Monday, January 22, 2007

Blog for Choice 2007

NARAL (or the National Abortion Rights Action League for those of you not in the know) has asked all bloggers to post a blog in honor of the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

So here I am, doing it....

They're asking people to write about why they're pro-choice. Most of you will probably stop reading right now. I don't know how well I'm gonna do on this one, so that may not be a bad idea. Most people don't like my political blogs anyhow.

So...leaving all personal experiences aside, because I already wrote about that a couple weeks ago. I'm just going to tell you fine folks why I'm pro-choice.

I had a professor tell me once that I had no idea what it meant to be a feminist because I had always lived in a world with Roe. While I thought that was sort of narrow-minded, I knew what she meant. I was pro-life for a long time because I had the freedom to be...I wasn't sexually active and didn't anticipate having sex till marriage. But life isn't always so cut and dry. Choosing not to have sex doesn't mean someone won't force you. And getting married doesn't mean you should have or will want to have children. It never occurred to me that I would have an unwanted pregnancy, because I lived a pretty sheltered life and didn't have much understanding of the world around me.

But the first time I waited for my period to start after I became sexually active, I knew I was pro-choice. Men will argue that they have a right to get involved in this fight because men have children too. But that's the thing. They don't. Men may help raise children. Men may be fathers. But they do not HAVE children.

The majority of our nation's lawmakers are men, yet men will never understand how it feels to know something could be growing inside you. Something that you do not want. It's like having your body invaded. For girls who become pregnant from rape, it's like being violated all over again.

Women have been terminating pregnancies for centuries. There are herbs that induce miscarriage. There are types of massage that induce miscarriage. And yes, there's the coat hanger and/or cleaning fluid method.

We hear more about coat hangers because that's what women resort to when they're desperate. And because it's taboo to speak frankly about a woman's body and reproductive capabilities and because education in these areas is so lacking, women often become desperate.

It is my belief that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. We should educate people about their bodies and about contraception so that it doesn't happen often. Not because I think a fetus's life is more important than a woman's, but because abortion isn't a simple decision for anyone. But it should be safe and legal so that women have a place to turn to when they cannot for whatever reason bring a child into the world.

Contrary to popular pro-life rhetoric, women don't just have abortions because they're selfish, sometimes it's the best thing to do for the woman AND her child.

I am pro-choice because I trust women to take make the right decisions for themselves and their bodies. No one knows what you're capable of but you, and no one should have a right to tell you you have to bring a life into the world because a condom broke, or you missed a pill, or some asshole didn't have the decency enough to listen when you said "No."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Maybe Time Really Does Heal All Wounds

Everyone's freshman year of college is tumultuous, but I feel like Karma owes me big after the Hell I went through during my last month of my first year at Colorado Christian University.

The first semester was great. I made a few good friends instantly, which I think is fairly typical of freshman experiences. Throw a bunch of kids together who are away from home for the first time and uncertain of their futures and they'll find some way to bond. That's how I met Debbie and Andrea. Debbie lived next door and although Andrea lived off campus, for all intents and purposes she lived downstairs with her friend Kim. At the end of my first semester I moved in with Debbie and when I returned from Christmas break I found out Andrea had moved on campus and into my apartment.

I remember getting back to campus after the break and walking in to find Andrea moving in. I was really excited about what the rest of my freshman year would bring and I couldn't wait to share it with my friends. Then on January 18th, five years ago tomorrow, actually, my life changed forever. I met my first love.

Admittedly, it was a little overly intense in the beginning. Well, actually the whole relationship was a bit over the top, but that's a whole different blog. To make a very long story very short, my friends turned on me at some unknown moment. I came home from Ron's apartment one day to find Debbie and Andrea waiting in my room. They told me they'd turned me in to the powers that be (or Resident Director, in CCU speak) for spending the night with Ron.

This was confusing on a number of levels, not the least of which that I didn't know it was actually against the rules. Things had been tense between Debbie, Andrea, and me for a while. We didn't go from best of friends to mortal enemies overnight. And although I blamed them for a really long time, in hindsight, i think we were all too immature to handle the effects of growing super close to people and then growing apart soon after.

