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MissionaryJan. 11, 2000Here begins the mission journal of Samuel French. I’m a 19-year oldcollege freshman – well, I’m taking a semester off for this. I’m about togo on a missionary trip into Brazil! I never really expected it, butabout four months ago, a missionary on tour in the US came and spoke inour church, and I really felt a calling – no, a Calling – to gomyself. Nothing like that had happened to me before.When I talked to the church’s missions board about it, they were reallyexcited, because I’ve been working summers with my uncle for a longtime. He’s a general contractor, and apparently most of these villageswhere they’ve founded churches have a lot of construction needs. So Iguess I’ll be building instead of preaching, which is kind of a relief – Idon’t think I could preach anyway.It turns out, I’m going WAY deep into the Amazon, to an Indian tribe thatstill lives pretty much like an Amazon Indian tribe. It’s not like I’llbe the first white man they’ve seen, but it’ll still be pretty wild.Feb. 9, 2000Started upriver today. Heat, bugs, heat and bugs. I wonder if I canhandle this. Still, it’s incredibly beautiful here. Even some of thebugs are beautiful. (Others are hideous.) And we aren’t even into thewild parts of the Amazon yet. I’ve already shot off one of my six rollsof camera film; I’d better slow down.Feb. 12, 2000Our last stop in “civilization” – that is, a riverside town where there’sgasoline, packaged food, and occasionally electricity. The bugs arebeginning to make me wonder if this was a good idea, but it would bereally stupid to turn back from a divine calling because of some bugs, nomatter how big and awful-looking they are.Feb. 15, 2000Well, today I was introduced to the Pachtikl. It’s it’s reallyamazing. I wish I could write down everything, but I’m so tired from thetrip and the intense day! They seem really friendly, thank God forthat. I’d been a little afraid that they would just see me as some sortof trespasser, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. They’ve given me anice hut (by their standards – good thing I brought mosquito netting) anda strange, but edible, dinner. I sure hope I can be helpful to them; theydeserve something better than a light-skinned moocher, and I keep worryingthat that’s what I’ll end up being.Feb. 17, 2000A Pachtikl worship service today. The preacher is Pachtikl, he preachesin Pachtikl; all I can understand is his occasional gesture toward theopen-air cross. They seem happy and enthusiastic, though, so I’m happy tosee it, even if my linguistic ignorance leaves me kind of bored. Maybethis is what Catholic worship was like before Vatican II: Learn Latin, ordie of boredom.Feb. 18, 2000We started laying out the site for the schoolhouse today. It’s going tobe a sort of hybrid of modern and tribal construction techniques,hopefully a practical mix. I’m not so embarrassed about my crash-coursePortugese anymore, since theirs is even worse. I don’t know if I’ll everlearn their tribal language. Still, you can go a long way with gesturesand smiles when everybody’s friendly. And for the building, diagrams anddemonstration do the communicating.Feb. 19, 2000It rained all day. I stayed inside and talked with some of the women,especially Chiacl, who’s my age and nursing her first c***d. She speaksbetter Portugese than anybody else in the village, so I naturally end uphanging mostly around her. I really like her; God forgive me, I can’thelp but wish she wasn’t married. She’s really nice to me, and incrediblybeautiful. Actually, all the women here are surprisingly good-looking. Itold Chiacl so, and she said it was because their medicine woman givesthem special potions. If that’s true, she should go work for Revlon orsomething and make a few billion dollars.Feb. 22, 2000Started digging the schoolhouse’s foundation! I’m exhausted. The peoplehere are great; it’s like a Disney version of an Amazon tribe, whereeverybody is friendly and helpful. And beautiful. It’s almost enough tomake me suspect I’m doing my missionary work on a Hollywood set. Well, aHollywood set wouldn’t include the occasional bits of modern flotsam inthe Pachtikl’s world – plastic jugs mixed in with the handmade pottery, achainsaw that used to work, a Miami Dolphins T-shirt re-sewn andreincarnated as a carrying sack.Feb. 23, 2000Chiacl’s daughter, Myonnen, is such a cutie! She has the biggest eyes inthe whole world. I sometimes feel bad that she’s going to grow up wherelife is so hard. But then, I think what life is like for lots of Americank**s: freeways instead of rivers, crows and rats and roaches for wildlife,gangs, d**gs, c***d abuse, HIV maybe my pity is misplaced.Feb. 25, 2000Well, I hope I didn’t just violate some big taboo or something. Every nowand then, the Pachtikl adults break up into men’s and women’s groups andspend the afternoon drinking some kind of local tea. This time, I washanging out with Chiacl and asked if I could come with her for thetea. She said yes, but then there was some sort of big debate or argumentor something about it when we went to join the