Category Archives: Cats

Gender musings

IMG_2991I took my cat to the vet for a wellness check this week. Her name is Magic the Cat and she is nine years old and she is beautiful and she is my best friend.

“Hello, tiny man,” the vet said to Magic, who is obviously a tiny lady cat.

She called Magic a “tiny man” two times.

This was worrisome on multiple levels because Magic is a girl and a cat and not a man at all and where did this vet study veterinary medicine?

Perhaps projecting my own feelings about being misgendered onto Magic, I was too embarrassed to correct the vet.

They who?

I got “they’d” a few weeks ago.

I was waiting in line at Petco. Another register opened up. The cashier waved over the woman standing behind me.

“They were here first,” she said, motioning to me.

It felt weird. Not bad. Just weird.

IMG_2972Gender Memoirs

I have a story in a new book, Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity published by Columbia University Press.

It’s an essential read if you’re curious about gender and everything associated with that six letter word. These stories will make you laugh and cry and re-think everything you thought you knew about gender.

I found myself identifying with many of the stories. Especially this feeling of invisibility that so many of the contributors write about, as well as a constant questioning of one’s other-ness. Am I trans enough? is a question that comes up in many of these stories, as well as a section of the book.

My takeaway is that gender is overrated and you should live your life in a way that makes you happy. Whatever that looks like.

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Cue the Charlie’s Angels theme song.

I mean, who doesn’t love Cheryl Ladd?

I did a book reading a month ago or so at a local LGBTQ center. It was mostly attended by a bunch of older lesbians who fully appreciated all of my Charlie’s Angels references. (After the reading, one person shared that she came out to her mother by explaining she was in love with Cheryl Ladd. We all nodded our heads. Us, too, Cheryl. Us, too.)

After the event, a woman who identified as butch approached me and asked if she could ask me a personal question. Basically, she was questioning whether she qualifies as trans and whether her life would be easier if she allowed herself to accept a trans identity. She wanted to know if I felt the same.

I have.

I’m still figuring myself out.

I’m not a “he.” And “they” feels wrong.

In fact, I don’t really like “she” or “her.” They just seem more socially acceptable in my case.

Butch is seen by some as its own gender, and that has resonated with me for the past decade or so.

I’d rather be called handsome than pretty.

Boi has a nice ring to it.

I have a Pretty Boi tee that makes me happy.

I try not to worry so much. The only thing I really know is that who we are is constantly changing and evolving. If we allow it to.

I always come back to this quote by Herman Melville from Moby Dick:

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

* * *

How about you?

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What’s new?

So, W got me these these for Valentine’s Day yesterday.

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That’s my cat Magic on a pair of slippers. Isn’t she something?

Here’s Magic after she won the Women’s Smackdown championship.

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In other news, I wrote a piece of flash fiction for the From LGBTQ+ With Love: The Fight Back Flash Competition sponsored by Writers’ HQ. My piece, “Girls,” made the shortlist. You can check it out here, along with the other submissions.

I also did an interview over at The Debutante Ball. Read to the end and find out how you can win a copy of my new book. Hurry, time’s running out.

One last thing. I’m obsessed with this promo from the upcoming Wonder Woman movie that combines two of my favorite things–Wonder Woman and the 80s. 1984 can’t get here fast enough, if you ask me.

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That’s what’s new with me.

I’ve missed you.

What’s new with you? Please share one new thing in the comments section, below.

 

 

The butch is back

So, it’s been a while. Remember me?

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Gratuitous picture of one of my cats.

I’ve been busy with life. Kids and cats. The wife. But mostly life. Ups and downs.

I know, it’s no excuse. You felt abandoned. I hear you, and I’m sorry.

The real reason I haven’t posted in almost three months is because I’ve been thinking about this blog and whether it still suits me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my posts and the many on-line relationships I’ve formed through The Flannel Files.

The Flannel Files was the start of so many good things for me. It was my entry into writing and, in many ways, the lesbian community.

I was looking for my voice, and I found it.

At the time, I needed to blog anonymously. I wasn’t strong enough or confident enough to write under my own name. I didn’t know who I was as a writer and was still figuring out where I fit in the LGBTQIA alphabet. I was vulnerable (never, ever repeat this) and needed to wrap myself in flannel-forged armor.