I started to become a different person fairly quickly after leaving home, but the changes weren't dramatic until after I fell in love with a guy 5 years older than me. I've spent the better part of the last 2 years letting go of all the shit that my relationship with him did to me, but I never really tried to reflect on the wounds inflicted on me by friends until now. I didn't really have to deal with it, because I just stopped seeing Debbie and Andrea.

I spent one more semester at CCU after all the drama happened. The fall of my sophomore year was probably the loneliest time of my life. I was stuck at an institution that no longer welcomed me surrounded by people who had heard a variety of rumors about my personal life. And of course, that semester I had a class with Andrea.

During the first week of class she gave me a letter she'd written apologizing for not coming to me before turning me in and for not being fair. I accepted her apology, because...well...I didn't know what else to do and I wanted to put the whole thing behind me. After that we became tentative friends.

Through myspace, that great addiction of my generation, we've kept in touch over the last year or so. Our communication doesn't extend past blog comments or the occasional message, but knowing that she's within reach has always left me feeling torn. I find myself thinking of her in these really unfair terms. I haven't been able to see past this image I have of her standing across from me in my bedroom telling me that I was making a huge mistake with Ron and that she had told on me. Being in love was so exciting and so scary and all I really wanted was to feel like I could share that with my friends and be myself, but I couldn't because of the school we were at. And then in the end, it didn't matter that I didn't tell them what was going on because they made their own assumptions.

I still don't know why they handled things the way they did and I still think they made a really selfish, insensitive decision. But we were kids. Kids do silly things sometimes.

I know Debbie is in town somewhere, but I doubt she wants anything to do with me. I know she was really hurt by my not being around very much the semester I met Ron. I don't blame her for that. I totally ditched my friends for a guy, which is never the best way to handle anything. I wish I could say that I'm sorry.

Andrea apologized in the best way she could. I was still too hurt and bitter to really express to her how much she hurt me. It wasn't just about me getting in trouble. I had never experienced betrayal like that. I hope I never do again.

Now she's in California pursuing a career in music. I wish her the best of luck, I really do. Sometimes I listen to her music on myspace and her voice brings back the good times we had. Because up until the end we had a really good time together. I think that was why it hurt so much: I was blindsided. And that's stayed with me for so long that it wasn't until recently that I realized I wasn't hurt by it anymore. Even though I told Andrea 4.5 years ago that I forgave her, I don't think I really did until just now.

I hope someday I find a way to tell her.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Caution: This Door Swings Both Direction

One of the bloggers from Feministing did a review for Mother Jones on Jennifer Baumgardner's new book, Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics.

The book doesn't come out till next month, but I'm already excited to read what Baumgardner has to say about the ever-controversial topic of bi-sexual women. Reading the review, I was reminded of a conversation I had with photographer extraordinaire and all-around great gal Laurie Scavo a few months back when the subject of sexual orientation came up.

My father recently posed the question to me in multiple choice format "Colleen...your it A. Heterosexual, B. Not Heterosexual, C. A Combination of the Two, or D. You Don't Really Know Yet." My answer was not as direct as I wish it had been. My family is not the type to engage in open, supportive dialogue about sexuality (as you can probably tell by the aforementioned question format) and I didn't particularly feel like trying to start one at the time, so I said something like "It's a complicated question. More complicated than multiple choice answers allow and I don't want to get into it with you. But I do like boys." Total cop-out. This just goes to show that despite all my girl-power rhetoric, I'm still afraid of my parents.

The truth is, there's a reason I shy away from labels. Like the great Katz once said (though in regard to gender) should I "...let them fit me for a label that only half suits me?" Sexuality is not an either/or dichotomy, it exists on a spectrum with most people falling somewhere in between the two ends. I know plenty of gay men who get drunk and make out with girls and lots of lesbians who get a 7 year itch and run off to shag a man. So the "totally gay" category may not exist. I also know plenty of straight guys who have admitted to some homo-erotic experimentation in their youth and plenty of straight girls who aren't opposed to reaching 2nd base with one of their girlfriends (granted it's often for male attention, but come on gotta admit, it's kinda fun).

