Friday, December 29, 2006

Pretend I Am A Genie (Introducing the Friday List)

Back from my holiday travels and called The Charmer yesterday, and blessedly got his voicemail, on which I managed to leave a perfectly reasonable message. Now I know if he calls back he's at least got some basic interest in me. Did I mention how much I love the waiting? Love. It.

In the meantime, last week's I'm Fine Film Fest for Single Gals was so much fun I've decided to make it a weekly event: Introducing the Friday List. Today's topic is New Years related, since there it is, looming at us only two days from now. (My current plan? I'm trying to find out what party The Puppy will be at and get myself invited. I agreed to play it cool until January, and it'll be January at that party...)

I'm not a big believer in resolutions, but I do believe in speaking desires and intentions out loud in order to give the universe the chance to help you out with them. So, pretend I am a genie and can grant you three wishes for your love/dating/sex/romance life for 2007. What are hoping for in the new year? Extra credit if you can state them as facts instead of requests -- more power lies that way.

I'll start:

1) I will come out to my parents about the whole "flexisexual" business and they will surprise me with their generous love and understanding.

2) The predictions my friends made when Bob & I broke up will finally come true and I'll have to start fending off potential dates with some metaphorical form of a stick -- in other words, I'll have an abundance of appealing choices for dating & sex, enough so that I can be choosy.

3) At least once in 2007 I'll get emotionally involved with someone in a healthy, meaningful, ongoing way, for at least three months, and if we're not still together at the end of the year, we'll both feel good with that.

OK -- your turn...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Clean, Well-Lighted Closet

Strangely little to say about the Family Holiday Festivities (though we've still got the Aunt to go today.) In the meantime, I've finally tackled this post I've been avoiding since Day 1. Which is fitting, because it's about silence.

I came out to my parents in the summer of 1993, just after I'd finished college. I figured I'd finish school before I did the deed in case they disowned me. I also purposefully came out to them as "lesbian," even though I knew the truth about my attractions was far more complicated than that. I just figured if I told them I was attracted to both men and women (I hadn't yet considered trannies or genderqueers), they'd say, "Well then, we expect you to choose men."

I have no idea if I was right or not -- it's not one of those things you can do twice to find out which is better. As it was, they struggled mightily with the news, screaming, crying, suggesting it was just a reaction to my having been raped the year before, and doing their best to forbid and/or blackmail me out of speaking about my "lesbianism" to anyone they knew, including my entire extended family.

But over time (meaning, several years), they really worked hard to understand. My girlfriend got invited to family holidays. My mother let me know she supported equal marriage rights.

And then there was D. D. was the very first transman I got involved with. You don't need to know much about him, as we didn't last very long, but it was being with D. that opened my eyes to the realities of the closet. Namely: there isn't just one.

There I was -- an out, proud "lesbian" lying to my increasingly accepting family about whether or not I was dating anyone. I refused to use female pronouns or a female name for him with them, even though he wouldn't know. It felt like too big a betrayal. And as far as they knew, I wasn't attracted to men, so I couldn't just suddenly be dating one. How could I explain D.? This was before Boys Don't Cry, even.

After D. and I managed to disentangle, I got involved with a woman quite seriously and figured that particular dilemma was in the past. My folks loved her, they wanted to know when we were going to get married. We fell apart at the two year mark.

Almost immediately, I met and fell for the person I've been referring to on this blog as "my ex." For the purposes of this story, I'm going to call him Bob, though I'll probably go back to calling him The Ex so that newer readers don't go, "Who's this Bob guy, and why doesn't she get with him?"

Anyway, Bob and I fell hard and fast and there was no possible way to pretend to my mother that he didn't exist -- I'm just not that good of a liar. But, at the time we met, he had a very laissez-faire attitude toward pronouns. His official policy was "call it like you see it," and while I had immediately taken to using male pronouns with him, he understood why I might want to use female ones with my family -- he himself hadn't yet come out to his family as trans. He also happened to have one of those names that can be "either" gender. So I skirted the issue for a while. This didn't mean I wasn't closeted. It just meant the closet was roomy and well-lit and had a glass door.

