Category Archives: Depression

Summertime butch blues

I.  Hate.  Summer.

I’m not really sure if this is true or not.

But once school starts wrapping up with class trips and end of the year ceremonies, I start getting a funny feeling in my stomach.

At first, I’m certain that it’s food poisoning.  Or appendicitis.  Or consumption.

I've fainted and I can't get up.

I’ve fainted and I can’t get up.

I quickly write up a food diary, jump up and down on my right leg and then my left just to be sure, and read several Victorian novels in which fainting spells are prominently featured.

I eliminate food poisoning, appendicitis, consumption.

And then I realize that it’s June.

There are a few things that I like about summer: Farm stands.  BLTs made with the season’s first local tomatoes.  Ice cream cones.  Sno cones.  The All-Star Game.  The church carnival down the street.

xx

This Grinch doesn’t dig the summer.

But what I detest, said the Grinch in her Grinchy-Grinch voice, is the fact that my schedule gets turned upside down.

For nine months out of twelve, everyone leaves in the morning and comes home later in the day.  But for those other three months, the young ones just stay.  They sit in their PJs.  They play on their games.  They want food for lunch.  They want to be entertained.

At least they are older and can fend for themselves.  But when you are rigid like this butch and thrive on routine, any little abnormality feels like it’s times three.

And don’t get me started about the beach and the pool.  They don’t make swim clothes for this old butch fool.

Girl suits are too girly.  And boy suits don’t cover up enough.

One day, I’ll deal with my body dysphoria but right now it all feels like too much.

* * *

What about you? Do you like summer? What are your favorite summer things?

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A few of my favorite things

Your favorite butch blogger has been a bit down these past few weeks.  My last post ended on a high — me and W reconnecting on a weekend away — that I haven’t been able to recapture.  Maybe that’s part of the problem.  When the top of your head scrapes the bottom of the clouds for a few days, it’s a short, hard fall back to reality.

Plus, this weather isn’t helping things.  Has it ever been so damn cold in March?  And one of our cats died recently, and that’s been weighing heavy on my heart.  I’ve been struggling with my writing.  It took me weeks to write the shortest chapter of my work in progress.  Did I mention that my son is 14 and acting like a 14-year-old?

To cheer myself up, I thought I’d make a list of a few of my favorite things these days:

Sweet.

Sweet.

* My new Timex Weekender watch with the changeable straps.  So cool and retro looking.  I treated myself to one  for my birthday.  This butch likes to be fresh and color coordinated.  What do you think Dapper Butch?

* The French film, Blue Is the Warmest Color.  Because when else can you watch a lesbian movie with lots of sex and feel so cultured because it had subtitles?

* Apple TV.  I don’t really know how to use it, but I know that it will allow us to watch Orange Is the New Black.

* Coca-Cola.  Everything is better with Coke.

We

We would have such fun, me and you.

* Is anyone else obsessed with Girls?  HBO’s Girls.  Not those girls, you guys.  Ok, those girls, too.

* Lena Dunham, I want to be your best friend.

* Ivan Coyote, you inspire me.  I want to be you when I grow up.

* I  just discovered Lorrie Moore, a funny, brilliant writer.  I want to read everything she’s ever written, including Bark, her new collection of short stories.

* The brand new flannel sheets on the bed I share with W.  Bonus: They were $7.49 on clearance at Target.

* My writers’ group.  Weird that a motley group of off-kilter writers keeps me grounded.

* W.  Not anything she says or does.  But because she’s there, whether I’m in a good mood or bad, happy or sad.

* * *

What about you?  What makes you smile these days?

 

 

Outed by God

xx

Have you ever been here?

I’ve been in that hollowed out place in the earth this past week or so.

If you’ve ever suffered from depression, you know all too well the place I’m talking about.  It’s filled with shadows and spider webs and bone gray nothingness.  It’s the land of fatigue and apathy and why-the-hell-should-I-bother-anyway?

I just finished up my coming out chapter for my memoir, and my awakening came from a very serious bout of depression.  So, I’ve been slogging through the past.  Thanks, memoir.

Naïve me: Oh, why can’t I be a fiction writer like all of my friends?

Blunt me: Because your ego is the size Dolly Parton’s breasts.  Not just one, but both of ’em.

Girl meets girl

Girl meets girl

Now, most lesbians realize that they’re lesbians in a more organic way.  Girl falls in love with girl.  See Ellen and Portia.  Or, Ellen and Ann Heche.  Ok, skip that example.  But most of the women that I know who came out later in life fell in love with a female friend or a co-worker or a neighbor.  And there they were — head over hiking boot heels — dissecting diagrams on scissoring, becoming vegans, ordering flannel shirts by the dozen, following around a Melissa Etheridge tour, organizing potlucks for community events.

