October 24, 2006

The Flipped Lid: Three random frights (or a party in bisexuality)

Fright 1: Am I bisexual and what does disclosing this fact mean to you, Leo readers, and this column’s “hetero normativity”? Last weekend at a party Kris and I threw in honor of our recent (hetero normative) wedding, sexual identity became crucial in conversations on the stairwell leading to my bedroom, so to speak. Around midnight I mentioned bisexual scholarship to a friend/faculty member. I wondered about why more scholars don’t come out as bisexual, especially considering Composition’s identity-related scholarship. The reply led to a discussion about my (supposed) performed heterosexual identity in this column, juxtaposed with how my academic colleagues perceive me. The specific adjective thrown around was “edgy.” According to them I embody edginess, but this column hasn’t so much, especially as relates to sexual identity. This, of course, pissed me off. An aside: I’ve concluded that my (subconscious) performance of any kind of edginess says (especially to academic colleagues), considering my ex-stripper, Zappos-shopping (academics seem to generally distrust fashion), flirtatious, speaking-out self, says: I dare you to come close. Once someone comes close, though, she or he will learn that I love squirrels, camping and other soft things like fresh flowers in my house or watching Oprah. Similarly, with you dear LEO readers, I would likely not come out as bisexual for no contextual reason. We just don’t know each other well enough. In fact, I don’t know myself well enough. Specifically, before considering whether or not I would be bullied into addressing this “edgy” issue, I need to discuss my bisexuality: I’ve been sexually but not romantically intimate with women, and I’ve known fewer women that way than I have men. So, bisexuals, am I one of you? Back to the party in bisexuality: A few facts within Fright No. 1: 1) Most of us were drunk. 2) A few of us don’t remember this scene at all. 3) Two women disclosed their bisexuality that night, besides me (if I am bisexual). The unnamed out-lesbian faculty member who generated most of the heat around this discussion has been dubbed Dr. “White Hot,” as several women (and men) grad students find her attractive, straight or not. An indexical, playful (and ultimately innocent) sexual tension exists because we, including White Hot, want to be wanted by each other. So, rather than be bullied into sharing this fright with you, I chose to do what creative non-fiction writers do so well: Tell the story my way and to hell with everyone else. Have I portrayed a hetero normative persona here in LEO? Probably. Why? Because Kris was my fiancé, we did get married and now are wife and husband. While these are a normal heterosexual series of events, what reason would I have for adding, “Even though Kris is my husband, I have in the past harkened to the call of the siren vagina.” Shock value (at least purposefully wielded) is a tactic I left behind long ago. So, for my fun, attractive, argumentative, smart, drunk friends and colleagues, I end with this sentiment from a hot, cool, bi-sexual chick: “Bi-sexuality has been damned from both sides from the fucking beginning.” Fright 2: Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanitarium. One of the coolest distinguishing facts about growing up in Pleasure Ridge Park was living within a few miles of the Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanitarium. More than a decade ago, well past dark, I climbed the (closed) curvy, weedy concrete path that leads to the back of the building. I knew just enough about cameras to convince my (hetero normative alert) boyfriend’s band to take photos of them inside. I’d heard stories about property guard dogs and a tunnel where hearses drove in to get dead people, but we stalked up there anyway. I’d seen the building from Dixie Highway a thousand times. Touching the bricks and seeing old mirrors, wheelchairs and shredded drapes got my head going in a good, scary way. Around us in the dark we heard others running and screaming. These days, visitors need not trespass, which is kinda too bad. The building has its own historical preservation movement, including “donations” to go through the haunted house and completely booked longer tours held throughout the year: www.waverlyhillstbsanatorium.com/ (Non) Fright 3: Celebrate el dia de los muertos. We should all be more willing to celebrate lost loved ones and talk about death. Nothing need be scary about living with the fact of dying. Contact the writer at carriemichaelle@gmail.com