The Other L Word

Published August 27, 2013 by auddity

I recently had a conversation with a dear friend about loneliness. She has just experienced romantic success (I described it as “living the dream” – you go girl!) and another of our friends is in a steady committed relationship as well. We talked about another friend who is actively dating and navigating that world. And then we talked about me. We talked about loneliness.

While I am single, my friend said she didn’t think I was one of those people who was “desperately lonely,” who can’t function on their own. I said I would call myself “moderately lonely.” But the thing is, the other day I was riding the subway and a woman sat down next to me. She kept nodding off and her arm eventually slumped into mine. And I didn’t pull away because I liked the feeling of her arm against mine. I liked the feeling of human contact and, well that sounds pretty damn lonely to me.

Then, because I am me, my brain launched into a future scenario where I’m riding the subway home with the person I’m seeing and I lean into them because I can just slump into their arm whenever I want. I can touch them whenever I want because they’re mine and I am theirs. And I relished in the knowledge that we were going home together. Oh, how lovely. That sounds like home. But alas, I rode the subway home alone and tried to engross myself in my book because when people engage me on the subway they are never Prince(ss) Charming and they are usually asking me for money.

But even though my book is very good (Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro), my brain launched into another scenario where I’m also riding the subway home but this time I am alone. I have several stops to go before home, but I look out the window and we’re pulling into the stop closest to where my person lives. In a split-second decision, I propel myself out the doors and rush out onto the street. I race to their apartment (it may or may not be raining) and ring their buzzer. They don’t answer (not because they’re not home, but we’re in some fight or other), so I ring all the buzzers until someone lets me in. I pound on their door, disturbing all their neighbors, but I don’t care. When they finally open the door, I kiss them or confess my love or something equally dramatic and grand. I’ve always been one for grand gestures. We make up and live happily ever after.

But this is crap. It’s all nonsense because, as I also discussed with my friend and several others, I have not been attracted to anyone in a really long time. Our conversation came in the wake of someone who identified as straight implying she was attracted to me, if only momentarily. While part of me wanted to pat myself on the back like, Yeah, still got it, the other part was solidly uninterested. That’s the problem; I am generally just disinterested. I mean, I certainly still see people who I think are attractive, but I am not attracted to them. The last time I had a new, exciting attraction to someone that I actually wanted to pursue was about two and a half years ago. Now, I know people go through dry spells, but that is a long time. So yeah, I’d say I’m moderate-to-desperately lonely.

I’ve been emailing back and forth with this really nice guy I met on OkCupid (yeah, I know I said I’d quit), but after a few exchanges I lost interest. He’s a really interesting guy too, he’s well-traveled and he speaks a bunch of languages; we’ve talked a lot about books and movies and we seem to have similar tastes. The poor guy has been waiting for my reply for probably over a week now, but I’ve just lost interest. I’ve told myself it’s because I’m not in the place to meet someone that way, that I’d need to become friends with someone in real life first and then gradually transition into something more (that’s the same excuse I gave when my friend asked me if I’d tried going to any gay clubs since moving to the city), but how can you know a thing like that? Relationships can come out of left field, but you can’t sit around waiting for them to happen. Also that tactic would require, you know, making new friends. I think deep down I’m scared that no matter where I look, online, in a club, or in a friendship, I’ll never find someone I want to be with. And that, my friends, is a very lonely thought.

What I cruel joke, a particularly harsh irony; a romantic without attraction is just a dreamer, never a lover.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Your Ghosts

Published August 13, 2013 by auddity

There are several people with whom I have long and complicated histories. Maybe it’s me; maybe I attract this kind of dramatic relationship. Maybe it’s just coincidence. Regardless, when you have such an emotionally charged relationship, as I did with these people, it usually ends badly. With all the layers, everything tangled up and twisted in on itself, it’s hard to straighten it all out by the end. For everyone’s sake it’s best to just leave the tangled mess alone, just let it lie. But we as humans – or maybe this is just me – just can’t leave well enough alone. We can’t bare the idea that it was all for nothing. That all that crying and fighting and caring and love didn’t amount to anything but the memory of when things were good, when you used to be close.

