Category Archives: Blogging

The year of the butch

Subtitle: Obligatory post after getting Freshly Pressed (Seriously, it’s in the WordPress rulebook.)

Wow, it’s only January and so much has happened in my busy butch life.

Curse you, evil fortune cookie lady!

Curse you, evil fortune cookie lady!

Before 2014 even started, there was an omen that things were going to be different. A fortune cookie that I innocently selected after a takeout meal of shrimp in lobster sauce instructed me to “welcome change.”  It was an evil fortune cookie, apparently baked and stuffed by evil people in an evil fortune cookie factory. Anyone who knows me knows I despise change. I am more rigid than a brand new pair of Dr. Marten’s eight-eyelet lace-up boots.

Things I like more than change:
— Paper cuts
— Use of the “word” womyn
— Calculus
— That Nationwide commercial with the giant baby

This never happened.

This never happened.

And then the new year came, and the world didn’t explode.

I started writing again after hibernating like a big ol’ bear (or furry lesbian who hasn’t shaved her legs all winter).

I’ve since finished another memoir chapter.

I wrote a blog post about a message from the universe that was delivered by a mystic plumber and got Freshly Pressed. Like three minutes after I posted it.

That’s when I declared 2014 “the year of the butch.”

It’s a new year, and I’m trying to welcome change. Like I would my least favorite aunt or perhaps 35 inches of snow. So, maybe not with open arms but with a curt, businesslike handshake.

I have a whole bunch of new followers thanks to getting FP’d. Is it just me or does that sound weird and wrong?

So, welcome new followers.

A few things you should know about me:

  • Pet peeves — Use of the “word” womyn. (You can’t just make up words, people. Old crunchy lesbian, I’m talking to you.)
  • Confession — Sometimes I blog about my cats. (You can read my all-time favorite cat story here in a post deftly titled “Of mice and lesbians.”)  I have no clue why this has not been optioned for a TV mini-series or children’s book.
  • Other things to know about me — I blog a lot about gender, the butch-femme spectrum and what it’s like to be called “sir” when I’m shopping at the grocery store. People tend to like these posts a lot. My work in progress — a memoir that I hope to sell for millions of dollars to a mainstream publishing giant — is about that kind of stuff, too. (Note: I will not sell the book if the publisher insists on calling it One Womyn’s Struggle or Some People Think This Womyn Is a Myn. Okay, maybe for a million bucks. The thought of a brand new Subaru Outback and a shopping spree in the young men’s department of our local department store is too tempting.  I am, after all, a butch and not a rock.)
  • My partner — I call her “W.” She is my muse. Not that I sketch her naked — that’s some other blog, sicko — but because she inspires me to be my best butch. She always laughs out loud at my blog posts (when appropriate, of course) and pretty much thinks I’m a super-talented writer. What’s not to love?
  • Sometimes I — Post gratuitous pictures of sexy women. Because I can.  Sorry, Heidi Klum.
  • Frozen pipe update — Pipes froze again. I thawed them out with a hairdryer. Which is weird because me butch. You hairdryer. Have you any idea how short my hair is? But thawing frozen pipes, even  with a hair styling accessory, is how you keep your lesbian card current.
  • Goals for 2014 — 1,000 blog followers, finish memoir manuscript, try to sell memoir manuscript. Other things, too, like self-improvement, blah, blah, blah, give to poor, blah, blah, blah, add more T-shirts to embarrassingly large collection.

In 2013 The Flannel Files was viewed 15,000 times. That’s about how many lesbians attend an average Melissa Etheridge concert. Which kinda makes me Melissa Etheridge. Well, not really. But I love me some Melissa. You should know that about me, too.

So, thanks for joining with millions of other Flannel Files followers. Ok, so, like, 600 hundred and some.  And enjoy the ride and the soft but rugged power of flannel.

* * *

Enough about me.  What about you?  Tell me something, anything about yourself.  Surprise me.

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Ah, summer, we hardly knew ye

Wow, summer is almost over.  I was in the grocery store yesterday and overheard a group of rabid moms chanting, “One more day, one more day!”  Kids here go back to school on Monday.  Nothing like overworked, overtired mothers throwing their kids under the school bus.

