Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Jonah/Krystle: The Lady in Charge

Personnel management isn't really a big part of my job at the gym.  I make schedules, which mostly means keeping track of availability, noting vacations, and trying to balance shifts so that people don't feel like I'm playing favorites.  I've hired a couple people to make up for departures over the past year - we've actually got two women working the walls in addition to Chloe at the front desk now, and yeah, it's a bit weird to me that this matters to me aside from it just seeming like a generally good idea, but I guess I've dealt with enough sexism that it does - and discovered I hate interviewing in a different way they when I was applying for jobs:  I just feel like there aren't very many useful questions and watching the way people answer is like trying to grab smoke.

Today was the first time I had to fire someone, and boy, does that make that "impostor syndrome" stuff kick in.

There wasn't a whole lot of question that the guy had to go - he was regularly late for his shifts, seemed to think he'd have my job in a matter of months, and I suspected he was much more literally hands-on than this job requires before I got actual complaints.  It's easy to come up with excuses - it's a gym, folks sometimes need assistance, and the stretchy workout gear means there's no padding - but there was a pattern, and there are policies in place to make sure that the parent company doesn't get sued.  I needed documentation, and that was tricky because, much as there are a lot of nasty people out there, there are also a lot who don't want to be the reason someone loses their job, even if a guy boosts you up the wall by pushing at your groin with his hand.  Folks don't even want to write that down.

And I'm kind of one of them - who am I to take away someone's livelihood?  I hated the idea.  I try to be a good manager, and I think most of the staff will say that I am, but a lot of that's being "nice" as opposed to being some sort of hard-ass, and this is a hard-ass things to have to do.

So at the end of his shift, I called him into the office, told him that he'd received warnings about his tardiness, and there had been several complaints, and that I had to let him go.  It was company policy and my hands were tied, which was true.

It was at this point I realized that this guy with a bad attitude was six-foot-four and muscular.

I don't really worry about that sort of thing a lot.  Part of it is that, despite having been Krystle for as long as I have, there's a part of me that still thinks of myself as a guy, and my parents raised me to be wary of white people in terms of who can mess up your life if they feel they're not being catered to enough, but not so much guys.  I've been one of the guys a lot as a woman, and when I haven't, I've been able to rely on being pretty, pregnant, or having a kid with me.  Plus, I may not be tall like I used to be, but I'm not short, either, and folks can see I've got some definition to my arms in most outfits.  There's a lot of reasons to think twice about starting something.

But this dude was big, and mad.  He stood up, leaned over my desk, and demanded to know just who the fuck I was to tell him anything, with an "you fucking bitch" at the end.  If I had more Angela Bassett in me, I might have yelled in his face that I was the fucking bitch who...  Well, I don't know how that sentence was going to end.  Instead, I stood and said there were rules, he hadn't followed them, and I wasn't putting him on the schedule again.

He raised a hand, as if ready to slap me, and I admit, I flinched.  He smirked at that, and instead of hitting me, swatted some papers from my desk and knocked something Moira had made in art class off a shelf on his way out, slamming the door behind him.

I just sat there for a few minutes, trembling.  I've been scared as a woman before, and as a Black person, but usually out in some place where there aren't lines drawn or anything.  Not in my office where I'm supposed to be in charge.

I don't know how long it took me to compose myself; not long enough for anybody to need me.  I picked everything up, was glad Moira's project wasn't damaged, and made sure everybody else was leaving as I closed up.  Just another day of being a woman in America, I guess.  Sometimes it catches me off guard, even now.


Thursday, June 22, 2023

Daryl/Zee: What a Wedding!

Not mine, although I was wondering if maybe J.T. would do something romantic and get down on one knee at some point.  Not in a way that would upstage Elaine and new-Daryl, but maybe back at the hotel, so that I could show a ring off at the Inn-people-only breakfast the next morning.  You would think he'd be ready, given that we've been dating each other in multiple shapes since before the pandemic, so it's pretty clear we're compatible and can weather a lot.  But, then again, I suppose there's nothing that would stop me from proposing, considering I was the guy in this relationship when it started.  Not sure how that would work, though - do I go out, buy a ring, and then kneel to pop the question, holding out the little box so he can take it out and put it on my finger?  Maybe there's stuff about girls proposing on YouTube or something.