circle; lots ofjabbering. They asked me 5 or 6 times if I really wanted to. I nevermade out quite what the big deal was, but I think they thought I mightlose respect among the men if I drank with women. I would have droppedit, I didn’t want to create a fuss, but Chiacl was holding my arm andeventually they decided I could stay. In fact, once they gave me the tea,they were all smiley and friendly, even the ones who didn’t seem to wantme there before. I hope that means I didn’t do anything wrong. Feb. 26, 2000Well, I don’t seem to have lost face among the men for yesterday’steatime. If anything, they were extra-polite to me all day. The rain isundermining the foundation diggings a little bit, but I think it’ll be OK.Feb. 29, 2000Another teatime today. I went to drink with the men this time, and theyseemed to think I was crazy. I guess I’m supposed to drink with the womenall the time now. No skin off my back; they’re more fun to be around,even if I barely understand a thing.Mar. 2, 2000The Pachtikl have amazing endurance; it’s totally embarrassing to try tokeep up with them in the shovelwork. I’ve try, because I don’t want to belike some bigshot white overseer who won’t get his hands dirty. Today,though, they practically took away my shovel by force when I startedgetting tired, and sent me to Chiacl instead. “Lead me not intotemptation” No, that’s not true; Chiacl’s no seductress, she’s way tooinnocent to betray Ellayon (her husband). That’s probably part of why Ilike her. Anyway, I ended up helping her mash roots for some kind ofsoup. It was actually pretty good. A pity I won’t be able to make itagain at home, but I doubt I’ll be able to find the ingredients atSafeway.Mar. 6, 2000Myonnen is getting sick. Makes me wish to high heaven I were adoctor. But the medicine woman, Tellengit, was all over her with goopsand salves and broths. Hope there’s something medically effective in herstuff. We all prayed for her a lot.Mar. 9, 2000Myonnen is much better today! Praise God almighty! Chiacl is soooobeautiful when she’s happy. Is it wrong to think that?Mar. 14, 2000We put in the main support beams for the school today. It’s all comingalong as well as I’d hoped, pretty much. The Pachtikl are good workmen,and smart.Mar. 27, 2000Myonnen is making vaguely speechlike sounds. She’s an incredible cutie.Apr. 12, 2000A little embarrassing – I’m growing out of all my shorts. I’ve only gotone pair left that I can still fit into. Who would have thought I’d getfat on Pachtikl cooking? Actually, the thing is, I don’t think I amgetting fat. In fact, I almost seem to have lost weight. Certainly, allthe hard work hasn’t bulked up my arms the way I was hoping itwould. It’s just that my hips seem really big.Apr. 19, 2000The schoolhouse frame is complete now! We started on the roof. There wasa sort of prayer-song thing to celebrate. Funny thing is, they had somesongs sung by the men and some by the women, and they wanted me to singwith the women. And I think I could hit all the same notes as them. Inever realized my vocal range was so wide. Maybe I should join a choirwhen I get back.Apr. 27, 2000I had to throw out my last razor blade about a week ago, but I reallydon’t seem to have grown any beard since then. Strange, but I’m notcomplaining. I thought the jungle life would make me into a beardedsavage, but I feel rather civilized for a guy who hasn’t seen a realbathroom in months.May 1, 2000My hair’s been getting pretty long lately, so I asked if somebody couldcut it. Chiacl said yes, but I think she misunderstood me, because shejust braided it instead. But she also braided a string of beads into it,with a thin braid of her own hair used as the string for the beads. Ithink it’s meant as a special personal gift. Now I feel like I can’t cutit, or I’ll insult her gift. Oh well. It’s actually kind of pretty, andcertainly a sweet gesture. I guess, out here, it doesn’t matter how longmy hair is.May 14, 2000I went to Tellengit myself for the first time today, for some kind of rashI guess I’ve got. It’s making my nipples sort of itchy and swollen. Shemade me some paste that helps with the itching. I think I’ll keep myshirt on until the swelling goes down, because the appearance is reallykind of embarrassing. May 16, 2000I taught Chiacl’s baby to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! Well, not thewords, of course, but she kind of gurgles along with me when I sing it toher.May 22, 2000A boat came up the river today, and I’m going to ride out with him when hegoes tomorrow. Not for good, just to give myself a sort of vacation incivilization and check in at the church’s missionary office inManaus. I’m really looking forward to buying bigger pants. I keep gettingbigger around the hips, but I still feel pretty trim. I think maybe myhipbones are sticking out further, but that doesn’t make any sense, doesit?May 26, 2000WOW. Manaus is incredibly overwhelming. I feel like some terrified wilda****l. The amount of noise and motion is just too much to deal with. Iwas going to walk around the city this afternoon, but I think I’m justgoing to hide in my hotel room, wait till tomorrow