blog challenge topic 2: hair

April 18, 2013

Dad’s Hair

My dad’s hair smelled. Not bad. Also, not good. Just distinct. He always wore a hat. Mostly a rolled up stocking cap. So maybe it was the smell of the hat and his sweat trapped in the hat and then dried on his head plus cigarette smoke and sawdust from work and the smell of outside mixed with smell of his truck, in which he stored everything – his tools, books, clothes, etc. Sometimes I’ll smell the inside of one of the stocking caps that I used to wear all the time and I swear it smells a little bit like him.

When I was young, maybe 6 or 7 or 8, Dad used to let me and my sister Katherine comb his hair. He’d sit on the side of one of our beds and take off his stocking cap and and Kath and I would stand or kneel behind hind and run a comb through his hair, over and over and over. Or maybe it was a brush? Dad never said much to us while he sat there. He was mostly quiet. Kept his hands folded together in his lap. Maybe his head was bowed down a little, unless one of us tilted it up or to the side. Which is a distinct possibility. I’m pretty sure Kath and I fussed over him and probably argued about taking turns and whoever wasn’t doing the grooming likely tried to lean up a little bit against his shoulder or his back.

Hair Cut

For a chunk of time when I was little, like at least in kindergarten through 2nd grade, I had short hair. My mom called it a pixie hair cut, which was maybe a way to cutefy the cut which was pretty boyish on me. Or at least I passed a lot as a boy then. Mom always took me to her hair stylist to get my hair cut. The salon was in the basement of a semi fancy, old hotel near downtown and first mom would get her hair permed and I would run around the hotel and ride the elevators and then while Mom was under the dryer I’d get my hair cut. Mom’s stylist used scissors on everything but my bangs, which she cut with a straight razor. She would pull a lock of of my bangs out with her one hand and hold them and then with her other hand hack at the ends with the razor. It always tugged on my head in a way that made me tear up. I would get so quiet and I wouldn’t look at myself in the mirror because I didn’t want to see myself crying. I don’t think she needed to use a razor to get the stupid pixie look she was going for and sometimes I think she must have enjoyed inflicting the pain on me.

MTB’s Hair

The first time I saw MTB was years ago at the E room. I noticed her because she was rocking a modified mullet and wearing mostly black, and I’m pretty she was wearing a vest too. I remember thinking about her hair and thinking “bold.” As in right the fuck on bold. It was so fucking cool, I thought; she was making the mullet her own. Plus she looked hot. I saw her a few times at the E room. I thought the same thing every time. Bold! Coooooool! Hot!

I met MTB in person about 4 years ago via a get together for CS. CS invited a bunch of people out to celebrate the fact she’d quit this job that was sucking the life out of her soul. I was sitting at the end of table with 6 or 7  people when MTB walked in Bar Bar and I thought, holy shit there is that hot dyke who rocked a mullet from E Room. I immediately got self conscious and I tried not to stare at MTB. Or not to be too obvious about staring. At some point CS introduced us and then at some point later, MTB and I caught each other’s eye across the table.  I’ve got to admit that I don’t remember how MTB was wearing her hair that night. I’m sure there was that curl cascading down the right side of her face, but I couldn’t say how long or how short it was, or if it was dyed. Besides catching her eye, what I remember were her boots. Danner’s. The kind a logger would wear. I nearly melted.

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blog challenge. 4 topics in 8 days. first up: beer.

April 17, 2013

MTB and I are undertaking a mutual blog challenge. The challenge runs from today through next Wednesday the 25th and our goal is to publish a post on each the following topics: hair, dogs, summer and beer.

We are kicking it off with beer. Which is funny because I don’t drink beer. I don’t even like beer. I never acquired a taste for it. Cheers. Except not with a beer.

I’ve drunk beer exactly one time in my life. I was 14. I was at party celebrating our Episcopal diocese getting a new bishop. Episcopalians are decadent when it comes to alcohol. Or at least they were in the 70s. Me and my friends were some of the youngest kids at this party, which was put on by one of my best friend’s older brother and sister, who were kind of cool, or at least cool enough to know lots of cool people. Also, their mom let kids drink alcohol at their house, upping the cool factor exponentially. The scene had a little bit of The Dazed and Confused feel to it, with a whole bunch of high school and college kids coming in and out of the house. Classic rock blasting on the stereo. And a handful of us, who had just gotten out of junior high.

