I meant to bring a notebook with me on this trip, the little black one with red edges that I wrote in a lot several years ago. I’ve always found myself to be self-conscious when writing journals, and typing is even worse but for whatever reason when I came across that little notebook sometime last year and re-read it I was struck by how genuine it felt. I think I honestly tried to capture the very thoughts that were in my mind. And the thoughts that have been swimming around in my mind lately need to be captured too, hence my wanting that little notebook on this trip. But at the last minute I couldn’t find it, it’s gotten misplaced in this move to Oakland, so I’m typing instead. Another 3 hours on this flight to Paris.
I was thinking earlier today – I was looking out the window of the airplane as it landed in Chicago – and there was a roof of a house, one of a thousand houses I could see from the plane, but this roof had blue patches on it. I don’t know a thing about roofs, but it was clear to me that that was a roof that’s getting repaired right now. And there I was looking at this roof of this house that I will never again see in my life (or if I do I will have no idea that it is a house I have seen from the sky) – people live in it who I do not know, and I will never know (or at least I will never know them in connection with this particular moment). And yet I know something about them – I know that they live in a house in Chicago and that their roof is currently being repaired. I could see it from the sky, from my one seat out of hundreds of seats in this Boeing 767, row 21, seat A. And maybe one of the people living in that house, if she was home, or he, heard the airplane flying above and didn’t give it a second thought, just the background noise of their day. That flimsy connection, half-way fabricated, yet somehow binds us together it seems. Us: this fictitious but perhaps real person, and if not a person in that house then a person on the ground, any person who heard the plane and either noticed it or didn’t. I – not even I but the existence of myself in this specific moment – was background noise to people’s day. Is that all we are, as humans, background noise to each other? Or are there others like me, who look down look up and wonder, who is in that house? Who is in that plane? We invent each other, even as we also all exist. The world I live in, when I realize how much of it I construct myself, in my mind, becomes suddenly so utterly illusory. There are as many fabrications of this world as there are people in it… and how do they clash with each other? Where do they match up? What happens when they match, is that when we meet each other?
I wonder what a story about someone’s life would sound like if it were told from the perspective of complete strangers’ fleeting impressions. The people in this house in Chicago: I can offer a piece – they are repairing their roof. It’s like this: do you ever wonder how many tourists’ photos you are in the background of? How many photographs you’re floating around in, whose albums you are memorialized in? What if you got all those photos together, what story would it tell about your life? Sometimes I wonder whether that’s all we are, whether that’s more real. Can it be that I am more real to myself, when I’m just one person, than I am to the hundreds of thousands of people I have encountered in my life, however transiently and unknowingly was the encounter? There are hundreds of thousands of witnesses to my life, I start to think they know me better, cumulatively, than I know myself.
I’m moving my fingers typing right now, fidgeting in my seat to try to get more comfortable. The man in the seat next to me, a middle-aged French man, is sleeping. This is part of his life, my witnessing him asleep, feeling slightly embarrassed about having to wake him up to go pee. I can see him sleep, and I know him, in this way, better than he knows himself.
Time to Destination: 02:48. Distance to Destination: 2390 km.
In these words, these pages (digital, real), only truth. That is my oath to myself. I think for the moment I have become too self-conscious to continue with my stream of consciousness. Instead I will write about another thing that I have been thinking of lately.