to face the modernworld. I should probably pendik escort cut my hair before I meet with the church officepeople tomorrow – the hotel bellhop accidentally called me “miss”. But Ireally don’t want to take out Chiacl’s braid. May 27, 2000I had a shock when getting ready for my meeting today. The mirror in myhotel room was the first I’ve seen since I left. I look a lotdifferent. I can still tell it’s me, but I can see why the bellhopthought I was a girl. Not just the hair, although my hair is really richand long, longer than I expected. Something about my face, too, seems alot softer than before, my features more delicate. Plus with my weird bighips, and that swelling in my nipples that just gets worse and worse… Iwonder if something weird is going on with my hormones. I made anappointment with a doctor for tomorrow, before I go back.Anyway, the meeting went OK, although they did look at me a little funnyand ask about my hair. They agreed about the importance of the braid,though, that I shouldn’t do anything that might seem like a rejection offriendship.May 29, 2000I don’t think the church referred me to a very good doctor. He just saidsomething about ‘gynecomastia’ not being uncommon in young men, and that Ishouldn’t worry about it and it would go away. I almost wonder if Ishould go back home, to America, to see a specialist or something. Butthat would be wrong. It would be totally selfish to abandon the Pichtakljust because I’m worried about looking funny. No way am I going to bethat vain. I’m heading back upriver tomorrow.June 5, 2000Wow, from the way they welcomed me back, you’d think I’d been gone ayear. I love these people. June 13, 2000I don’t think I can doubt it anymore – I’ve definitely got some kind ofsevere hormonal problem. The workers on the schoolhouse were singing asong today, and I tried to sing with, but I had to go up a wholeoctave. I never used to have a high voice, but now it seems like I’mprobably a soprano, or at least an alto. And I might as well be honestwith myself – my “swollen nipples” are really breasts, a little small fora girl but obviously breasts. And they’re still growing. I don’t think Istand out at all among the women anymore, except for my light skin andAmerican clothes. I think I’m walking like a woman, too; I’m pretty suremy hips didn’t used to move this much when I walked. But it’s hard not towalk that way, my hips have grown so big that it throws me off balance ifI try to hold them still.It’s really tempting to get out of here to get to a doctor, but I justcan’t do that to them. They ought to be able to give me something to fixit once I get home, anyway. At least nobody here acts like there’sanything wrong with me. I’d be terribly embarrassed anywhere else, butnot here.June 17, 2000Chiacl actually grabbed one of my breasts through my shirt today – theydon’t have much concept of personal space here – and said that it was”very good”. I asked her if she thought I was strange for growingbreasts, but she just said again that it was very good and seemed to thinkI should be happy too. Weird.June 22, 2000A few days ago, I asked Tellengit the medicine woman if she could doanything about my breasts. Hey, she’s the only medical resource around,so why not? Can’t be any less help than the doctor in Manaus. Today, shebrought me her therapy: a bra. Well, it’s a woven strap that the womenhere use like a bra. Very funny. Still, I think I might wearit. Otherwise my breasts might get all stretched-out and droopy, and thenI’ll have stretch marks when they do go away. She also gave me stuff torub into them. I hope it helps.July 20, 2000Well, I gave up on trying to hide my breasts under my shirt. (It’sgetting easier to think and write that phrase, “my breasts”. Guess mymasculine self-image can only stand up to reality so long.) It’s too hothere, and they’re pretty obvious anyway. I’m just baring them (with mybra-strap, of course) like the rest of the Pichtakl women. No snidecomments; I don’t think the Pichtakl even know how to be snide. I justthank God none of the guys from back home can see me like this.July 30, 2000That song from South Pacific keeps going through my head – ” and broadwhere a broad should be broad” It’s scary, but kind of fascinating, theway I keep developing. It’s hard not to be a teeny bit proud. Not that Iwant to be a woman or anything, but these are really kind of nice-lookingcurves I’m growing. If I imagine that I weren’t ever going back home andnobody would bother me about it, maybe I’d just let it be this way.Aug. 8, 2000Chiacl’s a bit sick today. I helped her out with her daughter, not that Ireally needed to. Everybody takes care of everybody else’s k**shere. Still, I’m really attached to Myonnen, and I think she is tome. When she cries, I’m almost as good at quieting her as Chiacl is.Aug. 10, 2000Dear God, now I’m scared. Chiacl’s really sick today, and her milk forMyonnen has dried up. I’ve been standing by the medicine woman, prayingwhile she works, and offering to do anything I can to help. She finallytook me out away from the village, pointed to a grove of plants, and toldme I could help by