here’s how I responded when a young person came out as bi

I suppose I should be flattered that a young person in my life approached me recently to tell me that she’s bisexual.

Here’s how I responded:

“All right. Do you want to talk about it?”

Here’s how I felt:

Freaked out. Because this youngster is only 13. And I guess I wasn’t ready to have someone in the same age range as my own children proclaim something about her sexuality. Not yet.

Here are some of the thoughts that ran through my head:

  • At 13, how on earth do you know something like that? Does that mean you’ve experienced something with someone? Already!? Or is it just a feeling? I mean, when I was young, we — meaning me and my friends, as far as I knew — didn’t know there was anything but heterosexual. I don’t recall being conscious of anyone around me being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, inter-sex or in any other way different from this so-called norm. Times were different. There weren’t television shows or movies with clearly homosexual characters. Of course, I now know of a few people from my small hometown who do not identify as straight, and I have many gay and lesbian friends.
  • Is being bisexual really a thing? Yes, I know, I know. I’ve heard that it legitimately is, but I can’t truly grasp it. I find women’s bodies beautiful. And I sometimes think about what a woman’s breast must look like or what it would feel like to caress it. But at the end of the day, I want a good, hard cock. I’ve always thought of myself as decidedly heterosexual. And sometimes also as bi-curious. But I’ve never thought of those things as mutually exclusive. Or of anything attraction related as mutually exclusive.
  • And because I’ve had this women’s-bodies-are-beautiful conversation with so many women in my adult life, I’ve just come to accept as normal that there is a fluidity to our sexuality and desires that flow across a spectrum. There doesn’t seem to be much sense in or need to label it.
  • Continuing from there… Is stepping into this label in some way harmful at such a young age? Is there a need to categorize oneself? Do others know? Will they persecute or bully? What land mines might await in her own psyche or in her experience as a result?
  • Is identifying as such a first step in coming out as gay or lesbian? Is this the get-the-adults-around-me-used-to-this-first approach?
  • In talking about it with this young person, I learned that a certain group of friends identifies as bisexual. So is this another one of those middle school things, like dying one’s hair or exchanging clothes, where they want to be like each other? Might it be a phase? Is it the cool thing to do or be? A dear older friend once told me about her daughter’s dalliance with a lesbian relationship in high school. This daughter went on to have a long term (now six years) relationship with a man through and after college. Will this young woman follow a similar path?

I’m certain many such musings paint me to be biased and ignorant. Truly, all of these ponderings flashed through my mind in the course of a couple of minutes. In the end, none of these things matter. As I told this young person, what’s truly important is to build loving, respectful, caring and healthy relationships with friends or lovers, in whatever relationships you choose, to honor your feelings and those of others, and to develop communication and other relationship skills.


a few observations

When you’re the one in the family who isn’t a serious hoarder, you always end up hosting your hoarding family for the holidays.

It’s important to teach your children how to manage their thoughts, to become their own best friend, and to cultivate a positive outlook. Especially a kid who veers toward anxiety. The earlier you can offer coping tools, the longer s/he has to develop those life skills while in your care.

It doesn’t matter how much you care for someone if you constantly feel stressed out in a relationship with him. You have to care enough for yourself to mind your own feelings.

Children should receive comprehensive, positive sex education that gives them the tools to speak their needs. More than being told to “just say no” to sex or drugs, they need practice developing the skills of how to say no, yes, faster, slower or a little to the left. I’m grateful my school has a solid curriculum and instructor(s), and I’m even more grateful to know that I’m surrounded by a community of parents who will take those conversations to the next level with their children.

It’s terrifying to raise a daughter in a world where an enormous population of girls’ genitals are still mutilated in the name of purity, where school dress codes are designed to make sure girls are not a distraction to boys, where colleges have no clue how to handle rape allegations, where lawmakers seem hellbent on standing between the reproductive decisions women should be making only with their doctors and loved ones, where slut shaming remains a rampant reminder of just how alive and well our gender-based double standards are, and where women are so frequently harassed or flamed for making feminist statements online. I have to regularly take deep breaths and ground myself just to stay sane, much less try to make sense of this crazy world for her.

