Tag Archives: sexuality

Leaving the center empty for God


downloadI’m still reading Maggie Nelson’s memoir The Argonauts. This story about Nelson’s relationship with her “fluidly gendered partner” Harry takes a look at the hot button topics of sexuality, gender and what it means to be a family.

It’s been taking me longer than usual to get through this slim book of less than 150 pages. It’s a heavy read, packed with thoughts and insights that seem best suited for slow, meditative pondering.

In the pages I read last night, Nelson writes about a lecture she attended given by poet and professor Anne Carson in which Carson spoke about the concept of leaving a space empty so God can rush in.

imagesNelson said she had heard about this concept from a boyfriend who was into bonsai. In bonsai, people often plant a tree off-center in the pot to allow space for the divine.

“But that night Carson made the concept literary,” Nelson writes. “I went home fastened to the concept of leaving the center empty for God. It was like stumbling into a tarot reading or AA meeting and hearing the one thing that will keep you going, in heart or art, for years.”

That’s what I’m thinking about these days. Leaving the center empty for God in my writing and in my life.

The Argonauts is a terrific read. Dense and intense but worth the effort.

P.S. I’ve been sleeping better.

I find that when I’m focused on social media and the news, I have a bad day,” I told W yesterday at dinner.

“And when I stay away from social media and the news, I have a better day,” I told her.

“Then stay away from social media and the news,” she said like a Sapphic sage.


Night, night, you big butch.

That’s been helping, plus W has been rubbing my face with lavender butter before bedtime. She rubs the thick cream on her hands and then smooths it on my forehead, my temples, the back of my neck and a little under my nose.

It smooths over the jagged edges of the day. I have been sleeping like a baby these days.

Plus, it makes me feel like I’m being taken care of, which is a nice feeling right before bed.

We just ordered a new batch of butter. Check out Renaissance Lavender on etsy if you are in need of a magic sleeping potion.

Me and Xena: Warrior Princess

Xena: Warrior PrincessToday is Xena’s 20th anniversary.

A big ayiyiyiyiyi Xena battle cry to all of my Flannel Files followers on this very special occasion.

I’ve been reading the Xena posts and tweets on social media, and I must say it’s taken me back in time.  Not to ancient mythological Greece when Xena roamed the countryside thwarting evildoers with the help of Gabrielle, her trusty sidekick.  But the late 1990s when I was struggling with my sexuality.

The first time I watched Xena: Warrior Princess, I was hooked.  There was something about the show, something I couldn’t explain that left me wanting more Xena all the time.

Let’s be honest.  The Warrior Princess came with an extra helping of cheese.  The bright orange kind that comes in a can and is spread with a knife.

But I was transfixed.

Lucy LawlessWhen I finally admitted that I was attracted to women, I told myself that was it.  I mean, Lucy Lawless is gorgeous.  Why not watch a television show that features a beautiful woman, even if it’s campier than a weenie roast and ghost stories told around a fire?

Here’s the thing that took me a long time to realize.  I never wanted to be with Lucy Lawless.  I wanted to be Lucy Lawless.  Or, more accurately, Xena.

It was her special blend of girl power that I craved.

That I’ve always craved.

Wonder WomanIn the 1970’s, it was Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman and Jaime Sommers, TV’s Bionic Woman.

But those women had nothing on Xena.  With her sword and her chakram, her leather, her armor and a hot blonde by her side.  Xena was badass.

I think about the name of the show — Xena: Warrior Princess.

And I think that was always the attraction for me.

Warrior.  Princess.

Not that I’ve ever been a princess or wanted to be one.  (Makes gagging gesture with fingers and open mouth.)

It’s that blend of masculine and feminine that I find so appealing, that magical combination that I live.

There’s always been a lot of Xena: Warrior Princess inside me.

I just never realized it until I started watching the show.

If you’re really into Xena, you can read my Xena sword story here.

* * *

What about you?  Xena fan?  Yea or nay?

Butch and more butch

300h[1]I was reading the paper today and stumbled upon this quote by Pink:

“I was always considered butch.  Feeling beautiful to me is when I feel good in my leather pants and my husband grabs my ass.”

The word “butch” took me by surprise.

Hey, that’s my word.  My thing.  Me.  I am Middle-age butch, after all.

Why is a straight woman like Pink using the word “butch” in reference to herself?

Sure, Pink is an edgy, bad-ass rock star who looks hot in leather pants.  If a straight girl is going to use that word, it might as well be Pink.

I guess the flannel on my shirt stood straight up for a moment there because the word “butch” means something to me.

After I came out, I considered myself a “soft butch.”  Something like a tomboy with harder edges and more rigid views about my sexuality.

I transitioned to what I consider a regular butch a few years later.  The more butch I became, the shorter my hair.  I’m sure there’s an algorithm for that somewhere.

I hit my butch stride when I first started dating W.  I was rocking jeans and flannel shirts from the young men’s department.  Thick black belts and Dr. Marten’s boots.  I felt good in my body.  Like things fit — like I fit — for the first time in my life.

I carried myself differently.  With more confidence and purpose.

At the time, I was participating in a weekly therapy group related to coming out.  I used to leave therapy and head over to W’s apartment for a quickie.  Feeling large and in charge.  Taking her in my arms and kissing her deftly and with purpose.  (We later determined that there is no such thing as a Sapphic quickie.)

Lately, I’ve felt restless in this body.  In this butch body.  Stagnant.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t changed things up in awhile.

imagesCAYXS717In the past, there have always been firsts.  Neckties, tattoos, men’s vests and suits.  Chunky boots and thick leather bracelets.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still love wearing ties, Dr. Marten’s and studded bracelets.  They make me feel sexy and alive.

But maybe it’s time to stir things up a bit.  Butch up.  Be more butch.  Butcher.  Live butch.  Love butch.

Butch.  It’s not just for breakfast anymore.  And if it was, it would beat the hell out of oatmeal and OJ every single day of the week.

Maybe I should wear my hair shorter.  Trade in my Hanes Her Way for the ones on the other side of the store.

There’s still a lot of unexplored territory.

In the end, “butch” is just a word.  Like “femme” and “dyke,” “queer” and “queen.”

It only means more if you want it to.

To me, butch is power and comfort, sex appeal and swagger.  It reminds me of a young girl long ago who didn’t know who she was or how she would ever be anything other than scared and unsure.

To me, butch is more than a label.  More than a way of life.  It’s who I am and how I came to be.

So, if Pink wants to say that people have always viewed her as a butch, who can blame her?

Not this butch.