Tag Archives: gay

Another post on transformation

I’ve been out of sorts lately. Feeling overwhelmed, overtaxed, under appreciated.

I notice a heaviness in the middle of my chest.

Now, I can’t remember a time when the heaviness wasn’t there.

“There’s a lot of change going on,” W says.

Our last two have left the nest. One just got his driver’s license and started community college. The other is off to college in Georgia.

“How many caterpillars do you have?” W asks.

“I don’t know,” I say. “Ten?”

At first, I don’t know what my caterpillaring has to do with my heavy chest. But then it hits me.

“Ugh,” I say at the obviousness of it all.

Every year, I grow milkweed in our yard. Monarch butterfly caterpillars only eat one thing. Milkweed.

The butterflies lay their pinhead-sized eggs on the underside of the leaves. I take clippings with eggs or newly hatched caterpillars into the house and put them into an empty 20-gallon aquarium where they’re safe from predators.

Our cats take turns sitting on top of the cage like furry mother hens.

How many caterpillars do you see?

The caterpillars gorge on the milkweed leaves. If you put your ear close, you can actually hear them chomping away. Nom nom. True story.

IMG_2555When the caterpillars get big and fat, they climb to the top of the cage and hang down in a J. They shed their skin and wrap themselves in a chrysalis. Inside this light green sac, they consume their own bodies (gruesome) and then emerge 10 to 14 days later as black and orange winged beauties (beautiful). It’s a narrative I can relate to.

Usually, I find one or two eggs or caterpillars.

This year, I lost count at 10.

That’s a lot of change, transition, transformation.

There’s so much out of my control right now.

It makes me feel unsafe and vulnerable.

I need to have faith that everything will be okay.

That everyone will transition according to plan.

Me included.

That we will paint ourselves the colors we like best, grow wings and fly.

More transformation, ugh, ugh, ugh

I released a total of 12 (I think) monarch butterflies. The last one flew away today.

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Meet Alvin

I have a new friend, though. This toad that my son named Alvin.

He lives somewhere in our front yard and hops about when I come home at night.

Toad means crossroads, camouflage and watching and waiting before you make a move.

Toads are small but have loud voices. Toad’s message is don’t underestimate the power of your words.

Toad means transformation.

And I have to wonder if this is a stage or if this is just life.

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Book review and other news

So, W and I are in Savannah, Georgia, getting one of our kids situated at college.

And lots of things are happening with my new book.

Here’s one of them. A stellar review and book giveaway by Girlish author Lara Lillibridge. Make sure to get in on the action if you haven’t picked up a copy yet. You can do that here. Check out Lara’s blog. She’s a fantastic writer and an even better person.

I’ll be home in a few days. Until then stay cool.

Oh, and if you’ve been to Savannah, let us know what we should do while we’re in town.

Happy #ButchAppreciationDay

imagesI hope you have someone in your life who:

Likes to run her hands over your slick-as-velvet head after you get your hair cut real short.

Calls you “baby.”

Tells you she gets turned on when you wear that ball cap backward. You know the one.

Likes when your necktie matches her dress.

Rubs your back when you’ve pulled a muscle.

Thinks every flannel shirt you own makes your eyes shine.

Is okay with you wearing your “dressy” T-shirt to that event you’re going to.

Tells you you’re cute and you believe it, even though you’ve never felt cute a day in your life.

Is the yin to your yang.

Asks you what you’d like her to wear when you’re going out on a date.

Still flirts with you regardless of the fact that you’ve been together for more than a decade.

Traces your scars (the ones you can see and the ones you can’t) with her fingertips when you’re lying in bed at night.

Makes you feel like a rockstar, even though you don’t play any instruments.

Tells you your tattoos are sexy.

Appreciates the hell out of you. Not despite those things that make you you but because of them.

* * *

I posted this a year ago. It still holds true.

A big silent head nod to all of my fellow butches on our special day. I’m going to have a drink and toast to you all tonight. Cheers!

Pretty boy

I finally got my hair cut last week.

imagesIt was so long that I was starting to look like Barney Rubble. You know, with that canary yellow carport extending over his face.

My hairstylist cut my hair a little differently this time around. I asked for a high and tight, number one-and-a-half on the sides, scissor cut on top.

downloadAnd she gave me such a nice cut on top. It was as if she had lassoed the wings from an angel or went back in time and clipped some feathery waves from Farrah Fawcett herself.

“Your hair looks nice!” W said.

“I got you a pretty boy haircut,” I replied.

She ran her fingers through my hair for a while, and I was reminded of how good it is to be a butch.

Last Friday, we went to the Trans Wellness Conference in Philadelphia. W tabled for work. I walked around looking at the various vendors.

IMG_2525When I saw this pretty boy T-shirt, I had to have it.

“I got my wife this pretty boy haircut,” I told the women at the booth as I pointed to my fresh cut. “So now I need this pretty boy tee.”

They smiled big smiles.

