Far too often our queerness is only discussed in three contexts: relationships, family and politics. But our queerness plays a role in our friendships with other queers, too, and that’s what this series is all about. In honor of Gal Pal Week, welcome to “Interview With My Queer BFF,” in which gals interview their best queer pals about their exciting queer paldom. And by “gal pals” we don’t mean “girlfriends” or “wives” … we mean GAL PALS.
Today, queer BFFs Riese and Laneia couldn’t decide who should interview who, so, as with so many things they’ve made together, they enlisted Rachel to help out. If you want to listen to audio excerpts from this majestic interview, you should join A+ and download the first podcast.
Riese: Is everybody ready?
Rachel. I’m ready. Are you guys ready?
Laneia: I am so excited and ready.
Riese: Rachel is going to be our interviewer. She’s the Oprah to our not-Oprahs.
Rachel: I thought I was like a Barbara Walters. Am I an Oprah?
Rachel: That’s a separate interview. For now—
Riese: Maybe you’re more of a Maury.
Rachel: Oh… that’s fine. I’m fine with that. Or like a Sally Jessie.
Riese: Yeah, Sally Jessie. Good ol’ Sally Jessie.
Rachel. All right. Imagine me, dear reader, as Sally Jessie.
Riese: Not hard, honestly.
Rachel: Riese and Laneia, how did you meet?
Riese: At a party. Through mutual friends. We played on the same softball team.
Laneia: I used to say “through mutual friends” when I was talking about meeting my girlfriend, who I really met online. It’s kind of true.
Riese: That’s what people always say. They’re always like, oh yeah, we met at a party. And I’m like, no you didn’t, you met on match.com. You’re lying!
Riese: Um, Laneia and I met on the internet.
Rachel: How on the internet did you meet?
Laneia: On… well, I guess it would have been via email, technically. But she posted a thing on a forum and I was like, I’m deleting this. And then I just double-checked and I wasn’t supposed to delete it, so then maybe I commented back to you on the forum. I’m not really sure how that happened. What was our first interaction?
Rachel: What was the thing she posted? Do you remember?
Riese: I’d just started recapping The L Word and so it was a link to my recaps on The Planet Podcast forums, which Laneia moderated. I’d asked KC and Elka, who hosted the podcast, if I could do that, and they said I could. And so I did. And then Laneia wanted to fucking moderate me.
Laneia: I didn’t get the memo. There wasn’t a memo sent out about it.
Riese: Yeah. And then she asked KC and Elka if she could delete it and they were like, “No, she’s cool.” And so then Laneia gave me a chance. Finally.
Laneia: You were really funny. And you looked really good with all of your friends. You had really good-looking friends.
Riese: I do have good-looking friends.
Laneia: And you all looked really pretty and — like you were at that party, the premiere party, and you just looked like you were having so much fun.
Riese: Oh, for the L Word party?
Laneia: Uh huh.
Riese: I think it was fun, yeah. I would say that you looked a certain way, but you didn’t! Because you didn’t have any pictures of yourself on the internet!
Laneia: That’s true.
Riese: We must have emailed about something. Did we ever figure out what that was that we first emailed about?
Laneia: No! We haven’t figured it out.
Riese: It’s kind of weird, like “How did you meet?” is a weird question to answer when you meet on the internet.
Laneia: It is.
Riese: Because you don’t meet. Like we didn’t meet, you know? It’s not the same as dating on the internet. Because when you date on the internet, you look at someone’s profile and decide you like them and then you contact them and then you meet up with them. Even if you’re first meeting online, the intention is to meet in real life as soon as possible. But it’s not like that when you’re first making friends online through your blogs or social media or websites or whatever. Sometimes you never meet!
Rachel: So, when did you first meet in real life?
Riese: Dinah 2010, right?
Riese: I’d been in LA earlier that year and wanted to go to Arizona and meet you, but then you weren’t able to, which’s when I found out that you’d never hired a babysitter.
Laneia: I think my dad was super sick that fall, so I didn’t do a lot of things. That’s also the same year that that straight girl that I had a crush on forever got in touch with me to see if she could come and visit me in Arizona. And I went into this downward spiral of “Oh my God if I see her again I’ll have to leave the girl that I’m with now,” because I just knew it was all just a lie then. Anyway. So that was a really fun fall for me.
Riese: Yeah, it was one of the worst falls of your life, probably.
Laneia: Yes it was.
Riese: So Autostraddle had already started and we were already becoming best friends by the time we met in real life.
Laneia: And Sarah and I were super late getting to Dinah because of 8,000 different reasons… we ended up getting the wrong car and then that set us back like three hours or something.
Riese: It was such a shitshow of a trip, though. The very first night, everyone got into this huge fight. Do you remember, all of us were in the same hotel room and everybody was yelling at each other? Except you and I weren’t yelling at anybody.
Laneia: Yeah, no.
