I Am Not A Straight Girl, # Infinity + 1, OR, the GAZE (not necessarily male)


So, I really love writing my “I Am Not a Straight Girl” series. LOVE. It’s so much fun.

This one’s a quickie.

And all about the gaze. As in, THE GAZE.

Straight feminists talk about the male gaze. And if you’re sexually attracted to men, then the male gaze matters, right? You care what they find attractive and you form yourself toward that ideal, even if it twists you out of shape in a million ways. Not too powerful, not too smart, not stronger than…definitely feminine, definitely sexy. In the cliche, mind you.

But what about the female gaze? Or the gay male gaze?

What is my own gaze, for that matter?

What gaze do I lean toward, when I’m trying to attract a mate? (Okay, I already have a mate, and she pretty much finds the myriad of my gender fluidity and experiments amusing and even across-the-board attractive, so I’m good. Or I would be, if I didn’t like mass attention.)

Anyhow, in order:

The female gaze. As in straight female. When men lean toward that gaze, what do they become? And oh, why don’t we ask this question much more often?

Because men feel they have to be strong, dominant, smarter…they can’t fail, be weak, uncertain. The female gaze lives in the binary of traditional roles, and it demands that men never fully express their humanity. As a very honest friend of mine said recently, “I married jerks and dated nice guys who I judged.”

Or the gay male gaze. Which loves the perfect male form, which admires butchness, which allows vulnerability in limited ways, which wants sexy, which rejects geek, quirk, sloppy.

Gay men and straight women top the charts in anorexia/bulimia because of the emphasis on appearance in their respective and potential partners.

Which brings me to the lesbian gaze. Or the queer woman gaze. Or me.

Gulp.

Of course, I’ve been all over the map, but let’s land it where I don’t want to admit it lands–in the country of nurture. Support. Warmth. Not so focused on appearance, but definitely focused on comfort for the heart. And this might not be so bad, except that sexy and comfort don’t have a lot to do with each other.

Comfort has always been my Waterloo. Looking for the gaze that doesn’t ask me for a ridiculous amount of strength.

You see, there’s a reason I empathize so much with straight men.

However, in my particular queer gaze, I’m looking for duality, for both/and, for butch, for play, for outlaw. I’m most attracted to gender queer and trans people, because long before I had language to explain it, I knew that male and female both didn’t quite work for me. Neither were terrible, so I called myself bi, but honestly, too much yin or yang…not my thing.

I want the in-between, the other, the re-imagined, the inventing as you go gender. I want the discovery, I want the little edge of male that is a sexual gasp in the surrounding almost female.

We all look. We all have a gaze.

And that, in the end, is what this blog is about. Not the easily politicized…and don’t get me wrong, I get that straight women suffer in living with the male gaze, and that the male gaze is sexist and limiting and soul-crushing, or can be. I mean, I don’t really get why they don’t just turn to another woman, but that’s another subject.

But if we’re all looking, then let us look for what is human, what frees us to recognize each other.

Sexuality can’t be easily explained or defined. What attracts us, in the gender of another. But I can say that my partner’s gender is woven together with who she is…with her experience, with her morality, with her empathy, compassion and kindness. I love what her experience of otherness has done for growing her big heart bigger, even as I mourn for the loneliness she’s felt as an outsider.

We all look.

Look deeper.

Know that your gaze can carve a space for someone to live more deeply in this world.

Or can shut out huge chunks of who they are.

Love more. See more. Make room.

We’re all looking. It would be great if we all could really see.

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Just a Day with My Partner, Who Shall Remain Anonymous


My partner is in her room on the unmade bed with all the laundry, doing the questions for the Brene Brown course we’re taking on line. I already finished mine. That’s how things go around here. I am the type A who gets it all done yesterday. But get this…usually I would write a novel in answer to said questions, and she would write, oh, maybe three phrases. But I snuck a look at her answers and there’s at least half a page full of her cramped lefty hand writing.

I’m having a little trouble breathing. I don’t know whether to feel completely mushy and grateful or totally threatened.

Hey, no one said we were sane.

Last weekend we were out with another couple who just passed their 10 year anniversary. They asked if it gets easier (we’re hitting year 29 in June). We kind of looked at each other, and then my partner said, “No, not really.”

I made a face. I could tell she started getting nervous we’d have a fight about it when we got home, because she backtracked like nobody’s business.

“I mean, it does, but then it doesn’t,” is how she started said backtracking.

I love being married.

Except when I don’t.

It’s complicated.

But right now I love it. We lie around comparing the effects of menopause. We talk about everything from politics to why she uses the word, “pumpy” as an endearment and what that’s supposed to mean. We go to yoga and we argue about movies.

She comes up behind me and kisses my head. I mean now. She did that right now. For no reason.

We even had our friggin’ torturous mammograms on the same day.

I said, “You are my twin.” She is. Except that we look nothing alike and I’m a femme tomboy and she’s gender non-conforming and she’s Jewish and I’m an ex-Catholic pseudo Buddhist and she’s a tech nerd and I’m an edgy artist and she’s all about the details and I’m all about the big picture concepts and we do everything exactly the opposite from each other.

