Monday, December 25, 2006

88. Merry Christmas!

I made a little Christmas greeting video... it's made rather quickly, so it's not all that fancy, but it's still cute.

I'm not really doing all that much Christmas stuff. I have plans to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" today, which will make me feel festive, but other than that, my Christmas Day activities basically boil down to cleaning my apartment (finally!). But I did want to send my greetings and Christmas blessings to all y'all! So... MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 18, 2006

87. Appearances

So, I’ve been talking about this a lot lately… this thing I don’t talk about. It’s just that I’m having a minor identity crisis, but of the good variety, and it’s making rethink a lot of things. Or at least reevaluate the way I’ve thought about myself for years. It’s not really relevant to this blog… but I don’t know really where else I can express these thoughts, and I’ve gotten used to expressing these sorts of private thoughts so here you guys go.

I’ve grown up pretty much just hating my appearance. In Bermuda I was too white – at least for the kids around me. It’s not that they were very creative with the names they called me, but having anything chanted derisively while you walk by feels shitty. Despite the awkwardness of the chant, “Little white-yellow-mixed-up-girl” hurt. Then we moved to a nice, white little suburb in Canada and I had quite the opposite problem. Now all the things that I had taken comfort in, the things that had made me the same in Bermuda, made me different in Canada. I had funny hair, I talked funny, and now I got to be called new names.

All kids go through that sort of thing, I suppose. Some more than others. I don’t know where I land on that scale, but it sucked. Oh, I didn’t have a horrible childhood, I just know I internalized a lot of hatred about my body. And I hadn’t even gotten to the worst of it yet. Puberty hit, and I quite suddenly started putting on weight. It’s not that my life really changed, it’s just that my body did, and really quickly. And now that was all I seemed to hear about from both of my parents. My father, who hardly ever called, would during his infrequent calls ask me how much I weighed. My stepmother, who I had known for about a minute, would give me weight-loss advice. And my mother…oy. If I would only lose weight then the boys would like me. If I could just get down to my ideal weight then I would look good in my clothes. Every item of clothing I owned was evaluated on an “is it slimming?” scale, which meant that I often owned and had to wear clothing I hated because it was believed they would “minimize” certain things about my body.

And I got older, and I got bigger… and it’s not a passive thing, I know. I let it happen. There is the minor muscle disorder that stops me from doing a lot of conventional exercise, but there are alternatives. I sometimes wonder if I did it on purpose, at least at some level. Maybe to piss my parents off, maybe to stop myself from having to date guys, who knows. Maybe I didn’t do that at all. I don’t know. I do know that I’ve felt rather helpless though. Or hopeless. Actually, both. I couldn’t seem to lose the weight (maybe I didn’t want to…), but if I did would it actually change anything? I would still look like me, only smaller, so really, what’s the point?

Virtually every conversation I’ve had with my mother over the past decade has involved my weight somehow… heh, the same conversation for 10 years and she gets mad at me because I don’t sound interested. Actually, it’s been more than 10 years… I’m 31 now, so probably for half my life that’s the conversation I’ve had with my mother. It’s gotten a bit better recently, but she still calls me here in Korea and says things like, “Are you sure you’re drinking enough water? I’m sure if you drank plenty of water, you’d start to lose weight. Are you losing? What do your clothes feel like?”

And when she tries to be positive it’s actually worse. Because what she says is this: “You’re actually cute, do you know that?” – and she says it as if she’s surprised. “I was looking at you the other day and I saw that if you lost weight you’d be kind of cute…” or “I was praying and I had a vision of you thin, and you actually looked cute…”

It’s not that I have an aversion to cute, I don’t… but it’s the surprise. The use of the word “actually”, as if all this time she’s been convinced I was ugly, but… lo and behold, I’m actually not.

And my dad… I remember him trying to compliment me once… it was horrible. It involved him pointing to my chest and saying “Well, you’re busty. Some men like that.” There was also the “I’m glad you’re intelligent. It compensates.” That was fun.

I know it’s shallow to be so obsessed with one’s appearance, even if it’s a negative obsession, but this whole thing was a huge part of my depression… it got kind of tangled up with the gay thing, and I ended up hating myself from the outside in as well as from the inside out. The only way I got over that was the eventually come out of the closet and stop thinking about what I looked like entirely. And I do mean entirely. This is going to sound a bit odd, but I’m not really sure what I look like. I hate seeing pictures of me, not just because I’m not fond of what I look like, but because it kind of throws me off. I’m always kind of surprised. Not pleasantly, or even unpleasantly… just… surprised. Because in between the moments when I am forced to see myself, I forget what I look like.

This has actually been the problem with that conversation my mother and I have. It’s not so much that I’m bored with having the same conversation for years and years, it’s that I’m afraid to talk about it because I’m afraid to end up back where I was… hiding in my room so no one will look at me, sneaking into the bathroom at parties to stop myself from crying because someone did look at me… so when she tries to talk about it, I completely zone out. Self-preservation. I’ve told her this, but… she’s persistent, if nothing else.

But here’s the thing… I’m losing weight now. A lot. I have no idea exactly how much… I’ve never been a fan of scales. Even before I got big I always weighed a lot more than girls who were the same size as me. I’ve since learned that black people just tend to be heavier… more muscle mass or something, I dunno, but I’m still a little scarred from having doctors and nurses express shock every time I was weighed from when I was six on up. Anyway, at first it was rather unintentional, but it’s happening faster now because I’m really trying. Not that anyone really notices but my massage therapist, and her only because she probably touches my body more than anyone else in my entire life history. But it’s still weird. All those years of telling me that I needed to lose weight in order to be attractive, and it had no effect on me, other than to make me feel like shit. Now I’m doing it on my own (well, with help… but self-motivated) and do you know what is giving me the drive? The thought that I might actually already be attractive.

This has to be the most unexpected side-effect of this whole thing, this whole venture into the ‘lesbian world’. I’m reevaluating my opinion of myself, and it’s weird and kind of scary… a little unstable… but I think I like it. Maybe I’m not a freak. Maybe I don’t look all that bad. It’s not that (as my mother’s theory goes) I’m ‘too ugly to land a man’ so I’ve resorted to lesbianism through ‘sour grapes’ (not that I ever bought into her theory, but man, did I ever want to take a picture that first night at the club, just to show my mom all the gorgeous lesbian women who could certainly ‘land a man’ if they chose). I’m actually probably not ugly at all. It’s entirely possible that someone I’m attracted to might reciprocate. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen it happen, at least on a superficial level… and it’s not like I’m winning these girls over with my sparkling wit or personality, they don’t even speak English… so they’ve really got nothing more to go on than my appearance… which it seems that many of them like.

I know this sound so cocky, but I can’t stop thinking about this. I find myself replaying so many of the incidents I’ve had in the company of these women… being asked to dance, being flirted with, being bought drinks, and some other more… um… direct approaches. More than the basic pleasantness of these memories, I find myself trying to figure out what these girls wanted, what it was they saw in me and I can’t think of anything other than that they liked what they saw. Which means that what they saw must be likeable. And that’s a new thought for me. It’s going to take some getting used to.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

86. Links Ahoy!

I just stumbled upon 2 articles online...

The first is one in which Justin from is featured. It's a pretty cool article from the New York times which discusses gay evangelical Christians. I think it's a very thoughtful article... I especially found this section interesting:

"Gay evangelicals seldom find churches that fit. Congregations and denominations that are open to gay people are often too liberal theologically for evangelicals. Yet those congregations whose preaching is familiar do not welcome gay members, those evangelicals said."

The second article I found today blames soy for making people gay.

I didn't say they were both good articles!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

85. Hope

So... there's been a weird side-effect to hanging out with the lesbians. I'm beginning to care. And I'm wondering what it means.

What do I mean by that? I'm beginning to care about things that I haven't cared about in years... actually probably ever. I'm beginning to care about what I look like. Now anyone who has discussed this issue with me (and those people are very small in number) knows that I have cared, but in a bad way... like basically, I hate how I look and I figure everyone else does too, so I don't think about it because it depresses me. I also have had a sort of hopeless attitude about it, sort of a belief that I couldn't really do anything about it, and besides... why bother? It's not like it would ever matter to anyone anyway. And beyond that... what the hell do I care what people think anyway? I mean, so what if someone thinks I'm ugly... it sucks, and it makes me feel crappy (and when I was in my depression, it made me not want to leave my room ever), but it doesn't actually matter.

Now I know some people are going to jump in here and go on about how everyone is beautiful in their own way, or whatever, and that's all well and good, but I'm actually not talking about that sort of thing. I'm just letting you know pretty much how my head has worked for the past... oh, 25 years. Whether or not I actually am as ugly as I've thought I am is kind of not the point, the point is that the way I'm thinking about myself is changing.

Now, I'm in a room full of lesbians and I care. It does matter. I want to look good. I think about what I wear before I leave my apartment. I'm doing my pilates every day cause I think that losing weight might actually make me look better... and besides, I kind of care about being healthy now, whereas before... well, what's the point in being healthy if you can't be happy? There's a hope here... and I don't know what it is, cause I still don't think I'd be okay (conscience wise) being in a relationship with a girl (although, I didn't feel a bit of guilt going on that 'date'-- what's that about?).