Just a minute though. I just looked out the window of the plane, creeping towards dawn in Europe. (It’s a short night tonight, playing catch-up with the sun!) I can see the sliver of white light above the horizon ahead of the plane. It’s 6:45am in Paris, and our plane is now southwest of Iceland over the middle of the Atlantic… not that I know the time zones, but that makes it the middle of the night, 3:45 maybe? We’re skipping ahead through time, in the next hour we will be moving into the sunrise and leaving the night behind, both an hour closer to Paris and while it will be 4:45 in the spot we’re at now, it will be more like 5:45 in the spot we’ll be then (as it will be 7:45 in Paris). I will hazard a guess that in the next hour, we will see sunrise… And right now, at this moment (now 5 minutes later than it was when I started typing this paragraph), I can still barely make out the Big Dipper right out my window. Five minutes ago it was brighter, if I hadn’t noticed it then I wouldn’t be able to see it now, because as we fly forward the stars fade away into the light. The night sky looks like it’s peeling back, I have the image of a sticker being pulled off, like the night sky is being pulled off the earth and underneath it is the day, and the more the sticker is peeled back the more the day underneath is revealed. It’s a wedge in the sky, to my left out the window is night, to the right the widening sliver of light and night is peeling back . . .
Time to Destination: 02:34. Distance to Destination: 2166 km.
I have suddenly been struck with the physical realness of the world. I’m looking back and forth between the visual map on the screen on the seatback in front of me, showing the little picture of the plane in the middle of the ocean, and then zooming back to show the entire map of the world and my little spot on it, and then looking out the window, back and forth, cementing the image of this particular horizon that I have with that spot on the screen in front of me. And I’m realizing that somewhere, far off to my front and right, is the continent of Africa. That Africa actually exists, it is a real thing that exists in space that is relative to the space I occupy. It isn’t just real space in other people’s lives, it is real in my life, and there it sits, an immense, huge, unfathomable chunk of land, off there to my right in front of me. I don’t blame my mind for only realizing this now, because how on earth (ha ha) are we supposed to be able to hold that in our minds, all the time? We have such capacity for thought, but our imaginations are better at creating fantasies out of nothingness than they are at grasping the fucking insane and awe-some realness of this actual existence we inhabit.
Things I want to do in Paris:
Wander around the Marais and the Place des Vosges
Read in a park or at a café
Find someone to show me around
Buy a razor, get a manicure and pedicure
Buy cheese and nice things to eat
Buy something lovely for Noelle – a print?
Go to lesbian cabaret? Or a burlesque show
Take photos uninhibitedly
I can no longer see the Big Dipper at all. The sticker has peeled back more and now the sliver of day is no longer just silver and white but is red and orange. The night behind me no longer looks as deep. It’s like sunrise on fast-forward. Real time travel! But think – even when we walk around, we are chasing the day or the night, or straddling the line between them perfectly, every day is a back and forth a chaotic jumble of finding our spot in time, but we can never be content with staying still and letting the ground carry us because we always move around of our own accord paying little attention to the out-of-control spinning right under our feet!
I’ve been away for the past week and a half. I’m finally back (sort of), and I am so ready for my life to resume as normal.
Last Sunday, I went to Gold Country with my family. It was beautiful. We were in a cabin about 20 miles away from Jackson, a quaint old gold rush town in the foothills of the Sierras. The weather was perfect — temperatures in the 80s, no humidity, not a cloud in the sky. There was a family of deer that lived about 50 feet from our cabin, and they would casually look up from munching leaves when we came near and then disinterestedly return to their meal. There was a swimming hole in a creek about ten minutes away, and we spent an afternoon there alternately baking in the sun on the rocks by the creek and jumping in the bitingly cold water from rocks 30 feet high. One day, we went for a hike at Devil’s Lake — it was about 4 miles to the lake, and we didn’t see a single other person that day. The trail took us up up up into the mountains and the cool lake was very welcome when we finally reached it. It’s amazing how much land there is that’s isolated — I forget that, living in the city. We took turns cooking there, so the first night was my night and I got to cook for someone other than just ML. I kept thinking that I was making too much food, but apparently 6 people can eat a lot more than 2 people can! I roasted fingerling potatoes with fresh rosemary, made a green bean and cherry tomato salad with spring onion and a light balsamic vinaigrette, and chicken marinated in lemon and garlic with a spring onion, garlic, ginger, and lemon sauce to spoon on top. Fresh fruit for dessert. I love California and its agricultural bounty! I got to read a lot too, being disconnected from the internet and my phone. Four days without being able to check my email once! I hope there will always be places on the earth that signals and cables can’t access.
