Stupid fortune

 

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Which one are you?

I made up these little bags of inspiration and handed them out at my writers group this week.

They are loaded with things a writer needs like a mini notebook, tea, chocolate and mints, which are supposed to stimulate brain activity.

I also included in each bag a piece of Mookaite Jasper, a crystal that promotes creativity.

I challenged everyone to think positively about their writing and writing goals as we start 2017. We talked about keeping a gratitude journal to stay in a positive frame of mind.

And here I sit. Stuck.

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Ugh.

“Begin … the rest is easy.” That was my fortune from New Year’s Eve. It’s sitting here on my desk. Every once in awhile it disappears beneath a pile of papers, but it always surfaces, mocking me with its overly simplistic advice.

“I already knew that,” I say to the fortune. I glare at the small, smug strip of white paper.

White like a priest’s robe.

It sits there absorbing the red lasers shooting from my eyeballs. It taunts me with its exaggerated stoicism.

“I’ll begin anytime I want,” I say. “I’m the boss of me. Not you. You’re just a scrap of paper. Made in China.”

Still nothing. The fortune is quiet as a ninja. I assume it’s deep in meditation on the meaning of life or how to best piss off a stuck writer

“I’m not ready yet, stupid fortune,” I say.

The fortune sits patiently, waiting for me to begin.

* * *

Wishing you all great success in 2017!

Book launch!

leavingnormalNew year.

New book.

New look. (Seriously, how cool is that cover?)

Today’s the big day, folks. The second edition of Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender has launched with my new publisher, Regal Crest.

The book has added content. Count ’em, nine new chapters.

And while I’m bragging, the first edition was a Golden Crown Literary Society award finalist in the category of creative nonfiction.

A big thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way by liking my posts and reminding me that I have a voice and that my words are important. You guys have always made me feel like a big butch rock star.

If you bought a copy of Leaving Normal last time around, thanks! Consider picking up a second copy for the added content or donating to your local high school or LGBT group.

A bunch of you have been patiently waiting for the second edition. You can order a print copy or e-book through most online book vendors. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon and Bella Books.

If you’d like a signed copy and maybe some free butch swag, you can send $16.00 via PayPal to rae.r.theodore@gmail.com. The book costs $12.95, plus $3 for shipping.

Also, reviews are so important. They help with visibility on sites like Amazon. If you’ve read the book, please consider writing a short, honest review. It will only take you a minute or two and this butch will be very grateful.

Carrie Fisher

My dad took me and my brother to an old theater in Reading, Pennsylvania, to see Star Wars. We sat in the balcony. I was ten years old.

I remember being captivated from the beginning when those now-famous words scrolled across the screen. I liked the scene in the cantina with those crazy aliens and that funny, tinny music playing in the background.

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Cream Magazine

I’m not sure how many times I’ve watched Star Wars since 1977. My favorite scene became the one with the garbage compactor. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy,” Princess Leia says to Luke as she shoots her laser gun at the Stormtroopers, transforming from rescuee to rescuer, from damsel in distress to take-charge badass.

I replayed that scene over and over in my head. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.” That was the kind of girl I was when I played with the guys. That was the kind of woman I wanted to be.

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When I got older, I idolized Carrie Fisher the author. She was a brilliant writer. If you want to learn how to write memoir, read Carrie Fisher. Her words were sharp and cutting, vulnerable and honest. The humor was so dark, you never knew whether to laugh or cry. I always did both. She wrote with the bravery and balls of Princess Leia. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.”

I read a lot of books. Most I recycle, handing off to friends or family, or donating to Goodwill. I keep some of Fisher’s books in a small, neat stack on my bookcase mixed with books written by a few other authors. My stack of weird books. They are the books that told me it was okay to think the way I did. That it was okay to be different. They are the books that gave me permission to be myself.

It’s been a tough year for losses. I lost two of my heroes earlier this year when the wrestler Chyna and the musician Prince died on back-to-back days in April.

And now Carrie Fisher.

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I like to think they left me a little of their magic when they departed this world. A little of their bravery and in your face badassery. That it fell like stardust and caught on the inside of my sleeve or the back of my pants and clung like specks of glitter.

