it’s gonna seem like i’m talking a lot about riding my bike but there’s a bigger point

August 31, 2012

Day 11. Surprise! I’m still blogging. What the heck and also thank you Colleen for the encouragement. I will try not to make you sorry you encouraged me to keep posting.

The roads were almost empty riding my bike to work this morning. A sure sign of a holiday or an upcoming one, as is the case with Labor day.  I used to work for a company that didn’t recognize Labor day as a holiday, which seemed absolutely absurd. Luckily, my current employer has more holiday sense. I like riding on empty roads, although on a work day I get a little bit of a post apocalyptic-where is everybody-feeling. I have an amazing ability to imagine disaster.

Morning bike rides are starting to turn cooler. Evenings too. One night last week, it was cold enough that on my ride home I actually wore my wool gloves. I was glad I had the gloves with me, but I felt a little indignant just putting them on, like “no way, wool in August.” I started pedaling along and I couldn’t get warmed up (it didn’t help that I had on shorts) and I immediately started thinking about riding when its dark and rainy and cold and how I want to ride more this fall and winter, but it sucks riding when its dark and rainy and cold. It was only a 20 minute ride home but my mind totally reeled off into this story of miserable riding, even though I wasn’t  miserable right then. It was just chillier out than I wanted it to be, and probably a little later too, but nothing at all, not even close to what it’s like to ride  in the winter. My mind turned a completely ok bike ride into an unpleasant trip and started souring me on winter riding, even though summer riding isn’t over.

The reason why I’m going on about this, is it’s such a good illustration of the bullshit unhelpful thinking that can cause unnecessary suffering, as the Buddhists would say. And it is amazing to me how quick that kind of unhelpful thinking can arise in me and how once its started, it is a struggle to get some space from it. The thinking becomes reality, even overshadowing the real reality that’s happening. I’ve been noticing more and more when it happens.


day 10 and it looks like i made it; also i used to have a mullet and be a big dyke.

August 30, 2012

Woohoo! I challenged myself and met my goal. Yay, self! I really appreciate all the comments and “likes” from everyone who’s been kind enough to read my posts.  Encouragement sure does feel good.

I see that I’ve been recently tagged in some old photos from a camp reunion, circa the late 80’s. I’ve got no memory of the pictures being taken and only hazy memories of the reunion itself, except that I wasn’t officially out as queer to many of the people I’d gone to camp with, although I’m sure lots of people didn’t have to be told. I’m solidly midwestern dyke in these photos, replete with an un-ironic mullet and earrings. I’m also wearing a pair of 80’s big glasses that are eerily similar to some of the big glasses I see younger folks wearing these days. (I should have kept those glasses along with my old labyrs necklace. I could have ebayed them off for a little bank.)

It’s hard for me to leave myself tagged in these photos. I don’t look so great in most of them and I can’t believe I wore a mullet for sooo long. But also, what is harder for me to have public, is evidence of all the years I abandoned my butch self for an easier to digest dyke version of me. It’s hard for me to acknowledge I didn’t always identify or present as butch, even though I know why I did this, which was because being butch was not really an option in the 80s. And even though I was in the baby butch camp from 6th grade through my first 2 years of being out, I also wanted to fit in the lesbian and gay community in Bloomington. So I grew out my hair and got my ears pierced and wore rings and hung up my flannel shirts and put my Red Wing boots in the closet. I re-imagined myself as best I could as an androgynous dyke, while being a closet LHB (or long haired butch for those who aren’t familiar with the term). It’s not that I’ve got anything against dykes or dyke life. I love dykes. I’m forever grateful there was a dyke life to come out to. Even if the shoe didn’t exactly fit, it was a bajillion times closer to who I was than anything else I could figure out. But I do have some sadness and regret that I couldn’t figure out  earlier how to be the butch I am. I would have loved to been the kinda dyke who rebelled some against the great lesbian-womyn loving womyn-androgynous force of the 80s, and claimed for myself “butch” and “gender queer” (which didn’t even exist back then). But that Iwasn’t that kind of a dyke. I was a fitting in one and and I’d like to figure out how to be ok with that part of my story. So I leave myself tagged in the FB photos. Try not to cringe Let my dyke self be public.




i wasn’t sure if i wanted to write about this but i did and then i hit the publish button