And then the very same day I came back from the mountains, ML and I flew to Vermont for her sister’s wedding.
I had no idea what to expect from the wedding. I knew that it was the first time anyone in her family aside from her parents and sister were seeing her in the knowledge that she was gay. I knew that I would probably be under a bit of scrutiny because of that, though not nearly as much scrutiny as she would be under. I knew that there would be people there who would potentially be uncomfortable with us. I knew that I have ambivalent feelings about marriage, and that the last wedding I went to (of one of my best friends from childhood) felt contrived and, for me, uncomfortable. I knew that ML’s sister (who is younger than she is by a few years) is a darling, but is also pretty foreign to me. She’s 24 years old and has a career, a husband, a dog, a perfect apartment… It’s a life that sort of baffles me. So straightforward. So straight. I was a bit apprehensive about the wedding, to be frank.
But it was absolutely beautiful. A few minor bumps (throwing up after brunch the first morning because I’d been on a red-eye and hadn’t slept and the food was too much for my delicate system!, one of ML’s family’s close friends not being able to look me in the eye through an entire evening the night before the rehearsal dinner, having my feelings hurt – unintentionally – by ML’s mom the morning of the wedding, etc.), but otherwise — it was kind of indescribable. The couple obviously love each other a lot, and everyone was full of love and glowing with joy. Sounds cheesy, but it’s true. No one, aside from the one family friend, was remotely weird to me, and in fact people seemed to make an effort to be nice. The wedding was at a gorgeous lakeside location and the ceremony was simple and personal. Unlike the last wedding, this one wasn’t remotely contrived.
I did feel a bit uncomfortable. It was a bit melancholy, actually, just knowing that our wedding would be different. Of course most of the ways it would be different would be intentional, and thus would be better for us. But other ways are just side effects of queerness — the love and joy from all the guests at this wedding wouldn’t be as effortless at our (hypothetical) wedding. Of course, we wouldn’t have to invite people who would have a hard time feeling effortless about it, but then we’d be missing half of the people in our lives who we love. How do you get around that? How do you have a wedding that has everyone you love and also know that everyone there is unadulteratedly loving you and supporting you and excited and happy for you… In my family, at least, I know that that’s not quite possible. Almost, but not quite.
But. This wedding also made me want one. ML’s sister and her now-husband have been together now as long as ML and I have. (Yep, they got engaged after about 4 months of dating!) It was hard to be at that wedding and not think “this could be us getting married.” Not that we would’ve had the same wedding, but you know what I mean. I know that we love each other as much as the bride and groom love each other. I know that we have an awesome relationship. And there was something (ick alert) kind of transcendent and magical about watching the two of them make vows to each other in front of everyone they love. It felt so authentic and real and significant. I want that. And being there, it was hard not to want it now. It sorta made me feel like, if they’re doing it now, why shouldn’t we?
The truth is, I do feel ready to marry her in a way. I feel certain about her. I don’t think it’s possible to be certain about anyone forever. I think that contemplating the notion of “forever” in general — with regard to relationships or not — is dizzying. You can’t know about the future, in any regard, and that’s why trying to be certain about something in the future feels so scary. But I’m certain now. And day by day I’m more and more certain. Not certain that she’s my forever-girl, but that she’s my girl. Am I making any sense? But then the thing is, there’s no rush to get married. It’s important to me, someday, and it was a fun party and I love the idea of everyone getting together to help us celebrate each other, but that can be anytime and hopefully it will only happen once in my life so why get it over with? Anticipation is always almost as fun as the thing you’re anticipating, anyway. Plus, I have some things I have to do. Grad school starts on Friday. And before then is my birthday — tomorrow :)
Her: I like that you wear the pants in our relationship!
