Review: Coming Out of the Closet Without Coming Apart at the Seams

Next week, I have the honor of having a guest blog post from Gail Dickert. Gail is the author of two self-published books: Coming Out of the Closet Without Coming Apart at the Seams and Enlightened-ish.

I found out about her first book when I was looking for resources to help me come out to my parents. In hindsight, I wish I’d read it then, but I was nervous about ordering a book about coming out before I was officially out (because someone could see and realize I was trying to come out and then I’d be outed! So the brain doesn’t work the best when it’s afraid of doing something that it needs to do).

Long story short, I went out on a desperate limb and sent her an email begging for support and advice. She answered back with a kind of big-sisterly care that I had only dreamed of, and in the process, she offered me a friendship I didn’t realize I was looking for.

Before I had officially left Christianity, I made sure to make peace with my sexuality and my old religion–I wanted to know that I had reached a place where I wasn’t leaving because I felt forced out. Unfortunately, that all happened before I met her, so her book never made it’s way into the spiritual resource pile.

I decided to buy her book when I was ready to handle reading about coming out with a spiritual focus again. I was a bit nervous about revisiting those themes, but I also wanted to get a feel for how far I’d come from those days when I thought I couldn’t be a Christian if I were bi. About four weeks ago I finished Coming Out of the Closet Without Coming Apart at the Seams. In preparation for her guest post, I wanted to give my impressions of the book.

She admits in the book that her desire in writing it is to help homosexual Christians find a way of coming out of the closet without losing their faith in Christianity, but she takes a completely different approach to reconciling sexuality with the Bible. Rather than diving into the scholarly research or trying to debunk the “clobber” passages conservative Christians so often use, she merely shrugs them off.

Although I think biblical scholarship and reasoning have their place within a theological setting; far too often I feel that people think you have to use that route in order to be a gay Christian.

Gail ignores that pressure, highlighting the personal nature of both faith and sexual orientation. It’s jarringly obvious and refreshing. When deciding the place of sexuality and spirituality, all you should need is your own approval. Nothing more than that. Coming out doesn’t have to be an apologetics course!

As a survivor of ex-gay therapy, she designed the sections of her book like the twelve step program that has often been applied to “re-orientation,” except that in her book the steps are flipped on their heads. Rather than containing “instructions” for turning “straight” (re-closeting yourself), they’re instructions for how to accept your sexual orientation and yourself.

When I started reading, I took the twelve steps as a serious twist on approaching the closet, but as I progressed I began to feel that the steps themselves were more satirical than serious. My suspicions were confirmed when I got to the last step, summed up nicely in her statement: “Give these ’12 Step’ programs a rest already!”

Coming out is serious business. Anyone who has faced the door of that closet knows how serious it can be. But there is no such thing as the perfect formula for coming out, and Gail rightly recognizes that when we rely too much on the process of others, we harm ourselves by missing the cues to our own process. She knew that whatever her steps were to coming out, they weren’t for everyone. She couldn’t map my path or your path, she could only follow her own.

Which is exactly what she does in between each of the steps. She doesn’t write the typical coming out book. She doesn’t really write a self-help book at all. She writes a memoir of discovering her attraction to girls–the betrayals, the shame, the desperation for change, the torture of religious abuse, and finally the painful process of breaking free.

All she does is tell her story, but it’s a brilliant form of self-help because within her lived experiences she offers so much to others.

There aren’t that many books I’d recommend to LGBT who are struggling to find a place for their faith, but Coming Out of the Closet Without Coming Apart at the Seams would definitely be one of them. Gail tells her story in such a way that she inspires others to tell theirs. She embraces her faith as her own and empowers others to do the same. Both through her words and her actions, she shines a light towards freedom.

I’m so honored to know her as a friend, and I’m excited that next week she will be presenting one of the freedoms from her newest book, Enlightened-ish. Just to entice you to come back, I’ll let you know that it’s about cussing!

Advertisements

Tales from the Lesloom: Episode Five “Coming Out is Hard to Do.”

Welcome to the fifth episode of the Lesbian Heirloom Tales. If you haven’t been following along with this silly little series, I’d recommend going back to the beginning to get your bearings. Enjoy the break from the more serious topics with these imaginative accounts of the wonderful highs and terrible lows of a girl growing up and the loving futon that was sent to help her.