But Middle-Age Butch?  Yes, I was attracted to women over the years.  I sold myself on the concept that I was just admiring the beauty of the female form.  Because, damn, that soft flesh and those curves that seemed to roll for days. And anyway, didn’t all girls prefer the company of other girls?  And didn’t all wives at one time or another daydream about having a threesome with a hot blonde that was really a twosome because their husbands weren’t included in this fantasy?

I never really put it all together until I was in my 30s.  I was depressed.  Out.  Of.  My.  Mind.  What did that look like?  I wanted to hide in a tiny, dark, enclosed space like a closet.  Yes, for real, in a closet or under a desk or in some other place that would shield me from the rest of the world.

I had been dealing with depression for the better part of a decade, so I knew the slippery slope that I was sliding down.

And that’s when I started to pray.

Now mind you, I’m not a religious person.  I wasn’t brought up going to church or indoctrinated in any faith.

I'm a lesbian because of this dude.

I’m a lesbian because of this dude.

So, basically, I just cobbled together what I knew: the Serenity Prayer that I had memorized from tagging along with a friend to AA meetings and the Lord’s Prayer from Prince’s song Controversy.  I asked God to show me who he intended me to be.

I kept this up for several weeks and then one day it hit me like a ton of rainbow bricks or a boat load of flannel shirts or a truckload of Dr. Marten’s or …. I could keep this up all day, folks.  I was a lesbian.  It just popped into my head as if I was Horton and the word “lesbian” had been whispered into my ear by a very intuitive Who.

Me.  A lesbian.  Who would’ve thunk it?

And the rest is history.  But not herstory, because I hate when womyn do that.  D’oh!  (Note to angry feminists: You cannot just change the English language.)

So, the moral of this story is:

Be careful what you pray for.

Or maybe, God’s okay with gay.  In fact, he actually encourages it when you’re …. um, gay.

Rainbows can come from mud puddles?

Or maybe it’s that we all need to get really still sometimes and listen for that small, quiet voice that tells us what we already know.

* * *

So, let’s open this bad boy up.  Coming out … tell your story.

God told me to try Reiki

Something interesting for those of you following along at home.

Last week, I had a really sore throat and bad earache.

Interestingly enough, only the left side of my throat and my left ear were affected.

Flash forward to this week, and Middle-age butch has had a killer headache.  But only on the left side of my head.

I mentioned all of this to W, explaining how the right side, or dominant side, of the body is the will side or active side.  The left side is the feeling side.

“It’s in and out,” she said matter of factly.  “You’re not processing things properly, baby.”

“So, what are you going to do about it?” she asked.

“What am I supposed to do about it?” I replied.

“Is there some sort of magic dance that I’m supposed to do to restore balance and harmony?”

She just laughed.

Which leaves me stuck.  Again.

I went to pick up my son today and had been thinking about how to get unstuck during the 30-minute drive.

“Maybe I should try Reiki,” I thought to myself.  Not because I know a lot about it, but because, from what little I do know, it seems like it might be a useful tool for restoring balance.

When the left side of various body parts start hurting, lots of things seem like a good idea.

A few seconds later, I passed a sign that read: “Reiki. Restore peace to your life.”

Damn.

Sometimes I think that I’m the only person in the whole world who asks for a sign from God and actually gets one.  Seriously.  An actual sign.

This happens to me all the time.

If it's good enough for cats ...

If it’s good enough for cats …

From the International Center for Reiki Training: “Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.  It is administered by ‘laying on hands’ and is based on the idea that an unseen ‘life force energy’ flows through us and is what causes us to be alive.  If one’s ‘life force energy’ is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.”

So, the “laying on hands” part is not particularly appealing to this butch.  Simply put, I don’t like to be touched.  By hands.  Or other body parts.  I’m aware that in some cases hands are placed above the participant’s body during a Reiki session.  This is still too close for my personal level of comfort.

Also, the smell of incense makes me nervous.  I’m fairly certain that a Reiki session would smell like incense.

I remember about a decade ago when I woke up one morning and couldn’t hear out of one of my ears.  Hysterical deafness, I thought.

Or, maybe watching too much of the L Word when Marlee Matlin was on. Oh my God, sympathetic deafness, I thought.

I rushed to the doctor where I was diagnosed with a bad case of impacted ear wax.

