Thursday, November 30, 2006

And The Good Word Is

It looks like I'm going to be a regular sidekick (I think that I prefer "faithful companion" or "communication partner," but the terminology is still under negotiation) on Lesbian Radio.

Yep, Virginia and me, having public conversations about queerness and feminism. Hopefully I don't get so anxious my head actually does fall off, because that's what it feels like is going to happen every time I go on the air. And it would be wicked inconvenient if it actually did.

Looks like it'll be the first and third Wednesday for now. And the show for 12/6 looks like a whoppah--prob'ly about holiday gifts: Are they a good idea? Is there any way to do it meaningfully? Is there a limit on the number of Nomia gift certificates you can buy for your friends and family? All that and more.

I wonder if I'll be able to resist talking in a Maine accent on the air. I wonder if it matters.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Not Ferrets

Today's Pet Peeves:

1. Trendily low-cut pants that expose my lower back and which cause a chill

2. Wearing trendy clothes in general

3. Secret frustration that I will never be able to wear truly trendy clothes because I'm too poor and am stuck with one or two fashionable items that must be combined with older, hopefully "classic" articles of clothing, coupled with disdain and disgust for the fact that I would secretly even want to be trendy

4. Reviewing and revising my sexual orientation yet again

5. Figuring out which term best describes me (see #4)

6. Cheap coffee

7. Illness that appears just as it's become completely impossible for me to take any sick time for at least a week

8. That bread at the Eritrean restaurant

9. Not knowing what's going on

10. Knowing what's going on but not being able to do anything with the information

11. Lusting after items in the LL Bean catalogue

12. Wondering if I've sold out because I'm getting paid a decent wage to do what I love

13. Having a conversation with myself that goes something like, "If you're wondering, you probably have," rebutted with "If you really had, you'd probably not even worry about it" (see #1, 2, 3, 11, 12)

14. Missing people who live on the left coast but not getting off my butt to write

15. Early morning discussion about whether the honeymoon is over

16. The honeymoon being over

17. It being cold enough to snow but having no snow on the ground

18. Knowing that there is no way that this year's Holiday Tree can in any way compete with last year's

19. Lists of pet peeves

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

By Popular Demand

Here's my piece from lesbian radio.  Two weeks ago.

I have been out as a lesbian for most of my daughter's life.  In fact, I don't believe that she remembers the time before I came out.    But for most of the six years since then, I have identified first as a single mom and then as a lesbian.  Raising a child alone has shaped every facet of my existence: what jobs I can take, because they have to be during daycare hours; what my social life is like, because good evening childcare is expensive and hard to find; what I eat, because care of a growing body is time-consuming; and most of all, who I date, because it is rare to find a person who genuinely likes children and who doesn't mind dates that will probably consist of a rented movie, and could be interrupted at any time by nightmares, illness, or temper tantrums.  

But mostly, I think it's me that's been difficult.   Here's the thing: when you're a single parent it's almost impossible to be fun and to get things done.  It comes at the expense of my sense of humor—because who has time to laugh when there are Things I Could Be Doing Instead.   I found that in the wake of the endless rounds of work, supper, cleaning, laundry, soccer games and girl scout meetings, taking out the trash, changing the oil in the car, disciplinary conversations, all with the inevitable deadline of bedtime looming, my sense of silliness—and sometimes my sense of self—got buried, only to appear at those rare times when the bills were paid and everybody washed and fed.  

I have survived single-parent-dom by planning far ahead, anticipating potential problems, and being prepared for anything.  I always carried snacks and toys in my pockets in case of a cranky kid (and finding them during my infrequent nights out was a guaranteed way to keep me from feeling attractive, since old apples and hairy gummy snacks tend to be the opposite of sexy).   Meals were planned a week in advance.  I cleaned furiously, because I figured that if the cleaning got behind, I would never have time to catch up.   And I spent any free time trying to figure out how to squeeze more in. 

Truly, it was a little scary.  I recently found a schedule that I made for myself on graph paper early in my undergraduate years.   The days were vertical strips, and the hours were on the horizontal lines.  Every single hour of every day was marked with different colors for different activities—red for work from eight to five, yellow for commuting and daycare pickups from five to six, blue for the time from six to eight designated for supper, baths, and reading time, and purple for homework from eight to twelve.   I also somehow went to class three nights a week while my parents watched my daughter.  I don't even remember that semester.  

