Transplanted Life
Friday, August 20, 2004
Got my plane tickets for next weekend in the mail today. Nat's got the whole thing set up - plane, rental car, hotel room. She seems to be good at this sort of thing, or at the very least knows who to pay to be good at it.

There's a very scared part of me that's trying to grab control of enough of my body to pick up the phone and call Nat to tell her to call it off, that Mom is better off not knowing, that she's an old woman who's not equipped to deal with the pure science-fiction on the one hand and might as well keep her illusions about her son on the other. What good will it do her to hear that the son she gave birth to and the one running around today aren't quite one and the same, or that there's this girl out there who thinks of her as her mother, or that her not-really son has got some girl pregnant and skipped out before marrying her? Seriously, what will she gain from hearing all this?

And yet, at the time I can form the words with my lips, I can't dial the phone, and vice versa. There's been enough secrets and lies going on since this all startred, and, besides, I miss her. It's been the better part of a year since I've even heard her voice, and I feel more than a little guilty about that. I've been so wrapped up in my issues, and Alexei probably doesn't care a whit, so she's got to feel abandoned.

But, I'll take that up with her next week. For now, it's all about little details - like, how I don't have anything that could really be considered a suitcase. I suppose a backpack will carry everything I need for a weekend, but it seems strange to fly with just that. And then there's the question of what to put in my hypothetical suitcase. Should I wear a nice dress to meet the woman I still think of as my mother, or go for something more guy-like, or try to be all things to all people somehow? I'm racking my brain trying to figure out what will meet with her approval.

Doing all this, while picking up enough shifts at work to cover what missing an entire weekend will do, is going to leave me with scant time to think about Wei's wedding, too. Nothing in my closet really screams out "wedding" to me, and Maureen concurs. Everything's got too much cleavage or shows too much leg or is black. As much as all the options that go with being a woman are fun, there are times when I miss the certain knowledge that a dark suit and an understated tie will always get the job done. I bet Doug hasn't given two thoughts to what he's going to wear to Wei's wedding, because he doesn't know her or Jim well enough to go the tux route, so, hey, just get something out of the closet.

Anyway, work now.

Thursday, August 19, 2004
I've learned not to trust good feelings after interviews. After all, if any of the last dozen good feelings had really meant anything, I wouldn't be waiting tables today.

Still, I don't want to be one of those fatalist types who say "well, I just make sure I don't expect anything, and then when something good does happen, it's a pleasant surprise." I mean, that's bullshit. That's the sort of attitude that keeps a girl earning minimum wage plus tips when she's got the experience of a professional with a college degree locked up in her brain. It's the attitude of someone who's given up.

It's also lying to yourself. You say you don't expect anything, but why would you make any sort of effort if you don't think it's going to be of benefit? No, you make the effort because, damn it, you know you can make something work. I interviewed at this school today because not only did they need an office assistant, but the ad mentioned Microsoft Access skills being needed. It's not a "real" database, but it's practice.

I think it went well. If they do decide to hire me, salary negotiation could get ugly, especially if what they want is to pay a receptionist's salary for an IT person, but I've got a good feeling.

My first stop after the interview was the FBI, since it seemed like a shame to waste my good interviewing clothes on just one stop. I've found that dressing nice at least gets me in to see people quickly, even if they don't wind up giving me much useful information.

Me and Agent Jones have been sort of cool to each other since my big coming-out party, and it's not because his invitation got lost. He won't say that it's because I didn't ask permission, because I got all twitchy about how American citizens shouldn't have to ask a government representative's permission to talk with our friends. Yeah, a process that can put the contents of one person's brain into another's is potentially a huge terrorist weapon, but until they get intel that some specific terrorist is looking to infiltrate the country this way, I can't see the value of me shutting up. And even then, it's not like we should be banned from talking about the possibility of sarin gas existing.

Anyway, the Feds haven't found out anything new, or at least anything they're willing to tell a civilian. I suppose if I played the victim card, I might be able to wheedle a little more information out, but I hate the very idea. What Dmitri did was a crime, but I'm a by-product of it, not a victim. The original Martin Hartle and Michelle Garber were the real victims (and, for that matter, so is the original Alexei, but there seems to be little regret there).

One thing he did mention was that Dmitri wasn't talking apparently out of concern that finding his accomplice would lead the police to his "father". Not really new news, which was disappointing.

I also expect the Red Sox to win every spring. But what kind of loser has no ambitions beyond second place?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Orson Welles x2, take two
So, exactly how inappropriate is it to say that getting ready to go to the movies with Kate last night was as nerve-wracking as any date with a member of the opposite sex (whatever that happened to be at the time)? It's comical, because the whole point was that there shouldn't be so much tension. I wished Maureen had been home to help me choose my outfit instead of Carter; as clumsy as I am trying to judge whether or not I looked feminine in a non-sexually-threatening way, Carter is just inept.

Although, at least she's trying. I think having Maureen to hang around with instead of just me has made a difference. Carter's not as aware of Maureen as an example, or a specific way to behave. If Maureen says something would look good on Carter, there's less intent than if I say it. Maureen was even able to get Carter to wear nail polish for a day last week, which is something I don't do very often myself; it's just too time consuming and looks silly (especially on the toes).

It was nice to hang out with Kate again. She has caught the anti-Bush bug, although she is a bit confused about my intention to vote Libertarian in the election. I pointed out that the Libertarian candidate will likely have the same primary qualification as John Kerry - that is, he will not be George W. Bush - and he will also have an articulated set of beliefs which won't be full of weasel words to try to please everybody. Sure, voting for a Libertarian or Green party candidate is hopeless in the short term, but enough people do it and folks pay attention to the third party guys in the next election.

