Tag Archives: dating

Jealous of the Moon

I’m a bit of a perfectionist by nature.  School was the ideal distraction for me as a kid: I could dive into it completely and dedicate myself to learning all the rules, reading all the books, getting the highest scores on tests, etc.  Unsurprisingly, math was my favorite subject.  (Or maybe surprisingly, since math is always getting a bad rap and I am, after all, A GIRL. GASP!)  There’s more than one way to arrive at an answer in mathematics, but ultimately there’s only one correct answer (or set of correct answers).  There’s something comforting and definitive about math that the other subjects lack, and math doesn’t even have to sacrifice any creativity for it. 

Direct, decisive, but creative.  In a nutshell, what I aspire to be.  

But math doesn’t stop there.  Because you have to show all your work (or, at least, we did when I was in school; I don’t know how the state of calculator use has advanced), you can always go back and find your mistake.  Find your mistake, fix it, recalculate and we’re back in business!  If only determining and remedying our mistakes in the rest of life were so easy.  

I was called “wise,” tonight.  It’s not the first time I’ve been described that way, but frankly I don’t think I possess any special skills or insight others lack.  Truthfully, if I’m wise it’s because I make a lot of mistakes.  I make mistakes, I reflect on them, and I try to make different and/or better choices the next time.  It seems simple because it is, this is how we learn.  But as I grow older I am honestly floored by how many supposed “adults” I’ve met that are afraid to make mistakes or, worse yet, learn from them!  Even my closest friends warn me against taking risks.  I know they mean well, I know they don’t want to see me hurt, but the size of the reward is generally directly proportional to the size of the risk.  You dream big? You’ll have to take big risks to get it.  

So let me propose that the idea that mistakes are in any way, shape or form “bad” is completely ludicrous.  Mistakes are a blessing.  For one, we’re not actually required to be perfect, even if we insist on putting that pressure on ourselves.  (I’m utterly convinced perfect would be boring anyway.  The Twilight Zone fans out there know what I’m talking about.)  More importantly, mistakes open the door for new knowledge and insight.  Some of history’s best inventions began as “mistakes.”  

If mistakes are inherently good things (which seems oxymoronic to say, I know), the best mistakes are the one you learn the most from.  Which, unfortunately, often correlates with the size of the mistake… There have been times in my life where getting my heartbroken, saying the wrong thing to the new boss, utterly embarrassing myself, etc.–the things that sting so damn much in the moment–where the best things that could’ve happened to me. 

Relationship mistakes are perhaps the most interesting because we don’t learn what’s necessary “right” or “wrong,” we learn about ourselves.  We learn who we are, how we love, how we cope, what we want, want we can give and what we’re willing to give.  And those are some of the most important things to know about oneself.  So was dating my coworker dumb? Sure.  Did dating someone twice my age present more challenges than I anticipated? Absolutely.  Will co-dependency gnaw at your sense of self like a hungry rat? Of course.  But I don’t regret a single one of these mistakes.  Perhaps I wish I’d know better sooner, but I know better now.  And that’s what matters.  

So what exactly have I learned through my various relationship follies?  Well, it sounds cliche, but I’ve certainly learned that the most important relationship I have is with myself and that self-care is not optional or self-indulgent, it’s a matter of survival.  I’ve learned that while relating is important, I never want to be the most important or *biggest* thing in someone’s life or vise versa.  I’ve learned that relationships are supposed to enhance your life, not become your life, not engulf your life.  I’ve learned that you don’t give to get, and, at the same time, if you’re consistently giving and not getting anything in return, it’s time to move on.  Often the act of giving gives back to ourselves, but if that’s not happening there’s a problem.  I’ve learned that jealousy is an extremely silly emotion that usually arises from not speaking your peace.  I’ve learned to speak up.  I’ve learned that sex is better when you’re loud. 

I’ve learned that Love is not always enough. 

I’ve learned that while I cannot control the actions or reactions of others, I can make informed choices and be in control of my own emotions and reactions, which is actually quite a lot.  I’ve learned that I don’t have to catch what others are throwing at me.  I’ve learned that making and keeping boundaries is hard work, but well worth the effort.  I’ve learned that love is meant to be shared–inclusive, not exclusive.  I’ve learned that 99% of the time it’s not personal.  I’ve learned to trust the person who shows me they love me without saying it, over the person who says it without showing it.  I’ve learned that my heart will heal and grow back, and being bitter just keeps the wounds from healing.   I’ve learned that if I love myself first, I have more to give others as a result.  I’ve learned that dating co-workers is about as good an idea as living with friends (i.e. not very).  I’ve learned some people will take as much as you let them.  I’ve learned that you are not obligated to anyone, even if they love you.  I’ve learned that communication is crucial.  I’ve learned that genuine love means letting go, even when it’s the last thing in the world you want to do.  

