A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend

As you may or may not know, I am the kind of person who loves getting super stoked on books. Most of the time it entails me thinking about the book while biking to work: What will happen next? What is so-and-so’s motives for doing something so stupid? In the past two months, I’ve blown through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, the entire Pretty Little Liars series, and a slew of comic books and graphic novels. Nothing too deep, but books that have the power to monopolize my thoughts and make me want to stay home and read rather than hang out with friends.

I read Emily Horner’s A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend wanting a light summer read starring a queer lady, and that is exactly what I got. In fact, I camped out at Coffeehouse Five (it was too cold to hang out outside) and read the whole book in one day. I didn’t want to like it because my good friend Caitlin has been talking about writing a queer YA book about a girl who goes on a bike tour for quite a while, and I was secretly hoping that it wouldn’t be very good so Cait could write a better version. It turns out that I really enjoyed the book, and I still think Caitlin could write a great novel. So win-win.

The story is split into two different timelines, the then and now. The “then” story arc primarily consists of Cass dealing with her best friend Julia’s death. The two had previously planned a cross-country road trip from Illinois to California, but after Julia is suddenly killed in a car accident, Cass decides to go by herself to spread her dead BFF’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean. By bike.  In the present time, Julia (a self-described drama nerd) had been working on a script for a bloody ninja musical before she died, and her friends (all of whom are also drama nerds) decide to put on the play in her honor. Cass is the only non-theater person helping with the play and she has some serious struggles with belonging – even though she has a tight-knit friend circle, they are friends she met through Julia. When Julia dies, Cass wonders if Julia was the only tie she had to the people she has spent the past few years hanging out with.

Working on the play, she is forced to work with Heather, her arch-nemesis from middle school, the girl who called her out for being queer in front of the entire school and generally made her day-to-day a living hell. But she quickly discovers that Heather is not so one-dimensional as previously thought. Oh come on. I’m beating around the bush trying to not give anything away, but we all know Heather is gay. That is why she was such a homophobic bitch to Cass, obvs. Don’t worry – knowing that gem won’t ruin the rest of story for you.

I love a queer young adult novel. I kinda think it is a formula you can’t go wrong with, and I wish there were such awesome, positive and heartwarming books out there when I was in middle or high school. One of reasons I liked this book so much, though, was Cass’s use of a bike as her main mode of transportation. In the media, I feel like there is generally so much focus on driving and having a car, especially as a metaphor for escape and entrance to adulthood, while bikes are typically portrayed as babyish in movies. So to see Cass using a bike a way to escape her life and process her grief and become an adult was awesome. It made me want to go on bike tour and just be quiet with myself for awhile.

Love & Rockets

I almost forgot to mention that I wrote a piece for Gay League last month chronicling the relationship between Maggie and Hopey from Love & Rockets. Check it out! (just be warned, there are a lot of spoilers).

http://www.gayleague.com/wordpress/2010/04/27/maggie-hopey/

No Bones About It, episode 1: Lesbians in Comics

So my friend Cait and I made the first episode of what is sure to be a smash hit on the podcast scene, No Bones About It. Cait’s been wanting to make a podcast called No Bones About It for some time (mostly because it is the best name ever), and we’ve narrowed our focus to queer nerd stuff. In this episode, we tackle our favorite lesbians in comic books and realize that horse-lust is the WORST sexual identification. Ever.

Listen to it here at the No Bones About It site, or subscribe to our podcast at by clicking here.

Online NW

I’ll be giving a lightning talk at this year’s Online NW conference. We are using Ignite, which means I’ll have 20 slides that automatically advance after 15 seconds. I could’ve done with just a couple of slides, but this should be exciting…

Porky Piggin’ in Paris and More Adventures

Yesterday was the first day in a while that I’d had access to the internet, so I’m kinda behind a few days. Our final days in Paris were amazing, and consisted of seeing radical art and a man “Porky Piggin’ ” it down the street in front of Megh and I as we were sitting on a ledge, eating falafels. In case you aren’t familiar with the phrase, “Porky Piggin’ ” is when a person is wearing a shirt, but no pants or underwear. So the sights that evening were less than desirable.