I started writing this blog post earlier today, and so I’ve done a bit of musing on the subject and I’ve thought of something else. Of course, I don’t know if I’ll be able to explain it properly, but I’ll give it a go.

Being around lesbians, being in a venue like a lesbian club where lesbians go to meet other girls, I’ve been experiencing something I’m not used to. It’s not that I’ve never had anyone express an interest in me, I have… it’s just never been anyone I was actually interested in. With any of the guys who have asked me out, or complimented me, or hit on me in some way; well, it’s like nothing resonated. They ask me out, or do their thing, and to be perfectly honest, it’s usually been more upsetting than anything, mostly because I think someone has convinced men that persistence is a good thing whereas I am convinced that my “no” means “no” – not just in regard to sex, but in regard to buying me a drink or dancing or something, and if they try to push me I get really pissed off.

Anyway, the difference is that when a woman does that same thing… well, I’ll reuse my own word here… something resonates. I really hear it, and more than that, I feel it. When I went to the club a few months ago and there was this American army girl (shhh… don’t ask, don’t tell!) who looked me up and down and said “Hey sexy”, I found myself grinning, and more than that, entertaining the possibility that I might, in fact, be sexy to her. How cheesy is that? When I’ve had similar greetings from men, my thought quite literally is “Pervert.” Being told that I’m “lovely”, or having my face stroked or hair played with by another woman (who is a lesbian, I might add)… this is going to sound strange to some straight people who have certain theories on lesbianism I think, but it all has made me feel more ‘feminine’ than I think I ever have before.

Does any of that make sense? Regardless, I feel hope. And that's kind of what this whole journey has been about.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

84. Any Dream Will Do.

I’m one of those people who remembers all their dreams. At least when I first wake up… I actually have to spend a few minutes sort of debriefing in the morning (what I call my ‘morning sit’… where I just sit and recount my dream to myself). Days when I am rushed, and I don’t get to do this I feel really off all day. Sort of disoriented and hazy. Not sure what that means, it’s just a fact of my life.

Now, I’m not one of those people who feels the need to analyze all my dreams. I realize that they are mostly just silliness… for example, the dream I had the other night that I was saving a little girl (who turned out to be an alien) from a murderous and vengeful Magnum P.I. probably didn’t mean anything at all. Most of my dreams are just wackiness, and I enjoy them, (and I am one of those people who likes to tell other people about my dreams… I try and reign that impulse in though, cause I’ve heard that it annoys some people… of course, to balance this out, I totally like hearing about other people’s wacky dreams… my old roommate and I used to spend our morning sits sitting on the couch and recounting our dreams to each other. I miss that, actually… okay, tangent over now.)

I’ve spent a large portion of my life moving around… I once counted and by the time I’d graduated high school, I’d moved 10 times, going to 10 different schools. And since then I haven’t exactly remained stationery. I’ve since lived in Ottawa (for university), Ireland, Belize and now Korea.

What do these two things have to do with each other? Well, whenever I have moved, I’ve always made a note of when my dreams changed… like I vividly remember the first dream I had that took place in Korea… or the first one that happened in Ireland, Belize, Winnipeg, Ottawa… etc… I attach a lot of significance to those dreams. Not to the content or plot of them, but to the location. I figure that those dreams mean that I’ve adjusted to my new location. I feel comfortable and safe, and no longer need to reach back to my previous location to feel at home.

So, what does this have to do with this blog? Well… I’ve had several lesbian dreams recently. No, not sex dreams, and not nightmares… I mean, dreams where I’m a lesbian and it’s all okay and nobody (not even me) cares. Like the one I had the other night where I was getting married to this girl, but I backed out the day of my wedding because I wasn’t in love with her and all of my friends (including my church friends) were upset because they were excited about the wedding (which was being held in a church, by the way) and kept trying to get me back together with this girl (who I never once saw in the dream, by the way). Or the one I had 2 nights ago where my neighbour S. was lonely and her mother kept trying to set her up with me and I kept having to explain to her mother that S. isn’t gay, and I’m just not interested, thank you very much.

So, does this change in my dream life mean the same thing? That I’m finally comfortable being gay? It’s not like I think I was uncomfortable with it before Tuesday night (the night of the first in this dream series), but… well, this is new. Most of my dreams are asexual… usually involving me having some sort of adventure, and the majority of them have me playing the role of hero, which is fun for all concerned (and by that, I mean me).

I actually don’t have an answer to this question. I don’t really feel like my attitude has changed. But maybe it has changed so gradually that I haven’t noticed it. I really don’t know. Anyway, I’m actually writing this post right before bed, so we'll see what happens tonight in my wacky subconscious. Probably nothing significant, probably saving another innocent from a psychopathic 80's television star... or something in that vein anyway. But maybe there will be some sort of lesbian twist. Who knows. It's interesting to me, even though I can't explain it. Regardless, I'm tired now and so I'll find out soon enough.

Friday, November 17, 2006

83. Happy Thanksgiving? Oh... and girls have cooties.

This post is pretty much not relevant to my normal topic. It's another update on the other events in my life.

So, for some inexplicable reason, we celebrated Thanksgiving at school today. Not only is it not a Korean holiday, but... well, Canadian Thanksgiving was over a month ago (and all of the English teachers here are Canadian) and American Thanksgiving is next week. Anyway, it didn't go as badly as we had feared (fear based on experience... usually these sorts of special event days are torture), it was much better than the fiasco I heard happened last year which involved such traditional Thanksgiving fare as quail's eggs (??!?!... someone screwed up their research).

This week has been rather... well, incredible. And I mean that in the literal sense… as in, were I not a witness to the events of this week, I would be incredulous as to the veracity of this blog entry.

Mr. Lee, my boss(normally I would give him some kind of psuedonym, but you can't actually get a more generic name in Korea than Mr. Lee, so I feel no need to hide his identity any further), has been attempting to woo those of us whose contracts end in March (ie: all the female English teachers) to sign on for an extra year. I was the first one to go in for a meeting... and I'm not sure if Mr. Lee understands the principle of 'wooing'. The meeting consisted of him talking to me for an hour, I said about 14 words during the entire meeting. And what did he talk about? Well... He spent about 20 minutes trash-talking the one member of the Korean staff that all of us foreign teachers like and respect... seriously, he blamed all of the problems on her, which is blatantly false, and weird because he knows I like her and consider her a friend. It was bizarre. And... and this was where I got really confused. He spent a significant portion of time telling me that I am good teacher, and he knows that what a school needs is good teachers to build their reputation so he wants me to stay. But then there were these C-3P0 like hand movements and an explanation that went like this: "I like men because we are the same. Sex. You know sex? Sex? We are the same sex. Sex. You know sex?"

I was already a little stunned when he went on to wave his arms rather helplessly and say, "Women... I don't know women. I don't understand women. Women... I don't know... Men I know. Women... no. Women are different. Men are the same. I don’t know women. I like men."

That portion of the conversation actually went on a lot longer than that… but it was a lot of repetition. I left the meeting feeling like that was a bit offensive, and I thought he'd caught on to the fact that I had no intention of signing on for another year because at the end he started throwing out numbers to me as he suddenly realized I hadn't even asked for a raise or anything. But he has no idea. In his subsequent meetings with my other female coworkers he has told them that I will be staying, so I need to clear that up I think.

But it goes on. His next meeting was with A. In A's meeting he expanded on his 'women' issue. Quite a lot. He told her quite clearly that he doesn't like women and that he will never hire another woman. He explained that like his wife, we talk too much and need to be quiet. We need to do what we're told and not complain (I should be clear that we are not the only ones who are unhappy with the situation here, the many unpleasant changes don’t please D. any more than they please “the women”... but I think Mr. Lee just hears actual words when D. speaks, and not the 'mindless ramblings of a woman' that he hears when we speak.) Anyway, after going on about the problems with women for about 30 minutes, he actually expected her to agree to sign on! He was shocked today when she informed him that she wasn't going to.

Oh, but it gets worse. Then he had a meeting with S. in which he was even more direct. He told her that he hates women, and he hates his wife (which sounds shocking, but weirdly enough, he’s said this to us before, so we are all aware of it). He hates the member of the staff that we all like, all of the problems we have with work can be laid at her feet (SO not true), and we (yet again) need to stop talking and just do what we are told. He also reiterated with her that he would never, ever hire a woman again, and that he in fact, only hired me and A. to be friends for her. He also told her that she should have faith in him like people have faith in God. (I think she should have responded that God never promised her extra breaks to get her to sign a contract, and then went did the exact opposite of what he promised by taking most of her breaks away!) He also gave her a 15 minute lecture on how she needs to say "Good morning" very loudly to him in the morning... telling her over and over again, in a stern tone that she was 'very rude'.