Outside of that…

I guess it’s just love.cropped-25th-anniversary-crazy-people.jpg

 

New Age. What?


Okay, that’s it.

Yesterday I picked my partner up from one of her personal growth experiences.  She was upset because the person supposedly helping her said, “Well, why can’t you just be mindful when that happens?”

My partner has lovely rants.  This one was something like, If I could do that, I wouldn’t need you.  I would be fixed.  Cured.  I would be the friggin’ Buddha.  But I’m not and I can’t and f*(& you and the train you rode in on.

Lovely.

Then, today, instead of taking my nap, which I swear I WILL do, I listened to the Oprah/Chopra meditation on how we create our own reality.  OH MY GOD!  It made me HOMICIDAL!  There were even exercises to find out where you were stuck in the past so you can just inhabit the present moment as if the past didn’t ever exist.  OH MY GOD!  TRIPLE HOMICIDAL!  (And seriously, I want to remember the crap I learned in case that helps me not to do it again.)

Mind you, I’m all in favor of the present moment.  But I don’t want meditations that make me feel crappy for not being over everything already.  I mean, seriously.  We develop neural pathways from our experiences.  Developing new ones, creating links between the old and new, calming the nervous system…this is the work of a lifetime.  And that’s if you’re lucky enough to not be worried about where the next meal is coming from or which kid has a play date or how you need to fight against oppression today.

I haven’t learned everything I know from being married to my partner.  Just most of it.  And the main thing I learned is that the more we give each other permission to be crazy, neurotic, imperfect, likely to make mistakes…the more love there is.  The more get-out-of-jail-free cards we hand each other, out of compassion for each other’s fucked up humanness, the more we truly grow into open-hearted closeness.

Yoga, meditation, Buddhism, religion, New Age philosophies, positivity…I can’t live up to it all, and WHO WOULD WANT TO?  Sometimes, it’s nice to lie around, eat pizza, fart, and laugh at each other.

Gratitude and Grace.  Touch me.  But not as much as being stupid with the person I love.  Who doesn’t ask me to do the impossible.  (Except when she’s triggered.  But I won’t go into that.)

What I Know About Marriage and Homicide


I wrote this for a friend when she got married.  So she’d know what she was in for.  Enjoy!

 

What I Know about Marriage and Homicide

By Lyralen

  1. Being known is great. Except when it’s not.

 

  1. After 26 years, I’m still waiting for her to turn into the suave, handsome, rich doctor or lawyer I was supposed to marry, instead of this completely authentic, loving, neurotic putz who makes me laugh.

 

  1. Loving her so much challenges all my fears. So I try to be friends and keep getting back on the same side. Otherwise I might kill her.

 

  1. I can only do as much intimacy as I can tolerate—so I don’t open my heart all at once. Or I might kill her.

 

  1. It’s better to tell on myself than to confront my partner. Because then she won’t kill me.

 

  1. I have a part of me that sees her as every monster from every nightmare and thinks my survival is threatened. When this happens, it’s time to go in my room and hide. And then try to soothe myself. So I don’t kill her.

 

  1. Marriage is a disappointment factory. I keep creating expectations or recycling old ones, just so I can learn that she’s not here to take care of me. (This makes me want to kill her.)

 

  1. For 28 years, she has told me, over and over again, that we don’t have to do anything I don’t want to, that we can go as slow as I need, that she never wants to hurt me (even though she does), and I forget this the minute she says something stupid. (And then I want to kill her.)

 

  1. When the voice that tells me I’m better than her, and she doesn’t deserve me, gets activated, it’s better if I don’t share that with her (so she doesn’t kill me), or believe what that part of me is telling me (so I don’t kill her).

 

  1. Once in a while, we get close, and no one freaks out, and I notice, one moment at a time, the way her hands seeks for me, the way she touches me as if I am the most precious person in the world, and the way I explode with joy (and make inappropriate jokes) at all of it, so grateful to be alive and know what this feels like.

 

Obergefell v. Hodges OR Dear Jude…


I didn’t think I’d see equality in my lifetime.

Imagine that.  Thinking you’d never be equal under the law.

And now we are.  I have nothing political to say except that equality and justice are my goals, now and always.

But I do have something to say.  Does this really surprise anyone?  Maybe only me, that this is how I want to mark the day.  The personal made political, once again.

Dear Jude,

When you came back into my life in 1987, I had just gone to my first Pride Parade.  Maybe that opened the door to the gift of you.

Because there I was, coming out of the closet yet again as bi-sexual, terrified of the consequences of being out–I’d seen my mother’s closeted relationship destroyed by homophobia and had been gay bashed and sexually harassed.  So I was self-hating and ashamed…and just ignorant, the way only someone who had never fully entered the gay community could be ignorant.

And there you were, so butch that standing next to you outed me.  There you were, taking my hand gently in yours as we walked down the street in the 1980’s, so not afraid, so proud to love me.  It cracked me wide open, and if that wasn’t enough, when I said, “I’m too scared to hold your hand right now.”  You said, “Okay, just let me know when you’re ready.”