picking the leaves. When I brought them back to her,she had me chew on them – not Chiacl. I guess she just wanted me to leaveher alone and let her work. Can’t pester her with questions while I’mchewing a wad of leaves. They taste bad.Aug. 12, 2000Chiacl’s getting better now, but her milk isn’t coming back. Other mothershave been trying to nurse Myonnen, but she won’t nurse from them. I’mwith her almost round-the-clock now while Chiacl recovers. The poor thingis already losing her baby fat. Dear God, please, help us. Aug. 13, 2000My breasts feel really swollen and sore today. Maybe it’s sympathy painfor Chiacl, or her baby. Why won’t she take milk from anybodyelse? There are seven other nursing mothers in the village, but she justfusses if they try to feed her. Meanwhile, Tellengit is keeping mechewing leaves. All I can understand from her explanation is that it’ssupposed to help Myonnen somehow. Maybe it’s supposed to be some sort ofmagical effect, where one person can take medicine on somebody else’sbehalf? Oh well. It may be superstition, but maybe it can have a placeboeffect on somebody.Aug. 14, 2000I got one of the other nursing mothers to get some of her milk into agourd, then managed to pour a little bit into Myonnen’s mouth. I’ll neverbe able to feed her enough that way, though. God, where are you?Aug. 15, 2000Miracle. Today I experienced a miracle. Tellengit came to me in themorning and started kneading and squeezing my breasts, until – milk cameout. Real, warm, mother’s milk, out of me. I still can hardly believeit. So then she took me to Myonnen and I fed her. She was perfectlycontent to take it from me… I guess I’ve always had a way with her.I suppose I should be horrified that I’ve turned into some milk-givinghermaphrodite freak. But I’m not, I feel wonderful, I feel joyous, I feelincredible. I have been the conduit of a miracle, I have saved Chiacl’sbaby’s life. And it’s… sensual, sensual in a very pure and innocentway, to be nursing her baby. It’s better than marrying Chiacl, I think,to be sharing motherhood with her. Maybe someday, when I’m back in thestates, this will all seem like some surreal and frightening dream andI’ll want to burn this journal. But here, today, I am happy. Praise God.Aug. 16, 2000Nursing a baby. Sheesh! It’s still a totally sensual and mysticalexperience. I’m absolutely in love with Myonnen. But I do kind of wishher little jaws weren’t so strong.Aug. 17, 2000The medicine woman says Chiacl’s milk won’t come back until she hasanother c***d. I guess I’m staying here until her baby is weaned. Wow,try explaining that in a letter home! I guess I’ll just try to say that”they really need me here” and leave it at that.I moved into Chiacl’s hut to make the breastfeeding more convenient. Iwould have been scared of the temptation before, but now it’s like we’realready bonded so much closer than sex could ever achieve. How couldsimple sex tempt me now? Chiacl’s husband, Ellayon, sure doesn’t seemthreatened. He’s almost as affectionate with me as he is withChiacl. (No, not like THAT! But there is definitely something very closeand sweet joining all four of us, me, Chiacl, Myonnen, andEllayon. Something I could NEVER explain to well, to a man.)Aug. 18, 2000I asked the medicine woman today whether it was because of her that mybreasts gave milk, and she said yes. Well, I don’t consider it any less amiracle.Aug. 20, 2000Now I’m beginning to wonder – I’d thought that my hormone problem was justme, but what if it was Tellengit all along? They’ve all acted all alonglike I belonged with the women. I thought maybe it was because I was asoft American, but maybe they knew that Tellengit was – well, was turningme into a woman. I’m not mad, not really. I mean, I saved Chiacl’s baby’s life. Maybe shehad some sort of prophetic vision, so she knew Myonnen baby would needthis? Gosh, I’m finally the recipient of a genuine, old-fashionedmiracle, and it’s one I can’t exactly stand up and tell the church backhome about.What am I going to do back home? I guess I’m not really going to seeanybody until I can get my body fixed. Well, time to worry about thatlater.Sep. 1, 2000The schoolhouse is done. We dedicated it to God today with a big day ofprayer and feasting. Some songs were sung by the men and womenseparately, and I took my place among the women as a matter of course. Idon’t think I could sing like a man anymore to save my life. It’s obviousnow that they’ve been treating me as a woman all along, even before mybreasts started growing, I think. It’s hard to believe I didn’t notice itbefore, but well, guys are supposed to be socially oblivious,right? Anyway, I’m not going to complain. It would be kind of stupid totry to assert my manhood while I’m holding a suckling baby to my breast.I’d be heading back to America, now, if not for Myonnen. I don’t mind abit, you know? I’m going to help them start a cement-floored foodstorehouse next, but I think they could do it on their own with what theylearned from the schoolhouse. The real reason I’m here is Myonnen. She’smore than reason escort pendik enough.Sep. 4, 2000I wrote a big letter today, to a