I started out with a couple of Strohs tall boys, which tasted bitter, and then had some Little Kings creamed ale, which tasted creamy and bitter. But Little Kings were what all the cool, older kids at the party were drinking, so I just sucked them down. I followed up the Strohs and Little Kings with some wine and then port and then some liquor. Just re-reading that sentence, makes me want to vomit. The night did not end well for me. But I won’t go into too many of the details. Suffice it to say that when I got home, I vomitated. (I asked my housemate, Remy, who I just accidentally called Roomy, what another word for vomitate is, absolutely unaware that I was thinking out loud and in doing so, that a non-word combination of regurgitate and vomit was actually coming out of my mouth. Pun intended. Anyway, she said I had to include the word, vomitate, in my post) I vomitated a lot that night. Outside the party in a neighbor’s front yard. And then in the bathroom attached to my mom’s bedroom.

After that, for years, and by years I mean up through college and a little longer, I mostly stuck to disgustingly sweet liquored drinks, like cherry vodka and peach schnapps, etc, which did not make me a very good dyke. Because I was never up for splitting a pitcher or springing for a six pack or going in on a keg or driving over to Ohio on a Sunday because Indiana is dry on Sundays. There was no shot gunning for me. Or playing quarters. Or funnneling. I don’t regret that. But maybe its why I didn’t stick with rugby, which I do regret a little.

My housemate, Remy, suggested that I tell that story, in part, because I don’t have any other beer stories of my own. Remy also said I could basically lie and say I drink beer, but I think she was just humoring me because she is tired and I want attention. Remy said a bunch of  other things about beer, like how delicious it is to have one after a long hike and how once when she was drinking Belgian beers with her friend, Lisa, the bartender touched Remy’s finger nails because her nail polish was glittery and that chicken cooked on a beer can reminds Remy of going to Communist Bulgaria and hearing the song, Ring of Fire, and sitting in a bedroom full of stuffed animals, and also of constipation. Except, Remy wants to stress she wasn’t not the one who was constipated; it was her friend, and for some reason a very handsome soccer player took Remy and her friend to the hospital where her friend  was given anal suppositories.

Is it maybe lazy or a cheap shot or too obvious or trying too hard to be funny to end a post on beer when you don’t drink beer with the phrase “anal suppositories.”

I am so very confident that MTB is going to have a much better story about beer! Very confident, in fact.

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April 13, 2013

True confession. It is 10:30 on Friday night and I just ate a bowl of tomato soup with saltines and I am currently listening to a Justin Bieber song on purpose. I had plans for tonight. With myself. And at 6:30 they sounded perfect. Run some errands. Eat some food. Go to this thing at Slabtown. I was gonna ride my bike. But then it started raining and it was colder out than I wanted it to be so I checked out some new music thinking I would just wait out the rain. And it probably did stop raining at some point. I just didn’t notice because I got caught up big time into culling through a list of top 100 songs of 2012. I cannot resist the new song hole. I also made myself a list of things I want to get done on Saturday and Sunday. Lists rule. I make lots of them. Practical ones, like grocery lists, errands to run and people I need to get hold of  for one reason or another. Aspirational ones, like things I want to do this summer, books I want to read and projects I want to work on. Creative ones, like this long list I have of titles I can use for poems or stories or essays. I have a bunch of iTunes playlists. I have an audio list on a digital recorder of song ideas. I have a list called l.z., which is a list of things I can do to bring joy into my life and help me not get twisted up in my neurosis. If I was a different kind of person I would make a zine of my lists except I tend to not hang onto my lists. I do have an one old list from when my dad died. It is crammed full of writing in all directions and in different color inks, divided up by lines and boxes – call social security, call VA, get estimate for cremation, find bank account info, ask coroner they keep dad’s body at the morgue before we have to move him, etc.

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rain and weights and love

April 6, 2013

First real spring rain bike ride. Meaning the rain is not so cold and it’s light out and things are blooming and budding and generally coming up from the ground. I made it home from work and my pants got only moderately wet. Now, I am slowly working through my weight routine. Curls. Extensions. Presses. Writing sentences between sets. I’ve been doing variations of this shit, on and off, since I was 19 and my pre-gym queen era, gym queen roommate taught me how to lift free wights. We’ll see if I get to any of the unsexy things on my to do list tonight, like putting away my laundry or changing the litter boxes. Mostly, I can’t stop thinking of Val and her people and the immense amount of love and devotion I’ve witnessed this last week .

