Transplanted Life
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Got an email address
I think - think - that I've found an email address for Natalya Tartakovsky. I got the bright idea to start looking through rec.arts.ballet, since my searches on her name found the Tartakovsky family being major contributors to several ballet companies in the Pacific Northwest and her mentioned as attending several opening nights. So, figuring she's got an interest, I start looking at discussion boards, and eventually find her posting to newsgroups. The posts stopped a couple weeks ago, and the address was a hotmail account, the type you never read so that spammers harvesting addresses from usenet won't have your real address.

Now that I've got it, though, I'm not sure what to write. How do you warn someone that their boyfriend isn't who he says he is without sounding like you're crazy? What if the first thing Nat does is to tell "Martin", or Michelle finds out some other way - like, if she's already stolen Natalya's body? And even if she believes that something's not right about "Martin", what can she do? Hire a private detective? What can he find, aside from this blog (which isn't even using real names because I didn't want Michelle or Kurt or anyone finding it)? There's no prior connection between the two of us.

And if Martin finds out... What's the reprecussions? Say Michelle's really a witch who's being tested somehow. That's the most benign possiblity. I suspect that I'm for the most part being left alone because leaving me alone is useful - maybe the technology (or, OK, magic) that accomplished the switch is untested and observing my health and actions teaches them something. Or maybe it's just entertaining. Maybe she figures she might need to know something only I would know. Or maybe killing one of us (or doing me some other kind of harm) would have reprecussions to the other.

Killing me. Or killing Michelle, legally. Either way, the continuous stream of memories and identity that I consider "me" would come to an end. Right now, I'm maybe not worth bothering. But if I start telling people like Natalya - people with resources - without hiding behind pseudonyms... Maybe I become expendable.

Damn it. I wish I could think on this some more, but the longer I wait, the more likely Michelle is to steal Natalya's body, or the more irrelevent any information I'm keeping in Michelle's noggin would be, or the more confident Michelle and whoever else is responsible might become in their process...

Arrrrrgh! It seems like every chance I get to actually help myself just makes me more afraid to do anything!
Friday, October 24, 2003
Jen's having a Halloween party
I've never liked them. I sort of figured I grew out of dressing up at something like six. And, hey, do I need a costume right now? Aren't I already in the best costume anyone's ever had? Wouldn't adding something to it be just gilding the lily?

And on top of that, it's looking like a couple-y thing. Jen will be there with Carlos, Kate with George, etc., etc. There'll be other single people there, I suppose, but they'll be looking to not be single, whereas I am... well, not happy to be single, but I guess it beats the alternative, doing all the uncomfortable dating crap for a relationship that would wind up being Michelle's once this ends. If it ends. Of course, if it doesn't, I'll have made myself unhappy for no good reason.

But I'm also kind of in shock about how far things went with Kurt. I go back and read what I wrote in this journal, and I'm not sure what's more surprising, how fast it all happened or how long it went on. How bizarre my actions seem in retrospect or how much they make sense. I'm not sure how to reconcile it all. And I think, if I start going out to parties or bars or whatever, will I be a detached guy amused and uncomfortable with what's going on, amusing myself with how to take things people say in an ironic way, or will peer pressure and biological imperatives nudge me toward acting like who and what I appear to be (and arguably am)? Is being able to look at this and think what I did with Kurt was insane a moment of clarity or self-doubt?
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Fancy seeing you here...
Kate and I bumped into Wei last night. We were both going to see Robot Stories at the Fantastic Film Festival. She'd come because of interest in a movie made by and starring primarily Asian-American people, but which wasn't about being a minority. Kate is always up for a screening where the director does a Q&A session afterward. Me, I came for the robots.

It was more than a little awkward. I suppose asking how Kurt was wasn't the smartest thing I could have done. Wei said he was pretty good, and then started to kind of babble, feeling the need to explain why she said everything along with just saying it: "He doesn't talk about you much, but I think he's kind of paranoid that someone might be reporting back to Olivia and then she'll tell her sister" or "it was a little tense between them last weekend, but I'm not saying that because it means you might be able to get back together."

Kate snorted, saying Kurt was a fool. Wei looked uncomfortable at that, so I pointed out that "I" was kind of a bitch the night "we" first met, and that might have played into it. That seemed to relax Wei a little. "Yeah, I think that was a factor. Don't take this the wrong way, but you seemed like a completely different person that night. The whole time you and Kurt were dating, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop."

We took seats in different parts of the theater - Kate and I like it up front, Wei not so much - so that was the end of that. I tried to get her off the topic of Kurt by asking how her "thing" was going.

"George? I don't know. He's nice, we like a lot of the same things, he's good in bed. Maybe something will happen. Still, I don't think it's quite serious yet. But back to you - are you going to jump right back in?"

Hell, no. "I don't really feel the need for another man in my life right now." I'm quite enough man for my life, thank you.

"You sure? I hear Carter's girlfriend is moving back to Atlanta."


"Oh, so you are interested..." she smiled smugly.

