Transplanted Life
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Part of my New Year's Resolution
I told everybody at Jen's party a three weeks ago that I wouldn't be a shut-in any more, and I meant it. I know it's not good for me, and to be honest, I don't like it. I used to be the most annoying person about telling people that even Blu-ray isn't an acceptable substitute for seeing things in the theater, even comedies and independent dramas; now I haven't even seen Avatar yet because I don't want to go out; I'm honestly saying I'll wait for Netflix. I liked showing my assets off, now I sit home alone in bulky sweats more or less 24/7. Last year was the first season I can remember where I didn't see a game at Fenway Park, although I've got an excuse for most of the season.

You'd think that my not wanting to leave the house would have led to a lot more blogging, but that's just another way to communicate with the outside world, and for the better part of the last year, my thoughts have been along the lines of how the outside world is dangerous. I was quite honestly ready to take this whole blog down, unable to believe how stupid the whole thing was from the moment I woke up as Michelle, even if it was the only thing that kept me sane at first. Just how much had Korpin learned about me just from reading it? About Amy? And we know he's not the end of it.

Like my shrink says, being kidnapped will straight-up fuck your head up.

Anyone reading this will hopefully forgive me for not giving a whole lot of details about that event, or the months following it. I haven't told Kate, Jen, Telly, Amy, or Carlos, except in the vaguest terms. Forget Mom, although I know my silence probably hurts her. I don't even talk about it with Shelly, and who would understand the situation more? I will, eventually, but here's not the place to do it. And I'm definitely not ready.

It was hard for me just to get to Jen's party. I wanted to go, but I wouldn't take the T or even a cab. I've been using Zipcars when I wanted to get someplace and I couldn't have things delivered, but by the time I stopped dithering and said yes, I would go, they were all booked. Kate eventually had to take the T to Jen's and Carlos's place, borrow her car, and come back to pick me up. Pathetic, but at least pathetic enough to serve as a wake-up call.

So that's when I made the resolution to stop being afraid of the world. Not that I've acted upon it much yet, but I'm going to the movies this weekend and writing this. So that's a start.


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Thursday, March 05, 2009
Of course
I haven't been keeping particular track of anniversaries, which I suppose makes me an atypical girlfriend or a bad boyfriend-type person, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the thing with Kate has lasted longer than any relationship I remember having. It's certainly my longest as a woman, and is probably right up there with Maggie from my previous life. We've been cohabiting for over a year, our families like each other, and we've even gotten to the point where being together was assumed to the point where we were making purchases together.

So, naturally, it was time for us to fuck it up.

Kate's got a lot of theories as to why it fell apart. Most of the women our age are getting married and starting families, and while we're fortunate to live in a state where we can do the former, science hasn't progressed to the point where we can do the latter (at least, so far as I know; given what the last six years of my life have been like, I can't exactly take that for granted). We're close enough in personality that the small disagreements seem bigger, and then when we disagree on something big, watch out! Other things I can't even begin to understand.

I was talking about this the other night, in a bar with Telly and Amy. Amy nodded sympathetically, but after about ten minutes, Telly snorted, and banged his glass on the bar a little harder than necessary. "You girls are making it way too complicated. It comes down to one thing: The two of you aren't gay."

Amy and I started in, saying that sexual identity and orientation were more complicated than a simple gay/straight description, especially for people like us, and he cut us off.

"I get that, ladies, I really do, but honestly, it's impressive that you managed to stay together as long as you have. It shows just how much the two of you really like each other; I don't doubt that either of you would rather spend time with the other than the average guy. But, geez, Tina, you've got my sister's hormones and brain. She was into a lot of things, but other girls wasn't one of them. How long did you think you were going to fight that?"

He's right, of course, and not just about me; I think both of us were starting to realize that being with each other was, to a certain extent, hiding from what we really wanted, even if we were afraid of it for our own reasons: Kate has tended toward really terrible breakups, and even after five plus years in this body, I still second-guess the hell out of the whole boy-girl thing, especially now that I'm starting to get some awareness of my biological clock. The good times of a few months ago, when we would go out and be a little flirty only to frustrate guys when we pulled back toward each other, well, weren't quite such good times any more. I can't speak for Kate, but I know I had the occasional thought of breaking from the script, except that I couldn't do that to Kate.

That we're feeling that is probably healthy, but it still festers, and makes us snippy. I'm pretty sure that we'll still be friends when all this is over, but even though I've moved into the spare bedroom, it's not a fun month right now.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Christmas '08
Man, I missed a whole holiday there. Thanksgiving wasn't terribly exciting, though.