The gun looked something like this.

The gun looked something like this.

The doctor ended up rummaging through a closet (who knew doctors had closets) for a metal gun that looked like it might have been used in the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet.  He filled it with warm water, placed the tip in my ear and then blasted a pressurized stream of water inside my ear canal.  Repeatedly.  Pliers were involved, I think.  The doctor kept saying that he was sorry, hang in there.  Eventually, the water dislodged the wax, and the doctor extracted a large mass from my ear.  I could hear.  It was a miracle.

That method seems a whole lot more palatable than the whole “laying on hands” thing.  Maybe I can just blast whatever’s stuck, or in the wrong place, or out of whack with a pressurized stream of water, a laser beam, a rubber mallet, brute force, a lighter and a can of hairspray, whatever it takes.

That’s certainly not as scary as Reiki, which may or may not involve actual touching.  Or incense.  Or chimes.  Or other new-agey stuff.

Which is why it’s so damn scary.  Because I don’t know what will happen.

And, what if it does work and provides a much-needed release?

What if I tear up or, gasp, cry.  Middle-age butch doesn’t like to be touched and really doesn’t like to cry.  Especially in front of people.  Especially new-agey, Reiki people.

There is no crying in Middle-age butch’s flannel-covered world.

I suspect that there might be in Reiki land.

A really good quote

Shipwreck

“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”

— Voltaire

I stumbled upon this quote earlier today and haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

“Life is a shipwreck …”

How true.

It’s the singing in the lifeboats part that I have yet to master.

Pre-holiday update on Murray the kitten and letting go

With the holidays fast approaching, my posts have been infrequent at best.  So, I thought I would offer a brief update on the latest in my flannel-filled world.  C’mon, you know you’re dying to know what’s been going on with Murray the kitten and that letting go thing.

  • I called my best friend the other day and told her once again how I wanted to fill all of my holes with cats.  She laughed hysterically.  “That’s quite a picture,” she said.  “When I say holes, I mean heart-wrenching emptiness and aloneness,” I replied.  My friends are assholes.
  • I have not found Murray the Christmas kitten.  Yet.  Truth be told, I haven’t been looking very hard.  I’m a big believer in that whole if-it’s-meant-to-be line of thinking.  I know that when the right kitten needs a home, she’ll find us.  I don’t want to just go and pick out the first available kitten that I see.  Oh, yeah, I guess that one will do.  I did that with my first girlfriend and that ended horribly.
  • W told me that it would be totally ok if I got a kitten.  Which I appreciate immensely.  I know she would be ok with me getting pretty much anything — like a boa constrictor or a Russian orphan girl — if she thought it would make me happy.
  • I’ve been thinking that maybe we should foster kittens instead of just adopting a single cat.  I imagine fostering to be like a constant conveyor belt of cute cuddly kittens.  They’re so fluffy!

Yeah, a conveyor belt of kittens. That’s what I need to make me whole.

  • I went to therapy last week and pretty much all my therapist said was “I hear you.”  That’s all that you’ve got?  I hear you?  It was pathetic.  I mean, how screwed up are you when there’s nothing left for a licensed professional to do other than listen?  No advice?  No how could you have handled that differently?  No what’s the story you’re telling yourself?  No how does that make you feel?  It was like having a therapy session with Mr. Potato Head if he was only wearing his ears.
I hear you!

I hear you with my giant pink ears!

  • I’ve been working on the whole letting go thing.  I find that some things are much easier to let go of than others.  I feel like I need a letting go mantra.  Yeah, that’s what’s holding me back.  A kick-ass mantra.  Letting go, letting go, letting go … I’m letting go.  That’s what I’ve been using so far.
  • A gourmet cupcake shop just opened up down the street from us.  I frequented the shop twice last week to buy cupcakes for two celebrations.  I became agitated (read: obsessed and stalkerish) after I learned that the shop sells a cupcake that takes a shot at my collegiate alma mater.  Turns out cupcake shop owner attended a rival school.  I told W that I want to open up a competing cupcake shop in the empty storefront next door.  I have crafted a diabolical plan of vengeance in which I run the new cupcake store owner out of town  and insult her university using animal eyeballs purchased over the Internet.  W tells me that I’m ruining the new cupcake shop for her.
Patent pending

Patent pending

I’ve hired Little Debbie as my new therapist and blacklisted the Cocoa Puffs bird and Lindsey Lohan from my parties

So, I’ve decided to make Little Debbie my new therapist.

javaj240 from Ambling & Rambling suggested that I substitute Little Debbie snack cakes for extra therapy as they are cheaper and way more delicious. (See previous post.)

