Tag Archives: writers

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?

Be a superhero and say something nice

imagesI’ve been having a rough go of it lately.

I either want to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over my head, or I want to run through the streets in my flannel-lined cape punching bad guys in the face and saving the world. Biff! Pow!

Then out of the blue, two people sent me e-mails and told me they had been impacted in a positive way by things I had written.

And I felt better. Calmer. A little bit like a superhero with a magic pen making the world a better place in a different way.

So, my posse of wonderful, beautiful people, here’s your challenge for the week:

Reach out to one person and say something nice about him or her. You can do it in person or via e-mail or text, if you’re a giant introvert like me.

We can all use a boost these days. And kindness is infectious.

You’ll feel like a superhero and so will the person you’ve bestowed a nicety upon.

What are you waiting for?

Up, up and away …

To the Batmobile …

Flannel Files Powers activate …

* * *

What did you say? How did it go? Tell us about it.

Telling the truth

Yesterday was not a good day for your favorite butch blogger. I pretty much sat around in my pajamas clicking the refresh button on my Twitter feed. It was not pretty or handsome.

downloadBut then W came home and I vented. I started Maggie Smith’s The Argonauts before I went to bed. And I was like hell yeah, because words and ideas and poetry and unapologetic truth telling. The world needs more of that right now, if you ask me.

And then I started thinking about #PressOn, which is a campaign to support facts by paying for journalism. It’s critical right now. So, pubs like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian … and Teen Vogue, they need our support.

That’s right, Teen Vogue. They’re kicking ass these days in the world of journalism. With a bold lip, but kicking ass no less with in-your-face articles like “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America.”

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Teen Vogue, Vogue, Vogue

So here’s my offer. Are you the parent of a young feminist? Do you know a young feminist in the making? Teen Vogue says the magazine is appropriate for those 14 years of age and older. Keep in mind it is a fashion magazine but does a good job with politics, LGBT issues and self-identity. Drop me an e-mail at rae.r.theodore@gmail.com and I’ll pay for a gift subscription to Teen Vogue for your fierce, fresh youngster.

Because words matter. And the truth matters.

Resist.

* * *

What are you reading these days?

Stupid fortune

 

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Which one are you?

I made up these little bags of inspiration and handed them out at my writers group this week.

They are loaded with things a writer needs like a mini notebook, tea, chocolate and mints, which are supposed to stimulate brain activity.

I also included in each bag a piece of Mookaite Jasper, a crystal that promotes creativity.

I challenged everyone to think positively about their writing and writing goals as we start 2017. We talked about keeping a gratitude journal to stay in a positive frame of mind.

And here I sit. Stuck.

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Ugh.

“Begin … the rest is easy.” That was my fortune from New Year’s Eve. It’s sitting here on my desk. Every once in awhile it disappears beneath a pile of papers, but it always surfaces, mocking me with its overly simplistic advice.

“I already knew that,” I say to the fortune. I glare at the small, smug strip of white paper.

White like a priest’s robe.

It sits there absorbing the red lasers shooting from my eyeballs. It taunts me with its exaggerated stoicism.

“I’ll begin anytime I want,” I say. “I’m the boss of me. Not you. You’re just a scrap of paper. Made in China.”

Still nothing. The fortune is quiet as a ninja. I assume it’s deep in meditation on the meaning of life or how to best piss off a stuck writer

“I’m not ready yet, stupid fortune,” I say.

The fortune sits patiently, waiting for me to begin.

* * *

Wishing you all great success in 2017!

Book launch!

leavingnormalNew year.

New book.

New look. (Seriously, how cool is that cover?)

Today’s the big day, folks. The second edition of Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender has launched with my new publisher, Regal Crest.

The book has added content. Count ’em, nine new chapters.

And while I’m bragging, the first edition was a Golden Crown Literary Society award finalist in the category of creative nonfiction.

A big thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way by liking my posts and reminding me that I have a voice and that my words are important. You guys have always made me feel like a big butch rock star.

If you bought a copy of Leaving Normal last time around, thanks! Consider picking up a second copy for the added content or donating to your local high school or LGBT group.

A bunch of you have been patiently waiting for the second edition. You can order a print copy or e-book through most online book vendors. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon and Bella Books.