But, hey, this past weekend was not about me - it was Elaine and "Dareleanor", who has done pretty well with my life even without landing Elaine.  They coincidentally wound up taking contracts with the same company, Elaine asked him if he recognized her, and she explained how the original Daryl (me) lived her life for a while and they both started gushing, excited to have someone to talk to.  That Eleanor didn't even blink about staying in her new life once she realized that nobody wanted it back even though she'd been a white woman says something about just how completely they clicked, and they apparently didn't feel the need to wait once they figured that out.

I came out to Chicago a few days before J.T., in part because Dareleanor wanted some help with the more far-flung relatives that he hadn't met but whom my mother said had to be invited.  Someday I'll talk about how it wasn't just falling for J.T. that convinced me to leave my life behind - there are a lot of complicated feelings there, so Dareleanor and I decided not to try and do a "major life event lets you tell the truth" thing with them while things were going well - but he just needed a whole lot of information supplied on short notice, which I was able to help with.

He looked good in his tux, and Elaine looked amazing in her dress.  She found some time to hang out with me, although it was kind of weird:  I've been both of them, but only barely met either.  I'm important to them, because without me they would never have met, but I'm kind of like a storm that shut down the airport while they were in the bar waiting for different flights or something like that, an outside force-of-nature that you're glad happened but don't necessarily think well of.

It was also kind of fun to have some other Inn folks around as part of the wedding.  J.T. looked damn good in his tux, and he's famous enough that there were some murmurs running through the reception:  How do Elaine and Daryl know him?  Oh, they don't, he's with Zee.  Well, who is this Zee - I've never met her!  Although, they thought, maybe I did at some point, because she seems to know all our names!  I met most of them in my original life, when I was dating J.T./Elaine, and then in the brief time I was Elaine (I went to Marisa's wedding!), but none of them knew Zee.  They probably just assumed I had a better memory than average for casual acquaintances, which is actually true and helpful when you're parachuting into other people's lives.

Aside from that, Cary came with Krystle/Mackenzie (who gave me a look when I called her "Mackrystle" that suggests I not call her that to her face again), and the hug Elaine gave him must have made the actual father of the bride jealous.  She also gushed over how much Krystle had grown in the past few years and winked at what a pretty young woman she'd become, laughing when the apparent red-headed teen said it was a relief that she could pull off the dress she was wearing.  Some of my younger cousins danced with her and it was kind of funny because Krystle hasn't forgotten her first life and they were not expecting a 16-year-old white girl with freckles from Maine to have the moves she does.  There must be some fun videos where she is just this crazy white-and-red spot in the middle of all the Black teenagers.

I mentioned that to her when we all got together for a Sunday Inn Veterans brunch, and she laughed, saying she hoped nobody was watching that and asking whether she'd ever been on a pole.  Surprisingly, that was kind of the highlight of the thing, because we didn't actually have that much to talk about.  It wasn't a waste of time, because even if you've been in a life long enough to make it yours and not think about going back or worry about screwing something up, it's kind of a relief to know you won't have to come up with a weird explanation or remember a previous lie in a conversation.

J.T. and I stayed in Chicago for another couple days after the wedding, revisiting places we knew from our own time here, whether as Daryl or Elaine. which was fun if kind of surreal.  One restaurant was just as good as I remembered it, but that the owner who always knew everybody's name had never met me was sad.

Then, in a crazy coincidence, Harmon/Alisha was our flight attendant on the way back to New York!  It's not entirely surprising - (s)he's relocated there, back to crashing with the new Magda, who is apparently more willing to act the mother while asking little of her "daughter", and this is apparently a better place to be part of influencer/YouTube/Instagram culture than Oakland (on top of there not being much chance to transfer to L.A.) - but definitely a bit surreal to know that the woman with the short skirt and tight top who was assigned to making sure the folks in first class were satisfied used to be a top economist.


Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Andi/Andy: Done with that!

Of course, by "that" I only mean high school - Andy's life is still mine for another month or so, barring anything else going wrong.

Everyone else I know talked about how senior year, especially the second semester, is a chance to coast and skip and all that, but it's been pretty nerve-wracking for Andy and me.  Andy never really pulled out of his funk, and we both kind of stumbled doing each other's Zoom interviews as part of our college applications, so by the time acceptance letters (and the opposite) started coming, we were pretty nervous, and some of them were provisional on our final-semester grades.

