Category Archives: Relationships

What to watch?

images[1]We have nothing to watch. Nothing, I tell you, nothing, even though we have cable television with a bunch of premium channels, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and three Redboxes located less than two miles from our house.

There haven’t been any new episodes of Modern Family. We’re all caught up with Orange Is the New Black, Girls, Transparent, Jessica Jones, Master of None, Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, Broad City, The Walking Dead. I think there’s a new season of Orphan Black out, but last I checked it wasn’t available for streaming through Amazon.

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Washed up celebrity horse with depression and addiction issues. What’s not to love?

I binged watched three seasons of Bojack Horseman one weekend without W because I thought she detested shows with talking animals. That’s what she had said, anyway. Turns out she meant live action shows and not cartoons.

“Like Look Who’s Talking,” she tried to explain.

“That had a talking baby in it,” I said. “And it was hilarious.”

She made her angry face.

“You mean like Babe,” I said, trying to help. “Our mother called us all the same,” I said in my best pig voice. “How could you not like Babe?

More angry face.

We have been trying to pick a new show.

“What about The Sopranos,” W asks.

“That seems so old. I don’t know that I can get into it.”

She forces a stream of hot air through her mouth like a tea kettle. This is the sound of exasperation.

She’s already named a bunch of shows: House of Cards, Homeland, Breaking Bad, Dexter. She ends up watching them herself because they don’t interest me. I am difficult. Impossible. I am glad I’m not married to myself.

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See, everyone loves a skinny tie.

I suggest Mad Men because, well, skinny ties.

“You don’t want to watch The Sopranos because it’s too old, but you want to watch Mad Men?

So. Much. Angry. Face.

Our youngest suggests Haven.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“It’s based on the Stephen King book The Colorado Kid,” he says.

“I liked that book.”

“Yeah, the people in the town have supernatural powers,” he says.

“Um. No. I don’t like that supernatural stuff.”

“You liked Stranger Things!” W says way too loud.

“Yeah, but that had Winona Ryder and Eggo waffles.”

* * *

What did you watch this summer?

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Lawnmower lingo

IMG_0647When W came home from work yesterday, I was assembling my new electric lawnmower on the front porch.

“It’s so cute!” she said.

“Really?” I said.

She knows how I feel about the word “cute.”

“Oh. Right. Handsome.”

“No,” I said.

Neckties and squared off sideburns are handsome. Me? I’m a handsome devil. But a handsome lawnmower?

“I have no clue,” she said.

Once again, my wife was flummoxed by my rules.

I looked at the sleek neon green, lawn-cutting machine.

“Try sporty.”

“Your new lawnmower is sporty,” she said.

We went inside for dinner exhausted by our exchange.

 

 

 

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?

Ahem. Announcements and stuff

Guys, here I am. It’s been way too long. I think I was still wearing flannel the last time I posted. We’re stuck in what they’re calling a “heat dome” here in the Philly burbs, so no summer flannel for this butch. 

I’ve been busy, folks. I haven’t been ignoring you because you think Cindy was the best Brady ever. Everyone knows it was Jan. Or because you’re a Yankees fan.

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Maybe a crown AND a cape like professional wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler wore back in the day.

You’re looking at one of the newest authors to sign with Regal Crest, a powerhouse in the world of lesbian literature. I’m sure I’ll get a crown or velvet cape any day now, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

I just finished the manuscript for the new book.  

Remember when you were a kid and you were playing outside and the whiffle ball got stuck in the gutter or the kickball landed in the creek? You always got a do-over.

This book is a lot like that. I had a chance to go through the current version of Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender and make edits. Tighten it up. Really, that’s every writer’s dream–one more chance to edit. I know, we’re weird creatures. 

Plus, the second edition, which is being billed as an author’s cut, has added content. New stories I wrote this past year specifically for this project. You’ll get to learn more about Middle-age Butch when she was big butch on her college campus and didn’t even know it. And of course, the book will include more of the those butch-tastic tales everyone loves like the hunt for the perfect buzz cut and the time-honored tradition of the clandestine butch nod. If you turned your head just now, you missed it.

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My trophy looked like this except it was invisible.

Also, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender was short listed for an award in creative nonfiction by the Golden Crown Literary Society. It didn’t win, but I still feel like a winner.

While I’m making announcements, I should mention that I’ve started my next book. The working title is Love Is Like Tiny Cheeseburgers: Essays from a Butch Romantic. Basically, it’s about me and W sitting in a tree and other stuff that makes your heart beat faster.

Hope you all feel like winners these days. Because you are. Big, beautiful winners. Now go hoist your invisible trophy over your head and shout out that you’re number 1!

* * *

Ok, I told you what’s new with me. What’s new with you? Share one new thing. A new movie, a new book, a new place you visited. Anything. Go.

Moonbeams

images[8]“You’re not drawing me,” W says. She says it in an innocent way with her eyes wide and bright and a bit of a grin starting on one side of her face. She says it as if she’s daring me to sketch her there in the June sunlight.

I’m sitting on a folding chair with my little red Moleskine notebook and my silver astronaut pen. I’m pretending to sketch her as she sits on a folding chair across from me.

“Of course I’m not drawing you,” I say. “I’m a writer, not a drawer.”

“Draw me with words,” she says.

“Okay,” I say.

