My Sarah Warn Fantasy (It’s not what you think)

It is time that I admit out loud to cyberspace that I want to work for AfterEllen.com. Sarah Warn is the founder/editor, and I have a fantasy in which she interviews me for an ambiguously-parametered position writing and doing some copyediting.

In my fantasy, I send her an email whose subject title is “How can I get a job at AfterEllen.com?” I attach my resume to the email and Sarah Warn actually replies to it. She then proceeds to fly me out to LA, where I imagine AfterEllen.com exists, even though I have no idea since the Internet is both everywhere and nowhere. The site is owned by LOGO so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that LOGO flies interviewees to its offices for interviews. I just don’t know where said offices are so in my fantasy, they’re in LA. I arrive the night before my interview and spend the evening in my hotel room watching the local news (this is a secret travel habit of mine) and eating room service and writing. In the morning I panic over what to wear. Since it’s a fantasy, I miraculously have my entire wardrobe there in LA with me. My first impulse is to wear my brown pants, a white blouse, my lavender sweater vest, a tie, and my purple Chuck Taylors. I imagine myself striding into Sarah Warn’s office like some misguided Ellen DeGeneres protege, which I totally am. Sarah Warn would see right through me. I end up wearing my long gray skirt, with the blouse, vest, and tie, and my fabulous brown boots. In the cab on the way to the interview, I lose my nerve and take off the tie. I hide it in my bag, which is a stylish, faux leather, brown number—satchel-style, but classy. I am a little early so I am forced to wait in a chair facing Sarah Warn’s closed office door, knowing she is behind it. I wonder if she is really busy or if she just wants to show me who’s in charge. (Normally, I would wonder why she is the one interviewing me, since she is the Big Boss at AfterEllen. Doesn’t she have a minion she can order to interview over-eager women’s studies degreed women like me? But this is a fantasy and I really want to meet Sarah Warn.) While I’m waiting, I try to decide if Sarah Warn is a power lesbian. In my world she is, but my world is hardly representative of the whole world. I wonder if I should try to talk about power lesbians during the interview, to demonstrate that I am down with the lingo of the world in which Sarah Warn lives and works. I want her to like me but I also want her to be impressed by my queer straightness. And I want her to hire me. I saw this special on LOGO about power lesbians. Should I mention that I watch LOGO or is that understood?

When I finally am ushered into Sarah Warn’s office, I find it quite common-looking—a desk, a computer, some chairs, a couple windows, no Power Lesbian sign or anything. I shake her hand and grin like an idiot before taking a seat across from her. We are sitting on the same side of the desk. No symbolic hierarchical power structure here. Here is a transcript of the interview.

SW: How did you discover AfterEllen?

KP: I bought this book about The L Word, called Reading The L Word: Outing Contemporary Television, and in the introduction, you mentioned the site so I immediately went there to check it out. I think this is the first time I’ve been away from it since.

SW: (laughs) So you read that book?

KP: Yes. It was terrific. I think it’s important to examine why we like the things we like.

SW: And you like The L Word?

KP: Yes.

SW: Why?

KP: (I’m thinking, Shit. How much can I say about Jennifer Beals without seeming like a freak?) First of all, I’m interested in lesbians, in the subculture that develops when your identity doesn’t fit with mainstream culture. I think the show is important because it unapologetically puts lesbians at the center of the storytelling. Ultimately, I think the show is about stories and characters. And I really like Jennifer Beals.

SW: Do you think the show is more significant in terms of storytelling via television than it is sociopolitically in terms of bringing lesbians to the surface?

KP: I think it’s a Trojan horse of sorts in which heterosexual culture receives it in its pretty package of compelling stories offered by attractive people without actively processing that these aren’t quite the stories they’re used to.

SW: You’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the implications of The L Word.

KP: Like I said, I like lesbians.

SW: What do you do now?

KP: As employment?

SW: Yes.

KP: I substitute teach, but I am working on my MFA in creative writing.

SW: So you’re a writer?

KP: Yeah, but not like Jenny Schecter.

(We laugh.)

SW: I see you have copyediting experience.

KP: I did it at my college newspaper, and I’m very familiar with AfterEllen.com’s content so I would be good at making sure facts, dates, names, etc. are correct, in addition to dealing with the grammatical and sentence structure issues.

SW: Sounds good. Let me take you to lunch, on LOGO.

KP: Okay.

Lunch is exciting, mostly because I’m there with Sarah Warn. I am too nervous to eat so I just poke at my salad and laugh at everything she says. I hope she doesn’t think I want to sleep with her. How can I be fawning without being creepy or flirty? I wonder if at some point, I should announce that I am not a lesbian. I know that it’s against the law to ask someone’s sexual orientation in a job interview, but I feel like Sarah Warn should know that I am straight. I am wearing my wedding ring, but I keep thinking about how Dana had a big rock when she and Tonya were engaged. After lunch, Sarah makes a call and then tells me I can work at AfterEllen.com. I am elated. I will start as a copyeditor and then we’ll figure out if there is anything for me to write. I have a feeling there will be, but I’m still finding my authority on lesbianism. As we part, as I am thanking her profusely, she says I will bring a freshness to the site. I wonder if that is her way of letting me know that she knows that I am straight. Maybe it was the way I said, “I’m interested in lesbians.”

So that’s the fantasy. I really am going to email her and ask her how I can work for AfterEllen.