Saturday, November 08, 2003
Strangely, not ashamed
I mean, you are what you are and you do what you do, right? But let me back up.
I got home last night, ate some supper, and had no plans. I watched the first three minute "episode" of the Clone Wars cartoon and then realized it was 8:05pm on Friday night and I had no plans. None. My two best friends since this all started are probably out with their boyfriends, Kurt has probably met Denise at South Station and is doing something with her, Wei and Jim are probably doing some of the millions of things recently-engaged people have to do... Heck, even the big Russian guy from work is probably doing things with his 17-year-old girlfriend I'd really rather not imagine. Frustrated, I picked up a magazine to flip through, spotted a liquor ad, and though, I can do that.
No, not drink myself blind and unconscious. But the ad had a bunch of young and sexy girls ordering something at a club, and I figured, heck, why not go out, let some guys buy me some drinks, listen to some music, and dance a little? Just make sure I don't get totally wasted like last weekend, and only do the stuff where I legitimately had fun.
First, though, I had to get dressed - neither office wear or lounging around the house stuff was going to do it. And Supergirl won't show up again until next Halloween (assuming I'm still in this body then). So, I walked over to the dresser, and tugged the bottom drawer open.
Back in July, I went through all the drawers and closets, sorting Michelle's clothes. Work stuff here, casual but non-gender-specific stuff like jeans and T-shirts there, grudging necessities over there. And then the fourth pile - the blatantly female stuff. The things where on the one hand I was so certain I'd never feel acclimated enough to this body to consider, but on the other hand was terrified I might feel right at home in. I'd crammed it into the back of the bottom drawer, hoping it wouldn't bother me if I couldn't see it. Fortunately, it was mostly synthetic fabrics, so it wasn't too badly wrinkled.
I stripped down to my underwear and more or less chose some stuff at random. A red top with a big V-neck that showed pretty much all my cleavage (and my bra strap, but so what? I wasn't looking to impress anyone), some boot-cut pants that didn't quite come all the way up to the bottom of the blouse, and a pair of three-inch heels I occasionally wear to work. I had to dig out Michelle's one pair of G-string panties (since I had never worn them before, they missed being destroyed in the washing-machine incident) to go with the pants. Not comfortable, but they looked less stupid than the regular ones. I put on some lipstick, brushed my hair back, and checked myself out in the mirror. I wouldn't be the hottest girl in the room - I still really don't know what to do with makeup - but I doubted I'd have to pay for my own drinks. I worried a bit what I bent over to pick the lipstick I'd dropped up, but just reminded myself that what was once "ass crack" was now "butt cleavage". I tossed my keys in my purse, threw on a coat, and set out.
It doesn't matter which Landsdowne Street club I eventually went to. It wasn't quite nine yet, so the lines weren't too bad. I was kind of disappointed at having to wait in line - before, it always seemed to me that girls never had to, but then again, it's not like Michelle is famous or rich or wearing particularly upscale clothing (Natalya doesn't wait in line, I'll bet); an impressive rack will only get you so far. But I wasn't in line for too long.
Dancing is easier for women - not so much in the physical sense, since you've got to do it in heels and can be bumped around easier, but in the not-looking-stupid sense. Just raise your arms (optional) and shake your butt. Since a lot of outfits leave your shoulders bare, you can move them around in time to the music without looking like you're having an epileptic fit. And besides, everyone's looking at your boobs anyway.
After about twenty minutes I wound up dancing with this college kid, who quite frankly looked as silly as I used to trying to dance. When he asked if I wanted to grab a table, I said yes if only to spare him the embarassment. He ordered us a couple of drinks and we started shouting at each other over the music. He goes to BU, rows, and started talking very keenly on the "Rock The Vote" rally he'd attended earlier in the week, despite my lack of interest in politics. After a while, the music changed, I said "I love this song!" about something I'd never heard before, jumped onto the floor, and that was the end of him.
This happened two or three times more, though not in exactly the same way. One guy said something racist about the couple who sat at the table next to ours and I left in real disgust; another spotted friends and I wasn't around when he came back with them. It was kind of fun doing the things girls had done to lose me in bars, and I didn't sit down with people who expected the club to be anything more than a big Brownian Motion simulator where people sort of randomly collide on their paths. I paid for one drink out of five and didn't think about anything but having fun for a few hours.
