Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Today And Every Day

I woke up this morning with thoughts of writing a post about the things I’m grateful for in my life since today is Thanksgiving.  But, to be honest, I am grateful for so many things every day of my life.  Not just today.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working a temporary/seasonal warehouse job at an educational toy company during the day and doing my best to get my writing in during the evening.  The winter months don’t leave much room for my photography since it begins to get dark around here by about 4:30 so I’ve been focusing more on writing these days.  I’m currently working on a BDSM erotica piece and hope to have it accepted into an anthology that Sinclair Sexsmith is working on. 

My days have been busy, to say the least.  Between working, writing, going to the gym and spending time with my friends and family, my days are pretty booked.  There hasn’t been a lot of down time nor has there been a lot of money.  With this seasonal job, I’m attempting to get caught up on a few bills that have fallen behind.  Normally I would be stressed out and frustrated about the money situation, but I realized the other day how very calm I am about it all.  It’s not what’s important to the big picture of life.  This way of thinking is completely opposite of the way I used to think about it.

I am broke and a “starving artist” but I am also incredibly happy.  I am so much more happier than I have ever been.  I know that it’s because I’m living authentically.  I’m allowing myself to be, well, me.  My confidence and self-esteem have directly benefited from this, as well.  For this, I couldn’t be more thankful.

Over the past few months, I’ve learned what my priorities are in my life and I now base all of my decisions around them.  The few material things I won’t do without are my camera, laptop, guitar, motorcycle, car, journal, cell phone and gym membership. 

My friends and family are also so very important.  All of you are incredibly special to me.  No matter what’s happened in our lives or during our time together, you all have a very special place in my heart and I am eternally grateful for the time I get to, or have, shared with you.  Your support of me and my crazy endeavors means everything to me and blesses me in so many ways.  You are all so amazing and such a blessing to this world. 

Today and everyday I am grateful for all of you and every aspect of my life. 

I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Am

I am the child confused by the world.
The one who learned to disappear.

I am the daughter who never quite knew her place within the family.
The perfect child who just wanted to make everyone happy.

I am the Mother who grew up with her son.
The one who always found a way.

I am the writer struggling to find her voice.
The one who kept it hidden inside journal after journal.

I am the photographer who feels like a tourist.
The one searching to find her confidence in the composition.

I am the butch on the street.
The one that makes you wonder, “Is that a man or a woman?”

I am the dyke on the bike.
The one moving fluidly between genders.

I am everyone’s brother and no one’s lover.
A solitary being with a simple desire to love and be loved.

I am unlocking the doors.
Dismantling the walls.

I am learning to love myself.
Living out loud.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sinclair Sexsmith's Symposium on Butch Identity

Photo by Del Rapier

So, I’m a wee bit late with posting this but wanted to get it up anyway.  (Please refrain from the ‘get it up' jokes. Wait. On second thought, go right ahead. Heh.)

Towards the end of last month the incredibly talented writer, Sinclair Sexsmith, posted on her blog that she was beginning another project that was yet to be named but needed other writers help with it.  She started a symposium with a writing prompt and the following is my contribution.

What is butch? How do you define butch? What do you love about it? What does it mean to you?

Last month I attended the Butch Voices Conference here in Portland and learned that the term ‘butch’ can be defined in so many ways.  For me, it’s simply a more masculine centered in identity. 

No matter how much I am against putting myself in a box by claiming the title of ‘butch’, I have learned to be much more ok with it after attending the conference and talking to others about the term and what it means to them.  You see, the thing about words and titles is that you can mold and define them for yourself. 

I am just me.  A boots, jeans and t-shirt wearing, motorcycle riding, butch lesbian with a buzz cut.  I like to think of myself as mostly a guy but I’m not.  I’m a woman.  I like things that are stereotypically things that guys like and I present as masculine but that’s only a small part of who I am.  I am a complicated being filled with thoughts and feelings and likes and dislikes with a little bit of mystery locked in there. 

I love the idea that, as a butch woman who often is mistaken for a man, I can travel between genders almost fluidly.  I can bind and pack and still feel like a woman.  An incredibly empowered and strong woman. 

Being butch means I challenge gender stereotypes on a daily basis simply by existing in this world. I’ve grown comfortable and almost proud of the fact that I am called “Sir” on a daily basis.  On the outside I may look like a man, but under these boots, jeans and t-shirt, I am all woman.  Comfortable and confident in these clothes and in this skin.  I am me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Evolution Of A Butch

Well, to be more specific, the evolution of my butchness.  Which, I guess is really just the evolution of me, but it could be defined as such. 

I was talking to one of my ex-girlfriends the other day (we’re like family now – I know, how lesbian of us) about when we first met while at a volunteer team building meeting at the San Diego Gay & Lesbian Center.  The conversation got me thinking about the evolution of me.  Specifically, how I dress and present today.

Before I came out I was doing the single Mom thing with my son, who was still in elementary school, and a part of a very straight community of parents in a fairly middle class town in Southern California.  I was working full-time and going to school part-time so I didn’t really have a lot of time to date.  Truth be told, I didn’t have anyone asking me out either so it made things simple.  I tried to be more feminine but I think I just looked ridiculous so I spent all of my time working, studying and taking care of my son.  I did this for 7 years before coming out. 

By the time I came out I finally felt like I could be myself and dress in jeans and t-shirts without a second thought.  I was still a bit reluctant to ‘look like a guy’ at this point, though.  

But, still, my evolution as a butch began.  While dating my first girlfriend (if you could really call it dating) I had long hair and big glasses.  (Please don’t try to picture me in long hair.  It really isn’t pretty.)

By the time I started volunteering at the Center my hair was cut shorter but I still had big glasses.  When I began dating my second girlfriend she took me to get new, smaller glasses and I got my hair cut even shorter.  

