Tuesday, June 28, 2005

opposites and clones

And another thing about our not-so-little queer girl community. Either the couples out there polarize into Bubba and Mrs. Bubba or they look creepily like siblings. What is the deal? I was reading in the Pride 05 magazine about this lesbian, Honey Labrador, doing a Queer Eye for the Straight Girl thing and I practically yelled: NO, goddammit, stay home! Dykes are in desperate need of some style consultation of their own–the straight girls have legions of advisors.

Okay, so the younger lesbians are a little more in touch with presentation. And don't get your lavender panties all in a bunch, I'm not talking about Lesbi-glam. That's not the focus, L Word be damned. I'm talking about looking at your bodies (particularly the large & lovely variety) and giving your slump-shouldered, old oversized t-shirted torso an honest review. I hate spending time on image fussiness and I'm the first to admit that I could use a do-over. But you can be casual and sexy and big and put together without hours of primping.

I sound like a damn fashion consultant. It's not just about the surface, of course. For years we've defied the stereotypes about being girly-girls and rightly so. But rather than look like sulking mid-western farm wives or passionless, pale androgyns, why not face the stereotypes with a defiant panache?

Dictionary.com defines androgyny as:

  1. Biology. Having both female and male characteristics; hermaphroditic.
  2. Being neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine, as in dress, appearance, or behavior.
Isn't that something? A definition with completely opposite options. All or nothing. Okay, so I'd just as soon throw out the latter and run full-tilt with the former. There's nothing sexier than a tough, beautiful woman with close-cropped hair in jeans, leather jacket and a hint of lingerie. Or some femme-looking thing who can change a tire and flip you off. Very unladylike. For me, it's all about being strong and true to your full-spectrum self. How hard is that?

It shouldn't be so hard. And there certainly are people out there doing it. And, yes, there certainly are more important goals than image. Voting, for one. Reading. Thinking. etc., However, how we present ourselves is an indication or of how we perceive ourselves. Don't make it your life, just make it your opening paragraph and move on to the good stuff.

Jesuschrist, I sound evangelical. And I haven't even started on my rant about transgendered/intersexed issues and our hypocrisy in hesitating to include them...
...and my concurrent irritation with the continued polarization of what is a male or female?
...and how those stereotypes are such a hindrance.
I don't understand why a person fighting against the popular notion of being, let's say, a "real" man and all it means to the female side/center of him can turn around and embrace the same limited image of what it means to be a woman.

I know. I don't understand. I love the societally defined "feminine" and "masculine" aspects of myself and I don't understand why anyone would reject any part of themselves.
It's a continuum, people. All about our hackneyed, arcing spectrum of color.
The logic of biology and history point towards a majority of gender blending and a minority of gender polarization (which is not a rejection of you out there on either ends of the bell curve, so just calm down). And gender blending is simply about a panoply of qualities that would be better off unattached to a vagina or penis or anything in between.

Okay, enough, I'm exhausted. Besides I've got to find a pair of silk panties that match my big, butch pick-up truck.

Monday, June 27, 2005

a gigantic gaggle of girls

The Pride Parade was good. My most persistent observation? Where did all these women come from? Seriously, I've never seen so many queer women in one place. So many young women (I mean younger than my 23-year-old-daughter-young), older women, Hispanic women, African-American women, plain ol' white women, well-dressed women, trailer trash women, big women, skinny women (okay, so big was more the order of the day), etc., I swear they bused them in from the hinterlands.

Lori made us some (appropriate) mixed drinks for the event: Pink Panties. They were delicious. Then, Barbara and I went over to Cosmos to see our favorite bartender (read: son) and have a beer. Even though I had a pretty good time overall, too much of the evening seemed to boil down to drunken drama and I'm afraid it sort of reinforced my desire to stay home. I've got to get out there and find a group to converse with...a relatively sober group. A slightly drunk reading group perhaps.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

gay day, gay day

Yes, that's right campers, it's queer pride day here in Houston. Not much different than St. Patrick's Day or the Greek Festival except for the social disapproval and corresponding legislation. Barbara and I plan on getting out there and mixing it up with the rest. The queer population is often portrayed as a smaller, intimate subculture in an urban environment. Yet it amazes me every time we foray out to some queer event how few people we know or, for that matter, even recognize.

Other than that, I've started reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Which promises to be delightful.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

again with the temperature

One of the telltale signs of aging (other than ranting about the crap music kids listen to today as opposed to the real music from your day–a rant that sounds exactly like a mind slamming shut) is talking about the weather and/or your health. If the words polyp, watery stool, or mucus discharge start do-si-do-ing with humidity, cold fronts and low pressure troughs, you are pretty much slipping into crustiness.

So you'll understand my trepidation at bringing up my heightened temperature sensitivity again.

It is SO bloody hot here in Houston. And there's a solid three months ahead of the same. Our air conditioning window units are feeble. They cool like an emphysemic blowing at you over a block of ice. I'm convinced that if sweat didn't contain salt I'd mold right up. [If that's not a geriatric image I don't know what is.] That Houston is miserably hot in summer is not new. That our a/c units are straining to do their jobs is not exactly new either. That my internal thermostat is mutinying...well, now that's kind of new.