Her: …I mean, I like that I wear the pants, and you wear the skirts. But I like that you wear the pants!
Her: Yeah! I like it when you boss me around!
So far this weekend, I have: made strawberry shortcake, supported a friend through a break-up, bought a new sofa, found a small shelf for the bathroom, cooked mirza ghassemi (the eggplants at the market last week were too beautiful to resist), and dozed in the sun while reading.
Tomorrow, we get up bright and early to drive four hours south, to Cambria, where we’ll soak up the sun (assuming it shows itself, which weather reports insist it will), relax, take our minds off of anything regular-life related. We’ll be back late Monday night. I hope you all enjoy your long weekend! I’ll see you on Tuesday.
There are always going to be bad days, of course, and it just so happened that Tuesday was one of them. After a busy week, an even busier weekend, and then a late evening on Monday with friends over for dinner, I think the cards were stacked against me.
Settling into a semblance of a routine has been tricky. Am I unemployed? If I’m unemployed, then I ought to treat my days as if I were employed, because being unemployed sounds irresponsible and unproductive. If I’m unemployed, I ought to schedule my days full of Things To Do and be disciplined about getting it done. Or … am I on vacation? If I’m on vacation, then I ought to relax as much as I want, do whatever I want, and do so unapologetically. I’m sure what I’m looking for is a happy medium of the two (I am unemployed, sure, but I’m also on fucking vacation!), and just haven’t managed to land there yet. Until Tuesday, I’d been treating my days as if I were unemployed — sitting down every morning with my planner and my master to-do list to figure out what I needed to do that day and when I would do it. And then I was rushing around all day trying to get it all done, and would wind up feeling anxious in the evening – because I still wasn’t getting everything done.
What the hell was on my to do list? Um, let’s see. Trips to various grocery stores to stock up on pantry items. Locksmith. Bike shop. Dentist. Post office. Dry cleaner. Back to the dry cleaner. Consignment store to sell leftover clothes from yard sale. Statistics. Call Grandma. Send Dad birthday card. Talk to grad school re financial aid. Also, I’m still working irregularly for my former employer doing German translation stuff for a few of their cases, and last week, that ended up being about 20 hours (this week, about 10). OH, and have I mentioned UNPACKING AND ORGANIZING? Right, except that last thing has totally taken the shaft in the face of all these bloody errands.
So, anyway. Tuesday. I was supposed to go to a counselor support meeting for the rape crisis center I work for, except I was so overwhelmed and hadn’t even finished the main thing on my to-do list that day — ORGANIZE THE FUCKING CLOSETS — that I threw up my hands in despair and didn’t go to the meeting. Instead, I made summer squash soup because otherwise the squash was going to go bad. And then I talked to ML at work and she said “let’s just relax tonight! let’s just cuddle and watch The Wire and have sex!” And I was all YES. PLEASE. Except that when she got home I was still cooking, and I still hadn’t organized the fucking closets, and I started taking my general anxiety out on her. I felt like I was doing so much, so much that I wasn’t even able to do it all, and so I still felt like I wasn’t doing enough. And I started blaming her for not telling me that I was doing enough. And so I was irritable and mopey all evening instead of cuddly and relaxy. I felt like I needed some kind of assurance that I was doing okay, that I didn’t need to do anymore, but I didn’t know how to ask her to give me that assurance and so instead my overwhelmed brain decided that the only way to get that assurance was to keep doing more so that she’d tell me to stop. So… I kept doing more. I puttered around in the kitchen while she was doing dishes, and she told me to stop. But I didn’t believe her. So I kept puttering. And then after I puttered I went and started throwing stuff around in the closets. Getting more and more overwhelmed and frustrated the whole time. And in general, the more frustrated I get, the less able I am to articulate why I’m frustrated, so this was all just a baaaaad baaaaaad downward spiral.