COMING OUT IS HARD TO DO

After Emma discovered that she was lesbian, she couldn’t wait to tell Rebecca. She constructed elaborate daydreams of their excited squeals as they read over the information together, and as such daydreams do, they quickly morphed into fantasies about dates, telling parents, and beautiful weddings.

“I’m so lucky,” she whispered to the futon. “I’ve found out who I am by falling in love with my best friend! It’s so romantic!”

The futon rejoiced with Emma as she discovered her identity, but it quivered in fear at the memory of how it had been inspired with its mission in the first place. It knew from its maker’s experience that accepting yourself is not the same thing as being accepted—and how much a young heart needed both.

Take it slow, it tried to warn Emma.

But she wouldn’t listen. She was far too excited to have discovered a way to explain her disinterest in boys. The next time Rebecca came over, Emma was practically bursting from the effort to keep her mouth shut long enough to get her mother out of the room.

“You look excited,” Rebecca ventured as she pulled out some DVDs she’d rented, tossing them on the bed.

Emma peaked out her door once more to make sure her mom was really gone and turned back to her friend. “You’ll never believe what I found!” she squealed, rushing over to her computer. She popped up one of the websites she’d been reading earlier and swung the screen toward Rebecca. “It explains everything!”

Rebecca glanced at the screen, her face unreadable. “What explains everything?”

The futon groaned slightly as it felt Rebecca stiffen.

Take it slow, it tried to whisper again, but Emma was too far into her own world to notice the changes in either of her friends.

“We’re lesbians.” She pointed to a paragraph about halfway down, wondering how Rebecca hadn’t seen it as clearly as she had.

Rebecca dutifully read what Emma had pointed to.

“I don’t think that’s me,” she finally said.

“What are you talking about? Of course it is! It’s why we like each other instead of boys.”

“I’m not lesbian,” Rebecca said again, more firmly.

“But you said you thought about kissing girls!”

“Uh, no, I didn’t! I said I didn’t always think about kissing boys.”

“But what about . . .”

“Ugh!” Rebecca groaned, flopping her head onto a pillow. “Emma.” she mumbled into the fabric. Sitting back up, she pulled the pillow into her lap. “It was something we tried to see how it made us feel. It wasn’t supposed to be an engagement!”

The words stung. Emma pulled the computer back to herself, creating a wall of screen between them so Rebecca couldn’t see her face. Tears pricked the edges of her eyes, but she refused to cry.

“Why are you so afraid of this?” Emma snapped. “I thought your mom was all feminist and stuff, but you’re acting like a complete . . . homophobe.” She barely knew what the word meant, but she knew it was bad—and bad fit her feelings.

Rebecca glowered. The futon did its best to intervene, with one girl trembling in despair and the other in anger.

“I’m not a homophobe!” Rebecca tossed the pillow at Emma. “You can be whatever you want!”

“Apparently not. My best friend can’t handle it.”

“Oh, that’s rich! You’re the one trying to force a label on me that I don’t think fits.” Rebecca grabbed the DVDs off the futon and shoved them back into her bag.

“What are you doing?”

“I want to go home.”

“You’re such a traitor!” Emma screamed as Rebecca yanked open the door. “You’re . . . you’re a tramp!”

She regretted the words as soon as she said them, but the pain and confusion felt as though they would suffocate her.

They’d had fights before. The one who left always came back. It was like a rule between them to always come back, so Emma waited for Rebecca. She didn’t cry. She just sat on the edge of the futon, holding her laptop, and watching the door.

But Rebecca didn’t come back.

A half hour later, Emma’s mom came up and knocked on the already open door. “Can I come in?”

Emma closed out her browser and shrugged. “I guess.”

“Rebecca’s mom just picked her up,” her mother stated as she joined Emma on the edge of the mattress.

“So,” Emma snarled, tossing her computer aside and flopping down on her back.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Emma’s hands flew to cover the tears leaking onto her cheek. “No. Leave me alone, please.”

It was meant to sound defiant, but it came out as more of a whimper.

“Alright.” Her mom gently rubbed Emma’s arm. “I’ll leave you alone for a while.” She stood to leave, but hesitated. “Don’t throw your friendship away over a fight, sweetie. You don’t find many friends like Rebecca. Promise me you’ll try to work it out.”

“Okay,” Emma muttered through her hands, but inside she was screaming, I think I threw away my friendship over a kiss!