Again, I feel the need to say that all of these things were actually said during meetings he held to try and get us to extend our contracts! The funny thing is that D actually went and told him in between his meeting with S. and A. that he needs to stop telling the women how much he hates women... and somehow Mr. Lee interpreted that to mean the he needs to be more clear in telling us about his hatred of women. I’ve lived a lot of places, and I’ve never lived anywhere where I would say that men and women are truly equal… but this sort of thing is just baffling! This is at work! From our boss! While he’s trying to get us to want to stay! It’s like he thinks we need a stern hand and we will be so grateful for his input on how we “need to be quiet” and “not say anything”, just “do what we’re told”. And the thing is, he truly and sincerely does want us to stay. The Hagwan (private academy) business is a very competitive business, and we are all very well liked by the parents, who are the source of the school’s income. The schools that do well are the ones that can maintain a good staff, and Mr. Lee has told me that this year’s staff is pretty much the best he’s ever had as far as quality of work goes, so I don’t really know what his problem is, other than that he doesn’t see us women as real ‘people’.

When I first got here, I went with Mr. Lee and A. to get some documents sorted out, and in the car on the way A. and I got into a rather heavy discussion about Canadian politics. It was a rather academic discussion... not something girly and frivolous... and I remember Mr. Lee making some comment about hens and maids... basically saying that 'women talk a lot about nothing'. I dismissed it then as being a byproduct of him not understanding us. But it has become quite clear that he sees us as 'less than', inferior. Even if he had understood every word we had said, it wouldn’t have mattered. It was only the mindless babblings of silly women. No matter that all of us are well liked by our students and the parents of our students. No matter that we all work hard and our students do well. We are nothing more than annoying chatterboxes to him and we will never be. I find it all so bizarre, not to mention frustrating! I know part of this is cultural... while Korea is very technologically advanced, socially they are about 50 years behind North America. But I really want to believe that Mr. Lee is not representative of all Koreans, I want to think that not all Korean men hate women and think that we have no real worth.

Now, I feel I should say that this doesn't mean I hate it here or anything. I'm just tired of being treated like a lesser person, but I do love my kids and want to see them learn and improve... and I will stay to see them graduate. They are all really precious. And if it wasn't for them, I have to say that I would probably leave. I'm not an aggressive person at all, really, I'm ridiculously laid back. My mother would probably say I'm too laid back. I really have no problem doing what I'm told... but I've discovered that I have a real problem not being respected. I'm good at what I do, and I think I have ideas that are worth listening to.

Oh well. It's Mr. Lee's loss I suppose. Or rather, it will be when I, along with S. and A., go... all at the same time.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you all that... It's been such a weird week. Happy… um… not Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 10, 2006

82. Unintentional humour is the best kind.

So, I should put a disclaimer on this post... or perhaps more of a warning. So here goes.

The following blog post contains adult content. Reader discretion is advised.

Okay, so now that I've done that, I'll tell this little story. It's just a funny thing that happened today in school that I wanted to tell people, but because of the content, I'm a little tentative. But it's so funny I'll do it anyway.

Okay, so this week we've been learning about insects in my kindergarten class. As much as I hate insects (I'm really rather phobic), I always like teaching about them because kids can get really into it. It's icky, it's gross... but a lot of the bugs are cute (ladybugs), beautiful (butterflies), and downright fascinating (fireflies) so it can be totally fun for me too. That having been said, there are some bugs I just hate. Like, a visceral, deep and abiding hatred (rooted in fear, of course... as most hate is). The main one in that category is the cockroach. I hate them so much. And when I was teaching about them to my class, I made sure that they knew that. No real reason why, I just hate them so much that I want to spread the hate around. (Heh, sounds a bit like homophobia or racism, actually... )

Anyway, to get to my story... today I was reviewing the insects with the kids, holding up pictures and flashcards, or describing a certain insect and having them call out what they were. They were really into it, and if you happened to be near my class at that time you would have heard 11 kids yelling loudly, and in unison, things like "Firefly!", or "Ant!". They got most of them right, which was impressive, considering that they are not only 5 years old, but English isn't even their first language. Sometimes they would only remember half of the words though, so for ladybug I would get "Lady!" and have to correct them. So when I got to the cockroach, my only description/question was, "What does teacher hate?" Well, they all knew... but they couldn't quite remember exactly. So, if you happened to be in the vicinity of my classroom, what you would have heard was:

Me: "What does teacher hate?"

Class (at the top of their lungs): "COCK!!!!"

I lost it.

Laughing, tears, convulsions. No idea how long it took for me to regain my composure in order to correct them. And they, of course, had no idea what the joke was. Don't worry, I didnt explain it. I did explain the importance of "roach" to them, though. They get it now. Believe me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

81. The Closet

If you have access to the internet, which you obviously do because you’re reading my blog, chances are you’ve heard about what’s happened with Ted Haggard. And if you aren’t living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard about what happened with Mark Foley. Those two events really aren’t connected, but my reaction to the Ted Haggard thing was to say to myself, “5 kids?? Dude! At least Mark Foley wasn’t married…”

Now, I have no idea about the specific details of their situations… and no one does really – well, except for the parties involved. We know the barebones of the events… the “naughty” emails sent to 16 year olds, the meth buying, the massages from male prostitutes… what is fairly clear to everyone though is that these are two powerful, but closeted men who ended up acting out sexually in some rather poor ways.

I know many people immediately reacted by noting the hypocricy, but I actually didn’t catch on to that at first. My initial reaction was “Okay, how many people is it going to take before they realize that forcing someone to hide their sexuality in a tiny little closet only means that it ends up shooting out in ways that no one wants to deal with?” Oh, it’s not always so public… depression, self loathing, destructive behavior, suicidal thoughts… these are also evident in many a closet-case’s life. At least, they were in mine. You try talking to someone about why you’re depressed and hate yourself when you can’t really tell them why, because that would involve opening the door to that closet which has been dark and dank and has become overgrown with mold and insects and disease… it’s disgusting and smelly in there… (in case you didn’t know, I tend to think in metaphors).

I got an email from a friend who had read my last blog entry, commenting on my openness and vulnerability… I think I was getting a compliment, so I took it that way… until I thought about it a little bit more. What did I reveal in that post? I went on a date (maybe) and it made me feel good. Extra good, maybe, because it was my first real date (maybe), but there wasn’t anything all that intimate that I exposed to the world in that post… She’s right, of course, in that when I talk about those sorts of things, I am talking about something I consider private (at least in Christian circles), but I don’t think it should have to be. One of the things I find so frustrating in my situation is that things that are normal, innocent, and innocuous, these things often become evil and sinister due to the ‘gay factor’.

I’ll give you an imaginary example. I’ll use the movie Ocean’s 11 for this illustration for 2 reasons. First of all, I’ve seen it several times, and with different groups of people… oddly enough, every time I’ve seen it, it’s been with a different group of Christian friends, so the first portion of this conversation is actually an amalgam of several different conversations I remember. Secondly… while I do acknowledge that Julia Roberts is an attractive woman; she doesn’t… um, how to put this… she doesn’t ring my bell, as it were… so if you happen to be one of the people I saw this movie with, or someone who is skeeved out by 'gay stuff', there’s no need for you to be creeped out by this. So, here is my imaginary scenario, picking up as we come out of the theater (or hang around in the living room) after the movie is over:

Friend 1: Well, George Clooney still has it. I’ve loved him ever since ER.

Friend 2: He’s not my type… I’m more into Brad Pitt.

Friend 3: Well, of course… everyone likes Brad Pitt! He’s so hot.

Everyone: *giggle girlishly*

Friend 4: Well, what about Matt Damon? He’s pretty too… who do you like more, Matt Damon or Brad Pitt?

Friend 1: Well, that depends, do you go for boyishly sexy? Or sexily boyish?

Everyone: *giggle girlishly*

Here’s where the conversations becomes entirely fictional.

Me: Actually, I thought Julia Roberts looked good.

Everyone else: *cough*… um…really?... wow.

In my nightmares the conversation would continue:

Friend 1: So, you were feeling lustful feelings towards Julia Roberts during the movie?

Me: What? No! I just thought we were talking about people we found to be attractive…

Friend 2: Were you engaging in sexual fantasy?

Me: No!!! I just think she’s pretty, that’s all. You said you thought Brad Pitt was sexy…

Friend 3: Do you often find yourself lusting after women in the media? Have you thought about maybe disengaging from the mainstream culture? There are so many images you should probably avoid…

Me: I thought we were just talking, and I wanted to participate in the conversation. You guys are my friends, and I want to be able to say what I think… besides, you guys are married, and you’re looking at men who aren’t your husbands. How is that different?

Friend 1: Oh, come on… don’t pretend it’s the same thing.

Me: But… I think it is… isn’t it?