The big present under the tree this year wasn't really a surprise - Kate and I split a Blu-ray player and a bunch of movies. She took a little convincing, of course - as much as she likes movies, she's not nearly as big on the technical stuff as me, and she didn't really think that there was that much difference between it and DVD. She's not alone, and no amount of me throwing numbers and specs at her was going to convince her.

So, I kind of tricked her. I bought a cheap HD DVD player and movies off eBay, and once we sat down to watch some of those, she was noticing the difference. For a while, picking up really cheap movies as various places cleared out their inventory was enough - truth be told, it's kind of ridiculous what you can get. The 1920x1080 resolution of HD isn't that far off from the digital projection in a movie people that some folks inexplicably prefer to film, and it doesn't take a lot of searching to find HD DVDs that sell for less than a ticket to see the movie in theaters would have cost. Anyway, that was fun for a while, but when Criterion started releasing Blu-rays, that was game over; she had to have Chungking Express.

Oddly enough, she still doesn't think the improved picture is quite as amazing as I do, but she really likes the improved sound. I tend to think that the whole lossless audio thing is 50% placebo effect - you tell someone the quality is improved, and they'll convince themselves that they hear it - although if that was true, you'd think people would be snapping them up for the video, too. My pet theory on that is that audio lets people convince themselves that they're special - anyone can see an improvement when when the picture's got six times as many pixels, but noticing a difference that is well past most benchmarks for human hearing? Only the selected few can do that.

Still, Kate's reaction to certain movies on HD just re-establishes how cool she is: She does dig that HD is good enough that you can actually see the grain structure of the film. I've talked to a bunch of people who see HD and want it all to be smoothed out and look like the Discovery Channel, as opposed to, you know, what film looks like.

So, pretty normal Christmas, as such things go. For me, at least. For others, it was a bit odd.

Telly and Amy, for instance, flew out to California so that the Sanadas could meet their biological daughter's boyfriend. It's not that Amy and they are particularly close - she really does tend to stay away - but they still wanted to meet. As Telly explained it, when you're one defective condom away from having grandchildren, it's good to have a handle on everyone involved.

I get that. As much as my mother tells me that the nine months she spent carrying Carter's body doesn't compare to the years she spent raising me (a tremendous simplification, but I certainly like to hear it), she does keep tabs on him, Nat, and her grandson.

Telly found the whole thing sort of surreal, even beyond what anyone connected to Amy's and my lives sees on a regular basis. Of course, part of it is that Telly has never flown before, and he found that pretty crazy, both being up in the air and the entire airport experience. I told him he should try international travel, and he didn't even want to think of it.

The visit itself was uncomfortable; Mrs. Sanada doesn't speak much English, and though Amy has been taking some language courses, it was hard to communicate without her father working as an intermediary. The whole thing was kind of awkward, not like any "meet the parents" he's ever done, more like two sets of strangers, one trying to force themselves to worry about the other's feelings and the other trying to do the opposite.

On the other hand, they got lost often enough to confirm that Amy didn't have any residual knowledge of the city from before. One down, she says, and the rest of America to do.


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Saturday, November 01, 2008
Halloween '08
Jen always used to throw the best parties, and I guess she still does; it's just that the type of party is a little different nowadays. After all, Eloise is two years and four months old now, so it's not just adults getting together any more - it's the little guys, who are awesome and adorable, although to say they don't cramp our styles a little would be a lie.

It's kind of silly, in some ways - what's a kid Eloise's age care if mommy's friends wear sexy costumes? It's not like "sexy" registers with them at two! Regardless of that, though, the invitation to the party specifically mentioned family-friendly costumes, since some of Eloise's friends from day care would be there too, along with their brothers and sisters. None were older than seven, but some of the parents still looked askance at my Batgirl costume. Okay, sure, it's a little tight, but still - no high heels, cleavage, butt-cheek, or even bare leg - I was hardly Emma Frost out there.

Heh. As I was telling Kate and Jen later, perhaps the biggest disappointment wasn't newly-minted prudes (who probably wore far more prostitute-y costumes than me back in the day) tsk-tsking with disapproval, but just how many times this conversation happened:

"Nice costume."

"Thanks. It's kind of out of date, but Jen's place isn't really handicapped accessible."

Blank stare.

"You really should read The Killing Joke and Birds of Prey. Some fans don't like Barbara Gordon being Oracle instead of Batgirl, but that she can still be a hero after the Joker paralyzed her is really inspiring, I think. Not like a real person, of course, but it's a nice idea to have out there--"

... and they walk away, no matter how interested they'd been in my tight spandex and red-dyed hair. I swear, I used to hang out with a nerdier crowd, one that would have laughed.

Not that I care about men wanting to be around me - after all, I get to go home with Princess Leia and they don't, so I'm ahead of them. I guess it's just another sign of how I'm starting to catch up to where I was. Five years ago, Martin-me was getting some of the same sort of pressure to leave things like comics and Halloween behind, and now it's happening again.

