Tag Archives: reading

Pride and reading diverse books

IMG_1250 (1)On Saturday morning, W and I were up early packing her SUV and getting ready to head to our local Pride festival.

“Why do we do this?” I asked as I rubbed sleep from my eyes and loaded another heavy object into the car.

It rained during set up but then the sun came out. We all started looking for rainbows.

My best friend came and spent the day with me. And there we sat on a beautiful Saturday afternoon watching waves of people clad in whatever makes them happy–high heels, rainbow flags worn as capes, trans colors, combat boots, preferred pronoun stickers. I started remembering why we do this year after year.

One miscue: I wore my “I Love My Awesome Wife” tee. “Is this your wife?” everyone asked, looking at my friend. Everything does come full circle. When I came out, everyone thought my friend and I were a couple because we were so close. (In case you were wondering, W, my awesome wife, was manning a different table.)

IMG_1247I was promoting a local book group that I head, as well as my big butch memoir, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender. We handed out lists of recommended LGBT books and rainbow bookmarks with affirming statements like “Believe in Yourself” and “Be Unique.” We asked people to share a book that inspired them or made them feel not so alone by writing the title on faux library cards.

We talked about books. I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear young people chat excitedly about their favorite reads.

Here are some of my memorable moments from the day:

IMG_1260A 13-year girl so excited about books that she jumped up and down. She told me her favorite book is Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. “About the worst chosen one ever and how he finds out he’s gay,” she wrote on her library card. I don’t know about you, but that’s a book I want to read. When I told her I was a writer, she jumped up and down some more. “Me, too!” she said.

A woman who recommended the book Annie on My Mind by Nancy Gardner. She told me that she discovered the book when she was a kid at her local library. She checked it out and took it home. When her mother found it, she burned it in the backyard. She couldn’t go back to the library because she was unable to return the book. My heart broke for that little girl.

Everyone who picked a “You Are Amazing” bookmark and said, yes, I am amazing and will take this one.

The fact that one of our son’s friend who identifies as trans was forbidden by his parents to go to the Pride festival with us. I saw so many parents walking around with their kids. But it’s important to remember all of the kids who have parents who are not accepting or supportive.

IMG_1252Here are the book recommendations we received from young and old, in no particular order:

  1. Carry on by Rainbow Rowell
  2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer — I’m not the only one who wants to live in a bus in the wilderness.
  3. When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson — Gay ladies who are bad ass warriors.
  4. Kase-san and … by Canno — Manga series with two cute lesbians.
  5. My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger — When I was trying to find myself in 8th and 9th grade.
  6. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  7. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz
  8. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger
  9. She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan
  10. Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard
  11. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  12. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
  13. Shark School by Davy Ocean
  14. Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf
  15. The Plucker and The Child Thief by Brom
  16. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Gardner
  17. Steven Universe comic books by Jeremy Sorese
  18. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  19. The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron
  20. Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz
  21. Echo of the Boom by Maxwell Neely-Cohen
  22. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
  23. The Women Who Raised Me by Victoria Rowell
  24. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
  25. Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl by Satoru Akahori
  26. Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamilo
  27. The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon by Susan Stevens Crummel
  28. The Longest Mile by Christine Meyer

What about you? What book made you feel not so alone?

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?

 

Librarians

Sorry I’ve been away for such a long time, folks.

Been busy … being a librarian!

imagesgx2muoa9Like Barbara Gordon in the old Batman TV show. Librarian by day, superhero by night. Biff! Pow!

Shhhh!

See how I did that. I told you I was a librarian.

I built my library today. That’s right. One day. A library. Talk about butch.

You can see pictures here:

It’s a Little Free Library (check out the website here). Basically, it operates on a take a book, leave a book philosophy. You can search the site to find Little Free Libraries near you.

* * *

imagesl0bkx87uSpeaking of libraries, have you ever heard of that show The Librarians? I was all pumped. I mean, what could be better. I imagined a bunch of librarians wearing over-sized glasses with their dark hair in those sexy librarian buns. Library patrons would approach the desk and ask questions about books. And the librarians would pause and perhaps peruse the card catalog and then point them in the right direction. “I think you want The Brothers Karamazov,” they would say. Or, “Try Slaughterhouse-Five, that’s my favorite Vonnegut book.” This is a show I would watch.

But The Librarians is not that show. The books are magic. And there’s some sort of time travel involved. And the librarians do not have big glasses or sexy hair. Some are even dudes. I thought this was America. So disappointed.

Are you an introverted butch? Take this test and find out

Quiet by Susan CainI just finished the New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

It’s a terrific book.

W asked if it was all about how great introverts are being that yours truly is the poster child for introverts everywhere.

Not quite.  Even though introverts are awesome.  I said that very, very quietly.  Almost in a whisper.

