Transplanted Life
Friday, September 05, 2003
The R-word
That stuff yesterday about not being sure I'd keep seeing Kurt if I wound up stuck as Michelle overlooked something important, that being that dating is not romance. Up until last night, Kurt and I had gone on dates, but it had been stuff you could do just as well with friends. Last night, though, felt different. Not at first, although the showing up at the office with flowers and making a fuss over me in front of everyone who was still there (there's a big deadline today) was new. But after that, we walked down the street to Legal Sea Foods and met up with Wei and Jim.

Dinner was good, as can be expected there. I've always liked seafood, but more so lately - it just seems to sit better in this stomach than red meat. And the wine was pretty good as well. I've never been big on wine, and probably would have gone with something else if Wei hadn't ordered it first. Still, it fit in with the meal and the evening.

The big surprise was after dinner: We walked to the docks, and for a minute I was afraid we were going to be going to The Matrix again, but Jim surprised me but producing a key to one of the gates by the docks, and then leading us to a sailboat!

Apparently, his family is loaded, but doesn't stick around New England after Labor Day. Which meant Jim had use of the sailboat to himself until it was taken out of water at the end of the month.

I have to admit, I felt a little queasy at first, something I don't remember happening before being in this body. But once we sailed out a little ways, and the water was less choppy, I got over it.

We didn't talk about much of anything, just looked at the city and the stars, which you can't really see that well from inside the city. Kurt would point to various parts of the sky and talk about them, and I didn't let on that I'd known all this since I was eleven, not even when he got something wrong. After a while, we noticed that Wei and Jim hadn't said anything in a while, and looked their direction in time to see them break off a kiss, though their gaze still lingered. I let Kurt kiss me, and it felt good. Not insistent, or hungry, just, I don't know, happy. If Michelle had shown up in my body at that moment, I would have told her to get lost and never come back. When we finally broke it off, I noticed Wei looking at us, with a smile on her face. I'd seen that smile on a woman's face before and never understood it, but now I did. She's in love, and content, and the rest of the world seems to be as well.

Pretty soon, though, we noticed it was already ten o'clock, and we all had to work today. Jim managed to guide us in, with a little help from Kurt when rowing was called for.

We walked back into town, with me leaving them at Government Center (they all live on the Red Line). Kurt kissed me again there, a passionate one which actually lifted me up onto my toes, one of his hands pressing against my back and the other cradling my bottom. It made me a little nervous, because its strength reminded me too clearly of our different sexes - my boobs got squished a little, and I could feel the strength (and position!) of his hands. It was like I was snapped out of some girl-trance, and I suddenly felt like I was in over my head.

But, I wasn't going to back down, so I put my arms around his neck and kissed back. I don't think he noticed anything amiss, but as soon as he and the others started walking away, I was shaking. I wasn't sure whether I was excited or scared, and after I got home, I had a hard time sleeping. Part of it was just this body being all worked up, but I was able to tend to that. Part of it, though, was that I recognized how I was feeling. I felt the same way for most of the time I was dating Maggie, and the idea that I could feel the same way about Kurt was, well, perverse. And even after I spent some time trying to convince myself that it wasn't (it's just how this body is wired, right? And so what if Kurt's your friend; that didn't stop you from going out with Becky Carlson in high school, depsite having known her since you were six), I knew it could any time Michelle decided she wanted her body back. Sure, something unexpected can end any relationship, but this one could go on, just without me being a part of it. Scary to think about.

Ah, well - just take it one day at a time. Hopefully, I'll see Kurt tonight; I left him a message to meet me at The Place tonight so we could watch the game (Sox! Yankees! Pedro vs. Petitte! Derek Jeter out of the lineup!).

-Marti (tough to sign a guy's name to this one)
Thursday, September 04, 2003
A girl, this girl, the girl
I had a weird dream last night. I had my current body in this dream, which seems to be happening more and more often, and I was with Kurt, Wei, Mike, and Donna at our college reunion. I can't tell you whether it was the 5th (a few years ago) or 10th (a few years away), and I guess it doesn't much matter. It was pretty clear that while I was with the whole gang, I was with Kurt. Also, everybody knew who I was despite the body, and called me Marty (or Marti, but why would I dream of people calling me something that no-one ever has before?).