Side note:  Jennifer Lawrence is right. The criminals who stole private images from her and other celebrities’  cloud accounts should be prosecuted for the sexual violations they’ve committed, just as they would be prosecuted if they’d been caught having stolen your banking information.

I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist. The resulting bruises on my body might suggest I’m the victim of a physical or sexual assault. On the other hand, cursing aloud at my practitioner does not seem to faze him. Therefore, I’m not sure whether to report him to some sort of authority or ask him if he’s single.

I can’t imagine dating someone with the perspective that birth control is a female’s responsibility, especially after children. If a man has sired as many children as he intends to sire, I firmly believe he should be willing to commit to that decision and have a vasectomy. Not everyone has to agree with me on this; likewise, not everyone has to date me.

Finally, when a young person comes to you and confides that she is bi-sexual and you say, “all right,” you have to wonder if you’ve under-reacted or dismissed the enormity of this thing she is telling you, while you simultaneously wonder about whether a young person should so readily embrace what might be a label, particularly given the fluidity along a spectrum that seems inherent among females. But the important part of responding was this:  “Regardless of whoever you choose, the important thing is to learn to build healthy, communicative, loving and supportive relationships.”

And OMG Bill Cosby!

All of these are things I’ve been thinking about in my long absence — and probably some are topics on which I’ll write more. But for now, let’s hold this space…this space in which some of these issues are just so big and overwhelming and controversial that they are difficult to wrap my head around. And let’s acknowledge that some are pithy or playful and, I hope, gave you a bit of a laugh.


the dog and the dragon

We were sitting in a Chinese restaurant one afternoon, musing on the paper place mat horoscopes. Turns out I’m a dog and he’s a dragon. So here’s what our Chinese restaurant place mat horoscopes say:

Dog:  Loyal and honest, you work well with others. Generous yet stubborn and often selfish. Look to the Horse or Tiger. Watch out for Dragons.

Dragon:  You are eccentric and your life complex. You have a very passionate nature and abundant health. Marry a Monkey or Rat late in life. Avoid the Dog.

As I began to read these aloud to him across the table in our little booth, I noted that we are both explicitly warned to stay away from one another. I began to play up this incompatibility when he interjected: “Well, that settles it — we’re never going to China!”

And this illustrates a number of the things I love about him — he’s quick-witted and genuinely funny (sometimes), and he doesn’t take much of anything too seriously.

 


the grass is getting greener

I’ve been seeing a fellow for a bit, and it’s such that he’s met the children and things. Folks around me use the word “serious” when they learn of this. I don’t know whether it’s serious or not, only that I feel cared for and loved as close to fully as I’ve ever felt. And that’s certainly a nice feeling.

One of the ways he cares for me is by being helpful, and he comes by it quite naturally:  he helps make and serve dinner, refusing to begin eating until I sit down to join him; he has the sort of handy skills that are transforming my basement and garage to vastly more functional spaces; he plans to paint a room while I’m away for a few days.

“It sounds like this guy really likes you,” my girlfriends have said.

He recently told me that I should anticipate having the greenest grass on the block this season.

For anyone who’s actually seen my block in the summertime, that distinction will be difficult to achieve; the DINKs have it won hands down. I’ve mentioned this double-income, no-kids couple before. They are workhorses, spending hours of work nearly every weekend perfecting their patch of urban landscape. She works tirelessly to plant and keep gardens, while his singular concern is the grass.

He of the DINKs spent years helping her fix up her home. The only way to enjoy a return on his investment, he teased, was to marry her. While he presents a sometimes gruff demeanor to the world, she enjoys a full-on adoration I’ve yet to witness in another couple. He is lavish in his affections, and spends two or three vacation days cooking, cleaning and preparing for her birthday party each summer. She basks in it and is grateful, and I am quite sure he needs no more than that.

