Transplanted Life
Saturday, September 13, 2003
You'd think a guy in the body of a girl who looks like Michelle would have more to do on a Saturday night than write in his blog, but for some reason I have terrible luck getting hold of Kurt on the weekend. But, if I must be a girl, I don't see any reason to be a girl who's lost without her man.

So, I went and saw Millennium Actress at Kendall Square today. It's pretty good, although there were only about six of us there. I guess it might be kind of a hard sell in America, as adults tend to think animation is just for kids, and even those who are aware of "anime" (this movie hails from Japan) tend to be teenage guys, who probably aren't the audience for this movie. It didn't help that DreamWorks hasn't advertised it at all and used some new "Go Fish" label instead of the name people recognize.

Anyway, pretty good movie. I didn't like it as much as the director's previous film, Perfect Blue, but that one was just extraordinary. It's a weird situation, because while at first you may look at both movies and wonder why they're animated rather than live-action, there are things done with this movie that wouldn't work quite as well in that other medium: Certain transitions, not having to match actresses playing a role at different ages (or use that horrible prosthetic makeup that never looks good), that sort of thing.

After the movie, I decided to head into the Galleria, maybe stop into Best Buy and pick up a CD or two. I was hungry, and rather than getting robbed at the food court, I popped into Boca Grande for a burrito.

I shouldn't have been surprised to run into Maggie - after finishing grad school at MIT in May, she'd been looking for work at one of the Biotech companies in that general area so she could keep her apartment - but I was anyway. She had a nasty look for me at first, what with the showing the body off to her boyfriend and all, but since the place was crowded and she had a booth to herself, there wasn't anywhere else I could sit.

At first we didn't talk, and I just pulled Kiln People out to read. She made a comment about still being on the same book with a snooty tone to her voice, and I just said I had put it down for about a week for the new Tom Clancy one, which was only eh, and that made sense enough, I guess. She was doing the USA Today crossword, and I made some comment about it being a pretty good one. Apparently that was worth a little respect - not many people really can tell "good" crosswords from "bad", as opposed to just "easy" and "hard". Soon we were working on it together, just like we did when we were dating (well, except for the part where we'd make out afterwards).

I asked her how things were with David, and she said they'd broken up. I felt a tiny thrill of victory, though I don't know whether it was because he hadn't lasted as long as me, because my display three weekends ago might have contributed, or because I liked the idea of Mags being single should I get my body back. Probably a little of all three. She asked if I were seeing anybody, and looked really surprised when I mentioned Kurt's name. She made a comment about it being a small world, not knowing just how small it could be.

I wouldn't say we're friends now, but she doesn't hate me. Well, she doesn't hate Michelle; I've got no idea what she thinks of Martin right now. She didn't really say anything one way or another when I asked how she knew Kurt, just that she used to date a friend of his. In a way, I kind of wish she was still pissed at me; it seems better than being forgotten.

Friday, September 12, 2003
I was running late this morning, which was why I was trying to get myself breakfast and watch SportsCenter at the same time. I'm normally pretty much capable of doing that, but Kate and I had been at the Film Festival again (haven't talked to Kurt since Tuesday), so I wasn't home until late, which means I was still groggy this morning. I just want to make that clear, so that this incident doesn't lead to the thought "so, just how stupid was this Hartle guy, anyway?" when I read it later, publish my memoirs, or put it on the net so that the folks who get some weird sort of entertainment from my life.

Because, basically, I lost track of how far I had cut and sliced open my hand.

Cuts don't really hurt that much, so I almost didn't notice until I looked down and saw blood dripping onto the counter, soaking into the bagel, and just generally starting to make a mess. Fortunately, the cut wasn't deep, and I had the presence of mind to wash it out before grabbing the first aid kit (good thing I picked one up a couple weeks ago), spraying some disinfectant on it, and wrapping a bandage around my palm. Pretty straightforward stuff, although I didn't appreciate having to change my shoes and nylons, along with having to get the mop out of the closet to clean up the mess; I wound up getting to work a little late because of it.

Ordinarily, that'd be no big deal - happens all the time, and my cut was a little less than an inch long. It's just that it might be large enough to leave a scar, and as that phone call Kurt got from my mother recently reminded me, this isn't really my hand. It's someone else's that I'm using while they've got mine. I wonder if I'm going to get in trouble for this. Will Michelle do something to my body to get back at me, or keep me like this longer as a penalty, or even decide her original body is damaged goods and make the arrangement permanent (well, on my part, anyway. I suppose she could switch out with anyone she wanted)? Have I decided the future course of my life by not paying close enough attention toasting a bagel?