August 29, 2012

Ever since I turned 50 (gasp), I  have been thinking about aging. In large part, because I can no longer ignore it. The physical signs have made themselves apparent. Some of it I embrace, like the silver hair and the reading glasses. Some of it I tolerate, like the wrinkles and lines and looser skin. Some of it I don’t talk about publicly, like menopause. I alternate between being pissed and feeling defeated by how it’s 1000 times harder to get in shape and 100o times easier for it to all go to pot. I try not to freak out that I’ve gone from having an incredible memory for all sorts of facts and figures to forgetting names of things, like bands and books and sometimes people. It’s all very strange and it don’t think it helps that I never set many goals that corresponded to age related milestones, like by 40 I want to have done a, b and c and by 50 I want to have done x, y and z. I’m not sure what that would have helped with exactly, but it seems like it would have helped with something. Like a list of achievements could balance out a bunch of new wrinkles.

Talking about this is like coming out again. I feel a little like I did when I was a baby dyke, but now I am a baby old person. I cringe when I hear people I know try and guess at the age of someone and say something like “hes old, like 50 or something.” Or when people tell me I look great for my age. Just say I look great or maybe that I don’t look a day over 40. Seriously. Save the age related compliments for those 90 and up (although it might piss them off too). For me, I’ve gotten better looking as I’ve gotten older, which I’m not saying from vanity, but more from a thank god perspective. I had to age into me. Also, I think I might start telling people they look great for a being a 32 year old or a 26 year old. See what happens.  Whew, I’m off on a tangent.

The thing I wanted to talk about more than the above rant was how intellectually, you understand you will age, but emotionally you really don’t believe it until it starts happening to you. Probably something similar to getting pregnant or things changing after you get married. There’s probably hundred of examples of stuff like that. That you need experiential knowledge of to really get.

Well I need to eat so I can go see a movie, I think. I just got going on this post and it’s kind of interesting and kind of embarrassing and vulnerable too, but I think it’s ok.


day 8 i think and the banality of my bedside table

August 28, 2012

What does a bedside table say about someone? I think it must say something. If not in its whole at least via what’s on top. Mine has a digital alarm clock on top and a trivet my mom made and a lamp with a base that is a little bit too big for a table on the smallish side. There’s also an empty prescription bottle for some antibiotics I finished taking almost a month ago, a pencil holder that often is empty but currently has 4 pens, my reading glasses, a spray bottle which I use when the cats run in here at 5am and start fighting, my phone, and a box of matches that seem entirely out of place because I don’t have candles or incense, and I don’t smoke. There’s a pad of  large sticky notes that I use to write myself reminders, like “call Rachel,” as well as to jot down sentences or fragments of sentences I might use in a piece I’m working on, like “this is for your own good.”  There’s also a stack of books, made up of the following titles from the top down: About Alice by Calvin Trillin, Stories for Boys by Gregory Martin, Ting Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, a small spiral notebook with lyrics to some songs I wrote in 2001 and 2002, but that I currently used to work out multiple sentences or lines I thinking through for a piece, Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner, Transgender Warriors by Leslie Fienberg and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. This stack is clearly more aspirational than practical or realistic. I’ve not not read any of these books, except a few pages from About Alice and couple Dear Sugar letters and responses. Beside the book stack and on top of the trivet there’s the book that I’m actually reading. The Invention of Solitude by Paul Auster.


corn fritters and resistance and thinking about love

August 26, 2012

Is is a good idea to eat corn fritters twice in less than a week? And with sour cream and salsa and spicy honey syrup? I’ve got the genes to handle the cholesterol, but do I have the other jeans the calories? I think I’m trying too hard to be clever with that line. Still, when I get the the first ears of corn from my farm share, I can’t resist turning them into fritters.

Hmmm . . . day 7 of my 10 day challenge and I don’t know what to write which is an interesting dilemma and different than not wanting to write at all. Proof, if one needs it of how things change. And I suppose I always need that kind of proof to ride me through the “I don’t want to/this sucks/fuck this” phase I go through with just about everything I do, maybe even more so with things I deeply care about doing.  Life is  full of irony.

I have been thinking about love lately. Trying to understand what it really is to love someone. It’s kind of funny for me to be having this conversation with myself, as I am kind of love junkie, a serial monogamish monogamist. But things have not worked out with a lot of people or what seems to me like like a lot of  people. And I loved every one of them. So what does that mean? What does that say about love? I’m not even sure if I am explaining this accurate to the way I’m thinking about it. But I think there is some part of love I don’t get or do right that’s about unconditional acceptance and generosity and showing up in a heartfelt and in the spirit of partnership way that I do not get. Some part of  love that is about being that person’s “fan” that I won’t do. Or haven’t done, thus far. I probably need to think on this some more. But that’s what I’ve been thinking about love lately. Maybe I should go back and re-read Bell Hooks.


