Tuesday, May 5, 2015

On Being Myself (or Let's Talk About Self Identification)

Can we talk about something?  Let’s put down the maps and the spanner and stop the packing and talk about assumptions and identity?  I know, it’s kinda heavy and I’m sorry about that but it can’t all be oil changes and carving up miles around here.

I don’t get something that seems to be intrinsic to how everyone else understands of the world.  I don’t know that I understand how our identities can be completely and absolutely defined by our activities.  Let me try to explain.

I sometimes run into Femmes who don’t ride motorcycles.  I’m ok with that because I understand it’s not for everyone.  However, some of these women base their entire reason for not riding on the fact that they are a girly girl and they just couldn’t.  Like they just can’t imagine a world where their hair wasn’t perfect or their makeup wasn’t on.  I’m not judging them as shallow people.  I’m judging them as constrained by their own identity.  The reverse can also be said.  I’ve met women who feel like because they ride, they can’t be girly girls.  I think in both cases these people are being true to themselves….I just don’t get it.  For me, who I am and what I do are not always related.  I’m first and foremost a Femme.  I love makeup, so I shop for it a lot and I practice putting it on and I think about how I’m going to wear it.  But if I didn’t love makeup like I do, I would still be a Femme.  It’s who I am; it’s not what I do.  I work on bikes, I get dirty when getting dirty is called for and I clean up when it’s time to be clean.  If I’m on a two week road trip, I don’t haul a ton of make up with me and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to make room for it if I did bring a train case of cosmetics.  I do sometimes bring a little bit a makeup; maybe an eye shadow duo, mascara, and a light balmy lipstick.  I know that often deep in a trip I will want to dress up a little bit.  But if I didn’t bring any makeup no one gets to pull my Femme Card.

I have the same frustrations with the concept of pulling someone’s Man Card because of an activity someone deems to be un-manly.  What does that even mean?  A Man is who you are, not what you do.  Identity is something that I believe rests deep inside us.  Something that is not dependent on what we are doing at any given time.  Sometimes, it’s not dependent on how we look to the outside world.  I am who I am and nothing can change that.  Certain things aren’t out of bounds to me because I identify as a Femme Woman.

This was driven home to me just a few days ago.  Mr. Man and I were in Fry’s electronics and there was a really fantastic Hot Wheels track that I was exclaiming over.  I turned to Mr. Man and told him I had almost the exact thing set when I was a kid.  I loved Hot Wheels.  I also loved Barbie.  I had both and I played with both indiscriminately.  There was not concern in my house that there was something wrong with me playing with cars; that I somehow wasn’t a girl because of it.  I knew I was a girl and I seemed to absorb the belief that since I was a girl, if I was doing something then it was, by default, appropriate for me to be doing.  I’ve carried this belief into adulthood.  Because I’m a Femme then I am a Femme while I’m doing whatever it is that I’m doing.  And while I’m a little ranty, this also applies to my clothes.  I love pretty clothes but for goodness sake just because I wear riding pants and a T-Shirt on a road trip doesn’t mean I don’t know my Stuart Weitzman from my Louboutin.  I’m a Femme but that doesn’t mean I don’t live in the real world.  I’m going to dress for the occasion because I’m also Appropriate.  And  my $200.00 IGIGI Red Polka-Dot Dress is not Appropriate for a road trip.   But my easy to pack $70.00 Elomi babydoll nightie might make it into my saddlebags….just in case.  Because I do have my priorities….and stuff.

So I’ll give you that what we do can give others clues as to who we are and I will admit that I like being a girly-girl.  I like my makeup and my expensive hair and my beautiful femme clothes but when I step out of those stereotypical Femme activities;  when I wander around a hardware store, or an electronics store, when I browse Comic books, or when I throw on BDUs and a grungy T-shirt….I am still a girl, still a Femme, still me.  Nothing I can possibly do will ever change that.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Riding for my Life (Can't Stop, Zombies are After Me)

I love to ride, I really do but I do like other things as well.  I like going to Renaissance Faires and I don’t always like doing it on a bike.  Ren faires require so much costume and then you have to dress off the back of your bike in a parking lot.  When you leave out it’s hot and you are sweating and you really just want flip flops and AC and to GET OUT OF ALL OF THESE SKIRTS WHY AM I WEARING 10 YARDS OF RUFFLES?!?!?  We typically try to take to bikes to the opening weekend of the local Ren Faire and I typically spend a lot of effort talking us out of it.  I mean, if the weather isn’t perfect (and when is it in April in Texas) we might as well take the car.  No sense on getting dressed in the wet in a parking lot right?  And we don’t want to get caught in those unpredictable North Texas Storms that I grew up with.  Who knows when you might get a Tornado!  And I’m the only one who grew up in Tornado country so trust me….we should just take the car.  And if it’s not raining its’ going to 100 degrees and oh my Dear Zippo you know how much you hate riding in the heat.  After being out all day, I don’t want you to get ill with heat, let’s just take the car.  And of course if we are thinking of doing a wine tasting then we should defiantly take the car because….Safety.

This year for some reason was very different for me.  We had the date to go to Faire picked out and we had the conversations about packing light done and we had plans to leave early on Friday so we could take our time and ride the back roads.  Then it started to look like we were going to have storms…and I didn’t care.  I didn’t care, I wanted to ride.  I wanted to ride come high water or lightening or crankiness.  I checked the weather and checked the weather.  Mr Man and I poured over dewpoints and humidity and I finally decided that we could take the bikes.  We would probably get wet about 40 miles from the hotel but we would beat the worst weather.  Then Saturday would be beautiful and Sunday would be good as long as we left in the morning.  I checked in with Spyderman and Zippo about the rain (ok I bullied them until they agreed to ride wet) and we were all set.

I could not home from work fast enough on Friday afternoon.  I got into my riding clothes and threw myself on my bike like the Zombies were behind me looking for my brains.  I flew to Zippo and Spyderman’s house to get them and away we went.  Once we shook ourselves free of the Interstate in Belton and hit HWY 317 I felt the stress crumbling off me.  Flying out of my life with the speed of the wind.  Burning away from me and I emerged free and without care from the cocoon of my daily life.  I was just the three of us.  Mr Man is not a Ren Faire type of person and Union Jack and the Billy Goat Gruff couldn’t make it.  The three of us made for very stress free riding.  Easy to make choices.  Easy to decide when to stop, when to go.  Easy to know that  our bikes were very compatible as far as power and speed.  Stress about medical bills, about my health, about my house, about my job all gone and gone and gone.

Mr. Man calls this brain draino.  I had never before really experienced the need for it like I did on that Friday afternoon where I ran away from my life, from my responsible thinking and rode straight into possible storms without a care about it.  But that afternoon I had a need that would not be thwarted by such things as reality.  I was riding and that was final.  And ride I did.

Luck was with us all weekend.  We missed all the rain on our way to Waxahachie, TX except for about five drops in Hillsboro but we did have a tornado warning that evening that caused us to spend some time in an inner room at the hotel.  Saturday was sunny and moderate just as promised and on Sunday we once again avoided all the rain except for 15 minutes of being spat upon by the heavens.  I can’t remember another time when the fates smiled so hard on me during a ride.  I deserved it.  After everything this year has given me, I was due some luck and some brain draino.

Next on the riding docket is a week spent in the Hill Country both with Mr Man and some friends.  I feel fortified for it now.  Let the planning begin.