Friday, February 27, 2015

Confessions of a Sociable Hermit

by Jean Roberta

Writing this post has been a challenge. Maybe it’s because I always post after Annabeth, whose posts tend to express startling but authentic emotions in carefully-chosen words. How to follow that?

Connecting with other people has also been a challenge for me, although some of them (including my spouse, Mirtha, who has known me intimately for over 25 years) tell me I have a knack for it, especially at social gatherings. Small talk: I do that.

Maybe it’s because, according to some schools of astrology, I have a “cuspal” personality: born early in the sign of Virgo and therefore an introvert, I show traces of Leo, the performer of the zodiac. I do like performing, and therefore my long teaching career hasn’t felt like torture, as one of my fellow graduate students described it to me some time in the early 1980s.

This person was one of those with whom I didn’t really connect. I could sense her anguish at feeling pressured to perform for an audience of students when she only wanted to be a lifelong scholar doing research, and writing articles on literature. I wished I could have found a way for her to do that exclusively and get paid for it, but alas, I was not in charge of the Ivory Tower or any other corner of the world.

I understand that most people have a wound of some sort, whether hidden or openly displayed, and that I usually can’t help anyone else beyond acknowledging what they have shown me. In several cases, I’ve been aghast when the person I’ve been trying to console decides that their pain is my fault, or the fault of a whole demographic to which I belong (women, old women, mothers/parents, white folks, Americans by any definition, queers, feminists, leftists, the smart-ass, phony, intellectual class).

In too many cases, I have tried to move the earth while standing on it. An angry person in my life (my late ex-husband, each of my blood relatives, to various degrees) has demanded acknowledgement, an apology or some help from me. They have demanded that I make amends by confessing to something I didn’t do, as far as I know (which means that if I did it, I must be really delusional). They have pointed out how selfish, dishonest and unreasonable I am. To keep the peace, I have vaguely admitted that I have been self-centred, like all other people I have ever met. I have apologized for giving the wrong impression. This confession is never enough.

I suspect that after I have left this world, some of the people who thought they knew me will feel cheated: I have escaped without paying for my crimes, once again. They will still be in pain, and they will still believe I am the perpetrator. How could I get my work published, so many times, when they haven’t? How could I be relatively healthy when they aren’t? How did I hang onto a job that pays a living wage when so many others are chronically unemployed? Why am I not being roasted over a slow fire in Hell? (I assume that a fundamentalist Christian version of the afterlife for sinners is not real. I could get a rude awakening in my eternal sleep.)

In a recent guest appearance on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey television channel), Susan Sarandon tactfully discussed several of her failed past relationships by saying that some people, including herself, try in their innocent youth to overlook huge differences between themselves and their Significant Others, but such deal-breakers always destroy the relationship, sooner or later.

I had some great sex with men when I was younger, and I remember the thrilling discovery that this is one service that most men are happy to provide for women – and most of the men I knew were more generous and considerate in bed than anywhere else. Unfortunately, every live person has to get out of bed some time, and that was when the double-binds began closing in. If I didn’t keep a clean-enough apartment (or I wasn’t willing to clean the digs of the guy who had invited me in), I was considered a slob. If I immediately began cooking and cleaning, I was apparently trying to manipulate him into a suffocating domestic arrangement. If I was attending university, I was pretentious. And in any case, I was a girl, so in the eyes of a male observer, my plumbing gave me a kind of biological stupidity which I could never overcome.

If I had just had mind-blowing sex with my current partner, I was a pathological slut. And when the criticism began driving me away, I was told that I was fickle, unstable, prudish, frigid. And an ugly dog on whom the guy should never have wasted his time.

Like Susan Sarandon, I think I have developed some common sense re other people since I was young and unreasonably hopeful. I no longer expect to get along well with people who have nothing in common with me, and especially with those who express a grudge against my “type,” however they define it, and expect me to agree with them.

In the past few years, I have been overwhelmed by the compliments I get from anonymous students on the evaluation forms that are always handed out at the end of a semester. I am overwhelmed because – no matter how many compliments I’ve had from students before – I always find them irrational to some degree. Most of the courses I teach are mandatory for most students, and many of them have learned (are learning) English as adults. Many students dread the class, and with reason. I teach grammar and poetry, both of which are unpopular with undergraduates in general. Yet I have been told, over and over, that I am hugely popular with students. At the same time, I never feel a cool breeze from any of my colleagues, who sometimes invite me to lunch and ask for my advice. It seems I was born to be a star in a small corner of the sky.
-----------------------

Thursday, February 26, 2015

(Dis)Connection: Vignettes

by Annabeth Leong

"I want to lock you in the closet at my job and just keep you in there," he said as I fucked him.