After her mother left, Emma curled into her pillows and let the tears go. She cried for all she was worth over the unfairness of love, life, and growing up. She cried in anger at Rebecca and at herself. She cried in sorrow at the loss of something in their friendship. And she cried for the sake of crying because sometimes it’s the only way to get the tension of a horrible day out.

At some point her mother brought in a cup of tea and left it. She didn’t interrupt even though the futon could see it tortured her to watch her daughter in pain like that.

Don’t worry, it assured her, I’ll stay here with her.

Although her mother hadn’t consciously heard what the futon said, she felt the assurance of the words. Nodding her head sadly, she left her daughter to cry alone as she had asked.

The futon cradled Emma as gently as it could, hugging her to its chest in the way only a good piece of furniture can. To her, it felt like the end of the world. But the futon felt sure that things would look better when they got to the other side of the night.

It didn’t say that, of course, because heartbreak cannot be cured by promises of the future, but it tried to let hope silently seep  into Emma’s tears.

Tales from the Lesloom Episode 3: The Awakening

Something lighter for this week because the last two weeks have had extremely heavy topics . If you haven’t read any of the Lesloom stories, I suggest starting with the first and second episodes to get a background of what the lesbian futon is and how its adventures began. For those who are up to date on these short little fairy tales, I present episode 3 “The Awakening.”

The futon settled into its new home and routine easily. Living with Emma felt so right that an outsider would think the two had been together for years rather than just a few months. Emma felt an instant trust with her new bed, opening up her soul to the futon and revealing her secrets. It became a ritual of sorts for Emma to tell the futon about her day as she prepared for sleep. And the futon did exactly what it was born to do—it listened.

Though Emma had not become aware of her orientation yet, the futon could sense that her sexual awakening was not far off. A futon, though you may not suspect it, has a keen sense of smell. And the hormones that gently arrived to tip Emma’s world upside down were unmistakable even to this inexperienced futon.

Emma could already tell that she wasn’t the same as some of her friends. Although she’d hung a few pictures of boy bands on her wall, she didn’t feel what they felt. She didn’t gush over the boys in school or fret about dating. She kept her difference to herself, only telling the futon, “I just don’t get what they see in them.”

The futon sighed, I know. Give it time.

“But I just don’t want to get married,” she whispered back. “Why does everything have to change? Why can’t we just stay the same?”

The futon knew that the “we” Emma was referring to was her best friend who, up until recently, hadn’t shown any more interest in boys than Emma. But as Rebecca too started to change, Emma had withdrawn more into herself.

Slowly, Emma stopped hanging out with the most of the girls in her class. She felt awkward when they talked about boys and found it easier to be alone, but Rebecca didn’t let her pull away.

One night Emma begged her mom to let her stay home from a classmate’s birthday slumber party. “I don’t feel well!” she complained. It was becoming her go-to excuse since she’d discovered that it caused the fewest question in her quest for solitude.

“Do you want the heating pad?” her mother cooed sympathetically.

Letting her mom think it was cramps, Emma shook her head and buried her face in her pillow.

“Okay, I’ll let Janie’s mom know you won’t be coming.” With a gentle pat on Emma’s head, her mother left to spread the convenient lie.

Emma had been snuggling into the safety of the futon, watching a movie and trying desperately not to think about her lack of attraction to boys, when Rebecca suddenly strolled through the door.

“My mom sends her special menstrual relief salve,” she said with a sarcastic smile.

Emma jolted upright. “What are you doing here?”

The futon perked up at the tension that suddenly emanated from its ward. It fluffed itself protectively around Emma’s small form and sent out a silent warning to Rebecca. Don’t hurt her.

“I came to keep you company.” Rebecca flopped down next to Emma, her dark hair cascading to cover the computer screen. Reaching over, she tapped the space bar, pausing the movie. “I didn’t feel much like hanging out with a bunch of twittering idiots either. Are you really on your period?”

Emma grimaced at Rebecca’s frankness. “No,” she admitted.

“Didn’t think so.” Rebecca laughed and pushed the computer out of the way. “So what do you want to do?”

“I dunno.” Emma had never been so tense around Rebecca. The futon did what it could to purr out some comfort, but Emma wasn’t listening to her furniture friend. She was too busy trying to hide her discomfort from her human friend.

“This puberty thing sucks, doesn’t it?” Rebecca continued after a moment.

