Category Archives: Life

A Christmas miracle flannel style

‘Twas perhaps the merriest Christmas of all for Flannel Santa had run out on Christmas Eve to buy a few extra gifts for the kiddos.

You see, Flannel Santa had been struck by the Christmas Spirit and had extra cash to burn.

Of course, Flannel Santa bought new flannel shirts for the lads.

A belt and hat for one, a leather wallet for another.

And 12 packs of Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew for all.

On Christmas Day, the youth wore their shiny new flannel shirts.

So, soft and warm! they exclaimed.

And Flannel Santa beamed with pride.

The day couldn’t get any better.

IMG_2178

I’ve got one hand in my pocket … because my flannel shirt has pockets!!

But then Flannel Santa reached into the sack-o-Santa stuff and pulled out one last gift. One last flannel shirt.

The shirt was red and black checked. Perfect for Christmas Day.

Thick and warm and as soft as Sofia Vergara’s hair.

The shirt fit Flannel Santa like a glove (except it was a shirt).

And Flannel Santa smiled.

But ho, ho, ho, what was this?

Pockets? In a flannel shirt?

Pockets!

Pockets!

Pockets!

It was a Christmas miracle—a flannel shirt with pockets. Which made this the merriest Christmas of all!

* * *

Here’s hoping your Christmas was filled with surprises. And perhaps a new flannel shirt with or without pockets, if that’s your jam.

Advertisements

How I decided to not be a Grinch this year

“Let’s not get a Christmas tree this year,” I say to W. “We’re too busy to get one and set it up. The kids won’t enjoy it, because they never come out of their rooms. Plus, we can save the $100.”

“Oh,” she says in a quiet voice. “This might be the last Christmas we have in our house with the kids.”

But her voice is soft so I know I’ve won. No traveling to the Christmas tree farm, overpaying for a tree, lugging it home and into the house. No making sure it’s perfectly straight, stringing the lights, placing the ornaments just so and yelling at the cats to get the hell out of the goddamn tree. No boxing up the decorations and dragging the tree to the curb some weekend in January when the branches have started to droop and vacuuming pine needles for weeks and weeks and weeks, even though the tree has been long gone and is now barely a memory of Christmas past.

downloadI rub my hands together and smile a big smile.

I feel a little bit bad. But I’m busy. So busy. With work. And other things. My manuscript is due in January and I’m freaking out. I haven’t written a blog post in for-ev-er.

Three days before Christmas, I start feeling a tad more bad.

Because W deserves better. She deserves a Christmas tree.

So when she is out for the evening, my son and I drive to a nursery and get a tree like we used to do in the old days, pre-W.

All of the trees are $45. My son wants a Charlie Brown tree, but I’m paying so I pick out a not too big, not too small tree with a straight spine.

imagesShe’s tall and slim with excellent posture like Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.

“It’s not going to fit in our car,” my son says.

“It’ll fit in the trunk,” I say. “Don’t you remember how we used to carry our trees in the trunk of our car.”

He says he doesn’t. He always says he doesn’t remember.

The kid at the nursery binds the tree and starts jamming it in the trunk of my Nissan Altima. He looks a little like the Grinch shoving Cindy Lou Who’s tree up the chimney for repair.

Hela barely fits in the trunk of my car. My son and I smile big goofy smiles at each other as the kid struggles with the tree. His smile saying see I told you. My smile saying see I told you, too.

On the way home, my son says we should have saved the $45.

“It’s a waste of time and money,” he says. “It’s going to take you two or three hours to get it set up.”

“One or one and a half,” I correct him. “But that’s not the point. It will make W happy,” I say.

I don’t tell him my secret wish for him. That I hope someday he has someone in his life who is worth such expense and bother.

He shrugs his shoulders.

“Plus, I got to pick out a tree with you,” I add.

At home, he helps me put the tree in the stand.

He doesn’t want to cut the plastic netting and watch the tree spread its arms or help string the lights or put on the star like he used to. He’s 18 not 8, and I ache for those 10 years.