It was our last time together, and we both knew it. The story doesn't need much detail to be clear. He wanted me in the way that makes a person willing to make grand romantic gestures. I wanted to return that feeling, but didn't. We fucked well, so we were doing that before I left for the airport.

This is the last time I'm going to ride this fantastic cock, I remember thinking. I tried to memorize every good place it touched inside me.

He kept talking, fantasizing out loud about what it would be like to prevent me from leaving him. I get off on that sort of fantasy sometimes, so everything began to feel amazing. We were in perfect accord, connected by a mutual vision of me, helpless, forced to live a life I couldn't make myself want on my own. I came hard.

Then I got up and the disconnection set in. For me, it was just a hot fantasy. It was a thing I could walk away from. For him, it was a sincerely felt wish.

***

I decided to make her my friend, and then I single-mindedly pursued her. "It's like romance," I told my male partner confidently, unperturbed, because at that time in my life I was in denial about the fact that the way I felt about certain women wasn't like romance—it was romance.

One night, I convinced her to come out with me. We walked to the playground in the dark and kicked off our shoes and climbed onto a structure made of metal rope. We clung to it beside each other, our bodies vibrating as the metal hummed in response to the breeze. I was so hungry to know every little thing she was willing to tell me about herself. I could feel myself taking her sentences in deep, pouring love all over them, and reflecting them back to her. We stayed out for hours before I finally drove her home.

Before she left town a few weeks later, she called me over to her apartment and gave me her shoe collection and a bottle of good vanilla. I bought books I thought she would like and mailed them to her new address. I sobbed inconsolably. I still wear her shoes, though they are just slightly too small for me and hurt my feet.

***

There is a sort of love that defeats the constant concern I feel for how others see me. The only thing that matters when I love that way is what that one loved person thinks. And so sometimes I feel safe from almost everything, exhilarated by the freedom.

He talked slowly and hated to be interrupted. I learned to accept five-minute pauses in conversation as he pondered. I didn't know how much of myself I normally hold back until I found myself loving him without reserve. He didn't like smoking, and one day I thought about how if I really loved him, the feeling ought to make me better. I took the cigarette out of my mouth and haven't smoked one since.

One day we were at dinner in the college cafeteria, and we were playing a silly game we had just dredged from the depths of our childhood memories. We made a pact not to break each other's gaze. The goal was to try to trick the other person into making a noise. With an absolutely straight face, he picked up his bowl of hot soup and slowly poured it straight into his lap, and I laughed harder than I ever had in my life.

When he told me eventually that we didn't share Christ in common and couldn't be friends anymore, I stared at him blankly, with a child's innocent lack of comprehension. The world could not be that wrong. It could not.

***

I didn't like her; I liked her best friend. Her best friend was a singer with a big voice who never fixed the pronouns when she sang covers of old blues songs. But this singer kept throwing me at her friend, telling me to ride with that other girl to the party, enticing me to go to that other girl's house, promising that she'd show up there eventually, leaving me waiting for hours.

But I would get bored sometimes and kiss the girl I didn't like. She asked me to pour candle wax on her back, then blow it cool. Ever accommodating, I said I would, and then I got curious and asked her to do it to me, too. One night, we did that together with a guy we knew from a local bar, stripped to our bras, burning each other and kissing and giggling. Later, we walked out into the night. I was so warm inside and outside that I barely felt the need to get dressed to go out to the street. The three of us held hands.

He showed up another day at the bar with roses for each of us, thinking we were great friends, or that we were together, and I ducked my head because I was there waiting for the singer, as usual.

***

I wooed him by writing a poem, but then he went away for the weekend and I fucked someone else, probably because at the time I didn't really know how to say no. So we broke up, and he wrote me a poem, and when I read it I felt shamed and humbled, because I had to admit that his poem was better.

***

When I miss her with the sharpest sting, I am thinking of the moment when we were saying goodbye after the first time we had lunch together. We were standing on the street next to her car, and all I wanted right then was to spend as much time with her as possible. I was afraid of humiliating myself, but I needed her to know, so I asked if we could do this again. Like, soon. Like, tomorrow.