The book is about how the world needs introverts and extroverts. I also learned that people are like rubber bands. We can stretch to a degree, which means, for example, that an introvert can overcome a fear of public speaking and, in fact, become quite adept at giving speeches in public.

Lea Delaria

King of the butches.

Cain’s book got me thinking about whether most butches are introverts. Lea Delaria, probably not an introvert, but aren’t most of us big bad butches quiet and brooding?  Do you tend to just want to stay at home organizing your flannel shirt collection?  Do you feel more comfortable talking to your cats than people?

Cain included an introvert-extrovert quiz in her book. I’ve included it here with a few minor additions.

Answer each question true or false. The more “trues,” the more introverted you probably are.

Introvert-Extrovert Quiz — The Butch Version

1. I prefer one-one conversations to group activities. Group activities butches really don’t like: quilting bees, Mary Kay parties, jazzercise class.

2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.  Actually, I prefer not to express myself at all.  I am made of stone.  I will not show emotion.

3. I enjoy solitude. Just me and a Melissa Etheridge greatest hits CD.

4. I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame and status. Because when you’re a butch, who needs all that other stuff?

Tell me more about your breasts.

Tell me more about your breasts.

5. I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me. Like baseball, beer, the Indigo Girls and really great cleavage.

6. People tell me that I’m a really great listener. Especially your wife.

7. I’m not a big risk-taker. Except for that whole looking-like-this-and-using-a-women’s-restroom thing.

8. I enjoy work that allows me to “dive-in” with few interruptions. I also enjoy recreational activities that allow me to “dive-in” with few interruptions.

9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members. Like the twins over at Hooters.

10. People describe me as “soft-spoken” or “mellow.” Especially after hanging out with Miley Cyrus or Willie Nelson.

11. I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished. Or else I’d have to kill you.

12. I dislike conflict. Dyke drama is for other dykes.

13. I do my best work on my own. Because everyone knows butches do it better.

14. I tend to think before I speak. Don’t hear anything? I’m still thinking.

15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself. Yes, this is my I’ve-enjoyed-myself face.

16. I often let calls go through to voicemail. Exceptions: Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara (see no. 5).

17. If I had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled. That’s why I turned down invitations to the potluck, the Hilary Rodham-Clinton book signing and the midnight showing of the Piper Perabo movie retrospective.

18. I don’t enjoy multitasking. Unless one of the tasks is drinking a beer. Watch me catch a football and drink a beer. Cook and drink a beer. Use power tools and drink a beer. Drink a beer while drinking another beer.

xx

What’s this L Word you speak of?

20. In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars. When taught by the hot new English professor with the big black glasses.

What about you? Are you an introvert, an extrovert or a middle-ground ambivert?

Thoughts on lesbian erotica

The Harder She ComesW got me a book of lesbian erotica for Christmas.

The Harder She Comes: Butch/Femme Erotica.

Now, I’m not a huge reader of erotica of any kind.  I’d much rather tuck into my own imagination instead of a book when I want to get turned on.

I’m definitely a less-is-more kind of girl.  Sometimes a slight sliver of skin is sexier than, well, the full monty.

Case in point: Last night, I was casually browsing for lesbian content on WordPress.  Paging through pictures of rainbow flags, Jodie Foster, studs, bois, butches, femmes.  And there it was.  It looked angry and shocked.  All pink and exposed.  I thought it might be useful for teaching the finer points of  female genitalia to novice gynecologists but certainly not for turning on this lesbian.

I chalked it up to a lesbian post for guys and not for actual lesbians.  It’s never very hard to tell the two apart.

Random thoughts on erotica:

  • Erotica is very personal.  What might float this butch’s boat, might not float yours.  So, an anthology containing 20 or so stories might only have two or three that get my motor running.
  • I'd rather read books by this woman than books about naked women.

    I’d rather read books by this woman than books about naked women.

    It’s not always the most well-written prose on the market.  If I have to choose between Joyce Carol Oates‘ newest novel and Lesbian Samurai Zombies (real title), well, Oates will win out just about every time.  I often think that I could write lesbian erotica  that’s just as good as, if not better than, what’s currently available.  Maybe I’ll give that a shot this year.  I’ll need to start working on a  pseudonym pronto.

  • I can only remember one erotic story from over the years.  It didn’t even involve any actual sex.  Just some sexual tension. But it had a great ending image involving a woman clad in a pair of tall black leather boots.  (This butch has a thing for women in high leather boots.)

Anyway, The Harder She Comes is pretty good as far as lesbian erotica goes.  I find the whole butch/femme dynamic fascinating.

I’ve found myself evolving over the years from tomboy to lesbian to soft butch to butch.  I’m thinking that this year I might want to butch up a little more.

I’ll no doubt blog more about my quest to become a butchier butch, but I thought I would plant the seed in this post.