Riese: Everybody was yelling around us, about what I should do about this problem we were having with ownership of the business, and something that went down with [redacted and redacted] and [redacted] at check-in. Then I remember that you were like, “I can’t believe that you guys are all doing this when we’ve all worked so hard.” You were like, “Also, I just feel really sad for Riese because she has worked so hard and needs this vacation, and you are all fighting right now and stressing her out.” And I was like, “God I love you so much.”
Laneia: That was a really awful thing that should have been a lot of fun, but it was so awful. Tess got so mad at me, I forgot about that! She was really mean to me and I was like, “You’re so mean.” It was weird because then I loved Tess from the next day on, so much.
Riese: That was so unfortunate because she is so amazing. And that’s also the worst part about a fight on the first night is it’s like, oh god now you’re seeing the worst of everybody. But when you said that, no one had really ever stood up for me like that in my life.
Riese: Yeah. Well, except in 5th grade when my teacher made me stand in the front of the class so she could publicly shame me about how me putting on my own play and having play practice during lunch was making other kids feel left out and Janelle got up and stood up there with me and scratched my back while I cried. Solidarity. This is like a pattern in my life. I’m just trying to make my art!
Laneia: That’s so pure. It’s such a pure desire.
Riese: Then Laneia hurt her foot and was in a bad mood for the rest of Dinah.
Laneia: It really hurt. I’d like to clarify that I broke my foot.
Riese: She broke her foot. I’d told her it would be fine.
Laneia: You said “It’s not broken.” And I was like, “It’s broken.”
Riese: I was like, “No it’s not.”
Laneia: And I ended up being right about that.
Riese: Our friendship is a series of checks and balances.
Laneia: Thank God that you brought weed though, because I got to take it home and that was the only way that I got through that. Because I didn’t have health insurance, obviously, and I just sat on my couch for like two weeks just smoking and eating edibles and painkillers. It was nice.
Rachel: Marijuana. Try it. Great for pain relief. So, how long have you been best friends, Laneia and Riese? I guess as opposed to regular-type friends?
Riese: Well, I think it’s worth mentioning that for the first two years I knew Laneia, I didn’t even know she had children.
Riese: So for those years, there was a lot of distance. We didn’t really communicate very much. Like I don’t know if we were really friends. We were just internet acquaintances talking about internet stuff, emailing here and there, but always related to our work. Then I asked you to be a part of Autostraddle. Then, mid-2009, you told me that you had kids. We started becoming best friends by the end of that year.
Laneia: Before that we weren’t gchatting constantly, and I think around that time was when I couldn’t go 20 minutes without talking to you on gchat.
Riese: Yeah, we gchatted constantly for two years-ish? Or a year? More or less constantly.
Rachel: Where does that fit in with the timeline of Autostraddle?
Laneia: Something happened near the end of 2009 where our team got larger or more unwieldy or something, and that’s when I stepped in and was like “I’ll do these three jobs,” or something, like “I’ll handle these emails.” And then that meant that I was online way more often. Because before that, I was just another satellite-type writer.
Riese: Yeah, what happened was that everything had piled up so much that I was drowning. But I hadn’t realized it. You know, gradually then suddenly? I was behind on everything. And so I told Laneia and Sarah, this is what’s happening. I’m behind on everything. I don’t know what to do. I just have no idea what to do right now. This is too much. And Laneia was like, “If you need somebody to work, I’ll do it.” And so then Laneia became the first poorly-paid employee of Autostraddle. And then we pretty much talked constantly from then on. Until we both got into serious relationships, and then that changed.
Laneia: As it does.
Riese: As it does. As we age and our hair changes colors.
Laneia: We still talk constantly, though. Just not until three in the morning, like we did then.
Rachel: Anyhow. Ladies. Why are you friends and not girlfriends, do you think?
Laneia: I think it’s because… well, after I told you about having kids and stuff — I think one of the main things is because I felt the most exposed to you from the beginning. There was no pretense at all. I wasn’t trying to be cool. I was trying to be the most real that I could be in any situation with you. Which is not exactly how you start off a relationship, like a sexual relationship. You try to hold something back and be kind of interesting and mysterious in some way. But with you I was like, please take me at my absolute ugliest that I can be. And then you did. And I was like, here’s more. And you took that too. That’s what it started off as.
Riese: Yeah, that’s so true. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re right. We just got really ugly really fast.
Laneia: It was so cathartic. It was the best. It was so nice to just be like, “I am awful.” And you were like, “Me too. But look, we’re actually not fucked.” It was just so great. I’d never had a friend tell me that.
Riese: Yeah. Like, “I just did this awful thing.” And I’ve been like, “I did a similarly awful thing.” It was just super naked, I guess.
Laneia: The only really close friend that I’d had — well, I’d had close friends before, obviously — but with them it always felt like a competition, like who could be the most together, or who could pretend to be the most together. Which is exhausting, and I was always the one losing that game. And then I would cry about how I had lost that game, and they’d be like, “No, it’s okay. I need you too sometimes. Sometimes I fall apart.” And I’d be like, “You don’t ever fall apart! Fuck you!” And I hated all those other people. But with you… you let me fall apart and be just the grossest and then you were like “Yeah, me too. I’ve seen that before. You’re nothing shocking, everything’s fine.”
