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Dr Erica told me that it was just after Dr Sarah had gotten her first patient that she began having them. Dr Erica called them 'birth pangs' which she received before getting a new patient. In this case the new patient was me. Like a mother who had carried several children to term, her pains with me were not as severe as Sarah, her first. That was good because instead of it taking days before I had hit bottom, it was minutes.
We had gotten together in her office at 50/50 press after I had won 'Ellen's Next Top Model' and we were scrambling to get the final touches on the Book Tour before the final taped segment aired on 'Ellen' We were actually still doing 'live' segments for Ellen's show on stunts not involving eliminations. Those of us who were currently in the winners bracket were on call on Thursdays for the live looks while the taped segments were airing on Tuesdays for the winners bracket and Wednesdays for the loser's bracket. For me going all the way in the competition, it just meant that we had to schedule in a break in the book tour for travel to the Mansion for Thursday's live shot.
Part of it was that I had to catch up that there was this whole new segment to my life that was suddenly very relevant to be addressed in the book tour that I was a Doctor of Electrical Engineering & Bionics Engineer on sabbatical from the Canadian Space Agency's Robotics program.
In this present timeline, extreme burnout from putting everything into my career to avoid addressing my gender identity was aided from pressure of being in the public eye as a STS-123 Space Shuttle astronaut, who helped bring DEXTRE to the ISS. My astronaut status was still active at the CSA and I was in line for a 6 month flight on the ISS. The pressure to be George was even greater than it was at NASA since I was an even greater treasure to be a Canadian Astronaut who actually flew in space.
Being a role model as an astronaut added to the melt down from not transitioning that resulted in me being in that hospital room when Dr. Erica had come to save me. In the present, now. my TG writing career was less about just earning money since I had a job I could go back to and resources from having earned a good living all of this life and more about Joanna building her life and separate identity from the guy in drab. I as Joanna could go back to Bionics at some point but only after I had matured enough to make that career my own instead of 'his' career.
"I think that we have made good progress towards making the adjustments in the book tour we needed to make with your Ellen commitments."
"I've got another monkey wrench for the Book Tour. After finding out that I won Ellen's Next Top Model, I had to tell the CSA about my transition, about winning the contest, and my book. If this was NASA then I would never get another ride to space and they would find a way to quietly terminate me. But with the CSA, my being a minority would play well nationally. Without congress to get in the way, the US President would love to aid a milestone for a famous minority. They want me back at HQ ASAP for meetings with the top to determine my future. "
"You should do that quickly. You should drop everything and go and we'll cover for you with Ellen and the Book Tour. I'll help you with transportation after we finish. We need to know their attitude so we can know how to play your astronaut celebrity when it is revealed."
"I'll text them that I will be on my way soon. I have an apartment near the CSA HQ in Saint Hubert, Quebec. so I won't need to take a lot. Guess I'll have to do some shopping to give my wardrobe there a makeover!"
"That will be even better! Brent says that the Ellen show has agreed to add a look in segment to reveal your past to their audience after the book release. A full segment about your life story and promoting the book and a chance for further book promotion with the interview segment after you've been crowned Next Top Model."
"What perks afterward can I expect?"
"With the positive response to you, they will pick up your option for more segments on the show. We also expect a modeling contract to be revealed as one of the prizes for your win and we'll make sure any contract you sign has a delay for public service as well. You are going to be a busy girl."
"Can you imagine me doing my Ellen Top Model segments from space aboard the ISS? In the beginning I knew that by publicly publishing my TG fiction, I would attract some attention due to my status. Now we get that in spades from the very beginning. Not only should it help book sales but I will have the chance to do some good for people who are really hurting. I have a question but I'm not sure if this is the right venue for it, Erica"
"I think we've made sufficient progress with this till more of the details become known. Let's take a break."
As I suspected, Goblins was not on the other side of the door we walked through but instead was Dr. Erica's office.
"Here we are, Joanna. You can ask some short questions when we are alone but I sensed you had something more intensive brewing."
"Is the success that we are on the cusp of having both you and I, going to impede either your or my ability to function in this venue?"