The thing I'm trying to get at here is the feeling of lying to my family. So literally familiar and simultaneously this intolerable pressure. I've been lying to my mother since the days of "Who broke this?" "It wasn't me!" Sometimes it's still like that: an act of self-preservation, an elision of consequence. Sometimes it's because I don't think she really would want to know the truth -- about my politics, my sex life, my cleaning habits, my generally debauched and radical ways. It's a way of maintaing her idea of who I am, an idea that serves us both. Most of the time.

A few Christmasses ago, we were at the home of a friend of the family, and for the first time in memory there were no minors present. Talk turned to drinking, and my mother claimed to have been drunk only twice in her life. Someone cracked that this was because shopping and drinking don't mix. I offered that the last time I'd shopped while drunk I'd bought a feather boa, and I hadn't regretted it one bit. My mother was shocked. Not that I'd been drunk (she's not that naiive), but that I was someone who would own a feather boa. Of all the people she knew, she said, I seemed the least likely to own such a thing.

If you polled all of my friends and acquaintances and colleagues, even the ones I don't know very well, and asked them how likely it was that I own a feather boa, I guarantee you no one would guess under 90%.

I understood completely and suddenly: she didn't know me because I had protected us both too much for that. It's like feelings -- if you cut yourself off from grief, or anger, or heartache, or whatever awful thing you'd rather avoid, you cut off the joy and passion and love and creativity and all the juicy stuff, too. There's just one spigot. I never got to share with her the very first story I had published in a book, because it was in an erotica anthology. No pronouns, no boa.

To be fair, my fears are not unfounded. I wore a dark red lipstick to Christmas this year and she called it "goth." When I teased her about the size of the American flag she was flying one Fourth of July, she asked me, only half joking, if I was a Communist. We just returned from seeing The Good Shephard, and while we agreed that it would have benefitted from a firm editor, my dad thought it completely useless because it wasn't the action thriller he'd expected. He literally said, "I don't want to be thought-provoked." Anyone who veers from the norm -- and make no mistake, the norm is considered to be white, affluent, suburban, them -- is derided, at least at first, as weird or deviant or wrong in some way.

Still, after that night, I've tried little by little to loosen my grip on what parts of me, well, come out. I explained to them about Bob and trans, and it freaked them right out, but once again they worked hard to understand and really came around, to the point where they still think I made a mistake in leaving him. But they also reinforced some of my original fears -- there were several points during my four year relationship with Bob that she asked me, if Bob and I were to break up, would I date men then?

And now I am. But they don't know that. In fact, as far as they know, I haven't had a single date since Bob & I split in May. Again with the boa: they think I'm sad and chaste and overworked, when in fact I'm just having casual sex with men, pining after a 22 year old trans punk (whom I haven't mentioned to them b/c of the age thing and the dramarama), and my sexual identity is complicated. (OK, it's true I'm sometimes sad and often overworked, but that's got nothing to do with it.)It's not that they don't ask. It's that I lie.

Or maybe I should say, I lied. Pretty effectively, it would seem, based on this very silent holiday visit. Eerily silent. The sound of dozens of coupled-off friends and relations decidedly NOT asking me anything. Which is completely uncharacteristic for my family. It's been a blessing in the short term, however it came about, but long-term means the ball's now in my court. If I want to say anything at this point, I'm going to have to bring it up myself.

I tell myself I'll come out to them again when and if I get involved with a guy in an ongoing way. That's not a lie -- I'm sure I will, if I do. But lately I've been wondering, why am I waiting? Why would it be different then? I think I really fear I can't put this genie back in the bottle. What if I wind up getting serious about a transman or a woman, either now or at some point in the future? Once they know I date men, I can't undo that. And I'm afraid after all of these years of struggle and accpetance and love, I'll find out they're really homophobic and judgemental after all.

