Transplanted Life
Friday, July 16, 2004
What not to write
The funny thing about writing a journal that other people read, and that contains enough fantastical elements that most people reading it consider it a story, is that you start to treat it as such.  Like, right now, I'm planning something.  I just called Maggie for one part of it, and I'm going to talk to Doug about another part tonight.  But, revealing what I'm planning now, or even back a couple weeks ago when Maureen suggested a housewarming party and it started kicking around the back of my head, feels like it would take away from the big reveal, which is just bad storytelling.

Of course, that's not the only reason I shy away from writing this down.  I want to leave myself room to change my mind, so that if I decide in the next couple of days that this is a really bad idea, I can just back off.  I mean, sure, I can always go back and edit posts if I later decide to do a scorched-earth and leave no trace of what I was thinking, or even delete the whole damn blog if the mood strikes me, but that seems dishonest.  Revisionist.

I mean, I'm tempted to go back and edit previous entries - replace any references to "Michelle in my body" with "Alexei", or "Carter" with "Mikail", or add little notes saying that something I said was obviously the result of Mikail using his sick little love potion on me.  Make the entries around Carter's escape less confusing.  But I don't; for better or worse, those entries capture what I thought and felt at the time.  Maybe later, when I collect them into a book, I'll add stuff like that, make it a more conventional narrative.

There was, at least, some good news on the "love potion" front; Mags tells me that she and one of her co-workers have been studying it (along with one of her old professors), and have a good chunk of how it works sussed out.  Given a year, she thinks she could even develop a sort of antigen for it.  Of course, the side effects would probably include some form of depression if it got overzealous and went after natural happy brain chemicals.

Ah, well.  Always a trade-off, eh?


Thursday, July 15, 2004
Nice not to have to be in to work until late
I know I should be more anxious to get a real job with a non-sucky salary, but I must admit that it can be very nice to never have to be in to work until 10:30 at the earliest.  I get the bathroom to myself the mornings when Carter has the morning shift, and I can dress how I want without either of my roommates giving me a hard time about wanting to expose skin on an eighty-degree day.  Or Carter getting all freaky about me undressing in front of him or not scampering away when he dresses within my vision.  And when the Sox play on the west coast, I can stay up to see the whole thing without worrying about torpedoing the next day.
Got a call from Doug tonight; he wanted to know if things were weird between us after last weekend.  I suppose if you're asking the question at all, then, yes, things are weird.  Not what I said to him, though - I just said that we're not teenagers who have to be on the phone to each other all the time.  He works long hours, I work different hours, we don't have that much time together.  It's not that big a deal.  I told him I had tomorrow night off if he wants to see a movie and not bring me back to my apartment.  Sounds good to him, so I guess we'll be doing that.
There are some definite downsides to a relationship with a guy who knows my history, though - like when he asks "what would you have done differently Saturday night?"  I mean, geez, how do you avoid bruising his ego there?  You say "nothing" and, well, get ready for all sex to be awkward.  I doubt he's going to buy that "sex as man" and "sex as woman" are sequestered in my mind, even if it is true to a certain extent.  I mean, even if the organs involved are sort of the same thing exposed to different hormones in the womb, they don't feel the same.  So I wind up telling him that I was, in fact, a rather selfish lover and thus wouldn't want to give him any ideas.
I don't think this really satisfies him, or looks like anything but the evasion that it is, but we mutually agree that we don't particularly want to talk about it on the phone.  Too bad, I was kind of hoping we could get it out of our systems before going out tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
More things Marti likes
1. Seeing Roger Clemens get his ass kicked. Ask anyone who knows me, and I'd tell them I was rooting for Roger Clemens to do well with the Astros. I grew up watching him pitch, I remember both 20-strikeout games, and I figured that, with him off the Yankees, I could simply enjoy that one of the all-time greats was still playing and playing well. I don't buy the "it's better to go out on top" thing people say; I admire the guy who keeps playing the game he loves even though he doesn't have the physical reserves he used to. And as long as he was in Houston, he'd be doing it out of my sight. I could just hear that Roger had another win, another few Ks, but not actually be reading game stories and be exposed to Roger Clemens the man.

And then he started the All-Star game. After forty-five minutes of Fox Hell, it starts, and I'm hoping for him to get crushed, even though I've tried so hard to train myself to root for people and not against them. Clemens seems to be an exception to the rule, though, and it did feel extra-special good to see Manny take him yard.