That was stupid
, I thought. I was supposed to play it cool—pull out my smartphone and schedule something three weeks in advance. But the truth was, I would have canceled just about anything for another chance to be near her. And I wasn't busy tomorrow.

Her face wide open, she nodded at me with the sort of enthusiasm that adults rarely allow. I knew from her expression that she was with me all the way. We felt exactly the same about the lunch we'd had together.

I'll always hold that moment close, that experience of wanting in profound accord with someone else. Of being told yes in a way that wasn't just about lunch but also meant yes you are perfection and yes I think I maybe love you.

"Yeah," she said. "Let's do it."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It's Who You Know

 by Daddy X

                                     



Back in the mid-late 60s, working at a steel mill in eastern Pennsylvania, I became involved with the United Steelworkers Union. Even considering my young 23 years, there were guys who wanted me to run for shop steward.

I attended a union party one evening, thrown by a guy running for president of the local hall. Leaving late that night, with nobody else on the road, I stopped at a traffic light about a half-mile away. All of a sudden WHAM! Got plowed in the rear (not that—dirty mind) by someone who didn’t even see the signal, let alone my car. I wound up halfway through the intersection, shattered glass strewn over the road.

Once out of our respective cars, lo and behold, we knew each other. As a matter of fact, it was Harry—the guy who’d thrown the party.  

“Jesus- hi Daddy (not my real name—not yet :>) ” he said. “How are you? You okay?”

“I think so. How about you?”

“Just so you’re okay.”

“Man, didn’t you see me? The red light?”

“Guess not. Lighting a cigarette.”

He had bloodied his nose and teeth where his face had connected with the steering wheel. Nobody had seat belts in those days. Except for those like me who drove a Volvo. But a seat belt doesn’t do a damn thing for whiplash.

“What the fuck we gonna do?” I asked. “I’ve been drinking as much as you.”

“Lets not wait for the cops. That wouldn’t do either of us any good. We’d both get arrested.”

I agreed.  Luckily, our cars still ran.

Harry went on to win that election.

Long story short, he fixed the car, paid for my injuries and weeks out of work. I guess if I’d been greedy I could have made real hay of the situation, but instead decided to put it in the bank. Turns out he was the best possible person to have had an accident with. This guy had real connections. He was happy to get any and all my speeding tickets fixed.

Since I’d just bought a Triumph 650 motorcycle, he sure came in handy.

One day I received a heads-up that I was being investigated by local police. For weed. I even found out the name of the detective who’d been parked on my street. Yes, connections had served me well.

Not long after that … ahem … it was to my advantage to do a quick exit from the area. A good friend had just been busted, and the bullshit was getting too close to home. So Momma and I packed up and moved to San Francisco, where several of our friends had already gone to live as hippies in the Haight-Ashbury.

That’s when I was forced to understand how out in the weeds (no pun) one can get without connections. At the time, I’d lived all my life within a five square mile area. Over the years we meet and know people by immersion. Not so, dropped in a strange place with such diversity.   

San Francisco in 1968 had been overrun by people from all over the country and beyond. Flocking in for the high times. Contrary to what’s been said about hippies not wanting to work, the realists among us didn’t have such fantasies. Law of averages produces a certain number of realists, even in that community. Jobs proved few and far between. Nobody wanted to hire hippies.

Discouraged, I wrote the general foreman at the mill back in Pennsylvania, asking for my old job. I received a one-sentence reply: “There is absolutely no possibility of your future employment with US Steel.” Okay, so I had been part of union activities that had shut down a third of the mill. They were happy to be rid of me.  

Through a relative back east, I finally nailed a job repairing appliances for a national company with a branch in downtown SF. I don’t know what Momma and I would have done without that connection.

The longer we stayed in the bay area, the more people we met and came to know. Just works that way. I had three jobs on SF’s Kearny Street and met many influential San Franciscans.  Those connections still serve me well.

And we’re glad the foreman wouldn’t take me back.

And by the by, the Triumph, of course, is long gone. But I still have the helmet. It was painted by a late friend who also did the above portrait of me back in the 60s. Some connections manage to stick with us, no matter how far we roam.


                                  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Connecting...Gah.

by Suz deMello

Connecting... This is a tough one for me.