Suffice it to say, the cuddling was unsatisfactory, the sex was non-existent, and we only watched 15 minutes of The Wire before going to bed. I probably broke out in tears three or four times over the course of the evening. ML is so good at making me laugh and cheering me up, so her efforts did temporarily break me out of my funk, but I was already at a point where I didn’t really know what was wrong and didn’t know how to snap out of it. So I went to sleep feeling dejected and disconnected.
I woke up on Wednesday feeling similarly. I watched ML get ready to leave for work, already feeling bereft and still feeling sad and disconnected from the day before. I still felt like I needed assurance that I was doing okay. I didn’t know how to shake it.
So, ML left, I breakfasted, and then I finally decided that that would be the day. The day to scrap the planner and the to-do list and just do what my heart felt like doing, because I needed to kill this anxiety.
And so? I organized the closets. I emptied all our clothes our of our dresser and our two closets and the basked of clean laundry and a big bin of clothes that hadn’t been put away yet, and I spent all day heaping and folding and hanging and shuffling around and finally, by early afternoon, the closets were organized. And you know what? That did it. My funk was killed. That’s all it took. Organizing the fucking closets. ML called me when she was leaving work and all she had to hear was my bright “hiiiii!” before she knew that I was all better. “What happened to YOU?” she asked. “Did you clean the closets or something?”
And now I think I’m going to scrap the planner and the master to-do list and instead just start each morning with a cup of tea and the question, “what do I most feel like doing today?” After all, this period of unemployed vacation is temporary. I really ought to just take full advantage of it for what it is.
Well, hello there. I’ve been going through major blog withdrawal in the past few weeks as my posting here has been sporadic, at best. And believe me, it has not been for lack of inspiration or motivation. It’s been for lack of time. My last two weeks at work were a true test of my stamina — I clocked — wait for it — 175 hours in the span of two weeks. One hundred and seventy fucking five hours. I would wake up in the morning at 6:30, shower, head in to work, grab a granola bar from my desk drawer and work 15 hours through, often not stopping for a 10-minute lunch until 3 or 4 pm, and often skipping dinner entirely, until leaving at 10 or 11 and falling right into bed. And I was supposed to have my burlesque debut on the 11th, but there was no way that was going to happen, not when that was the day before my last day, and my last day was a major deadline on my major project. A project that, no, no one else could take over because my manager is inept and didn’t find someone to replace me until the afternoon of my very last day.
I was about to continue my rant, but let’s just stop. It’s riling me up. Instead I’ll bask in the fuzzy delight of now being on extended vacation. I left work around 10pm on my last day — I was the last one leaving the office, and it was weird — and took about 6 hours off on Thursday: slept in, went to a coffee shop, read some blogs, intended to post but then realized OH SHIT, I’m MOVING tomorrow. So I spent the afternoon and evening on Thursday starting to organize my shit. And then I spent all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday moving.
It’s a bit surreal — my own place, no roommate, just me and, of course, my girlfriend. Our own space, left to our own devices. On Sunday we borrowed a friend’s car and went to Ikea to fill in some gaps (you know, matching dishware, a floor lamp, kitchen table chairs, that sort of thing), and now we’re … almost set up. We’ve both got some unpacking to do, I’ve got some major organizing to do (my favorite part!) and then there will be, of course, the finishing touches (I want a pin-up gallery in the hall, she wants to buy some artwork from artist friends, etc.) but oh my gosh it is so amazing, this is our space, and it’s space that I can be at home in.
Home. I have a complicated relationship with home, with the very concept of “home.” I’m not sure I even know what it means to me. Home isn’t the place I grew up. My parents were both transplants to the town I was raised in, and for them, home was always someplace else — the Bay Area for my mother, and Boston for my father, though I suspect my father’s ideas about home are just as complicated as mine are. So although I spent most of my childhood in a town in upstate New York, it always felt transient to me. Then I was raped in my neighborhood when I was fifteen, and connecting my childhood residence to any concept of home became even more complicated. A year later, not having finished high school, I left upstate New York for Germany. I spent two years there (one year then, one year in college) and though I grew very attached to it in some ways, and in fact sometimes felt more “at home” there than I did in the town where my parents lived, I was still a foreigner. I’m not German. It’s not my home.