2. Women can wear sandals at any time. Well, not necessarily at, say, a job interview or a funeral, but even then, you can often get away with something that is just sort of strapped onto your foot so long as it has an inch of superfluous material under your heel. And the dress code at work says no open-toed shoes.

I know what some people reading this are thinking right now - just another example of how Marty's gone completely girly and forgotten that he was ever a man in any way. But it's not like that; I'm not thinking "shoes are fun! I need one of ever color and shape and with heels and maybe some sandals which have a little flower desgin next to my big toe!" Even though I, admittedly, own more shoes now than I can ever remember owning at any given time in my old life, it's not as many as a basketball-nut male friend of mine from high school did at his peak. And, besides, I was an IT guy; I could wear the same pair of sneakers every day until they started falling apart because being presentable was never a part of my job description, which it was at BioSoft (and is, to a lesser extent, now).

And it's not so much about how, despite this body apparently needing its legs shaved about twice as often as Maureen's does, that doesn't extend to the feet. It's kind of weird, since the Martin body has sort of hairy toes. Suffice it to say, I was not a big sandal-wearer then.

No, what I'm getting at is that the last couple days here in Boston/Cambridge have been pretty wet, and even if the puddles aren't quite the large, sink-up-to-your-knees things you get when the snow starts melting in March, there are a few that are worth dancing around, or would be if I were a guy. But if your footwear is just a piece of rubber, an insole, and a strap around the wide part of your foot, they're really no big deal; you won't be spending the whole day with soggy socks feeling uncomfortable inside canvas shoes that are starting to smell from something worse than just foot-smell. And, come to think of it, my feet don't seem to get terribly smelly in the girly shoes; must be something about having more air circulation or something.

3. Swordfish. One of the nice things about Carter working at the supermarket (for now) is that rather than doing the shopping for a whole week on Sunday, he can just bring home what we need for the next day or two after work. And he's aware of the really good sales, like swordfish tenders for $3/pound. Doing one's grocery shopping daily also means having seafood more often, since you don't have to worry about it getting nasty quickly or having to defrost it. And...

4. Roommates who can cook. Just because neither Carter nor I has any desire whatsoever to be Suzy Homemaker doesn't mean we can't appreciate that Maureen has the proper training. I took Home Ec in junior high (everyone had to take both that and Industrial Arts, boys and girls), but I basically learned how to not burn myself. This isn't a gender thing, either - Wei displayed about the same level of competence in the kitchen, and I cooked for Mags when we stayed in. Maureen, though, was just brought up in a household where women were expected to learn to cook, and she took to it (and doesn't quite understand why her little sister hasn't).

This is probably the first time since I moved out of my parents' place that I've lived in a place where the kitchen has spices in it for "in case they're needed" as opposed to being left over from a special occasion. Maureen took the fish tenders and made kabobs last night, and they were really, really good.

Indeed, I kind of had to hide a grin when Maureen talked about how she kind of has to hide who she is - she goes to work in the office of a high-tech company, at least for the next week, and almost feels like she has to hide that she likes to cook or that she goes to church every Sunday. Well, not really hide it, but not advertise it. Sometimes she feels out of place, like the one time a guy actually got offended at her offer to cook dinner, saying that the fifties are over. Carter called this guy an idiot, Maureen thanked him, and said that dating was hard for a girl like her, that there didn't seem to be much happy medium between the guys who scoffed at her more old-fashioned habits and the ones who didn't respect her. Said it must be easier for girls like me and "Sam", who have more in common with guys in terms of interests.

I told her that wasn't the case, that a lot of guys actually find women like us threatening, and want someone girlier. She just sort of blinked twice and said she had a hard time imagining anyone thinking of "Sam" as threatening. "No offense, of course." Carter didn't seem to take any, although it must have hurt.

Of course, Maureen can't exactly know why it must have hurt. I must say, she's starting to grow on me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Morning Email
Nat and I have been emailing each other off and on for the last month. It's kind of strange, because we really don't have much to talk about. She's nice, and it's really cool that she wants anything to do with me even though she really could simplify her life by just putting this whole bizarre situation in the rear-view mirror. It's possible that she just wants to be in the loop on the whole who-and-where-is-Martin/Andrei thing, although plain curiosity is a good enough reason if you ask me.

