On flannel and gratitude and Annie Oakley

images[2]Our youngest has a role in this year’s high school musical. They are performing “Annie Get Your Gun” this spring.

Yesterday afternoon, I took him to a couple of local thrift stores to look for a pair of cowboy boots. We found a pair that fit on sale for $14. Yeehaw!

I am letting him borrow a western-styled flannel shirt to wear in the play.

“Do you have a shirt my friend Sandy can borrow?” he asks.

As I am sorting through a pile of flannel looking for a shirt for his friend, I am struck by the volume of my collection.

Sometimes we take for granted all that we have. The roof over our heads, our overstocked pantry and freezer. The ability to buy a new shirt whenever and just because and flannel!

Even though we ended up going the thrift store route for the cowboy boots, we have the means to buy our kids new boots for a play, a suit jacket for chorus, tools for vo-tech.

Not everyone is so lucky.

“If any other kids need flannel shirts, let me know,” I tell him.

“Ok, I’ll tell the play director to let everyone know,” he says.

When W comes home that night we laugh.

We can’t wait to hear what he told the director of the play.

“My butch mother has flannel shirts for everyone!”

So stereotypical but so true.

Flannel, it’s for butches. It’s for young thespians and gunslingers and lumberjacks. Everyone, really.

So, yeah, it’s good to be butch. It’s good to share. And it’s good to remember to be grateful for all that we have.

* * *

What are you grateful for today?

In concert with the Indigo Girls

“Are you going to blog that I cried at the Indigo Girls concert?” W asked.

“Of course not,” I replied.

“I don’t mind,” she said.

“Right, you’re not a butch,” I said.

So there was that. W cried. But not until the “Closer to Fine” encore.

We were five rows from the stage for this special acoustic show.

“Feel free to ask questions,” Emily said right after the opening number, “Power of Two.”

The audience did, and the duo told stories about their kids, getting older and who they’d like to see in concert. (Taylor Swift. Seriously.) When someone asked why the new album doesn’t have a track number 11, they admitted it was a proofreading error.

“We’re never going to be professionals,” Amy said.

And I think that’s the charm of the Indigo Girls. They have this down-to-earth appeal.

They played “Galileo” right before “Closer to Fine.” That made me happy. God, I love that song.

It was a perfect day. Me, W and the Indigo Girls. And then we rode off into the sunset.

 

This is what we saw on the ride home.

 

“Now the parking lot is empty

Everyone’s gone someplace

I pick you up and in the trunk I’ve packed

A cooler and a 2-day suitcase

Cause there’s a place we like to drive

Way out in the country

Five miles out of the city limit we’re singing

And your hand’s upon my knee”

— Indigo Girls, “Power of Two”

* * *

What about you? What’s the last concert you saw?

When I was a Boy

Not sure how I’ve never heard this song before. So beautiful. And perfect. Thank you for sharing.

This Soft Space

I hadn’t listened to Dar Williams in a while but today this song came up. I found I had a much deeper perspective on it than I did when I first heard it years ago. Seems like it needs to make the rounds to a lot of kids these days.

I wont forget when Peter Pan
Came to my house, took my hand
I said, “I was a boy”
Im glad he didnt check

I learned to fly, I learned to fight
I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each others lives
Out on the pirates deck

And I remember that night
When Im leaving a late night with some friends
And I hear somebody tell me
Its not safe, someone should help me

I need to find a nice man to walk me home
When I was a boy
I scared the pants off of my…

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Searching for the Indigo Girls

 W and I are seeing the Indigo Girls on Sunday in what is being billed as a special acoustic performance. I got her tickets for her birthday.

Today, I stopped by our local Best Buy to pick up the new Indigo Girls CD. Yes, we still buy CDs. We are old school like that. Word to your mother.

I couldn’t find the CD on the shelves, so I sought out a Best Buy employee to aid in the search. Before all was said and done, there were three boys in blue huddled around a computer screen and then the CD rack. One of them handed me a copy of “One Lost Day.”

