Stuck and unstuck

Sometimes I get stuck.  Not literally stuck like in a turnstile or a revolving door.  Help.  Stuck.  Can’t pass through.

Or actually stuck while trying on a gold glitter tube top.  (I apologize in advance for the image.)  Aaaaaaah!  Aaaaaaah!  Aaaaaaah!  Butch!  Stuck!  In!  Tube!  Top!

But stuck nonetheless.

Other people never seem to have this problem.  They seem to have it all together.

When I get stuck, I do all sorts of things except try to get myself unstuck.

Some things I might do instead of unsticking myself:

  • Work.
  • Read.
  • Nap.
  • Check my Twitter feed.  Every five minutes.
  • Cook.
  • Eat.
  • Play with cats.
  • Watch marathons of Total Divas.
  • Daydream that I am a little known Kardashian.  Butch Kardashian.

When I am stuck:

This is how I feel when I'm stuck

The only way I know how to get unstuck is to do the thing I’m stuck at.  And that’s the thing I really don’t want to do.

Things I’d rather do than do the stuck thing:

  • Eat hot sauce.
  • Work.
  • Clean.
  • Give a speech.  At a Republican convention.
  • Listen to country and western music.
  • Dance to the song It’s Raining Men.
  • Read 50 Shades of Gray for non-comedic purposes.

So, after I’ve done everything else that I can think of, I’ll do the stuck thing.

First, of course, I’ll make a horrible face and make things seem worse than they really are.  I’m a drama butch, after all.

Butch Smiley Face

Then I’ll do the stuck thing.

At first taking lots of breaks to do important things like load one glass in the dishwasher, organize paperclips and clean cat hair from out of computer keyboard.

And then going back to doing the stuck thing.

Before I know it, my hair is not on fire.  I am not shrieking.

I am just doing the unstuck thing.

I am unstuck.

xx

When all is right in my world, this is what it looks like.

* * *

What do you when you’re stuck?  How do you get unstuck?

Cat sandwich

Cat

My son says our cat Magic is purebred.

W says she’s inbred.

Getting ready for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here.

I am a romantic at heart.  I am like Elizabeth Barrett Browning in flannel.

I am a traditionalist.  I am like the Rick Santorum  of gift giving.  Roses.  Chocolates.  One of those fancy greeting cards with the word “Wife” embossed in gold and sprawled across the front in cursive letters.  Maybe a poem or a special note if the muse is present.

I am a planner.  I am like a survivalist when it comes to gifts.  I look for little gifts and trinkets throughout the year.  Things I think W or the kids might like.  I buy them and place them in my gift stash located in the basket on the bottom shelf of my closet.

xx

Shhh …

I am sneaky.  I am like Sylvester the cat trying to catch that poor old canary.  If W and I are out shopping and she points out something she likes, I make a mental note.  I’ll go back when she’s not with me, buy the item and save it for later.

The first Valentine’s Day that W and I were together, I gave her a big basket filled with books, CDs, DVDs, candy, coffee …  It was like she had won one of those basket raffles.  Or a gift horse had just thrown up all over my apartment.  I was in full-on wooing mode.

But this Valentine’s Day, I won’t be pulling out all the stops.  We have all three kids.  And W has been in a funk.  I’m pretty sure she won’t be up for a full-on Valentine’s day celebration.

And that’s ok.

Will you go see Kinky Boots with me?

Will you go see Kinky Boots with me?

We are at that point in our relationship where we celebrate occasions in a clump.  We are going to New York City at the end of March to see Kinky Boots on Broadway, and that will be our Christmas/Valentine’s Day/my birthday celebration all rolled into one.  We keep the fires of romance burning with these little getaways once or twice a year.  It’s like injecting our relationship with a shot of testosterone but without the facial hair.

On Valentine’s Day, I will give the kids and W candy from a little chocolate shop down the street.  I like to support our local businesses.  Two of the kids like these thin patties of caramel covered in milk chocolate.  The other one prefers dark chocolate-covered cherries.  W loves their milk chocolate salted caramels.  I’ll hand out a few other surprises and call it a day.

Our relationship is solid, so there’s no need to buy or persuade or prove with gifts.