I did get her flustered when I asked just what was wrong with Doug in bed, since she's said that's why they broke up. She said there was nothing really wrong, just that she could tell he was something of a breast man (and that's not just her being insecure; the guy does good work there) and she felt like he was trying to do sweeping or something with the silly beard he was wearing at the time. I briefly pondered the idea of Doug growing a beard and said it might not be so bad, but she said to trust her, that it was a very silly thing.

The movies were good, as is to be expected from an Orson Welles double feature. The Third Man is sort of perfect, while Lady From Shanghai isn't bad. We had a good time, especially since we knew that Dennis and Doug would both act interested, and genuinely enjoy the movies, but quietly wonder if there were something else more interesting they could be doing. Especially Sundays and Monday nights, once the NFL gets going. "You're not...?"

"Nope. Violence punctuated by committe meetings."

"Oh thank God. I thought maybe, because of the guy thing... Huh. First time I've brought that up tonight."

"It really shouldn't be a big deal for you; you never met the original Martin unless I'm deliberately repressing a memory of not falling for you immediately. Maggie's the one with the really big issue."

She said she knew, and understood, but it still felt like something should be different now that she knew my wacky history. I said, nope, you've just got to be super-aware of the double entendres, any "if I were in his shoes" sort of statements. Because I can, sometimes, know how a man thinks.

She said that may come in handy; I said it doesn't nearly as often as you'd think. She's not too sure of that, but that's okay. We're at least semi-cool again.

Sunday, August 15, 2004
Easy wasn't an option
Doug stopped by to pick me up last night. This is, in my opinion, pretty silly if we're going to see a movie in Harvard Square, since it is well below a mile to get there, and when we do, we always seem to spend more time finding a place to park his car than it would have taken to walk. Besides, I tell him, I'm not going to keep my figure sitting in a car, and you do like my figure, right? He always says the walk would seem even longer on nights when I wore heels, and I ask him how he would know this? Besides, we're hitting the Brattle, which even on Saturday night with an unquestioned classic being shown, isn't exactly a dressing-up kind of place: He wasn't wearing a tie, and I was wearing a pretty casual-but-not-tarty skirt and blouse.

I could tell Doug was keeping something to himself during dinner. I had a few "god, did I suck this badly at it?" moments but decided to keep them to myself. If I brought it up, it would have been framed as a girl-boy thing, and me noticing something about how he acts as a guy would probably result in not getting back to his apartment after the double feature, or it being awkward and no fun, and our schedules don't align often enough for me to put up with awkward and no fun. I figured if it wasn't something he was planning for tonight, I'd confront him about it tomorrow morning.

Didn't have to wait. Once we got to the theater, he and Dennis gave each other the biggest, fakest "wow, I didn't expect to see you here!"s I've ever seen. I chuckled, knowing exactly how clever these guys thought they were being, but Kate turned to stomp off until Dennis clasped her wrist. Which probably didn't score him any points; I know I hate being reminded that a guy can stop me without using all his strength. Fortunately for me, Kate being Kate didn't bother to whisper or avoid making a scene; she honestly didn't give a damn if I heard what her problem with me was.

Kate: "I told you I didn't want any part of him."

Dennis: "Well, you've been cranky and miserable for the past month. You avoid going to things because you're afraid she'll be there. I talked to Carlos a week ago and he was begging me to do something because she's all you and Jen ever talk about when you're together, and when either of us ask about it all we get is 'you wouldn't understand.' Well, this foolishness ends now."

Geez, don't call Kate foolish.

Kate: "Foolishness? He lied to me. He acted like we were just girlfriends, and all the time, he was keeping that secret, thinking who knows what? God, one time he even got me into his bed!"

I muttered something about just who had mistaken whose breast for a teddy bear, which was a mistake. Kate wears glasses but has excellent hearing.

"Oh, is that what you think, that you're more of a woman than I am because of that overdeveloped chest of yours? You probably have a good laugh about that every time I leave the room."

"What? No! Kate, that's just, like, random; Michelle's mother fed her more chicken when she was eleven or something. All these mean is that I was never going to get very far pretending to be a guy. Once I knew that, god, you were a big part of why being a woman wasn't so bad, both having you for a friend and just knowing that women could be as cool as you are. You get that, right?"

"No, I don't get it! You told us you were a man in a woman's body and that you were a woman without realizing what a contradiction that is! How am I supposed to 'get' that?"

"If I ever figure it out, I'll let you know! But I do know it. Look, remember the last time you got drunk? You acted differently than you did when you were sober, right?"

"Well, duh."

"It's like that. All this stuff--" I pounded my temples "--does different shit in a woman's body than in a man's. There's just different chemicals sloshing around in there, and it took me a while to realize that."

"And you expect it to be immediately obvious to me?"

"No! I hoped it would, because you are one of the best friends I ever had and I hate, hate, hate the idea of losing that, but I didn't expect it. I just kind of hoped you'd think along those lines instead of just dwelling on how I had inadvertantly hurt you because I didn't want you thinking I was a complete lunatic."

"You think I don't want that? I just... You know me, Michelle--Martina. You know I'm no good with secrets, and the idea that someone could keep such a big one from me for so long... Call me eogtistical, but it makes me think there's something wrong with you."

And, well, it went on. We missed The Third Man entirely, hashing shit out. The good news is that we're going to meet up tomorrow to catch it and Gilda. I don't think she's quite sure what to make of me yet, but it's a start.


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