So, how many Best Buy employees does it take to help a lesbian find the new Indigo Girls album? The answer is three.

Being butch and Barry Manilow

I had a 45-minute drive yesterday.  I was tired of listening to sports radio and NPR.  Even my 80s station didn’t appeal.

So, I popped open my four-CD collection of Barry Manilow’s greatest hits.  I belted out the lyrics to “I Write the Songs” and “Mandy” and “Weekend in New England.”

It felt like the unbutchest thing I’ve done in a long time.  Even though there was Lola “with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there.”

But I didn’t care.  It was just me and Barry in my Altima “singin’ to the world.”

And then I realized it was perhaps the butchest thing I’d done in awhile.

* * *

What about you?  What’s the unbutchest/butchest thing you’ve done lately?

On the verge in 2016

2015 was a pretty spectacular year for your favorite butch blogger.

I landed a publishing contract and my book, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender, was released on June 26. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s the same day the U.S. Supreme Court issued its marriage equality ruling.

W and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

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Call me a sucker for a head of feathered hair back in the day.

I not only survived my first public speaking gig but shined. Like Farrah Fawcett’s pretty feathered hair circa 1974.

I was sitting in my writers’ group right before the holidays thinking about how far I’ve come and outlining goals for 2016. I was feeling joyful and content surrounded by writers who are not only colleagues but friends.

And that’s when I realized how close I am to having it all figured out. To being happy and content in all aspects of my life.

W and I always talk about being “on the verge.” You know that place, don’t you?

Sure, things are good now. But you’re on the verge of something better.  You’re almost there. You’re so close. You just need to figure one thing out, work on that one last thing.

I have this copied in my quote journal:

“I’ll probably really figure out exactly how to be alive right when I’m gasping for my last breath.”

— Jane Hamilton, The Book of Ruth

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Do I smell an Emmy? And Tony for the musical version?

I used to think that would be me. Having a giant epiphany about how to live when I’m on my deathbed. It would be so dramatic. Hilary Swank would play me in the Lifetime made for TV movie. The all-flannel wardrobe would be designed by Michael Kors or maybe the guy who designs the Chaps brand for Kohl’s.

I had a real epiphany at my writers’ group that day. We’re always “on the verge.” All of us. At least if you’re growing. That’s life. One verge after another.

The trick is to enjoy the ride.

So, 2016? Bring it on.

* * *

What about you?  What are you on the verge of in 2016?

What I learned from some blue jays

imagesYVV4JR9TA few weeks before Christmas, I saw three blue jays in our backyard. Three blue jays lined up on a white picket fence, their painted crowns poking into the morning sky.

I knew there was some meaning in my sighting. I went to my computer and looked up the blue jay as an animal totem.

“If you have a Blue Jay totem, you must learn to use your personal power properly. Be careful not to become a bully. The word ‘jay’ comes from the Latin word ‘Gaea’ which is Mother Earth. A Blue Jay totem links you directly with the power of the Earth itself. It can link the heavens and the Earth and give you access to universal energies and power.”

I try to remember to be a partner and a parent and not a bully. Sometimes the line is blurred, especially because I am a person who admires strength as both a physical and mental quality.

I watched the oldest child do his second load of laundry. Ever. I wanted to yell at him to go through his pockets first.

This is the kid who carries around lighters and pocket knives, paperclips and disassembled pen parts, and other shiny detritus he finds on the ground.

But then I see him sifting through his blue jean pockets without my nagging.

The middle child always tells me what I want to hear. He has figured out that this is one way to get me off his back.

“Did you bring your dishes downstairs?” I ask.

“Yes,” he tells me.

I find his dirty dishes in his dresser drawer.

“You know that drawer doesn’t actually wash the dishes,” I say.

“Oh, I didn’t know,” he replies.

We laugh.

Laughter is a better sound than yelling.

