Christmas Hang-Over

(Originally Written December 27, 2014)

Christmas is, for me, like how my mother described labour to me all those years ago when I foolishly asked. It hurts like hell, is stressful as all get-out, and in the middle of it you swear you’ll never do it again. But then you see the sparkling tree – er, baby – and all the shitty stuff fades into the background noise.

This is how Christmas is for me, and has been for many years. And I imagine for you or at least someone you know, too. Every year, colourful and warm memories float in my brain of Christmas: bright lights, a beautiful tree, days off from work, tasty meals, delicious baking, the joy of giving and receiving. Even as late as November, I make ambitious lists of gifts to buy or make, holiday cards to send out, the various recipes of baking I want to do, and the packages to assemble to mail out to far-away family.

And every year, by the end of November, it all comes crashing down and my pre-holiday case of stress winds me up. I have this problem where I seem to think I am more efficient and focused than I actually am. I’m not sure where I got this idea from; I have never been strong with time-management or motivating myself. So why I continually, every year, create to-do lists of zillions of things to do, get, make, package, and ship in time for Christmas is beyond me. There is always an inevitable melt-down when I realize one (or several) of my Christmas plans or goals is unrealistic, and yet when it is all said and done, whatever did not get accomplished was never really missed. I always vow never to over-plan again.

Continue reading “Christmas Hang-Over”

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In / Out

(Originally posted on January 12, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

I am not out at work.

A handful of my co-workers are also friends with me on Facebook, and they’re bombarded with my truth on pretty much a daily basis. My super gay life is all I talk about on the Internet these days. But most of the people I work with don’t know I’m gay. Some of them may suspect, I suppose, but they haven’t received any sort of confirmation from me.

My non-work friends are surprised when I tell them this. Some of them can’t fathom the idea of a person knowing me and not knowing that I’m a big lez. To them, my gayness is a blinding rainbow beacon, unwavering and undeniable. “Have they not seen you walk?” they ask.

It’s a fair question.

Until recently, I wasn’t prone to oversharing. I took a passive approach to conversations, not volunteering any information I wasn’t directly asked for. This was a defense mechanism; a way to avoid being judged. And it carried over to small, stupid things, like not mentioning a TV show or band that I liked, for fear of being disagreed with or thought less of. One of the biggest driving forces in my life has always been my need to be liked. And a great way to do that is to sit back, observe, and mirror what people want to hear.

I’ve never liked being conspicuous. I’ve spent most of my life feeling completely different from everyone around me. And this feeling of alienation – of unbelonging – has often driven me to focus all of my energy on being unnoticed. On blending in.

I’m friends with a lesbian who, like me, isn’t out at work. I was surprised when she told me this, because she has a long-term girlfriend. But on reflection, I can believe it. She’s not someone who would have pinged my gaydar; at least not right away. She can certainly pass for straight. And since a lot of ordinary people consider “straight” to be the unquestioned default setting for everyone they meet, it’s possible that she doesn’t have to work very hard to keep this information to herself.

I’ve been out at other workplaces, but never right away, and certainly not with any big declarations. I’ve come out to co-workers gradually, one-on-one, and usually after having formed friendships first. I tell people I’m gay when they ask, and then I assure them that it’s not a secret.

It’s not, really. It’s just not something I lead with. I prefer for people to get to know me first. That way, “lesbian” is a label they’re applying to a person they already know. Once they know me, they like me. Once they like me, it’s less easy for them to dislike all lesbians on principle.

Right? Continue reading “In / Out”

A Woman Works

(Originally written on March 9, 2014.)

I am a bisexual woman engaged to a woman. A wonderful woman who has made me happier than I’ve ever been before. There is that saying that, someday, someone will walk into your life and make you realize why it never worked out with anyone else. This is what I have, and it’s phenomenal. I feel like I’m the luckiest person alive! But of course, all my exes are men, and my fiancée is a woman. So the question always comes:

“Do you think it’s working out so well because of who she is, or because she’s a woman?” Continue reading “A Woman Works”

Soft Skills and Baby Steps

(Originally posted on July 5, 2012 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

I am the youngest child of three in my family. And though I stand at least six inches taller than my mother, I am still frequently referred to as “the baby.” This is how my parents see me. I suspect my older siblings probably see me this way as well. I’m younger and less prepared for things. I’m someone to teach; someone to take care of. They might always see me this way. The real question is: will I ever stop seeing myself this way?

Not long ago, I watched a Ted Talk by Jeffrey Kluger about siblings and birth order and the impact both can have on the people we become. (The pertinent part of the discussion begins at the 12-minute mark.) What I heard stuck with me, because it felt like an eerily accurate picture of my own experience. Just like I am a textbook lesbian in a lot of ways, I am also (apparently) a textbook youngest child.

The portrait of the oldest sibling didn’t come as a big surprise to me. They tend to be extremely independent. They are doers, and problem-solvers, and they are usually more professionally successful than their younger siblings. They are intelligent, and confident, and self-assured. They know how to take care of themselves.

