Saturday, December 20, 2003
Sent mom a card today. Didn't sign it, no return address, wondered if she'd recognize my handwriting. I guess it's sort of a weird thing to do, but I felt the need to do something. It's not right to be cut off from your loved ones for the holidays, but just totally accepting it would be even more wrong. I did the same thing with the card that I on this machine every couple of weeks: Wrote out a long explanation of what had happened to me, why I hadn't said anything up to now, and what a pathetic, lying, miserable excuse for a son/friend I am. Then threw it away, because at best, it would just hurt them and at worst, expose them to danger. Or because I don't want them to see me like this. Or see that I'm managing fine on a day-to-day basis. Or... I don't know. Even if I knew what was going on, I don't think I'd be ready to tell people yet.
One thing I wonder is how my situation stacks up to "the grand scheme of things". While I was walking around downtown today, a group with a camera asked me to record a Christmas message to "the troops"; I said something generic and moved on. And it was weird; I haven't been a big news-watcher for years (ate it up in high school, realized as an adult that it wouldn't affect my life very much if I didn't know all that stuff), but I'm still aware of what's going on in the world. But thinking on the Gulf War, and the like, I can't help but think that my usual response would be "wow, sort of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?" It really doesn't for me, though. It's egotistical, but something unique and bizarre has happened to me. If it's witchcraft, like Michelle says, then it means that there's this whole secret world that most people don't know about, that our basic understanding of the universe is even more incomplete than most of us can know. And if it's some new technology... Well, it could change the world like no other one.
And me? Right in the center of something potentially huger than anything on the news and I just go to work everyday and agonize over my Christmas shopping.
Friday, December 19, 2003
"Help a brother out"
That's what Carter said in the office today. He wants to go see Intolerable Cruelty, but it's a romantic comedy, and he doesn't feel secure enough in his manhood to go see one by himself. I can relate; I've been the only guy not attached to a woman at Four Weddings And A Funeral and the only grown man not attached to a kid at Lilo & Stitch. There doesn't seem to be the same stigma attached to being a solitary girl at a "shit blowing up" movie, so I don't know if a born woman would get what he was asking.
Well, I somehow managed to miss that one - came out the weekend I first found out about Natalya, and somehow I never got around to seeing it afterward. Too busy doing other stuff, I guess. You'd think it would be a natural to see with Kate, but I think that's about when her guy showed up. So, yeah, I thought this seemed like a pretty good idea.
We had a little time between finishing work and the 7:30 start of the movie, so we got some dinner. Nothing fancy, just the Chili's near the movie theater in Copley Place. "Don't want it to get too formal," I said, "or else it might wind up a date instead of me just doing you a favor."
"Well, we could head out to the food court..."
"Nah. We do get seperate checks, though."
Don't get me wrong, I like Carter. If I had been born in this body, I would probably have no compunctions about saying I "like" Carter, or (if we were still in high school) that I "like-like" Carter. But I wasn't, so I kind of feel awkward around him. It's a new kind of awkward, sort of somewhere between how I always felt when meeting a cool new girl when I already had a girlfriend, meeting a cool new girl and instantly realizing that all I really wanted from her was something platonic, and when I see someone and realize that, yes, sex with him would be fun, no matter what twenty years of instinct is saying. Just, the whole idea of a relationship with him... It wouldn't be something I was pushed into, at all. It'd be my idea, and it wouldn't be something I can just walk away from, unless I walked away from my job. Which I'm not going to do; even if the economy's improving to the point where I/Michelle could find another job with ease, I feel good seeing biotech stuff going on around me. It feels like I've got access to information, even if I haven't turned it into much.
The guy's charming, though, and to a certain extent, the whole sexual tension thing vanishes over supper. We're just two people talking about sports, and movies, and the people at the office. We finish each other's Monty Python quotes. I honestly forget my form until I catch him just sort of looking at me, and then it's weird again, until the song on the loudspeaker changes and we joke about that.
We split dinner, but he pays for the movie - it's all about keeping up appearances, right? The crowd isn't big but neither is the theater it's assigned to after two months of release. The movie is explosively funny, too. It's a romantic comedy, but a guy-safe one, full of sharp wit and a somewhat cynical outlook. And, god, the scene with the inhaler... These breasts don't accurately reflect the body's lung capacity, because I was almost wheezing myself, I was laughing so hard.
We sort of walked around the mall afterward; even close to the holidays, places were closing/closed when the movie finished. I remarked that it was weird to build a movie theater actually inside a mall for that reason; they close at around nine, which means if you go to the last show you walk through this abandoned place to get there. It makes for enjoyable window-shopping, though. I may have to come back over the weekend to finish my shopping.
