Tales of a wandering lesbian

Posts from — May 2010

The history of runner hair

This is, by far, my favorite hair picture.  I’ve left the other runner in for context.  It was the mid-90s, so I think that explains some things.  Kind of.  I ran cross-country my senior year.  At some point I decided to grow my mop out a bit so that I could put it into a tiny ponytail at the top of my head.  Thank God there are no pics of that.  And still…

I know, ladies.  It’s hard to contain yourselves with all the hotness going on there.  To all of you who ask why I keep my hair so short, I think I need offer no further explanation.

Bookmark and Share

May 29, 2010   2 Comments

Food of the gods

There’s one God at the Vatican, but lots of gods in Rome.  I think that’s why there are so many pizza shops.  I’m guessing it takes a lot to feed all those gods, and I’m sure they eat pizza.

It seems everywhere I go I talk about how it’s the best pizza I’ve ever had.  But at a shop around the corner from the Pantheon I truly had some of the best pizza – ever.  Yes, ever.

After a long trip into the eternal city from my home base in Tuscany, I was hungry.  It was the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which meant a lot of places were closed.  I consulted my handy guidebook and made a plan of attack for the evening – starting with food.  Pizza Zaza stood out as a shop in the vicinity of things I wanted to see.  It was worth a shot.

I traversed the city, and was ecstatic that I could find the shop, and ecstatic that it was open.  After going through the motions with the girl behind the counter:  “what doesn’t have meat, I’m a vegetarian, yes I eat cheese,” I picked out a piece with “sola potata” (she seemed worried that I’d be disappointed with only potato), and one with what I thought was onions or leeks or something similar (I just pointed and she confirmed that it was meatless).

Eyes wide, I walked my pizza to the little outdoor sitting area in the piazza overlooked by several churches.

It was a lot of pizza.  I was really hungry.  With the first bite, I realized this wasn’t like anything I’d had before.  The crust was crispy, but thick.  The potato pizza had big, thin slices baked right into a thin layer of cheese, and fresh rosemary.  Only potato, my ass.  It was heavenly.

I finished up my potato pieces and reached for the other.  I took a bite without really looking at it.  WOW!  It almost tasted like cheddar – which I hadn’t tasted in a while – but it was cleaner.  It had a rich, yellow-orange flavor that caught me completely off-guard.  I knew what this was – squash-blossom.  Fantastic!  I was eating squash-blossom pizza in a piazza in Rome on the feast of the Immaculate Conception with an accordion celebrating in the background.

It was so good that, as it began to rain, I sat staring at my pizza until it was so wet that I had to move.  Still staring and eating, I just scooted myself up to the table of ladies next to me, who were under the only umbrella in the little sitting area.  I don’t think I even looked up.

I’d planned on that being my lunch, but, along with the excellent gelato I had about 20 minutes later, and the hot chestnuts eaten on the steps of the Trevi fountain, it also served as my dinner.  Come to think of it, the gods might eat gelato and chestnuts on the steps of the Trevi fountain, too.

This post has been entered into the Grantourismo and HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition

Bookmark and Share

May 28, 2010   No Comments

If lesbians use and like toys such as dildos and vibrators, why don’t they like a real live penis? I’ve experienced both and a real penis is better. Usually.

Curious George,

This is a frequently asked question, for sure.  And the answer may require some people to go look at kittens instead.

My general rule in answering these questions is to ask the person asking the question to flip the script.  That is to say, reverse the question and ask it of yourself.  So, let’s try that here.  I’m assuming that you’re a straight woman, or that you prefer sex with a man.  That said:

If straight women like penetration with a penis, why don’t they like penetration by a dildo – from a woman?

As you’ve identified, there is a difference between the two.  Your preference is for a penis.  My preference is for a dildo.  And for a woman.  That’s all.  It’s not that I don’t like penetration.  It’s that I like sex with a  woman, and everything that comes with it.

Bookmark and Share

May 21, 2010   3 Comments

I know that you are a voracious reader. But….doesn’t it get old to be constantly reading about heterosexual love in 99% of all the fiction out there? I know I read the occasional gay love scene with detached fascination, and realized that it must be the same for you, only in EVERY book.

Well spotted, Heather.

The short answer:  Yes, it gets old.  More than that, the lack of authentic GLBT stories in literature, movies, television and pop culture generally make it really difficult for GLBT people to identify with the images of our community.  The vacuum of positive images and role models can make us cling to the caricatures and clichés presented as our lives.

And that can be very defeating when, as a teenager, you are told that you will either be a spinster, a bull-dyke, or die a hideous death.

