Thursday, July 14, 2011

Focus: flow.

I suppose it is a sultry summer evening, as sensei said. So after karate, after the meditation, I suggested we go for ice cream. Three of us went, out of four. Three women, three generations (after a fashion). One triple black belt, one yellow belt, one beginner. One butch, one femme, one young person still inconclusive about gender identity. We ate black raspberry chocolate chip frozen yogurt and moose tracks, all made there at the store on the edge of the reservoir. We sat outside in chairs on the sidewalk and talked about gender, and queerness, community.

I felt right in the middle of them. I felt my place acutely even as we walked there. Maiden, mother, crone came into my head, a remnant of my medievalist and witchy days. And what a funny triad we were! The younger, with her shorn head and wispy sideburns, her slouched posture and earnest conversation. The older, head also close cropped, shirt tucked into high pants and solidly, strongly aging. And I -- not so much older than the "maiden" -- still with short hair but by far the most feminine of the group, earrings glinting, newly manicured nails flashing, strong in my body but still (perhaps?) visibly queer. I felt myself become a bridge even though they didn't need one. I was amazed at how we were able to talk together so openly.

At my dojo we are taught that self-care is of utmost importance. If something isn't working for you, modify or bow out. Everyone has this responsibility. We care for each other, but in order to do so we must know how to care for ourselves. I think this let us have a conversation that is unusual -- three generations of queerness talking about incredibly difficult topics, knowing that we could say what we thought without fear, knowing that the others would listen and be able to protect themselves.

I can't really write about what we talked about. It would be impossible, and if possible, a betrayal. My teacher talked about growing up butch in the 1950s. My new friend talked about attending a women's college where "most people identify as queer, and many professors ask your preferred pronouns in the first class." And I -- I felt so strongly in the middle, identifying as femme, choosing to align myself with a (perhaps an old fashioned?) identity (although I know of many radical femmes in my peer group, but it's certainly less common) -- and yet having experienced some of the same shifts in community as my younger friend described. The thing that is really sticking with me is something I hadn't really thought of before. And it's hard to write about it here because there is so much mistrust and anger and miscommunication within queer/trans/gender-nonconforming communities (to say nothing of what comes from outside) -- it makes me worried I might hurt someone unintentionally. But I think it's important to find a way to have conversations about things that are hard, and we can't figure things out without having words for our experiences.

What I observed is that most often in the masculine-of-center spectrum, butch is an identity that takes years -- decades -- to grow into. I know people who say they knew they were butch as young people, children even, but I still think it takes time to develop. Part of the problem of course is that language is incredibly imprecise. Who can decide what a word means? Who can decide who can claim an identity? I certainly know older butches who are immature in many ways. But still I think that to generalize, butches are older and take longer to come to that identity. Whereas most of the trans folks I know are younger and often transition within a few years -- five or ten at the outside -- combining hormones and surgery and then passing or not, but being one way or another committed (a least physically) to a trans identity. I don't think this time compression is a bad or a good thing, but I do think it makes a difference. I think that no matter what conclusion you come to, the length of that process does matter, one way or another. I think that about myself and my gender/sexuality.

Where did this conversation leave us? This old feminist butch? This Alaskan femme who has always loved masculine-of-center folks and struggled with that, because at college everyone was supposed to be androgynous and queer and hip and I just wanted to wear light sundresses and big sunglasses and love butches and bois and genderqueer and trans folks? And this young person just finished with their first year of college and figuring out "gender and all that"?

It left us all grateful that we know each other, and can have a conversation about our perspectives and experiences and dear god where would we be without being able to share with one another? We would be even more lost and uncertain and nervous and confused. And thank god that we live in a place where we can have this conversation, that we can meet, that we can safely talk in public about things that are important to us on the sidewalk of a small, semi-rural town.

I am so grateful for queer community. For butches, for their strength and for giving me a focus and something to swoon over. For young people (am I old enough to call them young people?) who give me different perspectives. For my transgendered friends and lovers, for their courage and conviction. For my beau. Oh, my beau, who informs my thoughts, my feelings, who reflects my strength back to me and grounds me and holds me and has been gone for over a week and comes back in two days and has been right with me the whole time.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Storm clouds coming....

On Monday I hosted a 4th of July bbq (my first), very spur of the moment. We made fried chicken and homemade ice cream, played backyard games, drank copious amounts of beer, and went swimming in the river behind my house. In the evening, my landlord/neighbor (who has many pet chickens which run around my backyard and wake me up emphatically in the mornings) came up holding a rooster. One of her favorites. It had a name. She said, I finally understood just how much these roosters are tearing up the hens and decided it's time to get rid of them. I put them all in the truck last night and drove them two miles down the farm road and left them there. This one showed up outside the coop in the morning. Do you want to eat him? And so she got a cone and I got a knife, and I killed the chicken in front of all the (startled) guests, and I cleaned him and she put the kids to bed and then came over for ice cream. So tonight I'm making soup.