And that when I need to be bold and courageous, it will be there, giving me a needed push.

“Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.”

* * *

What about you? Who will you miss most from 2016?

What to buy a butch

W is easy peasy to buy for. She likes things that sparkle (silver jewelry), things that smell good (handmade soaps) and things that taste good (salted caramel chocolates and Cheerwine cherry soda). Plus, purple things and pretty things and spiritual things and soft things. Also, scarves and bags and really good socks. See what I mean?

She thinks I’m hard to buy for. I tell her that I’m not. Butches are easy. Hey, not like that. But you know what I mean. If you’re struggling to find something to buy your masculine-of-center girl for the holidays, read this handy-dandy list:

Handy-dandy list

imagesCheck out the wristbands and cuffs at Lucky Dog Leather. W bought me wide black and brown leather cuffs on one of our first Christmases together. I loved them. I still do. They are cool and stylish and need I say very, very butch.

Is your girl a sporty butch? Get her tickets to a game. Or a jersey or other team gear. We can never have too much. I tend to like the old-timey vintage stuff. Make sure you know her favorite teams and players.

downloadIf she’s a reader, get her a copy of Ivan Coyote’s Tomboy Survival Guide. If you want to see a butch cry, watch her read this book. Really, any of Coyote’s books are great, but this is their latest. And do I dare say best?

I have to give a shout out to My Booket List, which was created by a friend of mine. Your book loving butch can record all of those books she wants to read in this cool little journal.

If she’s a writer, try a Moleskine notebook and a silver astronaut pen (you can pick up both at Staples). I’ve always got these hiding out in my pockets. Just in case.

If she’s into comics, there’s tons of cool Wonder Woman stuff out this year. Pick her up a copy of Jill Lepore’s Wonder Woman, which details the history of the Amazonian Princess. Wonder Woman’s story follows the rise of feminism in this country. It’s a fascinating read.

Beer her. If she’s a beer fan or fanatic, pick out some new craft brews for her to try. The staff at most beer shops are knowledgeable and can steer you in the right direction. Create a custom six-pack just for her. Nothing says I love you like beer.

download-1Buy her a new necktie or bowtie. One that matches her eyes or your new dress. One in her favorite color. One that you think she’d look particularly handsome in. We love it when our ladies buy us ties. It makes us feel special and sexy.

Make it personal. There are tons of sites that let you create personal merchandise. Think mugs and tees and hats. How about a T-shirt that says “World’s Best Butch” or a mug that just says HANDSOME? I’ve had good luck with Zazzle and Shutterfly.

Make her something. We like it when you use your hands. Get crafty and make her a Sharpie mug (look for instructions on the Internet) or knit her a scarf. Bake her favorite cake or pie or whip up a batch of your famous tomato sauce.

download-2Socks. A good pair makes us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, too. You can buy those butch socks here.

How about a fun pair of fleece PJ pants? Find a design that matches her passion. Star Wars, Harry Potter, beer, football … You name it, they make it. Or a fleece blanket.

Flannel. Need I say more?

Oh, and you. You know that’s all she really wants, right?

* * *

What do you like to gift your butch? If you’re a butch, what do you like to get?

 

Boots

img_0139I buy my first pair of Dr. Marten’s before I come out. Before I know I’m a lesbian.

I buy them at a teen-oriented store in the mall that I’m too old to be shopping at.

Brown boots. Seven eyelet lace-ups. With the yellow stitching at the bottom, circling like the moons of Jupiter.

In many ways, my coming out is fluid. A smooth continuation of who I am. An ocean wave that sweeps over me and keeps going.

After I come out, the boots seem to have purpose. I stand taller in them. I stomp harder in them, the AirWair rubber soles bouncing off the pavement like basketballs.

I wear them on dates.

I wear them to piss my mother off.

I wear them when I’m angry.

I wear them when I’m not.

I wear them as a calling card. Rae Theodore, Lesbian, they say with each step.

Friends of mine are planning on attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration. It’s not a protest against Trump or the election results but a march to shed light on women’s issues, including sexual assault and workplace discrimination. You can read more about it here.

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I ask W if she wants to go.

“You want to change the world with me?” she asks.

