Tag Archives: life

My butch bucket list

A friend’s husband died a few weeks ago.

We are going to the funeral tomorrow.

I’ve read several versions of the eulogy.

Each time, I’ve been struck by one line.

Bucket listThe man who died was puzzled by the concept of the bucket list.  This was a foreign concept to him, because he lived his bucket list.  As a result, he left this world with no regrets.

I wonder how many of us can say that.

I have always been a late bloomer.  I didn’t come out until my 30s and often regret time lost being young and carefree without a pretty girl or two by my side.

I didn’t start writing creatively until I was in my 40s. I think of all of the blogs and books that I could have written.

But still, I am grateful that I did come out. I feel lucky to have written a book that was published.  I am excited about what the immediate future holds for me as I am challenging myself to tackle things out of my comfort zone like public speaking, mentoring, advocacy and activism.

Today, I am thinking about my bucket list differently. Not as a list of goals to be kept in a drawer and checked off over time but a list of things to do now.  When I am able.  When I still have time.

So, in honor of a friend who knew what was truly important and how to get the most out of life, I’d like to share my bucket list:

Bucket List

  • See Fleetwood Mac in concert
  • Tailgate (and otherwise party) with my Penn State friends as often as possible
  • Write
  • Publish
  • See The Book of Mormon
  • Take W to New Orleans
  • Throw out the first pitch at a baseball game
  • Go on an Olivia cruise
  • Perform as a Drag King
  • Take art classes
  • Learn how to make really good meatballs
  • Go to a strip club
  • Learn how to flyfish
  • Go to Phillies spring training in Clearwater, Fla.
  • Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Get a hot stone massage
  • Get a koi tattoo

* * *

What about you?  What’s on your list?

Advertisements

Becoming me, un-becoming other stuff

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything.  Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”

— Unknown

I scribbled this quote on a post-it note a few months ago.  It struck a chord and then got buried in the pile of paper that lives on my desk.

Blank slateI used to think we are all blank slates at birth and that life writes on those slates with chalk and Sharpie markers and spray paint and whatever other art supplies the universe has at the ready.

Now, I’m pretty sure we start out as fully formed works of art buried in blocks of marble.  Life is all about chipping away at that block until we are revealed, perfect, beautiful, glorious.  The way we had been all along.

Yesterday for Mother’s Day, I bought my mom a white mug that simply stated, “You Are a Good Mom.”

I wanted her to know that.  I wanted to tell her sorry for being such a difficult kid.  A moody child.  A girl who was perhaps more boy and who came without instructions.  (P.S. There was no mug that said all that.  Stupid Hallmark.)

I know my mother did the best she could trying to mold me into a respectable young lady.  Some 30 years later, I am still trying to undo all of her well-intentioned doing.

I know I am a challenge.

Climbing fencesIn my wedding vows, I quoted the Melissa Etheridge line: “You found out to love me, you have to climb some fences.”

W commented the other night that she wasn’t doing so well climbing those fences.  (Yes, Glitter-Gate reared its sparkly head once again.  You can read about that here and here.)

“You know it’s me, not you, right?” I asked.

She nodded her head.  She wasn’t didn’t seem convinced.

I try not to apologize for being me.

But I am still difficult and moody.

And there is no rulebook for loving a girl who is perhaps more boy.

Finding love

W texted me from work yesterday afternoon.

“Can we have the same thing for dinner that we had last night?”

“Um, I think so,” I text back.

It is not a difficult meal to prepare.  Breaded chicken tenders, noodles with butter and parmesan, and corn.

Imagine a butcher version

Me, only butchier.

W is struggling with some things these days, so I do what I can to make things easy for her.  I try to have dinner ready when she comes home.  I try to have the house picked up and food in the fridge.  I buy her cards and write her notes and sneak a piece of chocolate in her lunch.  Cooking chicken tenders two days in a row really isn’t a big deal.

When W comes home, I am in the kitchen finishing up dinner.

“Thank you for finding me,” she says.

Online datingShe says it all the time.  It’s a reference to how we met on match.com.  I was the one who sent her a note.  I was the one who found her.

“Someone has to take care of you,” I say.

“I know,” she replies.

W tells me how lucky she is to have me in her life.   The women she works with always tell her they need a Middle-age Butch to do all of the things I do.  Someone to pack their lunches, cook their dinners, pick up their prescriptions, do their grocery shopping.

I am not available.  I am a one-woman woman.

I remind W that she does lots of things for me.

She disagrees.

“It just looks different,” I tell her.

W is the breadwinner.  Because she works so hard, I am able to work from home and take care of things like lunches and dinners and errands.