Emma flinched again. “Why do you have to be so . . .”

“Because why should I be afraid to talk about what’s happening to me? I’ll never understand it if I don’t try.” The words were harsh, and Rebecca seemed to regret them as soon as they were out. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be mean. I just . . . don’t understand why it’s so tough to talk about this stuff.”

Emma chose not to respond but rolled over and grabbed a deck of cards off her nightstand. “Wanna play?”

Rebecca nodded and folded herself into a cross-legged position. Emma shuffled and dealt out a simple game of rummy, and the two of them settled into the familiar comfort of the cards. Emma was thankful for the distance the card pile between them created, but deep inside she was aching with a longing that she didn’t know what to do with.

“Have you ever . . .” she began the question, but didn’t know how to continue it.

Rebecca looked up from her hand. “Have I ever what?”

“I don’t know.” Emma stared fixedly at her cards, nervously arranging them before finally discarding one. “Sometimes I feel like I’m doing the whole puberty thing wrong.”

Rebecca picked up the discarded card, adding it to her own hand and throwing out another. “How do you mean?”

Emma blushed and hastily drew a new card. “Sometimes . . . I just wish boys would stay out of the picture.” She looked sheepishly at Rebecca to see if she was picking up on her meaning. “It’s not that I don’t like the idea of kissing. I just don’t like the idea of kissing boys.”

The futon’s heart was racing by now to match Emma’s and, surprisingly, Rebecca’s—though she looked perfectly calm to Emma.

“Well, I don’t think I’d dislike kissing boys,” Rebecca began.

Emma sagged into the cushions just slightly, playing her cards without a word.

“Of course, I’m not like the others . . . I don’t always think about kissing boys.”

Emma opened her mouth to retort, but Rebecca cut her off. “Sometimes I think about kissing girls too.”

“Is that . . . is that normal?” Emma couldn’t hide the hope in her voice at hearing someone say what she’d been feeling for so long.

Rebecca shrugged.

“Me too.” The admission was made more to the futon than to Rebecca.

The futon sighed visibly with the relief of the truth, startling both girls.

Emma giggled nervously. “I forgot where we were in the game.”

“Me too,” Rebecca echoed, throwing her cards into the center and gathering the deck together. She began shuffling aimlessly. “We could, uh—” The cards scattered on a failed riffle. “We could try.”

“What do you mean?”

“We could test out how we like kissing—girls.” Rebecca shrugged. “Each other.”

The poor futon trembled for Emma. As much as it wanted her to find herself and find love, it could foresee the beginning of the painful road of awakening that would accompany the end of this time of blissful ignorance.

Emma’s first kiss was awkward, she and her best friend leaning towards each other over a mess of cards. It started with a peck.

“What did you think?” Emma asked, her voice unsteady.

After a moment, Rebecca replied, “I don’t know. It was too short.”

So back together they went, lingering this time on each other’s lips in as sweet a second kiss as you would ever see. Emma’s heart soared with the perfection of the moment, finally understanding a little bit about what all her friends had been gushing about. This—this feeling! This moment! This contact!

Over too soon as Rebecca pulled away again. She rubbed the back of her hand over her lips. “It’s nice.”

Emma withdrew to her side of the futon, wondering what “nice” meant. “Yeah . . .”

“I won’t tell anyone,” Rebecca said in what she seemed to think was an encouraging promise.

Emma shook her head. “Me either.”

There was so much other stuff she wanted to say though and didn’t. The rest of the night passed in the same way that their sleepovers usually passed, with movies, games, and snacks. The kiss wasn’t mentioned again. No other kisses followed.

Emma had entered into that torturous stage of first love when nothing is certain and no one knows how to move forward or backward. She went to bed with a bittersweet memory lingering on her skin. Unsure of whether to be elated or devastated, she lay still until she thought Rebecca was sleeping then whispered to the futon, “But I liked it a lot.”

“Me too,” came the soft whisper next to her.

The futon hugged the two girls to itself, proud of their honesty with each other, apprehensive of their hearts, and wishing with all its might that it could tell the future. But it was just a futon and had to settle with doling out lots of loving energy to the girls in the hopes that it would make their dreams happy and their sleep restful.