My clothes seemed to change depending on the part of the dream. Sometimes, I was wearing an uncomfortable Jessica Rabbit special, other times a WPI sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers. I think I was in the casual stuff when people were talking to me, asking what I'd been up to, what I was doing now, whether I was running Linux (and actual topic of conversation the last time I went to a reunion), and such. When they were interacting with me as Kurt's girlfriend, hello cleavage and high heels! Of course, I didn't notice it in the dream, so I may be coming up with that now, trying to force a dream to at least make some sort of metaphorical sense.

I do know I resented it when people were treating me just like something attached to Kurt, though, especially since I had actually accomplished a lot more in this dream than in real life. Anyway, there wasn't any sort of cathartic end to the dream, but it did give me something to think about on a rainy day. Which brings me to the title of this entry.

I've come to find I don't really mind being a woman, and that's not just political correctness. Sure, it was forced upon me, but when you get right down to it, so was being a man. I'd just taken that as a given. I understand that I'm lucky enough to live in a time when being female nearly isn't as marginalizing as it was in previous generations, and I'm grateful. I don't like the longer lines to use the restroom or having to sit when I get there, but not having the embarassment of erections in public places is an acceptable trade-off.

Being Michelle, specifically, is kind of a mixed bag. This body's young and healthy, and looks great. Maybe I'm a little more vain as a woman than as a man, or maybe it's just the need to dress up to come to work everyday that's made it more of a priority, but it's fun to have people look at you and like what they see. Maybe, if allowed to build my own girl's body, I wouldn't have gone for breasts quite this size, but they're not grotesque.

Socially, I likely wouldn't know Kate and Jen if not for being Michelle, and that's a big plus. On the other hand, I haven't yet felt comfortable with the contents of her checkbook, and the work... Well, I spend all day writing this stuff some days. The looking good is kind of a double-edged sword, too - it attracts guys indiscriminately, and I swear, someone's going to get an elbow to the throat the next time they try to get grabby on a crowded subway.

Being Kurt's girlfriend ("the girl" in his life)... I'm still trying to figure that one out. If the morning's Google search told me that Martin Hartle had been hit by a bus in Seattle and I was stuck like this forever, would I keep going out with him? Maybe. He's a good guy, and we do have fun together. He's not a bad kisser, for a guy. The fact that he is a guy bothers me when I think about it, but not as much as it did a few weeks ago. Maybe this body's hardware is starting to override almost thirty years of thinking of myself as a guy and twenty years of responding to girls.

Maybe if we'd met under different circumstances. I've said that before, but what do I do if my body gets hit by a bus? Do I tell him who I really am, and hope he'll still like me (as friend, girlfriend, or human being) despite all the time I lied to him? Because, as much as I could see us working out given enough time and circumstances, I don't think I quite like him enough to keep who I am to myself after the implied threat is removed.

-Marti (hey, if I'm going to say I don't mind being a girl...)
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
If It's Wednesday, It Must Be Hong Kong
Well, I was expecting to see Kurt again at the Weekly Wednesday Ass-Kicking, and he didn't disappoint. I'd kind of held off on talking to him since Thursday, knowing he'd be out of town anyway, and what do I say? Sorry I was cranky, but really, keep your hands to yourself? I'm not ready for anything below the waist?

I'd feel kind of silly saying that because, well, I certainly didn't cry out in pain when he was working on my boob, and I figure that "third base", so to speak, would have felt even better. And when I was talking it over with Jen, I did kind of notice that I was being something of a hypocrite. Which was the problem, that he was trying to make out with "Michelle" like a teenager or that he was touching me at all? If I'm going to complain that his groping me was juvenile, well, wasn't it juvenile of me to be all shocked and uptight over a little physical contact?