IMG_2164I take my time and wind three strands of lights around Hela. When I’m done, I pull the lights to the front of the branches, the way W likes them.

Next, I put on the string of purple beads that W always had on her tiny tree in her Philadelphia apartment. Back then, I thought it was a strange—purple beads on a Christmas tree. Now, our tree doesn’t seem complete without them.

I place the silver star on the highest branch. A gold star below it.

The silver star was the one W always placed on her tree. The gold star was the one my son and used to decorate our tree.

When the kids were young, they would fight over which star we should use. We always used both to keep the peace. Now, it’s tradition.

I wait up for W, admiring my handiwork: a skinny tree with lights and purple beads and a silver star and a gold star.

“Oh,” she says when she comes home.

“I was going to ask you if we could get a tree,” she says.

“I’m sorry I’m such a Grinch,” I say. “I don’t mean to be.”

I kiss her.

“I know,” she says. “But you usually come around.”

She cries a tiny bit.

download (1).jpgAnd I feel good. Like my heart has grown three sizes today.

* * *

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

(Especially you Grinches out there! You know who you are!)

Finding your tribe

I woke up early this morning with a nervous stomach, which shook loose this memory:

I’m in college.

I’m wearing a black sweater and a pair of black and hunter green checked pants that have one of those funny hook and button things like men’s dress slacks.

I’m sporting a pair of black penny loafers, a shiny penny looking out from the center of each like cooper eyes.

The campus is cold and dark and still at this time of the morning. A group of us are boarding a small yellow school bus that will take us to our student teaching assignments.

I don’t want to be a student teacher, but my parents are pushing for it. Besides, what else do you do with a degree in English?

I feel sick in my stomach those weeks that I teach. Sure, part of it is plain old nerves. But there’s something else. That feeling of not belonging that I can’t seem to shake.

This weekend, I’m attending a creative nonfiction conference. This weekend, I’m speaking at a creative nonfiction conference.

Along with the founder of my writing group, I’ll be presenting How to Find Your Tribe or How a Writing Group Saved My Life.

A little dramatic, I know. But we’re writers, folks.

So, that’s where the nervous stomach is coming from.

IMG_1911

Me and my magical mullet circa 1985. You know you want to run your fingers through it, ladies.

But I know I’ll be okay. Talking about my writing group is a passion of mine. And I’m no longer that 20-some-year-old mullet-headed kid in the penny loafers. Did I not mention that magical mullet of mine? Must have slipped my mind.

I’ve got a tribe. A tribe of writer friends who make me feel like a cross between Dorothy Allison and Alison Bechdel.

A tribe of blogging buddies who make me feel like a flannel-covered rock star. A little bit of Melissa Etheridge and a little bit of Joan Jett and a little bit of Xena Warrior Princess because she is a bad ass, too, and this is my blog so I can write what I want. And anyway, she could play a helluva lute, at least when she was inspired.

On my last post, my catsup-versus-mayo-on-fries post, Family Values Lesbian replied that “mayo on fries is as butch as glitter.”

downloadI laughed out loud then smiled real big on the inside, sorta like the Grinch when the corners of his smile almost touch the sky and his heart grows three sizes that day.

“What?” W asked.

“My peeps,” I said. “They get me.”

And that’s my hope for everyone–the writers I’ll be speaking to on Saturday at the conference, all the LGBTQ folks out there who might not have built-in support systems and the rest of the world, too. People who get you. A personal cheering section. Folks who support you like a really good bra and tell you to keep going, you got this, you can do it. Even if the road ahead is paved with glitter. Or whatever it is that’s your kryptonite.

Thanks, guys, for always being a part of my tribe.

 

A condiment conundrum

imagesW and I have been fighting. Over condiments.

I spell the red stuff you dip your fries into this way:

c-a-t-s-u-p

and write it like that on the grocery list posted on the fridge.