On the flip side, I just finished Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Yes, Stephen King. Truth be told, I started reading King out of maternal duty some 15 years ago. My, then 11-year old, son was given some Stephen King books and I was concerned that Carrie and Cujo were going to warp his pre-teen mind. I mean warp it more than is to be expected from the nature/nurture ball of wax he'd been born into.

Anyway, I loved the damn series (and felt my son's love of reading was ample trade-off for the scariness and relatively harmless vulgarity contained in King's books--and I say that like vulgarity is a bad thing). Give me a campfire, s'mores and a good storyteller...and the man knows how to tell a story.

Back to my thermostat issue. In the final book, King's characters endure a long period of cold without respite or proper supplies. His descriptions of cold are like the unformed words of my childhood. The kind of cold that makes love, thirst and hunger seem insignificant. The kind of cold that makes you fantasize about wool and down feathers trapped by quilting. The kind of cold that makes you want to weep and sleep.

I may curse the inferno that is a Houston summer but I never, ever want to live in cold country again.

Nevertheless, it's goddamn hot.

Monday, June 13, 2005

one year later

This blog started as a way to share my experience studying and living in Spain. When that ended I, somewhat unconsciously, stopped blogging.

But I feel this tug to get back to it. So here are my random thoughts.

Work. I've been un(der)employed for over 3 months. The previously fabulous agency I worked for (for 7 1/2 years) has lost something. Namely the ability to keep me employed. I battle with my budgetary panic demons while finding this period remarkably rich. Creatively, intellectually and emotionally.
Let me go back a bit. I left a contract job at the end of February after 5 months of, and I choose this word carefully, abuse. Managerial overlords. Expecting unreasonable accomplishment using browbeating as motivation. The other serfs were, on the whole, great. Funny, intelligent and hard working. The idea that I grew close to my co-workers because we were under the same whip disturbs me. I would like to think we would have become just as close without the external negativity...but I don't know. All I know is that I stayed until I could stay no longer. It was a painful and liberating decision not unlike divorce in its subsequent relief and poverty.

Menopause. Or the silliness of it. (I still insist that this is occurring way too early in my dotage.) I have come to the conclusion that the best evidence of the "change" in me--other than having only 2 periods in the past 12 months--is my increasingly narrow thermostat. I can only abide like a 3°F change in temperature. Under 70°F and I'm freezing, above 73°F and I'm uncomfortably warm. Like I've transitioned from warm to cold-blooded. And you all can just resist the personality comparisons there.

Hermitage. Is that a word? Well, the point is, I am aware of the tendency I have to stay at home. To LOVE being at home. And how that feeds on itself. The longer I'm not working out of the house, the harder it is to make myself leave. It's not exactly "The Net" syndrome. I don't have everything delivered. But making myself run errands is not much different than making myself pay bills. I do it by force of will not desire.

Money. The urge to panic about finances is more subdued in me than I'd have predicted. However, since I was absolutely nuts about money before, being only 3/4 nuts may still seem a bit extreme for some. The point is that I find myself worrying that the porch will actually slide off the house and I'll be standing there in the scalding Houston heat with some old warped 2x4's and rusty nails crying because I can't fix it right. Or I drift into daydreams/daymares of being 70 years old and still using a goddamn extension cord to make coffee because that bank of outlets never got fixed. The only thing that soothes me is that the odds are I'll get a job soon. The odds are. And I hate gambling.

Spanish. I still talk to my father by phone every weekend and we almost always speak in Spanish. However, my Spanish is so NOT where I'd hoped it would be. It's frustrating and upsetting...but my conversations with my father have been delightful. Unexpectedly fun and encouraging. I still want to go to a country in Latin America to further my language skills. But must shelve this right now until the issues of the previous paragraph are addressed.

Skeptism. For the many years since I lost my belief in religion and God, I have resisted finding a group that shared some of my philosophies. The idea of joining so chills me. But lately I've been reading about the Skeptics Society, Center for Inquiry, etc. Instead of Atheism, which is a group defined so much by what they don't believe--an anathema to me, skeptics and the like simply challenge notions, myths, beliefs with rational, scientific questions. Intellectual inquiry and dispassionate examinations into paranormal, theistic or folkloric theories seem so much more about truth than simply not-believing in God. Anyway, I'm still not interested in joining but the resources are fascinating and the individuals who have written on the subject have been thoughtful and thought-provoking. I've read speeches by Natalie Angier, Julia Sweeney and Tom Flynn that were excellent.

Daughter. My daughter graduated from Washington University with a B.A. in architecture. Graduated magna cum laude and received the Faculty Award...not to mention (but I'm going to anyway) being nominated for two other prestigious awards. I can't resist sharing this. We're all so happy to elaborate on the shitty parts of parenting or work or relationships...because, well, they're actually more entertaining or interesting than descriptions of bliss. And less threatening to the non-blissful. However, it's all out of balance. And since I'm well-armed against pollyannaism with my cynical eye...I am happy, happy, happy to say that Marisa's graduation was a huge reward for 23 years of parenting. And Barbara and I (and the whole damn family) were awash with the joy and relief of it all.