Haunted By Vinyl

Hello, my name is The Total Femme, and I am a pack rat. STUFF! I love it. But it’s not very conducive to sanity, and it’s definitely not very conducive to having your lover move in to the house you’ve lived in for over ten years. I mean, a person likes to feel that there’s a little bit of room for them, after all. So I’ve been decluttering as best I can, and I really got after it right before my Beau moved here.

However, I still had a god’s plenty of records. I mean, thousands. I’d moved them a hundred times, and currently, at the time of this event, they were mostly living in the garage. The garage my Beau hoped to convert to her shop. The hack saw sat uneasily across from shelves housing such gems as Die Goldenen Vampire (a Cramps-knockoff band from 1980s Germany) and a whole lot of Three Dog Night. One of them had to go, and I knew which. So I was going through my collection, trying to pare it down, figure out what I could live without. It was not a speedy process. It was kind of driving us all crazy.

One day, after I’d managed to get through all the records in the house (‘cause there were a bunch in the house, too), and my Beau asked me “So, are you done with them?” I joyfully answered in the affirmative. She looked relieved, and said she’d take the rest to the Salvation Army truck. We went our separate ways. A couple days later I sat up with a start and rushed out to the garage. Sure enough. All completely gone. AGGGHHHHH!!!! I DIDN’T MEAN THE ONES IN THE GARAGE!!!!

It was cathartic, really, how hard I sobbed. There was nothing we could do – it had just been a misunderstanding. I felt terrible, but I knew she hadn’t done it on purpose and I couldn’t really be mad at her. But it’s weird now – I had records in there from when I first started buying records, way back in high school. I had so many quirky, fun discs in there – gosh. Of course, I don’t remember every single one, but what happens every now and then is something will remind me of one of them, say, it will be the annual Frank Zappa-a-thon on the local college radio, and I’ll start thinking about how much I used to listen to “Joe’s Garage” and I’ll start humming “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?” and then I’ll get a sinking feeling in my stomach, because “Joe’s Garage” is GONE.

Of course, “Joe’s Garage” isn’t really gone. I’m sure I could buy “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?” quite easily on i-Tunes. It’s just I can’t hold that particular album in my hands anymore.

In a way, it’s nice, because I appreciate and listen more frequently to the albums I still have. And there are some good ones! But it’s just weird to have STUFF I’d held on to for so long just summarily dismissed, albeit by accident.

I suppose it’s a big Zen lesson. And actually, I’m more or less fine with that. It wasn’t like I listened to those albums all that much. Truthfully, most of them had meant a lot more to me back in the day. I just liked knowing they were around, and damn it, some of them were really COOL! Having STUFF from your past is always a mixed blessing, I think. Some things still have really good energy, and some things just drag you down and make you sad. For me, total pack rat, it can be really hard to understand which things are ok to hang on to and which things need to go. Plus, I’m a writer, so I’m always thinking, “Ok, I’m going to be able to use that, someday….”  The FLYlady (FLYlady.net) helps me with some of this, but I get the feeling she’s not a big reader or music listener (and she’s definitely not queer!), so sometimes I don’t agree with what she says about books and records. (I have a lot of books, too, surprise.)

Well, that’s really all I have to say about it. I will end with a verse from the song “Monsieur Robert” from the album of the same name by an artist whose name I forget. I bought this particular album in France in the 70s, and I was humming it the other day. Thanks for asking, but no, I don’t have it any more:

“Monsieur Robert, il habit sous la terre,
Il ne sort jamais, jamais a l’air;
Le soliel, la lune, ne l’interesse guerre;
Robert, le ver de terre.”

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 6:09 PM  Comments (2)  


As the mom of a 12-year old, I am guilty of many crimes. Yesterday, as we drove over to the boys’ other mom’s house in a terrible rush right after school (don’t get me started on the hell my ex has imposed under the guise of a shared custody schedule), Seth made me privy to most of them.

Number one, I’m gay.
Number two, I adopted Owen thus Owen is not really Seth’s brother
Number three, my ex is not Seth’s mom, because she adopted him
Number four, I’m gay
Number five, he has a dad out there somewhere who cares about him
Number six, I’m gay
Number seven, I stalk him and try to find out everything that he would like to keep private and he would never in a million years confide in me or ask me about anything important
Number eight, I’m gay
Number nine, I’m gay
Number ten, as he may have mentioned – snarled, really — I’m gay
Also, he will never have gay friends and he himself – OH MY FUCKING GOD! – would never, ever, in ten billion years, be gay
But, Owen is a faggot, and “I’m using that in a NICE way, mom!”

My mama’s boy – he who sought the comfort of nursing long after many felt he should abstain, who had such trouble venturing out on his own as a toddler and young child — is scratching and clawing his way out of the maternal realm into the mainstream. My therapist gently reminds me that he has to kick so hard because he loves me so much and is so comfortable in that realm, yet his hormones, the culture, and, don’t forget, the hell that is middle school, are emitting a siren call that cannot be denied. Venture forth! Be a man! Wear Ax deodorant!

