The post that had me stuck

Me

Me

This is the post that has me stuck.  This is the reason I haven’t posted in so long.  I’ve been working on this post for weeks.  I keep writing and editing, and I still can’t find the right words.  I’m angry.  I’m annoyed.  Although I can’t exactly put my finger on what’s bothering me so much. Remember the electronic memory game Simon from the 1970’s?  All of my buttons have been pushed, and I’m lit up red, green, blue and yellow.  This post isn’t perfect, but I need to let go so I can move forward.

* * *

Just when I was starting to get comfortable.  Just when I was starting to feel safe and accepted.  Just when I was starting to think I’m like everyone else.

I mean, same-sex marriage is now legal in Pennsylvania.  W and I took the plunge and got married in October.  Just like straight couples do.

I feel welcome in our small town.  I am warmly greeted at the veterinarian’s office, at the checkout line in the grocery store, at Kohl’s, at the local pizza place and ice cream shop.  Me, a girl, with too-short hair and too-long sideburns.

I never notice anyone giving me the cold shoulder.  No one ever shrieks or flees when I walk into a place of business, even when I’m having a bad hair day.  Just kidding! A butch never has a bad hair day.

It’s been years since anyone has shouted “faggot” or “dyke” in my direction from the safety of their moving cars.

I had been lulled into a sense safety and comfort much like a baby in one of those automated swings.  Silly, butch.

(Not real picture.)

(Not real picture.)

And then someone questioned the value of something I had written because of two reasons: I am a woman and a lesbian.  I will call this person Angel of the Bottomless Pit (not real name).

For a few seconds I felt smaller than usual, and my words felt lighter than usual.  And then I got mad.

It was a sneak attack.  I never saw it coming.

Now, I’m on a mission to get my book published.

I often think of the C.S. Lewis quote : “We read to know we are not alone.”

There is tremendous power in seeing your reflection in the pages of someone else’s book.

I remember tearing up feeling all emotional but not really crying reading Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon’s book Gender Failure earlier this year.  I never knew people wrote books for people like me.

I have committed to making a big push to find an agent or a publishing house to pick up my memoir. (If you know of anyone who might be interested, please let me know.)  If I don’t get any takers, I’ll self-publish in 2015.

I am now certain of the value of my story.

Of course, it is a story about being gay, being lesbian, being butch.  But there’s more.

If you have ever felt different, you will see yourself in the pages of my book.  If you have ever pretended to be someone you weren’t, you will see yourself in my book.  If you have ever thought there was something wrong with you but didn’t know what, you will see yourself in my book.  It is a book for outsiders, loners, those who march to the beat of their own drums.  And to the beat of Melissa Etheridge because M.E. rocks.

It is a book for anyone who has struggled with identity, shame, fear.  It is a book about finding oneself and shining brighter than you ever thought possible.  Bright as a gold button caught in the rays of the afternoon sun.

At it’s core, it’s a tale about being human.

I thought everyone would be able to relate to that.

The butch is back

HelpWe had a great Thanksgiving day.

And then I was getting ready for bed.  You know, putting on my flannel PJs.

“I think I’m getting sick,” I told W.

“Maybe you’re hung over,” she said.

I did drink a lot of red wine.  Various relatives kept telling me it was “sipping” wine.  Whatever that means.

Turns out it wasn’t a hangover.  It was a cold.

I cleared my schedule for the following week and stayed in bed watching wrestling videos.  Don’t judge.

W was great.  She bought groceries and brought me food and took care of things around the house.

Truth be told, I wasn’t that sick.  I felt like I needed some down time, and for once my schedule was cooperative.

“You usually don’t let me help you,” W commented the other night.

I don’t.  I’m a butch.  We can do everything ourselves.  We don’t need help.  Even when we’re sick.

Don’t tell the other butches … but it was kind of nice to be taken care of for a few days.

* * *

Are you a can-do butch?  Do you find it hard to ask for and accept help?