I’ve learned that there’s more than one right way to Love. 

This is an incomplete list, by far, and I know I still have much to learn.  The things I’ve learned are not necessarily universal truths, though some might be.  They’re what’s true for me, what I want in and out of my life.  I think that’s why there are so many mistakes we have to make for ourselves.  Not because we’re stubborn and won’t listen, but because we’re all unique people, so we’ll learn different things through our mistakes.  We’ll learn what we value, what we love, and what hurts the deepest.   

As long as you’re willing to take a risk, the rest will follow.  

Starin’ down the stars
Jealous of the moon
You wish you could fly
Just being where you are
There’s nothin’ you can do
If you’re too scared to try…

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Patience is a Virtue

In one of the most entertaining movies I’ve ever seen, The Mummy (1999), there’s a scene where the main characters are being chased by a mob.  Evy is trying to translate something that will help them stop the mob and Rick asks her to PLEASE hurry it up.  She simply responds without stopping what she’s doing, “Patience is a virtue.”  It’s always tickled me, and sometimes I use it to respond to impatience in real life.

However you feel about virtues, patience is a useful skill.  Very few things in life happen overnight, most of the time we have to wait.  And the better something is, the longer we have to wait! (Not the all the time, but often.)  Because of this, learning patience is downright practical.  Impatience brings a great deal of unnecessary discontent upon the barer.  Which isn’t to say don’t speak up or advocate for yourself when you need to, but learn to be patient too.  Timing is key.

This is very much how I feel about relationships.  I rarely go looking for a relationship, they seem to elude me when I do anyway.   But I wait, I meet people, I do things I enjoy doing, and eventually I meet someone I want to date and sometimes they want to date me too!  Sure, many of my friends are married, some married in their teens, most in their early to mid 20s.  And sure, it’s tempting to compare myself to their timeline, but what’s the use in that?

My beau and his wife have been married for 12 years.  They’re happy and they’ve built a life together despite challenges such as both of them being poly and very busy people.  It’s hard not to envy such a amazing relationship, but then I remember that my beau was 8 years older than I am now when they met.  There’s still time.  Heck, as long as we’re breathing there’s still time.  And surely their relationship did not come to be so awesome without hard work and–wait for it!–patience.

Truth be told, he waited for me, too.  We met over a year ago, really hit it off, but I didn’t call him… I was caught up in my own junk at the time, and it took me a whole damn year to call him.  But he didn’t prod me, he just waited.  And eventually I came to him.  If he’d pushed, I wouldn’t have.  (I know this about myself from past experience.) And now… now I feel like such an idiot for not calling him sooner!  But really, the timing wasn’t right then.  And I almost passed this up entirely because the timing wasn’t right.  What a terrible fool I would’ve been…

I can’t tell you whether it’s fate or coincidence, honestly, but sometimes life’s timing is uncanny.  Sometimes you get exactly what you need at exactly the right time.  And sometimes you have to wait a little while.

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Wristbands, really?

I’m just a little flabbergasted.  Apparently we need to brand single people now so you know they’re single (like how you totally know someone is unavailable if they wear a ring their left ring finger).

There are two major problems I see with this concept:
(1) Despite Facebook’s insistence that you’re either are, were or wish to be married, there’s actually a lot more nuance to relationship statuses, even if you’re single.  I mean, heck, at the moment I’m “single but seeing someone,” what color wristband would that be?
(2) It’s downright degrading!

Jezebel’s coverage of the issue is actually pretty thorough, and I appreciate the seething sarcasm.  They certainly cover the problem of nuance, “seven colors cannot possibly contain the multitudes of relationship statuses within singleness.” True story.

Perhaps the creation of these isn’t as insidious as I suspect… Creator Rob says: ‘Whilst working at my previous office of 3,500 people, I realised that I saw hundreds of people each day that could potentially be a suitable partner, yet there was no way of knowing their relationship status.’  Then again, maybe it is.

Really, Rob? NO WAY of knowing? So it’s safe to assume you cut out your tongue to win a bet and that’s why you can’t simply TALK to people to find out what their deal is? REALLY? I mean, it’s not even hard nowadays: you can talk, text, skype, chat, tweet, post, like, etc. etc. The ways we communicate keep expanding, but you need a special colored wristband to know who’s single so, HEAVEN FORBID, you don’t accidentally have a conversation with someone who’s romantically unavailable but may, nevertheless, make a great friend? I call shenanigans.