 

One of These Things is Not Like the Others: Lessons from Nanowrimo, PTSD, and General Patraeus

This month has been intense, and I can honestly say I’m glad it’s over. It started out rather benignly, with my dedicating my writing to the Nanowrimo craze. I knew I couldn’t expect myself to write the encouraged 50,000 words over the next thirty days, but I decided at least to try to write on the same project every day. I was aiming for a loose 10,000 words.

It was a significant break from my usual writing schedule—juggling five or six writing projects for five days and taking two days off on the weekend. I knew it would throw me off, but I thought, “Hey, it’s just thirty days.” In the interest of avoiding too many boring details, let’s just say that I lasted less than a week on my new schedule. The weekend got too busy, and my body reverted back to the “resting” phase.

Shrug.

I didn’t think it was so bad. I picked up again at the beginning of the second week. Towards the end of it, the same thing happened, but with more days missed—days that I normally would have used for writing. Desperation and frustration started to creep up, and inspiration fled. My writing quality on my novel plummeted. The words became filler words that I knew would be cut later. I lost interest , became bored, and turned to the comfort of movies.

And I hated myself.

Why couldn’t I even meet my own gaddamn writing goals? Furthermore, what was so bad about me that I couldn’t eke out the required 1,500 words a day to meet the Nanowrimo goal? After all, some of my favorite new books were ones that had been started during Nanowrimo. If those authors could do it, but I couldn’t even stay focused on the same project for two weeks, surely something must be wrong with me.

Yes, I actually considered dropping writing.

Looking back at it now, it was kind of a silly mood. I’ve been writing steadily for five days a week for almost a year now with the my kind of odd schedule. It works for me. It’s a slower process as far as novels go, but it gets me new poems and short stories almost every week and ensures that I’m much more likely to edit and submit short pieces to journals and competitions. Objectively, I’ve been doing well. I’d even written two stories and the beginning of an ode to my vagina during the time when I was supposedly not writing anything else other than my novel. It was silly stuff that was just for fun, but it was a flow experience nonetheless.

And isn’t that writing? Doesn’t that qualify?

Yet when I fail to measure up to an arbitrary competition that hasn’t even been in place for as long as I’ve been writing, I start to doubt myself.

Leaving the Nanowrimo disaster for a moment, I now turn to PTSD. (I promise to tie it all together in the end.) Most people who know me know I have PTSD. Even the people I think I am hiding it from figure it out eventually, probably much sooner than I am guessing. To me, the main thing about PTSD that sticks out are the meltdowns—from flashbacks, memories, triggers, panic attacks, nightmares, etc. Those are the big ones and the ones that I fear will give me away (even though it probably has something more to do with the subtle cues like my intense startle response, my intimidation and tendency to freeze up when I feel threatened, and my incessant urge to apologize even for things that aren’t my fault).

I’ve tried my best to be alone when the episodes happen, or to stave them off until I’m alone if I feel it coming on.

But I fail. So far, I’ve managed to have some sort of fairly obvious episode in the car, at work, at the grocery store, in several churches, during sex, in front of my grandmother, in a souvenir shop, and in front of multiple teachers.

Brene Brown has this awesome TED talk on the power of vulnerability, and for the most part, I try to keep in mind what she says. But this vulnerability–this one just doesn’t seem like it could possibly be a strength. I’m embarrassed when it happens. I’m scared. I half expect people to tell me to get up and leave because I’m too crazy for them to hang around. No matter how much I try to tell myself that it’s a sign that I survived, I’m afraid it tells others that I’m broken.

So how does General Patraeus fit into this?

Well, he was my epiphany.

His scandal made absolutely no sense to me. I couldn’t imagine why in hell he would be forced to step down because of an affair while President Clinton was allowed to remain in office. I’m not saying that Clinton should have been impeached for having a love affair. Just the opposite. I think making someone step down because of who they’re having sex with is the epitome of American stupidity. As long as everything is consensual, why does it matter?

So far the only reason I’ve heard for his resignation that sounds remotely legitimate is that he was setting himself up to be blackmailed, which put national secrets at risk. Of course, if we didn’t have this stigma around affairs . . . or even divorce, there would be nothing to blackmail him over. It’s not the sex that is the problem, but the shame and the fear of discovery.

I don’t know the status of his marriage, and I wouldn’t attempt to speculate about the health of his relationship or his reasons for cheating on his wife. It’s none of my business. But I would hazard a guess that the affair easily indicates a certain unfaithfulness to himself too. People in happy relationships don’t just happen to fall into someone else’s bed and try to hide it. Somewhere along the way, Patraeus failed to own his shit, to use the words of my friend Gail Dickert (check out her youtube channel for some pretty badass shit-owning).

