Archive | April, 2012

My Coming out as a Lesbian Story

23 Apr

I suppose the key element of my growing up as a lesbian was the concept of ‘lying low’. I knew from around 14 years old that I was a lesbian, even though I knew I was ‘different’ from a very young age, when I wanted to be friends with the blokes and wear a bow tie – but I didn’t plan on letting anyone else know I was gay until I had escaped the oppressive exclusive all girls’ private school and the one-pub hick inbred town I grew up in, and ‘found a girlfriend’. Apart from all the conservatism around me, it seemed a bit pathetic – and, well, just not very thorough – to ‘come out’ without ever even having kissed a girl.
So I waited and waited and waited… I kept a scrapbook of Kate Winslet pictures – with whom I had become obsessed since seeing her in Heavenly Creatures – and wrote a diary every day about how alienated I felt and how disgusted everyone would be if they knew I was gay. It was also filled with questions about how you even knew if you were gay. I mean, I didn’t want to have sex with girls or eat them out – I just wanted to kiss them. Was that gay enough?

And I clung to any and all pop culture references i could find – which was hard in that small town, before the Internet. There were a few films on SBS, like ‘Go Fish’, some references in tv shows… but that was really all. A bit of gossip mag stuff about Madonna having a girlfriend, and rumours that some sitcom star in the US was a lesbian. But that was it – no role models, no peers, no way I could make that mental leap from being alone in a country town to having a settled life as a lesbian in the real world. I was scared. And there was no one I felt I could talk to.
I was determined to wait until the end of my final high school exams before I did anything about being a lesbian. Except for the fact I had a debilitating crush on a classmate. A convenient choice, because rumours were rife that she was a ‘lezza’. Accompanied by copious ‘ew’s and a titillated sense of scandal. She looked like Pamela Anderson but was sharp and smart and gorgeous and dangerous. Of course, as one of the smartest and most diligent students in our year, I was too shy to even talk to her, let alone do anything more. She starred in my daily diary but that was about it.

Finally, at age 18, a few weeks before the HSC – final high school exams – I couldn’t take it anymore; I got so miserable with my simmering secret identity that I broke down one day and told my mother. We cried together and she told me I would have a hard life. She wasn’t wrong. But I wish she’d lied.

I asked her not to tell anyone, but she secretly told my dad. She confessed later on but I had already tweaked when I saw the terrified look on his face one day when my grandmother was saying something homophobic. He kept looking at me like he wanted to protect me, all panicky; I was used to it, though – my exclusive private school education had provided me with daily training on combating the slings and arrows of overheard homophobia. I had learned to steel my face so as not to give anything away. But my insides weren’t yet made of steel.

So it stayed that way for a year or so until my sister tricked me into coming out to her; she asked me one day over a casual bowl of coffee at the Green Iguana in Newtown – Newtown! Finally! the Mecca of the lesbian! – whether I preferred Johnny Depp or Kate Winslet. Then my brother invited me out to lunch and over a chili basil chicken at Peppermint Thai in Newtown said in his understated country drawl, “So, Mum says you’re gay, Taz.”

And that was how it was with most people – they all knew I was a lesbian and had been just waiting for me to say it. Kind of embarrassing, really.

Next I came out to a couple of my best friends who were living in the UK at the time. I told them I was queer and that I understood if they didn’t want to be my friend anymore. They did, and said I was an idiot for thinking otherwise.

But then one of the friend’s mothers rang my mum to tell her I was a lesbian. Mum had the privilege of saying, “Yes, I know – I was the first person she told.” And that was my first taste of the world’s entitlement to intermeddle in the life of a lesbian. I can’t just ‘be’, for everything I do must be performed under the auspices of other well-meaning people who concern themselves with my conduct. Like the trusted friend spilling the beans to her mother, who immediately rang mine. Like governments, religions, societies, workplaces, strangers – they all have something to say about my being gay, even though I never asked them, don’t particularly care, and would rather just get on with it, as everyone else gets to do.
Still, I don’t recall my mother ringing my friend’s mother to intervene when I told her she was dating a violent coke dealer.

By this stage, all my friends now knew I was gay, said they had always known, and were fine about it all. But what I have never figured out is why they were such homophobes in my presence if they ‘knew I was a lesbian’ – they terrified me and prevented me from confiding in them. And before long, almost everyone I had gone to school with had had some kind of three-way or at least kissed a woman. Many of them had kissed more women than I had. I had never been a risk taker or an exhibitioinist, and it struck me that this was what their ‘experimental behaviour’ really was about. It wasn’t about their identity, it was about having a good time.

I also felt my school did not do enough to pave the way for me. The fact is, some people will end up being  gay or already know they are gay whilst at high school. Throughout my entire childhood and teens, it seemed everyone just supposed every person would be straight, including me. Why was this? Why not at least make statements like “some of you will be gay – and that’s fine”. We never once had a morning presentation at school given by a gay person saying, “I am gay – it’s ok, and some of you will be gay, which is ok too. If you need help, do this.” The issue was totally ignored by everyone in my life, until I was forced to break down in tears and confess it – with shame and fear.

I still have to come out fairly regularly – in work situations, to clients, to people in shops, to landlords or handymen or real estate agents. But now I am fully galvanized – inside and out. I am more certain in my identity and I certainly don’t feel fear or shame. At best it is pride and at worst a frustrated indignation with which I proclaim my gayness.

