Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Therapy Dogs International

Yesterday I went for my first COVID jab (aren’t the Britts so twisted? way to make shots even more scary than they already are!). From the young fellow greeting me at the door to the sweet young woman checking me in, to ol’ Marcia, the nurse who did the deed, everyone was unfailingly lovely. Loveliest of all, however, was Zest, the therapy dog who was working the observation room. A beautiful golden retriever, she leaned cozily against my legs as I waited out my 15 minutes. Then she sat on my feet as I gave her a good butt-scratching. “She’s helping everyone lower their blood pressure,” said Patti, her handler, when I told her how nervous I’d been. Agreed!

Therapy Dogs International, you get one pingy-dingy! I don’t know much about you, but it looks like you’re doing beautiful work getting the word out on therapy dogs and creating community and accountability. Thank you for making sure these precious therapy dogs are cared for and appreciated!

https://www.tdi-dog.org/Default.aspx

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life and pandemic prevent posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Published in: on April 14, 2021 at 10:36 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Bailey

I just spent a few days in Provincetown, cat sitting my big orange-sherbet buddy, Bailey, and taking a bit of a retreat for myself. Every day, Bailey and I hung out, sometimes together on the couch, sometimes just sharing the house and passing each other in the hall. One of his moms taught him some tricks – a pandemic project – and I never got tired of asking him to give me five or circle, which he would willingly do for a cat treat, which he nibbled gently right from my fingers. We had a lovely, relaxing time together, and when his mom got home, she texted me that it seemed like he’d been at a spa all week.

That was Thursday. Friday, I got a call from her: Bailey caught a blood clot in his heart and had died that morning.

I didn’t know that Thursday would be the last time I would see this sweet cat. Tex and I have been cat sitting him for a couple of years, and I figured we’d get to keep doing so. But one never knows, one just never does. I am incredibly grateful that he and I had such a sweet time together, that his last few days were so mellow and cozy. For someone who is more often than not simply riddled with regrets, I have no regrets about those Provincetown days.

Because I was away from home, away from my usual responsibilities, I was pretty tuned in to my most genuine and generous self. I’ve been thinking about that. Do I do that for myself – give myself nice days? What if they were my last days? How can I connect to that generosity a little more reliably even with my usual responsibilities, with all the anxiety that often comes with them?

My charmers, my pets, my cuddly femme sisters, bask today in that connection to the right here and right now. Who brings light and love into your life? Where do you want to shine your heart energy? What helps you remember your very truly truly self? Even if it’s just for one bright moment, rest there today.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school and life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Published in: on April 12, 2021 at 4:24 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – RVing Women

Going strong for 30 years!

RVing Women, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for providing community to women who travel. We look forward to seeing you out there on the road!

https://www.rvingwomen.org/?

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life and pandemic prevent posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Published in: on April 7, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Femmemobile, Farewell!

For someone who never wanted a car, I sure do love my minivan. Oh, Salsa Pearl, oh, Femmemobile, you have been such good company! I like the space, I like the height, I like the family marker. It’s true, in good American fashion, my car has become a part of my identity.

And now, it is time to say farewell. Fulfilling a decades-long dream, Tex is in the process of purchasing a camper. She will now be able to visit relatives out west in a leisurely, independent, and jaunty fashion; we will be able to go see friends around the way; and we will be able to hightail it to Provincetown whenever the spirit moves us. And, check it, we’ll be able to join the company of the other dykes who trundle about in their RVs. They’re organized! They’re wild and wacky!

We’re trading in the Femmemobile for a truck to pull the camper.

When they hauled away my next-door neighbor’s well-used minivan several years ago, she got on the phone to her husband sobbing so hard he thought someone had died. It’s emotional, to move from one phase to another. I know I’m weepy right now. So I’ve been really focusing on enjoying my drives in the Femmemobile, appreciating her every quirk and her company. It feels a little like taking your ailing pet to the vet that very last time, only she won’t be put down, she’ll just move on to another family. And I will move on, too, of course I will.

Bless them and let them go, says my therapist about regrets and other things I no longer need. I don’t regret having the Femmemobile, but there are regrets embodied in her and in her era, parenting regrets. Seth, my elder son, who rode in her with me, is currently off on some Kerouacian journey, choosing not to be in contact with me. I regret that I didn’t know earlier how troubled he was and had made more efforts to get him help. Owen, my younger son, who rode in her with me, no longer lives in this house, choosing to stay with his other mom (we are on lovely terms, though, deep gratitude). I regret that I didn’t know how to keep things more on an even keel for him.

Time to move on. Time to let go.

How do you do your big transitions, angel darlings? Or your small ones, for that matter. How do you keep on truckin’? On the wall above my desk, I have a postcard from Southerners on New Ground with the Octavia Butler quote:

All that you touch, you change.

