Transplanted Life
Saturday, January 31, 2004
No Carter at the midnight movie last night; after we caught Kill Bill at the Brattle (the list of recent movies he hasn't seen is appalling) and went back to my place with a pizza, he just wanted to head to bed. "I mean, it's fun once in a while, but there are better things to do with a Friday or Saturday night. Are we going to use up every weekend on these?" Well, yeah, I'd like to, if it's something I haven't seen. A lot of them aren't available on video, you know. He counters with how a lot of them aren't worth my time (by which he means, his time), I disagree, and, besides, I told Jen we'd meet her there, since Carlos has to work tonight and these aren't a whole lot of fun by yourself. He mumbles something about not knowing we were at the point where we can commit each other's time, I say I won't do it again, and it's off to the Coolidge.

Jen must have had a similar evening - hers involving her policeman boyfriend not being thrilled with her being out so late - so we spend some time grumbling over men trying to tell us how to live our lives. I remember doing it a few times, and that's what makes it all the more galling; I know, for a fact, that men aren't trying to be jerks and usually it doesn't have anything to do with what a man's place versus a woman's is in a relationship. So I know Carter hasn't really done anything wrong, which makes me feel guilty about being mad at him. Which means the whole thing - being in a foul mood for the movie, being glad not to find him at my apartment when he gts back, and heading out to go shopping so I won't be around when the phone rings - is all me being petulant and stupid. And to think, back when I had hopes of my memory and personality being transfered back into my original body, that I'd figured this might be a good learning experience, being able to understand both a male and female perspective. The lesson apparently being that no matter what the problem is, I'm the idiot.

Anyway, I went shopping today because I was too lazy to do laundry. Makes no sense - instead of hauling a basket of clothes down to the basement and depositing my quarters, I take the T all the way to the other end of the green line (which involves changing trains) to buy some clothes. I do this because my underwear drawer is uneven.

As much as I'm comfortable with ladies' attire now (more or less), I miss the simplicity of my old underwear drawer. You have shorts, you have socks, and you have a few plain white undershirts. Through an attrition process, men (or those I've known) generally wind up with about the same quantity of underpants as they do pairs of socks, and slightly fewer undeshirts (if you don't count printed t-shirts). Thus, you generally hit the bottom of both the sock and underwear pile at the same time, and it's time to do laundry.

My current underwear drawer has panties, bras, socks, stockings, and pantyhose, and even a garter belt (which I see no need to use ever). These items each have different cuts, colors, and functions, which on the weekend just seems needlessly complicated. Nobody's ever asked a man "boxers or briefs?" and gotten "well, you need both - boxers for blah blah blah, briefs for..." as an answer, yet my underwear drawer has a startling lack of uniformity, and that's considering my own personal tendency just to buy white cotton undies as opposed to the original Michelle's more girly tastes. Until this morning, when there were no panties left but bunches of brassieres.

So I went out, bought some more panties and plain white socks, and then noticed jeans were on sale at Sears. I'll shop in the higher-brow places on the company's dime; for basics, I just need to be a step above Wal-Mart. Kate would be appalled by that attitude, but it's mine and I'm keeping it. Anyway, the labeling was awful; I actually might have bought a second pair of jeans if I'd understood it properly. It said "50% off pink-ticketed items"; the jeans I bought had a pink sticker with a price on it on the tag, so I figured that was the discounted price. But, it was evidently the price before discount, and I didn't feel like either saying "oh, in that case, don't ring it up" or going back and bringing something else to the register for a second time through the line.

I window-shopped some after that, amazed at how little willpower it took to not buy a bunch of new releases at Best Buy (Paramount's abject refusal to put the original theatrical cut of Star Trek VI out on video didn't hurt, either). This brain really must be wired different than the one I used to have.

The thing that bugged me, though, was at the grocery store. A few months ago, Shaws put in self-checkout aisles, which are pretty cool most of the time, primarily because I don't have to explain to the person at the end that I'm walking home and his tendency to use 10 bags for 15 items really isn't convenient for me. Getting through the line was quick, too, but the reason for that was that most of the technophobic people were still sort of wary of them, figuring that the minimum-wage teenager was able to do a job which requires no special training better than them. As soon as more of these people figured out that this wasn't the case, the efficiency benefit would evaporate. This apparently happened today.