I hope not. As absurd as my life has been the past couple of months, it hasn't quite been that ridiculous.

Thursday, September 11, 2003
Back to where I was
My friends at work picked up on me acting strange yesterday. I told them I was just PMSing, which might have been partway true, and that I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, which definitely was. I didn't tell them what had kept me awake, of course.

It was like being knocked back two months, except it wasn't. I had the same acute awareness that I wasn't in my own body that I had when Michelle first switched us, that I should be something else, but without the confusion. At times, I almost seemed to be standing outside myself, amazed at how much I'd acclimated to Michelle's life. There's all these little behaviors, accumulated over what really isn't much time - crossing legs because I'm wearing a skirt, tucking hair behind the ear before answering the phone, signing (and answering to) Michelle's name. It's disconcerting - where is Martin Hartle in there? Where was he the night before, when I was doing something this close to having sex with his - my! - male best friend?

What's weird is, all that stuff still seems right. It fits with who and what I am now. I even like living Michelle's life, on the days when I can overlook how it happened. But I don't like feeling as though I've abandoned my life as Martin, either. I'd like to be able to hang out with Kurt without him kissing me, to talk to Wei about something we did in college, to call my mom and ask her how her shuffleboard game is coming along. I'd like to at least be friends with Maggie again, and not just as her meeting someone new, but to have her forgive me for thinking mostly of myself when she thought she might be pregnant.

But what can I do? Call my mother and tell her what's happened? She'd never believe me, and if she did, she'd probably do something to alert Michelle, and I can't imagine that turning out well. However Michelle did this, it's a secret, and a big one. People protect secrets like this.

So I stewed most of the day, until it was quitting time. I almost told Kate and Jen that I didn't feel like heading back to the film festival with them, but they said there would be someone doing Q&A at this one. So, what the heck. It'd beat watching Enterprise, right?

Of course, the screening of The Company with Neve Campbell was sold out, so we saw My Life Without Me instead. I liked Sarah Polley in Go, and the rest of the cast was full of familiar names, if none were exactly movie stars (sorry, Scott Speedman).

It was a good movie, but now I'm wondering if I would have cried afterward if I still had my own body, or whether there was some female chemical in this body's brain involved.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Can't sleep
Kurt picks me up, we go out to eat, we see "The Producers", blah, blah, blah. It's fun, and I'm really getting into being the girl on these dates. He hasn't said he loves me yet, so right now we're just in the fun, carefree part of dating.

The show was good, and I didn't mind when he put his hand on my leg during it. Maybe it's my imagination, but this body's starting to have itches I can't scratch myself. It's probably psychological in some way, but just because it's in your mind doesn't make it any less real. I'm not really horny yet, but I can't help but think it's coming. I still can't imagine acting on that, though - the thought of having someone else inside me is just... Brrr!

Anyway, Kurt lives pretty close to the Theater District, and invited me up to his apartment for drinks after the show. I said yes, since I didn't feel like going home to an empty apartment just then. I also know that his roommate usually has pretty good bourbon on hand.

Fortunately, the guy is just heading for bed as we get in, and so doesn't see Kurt surreptitiously pour a couple drinks. I pretend to believe him when he says it's his. Anyway, they say alcohol loosens tongues, and pretty soon mine and Kurt's were in each other's mouths. I'm not sure who started it, and it really doesn't matter. I'm still in control, although his hands are wandering a lot more than mine. It's one thing for my body to respond when it's being touched by a man - that's kind of hard-wired - but I think it's going to take a little practice for me to really enjoy the feel of a man's body. But, after tonight, who knows?

It's not that Kurt didn't make me feel good - far from it! He didn't even argue when I said the skirt was staying on, but the blouse did come off, and he had just started kissing my breasts when his phone started ringing. He ignored it, saying the machine would get it, and that was fine with me.

But then, the machine did pick it up, and after hearing the outgoing message, it started recording. And the voice it started recording was my mother's.

"I don't want to worry you or anything," she said, "but I haven't heard from Martin in almost two months, and he's always been good about calling me Sundays. I'm probably just being silly, but you've been his best friend for so long, so I though perhaps you would know if something has happened to him?" Beep.

It didn't take Kurt long to sense that he no longer had much of my attention. He told me not to worry, but how could I not? I made him promise me that first thing tomorrow, he would try and track "this Martin guy" down. I'm sure it struck him as weird that I cared so much, but I couldn't help it. Maybe Michelle would actually respond to Kurt, even though she'd had "Michelle's" phone number blocked for a month and had probably stuck her email address into her spam filter.

