Tag Archives: Ivan Coyote

I’m still here


Philly Pride flag

I started thinking that I didn’t have anything to say.

Or at least that no one needed to hear what I had to say.

I heard the whispers of old ghosts telling me that my story isn’t relevant.

So, I was quiet. I worked. I listened. I planted flowers and a cherry tomato plant and rescued a jalapeño seedling that the cat had mostly eaten except for the stalk.

I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read the the new Ivan Coyote book and lots of poetry, especially poems penned by young Black men.

We’re flying a Philly pride flag for pride this year. It’s the first time that we’ve flown a big rainbow flag at our house. Every time I see those bright colors rippling against the blue of the sky, I swell up a little inside.   

I’ve remembered that those of us who wear the label “other” have a duty to speak our truth.

I don’t have to shout

But I have to say


I’m here

I’m still here

And this is how it is for me

* * *

Happy Pride!

The post that had me stuck



This is the post that has me stuck.  This is the reason I haven’t posted in so long.  I’ve been working on this post for weeks.  I keep writing and editing, and I still can’t find the right words.  I’m angry.  I’m annoyed.  Although I can’t exactly put my finger on what’s bothering me so much. Remember the electronic memory game Simon from the 1970’s?  All of my buttons have been pushed, and I’m lit up red, green, blue and yellow.  This post isn’t perfect, but I need to let go so I can move forward.

* * *

Just when I was starting to get comfortable.  Just when I was starting to feel safe and accepted.  Just when I was starting to think I’m like everyone else.

I mean, same-sex marriage is now legal in Pennsylvania.  W and I took the plunge and got married in October.  Just like straight couples do.

I feel welcome in our small town.  I am warmly greeted at the veterinarian’s office, at the checkout line in the grocery store, at Kohl’s, at the local pizza place and ice cream shop.  Me, a girl, with too-short hair and too-long sideburns.

I never notice anyone giving me the cold shoulder.  No one ever shrieks or flees when I walk into a place of business, even when I’m having a bad hair day.  Just kidding! A butch never has a bad hair day.

It’s been years since anyone has shouted “faggot” or “dyke” in my direction from the safety of their moving cars.

I had been lulled into a sense safety and comfort much like a baby in one of those automated swings.  Silly, butch.

(Not real picture.)

(Not real picture.)

And then someone questioned the value of something I had written because of two reasons: I am a woman and a lesbian.  I will call this person Angel of the Bottomless Pit (not real name).

For a few seconds I felt smaller than usual, and my words felt lighter than usual.  And then I got mad.

It was a sneak attack.  I never saw it coming.

Now, I’m on a mission to get my book published.

I often think of the C.S. Lewis quote : “We read to know we are not alone.”

There is tremendous power in seeing your reflection in the pages of someone else’s book.

I remember tearing up feeling all emotional but not really crying reading Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon’s book Gender Failure earlier this year.  I never knew people wrote books for people like me.

I have committed to making a big push to find an agent or a publishing house to pick up my memoir. (If you know of anyone who might be interested, please let me know.)  If I don’t get any takers, I’ll self-publish in 2015.

I am now certain of the value of my story.

Of course, it is a story about being gay, being lesbian, being butch.  But there’s more.

If you have ever felt different, you will see yourself in the pages of my book.  If you have ever pretended to be someone you weren’t, you will see yourself in my book.  If you have ever thought there was something wrong with you but didn’t know what, you will see yourself in my book.  It is a book for outsiders, loners, those who march to the beat of their own drums.  And to the beat of Melissa Etheridge because M.E. rocks.

It is a book for anyone who has struggled with identity, shame, fear.  It is a book about finding oneself and shining brighter than you ever thought possible.  Bright as a gold button caught in the rays of the afternoon sun.

At it’s core, it’s a tale about being human.

I thought everyone would be able to relate to that.

Gender failures … aren’t we all?

No, 200

Greetings Flannel Files followers. If you haven’t been keeping track at home, this is the 200th post of your all-time favorite blog.  With the word “flannel” in the title.  C’mon, you know it’s true.

I’ve been racking my freshly sheared noggin trying to figure out what to write about for the big 200.

And then it hit me square in the head.


It was like I had been slocked (struck by a sock containing a lock).  (Who’s been watching too much Orange Is the New Black?  This butch.)

This butch says buy this book.

This butch says buy this book.

I just finished up Gender Failure by Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon.  Read the whole thing over the course of two days.  This is what I thought when I first started reading: Wow, someone has actually written a book just for me.  The book will make you laugh and cry and think and, if you’ve ever been mystified or conflicted about your own gender, it will make you feel not so alone.  The moral of the story is that gender comes in more than two sizes.  Butch is the Big Gulp of all genders, if you ask me.

Ultimately, Rae Spoon decides to retire from gender.  I have pondered this idea about retiring from gender.  Do you get a pocket watch or a wall clock?  Is there cake?  Because if I’m going to retire from gender, I want cake.