"While not everyone's mundane life in this venue has to be an overwhelming public success the nature of this therapy allows people to fulfill their full potential and huge public success is a component to that. We've had prominent people before be Doctors and that of itself is not a dis-qualifier. Keeping the secrecy is more of a challenge but to such people, they thrive on challenges to have gotten to that success. We both should be okay in this process."
"That makes sense and it is a relief to me that where we are headed won't make either of us give this up. I have another request. I was wondering if I could for my own reference, work from my list and do a "Life Story so far" So much of my life has changed that it is difficult for me to keep sorted what has and hasn't happened in the now. The knowledge is there if I think about it but knowing to think about it is a challenge."
"I'll let you make some notes for yourself based on the list. We can even keep them in the same notebook. Just let me know when you would like to do so and I can give you some time with the list. What brought this on besides being confused?"
"I guess you can blame the new engineer training in me. Even with my female brain the discipline of Engineering tends to promote looking at the world in a certain structured way. While the engineer in me, likes more structure, the writer in me is much more open to thinking outside the box instead of pushing things in nice boxes for safe keeping. I'm sure that once I apply a little order as an exercise that tendency will be satisfied and I can get back to real world thinking. It is nice to once the brain storming is over to be able to apply some discipline to accomplish something."
"This was always a part of you. It will be a challenge to satisfy both aspects of your nature but you are just the person to do that."
"Dr. Erica, I know that the time travel is for resolving regrets but with my life changing so radically when my gender presentation is correct even if it is temporary. I feel like I have missed out on experiencing large chunks of time that never happened first go around since I never presented as other than George."
"Is there any time like that which you would particularly like to relive?"
"The summer I spent in Summer Camp in CA with Dee Dee that the last alteration got me off the fence and I was actually willing to try."
"The STS-123 mission so I would be able to experience being an astronaut instead of just remembering it."
"What I have just heard is that you expressed two regrets. Would you like to add them to the list?"
"Of course. Would I be able to re-live the whole summer?"
"Don't you think you've got enough irons in the fire that taking a 3 month vacation from your mundane life would be a bit much right now? However you could get a sample of what life was like for you at Summer Camp with Dee Dee."
"Okay." I wrote two items: I regret not being able to experience the first time around what it was like for me to spend that summer at Camp after my freshman year of High School with Dee Dee. I regret not being able to experience the STS-123 flight into space aboard the shuttle to the ISS.
Just then the text response came back: Meeting will commence after your arrival. Security is expecting you and will re-issue your ID. God Speed!
"They are ready for me, Dr. Erica. I'll get my Security ID exchanged and go right into a meeting with them. With them moving this quickly it will either be really good or really bad."
"Let's hope it's good. Through that door will be your apartment in Quebec. Good luck Joanna."
As I went through the door I was indeed in my apartment in Quebec. I picked up my CSA ID and my keys and this time the door led to the outside where I got into my car and drove off. It was not long before I came to the security gate and I showed my ID to the guard on duty.
"Dr. Wolfe, you may drive right through and you are approved to park in VIP parking. Please anticipate a delay in security at main building where they will re-issue your ID. They will direct you to your meeting following that."
The gate opened and I pulled my car into one of the VIP spaces directly in front of the building entrance. I slid out of the car onto my heels and stood up ready to enter the building after closing and locking the door. I came to the security station just inside the front door and showed my ID.
"Thank you Dr Wolfe. If you'll come this way, we'll get your new ID ready."
I followed him to a small room behind the security station where a backdrop was ready for picture taking and they had the computer and printing facility to make the ID. After they had taken my picture, they were immediately able to produce the ID since it appeared my information was already entered. They mounted my new ID on a lanyard which I placed around my neck and swept my hair out from underneath it. I got directions to the conference room and made my way there. As I went through the door, I was directed to a chair at the table.
"Greetings, Dr Wolfe, Joanna, Thank you for coming so promptly after your text. While we would have preferred some prior notice, we can forgive you for the circumstances of your suicide and your enthusiasm for your recovery when you finally made the decision to transition. Seeing you here allows me to see and agree with what they saw of your beauty, poise and character. But your international publicity on Ellen means that we must address the situation immediately. We have the choices to either embrace you or repudiate you. But before we go on, I have two questions for you: Does Dr Joanna Wolfe wish to stay in the CSA and be a role model for transwomen and transmen? Does Dr Joanna Wolfe wish to accept a ride into space for a six month assignment aboard ISS?"