(I am, by the way, in awe of the way women discuss this stuff. Sure, men recount this stuff in detail, too, but it's not, shall we say, quite so close to the reality)

So, anyway, Jen and I met up with him and Wei at Kung Fu Cult Master. It was awkward, for a moment, but after the host gave us the October schedule (no kung fu theater until then. ::sniff::), we were pretty loose, and the movie itself, while making absolutely no sense - having the subtitles cut off during the opening exposition probably didn't help - was a gas. The four of us were laughing as we left the theater, fake-punching and all that. Kurt actually picked me up and slung me over his shoulder. Granted, we didn't get much beyond the Allston Cinema's parking lot, and I was glad I'd changed into jeans beforehand, but my reaction surprised me. I didn't feel small and weak and vulnerable, but kind of excited. It was just such a physical thing, and so unexpected, that I just enjoyed the sensation of suddenly being off my feet, and he didn't carry me long enough for me to ever feel out of control.

As usual, I saw them off at the train station. Kurt kissed me goodbye, and I have to admit I'm getting used to that, as weird as it is. I tought about giving his butt a squeeze, just as a surprise to get him back for picking me up, but I wussed out.

I'll be seeing him again tomorrow night, though. Not sure what we'll be doing, but he promises it won't be a movie.

My first instinct when I had brush my hair from my eyes this morning was to find a barber and have him cut it off, but I remembered what that cost last time. Besides, I've never had long hair, and it's not something that would make me look sloppy or the like right now. So why not try that out? Heck, might as well let it grow until I can do the "naked from the waist up but with her hair hiding her nipples" thing. I always liked that look.

The thing is, though, the hair care products that come into play once you have enough hair to pay attention to scare the heck out of me. Literally - when I'm in the supermarket, I'll pick up a bottle of hairspray and the first thing that comes to mind is my head bursting into flames, and not being able to put it out until I finally look like Ghost Rider. Hot oil or curlers? You've got to be kidding. Right now I don't know which shampoo and/or conditioner I should be buying, being used to just picking up a Head & Shoulders 2-in-1 for so long.

Still, I at least know it's worth it - I remember how this body looked with longer hair, and I think it'll look even better with that hair its natural color. And there is, in fact, something satisfying about looking in the mirror and liking what I see, even if what I see there isn't what my instincts still tell me should be there. It means I'm doing more than just surviving.

Monday, September 01, 2003
Plumbing Problems
Oh, how I wish I had been moving into a new place this moving day.

Some time ago, I mentioned some trouble with the plumbing in this building, causing me to have to go out and buy new underwear. It's been pretty calm since then, but today... Gads.

It started in the morning, when the main overhead light bulb went out. Of course, Michelle didn't have any spares in a closet, under the sink, etc. I say Michelle, but of course, having been here a month and a half (twice as long as she actually lived here), that sort of thing is really my responsibility isn't it? Not that a couple of light bulbs would be enough to make me come to that realization. Oh, no, I would have just gone down to the drugstore and picked some up. However, a half hour later, the bulb in the bathroom blows too.

While I'm in the bathtub.

Shaving Michelle's legs.

Naturally, there aren't any windows in the bathroom and I've got the door closed, so it's completely dark, I'm running a razor over skin, I'm all wet... And does the apartment have a flashlight? You're kidding, right?

Oh, and it smells bad. Why does it smell bad? Because the toilet didn't flush all the way before I got into the bathtub, and now seemed to be backing up.

(Aside: If and when I get my body back, I can't imagine ever looking at a woman's butt sexually again. I'm now much too familiar with what comes out of it)

So, once I get out of the bathroom, I start to make a list of what I need here - Light bulbs, flashlight, first aid kit, plunger, drain cleaner, a basic toolkit (there's not even a single screwdriver here), answering machine, broom, mop... I test the smoke detector, it's busted, so add one of those. The power strip this computer's operating on doesn't have a surge protector. No spare batteries. All kinds of stuff like that.

Anyway, I take this list down to Economy Hardware and get started. Of course, every college and grad student who's moving in to this city today has the same idea, along with everyone else who has a day off to get some chores around the house done. It's madness. Fortunately, it's busy enough that nobody has the time to act like I shouldn't know what I'm doing inside a hardware store. I get my stuff, get out, and start walking home.

It's a lot of stuff to lug, though, and I actually have to stop and rest halfway there. Which ticks me off. This is a half mile walk, and though some of the stuff is bulky, it's not terribly heavy. I should be able to lug it.