I never gave much thought to my own bi-sexual tendencies until my friend Stephanie pushed me up against the wall in an elevator and kissed me. I'd made out with girls before...even transcended the usual "drunk girl-on-girl action in a public place" barriers, once or twice at least. But that was the first time I'd ever had a sexual encounter with a woman that wasn't about anything going on around me. It was just about the two of us and what we were feeling. That night I experienced the beauty of real girl-on-girl lovin' and everything I knew about my sexual identity came crashing down around me in the arms of another woman.

I wish I'd been ready for what had happened. I'd honestly never considered anything happening between the two of us. I tend to miss what's right in front of my face and the whole situation was pretty obvious (we did meet in a women's studies class and all). The morning after our first night together I woke up so confused that I took a perfectly pleasant situation and made it awkward. That's what I'm good at: ruining the moment.

I was so insecure and so afraid of what the whole thing meant that I kept making things complicated between the two of us. She left at the end of January to go to Malta for a few months. It ended badly. The last time I saw her she came to a bar to celebrate my birthday and told me she loved me. She cried. I got angry. She left an apology on my voicemail the next day saying she's "just not good at saying goodbye". I meant to call her back but I forgot. The next time I saw her was 9 months later when she told me she'd met an English girl in Malta and had fallen in love.

There have been other girls since Stephanie, and I'm sure there will be more to come. But, she'll always be special because she was my first. Even if I fucked it up. If I start nullifying experiences cause I fucked them up then my whole life would suddenly be one big blank slate.

So, yes. Colleen likes girls. And Colleen likes boys. And Colleen likes boys who used to be girls and on occasion gets swoony for girls who used to be boys. I think this explains my adolescent fixation on Hanson.

But the word bi-sexual still pisses me off. I'm not equally attracted to men and women. I would wager to say I'm about 70% straight and 30% gay. And furthermore, I'm attracted to interesting people...whether they be male or female or some combination of the two is secondary to their personality and character. My friend Jake says that makes me special. I think it just makes me complicated.

For one thing, lesbian girls tend to distrust me because they think I'm just in a phase or following a trend or something. Straight guys either get too excited to hear about it which inevitably leads to a "Just because I like girls doesn't mean you can fuck me and my best friend at the same time" conversation. Or, they're surprisingly insecure and run away because they think I'll leave them for a girl, committing an unforgivable affront to their masculinity. It's tough. I'm only just getting used to being honest with myself, I'm still not sure how or when to be honest with other people.

I also hate that some of my friends objectify me now that they know I'm bisexual. While my closest friends love and support me for the unique being that I am, other friends...not so much. For example, New Years Eve I was at a party with a bunch of friends from My Brother's Bar. My friend Breanna was there and we had a thing once upon a time which managed to surface again for a night. We've always been cuddly with each other, largely because I am very much like a teddy bear, so we didn't think anything of sitting on each other's laps or with our arms around each other. I mean, it's not as if we were humping in the hallway or making out in the middle of the room or anything. Yet several of the men present made "I really like watchin' you two together...what's goin' on with you guys" remarks with lascivious grins plastered to their faces. I. Am. Not. A. Circus monkey.

There have also been occasions when to gain male attention, female friends of mine have gotten suddenly affectionate with me and even gone so far as to tell complete strangers that I am "into girls." Again. Not a circus monkey. And just because I'm attracted to a wide variety of people doesn't mean I'm attracted to everyone.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that being with a man and being with a woman are both really great, and completely different experiences. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Or maybe peaches and bananas is more appropriate. And now I wonder if I'll ever be satisfied with one person. Will I start to get restless after a certain amount of time in a relationship with one gender and start to miss being with the other? Will I ever be satisfied with a man again?

You see, one of the benefits of relationships with girls is that all the gender stereotyping I struggle with in relationships suddenly doesn't matter anymore. There's been this fantastic mutual respect and understanding in my romantic dealings with women that is so damn hard to find with men. I know it's possible, it's just rare. So do I date girls because it's easier to relate to them? Am I being fair to myself and my partners by doing so?

Sigh...when did this all get so confusing?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Why I Hate Dating (or How That D in Chemistry is Still Haunting Me)

As my friends well know, I have a disconcerting tendancy to get bored and troll craigslist personals ads. Occasionally I'll post one of my own, just to see what kind of responses I get. I posted an ad a while back hoping for something to break up the monotony of my life.