I told her, no, I just like to gossip. That was cool with her, and she said that the girl's family was all down there and she'd never been out of the area and didn't like it. I said I guessed I could understand that. Kate started to ask about my (that is, Michelle's) family, but fortunately the movie started

Might have to do some research on that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Get up when the alarm goes off. Walk to the bathroom. Sit down to pee. Either put on a shower cap or remember to work the shampoo into the dangling hair as well as the scalp. Shave your legs and armpits if they need it. Wrap a towel around your chest instead of your waist. Blow-dry your hair. Fasten your bra without looking. Negotiate slips, pantyhose, hair-clips and the like as necessary. Check your email for letters from the woman who stole your body or any other people who may know how such a thing is accomplished. Go back to the bathroom, swallow your birth-control pill and put on a little makeup. Google the name you were born with and that given to the body you now reside in, to see if there's anything new. Make sure your purse is well-stocked and head out for work.

Sounds almost like a normal morning routine; it's become mine. How many days does a man have to do this before it becomes normal? It is, evidently, less than 95. It wasn't until I got on the T this morning that the sole source of anxiety this morning was that the alarm clock/radio was tuned to the wrong station (generally, I have it set to WEEI, a truly awful sports/talk station so that I'll be annoyed enough to get up, cross the room, and turn it off). I didn't feel humiliated or emasculated sitting to pee, I chose a skirt over slacks because the weather looked half-decent without embarassment, shrugged off the lack of e-mail, and didn't have even the shortest moment of surprise when I saw Michelle's face in the mirror. Didn't quite think "lookin' good, girl", but didn't say "this is wrong", either.

Have I given up? No, I wouldn't still be trying to look for information if I'd given up. Am I content? Hardly - I had to put the Indiana Jones DVD box set back on the shelf yesterday because getting both that and the new Barenaked Ladies CD/DVD would be too much. Am I just able to look at my situation dispassionately, without panicking? Not at all - just the thought that Michelle may occasionally be talking to my mother with mom none the wiser is enough to send me into a cold sweat.

I guess I'm just used to it. There's a saying that a man can get used to hangin' if he hangs long enough, and I guess I'm living proof. The day-to-day aspect of living in a woman's body drove me nuts at first, but I've for the most part got a hang of it with practice. And that daily routine takes up so much of a person's time that, when he or she gets a free moment, the quick gratification looks real nice. Why put yourself through more frustration when the other option is sitting down to a movie or getting a drink? Especially if someone else will pay for it because you're occupying a girl's body!

But go far enough down that line, and the next logical step is being happy with the way things are. And would that be so bad? If I'm happy, and Michelle's happy, and my friends here are happy, and Natalya's happy in Washington, and my mom's none the wiser in Florida, and nobody wishes anybody else any harm, isn't that, well, good? Life changes, after all, though not usually in such a big way as this.

Say Michelle contacts me, says she wants to keep my body, and I'm okay about that because I'm five years younger than I was and maybe I've got a for-real-my-idea boyfriend. Sure, I gave in, but I'm happy, right? But then how can I ever stand up for myself again? If I let someone else change who I am in such a huge way, how can I ever demand something without being a hypocrite?

So, I think it's time to redouble my efforts at finding out what's happening to me. Even if I can handle being a girl, I don't know as I can handle being a pushover.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Field trip
Sorry there was no entry for yesterday, but by the time we got back, it was late and I was tired... But I'm getting ahead of myself.

At about one o'clock yesterday, the boss, Mr. Kraft, stops by and says I'm dressed nice today. I thank him, kind of cautiously, because he's not one for small talk, and usually has a reason for everything he says. And he does - he asks if I'd like to get out from behind the desk and earn a little overtime.

I think every muscle in this body tensed up at that point; there was nothing really sexual or predatory in his tone of voice, but I've been hit with enough innuendos over the past few months to see them. "Forgive me if I'm jumping to the wrong conclusion, or even in the wrong direction entirely, but that sounds kind of inappropriate."

He looked confused for a second, then laughed. "No, Michelle, not that! I've got a meeting with a potential client in Providence at five, and need someone to come along and take notes. To be perfectly honest, it's in part about showing that BioSoft is strong enough that we can hire people to take notes. We usually hire a temp..."

"Let me guess; that call from the agency was her calling in sick."

"Good catch. Besides, you'll probably do the job better. I don't think you've misspelled or mispronounced any scientific terms since you started here, while the last girl..."

"She said 'nooc-yoo-ler', didn't she?"

"It was embarassing."

And that's something that would bug Mr. Kraft. The company he left to found BioSoft apparently had not really projected a professional image, and he felt this reputation had hurt the firm when he first started it up.

I said yes. It sounded like something interesting to do, and I can always use a little extra in the paycheck.

It took an hour and a half to drive there, and then we had to sign papers saying that we would not reveal any trade secrets. So, I've got to be somewhat circumspect.