Riese: But we’ve also both seen each other at our absolute worst too. Especially since the only times we ever get to hang out in 3D are things that are innately high-stress situations, you know? And so we’re always taking turns being the worst.
Laneia: I like it that way.
Rachel: Which is what friendship is, really, I think. Taking turns being the worst.
Riese: Yeah. Also it’s not like I can put my finger on something we have in common, specifically, it’s more like we have a similar way of thinking, I guess?
Riese: Something. I don’t know what it is. And maybe it’s better that I don’t, you know?
Riese: We were just really, really honest. If we had become girlfriends, it would’ve had to have been really intense.
Laneia: Oh my god, it would’ve been awful.
Riese: Yeah. Also I think we’re both bottoms, so.
Riese: Although if we’d hooked up, I would’ve been the top.
Laneia: Yep! I mean what you do — that’s the thing about you. You see a hole and you fill it, you know? You see a thing and you go ahead and you take charge. So you would definitely take one look at that situation and be like, well she’s never going to do anything.
Riese: Yeah. Well, I always took that role with straight girls, you know? So I’m flexible. But would that have been sustainable?
Riese: No, it would not have been sustainable.
Laneia: Nope. Maybe that’s the thing. Maybe it’s just like how gaydar is just a thing, even though you can’t really define it. Because when you try to say what it is about people that helps you know they’re gay from a distance, you sound like a complete jackass. Maybe that’s also a thing with friends, where you just know “this person needs to be close to me, but there’s no way that this could happen.” And you can’t really define it, it’s just there.
Riese: And I also feel like we both — what we look for or hope for in a partner is the same thing. I think both of us look to be with people who fill certain spots in us that are empty. And we have the same empty spots, you know what I mean?
Laneia: Yes! I need somebody who can go into stores and get things for me.
Riese: And somebody who doesn’t stress out or think it’s a big deal when they have to carry a ton of things from one place to another place. And takes charge when necessary. Yeah, we have the same needs. And our partners probably have a lot in common, in certain ways too.
Laneia: Yeah, definitely.
Riese: We would’ve been just lying there on our backs, waiting for someone to call the pizza guy.
Laneia: It would’ve been so shitty! It would’ve been the worst relationship ever!
Riese: But we’re both very capable people, obviously. We’ve both run really complicated lives, for our whole lives.
Laneia: Which is why I want somebody else to call for pizza.
Riese: Right! I did so much, I moved so much shit by myself for so long, so much longer than so many people did! Once I hit 28, I was like, will somebody please help me with this box? Can you order this food for me, please?
Laneia: Yeah, definitely.
Riese: So I think those are the many reasons.
Rachel: Speaking of helping, what role would you two play in each other’s weddings?
[Editor’s Note: This interview took place before Laneia had set a date for her wedding, which she eventually did do, and it happened on April 4th and Riese’s role was “reading a Stephen Dunn poem” and also giving a toast. For the record, Riese spoke more words at Laneia’s wedding than Laneia did.]
Riese: Laneia will definitely be whatever the thing is. What’s the thing? What’s the thing for the main girl?
Laneia: The maid or matron of honor.
Riese: Or like a bridesmaid, right?
Laneia: Yeah. There’s bridesmaids, and then there’s that one person.
Rachel: I think the maid of honor is supposed to help you plan, right?
Laneia: That’s intense. That’s so shitty, to put that on somebody. But yes, that’s what I would want.
Riese: Yeah, Laneia’s going to be my maid of honor, obviously. I think that her destiny in life is to plan things for me.
Laneia: I’m okay with that. I’m good with that.
Riese: Whatever, some important role. Important female role. I don’t know what that equivalent will be in whatever kind of wedding I have.
Laneia: I’ve thought about my wedding and I’ve thought that I didn’t want anybody else up there with me, that that seemed weird. And so if I’m thinking of it from an honest perspective of what I’ve actually thought about, I think I would want you to be the one…
Riese: …In the middle row, who doesn’t talk?
Laneia: No, no. No!
Riese: Flower girl.
Laneia: The one who… what would you do? This is weird.
Laneia: No, not usher.
Riese: I could sit in like, the third row.
Laneia: No, there’s some part of my imagination that’s bucking this entire thing. Because it’s like, no, you’re not going to have a traditional wedding, so you can’t possibly put a role on her like that because it’s not going to happen and you know it. So now I’m trying to think of what it would actually be.
Riese: What if I’m the person who g-chats you afterwards and is like, “Wait, you seriously got married today and you didn’t even invite me or Rachel?!!!?” What if that’s my role? Because that’s what I think is really gonna happen.
Laneia: I think I’d want you to play the role of the person who didn’t ever walk more than three feet away from me at any given moment.
Riese: I really have always imagined that you guys were just going to get married and then you’ll just tell us about it and be like, “Oh yeah, we got married this weekend.”
Laneia: No, in my mind it’s exactly what makes you roll your eyes — it’s like, outside, with the barn and trees and lights hanging.
Riese: Yeah. I definitely want a barn.
Laneia: Yeah. I want a barn.