So the responses flooded in, I wrote to a few of them and now, a month later I'm still in contact with 4. One of them is moving here from Georgia in a couple months and we're keeping in touch so he has someone to show him around the city. No romantic potential. One I had lunch with a couple weeks ago and decided during the course of the meal that we should be friends. Again, no romantic potential. Guy number 3, I've been on a couple of dates with...things seem to be going well, I'm intrigued by what could come if it. The last of the remaining suitors I met last night.

After meeting #3, I honestly didn't intend to meet anyone else. I have no desire to over-complicate my life, but #4 called me over the weekend and I was drunk and chatty, so we had a fairly long conversation. It was genuinely great talking to him. He had plenty of interesting things to say and I felt like I was talking to someone who respected my opinions and treated me as an equal. So I agreed to go out with him. I decided afterwards that I should probably cancel, but alas, I forgot to do it, and having no good excuse I didn't have the heart to say no.

So we had coffee and things were going well and I wasn't particularly interested in him, but we seemed very compatible. It's not that he's unattractive, he's totally cute, I just wasn't feeling it. I didn't know if he was interested in me or even interested in a relationship, so I didn't stress about it. We closed the coffee shop and ended up sitting on my stoop talking for a couple of hours. When I got cold, I told him I needed to go inside, but if he wanted to keep hanging out he could come up.

Big. Fucking. Mistake.

As my dear Emily so eloquently put it, "I realize 'hey, do you wanna come up' means something on TV, but in real life, it usually means exactly what is said."

So we walk in the door and sit on the couch and suddenly he's kissing me, and I didn't know what to do and it'd been a while since I got any notable make-out time in, so I went along with it. This goes on for a while and I try to dissuade him and eventually things settle down and we're just sitting and talking again. When he gets up to leave he asks if I want to get together this weekend.

Ugh. The post-makeout endorphins were saying "sure, a little more of this can't hurt" but my head was saying "one more night like this and things are gonna get messy." So I say, "I'll have to check my schedule" and he leaves.

My weekends aren't particularly structured, but there are patterns I've fallen into in the last few months. Wake up Saturday, go to Fluid, go to Christy's, get drunk watching Buffy, go home. Sunday, get up for brunch with the girls, go to Christy's, back home at a reasonable hour. These are patterns I like. A lot. I don't want to give them up...not for making out with a boy. Especially one I'm not sure I really like.

And then there's #3, who I'm still not sure about (definite potential for misogynist assheadedness), but I'm interested enough to keep seeing it through.

The problem here is Chemistry. I've got it with #3, don't got it with #4, but #4 seems to think we have something...I could tell by the mushy puppy looks he gave me (which were cute and ego-boosting, I gotta tell ya....but all in all, kinda frightening)

And this is just so typical of my life for the last few years.

I'm beginning to think that most people settle. I know that sounds pretty cynical, but I really think it's true. Everyone dreams of feeling those fireworks with someone, but how often do we get that? We chalk it up to fairy tale nonsense and pick someone sensible. Someone compatible. A situation that may be good, but is never great. We sacrifice passion for companionship so that we can finish off that checklist: Married by 30. Kids by 35. Soul-less republican yuppie by 38.

So here I am, on the verge of my 24th year, craving romantic intimacy and always coming up short. How do I know I'm coming up short? Because I refuse to give up my Saturdays getting drunk and watching Buffy. Because I'd rather sit at Fluid on the weekends, talking to Christy while she works than make plans with some guy I have half-assed feelings for. Because even though I remember how great lazy Sunday mornings in the arms of your lover can be, I'd rather be shooting the shit with my girlfriends at Sam's over a plate of Chile Rellenos and Eggs.

In my heart, no, not my heart. In my soul, I know that someday I'll meet my other. Someone who really understands me. Someone who excites me enough to balance my friend life with my love life. I'm not descending into some shmoopsy-poo-there's-one-person-for-every-one rhetoric. I don't believe that. I'm sure there are lots of people with whom I could be happy.

But, I'm too young and idealistic to settle for something less than greatness. And I really hope that's something I never grow out of.