I’m not the same person.

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You know you have 1. Or 3.

I have a new book launching in a few days, and I’m figuring out my intentions for that book. I’m deciding how I want to move forward with my writing. And how I want to move forward as a butch lesbian in a world in which we’re about as rare as a lesbian who doesn’t own a caribiner.

So, this isn’t farewell.

If I do end up leaving The Flannel Files, I’ll give you a proper goodbye. Maybe not a hug but a firm handshake and a silent head nod directed at all the butches out there.

And of course, I’ll hold the door open for the femmes before I close it shut.

Because I owe you all so much. These words are mine, but you’ve read them so gently and with such an open and generous heart.

MyMotherSaysDrumsAreForBoysBefore I get too teary (butches don’t cry, their eyes sweat), I want to plug my new book, My Mother Says Drums Are for Boys: True Stories for Gender Rebels. The e-book is available now for pre-order and will be available for sale on Aug. 1. The print book will be available a few days after that.

Buy it and read a letter from me to my mullet, instructions on how to be an Amazon and a list of songs I was obsessed with that should have alerted me to the fact that I liked girls way back in the day.

“Hot for Teacher” anyone?

 

 

 

Compassion dammit

I can’t sleep at night. I’m up worrying about what’s happening in my country. I keep reading tweets in my feed until there are no more new ones. Then I refresh the top news stories. I switch back and forth between Twitter and the news until there is nothing new to see and it’s as safe as it’s going to be to go to sleep.

I had my writer’s group today and we wrote to the prompt of “hope.”

“I hope the world doesn’t end tonight when I close my eyes and pull up the covers,” I wrote.

Everyone laughed a big, loud nervous laugh as if to say, ha! isn’t that funny because I’m waiting for the world to end, too. Like minds and all.

I’ve been trying to work on a bunch of stories. I start them but am having trouble finishing. I’m having trouble focusing.

These things come easier: stressing, blaming, feeling angry.

I try to remember that everything can be boiled down to two things–love and fear.

And if someone is acting out of fear, we should treat that person with compassion. Even though I want to throw a bucket of fire ants on them. Or make them watch Ishtar ten times in a row.

But I’m not there yet. I’m back at hey, get on your knees and apologize for what you’ve done. And, we told you so (while blowing a big, fat raspberry).

Right now, I need to unplug for longer periods of time. And be kind to myself so that I can be kind to others. Don’t forget to strap the kindness mask to yourself before assisting others. It’s a saying, people.

I wore my new Superman socks today and they gave me the courage to get through the day.

I treated myself to a pizza for dinner, but the cats knocked it on the floor before I could finish it. Because they are assholes and obviously part of whatever alt-right, fascist conspiracy is going on right now.

I had lunch with my writer friends.

There were donuts at writing group today.

Tomorrow is a new day. I have more Superman socks (it was a three-pack). After Thursday, all bets are off.

What I’m trying to say is that you’re not the only one feeling nervous or anxious or stressed.

Don some superhero gear, drink your favorite beverage, order takeout (unless you have asshole cats). Get together with friends. Read a good book at night. Howl at the moon. Take hot showers until your skin turns pink. Whatever you’ve got to do to get you through. Beer, too. And flannel sheets and dirty haikus.

And then compassion, folks. So much compassion you need extra napkins.

Until then, I’ll be here on my ipad typing more words.

Perfect

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This is Sammy Long Legs.

We have weird cats. Sammy has long legs like a professional basketball player. He lays on his back with his body curved like a question mark. His head is at a constant tilt as if he is forever wondering what was that? what was that? He likes to have the top of his head scratched. If you do it right–hard with the tips of your nails–his lip will flip up like he’s Elvis and he’ll show a single tooth.

Last night, Sammy was laying stretched out on my lap, and I was telling him about the book of essays by Ann Patchett that I’m reading. And about how he is such a good, good, handsome boy. W reached over to pet him and tell him what a good, good, handsome boy he is, and he did that Elvis thing and showed his one tooth.

“How come I can love him just as he is but I can’t love myself like that?” she asked.