I am doing my best to roll with it. I am not surprised at the furor and furiousness of his emotions – he has always been that way. Drama queen extraordinaire, my Seth. Everything is life and death, everything has to be done right now, everything is writ EXTREMELY LARGE. “Everything” meaning “Seth’s feelings and perceptions of the world.” Which are correct where mine, Owen’s, my Beau’s, my ex’s, her partner’s, are all unbelievably and irretrievably and obscenely FUCKED UP.

His desperate leap into the mainstream is just exactly the sort of thing that pushes all my buttons. Does he care that there’s butane in Ax? FUCK NO! He loves butane. He bathes in butane. Butane is the be-all and end-all. And by the way, is this food ORGANIC? Organic food sucks. Get some real food, would you! Jesus. How did he ever get born into this benighted family?

I said, “Well, honey, maybe you and I were put in the same family in order to learn some things from each other.” Miss New Age Spin – hey, I’m trying!

“Yeah, Mom, and what you can learn from me is DON’T BE GAY!!”

Ok, I cracked up, and even he couldn’t suppress just a teeny grin. Cause see what gives me hope is that he’s got a great sense of humor. And he loves little kids and is incredibly sweet to his little cousins. And as much as he’s trying to be a badass, he can’t help letting a little of that sweet come out just every once and a while.

I’m riding it – trying to walk among and through the shrapnel and hidden mines, letting him know I don’t like being yelled at, that it hurts my feelings, and then sticking around while he yells anyway and 10 minutes later is coming to ask me for help doing homework on the computer and leaning up against me like a big friendly dog as we work together.

I had a birthday this month and Seth and Owen made me a birthday card. I’m not going to quote from it, because it’s private, but suffice it to say, I choose to believe that that’s where the real Seth is revealed, in a love song to his mom, observant, kind, and empathic. And so so so SO not gay.

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 10:50 PM  Leave a Comment  

Dry Lips

Today as I was leaving my ESL student’s apartment (he’s a middle-schooler, Korean), his mom was busy unwrapping something – lip gloss, it turned out. She tested it on her hand and showed me, “Very pretty color!” She doesn’t speak a lot of English, but she gets her point across. I agreed it was pretty. She went on to tell me that my lips are very dry, and she thinks that if I use this lip gloss they will benefit greatly, especially since, she managed to convey, I wear no makeup. I did my best to just give in and accept the gift as graciously as possible, thanking her politely for taking care of me. It’s not as if I didn’t get used to my persona of schlumpy foreigner needing improvement when I lived in Japan.

True story from The Total Femme’s young womanhood: One morning back in the day when I lived in Tokyo (the day for me is the mid-1980s in case you were wondering) I was making my way happily to the subway, feeling pert and looking quite fine, with my purple mini-skirt, tights, funky blouse, and ankle boots, when I heard someone running hard behind me. Someone late for a train, I thought, but no, a young woman stopped right beside me, panting so hard she could hardly get out the words, “Sukato, sukato, ano, sukato!” Mystified, I reached down, and lo and behold, the entire back of my skirt was completely tucked into my tights. Not the look I’d gone for! I thanked her and went on my way. I laughed, actually. What else is there to do?

At other times in Japan, solicitous fingers on a crowded subway tucked in errant tags which had crept out of my shirts and sweaters, and many people gave me elegant garb and accoutrements, including an utterly gorgeous kimono, in the hopes of making me just that little bit more elegant.

Alas, it never works. I always have good intentions to step up my look, (and I actually do my best to moisturize my lips, but obviously it’s not up to snuff), but basically, I’m just not very good at it and plus, it bores me and I end up reverting to type: comfy and schlumpy. I blame my mother, really, who taught me it was completely acceptable to remove my brassiere and change into some sweat pants the moment you close the door to your house behind you, and, in fact, if you can find clothes that feel that unrestrictive to go about your public business in, so much the better. It is a sadness to me that everything that lifts and slims and makes you look all glamorous is so damn uncomfortable and takes so much time to deal with. Bras, tight clothes, high heels, make up…. Bah!

My student’s mom, bless her, has so far gifted me with such a gorgeous scarf that I hardly dare wear it (especially with my incredibly comfortable coat – the only coat I ever want to wear – which is about to come apart at the seams) and with an undoubtedly expensive and exclusive super-duper combo pack of lotions and unguents (lime/ginger flavor) that makes me sneeze just to look at it. Now the lip gloss. Despite the evidence, she is determined to glamorize me.

Perhaps there actually is hope for me, though. Recently, I began a FOOT REGIME after getting one too many grumbles from my Beau about the condition of my feet. I purchased a rasp, special foot soap, and some incredibly yummy foot cream (scented gently with cardamom). What a success! Now my feet are very softy. And the next time I go to my student’s apartment, I suspect my lips will be very glossy.

Published in: on January 14, 2009 at 11:27 PM  Leave a Comment