I’ve got nothing for #JaneDates scripts. Bex is super down on dating right now. So down, it’s not even funny.
Dammit. I’m losing my sense of humor???
I’ve got nothing for #JaneDates scripts. Bex is super down on dating right now. So down, it’s not even funny.
Dammit. I’m losing my sense of humor???
Is it true? Do we funnel all of our creative energies into our blogs that we don’t create the real art we want to create? Are we using it up in platforms such as these, crutches supporting what creativity we have, that there is none left when we go to create The Work? We can’t all be Neil Gaiman, unfortunately.
In the past two months I have written two short stories about a single woman looking for love. One, specifically; the other, well, she sort of finds love by accident. (Well, she meets a couple of dudes, we don’t know that she loves either of them.) Neither of these stories would accomplish the wretchedly simple job of passing the Bechdel Test, a test I find important, but not as important as representing “real” women, whatever that means (see my post about Thor v The Avengers). But neither story is about female relationships (although one could analyze the female relationships in the first story). I tend to write about what I’m currently going through and my mind was heavily on my own hetero-romantic relationships while I was writing them. Because those are in a constant state of flux. I didn’t write about my female relationships because my female relationships are solid.
Today is National Friendship Day, or some such nonsense, and it’s got me thinking about my most significant friendships. Weirdly, or not so weirdly, the older I get the more important my female friendships are to me. I still love my boys and my life would be sad without them, but it’s my girls, if ‘importance’ were a scale, who are the most important. There are specific women from various points in my life who have greatly impacted me and continue to be my friends despite my wildly narcissistic and transient lifestyle. And, the beauty of these women is that they are all different.
My oldest friend is someone who has always been supportive of me. We met in the third grade in violin class and I have valued her opinion and her esteem and her friendship very highly ever since. We had a small period of separation in college, but managed to reconnect afterwards and are still very close. A very confident woman, she is also confidence-inspiring. I never feel more encouraged, more empowered, than after I speak with her. She took me clothes shopping for a “professional” outfit when I was temping, she sends me information on writing retreats and contests, she buys me dinner a couple times a year, and a birthday present even when I want to ignore my own birthday. Always so career driven, she has served as an inspiration in my own professional life, making me believe I can forge ahead with the notion that I am a writer and might actually get paid one day to write. I was happy to be a part of her wedding party when she asked. She and her husband are one of the coolest couples I’ve ever met and have never, even inadvertently, made me feel badly about being single. Their daughter is five months old and I know they are going to be excellent parents because they’ve been practicing on me for years now. Every time I visit with them they feed me, give me career advice, and counsel me on my most recent romantic disaster. When their kid is a teenager they’d be wise to remember how they’ve advised me over the years.
In high school I met my Best Friend (technically, all these women are my “best friend”, after all, like Mindy Lahiri says “best friend isn’t a person, it’s a tier”, but this one is my Best Friend). My Best Friend is a funny woman. She’s very analytical, enjoys making lists, and loves setting “life goals” — she was the only teenager I knew with a five-year-plan. We met in a church youth group when we were sixteen and have been friends from the moment she introduced herself to me. I don’t really know what drew us together initially, but a desire for a certain sort of connection kept us together. Best Friend is a friend with whom I can discuss Important Topics. From the time we were juniors in high school, she has been the friend with whom I discuss books, articles, philosophy, current events, the political impact of music, education, careers, travel, and religious matters. We rarely talk about boys, men, love, or sex. It was never a subject either of us brought up in high school and we rarely bring it up now. Only occasionally have those subjects arisen, and mostly when she’d first met her now-husband and wasn’t sure how she felt about him. Our friendship not only passes, but defines the Bechdel Test. Which is odd for a Best Friend relationship, one might think, in stories it’s always the best friend who the protagonist goes to for sex or love advice. It’s an entire category of movie character, usually played by Judy Greer or Jeremy Piven. But our friendship has never been of that sort. In high school it was sort of a relief, because there were plenty of other girls who were happy to talk about those topics ad nauseam and nothing else.