It was a definite mood-killer, though. I just felt like a total heel - my mom was worried about her son, and here I was, making out with a guy - a guy! - like I didn't have a care in the world. It was like I'd abandoned my real life and it didn't matter who I hurt. I'd gone so far from who I was that I didn't find being attracted to a man repugnant. And I was angry at Michelle - I'd been a good little girl and carried on with her life right where she left off, but she didn't do so with mine. I don't know why I expected her to, but given how her letter had made a point of not letting people get suspicious, I'd just assumed. Ass-u-me. And I didn't really make much note of when Wei said she hadn't heard from "me" since the move.

And yet... In the back of my mind, the thought formed that this might open doors, too. If Michelle wasn't going to color within the lines, why should I? Not that she'd left me many lines to define her life, but I could be even less careful.

But not tonight - last night, now that I look at the clock. I just made some noises about it being late and came back here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003
I don't think I can ever get used to having salad and Diet Pepsi for lunch. Sure, there's nothing actually stopping me from getting a double cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate milkshake when Katie, Jen, Janet, and I pop out of the office at 1pm, but I don't. Even if I've only gained a few pounds since landing in Michelle's body, despite not always having stellar diet and exercise habits, it almost feels like doing so would be just make the others resent this body's good metabolism. Besides, it's not that good; I still do gain some weight, and it's not like I can afford new jeans on a receptionist's salary.

I also figure it's in my best interests to stay in shape. I've got to look at this body in the mirror every morning, but it's more than that. Switching back isn't it my hands, and if Michelle doesn't want to return to a porked-up body, I'm stuck like this. Similarly, her original letter challenged me to stay with Kurt until she returned, and I know Kurt cares about a girl's appearance, maybe too much. But I don't mind looking good for him, really - I look at it as being like buying flowers, or jewelry, or some other small gift for a girl. It looks nice, shows you care and thought of the other person, and it lets them show off - the girl by displaying the flowers or wearing the jewelry, the guy by being seen with a pretty woman on his arm.

I wonder if Kurt will get me anything tonight. It's not like I need more flowers or jewelry, but the effort is appreciated.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Salad and diet soda. I never liked salad; even if I know it's good for me, I hate the sensation of lettuce, onions or the like in my mouth. It's like I can't chew them enough and they make this awful papery sound that no-one else can hear. And they don't taste very good, either.

Monday, September 08, 2003
Hanging with Kate
It's been a while since Kate, Jen and I have had a movie night. Kate's not much for the Weekly Wednesday Ass-Kicking, and both Jen and I have been spending a lot of time with our boyfriends (I still feel weird typing that). I kind of feel bad about Kate being left out like that. It's kind of ironic, because a few months ago it was Kurt who was either being left out, and now he's dating me, of all people, while my new "Michelle" circle of friends is arranged in much the same way. Then again, I guess that's pretty typical for single people in their twenties.

Kate tried to get Jen and I to go to the Boston Film Festival with her, but Jen and her guy had a date, and I kind of cringed at $10 for a movie. Kate had bought a book of discount tickets, though, so I figured what the heck.

I like hanging around with Kate. I don't know if we would have gotten on so well if I'd met her as myself, so to speak - she's definitely smarter than I am, for instance, and while I'd like to think that wouldn't have bothered me as a man, let's be realistic. I would have liked knowing a girl this smart, but I would have constantly been trying to prove myself, too. But since nobody expects a receptionist to be particularly bright, I can be somewhat at ease.

It's also kind of weird to spend time with her and not really feel physical attraction. I recognize her as sexy, and certainly like looking at her, but it's like my brain's trying to run incompatible software by now. My mind recognizes that her blacker-than-black hair, great legs, and face which gets even prettier with her glasses on are all things I go for, but it keeps trying to send this message to a penis that isn't there, while another part of the brain is picking up those signals and trying to figure out how I'd look in her dress.

Anyway, we go to see a Chinese film called The Missing Gun!, which is pretty good. It's only 8:30 when the movie ends, so we stop in a Starbucks and discuss it for a little while. It's an interesting conversation, as she's approaching it by comparing it to other films she's seen out of mainland China, while I'm looking at it as a film noir, kind of. She admits she hasn't seen a lot of noir, but there's an upcoming program at The Brattle she means to catch. I just may tag along.