Actually, this afternoon I saw a cloud front coming over the fields and took myself out for a run before it hit. I breathed hard and watched the distant lightning roll closer. When I got back, I brought some things inside and did some tai chi on the back porch as the wind picked up. The air whipped itself into an ecstatic frenzy, and finally I dashed inside as hard drops of rain started to fall.

Then I made soup. And damn, if that rooster isn't delicious.

Here's hoping that the title of this post is totally about the weather and has no predictive qualities about my emotional state.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Our Story Today In Two Acts

Act One: Here
in my bed--cool sheets.
beau's broad back, my touch tracing
fingers down to ass.

beau's ass, a split round
moon, perfectly curved, ready
for me to slip in.

Act Two: There
The alley outside the club is busy tonight. Two men get out of a pickup with 40s, two girls follow them with beers. They try to get in but are turned away. Back to the truck. Hip college kids smoke cloves while others just take in a needed a breath of fresh air. I see them all, but I'm not paying attention. I've got better things to focus on: my beau's rough kisses at my neck, his fingers dancing with the hem of my skirt. I cock one knee forward between his legs and lean back against the brick wall. He's hard against my thigh, packing just for me, knowing how he turns me on. I want to give myself over, to feel the feel the rough bricks at my back and the tender insistent stud pressing me into them. I take the thick hair at the nape of his neck in my hands and pull him to my mouth. I'm so hungry for him, hungry to taste him, hungry for him to fill me up with his cock and his hands and his love. We lay claim to each other in the alley. As people pass us their eyes slide by, hot but embarrassed; they stare at my skirt high on my thigh and Beau's big hands there; they pretend not to hear my hot breath; they can't stop looking. They don't know what to make of this tough beau with the leggy femme.

I know just what to make of us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Because that's the only part actually written in the history books.

Can't even wrap my mind, my body, or my emotions around myself these days.

So instead, I'll just revel in the fact that apparently Netflix has decided that my favorite genre is "Biographical Dramas with a Strong Female Lead." I'll say.

Beau is at a conference this weekend and the last day of school was a week ago, so my work schedule has changed drastically (mostly for the less-stressful). Therefore, I'm watching movies. Last night: Dangerous Beauty, the story of Veronica Franco, a 16th century poet and courtesan in Venice. Tonight: Agora (which I've been wanting to see since it came out), about Hypatia, the 4th century Alexandrian philosopher/mathematician/teacher. They're both great -- or rather, exactly what I want to watch (which is the joy of netflix instant). I want something that won't make me think about how fucked up it is every five minutes. I want something that doesn't make me think too much but doesn't feel like junk food for my brain, either. I want to see beautiful things, beautiful women, beautiful places, and I'm okay with taking a few liberties with history to do it. Voila.

Now if only I can find one in which the strong, smart, beautiful woman is not persecuted as a witch.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rainy day

So then it was so bad that all I could do was strain, stretched tight around nothing, trying to contain the emptiness and keep anything from getting in -- drawn like a bow, quivering and taut, unable to move for fear of bursting, unable to speak or even to breathe. I am compelled to try and put words to it to make it less terrifying, but there are no words. I cannot write, cannot speak, can't hardly think -- I'm straining to keep from thinking. Everything around is sinister and grotesque and it's hard enough not to cry much less think sensibly.

I can't imagine what it's like to be around. We went to pick up our first farm share of the season. Beau was driving and I just sat numb in the seat beside, staring out the window, utterly hollow. It felt like Beau was driving around a corpse. I could see it from the outside, almost, but without comment or feeling.

I don't know what to ask for because I don't know what I need. I feel as if I am a huge burden and yet I need so much tenderness. In that moment I just want to know that someone is there, loving me but leaving space, not asking for anything. That seems impossible to ask, impossibly huge and selfish. Yet somehow Beau is so good at giving it. I am scared to depend on it. We came home and I stroked my cat's ears and cried, and then came into the living room and Beau stroked me and wrapped tight arms around me and I cried.

We're still sitting here but it's different. We're connected -- hand to hip, legs to lap -- and I'm calm and breathing and okay. I wish I knew what it is that comes over me. I wish that I didn't judge myself so harshly for it.

Monday, May 2, 2011


My favorite part about running has got to be the snazzy outfits. Today I wore yellow spandex leggings (left over from my short stint rowing in college), with grey spandex shorts over them. Also multicolored striped socks and my favorite comfy t-shirt with birds on it. I considered the run a success not when I made the two miles running most of the way, but when (in my five minute walking cool-down) a woman I'd never seen before grinned at me and said, "Nice legs." That's right. I'm a runner.