College. So many significant things happened to me in college. One, I learned that I am smart. Highly intelligent, even. Not like Mensa intelligent, not like best-friend-from-college smart, but of above average intelligence. I also learned how to drink alcohol, kiss boys, and to travel independently. Sophomore year I met previously mentioned best-friend-from-college at our tiny college, in our even tinier English department. Originally an equine major, she moved to the dark side after taking a seminar on Tolkien freshman year. She and I wound up in almost all the same classes Sophomore year, including a Theater History class where, I feel, we really bonded. Self-centered moron I am, I didn’t realize how close our friendship was until after the opening performance of Fahrenheit 451 when she ran up to me, gave me a huge hug, and told me how well I’d done. Starting then our friendship deepened significantly. We were travel buddies during our semester abroad, she was there the first time I got really drunk, the first time I got really hung up on a dude, the first time I went home with a guy. And I was there for her when she underwent similar foolishness. We saw each other be incredibly silly about men, and make unbelievably wise decisions about our education and work. We are each other’s favorite theater-going friend and she is still one of the first people I will talk to about dating woes. All the things that brought us together in college — literature, theater, writing — are still our favorite topics. She is lovely, generous, and supportive. I see her the least of the four women I’m writing about today and, therefore, I miss her the most. But I am always incredibly proud of her.
The friend I’ve seen the most lately is technically my boss. We work for a seasonal outdoor education program where staff live all together on site, and recently I’ve shared a house with my direct supervisor. We started working together in the spring of 2014, before that we knew each other a little, mostly by sight. That first spring we worked together, however, our knowledge of one another turned from knowing a little about each other, to knowing everything about one another. Staff relations that season were a little tense and few came to our house (even though that’s where the food is). The Boss and I found ourselves, many nights and weekends, the only two hanging out. A fun, friendly, chatty woman she and I quickly opened up to each other about a whole many things. I used to lament that I didn’t have any Sex and the City friends, no group of women with which to discuss life, dating, and sex over brunch. Suddenly, amongst other things, I had this: a woman I regard highly to whom I could unburden myself when feeling emotional, or frustrated about anything (not just men or sex). She is a friend who would drink whisky with me when I broke up with someone and get excited with me when I met someone new. The twelve months I was 29 turned out to be a particularly trying twelve months. I was getting down about all the bummed out things that happened, sure nothing good happened that year. But then I remembered the new friendship I’d developed with my housemate and colleague. If there has ever been a bright spot, it has been her. I am certain I would not have struggled through certain things as well as I did if it weren’t for her friendship. I am happy she is there when I need her and I am more than happy to be there when she needs me.
The Girl Scout Law commands that one tries her best to “be a sister to every Girl Scout”. Growing up with three older sisters, Girl Scout sisters, and, once I started school, a number of girl friends, I’ve always felt that line applies to all girls, all women, I chance to meet. Sometimes those relationships don’t last, but others remain strong even when far apart. That isn’t to say the latter is “better”, or “more real” than the former. As Cher Horowitz says “all my friends [are] really good in different ways.” I love all my friends for those things that make them good. These four women, in particular, are friends whom I am exceptionally lucky to have because my life would be significantly different without them.
I love food. All food. Except for asparagus, grapefruit, grapes, Brussel’s sprouts, cooked mushrooms, tofu, and fruit in bread. Pretty much everything else is super cool with me. I am also a Super Fan of trying new foods. This is how I know I like honey hot wings, doner kebabs, spanakopita, linguicia, seitan, and aloo gobi (and not just because it has a funny sounding name). I will try pretty much anything put in front of me. Even that time my friend’s mom made a Jewish noodle/bread dish/thing that definitely had raisins in it.* That I did not like, but I ate it.
The other day I went to visit one of my best friends, my oldest friend, in fact, and her brand new to the world baby girl. Now, because my friend is
a traitor vegan, she took her baby, her father, and me to a vegetarian/vegan joint in Cambridge MA that was truly delightful. I had a bowl full of things that, in my mind, ought to be sides to complement a meat dish. There was nutritional yeast involved and kale, foods I don’t normally have anything to do with, but this combination, plus the awesome sauce that flavored it, made the bowl a delightful culinary experience.
So delightful, in fact, tonight I attempted to recreate it… Bex Style.
Presentation in food is not my game, I am all about the flavor and this bowl was full of it. I scraped together the sauce recipe from two separate blogs online (others who were also trying to recreate this same dish) and chose the food items I find pleasant. And, because I’m not a heathen, I also cooked some chicken legs to go along with it. In the end it was a nice bowl of brown rice topped with steamed broccoli, carrots, almond slivers, raisins, and the sweet curry miso sauce. The sauce wasn’t quite right, but I’m confident it’ll be better next time. The chicken was a lovely addition.
The only thing missing was the Ginger Crush drink the restaurant makes. It was a delightful refresher. If I can figure out how the ginger works in the combo with the lemon and maple syrup, I will be so happy. When it comes to working with ginger I am woefully ignorant.
* I love raisins, but they should never be cooked.