She pays rapt attention to my description of Thursday night. I find it hard to believe she's been single for six months, despite knowing just how a lot of guys might feel threatened by her. She's had a lot of bad first dates, I guess, in part because she won't play the passive girl to make some guy feel comfortable. I kind of admire that - I kind of admire it a lot, really. I've had a few girlfriends, and the ones who speak their minds stand out. Sure, I managed to sabotage those relationships, but they're the ones that stick out.

I hope Kate finds someone soon. It would be fun to do some couples stuff with her, Jen, and our respective boyfriends.

Sunday, September 07, 2003
I can't believe how sore I am this morning.

It was a beautiful day yesterday, so I decided to try and get some of that exercise stuff I've been talking about in. I can't really afford gym membership, so I just put on a t-shirt and some shorts, headed out to the river, and started running.

(Well, okay, I set the VCR to tape the ballgame first. Didn't want to waste the nice day, but didn't want to miss that, either)

I never was big on running. It always seemed to be something to do mainly when you're late, and isn't it better just to be on time? Besides, I don't mind walking to get from place to place, but just running in a big circle doesn't seem like a very productive use of one's time. So, I figured I'd run to the Cambridgeside Galleria, buy a Walkman or something, and listen to it while I ran back, just to give myself a goal.

Anyway, I got myself across the bridge to the Cambridge side of the river (it just feels a little safer than running along Storrow Drive). There were a bunch of other joggers already out, and I noticed a lot of the women had the sleeves of their t-shirts rolled up. I'm not sure what that's supposed to do, but I did it anyway, since the urge to not look like a dork transcends sex.

Soon enough, though, I found reason to resent these huge hooters Michelle saddled me with. Well, I guess, they're not huge, just larger than average, but even with a bra on these suckers bounce when I run. At first it's no big deal, and I sort of enjoyed having people stare at me. I've got no particular reason to be proud or boastful about this body, I know - Michelle's parents contributed good DNA and she kept it in shape before dropping me in it; I've basically contributed nothing aside from occasionally walking to someplace less than a mile away - but, hey, I was an only child and like being the center of attention. Yeah, that's it.

But after half a mile or so, they started to ache. They weren't the only parts feeling the burn - even if Michelle had had a regular fitness regimin, I haven't been doing much to keep to it for the last month and a half - but they were the most insistent. Each step seemed to be trying to yank them off, and that hurts. I also only had one bottle of water stowed in the fanny pack I found in Michelle's bottom drawer, so I swear that last mile to the mall must have taken over half an hour.

Once there, I made myself promise not to even look in Best Buy or Circuit City, but headed straight for the sports bras. It was tough finding a couple in my size - either busty women just don't work out much, or they were work out a lot and the stores were sold out. I think the saleslady took unfair advantage of the blood that had left my brain, since she also managed to sell me a couple headbands and some running shorts, as well as (I'm looking at the receipt now) two $2.50 bottles of water.

I window-shopped a little, especially in Suncoast, where I wished my DVD player wasn't on the other side of the country, and then figured I might as well head back. I did pop into the ladies' room to change my underwear, though. I suppose I could have been a wuss and just hopped on the T, but I figured if I ran home as well, I could stop at Herrell's for some ice cream without the day having completely been a zero-sum game.

The new running shorts were weird, barely covering my butt, but looking down, they made my legs look powerful, even if they didn't necessarily feel that way. After about a mile I pulled off my tee-shirt and stuffed it in the bag with the new stuff. It felt kind of weird to just be running down the street in a bra, even if it didn't actually bare any actual cleavage. I've gotten so used to having two layers of clothing there that I felt a little exposed, although I imagine not as much as a born woman would. The lack of jiggle was very nice, though.

I hit the wall just before the bridge back to my neighborhood in Allston, though, and just couldn't run any more. I sat down on the grass by the riverbank and watched the people rowing and sailing. Rowing's fun - I took a class a couple summers ago - and it actually becomes a good spectator sport when you've got enough boats on the river and are too tired to worry about how you're finding these shirtless college guys aesthetically pleasing...

I must have drifted off, because the next thing I remember it was starting to cool down and my bare midriff had turned a light pink. I winced as I got up, sore from not cooling down properly (I knew I should have paid more attention in P.E.), slightly sunburned, and all. I managed to get back to the apartment, but didn't go out for ice cream. Instead, I just rewound the tape and watched the Red Sox pound the living hell out of Roger Clemens.

I felt good enough, if exhausted, when I went to bed, but now it's like every ache regrouped and came back better than ever. I've got to say, if this whole body-switch deal plays out so that my body has gained fifty pounds with Michelle in it, I'm going to be very upset.


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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