December 16, 2008

Thanks to Susie Bright, MG gets on one of the most popular blogs around.

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obama, my girl in western mass and liminality

November 19, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about liminality. It makes me so happy when there’s one word to describe something so nuanced and complex. And in thinking about what it means to be liminal, I realized it’s a great term to understand this past historic election. For the last couple weeks I’ve been  trying to figure out how a black man got himself elected president of the US. Given what race means here in Amercia, it is an amazing feat. And it came to me yesterday that Obama ran his presidential bid “occupying a space” of permanent liminality. But instead of creating dissonance like it so often does, it created relief. Relief for a lot of folks who didn’t want to resolve the issue of his race, as in yes this is a black man, or at least didn’t want to get resolution around understanding that his race has meaning, as in yes this is still a pretty racist society. Think of the footage from election night, the close-up of Jessie Jackson crying, the kids dancing at Spellman, the street party in Harlem, and try and reconcile that with comments to call-in radio shows and letters to editors from people saying this election wasn’t about race. Of course this election was about race (to some degree); it’s just that Obama didn’t run a race on race. Smart, smart move on his part. And being a black man not running on race but winning the race — that’s a liminal act of epic proportions. Seriously.

If only other folks were so lucky. Like my girl in western Mass, who I’ve come to think of as being permanently liminal. She’s wicked smart and wiley, but she’s never gonna escape the dissonance the world dishes back up at her as she tries to negotiate her way through it.  Why? Because she’s sick. And when I say sick, I mean disabled sick. Illness, injury, disease, disability – this stuff begs out for resolve. And the collective urge to mend and fix and cure has certainly changed our human condition, as in increased the lifespan, decreased suffering and generally enhanced our quality of life. But not everything gets cured and why that is, well that’s a different blog.

But leaving aside how and why we choose to commit resources to curing some diseases and not others, we can at least agree that not everything can get cured. And when we don’t have a way to manage what’s wrong, when we can’t treat the condition so that the sick can live among us on our able bodied terms, well, if that’s your lot, you’re kinda screwed. As a society we see sickness and disablity and we want resolve, man. Normalize yourselves, you sickos: get better, or transcend what ails you like the super crip marathoner with prosthetics, or hide away and or die. Yes, I do mean to sound this harsh.

When what’s considered “normal” got constructed, my girl got left out. But the ideas about normalcy were built from a house of cards called assumptions. So there she is, liminal to the bone, like it or not. And the means for resolve are either out reach or out of the question. Yes, she could get some better and I hope she does, because things have been extraordinarily hard these last several years, but she will still have disabilities. Meaning she gets to beat her head against a world that at best might collectively in its actions and on a very good day, say something like “we love you in spite of how we have to accomodate your disability.”

And fuck that. If I can use the metaphor of access ramps, I say fuck this idea of a ramp to get in the building. Build the building so it doesn’t need a ramp in the first place. Build it so everyone get’s in. There is no reason that the act of entering a building should be the litmus test for ability, for what’s considered normal, for who gets included.



November 9, 2008

Sitting in my friend’s lovely apartment on a Saturday night in NYC having spent two perfectly sweet days walking around, catching up and seeing art. The rain and gray skies here have a very Gotham city feel making it seem like we’re in a movie, which is an apt setting to think about the rest of my trip.

Every time I come back across the Mississippi, I am reminded I’m not really a west coast guy, although there are things I do treasure about the life I have there. But coming here, it really does feel like I’ve gone to live abroad.

I’m wanting to capture something tonight but I don’t know exactly what, just something about myself before meeting this girl I like who I’ve known now for almost eleven months but will just be meeting in person for the first time. I’ve stopped trying to explain her place in my life to people I know and to some extent to myself. In many ways, she just is — in my life. The shape of that, the details, they have been like math. Figuring out the equation is what I’ve been doing. For quite a while now. Her too, I suppose. I mean this isn’t just my story. And really, it’s sweet to be part of her story. Lucky, I’d say.

So here I am a couple days away from everything changing, which sounds much more dramatic than I intend, but it will be different afterwards, whatever the shape of it. It will be a different shape. For both of us.

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nothing big here

October 30, 2008

I’ve just been churning inside and not externalizing it very much, which explains some of the silence here. Plus I’m not very well groomed for social commentary and I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio much, so I’ve not had much to say about the big topics at hand, like the election and the financial meltdown.  I’m glad to have a number of friends who are better equipped in this arena. With that in mind, onto something completely different.