I really do find this degrading.  Maybe that seems a little out of proportion.  Granted, it’s hardly the same as the pink triangle, and it’s still a form of branding.  Branding a person to reduce them to a single characteristic and separate them accordingly.

Not only is it degrading because it reduces me to my status as “single” and nothing else, but it also springboards off the assumption that there’s simply no way I would willingly choose to be single.

“The new MY Single Band bracelet aims to take some of the complication out of looking for love, enabling singletons to easily spot each other.” 

Clearly, I am a “singleton” against my will, but thanks to this nifty colored wristbands (that happen to look exactly like the colored wristbands people wear for causes or those “shag bands” kids were into for a minute) will solve all my problems!  All I need to do is find someone wearing the right color wristband– no need to waste time talking or getting to know people!

Sinceriously– it’s degrading.  And they absolutely reinforce the idea of there being ONE TRUE LOVE out there, waiting for you with baited breath.  “The silicone wristbands are embossed with the words fate, destiny and future.”  I think I might gag.  If “fate” and “destiny” were REALLY at play here, then why would you need a stupid silicone wristband to find each other???

This idea does vaguely remind me of a quirky film I saw on Netflix called “TiMER.”  The concept is that science knows who your soulmate is and you can get a timer installed in your wrist which will tell you when you’re going to meet them!  It’s an interesting idea, and despite my general cynicism I actually adored this movie.  Why? I thought it did a fabulous job of challenging the traditional narrative about how you’re supposed to fall in love and raises some interesting questions.  In a world where you can know who your soulmate is, does dating have a purpose? What if you meet someone you like, but know they’re not your soulmate per the timer?  What if you meet someone you like and they don’t HAVE a timer?  Ultimately, the point I took home is that there isn’t a right way to love.  There’s just love.

So, in response to disgusting wristbands: No thanks, I’d rather continue having meaningful conversations and getting to know people without being focused on their relationship status.  Cool?

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Great Expectations

(Cheesy title, I know, but it’s my favorite Dickens novel and it fits the topic perfectly!)

As much as we all know we shouldn’t be held to anyone’s expectations in our pursuit of happiness, except perhaps those we impose on ourselves, the expectations exist nonetheless.  I had a wonderful, impromptu conversation with a coworker the other day who shared with me some of the pressure she regularly gets from friends and family about the progression of her relationship.  In anything new this usually happens: the people who care about us want to know every last detail and sometimes they do more harm than good in their relentless quest for details and updates.   And in relationships, there’s even an expected timeline for relationship progression.

Don’t believe me? You must be under 18.  Otherwise, you’ve lived long enough to notice that even if you don’t jump on this timeline personally, your friends will, and they’ll do it in waves.  Between 18 and 25 you will attend more weddings than you knew you had friends and relatives.  From 25-40 you’ll be invited to so many baby showers that you’ll take up knitting just to cut costs.  And after 40? The divorce wave cometh.

My aforementioned coworker is married, and she and her husband have been together for nearly 8 years.  However, they’ve only been formally married for a little over a year.  Despite never having been married, I know what this means, at least in terms of expectations.  The public likes hot romances and fast families.  That is, we consider it fairly normal to marry someone if you’ve been dating for anywhere from 3 months to 2 years.  Beyond that? “What are you waiting for?” “When are you getting married?” “When is he going to propose??”  Personally, I have a much more conservative timeline.  I wouldn’t marry anyone I hadn’t lived with, and I wouldn’t move in with someone who I haven’t been dating at least a year (I know, I’m shattering all your lesbian=Uhaul stereotypes!).  Then after you get married, you have exactly ONE year to get yourself knocked-up or family and friends give themselves the liberty to comment on your reproductive choices and lack of reproductive promptness.  Think of the children! Literally.

We laughed as she went through a sampling of the torrent of comments she receives: “When are you going to start your family?” “Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?” “Are you trying very hard? You know the longer you wait…” “Tick, tick, tick! That’s your biological clock!” “You should try [insert sexual position or type of medical intervention here, along with a personal anecdote]!”

Do you see it? How there’s also an assumption with the expectation?  Never has my coworker been asked if she even wants to have children, that is just assumed, but people have no problem asking if she’d prefer a boy or a girl before she’s even pregnant! Audacious doesn’t begin to cover it.  But the truth is, our friends and family absolutely think this is not just their business, but their sworn duty to ask.  Without pressure from our social circles, I’d wager some of us would never get married or have children.