I thought why not go all the way and just name Little Debbie as my new official therapist.

Sure, she’s young.  And she wears a straw hat tied under her chin.  But she makes a delicious and affordable snack cake.

Some children have wisdom beyond their years.  Take Doogie Howser, for example.

Oh, Little Debbie, you had me at enrobed.

This whole Little Debbie thing got me thinking about other product spokespeople and the role they could play in my life.

W and I always talk about getting a house girl to help with things around here.  You know, hit the bank, pick up the drycleaning, take the kids to the orthodontist.  I always pictured her as a Swedish exchange student.  Like Uma Thurman in The Producers but younger.

I would like one pizza with all the toppings for my two lady bosses.

A few nights ago, I told W that we should just get a male nanny, or a Manny, because it might not be a good idea to bring a young, hot, blonde into the house.  Just to be safe and all.

I was thinking that Mr. Clean might be able to get the job done.  He could keep the boys in line and get the toilet sparkling clean.

I am strict but sensitive.

The Hamburger Helper hand would make a great masseuse.  Or, proctologist.

That’s not too much pressure, is it?

Snap, Crackle and Pop would be my drug dealers.  If I did drugs stronger than Zzzquil and Advil.

Yo, this shit will fuck you up.

I’d hire Mr. Peanut to organize all of my parties, because that monocle screams class. The Kool-Aid pitcher would tend bar.  Sam Ronson would DJ because she’s so damn cute.

Real, live lesbian — not a mascot

The Green Giant would work the door and have strict instructions to keep out Lindsey Lohan and Sonny from Cocoa Puffs.  That bird is an a-hole.

You won’t ruin my party, Sonny.

As you can see, I’m feeling a bit better.  Thanks for all the well wishes.

How about you?  Which product mascots would you like to hire?

My depression told me to eat a box of Little Debbie snack cakes

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  I could tell you that I’ve been busy with way more important things like baking cookies in the shape of Olivia Newton-John to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy or teaching homeless kittens to read.

But, I’m a terrible liar.  Actually, I’m not.  But, now you’re not so sure, are you?

Anyway, I find myself engaged in a battle of wills within myself.  My head is telling me a different story than my heart, which has led to low-grade depression (is there any other kind?) and general malaise.  It’s like trying to pull open a door when someone is pulling it shut.  In a word, I’m stuck.  Trapped.  Caught.  Ensnared.

That whole door scenario ended in bloodshed when I was a kid.  My brother was trying to get into the bathroom while I was pulling the door shut.  Our little game of sibling tug-of-war continued until I decided to let go of the door.  My brother’s face slammed into the doorknob, which narrowly missed his eye.  He was fine until he looked into the mirror and saw the blood streaming down his face.  I ran to my room because I was 15 or so and really only concerned about my own well being and ensuing punishment.  I mean Helen Keller got along just fine with no eyes.

So, I’m thinking that this inner game of tug of war can only end badly.

“What is your depression telling you?” my therapist asks.

This is what my depression tells me:

  • Get lots and lots of rest.  Put your feet up.  Take it easy.  Breathing takes a lot out of a person.
  • Use that hood on your hoodie to block out the light.  That’s why God made hoodies.
  • Eat Little Debbie’s Holiday Snack Cakes for they are delicious and only $1.79 for a pack of 10 enrobed cakes.  And, nachos.  Yes, nachos.
  • There’s an eight-hour Shipping Wars marathon on A&E that has your name written all over it.

Ah, the siren song of depression.

In my previous post, I wrote about the No Ceiling Theory.  Basically, this theory stands for the belief that a person can achieve and live without limits.

SapphoSpeaks commented about the No Basement Theory, which she said would allow a person to delve without limit to his or her  inner depths.

Yeah, not too fond of this idea, Sappho.  I mean, you never know what you might find in a basement.

Quick, off-the-top-of-my-head random list of things that reside in our basement: One non-functioning toilet; instruction booklets and warranties for household purchases, many of which we no longer own; mold spores; one rusted out paper cutter and a musty odor that’s resistant to air deodorizers.

Quite frankly, nothing very useful and lots of gross stuff.

So, why make the trip down the rickety stairs.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole No Ceilings and No Basement thing.  W says the No Basement thing isn’t that scary because eventually you bottom out when you hit the earth.

I’m not so sure she’s right.  I think that if you do the No Ceilings thing and the No Basement Thing simultaneously you’ll find that the two eventually connect.  Just a big giant cosmic hula-hoop.