"Gentlemen and Ladies, yes to both questions. I knew when I transitioned that with my high profile past, I would be cast as a role model and I am ready to be one. More than anything, I would like to go back into space, this time as a CSA astronaut."
"Very good. You realize that as a CSA Astronaut that you would need to defer to our publicity office for future contracts and commitments. We will provide time and coordinate their publicity with ours for your television, modeling and writing careers. We feel that those aspects of your appeal will allow us to reach audiences which need to be reached for the CSA. Are you willing to comply with this subject to acceptance of the other parties involved?"
"Yes, I will. I have signed contracts with my publisher and with the Ellen show which may need to be reviewed but I believe both of them have a national service clause. I expect a modeling contract to be a prize in the contest that I won so we would have to negotiate with them before I sign it."
"Are you prepared to accept an early surgery date for GRS? We would provide a waiver for RLT (With winning the contest, it is apparent that you have met that requirement.) and expedite you to a place on the top of the waiting list. It is desirable to us that you be fully female when you are on orbit. Since the surgery has a recovery time involved, you'll need to have fully recovered before we send you to NASA for your training for the mission."
"Yes, I'd love to speed up my surgery. I am 100% committed to it and I would do it today were it available that soon. I agree that it would be better to be fully transitioned prior to training."
"Very good. The timing is right that the next increment training is in progress where the crew to go before you is finishing their training. With the commitments and your down time you'll do only online classes remotely. When your increment starts it's intensive training for the mission you'll join them onsite at NASA and your other commitments minimized to remote broadcasts with which we will assiat. Then of course you'll have the six months in space followed by the ordinary debriefing and re-adjustment time. We offer you formally a seat on that increment for a tour aboard the ISS. Do you accept?"
"Yes, I accept. Thank you so much for giving me this chance."
"Thank you, Joanna. We expect great things out of you for both the CSA and for Canada. Would you like to add anything from the astronaut office?"
"I'd also like to express my appreciation at your accepting this journey to the ISS. We had been holding this seat for you, and we are glad not to have to pass it to someone less qualified. It greatly upset us to find out of your distress during your sabbatical and we are glad that you have made a full recovery. We will be in touch with you to schedule an announcement here and in Houston with your increment crew of your assignment to the increment."
"I'll be in touch with the astronaut office and be available at your pleasure. Thank you."
"I guess we can cut this short since this breaking news pulled us all away from other things. Again congratulations Dr. Joanna Wolfe. This meeting is dismissed."
While some left rapidly, others stayed around and began grouping in the area where I stood. I exchanged greetings with all of them and I got the vibe that they all were excited about what kind of public face and attention that I could bring to the CSA. Even those who did not immediately rush out had places to be so when the last group of brass excused themselves for a private chat, I exited through the door and found myself in Dr Erica's office.
Well it was a doctor's office but it wasn't Dr Erica's office. This one was very blindingly bright white very sparse modern and utilitarian. But seated behind the modern stark white desk was Naadiah, that is Dr. Naadiah.
"Dr. Naadiah, I am so sorry that I threw away the home and job that you helped me to get then. But in the now, I had the job offer from CSA, but the ticket and place came from you. Even so it ended up the same with my meltdown and I'm still sorry. This is so confusing! It did happen then, even if that life doesn't have a direct connection with this one. Help?"
"Please sit down, Joanna. I'm here to help. You have nothing to fear."
I saw a very comfortable white plush chair in front of her desk. I’m not so sure it went with the decor so I’m guessing she brought it here especially for me. I was still going to voice my misgivings about seeing her like this but I could tell she still had my best interests at heart.