It's been strangely good to come back to to routine after being home -- that week feels really important, and as always after being in Alaska I feel like I'll spend a long time processing (for lack of a better word) the experience. I'm so torn up about it if I stop to think that mostly I don't. It breaks my heart every time I leave....but this time, it's been mostly a good re-entry. I was crying at the airport, and my mom said, "Well, it's a good thing at least you're going back with your beau." I made some wisecrack, but the truth is it actually was amazing to have continuity with a person as I left. Usually it feels like a complete break every time I go back and forth, like home and here are two different worlds that both exist in reality but never touch....and this time, I have someone to talk about it with.

It also helps that it's spring here for real. There's a magnolia tree in front of my house that's in full bloom, tulip flowers resting lightly on the tops of branches. It's warm and sunny. Yesterday afternoon Beau and I went for a long scooter* ride, around the backroads and right through main street. It was the first day warm enough that Beau was in shirtsleeves and I in a skirt, and it was so sweet to wrap my arms around his waist and feel my skirt whip around my knees in the wind. Last fall, when we met and Beau was courting me, wooing me, I was acutely aware of the sensuality of the wind and the fabric and the sight of the warm smooth back of his neck between t-shirt collar and helmet. This spring it's different. Although the scooter's been away all winter and so that's new and exciting again, our bodies are so much more comfortable together. I don't immediately thrill as I rest against Beau's back as we ride, and the press of his hips between my legs is more familiar. Sometimes I worry that as the shine of new love wears off (and as my gratefulness for who my beau is not gives way to a more subtle appreciation of who Beau is), one or both of us will get bored and tired, and we'll bicker or stop desiring each other, and this whole thing we've made will just crumble on top of us and leave us to start over again.

Then again, last night we got home an hour before sunset, mouths sticky with soft serve and kisses, and played in the backyard treehouse with my neighbor's two year old twins. When the sun went down we sent them in to dinner and took ourselves to bed. I drew the curtains, Beau turned down the sheets and lay naked and waiting on top of them. I undressed slowly for his watchful eyes, slipping out of my shorts, pulling off my halter top, and then pouncing. I know how I like my beau -- oh, so many ways, but I wanted to start by drawing him into me and feeling my own power. I smoothed his hair back and traced lines down his face onto his chest and belly. I did this until my fingers tingled and his breathing grew heavy, and then I lowered one nipple between his open lips. He sucked and gasped and ran his hands across my back until my whole body felt awake and alive, and I sat up so that my wet and swollen cunt met his wet and hungry mouth. We kissed like that, me with my head thrown back and my beau buried in me, and we moved over and in and with each other until I just melted, energy pouring from me in every direction, from my open mouth into the air, from my open cunt making his throat slick and shiny and soaking the sheets.

And so it went, much longer into the night than I have time to write about now with Beau sleeping beside me. Oh, I think we're doing fine, the way we love each other. And me -- I think I'm doing fine too. Springtime is opening time, it's unfurling time, and I'm planning to take little steps in all directions. Thank god the winter's over.

*Beau would like a motorcycle. Secretly, I would too -- both to ride myself, and to ride behind, although I've always thought of myself as a bicycle girl. However, the scooter is shiny and blue, tops out at about 38pmh, and is not a bad alternative for the winding country roads and small soft serve places we frequent.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


It's high tide. Not full high, up under the deck, but high enough that the anchor buoys are way off shore, and the sun that's barely shining through high clouds makes the sea glint full and billowy. Beau is upstairs napping, and I'm sitting outside while the sky drizzles and spits and then lifts into a bright high cloud cover. An eagle is shrieking across the cove from the high trees on Lena Point.

I've been "home" for just under a week, I'm leaving tomorrow, and as usual I'm not ready. This isn't really home in any sense of the word -- I grew up seven hundred miles north of here, and my base is over two thousand miles east. But my parents have settled here, perched between mountainside and water, and so I've come for a week of rest, of introducing Beau to the family, of settling into a different kind of routine for a while. Spring tides are often extreme, and last week was a full moon which makes them even more so. We've been watching the water come almost to the deck, then suck itself way out into the cove. In the evenings, after dinner when sunset turns the ocean pink and purplegrey, we've gone down in search of the fountains of water spurting up between the rocks, and dug huge clams which spit at us and close themselves quickly at our approach. They're in a bucket now, but we'll put them back before we leave since the chance of red tide makes them too dangerous to eat.

I've been so overjoyed and ecstatic this week. I've had so many moments of pure exhilaration, of love and warmth and rightness. Today I've felt out of sorts and a bit on edge, a little myself and mostly with Beau. It makes sense -- it feels like we just got here, and now there's another transition, and I don't know for sure the next time I'll be here.