So, I kind of love this blog (she’s on my blogroll and I also occasionally share her posts in my reader–you should follow my shared items!). It’s got a little bit of everything I love, minus queer: cooking, organizing, styling, designing, fashioning. Plus a little bit more.
She does this thing every month where she pictorially introduces things she’s happy about that month. I think I’m going to take a page out of her book and do the same this month. Yay February! You’re a hard month to get excited about on your own, but when I look beyond your name, you’ve got a lot to offer.
So. Here are the things I’m happy about this month:
1) Starting my burlesque class on Wednesday.
2) Valentine’s Day! I know it’s cool to hate Valentine’s Day, but sorry, I love it.
3) Making lots of kale chips.
4) Getting a vibrator for mi’lady’s house. Haven’t chosen one yet — we’ll take a trip (well, not much of one, seeing as how I live two blocks away) to Good Vibes SF to pick one out!
5) I get a bonus this month! My firm apparently exceeded budget this year, and so all staff are getting a fat bonus on our next paycheck. This couldn’t have come at a better time: mi’lady’s birthday coming up in March, plus hmmm maybe some burlesque costuming and props? And maybe some shoes? Also, erm, savings, cough.
Happy February :) (And yes, I know February is such a short month that it’s almost over. I’m a bit behind on my life.)
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. What makes me femme specifically, as opposed to just feminine, more generally. I guess another way of posing this question would be: what makes Queer Femme different from Straight? This has been inspired, partly, by some discussion on other blogs (see, for example, Sinclair’s four-part series on masculinity, Dear Diaspora’s post on “butches are not men,” and Packing Vocals on being a gentleman) regarding female butch masculinity and the transmasculinity “spectrum” (I use the word spectrum largely because I’m not sure what other word to use, though I’m not really comfortable with calling anything queer or gender-related a spectrum), and, among other things, what sets it apart from cismale masculinity. These kinds of discussions naturally led me to pondering what sets queer femininity apart from straight cis femininity.
This has also been inspired, though, by my own gradual “coming out” as femme, a process which has been unfolding for the past year and a half or so; with burgeoning self-awareness comes the revealing of a whole realm of possibility regarding what femme can mean, and I’m still (maybe always will be) trying to figuratively pick through and identify what works for me and what doesn’t.
So, for example. Jewelry is not really my thing. It’s not that I dislike it, but rather more that I don’t have strong feelings for it. I don’t get excited by sparkles and shiny things, really, and while I can certainly appreciate a pretty pair of earrings (and do wear them from time to time), I’ve decided that accessorizing with gems’n'things is an aspect of femininity that I’m fine with setting aside (for now, anyway).
Shoes, on the other hand, are a comPLETEly different story. I. LOVE. SHOES. It is an unfortunate love affair, because shoes are not cheap, even if one does one’s best to only buy them when they’re marked down. I’m sorry, but when I pass a gazillion shoe stores every week in my wanderings, how can I not get giddy? In fact, you should be congratulating me that I only own about three dozen pairs. I could easily own hundreds. And the kind of shoes I love are decidedly feminine. Heels, bows, colors, peep-toes, sex-on-stilettos. So there is a characteristic of femininity that I unabashedly own.
There are others, obviously, but there are also many more, I’m know, that I’m still working through. There are a few right off the top of my head that I can think of, and maybe these are even little femme-goals of mine for the near future. Some of them frivolous, others less so:
1) find *my color* of lipstick (you know what I mean, right?)
2) get a tattoo (I’ve got several ideas but need to settle on one and on where) (maybe this will be a separate post soon, because I have oh-so-much to say about tattoos and queer femininity)
3) learn better how to shop thrift stores, because about half my wardrobe is out-dated and I want more skirts, dammit! I now have like three that I wear on a rotating basis.
4) invent a signature cocktail! It will be called The Alphafemme, duh. And it will be fizzy and fruity. That much I can guarantee.
5) get into a regular exercise routine. I want to get back into yoga, which I really miss, and I’m also considering a hip hop dance class.
Those are just five, and there are more, but you see? All of those things, to me, in their different ways, mean femme. What I love is that femme means something totally different for everyone who identifies that way, and femininity can be performed, intentionally or unintentionally, in infinite ways. But I guess what I’m curious about, to bring this back around to my initial question, is: any girl could write the same list I just wrote, and out of the context of this blog, where HI I’M GAY, you wouldn’t know if she were queer. So, are there things that belong specifically to queer femininity? Or at least, do they mean something different as an aspect of queer femininity than they do as an aspect of non-queer femininity?
What is it about femmes that distinguishes our femininity from that of straight women? Whether you think it’s a je ne sais quoi or something very specific, I’d love to hear what you think.
So, the title of this post is misleading, I know. It makes it look like I’m going to NAME what I think are markers of queer femme. But instead, I’m copping out and asking you, because the truth is I don’t know.
Having been tagged last week by Em the Femme, I proceed to offer here ten honest things. They won’t be particularly revealing, because I tend to write pretty candidly as it is, and just about everything I can think of as an honest truth that IS revealing is something that I would rather write a full post about at some point. So, instead, here are ten honest things that will maybe help people get a better image of who I am and what my life is like…
1) I’m the oldest child of my parents; I have a sister who is just over a year younger than me and a brother who is five years younger. One of my favorite photographs is of my dad holding me minutes after I was born. He looks humbled and infatuated and gentle and adoring. He told me a while ago on the phone (context eliminated) that my birth was the first moment when he felt truly human. He’s the one who gave me my name, and he chose it because translated it means “first woman.”