One of my first crushes--tall, smart and, alas, aloof.
Image public domain via Wikimedia Commons
I remarked in my last post that I have the emotional IQ of a dead salamander. Unfortunately, I tend to choose men with the EIQs of a dead and rotting salamander.

My first crushes were on Mr. Spock and Sherlock Holmes. What did they have in common? Tall, intellectual, aloof.

Some might think I am the same--like is attracted to like. But I can tell you that an attraction to aloof males is a recipe for heartbreak.

I'm still working my way through the painful aftermath of my most recent stupid choice. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm even reading a lot of online romantic advice: 3 Simple Explanations for Why You're Still Single (I know why. A broken heart will make a woman somewhat risk-averse); Specific Ways to Make Him Want Only You...  (Grow big boobs or have them surgically implanted); and the one that really irks me: 6 Simple Tricks to Crack the Man Code.

There's a code?!?!? Pardon the French, but Jesus fuck. Apparently men don't speak the same language even when it's English.

But the view that there are different love languages is optimistic. Some folks, like John Grey, think that men and women are from different planets.

Small wonder I can't connect.

I like to go deep. Casual sex bores me. I used to be into sportfucking, but grew
 Nevit Dilmen via Wikimedia Commons
beyond it, just as I outgrew my interests in bicycling, martial arts and ice hockey.

Recently, I've also noticed nomenclature issues and that social mores have changed. I was recently corresponding online with a guy and mentioned that I wanted a boyfriend. His reaction was one of horror: "you mentioned the B-word!!!"

I was like, "Well, Jeez, it's not like I'm planning to move in with you or walk up the aisle in a white dress any time soon."

People have gotten so weird about having a nice, steady relationship that includes good sex, an occasional dinner out, and interesting conversation. I don't know what the problem is. Trolling for sex is a giant PITA. Am I the only person around who hates dating? 

The Dating Swamp. Watch out for gators!
Image: Bert Kauffman via Wikimedia Commons
Dating, to me, is like a frustrating tour of local supermarkets in search of a product I just can't find. I guess if a person enjoys wading through a massive time sink, they'll love dating. For me? Not so much.

I'm really busy. I just don't have time to get cleaned up, do my hair and makeup, and waste an evening on some Bozo who mixes up good and well, or who doesn't know how to hold a fork correctly.

And don't get me started on social media. I get messages like this on FB from men I don't know:

How are you Demello? Hope you are doing fine. Thanks for accepting my friend request. Well, it was when my daughter was playing game on my FB page (farmville) when your profile suddenly pop up on the right down corner where is written "people you may know" i click on it, view it and decided to contact you to know you beyond your profile. You are gorgeous and it will be a privilege to introduce myself. I am from the states, but presently in Liverpool on a contract job here which am almost done with, I am an engineer who is into building constructions, I build houses, hospitals, bridges,roads...etc, I am self employed and I handle my job in contracts. Please tell me little about you if you don't mind.

I mean, WTF???? Did I ask for this guy's (ungrammatical) autobiography? And he can't tell that deMello is my last name, not my first? Crikey.

I have it on good authority that dating and mating were not always so difficult. According to a book I'm reading, Sex at Dawn, as higher primates we should all be enjoying active sex lives with...whoever. Whenever.

Whatever.

Bonobos are so casual about sex that
they'll munch a snack while banging.

Image by Rob Bixby via Wikimedia Commons
Such pronouncements leave those of us who are fairly picky about their partners a sense that we're abnormal. Supposedly we're biologically predestined to bang like bunnies, or maybe bonobos (which I've heard use group sex to solve conflicts rather than interpersonal violence. I have to say that's a smarter alternative).

Often I wish I could simply get rid of the urge to merge. I once asked a hypnotherapist to do just that. She smiled softly and told me the bad news: the drive to connect is intrinsic and can't be eliminated.

Damn.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Reaching Out

Sacchi Green

When I accept a “friend” request on Facebook, I tend to say either “Thanks for connecting,” or “Thanks for reaching out.” Both my sadly neglected Live Journal account and my only slightly neglected blog are titled “Reaching Out,” and so is my author topic on a smaller forum administered by a writer couple in New Zealand. I was reaching out for online connections well before there were such things as Live Journal or MySpace or Facebook, even so long ago that few if any editors and publishers would accept submissions by e-mail, so everything had to go through land mail, generally accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you wanted your manuscript returned, or a stamped, self-addressed post card if all you wanted back was a brief notice of acceptance or rejection. SSAE was the first writerly acronym I ever learned.