I forget what, exactly, I was peering at that made him ask the question - "so, just how did you become the coolest girl in the world?" I laughed; I mean, I laughed. I had to find a bench to sit down, I was laughing so hard. He, of course, asked what was so funny. I told him that I wasn't any more used to being called cool than I was being called pretty. Which was how I felt, but apparently confused him more. He'd seen people call me pretty, even to my face. "You saying you've had some work done or something, because that's okay if you have."
Which, I don't know, seemed even funnier. "It's the boobs, isn't it? People are always asking me if they're fake."
"Not going to say I haven't wondered. But if you say they're original equipment, that's good enough for me. Besides, I don't like you because of your breasts."
"Oh, really? Then why do you 'like me'?"
He says I'm cool - how many girls do you meet who like comics, kung fu movies, can recite Monty Python, and read Scientific American in their spare time?
"Ah, but don't you see - that proves you do like me for my boobies. After all, you call me cool for that, but if I were a guy, those traits would make me a dork."
He gets a look on his face that says he's never thought of it that way, but sits down next to me and starts rubbing my head. I, of course, ask him what the hell he's doing.
"Feeling for sutures - just to make sure you're not some guy whose brain has been transplanted into that sexy body."
"Would it be a big deal if I were?"
"Well, I admit, there is a sort of sliding scale. A good looking girl is allowed to be a little weirder than a guy. There don't seem to be any, though, so it looks like your brain's original equipment, too."
"Well, what if it's non-invasive?"
"Well, then we're talking total science-fiction. In which case, you may very well be a dork, despite your hotness."
I think, at this point, that we're both caught up in the whole screwball-comedy dialogue vibe of the movie. But I'm also wondering if maybe he knows something. It's kind of a turn-on, actually, the idea that he might know who I actually am but plays like he doesn't know for reasons of his own. It just seems so convoluted, so artificial, as to be intriguing, like I can look at it from the outside and see it as the plot of a well-constructed movie or book, if just for a second.
But it's not; it's my real life, and if there is an intricate plan, I hate the idea that I've got strings that are being pulled. I push away from Carter at that point, saying I ought to get going. He looks confused enough to drop the likelyhood of him being some sort of puppetmaster in my mind, but then just smiles. "Right. Not a date."
"Nope. Favor to a friend."
And we leave it like that.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Yup, Jen was at the movie last night
... And wanted details, or dish, or whatever, when she got to work this morning. The truth - that we went shopping for comic books and then went to the movie. Maybe we flirted a little, but neither of us was exactly working it, as they say. Like I told Jen, I've sort of been going for guys I'll likely never see again, so that I can get what I want and move on. Getting something started with a co-worker is a minefield I'm not looking to get into.
Maybe Carter was a little more talkative when he walked by my desk today. It was a good day for doing that; people were coming by all day to sign Judy's retirement card; we'll be giving it to her along with a present at the Christmas party on Tuesday. And, of course, since I'm picking up the slack for her, it was also my job to update the vacation board. Lots of people are taking the week between Christmas and New Year's off, and I honestly think I'm the only one scheduled to come in to work the day after Christmas.
I guess it's a nice week to take off, especially since a lot of people working here aren't from New England. Heck, I think they should just run a shuttle from here to the airport after the party. Mark and Dimitri both came to mark their days off at the same time, with Mark making a comment about whether or not Sam would be joining Dimitri on his first trip back to Ukraine in years, what with how she flipped out on a short trip down the eastern seaboard. Dimitri said not to worry; they were taking the red eye to Paris so she could sleep through it and then traveling the rest of the way by train. "Was funny conversation with the travel agent - are you sure you don't have anything later?"
Of course, what this means for me is that there won't be many people left in Boston to help clean up. I'm already handling most of the stuff that has to do with the "retirement party" aspect, as well as whatever calls about renting the room come after two in the afternoon. I remember why I never volunteered for this stuff, much less let it be my job.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
I mean, yeah, I got soaked to the skin, and if this was the last Weekly Wednesday Ass-Kicking, it's not the best way to go out, but I had fun.
When we bumped into each other on the way to Jen's Halloween party, I told Carter that we'd have to get him to a comic shop sometime to see what he, as a lapsed reader, was missing. Today, evidently, was the day he decided to hold me to it.
I haven't been hitting the comic shop that much; I sort of went through the entire "current issues" rack one time, decided what I really missed, and subscribed to those. Every once in a while, I'll pick up a collected edition, too. Still, I'm at least somewhat familiar with what's available and what's going on in most of the major "universes". Carter figured that was good, since he was planning on picking some stuff up for the kids at the youth center where he volunteeers and didn't want to pick something dorky up.