Foam fingerShe is my biggest fan.  She loves everything I write.  This writer with low self-esteem needs to have her ego stroked.  Often.  Like a giant, needy cat.  Without W’s encouragement, there would be no finished book.

She loves telling people about my book.  I tell her not to make such a big fuss, but inside I light up like a firework.

She tells me I’m cute.  All the time.  Sometimes I even believe her.  She tells me I’m the world’s best lesbian.  But then we all knew that already.

W is the adventurer.  She drags me along on her excursions.  I plant the heels of my Dr. Marten’s in the mud and make things difficult.  But I am always glad to have ventured out and seen the world through her eyes.

She makes me giggle.  If you tell anyone, I’ll only deny it.  And then poke you with a sharp pokey object.

Moths in candlelightShe is the love and light in our house.  The rest of us are just moths.

The things I do can be calculated in monetary terms.  How much would you pay someone to cook your dinner or do your grocery shopping?

But W’s contributions are priceless.  To help a person believe she is a rock star like Joan Jett or Melissa Etheridge and can achieve her dreams is an invaluable skill and service.

It happens.  Sometimes.  When the stars align.  And you find the right person and fall in love.

Snow day

It’s been snowing here all day.

I finished up my work for the week yesterday.  I don’t have anywhere I need to be.  I don’t have anything I need to do.

We have a stocked fridge and full cupboards.  We have beer.

My birthday was on Monday.

My birthday was on Monday.

I made breakfast this morning.  Eggs, toast, bacon and cinnamon rolls with strawberries, OJ and coffee on the side.  I am planning a spaghetti dinner for tonight.

I am still in my pajamas.  W and I are watching season four of The Walking Dead.

The cats are taking their afternoon naps along side us.

This is Bodhi.

This is Bodhi.

Later on, I hope to read the Joan Didion book I’m working on.  I hope to write.

Every once in awhile, I look out our bedroom window and watch the snow.  Each time, I am amazed by the beauty.  The white blanket has created a stillness and quietness that is so rare these days.

This is the view from our bedroom.

This is the view from our bedroom.

I am thankful for this pause in my hectic life.

I will worry about digging out tomorrow.

But today I’m taking a snow day.

* * *

Is it snowing where you are?  If so, how are you spending your snow day?

Stuck and unstuck

Sometimes I get stuck.  Not literally stuck like in a turnstile or a revolving door.  Help.  Stuck.  Can’t pass through.

Or actually stuck while trying on a gold glitter tube top.  (I apologize in advance for the image.)  Aaaaaaah!  Aaaaaaah!  Aaaaaaah!  Butch!  Stuck!  In!  Tube!  Top!

But stuck nonetheless.

Other people never seem to have this problem.  They seem to have it all together.

When I get stuck, I do all sorts of things except try to get myself unstuck.

Some things I might do instead of unsticking myself:

  • Work.
  • Read.
  • Nap.
  • Check my Twitter feed.  Every five minutes.
  • Cook.
  • Eat.
  • Play with cats.
  • Watch marathons of Total Divas.
  • Daydream that I am a little known Kardashian.  Butch Kardashian.

When I am stuck:

This is how I feel when I'm stuck

The only way I know how to get unstuck is to do the thing I’m stuck at.  And that’s the thing I really don’t want to do.

Things I’d rather do than do the stuck thing:

  • Eat hot sauce.
  • Work.
  • Clean.
  • Give a speech.  At a Republican convention.
  • Listen to country and western music.
  • Dance to the song It’s Raining Men.
  • Read 50 Shades of Gray for non-comedic purposes.

So, after I’ve done everything else that I can think of, I’ll do the stuck thing.

First, of course, I’ll make a horrible face and make things seem worse than they really are.  I’m a drama butch, after all.

Butch Smiley Face

Then I’ll do the stuck thing.

At first taking lots of breaks to do important things like load one glass in the dishwasher, organize paperclips and clean cat hair from out of computer keyboard.

And then going back to doing the stuck thing.

Before I know it, my hair is not on fire.  I am not shrieking.

I am just doing the unstuck thing.

I am unstuck.

xx

When all is right in my world, this is what it looks like.

* * *

What do you when you’re stuck?  How do you get unstuck?

Comebacks

I was standing in the self-checkout line in the grocery store earlier this week.  A man who was in line in front of me left his cart to grab something he had forgotten.  I could see him motion to the woman behind him to go ahead and take his spot.

I didn’t know how long he’d be gone and I was impatient, so I moved ahead one space in front of his unattended cart.

He returned in less than a minute carrying a single roll of paper towels.