Monday, January 8, 2007

The Personal Politics of Baby Killing

Georgia has proposed an abortion ban similar to the one that was defeated by South Dakota voters in November '06. I would write out all my feelings about the bill, but I've decided to let you fine folks just read it for yourself

Aside from the outrage I felt at many of the gross misrepresentations in this piece of legislation (i.e. the idea that we KNOW life begins at conception, that abortion contradicts feminist values, and that the economy is suffering as a result of abortion), there were a few points that struck a chord with me.

Let me say first and foremost, that I question the statistics presented about post-procedure psychological trauma. I hesitate to believe these statistics due largely to the fact that no sources are cited and I doubt the framers of this legislation looked for objective studies. I have encountered many women who have had abortions and not turned into baby-hallucinating basket cases afterwards. To claim that most women suffer these kind of extreme emotional repercussions is a sweeping generalization.

And contrary to popular pro-life belief, not all women who support abortion are thrilled with the idea of heading to a clinic to terminate a pregnancy. But sometimes it happens, despite careful planning.

That's how it happened to me.

A few years ago I discovered that I was pregnant and had no where to turn. I could't tell the father: in a moment of extreme selfish ass-headedness (extreme even for him) he told me he'd rather I "take care of it" if it ever happened. Take care of it and leave him blissfully ignorant, of course. I considered telling him just for spite, but I knew it would ultimately make things harder for me so I kept it to myself. I didn't have anyone to talk to or any shoulders to cry on because I was at a point in my life where I didn't have many people to trust, and the information about my pregnancy and decision to terminate would have made several areas of my life more difficult.

I weighed my options and knew that abortion was my only realistic choice. I had no way to support myself, much less a child, and I couldn't in good conscience bring a life into the world and abandon it for someone else to take care of. So I went the only place I knew to go: my friendly, neighborhood Planned Parenthood.

Contrary to what anti-choice propaganda tells you, they were good to me there. They didn't pressure me, they gave me plenty of information to help me make my decision and they provided support for me when I had no one else in my life that I trusted.

Because my decision was my own, because I was sure of what I wanted to do and determined to do what was best for me (and what I still believe was best for my baby), I had a regret-free abortion. Do I still think about it? Yes, sometimes I do. Am I sad? A little, but only sad that I got pregnant at such a bad time.

I survived the whole scenario relatively unscathed, but I know that many are not so lucky. One of the problems with the pro-choice movement today is that we are so busy arguing that abortion must be an option for women that we neglect to see the women around us who struggle with the decision they made or are making to terminate a pregnancy.

Acknowledging that it's a painful decision is not the same thing as saying it's the wrong one. We shouldn't be afraid to help our wounded sisters, yet we've left them to find support from the pro-life movement. Where are our post-abortion support groups? Where do we go to find solidarity? Where can we talk about our feelings about abortion after we've had one? Where do we turn when emotional consequences manifest themselves? We shouldn't be forced to turn to the pro-lifers. Not to the people who will beat us down and tell us we need to be forgiven.

We need to take care of these women within our own community. We need to tell them it's ok that they terminated their pregnancies and it's ok if they don't feel strong or empowered about it. In addition, we need to be there before the abortion. No woman should ever have to go it alone like I did. No woman should have to march down clinic stairs by herself while strangers call her a murderer. We need to find a way to reach out and we need to understand that ignoring the complexity of abortion doesn't help our fight: it hurts the women who get caught in the cross-fire between the pro-choice and pro-life movements.

With the Georgia legislature proposing an abortion ban and the nation lying in wait to see what the Supreme Court will do if/when someone challenges Roe v. Wade, this is the perfect time for the pro-choice movement to be honest about the consequences of abortion while strengthening the fight to keep it safe and legal.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

The I in Community

I've been one of the lucky few in Denver who has had no reason to shovel snow in the past few weeks. I no longer own a car, which eliminates the need to shovel parking spaces or drive ways and I'm a renter, so my property manager takes care of the entry-ways to my building.

But today, for the first time all winter, I picked up a shovel to do some damage control on the rooftop of the building of my friends Christy and Sarah. Our pal Ian came along to help out with the manual labor. I'm not sure why I volunteered except that it was the right thing to do. There was a rather daunting task at hand, one that I knew would be easier for my friends if they had some help, and my only plan for the afternoon was to spend time with them.