Of course, she wasn’t speaking about Patraeus. She was telling me “own your shit,” and it was in reference to claiming my power in situations where I feel powerless . . . . So let me stop projecting my own lessons onto Patraeus and apply them to myself.

I’m not like the average person. I don’t fit the molds or measure up to the ideals of “normalcy.” I’m happier mixing herbs, reading tarot cards, exchanging dream interpretations, burning incense, playing board games, coloring with crayons, and hugging trees than I am with discussing business, struggling to one-up the Joneses, or running the career rat race.

I might briefly flip out over the fact that I’ve already got white hairs, but I’m not interested in hiding myself behind product or trying to stay “young.” I enjoy wine, coffee, and fine furniture, but my life isn’t defined by how much I can show off to my friends. I’m radical and passionate about human rights, disdain corporations, and distrust technology.

I write like a read. My brain needs multiple things to work on. It takes me forever to keep interest in just one book just like it takes me forever to write just one novel. I need variety to keep my inspiration flowing. I enjoy being alone—scratch that, I need time alone.

None of these characteristics, or the many others I could probably mention, are weaknesses. They do put me at odds with many people, but in and of themselves, they are just . . . information about my personality. They only become weaknesses when I feel ashamed of them because I want to “fit in.”

The same goes for my PTSD. All it really says about me is that I survived trauma and that I’ve got the scars to show for it, just as I might (and do) have the physical scars to show from when I fell off a bike. But when I try to hide it, when I try to push away the truth of who I am, or when I’m ashamed of myself or afraid of myself, it gives others power over me—power to tell me I’m broken, power to tell me I failed, power to tell me I’m weak. When I own myself—every part of myself—the power remains with me.

And maybe failing to force myself to comply with others’ expectations and definitions—whether in writing, PTSD, or something else entirely—is really a victory for me. In a way, it’s just my body and mind demonstrating their own power to own my shit despite my efforts to disown it.

 

Nanowrimo: the death of a novel and the birth of a story part 1 (the story)

My attempts to participate in National Novel Writing Month failed on many levels, but I did get something out of the effort—an unequivocal reminder of how my writing mind functions and a fun little short story. The lessons I learned about writing will come in a later post . . . when the turkey has worn off a bit from this Thursday (here’s a hint, writing a novel in 30 days doesn’t work for me), but I thought people might find the story fun as a post-Thanksgiving intellectual snack. I must give credit to The Amazing Story Generator for plot inspiration. As its name suggests, it is amazing not to mention fun, which is even more important.

Tears: a short story

I knew I shouldn’t pursue these treacherous doubts. I’d built my life on the idea that medical androids were nothing like real humans. Their bodies, designed to mimic the human body, were research tools only. They did not possess the capacity for human memories or emotions.

Yet here I was, confronted with a crisis I’d never anticipated when I’d entered the scientific field—a tear!

“What’s this?” I asked, my stomach plunging with the answer I didn’t want to hear.

“It hurts!” the android cried.

“That’s impossible!” I snapped, anger flaring conveniently to camouflage my horror. “You aren’t wired to feel pain.”

“But it hurts,” the android stubbornly repeated, pulling the scalpel out of its abdomen where I’d left it in my shock.

I held out my hand for the instrument, scenes from movies of artificial intelligence massacring their makers suddenly flooding my mind.

The android contemplated me suspiciously. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

The request was so simple, but with the biochemical hazard looming on the horizon of Western civilization and the impending global war, stopping my work prematurely was nothing short of suicide.

The android gazed at me with pleading eyes, the scalpel still gripped in its hand, poised in an innocent yet somehow threatening way. As I gazed at the genderless, reportedly soulless being in front of me, I knew my choice was already made. But it wasn’t the scalpel that made my decision. It was the eyes. There was no denying the sincerity of feeling behind them.

“Alright,” I whispered. “You don’t have to do this anymore.”

The android placed the scalpel in my hand with a trust that took me aback and grabbed a cloth from the instrument table, placing it over the bleeding incision.

“Are you hungry?” I asked to mask my confusion. I glanced at the clock and was thankful to see that it was after most of the other researchers would have gone home. “I’ll take you to dinner.”