If you’d like a signed copy and maybe some free butch swag, you can send $16.00 via PayPal to rae.r.theodore@gmail.com. The book costs $12.95, plus $3 for shipping.

Also, reviews are so important. They help with visibility on sites like Amazon. If you’ve read the book, please consider writing a short, honest review. It will only take you a minute or two and this butch will be very grateful.

Carrie Fisher

My dad took me and my brother to an old theater in Reading, Pennsylvania, to see Star Wars. We sat in the balcony. I was ten years old.

I remember being captivated from the beginning when those now-famous words scrolled across the screen. I liked the scene in the cantina with those crazy aliens and that funny, tinny music playing in the background.

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Cream Magazine

I’m not sure how many times I’ve watched Star Wars since 1977. My favorite scene became the one with the garbage compactor. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy,” Princess Leia says to Luke as she shoots her laser gun at the Stormtroopers, transforming from rescuee to rescuer, from damsel in distress to take-charge badass.

I replayed that scene over and over in my head. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.” That was the kind of girl I was when I played with the guys. That was the kind of woman I wanted to be.

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naplesherald.com

When I got older, I idolized Carrie Fisher the author. She was a brilliant writer. If you want to learn how to write memoir, read Carrie Fisher. Her words were sharp and cutting, vulnerable and honest. The humor was so dark, you never knew whether to laugh or cry. I always did both. She wrote with the bravery and balls of Princess Leia. “Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.”

I read a lot of books. Most I recycle, handing off to friends or family, or donating to Goodwill. I keep some of Fisher’s books in a small, neat stack on my bookcase mixed with books written by a few other authors. My stack of weird books. They are the books that told me it was okay to think the way I did. That it was okay to be different. They are the books that gave me permission to be myself.

It’s been a tough year for losses. I lost two of my heroes earlier this year when the wrestler Chyna and the musician Prince died on back-to-back days in April.

And now Carrie Fisher.

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themarysue.com

I like to think they left me a little of their magic when they departed this world. A little of their bravery and in your face badassery. That it fell like stardust and caught on the inside of my sleeve or the back of my pants and clung like specks of glitter.

And that when I need to be bold and courageous, it will be there, giving me a needed push.

“Into the garbage chute, Flyboy.”

* * *

What about you? Who will you miss most from 2016?

Rich

imageslp1bxi04Rich.

That’s the word that’s been in my head and in my heart for the past few weeks. Jingling around like gold coins in a drawstring pouch.

I’ve felt rich in life. Rich in love. Rich in friends. Rich in my writing life. Rich in everything I need.

I have a weekly routine and friends and my writing and enough special days and events to keep everything interesting.

It’s a rich life.

I think about love and how that makes everything richer. How things seem more special when W’s there. The way I can’t wait for her to get home at night so I can tell her about my day and experience it all over again through her eyes.

Of course, my life isn’t perfect. The house is usually a mess and the cat puked under the dining room table and shouldn’t I be due for a pay increase and when will those damn kids get jobs.

But my life is rich. It’s cheesecake and a hot fudge sundae with extra whipped cream and a $20 bill that I found in an old pair of jeans.

And then last night happens, and I am sad and hurt and broken inside. If you read this blog, you are probably feeling the same way.

imageszgi58iwpStill, I remind myself of the richness of my life. Of love and friends and the way they swirl around me like stardust.

This morning, W tells me everything will be okay and that she loves me.

A friend invites me to a drum circle. Other friends share kind words and blog posts they have found to be soothing and encouraging. A friend who runs a local LGBT group sends an e-mail about working together to protect the rights of those in our community. I will attend the steering committee meeting they are holding on Monday to find out what I can do to help.

W will be home soon. We will have dinner together and watch Luke Cage on Netflix. She’ll fall asleep first. I’ll write and read and then turn in for the night. If I can’t sleep, I’ll settle in close to W and the cats piled up at my feet.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to get out of the house and write in the little coffee shop in town. Maybe I’ll see some of my friends there. I’ll be kind to myself. I’ll be kind to others.

And when things seem hopeless or scary or pointless, I’ll take refuge in my rich life.

* * *

What makes your life rich?

Happy

images[1]I attended a creative nonfiction conference this past weekend in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. W and one of the kids came with to enjoy my big, fancy hotel room.

