Mar 29, 2012

Book Review: Fancy Pants

Every so often, I set aside my endless reading lists and just browse at the library for something new and different. This book caught my eye with the playful cover and title, and I was intrigued to flip to the back cover and learn more.

Fancy Pants, by Cathy Marie Hake, is the story of Sydney Hathwell, a young girl from Britain who is sent to America, after her parents pass away, to meet a man she's been arranged to marry. She finds him very distasteful and schemes up a plan to escape and meet her long lost uncle living in Texas.

The plan involves disguising herself as a boy because her uncle assumed she was a boy and told her he had no need for women on his ranch, but he could use a male hand.

In some ways, this tale reminds me of a classic Shakespeare comedy. A whole cast of fun characters. A tricky ruse involving cross-dressing, what else? A twist. A surprise love story and everything working out for the best in the end. The distinct good vs. bad characters.

The female lead is whip smart and full of tenaciousness and is fun to follow along on the adventure.

It inevitably has some interesting commentary on the roles of male and female, stereotypes, limits...etc. as Sydney challenges all of the cultural norms for her gender. Especially because it's all set back in 1890 and she's accustomed to civilized British society, not the new American frontier of the Wild West.

Overall, an entertaining, heartwarming story with a happy ending. I'd recommend it!

There was only one slight drawback. About 3/4 into the book, all of the sudden I noticed the author start to very blatantly insert the Gospel. It was so strange and out of place with the rest of the story I did a double take and did a little research on Hake. Sure enough, she's a Christian novelist. There's nothing wrong with being a Christian novelist, but I found it a little tacky to just all of the sudden start working in scriptures into your character's mouths, such as how to be saved, and how we're all sinners. Honestly, it was more odd than anything else. A little disappointing that a writer can't just be a Christian, and write fun books without trying to covertly "save people" while they're enjoying an otherwise perfectly good story. You know what I mean?

Suddenly Sydney needed to become a Christian and pray the prayer of salvation before the book could be over and have a happy ending, even though nothing in her character development up to that point made me feel like she would feel something was lacking, or that she was a sinner, or whatever.

It makes me wonder if Hake works that into every single one of her books...

Oh well, it still didn't ruin it for me.

Has anyone else ever suddenly found preaching in the middle of a story? It's awkward. But I suppose every author has a right to tell whatever story they want to tell!

Mar 28, 2012

I'm Not the Man, and Neither is She

So... which one of you is the man?

Neither of us.

Why do people love their labels so much? It helps them make sense of things? Categorize them? Compare them with other similar things in our brains?

Before I fell in love with K, I had absolutely no knowledge that there were not only lesbians, but many different categories of lesbians. Butch, dyke, soft butch, femme, chapstick, gold star, lipstick... holy crap, there's a ton more than that, I just did a brief search online.

The point is, people have fun categorizing other people. And to some extent, I get that. It can be nice to belong to a "group". But in the end, I think labels just limit us.

I think a lot of times with gay relationships, people tend to look at the two individuals and try to determine who is the "man" and who is the "woman". Who's the femme, who's the dyke? We like to fit that "unusual" coupling into our usual roles of male and female. For gay men, it's "who's the wife? who does the cooking and the cleaning?" for gay women it's "who's the man? who fixes things and mows the lawn?"

First of all, those are stupid stereotypes for men and women to begin with. Both genders are perfectly capable of doing ANY of those things. So we need to get over those stereotypes too.

Second of all, what if neither of you is "the man"? What if you're both just smart, capable women?

The purpose of a gay relationship is not to try to mimic a straight relationship as closely as possible. It's not a sad attempt at creating the husband/wife dynamic. It's about striking a balance between two unique individuals who both have masculine and feminine characteristics (as all humans do, whether they like it or not), and becoming a beautiful combination of the best of you both.

Me and K are both 100% women, we don't wish we were men, neither of us is trying to be the man, and I love it that way. My other half is a female soul. We will never pretend we're something we're not. I'm perfectly content being purely who we are and finding the harmony between our unique selves.

And while we're on that topic, how about a stunning lesbian wedding?
A talented wedding designer & blogger in CA recently shared one of her wedding designs featured on Ruffled and I just love it! I thought I'd pass it on. Check out Ruffled for more beautiful weddings, and check out Tabitha's beautiful blog for everyday inspiration. Photos by Next Exit.

Mar 21, 2012

Before & After: My First Home

One year in my apartment! It's hard to believe. I love this space, and it's taken some time, but I really feel like I've made it my own. I remember when I first moved in, and I owned almost no furniture and I had blank canvas to fill. Luckily I had some generous friends and family, a steady income, and a little money saved. And I like projects :-)

Enough talk! Here's some fun befores and afters:

before bedroom
after bedroom
before livingroom
after livingroom
before dining room
after dining room
before kitchen
after kitchen
the other bedroom
my new lamp!!!