Riese: Let’s just have a double wedding. We could save on the property.
Laneia: We would. We could invite so many interesting people.
Riese: Do you think people ever do that? I feel like it would be so hilariously tacky.
Laneia: Well, it’d be a hell of a weird party, that’s for sure. Because the idea is for it to just be a party, right? Like I don’t really want it to be about me. I just kinda want it to be a thing I did, and then everybody just had food after.
Riese: Right. I just want all of my friends to come over. That’s all. I want everyone I love to have to come to the same place and hang out with me.
Laneia: You know what I really want? A slumber party weekend beforehand. Not like bachelorette thing where you do stuff like strippers and stuff.
Riese: Wait, you don’t want a stripper thing?
Laneia: I don’t want that. I just want to sit in pajamas.
Riese: Rachel, did you write down that Laneia doesn’t want a stripper thing?
Rachel: Yeah, I wrote it down.
Laneia: I mean, unless I can sit in my pajamas. And they just come to my house. I just want us to be in pajamas.
Rachel: Okay, I wrote down the pajamas.
Laneia: Thank you, Rachel.
Riese: Okay. Write “strippers who don’t strip.”
Rachel: Or like, they can strip if they want to, but it’s up to them.
Laneia: Oh my god. I don’t want a stripper. I just want a girl who will come over and just wear low-cut tops.
Riese: Did you write that down, Rachel?
Rachel: I’m writing it all down. I promise.
Riese: Wait. Who was it that gave you a lap dance at camp, Rachel?
Rachel: Carmen. It was obviously Carmen.
Riese: Oh wow. Do you want Carmen, Laneia?
Rachel: I think it was a Tyga song? I don’t know. It’s kind of hazy.
Riese: I think that’s what every girl dreams of.
Rachel: Yeah, I mean… I didn’t really know that I dreamed about it before it happened. But I guess afterwards I could say that it could be something that I dreamed about, yeah.
Riese: What if you were like, “what role would I play at your wedding?” and you were like, “You would be the bachelor party dancer”?
Rachel: You would not be invited to the ceremony itself, but…
Riese: Yeah. “Just put on some hot pants, and meet us in the barn.”
Rachel: That’s actually the name of my one-woman show. “Just put on some hot pants and meet us in the barn.”
Riese: It’s sold out already. Margaret Cho is opening for you.
Laneia: Oh my god. That would be so fun.
Rachel: This seems like an appropriate time to ask if you think that your friendship, Laneia and Riese, would be different if you were straight.
Laneia: Yes. Well… yes, I think so. Because like I said earlier my other friendships were always weirdly a competition. But now I don’t know if that’s just because I was younger, or because… oh, I’m going to make all these stereotypical, weird judgments. I feel like straight girls are always in competition with each other. Because I felt like I was.
Riese: There are so many things about our friendship that are based on that similarity. That’s how we know each other, is through things that are queer-specific.
Laneia: Oh, yeah. That’s true.
Riese: So it’s hard to imagine being straight. And also because we had similar life experiences in terms of a later “awakening” and all that kind of stuff. There are some things we’ve related about that are intrinsically tied to the fact that we’re gay-ish. Gay. That we’re gay. Gay. Lesbian. Queer. People.
Laneia: I do think there’s something there… I don’t know if I just wasn’t capable of having this kind of friendship with somebody beforehand because I didn’t know myself well enough, or I was too young, or… I don’t know. But I do think that there is something different.
Riese: Well then there wouldn’t have been sexual tension between us those two times.
Laneia: There was sexual tension twice, it’s true.
Rachel: We’re moving on to the question: What is the most annoying thing about each other?
Laneia: Remember when we had to enact that law where you wouldn’t reply or send an email before you had coffee?
Riese: Yeah. I’m so much better than that now. Remember? My temper used to be crazy. I think I’m better.
Laneia: No, you are. Definitely. It was really sad. Those dark days.
Riese: I know. I feel really bad. I’m sorry.
Laneia: It’s okay.
Riese: Although at the time, I really was legitimately furious.
Laneia: Yeah, it was a rough time.
Riese: Yeah. But also I think we’ve gotten better at working together too, you know? Anyway. No, come on, there’s things about me that are annoying. It annoys me that you don’t have faith in yourself.
Laneia: Oh, come on. That’s like saying, “What are your biggest flaws?” and your biggest flaw is “I’m a hard worker. I’m too hard of a worker.”
Riese: No, but you say you can’t do things a lot that you can do.
Laneia: That also annoys me about myself, if it’s any consolation.
Riese: I think the only thing I can think of is something you used to do, which is when you would go off the radar at times without telling me what was going on.
Laneia: Was that before I got on antidepressants? I think it was.
Riese: Yes. And that would drive me insane. And then I would do the thing that annoys you.
Laneia: Which is what?
Riese: The thing where I would get really angry.
Laneia: Oh. I’m really really really trying to think of a thing that really annoys me.
Riese: But I’m so annoying! I’m sure Rachel can think of something.