But I don’t watch much Big Bang Theory, so I’m not real sure of the physics of it all.

This lesbian needs a fresh coat of paint

I’m feeling a little bit better today.

It’s 10:40, and I’m up and showered and dressed.  In sweatpants but they still count as clothes.

I’ve decided to start my day in a positive way.  I’m having a whole wheat English muffin with organic, no-sugar peanut butter and bananas and a low-fat yogurt.

Combos, snack food and entertainment

However, I’m craving chemical food like Pop-Tarts because they’re crazy good and Combos.  The pretzel Combos filled with fake cheddar cheese because I like to split them open longwise in my mouth and scoop out the neon orange cheese with my tongue.  So, Combos are actually a food and a hobby.  And coffee.  I want coffee.  I don’t even like coffee, but I want the central nervous system stimulant contained within.  I am a junk food junkie.

I’m going to start prepping and painting our downstairs bathroom after I finish this blog post.

We have two bathrooms that need painting.  We only have two bathrooms, so in case you were thinking that we live in a mansion with 32 bathrooms and only 1/16th of them need sprucing up, don’t.  One hundred percent of our bathrooms need work.

The upstairs bathroom needs a lot of prep work.  There’s mold that needs to be removed and peeling paint that has to be scraped and sanded.  I might need to replace some wood paneling.  The whole room needs scrubbed down.

Which is precisely why I’m starting with the downstairs bathroom.  I can knock the whole thing out in a couple of hours.  It just needs a quick wipe down and a fresh coat of paint.

This guy might have owned our house

When we moved into the house, the previous owner had painted every room mustard yellow.  At first, I thought he might be a descendant of Colonel Mustard with an affinity for the color mustard.  And candlesticks and neatly secured sections of rope, of course.  Or maybe an heir to the French’s mustard fortune.  “I just love the color mustard,” he would go around exclaiming.

We later discovered that the owner was just plain cheap and had gotten several drums of mustard colored paint on clearance at Home Depot.

There’s something so redemptive and renewing about a fresh coat of paint.  It can change a room completely.

Some days I wish I could paint myself from head to toe for a fresh start.  But, of course, leaving a little patch blank to prevent skin suffocation and impending death like that chick in Goldfinger.

Right now, I’d opt for a flat gray to go with my mood, so I should probably hold off on that.

Maybe a canary yellow when I’m feeling up to it or a calming sky blue.

For some reason, I think any personal rejuvenation is going to take more than fresh paint.  There’s some peeling and stripping and patching and toxin removal that needs to be completed before this butch slaps on a cosmetic coat of fresh paint.

Pussy Galore from Goldfinger. Just because.

Why I love Alison Bechdel and Courtney Love

So, I’ve had a rough week.  Didn’t feel up to doing much of anything and just squeaked by with what absolutely had to be done.  Read: I won’t get fired from my job.  W won’t leave me even though I made the world’s worst possible meals for dinner several nights in a row.

My heart hasn’t been into much of anything.

I did read and finish the brilliant Alison Bechdel‘s new graphic memoir, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama.  Not as terrific as her first, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, but great nonetheless.

If you’re not familiar with Bechdel’s work, she started out penning the lesbian comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.

In Are You My Mother?, Bechdel takes to writing and drawing to make sense of her less-than-perfect relationship with her mother.  She says in the book that it’s something that she has to do.

I just finished up the book this afternoon and thought that I would scratch out at least a few sentences.  Writing has always been a redemptive release of sorts for me, which is part of why I started this blog.

After reading Are You My Mother?, I came away with a head filled with questions, thoughts, ideas and a list of books and authors to Google.  I’ve decided that I need a psychoanalyst and must re-read the works of Virginia Woolf, especially To The Lighthouse.

Bechdel is not for the faint of heart.  She’s a majorly screwed up lesbian with both mommy and daddy issues, which might be why I like her stuff so much.

I call it the Courtney Love effect.  I typically have a strong affinity for out-of-control rock-star types like Love (bloody tampon-throwing Love, of course), because at the end of the day they make me feel better about myself.  Sad but true.  It’s the same reason people watch Hoarders.  It makes them feel better about their housekeeping and organizational skills.

So, reading Bechdel cheered me up in a perverse kind of way.  And gave me hope that I might be able to manufacture my own tragic-comic-drama novel someday.

But for now it’s back to bed and a new book: Helping Me Help Myself by Beth Lisick.  Thank the good lord for books.  And beds.