So, anyway, we hopped on the red line and headed out to Harvard Square after work. He was kind of curious about why we were going there instead of someplace closer to where I lived, but I pointed out that I was sort of just across the river, and Harvard Square is decidedly less sketchy than the area around where I live. Which isn't, I hastened to add, as bad as it looks - it's one of those neighborhoods that has lots of cruddy-looking buildings with digital satellite dishes in the windows. Besides, I didn't really enjoy my visit to the closest store that much. "You've got to be careful choosing your comics shop," I told him, "because it's not quite like choosing friends, but it is a place where you'll likely be hanging out once a week, shooting the shit with people. It's gotta be a place you can enjoy hanging out, and it's kind of hard to disentangle yourself."
"Well, you get the best prices if you're pre-ordering, which you do two months in advance, so even if you decide that you don't like a place, you could wind up still going back to get what you've ordered a couple months down the road, even if you're getting your other stuff elsewhere."
"Kind of like seeing a new girl while you're still working with your ex?"
I grinned. "Kind of."
Anyway, The Million Year Picnic was kind of crowded, as Wednesdays are when new releases come out and they've been trying to get people to do their Christmas shopping there - not being a chain like other local shops (New England Comics and Newbury Comics, although the latter is mainly a record store), they're always vulnerable to getting squeezed out; not much way to spread the risk. I like it, though - they've got a fun wall to browse, a good selection of collections, foreign stuff, comic strip collections, a nice system for letting people get at their subscriptions, and a decent-sized but discreet "mature readers" section. The downside is it's very cramped, although it wasn't as bad as it is when there's a signing.
We did some poking around. Since he was looking for stuff for kids, I pointed him towards Oni's stuff by J. Torres. He also grabbed the first "Barry Ween" collection, which I told him to get for himself - it's got a cute, cartoony look, and the main characters are ten-year-olds, but there's swearing. He put it back on the shelf, saying maybe he'd do a run for himself later... Or he could borrow my copy. "Um... I sort of don't have my collection any more. Lost it when I moved here."
So, we got our comics and stopped by a place in The Garage for pizza. Talked about how nerve-wracking the whole Nomar-Manny-A-Rod-Ordonez thing was, and what happens if it falls apart, and how weird will it feel if it does go through. He'd been living in Atlanta for the last few years, so he's not exactly used to the way we live and die with the Red Sox here. One nice thing about being in a woman's body is that you can go on and on about baseball, and it's great, but you also have no obligation to show any interest when someone starts talking about college football. It's like guys are just grateful that you care about any sports at all.
I looked at my watch, mentioned that I'd have to leave right away to make it to the WWAK. He, of course, had never heard of it, but offered to walk me there, which was awfully nice of him. It was starting to get dark, after all, and I still haven't been able to figure out where the bus in that direction goes.
That was the sucky part of the evening. Not Carter's fault, but while we were crossing the Charles, the wind caught my umbrella and deposited it in the river. We had to stop by my apartment so I could get changed, while I grumbled about my dry-cleaning bill. Didn't help that I got splashed good by a couple cars going through puddles, either.
We got there just as the Taoism Drunkard preview was starting; didn't even have time to see if Jen, Carlos, Wei, or anyone else I knew came.
The movie... Well, the movie was Devil Fetus. As horror movies go, it's almost completely incoherent. I went because I figured, hey, this might be the last one ever (because the world really needs a new Staples), and it was the third time it had played Boston this year, though I'd missed the other two. It must be good if people keep having it back, right? Not quite. Some absurd gross-out moments, as well as a hilarious "teenage boy possessed by evil stares at posters of girls, lots of quick cutting between them and his face, then a cut to his brother opening a Coke which fizzes big-time" montage (note: in Hong Kong, kids go straight to topless in their bedrooms, unlike here where I basically maxed out at bikinis - my mom might have walked in!). The main character's love interest was described as "auntie's daughter", which would seem to make them first cousins, but that was evidently no big deal. Most of what went on was totally random, culminating in something like Evil Dead 2.
Carter... Well, he wasn't as dismissive as Kate or Paul. That one wasn't his thing, but he liked the energy. I assured him it was more fun when there was actual punching and kicking going on.
I left him at the T station, then got splashed again on the way home. I'd almost prefer snow to big puddles.
Okay, no I wouldn't.