Monday, December 25, 2006

In Praise of Good Girlfriends

I feel strangely guilty about it, now that I know there are people here looking for commiseration, but yesterday was Day 1 of Family Holiday Meals & Mingles, and I had a pretty nice time, all things considered.

The food was good, my sister and her husband expressed their distaste for me only in fairly subtle ways, my niece sought me out to hang out with me, and no one asked me a single question about my love life, which may be because they pity me too much or thought I would burst into tears or perhaps had strict instructions not to handed down by my mother, but I didn't want to talk about my love life with these people anyhow, so I mostly don't care.

But the single most important reason it went well was because my best friend from childhood came over for part of the time, making two singles into a couple of good friends. So I did have that person who could witness and secretly laugh at my family dynamics, and who I feel seen by, and who I can sneak into a corner and talk with for an hour or so instead of making conversation with some neighbor's new husband. A good reminder that sometimes there's more than one way to get my emotional needs met. If only I had any desire to sleep with her...

Today: Family Holiday Meal & Mingle Remix, with twice the people, sans friend and avec nosy and newly-engaged gay son of family friend, who is not likely to be so tactful as folks were yesterday. Then tomorrow is the Family Holiday Meal & Mingle Rewind, involving just me, my aging aunt and my very strange (and estranged) new-agey cousin, whom I haven't seen in years.

I'll post reports as I can but the internet connection is spottier here than I had hoped. Merry and happy to all, and to all a good friend!

Friday, December 22, 2006

My First Meme

What a week it's been here in Guvyille! No guys to speak of, it's true, though I did just yesterday manage to acquire The Charmer's phone number, which I plan to deploy next week when I return from the Holiday Visit, and January is closer than ever, which brings with it the prospect of The Return of The Puppy. (Or not. I know, I know.)

But even without those small, wistful developments, I feel as though it's the end of Pinocchio and I've been turned into a real blogger. Not only that, but one of my absolute blogging heroes, Jessica, is my fairy godmother! (Yes, I'm aware I'm mixing my Disney metaphors. Sue me. I don't really even know who turns Pinocchio into a real boy. Jiminy Cricket?)

And now she's tagged me with my very first meme. In which I'm to tell you five things most people don't know about me. With the optional twist of including one thing that's not true and making you guess. But seriously, I could be making them all up, since I'm writing under a pseudonym and most of y'all know very little about me, so I'm not going to bother with that bit. (And I'm not really making them up, I swear!)

So without further ado (drumroll please!):

5 Bits of Personal Trivia About LadyRed (In No Particular Order)

1) I knew Seth Green when I was growing up. Not well, but he was a staff brat at a camp I went to. He was a couple of years younger than me and had already starred in Radio Days, and his best friend was a kid who was playing Gavroche in Les Mis on Broadway at the time, and they were insufferably full of themselves. Once he asked me to slow dance with him and he came up to exactly eye-to-boob height.

2) While I don't believe in any sort of embodied, anthropomorphized and/or judgemental deity, I do pray on a regular basis.

3) I was the absolute least cool girl in school growing up and all through high school. As in, I got spat on.

4) Every night for the entirety of my sophomore year in college, just after I'd turned out the light and gotten into bed to go to sleep for the night, I'd play the song Somebody by Depeche Mode. The live version where he drags out the word "tenderly" and the crowd practically faints en masse. I still love that song.

5) I can apply lipstick using just my cleavage (no hands and no mirror), a la Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club.

Was it good for you, Jessica?

And now I get to do the tagging, which is superfun because it means I get to email people whose blogs I love and tell them a) I exist and b) I love them. And then maybe even get to read their responses! Mikhaela, Flea, Janice, Wendy, Echidne.