Then came college, and while I was there I often said that it truly felt like home. I had friends there who were (and are) like family to me; I flourished there; I learned how to be happy there. I came out there. It was there that I felt at home in myself for the first time since leaving childhood behind, I think. Going back every fall really felt like a home-coming, and when I returned to Germany for my junior year, I experienced homesickness for the first time.
But, well, college doesn’t go on forever, and can home really be a thing that was always intended to be temporary? And I don’t just mean my residency there was temporary. I mean that experiencing it as home was temporary, and I knew that right from the start. When I go back now, I feel nostalgic, and warm, and fond of this place that held so much meaning for me.** But I don’t feel at home there anymore, for obvious reasons. I don’t belong there anymore. My time there is irrevocably finished. So what then?
So I moved to San Francisco. And while I’ve known for a while — since before I even moved here, really, which I articulate a bit in my answer to a formspring question — that I see the city itself as a blanket notion of “home,” in that I feel I belong in the city itself, I haven’t yet found a particular space that’s my home, a space that I can just relax and open up and let down and exhale completely in. I’m an accommodator, I tend to acquiesce to my roommates’ preferences and requests and demands and habits, rather than sticking up for my own. And so I have prevented myself from having a home here.
Until now? With my lady I know I don’t have to accommodate her. I mean, I do, but she accommodates me, too. We compromise and negotiate and figure stuff out and I don’t have to have my hair pulled back and my shirt buttoned all the way up in order to do that. And I am so relieved. Already I feel like I can breathe better. Even though there’s so much clutter in our hallway from stuff that’s been partially unpacked that it’s suffocating, I can breathe better here than anywhere else. And it’s different from college, because not only do I have my own space, but I organize my own life. All at once. I get to be the way I want to be, live the way I want to live. It’s amazing.
So, what is home, anyway?
**Speaking of going back there, coincidentally, I am doing that this week! I have a college reunion, so I’m going back to visit my campus, and most of my friends will be there too. So forgive, again, the light posting until Sunday, when I leave Massachusetts for New York to visit with my folks.
Our little Thanksgiving vacation was perfect, in every way.
I neglected to mention before that it doubled as a celebration of one year of being together. One year! And I only love her more. I look at her sometimes in sudden shock, like how did I get here? What did I do to deserve this? What on earth, in my life, put me right here, in this moment, looking at this person next to me and feeling so overwhelmingly in love? It doesn’t cease to amaze me. The fleeting moments of “is this real?” immediately followed by the surge of warmth when I know that yes, it is. I love her. She loves me.
She slipped into my hand, one day. “I’m a hand bottom,” she said. Her hand sneaks into mine from behind, so my arm leads. “Well, I’m a hand top,” I said, “so we’re perfect.” “I also prefer holding hands with my left hand,” she said. And I like to hold hands with my right. Like a puzzle our hands fit together, the pieces are different but they match up.
What is this miracle that puts two people together and makes them love each other?
I love the holidays, starting around Thanksgiving and ending after Christmas. I’m one of those people who re-reads A Christmas Carol every year, who listens to Handel’s Messiah on repeat, who plays all the traditional Christmas carols on my piano and sings along, and who bakes more batches of holidays cookies and cakes than everyone I know together can eat. I realized this year, in light of all the introspection surrounding my parents’ divorce, that much of what I’m doing when I throw myself into the so-called “spirit of Christmas” is trying to re-capture some sort of intangible magic. I’m always seeking, somehow, to find that thing that makes me catch my breath in wonder, that thing that makes everything seem warm and cozy and perfect and exciting. I want to believe in Santa Claus again. I don’t know that I’ll ever actually succeed in re-capturing that, because the normal daily non-magic always interferes — it’s exhausting, it requires constant vigilance not to slip back into mundanity. I haven’t been successful yet. (Maybe when I have my own children some day?)