”¯Is Dr Erica okay? Not that seeing you isn't nice but she kinda promised me something. Is that it? Did she overstep her bounds as a Doctor? Please stop me before my imagination comes up with something else, Dr Naadiah.”¯
”¯Dr. Erica is fine and neither she nor you are in trouble. Dr Erica mostly plays things by the rules these days. When she feels like she has bent the rules mostly she has made the right call. Dr. Erica is my best and you are lucky to have her. Dr. Erica had an emergency where she had to be there for one of her patients for a prolonged time. She felt and I agree that with your special circumstances it’s vital for you to go on that regret you just added to part of a summer camp for female MD aspirants.”¯
”¯That’s good news. So you will act as my Doctor for this regret? Is this kind of fill in something that I should expect a lot from this therapy?”¯
”¯Ordinarily, you’ll only see me if something has happened to throw the therapy drastically off track . Delays happen and all things being equal you might have just waited for Dr. Erica to see you before you got to this particular regret. However Dr Erica felt that both of us were avoiding reconnecting. You were part of our therapy so I could have called you to my office any number of times. I knew where you were through Dr. Erica so I could have visited you mundanely as the good friend that I profess to be should have done. You knew where I lived and could have called and come over yourself.”¯
”¯I’m sorry for being silly, Naadiah. I know I've been busy but you make time for friends especially if you let one down like I did. Please forgive me and I forgive you..”¯
”¯Jo Jo please forgive me too and I forgive you, too. I really felt like you could do well in Toronto. It seems a focus in so many of your timelines. I felt that if all else failed, I would stack the deck in your favor and get you into Dr Erica’s neighborhood. So tell me about this regret that you had.”¯
”¯Well you know, my time line changed again after I helped Suzy the psychic in a less selfish way. I guess that gave me the courage to accept Dee Dee and her parent’s offer to cover for me so I could be Joanna for the entire summer after my freshman year at high school. Originally the regret was that I spent a large chunk of my childhood as a girl but never got to live through it first hand.”¯
”¯And now what have you discovered that attracted you to that time instead of one of the many other times that Dee Dee made girl time for you, sometimes for several days at a time?”¯
With the remote location where there wasn't any chance for any of what I did to get back to out me back home, I regret that I didn't go for it with a cute boy that I had met during the co-educational medical classes that we took with the boys. There were structured times for girl-boy socials and I missed out on them since I chose not to do so. I wish I had gone for it and saw how well I could socialize with boys. I don’t even have a clue how to do that now that I’m about to be out in the open with my status.”¯
”¯How experienced was Dee Dee with boys before that summer?”¯
”¯Not very experienced. All through junior high we pretended to be boyfriend and girlfriend. She didn't really do a lot of dating as a freshman and at the summer camp, she was too busy with me to date there. I guess watching out for me kept her out of trouble as well.”¯
”¯And what would you change?”¯
”¯I’d be more open to the date that Jeff and his friend Rick asked us on but be prepared for trouble in case both Dee Dee’s and my inexperience with boys led to trouble.”¯
”¯Good luck, Joanna!”¯
The now familiar spinning started and all of a sudden I was face to face again with a teen Dee Dee.
”¯You got to be loose, Joanna.”¯
”¯I’m loose, I’m loose. What if they don’t like this dress?”¯
”¯You’ll do fine. Just quit pulling at it.”¯
And I did quit pulling at the neckline and hemline of my red sun dress. Dee Dee looked like a dream in her LBD with the patent black 3 inch heels. Mine were red but only 2 inch. but I wobbled on them a little. Dee Dee was carrying a matching very small clutch while I had a normal sized purse. “
”¯Do you think they will know my secret?”¯
”¯There is no way that they will know your secret. First you've been almost too careful changing. Except for the three days a month where my parents are visiting and your cover is that you are indisposed on your period, you have an undetectable appliance over your privates and are wearing breast forms. You are just like any other teen girl here,”¯
”¯Sorry, Dee Dee. I guess that sometimes I’m a little too paranoid for my own good. Let’s get out there and have some fun. And if that cute Jeff and his friend Rick asks us out, I’m going for it!”¯
”¯You go girl! And I guess I’m glad that you are prepared for everything.”¯
She said that last while tapping on my purse. Dee Dee said it was far fetched that anyone at the mixer would have rohypnol but she still wanted me to test any drinks that we got with the cocktail napkin test strips in my purse. We both loaded up in the tram that would take us to the shared classroom and activity area between the camps. There would be a dance in the gym and a teen canteen serving food. We were all due back to our rooms by midnight. Since it was due to start at 8 pm we had an entire evening to enjoy.