And the results were pretty disappointing for me - I got Andy into Northeastern University in Boston, as much as I'm surprised he wanted any part of New England after the last couple years.  I guess he really liked the real-world-experience program.  Meanwhile, I'm looking at a state university this fall, which isn't bad, I guess, but feels really frustrating because I've been doing pretty well in school and he's going to get the benefit of it.

It hasn't been a good look for me, especially since only my brother and my parents know why I'm frustrated, and everyone else is more worried about "Andi" clearly struggling with things this year.  It's been genuinely scary at times, because even last summer, I don't recall ever feeling this angry, and I sometimes wonder if all this testosterone just super-charges it or something.  Like, Mom and Dad have been very good at making sure Andy and I both understand that "men can't help themselves" is bullshit, even before our first trip to the Inn, and maybe if situations were different, things could still piss me off like this did, but the fact that it may be all the male hormones just makes me even angrier...

Now, don't misunderstand, I haven't been walking around in a constant rage for the past three months, but it's really unnerving.  You read a lot of stuff on this blog about guys grappling with their self-image because they're starting to find other guys attractive or enjoy wearing a nice dress, and get fewer posts about girls who become guys and start being attracted to girls, but getting mad like this doesn't come up.  Dad's been great about it - he's always been good about spotting when stuff has been bothering me and saying the right thing, and while he hasn't done anything goofy like hanging a punching bag in the basement or anything, he has helped me just get it out physically, even if it's just not questioning when I go on an hour-long run or something.  Andy has been a little freaked, but I've at least got some sort of circuit-breaker in my head that stops me from really lighting into my own face or getting anywhere near violence.  He mostly just doesn't want to believe that's potentially in him.

Weirdly, Cindi was kind of on-point without even knowing the half of what was going on.  The way she figures it, the fact that "Andi" and I were looking at being separated must be what's messing us up.  She doesn't have siblings, much less a twin, but she sees how inseparable we are, how I initially resisted her advances because she'd been mean to "my sister" (which is to say, me) back in middle school, and figures I must be mad at "her" for not keeping up and myself for being selfish enough to go to the good school.  She's an annoyingly great girlfriend.

Which brings us to prom.

Shockingly, Andy was more into it this year, probably in part because he didn't have a date, but was mostly just going with Shawna and some other girls, hanging out, dancing with guys, but no kissing or hands on butts or making any sort of statement.  I mean, he spent the whole afternoon at the hair salon with them, and was even wearing two-inch heels and showing some cleavage in his dress as Mom took pictures, when he's really not into girl stuff that much.  He shrugged and said he might as well have some fun with it in our last few months as each other, and this was all going to be part of my Instagram page come next month, and he wouldn't want me to look bad.

And, yeah, I was kind of disappointed that I didn't get to wear the pretty dress, although I got to have Cindi wear one on my arm, which is a dumb guy thing to be proud of - she did all the work! - but it's kind of real, at least for a few more weeks at least.  And I don't really look bad in a suit like this, myself.

We didn't cross paths that often at the dance, but we didn't avoid each other.  There was a point when Cindi was in the restroom and I was at the refreshment stand grabbing a Coke Zero when he came up and got a Diet Coke, and we kind of laughed at there be boy and girl soda, and were we going to have to switch back lest folks call us weird.  I commented that he was having fun, and he said he was, but might have to get off his feet soon because he'd been dancing all night and that was way more than he'd ever done in heels.  "Can't wait for those to be your problem!"

He actually did wind up heading out fairly early with someone who had to get up early the next morning, while Cindi and I stayed more or less to the end.  We got in my car, and she put her hand on mine.  "Hey.  There's nobody at my family's lake house."

I don't know whether it was the touch or the suggestion, but the thing in between my legs just reacted instantly.  "Uh, I don't know, I told my folks I'd be home by--"

"Don't worry, I told your sister and she was sure your parents would be cool with it, and they'll at least know.  I want to do this, and you've been waiting long enough."

I didn't say anything out loud, but all the way there, "she thinks she's been the one who's been keeping me waiting" bounced around my head.  We kind of didn't talk on the way, just nervous "remember when this classmate did that" from earlier in the night, before we got there and made our way to her bedroom.