All that you change, changes you.

The only lasting truth is change.

God is change.

May your transitions be easy and holy today, sisters. May the changes delight you.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school and life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Femme Friday – Literary Femme: Lily Hu from Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Just out this year, Malinda Lo’s historical young adult novel is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the mid-fifties. While she’s sitting in her friend’s family restaurant, 17-year old Lily comes across an advertisement in the local paper:

TOMMY ANDREWS MALE IMPERSONATOR – WORLD PREMIERE! THE TELEGRAPH CLUB. 462 BROADWAY.

Lily can’t stop staring at the accompanying photo “of a person who looked like a handsome man with his hair slicked back, dressed in a tuxedo. Something went still inside Lily, as if her heart had taken a breath before it continued beating.” (my italics, and me who got all weepy reading this line because that is how I reacted when I saw my first butch, too and it is so beautiful!)

Deep gratitude to Malinda Lo for loving Lily into existence and for writing a gorgeous novel featuring a young femme as a main character. They are so few and far between! Malinda’s book is dedicated “To all the butches and femmes, past, present, and future” and this old-school femme is enjoying the hell out of reading it, not to mention shedding a joyful tear or two.  

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you (or your friend)! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school and life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Disruptive Education Equity Project: “We live in a constant state of racial smog!”

In my MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, I’m currently working on a critical thesis exploring ways authors might read literature not just for craft lessons, but also as activists. Learning as I go, this is a lifetime project, but so worthwhile. I am working hard to not add to narratives of oppression, but rather, as best I can, to be part of the activist tradition.* I am grateful to organizations such as DEEP who guide and educate and accompany individuals and organizations wishing to step up and step forward.

From their website:

The Disruptive Equity Education Project (DEEP) is a professional development and strategy organization that is focused on the intentional, developmental, and complex work that is associated with changing mindsets around equity and dismantling systemic oppression and racism.

DEEP’s Guiding Principles:

  • 1. Equity is a process NOT a product.
  • 2. Impact is measured by shifts in mindset and behavior.
  • 3. Systemic disruption requires large, observable change.
  • 4. Equity work is generational.
  • 5. The single-most important starting place is self.
  • 6. Equity requires strategic technical & adaptive solutions.
  • 7. Disruption with love & grace.
  • 8. Real, meaningful change in communities comes from the inside out.
  • 9. We live in a constant state of racial smog.

DEEP, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your heart work and your hard work and your beautiful work.

*First brought to my attention in Tufts professor Elizabeth Ammons’ fantabulous book, Brave New Words: How Literature Will Save the Planet. University of Iowa Press, 2010.

I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life and pandemic prevent posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Published in: on March 31, 2021 at 2:55 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Four O’Clock in the Morning

Or maybe it’s 3am for you. Or just suddenly in the middle of doing something else. When it all comes down on you, I mean. For me, it’s regrets, worry, comparing myself to someone else, waaaaay too much imagination about what someone I love might or might not be doing, bad choices they might or might not be making. What helps? I always think I have to do something to get myself out of the misery, have some reaction. Al-Anon says there’s a difference between reacting and responding. Reacting might get you deeper in; responding in a healthy way might carry you forward until you feel better. Buddhism says don’t just do something, sit there. And I’ve been listening to a Pema Chodron talk about how there’s a difference between triggers and propensities: a situation might trigger 10 different people but they’ll react in 10 different ways, since those are the kinds of things they struggle with. Like for me, regret, for example. The ol’ shouldacouldawoulda. Some days it’s just baby steps, all the way through, starting from 4am.

This windy, sunny day filled with brightness and birdsong, one small sweet thing is that I washed all my cloth masks in a really nice-smelling soap, and right now I’m about to put one of those puppies on my sad face and go out and walk. I expect I’ll feel better afterwards, but I can’t be sure. I’m going to go walk anyway.

May you, dear ones, also find something small and sweet today.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school and life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Published in: on March 29, 2021 at 4:04 PM  Comments (2)  
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Femme Friday — tatiana and Aileen

As I mentioned last week, I recently received a beautiful gift from Aileen Ochoa, a dear friend of tatiana de la tierra, about whom I posted in 2017. Aileen sent these gorgeous photos and also agreed to write a guest post for Femme Friday, which is below.

Deep gratitude to Aileen for her love of tatiana, for sharing her memories, and for continuing to celebrate tatiana and keep her memory and art alive.