“That’s so sweet,” one of the women said as she put her hand over her heart.

And I thought about how nice it was to be in a space where it wasn’t just safe to be a pretty boy but endearing.

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

Buzz cut

IMG_2316 (1)So, I did this a few weeks ago. The annual warm weather purge of old hair.

The quiet, steady buzz of the razor, a no. 2, removing most of what was. Chopping down the old strands of brown as if they were trees impeding new construction.

My head now sleek and aerodynamic like a red rocketship.

I’m ready to launch myself to a new place where no one knows my name.

* * *

Post script:

For the first, two weeks I wear a baseball cap and marvel at how well a cap fits on a freshly buzzed head.

IMG_2333Now, it’s at that weird in-between phase I call “the Sluggo.”

Sometimes I wonder why I got my hair cut so short in the first place.

But most times, I focus on the way my hair feels like velvet on the back of my head and how it dries after a shower with a quick shake of my head.

And how the cosmic wind will feel cool and powerful on my bare head as I soar between the interstellar dust clouds and try to swallow the stars.

* * *

Have you gotten your summer ‘do yet?

 

Love birds

downloadOn my way home from my writers group, I saw two black crows by the side of the road. Giant crows with blue-black feathers and full, rounded breasts.

As they walked around inspecting the ground, each held a mouthful of dried straw, wild and tangled like a pile of fried noodles. No doubt, they were building a nest.

I smiled thinking about how nice it is to have a partner in life. Someone to share a cold gray March day. Someone to help build a cozy nest.

Today’s feelings: happy, grateful

* * *

What makes you happy these days? What are you grateful for? 

A visit from the butch patrol

The other day, someone left a comment on this blog’s “About This Butch” page. She informed me that it was impossible for me to be a butch because I had been married to a man and had had a child with him.

Stop “appropriating” the word “butch,” she ordered me. images (1)As if she had the authority to do so. As if she owned the word “butch” and got a royalty every time someone used the term. Or was in charge of deciding who can be a butch and who can’t, perhaps based on some scale that takes into consideration how many pairs of cargo pants a person owns, if they’ve ever played softball and whether they drink Earl Gray tea.

download (1)Not too long ago, I wanted to be a gold star lesbian pretty much more than anything in the world. (Well, not as much as being Olivia Newton-John’s dance partner in the Shake Shack at the musical number at the end of Grease.)

I’m a work in progress, but I’m learning to accept my journey. That’s what makes me who I am. Or at least that’s what they say.

This might be what most makes me a butch:

I didn’t bloom like a flower.

I cracked myself open like a geode.

And took a risk that everything I had hidden deep inside would shine.

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Interview with the author of Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home

Happy Friday! I’ve got a special treat for you.

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This is Lara Lillibridge. She likes Joan Jett and writing memoir and people who resist the binary.

Last year, I was at a creative nonfiction conference and met Lara Lillibridge, and we became instant BFFs. Well, we didn’t actually meet at the conference, but I did hear her read from her book, Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home. And immediately tweeted her about wanting to read her book.

Anyway, I suppose that’s how introverts interact at conferences. Writers, am I right?

The BFF thing is totally true though.

Here’s something else that’s true–Lara’s book totally rocks. Like Joan Jett, who we both adore. See, I told you we’re BFFs.

In a nutshell, Girlish is Lara’s memoir about growing up in a house with a lesbian mom and lesbian step-mom. It’s both hilarious and heartbreaking. Inventively told from the point of view of Girl, Girlish reads like a fairy tale that has gone horribly awry. You’ll find yourself rooting for Girl and a happily-ever-after ending. You’ll have to read the book to find out if she gets one.

Girlish_final coverGirlish confronts such timely topics as feminism, mental illness and gender roles and stereotypes. It’s a must read, not only for gay and lesbian parents and their children, but anyone who has ever struggled with finding their own place in this strange world.

You can pre-order Girlish here.

If you have questions or comments for Lara, please leave them below.

And now, The Flannel Files interview with Lara Lillibridge:

FF: Many Flannel Files followers are lesbian parents. From your personal experience, what was it like growing up with lesbian parents (a lesbian mom and lesbian step-mom)? Best part? Worst part?

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So much toast with sugar.

LL: I’m asked this a lot, and you’d think I’d have a good short answer prepared by now, but I don’t. The truth is, day-to-day life was mostly eating toast with sugar, going to school, eating toast with sugar, playing in the backyard, eating more toast with sugar. Our family only seemed different when we encountered other people.  Being bullied for having lesbian moms was definitely the worst part of it, though I wasn’t exactly a trend-setter fashion-wise anyway. I suspect I would have been bullied regardless, but there is something special about being bullied about your sexual orientation, or your parents’ sexual orientation.

I think as an adult one thing I appreciate is how I don’t have the same built-in stereotypes about queer people that many people—including many queer people—have. Sure, I got fed the same societal BS everyone is fed, but it was countered by my parents and our community of lesbian friends. So I don’t have any of that negative judgement ingrained in me that so many people fight against.