We stood there for a second, nervous, and then she took a deep breath.  "Andy, I've got to warn you - I'm not a virgin."

How do you respond to that without suggesting a girl is a prude or a slut?  I tried to think of what I would want to hear, but it suddenly seemed like an eternity since I'd been a girl.  "Okay, I mean, I didn't think, you know, that you had, uh, denied yourself anything.  Or anything."

She smiled a little at me being flustered, but got serious again.  "It's not like that.  When I was thirteen, and puberty decided to be really generous, my uncle..."

She trailed off and I gasped.  Like, I could fill in the blanks, and while I'm lucky enough that nobody ever did more than "accidentally" brush me at that age, I sure remembered a lot of guys giving me more attention than a random kid should get.  I wanted to say I understood, but I knew right away that she'd know "Andy" didn't, couldn't, really, so I just said I was so sorry that happened and had no idea.

"Well, I made sure nobody had no idea.  I didn't even tell my folks until a few weeks ago, when we saw that uncle again and he made some sort of remark about what you and I must be doing."  She took another breath.  "But this isn't about that, this is about you being great and me wanting you especially since you've been so patient with me and not acted like there was anything wrong with me."

She looked scared, and not having any idea what to say, I kissed her, she kissed back, and then we were getting clothes off and...

Well, neither of us really had any idea what we were doing.  We'd seen movies and I kind of remembered exploring a bit a couple years ago, but you know what?  It was good.  It was really good, and as much as I've spent so much of what had been leading up to it upset about being a guy, it was kind of nice being the big spoon as we fell asleep, her hair against my face and my hand on her belly, though it moved as we slept.

We were still in that position when I woke up, and she soon did the same, feeling that I was aroused, and we tried it again.  We were a little better.  We had a little swim and then headed into town to get some breakfast since there was no food in the house, and giggled until I finally dropped her off.

Andy was waiting for me in the garage with a smirk.  "I am so jealous!"

"Well you don't necessarily have to be fore--"  I stopped.  "You know what, you do.  I don't know how we'll handle things when we switch, but--"

"Dude!  What kind of creep do you think I am?"

"I know, it's just...  It was kind of a big thing."

"Yeah.  I know."

"You do?  Who?"

"None of your damn business!"  I must have given him a look and he shrugged.  "Just a random guy at the regional one-act play thing."  He smiled and then asked if I wanted something to eat, knowing that you can always get a teenage boy to answer yes and change the subject.

Mom and Dad said absolutely nothing when they got back from Sunday brunch with their friends.

After that...  Well, graduation, which is a long, hot day in robes that just suck up heat but having your parents and grandparents and all your friends there smiling like idiots makes you smile like an idiot too.  Andy and I walked to get our diplomas from the principal together, and not just because of alphabetical order.  As we went back to our positions, we whispered "we did it" to each other, and that was maybe the most satisfying part of the day.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Jonah/Krystle: Visitors

I kind of thought that Moira would be more upset about not seeing her grandparents or cousins at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but kids her age have a really frightening ability to adapt to change once they've gotten past the temper tantrums.  It's been almost eight years and I'm still going "boo-hoo, being a girl is hard even with a bunch of folks who've gone through the same thing to help!" and she's like, well, I left everybody I know except Mommy behind on the other side of the country and my new friend Josephine's parents speak French so now I'm just going to pick up more French than Mommy did in three years of school and also I never get lost when running around the neighborhood like Mommy does.  She's six, she did video calls with her extended family at the holidays, and they ran out to show "Josie" the new toy she was sent.

In fact, the only family member she has seen in the past six months is "Daddy", because June/Jonah and his fiancée Alana got the idea to come down during Mardi Gras.  I gather it had sort of been a bucket list item for June in her old life, except that her ex-husband didn't think it sounded like his sort of thing when they were younger, and it's not something you do at June's real age, but when the world thinks you're twenty-four, you and your cute redhead finacée do it.  I think they both also wanted to be seen as being good, mature adults, about Moira, even though neither June nor I wants there to be any sort of regular arrangement.  I almost wish we could get Alana to go through a cycle at the Inn, just so that we'd all be on the same page, but that's apparently not practical even if stuff didn't often go wrong.  Anyway, I can't exactly treat June/Jonah as someone who can just disappear from our lives once the opportunity arises, in part because my parents want to keep up appearances.  Then again, they can't just up and move like I just did and start fresh.

