Friday, September 4, 2009

City Gates

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Same Sex Stares

While I'm (still) in grad school part-time, it's such a luxury to have time to read more than one book for pleasure in a row. That's mostly what I've done this week -- read.

*The Gate at the Stairs* was my treat of the year. I don't know that anything else will thrill me in the same way, i.e., through its cleverness and pathos....I adore that combo.

The book I just completed, *Same Sex in the City (So Your Prince Charming Is Really a Cinderella),* was anthropologically interesting because I'm a 44-year-old lesbian in a 17-year, monogamous relationship while the essayists in that book all were in their 20s and 30s, and still fundamentally figuring out how to find and recognize love. It also made me realize that not all that much has changed since I came out in the '80s. In fact, perhaps the only difference is that straightened, long hair has replaced what we called "big hair," which was gelled-up, squiggly-wavy long hair.

If I weren't a lesbian, *Same Sex...* would not have been as compelling, and if I weren't a Lorrie Moore fan, a story about -- spoiler alert -- a heterosexual couple in a troubled marriage and their adoption odyssey hardly would have attracted me. As it was, I was able to appreciate both books for what they gave me (Spoiler Alert: Don't read the rest of this if you don't want to know key plot-points of each book):

  • A yearning to write more, which I always feel after reading something great and/or something I relate to
  • A better understanding of mixed-race discrimination; the adoptee is half-Black, half-White
  • Some sympathy for today's lesbians, determining their happiest possible futures
  • Memories of my early-days of being out in my 20s, in Chicago
  • Delight from the rich word-play talent of Lorrie Moore
  • Recollections of the early days post-September 11th
  • Happy sense of familiarity during descriptions of Green Bay, supper clubs and other midwestern phenomena
  • Double appreciation for Pat -- with her Green Bay heritage and as the perfect solution to my 20s, 30s, 40s...forever-companionship-need
  • Gratitude for my Jewish heritage, as I think culturally -- and of course, this is just a generalization -- a disproportionate number of Jews express ourselves publically in writing, and that's perhaps why Lauren Levin's and Lauren Blitzer's *Same Sex* book got published, rather than just remaining a case of, "You know, we really ought to write a book..."
  • A better understanding of what it's like to be half-Jewish, half-Christian, since two of Moore's main characters were, and since Lauren Blitzer wrote that she was
  • A reminder that people of all classes struggle, e.g., one of the *Same Sex...* authors threw herself a giant coming-out party at a premier NYC hotel, and that did not mean she did not suffer any loneliness or was exempted from searching for love.

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