Tag Archives: memoir

How to win friends and more — be yourself

I am leaving for a writers’ retreat tomorrow.

I am excited and nervous.  I am in an almost-constant state of excitement and nervousness these days.

I tell myself not to feel guilty.  That it’s ok to spend money on this adventure.  That I am allowed to take time away for myself.  Old habits are hard to break.  Guilt is hard to outrun.

From the get go, W and I were not one of those couples who asked permission.  We are both adults with free choice and free will and our own spending money.

As I sit here writing this, I feel gratitude for her support.  For supporting this crazy habit called writing, which requires me to carry around tiny notebooks and pens at all times and jot down ideas and phrases at the most inopportune moments.  That has me leaving bits and pieces of my work and my writing tools in our bed, turning that soft place where we sleep into a paper-cut and pen-poking hazard.

I think back to those days when I was still in the closet and had a fear of being alone.  I thought people wouldn’t like me if they knew I liked women.  I thought people wouldn’t like me if they knew the real me.

There’s nothing like publishing a memoir to remove any last, forgotten items from the back of the closet.  A mangled umbrella, a partnerless tube sock.

What I’ve learned is that I actually have more friends now that I am out and open and me.  Butch me who likes women and neckties and suspenders and baseball.  Weird me who likes Wonder Woman and Cream of Wheat and books about dysfunctional people.

I have a newer writer friend who gave me a glitter pen to sign books at my book launch party.  And this awesome “You Rock” rock that I’m taking to my writers’ retreat.

xx

This is how I like my glitter — in a pen.  And thank you for noticing that I rock.

I have old friends who gave me this awesome metal sculpture stamped: “Rae Theodore, Published Author.”  They tell me they are proud of my achievement.

xx

Do you see the likeness?

It’s not about material things.  So many people have given me a thumbs up by sending thoughtful e-mails, offering a kind remark or just being present in my life.

So, the moral of the story?  Be yourself, be honest, be kind.  That’s good enough for most folks.  At least the ones who matter.

Oh, and if you’re real lucky, you might find your better half.  The one who makes you believe that you can do it, that you deserve it, that you deserve her.  The one who becomes your biggest fan and thinks everything you do is perfect (all the while admitting her bias).  The one who says you look cute in a bowtie and a necktie and in that baseball cap that you wear backward on the day you don’t feel like showering.

I dedicated my book to W with this: “To my wife, who thinks me a better writer and person than I really am.”

And I think how lucky I am to have found someone who always sees the best version of me, even when I can’t.  Especially when I can’t.

* * *

How does your partner support those things that make you who you are?

Advertisements

Leaving Normal: An Interview

I had an opportunity to sit down for an interview with Mrs. Fever over at Temperature’s Rising.  She’s doing a whole series on coming out and asked if I would participate and lend my butch perspective.

Mrs. Fever has been a Flannel Files follower since back in the day and one of my all-time favorite commenters.  Go check it out.

Bonus: There’s an excerpt from my book at the end of the interview from that time College-age Butch got busted checking out a girl’s ass.  You know you want to read that.

Living the dream and sneakers

Guys, it’s been a crazy week.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality AND my book was released.  Coincidence?  Yeah, probably, but I’m still taking credit.

I had a big gay book launch party at a local coffee shop.  We raised a total of $300 for the local Gay-Straight Alliance and the public library, which can now purchase a small collection of LGBT books.

Playing off the superhero theme, we used BAM! POW! napkins and handed out caped bookmarks.

Bam!  Pow!

Everyone was a superhero that day.

I was dressed in my butch finery.

I rocked this bowtie and these suspenders at my book launch party.

I rocked this bowtie and these suspenders at my book launch party.

And I wore these AWEsome Wonder Woman chucks.

Wonder Woman chucks

Holy Hera!  How awesome are these shoes?

I wasn’t walking but flying.  It was like each foot was soaring in its own invisible jet.

I’m not sure if it was the sneakers or the thrill of seeing a lifetime dream come true.

Hotter than a butch in flannel in August

Leaving Normal: Adventures in GenderHot off the presses!  Really hot like pizza cheese that burns the roof of your mouth hot.  Ruby Rose hot.  Ghost pepper hot.

Melissa Etheridge “Somebody Bring Me Some Water” hot.

To buy a copy on Amazon, click here.  (Both print and Kindle versions are available.)

To buy a copy from Weasel Press, click here.

The Kindle version is currently sitting at #39 for both LGBT memoir and gay studies on Amazon.

Let’s show the world what a little butch power can do.  Buy a copy or two.  Reblog this post or share on Twitter or Facebook.  Request a review copy.  Help me spread the word about what it’s like to live in the gender margins.  Be my superhero sidekick (spandex optional).

It takes a village to write a book

Here’s what happened when I joined a writers’ group a few years ago.  Wait a minute, you guys already know how this story ends.

If you’re interested (I know there’s some writers out there in the blogosphere who follow me), you can read how my writers’ group provided me with the fuel to write my book.