First, here are some photos from the butch femme bash I attended when I went to SF.

I was really moved by Forest Church talking with Terry Gross about living, loving and death. Early on in the interview he talks about not believing in an interventionist God. A God who micro-manages our lives. He goes on to articulating how he does not find solace in the face of tragedy, whatever the scale, when folks say “It’s part of God’s plan” or “God has his reasons.” His words were powerful: God doesn’t throw a three year old child out of a window. Or allow a drunken driver to kill a family crossing the street. These are accidents if life and death. If God is responsible for the a tsunami that  obliterates the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and leaves their families in tatters, then God is a bastard.

I’m thinking about my friend who is having her first round of chemo today and hoping for the best.

And I’m heading east next week to see one of my most favorite people in the world and then to meet this girl I’ve been wanting to meet for a long time now.


the big and the little

September 25, 2008

I know I’ve been quiet here lately.  Frankly, I’m overwhelmed.  First off, the financial crisis and the proposed bail out staggers my mind. Literally.  Thank you Amos for doing such a nice job of commenting on it. And second, I can’t believe the election is right around the corner. Tanque has been has been keeping the blog flame lit the last couple weeks with lots of election related posts, which has rocked.  Including his endorsement of the Obama/Biden ticket. I think there was mention of my name in some comment about being inspired or hopeful about Obama. And I wanna clear things up and say I don’t feel either of those. The fact is I don’t look to a presidential candidate for hope or inspiration.  But I am inspired by the those folks who feel inspired by Obama. I think it’s a good ticket. They’ve got my vote. I think there’s a chance with Obama/Biden we can get things done that need doing. I want the conversation to change on a national level and Dems can do that. But c’mon these are politicians, man. And you don’t stay clean in such a fucking dirty business. Saints don’t run for president.

I feel like lots is going on in my life, but when you look at the shape of my days, you wouldn’t know it. I still find great joy in a sharp chef’s nice and fully inflated bike tires, the company of friends and the long stretches of quiet and time alone in between. I’m still purging and spent last weekend helping RU clean out our old basement. Whew! I did like that it was all very butch in a very classical butch kinda way, like driving a big pick up truck full of crap, most of which I’d hauled and lifted into the bed myself. RU has a fucked up back. The purge was a not the first choice for how I wanted to spend my weekend, but it bubbled up to the top after a failed attempt at camping in Indian Heaven on Mt Adams. It was just too dang foggy up there. And out here fog will kill your ass. I’m serious.

Mostly I’ve been trying to pay attention to the everyday details in my life and how I spend my time. The intention is to better align the external with the internal. It’s tricky, cause it doesn’t always add up. But it’s a good practice and hopefully it will become habit. To that end I’ve been having some kind of intense exchanges with my girl in western Mass and there are no conclusions to draw there except abstract ones, like a deeper understanding of the equation of capacity. If that sounds poetic, well it kinda is. Not that it doesn’t have very real implications. These things aren’t mutually exclusive.

I wanna a put plug in here to try and get as many of you all as I can to try green cleaning. Better for you, the environment and if you make your own solutions better for your wallet.


more about being butch

September 12, 2008

Today, I was asking a colleague (a guy)  in a super straight forward way what was up with a certain meeting invite and our new graphic designer (a girl)  overheard me and joked, “My, you’re sassy.”  How funny.  No one I know calls me sassy. It reminds me of how wait people will call me miss or lady, to which I always wanna respond something like, “I’ll tip you extra if you never say that to me again.”

It’s all these little things that add up to being read or not as butch.  Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, like getting the double take when I use the women’s restroom.  Sometimes it’s flattering, like the straight girl at the wedding party who can’t stop touching me when she when she wants to make a point.  Sometimes it awkward, like negotiating for service when I’ve gone shopping for a nice men’s suit.  But sometimes it’s just right, though, some girl will say or do just the right thing or some other butch will gimme the nod or bond with me over heartbreak and getting older.