The last guy I danced with wasn't the best-looking, but he wasn't bad. We didn't talk about a damn thing, just moved to the music. I had my back to him, sort of moving my bottom in a circular motion while he had his hand on my stomach, when he leaned over and asked if I'd like to go to his place.
I looked him over. Clean-shaven, maybe quarter-Korean, about Michelle's age, a healthy specimin but not physically intimidating. "Let me get my coat."
I was buzzed, but not really drunk. I was walking steady on my heels on the way to the cab. I was a little nervous sitting next to him as he gave an address in Jamaica Plain, but I figured it was nothing I hadn't done before. Sure, I hadn't just picked up a gril in five years, but he and Michelle are the age I was five years ago, and I kind of figured, if I didn't, it was making Kurt more special than he deserved. It didn't have to be this guy, but he seemed more than acceptable.
His place was a two-bedroom in one of JP's more gentrified sectioins. There was a note taped to the front door from one roommate to another. I tried to look and sound nothing but idly curious and said "Mike or Steve?"
"Mich..." I suddenly had to cough; there was cigar smoke coming from one of the other appartments. "Missy."
"Well, come on in, Miss Missy."
We kissed. We unbottoned each other. I kicked my shoes off, while he opened the door to a bedroom. I jumped on the bed, bouncing once. "Condom?"
And then we got down to it. It must have lasted an hour; he made me sweat and I returned the favor. I know what a guy likes and had had enough practice on Kurt not to mess it up. By the time we came, we were both exhausted.
He was in the shower when I woke up. I got my clothes on, made sure everything was in the purse, and wrote "Thanks for a great night - Missy" on a scrap of paper to leave on his bed. I paused in the doorway, wondering if maybe I should stick around, but decided against it.
The strange thing is, I don't feel bad about it at all. I blushed a little on the subway, where the only other people in the car were two little old ladies and I must have looked a sight with my hair mussed, bags under my eyes, and my coat initially open to show way more skin than was wise on that cold morning (I buckled it up pretty quick).
But, really, I felt good. The sex had been fantastic, and the idea that this Steve guy was better than Kurt at it, by a lot, was terribly satisfying. We'd both gotten something we wanted, scratched an itch, and I didn't have to worry about being in a relationship where my not volunteering that I was a 29-year-old heterosexual man plopped inside a 24-year-old heterosexual woman's body would feel like lying. Maybe he's reading this and puking his guts up now, by I don't care.
I didn't particularly worry that he was a man, either. What's agonizing about that stuff going to get me, aside from home alone on a Friday night? A good chunk of a person's sex drive seems to be supplied by the body as opposed to the mind, and I figured if I could get used to penetration this quick after almost fifteen years of being on the other side of it, then I shouldn't have any trouble switching back if I was only in this body a few months.
But overall, after this past week or so, it was just good to feel good.
Friday, November 07, 2003
Comics and stuff
Picked up a few books last night. I was just going to drop the habit, but I've been reading The Adventures of Kaliver & Clay on the subway, and toward the end there's this really great scene where Joe Kaliver ruminates on his love of the medium and how wrong-headed the criticism of them as nothing but mere escapism are, as if escapism was any bad thing.
Comic shops have a unique vibe. I've been in other specialty bookstores, specializing in science fiction, poetry, travel, mysteries, or the like, and they seldom gave me the same feel a comic store does. Comics have so long been considered the stuff of geeks that entering one often feels like entering an adult bookstore, as if your reputation could suffer from being seen there, but there's also a great sense of community. People are always talking to each other in there, total strangers talking about comics, movies, sports (yes, comic readers do follow sports).
And yet, last night, I felt shut out. It's like the folks there weren't equipped to deal with a pretty girl in their domain. It didn't help that I haven't seen the third Matrix movie yet, I suppose, but I do know this - back in May, when people were having the same conversation about Part 2s, I was at least listened to when I made my case for why I liked Attack Of The Clones more than The Matrix Reloaded or The Two Towers, and folks would admit that, yes, it has an ending and even if they didn't agree, they saw my reasoning. Last night, I just got dismissed like "how could this girl who obviously wandered into the wrong shop and then couldn't even find the manga or Sandman stuff possibly have a valid opinion?" It's not the first time, but it irritated me, because I'm pretty sure I know more about movies as well as sci-fi than any of those twerps.