Tatiana was larger than life in so many ways.  From the moment I met her during her presentation at Miami Book Fair International I felt awestruck, inspired and full of admiration. As chance would have it, I helped her coordinate an event for Latina Lesbians that weekend and promised her that next time she was in Miami, I would organize a reading of her work at my home.  A few years passed and we kept in touch.  On one of her trips to Miami we went boating and swimming and played in the waves of the ocean as if we were part of a pod of mermaids.  I so treasure that memory.  I did keep my promise, and delivered a yard full of beautiful, bohemian women who also march to their own drumbeat.  The following Sunday was Mother’s day and I had a traditional luncheon which Tatiana and her mother attended.  We read “The Gift” and shared magical moments together.


After her passing, Tatiana’s mother sent me an envelope with the attached photos.  Tatiana wherever you are I celebrate you and will forever hold you ever so dear in my heart.

With so much Love,


Aileen

Aileen Ochoa, was born and raised in Miami and has lived in Mexico and Texas. After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts, she joined the US Army where she served in the Public Affairs Office writing, producing and hosting both a television and radio program. After obtaining her Master of Arts Degree in Communication from Barry University in 2000 and completing an internship at MTV Latino, she worked as the Coordinator of Community Affairs at Miami Dade College. She went on to create Communication by Design, where she did public relations and event marketing work for notable clients such as BMW, Chivas Regal, Audi, Art Basel, Miami Book Fair International and Miami International Film Festival. Aileen is currently a full time Professor of Communications at Miami Dade College and does theatrical production work for Romanza Lyric Opera, a non-profit, which she co-founded.

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you (or your friend)! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school and life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Published in: on March 26, 2021 at 1:36 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – NA’AMAT USA

A while back, Tex and I traveled to my old home town, St. Louis, to participate in the highly joyous event of Beverly’s Bat Mitzvah. Beverly is my friend Rissa’s mom, and at the time was 89. When she was young, girls didn’t get to do Bat Mitzvah’s, and she got to thinking that she’d like to have one before she turned 90. It was a glorious, profound, and inspiring to see Beverly fulfill her Bat Mitzvah dream.

Beverly was a reading teacher, and her choice of charities for those of us who wished to donate in honor of honor of her Bat Mitzvah, was NA’AMAT USA. From their website, “NA’AMAT USA is an Israel-focused organization dedicated to serving women and children, the cornerstone and future of every society. From daycare to career training for at-risk teens to scholarships for women seeking careers in basic sciences and technology, NA’AMAT supports the vulnerable and removes obstacles to health and happiness. We offer all of this and more, opening new possibilities for the diverse communities of women, children, and families in Israel.”

NA’AMAT USA, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for your healing work supporting all women and children in Israel, including Jews, Arabs, Christians, and Druze!  

https://naamat.org/discover-naamat/womens-services/women-of-diversity/

 I’m a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy, so you can imagine that I don’t actually understand what a pingback is. I do know that it can in some way be part of spreading the love, and since that’s what I’m all about at The Total Femme… every Wednesday, I pay homage to the laughter, love, and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life and pandemic prevent posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

 

Published in: on March 24, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – All the Damn Parameters

We are all hemmed in. Even before the pandemic, we all functioned within parameters that shaped our days and lives. All the damn parameters! You want to step out into the fresh morning with the sun coming up and the birds singing, you want to take in that spring sustenance, but there isn’t time, you haven’t got a moment, the lists, the voices, the responsibilities, the guilt, the pull, the screen, the misery. Rushing on to the next thing and then the next.

People talked about how the pandemic slowed down their lives, but I haven’t experienced it that way. I’ve gotten more isolated and at the same time pushed around by the internet to where I feel like my time is just never my own. Add in health challenges – my own and those of members of my family including the pets – work challenges, the daily to and fro of living through these times and that constant technological bullying, even though it allows me to stay in grad school, stay in touch with folks. All the damn parameters! Where does the fun go? The spontaneity? What falls by the wayside.

Birdsong. The sweet smell of spring. Being present long enough to connect with the physical surroundings of the day as opposed to reaching, always reaching.

“Every day I ask myself, how am I going to have fun?” Tex told me that this morning. I was stressed and feeling the parameters pushing in on me because I had a wellness checkup with my oncologist and I was triggered and anxious. Fun? Hold on a moment – yes! Fun is something that strengthens the spirit and reminds you of who you are. Fun slows things down. Fun puts you back in connection with who you are and what’s at the heart of why we’re here. Fun gives the parameters a run for their money.

Sweethearts, I promise you, as soon as I’ve had a bit of a rest, I’m going to do something fun! Will you promise me that you will, too? Bust out today, lovers and holy ones! We are alive, some of us have had a successful telehealth appointment because our oncologist is nursing a pickle ball injury (may she heal fully and quickly; I am so grateful to her knowledge and skill and kindness), and all of us would benefit from a hearty shout of, “DAMN THE PARAMETERS!”

Heal yourself with some fun today!

(Don’t check your phone.)

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) And…as I go through graduate school and life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.