I'm home now for the parental visit. So far, so good. I'm sure I'll be blogging the Singleton Holiday Highlights as they unfold, so stay tuned, and stay safe out there, everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The I'm Fine Film Fest for Single Gals

Since I wrote that post about Bridget I've been trying to think of movies about women & their personal relationships that have satisfying, happy endings which don't hinge on getting a guy (or reconciling with a father). I've been able to come up with Muriel's Wedding (a total fave), and my friend M. has suggested Walking and Talking (which I haven't seen) and another one, the name of which I may have already forgotten or may be Me As I Am or something like that. (Obviously I haven't seen that one either).

SURELY there must be others out there. Let's make a virtual film fest out of it -- bring on the suggestions and reviews!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


First off: welcome feministing readers! I'm so thrilled you're here!

I noted that the subject of my blog has sparked a conversation on feministing about the nature of queer identity. I'm not a theory expert, but I did want to explain what I mean when I personally identify as queer.

Basically, the undeniable fact is I'm not straight. While it's true I am attracted to men, I'm also attracted to people of other genders. And you'll probably notice from that last sentence that I don't believe in the gender binary. So the term "bisexual" is totally inadequate to describe my sexual attractions -- not only am I hot for people of more than two genders, I've slept with people of more than two genders and had meaningful relationships with them, too.

That's why I've embraced "queer." Queer means I live outside the heterosexual norm, and the gender binary as well. It also means I'm pretty odd, which is true. Queer also allows me to align myself with lots of other folks who live outside of those little boxes, whether or not their sexual identity is exactly like mine.

Personally, I also enjoy the term "flexisexual." Which I invented, but I invite you to use if you feel it fits...

Sometimes You Have To Turn Into the Skid

I've been feeling sad and loserish lately. No calls from The Charmer, no texts from The Puppy, just a personals message from a guy who wants his women to be "ultra feminine" and the discovery, while cleaning, of a used condom, wedged between my nightstand and my bed, which could only have been left there by The Man/Child, who it turns out is too lazy and immature to ensure his scumbags make it to the trash.

I am not this girl. I promise. I am smart and accomplished and interesting and have great friends and lots of creative and professional projects and yet the holidays are creaming me. I haven't been single at this time of year in seven years, and it shows. I miss my ex. We may have rightly split over the 20% of our relationship that just would not work no matter what, but I miss the 80% of the time he and I fit together like snug puzzle pieces. I miss having someone with me through all the familiar and tortuous rituals of the season, someone to make eye contact with at the dinner table with my elderly aunt, who I can say to later, "Can you believe what she said about _____?" I miss obsessing over the exactly perfect gift for him. I miss being touched, just being in physical contact with another human being, on a regular basis.

Instead, I am going to be the reason there are an odd number of people at the dinner table. The last few "singletons" of my generation in my family have ALL gotten engaged in the past month, if you can believe it, and I'm going to swan into all of that shit solo, the sad girl who couldn't hold onto her man. They will cluck about me, how difficult I am, how I can't let myself be happy. Behind my back if I'm lucky. And with the mood I'm in lately, I won't even really disagree with what they're saying.

I've been trying like hell to fight off this couple-culture poison melancholy, but sometimes the best thing to do with a mood like this is indulge it until it passes. Which is how I found myself alone last night with a newly-opened bottle of vinho verde and a rented copy of Bridget Jones' Diary. I am somewhat ashamed to say that I love this movie. It comforts me, with its urban family narrative and British ordinariness and its purported message that I can be sometimes bumbling and sometimes brilliant and sometimes bizarre and still, in the end, Colin Firth will love me just as I am.

But I've never watched it while single before.

Here's what pissed me straight off about it this time around: it pretends to be about Bridget finding herself. That's one of the things that sold me on the film -- the moment after Colin Firth and Hugh Grant fight over her, and she essentially turns them both down. She basically decides it's better to be single than to compromise what she knows she wants in a partner.