Speaking of comics and me, here's the first illustration someone has sent in for the blog - Ipkiss found some elements on the web and composited them together like so:
I kind of like it, although I didn't feel that down about the situation until later.
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Getting mail is mostly a good feeling.
When I first was in this body, I never got any mail except the phone, electric, and cable bills. Occasionally a sales flyer or something otherwise addressed to "Occupant". After a month or so, they started saying "Michelle Garber or Current Occupant", which I kind of smirked at once or twice, because in my case "Or Current Occupant" could refer to the body in the apartment or the personality/soul in the body.
Eventually, of course, I got on more specific mailing lists, received packages, and subscribed to magazines (though I passed on the "money-saving offers" for multi-year subscriptions - I hope not to be here that long). Still no personal letters, but who writes those any more? Even my mom has figured email out. I was still excited about getting the new Bits & Pieces catalog more or less unsolicited, and now I won't forget to buy Analog every month.
It's kind of interesting - where "Michelle" was sort of a blank slate back in July, you can now look through "her" mailbox and see a person's personality emerge. I've defined her, in a way. Of course, I've defined her as me (although the Victoria's Secret catalogs come for a different reason), just as she has probably defined "Martin Hartle" for the people in Seattle who never knew me with her own tastes and preferences. And every item that's something I want, or sent to me because some marketer or AI thought perhaps I would be receptive to it, is like an accusation that I'm settling in, getting comfortable, and making the name and body my own.
Speaking of mail, a big thank you to George, who in his e-mail suggested I might send a card or flowers (no postmark, natch) to Wei to offer my congratulations, and sign it with my real name. I honestly hadn't thought of that, and it's tempting. If it's something Michelle has already done, well, if Wei calls "Martin" to mention it, the thief can probably figure out what happened and say she was absent minded or something.
I may just do that, although the fact that it would of necessity be a one-way communication chafes me.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
No Wei at the Weekly Wednesday Ass-Kicking tonight, so no change to look at her ring, say I was happy for her and Jim, ask if there were any plans made or dates set, and just be more interested than Michelle has any right to be.
Did meet up with Kurt, though. That was, in all honesty, kind of depressing. Jen and I must have just arrived a minute or two after him, took our usual seats (well, usual in that they were were we'd sat two months ago), and realized Kurt was right behind us. Jen leaned over to ask if I wanted to move or even leave, but that wasn't happening. Closest theater to my apartment, I'm not abandoning the only non-Bollywood shows because my ex is there.
"My ex." That's how I think of Kurt now. Right up until the day he dumped me, he was mainly my friend, and all the other stuff was on top of that. But the very act of ending the relationship redefined it; now, he was in the past tense. I can't look at him without thinking that I trusted, and even cared for, him to the point where I let a part of his body inside mine, and he returned that trust and affection by cutting me out of his life.
Maybe that's taking it too hard, but how else can I be expected to take it, even if that is grossly unfair to him? This body was not that of a virgin when we first made love, so he doesn't know how pivotal that day was to me. Even so, just the speed with which he dumped me/Michelle as soon as Denise asked - not being good enough for somebody hurts.
He tried to say something to me on the way out, but I didn't particularly want to hear it - I made some sort of comment about how there were a lot of college kids there, and won't he get into trouble if one of them reports back to Denise's sister?
Maybe that was meaner than even being premenstrual on top of the rest can account for, but as I walked home, I realized that I just can't imagine being friends with him again. I've tried to be friends with my ex-girlfriends, and it generally hasn't worked out well just because of circumstance, or so I've thought. But I can't even imagine it after I get my own body back. It just stings too much, and knowing how much less the breakup must have meant to him than to me makes it worse - he had a backup girlfriend, and no vague magical threats hanging over his head.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Congratulations are in order
It's amazing. Just a few months ago, I would have been one of the first people told, and even just a few weeks ago, I would have found out fairly early, but now I had to find out that Wei and Jim are engaged through the paper.