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August 22, 2008

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music for getting my guy on

August 15, 2008

Don’t ask me to explain in any detail cause this isn’t an intellectual endeavor, it’s more experiential, but I suppose it does say something about the kinda guy I am. First, there’s Al Green. And then of course there’s some Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and James Brown. Oh and the longing of Chet Baker. And as one would expect there are songs by the the Who, the Kinks, the Pixies, the Beatles, Velvet Uuderground and even the Beach Boys (apologies go out to a certain girl that I’m not including the Doors or Stones here) plus a whole smattering of stuff from 70’s AM radio.  But man oh man, I was surprised, way surprised, to hear Glen Campbell last night and have a moment of getting my guy on. Tapped right into something prehistoric, prehistoric in relation to my own personal history.


butch in the world

August 14, 2008

I’m still trying to figure out how to explain to you all what it means to be butch. Well maybe not to all of you since there is at least this one girl who gets it. But that’s what happens when the thing you desire is so rare; you hone your skills to detect the subtleties of it all – the things that make a butch be butch. And she’s got a sharp and practiced eye. So a femme, like this girl, reading those things in me, it kinda changes everything. For one thing, I’m not living in exile when I’m talking to her. And neither is she. The world is ours for a second or two. Ok, maybe an hour. Alright, alright, there was this one day. And for another thing, it can be hot. She knows what she’s looking for and she’s looking for those things in me. And she knows I’m looking back.

But mostly being read as butch is a stealth endeavor. Not being read as a big dyke mind you; cause that’s easy. I could do that in my sleep. You’d see me and say there’s a a big sleeping dyke. The obvious point being that I’m obvious. I stick out. If you’ve never met a dyke before, you’re pretty sure that have after meeting me. Believe me, I’ve seen the look in plenty of parents’ faces to know how it works.

I recently heard that this guy I like referred to me as a bull dagger, which I took as a compliment, even if it was a little outdated. But it said to me that maybe he was reading me as butch. And mostly it’s more of an unspoken exchange between me and and the larger world, including many of you. Although, I’ve considered that maybe many of you, being the polite midwesterners you are, would just never call me butch to my face. But now you know you can, cause that’s what I am.

And really you’ve been validating that all along. Maybe just not bringing it to consciousness, like all the guys at every airport I’ve been to this year who’ve called me sir. But remember when we all played racquetball and you didn’t let up one bit. I swear to god, Jim nearly broke my rib going for a ball once, not that he meant to. He just wanted to beat me. Or maybe we’ve cruised girls together or more likely we’ve flirted (among other things) with same ones. There’s additional things too, but they are more nuanced, more like head nods, jokes, raised eyebrows and such. And then there are perfect moments when one of you straight girls has asked me to move something for you or put something together or got me to comment on your cleavage.

I fear I’m lapsing into cliche again. I dunnno, you all can tell me if you care to. Maybe I can’t describe it; maybe it’s all so experiential. Hmm. Or maybe I’m just trying too hard to explain that being butch is just being a different kinda guy. Either way, the challenge of it is making me think of the crazy gymnastics queer girls go through to get read as femme.

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how to be a mom to a butch

July 30, 2008

For the most part my mom always let me be my butch self. Fact is, she often thought of me as a boy cause it was just easier that way. So me and my cousin, Rich, often got the same kinds of presents – Matchbox cars, GI Joes, army uniforms and toy machine guns. And when I wasn’t wearing my school uniform, me and Rich often wore the same kinds of clothes – camper shorts, hi-tops, jeans and t-shirts. Looking back I’d say my mom usually got the outter markers right for something we both knew ran deeper than that, but no one was talking gender theory in the 60s and 70s, at least no one we knew. Some of us were just living it and living with it. Just like I live it now and my mom understands that without having to tease apart all the little details.

My mom reads my blog. (Hey mom! If you’re reading this.) So she knows about this girl in western Mass. Like any good parent and she asked me what it is I like about this girl so much. I ran down a list of things that seemed to satisfy her curiosity, but for the record it’s not easy to explain a girl who moves you like one of your favorite songs or a poem you wanna read over and over. And I didn’t feel like I’d done it justice, so a little while later when we saw some very middle of the road Indiana lesbians in the parking lot at Glendale I was inspired to tell my mom that another thing I like about this girl is she’s a femme and she likes butches. My mom said, “Butch?” And I told her, yeah, dykes like me, we’re butch. To which my mom replied “Well, I just think you look like a Marine.” I laughed and said something like I don’t know if I’m tough like that, tough like a Marine. And to her credit, she was pretty perfect in response, as though it was it her DNA to say the right thing; she said, “You seem pretty tough to me.”