I made that exact decision earlier this year and it was the single hardest thing I've ever done. Strangely enough, 15 minutes later I didn't find myself on a snowy street in my underwear kissing Mark Darcy as though my life depended on it. But in Bridget Jones' world, that's exactly the promise: commit to yourself, refuse to compromise your values, and you will be rewarded straightaway with the very handsome prince you let go of in favor of choosing you.

Empower your way to true love, ladies!

Nor is this message exclusive to Bridget. It's there in nearly every chick lit/chick flick derivative out there. It's the way they sell us fairy tales these days. Feminism has had enough influence that the story can no longer be just about being virtuous and secretly beautiful and vulnerable and pure of heart and wanting it bad enough. No, now in order to sell us the "happy ending" (and all of the personal consumer goods that go along with it) we learn we must value our own independence and careers and dreams -- in order to get what we really want, which is clearly a man.

If you've been reading this blog, you know I do, in fact, want a man. (Maybe several.) But love is worse than a crap shoot. It's more like a spin on the world's largest roulette wheel. When you love someone (and I mean that term broadly, to include attractions, crushes, any of those moments our insides open toward someone else in a way which is beyond logic and our control), it doesn't mean anything except that you love them. It doesn't make them good for you, or interested in you, or anything else that ends in the word "you." If it turns out that they love you back, in a way that makes both of your lives better, that's one of the luckiest coincidences that can happen in the world.

And yet here I am, courtesy of Helen Fielding (and Jane Austen) and the romantic-industrial complex, trying to make deals in my head. I'm just going to let go of worrying about whether some nicknamed boi/y is going to attempt to contact me, and what it means if he does or doesn't. I'm going to focus on my friends, on writing my book proposal, on dipping dried fruit in dark chocolate and arranging it in lovely little jars as gifts for my colleagues and family, on working out, on refinishing the nightstand I just bought on craigslist, on painting my toenails the perfect shade of dark red. On doing whatever it is makes me happiest.

And then The Puppy will call, right? If I do all of that really well, he'll call?

Fuck you, Bridget Jones.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Life: Now With Twice the Waiting

So I went to a party last night. It was hosted by a fairly new acquaintance, so I brought along my friend H. for company. We were both excited at the prospect of a new circle of people to meet, and also at the invite, which encouraged the wearing of gowns & rhinestones and the bringing of sparkling wine.

We got all gussied up and got ourselves there. I was a bit overdressed (seems not everyone takes the invitation to wear gowns and rhinestones as seriously as I do). But there were interesting people (50 of 'em, no less), gallons of champagne, great food, and excellent flirting. My first target turned out to be the hostess' boyfriend, alas. Target number two was her ex (I guess we share taste in men), and he was fun in his hipster glasses and suit, talking about suicide literature and telling terrible jokes. But he was a little timid and maybe a little depressed, so I moved on (though the hostess told me later in the evening that he gave the best oral of her life. Hm.).

Target number 3, however, was a winner. Let's call him The Charmer. Tall, gorgeous, funny, opened by explaining to me in detail how to make a puff pastry stuffed with marzipan (our hostess had made from scratch a Buche de Noel, and decorated it with marzipan). Then he walked away and I realized I'd had chocolate powder down the front of my dress the whole time.

He was born in the Middle East and raised in Europe, where he acquired a lovely accent and learned to make oil lamps from vegetable oil and the peel of mandarin oranges using only his swiss army knife. Which he deftly demonstrated while I nibbled on the orange slices. I don't remember a whole lot else, b/c I was tipsy on champagne the whole time, but I did at one point hold him at sugar-cookie gunpoint (why were there sugar cookies shaped like guns? I still don't know.), and with much assistance* from our hostess and H. and said hostess' boyfriend (of the target #1ness), I gave him my digits on the way out.

Honestly, I'm finding it hard to get worked up about whether or not he'll call, since I'm burnt out from waiting on The Freakin' Puppy, but we'll see...