As I said, that is all fake… well, the second half anyway. It never happened because I don’t have the courage to say that sort of thing to my Christian friends, even though I totally think I should be able to. But the only way I believe they would feel comfortable in a conversation with me about a woman I found attractive (or, heaven forbid, sexy even) would be as a ‘confession’. I could come out of Ocean’s 11 and say something like “Guys, I have a confession to make. During that movie I found myself thinking inappropriate thoughts about Julia Roberts, and I thought I should tell you…”, to which my loving and supportive friends would respond lovingly and supportively… probably by offering to pray with me that I find the strength to overcome my weakness… but what is it that I would have done? Thought a woman was pretty? Possibly even sexy? Is that lust? I’ve explored this issue before, so if you’ve read my blog you know I don’t… but if it is, then I have to say that I’ve been a witness to pretty much all of my married friends expressing lustful feelings for people who aren’t their spouse… not that that would excuse my own lustful feelings… I’m just pointing that out. Besides, I simply don’t think it is. I’m gay. I like girls. And as I’ve said before, finding an actual, flesh-and-blood female attractive is a natural symptom of being attracted to females.

Well, I’ve gone on this long, winding path to say that I don’t think it’s right… I don’t think I should have to pretend about who I am. Demanding celibacy is hard enough (if, in fact, that is what is asked of me)… silence is even harder. I don’t think it’s right that the only vehicle I have for expressing my sexuality is guilt and shame. If I want to be honest about this facet of who I am in my everyday conversations… well, I just can’t. Unless I want to spend those conversations feeling wretched and dirty, nobody wants to hear it.

I read an article by Dan Savage recently that talked about this demand for silence and how it related to Mark Foley. I’ll just cut and paste the portion that stood out to me.

“The religious conservatives in the GOP's base don't seriously believe that gay men can become straight. (Wanna stop a straight person from making the ex-gay argument? Ask him if he'd let his daughter marry one.) What they believe in—what they demand—are closeted homos, homos like Mark Foley, a single man who refused to answer direct questions about his sexual orientation. (Has any straight man ever refused to reveal his sexual orientation?) The religious conservatives in the GOP's base want all gays to be like Mark: deny who we are, live our lives alone, refuse to answer any questions about our sexuality. To them, Mark Foley was a good, closeted homo, deserving of every consideration.

The GOP was willing to cover for Foley because Foley, by being closeted, covered for them for years. So what if closet cases act out in sexually inappropriate ways? A few raped altar boys and skeeved-out pages are a price the gay-haters are only too willing to pay if it means fewer out homos.”

Look, I realize I may have stepped over a line in some people’s minds by going on a date (possibly), but there was nothing dirty about it. Nothing that I feel I should have to hide. But I do. And if I’m honest, I’m kinda bitter about that.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

80. A Date... Maybe

So, I was trying to write this blog post when I realized that I’d written a perfectly good account of what I wanted to write about in a letter I just sent off to dear friend, so I’m just going to copy and paste it here. I don’t think she’ll mind, I’m only copying my words so…

I worry you? I know that this is about the gay thing, but I'm curious as to what the worry is about. Is it because of my last blog post... about hanging out with the lesbian group? Did you read that? Or just the gay stuff in general? Either way, I think that when I tell you what I did today it will probably worry the crap out of you. I went on a possible date with a girl I met at the club last weekend. I wasn't sure if it was a date before I went, and now that I've been out and back... well, I'm still not sure, but I kind of think it wasn't. … this past week has been crazy and awesome and new and scary and wonderful and... I've been flying high and giggling and girly and buzzing and trembling and all those things I've watched pretty much every single one of my straight friends go through... I've finally felt it and it kind of sucked because I know that sharing this with some of the people I love the most means that some of them won't talk to me, some of them will react with fear and some of them will react with disgust,,. absolutely none of the Christians I hold most dear will be happy for my happiness. (Heh, I now have a new answer to the 'when did you last cry' question, cause I'm crying right now... of course, I'm kind of laughing too so... does it still count?)

Now I know that I said in that post that I didn't intend on dating anyone... but well... I didn't expect to be asked out. This is entirely my own issue of self esteem and hating my body and all of that shit, but it never occurred to me that anyone would ask me, I figured as long as I didn't ask anyone else out it wouldn't happen. I met her last Saturday at a Halloween party at a lesbian club in Seoul. (heh, I just realized how much of that sentence would sound evil to a fundamentalist -- "Halloween", "party", "Lesbian", "club"... hee, probably even "Saturday") We danced together for pretty much 4 hours straight... she's actually pretty much the only Korean I've ever danced with who hasn't tried to press herself against me in a way that A) yes, I enjoy but B)freaks me right out. Anyway, we exchanged email addresses and had been MSNing (wow, that's an actual verb now...witness the evolution of the English language!) back and forth all week. We'd talked about getting together for a language exchange (she teaches me Korean, I teach her English) so... like I said, I'm still not sure if this was a date, and I kind of think it wasn't... but I'm honestly not sure. Either way, I don't really care. I had this week of feeling all girly and giggly, and really quite aware and alive and I'm glad... plus I learned some new Korean words today.

Anyway, I'm telling you all of this not expecting to change your mind or make you approve... because, quite frankly, I know you won't. But because I'm sick and tired of only being half of who I am with people. Damn it, I'm crying again.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

79. My life in general...

You may have noticed that I have a 'statcounter' on this page, and I check it pretty regularly because I'm curious to see where y'all are coming from and how you find me. Do you know what the most common search criteria that leads people here is? You would think it would be something about being gay, or Christian... or perhaps confused... but no. Once, many many months ago I mentioned Tricia Helfer, and even linked to a picture of her... and people looking for her seem to wander to this blog a lot for some reason.

More recently a lot of people have been coming here via a link from a site I will not link to because when I went there I was greeted by... um... let's call them adult themed photographs of a homoerotic nature. I scrolled down (while covering the screen with one hand... I'm not a prude or anything, but the gentlemen were naked and I was kind of in shock) and discovered that this guy was linking to me, it wasn't just that random blogger thing where people jump from one blog to another. I do want to go back there and leave him a comment because I'm curious about who he is and why he's interested in my blog. But I think I need to wait and get over the shock of it all.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share those two interesting tidbits from my life.

While I'm on it I suppose I'll give a little update about my life in general, not just the Christian gay stuff.

I had a wonderful time in the Philippines again, for those who were curious. I did manage to meet up with the girl I met there before, and without going into too much detail, we managed to work something out so she doesn't have to go back to working at the bar... as a matter of fact, she'll be going back to school in the new year, so it's all very exciting.

My job? Well... I recently wrote someone a letter where I used the phrase "I love my work, I hate my job." I'm kind of tired of dealing with my boss and some of the inane crap that goes down at my particular school. I know that there are horror stories coming out of Korea about really bad English academies -- you know, not getting paid on time, getting ripped off, bosses demanding extra hours from you and not paying for them... I even know of one person who went back to his job on a Monday to discover that his school had completely shut down and his visa revoked. He couldn't locate anyone from his school and was given 24 hours to get out of his apartment. So in light of those stories, I know I lucked out... but I'm still tired of it. I'm tired of knowing that my opinions about my students and how they should be taught have no value because I don't happen to have external genitalia. I'm tired of not being given any notice about changes in my schedule (it's not uncommon for me to sit down for one of my very few and precious breaks and be told something like "Oh... new class upstairs. 7 students. You are teaching them.") I'm tired of seeing things like what happened on Friday, when a coworker sent a child down to the office because he was misbehaving, and one of the Korean staff gave him a piece of cake and let him play in the game room! How's that for discipline? Basically, I'm tired of not feeling valued or respected. I love what I do, and I think I do it fairly well (and if you corner my boss and ask him, he will agree with you, but you literally have to back him into a corner to get any positive feedback... unless you are a man, and then you only ever get positive feedback!).

I'm not at a high point when it comes to my work. I will be sad to leave my students when I'm done here, that is true, but I will also be very ready to leave. Of course, being who I am, I am already seriously thinking about my next big adventure... teaching in Taiwan I think. I've done a fair bit of research and I think that is my next move.

In other news, I may have lined up a personal trainer for the phenomenal price of $15/hour! My massage therapist (how posh am I!) was... well, massaging me today and noticed that I have lost a significant amount of weight since my last session (about 6 or 7 weeks ago);which, incidentally, meant that she could do things to my body that she couldn't last time... meaning that this massage was more painful! Good pain, but pain nonetheless. She was quite encouraging and mentioned that she's also a pilates instructor, and would be willing to give me some help for that ridiculously low price! As much as I hate to talk about weight and stuff, I'm kind of excited about this... I feel kind of hopeful actually. That's kind of a first for me when it comes to body stuff. As an aside, I'm fairly certain that she's a lesbian. That in no way is contributing to my excitement, as a)I'm not absolutely certain, and b)if she is a lesbian, she has a girlfriend and people in couples are kind of off of my radar as far as my attraction is concerned. The whole reason I think she's gay is because I get my massages at her apartment, which is a 2 bedroom... but one of the bedrooms is set up as her massage studio, and the other is shared by her and the girl she refers to as her 'friend'. I've seen into the bedroom and there's just the one mat on the floor, so... I'm kind of sure.