But, this year, especially in the knowledge that Christmas will be hard with my family, I do have some goals. I want to try my absolute darndest to make it special. Maybe it’s grasping at straws, but if I actually encourage that childlike excitement by allowing myself to indulge in many of the childishly exciting things, then I’m hoping that this holiday season will be special, and wonderful, and delightful.
Here are my plans:
- Thursday morning, mi’lady and I leave for what our friends have been calling our “Lesbithanksgiving”! We’re renting a tiny little studio cabin on the Russian River a few hours north of here. It has a hot tub. And that’s all we care about. We’re staying two nights, leaving on Saturday, and our plans for the 48 hours we’ll be there include nothing but bathing in the hot tub, sleeping, giving each other massages (we even bought massage oil for the occasion), reading, watching Mad Men, talking, and oh yeah FUCKING. We got a new toy that will get its debut! And we’ve been talking about all the sexy things we want to do to each other for days. After that rejuvenating mini-vacation, away from the stressful obligations of family that are so often present at Thanksgiving (at least in my family), I’ll be golden for embarking on the month of December.
- In the first week of December, mi’lady and I are (hopefully, assuming a certain stressful situation which I won’t bother going into here because it’s boring doesn’t interfere) going to go see Ovo, a Cirque du Soleil show, here in San Francisco. Granted, this isn’t Christmas-themed, but any spectacular show like that is bound to feel festive.
- The following week, we’re going to see the Nutcracker ballet performed by the SF Ballet! I haven’t seen this performed live, ever. As a little girl my sister and I had a video tape of the American Ballet Theatre’s version starring Gelsey Kirkland as Clara (she was one of my favorite dancers, back in the day), and we watched it every year (multiple times!), but I’ve never actually seen it live. I’m really excited about this, and these tickets were quite reasonably priced!
- And THEN, that same week on Friday, mi’lady and I are going to host a holiday party! Last year, when we’d just started dating, she had one at her house, and that was when her best friend walked in on us hooking up. Fun times. This year, we’ll co-host! Maybe even at my house, since it’s cleaner and much homier than her place (my roommate and I are much better decoraters, what can I say), and I’m going to bake lots of cookies and make mulled wine and hot toddies and roasted vegetables and any other ideas for vegetarian holiday party fare? And she’s in charge of the playlist :)
- Sometime in December we’re going to amble up to Union Street for their annual Fantasy of Lights. Lots and lots of pretty lights, candy canes, and general merriment.
- We’re going to watch Christmas movies! We probably won’t have time to watch that many — I mean, how many movies can two busy people actually watch together in one month? — but even if we just get one or two! I really don’t like It’s a Wonderful Life, she really doesn’t like Love, Actually, so any other ideas on Christmas classics? Last year we watched Home Alone, haha. And my favorite, The Snowman:
- Just in case this needs to be said again, although I’m sure it doesn’t, I’m going to bake lots of COOKIES!
- AND, I want to decorate. Last year, my roommate and I got a tree! We took it home with us on Muni, since we didn’t have cars. We definitely got some funny looks and smiles. This year, I’m with a new roommate, and our place is way too tiny for a tree. But I’m thinking maybe a wreath, or at the very least some candles and some holly and ivy.
- I’m going to make sure that I have an infinite supply of cookies (have I mentioned that already?), Christmas teas, mulled wine and cider, and Christmas music. Just so that whenever I, or anyone else who’s around, need a good dose of Christmas, I can get it.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.
Day 1 in Puerto Vallarta: GAY CRUISE!!!!!!!!!!!
(Camera was aiming straight up at the sun in this one so I couldn’t see the screen at all… hence it being off-center. Sigh.)