The long answer:

Earlier this week, a friend of mine posted about a piece of lesbian fiction that will be coming out this month.  In it, she referred back to a book called, “Sweat,” one of the author’s earlier works.  It was like reading about an old friend.  I flashed back to high school when my girlfriend and I would pull the book out from under my bed and read it hungrily, finding in it a sense of belonging.  A sense of understanding that we weren’t alone.  That we weren’t freaks.  That there were others like us:   softball players who liked girls.

There were also the tattered copies of Rita May Brown novels, and Martina Navratilova biographies.  Books that were legitimate enough to buy at second-hand book stores without completely freaking out the people I was shopping with.

I live in Portland now, where I can get my hands on any kind of lesbian-centered literature, history, or humor I want.  But it’s still not mainstream.  I have to look for it.  Like a book on Malaysian cooking.  It’s there, but it’s not something I run across.  It’s rare that I pick up a book from the bestseller rack and find that there’s a lesbian sub-plot.  (Who am I kidding, it’s rare that I pick up a book from the bestseller rack at all.)

And it’s not just in books that this is the case.  In movies, and in television; in any part of pop culture, the existence of a homo plot is out-of-the ordinary.  It’s something to comment on.  Take a look at the reaction to “Brokeback Mountain”.  From protests, to discussions of whether the roles would ruin the careers of the actors who took them, the movie was totally controversial, even though it had more nominations than any other movie at the academy awards that year.  Had it been a movie about a heterosexual relationship, it would have been no big deal.  But it was out-of -the-ordinary, because it was two men.

In the rare instances where gay sub-plots appear, I find myself, and a lot of other queer folks, clinging to them like lifelines.  Take ER.  I didn’t watch ER.  Until Kerry and Lopez got together.  It was tender, and passionate and beautiful.  In the time that they were together on the show, every conversation I had with another lesbian included a discussion of the program.

And how about Ellen?  And Rosie.  Even when they weren’t out, we were watching.  We were supporting.  We were waiting.  Waiting for the funny inside jokes that they might make.  Supporting them so that they might find the courage to give us the out-front role models and popular images that would make our existence more normal.  I still won’t shop at JCPenny, because they pulled their marketing dollars from the Ellen show when she kissed another woman on-air.  I remember the parental warning that flashed on the screen before the show and during every commercial break – a great black screen with stark white lettering, letting the country know that it was okay to protect their kids from the deviancy, the depravity of two women expressing physical love for each other.  From me.

Ellen’s show (the sit-com) didn’t last very long after she came out.  Neither did Rosie’s.  Yes, Rosie has gone off the deep end, and Ellen had that whole unfortunate Anne Heche thing.  But still.  ER went on just fine.  “Brokeback Mountain” was a run-away success.  “Boys Don’t Cry” won the Best Actress Oscar.

Anytime someone tells me about a “great” gay film, I ask them two things:  “Does anyone get brutally murdered?” and “is it a ‘dick saves the day’ movie?”  Because it’s usually one of the two.  I know it’s not terribly politically correct, but it’s the sad pattern that I’ve come to expect.  Either a tomboy is “saved” by a man who is able to see through her rough exterior, or a beautiful relationship between two gays is cut short by some horribly tragic event:  the “God hates fags” scenario.  These plot formulas allow for the mainstream  telling of realistic gay stories, followed by such brutality that it makes clear what happens to those who choose such a lifestyle.

For example:  ER:  After a lovingly treated depiction of a lesbian relationship, Lopez, who is a firefighter, dies on the job.  Boys Don’t Cry:  after I watched the main character raped and beaten to death, I made my mother promise me that she would never watch the movie.  Brokeback Mountain:  a beautiful movie that ends with the not-so-subtle insinuation that, after years of pining away for his one, true love, one of the characters is clubbed to death by his father with a tire iron.  Fried Green Tomatoes:  Marriage interrupts the love of two women, but it’s a violent one, so there’s an excuse for the women to love each other.  Until one of them dies a long, painful death.  Boys on the Side:  Bad relationship results in death of a husband, a beautiful, tortured love between two women, and the AIDS-related death of one of them.  Thelma and Louise (I know this isn’t overtly lesbian, but it’s emotionally lesbian, and follows the pattern):  Bad marriage, rape, revenge, dick saves the day (but it’s Brad Pitt, so it’s almost excusable), betrayal, and a flying leap off of a cliff.

There’s a great movie I’d recommend putting on your NetFlix queue:  The Celluloid Closet.  It’s seriously good and looks at the images of queer people in the movies, since the days of the silent film.

And then there’s Will & Grace.  For a long time I wouldn’t watch this show.  Because, although it showed gay people, front and center, it showed us a caricatures of ourselves.  It was okay to make super-gay jokes, so long as they came from a flaming, queeny man or his chemically-dependent fag hag.  Or in the form of a totally unhealthy co-dependent relationship.  For too long, the only way gay men have been able to be accepted on tv or in the movies is as super-effeminate portrayals of themselves.  They exist as the joke itself, non-threatening and clownlike.  I got over it and watch the show now.  But I still have a really hard time with the movie “The Bird Cage”.