When I said, “I don’t know if I’m bi or lesbian,” you said, “Well, we know you’re not straight, and that’s good enough for me.”

The tide of gentleness coming in to hold my fear without judgment, without any demand or push that I be better, without complaint for how it must have made things harder for you…the funny thing is, it made me better.  In the truest way.  I am the queer daughter of a lesbian mother who hid what made her happy.  I have a stepmother that not one of my siblings would admit parented us.  You reached into that hurt place and told me I could be exactly who I was…and that let me look at you and see pride and what pride had to offer.

I came out to my classes, I came out at church, I spoke publicly, and that was the gift you gave me.  To stand up and claim myself and my part in our struggle.

When we got married, you came over to hold me the night before, remember?  When we got married, you talked about the challenge of our then ten year relationship in front of all our friends, and how in spite of everything, we have always been able to laugh.

There is no unequal in loving you.  There is only how grateful I am for the way you give me back to myself…and the irritation at the very same thing (yes, I’m not going to stay all sweet much longer as you well know).

Today we are equal under the law.  You always seemed to know that we deserved it.  And so I unlearned my mother’s tragedy, and learned my own freedom.

If I could marry you again today, I would.  And tomorrow, and the next day, and then next.

Thank you for being my big-hearted, passive-aggressive, neurotic, gentle, out and proud renegade

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spouse.

And no, you can’t remind me I said this the next time we argue.

I love you madly,

Me

I’m Crazy, You’re Crazy: What are my partner and I doing now?


Yes, I may fall over dead from admitting this.

We are doing a couples spiritual practice.

Here I go.  Falling over.  Bleck.  Urgh.  Uck.

Why, you may ask, do I fall over from admitting this?

BECAUSE I AM WAY TOO COOL TO BE NEW AGE!!!!!  I SWEAR!  I MAKE FUN OF EVERYTHING!  I AM THE QUINTESSENTIAL BAD GIRL!

And I get up every morning and do this thing called a renewal with my partner.

Who, by the way, I love.  I am also too cool to admit how much, but I suspect she knows just from the way she looks at me.

And get this, the renewal practice really helps me.  Not only be closer to her, but to live better.

I AM TOO COOL TO LIVE BETTER!

I’m still going to do it, though, because it makes us both happy.

Here’s the practice–

We get up.  I refrain from commenting on her breath.  We lie there in some kind of stupor with two hot water bottles and several Buckies (pseudo hot water bottles) all on my side of the Sleep Number Bed because I am always cold.  I pull on my Snoopy fleece pajama bottoms.  She puts on her glasses.  Then we lie in a stupor until one of us says, “So, you want to do it?”

We answer four questions:

What can you admit you’re powerless over today?

How can you turn this over to some spiritual deity you don’t believe in for the next 24 hours?  (Okay, that’s not exactly it, but the whole letting go and trusting that you don’t have to know thing…that’s the idea.)

What do you need to bring to the Light?  (We take turns talking about things we’re ashamed of, which is always fun.)  (Sometimes I like to talk about how great I am in this section, because, well, I mostly like to talk about how great I am.)

Do you recognize that whatever/whoever or some wise part of yourself knows all this about you and loves you just as you are?  (Some days, the answer is a flat out no.  This indicates staying in bed for at least 24 hours.)

Then we say metta for ourselves.  Occasionally we actually get up and meditate.

And yes, there have been 12 step programs in my life.  It took a lot for me to admit I wasn’t a deity myself, but eventually I had to do it because LIFE WAS KICKING MY BUTT.

Anyhow, I feel a very uncool tenderness for my partner these days.  The life in her, the struggle, the uncertainty, the goodness…so much goodness.  And my hope that she sees it.

Which does not mean I always refrain from talking about her bad breath.  I mean, since I’m not a deity, I have to have some compensation.

I’m Crazy, You’re Crazy, Let’s Get Married


I’m writing a book with this title. It’s all about getting to know and love your crazy, and then putting out the welcome mat for another person’s crazy, either the one you don’t yet have, or the one who is sleeping next to you, snoring her head off.  Sorry for the tease, but not yet ready to share!

Tongue out

I will say this–we’ve been having some conflict about an impasse issue, and I’ve been trying to take space and contain my irritation and criticism of my partner.  (She says she can hear every word, whether I open my mouth or not.)  But I miss her.  So today I had this full body fit, trying not to hug her, because once that happens all bets are off.  I end up in the bathroom, where I say, “Let’s fist fight.”  So she puts up her palms (standing there in her sports bra and jeans, hair wet and sticking up like Alfalfa), and I baby punch them, screwing up my face as hard as I can like a mad cartoon character.  Then I put up my hands and she baby slaps them until I tell her a slap fight isn’t a fist fight and then she baby punches them, finally doing it right (I do make the rules here, at least about important things).  And then she holds out her pinky, this soft compassionate look on her face, and I hold out mine, but I don’t touch her (still trying to take space).  And I say, “ET phone home.”  She looks at me.  I say, “But I can’t get a connection.”  And then, almost at the same moment, we both take our hands to our ears in fake cell phones and say, “Can you hear me now?”

This is what passes for sanity around here.  Just saying.