The other thing that strikes me about this is how incredibly sexist it is.  My coworker noted that while she receives these kinds of burning inquiries on a weekly basis, her husband has received them… never.   Some questions are absurdly offensive, like “When are you going to start a family?” as though two people who love each other do not make a family already!  And some of the questions, like “When is he going to propose?” just make no sense.  Who says he’s going to be the one to propose?  If he is proposing, isn’t it likely a surprise?  What if they haven’t discussed marriage yet?  For some a lack of interest in getting married is viewed as an unwillingness to commit and a dealbreaker, but to others it’s just not that big of a deal.  I could go on.  Even still, these are the questions women receive and men do not.  In the case of lesbians, I’ve found that when one partner is more masculine (like me!), they’re often treated like the man in the relationship (which, ironically, is rarely the case in my experience; butches are like Cadbury Eggs, we’re tough and chocolately on the outside, and soft and gooey on the inside!).  Or, to quote a friend of mine, “There is no man in the relationship! That’s why we’re lesbians!” For gay men… I have no idea.  (Twinks, Bears, Gay men of all varieties– Enlighten me!)

All in all, these are intensely personal decisions that, for some reason, people feel entitled to inquire about.  Obviously, it depends on the relationship, but there are some friends with whom I truly have no desire to discuss my relationship plans.  But the sad truth is we do have an established structure in our society.  It approximately goes: Go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, buy a house, send your kids to school (cycle starts over with them), then work until your dead or can afford to retire.   Nowhere is it written that this is how you have to lead your life, but people will expect that this is what you want and eventually what you’ll settle on, if you haven’t already.

Gosh, it almost seems bleak.   But let me say what I said to my coworker:  “You’re allowed to not want children.”  Likewise, you’re allowed to not want to get married, you’re allowed to not actually get married, you’re allowed to not have children, you’re allowed to forgo a “regular” job for one of your own creation, you’re allowed to buy a boat or a hot air balloon instead of a house, heck, you’re allowed to run away to the nearest island and eat papayas all day.  It’s all about what makes you happy.  You are not required to live up to ANYONE’s expectations, no matter whose they are or how great they may seem.

As for single people, we have expectations too.  But the question we get is the same every time… So what’s new in your love life?!” 

Of course, I assume when I hit 40, it’ll change to, “When are you going to adopt another cat?” or “Have you purchased your grave-site yet?”

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The Trouble with Closeness

I’m starting to wonder if the trouble with relationships isn’t simply, well, relationships.  Or, to put it another way, becoming too comfortable with another person.

Right now I’m learning a new language, and even in just the first three class sessions we’ve spent a considerable amount of time talking about the difference between addressing someone formally versus informally.  All languages and societies that I’m aware of have these rules of decorum and politeness.  When you meet someone for the first time, you’re suppose to speak formally to them, usually until they give you permission to do otherwise or you two become close.

But it feels like once we get close to someone, that’s when we start taking them for granted.

Think about how you act when you’re in a brand new relationship.  I don’t mean the butterflies and the almost constant sex, there’s that too, but I mean how you treat the other person.  In the beginning, you’re much more likely to do thoughtful things for them, go out of your way just to make them smile, and even send them little notes to let them know you’re thinking about them.  Now, I’m not saying these things disappear as the relationship ages, but they become much fewer and far between or are reserved for special occasions (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.).

Emotionally speaking, I think we become more careless as time goes on.  A new couple hangs on each other’s every word, frequently wants to know what the other person is thinking, and is highly aware of the other’s emotional state and, perhaps more to the point, how your actions affect your partner.  But with time, we seem to become less aware of how our behavior impacts the relationship.  And, sadly, in some cases we outright start to abuse one another.

I can’t help thinking of my best friend.  For years, we were as close as partners without the sexual element.  We lived together, commuted together, took vacations together; at one point, we even started discussing what it might be like for two very close friends to raise a family together.  Weird, maybe, but we loved each other dearly.  For those years, there was no one in the world I trusted more, and the verse was true for him as well.  We knew each other’s deepest, darkest secrets and had seen each other at our best and our worst.  In other words, nothing was sacred anymore.

I never thought much about how we interacted, until he fell madly in love with someone.  Sure, he suddenly didn’t have much time for me anymore, but that’s predictable new-relationship behavior.  He didn’t have time for anybody but his girl.  But people began to approach me and comment on how he spoke to me–namely, that he was rude and even talked down to me like a parent might to a child.  I thought folks were exaggerating  that they just didn’t understand our relationship, until I saw him with this girl he was nuts about.