And that was a total accident - having finished the crossword, read the comics, and clipped the coupons, I had gotten pretty much all the use I usually do out of it, so I was pringing it and some other paper and cardboard down to the building's recycling bin. It was already full of everyone else's Sunday papers, of course, but I figured "full-to-overflowing" would be OK, resulting in a spill all over the floor. While I was picking it up, I saw the engagement announcements section, and there were their names, clear as day. I read the short paragraph, stating that Wei Chang of Cambridge, MA and James Hendry of Boston, MA were engaged, it will be the first wedding for each, blah.
I'm pleased to say that my first reaction was to be happy for them. I hadn't been Jim's biggest fan when he started dating Wei around the end of June, but he's a pretty nice guy, especially when you take his New York origins into consideration. And Wei's a great lady; I never would have passed electromagnetic physics our freshman year without her help. And she was the one who introduced us to Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Jet Li, and the like via pirated tapes before Jackie got big over here.
I tore the announcement from the paper and brought it to my room, and, meaning to congratulate her, picked up the phone. That was when I realized I didn't remember her number. I felt a small pang of guilt, but not much - phone numbers have never been my forte, especially once the handy-dandy menu-driven cell phone ws invented. I dialed information, writing down the number because who needs to be charged a buck to be connected automatically, dialed it, and hung up as soon as I got Wei's answering machine.
It's not that I felt the machine was too impersonal, but I suddenly realized how it would sound. As far as Jim and Wei are concerned, "Michelle" is the girl Kurt had decided was second-best, and the one who had been a bitch the night Wei had first met her. She - I - wasn't their friend.
So what, right? Congratulations are congratulations. But I suddenly hated the thought of my well-wishing being that of a barely-tolerated acquaintance, and not someone with whom she had a history. We'd met on an MIT campus tour in high school (though neither of us got in), lived in the same buildings all through college, and even gone on a disastrous date when she was in grad school and I was at my first dot-com. I wanted her to know how happy I was for her.
And then I thought of Michelle, in my body, who apparently had barely talked to my old friends since stealing it. Wei had probably called "Martin" up, and maybe Michelle had faked some enthusiasm. Wei and Jim would invite Martin to the wedding, of course - practically every friend Wei's sister had ever made since pre-school had been invited to her wedding, and maybe, if I'm both wrong about what rational thought suggests my chances for returning to my own body are, and and lucky in the timing of when it happens, I'll get to go. If Michelle even bothers to RSVP, which isn't a given, considering how much attention she's paid to my life since taking it.
And then, God forgive me, I felt jealous. Not because I have a thing for Wei, or am attracted to Jim, or I've been in a girl's body (and brain) long enough to have girly bridal fantasies of my own - none of that's the case. Just the idea that their lives are moving forward, and while mine is obviously not the same as it was, it's still lonely because of my secret and sort of in stasis. I don't want anything stronger than friendship, and even there, I worry that I'm too close to Kate and Jen to just walk away from it should I get a chance to get my body back. And my attempts to keep tabs on my life, the one Michelle's living in Seattle, just make me feel even more powerless and trapped.
I'll do what I can. I'll send the happy couple a card, maybe gush over Wei's ring if I see her at the Weekly Wednesday Ass-Kicking tomorrow, and hope that someday I'll get a chance to be a better friend.
Monday, November 03, 2003
I was so out of control Friday night.
I wasn't the only one, or even the worst case - that would be a guy who forgot he was Jen's ex-boyfriend and let his hands get decidedly non-platonic before Carlos showed great restraint in merely kicking him out as opposed to kicking his ass. I really have to admire Carlos for that, by the way - if some guy who said he and Mags were now "just friends" started feeling her up at a party we'd thrown, I would have tried to do him some harm (of course, since I never spent as much time in the gym as Carlos evidently does, I probably wouldn't have gotten very far).
I remember getting drunk - how can I forget, I wrote it all down - but evidently not too well. My first hint was when people started coming in for work, and while there was no difference in the way folks who hadn't come to the party acted, the others... Well, some gave me big grins, others just looked confused, and Marcello made a comment about blondes having more fun. I was like, hey, everyone lets their hair down a little once they get out of the office and get a drink or two into them.
And then Lizzie started emailing the photos.