nutritionist at the University ofManaus. Not that I know a nutritionist there – I’m hoping that somebodyat the university will direct the letter appropriately. I’ve beenobsessed lately with making sure my milk will be good enough for Myonnen,which means making sure that I get plenty of nutrients, which meansfiguring out what’s in all this Pichtakl food. I probably don’t haveanything to worry about – don’t they always say that primitive diets arethe healthiest? Still, I can’t help worrying about it. The size of myresponsibility here overwhelms me completely.Anyway, I’ll have to give my letter to the next boat that comes down theriver, and pray that it gets into the right hands somehow.Sep. 14, 2000First day of classes back home. No regrets. I don’t think anybody couldseriously tell me I’m having less of a learning experience here.Sep. 24, 2000With the Pichtakl building things just fine on their own, and Myonnennursing all the time, I’m hardly spending any time on the buildingproject. Instead, I’m hanging out with Chiacl and with the other nursingmothers, and learning gobs of weaving, cooking, and c***dcare. It turnsout that I’m a rather talented weaver, for a beginner. If I do say somyself. I’m going to make some things to bring to my mom and sister -beats buying a T-shirt from the airport souveneir shop, huh?I’m learning so much about life here! From the women’s point of view,anyway; I don’t spend much time with the men, except for Ellayon. Ishould switch majors to anthropology when I get back. No, doublemajor: anthropology and women’s studies. Except I can just imagine somestuck-up girl in the class asking me how I could possibly claim tounderstand women’s issues.Oct. 15, 2000There was some sort of prayer ceremony today to bless the nursing mothersof the tribe. Myonnen made me come with her. Well, really, I’m glad I gotto go, it made me feel very special and honored and blessed, even if itwas strange. We both got all covered in paints and stuff, lots offertility symbols and things, erotic-looking patterns painted on mybreasts, the works. Probably more old pagan magic than Christian prayer,but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, really – The churchhas always grown by incorporating spiritual customs instead of replacingthem.Anyway, I think it was good. I felt very, um, joyful in my motherhood, aliving, powerful link in the cycle of life. It sounds silly to write it,but it wasn’t silly. The truth is, I felt so much a part of this, thisfemale mysticism, that I honestly felt surprised and shocked and, yes,disappointed, when it was over and I remembered who I am. I’m not reallya woman, I don’t have a womb, I’ll never give birth no matter how manyfertility symbols you paint on my breasts. Damn.There’s no point in being discontent. I’m trying to look at it this way -how many people have lived through both manhood and womanhood to theextent that I have? I’m, like a duck. Can’t fly as fast as an eagle,can’t swim as fast as a fish, but eagles can’t swim and fish can’t fly,and I’ve done both.Does that sound weak? I admit, I’m still fighting this crazy sense oflonging for real womanhood. I always used to look forward to life as aman, so what’s wrong with it now? Why shouldn’t I be eager to get back tothe life I always thought I’d have?If anybody ever reads this, sheesh, they’ll think I’m totally nuts. MaybeI wouldn’t feel like this if I’d ever done anything really amazing, reallywondrous, as a guy. In my short life so far, what do I have to compare tonursing a baby? Boy Scouts? Ha!Nov. 10, 2000Somebody answered my letter about the nutrition! I’m going to grindthrough the numbers right away.Nov. 11, 2000Well, I think I’m doing pretty well, nutritionally. I should maybe try toeat more sintlic leaves, for the iron, but other than that I think I’mOK. I give good milk – hooray! This beats making the Dean’s List anyday.Dec. 14, 2000We started Myonnen on solid food today, as the first step in weaningher. It’s hard, harder than I imagined, to give her root mash; she criesfor my milk, and I want so badly to give it to her. I went off by myselfto cry twice today. It seems like nursing Chiacl’s c***d has been such amagical experience, I can hardly bear to think it’s ending. And then Iget to thinking about how I’ll leave for America, and I might never seeChiacl and her baby again… wow, I think I have to go cry right now.Dec. 29, 2000Myonnen is beginning to crawl! Poor thing, the dirt floors here don’tseem as kind to a crawler as good old carpet, but I guess they all manageit.Jan. 12, 2001The village has a visitor – Distokini, who left the village as a c***d towork down the river. He’s back to receive a blessing from his familybefore he marries. His Portugese is fluent and he even knows someEnglish, so I’m eager to talk with him when he has time. Jan. 13, 2001WOW, do I feel sheepish. I feel like a whole herd of sheep, all at once.Distokini helped translate for me today, so I was able to converse forwith the Pichtakl for the first time ever without the languagebarrier. And… well, yes, I was right, my feminine form is indeed thanksto Tellengit. But