Monday, September 29, 2008

A Grrrl with a Pearl

Ring trouble.

So... when we got engaged, I was absolutely sure that I didn't want a diamond. The history of diamonds is just too messed up. I know it's totally possible to get conflict-free diamonds so I wouldn't have to feel like I was wearing some poor kid's blood on my hand, but I was still annoyed by the fact that diamonds are artificially and astronomically priced and they don't actually lay claim to any real historical connection to engagements. They only became popular as an engagement gift in the 1920s when De Beers started an engagement ring campaign. I didn't want to feel like I had been duped by marketing executives from decades ago into throwing my money away (my fiance's money is my money -- we've already had a joint checking account for years).

So before the proposal, I let my soon-to-be fiance know that I was not to have a diamond -- no way, no how. So she proposed with the perfect ring... a pearl ring. Pearls have an actual claim to history. They were the traditional engagement gift in several European traditions and they're lovely. I love the ring, I love the sentiment, I love everything about the whole thing... except that the dang thing keeps falling apart!!!!!

I guess it's really difficult to set a pearl on a ring -- since it's round it can't be trapped inside the the claws of platinum that clasp in diamonds and so my pearl is screwed onto my ring and keeps getting unscrewed. I've now had to super-glue the damn thing back together again several times and I'm starting to feel a little silly -- like I've got some fisher price toy ring. Like I'm playing engagement with my playgroup after preschool.

I still don't regret the diamond decision. I feel good about my reasons -- but I do feel a little silly.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Marriage: Pros and Cons

So... I'm getting married. I'm totally over the moon about this. The weird part is, my total over-the-mooniness has led me to become madly addicted to wedding blogs. I spent several years berating my fiance for endlessly reading her political blogs (didn't she have anything better to do???) And here I am... sucked into something even more useless. But I can't stop... and to be perfectly honest... I'm loving it.

I can't get myself to clean my own damn house, but I can spend an hour researching table linens and crinolines... man, I'm such a fraud.

I also feel like a fraud because until we decided to get married, I was rabidly anti-marriage. I mean, I'm gay, I'm a feminist, all the marriages in my family have failed (well, most of them at least), I have a zillion gay aunts whose lives have been totally messed with because they haven't been able to get legally married: naturalization problems, health insurance problems, you name it, they've had to deal with it and it has made them super anti-marriage, understandably.

A lot of us gays have dealt with the denial of our rights not by longing and longing and longing for what we don't have, but instead by turning our backs on the whole institution. You know... like when you were in middle school (I happen to be a middle school teacher so this analogy resonates with me) and the popular kids got to go to all the fun parties, but you were never invited -- well, a part of you longed to be invited too, but mostly you just talked about how those parties were probably dumb anyway and you wouldn't go even if you were invited. That's kind of like what my relationship to marriage was for many years. And I had a lot of super good reasons to feel that way:

1. Why make a vow to love and be faithful to someone forever, if you have no idea what the future holds and if you look at the whole thing logically, there's a 50% chance that you'll end up breaking your vow?
2. Didn't the whole institution of marriage start as a way to transfer ownership of women? Man... that's super fucked-up.
3. Marriage is just another way of making the sharing of rights exclusive. Right now the only people who get to share rights and privileges with the people they share their lives with are straight couples. Yes, we can expand the definition of marriage to include gay couples too... but what about sisters that have decided to share their lives together, or brothers, or friends... there are plenty of people who decide to share their lives primarily with one other person (they own a house together, they do the shopping together, they depend on one another) -- shouldn't they all get a chance to share the rights and privileges of being an American... I don't want to be invited to the middle school party only to realize that I'm now one of the cool kids who has to shun nerds like me... that would suck.

Anyway... all of those reasons and more were why I was anti-marriage. I was never gonna do it. I was way too cool and radical for all that. But I was also a romantic -- and as soon as I talked to my aunts (the ones who have had so much shit put upon them by their non-married status) and they gave me their blessing -- I was 100% in. For a multitude of reasons:

1. I'm super in love
2. I know that we work together -- we've been going at this thing for 6 years and we're only more in love now than we were when we first started dating.
3. We are super awesome and deserve to have our families and friends celebrate our love
4. I want to do all the girly stuff that brides get to do.
5. I was getting bitter when my friends started getting engaged instead of being happy for them.
6. "commitment ceremonies" make me feel like I got second place
7. I'm sick of having to prove to people that my relationship is committed by listing off how many years we've been together
8. My job denied me the opportunity to live on campus and thus save over 15K a year because I can't be married to my partner
9. I want to teach my students that being gay is no different than being straight by example
10. I feel like I deserve as many gifts as my straight friends do.
11. I want to have a photo album of our marriage that my grand-kids can look at and exclaim over while I tell them about how we were on the cutting edge, way back when.

So... as you can see, getting married totally won.