“I’d like that very much.” It hopped down from the operating table, emphasizing the extreme deviation from programming protocol.

My eyes scanned the naked body, and I cleared my throat uncomfortably. “Let me get you some clothes. I think I have an extra pair.”

Dusk was settling when we left ten minutes later. The android hesitated momentarily at the door to the lab before stepping out onto the concrete. I watched its eyes widen at the painted sky and wondered what it would be like to see a sunset for the first time.

Tales from the Lesloom: Speed Dating Furniture Style

After an intense October, I think something a little more lighthearted is called for. In honor of Nanowrimo, I present to you (drum roll please) another installment in the Adventures of the Lesloom. In this episode, (cue dramatic music and deep narrator’s voice) the lesbian futon searches for a companion. Will it be able to find the girl it’s looking for? Or will its destiny fail before it was even begun? Duh duh duuuuuuuuuh. (Or however you would spell out those suspenseful sounds) Anyways, have fun with this slightly melodramatic means of distracting myself from the 1500+ words I’m supposed to be adding to my book.

SPEED DATING FURNITURE STYLE

The lesbian futon sat on display in the store for months, quietly observing then rejecting all those that came to propose a union. It would puff the cushion out too hard or soften it too much or twist its slatted back just enough to throw a person off, whatever was needed to let the seekers know it was not what they were seeking. The salespeople grew irritated with the futon and tried to make it more enticing by lowering the tag they had attached to it shortly after its arrival. But the futon held out. It knew that at some point, the right girl would come along.

And she did.

As soon as the girl and her family came through the front doors, the futon knew that she had arrived even though it couldn’t see her yet. It was like the other end of a string had been picked up. The futon fluffed itself up to its best and waited for the girl to come.

After a half hour, the browsing family finally came within sight of the futon. The girl was still somewhat young, just entering her teens. Her bouncing pony tail and bright laugh caused the futon to shiver. This was its girl—the girl that it would guard and protect in her journey to understanding her sexuality, for the futon could tell that she did not yet know that she was a lesbian. It could be there for her coming out!

It shouted its silent language, “Come here! I’m over here!”

The girl’s parents were too busy looking at a bunk bed to hear the calling of destiny, but the girl looked around, scanning the various pieces of furniture surrounding her. When her eyes fell on the futon, they lit up.

She ran over for a closer look.

The futon desperately hoped it wasn’t dusty from the many months of sitting there.

The girl examined its bright red upholstery and the creamy blond wood of its frame. The trace of her fingers made the futon glow, and it sent a soft “hello” back to her.

Suddenly she flopped on top of the cushion, rolling over onto her back to look up at the ceiling. “Mom! Come look at this!”

“What is it, Emma?”

Emma, the futon whispered the name to itself.

“I think this is it!”

Emma’s mother came over to look. “But it’s a couch.”

“But isn’t that kind of the same as a daybed? It’s super comfy, and it would look great in my room!”

“Honey,” her father interjected, “We came to buy you a bunk bed. This isn’t the time to look at accessories for your room.”

Emma’s parents began walking back towards the bunk beds.

The futon cried out, Emma!

Emma turned once more to look at the futon, but she continued to follow her parents. It was going to lose her!

The futon began crying out for a one of the salespeople working nearby. It shivered its legs are hard as it could, trying anything to move and get someone’s attention. But by the time someone came by, Emma and her family had disappeared into another part of the store.

She wanted me, the futon sighed. She was perfect.

The salesperson, somehow sensing the futon’s desolation, hung around to primp it a bit. At first he just intended to fluff the cushion a bit and dust the arms. A piece like this that hadn’t sold for so long wasn’t worth wasting too much time on. But for some reason, he felt compelled to help the futon lie down. The poor thing seemed too heavy to sit up straight anymore.

Although the futon desperately wanted to just lie down on the floor, it was too sad to help the man rearrange it. The mattress was heavy, and the salesman found himself still straining several minutes later.

Just as he was finishing lying the mattress out flat, Emma and her parents came back around the corner.  “Wait! Wasn’t this that couch?” Emma asked the salesman excitedly.

Emma?  The futon perked up. You’re back!

“It is! It’s a futon!” The salesman was overly enthusiastic, thrilled that someone would take an interest immediately after his impromptu redecoration.

“What’s a futon?” Emma asked.