For the past ten years, it's as if I have been afraid to stop, for fear that I would not be able to start again.    I didn't have time to stop.  Needless to say, it has not always been good.   My goal—that my daughter and I be a happy, functioning family—was not met.  We functioned, but nobody could say that we were happy.  I was grim and stressed out, and my daughter petulant and clingy because all too often, and ironically, she got lost in the shuffle.

This is not to say that single-parent families can't work.  But being a parent is a full time job all by itself—one with no days off or health insurance—and most of us still need to work at other full-time jobs for money.   I don't believe that the nuclear family model is the perfect one, but I also don't believe that anyone should ever be wholly responsible for the life of a child all alone.  

Anyway, this year, I got very lucky and met someone who saw through my manic planning, someone who is queer and who loves my daughter; who is not afraid of the implications of getting involved in our lives and who is an amazing person whom I love very much.   We moved in together earlier this fall, and the experience has been both easier and more difficult than I expected. The relationship happened at the same time as I drastically reduced my work hours, and all of these changes have been nothing less than a revelation.  

My daughter loves my partner, and with the attention of two adults, she is blossoming.   And I am re-learning how to live.  For the first time in ten years, I am able to actually begin to relax.  And most beautifully, the shared responsibility happens out of my partner's genuine generosity and caring spirit.   This is our family, and it is amazing to me.

However, my single-parent coping mechanisms are hard to let go of, and have caused a few conflicts.   Like when I start getting anxious about Wednesday's dinner on Monday morning because Wednesdays are girl scout night and it's such a big rush to get home so we'll have to plan something quick but it should be nutritious because my daughter gets cranky if she gets too much sugar and I don't want her to behave badly in front of those troop leaders.   Or when I burst into tears over the unwashed dishes because I'm still thinking that I'll never have time to do them before it's time to start cooking dinner again tomorrow.   Someone once told me that people who seem insane are sometimes having a perfectly sane reaction to a crazy situation.  Changing that crazy situation to one in which I am supported and loved has made me realize that, while objectively completely freaky, my single mom habits served their purpose and now can be left behind, gone the way of four-coffee mornings and that control-freak schedule.   I can finally slow down, and sometimes stop, knowing that I will have the energy to get up again, because I am rested.

I want to be present for my daughter and my partner, enjoying the time when we are together.   And if I ever am a single mom again, I will order more pizza and serve more mac and cheese and not sweat so much if the house is messy or if we miss soccer practice.  The dishes can wait, the night will roll on, and we'll figure it out, together.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On the Lesbian... Radio

It's that day again. 
As a friend said to me earilier, I'll be "all lesbo famous" on the radio.  1pm on WMPG, 90.9 and 104.1. 
I'll post the text of my piece here tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dear Axl Rose... One Day at a Time, Buddy

In the "Sad Heavy Metal Guys" category... Guns n' Roses canceled a show recently at the Civic Center. 

No, it wasn't because the building is the ugliest one ever built, nor because there is ice underneath the floor. 

Not because they are simply coasting on the glory of a decade ago.

Not because they should no longer be calling themselves Guns n' Roses since Axl is the only original remaining member of the band (and what is GNR without Slash, folks?  Nuthin, that's what.)

It was because they couldn't drink onstage.

The first step, Axl, is admitting there's a problem.  Seriously.  Dozens of GNR fans were weeping.

PS: I heart GNR.  I showed my boobs to Axl Rose once at a show (I was fifteen) and Appetite for Destruction is a fantastic album.  But now I'm getting a little embarrassed for them (and not because they saw my bare chest).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

It Never Gets Old

I love to read the comments that people post in response to stories on  Only the most radical and half-baked comments get posted.  Ever. 
Got a story about censorship?  It's followed by dozens of comments about the decline of our country due to political correctness and nuggets like "freedom isn't free."
Read a story about social welfare?  The comments will be pearls of wisdom like "can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em" with frequent referrals to bootstraps and bleeding heart liberals.
Today I think I read the best one ever.  In response to a story about how Millinocket is becoming a tourist destination (I know, life is weird), someone posted a response in Spanish, to which Jim, in Anytown, ME replied:
I hope Jim, "if want to live here" learns to "wright" English pretty soon too. Maybe he could do that with his free time instead of posting ignorant comments on a website. 


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