yard work

March 29, 2013

My hands were so dirty last night. I started pulling weeds right after work for an hour before I properly acknowledged that’s what I was doing and changed from my work clothes to my gardening duds and grabbed the weeding tool from the front porch. I am not a methodical weeder. I start out with that intention, but this time of year, weeds are everywhere and I’ll get going in one area and fill up my bucket with debris and then get sidetracked by some other place in the yard that I pass as I’m carrying my bucket of weeds to the compost bin. It’s hard to see progress when I work like this, but I don’t want to give myself a hard time about it either. That’s not why I’m out there.

I used to hate yard work. Hate. Hate. Hate it. And in the past, mostly I refused to do it. I’d mow the yard, begrudgingly. Or dig some stuff up and move it around when asked, but that was about it. It was only a couple of years ago that I discovered yard work’s secret magic, which is, that it’s a means to many ends, like feeling a sense of accomplishment, or doing something productive, or moving around some part of my body, which is what helps me manage the hard times that pop up when my head and heart are out of synch with I where I want them to be. It sounds therapeutic, and I hate to call it that, because that word does not even begin to capture the magic of feeling sweaty and sunburnt and tired and having dirt down under my nails and streaked across my skin or of drifting in and out the house for water and stopping to pet the cat or talk to a neighbor or turn up some music or sit on the edge of the deck and marvel at what I’ve gotten done. All this is part of yard work, too.

I probably could have kept going last night and weeded right up through dusk but Remy came home and I wanted to talk to her and I had to eat dinner before writing group and I needed to give myself some time to ride my bike to meet the group. It was a nice ride. Right on the cusp of being my first warm night ride of the season. Not quite warm enough though to qualify though. I did get all three of my veggie boxes done and there is still some dirt under my nails today.

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two shirts and a plane trip

March 28, 2013

Last week, my dear friend from college, ADM, came out to visit me for a few days. We ate good food and had drinks and talked a lot and she met MTB and I made dinner for all of us (30 minute coq au vin, which took more like 60 minutes); plus AG came over too and brought berries and whipped cream. We covered a lot of ground during our big dinner conversation – the Steubenville case, queerness, regionalism, ACT UP, HIV, teaching, college, old friends and how I didn’t know that Judith Butler was a dyke (oops).

At my request, ADM brought with her some t-shirts from her ACT UP SF days that she was ready to pass on, and she passed them on to MTB, who was ecstatic to receive them. It kind of blew ADM away that anyone would want these t-shirts. In fact, when ADM and I first talked about the shirts back in January she kept saying how they were stained and dirty and maybe they had holes in them and who would want these things. And then when ADM gave the shirts to MTB and explained that the pink stains were probably from fake blood, I thought MTB’s head might explode. Here were shirts that were 20 years old and they were shirts worn by an activist doing activism.

A lot of things happened in that t-shirt exchange, like connecting someone I love not just to queer history that’s important to her, but to my own personal history too, and connecting someone else I love to something big in my life that’s happening right now, and also connecting two people I love to each other. All that via t-shirt and a plane trip.


awp and jeanette winterson

March 14, 2013

Jeanette Winterston (JW) looks like a cross between a hobbit and a bass player in an early 70’s British rock band. It is both odd and hot. I saw her take the stairs to the big stage at AWP and she was wearing black Levis 510’s. If only she would have worn  a white shirt with puffy sleeves or one with a little tuxedo frill down the front, she would have nailed the look completely.

JW is an eloquent and wicked smart speaker. She says brilliant things, like how when men write about themselves it’s called meta-fiction, but when women do the same thing it’s called autobiography. And she says things that make the crowd laugh, like how as a kid when she found a sex manual, she looked at the drawings of positions and “pondered the horrors of heterosexuality.” And she says everything in a perfect British accent, using words only Brits say, like cheeky, and rubbish, and “it’s a good jobs I’m small.” And you might have guessed all this if you’ve already read any of her books. What you would not know without seeing her, though, is how charismatic and confident  JW is. She stood alone on a stage in an auditorium of more than 500 people and held everyone’s attention with her humor and wit and sincerity. See for yourself at this is a similar talk at Sydney Writer’s Festival.

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before I was my girlfriend’s girlfriend – part 1

March 2, 2013

I couldn’t come up with a term for myself in a relationship. Was I someone’s sweetie or boo or partner? Except for a casual thing, where the term “date” was totally apt, I was perplexed by figuring out how to be butch or how to represent that I am butch in relation to my romantic/dating/love relationships. And this was the case for the larger part of the last 10-14 years. (Also, let me quickly backtrack and say that the idea of “how to be butch in a relationship” is a totally different than the idea of the “representation of butch.” Not that there’s not overlap. But I am not going down that rabbit hole right now.) Like a number of things that have happened this fall, calling myself my girlfriend’s girlfriend was not a conscious decision. I mean, it was conscious in terms of our relationship, but not in terms of the linguistics. We just started using the term and it felt right, which kind of surprised me and also made me think about a couple things. Namely, what had been going on for me during that chunk of time when I couldn’t figure out what to call my “amour” self and when exactly did that chunk of time end, anyway?

There’s lots here to explore in future posts and I’m going to start the process by writing about that chunk of time when my romantic self went nameless. I think what was happening was I was exploring my manhood, in short, and that process was exclusive of identifying as a woman or soley/primarily as a woman. I mean, I acknowledged to myself that I had a female body, and did not argue that point with anyone, but I started started feeling kind of dissonant about it, my body I mean. Plus, for a number of years, I think I was really was trying to get my man on. For instance, for a a stretch of years, I had mostly straight cisgendered guy friends, which wasn’t a conscious choice; I really liked and/or loved these guys. Also, I loved duding up with them, which wasn’t something I did consciously, but something that just happened. And by dude up I mean we did things like check out women together, in ways that in retrospect, were probably kinda gross. Sometimes I wonder if there is any correlation between the body dissonance and getting my man on, which I hesitate to say out loud because I doubt there’s a direct line between them and I don’t want folks to draw easy and false conclusions, but this shit is complex, so it’s worth putting out there. The manhood thing was intoxicating. Not just because of how great getting having masculinity seen and validated by my male friends, but also because there had been so many times in my life, especially when I was young, that I was sure that God or biology or the stars had made a mistake by giving me the XX chromosome. And coming out in the 80’s had been so anti-butch and anti male

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March 1, 2013

Yep. That’s right. If you were my girlfriend you could call me your girlfriend. Which is a new thing for me. Or a new old thing for me — something I will try to explain in one of my next posts.  But it’s fucking cool on a bunch of different levels and the one I want to talk about right now is my  recent realization that gender does not have to be mutually exclusive. And that feels very different than saying the gender binary is not working for me. Because when I’ve said the binary is not working, I’ve meant that I’m not a man or a woman, but something else, something that doesn’t exist for a huge chunk of the population, and I’ve called that something butch. And for so long I was thinking of butch as a rejection of the binary and of the “notness” of what I am. But now I am thinking it’s not a rejection. That butch is an expression of the whole complex and often messed up thing we call gender. That being butch is pushing at the edges of all of it, of what it means to be female and trying to kick in the barriers around what it means to be male.