“I told her she could take my space,” he said.  “Not you.”

He was smiling and laughing when he said it.  The words “good natured” come to mind.

I apologized and stepped back into my original spot.

“Besides, she’s better looking than you,” he said.

In a conventional sense of attractiveness, she was.  Soccer mom type.  Yoga pants.  Decent looking.

I scanned my mind for a quick comeback.

It all depends on what you’re into, pal.

My wife would disagree with you.

She’s certainly better looking than you, too.

I’m not an on-the-spot kind of person, so I just stood there with a smile on my face.

In the end, he clapped me on the shoulder and insisted I take his spot in line.  I wasn’t sure if he was being nice or if had had started to feel guilty about what he had said.  No hard feelings, y’know?

So, this is for all of you quick thinkers out there.  What should I have said?  Give me your best lesbian comeback for this situation.

Philosophizing about life, kittens and ice cream

I had been getting my writer’s mojo back.

And then my son broke his leg.

This is Bohdi and Sammy.

This is Bodhi and Sammy.

And we got a pair of kittens.

I learned a long time ago that things never go back to “normal.”  Normal is broken legs.  And kittens who are so gosh darn cute that you just want to stare at their tiny perfection and listen to their little furry motors all day long.  Deadlines be damned.

Normal is car accidents and insurance claims.  Jury duty.  Spilt milk.

I am 47 years old, and I’ve learned to roll with it as best I can.

We live in a tiny town that has an ice cream parlor.  The ice cream is handmade and is really, really good.

This year, they’ve started a new promotion.  They advertise a “flavor of the week” for $1 a scoop on a sandwich board in the parking lot.  A normal scoop costs about $3.50.  The “flavor of the week” lasts for as long as the ice cream does.  We have been stuck on S’mores for about two weeks now.  Which, surprisingly, is not that great.

Every day I go out, I drive by the ice cream shop to see if there is a new flavor listed on the sign.  This makes me happy.  I like small town life.  I like being in the know.  I like this tiny bit of excitement.

I like that the “flavor of the week” could last for a day or a week.

I text W the flavors while she is at work without any kind of explanation or background.

“Blueberry marshmallow.”

“Raspberry cheesecake.”

“Orange cream.”

She always texts the same thing back: “?”

Because she is in the middle of work, and I am randomly texting “Graham slam.”

I find her standard response comforting. Comfortable.

So, that’s me.  I like simple and same.  I like surprises, too.  But little ones.  Like a scoop of rainbow sherbet for a buck.

Not big ones like, hey, broken leg.

Although kittens are such a joy.

xx

How could you not stare at this tiny face forever?

But whatever life scoops out, even a giant bowl of S’mores, I can handle it.

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:

Sweet.

Sweet.

* 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

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?

 

 

I hate change

So innocent sitting there in your clear plastic pouch like you have nothing to hide

A few days before ringing in the new year, we ordered Chinese takeout.

As I ate my shrimp with lobster sauce, I stared at the fortune cookies that sat on the coffee table in their cellophane wrappers.  This is it, I told myself. The defining fortune for 2014. The single thought that will guide me in the 365 days to come.

This is how I make all of my important decisions.

This is how I live my life. Giving things like cookies and totems and Magic 8 Balls way too much power.

Holding my breath, I opened the plastic wrapper, snapped the cookie in half and carefully slid out the white strip of paper.

“Welcome change,” it read.

Whaaat? Obviously, there had been a mix-up at the fortune cookie factory. This fortune was intended for someone less uptight and rigid. Miley Cyrus, perhaps.

I handed the fortune to W, and she just laughed. (A very robust, hearty laugh.)

Because here’s the thing: I hate change.

It’s probably because we moved around so much when I was a kid. We were supposed to pretend that we had outgrown our house and our friends like last year’s blue jeans, even though none of that was true.

While my fortune advised me to welcome change, I told W that wasn’t happening.

“This is the year that I teach the universe a lesson,” I announced.

I had this visual of me trying to stop the world from spinning, tendrils of smoke rising from the rubber soles of my Dr. Marten’s as I tried to hold on.

“Yeah, good luck with that,” she replied, returning her attention to her chicken mei fun.

She knows not to encourage me.

Of course, it would be crazy to think that there won’t be change in the new year. But change is scary, and I don’t do scary.

I like same and comfortable. My pillow that has been perfectly flattened from years of use, a well-worn T-shirt, my morning newspaper, my car radio tuned to the 24-hour sports channel.

Back to my fortune. Failing to heed such ancient fortune cookie wisdom would be bad.  But change is bad.

People, your favorite butch blogger was caught between a rock and a hard place.