Just click here to link to the Women’s Writing Circle.  You’ll find my guest post and lots of great writerly resources.

You know you want to pre-order my book

Pre-order this bad boy.

Pre-order this bad boy.  Pretty please?

Greetings my Flannel faithful.  Great news!

My publisher is offering pre-orders for my book.  Just click on over to Weasel Press and follow the links to their Storenvy site.  It’s easy peasy … you know the rest.

If you’d like a signed copy, you can pre-order directly from your favorite butch blogger.  I’ll sign it however you want — “To my All-Time Favorite Flannel Files Follower” or “To the World’s Best Butch.”

Here’s how it works:

1. Go to PayPal and send $20.00 (pay for goods or services) to rae.r.theodore@gmail.com.  That’s me.

The book costs $15.95, plus $4.05 for shipping and handling.

2. For every pre-order, I’ll send you out some cool swag while you’re waiting for the book to mail.  Bookmarks with little red capes.  Flashdrives loaded with some material not in the book.  Maybe I’ll get crazy and send out some bowties and neckties, beer bottle openers, screwdrivers and other butch freebies.  Ya never know.  I’m in a good mood these days, folks.

Plus, for every pre-order, I’ll donate $1 to my local library so they can purchase some LGBT books that I’m going to help pick out.  Because they don’t have any.  No Rubyfruit Jungle, no Fun Home, no Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.  I get teary eyed just thinking about it.

3. If you want your book signed a certain way, let me know in the comments section of the PayPal transaction.

4. I’ll mail your book out on June 26th, the day of the release.

Consider buying one for yourself, one for a friend, one for your local high school’s gay-straight alliance.

They make great Father’s Day gifts.  Actually not.

If you can, help spread the word.  We need to tell our stories.  I’m up for interviews, guest blogs, you name it.

P.S. If you are in my writers’ group, do not pre-order here.

Superbutch

Thanks, guys.  I needed that.

I pulled on my star-spangled underoos and tied on my super-butch cape.

Cracks me up every time.

Cracks me up every time.

I wore my unicorn T-shirt and reminded myself of the power of positive thinking.

I chewed a lot of Vitamin C tablets.  I prayed.  I came up with a new mantra: love, love, love.

I read and re-read your comments.

W and I reenacted that scene from Moonstruck.  Snap out of it!  Snap out of it!  Snap out of it!

I am feeling better and butchier than ever.

I figure I needed to have my mini meltdown now and get it out if the way.  It’s all clear sailing from here on out.  Clear skin.  Clear mind.  Clear blue skies with fluffy white clouds.

As Alicia Keys would sing, this butch is on fire.

But I couldn’t have done it without you guys.  Seriously, it’s like having my own cheering section.

Moving forward, I promise to do my best to represent the lesbians and the butches.  Those of us who live somewhere in the middle of boy and girl, or maybe outside of the binary altogether.  The late bloomers.  The underdogs.  Everyone who has just wanted to fit in.  I will tell our stories with pride and dignity.

Superhero powThe one lesson I’ve learned this holiday weekend is that sometimes you have to be your own hero.

And that’s a whole lot easier to do when you have a team of superheroes flying by your side.

P.S. You guys look great in spandex.

Book stress

My book comes out in about a month.

xx

Me.

I am so stressed that I have a huge cold sore on my face.  Yep.  The motherfucker skipped my lip (apparently, lip cold sores are for sissies) and erupted right there on my face.  I am like that craggy face guy from The Fantastic Four or the Elephant Man.  I can’t be sure as I have been avoiding mirrors and shiny surfaces.

“Don’t look at me, I’m hideous,” I tell W.

I have forbidden her from making direct eye contact with me.

Actually, I think it’s best that everyone refrain from looking at me or even in my direction, at least for a few months, I suggest.

xx

On second thought …

It seemed like a good idea to write a memoir.  Until right before it’s available for purchase.  Then not so great.  Like New Coke.

I am re-thinking my decision not to use my Middle-age Butch alias.  Or my other pen names: I. B. Butch, I.P. Daily (that was me) and Sexy Handsome Beast.

When I am telling W all of this — 1) don’t look at me and 2) pseudonyms rule — she notes that I am smiling a lot for a person on the verge of a memoir-induced psychotic breakdown.

xx

This is me 24/7 these days.

I tell her that’s normal.  Extra smiling = crazy.  Everyone’s seen The Shining, right?

I don’t admit that I’m excited about the book.  I only admit that I’m nervous.

I’m feeling vulnerable and exposed.  I’m worried about what people will say.  I’m worried about being perceived as a freak — a boy-girl mutant, a girl/boy oddity — to those who don’t understand.

W tells me it’s too late to take it all back now.  The wheels have been set in motion.

I try to remind myself why I wrote my story in the first place.  Through the writing process, I learned who I am, as a person and a writer.