My own personal rule for myself is to not contact these people. No matter how tempting it is to check up on them, to test the waters just to see if it was real, what we had, and if it still exists in some form, I do not initiate contact. Little things are okay: a facebook comment here, a status ‘like’ there, but absolutely no texting unless they initiate it. No email, no phone calls, nothing that directly addresses them or our history. Unless something major happens, like a death or serious illness, I stick to these rules – because underneath it all, I still care about them, obviously, or these rules wouldn’t be necessary.

After a while, the urge to reach out lessens, until it’s just the ghost of an urge, like an echo, like a scar that’s healed but still occasionally itches.

I don’t need to know if the impulse is one-sided; I just assume it is. If they have their own rules about contacting me then we’re in unspoken agreement that we shouldn’t dredge up old memories, and if they don’t, well, then it means they’ve succeeding in moving on where I haven’t yet. There are people I used to feel this way about, who I don’t now. They slipped out of my life, and where speaking or not speaking to them used to be of the utmost importance, now I simply don’t care. I guess there’s a turning point somewhere where enough silence leads to indifference. But the opposite of love is indifference, and I still care, no matter how hard I try not to. I don’t necessarily care to speak to them or even whether they still care about me; but I care what happens to them and I care enough to still have to check myself every now and then. Is this crossing a line? Is this? I don’t think I’ll ever totally reach indifference with these particular people. There’s still too much there, even after all of the silence. And that’s okay. We all have our ghosts, right?

How to Care for Your Ghosts:

  1. Don’t blame them for your choices. It may be very tempting to blame them for your shortcomings, but it’s you who stalked your ex’s photos for hours on end last night and so it’s your fault you got to work late, not not your ghosts’. They may influence you while they’re around, but at the end of the day, they’re just reminders of the past, you’re the one living in the present.
  2. Don’t try to banish them. They’re there for a reason. You’re obviously working through some shit, and they’re just there to aid in the process. When it’s time for them to leave, you’ll know, but until then don’t be a jerk. Make them feel welcome; indulge them a little, maybe give them a snack – haunting you is probably hard work!
  3. Get to know them. You’ll never move on if you don’t understand your ghosts: why they’re there, what they mean, what they’re trying to tell you. Spend some quality time with them. Take them out to dinner and a movie. Ask them about themselves, really listen when they answer you. Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself along the way.
  4. Appreciate them. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. You might find you miss them when they go. Don’t take them for granted while you have them around.Take time out to acknowledge them – it isn’t all about you. They’re here for you, after all, the least you could do is return the favor.
  5. You’re not crazy. Everyone has ghosts. Own it; listen, learn, understand. Just, maybe don’t talk to them out loud in public. That’s crossing a line.

The Language of Love (For Non-Native Speakers)

Published August 6, 2013 by auddity

I spend a large amount of my time trying not to let on to anybody how scared I am. I’m sure many people experience this, but to me it seems like everyone else at least has the capacity to suck it up and get their shit together when they’re afraid. Meanwhile I’m huddled in the corner obsessing about things that in all probability will work themselves out whether I obsess about them or not: I will meet new people. I will find a job. I will not be homeless. I will adjust and adapt because I have to. I just have to breathe and let things happen. Well, obviously I can’t just let the universe move around me and hope for the best; I have be proactive. But I have to have faith that my efforts will produce results and realize that stressing out to the point of not sleeping or not eating is not going to help anyone, least of all me.

I just wonder if other people get scared like this? Scared of the unknown, even though the unknown can be as breathtaking as it is terrifying. Scared of little things, like talking on the phone to people I don’t know, trying new restaurants, going to the post office, receptionist jobs (actually just all office jobs), asking for help, doctors’ offices, living with people I don’t know.