Rest in peace, Leslie Feinberg

Leslie Feinberg You were THE BUTCH among butches.  You lived your life according to your terms, letting others know such a thing was possible.

Middle-age butch checks in

I’m alive.

Coming up for air.

Writing like a big bad butch.

This update is brought to you by Red Bull. And all the cups of coffee I’ve consumed.  Thank you, Red Bull and coffee.

Things that have happened since my last post:

I have learned that marriage is a money saver.  Straight people have been sitting on this secret for years.  When we paid our auto insurance premium last month, we updated our status to married.  Progressive ended up sending us a check for $46.  That’s right, married people get free money.  For being married.  So, if you live in a state that allows same-sex marriage, go for it.  Because free money.

xx

Married people get free money just for being married.

I changed one of the main characters in my novel in progress from a former beauty queen to a former female wrestler. Does anyone out there remember GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling)? It debuted in 1986. C’mon lesbians, think.  Extra points if you can name any of these spandexed gals.

Do you remember this show?

Do you remember this show?  Do you know these women?

W is on a lavender kick. She bought this new lavender butter (not for toast!) that she rubs on before bed. After she coats herself in a thin coat of lavender, she rubs it on my cheeks and my chin and under my nose. I giggle because it seems so girly.  But I have been sleeping like a giant butch baby.  Zzzzzzz.

This is what I dream about at night?

This is what I dream about at night?

And W is great.  She humors me about this crazy writing thing.  Like when I start talking to myself, she gently asks who I’m talking to.  And at night when I say that maybe I’m not a fiction writer after all, she just rolls over and says “goodnight, baby.”

Back to the grind. If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, feel free to add me  as a buddy(my handle is rtheo).

Middle-age Butch to embark on crazy writing journey

Dear Flannel Files Followers,

Your favorite butch is taking leave from blogging and her sanity for the month of November. Yes, I will be partaking of National Novel Writing Month.  For those of you who are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s a commitment to write 50,000 words in one month.

Melissa EtheridgeConsider it challenging and insane, like trying to count the number of lesbians at a Melissa Etheridge concert. 59, 60, 61 … Did I already count the one with the short hair?

I have an idea for a novel. And very little free time.  Which should make for an interesting combo.

Plus, I’ve never written a novel before. Or even fiction for that matter.  I’ve always found enough material examining my own life, self-involved butch that I am.

I will try to check in once in awhile. Because I just can’t quit you people!

Fifty thousand words in 30 days. Talk about crazy.  Talk about butch.

StraightjacketSend good thoughts or straightjackets, in flannel, preferably.

If you’re doing NanoWriMo this year, give a shout back. Misery, company and all that good stuff.

Middle-age Butch

 

 

P.S. Supplies purchased today from big box store.

Red Bull and Skinny Pop

Not butch enough for haunted things

My W is here.

My W is here.

“My hersband is too afraid to go,” W texted her friends from work.

They are going to Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary tonight. The website bills it as “A Massive Haunted House in a REAL PRISON.”

No thanks. Count me out.  I will stay home and watch reruns of Orange Is the New Black, which is a comedy set in a FAKE PRISON.

I know what you’re thinking, faithful followers.  Middle-age Butch, you are the butchest person I know.  Aren’t you butch enough for a little old haunted house?

Um, no.

I am butch enough to wear flannel everyday of the week.  I am butch enough to arm wrestle k.d. lang.  I am butch enough to wear a necktie when every other woman in the room is wearing a dress.

But this butch doesn’t do haunted houses or haunted hayrides or anything else that involves paying a fee to be scared.

That is not butch. That is stupid.

W is paying $20 to be scared by chainsaw-wielding strangers wearing face paint and fake blood.

If anyone out there wants a really good fright, mail me $20.  Tell me your worst fear, or I can make one up for you.

  • Dear Netflix Subscriber, We regret to inform you that there will not be a Season 3 of Orange Is the New Black.
  • Good news!  I’ve cleared my calendar and will be able to stay with you through the holidays!  All of them!!  Love, Mom
  • Dear Former Student, It wasn’t just a recurring bad dream.  You really are three credits short.  We will be revoking your diploma.