It has come to my attention that Dylann Roof, that little prick who shot up a church in Charleston, is using me as his justification for his crimes. He’s using me, my sisters, and our maidenheads like some antebellum, Jim Crow era rationalization to burn Rosewood to the ground. This is some Emperor Palpatine-level bullshit. I do not need some hyped up jerkface to protect me from squat.
I did not grow up with many black kids. There were a few handfulls of black families in my town, but for the most part our diversity was comprised of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Brazilians, Haitians, and Dominicans. Lots of Caribbean influence, lots of Central American. Some Black. Since leaving high school, I’ve met a wider field of people: I’ve met British, I’ve met Greeks, I’ve met Swedes, I’ve met Chinese. I’ve met Muslims, I’ve met Jews, I’ve met Rastas. I’ve met criminals, and I’ve met upstanding citizens. I’ve met farm-boys, and inner-city ballers. I’ve met friendly New Zealanders, and douchey Australians. I’ve met black girls who can’t stop touching my hair, and Ghanaian pastors who invite me to visit their churches. I’ve met vegan lesbians, and queer Persians, and trans men. I’m only thirty and I’ve had thousands of students and dozens of roommates from a great many walks of life. I have had many friends, people who will be my friends for life, and those who were well-needed friends for the time being. No friendship is superior or inferior to any other. I love all of my friends. My friends get to know me and understand who I am. They have my back if I ever need them to, and I theirs.
Recently, I went on a pseudo-blind date with a man I met on the Internet. My friend D—- encouraged me to go out with him and not to worry because he’d be there watching if I needed him. I laughed and told him I wouldn’t need him (and I didn’t) but his offering to be there just in case was appreciated. I can hold my own with a man. I know how to handle myself. There was a time when I didn’t. There was a time, when I was younger, when I didn’t know how to advocate for myself with men. I was inexperienced and unused to people trying to take advantage of me, and I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. He didn’t ask me if he could touch me. He didn’t ask me if he could do things to me. I was wise enough to push him away, and he was kind enough to stop, but the damage was done. I felt dirty and violated. By a white, mid-western boy.
In my experience, which isn’t singular or unique, I’ve been fucked over by white men. Almost exclusively. Black men, in my experience, have always had my back. I don’t feel as though I need any protection from Black Men. I don’t feel that I need any protection from White Men, for that matter. Same goes for Asian Men and American Indians and Caribbean Men. My vagina isn’t a thing I need a man to worry about. Women (all women) do not need a man to stand up and, on behalf of us all, make any decisions about our well-being. We most especially don’t need a man to murder anyone on our behalf. I will not take on that responsibility.
Far too often Women have been the justification for horrible acts. Not any specific woman, but Women, in general. As if we’re all in constant danger and we need the Menfolk to eliminate that danger so we can feel safe. Quite frankly, I feel less safe with a man who thinks that is a reasonable argument. It is as twisted as the man who shot women on his college campus because other women wouldn’t have sex with him. Women are not some abstract concept that can be invoked as a rallying cry. We’re not “Democracy”, or “Freedom”, or “God”, or other terrible reasons to justify killing other people: we are people. We are individuals. We each have a unique point of view and our own opinions. If Dylann Roof had asked a woman if she felt unsafe from the “threat of Black Men” he would have known better than to use Women as one of his reasons for shooting innocent people. Rather than invoking the concept of Women (alongside the notion that Black People have “taken over” the country), he should have just stood behind his unreasonable hatred. It’s no better a reason, but it’s honest.
I refuse to be someone’s rallying cry. I refuse to be someone’s concept. I am a white woman, I am not a White Woman. You may not capitalize those words and do horrendous things because of me. I love all of my friends. I love all people. I do not accept the burden of Dylann Roof’s crimes. His unchecked hate led him to shoot people, not my sisters, my mother, my nieces, or my friends, and certainly not me. Do not use me as your excuse to kill black people.
My prayers are with the Charleston community today. My love for them abounds. I pray to God to give them strength and compassion. I also pray that people everywhere stop seeing women as a concept, stop using us for their own purposes, and start seeing women as people. So many times I’ve read the questions: why do we focus on race? And, Why do we need feminism? Because, my dear, there are those out there who still don’t see us.
It’s what we’re meant to do as writers, yes? We write about something we’re struggling with to better understand it or cope with it. Why not write a story about a dead uncle with whom the narrator never really had much a of relationship? Maybe it’ll help.
I’ve been making these “poor Bexes lattes” lately and, when made right, they are the most delightful.
The. Most. Delightful.
I was about to write a really self-indulgent post about how much pressure I’ve been under lately, but I can’t be that petty.