“Who spells catsup that way?” W asks.

She says it with distaste. Like she has swallowed a pint of sour milk.

“What do you know?” I reply. ” You don’t even like catsup.”

“It’s just weird,” she says.

“I’ll tell you what’s weird,” I say. “Someone who dips their fries in mayo. You can’t trust someone who doesn’t believe in fries and catsup.”

“I think you can’t trust someone who spells ketchup c-at-s-u-p,” she says.

* * *

So, what is it folks? Catsup or ketchup? What do you dip your french fried potatoes in?  

 

 

Summer adventures

imagesW and I are headed to New York state next weekend.

We’ll be visiting Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. This is another bucket list item for me.

First, an Olivia cruise to Alaska. Now, Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame.

I’m wondering if I should be worried. My bucket list isn’t very deep.

“Just add more things,” people tell me.

Um, that’s not how it work. I prefer a carefully culled bucket list.

download

Say cheeze!

After Cooperstown, we’re headed to Animal Adventure Park outside of Binghamton, which is home to Internet sensations April the Giraffe and baby Taj. W is a huge fan.

Usually, I’d be stressed out about leaving town and heading to a new place (or vacation, as some call it). But our Alaskan adventure has me feeling like I can do a short road trip no problem.

So, we’re looking for things to do in the Cooperstown and Binghamton areas. Send your tips and suggestions my way.

Where are you headed these last few weeks of summer? Crossing anything off your bucket list?

 

Llama drama

W and I cleaned our bedroom a few weeks ago. We organized and dusted and vacuumed and purged ourselves of three garbage bags full of crap.

We had been having problems sleeping and felt that a clean, uncluttered room would help with our insomnia.

In the spirit of refreshing my side of the room, I decided to buy a new lamp for my beside table. I poked around at Target and then started looking on the web for something functional and whimsical.

IMG_1688Through a bizarre series of events, I ended up with a llama lamp.

“What’s a llama totem mean?” W asked.

“I didn’t think to check,” I replied.

From Spirit Animal Totems

Llama is here to remind you that only through hard work and perseverance will your dreams be realized. Know that you have the ability to adapt to any situation you find yourself in. Know that whatever loads you are carrying right now you will be able to manage and see them through. Alternatively Llama could also be reminding you that your biggest focus should be yourself and that personal growth and your connection to spirit should be your highest priority at all times. Insisting on following your heart rather than your ego will bring you all the rewards you are seeking.

These days, I am overscheduled and overworked and overwhelmed.

I have an upcoming speaking engagement. And commitments as president of a local book-related nonprofit.

I have committed to a January deadline for my new book, My Mother Says Drums Are for Boys: More Adventures in Gender.

It feels like there are a million things I need to do. And never enough time.

Plus, Wentworth. We have to finish Wentworth.

I will trust in my little gold llama that with hard work all things are possible. And will remember to take time out for myself when I need it.

* * *

What’s your animal totem these days?

 

 

Blue

IMG_1511Smack in the middle of the week, we cruise the Hubbard Glacier.

It’s a wall of ice approximately 75 miles long and 1,200 feet deep.

The glacier is the most beautiful shade of blue I’ve ever seen. The brilliant blue of a rare bird or a Van Gogh sky.

The blue color is an optical illusion. Something about the sun and the ice and refracted light. I don’t pay attention because I want to believe this shade of blue is real.

This blue, the color of a diamond or a lover’s eyes.

IMG_1480I drink a bottle of beer because I want to feel the chill of the ice inside me. W drinks a coffee with Kahlua.

As we get closer, we hear a noise that sounds like thunder and watch as a chunk of ice falls from the glacier and into the ocean, leaving behind a large puff of white.

We feel the repeated rumbles in our bones.

Ohh and ahh at the explosions of white.

Hubbard Glacier is an advancing glacier, which means it’s being replenished by precipitation faster than it’s melting.

The ocean is blue, too. A dark blue like a new pair of jeans.