My first e-mail account wasn’t actually mine, but belonged to one of my sons, supplied by the university he attended. My first online group experience was on Genie, a site run by General Electric with “rooms” for shared-interest groups, in my case one occupied by readers and writers of science fiction and fantasy. It was intoxicating to be able to follow conversations between writers I admired and others I came to admire, and to even put in a comment of my own from time to time. Still more exciting was being able to post news of my own first few story acceptances, mostly to very new, very small presses, but one to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, which was, in those times, very well-known. (Her rather acerbic rejection letters were legendary, and folks would compare them for fun, but I never got an unkind word from her.) GE dropped that service after a few years, but two other such forums run by science fiction writers sprang up, and one still exists, though a shadow of its former self. These days the SFWA web site (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) theoretically fills that function, but we crotchety old folk miss the informal collegiality of the old forums, and even the frequent flame wars.

Speaking of old folk, I once read an article saying that in the early days of the Internet, women in their fifties were among the most avid new users, and I believe it. Women have usually been the ones responsible for keeping up with family and social connections, but there’s more to it than that. Women of a certain age, especially those finally getting some respite from the energy-consuming aspects of raising a family, can be desperate to expand their horizons, take part in the discourses of a wider world, and find a place among others who share their interests. Even, often, to find new close friends.

I certainly felt that way. I wasn’t exactly isolated before that, living and working in a college town, even keeping up with the genre I hoped to write in through books and magazines and printed newsletters and frequent Science Fiction/Fantasy conventions—my kids were big SF/F fans, too. But to be able to reach out to people across the world! To converse in not-quite-real-time, with a brief chance to edit your comments before clicking on send! (I’ve never been all that comfortable with phone conversations, though I certainly did my share of tying up the phone line—they were all land lines—as an adolescent.)

And then, when I began to write erotica, I discovered the delights of online pseudonymity, even though I never made much effort to conceal my everyday identity. Writing erotica, especially lesbian erotica, also connected me with more like-minded people than I could ever have met otherwise. Quite a few of those fellow writers have become close friends, even those I’ve never met ITF (In the Flesh, in case you’ve missed that particular acronym.) A few that I’ve met (very much ITF) have even introduced me to worlds like BDSM that I don’t fit into entirely well, but the experience has been invaluable as research.

But there’s more to reaching out, yearning to connect, than I can explain even to myself. It’s not a matter of anything lacking in “real life,” just a sense of how much more there is in the world. Most of my online contacts these days are with people who are also writers, especially those who hope to write for my anthologies, and a much smaller group of readers who like my work, but we discuss and compare and rant and joke about an endless variety of subjects in and outside of our own lives. I have friends in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Portugal, who feel closer than the neighbors on my (admittedly thinly settled) street. On public forums like Facebook I’m usually pretty careful not to get too personal in what I say about my family and myself, but when I really need to share my emotions—like when my granddaughter was born, or when my mother died—the outpouring of support warms something that might even be my soul. I support others in the same way when I can, and sometimes in other ways, when people I respect and value are having rough times.

Here at OGG, I find myself stretching beyond the limits I usually set for myself on public forums. I don’t quite know why, except that our topics tend to lead me in that direction, and I feel close to all of you who regularly post here. I know others read here, but unless they comment, they’re largely anonymous, so maybe I don’t think so much about what I should or shouldn’t say in front of them. Which isn’t to say that I don’t still have my areas of privacy, even minor secrecy, but this is a place where I reach out for connection more openly than anywhere else online, and I thank you all for being here for me.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Connections: My Fifteen Nanoseconds of Fame

