This week (mea culpa)

I overestimated my free time in the week before my wedding. I should have known that I wouldn’t have a single minute.

It’s been a whirlwind: Dinner on Saturday with my fiancée. Church services Sunday with her and her sister’s family, with Sunday dinner afterward with the minister who introduced us (and will be officiating at the ceremony). Then home to my parents’, and bouncing back and forth between their house, my fiancée’s parents’ ranch, my siblings’ and her siblings’. And, today, to the ranch for the rehearsal and then to the restaurant where we met, for the rehearsal dinner.


I have had time to write one thing. I don’t want it to go up until after we’re married, however, so I’ll schedule it for tomorrow evening or Sunday.


The forecast is mostly sunny, moderately hot, no humidity. I’m hoping for those little clouds that march across the sky. They mean home to me.


Wish me luck today, and (God willin’ and the creek don’t rise) congratulate me tomorrow!

I’m sure that I don’t know

So what search term finds a Family Values Lesbian?

The last time I looked, it was “lutheran funeral jello“.

This time, it’s, “what does a boston red sox hat mean for the lesbians”.

How does that find the blog of a St Louis Cardinal fan? I’m sure that I don’t know.

 


PS: To this lesbian, it means the wearer is a Red Sox fan.

But my ignorance of lesbian culture (clichés?) is near total. Next month, I’m going to marry the first girl I ever kissed. I’m the first girl she ever kissed. Nobody has taught either of us the secret handshake.

Or what a Boston Red Sox cap means for lesbians.

Mother

Mother: You never were afraid of me. Your sister and your brother, I think they are still afraid of me. They are so conventional. I frightened them into conventionality. So afraid of making a mistake. I had to be careful not to push them.

Me: You weren’t frightening. You were never angry at any of us. I think [brother] and [sister] are just timid. And you do have an overpowering personality.

Mom: They did things right because they were afraid of what I would say or do if they did them wrong. They were perfectionists in a by-the-book way. Not you. You were never like that. Never afraid to make a mistake. Never afraid to challenge me. Never afraid to challenge anyone. I don’t think you ever cared what I thought.

Me: That’s not true. I cared very much what you thought.

Mom: Nonsense. You did things right because you got pleasure from doing things right. Pleasing me never entered your mind.

Me: No, I was never afraid of you. There was never anything to be afraid of.

Mother: But you were so afraid of me about the most important thing in your life.

Me: I wasn’t afraid of you. I was afraid of losing you. Of losing our family. It’s the most important thing in the world to me. Well, now it’s the second most important thing in the world.

I just knew what you believed. The Church doesn’t accept it and you wouldn’t accept it.

Mother: Was it just the Church? That I would follow the Church? I wasn’t happy when you left the Church, but I accepted it.

Me: No, it wasn’t just the Church. I knew how you felt about it yourself. We were in Seattle –

Mother: Oh, no! The women kissing! I said something, didn’t I? I regretted it the moment I said it. Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.


Me: I’m sorry. I underestimated you. I never thought you would accept that I am a lesbian. I should have come out years ago.

Mother: You didn’t underestimate me. I wouldn’t have accepted it.

Me: But you did.

Mother: I never would have accepted it in the abstract. If you had come home any time and told me, “Mother, I’m a lesbian,” I would not have accepted it, even last year. I can’t say what I would have done, but I know that I could not have accepted it, not as I have. I doubt that I would ever have agreed to meet one of your girlfriends. It would have been forever a wall between us.

But meeting CA changed that. She put a face to it. Sitting here, talking all afternoon, having dinner, seeing what a wonderful woman she is, seeing what she means to you, having it slowly dawn on me that you two are in love. Having her so forthrightly admit her love for you. How can a mother resist that for her daughter?

Me: So stop regretting anything! If I had come out earlier, I never would have met CA.

Pride: A paradox

Pride, to me, is pleasure in one’s achievements, or pleasure in the achievement of another. Pride in a genetic gift, or from anything else one has no control over? That, to me, would be conceit or vanity.