“Yes,” I say.

I look at the route of the march. Two miles from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House.

I need to break in my boots before January.

* * *

Do you have something you wear that makes you feel powerful?

Politics and parents

My parents came by yesterday to pick up my son for a few hours.

They were supposed to be at the house at 4:00.

I was downstairs working in my pjs. I hadn’t bothered to shower. Because what was the point after Tuesday night.

A few minutes before 4:00, I had planned on going upstairs. Hiding in my bedroom.

“Tell your grandparents I have a headache,” I was going to have my son tell them.

I should mention they are Republicans. I assume they voted for Donald Trump.

I didn’t want to see them gloat. I didn’t want to talk about the election.

A few minutes after 3:00, I heard a knock on the door and then my mother’s voice.

Shit.

My mom and dad came into the house. Sat down in the living room while they waited for my son.

We made small talk. We are experts at small talk. The smaller the better. We have advanced degrees in small talk. Olympic medals in small talk. My middle name is Small Talk. We talked about watch batteries and apple crisp. I told you we have the small talk thing down.

“How late did you stay up last night?” my mother asked, dipping a toe into that territory.

I said my community is heart broken over the election results.

“I’m sure they are,” my mother said.

Her response seemed genuine.

I said I’m afraid of losing the civil rights  my community has worked so hard to obtain over the past few years.

imagesQ8TUA5UX.jpg“That won’t happen,” my father said in that fatherly Ward Cleaver way. In that serious voice with that serious tone. That voice that said there is no monster under the bed. That voice that explained that the noise coming from outside isn’t a bad guy but something blowing in the wind.

For the record, my parents weren’t smug. They didn’t gloat.

But right now, I can’t separate politics from what I’m feeling inside.

As I sit here and write this, there are tears in my eyes. (I know, I know, no one wants to see a butch cry.) I feel an emptiness in my chest. There’s a gaping hole inside me.

It’s that feeling of not being good enough.

imageshchwj0s6It’s that black sheep feeling.

Feeling like a second-class citizen.

Unimportant.

Flawed.

Wrong.

Bad.

I remind myself that I’m almost 50 years old. Grow up already. But I’m forever searching for that pat on the head. These two words: “good girl.”

I don’t think that hole inside will ever go away. It’s been almost half a century.

imagesZBKZUV9O.jpgSometimes I don’t notice it. I fill it with other things like friends or work or my writing until it is stuffed full like a Hefty Flex bag.

But when I am still and quiet, I can feel the hollowness. The void. And I wait for my body to collapse around that empty space.

It never has. I am stronger than that. Made of steel and wire. Cinder blocks and rebar.

I wish I didn’t have to be.

 

 

 

Rich

imageslp1bxi04Rich.

That’s the word that’s been in my head and in my heart for the past few weeks. Jingling around like gold coins in a drawstring pouch.

I’ve felt rich in life. Rich in love. Rich in friends. Rich in my writing life. Rich in everything I need.

I have a weekly routine and friends and my writing and enough special days and events to keep everything interesting.

It’s a rich life.

I think about love and how that makes everything richer. How things seem more special when W’s there. The way I can’t wait for her to get home at night so I can tell her about my day and experience it all over again through her eyes.

Of course, my life isn’t perfect. The house is usually a mess and the cat puked under the dining room table and shouldn’t I be due for a pay increase and when will those damn kids get jobs.

But my life is rich. It’s cheesecake and a hot fudge sundae with extra whipped cream and a $20 bill that I found in an old pair of jeans.

And then last night happens, and I am sad and hurt and broken inside. If you read this blog, you are probably feeling the same way.

imageszgi58iwpStill, I remind myself of the richness of my life. Of love and friends and the way they swirl around me like stardust.

This morning, W tells me everything will be okay and that she loves me.

A friend invites me to a drum circle. Other friends share kind words and blog posts they have found to be soothing and encouraging. A friend who runs a local LGBT group sends an e-mail about working together to protect the rights of those in our community. I will attend the steering committee meeting they are holding on Monday to find out what I can do to help.

