Transplanted Life
Friday, September 10, 2004
My mom sent me a letter today. Well, it's actually postmarked from earlier in the week, having just arrived today. I'd been a little worried, as some of the phone calls I'd made last weekend got a "number out of service" and even after phone service had been restored, I got her answering machine. She apologizes for that, but she has trouble with my voice, that she can't quite associate it with her son when she hears it. It's not as bad as having a pretty young lady (she says) stand in front of her and say "I'm your son", but it's not easy, either.

That's fair. There's a fair amount of talk about how Nat and I visiting shook her, but I won't quote from the letter, because I think people have a greater expectation of privacy when they send an actual piece of paper in an envelope than an email. It was an interesting read. A lot of it is information on what she and her friends in her "park" (it's not really a trailer park, but it is quite a few homes without basements that's connected to the road at just two or three points). Some of it is information on relatives who, even if I had a body that was related to them, wouldn't be that closely related to them. I didn't recognize a lot of names.

Some of it's just "mom stuff". She spends a good deal of time saying how she understands that this body doesn't have a college degree associated with it, but how my-late-father-god-bless-his-soul would be somewhat disappointed that a college degree was being put to use waiting tables. I want to jump in and say that I'm working on that, and that it looks like I may have a better job soon, but, of course, it's a letter and she can't hear me.

The document itself is curious. I can tell, while reading it, that she was of two minds writing it. Some passages are very formal, as though she's writing to a stranger or a passing acquaintence, while others have an air of familial familiarity. The handwriting is very neat, perfectly parallel on the unlined stationery, with no words scratched out to correct errors. Mom mentions her arthritis in the letter, but either it's not that bad or she concentrated hard, probably copying it over from an earlier draft, since even the individual letters are well-formed. The one concession is that she prints instead of using longhand now.

I'll probably type my response on the computer before printing it out, since the last year has shown me that being a girl doesn't magically give you good handwriting. I'll probably tell her about Wei's wedding, hopefully a new job, scandalize her with my dating female roommates. I hope that soon, we'll be able to communicate more directly, but I'm also glad she was able to get this far.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Up late, up early
I'm so glad this is the Red Sox' last West Coast trip of the year (unless Fox and MLB pull that 10:30 PM playoff game shit on us again during the ALDS). I'm trying to remember how I/Martin handled staying up until one to watch those while working a nine-to-five job. I think maybe that body either needed less sleep. Or caffeine was involved.

Caffeine should have been used today, except that I don't keep coffee on-hand (smells good, tastes like coffee). So that 9:30 interview seemed like a bad idea, but it was an hour I knew I wouldn't have to work at the restaurant.

I admit, I have kind of stopped writing about job interviews because it's kind of depressing. There's an article in this morning's Boston Globe about the "quarter-life crisis", about 25-year-olds angsting over being un- or under-employed, how they feel directionless, etc., etc. I'm just like, hey, at least you have some form of documentation for your technical skills and experience. Anyway, I've been able to tell pretty much straight off that I wasn't getting hired.

Today, though, was a bit different; they sat me down at a computer to show I knew what I was doing. It's always fun when they do that and then look at what you did and say "huh, I wouldn't have thought to do it that way". The job itself is an administrative aide thing, but the previous person to hold it evidently was big on the "proprietary filing system" thing. As in, she stores everything in an Excel spreadsheet even if it's better as relational data, nobody else has a copy of the information so they have to go through her, etc. So, in addition to data-entry, research, and secretarial work, I'd be expected to build a usuable system as well. Pay's not great, but it beats out waiting tables.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Post coital blogging
So, am I a bad (or at least atypical) girlfriend for getting up and doing stuff if Doug falls asleep right after sex? It's sort of a guy-girl cliché, but I always sort of assumed, as Martin, that if I fell asleep, then the girl would still be snuggled up beside me, not slipping on an oversized T-shirt and heading to the living room to watch the end of the Red Sox west-coast ballgame, or popping open the laptop to surf the web, or raiding the cookie jar.

Not that this is a usual occurance; Doug's just jet-lagged and has to go to work tomorrow, while I'm working the night shift. Still, when it happens, it always feels awkward. The first ten or fifteen minutes are kind of nice, but then if you don't fall asleep yourself... Well, what are you supposed to do?

Ah, well. I probably should get some sleep. Wouldn't exactly be classy to just be a complete snoring lump on his bed while he's trying to get ready for work tomorrow.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Wei's wedding stuff
First, an aside - whatever bonehead decided that closing down the Charles/MGH T station and making everyone riding the Red Line between Kendall and Park Street today transfer to a bus on a holiday weekend with the Red Sox (and the World Science Fiction Convention) in town and roughly ten thousand college students arriving for the fall semester would be a good idea... Well, I've already used the word "bonehead". I should also like to use the words "idiot", "pain in the ass" and "truly bad idea".

Okay, venting over. Wei's wedding was pretty cool. I'm not yet enough of a girl in mind as well as body to cry at these things, or dream about being the one in the white dress, or the like, but I can recognize that it's a good thing to have a ceremony to mark that from here on out, the life of these two people is different, that even though Wei Chang is keeping her name, she and Jim are now a new legal and social entity and they plan on maintaining this new status quo for a long time, so get used to it.

I know, that's a decidedly non-spiritual way to look at it, but I'm not a terribly spiritual person. I do recognize that these rituals perform a psychological service, though, and think most people would agree. Heck, if (and more likely when) this sort of mental cross-body transferance goes public, I think there should be some sort of ceremony for it. It would make things easier.