I'm trying to think if there is anything else to tell about my life... there isn't much else, really. I told you about the lesbians in my last post... other than that (which, by the way, is not a huge part of my life. They meet in Seoul, and going into Seoul is a big deal... takes a lot of time and money and I don't do it that often) my life revolves around my work. And as my work isn't making me all that happy right now, you can sort of guess at my general mood. I spend a lot of time reminding myself how much I love my students. And I do, I really do.

Anyway, just some random tidbits. Because I think you care.

Friday, October 20, 2006

78. I like lesbians!

The title of this post probably doesn’t need to be so “Rah! Rah! Rah!”, but it made me laugh.

So, once again it’s been a little while.  I apologize to my blog compatriots!  My thoughts for this post have been brewing in my head for quite a while though, so perhaps this will be more coherent than normal.

You may recall in my previous post my mentioning a moment of clarity (or perhaps a moment of desperation) when I had the sudden realization that I “needed new friends”.  Well, I went out and got some… and so I thought I’d discuss them (or more to the point how I feel about them) on my blog.  

So, these ‘new friends’… well, before I came to Korea I stumbled across a website for English speaking “queers” in Korea, so after that moment of clarity (or desperation) I decided to check this group out… Because of the situation here, you can’t actually ‘check out’ this group without joining, so I joined.  This is the first time I’ve actively sought out gay friends.  Two of my closest friends are gay, but that is actually entirely accidental.  One of them is my only remaining friend from high school – and she had a boyfriend back then.  She didn’t come out until we’d been friends for about 7 years (I came out about 2 years after her).  The other is a guy I met in Ireland.  I knew he was gay about 3 days after I met him because someone accidentally outed him to me, (I had to wait for about 3 months for him to tell me himself).  I didn’t care either way about his being gay, I was just so excited to make a friend close to my age.  Up until then my Irish social circle had consisted of people who were literally twice my age.  The fact that he has turned out to be one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met has been an incredible bonus.

Anyway, like I said, this is the first time I’ve made a point of hanging out with other ‘deviants’ (please note my sarcasm) and I have to say that I like it… for a number of different reasons.

I should probably preface this by saying that I have not decided on a Side A (or a Side B for that matter) stance.  Because I am still in this limbo stage, I have no intention of dating any of the women I have to meet.  You’d think that having that sort of attitude would make the whole thing really frustrating, but oddly it has had the opposite effect.  It actually makes the whole situation really stress free, which is kind of cool.

The first reason I’m enjoying this group actually has very little to do with the fact that these women are gay.  It’s a group for English speakers in Korea, which means that I’m meeting other people who have a lot more in common with me than sexuality.  They are obviously somewhat adventurous, or at the very least they are not afraid to travel.  We have a lot of great conversations about the numerous places we’ve all been, different cultural experiences, etc…  plus we are all women in Korea, so we can all understand the frustrations of dealing with the sexism here (not that there isn’t sexism in Canada, it’s just not as blatant, or as accepted).  Plus, because it’s merely a group for English teachers, but for English speakers, it means I’m meeting people who are here for various reasons, ie: studying, or simply working – I’ve met writers and women in the army (no asking, no telling!), migrant workers… it’s a fairly diverse crowd (although, to be fair, the reality is that most English speakers here seem to be teachers).

Meeting people from various fields means that I’m meeting people with totally different experiences and totally different perspectives on Korea… it’s quite interesting.

Another reason I enjoy hanging out with these women is entirely wrapped up in the gay thing.  We’ve gone out to a few lesbian dance clubs (one in particular I’ve been to a few times) and I really enjoy it.  It shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did, being gay and all, but I really like dancing with girls.  I apologize in advance to anyone who is squeamish about the gay stuff but… well, I’ve discovered that I love having my hand in the curve of another woman’s waist.  That is something rather benign, I suppose, but it is something I have often found myself daydreaming about in years gone by (does that count as sexual fantasy?) and it was interesting to learn that the reality is even better than the fantasy.  I love being flirted with by pretty women, I love asking them to dance, or being asked to dance… that’s even better.  The best night out so far was about a month ago – I’d spent the day getting my hair braided (7 hours sitting still, I had energy to burn) and I went out to the club.  My hair was like catnip for Korean lesbians.  That was pretty awesome.

One of the things that this is making me realize is that… well I’ve tended to avoid using the word “lesbian” to describe myself, because I am attracted to guys – but I’ve always said that my scales were tilted towards women, but that first night… dancing with one young Korean who kept trying to get closer to me than I was prepared for, well I realized just how far my scales are tilted.  I’ve danced with plenty of men, some of whom I was quite attracted to (or at least I thought that I was) and yet nothing had prepared me for the explosion of sensation and desire I felt when she tried to press up against me.  My outward reaction was to curse rather loudly, which I don’t think she understood as her English seemed to be limited to the sentence “You are so lovely”… at least, that was one of the few things she said over and over again.  It’s all given me a new appreciations for my friends who waited until marriage for sex – something I’ve always agreed would be hard, but never really understood how hard it would be if you actually desired the person.

Anyway, the point is that I may have to drop the ‘bisexual’ label and just go with ‘lesbian’.  Not that it matters, really. It’s just a label.  But I’m wondering if the level of attraction I feel towards men isn’t in fact the equivalent of the level of attraction that most straight women feel for other women (something I’ve discussed before).  

It’s also making me realize how much I’ve missed out on.  I was watching The Daily Show the other day and Jon Stewart mentioned how he has some gay friends who came out when they were older and how they are like 16 year olds – all excited and gushing about everything… and as much as I hate to admit it, that’s kind of how I feel… all “OMG!  She looked at me!”, or “She asked me to dance!!!”, with accompanying fluttering and butterflies.  I get all giggly and girly (something very few of my friends have seen) and I feel like I’m in high school – except that I didn’t feel like that in high school… or junior high… it’s how I remember my friends talking, I feel like that.  It makes me sad and ecstatic at the same time.

The last part of this personal social experiment that I enjoy is also to do with the gay factor, but it’s a little more complex.  For the most part I find myself feeling really relaxed with other lesbians… which sounds fairly obvious, but it isn’t.  Most of my friends know I’m gay, and most of them don’t care.  I don’t feel relaxed because of a lack of judgment, I feel relaxed because I feel understood.  I actually just put my finger on exactly what I mean by that last Saturday when I was out with some (straight) friends for a birthday party.  There was one guy there who I had not specifically come out to, but I had made no attempt at cover up and I figured he’d figured it out.  Well, he mostly had, but I guess he decided to ask just to be sure.  The conversation went something like this.

Guy:  Can I ask you a personal question?

Me: Sure

Guy:  Are you gay?  Like… a lesbian?

Me:  Yeah… I thought you knew.

Guy:  Well, I kind of figured it out by some of the stuff you guys said.  So… do you like white chicks, black chicks or Asian chicks?

At this point I just stared at him for a few seconds before sort of stuttering out “Uh… I… um…have no… uh… preferences.”  

I couldn’t understand what made him think that that was an appropriate question to ask.  It took a little while but I think I’ve figured it out.  That’s the sort of question a guy would ask another guy.  No girl I know would ask another girl if she liked “black, white of Asian guys” – and as sure as hell, no guy would think to ask a girl that.  But when people learn that I’m gay, they seem to decide that they should treat me like a man.  I’m not a man, I’m a woman attracted to other women – did you catch that?  I’m a woman!  I think and feel like other women think and feel.  It’s not that straight women don’t find men physically attractive, or sexy, or have particular body parts they like.  Most women seem to like men’s asses or chests… abs… whatever, and they talk about them for sure, but not at such length or in as great detail as men do.  If I mention a woman I’m attracted to (or a woman I merely find attractive, or perhaps a previous crush) to a group of straight (non-Christian) people, the first question I get is almost always “Is she hot?”, or a more vulgar version like “Did she have a nice ass/nice tits/nice (fill in the blank)?” and I’m always left sitting there wondering why I feel offended.  I mean, aren’t they being affirming? Aren’t they merely encouraging me to explore my sexuality?  And maybe they are, but they’re doing it by treating me like a guy, or at least that’s what I’ve realized bothers me about those comments.  When a girl mentions a guy she likes, she’s generally asked questions about his personality, his ambitions, his job… and if they ask about his appearance, 9 times out of 10 it comes out “What does he look like?”, or possibly “Is he cute/good looking?” – rarely does it immediately have to be sexualized (at least in my experience).