I left the hotel room early in the morning while the two of them slept in. I popped in from time to time to use the bathroom or check in on them.

“You look so happy,” W said.

I couldn’t lie. And I couldn’t stop smiling. I was in my element. I was with a bunch of other people nerding out on using white space in an essay or the ethicality of composite characters in memoir. There was a entire panel discussion on truth in creative nonfiction.

We were all fangirl/fanboy when memoirist Mary Karr delivered the keynote Saturday evening.

Before we left for the conference, I was having second thoughts about attending.

“I’m not good with peoples,” I told W.

“You’ll be fine,” she said.

And I was. I had two of my writer group friends with me, which made things easier. I didn’t have to assume wallflower mode. Which is a good thing because none of the walls were flannel covered.

Plus, many writers are introverts, which meant we could all be awkward with one another without judgment. (Looks at floor.)

My writer tank has been filled.

And I’m still glowing from the weekend.

* *  *

What about you? What lights you up?

Bathroom strife

This morning, I camped out at Panera’s.

I was focused on writing a new story but my ears perked up when an older woman a few tables away started talking about President Obama’s mandate that all schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice.

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My new favorite notebook. Oh to be as dashing as this zebra.

It was the word “transgender” that caught my attention and caused me to reach for my rainbow zebra notebook.

She said the word like this — TRANS gender? — as if she were angry and it weren’t a real thing. Like fat-free butter or a lesbian who has never attended a potluck. I avoided looking at her, but I imagined her shrugging her shoulders and making a sour milk face.

“All it does is cause more strife,” she said.

I wanted to tell her about the strife I feel as a butch woman when I’m out shopping or to dinner and need to use a bathroom. About the strife I feel when I have to determine whether I can skip using a public restroom and make it home in time.

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Um, hello, that doesn’t look like me.

About the strife I feel when I open a door emblazoned with an image of a person in a dress with an impossibly round head and arms thick like salamis and the word “WOMEN” or “LADIES” printed below and prepare to be misgendered and humiliated.

About the strife I feel when I rush to the first empty stall and hold my breath and let out a tiny puff of air when I lock the door and hear the click of the slide bolt.

About the strife I feel as I wait in the stall and try to pick the right time to leave. Now. No, not now. Now. This time for real. 1, 2, 3. Now.

About the strife I feel when I notice my heart beating too fast in my chest.

About the strife I feel as I try to blend in when I’m at the sink washing my hands, even though I haven’t been able to blend in for most of my life.

About the strife I feel as I fast walk to the door and try to look “natural,” whatever that means.

When I am safe on the other side, I wonder why using a public bathroom should cause anyone so much strife.

 

On the verge in 2016

2015 was a pretty spectacular year for your favorite butch blogger.

I landed a publishing contract and my book, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender, was released on June 26. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s the same day the U.S. Supreme Court issued its marriage equality ruling.

W and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

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Call me a sucker for a head of feathered hair back in the day.

I not only survived my first public speaking gig but shined. Like Farrah Fawcett’s pretty feathered hair circa 1974.

I was sitting in my writers’ group right before the holidays thinking about how far I’ve come and outlining goals for 2016. I was feeling joyful and content surrounded by writers who are not only colleagues but friends.

And that’s when I realized how close I am to having it all figured out. To being happy and content in all aspects of my life.

W and I always talk about being “on the verge.” You know that place, don’t you?

Sure, things are good now. But you’re on the verge of something better.  You’re almost there. You’re so close. You just need to figure one thing out, work on that one last thing.

I have this copied in my quote journal:

“I’ll probably really figure out exactly how to be alive right when I’m gasping for my last breath.”

— Jane Hamilton, The Book of Ruth

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Do I smell an Emmy? And Tony for the musical version?

I used to think that would be me. Having a giant epiphany about how to live when I’m on my deathbed. It would be so dramatic. Hilary Swank would play me in the Lifetime made for TV movie. The all-flannel wardrobe would be designed by Michael Kors or maybe the guy who designs the Chaps brand for Kohl’s.

I had a real epiphany at my writers’ group that day. We’re always “on the verge.” All of us. At least if you’re growing. That’s life. One verge after another.

The trick is to enjoy the ride.

So, 2016? Bring it on.

* * *

What about you?  What are you on the verge of in 2016?