So, after the ceremony we headed across town for the reception. Chinese and American food, wine, and music for dancing - the whole gamut of eat, drink and be merry. I was seated with some people from Wei and Jim's workplace; Wei apologized for dumping me with strangers, but I said it was okay, since it would be awkward for me to sit with people I knew but who didn't realize they knew me, or at least part of me.

It actually worked out, though - I just said I was a friend of Wei's, they weren't interested in how we met or anything like that. Not knowing anything about me before I came in the door, they didn't think it was odd that a receptionist-cum-waitress was conversant in science or foreign movies or anything else. And even though they knew each other, they were good about including me in the conversation so long as I could keep up, which I more or less managed. Always good, since the wait to be served never fails to seem longer than necessary.

The only part that seems longer is the four or five dances after everyone has tucked their entrée away. The bride and groom. The bride and her father. The bride and groom with their in-laws. The parents. It just goes on and on until finally they cut the cake and open the dance floor for everyone.

I danced a lot. Both Wei and Jim's families and friends suffered a bit of a male-female imbalance, and while I wasn't looking trampy or anything, I can clean up nice and my dress didn't try to camoflage my figure. Nobody wants to cause a scene at a wedding, so a quick "got a boyfriend" snaps guys in line if their hands start wandering from back to butt.

I exchanged a few words with both the bride and groom, even though it was loud and busy. Wei hugged me and said she was glad I came, no matter what I was calling myself or what body I was inhabiting. I'm not sure what Jim's usual opinion of me is, but he said that if what his male friends and cousins were saying was true, I could have a pretty pleasant evening. I laughed and said Doug was only out of town for the weekend, and besides, he just wanted to be secretly amused by anyone who bragged about a wedding hook-up with me. He laughed, pled guilty and said that as much as he admired my ability to adapt, he was glad that his wife didn't always have first-hand knowledge of what went through a man's head..

Eventually I caught a break and stumbled to the bar. It was too loud for me to hear someone coming up behind me until he also reached the bar and started talking. "So, I guess you don't think weddings are a scam any more?"

"Well, Kurt, I'm not renting pants anymore."

"Oh, I guess that makes all the difference."

"Nah." I took a sip of my wine and smiled at him. "It's still a scam. It starts with a guy being pressured to spend three months salary on a carbon crystal dug out of the ground by slave labor, whose price is kept up by a cartel as ruthless as OPEC or many drug cartels."

He picked up where I left off. "Then the bride's family has to organize a big event, with catering and musicians and rented facilities even though the average person doesn't know anything about that and will get ripped off by professionals who have honed their craft for years."

"And then, on top of family members and friends having to spend money on bridesmaid dresses they'll never wear again, the happy couple expects each of us to get them a present before they go off on a vacation they can't afford. I believe in marriage, but weddings are a scam."

Kurt had actually been smiling for a bit, though that left his face. "Martin used to say 'having to rent pants'."

"Yeah, well, times change. Besides, I took a look at dresses when my friend Jen told me she got engaged, and it's worse than the tux rental. And there's a good chance of looking like a dork."

He granted that may be the case and got another Mike's. "So, are you and this Doug guy going to be doing one of these any time soon?"

"Well, he hasn't exactly asked, but that's okay. I figure you've got to know each other pretty well to get married and I'm still not sure I know myself yet. How about you and...?"

"Crystal? Haven't talked to her in a couple of weeks." He gave me sort of an angry look. "After your litte party, things got weird."

"Yeah, I must be the worst ex-girlfriend ever. I'm sorry."

He thought that was too glib. "You should be. When I think about you and me... I mean, sometimes I actually get sick."

"You shouldn't; I mean, you didn't do anything wrong. You couldn't have known, and I don't mean that in an 'Oedipus couldn't have known, either' way. You met a hot girl who liked a lot of the same things you did."

"You've got a high opinion of yourself."

"Hey, it's the truth and we both know it. But even if you're thinking, hey, she's not just a girl... Well, you and I both think of Wei as the next thing to a sister but that didn't stop either of us from trying to date her at some point."

"You're not helping."

I suppose I wasn't. I sighed. "Look, come dance with me."


"Come on, we're both here alone and have a history. You can stare at my breasts and I won't mind. Just think of me as an ex, and decide whether or not you want to forgive me for not being totally open with you while you hid your other girlfriend from me--"

"Oh, so it's my fault?"

"You broke up with me, remember? You chose Denise over your best friend inside what you yourself called a centerfold-quality body! You--" And I just stopped. I put my drink down and said, you know what, I'm not going to do this. I mean, look at me, I'm mad at you for dumping me even though I know it was a weird and probably unhealthy relationship.

We both took a drink in silence, thinking. Then he stuck out his hand. "Hi, I'm Kurt. I went to college with Wei."

I laughed, and told him that was a sweet gesture, but not what I was looking for. "It's Martin's life as well as Michelle's body that made me who I am today. I'm not going to pretend they didn't happen. I am who I am, even if I was built out of other people."

"So what are we supposed to do?"

"It's a party; we dance. After that, maybe we hang out and talk. I get caught up on your life for the past year, you learn about mine, and maybe we wind up friends again."

So we danced together for a couple songs, but he got caught up with someone he hadn't seen for years, and we never wound up talking. I think he was trying too hard, trying to force himself to enjoy being around me to make Wei happy.

Still a pretty good party, though; I didn't get home until late. It was one of those fun events that puts a smile on your face. Even if you realize the whole thing is a scam.


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