It’s been a weird and wacky  summer.  Our oldest was away at camp for six weeks.  The middle one was home for about half the summer but is now back living at his dad’s house.  The youngest spends long stretches of time in his room.  So, Middle-age butch had lots of time to herself.

xx

I had planned on being this version of Wonder Woman.  Nothing beats a classic.

I had planned on being super productive this summer: Cooking healthy and tasteful meals using fresh produce purchased from our local farm stand, writing ten chapters for my memoir, cleaning up the yard, building a brick “pad” for under my bird feeder, organizing the house, romancing W, saving the world and blogging about everything in my downtime.

Turns out that I did the opposite of that, which pretty much means that I did nothing.  I have learned that I am irresponsible when it comes to idle time and work much better under the pressure of a deadline.  Must be the writer in me.

The summer wasn’t a total loss, though.  Here are some highlights:

  • Finished a few memoir chapters.  Perhaps, more importantly, I got back to getting down and dirty and writing about the things that really matter, even though they are the hardest to write about.
    • This was us ... well, if we were dogs instead of lesbians.
    • This was us … well, if we were dogs instead of lesbians.

    Strengthened my relationship with W.  We had a lot of alone time this summer.  We even had a romantic dinner at a nice Italian place that had live music.  It was just like Lady and the Tramp, except that we’re lesbians and not dogs.  Although I have been called a dog more than once.  We’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into improving our relationship and our communication, and it’s been paying off.

  • Went to P-Town, just me and W.  Saw a whale, a drag show (I will never look at Katy Perry the same way) and a whole lot of gay boys in very short shorts.
  • Fed and pet a pair of giraffes.  I love giraffes.  So gentle, so graceful, so beautiful.  We have a small zoo near us that currently has two males on loan from other zoos.  W got pictures of me feeding them.  I’m even smiling.
  • Went to the Jersey Shore.  Found shells on the beach.  Ate pizza and french fries and drank lemonade.
  • Discovered a writer named Ivan Coyote, who has blown my butch mind wide open.  Ivan, I hope to grow up to be just like you.
    • xx
    • If I could, I would eat everything in miniature plastic batting helmets.

    Went to a ball game.  Not a major league game but a minor league game.  Drank beer.  Ate ice cream out of a plastic baseball helmet.  Note: This is the all-time best way to eat ice cream.  Kept score.  Admired the green, green grass.  Loved every single minute of it.

  • Made multiple batches of rustic tomato sauce with farm-fresh tomatoes and homegrown basil.  And, BLTs with beautiful, ripe, red tomatoes.
  • Saw a lot of movies.  Favorite: The Way, Way Back.
  • Celebrated my one-year anniversary with WordPress.

So, with summer wrapping up, I’m looking forward to getting back to normal, to daily to-do lists and kids at school, to cooler days and a more industrious frame of mind.

Some goals:

  • Work on my memoir and other creative writing.
  • Blog, focusing on quality and not quantity.
  • Romance the socks off of W (even though she rarely wears socks).
  • Organize, fix up, clean up the house.
  • Live healthier.
  • Spend more quality time with the kids.
  • Continue to move forward and reveal more of who I am.

It’s interesting.  My life has been filled with so many transitions.  I came out later in life, identified as a lesbian, then called myself a “soft” butch because it seemed less offensive.  Now, it’s just “butch.”  It’s all been an evolution, and I find that I’m not done changing, growing, learning.

A writer friend of mine said that when all that we want to do is lounge around in our elastic-waisted sweatpants and watch TV, there’s a reason for it.  We should allow ourselves to do so, taking note of what we’re watching and how that might be exactly what we need at the moment.

I think it’s good advice to not be so hard on ourselves and to feel deserving of our down time.

So, folks, your favorite butch is rested, relaxed and ready for just about anything.  Bring it on, world.

* * *

What about you?  How was your summer?  Any highlights?