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gratitude roll call

August 25, 2012

Today is one of those “fuck yeah, Portland” days. It’s absolutely beautiful outside. Not a cloud in the sky. Temperature in mid-80’s and it’s not a work day. Right now I’m in love with everything I love about Portland.

Shout outs of gratitude for some highlights of my week. First, to Heather and Martin and the incredibly cute Olive and Gus. Good lord cute babies are really cute, especially starey, smiley, fake fist bumping ones who makes little noises and move their legs around like they are pumping bicycles. And Heather and Martin are rocking the parent thing. An amazing family times visit that I hope to repeat soon.

Second shout out to Remy who not only cleaned the fridge with me, but also made savory corn fritters with ancho chili spiced honey syrup and then used a bunch of our fresh veggies to  make a ratatouille that smelled delicious. Hello Sunday night dinner! All of this while having lots of great and interesting conversations, which makes home a little sweeter and ups the joy factor in the house for sure.

Third shout out to Tony and Ronald for the fresh veggies and the catching up times. It kind of felt like an old fashioned visit, in the the best way, with good conversation and drinks and some ice cream. Except in an old fashioned visit the visitor usually brings something, which I did not do, as opposed to taking something away, which is what I did do, leaving at the end of the night with my pannier full of fresh veggies and pears. Their garden, or mini farm as I like to call it, is heroic. Seriously. I am in deep admiration and envy of their hard work and cultivation skills. And I am going to mark it on my calendar to plant some fava bean seeds in my own back yard in October and see what happens in June.

Fourth and final shout out to Nancy for an awesome Saturday morning breakfast visit and breakfast. Nancy spontaneously made a fresh peach tart from scratch just to show me how easy it was to do this. I think that right there says a lot about Nancy and is also one of the many reason why being friends with Nancy rocks. My secret plan is to get Nancy over to my house where me, her and Remy will cook up an awesome feast for some lucky guests, who will practically have to roll themselves out to their cars or bikes when its time to go home.

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day five, wherein i took a walk and thought about writing

August 25, 2012

Today, I did not write first thing after work. Nope, I took a walk  first, and then I cleaned out the fridge with Remy.

On the walk I tried to think of things I wanted to blog about – like how I wish I was more open hearted and what I’m growing in my garden and whether or not I had anything I wanted to say right now about being butch. Those lines of thinking lasted for maybe 5 blocks. The other 35 I spent thinking about things I’m not writing about on my blog, like these poems I’m working on: one is about self delusion, one is about mobile devices, headphones and the end of the word and one is about the stages of funny falling in love. I also thought about a character in a short story that I’m writing. Or more like not writing because I  got so stuck in an endless cycle of rewriting page one over and over that I stopped working on the story and started writing poems like the ones I just mentioned. I’m curious if thinking about the character will loosen up the cycle’s grip enough to try working on the story again. I’d already given the character a name, Connie. And last night I decided Connie knits and cans and probably makes her own soap or at least has tried.  Today I decided she sometimes shoots bb guns at tins cans in her back yard and that she also has a fire pit back there and twice a year she makes a big fire just to burn down for coals so she can bake a cobbler in a buried dutch oven.  She thrift stores, but she’s not really into vintage clothes as look in and of itself. She’s into fashion, actually, but she doesn’t talk about it. Also, she’s a vegetarian but when she’s drunk she’ll eat bacon. Now that I’ve written all that down I can’t decide if I just made Connie too Portland and maybe too easy to make fun of, at least in my own mind. I don’t want a caricature or a stereotype. Well, we’ll see how ti works out on paper.

I looked outside an it’s 9pm and it’s dark. Street light dark. I think that means that summer, or at least high summer, is really done and over.



an experiment and some links

August 24, 2012

I’m experimenting. Instead of staying up and posting at 10:30 at night, which means I’m actually up writing until 11:30, I’m trying posting first thing after getting home from work. Well, it’s not really first thing because I had to feed the cats, who will not be put off, and there were some dirty dishes to take care of and the trash can to bring up from the curb. But I haven’t even open up Facecrack yet, which is my new name for both Facebook and the nature of my relationship with it. Anyway, I’m hoping that writing right away might be a way of having a meta conversation with myself about making writing as important to me as I claim it is. Instead of just professing how much I want to write

I do believe that the end of summer has begun. Dusk is happening closer to 8pm than 9 and dawn closer to 6:30am instead of 5:30. Already, I am nostalgic for last week’s heat wave. I know the sunny days might stretch into fall; we ight get an Indian summer. But the days will still get shorter and probably won’t be 100 again. I go through this every year – my end of summer lamentation. If you regularly read my blog, you’ve been putting up with it for years. Let me just preemptively say, I will miss you summer. I wish you would be regular date.