Also, the machines' software had been upgraded to make them more user-friendly, with more voice messages walking them through a simple process step-by-step ("Please locate UPC code and scan your your item in the bagging area...scan next item..."), with messages repeated every five seconds if something hasn't been done (I avoided shouting "the code is on the bottom of the package! You've stared right at it a dozen times! Move it, my ice cream is f*@#ing melting!" somehow). And, with greater complexity comes more likelyhood that it will just freeze up and require a manager to override it for no particular reason. Just taking a simple process and making it aggravating.

Thursday, January 29, 2004
So, I sent an email to "Martin Hartle" asking for my stuff back.

I don't know if he'll even read it - I did the whole "request receipt" thing and haven't seen one come back yet - but if I'm going to settle in here and be Michelle Garber for the rest of my life, then I might as well get comfortable.

I know, I've got no legal right to it, and it might be healthier just to make a clean break, but darn it, I want my toys and comics and books and movies. Sure, not having the first two Lord Of The Rings movies on my shelf (and they're arguably there in part because my old brain had poor impulse control) reduces the temptation to buy the third next summer. But, man, I wanted to play Tempest 2000 last night, which would mean going through the effort of finding an Atari Jaguar on ebay, paying for it, hoping it's not defective, getting the game in what would probably be a second auction, and spending money on the same thing for a second time. I know that, technically, if you think of me as a different person than either the original Martin or Michelle, as is probably the case, I wouldn't, but with the memory there, it will still feel like it. And the Muppet figures are killing me. I want the complete set, which I had.

Now, I don't expect the guy in my old body to just ship a metric shitload of stuff cross-country for free, but I did offer to send him anything from his old life that he might miss. Sure, he'd have to tell me who he was or just give me a hint via what he wants, but maybe he won't think of that.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
I've got boobs. Deal with it.
Gads, I thought we were past that thing with giving the guy at the video store a peek down my shirt. Okay, I admit, it was kind of immature and less-than-sophisticated, but, geez, it's not like it was any big deal. So I gave a sixteen-year-old kid a cheap thrill; it's not like that kid got to see (or run his tongue all over) nipples like Carter did that night, among other things. You'd think that would give a man some understanding of where he stands relative to the rest of the world. And he didn't make any comments about it yesterday.

But today, he gets in, and sees that I'm wearing a tight black sweater, and as soon as Maureen's out of the lobby area, he's sidling up to me hissing about whether that's what I'm wearing on our date tonight. Well, yeah, it is. I knew I was going out after work so I chose something that wouldn't make me look like I was overdressed for dinner and a movie on a Wednesday night. Especially, I said, since I figured there was a good chance he would be wearing jeans and sneakers (half-right; khakis). He says someting about worrying about how we'd look, and I tell him that nobody's going to look down on him for landing a decent-looking girl with big tits. I almost say a decent-looking white girl, but I am able to exert some self-control.

And I'm not dressed trashy at all; after six months of practice and checking out what Kate wears, I'm beginning to get the hang of this whole dressing myself thing. Yes, the sweater is snug and no, it doesn't leave a whole lot of doubt as to the size of my breasts (especially with those vertical ridges that run from top to bottom, whatever they're called), but it's also wool and warm. The black slacks and shoes go with it, offset by a white belt, and I've got my hair clipped back in a barrette. I look quite professional, thank you very much.

He stomps away, but apologizes later. I think that's the end until we actually get into the theater and take my coat off, but I evidently arched my back too much doing so or something, because he shakes his head again. Okay, a couple guys are looking, and maybe it says something that I don't really notice that unless it's something I'm going for or someone else comments on it, but, really, I don't like that condescending look much. I just shoot a "what?" in his direction.

"How can you stand men looking at you like that?" He looked around to see if anyone was seated near us; AMC plays 20 minutes of ads even before coming attractions, so you have to speak up a little bit.

I try to defuse it a little. "If I couldn't, then you'd be in big trouble."

"I suppose. I just can't see how you, of all people, can not only stand the idea of guys thinking of you as a sex object, but even kind of encourage it."

"What do you mean, 'me of all people'? Is there some reason you think it should bug me more?"

He smiled, the opposite of how tense the question made me. "No, just... You've got so much going for you, I'd think you'd want people to think of you as more than just a hot body." He finished up by kissing me on the forehead.

"That's awful sweet. Look, trust me, I know how these measurements affect guys." Lord, do I know. "And, believe it or not, it's not what I wanted when I was little. But you play the hand you're dealt, and, darn it, I liked how I looked in the mirror this morning. And let's not be hypocritical, here. If you didn't want to be looked at as a handsome stud, you'd let the afro grow out a bit or something. Besides, people underestimate a girl with an ample bosom who doesn't bother to conceal it."