Flannel porn and other oddities

This is an obligatory posting of curious and humorous search terms that have led people to The Flannel Files.  It’s not that I’m lazy and can’t come up with any original ideas for blog posts.  It’s just really hot and humid here today, and I’m very busy doing important things like catching up with Catfish the TV show and playing Word Solitaire on my iPad.

Anyway, here’s a look at some of the most interesting search terms from the past month or so:

lesbian hoarder — Sure, but please see post on how I recently cleaned out my T-shirt closet.  “Hoarder” is such a strong term.

lesbian T-shirts — See above.

being butch — You’ve come to the right place.

xx

Ah, Xena, all that I have left of you are memories and this sword replica

Xena sword life size — Every self-respecting butch lesbian stuck in the 90s should have one.  Is that a life-size Xena sword in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

the flannel of silence — When W and I fight, I totally shut her out.  I don’t speak to her for days and look right through her using my super-butch powers of iciness and oh-I-didn’t-notice-you-over- there-because-you-are-now-invisible-to-me.  From now on, I will refer to this as “the flannel of silence.”

list of the best lesbian movies — Check.

lesbian gives me gift for my mom — Was this a random lesbian?  What was the gift?  You’ve really piqued my curiosity.  I bet your mom is hot.

butch lesbian bedroom blogs — Yeah, not really that kind of blog.  Sorry to disappoint.

And the lady will have

And the lady will have …

best beaver bait — Try a big smile and a compliment.  “You have very pretty eyes.”  “I really like your dress.”  If that doesn’t work, order her several drinks with dinner.

lesbians pretending to be a cat — Really?

girl in flannel porn — I never knew there was something called “flannel porn.”  Do go on.

lesbian butch fashion — This is an oxymoron.  How about a tie that matches her dress or a stylish vest from the boy’s department.

my wife went to a Christmas party and was taken home by a butch lesbian — I feel your pain, dude.  Sorry that I am smirking.

Everyone wants to know what I’m thinking

I was talking to a friend the other night and she commented that everyone wants to hear what I have to say these days.

I'm like this guy

I’m like this guy

This is weird because I am the strong, silent type.

When I mentioned this, she said that maybe I should work on speaking up and out.

Friends, always putting the pressure on.

When I got off the phone, I started thinking about the wisdom that rang true in her words.

Friends, they’re not always wrong.

His name wasn't really John

His name wasn’t really John

When I was in college, I once wrote a letter to my boyfriend back home breaking up with him.  I couldn’t pull the trigger though, so I had my friend physically mail the letter.  This placed all responsibility for the break up on her shoulder-pad clad shoulders.  It was the 80s after all.

This has been my pattern.  I’m skilled at expressing myself in words.  I just suck at telling other people how I feel.

That’s been changing though, as my friend had pointed out.

Friends, sometimes they say something worth noting.

Here, in no particular order, is a list of recent events that have presented me with an opportunity to say something to an audience:

  • This blog.  If you are reading this, you are reading my thoughts.  Scary, I know.
  • A major newspaper interviewed me regarding the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on gay marriage.
  • A fellow blogger interviewed me for an article on being butch.
  • I won third place in a writing contest.  My submission, a chapter from my memoir, has been published in a newsletter available at a local bookstore.

So, yeah, it’s been a ride.

Here’s the truth.  I couldn’t have done it without my friends.  The one on the phone and all of the others who have supported my creativity and weirdness for decades.

And, all of you blog readers and followers.  You were the ones who first let me know that total strangers were interested in what I had to say.

And, the writers in my writing group.  They never judged and offered enthusiastic praise and kind, careful criticism.

And, most especially, W.  Because she’s the one who tells me that I can everyday single day.

Shopping on the left side of the store

It’s been difficult to find time to keep this blog up to date.  I have been  dutifully attending my weekly writer’s group and trying to press forward with my memoir one chapter at a time.  Between that and the writing that I get paid to do, I haven’t had a whole lot of time for The Flannel Files.  It’s funny, because this blog started the whole creative writing thing in motion.

Anyway, I thought I would share some writing that I did today in group related to the theme of my work in progress.

* * *

My memoir has a number of themes, all related in some fashion.  When I stop and think about the main theme, “gender” is the one word that comes to mind.