So, back to the conversation at the bar the other night, during which my boyfriend claimed my lawn would look like a golf course. I thought of the DINKs down the street, a realization dawned on me, and I smiled.

“What are you smirking about?” he asked.

“You’ve yet to say so, but you love me,” I replied knowingly.

“Yeah.”

“Why haven’t you said so before?” I asked.

“I didn’t know whether you wanted me to,” he replied.

Our conversation went on for some time after that, and I continued to chuckle about the love equation at which I’d arrived:  green grass = love.

“I don’t want you to think the grass is greener somewhere else,” he said before he kissed me goodnight.


early imprints

I didn’t mean to come back only to be absent again for nearly two weeks. Truth is I was a bit distracted by a funeral for a family friend last week, and it affected me perhaps more than I anticipated.

You see, the gentleman who passed was a contemporary of my father’s, the same age, and someone who was as close to me as an uncle for many of the formative years of my life. Several of those who stood up to talk at his funeral described him as unfailingly kind, loving, open and generous. And it dawned on me then that, while I thought he always treated me as special as a child (we joked about my being the only daughter he never had, because he sired only sons), he treated everyone else with the same kindness as he treated me.

I remember getting to ride in his Corvette as a young girl, occasional gifts and even calling him to borrow money as I was just beginning my adult life:  Too proud to call my own father, I asked for a loan of $500. He overnighted a check for $750 and then, after I’d paid back the first two payments of $250 each, refused to accept any more. He once loaned me a box truck from his business to move apartments. And his wife of 45 years once took me shopping and attempted to buy me a beautiful pink Angora sweater…at exactly the wrong point in my teens, when it would have been colossally uncool.

But those early memories made a big impression on me about success, having enough and what it all meant. I was reminded of how much I strive to be like him:  to provide for my family, while always being generous with what I can; to keep an open mind and heart; to live well and do good. Beyond the connection I shared with him, I am in awe of the 45 years he and his wife shared, and of how poised she was as she talked of their 45 years of partnership. It takes a gentle soul to achieve that…two gentle souls.

So I came home after that and tried to explain to my boyfriend of a few months how much this man had meant in my life and how much it meant be reminded of all those wonderful things about him, and I told him I wished that for my own life, too.

I wonder if it’s something we’ll embark on (or continue, I suppose, depending on how one views it) together?


a bit of a hiatus

It seems I’ve taken a bit of an inadvertent hiatus. You know how life gets:  one day you’re writing regularly and the next you decide to keep it zipped so as not to jinx something which ends up not working out anyway and then you meet someone else and the holidays are upon you and you keep thinking, “I really ought to blog about this,” and then you don’t get around to it because there are other priorities and you’re out of the habit and life just hurtles on at speeds you can’t seem to get used to…

So…apologies.

We’ve tons to catch up on. Promise. I will be better. I’ll tell you all about the douchey suburban guy and whatnot, and perhaps how, despite every relationship being a mixed bag of sorts, I’m really feeling quite happy and cared for just now.

I’ll wait for your applause to die down…

There.

Off to get my beauty sleep. Sweet dreams, dear readers! I’ve missed you, and I hope you’ve missed me, too.


shall I or shan’t I?

Over the weekend I spent a little time with a fellow I’ve been out with a few times. He is thoughtful, generous, fun, kind and clearly interested in me.

He texted while I was out running errands and asked me to stop by. So I did. He gave me a tour of his home. He played songs on his guitar. And as we were sitting together on the sofa, he started nibbling at my decolletage and saying, “Shall I take you to bed? I can’t decide. Hmmm…will I or won’t I? I’m not sure…”

I confess, it was amusing for a bit. And then I told him where it was:  “Listen, you can debate yourself all day long and it’s not going to have any influence whatever on what’s actually going to happen.”

“Oh? And what is going to happen?,” he asked.

“I’m going to go home and rake my leaves.” So I did.


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