So, you might be wondering, where does this leave the youngest child?

I’m glad you asked!

The youngest child in the family tends to be funny; tends to be charming. She has strong communication skills and she knows how to read others. She is a natural people pleaser. The oldest sibling knows how to take care of herself, but the youngest sibling knows how to persuade others to take care of her.

Compared against my own personal experience, this description rings ridiculously true. And so, here I am at age 31, wondering how much more I might have accomplished if I had been the oldest child in my family. Wondering how I may have benefited from some mad independence skillz.

I have had a string of unsatisfying and poor-paying jobs. I have underachieved and disappointed myself. I should have been and done more but I was ill-equipped and distracted. Life had thrown me a curve ball; an obstacle my family couldn’t help me with. Life had made me gay. And that was a road trodden by neither sibling nor parent.

Being gay has pushed me in ways that nothing else has in life. It’s challenged my comfort level at every turn, and I think that’s actually been good for me. I have had an agonizingly slow go of it all, and even now I am only inching forward in baby steps. But it’s a lifelong journey, and at least I am moving in the right direction. As they say, it’s better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than halfway up one you don’t.

The thing that has held me back the most in life, and what still holds me back in little and big ways as we speak, is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of making mistakes. A lack of trust in myself. I’m afraid to take on a career that challenges me, because I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid to drive a car in the city. I’m afraid to travel outside of the country by myself. I’m afraid to ask a woman out on a date. It took me until the age of 31 just to join a lesbian social group, and even when I finally struck up the nerve to go to one, I spent several minutes out in the parking lot, afraid to walk in the door.

That was almost three months ago. And now, with every new meeting or event I go to, I struggle to remember what the hell I was so afraid of. Was I afraid of lesbians? Have I been afraid of myself this whole time?

Now there are new things to be afraid of. If I’m too friendly with a girl, will it come across as flirting? On the flip side, if I’m actually attempting to flirt, will she be able to tell? I spent my twenties mastering the art of falling in love with heterosexual friends. I knew the boundaries then. I knew where I stood.

Liking someone who might actually like me back sounds completely terrifying. But I guess that’s how I know it’s worth doing. Part of being an adult is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

So line up, ladies! I’m prepared to be terrified, if you’re prepared to be charmed.


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Homo In Transit

(Originally posted on September 2, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

2013 has definitely been a year of firsts for me.

Some were emotionally powerful (first lesbian wedding). Some were random and sort of weird (first time in a port-o-potty). Some were just awesome (first road trip with friends, first step into the Pacific Ocean, first smartphone). Some pushed me to the absolute limits of who I knew myself to be (first lesbian stagette).

Next month will introduce another: I’m about to move into my very first studio apartment.

I’ve lived by myself several times over the last ten years, but always in one-bedroom apartments. The place I am moving into is a no-bedroom; about 600 square feet total. It will definitely be the smallest place I’ve ever lived.

When I started the preliminary sorting process in anticipation of this move, I was struck by how much crap I owned that I had no use for anymore. I’ve moved enough times in the past ten years that I’ve developed a burning desire to make the process as short and sweet as possible. I was unwilling to pack a single box more than was absolutely necessary.

So began the cull.

Continue reading “Homo In Transit”

A Bisexual’s Secret: I Am Intimidated By Women.

(Originally posted on March 27, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

I’m bisexual, and the prospect of dating a woman terrifies me. It’s probably the main reason I took ten years to finally accept myself and come out. I knew I wasn’t just straight-but-not-narrow when I was fourteen. But the few times I hesitantly reached out beyond the fear of rejection in high school, I was shut down – and painfully. It was easier to just focus my attention on boys and pretend I didn’t notice girls.

I also have the worst gaydar ever.

Honestly, I even have trouble sussing out whether straight men are hitting on me or not, so the idea of trying to read signals from a lady gives me serious anxiety. The awkward, hurtful experience of confessing a crush to a straight girl is something I don’t want to repeat at this point in my life.

Getting involved in LGBTQ events in Edmonton has been helpful, since I have met women I can say with certainty are attracted to other women, but not all crushes pop up at lesbian events. Sometimes they show up inconveniently at work, or at school, or at church. Men confuse me as it is. Continue reading “A Bisexual’s Secret: I Am Intimidated By Women.”

#YEG – Careless Whisper

(Originally posted on April 3, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

Every teen drama in recent memory that’s taken a crack at a gay storyline has included one virtually identical scene. The gay (or presumed gay) character – usually tertiary but occasionally a main player – is walking nonchalantly down the school corridor. Suddenly, he or she stops dead. The camera then zips helpfully around to show us what all the fuss is about.

A locker has been tagged, in spray paint, with the word “FAG.”

This exact scene has happened on Dawson’s Creek, Popular, and Glee, among other teen shows. It usually happens midway through Season Two. (For variety, One Tree Hill had a “DYKE” locker instead, which I suppose is refreshing?)