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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.


the amazing thing that’s happening

February 23, 2013

Here’s the deal: I’m fucking in love. It’s amazing and insane and every day I could post something here about it. But I feel protective and maybe a tiny bit shy about it in terms of blogging and also self-conscious that maybe it’s obnoxious to go on and on about it here, even though I’m guessing its been obvious, anyway. But it’s also why, lately, I’ve not been posting very much. And then this morning, I thought fuck it, this amazing thing is happening in my life, I’m just going to be upfront and write about it more directly, and with that sentiment in mind I’m going to tell a story about a date that happened this past fall.

We were feeling high on each other that night and we’d gotten kind of dressed up to go out to dinner. Ties and nice belts and MTB had on this awesome leather vest. I’d gone to her house to pick her up and we’d bolted from there pretty quickly because the trick or treaters on the street we’re making her dogs a little nuts. In fact, we sort of ran out to my car and then turned the music up loud. Driving to the restaurant, we kept looking at each other and grinning almost every time we stopped at an intersection. We sat side by side at the Indian place and we laughed about how we couldn’t get our chairs closer together because how bulky the arms on the chairs were. We held hands, anyway, though, and we leaned over the chair arms and kissed each other’s cheeks as we talked about how our weeks were going. I remember looking at MTB at throughout dinner and thinking that I couldn’t quite believe this was happening; “this” being that I was going on dates with her and that dates with her could feel so amazing. I’d said as much to her at some point before this date and she’d said something similar back to me.

After dinner we headed out for a drink. Location was our main consideration in picking a place and because we were in southeast, on upper Division, I suggested the Sapphire Hotel, which I was thinking of as a queer friendly place, although I don’t know why I was thinking that. Maybe because I went there once with VR and the waitress had flirted with us. MTB and I were talking and laughing and leaning into one another as we walked into the Sapphire. Holding hands tight. Right away we both noticed that we were getting stared at, as if our walking in that door was like sliding a needle across the record. It was weird and we tried to laugh it off and find a place to sit, but the only two seats, side by side, were at the bar and one of the stools had some kind of schmutz on it. We stood at the bar and tried not to figure out if the bartender was purposefully ignoring. I might have even tried to clean up some of the junk with napkins before we finally got the  bartender to give us a rag. Even with a rag it was impossible to fully clean up the schmutz, which most likely was some kind of mustard. Little globules kept showing up everywhere — on the floor, on the stool rung, under the seat — and the bartender stayed too busy to pay any attention to our efforts. I started to feel like I was in a really bad TV show, which seemed so absurd because MTB and I were so impossibly high on each other. We finally got some water from the bartender and gave back the nasty rag. This is stupid, I was thinking, and I just looked at MTB and said “lets get the fuck out of here.” She smiled so big at me and squeezed my hand and told me good call.

We made a b line to Crush and fell into a small, early in the night, Halloween crowd — a couple of handfuls of people in costumes, the only one I remember being an insanely hot gay guy dressed up as sailor. It was such a fucking relief to be in a “gay” bar. We lamented the demise of the E Room. MTB and I sat close to each other on the couch in the back room and watched people dance and talked and laughed and drank our drinks and made out. Someone got up on the little stage and did some air guitar and we clapped when they were done. A guy who was dancing with a larger group of people came over and asked to take our picture. MTB was immediately suspicious. Why did he want a photo of us? What was he going do with the it? On our very first date at TBA, there were roaming photographers and MTB had purposefully scooted out of the way when this woman was tried to take a picture of us eating ice cream. This gay guy answered that we were hot and really cute together. We laughed. MTB blushed a little bit. I told her I didn’t think it was big deal and also that she is fucking hot and it’s not like he knew who we were, anyway. Not like he could post a photo and say this is MTB and LM at Crush. He took a couple snapshots and said thanks. It didn’t really make sense, but it made us laugh more and squeeze each other tighter and smile bigger. And normally I’m shy about saying things like this, but it was like something magical was happening.