You could chalk it up to my recent move, getting used to new people in a new place with a new way of life. (Oh yeah ps, I moved to New York!) And I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. I’m actually hoping that this move makes me more independent and helps me to get over some of my ridiculous fears that seem to plague my every day recently. I’m also afraid of the big things though. Things that don’t have to do with the move, like sex and love and intimacy and family and having children and accidentally fucking them up. I used to know I wanted to have kids, in fact, one of the first things I assured my mom after I came out to her (the first time) is that she’d still have grandchildren. But now I’m not so sure. Maybe it was working at a daycare and seeing all the work that goes into raising a child. No, that’s not it. Because I know if I had a child the work would so be worth it. I think it’s more of the why, why do I want a child? Is it simply for the joy they’d bring me? And if so, isn’t that a little selfish? Or is it simply to continue my legacy? But what’s the point when my child will most likely not be the biological child of my partner? These are questions I had not thought to ask myself a year ago, but they are important things to consider.

I also always thought I would get married, or at least have a committed, monogamous relationship if I couldn’t get married legally, but I find myself questioning that as well. I think part of it is that I’m at a point in my life where I really can’t picture who I’ll end up with. Like, I have no idea. And that scares me. It is extremely frustrating because I don’t even know what I’m looking for in this big wide vast-as-fuck world, and how will I ever find someone if I have to sort through everybody?!? And another part of it is that I don’t know if I want to be tied down to the same person for the rest of my life. In the past five years – that is not a lot of time – I have gone through several different transformations and how can I expect one person to weather all that and still like me at the end of everything? That’s just not realistic. Maybe I like the idea that if I wanted to, and I’m not saying I would necessarily, I could pick up and leave after having been in a seriously long-term relationship with someone without there being legal repercussions. And of course, if we were to have children then that would complicate things. Do you see my dilemma??

I’m also scared of being alone. But how stupid is that? I am simultaneously scared of being alone and not being alone. I claim that the thing I want most is to love and be loved by somebody, but the idea of being that close with someone terrifies me. Or, to be more exact, the idea of being that close with someone and losing them for whatever reason terrifies me. I think that’s what’s held me back thus far. I’ve been looking for that perfect someone, but if I ever found that person who was absolutely perfect for me I know I would be terrified of losing them. And until now I’ve struck out with just about everyone; either I knew they weren’t perfect or I thought they were and it turned out they weren’t. Maybe there is no perfect person. If I had wanted to be with someone it could’ve happened by now. But is it too much to ask to not want to settle for someone I’m not into? Or should I have just bit the bullet and at least gotten some experience under my belt (lol, punz)?

As I grow older, I’m feeling like romance is a foreign language that everyone else seems to have picked up besides me. Seriously, between school and work and friends and growing up, when did you guys find time to learn all this vocab??? Dating, hooking up, sex, love, all these are nonsensical to me. I must have missed those days in class. You know what, I’ve never been very good at languages anyway, so maybe it’s just me. Can someone find me a tutor??

Russia, DOMA, and Why “Same Love” Isn’t My Anthem Right Now

Published July 24, 2013 by auddity

So I was reading up on DOMA for this post because I actually didn’t know that much about it. Or, I was reading about the Supreme Court ruling that it was unconstitutional. I wasn’t all that thrilled when DOMA was struck down. I mean, I was happy obviously, but I think people were celebrating this baby step when we have miles and miles left to go. I didn’t realize it was a state vs. federal issue, so the Supreme Court could have just said basically that the federal government couldn’t intervene in marriage laws because they are state laws. BUT they didn’t do that and it makes all the difference. What they did do is much better, they said:

“By creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State, DOMA forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law, thus diminishing the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the State has found it proper to acknowledge and protect. By this dynamic DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage.”

Soooo, they totally left the door open to set a precedent of “equal protection.” Even though all that the Supreme Court really did was secure marriage recognition for same-sex couples in states that already recognize same-sex marriage, somewhere down the line someone who lived in a state that did recognize their same-sex marriage will move to a state that doesn’t recognize their same-sex marriage. And then they will sue the state. And using the Supreme Court’s logic, they will win (says my source, Sarah R. Boonin, in her piece for the Huffington Post – did you think came up with all this by myself?!). In other words, it’s only a matter of time until we have marriage equality.