Goodness.  He hung on her every word, practically licking the ground she walked upon.  It was almost embarrassing to witness.  Things he would politely ask her, “Sweetie, can you bring in the dishes from the living room?” he would simply command me, “Jade, pick up your shit already!”  He was softer with her, kinder, and a hell of a lot more tactful.

Familiarity, I suppose, is a double-edged sword.  On the upside, you get to know someone and that can be really cool! But on the downside, we take each other for granted and sometimes forget to even be kind to one another.

Now, granted, the example I give is a friendship versus a potential relationship, and you definitely suck up to folks you want to fuck.  In that way, I may be comparing apples and oranges, but I’ve had the same exact experience within romantic relationships, the example of my best friend is simply the starkest.

My current relationship is no different.  In the beginning, we were careful with each other, kind and considerate.  Now we seem to bulldoze each other’s emotions like it’s going out of style.  No concern for how our actions might affect one another, it seems we’ve retreated into concern for our own needs and nothing more.  I know we both frequently feel disrespected, and I certainly feel belittled on a regular basis.  Is this how we treat people we Love? It makes no sense…

But, what my experience with my best friend taught me is something I think is true of all types of relationships, friendships, romances, family, etc..  What I learned there was that it’s often the people we Love the most that we take the most for granted.  We just expect them to be there, like they always have been, with no effort on our part.  But if the people we Love feel unappreciated, disrespected or, heck, even obsolete… then they won’t stick around for very long.

In all fairness, I’m basing this on personal experiences  which means it could just be me.   Maybe I’m just the kind of person people talk down to.  Even most closest friends tell me I have a tendency to be a doormat, often for the sake of niceness, in my mind.  I’m trying to usher some of that crap out of my life, but I have a hard time refusing to help someone when they ask for it I don’t have a “good” reason to turn them down.  Perhaps this is why I feel taken for granted so often.

So I’d love some more anecdotal data on this one.  What have been your experiences, dear reader?  Does familiarity breed carelessness? Or are people only as careless as you let them be?

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Forever

Let’s be transparent about it: I’m wary of relationships.  Anyone who’s been alive more then 3 years probably is.  After all, people hurt each other.  And, as my best friend says, “A big front has a big back.”  In the case relationships or love, the more you invest and the more pleasure you get from the whole experience, the greater devastation you’re risking yourself should it come to an end.

Or when it comes to end, I should say.  All relationships end.  Some do make it “till death do [they] part,” but most relationships will end much sooner than that for any number of reasons. Some ends are amicable, others complete blood baths.  I’ve had my share of both.  Nothing I’m saying here is remarkable, we all know it, right? Then why are we risking our hearts? Assuming we put heart into it– which is frankly the one way that seems at all worthwhile to me. But we do it anyway.  Time after time, failure after failure, we keep looking and trying and, more than likely, losing.  And it was never entirely our fault or entirely the fault of the other person.  Though, more than likely, we underestimated our power to change the relationship. Some are just bad ideas from the get-go.

But why? What, exactly, are we looking for? It’s not the risk of heartache that makes me wary of relationships.  Pain doesn’t scare me.  It’s that many of us are looking for “forever.”  Which is asking A LOT.  I’ve promised forever to some people.  I love them still, that’s true, but it sure as hell didn’t last forever.  I don’t really see it in the nature of relationships to last “forever.”  Even if it’s death that has to part you.  The Earth will still be spinning long after humans are extinct and all traces of our existence erased (save fossils), so what kind of absurd thing is it to say “forever” to someone, regarding your feelings and your relationships? Humans aren’t known for their stability of emotions, for one. But I guess “right now” or “as long as it lasts” isn’t quite as romantic as “forever.”

We turn again to Facebook.  Now, I know I talk about Facebook a lot, and it’s because I think Facebook is a fascinating place to study relationships.  I have my relationship status turned off because I hate that everyone has something to say when/if it changes… but it’s intriguing to watch how it plays out on other people’s profiles.  This image is just brilliant to me.  I couldn’t have made up something better:

So, the person who’s toasting to his “forever love of forever” has been dating this gal for about 18 months.  Year and a half… forever, same difference, right? It’s why we let 18-month-old’s drive cars.  But the string of responses just amused the hell out of me.  The first couple of responses are folks chiming in with their own relationship fodder–anything to talk about ourselves, right? But then my kindred spirits come out of the woodwork, and I’m comforted by the few folks gagging and making “Your Mom” jokes to combat the 40+ likes this post already got.