Mar 20, 2012

Dear Friend, I'm Gay....

For the very first time, I am "coming out" to someone in the form of a letter. I've come out over the phone, and mostly in person up to this point, but the situation has risen where I think the written word approach may just be the best option. Why?

This is someone I really care about, and I want her to know the truth about my life and my love. But because of her situation and personal beliefs, I know there is a good chance this will pose a threat to everything she believes in and be just a little hard for her to take in. She has a idealized picture of me in her mind, and this will change that. I think the letter will help me get everything out, and still allow her time and space to think and react how she needs to, without feeling pressured on the spot.

I've just sealed the envelope and I was nervous while I was writing it, just like I would be nervous telling her in person. But I am determined to send it, because the truth really does set us free. Keeping her in a little protected bubble means I can't really let her into my life. So I'm giving her a choice of knowing me or leaving me.

I gave the letter a lot of thought, and I've compiled a list for anyone else considering "coming out" in a letter:
  1. be direct, but gentle : chances are they will sense from the beginning of the letter something is coming, so just get to it! Don't slam it in their face "dear friend, I'm gay", but ease into it within the first paragraph with a little intro first about how you really care about them.
  2. don't get defensive : I think it's easy to start thinking about what they'll be thinking, and assuming all sorts of things on their behalf.... and then getting defensive. Don't do that in the letter! Let them think they're own thoughts without assuming they'll think the worst.
  3. be 100% yourself : don't get all formal or whatever, just be you so that they are assured that this is YOU, the you they've always known, speaking to them. Not someone who's a completely different person.
  4. let them know you're happy : if you're really happy and at peace with who you are, let them know that. If this is someone who really cares about you, they will care about that no matter what their beliefs are. Reassure them you're happy!
  5. take their point of view into consideration : try to look at the entire situation from their point of view. And when you're writing, put yourself in their shoes and imagine getting this news. Phrase things in a way that will make the most sense to them.
  6. avoid hot button words : labels can have really bad connotations in their mind, so avoid using those words in this initial shock. Using definitive terms like "lesbian" might freak them out and close them off to you more than you just saying "I fell in love with an amazing girl". Those aren't bad words, but to some people, it will scare them away before they have a chance to try and understand.
  7. make it personal : let them know that you're telling this to them because they are important to you and you care about them. Be vulnerable and honest and genuine and don't just make it all about you. Make the letter about you + them, and how sharing this part of you will better the relationship you have together.
P.S. I really recommend an actual handwritten letter for this type of thing, but I know not everyone really does that anymore. An email could work as well, I suppose. I just think a letter shows someone how important this is to you and makes it more personal. If it's important enough to buy a stamp for, it's pretty important!

Hope that's helpful to someone! Has anyone else every shared some tough news through a letter before? Have anything I should add to that list?

Mar 18, 2012

Back to Earth

I'm still floating back to earth from an amazing weekend away with my bug. Why do all good things have to come to an end? My heart is just so grateful for these times together. Tomorrow's back to work for me and back to school for her, but we have some beautiful memories to show for it.

So many choices!

We stopped at the CUTEST cupcake shop.

We finally narrowed it down to four picks.

We spent the weekend away at a beautiful cabin on this lake!

The most unbelievable weather! Mid-70s all weekend!

Her first catch of the weekend. We didn't eat them.

I made kabobs. :-)

K jamming.


Spring is here!

It's not a weekend getaway without Friends.

Her biggest catch.

Mar 10, 2012

Book Review: The Mermaid Chair

I recently finished Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair. I'm not sure if you've read one of her books before, but she a beautiful story teller. You can tell she relishes creating worlds & characters rich with history, spirituality and depth.

This is the second novel I've read of hers, the first was The Secret Life of Bees and I've also begun to read The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, which is her personal tale of spiritual awakening.

She definitely has some common threads throughout her work. The feminine divine. The discovery of your "deepest self". The impact of our histories and our parent's histories on our lives, how we are shaped and molded into who we are. Our connections with humanity, the earth, and the spiritual unknown. The union of our spirits and bodies.

It's all very deep and poetic and she weaves it beautifully into her character's journey. In this story, that was our heroine, Jessie.

It's her journey of self discovery as she is forced to return to her past. The past when her father died in a freak accident and her mother changed forever because of it. She returns to the island off the coast of South Carolina where she grew up and had run away from. She leaves her life as a comfortable house wife & mother and realizes she's so much bigger than the small place she's been keeping herself. The discoveries about the truth of the past, and about herself, leave her feeling like she's starting life all over again.