I’m very intelligent. I’m not proud of that, nor am I ashamed of it. My intelligence was a gift from my parents and from God. I am proud of what I have done with my intelligence. I would be ashamed if I did not use it to the fullest.

My fiancée’s intelligence is formidable. I’m not proud – or ashamed – of her for it. I am proud of her formidable accomplishments with her intelligence.

Similarly, I’m not proud (or ashamed) of my (or my fiancée’s) body, although I do take some pride in keeping myself in shape. And I certainly take pleasure in my fiancée’s body (and in her pleasure in my body).


When I was young, I fought being a lesbian. When I became an adult, I buried it. But I have never been ashamed of being a lesbian. I just am a lesbian.

Now, I’m glad I’m a lesbian. If I had the choice, I would choose to be a lesbian.

I’m not proud that I’m a lesbian. I didn’t do anything to make myself a lesbian. I just am a lesbian.


My lesbianism hasn’t been heroic.

I grew up in the most conservative part of one of the most conservative states. A state constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage passed by a two-to-one majority – three-to-one in my county. When I lived there, I was deeply in the closet.

But I was never afraid, and I’m not afraid now that I am out of the closet. I’m not even afraid to walk down the main street of the tiny, rural town where I grew up, holding my fiancée’s hand.


Lesbianism has been heroic for many.

I am proud of the lesbians who have gone before me, whose lesbianism was heroic.


My ability to just be a lesbian – without shame or fear – owes everything to those who can justly take pride in being lesbians. To be slightly paradoxical about it, I am proud of them – and they should take pride in themselves – for my lack of pride.

 

Coming to grips with conception

Things one knows in the head sometimes become things one understands in the heart.


  • Separating conception from love.

Our child will be my child, a child of our love, a child I will love unconditionally. The person we are selecting will not love either of us or our child.

I understood that intellectually. But it wasn’t until we were flipping through the books – coolly selecting or rejecting the biological parent of our child based on a check-mark or a word or two on a form – that it became more than an intellectual understanding.


  • Separating conception from sex.

We can’t conceive a child in an act of love.

I understood that intellectually. But now I know in my heart that the best we can hope for is a kiss while jamming her with a turkey baster.

However, I intend to follow it up with an act of love.


We have real empathy for straight couples who face this, too.

Donor search

Flipping through the donor book from the fertility clinic:

Me: I’d love to come across a physicist or mathematician.

My Love: Supply and demand, sweetheart. If they were in here, their DNA would get taken right away.

Me: You’d think the geeks that can’t get a date would be lining up for this. The demand for their DNA would be so gratifying.

My Love: Easy there, my sweet: I was a geek who couldn’t get a date.


A little later:

Me: I worry that we’re engaged in a eugenics experiment. Gorgeous genius DNA looking for hunky genius DNA?

My Love: Think about it, sweetheart. What do you think straight people have been doing since forever? A straight woman wants to marry somebody who’s as smart, as ambitious, as good looking as she is. If we were straight, we’d each be married to some hunky genius. How’s this any different?


A little later:

Me: At this point, I’d settle for a doctor or a lawyer.

My Love: Is this a Jewish mother joke?


A little later. She tosses me a file:

My Love: How about an investment banker?

Me: Eww. Wolf of Wall Street?

My Love: My sweet, those guys were traders. Traders are animals. Investment bankers are very smart, very hard working and very ethical. At least the ones I work with.


A little later:

My Love: We are using the wrong sampling technique. This population is guys who advertise that they will jerk off in a jar to spread around their DNA. That’s fine, but the population we want to select from is geniuses.

Me: Right. And where do we find geniuses? In grad school.

My Love: Exactly. Columbia, NYU, right here on this very island.

Me: Princeton and Yale an hour away. Harvard and MIT up in Cambridge. Heck, my grad school. Get some of that good mountain DNA. So what do we do? Sneak into the science center and put up flyers on the Math and Physics boards?