It was a weird few days.  Moira was shy around "Daddy", and I felt bad about not making the fact that there is a Daddy out there somewhere who likes her (maybe loves her; I mean, how could June not?) but just can't see her very often more a part of her life, especially now that she's got friends at school and sees other family arrangements more often and asks a bunch of questions.  June, meanwhile, does know how to be around kids so Alana thinks "Jonah" is closer to Moira than is the case.  They mostly did young-single-person stuff, but there was a daddy-daughter outing, from which we now know that Moira really doesn't like boats.

(In the time since this happened, Alana has made overtures about Moira spending a week with Daddy during summer vacation, and I asked Junah if this would be tied to him visiting "his mom and dad" and, yeah, this is complicated!)

More fun was a couple months later when Gabriel had a work thing in New Orleans - some conference or other.  We hadn't chatted online much over the winter and spring, because he met a girl who seemed pretty cool from what showed up on his Instagram, and while we still thought of each other as mostly friends (although I guess sleeping together that once makes us "friends with benefits"), a message from me popping up on his phone at the wrong time could get a bad reaction.  Ironically, it was her who got back together with an ex a couple weeks before this business trip.

Which suddenly added new possibilities to "we should meet for lunch while I'm out there".

We did that, obviously, and it was really enjoyably casual.  Meeting for lunch in this city is terrific, because the sheer number of good places to eat is overwhelming, and I joked with him about being on the dating apps just so that I could get a bunch of guys to introduce me to local restaurants (though I'd found this place myself).  He asked if there was anyone, and I said no, that so far the guys who were okay with me having a daughter were not exactly folks I'd risk a second kid with.  Like, they figured it made me desperate or something and I wasn't going to pay for babysitters on three nights to get laid once.  Joke's on them; Moira loves sleeping over at her friend Josie's and Josie's mom Justine loves hearing stories about men being dogs the next day just as much as hearing about someone being great in bed, even if she does think I should be getting laid more.

(I don't bring up the girls I've swiped right on, because that's not happening.  Jordan says I should have worked at being bi earlier, because otherwise your nose overrides what you'd trained yourself to find sexy or something.)

Once it was established we were both single, he said he could extend his stay into the weekend, and maybe we could do something Friday night.  We settled on Preservation Hall, which is obvious but should be fun, especially since it was on the list of things I hadn't done here yet, and agreed to meet that night.

I was planning to keep it casual again - camisole, shorts, hair in a ponytail, minimal makeup - and got all the way to the point where I was starting with the makeup after dropping Moira off at Josie's when I got a call from Jordan, who had just got in after a long night in Hong Kong and was kind of buzzed.  I put her on speaker as I worked on my face, and when I mentioned it was Gabriel in town she was all like "ooh, you like that boy, don't you?  Go get 'im!"  I protested that it wasn't like that and I wasn't going to get anyone, she said "uh-huh" and that she was probably keeping me late, so she hung up and left me to it.

(I feel like I usually call Jordan "he", but she was really being a she that night!)

I started with the lipstick, but what Jordan had said was on my mind, and it looked kind of dull all of a sudden.  "Damn it," I said, actually said out loud, "I do like that boy!"  So I stripped back down to my bra and panties, threw the closet opened, and went straight to the third date dress, the blue one that has a hidden underwire because there's no hiding bra straps with the bare shoulders and it's made to make my cleavage pop.  It also doesn't do much to hide the shape of my ass and has some round cutouts just above the hips.  I've actually got makeup that matches it, and four-inch heels that do as well.  Not necessarily the sort of things I like wearing when I'm probably going to stand in line for an hour, but Gabriel deserved it and I'll admit it, I didn't feel like leaving much to chance.  I did what I could do with my hair on short notice, chuckled at what my mother would think of me in this moment, and headed out.

He liked what he saw, and I managed not to fall on my butt as we stood in line and chatted.  We got good seats, the music was a ton of fun - it's a tourist trap but one that pulls the tourists in because it's genuinely a lot of fun and really makes you feel like you've had a proper time in New Orleans (and as a recent transplant, I'm not immune to that feeling).  It's a quick show, about an hour, so we walked around a bit more, had some late night beignets, and then I let him get me off my feet in his hotel room.