We are at a yoga/wellness festival with our prayer flag for Orlando.

“You’ll love it,” I had told her. “You’ll feel at home with all the other hippies.”

“Maybe I’ll go full-on hippie on you some day. With dreadlocks, the whole deal.”

She says it like it’s a deal breaker. Like I will stop loving her with dreadlocks and bare feet that peek out from the bottom of her flowy tie-dye skirts. Like I will stop loving her with hairy legs and armpits and the scent of patchouli following behind her like a puppy.

“Don’t you know I don’t love you because of your hair?” I say.

What I don’t tell her is that I love her hair. The way it is long and brown with a few strands of silver that look like they were sliced from the moon.

It is the best part of her. The outside part that shows her inside light.

I don’t tell her I know her secret: Her heart is the moon. That’s why she has moonbeam hair.

Instead, I tell her I don’t love her because of her hair.

 

 

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?

 

Wife power

After W and I were married, I felt weird about using the word “wife” to describe myself.

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I’m more of a Fred than a Wilma.

Wilma Flintstone was a wife. Donna Reed, wife. Carol Brady, wife.

Middle-age Butch? Not so much.

You can read all about my wife angst here.

“How should I refer to you?” W asked.

“I’ll let you know when I figure it out,” I replied.

We joked around with the term “hersband.”

“My hersband will not be attending,” she texted a friend.

But then life went on and we had bigger things to worry about. I never decided what I wanted to be called.

I saved “wife” for certain situations. Like when I made a phone call to get information about local taxes W owed.

“Who is calling?”

“This is her wife.”

Or when I wanted some extra attention at home.

“Geesh, you’d think you’d have some time for your wife.”

“Remember me? Your wife?”

Yeah, I’m that guy.

I find myself using “wife” a lot during our son’s hospital stay. I use the word to explain not only who I am but why I have a reason to be in the emergency room or in the waiting area outside the room where they are performing a procedure on him for the third time.

“That’s my wife.”

“Can you take me to my wife?”

I say the word with authority.

I never really understood the importance of this tiny word. Who cares what we call each other, I used to think. It’s between us. It’s our business.

I was always satisfied with the word “partner.”

I mean, when someone who looks like me drops the word “partner,” everyone knows I’m not talking about my business partner. Trust me.

images[5]But “partner” doesn’t carry the same punch.

Now I see the power packed in the word “wife.”

And I wonder why anyone would want to deny another human being the basic right of being a spouse.

So, yeah, I’m good with “wife.”

* * *

What do you call your other half?

 

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.

 

Weekend recap

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Imagine Miss Daisy in flannel and Doc Marten’s.

W and I ran some errands this weekend. As is our routine, we completed them Driving Miss Daisy fashion with W driving and me riding along in the passenger seat. This is what happens when you are an old married couple with way too much to do on a Saturday afternoon.

W prefers to drive, and I prefer to be driven. I’ll wait until all the giggling stops before I continue …

Anyway, I’ll jump out of the car to run into the drycleaner or return something at the hardware store. And there’s W waiting for me curbside.

This weekend while we were running our errands, I stopped inside a Starbuck’s to grab a late afternoon pick-me-up and use the restroom. It was one of those deluxe Starbuck’s, and I found myself walking, walking, walking to get to the back of the store. In back, a gaggle of college-age girls gathered around a large table studying and chatting and sipping giant plastic cups of coffee through long green straws. They had painted fingernails and long hair pulled back in various fashions or stacked on top of their heads.

In the midst of all of that femininity, I braced myself as I approached the bathroom. Without thinking, I put on the invisible armor I wear whenever I need to use a public restroom. I steeled myself and prepared for anything.

And then I turned the corner and saw two unisex bathrooms. I felt my heart lift and my shoulders relax. I think I heard Sarah McLachlan singing “Angel” somewhere.

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In no time, I returned to W and our great errand excursion, a hot cup of joe in hand.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

images[6]When it comes to Valentine’s Day, you either love it or you’re a hater.

Me? I’m all about romance. I’m a flannel-covered marshmallow. It’s true.

I figure if there’s a day on the calendar earmarked for love, why not take advantage of it?

Sometimes W gets annoyed. “I thought we weren’t going to exchange this year,” she says.

I can’t help myself.

All my life as a person obsessed with romance, I thought I wanted to be swept off my feet with long-stem red roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, surprise picnics in the park, poems written just for me.

As it turns out, I like being the one that does the sweeping. Who knew.

“She should let you be the man,” a friend of ours said.

I know what you’re thinking. We’re lesbians. We’re both women.

But I enjoy acting like an old-timey gentleman, holding open doors, carrying the heavy packages, sending the flowers and buying the chocolate.

Like the bumper sticker says: Chivalry isn’t dead. She’s a butch.

I sent W Valentine’s Day flowers last week. I’m all about Bouqs these days. If you buy flowers for your girl, do yourself a favor and check them out.

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Her favorite color is purple.

Today, she got breakfast in bed. And a little basket I made for her with candy, lottery tickets and bottles of cherry soda called Cheer Wine. Cheers!

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Check out these cute pillowcases I found on Etsy.

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We’ll have to trade our pillows back and forth. Even a butch can be a little spoon sometimes.

At the end of the day, maybe I’ll score a few extra kisses.

It’s good to be butch.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!

* * *

What are your Valentine’s Day traditions?