But I wasn’t writing for that me.  The today me.  I was writing for the me who existed three or four decades ago.  The young girl who didn’t know she had options.  Who didn’t know gender isn’t carved in stone.  Who didn’t know she could marry a girl.  Or shop exclusively on the left side of The Gap.  And that the world wouldn’t end if she did those things.  In fact, her world would just start beginning.

I try to remember that my story is important.  That all of our big butch stories are important.  (Silent nod.)  That all stories about those who live in the margins and on the fringe are important.  We are underrepresented in literature and largely misunderstood.

I try to remember that I wrote the book for that one person who will recognize herself in the pages and feel not so alone, at least for a few minutes.

That is the power of books and stories and writers.  We read to know that we’re not alone.

I try to remember all of that as I sit here scared and unsure of my words.

What’s in a name?

Name tag

So, you’ve all seen it.  I know you have.

My name.

It’s right there on the cover of my book.

I’ve gone from anonymous blogger to author who shall be named.

Note: Middle-age Butch is not my real name.

I’ve enjoyed blogging anonymously for the past two years.  It allowed me to open up and write about whatever I wanted.  And be more flannel-y and cool than I really am.

But now the jig is up.  And I’m not even Irish.

When I was a kid, I used to hate my name.  It was seven letters long and contained every vowel except “u.”  It rhymed with “Crayola,” kinda.  It was French.  These things do not make for a cool name.

In second grade, my teacher, Mrs. Ruth Dixon, shortened my name to Rae.

I'm like this but butchier

I’m like this but butchier

At about the same time, my grandmother started calling me Rae.  Her favorite movie was The Sound of Music.  I was Rae, or “re,” her drop of golden sun.  So yeah, I’m like a butch Julie Andrews.

And it stuck. Rae.

Not a bad name for someone who gets called “sir.”

It’s one letter away from Ray.

I think I’m just feeling exposed these days, what with my memoir less than three months away from its premiere.

I’ve never had to worry about my family reading my blog.  It was something I did privately.  Under a pseudonym.

I worry about what they will think about the book.

More specifically, I worry that they will be embarrassed by the book.  Not so much by how they are portrayed (this isn’t the lesbian version of Running with Scissors … which would be Running While Scissoring, I believe).  But just by the fact that they have a daughter who sometimes gets mistaken for a man.  Or young boy.  Or Boy Scout.

ElephantWe don’t talk about anything in our family.  I have this great line that didn’t make it into the book: The elephant in the room was our family pet.

So having a book published is like airing our dirty laundry in public.  Even though it’s my dirty laundry.  And yes, those are my boxer briefs thank you very much.

I had thought about publishing the book under a pen name.  Maybe Girl-Who-Hasn’t-Worn-Skirt-Since-Grade-School.  Or Little Flower Stamen-Pistil.  Did I mention that I’m part Cherokee?  But couldn’t come up with a suitable moniker.

I guess I need to adjust to being a little more open and honest.  To putting myself out there.  Not so much with the rest of the world.  But with those who claim to know me best.

Doing the work

The EndAfter I had finished writing my book, I didn’t think it would be too hard to find an agent or a publisher.  I mean, everyone was telling me how good it was and how important it was.  Ok, at least that one person in my writing group said so.  And she was really smart.

I worked really hard on my query letter and sent it out to about a dozen agents.  I picked the ones who weren’t asking for a full-blown proposal.  Because who has the time for that?  Besides, I am an artist.  I just couldn’t be bothered.

I waited and continued to send out queries one by one to agents and small, independent publishing houses.

When nothing happened, I wrote a new query letter.

Months passed and still nothing.

I started thinking about self-publishing.

So, this weekend is dedicated to making that big push.  Writing the proposal, sending it out.  Contacting anyone who might be able to help with my publishing goal.

If I come up empty, I’ll be able to say I gave it my best shot.

I’ll self-publish because there is a dearth of butch stories out there.  I believe in the power of stories.  I believe in the power of telling your story.  I believe in the power of seeing yourself in someone else’s story.

It’s like that C.S. Lewis quote: “We read to know we are not alone.”

As I try to summarize my writing, I come up with this:

These are my stories.  The ones that keep me up at night.  The ones that appear on re-play in my head no matter how hard I try to shake them off.  They are stories about what it’s like to grow up different.  They are stories about what it’s like to live as a butch decades before you actually become one.  They are stories about hurt, shame, loneliness and wanting something that you can’t quite put your finger on.  In the end, they are stories about love and acceptance, because if you never learn to love yourself, who will?  These are my stories.  But I have a feeling they are many other people’s stories, too.

I think of Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle.  The first time I read it, I wished I had read it 20 years earlier.  I think it would have prompted me to come out much earlier in life.

I think of Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon’s Gender Failure.  The first time I read it, I cry (shhh … don’t tell anyone), because I still didn’t believe people wrote books for people like me.

Books mean something beyond the mere words printed on their pages.  Don’t ever doubt that.

* * *

What about you?  Which book has been most influential in your life?