Sometimes when I get stuck with my writing, I look up words in the dictionary.

Change
a. To cause to be different.
b. To give a completely different form or appearance to; transform.

That’s when it hit me.  Transform. I might be resistant to change, but I can transform. I’ve done that. I’m still doing that.

I think transform seems less scary, because it implies keeping the old and just tweaking it.

When you change a tire, you substitute a new one for the old one.  When you change your mind, you turn a “yes” into a “no” or vice versa.

Monarch butterflyWhen you transform, you get to hold onto a part of the old.  A caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, but both have the same DNA.

So, if I were to welcome change or transformation in 2014 — not that I plan to or anything like that, Universe — here are some transformations that I might actually embrace:

  • Transforming into a writer who writes everyday (or almost everyday).
  • Transforming into a published author.
  • Transforming into a person who forgives more easily.
  • Transforming into a person who readily gives praise and compliments and thanks.
  • Transforming into someone who is constantly in awe of the greatness of God and gives daily thanks and praise.
  • Continuing to transform into my best butch.

* * *

What about you? What transformations do you hope to make in 2014?

Happy Birthday, Janet Jackson!

xx

My friend, Janet Jackson (not really my friend)

Last week was my friend Janet Jackson’s birthday. Her name is not really Janet Jackson, but she used to dance in the streets of our college town like Janet Jackson — Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty — did in those videos from her hit album Control. What did you expect? It was the 80s after all.

Typically, Janet Jackson and I mail birthday gifts back and forth. Usually, the gift is emblazoned with the logo of our college alma mater.

That’s where we met. College. Janet Jackson and I lived on the same floor in the same dorm. Bigler Hall, Clarion House, 1985. We lived at opposite ends of the floor, which is symbolic of how we live at opposite ends of the state of Pennsylvania.

Initially, Janet Jackson thought I was weird. Can you imagine that? Closeted college-age butch weird?  (Three things that are really weird about Janet Jackson: 1) She has abnormally short fingers.  2) She gets all blotchy when she drinks beer.  3) She thinks the Liberty Bell is in London.)

At first, Janet Jackson wasn’t charmed by yours truly. In addition to finding me strange (the outrage!), Janet Jackson thought I was annoying. There were many weekends when she banned me from attending parties after-hours collegiate activities with her and her gang of co-eds. (Not only was real Janet Jackson’s blockbuster album called Control, but pretend Janet Jackson had control issues.  Oh, the irony, said the English major.)

But then something happened, and Janet Jackson and I became co-horts, friends even.

We had such adventures.

There was the time that we attended a kegger on top of a mountain. You can read about that here.  Or the time that at the bar when we encouraged people to chug a beer from our friend’s shoe. It was a brown flat, if you must know. Who can forget the time that we organized the “You’re Flying Higher Than a Kite” bar tour or carried buckets of grain punch out the windows of Janet Jackson’s dorm room as the resident assistant busted our party?

But it was always more than just beer and parties and hangovers and crazy stories the following the day that always started with the words “it was really late, and we were really drunk.”

Permed hair = the 80s

Permed hair = the 80s

We had contests concerning whose permed hair was taller (again, it was the 80s) and gave each other silly nicknames. We spoke in running jokes. A word or short phrase — “the cranberries” — would cause us to laugh hysterically.

When we left school, we kept in touch. We both got married and had kids. But we always made time to get together. Janet Jackson and I returned to our alma mater for football games. We took road trips. We saw The Lion King on Broadway, visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, went to a Steelers game.

And then I came out.

I waited for my world to change. I thought my friends would be ok with it all, with me, but I wasn’t sure. How could I have been?

But they were ok. And I was ok. We were ok.

I often wonder about the science of friends. Sometimes we grow apart, sometimes we outgrow them.

xx

Friends are like this.

And sometimes we grow together like different branches on the same giant oak.  We take our own paths, twisting and turning this way and that way as we aim for the bursts of sunlight that shine through the leaves. But at the end of the day, we share common roots.

Dorm meetings and frat parties, painted faces and football games, Sunday brunch at the dining hall, late nights at Roy Rogers … those are our roots.  The roots that Janet Jackson and I share.

Keeping with tradition, I did get Janet Jackson a birthday gift. It will mail out tomorrow — nine days after the fact. Janet Jackson won’t sweat the delay, because we’re those kind of friends.

But here’s another gift from me to Janet Jackson:

Dear Janet Jackson, I hope in 100 years we’ll still be growing together, our knotted, gnarled limbs reaching upward as we sway and creak in the wind.

Oh, and one more thing.

The cranberries.