IMG_1503Pieces of ice float in it as if it were a giant cocktail. I angle my ear to the water to better hear the crackle and pop.

I want to reach out and dip a finger in the cold blue water. Store the chill for those times I need to remind myself that I’m alive.

Today, I want to jump into the icy water.

And wait for the roar.

As pieces of me fall off, sending smoke signals to the universe.

Until nothing is left but the color blue.

Watch

Describe an object that describes you:

IMG_1192A vintage Timex wristwatch, circa 1970 with a stretchy metal band.

Dependable.

Consistent.

Comfortable.

Casual.

Plain face.

Stylish in its own way with a flash of silver like a crooked smile.

Always moving forward. Sometimes second by second, other times making bigger leaps until time is lost and I wonder how I ended up here.

At times, a know it all.

It’s 10:30 a.m.

It’s Tuesday.

It’s May 16.

The cold metal on my wrist reminding me I’m alive.

* * *

What about you? What object are you?

 

Mom stuff

My son turned 18 yesterday.

IMG_1178

Middle-age Butch and son back in the day

It was around 11:30 p.m. that the doctor said we would be celebrating his birthday on May 16.

I wasn’t have any of that next day stuff. After a few pushes, he entered the world on May 15, a few minutes before midnight. A month and a half before his due date.

He is stubborn like his mother.

From the beginning, he was setting his own schedule and interrupting any plans I had for a normal pregnancy and delivery.

When he finally came home from the hospital, he weighed a little over 5 pounds. I kept him tucked in the crook of my arm like a football.

download (1).jpg

Do you speak sports?

I  assumed he would speak the same language that my dad, my brother and I speak: sports. He doesn’t.

He doesn’t speak books or movies or superheroes or any of my other languages.

He speaks his own, a mix of technology and disdain for everything I like.

He has always been a difficult child. Insisting on paving his own path and refusing to conform to the most basic of rules. He wears shorts in the winter. Says the sky is green. Eats soup from a plate.

I get frustrated. I use the word “normal” more than I want to and then hate myself for doing so. I often worry about what other people will think. When I step back, I can see I am recreating my own childhood.

W always tells me we are supposed to learn from our children. That we can find healing in the parent-child relationship.

I never really understood this.

IMG_1177I have a quote taped to the front of my printer. “Be who you needed when you were younger,” it says.

It reminds me to keep reaching out to young people to tell my story so they can be comfortable with their own.

I wonder if the answer has been there all along.

“Be who you needed when you were younger.”

Maybe I’m supposed to parent my son the way I needed to be parented. Accepting him as he is.

Maybe that’s what finally sets me free.

Butch’s best day ever!

Guys, yesterday might have been my best day ever. It was like seeing a rainbow, getting the perfect haircut and winning free flannel for a year all in one day.

IMG_1137It started off with a delivery of boxer briefs that I had ordered from Groupon a few weeks ago and then promptly forgot.

I mean, who doesn’t like new underwear, especially when it’s delivered right to your house.

Then we went to a bowling fundraiser for my nephew, who has cystic fibrosis. There was bowling and all the pizza a butch could eat.

And just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, I won a bucket of booze in a raffle.

IMG_1132The big price was a bottle of Jagermeister Spice. I’ve never tried the spice version, but this butch runs on Jager.

We headed for home, and then I ran out to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day at my local bookstore, which was hosting a release of a fiction anthology created by local authors. I bought a copy of the anthology that all of the authors so kindly signed and got to pick out a free book courtesy of the store.

When I got home, high from an evening of talking about books and smelling fresh ink on the page, I found another delivery waiting for me.

IMG_1138Two pair of new sneakers.

I’ve never owned a pair of Brooks before, but they seem super comfortable and good for walking.

And a butch can never have too many pairs of Chucks.

So, to recap.

One. New underwear.

Two. Booze.

Three. Books.

Four. Sneakers.

* * *

What four things would be included in your perfect day?