Christy and Sarah live in a building with about 10 other condos. Everyone pays HOA dues and everyone is expected to pitch in with these types of building related chores. The problem is, everybody doesn't help: Christy and Sarah have done most of the shoveling. It might be understandable that no one else has pitched in if the girls had just taken the responsibility upon themselves when the first winter storm hit the city, but when the blizzard of '06 struck Denver, Christy and Sarah were in Tahiti. They returned to find the front steps covered in about 4 inches of snow and ice and the back parking lot barely drive-able because no one took the initiative to look out for everyone else's safety.

I made a comment today that I thought it funny that the two girls from Mississippi were the ones to get out and battle the snow accumulation to keep the roof from collapsing in on everyone. Sarah turned to me and said "It's because the girls from Mississippi are the only ones with a sense of community. And that has nothing to do with where we come from."

It got me thinking. What communities do I belong to? What responsiblity do I have to my community? What responsibility does my community have to me?

While reflecting on these questions I realized that they each have multiple answers. I belong to many communites: my apartment building, my neighborhood, my city, my state, my country, and even a larger global community.

Most people have a basic understanding of how to be a good citizen, a good neighbor, or a good friend. But how often do we live it? Do we invest energy into those around us or do we use them to energize us?

So much of what is wrong in our nation and our world could be solved with a little unity--a little community. Rather than isolating ourselves from the people who live with us, beside us, and around us, perhaps we should reach out and give a little back.

"There is no I in team" we've been told, but there is an I in community. And the truth is, to accomplish anything, we must all sacrifice and focus our energies in the same direction. We'll never achieve peace or prosperity or even a snow-less rooftop unless we each give of ourselves and stand side-by-side as a strong, unified force.

A Belated Holiday Message

But still an important one.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Stickin' it to the Snow Man

Since everything else gets blamed on our Commander-In-Chief, I've decided that snow must be no different.

The way I figure, Bush must have found a way to control the weather. I mean, this snow is pure EVIL. And who does evil better than our president? Just about no one....

How could he control the weather, you ask? It must have something to do with that direct line to the man upstairs he thinks he's got. I mean, the Republican Party is God's Party, yes?

Or maybe it's some kind of meteorological warfare he's testing out on us. You know...he'll see if we all go crazy and start sticking our heads in ovens and then he'll take this new technology to Iraq and use it on the poor people there. I can just hear him now, "If those folks in Denver can't handle it, what are all them A-rabs gonna do in the snow? Woo-Hoo this is gonna be a good one. They ain't afraid of the war on terror? Let's show 'em a war on climate...."

But why have the good people of Denver been chosen to test such horrific technology? Well, I was just about to get to that....

You see, folks, this is what happens when the state of Colorado elects a democratic governor. George W. Bush is punishing us for not electing the Republican Asshat who ran against Ritter. I refuse to mention his name.... On top of that, Ammendment 42 got passed, which according to one campaign commercial, did not have God's seal of approval. Just think what would've happened if Referendum I had passed! The city would be completely buried!Now, good people of Denver, what should we do about this? Should we give in and never vote for the good of all Coloradoans again? No, gentle readers! We can not give in! We must fight ice with fire.

I propose that everyone make a stand against Bush's oppressive weather conditions by doing one of the things he really really hates. That's right, folks, I'm talking about fucking.

Everyone, find a partner (or two or three or four, and so on) and get nasty today. I mean really nasty. I suggest everyone step up the kink-factor times about a thousand. Of course, if you happen to be a member of the GLBT community then Bush already thinks you're an abomination, so you're free to have any kind of sex you want...sadly, your sexual orientation alone offends him enough to do some damage to this plot of his (but of course, going a little wild wouldn't hurt anything). Everybody else...seriously...cut out that prissy upper-middle-class vanilla shit and go crazy in the bedroom (or bathroom, office, or conference table if you aren't at home)

I was going to suggest this only happen today, but now that I'm really thinking about it, we should probably go for at least a solid week. I mean, desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

Much love...


P.S.--Don't forget to use protection. I told you to get kinky, not stupid.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

In The Beginning...

...Colleen created a blog. And she looked upon the blog and she saw that it was good.

But who knows if she'll actually bust into blogging or forget her username and password and never log-in again.

Only time will tell.