”¯So do you know what you would do if one of those napkins did turn colors?”¯
”¯I’d have my taser in my lap before I tested it, just in case.”¯
”¯Did you bring the flashlight stun gun that Daddy got for me too?”¯
”¯Yeah. I bet it is small enough to fit in your clutch.”¯
”¯I've changed my mind. I’ll carry it. I’m a little nervous too but it should be okay Jo Jo.”¯
I handed Dee Dee the stun gun and it did fit in her purse. She handed me a couple of tampons and a pad.
”¯I’ll stay close enough for you to borrow these back from me if you have the need. Enough of this light conversation, here we are at the dance.”¯
Jeff and Rick were waiting for us at the dance. We started right away dancing three dances, well four counting the slow dance where Jeff held me tight. I didn't freak out and in fact I even enjoyed being held close to him.
We found one of the tables on the side and sat down. Both Jeff and Rick acted like perfect gentlemen and brought us our drinks. I felt a little foolish when the first napkins came back negative.
We all agreed once we’d finished our drinks that after Dee Dee and I came back from the rest room that we’d all go back out on the dance floor. We did what we needed and met at the mirror freshening our makeup afterward.
”¯Well what’s the verdict, Jo Jo? Did we pick a couple of rapist?”¯
”¯Of course not. They are both complete gentlemen. “
”¯Did you check out the size of Jeff’s hands? You know what they say about the size of a guy’s hands relative to that special part. I know that I felt that Rick was very happy to see me on that slow dance.”¯
I stood there too stunned to say anything. I wanted to respond to Dee Dee but nothing would come out.
”¯A bit TMI for you, Jo Jo? Well get used to it, cause we girls get straight to the point of it. Come on, let’s get back to the boys.”¯
”¯Okay, Dee Dee, I’m ready.”¯
The boys were a bit more frisky with us during the next dances. Even so I enjoyed the new sensations and didn't put on the breaks. They crossed the line for a prude but not for a normal girl. Instead of leading us back to our table once we had finished the set of dances, they had a proposal for us.
”¯Girls you gotta come. We may not have a chance like this again. We found a place where the cameras don’t cover. We can neck a bit without being caught. Sound like fun?
”¯Yeah, I guess. Where did you send Rick ?”¯
”¯He’s going to get us some drinks. He’ll meet us there with them.”¯
I noticed that Jeff was now carrying a blanket which looked large enough for the four of us to lay on our backs and look at the stars. We reached our destination and Jeff and I spread out the blanket and it looked like a king sized one. As Dee Dee and I got down to lay on the blanket, Rick came up with our drinks which each had an umbrella on it.
“Here’s your drinks, girls. Enjoy!”¯
”¯Alright you two, let’s get this party started. Come join us on the blanket. Woo hoo!”¯
”¯Rick you nerd. Where are our drinks? Girls I guess you’ll have to start the party without us. I’ll go with Rick to make sure we bring back enough for all of us to enjoy.”¯
”¯Okay but you two hurry back. I really want to party!”¯
I waited till they were out of sight and I got out the napkin and dunk it into my drink. It turned color.
”¯By George!”¯ I spoke with a louder voice to get Dee Dee’s attention and with a whisper. “Quick dump your drink.”¯
Dee Dee was wide eyed and tongue tied as she saw the test reaction on my drink duplicated on hers. We both quickly dumped our drinks out. We didn't want to chance running in the dark when we didn't know exactly where we were. Instead we decided to pretend to be suggestible vixen and lure them in close enough to use my taser and her stun gun on them. Since we didn't know where we were, we both dialed 911 on our cells and left them active with the volume muted and microphones on.
When they got back, we just twirled the bra’s we had taken off and tried to show off our cleavage and legs so they would waste no time getting down on the blanket on us. Rick was down within arms reach of Dee Dee first and she stunned him out cold with her stun gun. Jeff seeing what had happened to Rick stayed out of my reach but the Taser darts stuck him anyway and he too was out cold.