It was fun to just hang out with a guy, though. Not to say there wasn't anything sexual going through our heads - I've got this body, which is going to attract his attention, and I can't help but noticed how phallic any guy with a shaved head looks (I can't even watch basketball any more) - but we just had a good time.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
It's funny, I hadn't really considered that with my current two best friends being women, and me appearing to be a one as well, Christmas shopping was going to be tricky. It's not like I've never shopped for the fair sex before; it's just that in the past, I've always had some direction. The girl in question was my girlfriend, or a friend of reasonably long standing. Someone I knew well, or probably at least better than I know Kate and Jen. And even if it wasn't, I could count on some helpful retail person coming over to ask what I was looking for when I stood in the middle or a bunch of girly stuff, looking more than a little confused.
Today, though, I stood in the middle of Bath & Body Works, on a vague memory that girls like smelly stuff (whereas a guy was more likely to respond to a B&BW gift basket with "are you saying I've got some kind of nasty BO?"), and, of course, all the salespeople acted like I should know this stuff. Even when someone does try to help, it goes something like this:
"Hello, can I be of some assistance?"
"I hope so. I'm trying to get presents for a couple of friends, and I'm not sure what to go with."
"What type of skin do they have?"
"Uh, they're both white..."
...and it goes downhill from there. Around the third store, I was ready to pitch a fit, decrying it as sexist that just because I was a woman, I was supposed to be some sort of walking encyclopedia of skin and hair care. Come on, that's nothing more than a silly stereotype! It's not like there's some sort of compulsory class on this stuff that women have to take when they first develop secondary sexual characteristics (there isn't, right?); it's just something women may or may not know, and shame on you for assuming I've got nothing better to fill my head with than what kind of unguents and ointments another woman might need.
I found it was kind of healthy to decompress - after dealing with the bath oil store, go into Best Buy and ask whether a given HDTV is capable of displaying a 720-line progressive-scan image, because that's the resolution ABC and most HD-supporting Xbox games use, even though many other sources are 1080-line interlaced. This, of course, leads to its own problems: The easiest is when the guy asks for specifics on my input sources and I have to admit I'm just browsing. More often, it's male floor people not wanting to act like some woman knows more about electronics than they do and feeding me a line of BS, or even worse, "is this something your husband/boyfriend told you was important?" The latter of which, of course, makes me feel like I'm back in the slime store.
So, the upshot is that it's about a week until Christmas and I still haven't gotten my meager shopping done. I did pick up The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen on DVD, though, just because it was the last movie I saw in the theater as a guy; manages to give that goofy movie a little sentimental value.
Amusing link of the day: I knew it!
Sunday, December 14, 2003
I swear, I felt like a junkie today. It's only been two and a half weeks since the last time I got laid, but it seems like longer. And, really, just how absurd is it for me to be craving penetration? That's just sick. That's my entire sexual identity wiped out in just a few months. I've got no idea how reasonable that is; I did some research on-line, but there are very few comparable cases to mine - for most people who do it, changing sex is a voluntary thing, and done over time with hormones and all sorts of pracitce living as a member of the opposite sex before having very physical surgery. It's almost never throwing the person in the water and hoping they know how to swim.
I went out to run some errands earlier, and I swear everyone was trying to hook up with me. The guy giving me change at CVS seemed to be loading his words with "in-nu-EN-do!", and just about every guy on the street seemed to be giving me the eye. And for all I know, they were - I'm shaped like a young woman with big breasts and have a not-unpleasant face. I've been in their position, and while I won't give a cliche'ed "men are pigs" response, they definitely are paying attention to certain parts of their environment at all times. It's a biological imperative, but most of the time it's tempered. And, for what it's worth, women are pigs, too - I feel a whole lot of the same biological imperatives now, if from different stimuli, and from what "girl talk" I've been able to be a party to, I'm pretty sure it's not just my own personality being adjusted to Michelle's brain. It's just how people are.
I think Michelle may have a tendency toward addiction, though. Maybe not in a completely binary way, where you are an addict or you're in total control, but I honestly don't remember being as primarily focused on getting laid back when I was seventeen and had first had sex as a man as I was last month. And, god, I've been drinking and I barely noticed it until I tried to sort the recyclables and found several nickels more in returnable bottles than I have for any other week since the switch.
Plus, I bought a couple double-chocolate with chocolate chip muffins this morning - I don't know why the supermarket doesn't just admit that they're cupcakes - and went through a whole pint of ice cream this afternoon. I felt sick afterward, but it was like I was substituting one physical act for another. And, yeah, I know about the whole thing where chocolate supposedly produces the same reaction in a woman's body as sex.
But, I'll get past it. If it is mainly a physical thing, I know I will, eventually - after all, I didn't feel this craving when I first got stuck in this body, and since Michelle wasn't a virgin then, it must be something that eventually fades. And if it's mostly mental - well, I can handle it. I've handled just about everything else.