He was kind of running his hand over his head. "Do they now?"

"Yeah. Even the ones who should know better."

He nodded, suitably chastised, and we sat back to watch the movie. Not bad, though nothing in Return Of The King excited me as much as the Sky Captain or Hellboy previews before it. Just not a sword-and-sorcery kind of person, like I said yesterday, I guess.

He walked me to the BU Central station, trying to convince me to come back to his place but, honestly, I was beat. I was going to go straight to bed, but once I was down to my cami and panties I decided that I wanted to get this down; I think it means something that we were able to survive our first fight - well, spat, really - while dating. That I'm not looking for an escape hatch in my relationships with men or something.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Getting through it
I suppose I was asking for it; still, this is an awful lot of one week to spend on one thing.

Monday afternoon, Carter asks if I'd like to see a movie that night. I guess we haven't been dating long enough for him to realize that the question is superfluous - I would always like to see a movie - so I explained that to him and asked him what he wanted to see. He hemmed and hawed and then said to just pick one I hadn't seen. Well, I figured Return Of The King must be sinking toward the less-premium screens fairly quickly, so I suggested that. What surprised me was when he mentioned that he hadn't seen the first two.

I mean, okay, that's a perfectly defensible position. Truth be told, I'm not into the whole sword-and-sorcery scene much myself - not into the whole romanticizing of a lawless time when superstition ruled, disease ran rampant, women were treated as chattel, etc. But I'm a fan of Peter Jackson - Heavenly Creatures is brilliant, The Frighteners is fun, and Forgotten Silver is something every moviegoer MUST see - and cool special effects can get me into a theater pretty easily. It's just, as I told him, not the sort of thing you expect to hear from a computer programmer in a technology company.

He's like, hey, I'm kind of surprised you haven't seen it yet yourself, all the movies you go to. I tell him that I know he said my nerdy tendencies were part of my charm, but I'm also got hot chick stuff to do, too. That leads to compliments which I soak up. Anyway, we agree to hit Blockbuster after work so we can get him up to speed, so he'll be ready on Wednesday.

He kind of chuckles when I give the teenager in the video store a hard time... Well, not a hard time, but I checked to make sure we'd gotten the widescreen DVDs as opposed to the crop-o-vision ones. He started in with the "what's the big deal", even though there were people in line behind me. I considered giving him the lecture, but didn't want to hold up the line, so I kind of pulled my top tight and leaned over the counter, giving him a pretty good cleavage look, and said I knew what I liked. Got the version I wanted.

Heh, maybe you could say I gave him a hard time. Carter looked a bit tetchy afterwards, asking what that was all about. I told him the same thing a girlfriend told me one time when I got similarly grumpy after she did something like that: When you've got more breast than is strictly necessary, you might as well get some use out of them; otherwise, you're doing more work hauling them around and not getting any benefits from it. At the time I thought it crass and hypocritical, since she had a killer look that could make a person feel deeply ashamed to have allowed their eyes to linger, and you know what - it is. But that's how people are, and I'm no different.

The really cool part last night was that Carter cooked for me, and he was good at it. Said he'd worked in a restaurant to make ends meet in college, which combined with ROTC must have meant a killer schedule, and picked some stuff up. It's apparently great to finally have a kitchen that lets him really do good work.

Anyway, by the time dinner was finshed, it was almost eight, so I stayed over there. We stopped for takeout tonight, and started The Two Towers pretty soon after. Carter asked me to spend the night again, but, well, I really needed to change my underwear. I've heard women sometimes keep an extra pair in their purse, but not actually seen it done, so I'm a little wary of starting; I see my purse spilling and having to explain them.

I'll kind of be glad when we get back from the movie tomorrow. It's taking those short people an awful long time to dispose of one unwanted piece of jewelry.

Sunday, January 25, 2004
A Kate Weekend
I was kind of surprised when Kate showed up for the Eye-Opener at the Brattle this morning; after last night, I kind of wouldn't have been surprised if she'd been nursing a hangover, or just didn't want to talk to anybody. But, I guess that's not really Kate. She just lets the ol' anger out, and gets on with it.