After all, they are just dishes. Discs made out of clay.

We are made out of clay, too.

We can cut each other with our words.

Or build each other up so that we are so tall our heads poke into the clouds.

* * *

I saw another blue jay on Christmas Eve.

imagesBKLFD6HVOn the day after Christmas, I saw a red fox.

“Since the fox lives ‘between times’ — on the edge of land, visible as dusk and dawn, and can guide the way to the Faerie Realm. A fox can teach you to control your aura so that you can be more in harmony with others and the world.

If you have a fox totem, learning to be invisible is very important in your life. Imagine yourself blending in with your surroundings, becoming part of the background. Be very still and quiet. Through practice you can be unnoticed even at a party or in a crowd.

A fox totem also teaches good eating habits; the fox eats small amounts frequently which medicine is now telling us is better for our health.”

* * *

What about you? What are your animal totems?

The information on each animal totem comes from Lin’s Domain.

Middle-age Butch speaks

So, guys, I had my corporate speaking gig on Thursday.  It went really well.  Who’s the butch?  That would be me.

Remember how nervous I was?  I wrote about my fear here.

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Looking good.

To get myself psyched up, I watched wrestling.  And I wore my power tie.  One that had belonged to a friend who passed away a few weeks ago.  The guy got things done.  I’m taking you with me, I told him.  I figured I needed all the help I could get.

And there at 11:30 a.m. I stood in the front of a conference room full of people in my black Dr. Marten’s and navy blue vest and red-and-blue striped silk tie.

I talked about the power of story.  I told this story:

About 20 years ago, my mother threw me a bridal shower at a very fancy country inn.

I had wanted a bowling alley bridal shower with rented shoes and pepperoni pizza and pitchers of beer.

Note: You might be a lesbian and should not be marrying a man if you want your bridal shower to be held at a bowling alley.

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Me and my flowered dress.

There I stood in a pair of black high heels and a flowered dress drinking punch out of a small glass cup with a handle.  I wore a paper plate hat made out of ribbons and bows.  The shower was ending and I was supposed to thank everyone for coming.

I froze.  I had to be rescued by my best friend.

Penn State was playing Michigan that day.  “Kick-off is in 30 minutes,” she said.  “We have to go.”  We were PSU alumni after all.

And that’s been our running joke or running story.  “Kick-off is in 30 minutes.”  It has gotten me out of every single uncomfortable situation for the past 20 years.

I rewrote my story on Thursday.

I’ve never been big on all of that positive thinking stuff. It’s always seemed hokey.

But I’m thinking about things differently these days.  I’m careful with the stories I tell myself.  I pay close attention to the thoughts I allow in my head.

It just goes to show what a flip in your thinking can do.  That and a power necktie.

* * *

What personal story do you want to rewrite?

Restroom heroics

images[7]This is for everyone who has ever felt uncomfortable using a gender-specific public restroom.

And for everyone else, too.  Those individuals who have never felt uneasy or unsafe using a public restroom that corresponds with their gender.  If you fit into this category, see what it’s like to be butch or genderqueer.  Walk in my big butch shoes for just a few minutes.

Read what happened to me when I used a public ladies room when I was on vacation.  My story has been published at The James Franco Review.

Baby, it’s cold in here

W has been home sick for the past two weeks.  And two days.  Not that I’m counting or anything.

She’s had pneumonia.  She’s been on steroids.

Her internal thermostat is out of whack.

It is 3o degrees outside.  W is wearing a camisole.  Our bedroom window is open.  The overhead fan is on.

She’s like this guy:

  
W tells me to put on more clothes.

“I can only get so naked,” she says.  “You can keep putting on more clothes.”

It is one of the few times in my life that the prospect of a naked woman does absolutely nothing for me.

I ask W if she wants me to look like this dude:

  

She suggests that I move into the spare room upstairs where it’ll be warmer.

I know she is kidding.  I know she can’t sleep without me.

But baby, it’s cold in here.