it's been a while. And I just didn't think to tell you because, well.. it's kind of private and I... wasn't sure what to say."

"Well," he twisted his lips, "You could say, 'So I'm kind of seeing someone.'"

"I mean, you and I are just... friends, right? You don't see me that way, do you?"

The answer took longer to give than I was comfortable with.

I started to say, "I man, you told me--"

"Yeah, yeah," he interrupted, "No, I know. It's fine," he said, in a tone that suggested maybe it's not fine.

"You and I have a really special friendship," I said, cringing inside at what I was babbling, "It was just obvious it wasn't anything... more than that."

"Yeah," he said, and got real quiet, and for a while I wondered if he was mad at me. I wanted to keep talking but I couldn't think of anything to say that didn't sound stupid.

Eventually, the food was done cooking. "Um hey," I said awkwardly, "Can you get some plates down for us?"

He snapped out of his trance. "Oh, yeah, of course. Sorry, I know my kitchen is built for people over 5 feet tall."

"Yeah, I'm used to it," I shrugged.

He set our places, and before the silence crept back in, he said, "I'm happy for you."

"Huh?"

"That's what friends say, isn't it?"

"Only if they mean it."

He smiled, "I'm happy for you. I'm mad for myself, because you deserve... well, anything you want. Things haven't changed for me, Val. I mean,in some ways they have, because I could picture... you know. Maybe. Someday. I didn't want you to wait for me, though. I wish it could be me, but... it's not."

I didn't know how to respond to that.

Another long silence was brewing, when he asked, "So when you say it's not serious..."

"You really want to know?"

"I'm your friend, aren't I?"

"Well," I said, "It's really just sex. Sometimes breakfast. One or two dinners. I don't do this sort of thing with him."

"That's good to hear. You ever go ice skating with him?"

"I told you, I can't skate. I'll fall over," I laughed, referring to a previous conversation we had about going to Rockefeller Center together.

"I'll believe it when I see it," he snickered. "So, this guy..."

"We have a good vibe, but he's not boyfriend material. Plus, we work together, so I don't really feel the need to see that much more of him."

"You should quit," he said, apropos nothing.

"And do what?"

"Whatever you're going to do," he said. "You're gonna pour coffee the rest of your life?"

"Well, I was planning on marrying a rich single dad but that didn't work out," I snorted.

Unamused, he pressed on. "I'm serious. Quit your job. Take a business course. Open your own shop. Do more catering. Whatever you want. Please, you'll feel so much more rewarded."

"I... don't think I can," I sighed. "I have no money."

"And you never will at this rate," he scolded. "Weren't you saying you're about to spend thousands of dollars on plastic surgery?"

"Breast reduction surgery. I need it."

"Why not put that off and put that money towards some college courses?"

"Because I'd rather be physically comfortable and broke," I scoffed.

"I'll pay," he said. "Let me help you."

"The last thing I need is a white knight," I said. "Just let me live my life, okay?"

"Fine, no problem," he said.

I grew frustrated inside. He wasn't saying anything I didn't already think, but only I get to think those things. Ill quit the coffee shop when I'm good and ready. When I know what I want. It used to be, I would go from place to place and never think about the future. It was freeing, but I don't want to be that way anymore, so I don't want to quit on a whim only to decide I don't want to run my own business or go to school. And I definitely don't want to be told what to do by a guy I'm not even dating.

Part of me thinks I was just being sensitive - which bugs me because that makes me think this is a product of my gender and not how I am really supposed to be feeling. But God knows there was plenty of folks who thought they knew what was best for me when I was a man, and I didn't listen then either, it just bugged me less. So if my feelings about it have changed, well, that's all part of how I've changed overall. And I've accepted that, so watch out world.

That was back before Christmas. A lot has happened so I'm just getting around to describing it now. But it really affected our relationship. We don't see each other as much, barely text. Oir friendsgip really took a hit and I don't know if we can come back from it. I miss him, but it seems like things just ran their course. That makes me sad, but like he said, I shouldn't have been waiting for him.

-Val

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Steven as Shona: Okay, perhaps I'm a little cursed

The trick with this "curse" is that you can't just sit around and do nothing, even under the guise that you are "making observations" about your "new life." It doesn't do much good to try that if you're not actually living any kind of life. A person still has to eat.

Shone is a wonderful person but she wanted different things out of life from me. I was career focused, getting my Masters and working in a lab. She wanted other things, leaving her not really qualified for anything I wanted to do with myself.

Being female, I can handle. Weighing over 300 Lbs is only a marginal drawback. Having to work in Global-Mart Superstore? That's where I truly feel cursed.

Okay, I don't have to work at Global-Mart, I'm not an indentured slave, but I was running out of options. I have a friend, Kenny, who manages one. I e-mailed him to let him know that my "friend" was looking for work, and he agreed to interview me.

I made sure to pay special attention to my appearance that day. I know it's only a low-paying retail job, but I needed it, and honestly, going into an interview looking the way I normally do, might put me at a disadvantage. I hadn't had much reason, opportunity or desire to learn how to be "feminine" these past few months. My hair was a little stringy and greasy, my skin pale. These are things that I'm okay with, but I know that success is largely image based, especially for women. I went to the hair dresser  got my make-up done at the cosmetics counter, which was an excruciating experience. I also wore a very supportive bra and a top that highlighted my cleavage, because I felt it couldn't hurt.

Before I knew it, Kenny and I were chatting like we were just old friends - because, I suppose, that was what we are, even if he didn't know it. I told him that "Steven" had really talked him up as a good friend, relating some of our old stories (in a way that flattered him.) We were so busy laughing it barely felt like an interview. I got the job.

The job itself is menial and far below me, but such is my "curse." It's not glamorous and sometimes I worry that there is far too much pressure for such a go-nowhere position but it pays the bills, as they say, and gets me out of the house.

The women are the store have been good. I'll admit, I've never been very good with women so it was hard to bring myself to talk to them at first, but when they all started flocking toward me like they already knew me I felt very welcome. It dawned on me later that I didn't have to worry about impressing them, since sex and romance were out of the question, I could just be myself and they would accept it. Even if I don't seem like a "normal" woman, there's no reason "a" woman couldn't say or do the things that I do, like express a preference for Deep Space Nine over The Next Generation, or try to explain the nuances in recent academic studies of generational biological mutation as they relate to allergies.

The guys don't seem to have much interest in me. Every time I try to talk to them they brush me off. Even Kenny seems to keep his distance, although he's the manager, so it's not like we run into each other a lot, which sucks because I thought he and "Shona" had something of a bond based on our interview.

So that's my curse, and I'm sorry it's not as dramatic as some others. Yes, I menstruate, and yet I have broken one or two chairs, but not being able to use my mind to work has been the worst part.

Well, that any not knowing where the real Shona is. I lie up at night worrying.Having to see her face every day as a reminder... well, it's enough to make one stop using mirrors.

Except, haha, I can't, because I started wearing lipstick and now I feel like I will be shunned if I stop.