Spencer Dryden

Our local newspaper has a reader generated section featuring a number of recurring themes. One of them is called "My Fifteen Nanoseconds of Fame". The theme is stories about readers' chance encounters with famous people. We Minnesotan's have a terrible inferiority complex so whenever we meet a famous person, it's a big deal.  Some years ago, I had an encounter with one of my intellectual heroes, William F. Buckley. The story of our meeting made the printed version of the "Best of the Bulletin Board". I retell it now for you amusement.
Back when I still wore suits and ties, I was in Washington DC doing some promotional work for an insurance association. I had mistakenly fallen into a leadership role which took a great deal of time I didn't have for initiatives that never paid dividends, personally, professionally or for the industry as a whole. With my business concluded, I took a cab to Washington National Airport - this was long before 911- it's called Regan National now.
At that time, the boarding gates were arranged in a semi-circle at the end of a long corridor.
Passengers from the half dozen gates shared a common gathering area. As I awaited for my flight to be called, I spotted William F. Buckley. I admired his writing and loved his old television program, "Firing Line". This was back when there were small "c" conservatives and William F. Buckley was the dean of that school of thought. I couldn't help myself. I approached him like a groupie, realizing that I could not offer one bit of wisdom to a man of his intellect. I simply said 'hello' and told him I was a great admirer. He was very gracious. If you remember how disheveled he looked on TV, you should have seen the real thing; rumpled suit, little blood stains on his collar from a bad shave, yellow teeth, blood shot eyes, threadbare overcoat and very blotchy skin. He looked like someone who I might see pan panhandling on a street corner.
 We exchanged a few pleasantries and I headed back to my area.
Later, when boarding, I was stunned to see Buckley being seated in first class. It was a non stop flight to Minneapolis. What on earth would Buckley be doing heading to such liberal country?
From my seat among the lumpen proletariat I saw Buckley reading a magazine. I wondered what it was. I assumed he simply knew everything. What did Buckley need to read? Whatever it was, I wanted a subscription.
When we arrived in Minneapolis, first class passengers de-planed first, so I lost sight of him. With the world's smallest bladder, I headed to the men's room immediately upon landing. Lo and behold who is at the urinal next to me but William F. Buckley. We exchanged a friendly acknowledgement. This time I asked him why he had come to Minnesota. Turns out he was the guest of the very liberal Hubert Humphrey Institute. Imagine that, liberals and conservatives used to be able to talk to each other.
We finished our business and went our separate ways. But to this day it's my claim that I am the only person I know who won a pissing contest with William F. Buckley.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

After Family Day

by Giselle Renarde

Monday was a holiday here in Ontario (and a few other provinces--I forget which ones).

Monday was Family Day.

When it first came into existence a couple years ago, I was down on Family Day.  It seemed like such a blah Conservative Government idea. Everything's about the family, with them. The rest of us don't matter.

It's kind of funny, being just one person. I have a family of origin, but I think I've lived alone long enough to qualify as a spinster/cat lady. It's the part I was born to play, baby!

Sure I've found the woman I want to be with until the day we die (simultaneously, I can only hope, because I don't want to face a world without her), but marriage isn't on my mind.

And no I don't want kids. Do you even know how much I enjoy sleeping? Sleeping is, like, three of my top five favourite pastimes. I'm not willing to give that up. Just let me have my bed and let me have my cats and I'm good.

God, I love my cats.

Giselle, preparing to fly off into the sunset...
Anyway, over the years my outlook on Family Day has changed. I willed it to change. I rejected the jaded view I started out with. I wanted to take a more benevolent outlook on this holiday, so I did.

You can change your mind just by wanting to. Such things are possible.

I re-envisioned Family Day as an inclusive event celebrating family in all its forms. Celebrating chosen family. Celebrating extended family and family of origin and friends and roommates and all the people we love and care for.

My girlfriend blew my mind the first time she told me I was family. I don't mean in a, "Hey, I was just charting my family tree and it turns out we're distant cousins" sort of way, although that would be hella kinky. 

Damn. Now I want to take up genealogy. I've always had a thing about cousins.

That's why this happened.
Sorry. I'm veering off course a little.

What Sweet meant was that family is about care and mutual support and knowing that person will ALWAYS exist in your life, in some way. Family is someone to whom you're inextricably bound. You can argue, you can disagree, you can even have "knock-down blowouts" as she calls them--those fights you have where you hurt each other deeply and you stew in resentment for days and you tell yourselves you'll never forgive each other--but you'll always come back to each other. Because you're part of each other.

That's family.

On Family Day, I wanted to blog about my kin. But then I spent the whole day with them and all our outdoor activities in the frigid 13-below-zero Canadian winter really tired me out.

So I didn't get to tell the world how much I love my mom and my siblings. I didn't get to tell anyone how awesome they are for claiming my girlfriend as one of their own, for embracing her with all their hearts, for never once questioning her gender identity or misgendering her when she wasn't around. They've welcomed her into our tribe so lovingly my eyes are filling with tears as I write this.

Family can be a beautiful thing. Maybe it does deserve a day of celebration after all.