I think that this is probably a big part of my problem with A.  The night of the boob licking, of course, is an extreme example.  I was not the only woman there that night – it was 6 women, 1 guy.  Guess who she demanded to lick salt off of her cleavage?  Me and the guy.  She didn’t try and get any of the other women to do it.  I was the same as the guy to her.  That’s an extreme example, but she’s often trying to get me into those sorts of conversations – you know, do I like big boobs or small ones, that kind of thing.  She’s even once asked me (in the presence of a pretty girl) if I had “a boner”.  Hilariously, she has also asked me the same racial preference question the guy did last Saturday, and I pretty much had the same reaction.   Look, I’m a gay woman, a lesbian I guess.  I like women’s bodies, there’s no denying that fact.  But I don’t really want to talk about it any more than any straight woman wants to talk about men’s bodies.  That is to say that unless I’m having a giggly girly night with a close friend, I pretty much don’t want to talk about it.  I don’t like being treated like one of the guys because I’m not one of the guys.  And to get back to the lesbians – they understand that.  They talk about women the way straight women talk about guys.  They don’t ask weird sexual questions – they know that I like women, and to get graphic (because I know that this is foremost in most straight people’s minds when they think about gay stuff), they know that I want to be sexually intimate with another woman – they even know exactly what that means.  They know all of that, but they don’t let it overwhelm the fact that I’m a woman.  It’s so basic, really, and I find it so relaxing.  

So, that’ it.  Sorry, this has been a mammoth post.  I really must learn to not go so long without blogging.  Then I wouldn’t feel the need to put all my thoughts down at once.  

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

77. Celibacy Unmasked

So, today I thought I would explore the idea of celibacy.  It’s not a new topic – I’ve talked about it before on and off ever since my very first post.  But I’ve generally talked about how celibacy directly impacts me… not how it indirectly impacts me.  In some ways, this indirect impact is even more frustrating than the obvious stuff (no sex, no life partner, no children, no family of my own, etc…) simply because it is so indirect that no one but me (or other singles, for that matter) notices it happening.  

So, what is it that I’m referring to?  Again, these thoughts were brought on by recent developments in my life.  Not that these developments are anything I haven’t experienced before, it’s just that I’m sort of cataloguing them for the first time.  

The first thing is obvious.  If you are single, and your friend starts dating, you are going to see your friend less.  It makes sense, it’s normal.  You move down the priority list.  If the relationship is a good one, you’ll probably move even further down as your friend begins to confide in their boyfriend or girlfriend.  They start to get things from their partner (and I don’t mean that in the ‘gay’ way) that they perhaps used to get from you… you get squeezed out.  I’m putting this very starkly, I know that none of this is intentional.  It’s natural, healthy even – your spouse should be your primary relationship.  And because most people eventually pair up, the effects aren’t that bad as sooner or later the people who were squeezed out will probably have someone in their lives who will squeeze their friends out.

I should probably mention that in addition to knowing that this isn’t intentional, it also rarely happens that a person gets squeezed completely out… that is actually usually a sign that the new relationship is not healthy.  This “squeezing out”, to keep using that same terminology, happens in varying degrees and in various stages.  But no matter how benign or how minimal, I don’t think anyone who has been on the receiving end of it has ever enjoyed it.  For someone with esteem issues (like I have had for most of my life) it makes me feel a little less valuable every time.  I know I shouldn’t gage my worth that way, but it’s hard not to when you are constantly getting bumped down people’s lists – especially when there is never the opposite happening, I never find myself moving up.  I always start out pretty high and slide down as my friends pair off.

Okay, that got a little more personal than I intended for the purposes of this post… moving on.  

Another indirect effect also results in us single people being squeezed out – only this time it isn’t by the new romantic partner… this is a phenomenon that I must admit I don’t fully understand, having never been in a couple myself… but couples want to hang out with other couples for some reason.  I think I can understand why a guy, for example, might want another guy around while his girlfriend (or wife) is hanging out with her (platonic) girlfriend… but why they have to be another couple I don’t really get.  But I know it happens.  Couples actively seek out other couples to go out with.  I’ve heard married friends of mine complaining about not having couple friends to go out with.  This desire is so strong that I’ve seen friends of mine jump at the opportunity to double date with another couple that they hardly know, or don’t have much in common with (besides being part of a pair).  So we singles get squeezed out not only by this new partner, but by these couples that they seek out.  This one, I admit, frustrates me more than the first point, because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve often hung out with couples pre-coupledom.  By this I mean that before a couple starts dating, I am often there, as was the case with my coworkers S and D.  The three of us hung out a lot, and I thought we had a lot of fun.  And then they started dating.  I could process them wanting to be alone and therefore not hanging out with me so much.  What I have trouble with is hearing them make plans to hang out with other couples – especially when it’s this one particular couple that I know they hardly socialized with before.  My thought process goes something like this… “if they’re hanging out with that couple, double dating I guess is what that’s called, then they obviously aren’t wanting to be alone so why them and not me?  I was good enough to spend time with before they were knocking boots, why not now?”  

This, of course, is not the first time this has happened to me.  And it probably won’t be the last.  Wow, that sounds bitter.  And once again, more personal than I intended this post to be.  Whoops.

Moving on.

This last point is probably the most maddening to me.  I understand why it happens, once again there is no malicious intent, it is just frustrating.  What is it?  Well, people who are in a couple want to talk about their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife a lot.  They want to discuss their relationship all the time.  And of course they do… it generally is the most important (or in the case of Christians, the second most important) relationship in their lives so it’s going to be at the front of their minds all the time.  It’s not that I mind these conversations at all, it’s just that I can’t really participate.  I have no experience to draw from.  I can give my point of view, but I know (and the person I’m talking to knows) that my perspective has really very little value as I quite literally don’t know what I’m talking about.  So I find myself out with my friends who are all in relationships, or have past relationships to draw from, and the conversation inevitably turns to the topic of relationships and I find myself mostly just playing with my food, or staring off into space… bored.  I have nothing to contribute, and if indeed I am to be celibate, the topic  is actually irrelevant to me.  I find myself in the position of realizing that not only am I being bumped down my friends’ lists, but I, myself, am bumping them down because I feel bored by our conversations.   And I hate that.  I value my friends quite highly, I really treasure them… but I know I do this.  Again, I don’t mind these conversations, but it so often happens that they are the only conversations I find myself in.  I didn’t get into all of this in yesterday’s post, but in addition to not wanting to put up with someone I don’t like, part of the reason I’ve found myself pulling away from S is because when I am with her (and the other friends who often join us), I often find myself sitting there, bored, while a conversation goes on around me about their various relationship woes.  I had a quite distinct moment a couple of months ago when we were out for dinner and the thought popped into my head quite clearly – “I’ve got to find new friends.”  I’ll actually talk about that in another post I think, cause this one is already quite long.  

So, there you have it.  My answer to the question that I’ve been asked more than a few times (and always, incidentally, by married people), “What’s wrong with the celibacy option?”  

The answer?  A lot.  A hell of a lot.  Beyond the obvious, being celibate, or even just single in this world (not just in the West, by the way, every where you go in the world, being in a couple is the norm for adults) puts you outside.  Unless you are in a convent or a monastery (or some other variation of a celibate community), you’re going to feel it, feel your otherness, feel your outside status… maybe not every day, but you feel it a lot.  And I know that the solution is apparently to rely on the ‘compassion’ of the church, those people who will take us single people in, but… well, how is someone’s pity supposed to help with making me feel more valued?  Pity does not equal intimacy, it is not a replacement for the relationships that most people have at some point in their lives.  And it is a lie to say that it is enough.  

I know the response to that, by the way.  Christ is enough.  I know that.  I just don’t know that having merely ‘enough’ to get by is what my life is supposed to be.  Other people get Christ and the joys (and responsibilities) that come with marriage.  It doesn’t mean their faith or relationship with Him is any less significant.  I know that this is a juvenile thing to say, but it really just isn’t fair.

Okay, now I’ve done it again.  I’m going to stop writing now.  

Monday, September 25, 2006

76. Joe

Okay, so it has been ages since I posted.  Long enough that the last post was during my last vacation in the Philippines, and this one is coming just prior to my next vacation to the Philippines!  

My time there kind of shook me up a bit, made me think about what I’m doing with my life and what I want to do with my life.  Just to reassure you all, I do think I’m doing the right thing being here right now.  It is the financially responsible, adult thing to do… and I do think I need to do it for a little while longer (until I’m out of debt).  But I have to say that even thinking about teaching in the Philippines, or a place like it, makes me ridiculously happy for the few seconds that I’m thinking about it so I am fairly certain that that is what I am going to end up doing… I almost finished that off with the phrase “with my life”, but I’m leery of making committal statements like that.  I have trouble planning ahead.  

That having been said, I have a lot of blog-relevant thoughts to share, and I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things blog-wise.  Today I was writing a dear friend a letter explaining a minor ‘revelation’ I had yesterday.  I don’t quite know if ‘revelation’ is the right word… it’s just that yesterday I figured out how to explain something I’ve often tried to explain and never could.  It came on the heels of realizing that I’m pulling away from my neighbour S., not because of any conflict or problems in our friendship… I still think she’s awesome and love hanging out with her… it’s just that while we were in the Philippines (along with my other coworker – “Lick-my-boob-girl”, who I’m going to call A. from now on because it’s much shorter) I discovered that I don’t really like hanging out with A. at all… she’s not a bad person, but you can’t like everyone… and she sort of chafes me.  While I was discovering this, S. was discovering how much she likes A. and now whenever I hang out with S. it almost always has to involve A. and I’ve recently noticed myself pulling away from that.  Because I’m rather introspective (hello, I have a blog for crying out loud!), I thought about this for a while and realized that as much as I like S., I guess I don’t value our relationship enough to put up with spending time with A.  (I should point out that it’s not like S. has a lot of free time anyway, between her now fully flourishing dating relationship with D. and work, and her tutoring, her spare time is rather minimal… and I understand her wanting to cram all her friends in at once.) As I was thinking I suddenly realized I had an answer to a question I get all the time.  “Did you hear what Jerry Falwell/James Dobson/Exodus/Your mother just said about gays?  How can you still be a Christian?”