it’s not because of any prophecy; no, it’s simplemisunderstanding. She thought I wanted to become a woman all along.Everybody knows Tellengit is the Pichtakl tribe’s greatest expert in themedicines of womanhood. The beauty potion – that is, the tea – that shegives the women is so strong that a boy who drinks it will grow up to looklike a girl. Over the years, three boys have been sent to her from otherPichtakl villages because they wanted to be girls. With her tea and someother medicines, she accomplished the task. All three returned to theirhome villages as women. (Presumably no more female than I am now, but Iguess that was enough for them.) When I asked about joining the women for their tea, that first time,that’s what they thought I wanted. In fact, they decided that that musthave been the reason I came to the village in the first place, and thathelping to build the schoolhouse was just my thanks for the sexchange. When I asked Tellengit for help with the growth in my breasts, shethought I wanted them to grow faster.One good Pachtikl-to-English dictionary – not that such a thing exists -could have saved my manhood.Well, I didn’t tell anybody that it wasn’t my idea. What good would thatdo? It would only make them feel bad. And I’m happy with the way thingsturned out.And, you know, I don’t consider it any less a miracle. So the whole thingflowed from a miscommunication; so what? God works miracles through ourmistakes. Is that news to anybody? Blundering your way into your purposeis humbling, and humility is valuable.So, here I am. Samuel French, nursemaid. Gee, the career counselor backhome never saw my talents in this field.God has a great sense of humor; so what if it’s kind of twisted? All thebest comedians are.Jan. 18, 2001Distokini went back downriver today. Before he left, I got his help totell Tellengit how happy I was to be a woman and how grateful I was toher. She may as well believe it was exactly what I wanted. Besides, shedid a great job, and it was certainly necessary. If an angel had appearedto me at the height of Chiacl’s illness and told me I could either growbreasts or watch Myonnen starve, I wouldn’t have hesitated for even amoment.Feb. 2, 2001It’s been two days now since I last nursed Myonnen. It’s tempting tosqueeze the milk out myself just to relieve the pressure in my breasts,but if I do that I’ll never stop producing. I can just imagine meeting myMom with milk leaking through my bra and leaving spots on my shirt… oh,God, I have a lot to take care of when I get back. Time to pay the pricefor my miracle, I guess.Feb. 5, 2001Myonnen is weaned. My mission – my real mission – is over. MyCalling. Did God even care about the schoolhouse, or was this all aboutMyonnen? She’d be more than worth it. Worth more than gold, thatgirl. I’ll leave the next time a boat comes. I can’t help but hope itnever will.Feb. 13,2001I’m writing this from the boat going downriver. I am going home, except Ifeel more like I’m leaving home, leaving the c***d I suckled and herbeautiful mother. I’ve cried so much today my head aches. Ellayon kissedme. Chiacl told me that, wherever I go, we will be sisters forever. Feb. 15, 2001I arrived back in Manaus today. Seems so Western, so unreal, so noisy. Iwonder if I’ll ever really be at home in the modern worldagain. Absolutely everybody takes me for a woman now, and this beingLatin America, there were some wolf whistles and such. I hardly noticedthat, though, through the culture shock. I don’t even feel like I’m thesame species as these people; who cares what sex I am?I have to admit, the shower at the hotel room was quite a delight. Butthe mirror in the bathroom I had thought I wouldn’t really look at myselfin the mirror until I felt ready, but I caught a glimpse of myself and hadto stare. Looking at myself, I could hardly believe myself that I was aman. Even my genitals are atrophied, hardly able to argue the case for mymaleness.Actually, this sounds really vain, but I look beautiful. As beautiful asany other Pachtikl woman. I guess that’s basically what I am, for now – awhite-skinned Pachtikl woman. Does life throw you curveballs or what?Feb. 16, 2001I miss the Pachtikl terribly, but I also miss my Mom. Maybe nursing ababy gave me a new understanding of the maternal bond. I wish I could gostraight back to her, but it would be too much of a shock for her to seeme this way. Instead, I decided to go stay with my big sister Carrie inLA until my body is fixed. I tried to tell Carrie what was up on thephone, but couldn’t quite get up the nerve. I hope it doesn’t freak herout too much. She must have figured something was up, especially with myhigh voice, but she just said she wanted to see me. I wish I had the gutsto warn her.My plane won’t leave until tomorrow. I submitted a final report to thechurch missionary office by mail and spent the day wandering the city, alittle dazed. I stocked up on shapeless sweatsuits and things, hopefullystuff I’ll pendik escort bayan still be able to wear when I get back to normal. I’d hate towaste the money.I bought a regular Western-style bra, too. Needed lots of help from thewoman