Earlier, we had gone to the Pompideu (probably spelt horribly wrong), the contemporary art museum. To preface this, this was the one museum I really didn’t want to go to. I like creating art sometimes, but I’m not really into looking at it – I liked the Louvre, but was pretty bored at the Orsay (where I avoided nearly destroying a priceless painting – see last entry). But I love my lady and she loves art, so I decided to suffer through it. We were going to start on the 5th floor and see some Jackson Pollack and other dudes I don’t really care about, but stopped on the fourth floor at a huge plastered wedding dress covered in babies, guns, etc… Feminist art! We decided to stay on the Women Artists floor and were not disappointed. Guerrilla Girls, Yoko Ono, shocking performance art and crazy installation pieces – everything was exciting and amazing. One artist had created a dress made entirely of meat (which could be interpreted as commentary on the meat industry, aging, roles of women, etc.), and there were pics of her wearing the raw meat dress, as well as the dried meat dress on display. It was definitely one of the Paris highlights – maybe because I was not expecting to enjoy myself, but also because it was so inspiring.

Then it was off to the German countryside. We first went to Bacharach, which no one could understand when we would pronounce it (I guess its supposed to be “Ba-ha-rah” rather than like the American singer). It was a super small tourist town that is popular with Germans, and no one really spoke English. I got to try out my one year of German, which is actually enough to get my basic needs met, but not actually hold a conversation. We stayed at a youth hostel that was overrun with a horde of children screaming and running around the castle courtyard and searched in vain for vegetarian food. A hostel employee had told us that the free hostel dinner would have vegetarian options, but we didn’t really trust it. When we were at a lost, we finally headed back up the gigantic hill to the hostel and were amazed at a tofu pasta, soup, salad, and a bunch of other veggie buffet options. YES!

The next day, we rented bikes and biked up the Rhine to St. Goad, which was about an hour away. I got a sweet cruiser with coaster breaks, and I just want to give props to anyone who rides a cruiser. They are pretty sweet because you can sit back and enjoy the sights, but they are TOUGH to ride. Definitely no road bike. We went to this giant castle (apparently I can’t remember the names of anything that happened more than one day ago) that was the best preserved castle ruins I’ve ever seen. We then took a train to Rothenberg, which was an amazing wall-fortressed city that was totally preserved. It was super touristy, and it seemed like there were a ton of different languages being spoken. In fact, many shops even had signs in Japanese because there were so many Japanese tourists. Found good food, good deserts, and the walk around the castle wall was great.

Finally, we are now in Prague. I realized here that my Vans are not really cutting it, and my feet are kinda getting trashed. We’ve pretty much been walking for over a week straight, but no wonder my legs hurt all the time… We found an information kiosk at the train station, where a lady was smelling a bottle of alcohol. When Meghan asked if there was an ATM around, she said there were none (which I’m pretty sure she was lying about) then proceeded to ignore us. All around rude.

After eating at Clear Head (a delicious vegetarian restaurant) Meghan really wanted cake, so we decided to go to the fancy Art Noveu building near the Powder Tower. Rick Steves said the service was bad, but we just wanted cake and decided to suffer through it. After standing around for a few minutes, a man walked up to the register we were standing right next to. I asked him if we could sit down or needed to be seated. He mumbled something about twenty minutes (it was 10:25pm, maybe they were closing?) and walked away. What?! We saw a man rolling around the dessert cart and I desperately wanted to run up to him and ask for the cheesecake, but this was a really ritzy place and I was trying to be polite and proper. I made eye contact with a lady server, who just walked past us without saying anything. When she came back out a few minutes later, I stopped her to ask if we could just get some cake. She said, “I think they just left” in a pondering and kind of non-committal way, then wondered off to the patio. I poked my head outside to see her organizing silverwear. WTF!?! I think at this point Meghan and I were kind of riled up and starting shit talking the people pretty loudly as we left. We just wanted some god damn cake! Is that too much to ask for!? So if in Prague, avoid the pretty building with chandeliers – the wait staff are jerks.