FF: You write about being raised to defy the norms of society. Was this a good or bad thing? How does how you were raised seep into who you are today?

LL: First of all I didn’t exactly choose to be different. I wasn’t necessarily being defiant as much as oblivious. I’d like to think of myself as bravely going against popular opinion, but it wasn’t the case. Left to my own devices, I don’t know how defiant I would have been. Yet, there was more good that came of it, I think. To this day, I have trouble understanding why people get all caught up in what other people think, particularly about sexuality and gender, outside of safety issues. I had a lot of repercussions for being different, but living through the experience gave me the certainty that I can take it and keep going.

FF: How have your experiences affected your own parenting style?

LL: I totally shelter my children as much as possible—pretty much the opposite of how I was raised. I suspect the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle, but I’m not there yet.

FF: I’m curious about the title of your book, Girlish. You refer to yourself in the book as “Girl,” so why the title Girlish?

LL: The original title was Girl, and when I was working on the cover design I did a google search to see what books it would be listed near on Amazon. Much to my chagrin, there was another memoir titled Girl with a gorgeous cover similar to the original look I was going for. My critique partner suggested Girlish as a play on both being girly and not-quite a girl at the same time.

FF: What are you watching these days (TV or movies)? Who’s your Hollywood (or non-Hollywood) crush?

LL: I’m currently watching Jessica Jones, Sneaky Pete, Madam Secretary and Designated Survivor. I’m a binge watcher, so I tend to eat through online series as quickly as possible.

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Sara Ramirez as Kat with the shaved head on Madam Secretary

Crushes…I should give a disclaimer that personality colors how I see people, and since I don’t know these people IRL, they might be total shit balls and then I wouldn’t see them the same way anymore. But if we’re talking just a physical beauty kind of crush, I recently discovered this model named Tzef Montana who is gorgeous. I kind of have a thing for Sara Ramirez, but only as Kat with the shaved head on Madam Secretary—not as the long-haired Callie in Grey’s Anatomy. I like people who resist the binary.

FF: If you could make one law, what would it be?

LL: I meant to say something cute about all people being given kinkajous to carry around, but the school shootings and overall gun violence has so broken my heart that it has to be addressed. While I have some ideas, I’d really like to form a brain trust to attack the issue from multiple angles. It’s bigger than just one law.

FF: Who are the authors who have inspired and influenced you? Who are you reading these days?

LL: I’d like to have a retreat with Jeanette Winterson, Lidia Yuknavitch, Maggie Nelson, and Jenny Boully. I’d just sit at their feet and eat cookies and listen to them talk amongst themselves.

FF: I would be right there with you but with a bag of cheese curls.

LL: I’m currently reading an ARC of the novel THE ONES WE CHOOSE by Julie Clark that is scheduled for release May 8, 2018. It’s a great story about an intentionally single mother and is filled with all sorts of scientific stuff that makes me feel smart and fills me with wonder for the natural world. Check out this line, “…mtDNA does not combine with genes inherited from your other parent but is passed on, whole to you. It will live inside of you—the story of your mother, and her mother, and all the mothers who came before.” That gave me goosebumps.

I’m also reading MODERN GIRLS by Jennifer Brown with my mother. My mother and I have had a strained relationship as my memoir’s release date got closer, so she and I are doing this family book club thing where we are both reading this book simultaneously so we can talk about the characters instead of talking about our family.

FF: What’s your next project? 

LL: I have a zillion projects going on.

I’m about ready to shop my second memoir, Mama, Mama, Only Mama! It’s a humorous book about parenting after divorce, and encompasses my six years as a single mother and our transition into cohabitating with my SigO, who never had children.

I also have a series of children’s books I’m working on about my moms’ travel adventures. I think kids need books with queer characters that aren’t supposed to be life lessons in diversity, but rather are interesting books who just happen to have queer people in them.

I’m working on a draft of a novel that explores sexual mores and gender, but that’s sort of on the back burner at the moment while I figure out how to become better at writing fiction.

Lastly, I’m writing a story just for my family that I read to my kids every night at bedtime. They are interested in my career as a writer, but are too young to read Girlish, so I wanted them to have something they could be vested in—they are my first readers, and they like to give me advice about the plot and characters, though I don’t always take it. I still hate to be told what to do.

The big cover reveal

Drum roll please …

So excited to share this with everyone:

MyMotherSaysDrumsAreForBoys

That’s right, it’s the cover for my second book!

(Oh, the irony of that call for a drum roll.)

Can’t wait for you all to read these new stories about butchness and being a gender rebel. You’ll have to wait for August, if everything goes as planned, but I promise it will be worth it.

For now, you can check out my Author’s Page at Regal Crest.

Look for more book-related news to come, but I’ve been bursting to share this super bad ass cover.

Someday, I hope to be as cool as my book covers.

Happy Monday!