Or is it? Let’s not confuse “same-sex marriage” for “marriage equality.” For example, do you know what kind of marriage laws/restrictions exist for transgender people? I didn’t, I had to look it up. The real question is why is nobody talking about this? Because marriage “equality” is an easy target. It’s a hot topic now and unfortunately it’s eclipsing everything else on the lgbtq agenda. Like let’s talk about Russia. How the Russian government is not only persecuting gays, but anyone who they might suspect of being gay, anyone who supports gay rights, and any gay couples who want to adopt Russian children. They may go so far as to remove children from their homes if their parents are gay, or suspected of being gay. Why is nobody talking about this???

And that, friends, is why DOMA is not enough. We won the battle, but we’re losing the war (that may be a Game of Thrones quote?); we can’t afford to get caught up in same-sex marriage when we’re constantly losing ground, all over the world. So excuse me if I’m not strolling down the street humming “Same Love” and sticking rainbows and equal signs all over the place.

What Makes An Ally: Because “Having Gay Friends” Just Doesn’t Cut It

Published July 16, 2013 by auddity

Let’s be real, lez be real, as a self-identified queer woman, I can say with some authority, it’s hard to find good allies. But as someone who knows and loves many members of the straight community, I know it’s even harder to be a good ally. Being an ally to a minority group means constantly checking your privilege as a non-member of that group. It’s not enough to just sympathize with people in the queer community; “having gay friends” just doesn’t cut it. In order to be a true ally you have to educate yourself. You have to do all you can to understand what it is to be other. You also have to know that you will never understand what it is like to be other, at least not in the context of being queer. You may have parts of yourself that help you empathize with the queer experience, but acknowledging your majority identity is essential to being an ally. It is a constant endeavor that requires patience, selflessness, and humility. It is an act of love. It is no small order. Although we certainly have a long way to go, it is because of our allies that we have made such strides in visibility, acceptance, and respect for queer individuals.

So the real question is, how can allies check their majority privilege? RESEARCH. Find out everything you can about your queer friends’ experiences. The more you educate yourself, the more you will come to see all the privileges you have that you might take for granted, and in turn all the rights and considerations your queer counterparts are denied. Take a gender studies class – read the theories and literature that started a revolution. Watch queer movies and TV; they are not always the best quality-wise, but they’re great if you want to learn some gay and lesbian slang, get our perspective on our own history, gain a little insight on how queer sex works, etc. (You might also notice the amount of gay and lesbian representation versus all other queer identities – hierarchies of acceptance/representation/validity!!) Watch YouTube channels of queer individuals; they are becoming such a valuable resource – a wealth of free, mostly reliable, first-hand information. Where else can you get that?? There is such a great community available on YouTube, it really is a cultural phenomenon. READ BLOGS LIKE THESE! Hopefully my own writing can serve as a resource, but if not, then I recommend everyoneisgay.com. They are awesome and super down to earth, and they will answer your questions! BLAM! Research done. (Of course I would also be happy to answer anyone’s questions, they just have a much wider reach.) Lastly, TALK TO YOUR QUEER FRIENDS! Nine times out of ten when someone asks me a question about being queer I am flattered and absolutely willing to answer as best I can.

Once you have done all that SHARE WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED, share whenever possible – especially in all-straight situations. Do you have any idea what kind of impact a straight person speaking up for queers can have on other straight people? You know what else would make a splash? If you as a straight person made yourself visible as an ally. Go to pride events, go to your local gay-straight alliance meetings, make yourself known in queer community. That way you’ll not only be known and respected as a queer ally in the straight community, but more importantly in the queer community.