When we were looking at lesbian things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Diana’s Tours was one of the only things that was listed for lesbians. It’s a full-day cruise around the Banderas Bay in a private yacht, including open bar, breakfast, snacks, snorkeling, swimming at a gorgeous private beach, lunch (mmm grilled talapia…) on shore, and the leadership of the amazing Diana, a tough butch Montreal transplant who one day 13 years ago came to Puerto Vallarta for vacation and decided to stay. (Would I had the courage to do something that impulsive!) So mi’lady and I thought “sweet! LESBIANS! and Diana can give us tips on lesbian nightlife!” (since none of the guidebooks, even in the gay sections, had anything at all to say about a lesbian nightlife).
We were wrong. We showed up at the dock the first morning (after confirming at breakfast at the (gay) hotel that we were the only women in the entire establishment), promptly spotted Diana, and were greeted with “You must be Alphafemme and Hr’lady! Welcome!” at which point we realized we were, in fact, the only women on the cruise as well.
Which was fine, of course. Gay guys are a ton of fun. We had a blast that day, and it was totally refreshing being around a group of 20 people with the knowledge that not one of them was checking us out. Plus all the guys were like “omg! lesbians! omg awesome! yay diversity! omg!” and so we felt very embraced.
But honestly, I don’t know that we would have felt as welcome, and might have felt somewhat out of place, if the leader of the tour hadn’t been a lesbian. Somehow, the fact that she was a lesbian validated our presence there. If the leader of the tour had been a gay man, though, and then we’d shown up to all the other passengers being gay men, we probably would’ve felt that we’d somehow not gotten the memo. That they only said they were a gay and lesbian tour in order to sound inclusive, but really, they didn’t actually mean it. Really, it’s just a gay guy party.
And as it turned out, there really isn’t anything for lesbians in Puerto Vallarta. Diana’s Tour is really about the lezziest thing you can do. We asked Diana whether it was just a low season in terms of lesbian tourists, and she said no — her cruise occasionally has a few women, but is mostly gay men. The gay hotels are all male-owned and phallocentric (for real — our hotel had pictures of penises EVERYWHERE). The gay bars and dance clubs are all populated entirely by gay men. The gay beach is a male meat market. “There’s one bar that’s lesbian-owned,” Diana told us, “but none of the clientele are lesbians.”
Where are all the ladies? I think there’s this devil’s spiral thing happening. Lesbians in general are not as affluent as gay men (24% of lesbians live in poverty, compared to 15% of gay men, and lesbian couples are much more likely to be poor than gay male couples–see this Williams Institute report). So financially, it’s not as smart to market to lesbians, because they have a much lower spending power than gay men. (Socially, too — and this is less measurable, but I would guess still a factor — I think lesbians and women are just taken less seriously than gay (and straight) men as decision-making consumers. Also, (white) gay men are just taken for granted as the picture of Gay.) And so gay destinations market to gay men, almost de facto. They include the “and lesbian” tag just to be inclusive, but when push comes to shove, marketing to both gay men and lesbians is hard — we’re different after all! — and so gay men get the push. We dykes get the shove. And then as a result of that, we don’t travel to gay destinations. We know they won’t be oriented to us, so we stay home. Or go into the woods. Or just go to straight places, where we won’t be completely irrelevant as the only women. Invisible, maybe. But not irrelevant.
I see two solutions:
1) “Gay and lesbian” has to start really meaning gay AND LESBIAN. If they’re going to cater to lesbians, cater to frickin lesbians! Show some tits and pussy! Blast M.I.A. and Tegan & Sara and Melissa Etheridge! Have women-specific events! Ladies nights! Anything!
2) DYKES NEED TO GET OUT MORE. The end.
Note: I recognize that I am extremely lucky to be in a demographic that can afford leisure travel, like a trip to Mexico. I think, though, that this point easily transfers to a more general one: white gay men are the face of gay. And it sucks.