So, yes, it’s frustrating that GLBT life isn’t often portrayed in books and movies and television, and even when it is, it’s not usually my life.  Or anything close to it.  It’s frustrating that, in college, I spent hours and hours looking through the foreign film sections of Blockbuster and Hollywood video trying to figure out if there were lesbian themes in the subtitled movies.  It’s frustrating that, growing up, what I thought it meant to be a lesbian was to be a leather-clad, buzz-cut butch, or a clandestine married woman who would get clubbed to death while suffering from cancer.

It’s hard enough to develop an image of yourself as a powerful, healthy individual.  When surrounded by images that reinforce only the negative, it can be incredibly defeating.

I remember being 16 and  telling my family I wanted to record the 1993 March on Washington because of its cultural and historical significance.  I crouched in front of the tv and marveled, chin in my hands.  They were probably able to write it off as part of my unnatural my love of C-SPAN.  I watched and rewatched that 6 hours of VHS footage, looking for images of myself in the performers and activists that filed across the stage.  Real people who looked nothing like the clichés I’d been clinging to.

Fortunately, we’re moving forward.  Ellen has a new show.  And she’s out all the time.  She makes gay jokes on American Idol.  Good ones.  Funny ones that are smart and challenging.  Adam Lambert got more votes than anyone else on the show.  Country music stars are coming out.  Our stories are being told more fully.  And that’s more than a luxury.  It’s more than nice to have a book to read at the beach.  It’s important if we are going to reverse things like teenage suicide in the gay community – something that’s 5 times more likely than for straight teens.

It’s important that the lifelines we’re clinging to are real.  And that they lead us to a place of empowerment.

Bookmark and Share

May 17, 2010   2 Comments

What about breast play? Are breasts considered erogenous enough to have sex with?

This came from a comment on the what is sex? post.  I think it merits its own topic.

Again, if you can’t handle it, please look away now.

The short answer: I’m a lawyer, so I like tests.  I use this “two part test” to determine whether something is sex:

First:  Based on what you’re doing, is it possible for one of the parties to come?

Second:  Is it the intention of the parties involved for someone to come?

If the answer is “yes” to both, then it’s sex.  Other than that, I’m not sure.

So, is breast play sex?  It depends.

The long answer:

I was considering this question as I headed out on a bike ride this afternoon.  I immediately thought of the time a couple of years ago when I was body surfing in Hawaii.  I saw a hornet drowning out in the water.  So, I scooped it up and brought it back to shore.  On my return to the ocean, one of his brothers, clearly unaware of my recent heroism, swam into my bikini and stung my nipple.  Uncool.

Now I’ve been known to manifest some freaky shit.  And I wondered if it was folly to be thinking about the bees.  But I quickly dismissed any concern and got on with my ride and deeper consideration of the breast play issue.

But Oregon bugs have pride.  Not to be outdone, 1/4 mile from my destination, a flying ant flew into my bra and bit me.  Repeatedly.  He bit my nipple.  He bit my areola.  He bit my breast.

(Now, I know what some of you are thinking.  “Wait!  Maybe it will swell!”  Very funny.  It hurts like hell.)

So, let me say this:  are breasts sensitive enough to have sex with them?  Y-E-S.  The icepack on mine is proof.

Like the “what is sex?” question, though, I’m not sure it’s so straight forward.

Is breast play (fondling, both digitally – that’s hands, people – and orally), by itself, sex?  I think it can be.  Does it matter if it’s clothed or naked?  As Tribe of One so eloquently stated, “If someone comes, it’s sex.  I don’t care how many clothes there are.”  I agree.  And, in my experience, breast play can lead to orgasm.  As can tribbing.

But what if nobody comes?  What if it’s not the intention at all?  It’s certainly sexual.  Foreplay is sexual.  Kissing can be sexual.

I agree with Amanda that orgasm isn’t the magic bullet that will answer the question.  Any of my girlfriends can tell you (and there aren’t that many, so be cool), I’m an endurance sport.  So if I sit on a woman’s face for an hour and don’t get there, it doesn’t mean it’s not sex.

More and more, I’m thinking the answer to these questions really does depend on intention and personal view.  For me, digital sex is sex.  For some of my straight friends, it’s not.  For other of my straight friends, it is.

The takeaway for me is that it’s really important to talk about these things.  Maybe not on a blog that your mom reads, but certainly with a potential partner, a current partner, and with yourself.  Thanks for the questions!  Keep them coming!  (Yeah, I totally said that.)

Bookmark and Share

May 14, 2010   3 Comments