Although I identify as queer, that doesn’t mean I automatically possess an infinite database of all things queer. I went through my own journey becoming a trans* ally, in which I had to consciously educate myself. A lot of what I know now I learned by talking with my friends who were trans*; I was fortunate in that I had a fairly accessible community of trans* people to whom I could go with questions, and they were comfortable enough to share their experiences with me. However, there is only so much they were willing to share, so some of my research had to be done independently. The key to doing this kind of research is sensitivity. You have to remember, it is not your queer friends’ job to educate you. You have to find that balance between what’s respectful curiosity/genuine interest and what is just too personal. My friend has a really awesome YouTube channel, which I know has been an amazing resource for not only me but a lot of other people, where he really puts his experiences out there in a wonderfully personal way. Something like that is great because you’re still getting that personal connection that a class or a book maybe can’t give you, but it’s all information that he is willing and happy to share.

My last question is, should allies be included in the LGBT community? They are sometimes included as an add-on to the acronym: LGBTQQA… but do queer people accept allies enough to consider them queer? Well this queer person does. Being an ally actively aligns oneself to the queer community, takes a stand against heteronormativity, and effectively queers what it is to be straight. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a super-queer duck.

Let’s Talk About (Unintentional) Homophobia

Published June 9, 2013 by auddity

Let’s talk about ego. Let’s talk about assumptions. Let’s talk about good intentions. Let’s talk about homophobia. Homophobia is homophobia, even if you don’t mean it. But the question is, how can we stop doing it?

One time when I was at work, cashiering, a young couple came through my line. The girl went first and I joked around with her as I rang out her few items (see my post on how I am the perfect cashier). When I turned to the boyfriend his first words to me, before I could ask “How ya doing?” or even look at what he was buying, were “I’m not gay.” Completely baffled, I looked down and saw a couple of skincare products. His girlfriend laughed at him like he was being ridiculous, which he was, as he hurriedly explained he was buying them because they came with a free giftcard when bought together. I chuckled and said, “…Okay…” as I rang out his stuff. He continued rambling in a good-natured way, not trying to be insensitive, but coming off that way in his attempt to preserve his manhood, which to be honest was not in question to begin with. I had the urge to call him out by outing myself to prove a point. But then I thought that could make things even more awkward, so I chose a lighter but still ballsy, “What’s wrong with being gay?” “Nothing!” he insisted quickly, “I’m just not gay.” Gf was still laughing and agreed with me, “So what if you were? She doesn’t care.”

I’m not sure why it was so important to this guy that I was convinced of his heterosexuality; the presence of his girlfriend was enough. And honestly, I’ve had much weirder purchases, guy, and I do my best not to judge or make assumptions. It is perfectly plausible that he was just a man who wanted to take care of his skin, regardless of who he likes to date.

This is the thing though; you never know who you’re talking to in situations like these. What if I had just come out to my parents and it hadn’t gone well and they kicked me out? Imagine that guy’s face if I just broke down sobbing right then and there. Or what if I had taken the outraged I’m-gay-so-what-are-you-getting-at-buddy approach? I could’ve easily just chewed him out right there at the cash register. But I didn’t, because I wanted to keep things friendly and keep my job. I hope that my “What’s wrong with being gay?” was enough to make him think twice before making homophobic remarks the next time he embarrassedly buys skin care products.

As they were leaving, I handed him his free giftcard and he asked me if I knew if what he’d bought was any good. Just because I’m a girl I’m supposed to have an infinite knowledge of these things? I laughed and said, “I have no idea, I don’t use skincare products.” Bam. Take that social stereotypes.

The problem is that homophobia is so deeply rooted into our society that most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it. There’s a guy I work with whom I find annoying as hell who also happens to be gay. Am I annoyed by his flamboyancy or is he just an annoying person? And even if it was because he’s flamboyant, is that being homophobic or merely a case of opposing personality types? I don’t know; it is nearly impossible to distinguish. I will say that I have very few gay male friends, and the ones I do have are generally not very flamboyant. But is that because I am generally turned off by femininity in any form, or because I am specifically intolerant of male femininity?