Oh well.  I hope this friend isn’t disappointed down the road of whatever is to become of his “forever love of forever.”  But I’m going to do my best to focus on what’s right here, right now.  I have to let my Love fuel me.  Whether I’ve convinced myself it’s the mystical “forever love” or any of the other, equally as worthy forms of showing Love towards another person, I’ve got to give all I can now and not worry about who I’ll have to Love later.

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Is it me?

So, the other day I connected with an ex I hadn’t spoken to in nearly two years.  We caught up and had a really lovely chat.  Both our lives have been somewhat tumultuous over the intervening years, and ze confided in me that ze had come out as trans.  Of course I told zir how much I admired and appreciated how much courage that took–being truly honest with yourself is never easy.

But in the back of my mind, there was that little voice going, “Is it me?”

You know those girls who always date the very clean cut, fashionable guys and then are constantly finding out their exes have come out of the closet as gay? Yeah, I have that going on except my exes keeps coming out as trans.

Now, logically I know this has nothing to do with me except in that it says something about who I’m attracted to.  As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to be attracted to queer, but masculine presenting genders.  This includes both butch women and trans*men.  So perhaps it’s no surprise that my first girlfriend became my second boyfriend while we were dating.  Or that another ex of mine would come out.  Or that I’ve dated a fair share of pre-op trans guys.

If anything, it makes a girl wonder if there’s something to the “butch flight” theory.  For the record, I do not believe in “butch flight.”  While, yes, often presenting as butch is a stop on the way to coming out as trans, I believe those who identify as trans are trans and those who identify as butch are butch with no real crossover.

For those who don’t know, “butch flight” is a theory that suggests that because transitioning is easier (note: NOT easy) than it was 50 or 60 years ago, more and more butches are opting to do so and/or they feel pressured to do so.  This theory doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because we’re talking about a shared gender in different sexes.  Remember, sex and gender are not the same thing.  So on the one hand you have the butch lesbian: a masculine presenting woman.  And on the other you have the trans*man: a masculine presenting man whose biology may not or has not always lined up with his sex.  If you have the knowledge of these distinctions, which I boldly assume most queers do, I don’t understand how you can realistically connect the two.

Do I think the “classic butch” identity is in decline? Yes, from my observations it is.  I think part of this is changes in styles and fashion over time.  But, more the point, I think in reality it’s indicative of the slow erosion of the gender binary.  That is, slowly but surely, people are starting to understand that gender exists on a continuum.  That you don’t have to choose one or the other.  In fact, you can exist fluidly or somewhere in the middle as it suits you.

I’m a great example.  Most people would meet me on most days and say I’m clearly butch or a tomboi, but I identify as “genderqueer” (or “genderfucked” if you prefer.  “genderweird” works too.)  While, yes, most days I am more butch in presentation, I definitely have my girly days.  I might not slather my face in makeup, but I’ll throw on a sassy dress and a pair of heels (and cry about that decision some 10 hours later).  I do it because I can– because I am not a fixed, immovable object.  Glaciers aren’t either, just because you can’t detect their movement with the human eye.

Anyhow… I know enough to know that it’s not me.  But I can’t help wondering if I shouldn’t just cut out the middle woman and date trans*men rather than women at all!

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Casualties of Love

Love is a many splendored thing.  Love lifts us up where we belong.  All you need is love!

…Right?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Love is a wonderful thing, and I truly believe that only ideas and actions based in Love can be truthful.  But somewhere along the line, especially for us English speakers, it seems that we all forgot there’s more than one type of Love.  It’s not just Love is what you feel for that person who gives you a raging boner– after all, that could just be infatuation.  No, there are so many different kinds of Love.  Love for your country, Love for your family, Love for an animal, Love for Ingrid Michaelson (or any musician– but how can you not love her?).  The list goes on and on and on and on.

But we get particularly caught up in this idea of romantic Love.  And I get why.  Who doesn’t love that new relationship energy, when everything is puppy dogs and kitten rainbows? And, as someone who’s libido is straight up going to waste at the moment, I get the sex part too.  But Sex is NOT Love.  I think sex can be super, extra special if it’s with someone you Love, but sex is just sex.  You don’t have to fuck someone to Love them, and you don’t have to Love them to fuck ’em.

But, hey, if we’re all consenting adults, what’s the big deal?

Perhaps there isn’t one.  But this entry is dedicated to all my fallen comrades.  To the once ostentatious dreamers, who have  given it all up for the chance at domestic bliss.

