Tag Archives: writers

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.

 

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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?

Here’s what put the “Fest” in OutFest

Philly PrideI think I’ve finally recovered from OutFest.  If you don’t know, OutFest is the national Coming Out Day block party in Philadelphia.  Tens of thousands of people attend every year.

This year, I paid for a table to promote Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.  I sold books, handed out business cards, talked with anyone who stopped by and raffled off some sweet bowties to people who signed up to follow The Flannel Files.  A big shout out to all of my new followers!

I pretty much broke even after adding up all of my expenses.  But still, it was a beautiful gay day.  And me and W’s anniversary day to boot.

So, here are my top 10 highlights from OutFest:

10. Everyone who stopped by and talked Fun Home the Musical and “Ring of Keys” with me.  You really know how to make a butch’s day.

9. Those people who gave me fist bumps and high fives and said “I respect that” after I gave them the elevator pitch to my book.

8. The woman who wanted her picture taken with me because I had written a book.

7. The mother who wanted to buy her fresh-out-of-the-closet teen daughter the book, but the daughter wanted nothing to do with the book or me. “Buy it for yourself,” I told the mom.  And she did.  God bless you, mom and good luck.

6. All of the butches in all of their ball cap and cargo shorts and spiky hair glory. You are my tribe.  (Silent head nod.)

5. The guy who told me that he liked the cover to my book.  “We should all wear capes,” he said.  Amen, brother.

4. All the bois who read the back of my book, nodding their heads and saying “yep” to growing up tomboy, being called “sir,” etc.

3. Drag queens.

2. Me and W wearing matching “I Love My Wife” buttons and having everyone congratulate us when they learned it was our anniversary. I felt that people were truly happy for us and understood how big a deal it is that we were able to marry.  Marriage is something our community doesn’t take for granted.

1. Dinner out at a Cuban restaurant with family and friends after.  Our friend who married us last Oct. 11 — the “Right Reverend” — toasted us.  And everything came full circle.  And all was right in the world.

Butch books

Fun HomeI am obsessed with Fun Home.

Like I’m changing my major to Fun Home.

I’m talking about the graphic memoir by the brilliant Allison Bechdel and the hit Broadway musical based on the book.

I tell W I’m a Fun Homie.

She grimaces.

But buys us tickets for our anniversary next month.

And sometimes sings Ring of Keys in the shower.

I bought Fun Home in 2007 from Giovanni’s Room, a gay bookstore in Philadelphia.

I just finished re-reading it in anticipation of the play.  I was sad like I always am when I finish a good book.

I started thinking about what to read next.  But when you’re a butch lesbian, how do you top Fun Home?

Stone Butch BluesAnd that’s when I read that Leslie Steinberg’s groundbreaking Stone Butch Blues is being made available for download to celebrate Leslie’s Sept. 1 birthday.  Click here to download your free copy.

So, I will be reading Stone Butch Blues tonight.  And thinking about Leslie Feinberg and Allison Bechdel and all the other butch writers who have made it a little easier for the rest of us to be ourselves.

* * *

What are you reading?

The stories we tell

When I had my bridal shower back in the day when marrying a man seemed like a good idea, I was supposed to stand up at the end and say a few words.

I’m not very good at speaking in front of groups of people.  Even in front of people I know.

As I sat on a chair in the center of the room in my floral dress from The Limited and started stammering, I was rescued by my best friend.

Beaver Stadium“Kick-off is in 30 minutes.  We have to go she said.”

It was a perk that came with being alumni of a university with a dominating football program.

It’s been our running gag every time I am nervous about speaking in front of a group of people or trying to get out of an uncomfortable situation.

“Can’t you come and tell them kick-off is in 30 minutes?” I ask.

Even when it’s not football season.

Last week, I called my friend and told her that because of my book I have an opportunity to speak at a large, multinational company that has an office near my house.  The company has an LGBT group and often has speakers come in.

She tells me to go for it.

“But you know me and public speaking,” I say.

“Maybe it’s time to stop telling yourself the story that you’re not good at public speaking,” she says.

She’s a terrible friend.  The worst, really.

After I get off the phone with her, I think about the power of story.  The stories we tell ourselves.  The stories we tell others.

Then I stumble across this quote about storytelling:

“Being a storyteller is about helping other people tell their stories.”

I know my presentation will address the power of story.  That’s my passion.

In my head, I am mapping out how it will go.

NecktieI am working on a new story about going to the company that first time for a meeting. I am unsure about what to wear.  I am afraid about being judged for being a woman wearing men’s clothes in a corporate work environment.  About looking like a little girl who just raided her dad’s closet.

I sit on the edge of my bed and remind myself to be me.

It will be ok, I tell myself.  Stand tall.  Be strong.  Be butch.  Be yourself.

It’s a pep talk.

Another story.

* * *

What are the stories (good and bad) you tell yourself?

Guest post on Women and Words

Guys, check out my guest post on the fabulously awesome Women and Words. Oh, and if you leave a comment, you’ll be in the running for a free copy of my book, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender. Because who doesn’t like free stuff?

Women and Words

Leaving Normal CoverHappy Sunday! We have a fabulous guest blogger for y’all today! Rae Theodore recently released her debut novel Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.

She’s here to tell us all about her inspiration for the book. And, because she’s super fabulous, she’s giving away a couple of paperback copies. Drop a comment in the space below and I’ll draw the winners next Friday, 7/17.

Good Luck!

Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender
by Rae Theodore

As I sit here wondering what to write for my guest post, I’m hyper-focused on the word “Women” from the Women and Words logo that sprawls in dark red script across the top of the website as if standing guard.

For a moment, I feel like an interloper, but I remind myself that I’m a different kind of woman.

Rae Theodore - photo

I’m a butch. A masculine-presenting woman. A cherry red Tootsie Pop with a center comprised of flannel shirts…

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A funny thing happened on the way to the writers’ retreat

So, yesterday I was preparing for my writers’ retreat.  Running errands, taking care of business.

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My car sounded like this guy.  God sounded like this guy.

And then my car started making a terrible noise.  It sounded something like Harvey Firestein.  With a head cold.

Long story short, it’s in the shop and being repaired.

Last night after I had dropped off the car, I told W that there was a part of me that wanted to back out of the retreat.  Cut my losses on the deposit.  Stay home for the weekend.

“I’m having car problems,” I would say.  “There’s no way I can make it.”

But I knew this whole car thing was God’s way of getting my attention.

“If you want something, you need to work for it,” I imagined him saying.  “How bad do you want to be a writer?”

Strangely, this voice also sounded like Harvey Firestein.

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This is my new notebook.  Awesome!

So, come hell or high water or car problems, I’m off this afternoon.  I have my notebooks packed, along with my statement of intention:

I accept this gift of time to write, reflect and be in the company of other writers.  I open myself to possibility.   

* * *

What does your voice of the universe sound like?

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.