Laneia: Maybe I’m thinking of “annoying” being a thing that I can’t rationalize out that you do. And pretty much all the stuff that you do, I totally understand where you’re coming from and know that I’ve either done it myself or I would do the same thing.
Riese: Maybe that’s what makes us best friends.
Rachel: How much do we need to talk about being annoyed? I mean, also part of the point of being best friends is that ultimately there’s only so annoyed you get with your best friend, right? There’s a limit.
Riese: Yeah. I get it and I think that I love Laneia unconditionally. And everything that she does, I understand why she does it, you know?
Laneia: Right. I feel the same way.
Riese: But also like we were saying earlier, a lot of our relationship is predicated on this – like, I can say anything to you and I know that you won’t judge me. I don’t worry that you’re judging me, ever. Because I never judge you.
Laneia: Right. Same. Do you think that’s because we work together and we had to just get really down and dirty with everything? Because it took a lot out of me to be like “You CANNOT email us before you have coffee.” I’ve never stood up to anyone the way that I did that day, when I was like, “this is not okay.” I was shaking when I wrote that email to you. I don’t think I would’ve had — well, I guess not even the need to do it — but I definitely wouldn’t have had the guts to do it if it hadn’t also affected our working environment.
Riese: I feel like most of the people I work with, I’m still trying to impress in some way, you know?
Laneia: Oh yeah, true. I do still try to impress you, though.
Riese: I try to impress all of you. But I don’t know if working together makes you more honest. Because I feel like if anything, working with somebody that I’m close to is dangerous. It’s been dangerous in my relationships. It’s hard to feel comfortable being vulnerable with somebody who relies on you in this very practical way or who has done a certain amount of free or underpaid work for you or with you. With Marni and with Alex, I think I pulled back a little bit when we started working together — and they did too! Moreso, even. But both of them think working together made our relationship stronger — or made it last longer — but I disagree with them, vehemently. It’s also like, emotional energy I’d spent earlier in the day to get them to do a work thing meant I didn’t have any left later to talk about something one of us needed in the actual relationship. I felt like it made us both take a huge step back, and I didn’t feel like I could be as vulnerable anymore.
Laneia: That’s true.
Riese: They still have to respect me enough to follow my orders to some degree too, you know? And so I think the fact that we’re that comfortable with each other is not because of working together, but in spite of working together. And it also makes us better at working together, oddly.
Laneia: I agree.
Riese: I want to add that I also don’t feel like you judge us, Rachel?
Rachel: No, of course not. But I also have a different relationship with either of you than you will ever have with each other. Because you knew each other before you started working together, and I knew you because I applied for a job here. So it will always be a little bit different, in that respect.
Laneia: That makes me sad. I see what you’re saying, but I don’t really think of anybody in the core group of the editors as being “beneath” anybody else, really.
Rachel: No. And that’s not how I think of you guys now, definitely. And also, for clarity: that was 100% why I applied, was I wanted to have more gay friends. I read the thing about the interns during New York Pride and I was like, oh they’re all friends. I wish I had friends who were gay. I will apply to be an intern.
Laneia: That was the best post. Those photos were so good.
Rachel: It turned out a little differently than I thought it would. But it was so great.
Riese: But you’re still stuck with Intern Rachel as your member name.
Rachel: Cee offered to change it! I was like, I don’t know if I want to change it.
Riese: Aww, you should keep it. It’s cute.
Rachel: I know. It reminds me of my roots. Which I think is important for my fans, you know? To remember where I came from.
Riese: Yeah. I mean, obviously our relationships with each other are very different. But I just wanted to say that I feel like in the work environment, I don’t feel self-conscious around you. Which is nice.
Rachel: Thank you. I appreciate that. And I think there’s a longer conversation to be had about how our working together is related to our friendships with each other, that I don’t think any of us could unpack in one minute right here. Because it’s not just working together. It’s not like we’re UPS packers. Although that would be fine if we were. But the kind of work we’re in is such a huge risk, and so on the fringe, and we’re kind of just taking a giant gamble by going to work every day. Like, oh, I hope our job exists tomorrow, that would be neat. But it’s more than just that we work together. It’s that we have taken this giant life step together and are doing something really daring and really ill-advised together every day. And that creates a bond in a different way than just like, making coffee together. You know?
Riese: Yeah. We commit to this really bad idea every morning with each other. And we do it.
Laneia: That is a really, really good point that I had not actually thought of. We have this close trust fall every morning. Sometimes I wish the writers felt as insane as we do. Because this is nuts! And they seem fine and normal, and I’m like, “you guys aren’t crazy enough.”
Rachel: Yeah. We have a lot more on the line… like, everything.
Riese: Yeah, everything. I read this article in one of those business magazines about why CEOs get paid more, and the stuff in it applies to all three of us. It was all about how when you are the one in charge of making the thing, everything is on the line for you. You know? Even my personal credit score is on the line. My chances of ever getting another job are on the line. My entire writing career is on the line. Everything. Your whole life, your professional reputation, everything, and none of us could leave this place without it crumbling behind us.
Laneia: Yeah, that’s weird. It’s weird because all the people that we started off with, it was on the line for all of them too. But now we’re bigger.