I guess it's kind of hard to explain without giving stuff away! (The description on Sue Monk Kidd's website is good.)

All in all, I'd recommend Sue Monk Kidd to anyone. But I'd have to say, I loved The Secret Life of Bees more than this one. Honestly, I had a little trouble to completely relating to this character, Jessie, because she's in her late 40s and married and a mother. And I'm not even close to those stages in my life right now. Parts of her I connected with, but definitely not all.  I guess I fit a little more closely to a girl coming of age, like Lily in Bees. At least I remember being there, because I have been.

Hope that makes sense.

Anyway, I've fallen a little behind in my reading, but I hope to catch up some more this weekend. Happy reading Saturday!

Mar 3, 2012

With Liberty and Justice...for Some of Us

"I want to know what it's be normal, to be accepted..." starts this video recently posted online and being passed around social media sites. It's a gay rights video that's part of a documentary project by this guy about GLBT people being treated like second class citizens. It's well done and very moving, kind of a rhythmic poetry, portraits of gay citizens who are longing to be treated as equals in our society.

I got excited when I saw a friend I went to Christian College with had posted it on his wall. "Signs of the world changing for the better!" I thought....and then I saw his comment about it and my heart sank. I was once again filled with anger, sadness and somewhat pity for him & his ignorance.

"America we are in uncharted territory. Where what is darkness is considered right. and 2 + 2 doesn't equal 4 if you don't want it to."

Just a little background first, this kid is about my age. We grew up in not so far away places in Indiana. And he recently got engaged. He posted all about it and is planning for their perfect life as husband and wife. I was genuinely happy for him when I saw it, "liking" things on facebook and sending congratulations when I saw their cute engagement video. I have no problem being happy for people who have found love and are pursuing their happiness.Why can't they do the same for me?

Let's break this one down for truth content:

"America we are in uncharted territory"
FALSE: We have, in fact, charted plenty of territory like this from the beginning of America's founding. America has a bad habit (as most groups of humans do) of stepping on the minority groups and trying to keep them down. What's worse, is that we habitually use our "faith" as justification for treating people like second class citizens. Should women vote? No! The Bible says they should not speak out, must obey her husband...etc.  Should slaves be freed? No! The Bible condones having slavery, as long as you treat them right you are allowed to own people.  Yes, we've moved past this nonsense. But not when it comes to gay people. At least gay people can vote, they just can't get married and be recognized by the federal government, they don't have protection from all discrimination under the law.

"Where what is darkness is considered right."
FALSE: What is darkness is considered darkness. And what is right is considered darkness, according to you. Darkness to me, and other compassionate, logical humans, would be something that is harming people. Like the child armies in the Sudan. Like the slaughtering of innocent people in Rwanda. Darkness is children (or anyone) being kidnapped and raped, or beaten. Darkness is bullying and discrimination against one another. What is right in the world: love, compassion, empathy, truth. A man loving another man, or a woman loving a woman... how does that fit in with darkness? It doesn't.

"and 2 + 2 doesn't equal 4 if you don't want it to"
TRUE: You're a little confused on this one. I actually do want people to recognize that 2 + 2 = 4. You are the one who doesn't seem to grasp this concept. Please see the following illustration for clarification.

I love math! Let's do a few more just for fun. 2 (you+your girl) = 2 (me+my girl). Love = Love. Glad we cleared that up, I'd hate for you to think I'm that bad at math. We all agree! 2+2 DOES equal 4. Now let's do something about it!


Do you realize what damage a little comment like that can do to someone? Of course you don't. You just fling stuff like that out there feeling good about yourself for being so bold and Christian and "standing up for your beliefs". You feel superior, being able to condemn that "darkness", while simultaneous enjoying and celebrating the love you've found. You are God's appointed messenger to the world, bearing witness for Christ through your righteous facebook posts. Good thing God has people like you, how else would he consistently make sure all those gay people know they're worthless?

Would it kill you to take a step back, realize you don't understand what it's like to be gay, realize you're not God and he didn't carve this one in stone for you - so maybe there's a chance you don't know exactly how he feels about it? And maybe, just maybe, try to be happy for someone else who's relationship doesn't look exactly like your own?

And next time you feel the need to post something on facebook to bear witness for Christ, try something along the lines of "love your neighbor as yourself" -  Jesus' words, and what he called the 2nd greatest commandment? Something that doesn't harm others, but builds them up.

America is headed into that territory. And I am confident justice will prevail. And even if you stay twisted up in your small, ignorant beliefs your whole life, the rest of the world will not. We are a country founded on the principals of freedom for its citizens, "with liberty and justice for all". And our laws cannot be based on the beliefs of a certain religious group when that takes away the liberty and justice of some.

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