Pick one.

Mostly, I wonder how a person can retire from gender when the world revolves around a dual gender system.  Clothes are purchased in the men’s department or the women’s department.  We check a box marked M or a box marked F when filling out forms.

I must say though that there is something appealing and freeing about not giving a damn.

On being a butch, Ivan writes:

“Older butch sightings in airports make me feel like I am part of an army.  A quiet, button-down, peacekeeping brigade that nods instead of saluting.  Silver hair and eye wrinkles are earned instead of stripes or medals.”

Ivan Coyote might be one of the most beautiful people in the world.

So, yeah, read the book if you haven’t already.  Read it if you are gender queer or if your partner is or if you know someone who identifies outside the gender binary.  Or read it because you’re a human being and open to seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.

* * *

Have you read Gender Failure or any other books by Ivan Coyote or Rae Spoon?  Thoughts?


Middle-age butch goes on tour (#mywritingprocess)

Go ahead and throw your panties, girls.

Go ahead, girls, throw your panties.

It’s a blog tour, folks. But it’s a tour nonetheless, which makes me a rock star like Melissa Etheridge. In my own mind anyway, and that’s really all that matters.

I was invited to participate in the #mywritingprocess blog tour by my blogging buddy Maia Morgan. Maia blogs over at The Saltwater Twin. Maia is finishing up her essay collection called, natch, The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures. In Maia’s words: “It’s a collection of linked essays about survival, fear, redemption, love, religion, art, boyfriends, girlfriends and dogs. It’s about the way we make myths and meaning from our lives and forge our identities through story.” What’s not to like. I encourage you to check out her blog because she’s smart and funny and thoughtful and likes words as much as I do.  Maybe even more.

So, more about me:

What am I working on? If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m currently writing a memoir/creative nonfiction book. It has a working name of Leaving Normal. Seems that Girls was already taken, as was Puss in Boots.

Tell me about it, Stud.

Tell me about it, Stud.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I would say that my work is kinda, sorta like the stuff written by Ivan Coyote. At least that’s the closest thing that I’ve found. Certainly, those are big boots to fill. Ivan is a hero of mine, to say the least. But my story is different than Ivan’s. For one thing, I write a whole lot about Olivia Newton-John.

Why do I write what I do? For some reason, small moments of time have stuck with me. Three words said by a stranger on a stairwell. A birthday gift from a classmate. A pair of sneakers spotted in a parking lot. I never knew why I couldn’t shake these memories. I’ve held onto them all of this time so that I could break them down and write about them and piece them together in order to make sense of my life. So, yeah, it’s like a flip book. Each story running into the next one to make a picture that is my life.

This is how it starts.

This is how it starts.

How does my writing process work? These days I feel like a sculptor. I do a quick brain dump — usually with pen and paper — writing down a story as quick as I can. I include images, words, phrases, anything that pops into my head. And that’s when the sculpting begins. I keep carving away. The one thing that I’ve learned about writing is that it is a process. It can’t be rushed or hurried. Most times, I can finish a chapter in a few days, but something won’t feel quite right. It might be the ending. Or the beginning. Or something in between. I’ll need time to sit on it, to think, to be still and quiet and discover the right words, the perfect turn of phrase. I have brilliant moments in the shower and just before I go to sleep at night. When I’m in these reflective moods, I keep a Moleskin notebook and pen tucked away in my back pocket.

When everything has fallen into place, I send it off to my three critique partners for feedback. Sometimes they say it’s perfect. Sometimes not. But their comments are invaluable and allow me to go back and tighten things up.

Next on the #mywritingprocess tour. You don’t need tickets to get front-row seats for four of my favorite writers:

* Vicki Gael calls herself “an impatient writer.” She’s working on a cozy mystery and a sci-fi story, both at the same time. That’s talent for you. She’s also a member of my writers’ group. Vicki just started blogging at Rumpled Ruminations.

* Here’s how Karelia Stetz-Waters and yours truly became blogging BFFs. She read one of my posts and then told me how funny I am. That’s all it takes, folks. Anyway, she’s a college professor by day and a writer by night. Karelia is a published author. It seems like every time I check Freshly Pressed, one of her posts is being featured.

* She’s only 27, but she writes like a young Dorothy Parker. If Dorothy Parker wrote about tormenting her boyfriend and getting a steal on laundry detergent. Julia Boriss’ posts on J-Bo.net are smart and funny. I read one of her Freshly Pressed posts and have been a stalker fan ever since.

* My newest virtual buddy is Widdershins, who writes fiction, science fiction and fantasy. Writing is her passion and profession. Widdershins writes novels and stories always with lesbian characters. What’s not to like about that? (Really, every story should have a lesbian character or 12.) She blogs over at Widdershins Worlds. Plus, she gives really great advice and laughs at my jokes. This is very big with me.

* * *

What about you? What’s your writing process like?

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:



* 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 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?