at the department store to help me find one and fit it. I almostwished she would say something, give some sign that I didn’t seem like awoman to her, reassure me that I wasn’t just one more ordinary lingeriecustomer, but of course she didn’t. Feb. 17, 2001I had a layover in Caracas, and had to use a restroom in the airport. Themen’s room was obviously out of the question. I felt a little scaredgoing into the women’s room, like an alarm was going to go off something,but nobody looked twice. When I came up to the long mirror, with a crowdof a dozen other women around washing and primping and all, it took me asecond to figure out which woman’s reflection was my own. Now that theculture shock is receding, the gender thing is scaring me more. I’mcoming back to the world I’ve always known, but walking around in an alienbody. I feel like I ought assert my masculinity to people, talk footballor something, but that’s ridiculous. I have none to assert.Feb. 18, 2001I traveled all day, and then Carrie and I talked all night, so I don’thave energy to write much. Carrie is amazing. She’s totally supportive,totally behind me. It’s a huge relief. I never realized what a greatsister she is.Feb. 19, 2001I called Mom to let her know I’d be staying with Carrie for a while. Itwas hard to dissuade her from flying out to see us, but we managed, fornow. Carrie and I spent the whole day talking. I wish I’d stayed closerto her when I was in high school, but I guess we’re making up for itnow. She had a bad boyfriend (worthless scumbag jerk) experience not longago, and I’m glad I could be here for her. I made some doctor’sappointments to get myself fixed. Carrie said she likes me better as hersister and I shouldn’t change back. I laughed like she was joking, but Idon’t think she was.Feb. 21, 2001I went to an endocrinologist today. I don’t think he really believed mystory; he kept saying that a year of taking hormones couldn’t produce theeffects I was showing. Well, who said Tellengit’s medicines were normalhormones? Anyway, he also said that taking testosterone wouldn’t beenough to fix me, so he referred me to some plastic surgeons.Carrie said it was obviously going to take a while until I looked like aguy again, so I might as well get some clothes in the meantime, becauseshe didn’t want to room somebody who looked like a slob. I finally agreedto let her take me shopping with her tomorrow. After all, it’s not likestaying in sweats makes me feel male anyway. And it made her really happywhen I agreed. That’s important.Feb. 22, 2001Went shopping with Carrie today. She had a great time, and I admit, I hadfun too. We got some jeans and tops and, yeah, some skirts and dressestoo. There was sure a weird feeling, seeing myself in a dress in thechanging room mirror for the first time. Still, it feels good to looknice, take care of myself and all. I guess I’d expected to hide out fromAmerican society until I could re-enter it as a man again, but there’sreally nothing wrong with being here as a woman. I guess it’s fun. Hey,half the population manages it, why can’t I?Feb. 23, 2001Carrie got me to come to a friend’s party tonight. I didn’t want to stayhome without her, and she really wanted me to come. It was actually areally good party, mellow and not noisy, and with neat people. She’s gotgood taste in friends. Some of the guys there tried to flirt with me, butthat wasn’t so scary, because they were really nice about it. Actually,it made me feel kind of good. Male attention is such a weird thing, likea kind of electricity, and it comes in all flavors, from disgusting toscary to – well, to nice. Is it weird to be flattered? Sometimes I feltlike the center of attention in a really affirming way. Wow. I’mprobably going to need an army of psychologists when this is all over. Itdoesn’t help that Carrie keeps telling me what a great sister I am andthat she doesn’t want me to change.Feb. 24, 2001Well, I enjoyed myself so much last night, I couldn’t really defend myselffrom Carrie’s suggestions today. She actually got me into a wispy littleblue dress, lipstick and everything, and out to some dance places. I feltwow. Like a sensation, like the star of the show. Like in My FairLady: “I could have danced all night” All eyes, all smiles on me. Shy,longing looks yeah, I recognize those, I’ve given plenty of themmyself. No guy should ever go through this, it does really weird thingsto my brain. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I shouldwrite papers in psychology about this next year, except nobody wouldbelieve me.Feb. 26, 2001I met with a plastic surgeon today. He was talking about how to remove mybreasts. As he was talking, I started feeling so weird, I excused myself,ran to the bathroom and threw up. I felt so nauseous and scared. I knowI should be eager, but how do I explain it? It’s like well, these are thebreasts that nursed Myonnen. That is the most sacred experience of mylife, and now this doctor’s talking about chopping it up, throwing thebloody pieces in the medical-waste bin, rotting in some giant LA landfillwow, now I’m getting nauseous again.This body, you see, it was a gift from the Pachtikl, my adopted people,they gave it to me. And it was my gift to them, to Chiacl andMyonnen. This is how I did the most important thing I’ve ever done. Iwas a part of the circle of life. This body was my miracle in flesh; itwas sanctified.If only I could wrap it up in tissue paper and put it in a box! Take itout to reminisce and show my closest friends. But no, it’s all ornothing. Live this way forever, or chop it up and throw it away. Itdoesn’t seem fair, that’s too violent a choice.I’m a boy, I’m not supposed to want to be a woman; but in the Amazon, Iwas a woman, a mother. Was that wrong? Was it bad? Should I put thatunder the cold steel scalpel and treat it like garbage?God, I don’t know what to do. The truth is, I don’t think I want to gothrough with the surgery, or the hormones, or any of that. I’m happy likethis, I’m having a great time, but I have to change back – don’t I? Whatwould everybody say? “Oh, OK, you went to Brazil for a while and nowyou’re a woman. That’s nice.” Yeah, right.Feb. 28, 2001I’m feeling a little better today, but it’s still scary. Here’s what I’mfacing:Beard should come back with testosterone, no problem.Voice should go down again, although they’re less certain aboutthat. Muscles should fill out again, too. Genitals may grow back to fullsize, but no guarantees.Breasts will have to be removed surgically.Making my face back to the way it was would take a LOT of plastic surgery,and the surgeon doesn’t even want to do it. He says he’s not used tocutting a pretty face to make it plain, and it might even violate hisHippocratic oath. I guess I could get by without the surgery. I’dprobably be a lot more attractive than I used to be, but in such afeminine way, it would be really weird. Maybe bisexual girls would likeit.They say they could cut my pelvis back down in theory, but it would bemajor, major surgery and not at all worth it. So I’m pretty much stuckwith womanly curves below the waist.In short, with a lot of time and pain and expense, I could become abouthalf the boy I used to be.How am I going to pay for all this? I don’t want to ask Mom, she’sstrapped already from my college costs.Maybe I’m just looking for an excuse not to go through with it. Or maybeI’m crazy to even consider mutilating myself for some machismo egothing. I don’t know!Mar. 4, 2001Somehow, I took it for granted that I couldn’t go to church lastSunday. Today, I realized that that’s just what I need. Carrie’s notusually the church type, but she came happily enough when she saw me in mySunday best.I feel resolved. I didn’t get some big supernatural message, not like thecalling I got to go on mission. But I felt good, I felt right, praying toGod as a woman. And I realized – I guess that I shouldn’t worry aboutit. If I can face my God joyfully this way, then why shouldn’t I face therest of my life, too? I’ve been afraid to stay this way, without any goodreason but with this irrational suspicion that I shouldn’t be allowedto. That’s gone now; I feel like I can choose with a clear mind. It’swhatever I prefer. And there’s really no question about that anymore.Carrie is overjoyed. We decided that I’d room with her and get a job as awoman over the summer while she teaches me what I need – all the stuff Inever got to learn as a little girl. I’ll try to transfer to UCLA fornext year, and see if I can get registered as a female student, so I canstart making my own life but still stay close to Carrie. There’s so muchto plan but I’m looking forward to it. The second-biggest adventure of mylife.I thought before that I had given up my manhood for Chiacl andMyonnen. Truth is, I ended up receiving more than I gave away. Doesn’tGod always work that way?Well, Mom, I don’t know what else I can say. Maybe, reading all this,you’ll understand. But please, just talk to me, ask me anything you wantto, I really want you to understand. I love you with all my heart, andI’m dying to see you again. Please know that I love you and I’ll alwaysbe your c***d, no matter what.Love,SamP. S. (from Carrie)Mom,I promised Sam I’d help her explain to you, so here goes. Please, you’vegot to understand what a wonderful thing has happened to her. It’stotally amazing the way she’s matured and deepened, but she’s still goteverything we always loved about her before. She’s the same person, butbetter. I know you’re probably completely freaked about it right now, buttrust me, when you hang out with her now it just seems really right, sheseems like she was always meant to be this way. Besides, I think, if youtried to make her change her body back to the way it was before, it wouldbe like stripping away her experiences, or invalidating them, orsomething. That just seems really, really unhealthy. I really think wehave to embrace everything that happened to her and help her keep growinginstead of going backwards.Anyway, I’m sorry I’ve been kind of evasive on the phone lately, but Ididn’t want to give away anything Sam wasn’t ready to tell you yet. Callme as soon as you read this, OK?Love,your other daughterCarrie–Finis

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