It seems to be a clear-cut topic.  Boy.  Girl.  But in my world, it has never been clear-cut, which is why I have a story to tell.  The lines have always been fuzzy.  Actually, not fuzzy but movable.  For much of my life, I have had to put my shoulder down and push with all of my might to move the lines that most seem content to walk within.

Gender is such a common identifier: a capital M or F on a driver’s license or a checked box on a birth certificate.  There is never any room for in between.  Everything is always hard and fast.

xx

Right or left?

I always think of the gravitational pull that I used to feel when I entered The Gap clothing store at our local mall.

The women’s clothes were on the right side of the store.  The men’s clothes on the left.

I always felt a tug of duty to enter on the right side and pass my eyes over the khakis and the button-down shirts there.

Eventually, I would loop around to the left side, which contained more khakis and button-down shirts.  In my mind’s eye, these were authentic khakis and button-downs.  They always felt more real and practical without the extra stitching or pleats or darts.

In a way, my life — my battle with gender — has been a giant loop around a boy/girl clothing store.  At first, I sought acceptance but eventually mustered up enough courage to just shop on the left.

Cat in the keyboard

This what I do when I don’t feel like working.

I extract my cat’s hair from inside the dark recesses of my computer keyboard.

See, she likes to sleep on my shoulder when I am hard at work at my desk.  Her hair is on the longish side, and strands of it fall onto the keyboard.  I brush them aside, but they still manage to find their way in between the keys.

xx

This is my cat Magic sound asleep on my very messy desk.

Last weekend, I vacuumed the keyboard in an attempt to remove snack cake crumbs, bits of potato chips and any stray cat hairs.  This just made things worse.  Little tufts of hair peeked out from between the keys.  My vacuum apparently didn’t have enough suction to remove half a cat from a keyboard.

I refuse to buy cans of compressed air any longer.  It is just air.  In a can.  For $7.99.  I just took three deep breaths and made $1.59.

xx

Actual picture of hair removed from keyboard.  No cats were harmed in the filming of this hair.

I ended up using a straightened-out paperclip to pull out the hair, running the metal tool under the keys —  QWERTYUIOP — and pulling up.  I called my son over to help.  It became a family project.

We piled the hair into a neat little pile.

“Wait, I want to take a picture of it for my blog,” I said.

He just rolled his eyes.

Here’s something else that I do when I don’t feel like working.

I write about extracting my cat’s hair from inside my computer keyboard.

What about you?  What do you do to put off work? 

Belated gifts

Don't you just love packages?

Don’t you just love packages?

I got a belated birthday gift in the mail today from a college friend.

If you are the type of person who routinely sends cards and presents a few days or even a few weeks late and often feels guilty about your tardiness, Middle-age butch is here to tell you to stop right now.

This gift recipient loves an after-the-fact gift.  It merely stretches out the holiday and gives you something to look forward to long after your special day has passed.  And just when you think that your magical celebration has come to pass much like 30 Rock, floppy discs and answering machines, there’s one more gift to remind you that you are special and loved.

Your favorite butch blogger received such a gift today.

A few weeks ago, my friend e-mailed and asked for the file that contains the flannel graphic for my blog banner.  She mentioned that it had something to do with my birthday gift, but was all hush hush on the specifics.

I must admit that my mind has been wandering.  I was thinking that maybe she used the flannel design to create an official Flannel Files T-shirt.  Or had an actual flannel shirt crafted from the banner image.  Hey, they can do that on Project Runway.  Or maybe she had a Middle-age butch bobblehead made in my image depicting me clad in a Flannel Files style flannel shirt.  Seems that I’ve been dreaming of flannel more than usual these past few weeks.

My flannel-fixated anticipation ended this afternoon.  My gift arrived today — 20 days after my official birthday — but who’s counting.

When I opened the box, I must admit to getting a bit teary no matter how hard I tried to use my butch super powers to resist.

This photo does not do the cup justice.

This photo does not do the cup justice.

Upon opening the box, I spied a Flannel Files cup.