When I was a teenager, my father took me to a haunted house at the New Jersey shore.  I remember crowding into a room that was supposed to be an elevator with a bunch or other people and being scared to death.  I thought I was going to die.  It was the last time I held my dad’s hand.

The Shining

Too much blood for this butch.

I am not a fan of horror movies either. I can count the scary movies that I’ve seen on two hands (hands missing several digits due to an accident involving farm equipment) — Poltergeist, Children of the Corn, Silence of the Lambs, The Blair Witch Project.  I started watching The Shining when I was in college, but my friends had to remove me from the theater because I was turning green and about to pass out from all the blood.

Alas, I am a delicate butch.

I did tell W that if she doesn’t come home tonight I will look for her.

In the morning.

When the sun comes up.

It’s what any butch would do.

* * *

Do you like haunted houses and scary movies?

Butch wife

I never wanted a wife.

I never wanted to be a wife.

Kate and Allie

Kate and Allie: I would have been the hilarious one on the right.

I figured a way around all of that tradition sometime in the ’80s. I suggested to my college roommate that after graduation we get a place and live, you know, like Kate and Allie.  It would be a 24/7 slumber party eating raw cookie dough right from the tube and staying up late to watch reruns of The Facts of Life.  (I watched way too much TV back then).  I would be Allie, played by comedy legend and pioneer Jane Curtain, because of my rapier wit and she could be Kate, played by Susan Saint James, because she had darker hair.

“Yeah, no,” she replied.

I offered for her to be Allie, but she still wasn’t buying into my vision of two women living under the same roof and raising kids.

Yes, she was narrow minded.

And I was deep in the closet, back with the unused ski equipment and broken umbrella.

Flash forward almost 30 years, and I am a wife. I have a wife, too.  Who even knew such things were possible?

I do not look like a wife.

Did anyone else have a crush on Donna Reed?

Did anyone else have a crush on Donna Reed?

Wilma Flintstone was a wife. Donna Reed, wife.  June Cleaver.  Laura Petrie.  Carol Brady.  Jane Jetson.

Before W and I said I do, we had a conversation about her referring to me as her wife.

“I wouldn’t say anything in front of anyone, but I would cringe inside every time you said the word ‘wife,'” I said.

It is the association with traditional female roles and stereotypes that bothers me. It is fingernails on chalkboard.

It is the same way I felt when I was 10-years-old and forced to pick out back-to-school clothes from the girls’ section of the department store.

W comes home these days and greets me as she’s walking through the door.

“Hi, wifey.”

“There you are, wife.”

I laugh.  She laughs.

We are still dumbstruck by the fact that we are married. Legally married.  Like non-gay people.

It is all new. We are still adjusting.

When W asks what she should call me, I tell her I don’t know. I don’t know yet.  Sometimes I feel I’m still in transition, in flux.  That it’ll all shake out one day.  That I’ll know the answer then.

I feel bad for W, because I make everything so difficult.

If I’m not a wife, what am I?  I’m not a husband.  A spouse?  Partner?  That’s how we referred to each other in the old days, before we had a piece of paper that says we’re married.

I think about what it means to be a butch. Sure, it is about flannel shirts and comfortable shoes and football on Sunday and Monday and every other day of the week and beer and treating your lady like a queen.

images[7]But it is also about having the courage to be different, to be who you are. To answer to “sir” when you are anything but.  To be mistaken for a young man when you are nearing menopause.  It is about wearing a necktie when every other woman in the room is wearing a dress.  And venturing into the women’s bathroom — that room with a door marked with the silhouette of a person wearing a dress — when you don’t know what kind of reception awaits.

So, yeah. Butch wife.  Maybe I can handle that.  On my terms.  In my way.

Listening to sports radio when I bake cookies for the kids. Or wearing a tie when I take my wife out to dinner on date night.

Anyone got a problem with that?

* * *

What do you call your significant other?