The funny thing is, all those parents who are so much more mature than me were talking about how much fun it was to dress up with their kids and share their excitement, or how Billy liked Transformers and they'd forgotten how much they'd liked them as kids. I don't deny that that is fantastic, but it seems kind of silly to deny yourself things you like between the time you deem yourself too old for it and when your kids are old enough. Not that adults trying to remain kids is a good thing, but a person can be a responsible adult and enjoy a healthy fantasy life.

-"Tina" (Eloise has trouble with my whole name, but her saying the short version is cute.)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008
At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Like the other folks who are left reading this thing, I looked at that last post and thought, man, is she full of herself. I'm not saying I don't stand behind what I say in it, but I think the feeling is something that maybe doesn't translate to someone who hasn't lived this sort of life. It's not that most people don't notice changes to their body and aging, but it's a continuous process, whereas I have a discontinuity in my life in July 2003. Most people don't have a first impression of their own body, so when they look in the mirror in the morning, they are mostly comparing themselves to how they looked the day before, and changes are minor. It's all relative to them. I'm always comparing myself to how I looked when this body was twenty-five; there's the long-dismissed (but still rooted) idea in my head of returning Michelle's body to her as I found it.

Anyway, I don't expect anyone else to particularly sympathize or understand, but that's what was going on in my head that day.

So, I've been holding back a bit - whenever I've been planning on writing something, I'd sit back and think, is this (a) special and (b) not whining? As it turns out, my life has been in that sort of rut for the last few months - good enough that any complaints are not really worth mentioning, though not to the extent of being good news

Saturday was fun, though - one of Telly's bands actually booked itself a good gig. Not a great one, but in the Harvard Square area, which is better than some of the places he's played. The worst, I gather, was a weekday gig at a place out in Cambridgeside that is tough to find not because it's off the beaten path, but because a cajun bar & grill sharing a building with a health club (which has the much larger sign and the front door) is going to get overlooked. Very clean, he said, but not many customers, which kind of sucks when most of your pay is expected to be a percentage of the bar.

Not a problem here: It was Saturday night, there were plenty of college kids looking to get a bit lit, and the place actually had some decent beer on tap, so Kate, Amy, and I were willing to help the cause.

I was kind of surprised by some of what they were playing. Most of it was your standard bar rock - Stevie Ray Vaughn and other rhythm and blues types, probably from before most of the people involved were born. A few originals, too, but also some oddball picks. I didn't know you could do a rock & roll arrangement of "The Highwayman", or that these guys would play it. Telly later claimed it as his idea - "country" doesn't just mean the south, but is big in places like rural New England, too - he'd heard a bunch of it growing up in Vermont. Besides, he said, if you can't respect music by the combination of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings, you're a pretty ridiculous little snot; that's some talent right there.

It was fun to get up and dance a little, and probably good for me, too. Even when you're with someone, it's nice to be looked at, and this body's impending thirtieth birthday didn't seem to be what people were thinking of when we got out on the floor. (Yay boobs! Yay dancing with another girl!)

- Martina

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Sunday, August 31, 2008
Skipping Birthdays
At what age do most people with normal lives stop making a big deal out of their birthdays?

I ask this, of course, because among the many, many days where I didn't write anything here this summer was July 18th, which marked five years of Martina, even if I didn't realize who I was or use that name at first. It didn't go completely unobserved - even if Kate and I were in Montreal at the time, there was a party when we got back home, which was fun and all.

It sent me into a bit of a funk, though. It's lasted much of the summer, too nebulous to put into words for the most part, and what I've finally started to credit it too seems both obvious and overly simplistic.

I'm getting older.

We all are, of course, but it's still kind of a shock for me. When the contents of my mind was placed in Michelle's body, it felt like getting five years younger in a lot of ways, and there's something exciting about that. And for a long time, I would think of myself as a twenty-nine year-old man in a twenty-four year-old body, even as time started passing. Now that I've caught up, it's time to assess things somewhat, and I'm not sure about where I stand.

Professionally, I've spent the last five years getting back to where Martin was before the switch. Everyone I know looks at it as an accomplishment, since they see it as someone who was a receptionist five years ago in a professional job with vacation and benefits and a good salary, but for me that's having been forcibly knocked down the ladder, and kind of a disappointment. We all have fantasies that if we could start afresh knowing what we knew now... Most of them involve being able to leapfrog something, which didn't happen for me.

In a way, I almost envy Amy with her clean slate. Bits of skills reappear, along with some random facts or unexpected instincts, but the disappointment isn't there. I know she's got her own demons, and I wouldn't want any part of those, but knowing is its own issue.