As I have said before, homophobia is intrinsically linked to sexism because it stems from a reverence of “pure” masculinity. When one defines homophobia as hatred or mistrust of male femininity or female masculinity, it becomes clear that while we may approach the issue of homophobia with the best intentions and declare ourselves “open-minded” or “accepting,” in order to truly eradicate homophobia, whether intentional or not, we must dissolve sexism. Which is no easy task as it is still so pervasive in our way of thinking. Until we let go of sexism, we will be incapable of accepting that masculinity and femininity can never be separate entities and that both are present in males and females (and everyone else). Similarly, once we dispense with the hierarchy of masculinity being paramount to femininity, maybe we can break down all the other hierarchies that pop up with in the categories of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

A Break-Up Letter to OkCupid

Published June 4, 2013 by auddity

Seeing you again has made me realize how boring I am. I mean, I knew I was boring. I work all the time and don’t go out and all I want to do when I get a few hours of free time is either eat, sleep, write, or watch tv. And occasionally I’ll do laundry, but only when it gets really bad. I’m an interesting person but the life I’m leading right now is exceedingly uninteresting.

I first met you when my life was VERY interesting, at the end of my senior year of college after a series of catastrophic romantic endeavours with real life people who also happened to be good friends of mine. I figured, if I couldn’t make it work the old fashioned way, why not try meeting someone online? And while you can be a little sketchy sometimes, once I set some boundaries and established some privacy, maybe true love really was possible, or at least some flirty conversation. I continued our relationship when I moved back home after graduation, although it didn’t result in any dates. It wasn’t until I visited my alma mater that October that I realized I wasn’t looking to date anyone. On my return home I promptly broke it off with you, threw myself into work, and have had zero love life since. I viewed myself as being “Closed for Repairs,” that I was temporarily shut down but would reopen at some point in the not too distant future.

A couple weeks ago I went back to my former school to see some good friends before they graduated. I also saw some of the key players from my previous debacles that got me out of the love game in the first place. And I was thoroughly okay with it. So when I came home this time, I decided it was time to put myself out there again and to see what was going on in your world. It’s interesting that visiting a place where I was such a social being (versus at home where I am a borderline recluse) was the trigger for me to both break up with you and rekindle what we had. Anyway now I’m trying to get back into it and I find I’ve forgotten how to talk to people, or at least how to talk to you. But maybe it’s simply because I have so little to talk about.

In my mind when I was involved with you a year ago, I was consistently (though certainly not constantly) meeting new people with you, getting to know what you had to offer, and even discovering things about myself here and there. Since we got back together, we’ve only had a few meaningful conversations. Maybe it’s because I’m boring now, or maybe it’s that there are so many fish in the sea, and I shouldn’t limit myself to someone I met online. It’s not about them, though. The problem is really that I’m not interested in meeting people online. I don’t want to go on dates, I don’t even really want to make new friends. I think I am dissatisfied with my (social) life right now but don’t particularly want to put the effort into changing it. I don’t want a potential sig. other to judge me on where I am in my life and so I am shutting the door on that possibility altogether. Let them flock to me when I’m successful and independent and loving life, but not now. You can’t always look your best though, and you can’t stop people from looking when you’re not.

Maybe it’s time I broke up with you once and for all. I’m not interested in actively looking for anyone (although I probably wouldn’t say no if someone happened to find me) and that’s okay. My mind is telling me that my biological clock is ticking and I’d better get on that, but it’s not my own clock I hear, it’s society’s worn-out, dusty metronome, ticking away the same outdated philosophy that a girl in her twenties should be looking to settle down and fast. All around me my peers are dropping like flies, entering “adult” relationships, getting married, having kids. How can a child like me keep up with all that? I feel like I’ve missed the boat, and I’m beginning to realize that the last thing I should do is to launch myself into the ocean of online dating. So OkCupid, thank you. Thanks for showing me that boring is okay, but forcing yourself to have a love life, even a virtual one, is not. We may meet again OKC, but this is goodbye for now.

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