It’s a Tervis travel cup that proudly bears my flannel blog banner and these Flannel Files quotes:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step of your Dr. Martens.

Be your best butch.

My friends will never know what it means to me to have them not only accept and support me but embrace me.  To embrace this big goofy butch who is still on a journey of self-discovery.

I’ve been doing some memoir writing lately and have been digging deep and remembering what it was like to carry a secret so deep inside that even I didn’t know the truth that I was hiding.  One of my worst fears was that my friends would discover what it was that made me different from them and never want to have anything to do with me.

*Sigh of relief.*  That has not been the case.

I still worry, though, as I continue to transform and change, leaning more into the masculine side of myself.  I suppose that I will always worry.  Maybe that is the cost of being different.  A restlessness that never ends.

But I focus on all the times that they told me that they are proud of me.  The time that they drove long distances to come to my 40th birthday party at a lesbian bar no less.  And when they came out in full force for our commitment ceremony.

And I’ll always remember when one of them sent me a drinking glass that let me know that it’s perfectly ok for me to revel in my butchness.

Cheers.  I’ll drink to that any day of the week.

The year in review: On blogging and looking back over my shoulder

2013The Flannel Files started on a whim.  My son had just left to live with his dad, and I was looking for something creative and productive to do to fill the void.

So, this blog sprung from a loss, as many creative endeavors do.

I didn’t know anything about blogging.  I didn’t even read any blogs.

But I stumbled onto WordPress, and the rest is history.

I wasn’t sure that I was doing it right (which brought back memories of early sexual encounters) or that anyone would ever read it, but hey, it was all about me and the writing and away I went.

I’ve been blogging for about half a year now, and it’s been a real joy.

I find that when I blog purely for myself, the words come easily and people seem to respond.

To date, I’ve written 65 posts.  The Flannel Files has received a whopping 6,600 views.  I have 181 followers.

I peaked in late October when my post about a really bad fish sandwich was Freshly Pressed.  More than 1,000 people read that post, and it made my day.  Ok, year.  It was such a thrill to watch the views increase by the hour and my e-mail in box to fill with “likes” and comments and new followers.

I’ve found that readers seem to like stories about my life struggles.  Like coming out and my never-ending quest to let go dammit.  Coming out certainly isn’t a universal struggle, but everyone can relate to trying to fit in and searching for one’s place in the world.

My favorite blog post was Of Mice and Lesbians.  Probably because every word, believe it or not, is true.  After I wrote it, I had one of those gee-this-is-really-my-life ha-ha moments.

I hope to blog in 2013 about letting go — still — and forgiveness and my cats and hopefully some new adventures that I’m planning.  I would love to find a way to cobble together some of these posts for the beginnings of a memoir.

Anyway, I hope you’ll come along for the ride.  When I started this project one day last summer, I never knew that one person (well, except for W) would be interested, let alone 181.  And as much as this whole thing is for me and about me, it just wouldn’t work without you.  Without you, dear reader, there would be no “likes” or comments or give and take or community, which is what makes a blog much more than just a bunch of words on a screen.  Thank you for all that you do to inspire me to be a better writer and a better person.

Happy New Year!

Being kind to myself in the new year

Middle-age butch has been feeling under the weather.

There’s nothing sadder than a sick butch.  Well, perhaps a crying butch, but it’s the new year, people, and no one wants to start 2013 with that disturbing image.

Anyway, I woke up a few days ago with searing pain on the left side of my throat.  Which put me into a panic of sorts.  I was afraid that I had come down with another case of strep throat.

I am prone to sore throats and strep.  I have huge, enlarged tonsils that attract the Streptococcus bacteria much like The L Word’s Shane attracted every lesbian in a 50-mile radius.

(Note: Cool TV lesbian attracts other lesbians.  Middle-age butch attracts bacteria.)

As soon as morning came, I grabbed W’s bedside table light and hurried to the bathroom.  I positioned myself in front of the mirror, stuck out my tongue and ahhed several times while bouncing the light off of my red, inflamed tonsils.  I didn’t see any white patches, which eased my mind a tiny bit.

It still could be strep.  But I haven’t been running a fever and don’t seem to have any other symptoms besides a sore throat.