Once I get everything in place, I check Michelle's body out in the mirror...

No, let's face it. I've been living here for six weeks, I might as well call it my body. I'll glady give it back when the time comes, but it's mine for the duration. And like the apartment, if I'm going to be living in this body, I'd better take care of it. Not that there's any problems with it, really. Maybe I'm starting to put on a little weight in the tush. And my arms look and feel skinny. So, buy some hand weights, and use them while running.

And hope Michelle's doing the same.

Sunday, August 31, 2003
Left behinds
Boston is what you might call a college town. In fact, you could make an argument that, as far as the United States goes, it is the college town, with more institutions for higher learning per square mile than anywhere else. Harvard, Tufts, MIT, Northeastern, Boston College, Boston University, Emerson, Suffolk... Bunches of them. The population of the area swells by some outlandish number every fall, and then drops during the summer, when the tourists appear. A side-effect to this is that practically everyone who lives here is on a September-to-August lease. Even those who aren't students, since there's a good chance that they first came to Boston as students or moved into an apartment last occupied by students, are on this schedule.

Michelle is not; she has one of the alternate leases, which runs June to May. But I'm thinking she/I may be the only person in this building where that's the case; there are three moving vans outside right now, there were vans outside yesterday, and there will probably be vans outside tomorrow. But it's not really the doors propped open, furniture moving in and out, and the noise that's getting to me right now.

It's the stuff left behind. Look out on the sidewalk, or in the laundry room (where the garbage and recycling bins are kept, because that's the smell we want to stick to our clean clothes), and you'll see tons of stuff just left for the trash man or whoever wants it. Stuff like clothes hangers, where I guess it's easier to just get new ones at the new place than to transport them, or entertainment centers, which are bulky and just may not fit into the new apartment. But some of it is just strange. I salvaged a perfectly good stereo system this morning. And books - there's always a ton of books you can just pick up if you want, along with magazines. Never seems to be anything I want to read, though.

(The irony is, it always seemed to be copies of Cosmopolitan or Elle or something like that. Now that a magazine full of women's hair, makeup, and clothing tips would actually be useful, it's all Road & Track and Popular Mechanics)

Anyway, I just realized, I'm stuff that's been left behind. "My" body is one that its previous owner cast off, hopefully temporarily, and my mind sort of fell out while my body was on it's way out of town. Michelle's mind, in my body, is doing exactly what was planned out, but I'm just stuck here, using her body because it was left behind.

Bah. I've got to stop thinking like that. But it's something to wonder about, too - I look at my entry for a week ago, and it's like a different person wrote it. And I sort of wonder why that is. Sure, the rational part of my mind says that everybody has good days and bad days, but I'm not everyone. Unless someone actually operated on Michelle's and my bodies to physically switch our brains, then what "I" am right now is the memories and behavior patterns of Martin Hartle (the soul, if you want to get spiritual) recorded onto Michelle Garber's brain. And the way you act isn't just based on experience - there's chemistry, hormones, and the like involved. Heck, every once in a while you'll read an article about how studies show that many serial killers have a certain part of their brain smaller than average, or that the brains of heterosexual and homosexual men have some sort of structural differences.

So, I wonder what Michelle's brain is like. For example, I'd bet money it's heterosexual. The software component of my mind is still recognizing attractive women, but it's not triggering quite as active a response from the body. There is a response, but it's not quite as visceral as I remember it being in my own body. But that may just be different neurons - I don't know.

And then I have to wonder about Michelle choosing to jump into my body. Even considering its seeming impossibility, it just seems like a crazy thing to do. And I say that word, "crazy", and I wonder if it's the sort of crazy you'd treat with therapy... or with drugs. If she was mentally unstable in some way (and Kate did suggest she may have had these mood swings before I arrived on the scene), am I going to inherit that?

It's too bad I can't afford a shrink on Michelle's salary. Even if he didn't believe my story (or I didn't tell him), I'm sure that it would help in some way.


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Note: This blog is a work of fantasy; all characters are either ficticious or used ficticiously. The author may be contacted at