I’m sure the savvy among you can see where I’m going with this, but here it is (basically transcribed from the letter I wrote today).

Let’s say I’m friends with Joe.  Joe is an awesome guy who enriches my life.  He challenges me, he helps me grow as a person.  He helps me understand myself and the world around me.  I really enjoy my time with him and feel my life is better with him in it.  Let’s say that Joe, being this awesome guy, has lots of other friends – and the vast majority of them treat me like shit – as less than, as unworthy, as a threat… I will now have a decision to make.  Is my relationship with Joe worth the aggravation I will have to endure when I am forced to interact with his other friends?

I’m sure this analogy is easy to see through.  Joe, is of course, Jesus… and I have decided that He is worth it.  The analogy works on other levels though… In my little story, Joe’s friends treat me badly, lie about me and make ridiculous demands of me that they wouldn’t even consider making of each other… and I can’t help but have questions about Joe because… well… aren’t your friends a sort of reflection of you?  If I can’t trust many of the people around Joe, it’s going to be more difficult for me to trust Joe himself, because why on earth would he surround himself with such people?

Of course, here is where the analogy breaks down… because I don’t want Jesus excluding people from His “group of friends” because of character flaws… because then I’m out, and despite what many of His ‘friends’ may think, I really don’t want to be out.

So, what do I do?  I continue to relate to (and with) Christ despite all the crap that is spewed out by groups like Focus on the Family or Exodus… or, for that matter, my mother.  Christ is worth it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

75. Philippines Two

The friend that I'd written that letter to wrote me back today and I thought I'd share some of what he wrote. He is one of the wisest people I've ever met, and honestly, reading this letter has really helped me, so once again, I thought I'd share.

God sends us experiences I think in the hope that we will wake up and really allow ourselves to be touched by another person and their lives. It sounds like she needs a Friend and Hope more than anything else. It must be so hard to have to live a life as someone else doing something you despise. I can't imagine how alone that life would feel, without the knowledge that it's even 'worth it'. I'm sure you've helped enormously by just seeing and accepting her for who she is. Most of the people she meets probably use her and/or consider themselves morally superior to her. Condescension is a nasty weapon...

I hope you're feeling better than you did when you wrote me. Pray for the strength to see the pain and suffering in the world and still find hope; to share joy with the world around you. Remember to smile at your Shadow. Don't feel guilty for what you have. It's true that the wealth of the world is unfairly distributed and people suffer great harships while others (us) have amazing opportunites and resources. Guilt won't make it better. Guilt is just us serving our own woe-is-me ego needs. I'm learning that we need to have fun, and serve; to truly come alive and love; to leave the world better than we find it; and most importantly to just fucking reach out and touch another human being. We are social animals. We cannot survive without contact with another life, another being. In the space that you created together, she let you see the real her with all her joys and woes. You've been touched by her. And it's okay to fall apart from time to time and perhaps we can learn to pick ourselves back up (maybe not in the same order or pattern as before) and Serve something bigger. We are made in God's image, and honouring another person, being with them, maybe is service, is worship.

Do you see why I'm friends with this guy?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

74. Philippines

I'm actually writing a post from the Philippines, I can't believe this. We are here during monsoon season, so it's been rainy for most of the time so far. We had planned to stay away from the more touristy places, but with the weather being the way it is, we decided to head to Boracay because then even if the weather is sucky, there will be something to do.

But I have something to share... We started off on this little island and went out dancing our first night there. The club was a blast -- an excellent live band. But inbetween the band's sets, there were these dancing girls. They were nearly naked and they would just grind on stage. They were all very beautiful, but they all looked so depressed that it actually felt really wrong to look at them, like we were violating them somehow. But there was one dancer who got my attention. I was actually avoiding looking on stage when I heard a crash and looked, and there she was, in the splits... she stood up again, and did this kick thing and crashed down into the splits again. Beyond any level of sexiness (which I will admit was there) it was just impressive. We all applauded. When she was done her set, she came over to us and we started a conversation. She asked if she could join us 'for company', and of course we said yes. We danced together all night, (which, again, I will admit to enjoying), and then invited her to come and hang out with us the next day.

It was rainy, and she didn't show up when she said she would, and the others didn't think she would come, but I was pretty sure she had really wanted to. And I was right, because of the rain, she hadn't been able to find transportation, so she was 2 hours late, but so happy to join us. We hung out all day, and at night we were playing cards and... well, I'll just cut and paste portions of a letter I just sent to one of my best friends.

Well, my beloved, I'm back and I'm broken hearted... though not in the way you think.

She did come and spend the day with us. She was as beautiful as she had been the night before, and just as sweet. We didn't do very much -- it was rainy, and the sea was really rough, so we mostly just sat around and drank (well, other people drank, I sat around). Later, at night, we went back to our hotel padio and were playing cards when she burst into tears, and continued crying for well over an hour. It would take too long to transcribe the conversation, but the essence was this -- she is a 20 year old precious person who dances half naked at a club so that dirty old men can decide if they want to rent her for the night... and she does this so that she can put food on her parent's table. Do you know what the most stressful thing had been in my life lately? That I was going on vacation with a bunch of skinny chicks and I wouldn't look good in my bathing suit. She is hooking to feed her parents, and I'm worried about my weight. I hate the world.

And I'm angry with myself because I gave her money, but I think I could have given her more. I'm angry thant when trying to figure out how much to give her I thought about how much I needed for the rest of my vacation. My fucking VACATION!

I've been praying so hard -- that one word prayer that I'm left with in times like these - "Please!". And when I can't do that anymore I find myself just cursing. I'm sobbing my eyes out in a ferry terminal as I write this. I hate the world. It just hurts.

I need to stop writing this so that I can compose myself. It's almost morning, we've been here for 4 hours and I think my friends will be waking up soon.

We all gave her our email addresses, and are hoping that we can keep in contact. S. has relatives here and so we will try and get them to help her out. It seems kind of futile, because she is just one person, but it has broken my heart. I keep finding myself on the verge of tears whenever it comes to mind. I can help her maybe. There were dozens of girls there, though. And I'm sure there are many more just on that one island that I didn't see.

Anyway, I thought I would share this. I have never felt such a pull before. A pull to do something... to help in some way. I give to charity, and I put money in those little change boxes by the cash register, but this is a person I now know. It's different. This is going to sound strange, and I don't know how to express it properly, but oh how God's heart must break. I knew her for 36 hours, and I am crying. He knows us all so intimately, and He sees people backed into situations like this poor girl. She was working as a house cleaner, and then her father got sick and couldn't work anymore... so this is what she has been forced to do.

I'll say one completely selfish thing... this certainly puts my life and my issues in perspective.

Anyway, just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

73. Enjoy

Thought I’d better post before taking off for the Philippines.  I don’t have any real blog relevant new thoughts to share, but I thought I’d share something anyway… a little video I made of my kids… so you can see how adorable they are!  So, without further ado, I present… My children!  Enjoy.

And here's a video of a song I taught them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

72. A Little Help, Please - UPDATE

So, I'm reaching out and asking for advice... or at least for affirmation that I'm not going crazy (or an explanation of why I'm going crazy so I can get past this).

So, here's the situation.  S. and D. were dating.  Now they're not.  Now they are just good friends, and it is all good.  They've talked it out, and are both happy with the situation (at least from what S. has told me).  What does this have to do with me?  Well, as much as it sucked, I could rationalize and thereby get past being 'ditched'.  I mean, the three of us hung out a lot together, and when they started dating that sort of stopped.  It sucks realizing that you were being used, but it's not like that hasn't happened to me before.  I realize that it isn't done on purpose.  It's just easier for a guy to ask a couple of girls to hang out than to ask just the one you're actually interested in... I'm often a sort of 'buffer' between the guy and the hot girl.  The fact that our 'three-way' activity stopped rather abruptly when they started dating was kind of a shock to my system, but I understand.  Couples want to be alone together.  That's cool.