I have tried to provide W with a soft place to fall while she sorts things out.

Patience is quiet.

So is love.

Those are the gifts I offer this year.

All caught up in The L Word

The L WordW and I are just emerging from a fugue-like state brought on by binge watching six seasons of The L Word.  That’s 78 episodes if you’re counting along at home.

W had been scanning through the offerings on Netflix and stumbled upon the series.  And there we were watching Jenny Schecter being accosted by Marina Ferrer in a bathroom somewhere in California.

Skinny white girl.

One word.  Shane.

There was no stopping us once we got started.  We couldn’t get enough Bette, Tina, Alice and of course, Shane.  Swoon.

Now, I have to get back to my real life and stop pretending I’m a famous writer who hangs out in Los Angeles’ coolest coffee shop by day and attends only the hippest and hottest Girl/Grrrl parties by night.  (Please tell me all nine seasons of The Facts of Life are NOT on Netflix.  Just the thought is so tempting.)

We had watched The L Word when it first ran on Showtime.  Flash forward ten years, and here’s what stuck out this time around:

* Wow, what a groundbreaking show.  The L Word certainly was ahead of its time.  It paved the way for Girls and Orange Is the New Black.

* Are there no butch women in L.A.?  I used to think Shane was kinda butch.  She’s not.  Like Papi says upon meeting the legendary Shane: “You’re just a skinny white girl.”  So true.

* I always wanted to be Shane.  Or maybe Shane’s wingwoman.  You know, me and Shane hanging out, picking up the ladies.  This time around, I realized Shane is kinda a jerk.

* And what’s up with Shane’s hairstyling skills?  It’s tousling of hair.  That’s what it is.  Tousling.  Of hair.

Ivan, you rock.

Ivan, you rock.

* Ivan Aycock.  I want to be Ivan Aycock.

* Can you spell infidelity?  So much cheating.  Keep it in your pants, ladies.

* Jenny Schecter is actually interesting and likable in the first few seasons.  Whether you like her or hate her, there is no The L Word without her.

Max, you deserved better.

Max, you deserved better.

* Really, couldn’t you have been a little more sensitive toward the transitioning Max?  Max, I’ll be your friend.  We’ll go to a sports bar, drink some beer and eat some wings.  Forget those high femmes.  Call me.  And really Part 2: Did you have to make Max pregnant?  Really?

* What a total waste of Xena: Warrior Princess.  Um, you couldn’t find a better role for Lucy Lawless than some hack detective?  Other ideas: L.L. has an affair with Bette.  Or Xena herself chops off Jenny’s head with her sword, places it on a stake in front of The Planet and runs off with Alice.  No one saw that coming.  Discuss.

* * *

Ok, y’all remember The L Word. Why don’t we play Marry, Kill, Screw.  I’ll go first ’cause it’s my blog.

Marry — Tina because she seems the most normal.  Ands she’s cute.  Except when she’s with Henry.  She’s hideous then. (W votes for Tasha because she’s into all that officer/gentleman stuff.)

Kill — Everyone is going to say Jenny.  And, in a twist of irony, Jenny dies in the series finale. So, I’ll go with someone else.  I’ll go with Dylan because she is uber-annoying.  And she doesn’t deserve Helena, the British bombshell.  (W goes with Jenny.  She is wearing her “Kill Jenny Schecter” T-shirt as I type.)

Screw — Helena.  (W says Latino hottie Carmen.  She loves Carmen.  You have no idea.)

 

The butch lands a book deal

Wonder WomanAs Wonder Woman might say: Holy Hera!

Your favorite butch blogger is going to be a published author.  It’s true.  I swear on all that is flannel.

My book will be a part of Weasel Press’ 2015 lineup.  You can check out this small, independent publisher here.  If you look hard enough, you just might learn my true identity.

The book’s working title is Leaving Normal: Living in the Middle of Boy/Girl.  The editing process has already begun.  Hard copies are expected by early summer.

I am excited and thrilled and still in that I-can’t-believe-this-is-really-happening phase.  Ok, pinch me one more time.

I’ll keep y’all posted.

A big thanks to everyone who reads this blog and at one time or another let me know that my voice is important.

Take me or leave me

Mother

Not really my mother.