I first started to realize I was actually losing friends to Love back in college.  I moved in with a new roommate, and one of my close friends quickly fell for her.  It was messy, their get together, since she was in a long distance relationship at the time, but after a lot of angst they became a couple.  And suddenly I only saw my roommate every other morning, when she came by to pick up clean clothes.  This phenomenon, the first way in which we lose people to Love, is something my friends and I have coined “Girlfriend/Boyfriend Island:” that period of time when a relationship is new and you can’t get a hold of your twitterpated friend, by phone or any other method, and they literally seem to have run away to an island somewhere.

Fortunately, this stage usually wears off, but it can take up to a year and for some, it doesn’t seem to wear off ever.  But once you’ve gotten your friend back from the Island, you start to notice that they spend more time hanging out with other couples than they do their single friends and, as a result, you’re seeing a lot less of them.  This is where you actually start to wonder if your friend has been body-snatched, because something just isn’t right.

The length of this Couples-centric stage depends on the person.  For some, it’s transitional like the Couples Island, but for others it’s a lifelong shift into the world of coupledom and coupled privilege.

But none of this scares me.  None of this is why I think there are true “casualties” in Love.  Remember the couple I mentioned before that got together when I was in college?  Well, they’re still together, got married last year, actually.  I went; it was a lovely ceremony and I was genuinely happy for them.  But it was a mournful day, too, because of what they both gave up in being together.

A few years after they’d gotten together, after college graduation, we were all living in the same city and the lovely couple invited me over for dinner.  We had a nice time, but I noticed something… off, about them both.  Namely, neither of them had anything to talk about.  I must’ve gotten asked 10 times over the course of three hours, “So what’s new with you?” I was confused.  Sure, they’re both responsible people, working to save money and, in her case, working towards her doctorate.  But something was missing in both of them.  A certain spark I didn’t see anymore.

He used to be the biggest dreamer of them all.  The stage, the lights, the audience– he was going to be a star.  Now he’s content to sell furniture to snobs downtown.  Her love of school was always legendary, but being a foreign language student, she once had plans to travel all over, live in different parts of the world, soak up the culture.  She’s abandoned all of that now, because her husband doesn’t speak anything besides English.

I was torn.  Here were two people who I cared about very deeply, and they seemed to be truly happy together, just being domestic.  Yet, I could still see the tattered dreams under their feet, and I sincerely am not sure whether to be joyful for them or to mourn was has been lost, possibly forever.  Both of these once vibrant people had become mellow, predictable and, at times, kind of boring, as a couple.

I know Love comes at a cost.  I know because I’ve had to make that kind of choice before: Marriage or my future?  Before I came out, I was dating a straight guy.  It was long distance, and we were together for four years, but I ended things towards the close of my freshman year in college.  It wasn’t for lack of Love.  It was because I saw my future shriveling up before my eyes.  He wanted me to move to another country and marry him as soon as I was finished with undergraduate school.  And while I Loved him, and wanted nothing more than to be near him, I couldn’t make that leap.  I couldn’t throw away all my possibilities.  Without him in the picture, I could do anything after graduation! I could join the Peace Corps, or go to graduate school, or travel the country making money as a street musician– anything was possible.  But with him? My destiny was set.  I would get married, be a mother, and settle down.  No changing the world, no Jules Verne type adventures, just predictability.

To this day, I still Love him, but I chose Possibility.

I say this all with one of my best friend’s weddings looming before me.  In a few short months, I’m supposed to give a fabulous toast to their Love.  But what do I say when I feel like I lost my friend to the relationship he’s in?  Back in the day, when it was just him and I, we were going to take on the world together– and change it.  We sat on the subway talking about every grand thing we were going to do, and there was no ceiling as far as our dreams were concerned.  He was exuberant and opinionated, to the point of being bossy at times,  but I loved that he was just unabashedly him, and no one could stop it.

Or so I thought… Then, one day, he disappeared to Girlfriend Island.  Two years later, he still hasn’t come back.  What kills me, though, is that he is not the same person.  Where he was once loud and proud and in charge, now he’s meek and accommodating.  I’d call him a house-husband, since he does all the cleaning and the cooking and caring for the house, but he’s also supporting his fiancee with his full-time job while she dicks around in graduate school.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say he’s been house broken.  Where he once spoke of changing the world, now all he can think of are linen colors for the wedding and babies for afterwards.

And then they went a got matching tattoos.  Not little ones, either.  Enormous, colorful, sure as hell expensive, matching tattoos.  I mean, for one, this is but one way to guarantee it won’t work out.  Relationship tatts are generally a terrible idea.  But I think what got me is that, once upon a time, my BFF and I said that after we’ve known each other for 10 years, we’ll get some kind of inside-joke, correlating tattoos.  We’ve known each other for 8 years.  He and his fiancee? Not quite 2.  Suddenly, I don’t want that tattoo anymore.