The company we visited is actually out in the Providence suburbs; it's named Verity Systems. It's public (though not widely disseminated) information that they have a contract with various federal agencies to develop a sort of lie detector (they called it a "statement corroborator", which sounds better than "interrogation tool") that would non-invasively record a subject's mental state, the theory being that information coming directly from the brain is more reliable than polygraph tests, which can be fooled.

That's not their only project, but I can't talk about the rest. I can see where it would generate a lot of data, though, and how they'd need some pretty advanced software for organization and analysis. Fascinating stuff, really, but not really in the neighborhood of, say, being able to make a copy of someone's memories and store them somewhere else.

Although... Toward the end of the meeting, the other company's president had a really confidential demonstration for Mr. Kraft. I went to the break room to get a soda, and bumped into one of the neurology guys working late. He was living proof that a bunch of education doesn't necessarily make a guy sophisticated. He made some comment about my ass (I was bending over to get a 7-Up from the fridge's bottom shelf), and was about to say something about my boobs when I held up my hand. "Don't go there. I know just what you're thinking."

The twerp just smirked. "Actually, you can't. Men and women think in opposite ways."

"Oh, I think I know something about how men think."

"I'm not saying you can't extrapolate from previous interactions, but you can't know how men think. That's part of my work."

Anyway, he goes on about how, admitting that the measurements are crude, certain patterns that show up when they scanned a woman's brain before an action are similar to those that appear in a man's afterward, and vice versa. Sure, he said, transsexuals and other people with weird genetic types can mess it up, but for the most part, men and women, to a certain extent, really do think in opposite directions.

I'm probably mangling the science terribly; despite having picked a lot of the jargon and pronunciation up, I really don't understand most of this stuff - I wish I could pick Mags's brian on this.

Not long after, Mr. Kraft finished his meeting and we went back to Boston. I went back home, got some dinner, and thought about it. There seem to be three big implications to what I learned:

(1) This company, at least, isn't really close to having the technology to read minds, let alone move them from brain to brain, and they're apparently at the forefront of Direct Mental Imaging or whatever this is called. But, I'll bet 25 years from now, I could get back into my body without Michelle's help.

(2) If what this guy says is true, then my thought processes are suddenly running in reverse. Not so I would notice, apparently, but who knows what a brain scan would show - indeed, would it actually show that I had a man's thought process?

(3) If the brain patterns are so different, how could mine and Michelle's be swapped, short of her silly "magic" BS? It'd be trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, right?

Or would it? I wouldn't know the mechanics of how a brain swap would work, but if I look at it in terms of input/output streams, what's coming out of one sex's thought process would match what's going in to the other's.

Damn it. I really wish I could talk to Mags about this.


Sunday, October 19, 2003
Back in touch with my inner nerd
Today, when looking in the paper, I noticed that the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square was hosting the "First Annual Boston Fantastic Film Festival". Well, I thought, let's get some of that action.

Of course, getting there was tricky. It's normally no big deal to walk the mile or so to get there, since the exercise couldn't hurt, but I'd forgotten that this weekend is also the Head Of The Charles regatta. All sorts of people rowing on the river, trying to do it fastest. It brings out a huge crowd, whether from local schools who have teams competing or folks from rather-not-local places - I was crossing a bridge, and heard the coxswain of one boat yelling something in German. I don't know what she was saying, just that I wanted to row faster.

Anyway, I got there and had some time to kill before paying $9.50 for a ticket to Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monster All Out Attack!, and I thought, you know what, it's been something like three months since I've been in a comic store. I suppose one way to look at it is that having more important things to think about has caused me to kick a $30/week habit cold turkey, but I was more into the "one more way this whole situation has screwed up my life" mode. Utterly ridiculous, of course - if none of this had happened and I'd just gone to Seattle, made new friends, met a nice girl, and gotten swamped at work just as quickly as I did here (substitute "trying to figure out what's going on" for "getting swamped at work"), the same thing might have happened.

I attracted a bit of attention, which annoyed me. Yeah, Michelle's body has a pretty face and a nice figure with attention-commanding breasts; if I were on the outside looking in, I'd certainly take note of her, but I don't think staring would be in order. I was pretty far from glammed-up - no makeup, my jeans weren't particularly tight, and I was using a plain rubber band to put my hair in a ponytail (which isn't ideal - I should remember to get a scrunchie or something).

I wasn't sure what bugged me more; that there were a bunch of guys around me who weren't making any real secret of how much they'd like to sleep with me, or that I might have been acting just like them when I was, say, Michelle's age. But at the root of both, really, is the whole idea that certain activities are generally reserved for some segment of society or other. Why shouldn't a pretty girl like comics (and not just the manga or Sandman reprints)? It goes the other way, too - my male friends used to look at me like I was weird when I would recommend a French movie, but now, not so much. Heck, I remember the crap one of my suitemates took freshman year for being a black guy who prefered hockey to basketball.

Ah, well. At least by the time I left, I had the guys at the counter hoping I'd come again soon because I bought a bunch of comics, not because I could fill out the costumes inside pretty well.


(And Godzilla was subtitled! How cool is that?)

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