Riese: Also on top of that, me and you were the only ones relying on the site to pay some of our bills. Not since the start start, but since the winter of 2009. Consistently.
Laneia: Yeah, I guess that’s right.
Riese: Although that being said, so many of our writers have let the website become an enormous piece of their lives even though they didn’t have to. They’ve put so much on the line just because they believed in it.
Laneia: Yes, so much.
Riese: But it’s also weird how much the website, especially in earlier days, was defined by our own social relationships with each other. You know? Just the language that we used and stuff.
Laneia: Yeah, we were super… just us.
Riese: And we still are now, but there’s a lot of other stuff that gets published too.
Laneia: Thank god.
Riese: I know. We were running out of things to say. We did so many good articles! I want to play that song for our archives… a love song.
Riese: I feel like when we’re all super old, we’re going to look similarly to each other, because everyone just grows up and looks the same. And then we’ll all be wearing glasses.
Rachel: We will, yeah.
Riese: And then it’ll be like these three ladies who made this website.
Rachel: On the porch drinking sweet tea. Except cyber sweet tea, because it’s the future somehow.
Laneia: Can it just be wine?
Rachel: Yeah. What wine are you drinking, Laneia?
Laneia: I’m drinking Green Fin cab from TJ’s because it’s organic.
Rachel: That sounds nice.
Riese: Oh, Green Fin. That’s my favorite vineyard.
Laneia: Is it?
Riese: I’ve never had it before. I just thought that would be a funny thing to say.
Laneia: Oh. Well, it’s organic so it doesn’t make my teeth as purple as the other stuff does.
Rachel: Oh, is that what organic does? That’s neat.
Laneia: I don’t know anything else that’s good about it. It tastes good.
Rachel: That sounds great.
Riese: Next question.
Rachel: Well, the next question, I would like to let you both know that it’s an option to opt out of this one also. That would be fine. Number nine is: What was your biggest fight about?
Riese: I imagine we would opt out?
Rachel: Sounds great. Okay.
Riese: But can we talk about how I made you a Tumblr? Do you want to talk about that?
Laneia: Oh god. Yeah, actually. That would be good. Because that was one of the things that made me come back to you.
Riese: Laneia and I had a fight, and we were taking a break from each other, right? And so I started a Tumblr called “Laneia I Love You.” And I wrote things to Laneia every day. I put up pictures and quotes and stuff. And chats we’d had. This sounds like something somebody would do in Love Actually 4.0. My least favorite movie, part Four. But yeah, I made Laneia a Tumblr every day because she wouldn’t talk to me so I just threw things at her, I guess. Until she paid attention to me.
Rachel: Were you vision boarding Laneia back into your life?
Riese: Yes. But then I got really upset one night and deleted it. Then I got so upset the next day that I couldn’t continue this one-way communication with Laneia. Do I sound like a complete psychotic person?
Laneia: I don’t think so.
Riese: But I started it anew the next day, like I couldn’t live without that channel. I was super-annoyed with myself because deleting and re-starting it meant I lost all the really quality stuff I’d made the first time around AND ruined the dramatic point of deleting it.
Laneia: It was really good before you deleted it. I mean, it was good after still. But that was the tipping point — or, one of them — during that time. I was like, okay, it’s gone?! Because a thing can only be one-sided for so long, obviously. You weren’t going to do this forever. But I definitely did need to see it, as dumb as that sounds. I needed to see you throwing shit at me for days, and me not giving anything back. I needed that. And then you took it down, I was like, well fuck. As you do.
Riese: Which is probably what I wanted, I guess.
Laneia: Probably, yeah. You just can’t keep that shit up forever. Yeah, that was really sweet.
Laneia: I mean it was really amazing, was what it was.
Riese: But we’ve never talked about it, right? Until right now?
Laneia: No, we haven’t. But it was amazing.
Riese: Have we ever mentioned it before?
Laneia: I don’t think so. No. I say this like I’m proud of it — I’m not proud of it — but I’m really good at just torching a bridge and not looking back. And you are the only fucking person who has forced me to build the bridge back.
Riese: That’s the power of Tumblr.
Laneia: Yeah it is.
Riese: And my heart. And my love for you. I did not let you leave.
Laneia: You didn’t let me leave. Like a cat. It was almost like I was a feral cat scratching, and you were like, nope! I’ll get all the diseases, don’t worry about it. Keep scratching.
Riese: It was unbearable. I was day drinking!
Laneia: That’s a rule you have, too. So that’s a big deal.
Riese: You know I never day drink! You know I never day drink.
Rachel: That’s where we should end the interview, is just Riese fading into the distance saying that she never day drinks.
Laneia: I angrily checked it probably four times a day. I appreciate that you forced me to confront and completely piece by piece deal with something that I otherwise would’ve just been like, nope! and walked away from. Because that’s obviously the easiest, most caveman mentality thing to do, is just to walk away from it.
Riese: Thank you for not walking away.
Laneia: I love you!