W will be home soon. We will have dinner together and watch Luke Cage on Netflix. She’ll fall asleep first. I’ll write and read and then turn in for the night. If I can’t sleep, I’ll settle in close to W and the cats piled up at my feet.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to get out of the house and write in the little coffee shop in town. Maybe I’ll see some of my friends there. I’ll be kind to myself. I’ll be kind to others.

And when things seem hopeless or scary or pointless, I’ll take refuge in my rich life.

* * *

What makes your life rich?

Grumpy butch

A text message from yesterday:

W: Do you want to go to Rocky Horror on 11/18?

W: Talking to J about getting tickets.

Me: I feel like I will be grumpy and annoyed, but I will go if you really want me to go.

W: Well that sounds like fun.

Me: You are a lucky woman, W.

W: Oh so lucky.

long pause

Me: I’m sorry

W: No worries. I got a ticket for you. J told me to.

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Me: That’s my grumpy face.

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W: That’s my happy kiss face.

* * *

The moral of the story? Find a partner who is adept at handling your bullshit with a smile and a kiss.

Mullets, lesbian bars, forbidden love, oh my

imageshl3fdmtxI’m participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days and have a first draft for a novel. Kick-off is today.

“What’s your book about?” my editor asked.

“Lesbian romance set in the 80s. Big hair, big love, something like that,” I wrote back.

“I’m feeling nostalgic,” she wrote. “But mullets.”

So, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. If you don’t hear from me in November, I’m busy writing about the 80s and lesbians and quoting lyrics from songs sung by the big hair bands. “And, baby, talk dirty to me.” Like that.

Because lesbians rule and the 80s were the best and if you’ve never rocked a mullet you’ve never really lived.

If you want to help a writer out, I still need a name for a really great, fictional lesbian bar. Best answer will find its way into my novel.

Anything else that needs to be in there? Trivial Pursuit, Pac-Man, a Rubik’s Cube …

Oh, and if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, e-mail me and we can be NaNo buddies.

Costumes

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I was this guy. Cool, I know.

My favorite Halloween costume was a sea monster. Actually, I was Sigmund from the TV show Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. It was a costume that came in a box, probably from Kmart or some other discount store. My mom taped crepe paper streamers in different shades of green to the body of the costume to give it an authentic sea monster feel.

I was in second or third grade and really into the show. I even had a Sigmund and the Sea Monsters lunch pail. I know. I was so cool.

I don’t remember many other Halloween costumes.

I think my first costume was a lamb. Not too far from the black sheep I turned out to be.

I was a witch one year with a black wig with streaks of white and long black plastic fingernails.

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Just when you thought I couldn’t get any cooler. And yes, that is a mullet.

In college, I was usually some weird androgynous superhero. I always started with a cape because who doesn’t want to rock a cape. And added face paint. Colored hairspray. Suspenders. I was like the love child of Superman and Elton John and the members of Kiss. With some Phantom of the Opera thrown in for good luck.

One year, I bought a blue and gray fedora in a thrift shop in town and designed some weird old man costume around it. The costume was a dud, but I liked wearing the hat.

These days, I’m not so big on dressing up. When you feel like you’ve been wearing a costume for the better part of three decades, Halloween dress-up loses its luster. If I had to dress up, I’d probably toss on a Phillies jersey and cap and call it a day. Maybe add some eyeblack if I was really trying.

Most mornings, I smile when I get dressed. I slip on a pair of jeans or cargo shorts, a pair of boxer briefs, a T-shirt with or without another shirt underneath depending on the weather. I don’t worry about “appropriate” or the difference between boy clothes and girl clothes. Instead, I focus on wearing clothes that make me feel good. Happy. Clothes that make me feel like me.

And I say a quick thanks to the person who runs the joint. Thanks for getting me here to this place where I can finally wear the clothes I want all day, every day. It was worth the wait.

Other fun Halloween facts:

  • I don’t have a favorite candy, although I usually eat everyone’s Whoppers and Almond Joys. (No one here likes coconut or malt flavoring. Losers.)
  • We used to live in Battle Creek, Michigan, which is the home of Kellogg’s cereal. Many of our neighbors handed out mini boxes of cereal instead of candy, which my brother would refuse with a polite “no thank you.”

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Your turn. Favorite Halloween costume? Favorite candy?