I have had strep throat so many times that I can pretty much diagnose myself.

Throat ChakraMy throat has always been my Achilles heel.  W insists that my throat woes are tied to my throat chakra and my communication problems.  “You haven’t been blogging,” she notes.

“Right,” I say.  “Or, maybe I’m sick with a serious, life-threatening bacterial infection.”

I like to shoot arrows in W’s new age theories.  Even though I secretly believe in them.

“Good God, I haven’t been blogging,” I say to myself.

Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that I’m on the cusp of a mild cold.  I ruled out a trip to the doctor for a strep test and possible antibiotics.

I made sure to sleep in.  My body needs the extra rest.  And, gargled with warm salt water.

I hit the health and beauty aisle at the grocery store.  I bought a bottle of chewable vitamin C tablets that weren’t on sale, three kinds of cough drops  and a new box of tea, even though we have 30 kajillion boxes in the pantry.

See fruit floating near top of bottle

See fruit floating near top of bottle

I knew we had an ample supply of ginger ale and orange juice at home, as well as half a bottle of my grandmother’s tried and true cold and flu remedy, Rock and Rye.  It’s whiskey.  And fruit.  So, it’s totally good for you.

Even with the last of the holiday before us, I took it easy.  I put my feet up when possible.  Watched part of a Wife Swap marathon.

It hit me this morning that I should try to be kinder to myself in 2013.  Not just when I’m sick, but every day.

  • I should take care of my body and nurture it with non-whiskey-soaked fruits and vegetables and vitamins and antioxidants and other things that are really good for it.  (With a little bit of whiskey thrown in on occasion.)
  • I should indulge myself more.  With new kinds of tea, magazines that catch my eye, books and music and other items that will add to my day but won’t break the bank.
  • I should make time to do those things that are important to me like writing and reading and, yes, blogging.  (Apparently, the lack of it messes with my throat chakra.)
  • I should gently prod myself to break out of my comfort zone and volunteer, take a class, take a risk, go somewhere new, meet some new people.
  • I should forgive myself for little things and big things, old sins and new ones.
  • I should love myself a little harder and a little better, which would give me new reason to be kinder to myself.

Nothing good to write about

Wow, I’ve hit a wall.

I didn’t think it was possible, but I’ve run out of things to blog about.

Of course, I could write about the cats.  How I think of them as furry people with four feet and claws and really unpleasant personalities.  Or, how I’ve been trying to modify their behavior using water aversion therapy.  No, not waterboarding, but that’s always an option.  Just a 99 cent squirt gun.  But the little buggers take up too much of my time as it is.  With the food (feed us!) and the water (we’re so thirsty!) and the litter boxes (not clean enough for us!) and the neediness (tell us you love us!  again!  again!).  They have serious self-esteem issues, which is probably why they act out.  I’ve been working on a musical/opera for them.  Like Cats but way better.  It is dramatic and poetic and grand (sung in my opera voice), and the cats like it very, very much, thank you.  “You are good cats.  Very, very good cats …”

There’s the home repairs, but I’m over them.  They are b-o-r-i-n-g.  So is cleaning and organizing and making the house presentable.  Dust and clutter?  Nothing wrong with them, says this guy.

My sexual orientation?  Still gay.

Things with W and I are good.  Sometimes we have to pretend fight to keep things interesting.

Newsflash: My parents are coming to our house for Thanksgiving dinner.  That’s good, because they’ll be spending the holiday with us.  And, bad because they’ll be spending the holiday with us.  What more is there to say?

Nap socksI bought “nap socks” from Brookstone.  They are super soft and warm and fuzzy.  They can be worn for more than just napping, like sleeping and walking and standing, which makes me question the marketing strategy behind this product.  The black and gray ones make me feel Dr. Seuss-ish.  Like Leslie Lou O’Lesbian or the Butchalot.

More socks … I’m thinking about throwing out all of our single, mateless socks.  But I’m not ready yet.  I still like living in a fantasy world in which every sock has a partner.  Forever.

As you can see, I have absolutely nothing to write about tonight.