But they aren't a couple any more, and something happened last  night that I'm struggling not to be angry over (or more accurately, not to be hurt over).  For almost 2 months, the three of us got together at D's house and watched movies on the weekend.  Well, last night, the four foreign teachers went out for dinner (which was nice).  Before we went out, S. asked if she could borrow a movie from me so that she could go to D's house alone and watch the movie. (A movie, incidentally, that I own, but haven’t seen, and that she knows I haven’t seen because we’ve both talked about how we ‘need to see it’ sometime).  I was actually confused when she asked, and it took about half of dinner for me to realize why.  I couldn’t figure out why she needed to take the copy of the movie to go over to D’s… it didn’t make sense because before they were dating (and to my way of thinking, it should be the same again now, right?) I would have just brought it with me when I went. Honestly, I was perplexed.  And then I was hurt, which quickly transitioned into angry (because angry doesn’t immobilize me).  Now I'm trying not to be angry about it, but I am.  Especially when this morning I had both of them telling me over and over again how awesome the movie was, quoting lines, etc... and all I could think was "Why wasn't I invited?!?!?  It was my movie, for crying out loud!"  Or to quote my thoughts more directly (with apologies in advance)  “What the fuck?!?!”  They're not dating.  S. has been quite clear about that, at least to me.  So why am I being left out now?  Was the level that I was being used at even beyond what I originally thought (and am able to cope with)?  I think it hurt more that it came from S, because at least D’s motivations I could understand when he stopped inviting me to join them.  But S… she has never been as into their relationship as he was, the fact that she initiated this whole thing – a movie night without me… hurts.

So, am I crazy?  Am I overreacting? I want to think I'm overreacting, but I'm just hurt (and am feeling anger instead because that's easier to deal with at work.  I don't want to start crying here).  Argh.  What do I do?  Do I do anything?  I hate confrontation.  I probably won't talk to them about it, but still... help!


So, I took a page from the Book of Grownups and talked it out with S. (Thanks Boo and TransAtlantic Girl). It went well. She had actually noticed what she was doing (ie: how I was being excluded) as that night had gone on (probably about the same time I realized what was going on), but hadn't known how to backtrack and either invite me without being patronizing, or cancel on D. without being rude to him. Which I get. That alone made me feel better, I must say... just to know I wasn't being petty and paranoid (both of those being adjectives that I think would have described me several years ago). (Of course, several years ago, I never would have mentioned it either, so either way it's a step in the right direction). She is also aware that I'm being shafted by their 'coupledom', because the three of us were sort of tight, but when they got tighter, I got squeezed out. She brought that up, not me. I didn't know what to say to that, because it happens -- all the time -- and I'm not sure anything can be done about it. You were right, by the way TransAtlantic Girl, they are still together, sort of. They weren't when she told me they weren't, but they are going up and down so much I'm getting dizzy trying to follow it. Heh, in a letter to a dear friend recently I used the phrase "heterosexual mating rituals are weird!". It was in a completely different context, and not that this is an exclusively straight thing -- but man, it really is confusing to try and follow. I could try and ignore it, but I see them everyday, and knowing the status of their relationship actually does help me in the office.

Anyway, I'm not angry anymore. I'm still a little bit hurt, but that's now on me and I just have to get past it, I think. It's funny, the day after I told S, D invited me over for a 3 day movie marathon of Lord of the Rings... so I'm assuming she told him and now he's attempting to give me a peace offering. I kind of felt bad telling him I didn't want to spend my entire weekend with them (if you know Lord of the Rings, you know how long it will take to watch all three extended version movies -- especially with a newbie like S who has never seen the movies or read the books), not to mention the fact that inviting me the next day did feel a bit forced.

Well that's it. Just thought you'd all want to know. I know this wasn't blog relevant, but I appreciate your help anyway.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

71. Personal Jesus

So, I’m reading this book right now called The Culture of Make Believe on the recommendation of one of my coworkers.  It’s a fascinating book, dealing with both historical and modern injustices and how the people who are committing the injustices deal with their role in the equation without admitting guilt.  To reference a fairly simple example, the slave owners often justified their position by insisting that they were bringing Christianity to their slaves, thereby saving them from their ‘savagery’.  

Anyway, in the author’s lengthy discussion about slavery (and I have to stop here and admit that I have not finished the book… it is huge! So perhaps he continues this discussion at some point, I don’t know), he makes some off the cuff statements about Christianity and the Church that angered me.  One of them particularly stood out, because it was only half of a thought, and he doesn’t seem to ever come back and complete it.  The statement was this (not necessarily completely accurate as I don’t have a copy of the book right here, I’ve left it at work): “To say that Christianity is opposed to slavery is to not understand Christianity at all.”

It frustrated me, because the other half of that coin was never exposed… which is “To say that Christianity supports slavery is to not understand Christianity at all.”  What I mean by this is that it is quite clear if you read Scripture that Christianity was never meant to be concerned with politics or economics.  Democracy, capitalism, etc… these are not “Christian” ideals, these are Western ideals.  Every time anyone tried to engage Jesus in a political discussion he always shut them down because that was not what He was about.  It’s not like there weren’t injustices going on all around Him that He couldn’t have spoken out about.  It’s not like there wasn’t immorality inherent in the system of the day that He couldn’t have opposed.  That just wasn’t His intention.  And Paul, as the writer of most of the New Testament, upheld this standard, he never told anyone to support or reject any particular system, even one as abhorrent as slavery (even though it is fairly obvious in his writing that he did not approve  -- “there is neither slave nor free” etc…).  Christianity was never meant to be about anything more (or less) than an individual’s personal relationship with God through Christ.  This, incidentally, is one of the reasons I get so aggravated with the Religious Right movement… this attempt to use Christianity in a way it isn’t meant to be used (at least, according to how I see it).

So, what does this have to do with what I normally write about here?  Well, again this is one of those times when you’d have to live in my brain.  (Which, yet again, you can all be thankful isn’t possible.)  I was responding to a comment when this idea of the ‘personalness’ of Christianity came up.    I found myself being perhaps too curt with this commenter because again I felt frustrated by what seemed to be a lack of understanding, or to put it more clearly, an assumption that they did understand something that, from their comment, it appeared that they did not.   What was this statement?  Well, among other things it was that I need to stop seeking the approval of others.  Because I’m in a chatty mood (it’s 1:32 in the morning here and I’m very verbose in the middle of the night), I’ll say that I believe that community is very important, and that the Western Church often puts way too much emphasis on the ‘individualistic’ aspect of Christianity, ignoring the fact that our faith was meant to be lived out in community (much like how I believe that life in general is meant to be lived in some sort of community).  That having been said, this debate I’m having really has nothing to do with seeking the approval of others.  Do I want this approval?  Of course I do.  I’d love to think that no matter what I do, or where I land in this debate, my friends will approve of my choices, but I know that that is just not possible.  Some people will be upset and disappointed should I end up choosing celibacy and others will be upset and disappointed should I end up choosing to pursue a relationship with a woman.  

If it was merely about other people’s approval, I’d be out trying to date women right now.  I know it would probably mean losing a lot of friends, and I’d almost certainly have to leave my church (not that I think I’d get kicked out, I just don’t think I’d feel comfortable fellowshipping with people who probably wouldn’t think I was a Christian).  And my mother… man, that’s just a nightmare to think about.  Perhaps I wouldn’t tell her, if I’m perfectly honest.  And I’d probably end up leaving Ottawa (a city that I love) in order to find a community of believers that I could fellowship with.  As much as all of that would suck, and I know I’d cry (a lot), I’d do it.  I’ve been uprooted enough times in my life (both forcibly as a child moving around with my mother, and voluntarily as an adult eager to explore the globe) to know that I can survive it.  I can make new friends and start again.  It doesn’t scare me.  And it would be worth it to get what I think people get from those personal and intimate relationships they have with their partners in life.  

And the debate between Side A and B (and even X, even though I tend to dismiss that side of the equation) is not even to see which side ‘wins’. (Although, I admit to wishing that one side could just ‘win me over’ and then I could be done with this.)  

No, the ‘debate’ (I even hesitate to call it that right now) is about how I live my life as God wants me to.  As self centered as this sounds (and really, how else is it going to sound on my blog?), this is about my relationship with God.  It’s not about other people’s approval, it’s about His.  And it’s not even so much about His approval as it is about our relationship.  I want to be able to relate to my Father, my Friend, my Lord… and I can’t do that if I’m engaging in behavior that I believe He has said is wrong.  (Not that our relationship is all that great right now, but that’s an issue for another post.)  And, as I am unconvinced on this issue either way, I do nothing.  

There’s a Christian cliché that is often used to bully non-Christians into listening to us talk.  I’ve heard my mother do this on more than one occasion as some poor waitress, or mechanic or whatever tried to politely get out of a religious debate by saying “I’m just not religious.”  My mother counters with this Christian cliché, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship,” and then she keeps talking while they try and figure out what on earth she just said.  As much as I’m not a fan of this phrase (it cost me a lot of money, as I often went back to our table and left extra money as a tip because I felt so bad for the poor waitresses, as my mother would bombard them, and then leave pittance as a tip!), it’s true.  What Christ was concerned about was not ‘religion’ as we tend to use the word today.  There was plenty of religion in Israel at the time.  What He came to do was to provide a way for us to have a relationship with God.  A personal, intimate, individual relationship with God.  And if that was what Christ was concerned with, then it is what I want to be concerned with.  

Anyway, it’s now 1:53 am, and I should try and go back to sleep.