This morning, though, her email had scans of her last ultrasound attached. It's astounding to look at; she's in the middle of the second trimester, so the pictures show something that is more than just vaguely baby-shaped, but it's hard to get a sense of scale, of just how tiny this little guy is. Especially since Nat really wasn't showing at all when she visited, although she says she feels like a whale now. Of course, she's never been anything but thin.

I'm kind of fascinated by this baby from an evolutionary standpoint. I remember reading about the "selfish gene" theory in high school, that all life on Earth is a means for DNA to propogate itself and spread. Oftentimes what is good for a gene and what is good for a species is at odds - DNA wants to preserve itself as-is, so we're attracted to people with whom we share similar characteristics, but hybrid vigor is good for the species as a whole, so we evolve taboos on knocking up one's sister. Putting the Alexei mind in the Martin body, though, sort of skewed the natural selection process, creating a genetic mixture that would otherwise be unlikely.

Mags is probably reading this and seething over how I've screwed up basic biology and genetics, but that's the thing - I'm finding that after the initial shock, my interest in Nat's pregnancy is kind of theoretical. As I am now, I've got no biological stake in it; my current selfish genes have nothing to do with that child. Even in the moments when I think of myself as more Marty than Marti, there's this weird sort of alternate reality thing about Nat having "my" child, like you've traveled to a parallel universe or backward and forward in time and find the world familiar but different in a few key aspects.

Sunday, July 11, 2004
Sharing beds
Okay, I'll admit it. Sleeping with Doug wasn't all I had hoped it would be. I mean, he's good, don't get me wrong, but he overthought everything. It's understandable, of course. Heck, in most cases it would be laudable for one's bed partner to think "if I were the girl, would I enjoy this?" But let's also not forget that this is sex we're talking about; you've got to act on instinct a little. If you want to squeeze my breast, just do it; if it hurts or I don't like it, I will let you know, and we can go (or stop) from there.

Granted, this may not just be me; Kate had mentioned that she and he stopped dating because they just weren't compatible in bed. Still, you'd have to think a good-looking, successful thirty-two year-old man like Doug would have learned that a little consideration goes a long way, and women like it to just happen at its own pace the same way that men do (or at least, that's what I've found). Okay, I'm a weird case, and maybe next time he'll be more comfortable, now that he's confirmed the presence and normal response of my vagina.

Still - awkward. I use that word a lot when talking about Doug. It's just a weird relationship - he was pretty clearly the one who was first attracted to me, and I've grown to like him, but in that time it's like the full implications of who I am has hit him, and his left brain is trying to outshout his biological urges. Maybe it'd be better if we went the "just friends" route, except that now we've had sex, and I've got no idea whether me having the memories and most of the personality of a man would make it easier or harder for him to put it behind us. If we even want to; maybe he just needs to relax.

So, anyway, quiet drive home this morning/early afternoon. Not just me and Doug, but Carter and Maureen. I kind of knew Carter had something he wanted to talk about, but I had a shift at four and we didn't have any time without Maureen around until I got back.

First, he apologized for all the times I'd used the sleeping bag in the old apartment. He and Maureen had been sharing a room, and he'd taken the floor, even though Maureen looked at him funny. I pointed out that Maureen was a girl, not much older than he appeared to be, and that the whole latent homophobia thing wasn't as big a deal with 20-year-old girls as it was for us 30-year-old men. Girls dance with each other in clubs, have slumber parties all through high school, and give each other hello and goodbye kisses on the cheek without looking suspicious. Carter acting like a guy and being all weird about sharing her bed probably struck her as odd.

That made Carter even more uncomfortable, because he really doesn't want to stand out and have people ask questions that he has to answer. He just mentioned that even after living with her for a couple weeks, he hadn't quite realized how cute she was - did I know Maureen had freckles on her back - and figured he might not trust his unconscious mind. Fair enough, I said, but if you want to blend, you're going to have to get past some of those hang-ups.

And, yes, I did notice that Maureen had freckles. And, now that I think of it, so do you. He said it wasn't true, but I told him a day in the sun must have brought them out. He was aghast when he checked in the bathroom mirror, since he's just not cut out for the whole "cute" thing, but I guess one doesn't really have much choice in the matter. I told him it was possible to cover it up and he glared at me before I could even say the word "make-up".

So he just headed to bed, wondering when the girlish indignities would end. So frustrated and he hasn't even had sex yet.


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