The scene always unfolds the same way: one word, one locker, and one victim forcibly made conspicuous in a crowd of his or her peers. The perpetrator is absent or invisible; a faceless coward, hiding behind a very small but powerful word.

Hate can be so paint-by-numbers.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine showed me some disturbing images from right here in Edmonton. They were photos of a home here in the city; a home spray-painted with racial slurs. I blinked at these photos in disbelief. Is this sort of thing seriously still happening, right under our noses? In a city, and indeed a country, celebrated for its diversity? In 2013?

Really?

Continue reading “#YEG – Careless Whisper”

Out of Touch

(Originally posted on March 2, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

I’ve been a lesbian my entire life. I know this now. I’ve spoken to other lesbians who can pinpoint the exact moment they realized they were gay. I can’t. I’ve always figured that, as a youngster, I was just too sheltered to recognize what was right in front of me.  I’ve always assumed that I was simply a latecomer to the right vocabulary.

I did not know I was gay growing up. Or, at least, I don’t remember knowing it.

I’ve been looking at some old diaries of mine – we’re talking early nineties, teeny-bopper diaries. Within those pages I found an anxious girl; sensitive, insecure, and yeah, I’ll say it: frequently obnoxious. I had incredibly strong feelings for my friends; feelings that made me possessive and paranoid and easily hurt.

Amid these waves of naive and needy words, I came across some fairly compelling foreshadowing. In the middle of an entry about first periods and friendship hierarchies, I had paused to write a description of one of my best gal pals:

She’s really pretty. People say she lost weight. I said, “Yeah, but I didn’t know she’d had much to lose.” Anyway, she had a tank top over her bathing suit and shorts, and she has a figure! I guess she always did, I just never really noticed it. And her hair is really nice. When all of us grow up, I honestly think she will be the prettiest. (Do I sound gay? Because I’m pretty sure I’m straight. But, you never can tell. Sometimes it worries me.)

I was thirteen when I wrote those words. I knew the terminology. I knew that the idea of being gay was cause for alarm. And I also recognized it as a legitimate possibility, however non-committal I was with my word choice. Back then, my young mind was still open enough that I could momentarily entertain the thought. So I wrote those secret words down in a book that only I would ever read. I wrote them, and then I forgot them. Continue reading “Out of Touch”

A Mother Speaks Out

(Originally posted on November 7, 2012 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

Guest Post by Sandra (a.k.a. Mo’s mom)

To borrow a well-known phrase from a famous organization, I would like to begin by saying: “HELLO, MY NAME IS SANDRA AND I AM THE MOTHER OF A LESBIAN.”

At 62 years of age, I can honestly say I never expected to be saying this. But, after being introduced to this site by Mo, I wondered if perhaps there might be an audience out there to hear what one mother’s thoughts might be, especially if some lesbians have still not figured out where their own mothers stand. So this is my attempt to share my feelings with you. Continue reading “A Mother Speaks Out”

Independent Woman is Dating a Woman

(Originally posted on January 9, 2014 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

Several weeks ago, I went to my first appointment with my therapist. I’ve done therapy before, but I had a new, pressing topic to discuss. Since coming out, I’ve been feeling guilty about my outward expression; how I dress, how I wear my hair, whether or not I choose to wear make up.

Growing up, I idolized my older brother. I wanted to be as good as he was at everything, wanted to eat my cereal as fast as he did, wanted to grow to be as tall as he was. After we both grew to our close-to adult sizes, I started wearing a lot of his hand-me-downs. I continue to favour baggier clothes than many women do, and continue to purchase men’s pants to this day. When I was fourteen, I stopped dance classes after almost ten years. I was tired of having my hair styled tightly into buns cemented in place with gel and hairspray, and I was tired of the thick stage make up. I withdrew from make up and had no terrible interest in putting great effort into my hair.

When I was about fifteen, a year after I stopped dancing, I started Taekwon-do and archery classes. I wore more men’s clothing, and I enjoyed being good at things that were predominantly ‘guy’ things, like martial arts and science. I actively avoided anything pink, as I didn’t want to be associated with anything that girly. It got more and more intense as I got older. I only wore men’s pants and refused to carry a purse, opting for a man wallet. I took a bow-hunting course and was one of only three or four women in a class of around twenty. I was proud just to be there as a woman, and when I turned out to have more natural talent at certain things, you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face for days. I learned to drive a stick shift. I took welding classes. I was running my life under the motto of anything you can do, I can do better.

My dad has influenced me in this regard, as well. He has always been adamant that I should never need a man for anything – not to pay my bills, not to fix my car. I have done a lot of my own car maintenance, with my dad and brother showing me how to do it for next time. I’ve replaced my own brakes, done all my own oil changes, and I’ve changed a flat tire in a rainstorm. I see my financial and personal independence as a huge part of who I am, and will frequently deny help from others, especially men, with the phrase, ‘I’m an independent woman!’

Continue reading “Independent Woman is Dating a Woman”