Where did the term “Indian Summer” come from anyway? I just looked it up and it’s a longer story than I want to post here. I thought I might get some clever quips from that, but no you’ll have to read it yourself. In the spirit of linking, though, I will pass on some links to some other things I’ve enjoyed reading and listening to lately.


when all else fails write about your childhood

August 23, 2012

When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I asked my gym teacher, Miss Benz, about the  junior olympics, vaguely hinting around that I wanted to be in them.  It’s kind of embarrassing to think about it now, or more I feel kind of embarrassed for my junior high self. Because even though I was on the athletic side, I wasn’t particularly gifted at anything; plus I was getting kind of pudgy and out of shape from the combination of puberty and spending too much time in front of the TV, eating pieces of bread I rolled up into dough balls and drinking glass after glass of sweet tea. But I had this fantasy self that was going to run hurdles, thanks in large part to my baby butch crush on Babe Didrikson. I’d checked out a biography of her from the school library and I was blown away. Babe was a bad ass. And I didn’t even know that there were women athletes that could be bad ass like that. It was 1974. There was Chris Evert and Billie Jean. Olga Korbut. Maybe Ann Myers was in my radar too. All great athletes, for sure. But not like the Babe and after reading her bio I really wanted to be bad ass too.

Silly as it sounds, I wasn’t exactly sure how one went about becoming a bad ass athlete, as in that it would a shit load of practice. I thought either you were born talented or not. I’m being a little simplistic and exaggerating too, but on some fundamental level I didn’t understand how much training and practice it takes for even talented people to be good. I think its because I didn’t play a lot of sports growing up. A big chunk of my child hold occurred during the pre Title IX years. There weren’t many organized leagues for girls sports. Definitely not like now, and not like there was even in the 80s and 90s. The only league I even vaguely knew about about was run by “Tab,” a Presbyterian church where my Mom got married, but we all went to an Episcopal church  so I wasn’t sure how that would work out. Plus it may have just been a softball league and I had my heart set on basketball and then track and field. Also, it didn’t help that for a number of years I went to a private school run by a bunch of teachers from the UK and we didn’t have a gym class. The Brit teachers gave us a soccer ball at recess, and we kicked it around and scored goals, but no one really explained the rules to us.

I don’t remember what my gym teacher said to me about the junior olympics. I think she kind of brushed me off. Maybe she was embarrassed for me too. It’s funny because she could have challenged me to shoot 100 baskets a day or start out by running short distances and I probably would have done it.



day two – same as it ever was (and now the sound of talking heads is looping through your brain)

August 22, 2012

Day two of my 10 day blog challenge and I already wish I wouldn’t have challenged myself.  Its kind of an old story and very much like day two of not eating chocolate or day two of doing sits ups every night or day two of going to bed early or day of writing every day. There have been many days twos that have been immediately followed by starting over at day one again. Except for smoking and thank you RU for helping me with that. If I add it up, I bet I’ve put together at least 3000 non-smoking days, and they would have been consecutive except for a few isolated incidents, like going to this bar in Indy with friends the week I went home when my Dad died.

I think the the difference between me and many ambitious people is not only that they get more things done, obviously, but that they have more day threes, fours and five hundreds than I do. Also maybe ambitious people pay other people to do some of the shit they don’t want want to do, like dusting or mopping the floor, so they can do the shit they feel ambitious about, like writing a book. I feel like I have this worth ethic-long suffering thing about house cleaning, like we should all have to do it and no one should be above washing dishes or running the vacuum. But man, housework really can eat up one’s time. I guess the trick is to live in smaller place with less stuff to take care of and then there will be less time you have to spend on upkeep. Or there’s always the Phyllis Diller philosophy – “Housework can’tkill you. But why tae the chance.”

So I’ve successfully tricked myself into completing day two of my self imposed 10 day challenge. Maybe next time I’ll trick myself by writing about how not writing is one of the hall marks of being a writer