This is when things really started to change for me. 

After moving to Southern Oregon, flannel became a part of my wardrobe.  Flannel, boots, jeans and t-shirts.  Again, how very lesbian of me.  The only thing I was missing was the granola.  Wait.  No.  I had granola, too.  The point is, I had never felt so comfortable in my life. 

A move to Portland and a couple of girlfriends later I’m introduced to the comfort of wearing boxer briefs and I’m hooked.  (I will keep that story to myself, thank you very much.)  After leaving her house that morning I went straight to Fred Meyers and picked up a couple of packs of them then went straight home and threw out the girly underwear.

At some point during all of this, I got my first clipper shave on my head and ever since then, it’s the only haircut I’ll get or give myself.  I’m tellin’ ya, when a cute girl walks up to you and starts rubbing your head because it’s cut so short, you know you’ve got a good cut.  It’s the quickest way to quiet me down and turn me to mush. 

So, here I sit today in my jeans, t-shirts  (two because it’s cold), boxer briefs and boots.  A fully evolved butch.  (Well, as far as dressing and presenting goes.)  The only time I head to the women’s department when I’m shopping is to pick up a sports bra.  It’s totally me and feels incredibly comfortable. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Relationship With Public Restrooms

On my recent road trip on my own I started thinking about public restrooms and my, shall we say, relationship with them.  For those of you who don’t know or realize yet, I present as a man and am often (read as ‘daily’) mistaken for a man.  I have to admit that it has it’s perks but there are certain situations where it’s not really all that great, to put it lightly.

When I walk into a women’s restroom I am often greeted by my fellow restroom users with looks of fear and shock.  Honestly, I can understand their fear of a man walking into a women’s restroom because, you know, you hear stories.  Bad stories.  But, really.  Do I look like a threat?  All 5’7” and 170 pounds of me?  All I’m there to do is my business and leave.  I don’t even want to make eye contact with you.  I’m on a mission, dammit. 

My best story about public restrooms came from a road trip I took with my family seven or eight years ago.  I had to go really bad and had no other option than to stop at a truck stop and use the facilities.  We were in a pretty conservative part of Oregon so I knew there may be trouble but I did my best to stick out my breasts and suck in my gut so they were even more ‘out there’ and noticeable and walked in like I belonged there, which of course I did.  At any rate, this woman was in there with her 9 or 10 year-old daughter and immediately looked at my short hair and baseball cap and right past my breasts.  Then she yells at me, “You’re in the wrong restroom!”  

With a sigh of ‘oh lord, here we go’ I responded politely with, “No Ma’am, I’m not.”  Even with my voice she still thought I was a man and continued with her insistence that I was in the wrong restroom.  Luckily, my partner at the time was in there with me and she looked at the woman and said, “She is in the right restroom. She is a woman. Do you not see her breasts?” With that she pointed to my chest.  The woman shot her an angry and frustrated look then grabbed her daughter by the wrist and quickly left the restroom. 

All I wanted to do was pee! 

Ever since then I’ve had this fear that something like that would happen again so I started thinking about places where I could stop on road trips that had one of those one person restrooms.  Although I’m not a fan of their coffee nor their business practices, Starbucks is great for this.  They all seem to have those one stalled restrooms and no one says anything to you for walking in, using the restroom and walking out.  You don’t even have to buy anything.  So, I started looking for those along the way when I really needed to make a pit stop. 

The funny thing is, on this last road trip my hair wasn’t as short as it normally is so I didn’t really have any issues and had to stop a couple of times at rest areas.  The issues I had were mostly in my head.  But, still. 

I have to wonder.  When will the gender stereotypes be broken.  Are there not enough short haired, t-shirt and jean wearing women out there to realize that just because you have short hair and wear jeans and t-shirts it does not mean that you are a man? 

I realize that I have a choice to dress in a more feminine manner but, I’ve got to be honest with you, you really don’t want to see that.  I look like a guy in drag, which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily.  I just isn’t me.  At all.  It’s actually kind of scary. 

I guess until everyone can finally get over this gender stereotyping, I’ll just keep freaking them out by using the women’s restroom.  But, really.  Ya’ll need to get over it.  I’m just there to pee!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Been Great But.....

Being home has been both good and bad. I’m worn out from care-taking and cleaning up. I feel for my Mom who is still in pain. She just can’t get comfortable. That useless feeling that comes from not being able to take the pain away for her is difficult to deal with.

I haven’t been able to sleep much so today has been a difficult day for me, mentally.  When I get this worn out I have a much more difficult time dealing with emotions. With the elections came a few political conversations where I felt myself shutting down. Add a few comments here and there and suddenly I feel like a teenager again.  Not completely, but enough to make an impact. 

When I first got here I felt stronger mentally and emotionally.  I still feel strong but after spending the last week without much of the quiet, reflective time I usually have I’m feeling really weak and lost.  I haven’t been writing or meditating.  Haven’t taken a lot of pictures or spent much time alone. It’s become very clear to me that I need these things in my life in order to stay balanced and focused. This lost feeling is uncomfortable for me.

I also haven’t worked out much since I’ve been here, although being a caretaker is pretty physical.  Going to the gym and making my body stronger brings me peace and confidence. It eliminates the pent up frustration and makes things much more easier to deal with.

I also miss my guitar. I haven’t picked it up in a couple of weeks and I’m jonesing for it.

Tonight is my last night here at home. Tomorrow morning I’ll start the drive back to Oregon and will be home on Friday.  I already plan on hitting the gym Friday night and am really looking forward to the quite, reflective time on the drive home.

It’s been good to be home and Mom is healing nicely.  I’m happy that my schedule allowed me to come down and help her.  I’m really ready to get home though. My home.