*The assistance looked like this: H. said I should give him my number. I said I had no idea how to do that. So she grabbed a paper dessert plate and wrote my name & number on it, folded it up and handed it to me. I panicked and flagged down our hostess, who flagged down her boyfriend, who advised against the paper plate, though not against the giving of the number in general. H. and I got our coats and did some surveillance. The Charmer was holding court in a group of like 10 people. I told H. there was no way I could just walk up to him, interrupt everyone, and give him my number. So she strolls right over to one of the women gaggled around him and starts saying her goodbye-it-was-so-nice-to-meet-you thing to her, creating the diversion necessary for me to say similar to The Charmer, with the added upper arm touch (nice muscle tone under there!) and "we should hang out sometime" opening. At which he whipped out his cell and took my digits. Then he called my cell so I would have his, though I tragically discovered later that my cell was off and therefore didn't capture his number, even though he thinks I have it.

The best part? After we left, H. confessed to me that she had never met that woman! Could there be a better wingwoman? Clearly not.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Back from Outer Space

Yes, I've been a bad, bad blogger. If it's any consolation, you haven't missed much. Here's the sitch:

-I still haven't slept with The Puppy. What happened? I'll tell you: The Girlfriend returned. As in, to his/their apartment. She's moving out Jan. 1, but in the meantime, when you combine that drama with the crazy end of his semester, he basically requested a time out from whatever was developing with us. Which I very reluctantly granted. Of course there's lots more to the story, which hopefully I'll get to in subsequent posts, but those are the basic facts. Oh, and also I'm still completely obsessed with him, perhaps more so than ever. Pathetic but true.

-The personals have pretty much dried up entirely. I decided to let Cute Guy fade away because of the aforementioned raging case of Boringitis. Just last week, in the throes of my Pupsession, I emailed someone new who looked, well, OK. He looked OK. There was nothing off-putting about him and he might have been interesting or cute but I couldn't tell yet. Anyhow, I thought emailing someone new would be just the thing for my Pupsession. But he never wrote back. This symbolizes something greater about my life right now.

-Meanwhile, all of my exes are returning to haunt me. I had a very explicit sex dream about a college boyfriend the other night, so naturally, I googled him -- he's a doctor in a teaching hospital in North Carolina. There's a picture of him on their website in his white coat, looking decidedly middle-aged. Ack.

So, on a roll, I googled a high school boyfriend, who for a long long time after we broke up I imagined was the love of my life. We're in touch once every couple of years, but not really. He's been married for ages to his college girlfriend (the only woman he slept with besides me, I think -- and it didn't happen in the order you might think, but that's a story for another day). Google turns up an embryonic myspace page for him -- he obviously registered and then didn't set it up. BUT -- he's listed as single! Could it be true? Could it be a sign from the universe? Could it be he's The One after all? Even though I no longer believe in The One or any of those bullshit patriarchal romantic constructs?

I send him a vague little email. A week later he responds, so pleased to hear from me and tell me about the condo he & his lovely wife just bought, and how they're going to start trying for kids soon.

You'd think that would be the end of it with the exes (as did I), but then just this morning I'm on the phone with my folks & my stepdad tells me how I'll never believe who he just heard from! On a business call! And I don't! Because it's my other high school boyfriend, the one I lost my virginity to at the ripe old age of 15. The one who taught me what my clitoris was and what it could do. The one I got caught with fooling around in my house, who came to my school to pick me up when my parents forbade me to see him. The one who once told me that if he ever found out I was faking orgasms with him, he'd rip out my ovaries and shove them up my nose.

OK, that last one was not so great, esp. since I was, in fact, faking it with him, because I hadn't figured out how to have an orgasm yet. But at least he was a teenage boy who cared whether or not I came.

Anyhow, I am being visited by the Ghosts of Boyfriends Past. Is there a reward if I figure out what the lesson is here?