the genius plan.

I love the L word and Jen hates it with the firey passion of a thousand suns. Sunday nights when it airs, we inevitably decamp to our own corners, to feed our own guilty pleasures. Jen on one couch, curled up with a book that probably has a dragon illustration on the cover or maybe a gryffon, and me on the other couch, panting after my next glance at Jennifer Beals.

The L Word just wrapped up its fifth and penultimate season, and to stave off withdrawal, I decided to go back to the beginning. I got a season 1 dvd from the gay library where I volunteer and popped it in one weekend morning before Jen was awake. I do love to taunt her with my L Word, but I know there's only so far I can push her before she breaks.

The series in general focuses on the lives (and loves and libidios and ludicrously bad decisions) of a group of LA lesbians. The characters I am most interested in (and attracted to) are Bette and Tina, a committed couple who have broken up and reunited several times over the 5 seasons, and who have a child together. I like the angst, I think they're pretty and I love that they have a kid. But as much as I am Bette and Tina centric, I didn't realize how much of the first season, and in particular, the pilot episode, focused on their attempts to get Tina pregnant.

In this episode, Tina and Bette have been trying to get pregnant with ICI at home using fresh sperm for 6 months. Still not pregnant, they have decided to step it up, and are shown collecting the donor's sperm and driving to the doctor's office for IUI. The doctor checks on the sperm under a microscope and has to deliver the sad news that their donor's sperm is non-motile. They then spend a lot of time over the rest of the episode (which spans the course of a month) trying to find another donor. It all culminates in an attempt to rope a young, hot, artsy guy into a threeway to get his sperm. But he backs out when they tell him not to wear a condom, on to their seed stealin' ways. Bette and Tina then proceed to have extremely extremely hot sex and reaffirm their love and connection to one another.

People often criticize the L word for this scene, *I've* criticized the L word for this threeway scene, but watching it again, being in a similar position to Bette as I did so, I saw a lot more truth in it than I had previously. The character of Bette, as a non-carrying partner, is not solely responsible for providing sperm, but in a way, somehow being the conduit of the sperm is her only role in the conception. She's an intelligent, controlling woman, and she takes that role lightly at first - assuming that this, like the other things she's tried to accomplish, will be done, and done well in short order. But as things progress and she can't sweet talk or cajole or boss the sperm into magically appearing, she gets kind of desperate. She's so proud when she finally does come up with a donor for them, and crushed when he's not what Tina had in mind. Finally, she'll do whatever it takes to get Tina pregnant, even if it means sharing her with a random dude that neither of them is too sure of. Its a stupid move, and perhaps uncharacteristic for someone painted as so smart and composed, but its also a testament to her desire to make a family with Tina. And I can relate. I fantasize about making sperm appear for Jen.

In the threesome aftermath, before the hot sex, Bette says "That was...CRAZY."

And Tina replies "I thought it was a genius plan."

And that's how inseminating goes. It pushes you past the limits of what you previously saw as the logical boundaries of your relationship. As a lesbian, you have to move past those limits to let the idea of sperm to enter the picture in the first place. And once you have, its a constant renegotiation of those limits. So maybe some strange and otherwise untenable solutions seem like a great idea. Would we use an asian donor? Would we be open to co-parenting with a man we know well? a man we don't know well? Would we spend $200 a vial on sperm? $300? $600? Jen and I have answered most of those questions already, but now that we're going IUI, we do have consider new donors again. I'm pretty certain the search won't end in a threeway, but I don't exactly know where it will end.

Sometimes I allow myself to think past the conception process and imagine actually having a child, and what questions people might ask. I especially think about what my family will say. How did I pick a person to fill the biological gap that represents me? I am them. How did I decide? There's a process of course. Criteria and availability and timing issues. But I don't know if any answers can help them see our eventual choice for the genius plan it will have to be.

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