Meditations for Queer Femmes – This Little, Tiny House

This morning, Tex and I woke up to some very loud and strident bird calls. She thought it was warblers, because our apple trees are in bloom and it’s warbler season, but no! It was a pair of house wrens, inspecting and finding good the bird house Tex had put up weeks and weeks ago. They took turns perching on top and yelling, “This is ours!” They tidied up inside, rejecting the wood chips Tex had put down. They flitted about yelling, “We’re moving into this neighborhood, everybody!” It was so wonderful! Then Tex went off to count herring, as she’s been doing every Monday morning this season (they have a fish ladder over the dam), and I went off to meet up with a young friend and former member of the homeschoolers QSA. Who showed up with her cat in a basket and lots of news about her decision to run for public office in her hometown (which is right next to where I live).

That’s a lot of gorgeous before lunch.

Yesterday I was in one of my regularly occurring funks. Comparing and despairing, about my writing, my life, my health, my abilities, my parenting … It’s a habit I acquired early on, this bathing in negativity, and it can still take me over here and again, despite my naturally sunny nature and all the tools I’ve gathered over the years to help me with serenity and equanimity. It was a beautiful day and I had a good book. That and cooking a lovely Sunday dinner with Tex took me right through until it was time to go to bed. And I woke up in a different space, ready to face the excitement of house wrens and young friends.

Who help me remember that right here, right in this little tiny house that is my life, there is so much depth and detail. In his obituary, I learned that a dear teacher and his dear friend used to say to each other, “Right here as it is. Right now as it is.” I love that, that way of remembering to wrench your wandering gaze from the past, the present, the over there, out there, next time and on and on, to gaze gratefully at what’s surrounding and holding you, all the infinite of this very moment. Such a gift, but so easy to overlook.

Is it a forsythia bush? A weeping cherry? An old old apple tree in bloom, inherited from the people who built your house in the same year your father was born? Two loud and busy house wrens moving into their own new digs? The smile and interesting news of a friend, the fun of her cat taking a ride in a basket, little kids playing in the playground near where we sat… These are just a few of mine from the last few hours, and I know, my determined and big-hearted queer femme treasures, that you have your own. May you revel and glory in them! Not constantly, because we all have our sinking spells and our busy times, but may you come back to them more and more often. May you come back to them now!

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.

Meditations for Queer Femmes – A Bit Befuddled

Today is my mother’s 89th birthday. The past couple of years have had some really rough patches in our family, what with me getting breast cancer, my dad dying, and of course, the pandemic. Before lockdown, my mom landed in the geriatric psych ward a couple of times, too. Perhaps she had latent anxiety all her life, I don’t know, but it didn’t manifest until her extreme old age. And she doesn’t really have dementia, but her memory certainly doesn’t work the way it once did. All my life, I was used to using her the way people use search engines now, asking her everything from how to spell words to what year something happened to the name of a book we both read but I’d forgotten the title — her memory was that sharp.

Now, she doesn’t remember what she had for breakfast, but she always tells me that the food is good. She can’t remember the name of the geriatric therapist who comes to see her twice a week, but she always says they have ripsnorting good conversations. She wouldn’t be able to tell me what’s happening in the book she’s reading, but she knows she’s enjoying it. She forgets words and has trouble saying what she wants to say, but always manages to get it out in the end. The other day on the phone, after I told her I love her and that we were sending love from our house to her, she said, “And I give it back to you and all your associates – love from me, lone, but powerful.” Funny thing: in our family we never used to say “I love you,” to each other – it was supposed to be a given, nothing we needed to get all emotional and soppy about. Now my mom and I say it to each other all the time. It’s nice.

When my father got Alzheimer’s, I had a really hard time connecting to him as he was rather than living in a constant state of regret, anger, fear, about how much he’d changed. Doing that made me want to avoid contact, instead of just be present for him, just listen and learn. When he died suddenly, I was much closer to being able to meet him where he was; I’m sorry it was such a long time coming. I hope I’m doing a better job with my mother. It feels like I am, actually. I know, because it really doesn’t feel like work or a job. It just feels like relaxing into a new phase of our relationship. One where we mostly just live in the love.

Relationships change, my glittery queer femme beauties, and life only lingers for so long. I wish for you loving connection amidst the change, because of the change, despite the change, as you surf the change… You are alive amidst that glory.  

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 – Never Enough tatiana! Papayona/Big Fat PussyGirl

I am so pleased and honored to share this post from Aileen Ochoa, a dear friend of tatiana de la tierra. How wonderful to have been in the audience when tatiana read!  Perhaps you will weep, as I did, when you watch this video. Surely you will be uplifted and filled with fierce femme power!

Deep gratitude to Aileen for reaching out and sharing more about tatiana. Continued and utter gratitude to tatiana for her hot, beautiful, layered writing!

Aileen writes:

I was working at Miami Book Fair International as a Producer of Entertainment and Special Events some years ago and although I had not organized Tatiana’s appearance, I decided to attend.

The microphone turned on and she said that her name was Tatiana de la Tierra and that she had a fat pussy. I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly and was both mortified and fascinated. She went on and I went from being shocked and awed to entering a state of admiration and adoration. Who was this bold and brave creature who dared to utter such taboo words and phrases? They somehow rang true. At first, I didn’t dare react. Surely someone would escort her off the stage. No one did. Then I delighted in her perfect poetry, metaphors, alliteration and iambic pentameter. She was brilliant. I began to clap and hoot and almost began jumping up and down in sheer delight. With each word, phrase and breath she won over the entire room who erupted in roaring applause as she finished her last statement. I wish it had not ended. The session, her creativity, her short life. See for yourself what I am referring to. With all my love, I share the recording from that very day. Shine on Tatiana.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FgJ7ggUjK4

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 April 23, 2021 at 7:48 AM  Leave a Comment  
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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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