Afterward, we both lay on the bed, naked, kind of joking about how this was kind of sexier than L-shaped sheets on TV and wondering if smoking afterward leveled you out like it always seemed to in movies - I don't know about anybody else, but I always have this want-to-do-more-but-can't feeling if sex is good, and I'm not sure if it's me, Krystal, or just the weird sense of being a guy turned into a girl.  I kind of liked being naked in that moment, though, walking up to the window and looking out, knowing he was looking at me, and not having any clothes in between us.  "It's gonna be weird if we ever do this anywhere but a hotel, isn't it?"

He laughed.  "It is, especially since hotel sex is the best sex."

"I know, right?  The sheets are always perfect, the bed never squeaks, there's no worry about being interrupted, you're on neutral ground and someone else is gonna clean up...  God, I must sound like such a ho!"

He walked but and put his arms around me.  "You're just sayin' facts."

"I guess, but...  There's some folks who would be really shocked about me having opinions like this, and some who look at me and think ho sells me short, and I--"  I stopped, realizing that I was saying things I usually only said with other folks who'd been to the Inn.  "I just sometimes still feel surprised that I'm an adult woman with adult responsibilities and interests, you know?  Like, I'm sure you heard that I missed high school graduation, and never went to college or got married, so even though I've got a kid of my own and a job where people act like I know what I'm doing and mostly do as I say, I always feel like I'm putting one over everything and should be heading into first period geography in the morning."

He walked up, put his arms around me, and kissed my neck.  "I think you're amazingly together."

"You're just saying that because you see me once a year in my best outfit."

"C'mon, you're pretty good in no outfit at all!"

I laughed, kind of enjoying a man appreciating me and not thinking about it too much in the moment.  "I'm just saying, tomorrow I'll be in a t-shirt trying to get Moira to try new food and you'll be on a plane.  You're not getting the full Krystle Kamen experience."

"I think I'd like it."

I shrugged, turned around, and feeling that he had started getting hard, pushed him back to the bed, thinking maybe I could do a bit more.

The next morning, I called an Uber and went home, because the deal-sealing dress is cool and all, but public transportation in a dress where you have to cross your legs ain't great.  Heck, I was lucky enough to get a woman driving the car, which is a way bigger deal than I ever could have imagined.

So a kind of funny thing is, I did sit down with Justine and talk about the good sex I had while the girls played the next morning and, like, I never really had girlfriends I could do that with back in Massachusetts.  Like, with Ashlyn and Jordan it was always a former-guy conversation and Original Moira and I just never had a sex-talk sort of friendship.  But Justine and some other women I know do stuff like that, and I wonder if maybe Ashlyn was right - going to a place where nobody knows me is a chance to start fresh.

I do still kind of feel like a visitor myself, in part because Moira has acclimated so fast, but I'm getting there - the fact that folks from before are kind of odd and unusual must mean something.


Saturday, June 10, 2023

Keaton/Laura: The woman on the screen

Talk about luck. Not only did I unwittingly get myself transformed into the body of a woman in her mid-thirties, I got myself stuck in the Northeast just as wildfires in Canada started sending smoke down this way. I'm used to bad air quality from LA, but I was hoping this would be different.

As Rona and I set out for Albany to meet with the original Marc, asked me how I was feeling. I told her I was trying not to dwell on the negatives of it, which are numerous. This could be a grand adventure. I sure would never have known what it was like to have breasts before... not to mention many of the people I've spoken to in the last few weeks are in my eyeline.

I wrote to the "new-me" before we left. I hear that some people get their bodies "stolen" and I hope I'm not being egotistical when I suspect that mine might be a prime candidate. Is it so wrong to think a lot of people might want to be me, or use my life as a convenient escape from their own issues? It's not perfect but there are very few downsides to being Keaton Garrett.

I'm trying to put that out of my mind, like I said. I advised them to make money however they could and not feel obliged to continue my career, I was getting ready for a change anyway. I suspect people might be charmed by the glitz and glamor of a production company, but it's very demanding and thankless and it wasn't something I saw myself doing for much longer anyway.

We got to Albany and saw Marc/Chantelle and they filled us in on what had happened since they had stopped writing on the blog and why they hadn't gone to the Inn. It was... a very surprising reveal, but I will leave it to them to say when they feel up to it. I thought you good folks might want to know but it's 100% not my place to share.