Riese: I love you too! I love you too. And one day when we’re very old and we live on farms, I will sell the framed page from my notebook where you wrote “I love you” a million times on eBay for like $75 and I’ll split it with you.
Laneia: Oh, I was going to say I’ll buy it.
Rachel: That’s very modern Gift of the Magi.
Riese: Yeah. Are there more questions?
Rachel: There are, Riese. There are forever more questions. Again, just approach this however you wish. However the spirit moves you. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve seen each other through?
Riese: That is really hard. Because we have really been embarrassing in front of each other. We have been really embarrassing.
Rachel: You can give it a code name. You know, like “The Kandinsky Incident of 1993” or something.
Riese: Also I have a weird memory. Because when I get upset, it’s like I’m in this different headspace altogether and I can’t remember it that well afterwards, like I blank — the same way I do when I’m drunk or speaking on stage. Because my brain wasn’t working in a typical way during that moment, so it’s hard for my typical brain to access those memories. But I know that I’ve done embarrassing shit. I mean, I can think of several already, but I know there’s one that’s probably really epic.
Laneia: I honestly can’t think of anything. I mean, aside from the obvious.
Riese: I mean, I don’t think that I’ve ever been embarrassed in front of you, because I know that it’s fine. But the things that we’ve done would be embarrassing, typically, had they been witnessed by other people.
Laneia: Oh, like one time I spilled whiskey on your bed. That was embarrassing. But was that the most embarrassing?
Riese: Oh. I was thinking about when I’ve had a mental breakdown in front of you. Or gotten really upset about something stupid.
Laneia: I don’t think that’s embarrassing, though.
Riese: I guess also there’s what happened in Palm Springs.
Laneia: Wait, what did you say that was embarrassing?
Riese: Didn’t I faint and then try to run away from everybody?
Laneia: Oh my god. That wasn’t embarrassing, that was horrifying. That was awful.
Laneia: That was so awful. I was thinking that it might be embarrassing if you could have seen you at [A-Camp May 2014] when you were quite intoxicated and I was laying in the bed with you and just sort of petting your head. And the situation itself wasn’t embarrassing, but sometimes you said really funny cute drunk things that were not necessarily out of character, you know? But…
Riese: What did I say?!
Laneia: You were so drunk. Oh my god, and then you tried to kill a moth? I think you actually ended up killing it. It was this huge massive thing and I was like, Riese, don’t step on it. And you were like, “I don’t want it to live!” And I was like, you have to not kill it! And everybody else was like, please don’t kill it. And Kip was there begging you not to kill it…
Riese: Kip was there?
Laneia: And you’re like, “I hate it!” And you did it. I think you ended up stomping it to death. And I was like, This isn’t Riese. We’re gonna take her back to bed now.
Riese: But sometimes if people seem to be entertained by something I’m saying or doing, I just keep doing it. You know? And then I try to make it bigger and bigger. And then the next day I’m like, “…Wow.”
Laneia: Yeah, that’s probably what happened.
Riese: Yeah, but I know I was so drunk. You guys, I had been so sad for so long, and I was ready to fucking party.
Rachel: I know.
Laneia: No, I don’t blame you for anything at all.
Riese: It’s so funny that Alex pulled me out of the dance and was like, “What’s wrong?” and then after listening to me talk for two minutes, she was just like, “We have to find Laneia.”
Laneia: Yeah, that’s basically it.
Riese: You’re like my Emergency Emotional Contact.
Laneia: Megan was there when you came up, and within a couple seconds of your conversation, she was like, “I’m gonna go to bed.” I was like, “All right! I’ll see you in a couple hours.” It was good. You are a funny drunk, though. Like, that level of drunk. Because there were moments when you were still being playful and happy. Not all the moments, but some of them were really funny. I mean, obviously — sometimes you’re really fucking funny. And it was really hard not to laugh because I didn’t want you to think that I wasn’t taking you seriously.
Riese: Yeah, but the whole situation was kind of funny.
Laneia: Yeah, it really was. It really was. It was a really fucking weird, neat time.
Riese: Sorry. I mean I’ve thrown up probably a bazillion times. I don’t know. It’s really hard to say.
Laneia: I think my most embarrassing moment, personally, is just like every day. So I don’t know.
Riese: That’s so annoying! When you say things like that!
Laneia: I just thought about how infrequently we’ve had the opportunity to see each other just be really drunk, without any sort of repercussions afterwards. You know what I mean? We don’t ever have a typical Friday or whatever, where people just get really drunk and stupid and say silly things and then go pass out. Because like you’ve said, we’re always at an event of some kind. We’re always doing something.
Riese: With a bunch of people who we don’t usually see. But I feel like we’ve gotten to have some times like that at Big Bear.
Laneia: I think so, too.
Rachel: Lastly, and maybe most importantly, what have you each learned from your friendship?
Riese: I mean, this is my whole life.
Laneia: I guess it’s safe to say that I feel like more of a badass at times when I definitely would not feel like a badass. Because I know that if I were to relay the situation to you, you would be like, “No, yeah, that’s fine.” I know that everything I do, even if it’s dumb, you would be like, “No, that was good. You got it. You did a great job.” And sometimes when I shouldn’t have that kind of confidence, I go ahead and I let you step in, subconsciously.