Another thing that reminds me that I'm not still the person who I became five years ago is, well, my physical flesh. This body will turn thirty this November 18th, and I'm hardly the first person to recognize that approaching thirty as a man and approaching it as a woman are two different things. I don't really mind the lines on my face, in part because I've come to accept that face a lot more; I'll even admit to being sort of pretty, if you like brunettes without much in the way of cheekbones. The laugh lines help. But I've been finding fewer opportunities to put on my bikini this summer. My butt's softer than it used to be, and my breasts are starting to sag in opposite directions, giving me that inverted-V cleavage should I wear a dress that I can't wear a bra with. I'm swimming twice a week rather than just on Wednesdays, and it's wearing me out a bit more.

Five years also makes me feel like I've failed Michelle somehow, not having answers for Telly about what happened to her mind. No-one really expects me to, and it's mostly Agent Jones and company that have the resources to look, but it's more personal for me, and I've failed.

Kate says I shouldn't worry about it, but this is her first time facing down the big three-oh, and she's pretty satisfied with her life. Me, I feel like everything in my life but her is running behind. (And don't get me started on the "subtle" hints my mother's been dropping about that!)


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Friday, June 27, 2008
She Knew Us
Ah, to be young. Kate and I have been working like mad over the last couple weeks, trying to get as far ahead in work as possible before spending a couple weeks in Montreal for the end of the Jazz Festival and the start of Fantasia. Telly and Amy, on the other hand, have had time on their hands. Amy's taking a couple of summer classes and working a part time job, while Telly works something approximating full time and is in a couple of bands, but is still somehow able to thrive on four or five hours of sleep on average. Of course, like everybody, they tend to assume that everybody shares their schedule, which means that they don't think twice calling at 2:30am with news.

They woke Kate up first, though not by design. Since I spend most of my free time in movies, and can be a little scatterbrained, I almost never take my phone off vibrate, which mean the thing didn't have a chance in hell of waking me up from the bedside table. Kate, naturally, is peculiarly sensitive to the growl created by a vibrating phone on a hard object, and woke up almost instantly. It must have taken her all of a second to realize it wasn't hers, because the thing was still going when she twisted my nipple to wake me up.

I shot her a look and picked it up, seeing that it was Telly calling. I said something along the line of if he was in jail, he was staying there at least until morning.

"Why would I be in jail and why would you think that? Anyway, it's not that - Amy remembered something!"

That cleared all the cobwebs out. "What? Does she know who she is?"

"Nothing that big, just - we got home late, and we thought it might be fun to make milkshakes--"


"I dunno, we've just been making milkshakes lately. You gave us that movie on DVD because the Blu-ray came out a month later, then she bought a blender and once she'd bought it she figured we should get use out of it and the syrups and--"

"Forget I asked and get to the important part!"

"Right, right - anyway, we were making milkshakes, but hadn't done the dishes for a few days, so we decided to use the steins. She made a comment about how she didn't figure my grandmother intended me to use them for milkshakes, and I laughed, but as we were drinking them I couldn't for the life of me remember telling her that Nana had given them to me, and neither could she."

"There's a million explanations; we've told that story a lot."

"Yeah, when it happened. Right after that weird Christmas, but I'm pretty sure I haven't told anybody the story in like a year and a half. Have you?"

I couldn't remember telling it, and Telly said he'd checked, and it wasn't in the blog. So she must have heard it from us, but if neither of us told "Amy Sanada"...

"That's thin."

"It's only one thing, the big thing. She's said other things that I just assumed we'd told her, but now--"

At this point Amy grabbed the phone. "And I'm doing better in school. I dropped all my music courses, and I've started taking stuff that seemed 'familiar', for lack of a better word; it just seems like I'm being reminded of things a lot of the time. I think my memory is putting itself back together."

"That's great!"

"Don't you get it? Korpin is the person most likely to know all this! I don't want to be him!"

"You probably aren't. And even if you are, even if you remember everything, that doesn't mean you'll suddenly become a monster - you'll still be a product of the last two years, your own person, okay?"

"I suppose."

I asked if she wanted me to come over, but she said she thought she could handle it. I suggested she might want to make an appointment with her therapist, and she thought that sounded pretty good.

We finally hung up. I told Kate what it was all about, and she said she almost felt bad leaving them to go on vacation. I rubbed my still sore nipple, asking if she felt bad about that. "A little. I just figured, since you still sometimes get surprised by your body when you wake up suddenly, that would be the quickest way to wake you up. That can take some doing, you know." She pulled my t-shirt up and kissed it. "Better?"

Much, I said. We looked in each other's eyes... then saw they were closing, laughed, and fell back asleep.


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