Like, last night - I met up with Carter, Kate and George in Somerville; the plan was to see The General with a new score performed live by the Alloy Orchestra. I was a little worried about running late, since I didn't get out of the apartment until six, but I got there in time - just in time to see George come away from the ticket booth saying they were sold out. At which point Kate's mouth dropped open and stayed that way for a bit, before she was able to get what was on all our minds out.

"You didn't get them in advance?"

"Of course not. It's just a movie."

"But it's also a concert! One of, like, five times this will be performed, and the only time around here! Didn't it register when I told you there was only one show, so we'd have to get tickets early? You work just down the street from here, and you said you'd handle it!"

"Come on, it's a movie, and we're here an hour before the show. Who could expect--"

Kate screamed, causing some folks to turn and look at us. "I warned you about this. I said it sold out last year. But, no, you couldn't be bothered! Now I'm not going to see it, ever, and I've let down my friends!"

This put an end to Carter and I trying to slowly back away. I bit my lip and tried my best to defuse the situation. "Look, Kate, it's okay, we'll just do something else."

This, of course, made it worse. "Oh! Right! Something else! Like the concert with all the original Motown musicians that's going on down at the Berklee Center, that I hated to pass up on but I've been to the Alloy Orchestra show the past three years! The one we probably could have gotten tickets to if you'd just admitted you didn't want to go instead of sabotaging it!"

Sometime, I'm going to have to tell Kate that guys like to think of themselves as straightforward and really hate being accused of doing some sort of passive-aggressive or convoluted scheme when they just screw up, because that was just the sort of thing to get George ticked off. "Look, I'm sorry, but it's just a movie. I don't see what the big deal is!"

"The big deal is that it's a big deal to me! It's something I love! I didn't see what the big deal about hauling our asses out to fucking Foxboro four hours before the start of your fucking football game so we could hang out with a bunch of idiots getting fucking drunk even before we actually sat down in the fucking cold for three fucking hours watching THE most boring sport in the world, but I did it because it was important to you! Hell, I even enjoyed that stupid game because you were having a good time and, damn it, when you love someone, that rubs off on you! But, apparently, things that make me happy are just not important to you!"

"That's not true--"

"Well, you won't have to worry about making me happy again! God, Michelle was right about you!" And then she stormed off, leaving us with George.

"'Michelle was right about you?'" George started moving toward me, but Carter crossed his arms and George sort of decided against coming any farther.

"It was just a joke; that anyone who would prefer the Ford/Ormand Sabrina to the Bogart/Hepburn one just isn't going to be compatible with her."

Carter chuckled at that. "She's right, you know - anyone who has a problem with Katherine Hepburn is going to have a problem with Katherine Jensen."

I managed a feeble grin. At least Carter was trying.

Kate was real apolagetic when we went out for lunch after the movie, saying she hoped Carter and I had a good time. I told her that we did - we found a nice restaurant, ordered some seafood, and I spent the next couple hours finding creative ways to avoid his questions about my childhood. Not quite how I put it to Kate, but he just seemed extra-curious last night.

"And then..."

"And then we went back to his place and had some of the most intense sex I've had in my life."

Kate perked right up. "Remember, I'm going to going without for a while. Spill."

"I keep telling you, there's millions of guys--"

"Yeah, right, whatever. Spill."

"It was... I don't know. I can't remember ever getting it on with someone who was more excited to be doing it. Sometimes guys are like that, they see someone else's relationship fall apart and realize how easy they can screw it up, so they work extra-hard at pleasing their girl. But it was more than that, it was like this was something he needed, too.

"And he spent the whole night sort of cataloguing what I liked and what I didn't like so much. It was fun to be catered to like that. Though he was disappointed when he found out he wasn't ever getting oral from me."

"You don't... Um, sorry. I just sort of assumed, what with you being kind of, uh--"


"I didn't say it."

"I can be, though, under the right circumstances." I changed some pronouns around in my explanation of how, in my life, I've washed my hands many a time after taking a leak, but never washed, well, down there. "It's just revolting to think about."

Fortunately, the topic got off sex, and boyfriends, and back to movies. The documentary we'd seen in the morning was pretty good, and Kate had gotten into the discussion of other political docus afterward. It's not a genre I'm much interested in. We took out a copy of the Sunday paper and a Brattle schedule and tried to map our Oscar-party preparation strategy. It's going to be tough, since the Brattle has a LOT of good stuff through February and the awards are being handed out early this year.

But, I get the impression that this breakup is hurting Kate more than she wants to admit, so we'll probably wind up fitting a bunch in. There's worse ways to cheer up a friend.


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