Wednesday, June 4, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMANDA!!!

(Amanda as she looked when we were newly friends, in Austin, TX 1998)

It's the birthday of my dear, great friend, Amanda. We've known each other since 1995, when Amanda was working at WATER House (Women's Access To Electronic Resources) here in Austin. The very first time I got on the internet, it was Amanda who sat at my elbow, teaching me how to join the cyberworld. Yep, she's the one who started me on this path. What Amanda hath wrought.

Amanda has seen me through several incarnations, with unfailing support, honesty, and humor. I love her unconditionally.

(Amanda 2007)

She now lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts with her wife Allison. Two years ago, Amanda called to tell me they had decided to get married and to ask me if I would not only attend, but also write something for their wedding ceremony. She was a little nervous about asking me. She's a Generation X dyke, and she was afraid I'd tell her all the reasons why marriage sucked, even (or especially) for lesbians. Instead, I was deeply honored, genuinely thrilled for her and Allison, and it started me thinking...

(Allison and Amanda, 2006)
This was early June 2006. I was trying to imagine myself as a young dyke who was able to overcome my sexual abuse history far earlier than I did, able to choose the right partner for myself and make a lifelong commitment. There were other influences at the time -- particularly my brother Bill's yartzeit and a haunting video of this guy named Matt dancing at various places around the world. But the three came together in my unconscious and I began dreaming a series of magic dreams which, on June 20th, came down on paper as the beginning of my novel Ginny Bates: About two women who were able to do what Amanda and Allison are doing. (With all the details drawn from my life, not theirs, let me add for the sake of privacy and ending groundless rumors.)

The best parts of the characters Sima and Edwina in Ginny Bates are from Amanda. Likewise, Allison is found here and there in various characters, although, paradoxically, not in Allie who is named in her honor. Other tie-ins are that in GB: Myra writes a series of science-fiction novels (which become best-sellers) based on future life on a planet named Skene. Skene is located in the Alhena solar system -- and Alhena just happens to be Amanda's stage name as a belly dancer. Also, on Skene there is a personage named the Sigrist who is central to life there. Turns out, Sigrist is an ancient Scandinavian word that means sexton or watchkeeper. It is also a family name from Allison's lineage. Thus, Myra pays them homage with Skene.

Well, okay, it was me who wrote Skene. (All of which appears online at this blog, by the way, Chapters One through Fifty-Five. If you want to explore gender from a non-binary view, if you want to think about social organization when environmental limits are extreme, if you'd like to see a culture that has moved beyond class and race as constructs, and if you want to read some extremely hot woman-on-woman sex -- well, kinda woman-on-woman -- you'll like Skene.)

(Allison and Amanda leaving their wedding, 8 July 2006, Belmont, MA)

Amanda also appears as one of the major characters in my short story, "The Muffdivers of American Literature Tour", which can be read at this blog in my Emily Dickinson post.

Amanda and Allison are both the children of divorce, lost their mothers far too early, and not only accept feminism as their due but understand it as well as those of us who invented it. They are living proof that childhood pain and misinformation can be worked through to find happiness and a healthy relationship.

She cuts a huge swath in this world. In addition to running WATER, she worked at Austin's only women's bookstore, BookWoman, and was the website designer for Feminist Bookstore News. When we lost her to Massachusetts, she was for several years a high administrator in the Boston Jewish Film Festival. Now she is web and publications manager for a large New England gay and lesbian advocacy organization.
(Amanda at PSAW in Burlington, VT, November 2006)

I always think of Amanda when I watch that great Hepburn/Tracy film, Adam's Rib, because of the comedic dirge in it, "Farewell, Amanda" (written by Cole Porter but not credited at the time). However, instead of leaving you with those sad lines, I'll invoke another Porter song, one which completely expresses my feelings for Amanda: You're The Top.


(Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, and Zizi Jeanmaire in "Anything Goes")

1 comment:

A said...

Oh the dangers - and wonders! - of having a friend who is such a great - and public - writer!

Thank you so much for this. What an amazing tribute.

And as far as I'm concerned, the internet was invented for you. I'm honored to have played a part in making that connection.

Amanda
GLAD: 30 years of making LGBT legal history