My Love: With the little tabs at the bottom with our phone number?

Me: Run an ad in the Math and Physics journals?

My Love: “Wanted: High quality sperm for baby-fever lesbians. No further obligation. All expenses paid! Lube and jar included!”

Better luck next time

As I’ve mentioned, my fiancée and I have been consulting a fertility clinic and a GYN whose practice is more oriented to lesbians. (New York is a strange and wonderful town.)

I’ve also mentioned my fiancée’s constitutional inability to plan beyond dinner and her specific resistance to planning for pregnancy.

However, I have convinced her of the wisdom of planning. And, of course, she has to do it better than anyone. She is planning meticulously and to a fare-thee-well.

To the extent possible, given her age, we’re going to try to have everything ready for our first attempt when we get back from honeymooning.


We are trying to decide on a donor. Given the advance notice, we have a lot of options, including quarantine.

Although it would be wonderful for the child to have some of my genetic material, I can’t ask my brother. We want the child to be hers, so using my eggs isn’t an option, either, at least for now.


We have a friend, brilliant, kind, thoughtful. He’s been my fiancée’s confidante and adviser since he helped her start her business. He’s become my most prized friend, too. I can tell him about anything. He always has a considered, affectionate answer. I know that he would put my fiancée ahead of me, but that’s fine: I put her ahead of me, too. No one has been happier that my Love has found love.

Before my fiancée’s penny dropped, she often said that if his wife died, she would marry him at the drop of a hat. His wife – at least laughingly – told my fiancée that was her fondest wish.


It took us a couple of weeks (and a couple of dinners) to work up the courage to ask him and his wife.

We weren’t ready for the answer: raucous laughter from both.

My dears, he’s infertile.

Oh well. Back to the drawing board.

Biggest Lesbian?

middleagebutch, who blogs The Flannel Files has named me the Biggest Lesbian, Ever. My qualification? I got engaged. And got a Drive By Truckers trucker’s cap.

Aww, thanks, MAB.

I feel … validated. I feel … like I belong. I feel … like a real lesbian!

I spent my whole life admiring women. I knew what I was, but I buried it. I didn’t act on it. With the help of a wonderful minister, I accepted myself in my early 30s. Then, with his help, I met and fell in love with the most extraordinary woman in the world.

I don’t have a butch bone in my body. I wear Pendleton plaids and jeans out West, but so do the straight girls. The butchest things I own are hard hats, which, I admit, are pretty butch.

I can fix a power plant, but I can’t change a light bulb. I can design an efficient internal combustion engine, but I can’t change a sparkplug.

My Love is a ranch girl. She can rewire a house or rebuild an engine, but she’s even more feminine than I am.

I wear a skirt. I wear (a little) makeup. I don’t wear heels.

So MAB says the award was for biggest lesbian, ever. Not biggest butch, ever. And getting engaged to the woman of my (and everyone else’s) dreams is pretty lez.

It validates that we lesbians are a diverse bunch. We don’t all fall into stereotypes.

So, thanks, middleagebutch! The prize was more than the prize!

 

PS: The prize was the ebook of middleagebutch’s memoir: Rae Theodore, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender. Everybody: go out and buy it! Even though neither my Love nor I is butch, and we’re both attracted to feminine women, it has had a lot to say to me. And it’s funny.

She has to be the best

Another thing about my fiancée: She has to be the best at everything she puts her mind to.

I had no conception of what it is like to be around someone like that. (Although she says I’m like that, too.)

It is frightening.


Her drive to be the best isn’t a competition with anyone but herself. She doesn’t want to beat anyone. She just wants to be the best. It’s natural. She doesn’t even know that’s the way she is. If she ever sees this, she’ll deny it.

When I was growing up, one of my heroes was Eugenio Monti. Monti was one of the greatest bobsledders, ever. But that’s not why he was – and is – my hero.