So on the surface, my friend seems happy.  And if he’s happy, I’m happy for him.  It’s just a little hard to swallow that he’s happy and everything is utterly perfect when, for one, all his friends are her friends and he doesn’t have any of his own where they’re living now, and, more the point, he is literally a vastly different person since they got together.  I mean, he went from extrovert, always being the center-of-attention, to being some kind of doting, lovesick wallflower.

And so I take this moment, to pause from the seemingly endless celebration of coupledom, to mourn our fallen comrades.  To mourn the opportunities lost, the dreams abandoned, and the personalities forever altered in pursuit of “The One,” a fictional concept there to push the idea that you’re not perfect just the way you are.

Well let me tell you–you’re perfect and complete, exactly as you are.   Whether you’re single or in a couple, don’t give up on yourself for another person.

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Beauty and the Beast

My childhood consisted of what was probably the height of Disney’s great animated feature length films.  The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, and, of course, Beauty and the Beast.

BATB was always my favorite.  I told people it was because I was Belle.  You know, brown hair, brown eyes, lovely singing voice, sense of adventure, wore a dress my favorite shade of blue, and was the quirky, bookworm outsider.  There were certainly parallels.  But I am not the most beautiful girl in town.  The gal the town jock is trying to win over? Hardly.

It was a lie.  Belle wasn’t the one I identified with… it was the Beast.  And not “the Beast” as in “Prince who got transformed into a monster,” but as in a Beast.  Misguided, sure, but a Beast nonetheless.  And the line that always stuck in my head?

Who could ever learn to love a Beast?

In that story, the answer is Belle.  In mine… I’m not sure.  Admittedly, I haven’t done a great job of Loving myself.  In fact, that benchmark is kind of high.  I’d settle for not hating myself most days.

Likewise, Phantom of the Opera has always been a love of mine.  The Broadway play is my favorite, but the book is good too, though very different.  Of course in both you have the Phantom, the talented, yet hideous, creature who lives beneath the Paris Opera House.  Seeing a pattern here?  All these creatures with supposed “hidden beauty,” looking for Love.  The Beast actually finds it–Go Figure!–but the Phantom is not so fortunate.

I guess real life isn’t as dire as fiction.  I might not be the leading lady, but I do have a nose and I’m not that hairy (even without shaving).  Yet, like these characters, I’ve never really felt like the real me was all that visible.

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Please Bring…

Last week our department hit our 90%-before-the-end-of-March fundraising goal.  Obviously, we were all pretty excited! But the department VP asked that we keep low-key about it for the moment.  Today, I received an email invitation to a celebration party.  Our VP’s husband is a chef, so she’s inviting us all over to her house for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.  Sounds great, right? Good food and a reason to celebrate! But I’m not sure if I’m going…

Well, why the hell not?!  The invitation was short and sweet.  It said:

Now it is time to celebrate!!!

[Date, Time, Location]

Please bring your significant other and join us for a few hours to celebrate hitting 90%!!!

See the problem? It’d be one thing if she said, “Feel free to bring your significant other,”  but this “please” business has me confused as to whether or not I am actually invited to attend should I NOT have a significant other to bring.  Seems far-fetched, right? It is a work event… but even if we dismiss that notion, there’s still the fact that every other person there will have a significant other with them, and I am straight up not sure if I will even have anyone to talk to!  The last thing I want to do is be mopey in front of my co-workers, but if I go and I’m the only single person there, that’s a very real possibility.

To clarify, here’s a quick breakdown of everyone in my department at work by relationship status: 8 of them are married, 3 others are in committed relationships, and one is single.  You already know which one is me.  To be fair, I’m also the youngest person in my department, but not by a heck of a lot!  The two co-workers closest in age to me (they’re a year or two older than me) are both married.

It’s not like this is a new problem, it’s just one that’s complicated by work.  I’ve routinely not been invited to events or suddenly was not able to spend as much time with a friend because I don’t have a significant other to bring to said events or double dates or whatever it is couples do with other couples.   I’ve never really understood couples-only events, to be honest.  Are your single friends less interesting? Do you have less in common with them? I just don’t see what there is to be gained by excluding people on the basis of their relationship status.

So here we have an event I might not even be invited to if it weren’t for work, again, on the basis that I do not have an S.O. to bring to the party.  So what do I do? Go alone? Skip it? Bring a friend? Bring my cat just so we can all be super clear about who the spinster is?

This seems like an unnecessary amount of heartache for what would otherwise sound like a fun Sunday to me.  Excluded before the party has even started.

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