2) I am a pianist. I started my classical piano training at age 5, and in my childhood and adolescence I played quite seriously, practicing hours a day, and competing and performing as well. For most of my young life, I assumed I would be a pianist (as a career). It was my identity, and I didn’t know anything else. I went through a major, major identity shift in my late teens, which included coming out to myself (among other things), and I think the emotional stress of it contributed to the physical injury to my right wrist which completely put a damper on my musical aspirations. For a year and a half, I couldn’t use my right hand at all, and once I could, I had lost much of my agility that made me a technically skilled pianist. I still play, and I have as much musicality as I ever did, but I don’t think I’ll ever be as good again as I was when I was 15. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with that, and sometimes when I hear beautifully played piano music I get so, so sad; I’m still grieving what to me felt like a death of a part of me.
3) When I was in tenth grade, my family spent six months living in London. My siblings and I attended a small private school there, and the experience was partly liberating and partly devastating for me. Liberating: the big city, the starting from scratch with new people, the excitement of London and living something entirely different from the suburban life I was accustomed to. For the first time, I was given much more independence by my family, and would often stay out late even on school nights, hanging out with friends and classmates (and boys I dated…). Devastating: I spread my wings too far and flew too high. I lost track of who I was. I dated irresponsibly and bruised people I should have cared more about. Sometimes, completely randomly, I’ll breathe in and something in the air takes me back to London. Strange how that happens.
4) *Ahem* I need to lighten things up a little bit. A little breather: When I was a little girl, my little sister and I would wake up at the crack of dawn (if not earlier) and rush downstairs, the whole world waiting for US to be AWAKE. And we would run to our play room, grab buckets of crayons and markers and stacks of coloring books and just sit on the floor of our living room and color until the rest of the house woke up. She would grab whichever coloring book appealed to her most, and used whatever creative juices she had flowing that morning to render her own interpretation of the black-and-white picture in colored marker/crayon/pencil on top of the original. She was not one for following the rules. I, on the other hand, would carefully pick the top coloring book from the stack, open to the first un-colored page, and make sure to use only the most realistic colors and color carefully within the lines of the original picture. I also never mixed media — if I started with crayon, I stuck with crayons throughout. My sister and I are two peas from separate pods that grew on vines far, far away from each other.
5) I have low blood pressure, and I faint quite easily. Some places I’ve fainted: on an airplane while reading the in-flight magazine, on the toilet while removing a bandaid from my knee, in church while reciting the Our Father, in an excruciatingly boring Monday morning seminar, in the shower. The list goes on. I hate fainting, but sometimes, when I really, really don’t want to be somewhere or do something, I secretly wish I would faint so that I can get out of it :(
6) I spent my senior year of high school living with a host family in Munich, Germany. (Side note: I never graduated from high school as a result! I love telling folks I’m a high school drop-out.) This year was also part liberating, part devastating. I won’t get into that here, because I think I’m going to write about that at some length in the near future. Suffice it to say I’ve been doing a lot of processing about it in recent weeks.
7) I love books. In fact, I realized during my year in Germany that places with no books make me feel ill at ease. Not in the short-term, but over an extended period of time. My host family there had no books (seriously, none) and it wasn’t until several months into my stay with them that I realized I was homesick for books. (My parents growing up, in contrast, had books lining at least one wall of every room in the house.) So now, I’m a book horder. I love libraries because of all the books in them, but when I read something, I rarely take it out from the library — I buy it. I like to make it mine, mark it up, smell it, drink tea with it, get cozy with it. And I prefer to buy it used (in fact I hardly ever buy new books) because they’re more lived-in, more human. I also prefer to buy them in stores, rather than online. Bookstores are my favorite places to spend time. So quieting.
8) I’m really, really horrible at keeping in touch with people. Instead of posting this right now, I should probably be answering any one of the dozens of emails from old friends and family members that are sitting in my inbox glaring at me. I don’t know why I’m so bad at this, and it’s something I keep trying to change, but somehow it just doesn’t happen. Sigh.
9) I LOVE shoes. Love them. Books and shoes are probably my two greatest frivolous expenditures. Also, contrary to many women, I find heels more comfortable than flats (with the exception of sneakers, but obviously I’m not going to walk around in sneakers all the time). Links to some of the many shoes I own are here, here, here, here, and the classic, which I wear ALL the time (see banner at top of page…).
10) I used to hate to cook, but now I LOVE it. There is something so wonderfully satisfying about putting together a balanced, delicious meal using local ingredients so that it’s all in season and fresh… I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but my roommate is very vegetarian so I never bring meat, fish, or meat/fish products of any kind into the house at all. Which is great, because I end up cooking really healthy stuff. It’s a stress reliever too. Can be stressful at the beginning, trying to think of something to cook, plan for it, et cetera. Especially if I have a time crunch. But I never, never regret it once I’ve done it. In fact, from time to time, I will probably be inspired to post a particularly successful cooking endeavor, more for my own records than for public consumption, so feel free to ignore. My next cooking goal (for this week) is to make fondue! Yummmm. Yesterday, I spent the whole afternoon with my roommate re-organizing our tiny kitchen, and the best thing about it was uncovering all these amazing unperishable pantry items I’d forgotten we had. Also, TEA. We have SO MUCH TEA, of every imaginable kind.
Well, I think that about does it. Phew! That was long. Now you all know a bit more about me than you did before. Any questions? :)