I am getting married in New York this year, as a fatigued advocate of marriage equality in Australia. I have finally reached that settled lesbian life I couldn’t even begin to imagine as a teen. And I think the world has changed for the better – or is that just me?

The importance of critical thinking

9 Apr

Faith is a wonderful thing. But it should be earned. There are some great paleo people out there, questioning. I respect that. Swallowing someone’s particular manifesto hook, line and sinker is a mistake. Everyone is different and all things do not necessarily work for all people. Keep this in mind.

This includes things like:

calories don’t count.
Safe starches
Gluten intolerance
High protein intake
Very low carb

Beware things taken to extreme or with no room for error.
Beware things that seem like a miracle cure. Everything takes some work.

Beware Martin Berkhan’s disordered cheesecake bingeing. Beware the anti-sugar crowd’s belief that fructose is the devil but you can eat as much glucose as you like. Beware scaremongering against vaccination. Beware those that encourage unlimited intake of fat and meat – and bacon. Beware those that think they are part of a Paleolithic tribe.

This is your life, not theirs.

I got where I am by critically evaluating the advice on offer. To do otherwise would be akin to the blind acceptance of the Conventional Wisdom.

Not everything espoused by Conventional Wisdom is wrong, by the way. Unfortunately it is tainted by vested interests.

As is paleo.

So before you crown the next paleo guru of Nazereth, ask what’s in it for them? And what’s in it for me?

Why do the goal posts keep moving? Why is there ever yet more to sell you?

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(source: http://austhink.com/critical/pages/teaching.html)

Birthday crack

9 Apr

I have mentioned my grandma’s yummy choccy cake elsewhere on this blog. It’s delicious. But more than that – who’s going to refuse a cake baked lovingly by an 83 year old?

We had a family get together the other week and grandma’s trusty cake made an appearance again.

And I was genuinely frightened by the single-minded focus and drive with which my 2 year old nephew devoured the thing. It was like an alien ship had temporarily taken over his body with the sole purpose of “eat cake”. Resistance was futile.

I don’t have kids and I challenge anyone without them to tell a parent what to do – just from observing my sister I know parenting is damn hard work! – so I’m not even going to go there.

Where I am going to go is the crazy
Power sugary crap seems to have over kids, seemingly innately. Even kids who don’t usually eat the stuff. Why does it taste so irresistible to them? What is the source of this inexplicable power? And I guess the most important question is – how do we deprogram them?

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(source: http://betweenthepagesblog.typepad.com/between-the-pages-blog/2010/08/resistance-is-futile-and-can-be-tasty—star-trek-borg-cakes.html)

Real Life: Paleo-au-no-no

3 Apr

When I first got ‘into’ paleo I was working part-time, had a lot of spare time to cook, shop, work out, prepare fiddly SAD-substitute foods and generally make the paleo life the be all and end all of my existence.

That’s when I started this blog.

Now I work full time.

Ain’t so easy. Especially with the long commute, limited time to prepare meals (breakfast on the go, lunch at work, often time constrained, starving after work, get home and have to prepare dinner), need to shop and plan meals and cook and clean and exercise and look after the dogs and …

 

Well, as you can see, the burner approach applies: You have 4 burners, and to be moderately successful, you can only have 3 alight. To be very successful, only 2. The burners are:

Health

Family

Work

Friends

I’d like to think I ‘cycle’ my burners – I cook the friends for a few weeks, then I cook work for a while, then go on a healthy binge of cooking good cookery, then I might even bung the family on the stove for a super burn-up of love.

But if I try to keep all these things on the boil at once… I’m the one that boils over, or burns out, or another like burner-y pun.

And so I have found with this paleo lark – Goddamn is it hard to be as strict with a more hectic lifestyle compared to the breezy days of paleo-obsessing and paleo-naval gazing.

During busier periods it feels like I don’t really care what is going on paleo-wise, as long as the weight stays off (which it has).

There is no doubt that I have taken away some extremely valuable lessons from paleo and implement them daily, but increasingly I find I have to apply a somewhat ‘pragmatic’ approach in order to get through the day.

I don’t know how mums like Nom Nom Paleo do it – working night shift and preparing gazillions of meals every day for a whole family.

I guess planning and preparation are the key, and as a friend of mine recently observed – a bigger fridge. It’s very very difficult to buy all those wonderful fresh ingredients, cook them up, and store them for later consumption in paleomergencies when your fridge is packed full to the brim with just the bare necessities.

Also, I find summer doesn’t lend itself to paleo cooking – you can’t just whip up a batch of stew and devour it gradually throughout the week, because your face melts off. Salads are great, but fresh ingredients don’t keep for an entire week so you need to shop more than once a week.

See, how it starts to get tricky?

Also, there’s something I like to refer to as ‘whimappetite’.

On Sunday afternoon it might seem like a good idea for Thursday’s dinner to be spaghetti bolognese (with zucchini spaghetti, of course), but what about when Thursday night rolls around and the last thing you feel like eating is a big sloppy warm mess of ragout? What about steak? Or burgers? Or Caesar salad? It kinda takes away from the joy food is meant to bring to you to be so regimented.

Of course the solution often ends up being: We eat out a lot more often. This can get expensive, unhealthy, and throw your lifestyle right out of whack. And of course, it means there is this looming prospect of frozen bolognese sauce and unused zucchinis, just waiting for their time in the sun.

So… how do you do it? How do you exert such microscopic control over everything you do and eat, whilst managing all the other aspects of your life?