i work at a large, relatively conservative midwestern public university.
i run a residence hall, which means that part of my compensation is a dining hall meal plan, which i utilize most weekdays for lunch & dinner.
tonight I had dinner with a graduate student I supervise, and when we walked into the dining hall, i made eye contact with an exquisitely dressed (bow tie and vintage Malcolm X glasses) person I had never seen before. Based on the look we shared later, and the nervous wave they gave me in the dish room, I’d say the person recognized me as being somehow like them.
I eked out an awkward “i like your tie” after they waved to me, and i wished i had been better dressed today (no tie, need a haircut), not because i want to be desirable to people on campus (i don’t) but because i want that person to know that i’m a bow tie wearing dandy too. and maybe they’ve seen me before–i don’t know…because i do wear a bow tie most days to work, and i’m generally pretty visible on campus. there are not a lot of butches hanging around this place.
so whoever you were– visitor? upperclass student who rarely eats in the dining hall, or person who lives on the other side of campus who usually eats at the other dining hall, or maybe new transfer student? grad student? i hope you saw me–i think you did–and i’m glad i saw you too. because it’s hard to be ourselves out here–in cincinnati, at this school.
There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. The… the other important joke, for me, is one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.
Despite my better judgment, I just can’t help myself. I love old Woody Allen movies. I started watching them when I was in high school–I’d check VHS tapes out of the public library up the street from my house. This isn’t a post about Woody Allen movies, or why I was the weird kind of teenager obsessed with them (especially Annie Hall & Sleeper) but now that I think about it, that would be a good post.
This is a post about how I’m not a joiner.
I know I’ve mentioned before that I’m an only child. It’s true. I feel like I’m a really serious major only– an only’s only if you will. In addition to being the only child of my parents, I don’t have cousins my age. On my dad’s side, I’m 10 and 11 years older than my two cousins. On my mom’s side, I’m five years younger than the closest cousin and five years older than the next one. The late 70s were quiet years in my family…save for the birth of me.
This is relevant because I think it speaks volumes to the fact that I’m not a joiner. Now, when I say I’m not a joiner, it doesn’t mean that I’ve never joined anything, because that’s not true. I was on teams and in clubs, but the way I’ve always most enjoyed working in teams is independently. For instance, the sports I was most committed to were track & swim team. Individuated participation in a team setting. In high school, I learned a lot about joining from marching band– but I played an instrument where we were kind of independent– tenor saxophone–and for three years, there were only two of us. I was in drama guild, but preferred to take on tasks that allowed me to work independently, such as stage manager. I was one of four editors of the student paper for two years consecutively, which was mostly independent work. We each had our sections to edit and columns to write, but we didn’t have too much work together. In college, I was active in a few groups, and in my post college life, I was super involved with one group.
Now I’m a grown up, and I have this professional life (which I’m trying harder to develop), but the kind of job I have really doesn’t allow for much team playing. Yeah, I have responsibilities to the department, and to the other professional staff and the student staff, but again, I mostly work as an individual in a team setting.
The reason this has been weighing on my mind, is that I don’t really know how to make new friends. If I were more of a joiner type personality, I might be more apt to get involved in some kind of community activity where I could meet potential friends. Add the awkwardness of being a queer person with no children, and I feel like if I want to reach out to make new friends, I have to put a big loud disclaimer on it:
I AM NOT TRYING TO HOOK UP WITH YOU. I AM HAPPILY COUPLED INA MONOGAMOUS YET LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP. MY INTEREST IN YOUR COMPANY IS MERELY PLATONIC.
And honestly, starting things out with that big announcement makes shit pretty awkward.
I wouldn’t be overthinking it so damn much, but it’s what dykes do. You seriously have to make your intentions clear.
When I left Minneapolis, I left my amazing radical queer community, and there’s nothing even close in Cincinnati, from what I can tell. I got connected to some amazing queers when I moved here who I sort of knew…and now, a year later, they’ve all left town. Of course, my modus operandi is to GTFO of here ASAP as well, but I still can’t help wondering how my life could be different if i were more of a joiner.
anyone have thoughts on this subject?