European Vacation: Day One & Two

My partner and I flew into Zurich because it was so cheap and tried to hop on a train to Paris, only to find out they were all booked. Instead we had to hang around the mall-ish area of Zurich for a few hours and take a weird train with two stop overs (including a bus ride). We arrived in Paris around 11pm after two days of nearly non-stop travel. Here are the highlight so far:

1. I was hoping 17 Again would be the airplane movie, but alas, it was Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Started watching it, stopped after 10 minutes b/c it was so bad, then resumed for the final 20 minutes. And I still cried a little bit at the ending. Screw you, Matthew McConnoghy!!
2. Think I heard the ultimate European remix of Kellis’ “Milkshake” on the bus, followed by Britney Spear’s “Circus”.
3. Nicest French girl ever helped us discover the the bus we were looking for actually required us to take a train to catch the bus. Too bad the train station employees couldnt tell us that…
4. Aforementioned girl who saved our vacation from ruins (named Milan) chatted us up for most of the hour long ride. She is studying Aikido in Tokyo and was super chill.
5. Milan told us Japanese people think French people either don’t speak English or pretend not to. She seemed to think this was a stupid stereotype.
6. Bottled water tastes weird.
7. Croissant and espresso for breakfast.
8. Japanese people are right – It seems as though Milan is one of the few French people who speak English.
9. Totally staying in gay town. Just saw two dudes holding hands down the street. Yes!!
10. At the Orsay, I tripped on a weird curb thing that I GUESS is supposed to prevent you from touching the paintings and broke my fall with a Cezanne. So freaking lucky it didn’t break and I didn’t get caught / kicked out.

More to come.

SoN, the best show on television

South of Nowhere, I am obsessed with you. Basically, this is the first television show to have gay teens as the main characters, and I’m not talking about Marissa’s foray into lesbianism on The O.C. or the many other gay subplots, but as the main romantic relationship on which the show revolves around.

christiansouthhigh-thumb-1120x1052

When I finally got Meghan to watch an episode, she said that she never imagined seeing lesbians that look like them on television. I was like, “Yeah! It’s amazing that teens have awesome queer role models that aren’t all depressed and suicidal.” Then she said, “No. I mean they way they actually look.” She was talking about the new lesbian aesthetic. You know what I mean: Lesbians are HOT. A five years ago, lesbians weren’t really on TV at all unless they were a background character, and even then they were definitely not “normal”-looking. Now every show has a lesbian character and they are all hot, but not in the ways that actual lesbians think are hot, but stereotypical ways in which dudes would think are hot. Okay, I really want to write an essay on this, but I should really stick to SoN for now…

First, the good. The acting is actually pretty good. The show has explored race relations and racism, crazy homophobic parents, teen pregnancy, and the ever ubiquitous “love triangle”, or in some cases, the “love square”. I think what makes SoN unique is that because the show is centered around two queer ladies (awesome!), we don’t have to be hit over the head how hard it is to come out and all the other shit that is so cliché. Yes, homophobia and coming out is difficult and exciting and having a queer identity is important for Spencer, but it is not the only event happening in her life.

After the first episode, they still hadn’t explained how Clay, who is African American, was a part of the Carlin family, even though they all looked so corn-fed with their golden hair and blue eyes. Normally I think shows would try to clue viewers in right away to the reason, but they waited until it was essential for the plot. The Carlins insist they don’t see race, and that they just think of Clay as a part of the family (which is pretty damn problematic, as it erases his previous history and his current struggles). One of my favorite scenes is when Ashley tells the Carlins that the reason she likes them so much is that they are cool with different races, religions, and sexual orientations; In the next scene we see that mama Carlin is DEFINITELY not okay with Ashley being a heathen or a lesbian, so the statement about her being color-blind sorta takes on new meaning.

sonsnap

Secondly, Spencer’s process of coming out is not easy, but she is not isolated. She discovers a community of other lesbians, which I think is pretty rad. She’s not a token queer, but has agency, seeks out a community beyond her dysfunctional friends, and fights for more than tolerance.

Now for the bad:

Ashley’s outfits. Sweet Jesus. I know its warm in LA, but does she really need to wear belly shirts every day? While watching it with friends, someone was like, “What’s she going to do if it ever gets cold?”, and low and behold, the next scene was a night beach scene, replete with a belly-hoodie.

Fake lesbian kisses/embraces. Ugh.

The death of someone important, who I will wait to discuss until you have all had a chance to watch it.

Really, South of Nowhere is the best kind of bad TV. I welcome a hearty discussion about the show once you’ve watched it. Or if you want someone to watch it with, call me…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.