At the 1964 Winter Olympics,

Realizing that British bobsledders Tony Nash and Robin Dixon had broken a bolt on their sled, Monti lent them the bolt off his sled. The Britons won the gold medal in the 2-man bobsled, while Monti and his teammate took the bronze medal. Answering critics from the home press, Monti told them “Nash didn’t win because I gave him the bolt. He won because he had the fastest run.” Monti also showed his act of selfless generosity in the four-man competition. There, the Canadian team of Vic Emery had damaged their sled’s axle and would have been disqualified had not Monti and his mechanics come to the rescue. The sled was repaired and the Canadian team went on to win the gold medal, while Monti’s team took bronze.
Wikipedia, Eugenio Monti

That’s my fiancée. Finishing first isn’t important. Being the best is important. One is only the best if one is better than everyone else at their best.

It’s not just that she couldn’t live with herself if she hindered a competitor. She could not even conceive of doing anything that would hinder a competitor. She couldn’t even conceive of not helping a competitor be her best. She doesn’t even see it as competition.


Her high school friends say she didn’t compete with them – and they didn’t try to compete with her. Everyone (except, apparently, my fiancée) knew that she was the smartest person ever to come out of the valley. She helped everyone else at every opportunity, with Literature, Writing, Mathematics, Science. She helped them with their college application essays, giving them ideas and commenting on their drafts.

My Love’s Mother (to me): You know she got perfect scores on the college boards.

My Love: I did not!

My Love’s Mother: OK. I’m exaggerating. She got a 780 [out of a possible 800] on the Physics test. But that was before she took Physics. And she got 800s on everything else.

My Love: I only got a 790 on the Math SAT! I didn’t think I’d get into [her college of choice] without a perfect score.

She went East to one of the best colleges in the world. She initially felt inferior: She was from a broken-down little rural high school, surrounded by girls who had graduated at the top of elite prep and public schools. Her school didn’t have AP courses or other courses for advanced students; too few students and too few teachers. (My school didn’t have those courses, either.) The other girls had every advantage. They had seen the world; lived in the great cities, visited the great museums, seen the great plays, heard the great opera.

My fiancée’s sister says those girls changed my fiancée. She went to college a laid-back hick. She came back at Christmas break ferocious to prove to the elite coastal girls that she was as well educated, as cultured, as they were. One of her college friends told me that by the end of her first year, my fiancée was helping every girl in the dorm with at least one subject.

Looking for a challenge, she elected Mathematics. Her high school didn’t teach Calculus. (Neither did mine.) She entered college a year behind in the Calculus/Real Analysis sequence. However, as a curious teenager, she had taught herself a good deal of rigorous, abstract Mathematics: Number Theory, Non-Euclidian Geometry, Logic and Set Theory, Group and Field Theory. She had taught herself to program (in C). That prepared her better for pure Mathematics than a high school Calculus course would have.

In the middle of her second year, one of her Math professors told her that she had promise. She shouldn’t bother with undergraduate courses. She should transfer to a school where she could take graduate courses. She did, and took four graduate Math courses per term. She graduated summa cum laude and entered one of the top graduate Math programs in the world.

She proved to everyone’s satisfaction that she was one of the best of the best, particularly in the most abstract disciplines. But she realized she didn’t have the temperament to be an academic. She wanted the rough-and-tumble of the commercial world.

She needed experience and capital to do what she wanted to do: apply quantitative tools to analyze and predict the outcome of business decisions. She worked for a securities firm for a few years, then started her firm.


She doesn’t want to compete with anyone. Being the best isn’t about beating someone else.

She doesn’t consciously try to be the best. It’s instinct. It’s just how she is.

And nobody around her – including those she’s competing against – thinks she is competing with them.


I didn’t know any of that when I started dating her. She seemed a polite, reserved, intelligent, hard-working woman, succeeding in an extremely competitive environment.

Her potty-mouthed smartass sister was the first person to warn me:

Are you ready to be the target of a woman who has to be the best at everything important to her? She will have to be the best lesbian, ever. The best lover. The best wife. Are you ready for that?

It is frightening.