”¯Now we run!”¯
We both kicked off our heels and ran for all we were worth. Dee Dee had her Bluetooth in and she was talking to the police dispatcher. A couple of guys had heard our screams and we ended up running into their arms. Security from the dance caught up and made sure we were alright. We pointed the way back to where Jeff and Rick were still out cold. They retrieved my phone which had been taking video from the moment that Rick had arrived with our drinks and was still running when they found it. I gave them the test napkins from the 2 drinks and the cups which still had enough of the liquid left in them to test again.
In all of it the two young men stayed by us who we found out were named Tom and Harry. Even though it wasn't a planned date, they way they stayed with us and treated us was about the best medicine either of us had to get over that experience. Unfortunately my period was to begin tomorrow with the arrival of Dee Dee’s parents so we had to push back an actual date until the next social which both of us could not wait for it to get here.
As luck would have it, Dee Dee made it back to our shared room before me. She took off suddenly which was why she made it there first. As I opened the door to cross the threshold, I found that I was not in our room at all but back in Dr. Erica’s office.
”¯Hi Joanna. Welcome back. I’m sorry that I wasn't available for your departure. How did you get on with Dr. Naadiah.”¯
”¯She never stopped being my friend no matter what happened with me. While I already had the job to accept, her ticket and place to stay encouraged me to take it. And then I had my meltdown and give up what she tried to give me. It came out the same even if the details changed a bit. We did well. Thank you for getting us back together.”¯
”¯You will be pleased to know that Dee Dee took a happy medium of watching out for herself and advising her female patients which resulted in several lives being turned for the better. But looking out for Dee Dee was not in the way you originally expressed the regret to me. What changed your mind?”¯
”¯Dr Naadiah asked me to consider more than just myself as I relived this. It was my agreement this time that put both of us in danger. I guess Dee Dee was inexperienced too due to protecting me so that she did not sense any problem. But it was natural for me to do exactly what I did and put together the Batgirl dating utility purse complete with date rape prevention kit. “
”¯And what will you take from this?”¯
”¯That not all guys are bad. Our date with Tom and Harry afterward was pretty nice. That I was really inexperienced with dating as George and even more as Joanna. I feel that I need to really explore how to make good choices in dating but maybe I ought to wait till I have fully digested this one before adding the dating regrets that I should add.”¯
”¯That even if ‘be prepared’ is not the girl scout motto, it’s this girl’s motto. I just hope that I never am in a situation to have to use what I've provided like that again.”¯
”¯Joanna, I’m glad to be of help. I feel that the best way I can help right now is to give you a ride home. Be well, Joanna.”¯
As I exited through the door that Dr Erica offered to me, I was not sure what I would find on the other side but what ever it was, it would be interesting! This time it was indeed home where I collapsed on the couch and quickly picked up my pink Ibook. It was interesting that I picked out exactly the same one even though the money came from my bank account instead of belongings that Tina had sold for me. I was reminded that I wanted to write Tina and tell her my news.
Thank you for your last email reply. It's always good to hear from you. Girl, do I have news for you! I'm going back to space! The CSA has offered me a seat on the upcoming flight to the ISS. CSA is going to announce up here at HQ and then I'm going to be in a media event in Houston where I'll meet the cosmonaut and other astronaut on my increment.
Tina, if you can take the time off, I want you to be my guest in Houston for the announcement and spend the day with me. If you can get the next couple of days off, I'll have your ticket waiting for you at the Delta counter, You'll just have to write me back with your acceptance and your info so I can set it up. I can get you in at the facility that the astronaut's families are lodged and catered to, because you are one of my family of choice.
Tina, I love you so much for your encouragement then and now to live up to my potential and being Joanna. You gave me the confidence that Naadiah wasn't a stalker or worse. You made my goodbyes for the gang at Dragon*Con and let them know I had to cancel my appearance for work. You went to my quarters at Huntsville and packed up my belongings and sent them to me in Toronto, You returned my rental car for me and tied up all the loose ends that I had left hanging when I dropped everything to go to Toronto.
Now I would like you to take your place at my side as the sister that you are to me. You've done so much for me and I'd like to do this for you. Please say yes.
All my hopes,