Then it was... well, wherever we wanted to go. The most recent Marc and Laura gave up their residence near Boston in the name of giving their successors a fresh start, and apparently it was known that Marc and Laura 1.0 were not going to be going back to living as man and wife. For strategic purposes we wound up in... Queens. Reason being that that brought us close to Jacks and Steffi in their new lives. Rona has been working as a driver, which is fine since road travel is a love language in LA, and I've been trying to keep the lights on in Laura's e-commerce business. Most of my day is spent doing social media -- Tiktok and Instagram reels talking up the products. It's... not what I would have chosen for myself, but it pays the bills. It's very strange to have worked in the entertainment industry for so many years and now find myself effectively "on camera" as my job, having to be poised and attractive. I spend so much time looking at this face and listening to this voice as I edit, yet it's oddly disassociating. I have to admit, watching the "Laura" character onscreen for so long, I feel a little tingle of "Oh, she's cool, I like her," (or more realistically, "She seems nervous and uncomfortable just being herself, and that's oddly cute") and then I realize... she's me.

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Keaton/Laura: Away we go...

With our time in Maine coming to an end, the pressure has been on us -- to quote John Mulaney -- to get real cool with a bunch of stuff real quick. In my case, that means seeing a comparatively slight and soft female body when I look down, using the "equipment" to relieve myself, and -- this has probably been the biggest hurdle so far -- wearing the clothes that were left for me.

The last words anyone would have used to describe me in my natural state is are "graceful" and "feminine." The previous Laura obviously had certain assumptions about the person she was passing this life to because the suitcase was largely packed with sundresses, skirts, and crop tops, but of course there was a pair of denim shorts, to my relief. Sure, they're a little -- a lot -- more snug than I'm used to, which serves to remind me of what has happened to me but I feel like wearing a floral sundress would be tenfold that.

We made an outing yesterday and of course I felt like the entire town was staring at me. I was very aware of my body -- at my height my natural posture is not that "great" and so I probably lurch around which looks weird when skinned on a smallish, thirtysomething woman. I wore a loose tee from Rona's original collection, and was adamant that I was not ready not wear a bra. "Suit yourself," Rona shrugged, and while I had some self-consciousness about my "girls" bobbing around under my top, the truth is they're modest enough that nobody was probably looking twice.

In any case, if the legend of this Inn/blog is to be believed, the people of this town are used to paying no notice of dazed-looking strangers meandering around looking like they don't belong.

I certainly felt a lot more exposed, but the truth is, as Laura, I'm probably turning fewer heads than in my old body: people see a big-ass Viking-looking guy, they look twice. I'm used to it. Laura is comparatively unassuming. I kind of don't mind that, and all I had left was to process my own icky feeling about what is-or-isn't between my legs.

My main feeling about all of this has been... exasperation. The what-now-of-it-all. I don't want to be a woman, but I can probably bear it. Rona, likewise, has taken it on the chin. I think she's downplaying it, but I can see discomfort on her face as she tries to find the right way to sit as Marc. Steffi took it the worst: when things didn't immediately go back to normal on day two and it hit her that this was real and, I guess, long-term, she broke down in sobs. If there was any one of us who was completely defined by their appearance, it was her. You had to feel for her, and yet at the same time it's like, "Get a grip."

Observation: I always hated typing on my phone because of my huge fingers not agreeing with the touch screen, but now...

It was tough going out and going around this way, but Rona deemed it necessary "exposure therapy" to get us used to the idea of existing this way and testing our limits. After a while my guard dropped and I did become less self-conscious but I never stopped being away of feeling weak and feeble... not to insult my host or anything, but I was a large, strong, energetic man. Losing muscles along with the physical endurance I'd built up, along with a good chunk of my youth and -- let's face it, my masculinity -- left me feeling drained, tired and sore at the end of the day in a way I never had before. Realizing that left me with a whole other bunch of reasons to feel bad about this change that had nothing (or little) to do with what position I pee in.


Rona, enterprising as she is, figured out how to get in touch with Marc, so she and I are Albany bound just to figure out where everyone stands. Jacks and Steffi are off to a new life in the suburbs. This is all a whirlwind but I guess that's life.

Oh and I still have to write my "onboarding" letter to the "new" Keaton...