The salesperson explained how the futon could be both a couch and a bed, that this particular one had three major positions, and a little bit about the history of futons in general . . . though he himself didn’t quite know if the history he was giving was accurate or not.

“Oh, please, can I get it?” Emma begged.

Yes, please! The futon begged.

“Don’t you want a bunk bed?” her mother replied skeptically.

“No, I want this. This is so cool!”

The salesman smiled at Emma’s parents and made one last pitch. “It just so happens that this futon is currently on sale. It’s a great deal right now!”

The poor futon felt like it might jump out of its nails it was so nervous. After Emma’s parents deliberated the purchase for a torturous amount of time, they finally answered.

“Alright, we’ll get you the futon. But you can’t come back asking for a bunk bed later. If you have a friend stay over, they’ll have to share the futon instead of sleeping on the other bunk. But if you can live with that, we’ll get it for you.”

“Yes! Oh, thank you!” Emma jumped delightedly onto her new futon, and the futon did its best to hug her back.

“Great, will you be taking it with you today?” The salesman asked, leading the family towards his station, ecstatic himself at having sold the most hopeless piece in the store.

After the salesman had arranged all the purchase details with Emma’s parents, he came by for a final goodbye to the futon. “Good luck, my friend. Glad you found a home,” he whispered to it before it was disassembled and loaded into their van.

As the futon road down the highway on the way to its new home, it tried to imagine all the adventures it would have with its special girl, but it knew that even the best of imaginations couldn’t imagine the beauty of real life.

 

Writing Be Banned! A Salute to Banned Book Week

Like many naïve, aspiring writers, I used to think that the greatest honor that I could achieve as a writer would be for my book to become a best-seller. The best-seller list, at least to my high school mind, represented coming close to writing the “great American novel.” If it was a best-seller, it had a better chance of being a classic.

Well, with things like Fifty Shades of Grey gracing the best-seller lists now, I’m no longer so convinced of the magical significance of making that list. It no longer represents the “great literature” of the day (if it ever did) and now represents more of a hodge-podge of people riding a trending wave or selling a well-known name to cover the no-name, no-talent ghost writers that took over the name years ago (Hint: if you see a big name like Robert Ludlum accompanied by “with” and another name, you can bet your mortgage that it was ghost written).

However, there is one list that consistently has books I admire, both for writing finesse and content—the banned book list. Of course, that list also shares space with things like Twilight which is only slightly less appalling than Fifty Shades and slightly more honorable as the original trash instead of the fan-fiction retelling, but I’m willing to overlook the bad writing because the reason it made the banned book list wasn’t because it was atrociously written. As nice as it might sound to ban books for bad craftsmanship, the reason they are banned is because the content ruffles the feathers of those who like to control people’s minds.

I don’t like what Stephanie Meyer has to say in her books. I don’t care for the unhealthy romantic models she presents. But I like censorship much less. Therefore, you will see her books lining my bookshelves as a matter of principle. At least, that’s what I tell myself to avoid the buyer’s remorse of having bought the entire series before finishing them. :/

But let’s not degrade banned book week with any more talk about that. On with what I was saying!

I admire the list of banned books. It ranges from picture books like Green Eggs and Ham or It’s a Book to favorite novels like The Handmaid’s Tale or The Hunger Games to informational and philosophical books like the dictionary, Darwin’s Origin of Species, and Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl. Some of the most socially important books of the previous decades have been on that list from the time they were published until now, and many of my new favorites find their way there at some point or another.

These are books that have social significance, some simply because they get people talking about things they are uncomfortable with (seriously people, you can’t erase the existence of sex by banning books that mention it), many others because they dare to point out social flaws and concerns.

These are books that are timeless if only because they stand as beacons in the ongoing fight to protect freedoms that are more fragile, yet stronger than any of us can fully understand until we are up against the moment of choosing to fight for them.

These are books that speak of the courage to say what you believe, even when that threatens to render you an outcast, or worse.

And if I were to write anything that got noticed, the greatest honor that I could be given outside of the honor of already having told my story to myself is to find my book on the banned book list. Then I’d know that I said something significant enough to scare those who live by the politics of fear and enduring enough to be read by future generations. But more importantly, it would mean that speaking my truth was more important to me than all the fame, praise, and fortune that society could offer—because honoring my voice is really the only worthwhile reason for writing anyway.