Riese: There was a time that I thought that I had hit someone’s sideview mirror with a rental car, but I wasn’t sure if I had or not. And I immediately called Laneia so that she could tell me that it was okay.
Laneia: So what you’re saying is that you learned how rental car insurance works from me.
Riese: No, I mean it’s just funny that you were saying how when you do something, I’ll tell you it’s okay, because you do the same for me!
Laneia: I remember exactly where I was that day when you were telling me that, too.
Riese: Yeah, I don’t know. That question’s weird, too. It’s really weird because our friendship has also been part of this work that we do. I feel like it makes it a lot different than other people’s interviews are going to be.
Laneia: Yeah. I want to be like, I’ve learned to take risks in my writing. But that sounds so stupid. And also maybe it’s not even true and I’m just lying to myself.
Riese: Yeah. Man, this question should be first because I don’t know where to start! Because you have also definitely influenced my writing, for sure.
Laneia: I’ve learned exactly what you’re thinking the minute after I say something like that. That’s what I’ve learned.
Riese: Yeah. I’ve learned a lot about you through our friendship. A little bit about child-rearing.
Laneia: Oh. I have to up that game, then.
Riese: Yeah. I do hope that one day we all live near each other, though.
Rachel: I also hope that.
Laneia: Yeah, I feel like it’s one of those things where when you’re little, you talk about how you’ll live in a treehouse together when you’re adults. And it seems insane but also seems totally feasible, because you don’t know what being an adult looks like. And why wouldn’t it contain that option? But at the same time it does feel completely, solidly like a thing within our grasp. Because we’ve done this. Why could we not all live on the same massive hundred-something acre property? We’ve done this, we could probably do whatever we want.
Laneia: Not necessarily well, or with tons of money, but we could definitely do it.
Riese: Yeah, I think we could do it. It’s just so exhausting to be so far away.
Laneia: I think differently when I’m around everybody else.
Riese: Yeah. Me too.
Laneia: I’m really gunning for that separatist community. But like, the good kind of separatist community.
Laneia: Did we not have a question built in about the sexual tension? Like, if there had ever been sexual tension?
Riese: Did we change it to the girlfriend question? Like, why are you friends and not girlfriends?
Rachel: Do you want a question about sexual tension?
Riese: I’m feeling sexual tension right now.
Rachel: Guys, I’m pregnant.
Riese: Are you?
Rachel: No. No, I’m not.
Riese: Because I feel like if you were you wouldn’t tell me until like, three months in, so I was like RACHEL KINCAID
Laneia: That gave me an actual panicked moment. I’m sorry. I would be so happy for you, but I just had a moment of really, really selfish—
Rachel: No, no. That was a really shitty thing to do, actually. That was not a cool move to make right there.
Riese: I’ll never forgive you!
Rachel: I mean, do you have any advice for lesbian best friends overcoming those inevitable moments of sexual tension?
Riese: I think eventually what happens is it gets later and later at night until you just fall asleep.
Rachel: Just sort of settle it into cuddling. Is that your recommendation?
Riese: Well we’ve cuddled when… we’ve slept together a lot. Slept, sleeping sleep. Sleeping. Actual sleeping.
Laneia: That one night though, I think if that other person hadn’t come over I’m not sure how that night would’ve ended.
Riese: Right, that’s true. Me neither.
Laneia: Which makes me feel bad about myself.
Riese: At the time, I think I was pretty sure it was going to go in one certain direction, you know?
Laneia: Me too, yeah.
Riese: It seemed inevitable.
Laneia: It did.
Riese: But then even in that state, it was still like, but then what would that mean?
Laneia: At that specific time in my life, I honestly did not give a shit what anything meant. So I was going to be okay with it either way. Which is not the most responsible approach to anything, obviously.
Riese: Right. And I knew that, too.
Laneia: I’m glad that you were responsible that night.
Riese: The moral of this story is that one day we’ll be able to sit on a big wraparound porch on rocking chairs on a farm in the Midwest without cell phone reception.
Laneia: That’s all I want.
Riese: Except I might take a photo for Instagram. Maybe.
Laneia: You’ll have to go somewhere else to upload it, though.
Riese: Yeah. I’d have to like go into the mall to get it developed.
Rachel: Do either of you have platitudes about friendship you’d like to share?
Riese: Get ugly.
Laneia: Yeah. I think that was always my approach, and it never worked out until Riese. Get really ugly really fast and see what happens.
Riese: Someday your friendship princess will come. And everything will be a little bit easier than it used to be.
Laneia: It’ll be a lot funnier.
Riese: I didn’t hear what you just said, but I bet it was really nice.
Laneia: I said it would be a lot funnier.
Riese: Oh, yes. Yeah.
Rachel: Good work, you two.
Laneia: Rachel, thank you so much for being here.
Rachel: It was a pleasure and an honor and a privilege. Your hair looks great.
Riese: As does mine. Mine looks so nice today.