When I turned 40, I threw myself a birthday party at a lesbian bar in Philadelphia.  I invited my friends.  I invited my mom and dad and brother.

My mother called me before the party.

“There won’t be anything there that will embarrass your father?” she asked.

My mother called me before the holidays to inquire about my book.

“There won’t be anything in it that will embarrass your son?” she asked.

I know the question she really wants to ask:

Will I be embarrassed?

I don’t know how to answer that.  I don’t know what will embarrass her and what won’t.  I tell myself it’s not my job to protect her from my past or my present.

Mostly, my mother is an extra in these stories.  She is background noise.

This is her big line:

“You’re not going to wear that?”

It’s said inquisitively and with a modicum of disgust.  The emphasis lands on “that.”

I remember when I broke up with my old girlfriend and she mailed a big manila envelope of stuff to my parents.  Pictures of us together kissing (egad, lesbians!)and suggestive e-mails between me and my new girlfriend (also known as W) that she had intercepted.  She was a real charmer, that one.

It was a mess.  My mother told me that she had read everything because it came to her house and it was her duty.  Interestingly, she shielded my father from such tawdry stuff.

My therapist pointed out that my mother had made a choice.  She chose to read what was in that little packet of smut mailed to her house.  She could have started reading and then chosen to ignore the rest.

The universe

Isn’t the universe the keeper of all stories?

I think about my book and my stories and wonder who they belong to.  Are they mine?  Do I own them like I own my car even though I don’t have a title.  Do they belong to the universe?  Doesn’t the universe own the letters that form the words that make up my story?

Do I have an obligation to make sure my stories don’t cause anyone any embarrassment?

They certainly weren’t written with the intent of harming anyone or making anyone feel uncomfortable.  Even though they are stories about embarrassment and discomfort.  Like that time the guy in the drive-thru called me “sir” and realized a split second later that I was a ma’am.  Or that time my grade school girlfriends asked me who I liked and I randomly offered the name of some boy from our class because I didn’t like any boys the way they did.

I know I have to release all of the guilt that I still hold for being different, for not being the daughter my mother had wanted.

Writing these stories has been my way of working through things and saying here I am, take me or leave me.

In the end, that’s every reader’s choice.

Doing the work

The EndAfter I had finished writing my book, I didn’t think it would be too hard to find an agent or a publisher.  I mean, everyone was telling me how good it was and how important it was.  Ok, at least that one person in my writing group said so.  And she was really smart.

I worked really hard on my query letter and sent it out to about a dozen agents.  I picked the ones who weren’t asking for a full-blown proposal.  Because who has the time for that?  Besides, I am an artist.  I just couldn’t be bothered.

I waited and continued to send out queries one by one to agents and small, independent publishing houses.

When nothing happened, I wrote a new query letter.

Months passed and still nothing.

I started thinking about self-publishing.

So, this weekend is dedicated to making that big push.  Writing the proposal, sending it out.  Contacting anyone who might be able to help with my publishing goal.

If I come up empty, I’ll be able to say I gave it my best shot.

I’ll self-publish because there is a dearth of butch stories out there.  I believe in the power of stories.  I believe in the power of telling your story.  I believe in the power of seeing yourself in someone else’s story.

It’s like that C.S. Lewis quote: “We read to know we are not alone.”

As I try to summarize my writing, I come up with this:

These are my stories.  The ones that keep me up at night.  The ones that appear on re-play in my head no matter how hard I try to shake them off.  They are stories about what it’s like to grow up different.  They are stories about what it’s like to live as a butch decades before you actually become one.  They are stories about hurt, shame, loneliness and wanting something that you can’t quite put your finger on.  In the end, they are stories about love and acceptance, because if you never learn to love yourself, who will?  These are my stories.  But I have a feeling they are many other people’s stories, too.

I think of Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle.  The first time I read it, I wished I had read it 20 years earlier.  I think it would have prompted me to come out much earlier in life.

I think of Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon’s Gender Failure.  The first time I read it, I cry (shhh … don’t tell anyone), because I still didn’t believe people wrote books for people like me.

Books mean something beyond the mere words printed on their pages.  Don’t ever doubt that.

* * *

What about you?  Which book has been most influential in your life?