I didn’t have an answer.

“You can,” I said in a way that annoyed even me.

We are all perfect, but we don’t live that way. We’re always striving for something else, something better, something different, something more or maybe something less.

We’re too hard on ourselves. We expect too much. We’re all broken from childhood, broken from life and we’re doing the best we can with our shattered selves.

Maybe that’s why we search for love. For someone who will love us in all the ways we can’t love ourselves. Someone who sees our beauty when we can’t. Someone who holds us when we feel like we don’t deserve to be held and tells us all of our good points until we finally start believing them. Like they are truths that were there all along.

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More cats.

Here’s the thing about me and W. We’re opposites.

She’s flip flops and tank tops and let’s sing all the words to Les Miserables at the top of our lungs. She’s car window open, hair blowing, naked toes pressed against the inside of my windshield. She’s lick the side of my face when I’m grumpy just to get me to smile.

I’m bright white T-shirts and cargo shorts and NPR. I’m crew socks, new sneakers, hair short and tight. I’m Windex and right angles and notebooks with lines. Always lines.

I could have chosen a thousand girls. But I chose W.

Sometimes she has to remind me that I like her wild ways.

“C’mon, you like it when I leave little toe prints on your windshield,” she says.

“No. I don’t,” I say. I roll my eyes and make that face.

But she knows it’s not true. I know it’s not true.

I like her quirks and oddities. Those things that make her unique. Those things that make her W.

Those things that make her perfect.

* * *

What makes your significant other perfect?

Sleeping with drag queens

images[2]If my calculations are correct, W and I have been sleeping in the same bed for about seven years. Not continuously like we are in the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Although that idea always seemed appealing when I was younger and depressed.

On Friday, the kid will have been in the hospital for three weeks, save the three days he spent at home. W has stayed with him every night, which means our bed is empty when I turn in.

I pile clean laundry and things to take to the hospital on W’s side of the bed to keep it from seeming so empty.

IMG_0190I look at our pillowcases that say “Big Spoon” and “Little Spoon” and wonder when the Big Spoon will be coming home. Yes, folks, I’m butch enough to admit that I’m usually the little spoon.

One of our cats is so distraught over W’s absence that he cries and deposits random items in a pile in the middle of the bed — socks, a cloth to polish shoes, cat toys. I’m not sure where he’s finding these items. I’m pretty sure some of them aren’t even ours.

At night, I stay up way too late and watch mindless TV shows — Shark Tank, Teen Mom 2, Bar Rescue, Catfish — until I am so tired I pass out.

imagesSWB6O19BFor some strange reason, I find RuPaul’s Drag Race especially soothing and often find myself falling asleep to “I’m Every Woman” or some other disco tune and instructions to “sashay away.” Because drag queens always make me feel better. The are like a Band-Aid — a sequined Band-Aid with rhinestones and wigs and high heels.

This new habit has made for some very weird dreams.

When I was a kid and my grandmother visited, she always slept in my double bed with me.

This was weird and annoying for a variety of reasons but mostly because my grandmother slept with a transistor radio that she kept on until she fell asleep.

It was an old radio, one of my grandfather’s, and seemed unable to broadcast anything but static.

My grandmother loved music but always listened to the news on her handheld radio.

I used to think she was an old lady way too interested in what was happening in the world.

But when I got older, I realized she missed my grandfather, who had passed away years before, and it was impossible for her to fall asleep without some kind of distraction.

I wonder what it was about the sound of the radio that soothed her. If the buzz reminded her of his rhythmic breathing or snoring or if she just needed noise, any noise, to fill the void he had left behind.

So with that, I’m going to sashay to bed. Just me and the cats and a gaggle of drag queens. That’s what you call a group of drag queens, right?

* * *

What about you? How do you sleep when your significant other is away?

 

Silent partners

One of our kids was in a serious bicycle crash almost two weeks ago. He spent a week in the hospital. W stayed with him around the clock.

“You make him feel safe,” I told her.

I visited each day.

He was home for a few days but had a setback and is back in the hospital for at least another week. W is by his side.

Once again, I am making a daily trek to the hospital.