I don't think I've mentioned Lizzie before; she's the company's "Controller" (I've got no idea what that means, other than having to do with money and being Kate's boss). She doesn't hang around much after work, since she and her husband live a ways up the North Shore, closer to where he works in Portsmouth, NH. Anyway, they came to the party as a photographer and reporter, and I had no idea she'd cleverly concealed a working digital camera inside the big prop one she was holding.
I wasn't the only one who came off not looking so good - Kate actually fell into the apple-bobbing-barrel, and so was wearing something of a "wet pirate shirt" until she was able to borrow a sweater from Jen. I just got caught by the splash, which caused my costume's skirt to stick to my butt for a while without be evidently giving a damn.
What I did with that butt while dancing - grinding it into Godzilla, bumping it with Jen's, laying a hand on it while the other hand touched my boob in a way that's getting me vaguely hot just looking at the picture (which, thankfully, Lizzie only sent to me as opposed to the whole company) - wasn't really a big deal. I mean, you should have seen what Sam was doing (and no-one was letting her drink)!
I guess it's partly that this is the first time I've been photographed in Michelle's body since the switch. It's stranger than looking at those photos of "Martin" and Natalya. I was at least able to feel angry looking at those, like I was the one who was supposed to be making time with the pretty blonde heiress and Michelle had stolen that opportunity from me (even though I never would have attended a ballet with her). Looking at the party photos of "Michelle" dancing that I do remember, they feel half-wrong, like I expect to see my male body looking absolutely absurd in a Supergirl outfit instead of the girl it fits almost perfectly, but also half-right (or half-wrong in a different way).
The ones where I was evidently too blitzed to record memories are the scary ones. I feel nothing at all looking at them. Maybe if I hadn't been wearing the wig, and the girl in the pictures looked the same as the one in the mirror, I'd feel something, but I have to stop and remind myself that it's me in the photographs, and not some random girl. Then I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I'd gotten so drunk that I let a strange man in a Godzilla costume squeeze my butt... and I still don't really believe it's me.
Looking at those pictures, I feel disconnected from my life. It's kind of encouraging to know that despite everything I've done, and the relatively practiced way I'm able to get through my days with, if not ease, then something akin to confidence, I haven't quite lost myself. But, on the other hand, the girl in a lot of those pictures is having fun, and I did, in fact, enjoy the party for the most part. I can't help but wonder how I'll feel twenty years from now, looking at those pictures from my own body (or this one, as sometimes seems more likely, or, heck, maybe we'll all be uploading our minds onto the internet by then). Will I be able to look back at it and simply say "I had a good time even though I wasn't expecting to", or will the memory of that night be tainted by the rest of the circumstances? Heck, if I were to get my own body back soon, will I even be able to conceive of the past four months twenty years from now?
EDIT: And, no, I won't be posting any of the pictures. It would be all I need for someone to recognize me and then either start harassing or stalking me.
But, if any readers feel like sending in a drawing based on what they've read, I'll put them in an entry.
Sunday, November 02, 2003
Alcohol's not all this body can't handle as well
Kind of gross, but no-one should expect everything about dealing with a new body and all the biological and chemical activity inside it to be pleasant.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are my favorite candy (and those new "Inside Out" ones - soooo good), and have been for a while. Thus, when I was doing my grocery shopping last week with the intention of picking up some stuff to give to trick-or-treaters, they're naturally what I went for. After all, there weren't likely to be more than a handful of kids, and someone would have to eat them, right.
So that would be cool, except for one thing.
They give Michelle's body the runs.
Granted, I haven't actually proven that they're the cause of me spending much of the day on the toilet (it could just be those pumpkin rum drinks catching up) - but, man, I suspect it is. I used to know a guy who had some sort of IBD or something, and he said he couldn't eat much chocolate. A candy bar wouldn't cause problem, but two or three was getting into dangerous territory. And peanut butter multiplies it or something. One was okay, but after that, you'd better start rationing it.
It's obviously not going to be an everyday problem, but it ticks me off, something I like that I can't do like I used to. And it's not even a girl problem, it's a Michelle's-body-specific thing, because if every girl had to use the can after a couple bars of chocolate, well, I don't think it would have ever gotten the reputation as a kind of post-breakup comfort food, even if that is just a ridiculous cliche.
Gads, even the noises coming from this stomach are unnerving (so I'd better end this and hit the head right now).