W sends me a list of what to bring that day: nail clippers, a travel-size bottle of shampoo from the top of her dresser, Advil.

I usually visit late afternoon and stay until it starts to get dark outside. I run out for whatever the kid wants. It is always sweet tea and something else. Today it was a single glazed donut. I tell him I am going to buy him a Smashburger with cheese and bacon and a Nutter Butter milkshake when he feels better.

W and I sit on the couch in his room.

“What’s new?” I ask.

She gives me the update.

“What’s new with you?” she asks.

I tell her what’s happening at home.

We eat take-out for dinner.

We watch silly videos about Prince beating Jimmy Fallon at ping pong and cats doing silly cat things.

We stare at our phones.

Sometimes I bring the newspaper or a magazine to read.

But mostly we sit without speaking. I might squeeze her hand or rub her back to remind her I am here. That I will always be here, especially in times like these.

I think of our cats at home. The two brothers who silently sit on the pink blanket on top of the washer to watch the birds or on the bed to take a nap or in the window to warm in the sun …

And I remember how lucky I am to have W by my side as life storms by.

 

Cat of the Month

“Good man, Bodhi,” I say, petting him on the head. “You, sir, are changing the world one sock at a time.”

Give a big Flannel Files welcome to Bodhi, Cat of the Month.

For the better part of today, he carried this dirty gym sock up and down the stairs. Now, that’s dedication, folks.

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Actually, it was a slow day. Here’s the haul he delivered to our bed a few weeks ago like some weird scene from the movie Carol. If Therese were, perhaps, a cat.

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In the meantime, this cat posed for kitty porn.

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And this cat napped in typical cat fashion.

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Congratulations, Bodhi. You are a superhero! Whether you know it or not.

Remember that time when you got caught in a plastic bag and ran real fast all over the house like a maniac every time you moved and the bag rustled wore this cool handmade plastic cape?

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You rocked then, and you rock now!

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Bodhi: Cat of the Month

* * *

Who’s your pet of the month and why?

 

 

Biggest lesbian ever contest

Last weekend, I did, perhaps, the lez-iest thing ever.

I went to the vet with my lesbian wife and two of our cats.  Bodhi and Sammy.  We are a walking, talking stereotype.

We had brought them in for their annual exam.  They passed with flying colors.

However, we had to bring one of the cats back today.  He had a cut on his paw that had gotten infected.  I didn’t feel like a giant lesbian today.  It was just me, my lesbian wife and ONE cat.  Totally different.

Here's Bodhi after his vet appointment.

Here’s Bodhi after his vet appointment.

They wrapped his paw in pink leopard print.

They wrapped his paw in a pink leopard print bandage.  He doesn’t seem to mind.  He is not a very butch cat.

All this got me thinking.  What about you?  What have you done recently that left you feeling like the world’s biggest lesbian?  Organized a potluck after your softball game?  Went on a shopping spree and only purchased cargo shorts?

I’ll pick the best answer and send out a copy of my book as a prize.  Or if you already have the book, I’ll send you out some other butch swag.  A bow tie or beer opener or something butch.

So, what are you waiting for?  Leave a comment now!

Snow day

It’s been snowing here all day.

I finished up my work for the week yesterday.  I don’t have anywhere I need to be.  I don’t have anything I need to do.

We have a stocked fridge and full cupboards.  We have beer.

My birthday was on Monday.

My birthday was on Monday.

I made breakfast this morning.  Eggs, toast, bacon and cinnamon rolls with strawberries, OJ and coffee on the side.  I am planning a spaghetti dinner for tonight.

I am still in my pajamas.  W and I are watching season four of The Walking Dead.

The cats are taking their afternoon naps along side us.

This is Bodhi.

This is Bodhi.

Later on, I hope to read the Joan Didion book I’m working on.  I hope to write.

Every once in awhile, I look out our bedroom window and watch the snow.  Each time, I am amazed by the beauty.  The white blanket has created a stillness and quietness that is so rare these days.

This is the view from our bedroom.

This is the view from our bedroom.

I am thankful for this pause in my hectic life.

I will worry about digging out tomorrow.

But today I’m taking a snow day.

* * *

Is it snowing where you are?  If so, how are you spending your snow day?