Meditations for Queer Femmes – MLK Day Special

I’ll be singing tonight in our town’s MLK Day Celebration, and earlier today received the following email from my 86-year old mum:

Congratulations on your participation in the MLK observances!    He was such a wonderful person, whose life ended much too soon.       Love from yr mom

Today, let’s listen, love, learn, remain vigilent but make time for family and celebration and song!

MLK Day Special: Rediscovered 1964 King Speech on Civil Rights, Segregation & Apartheid South Africa

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

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.”)

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Shakespeare’s Sonnet 97

Many years ago, as an undergraduate, I took this wonderful quarter credit English class where all we did was talk about Shakespeare’s sonnets. And then, every week, you memorized a sonnet and went in to the professor’s office to recite it and discuss it. So much fun!

In the past few days, I’ve found myself thinking about Sonnet 97, one of the ones I memorized. It just floated up, and I realized that it came to me because I’ve been thinking about love a lot. I’m thinking about missing someone you love, how hard that can be, how compelling it is to just topple over into misery, and yet, if that’s all you do, if that’s where you pour every ounce of your energy, heart, and soul, how much you deny yourself of what’s happening this very moment. When I was in college, I didn’t know I was queer. I was really into yearning after unavailable boys. I was into it all, the suffering and moaning and fretting. These boys wanted nothing to do with me, and I didn’t know any better, I thought that was romantic. I thought it was appropriate for me to practically martyr myself by wantingwantingwanting and never getting. It was fucking miserable! And now I see how I was the one unavailable, not them. I was unavailable to all men, but I didn’t know it yet. I don’t think I’m the only queer femme who provided herself with romantic drama the best she could before she knew she was queer and could move on to more solid, honest romantic relationships with other queers. I used to think that the hard work of love was very lonely, that I must just soldier bravely on, whether it was for a boy who didn’t love me back or someone who loved me but I didn’t love them back. It took forever to sort things out and realize that understanding your preference – in my case, butches – makes all the difference in finding romantic partners. And then the hard work begins, but it has a good chance of being generative, of there being justice in the relationship, not just bleeding and bleeding and bleeding onto the stone cold and heedless ground…

I still love Sonnet 97. It’s a little bit spooky and it really nails that feeling of despair. It’s a declaration of love, certainly, but I think it came to me now because it can also be read as a kind of warning: don’t let this happen to you! This sucks! All these wonderful things are going on and I’ve allowed myself to see only one thing – that you’re not here – so I’m missing them. All of them. A cautionary sonnet, both for the lover and the beloved, who can’t possibly be everything and all to the lover. It’s unfair to ask that of someone you love. So now when I recite this sonnet, I think about how we are tricked, as lovers, as people who love, to abandon ourselves and to demand too much of ourselves and of our beloveds. How we’re encouraged to avert our eyes from hard-but-worthwhile work in a love relationship and instead go for the huge emotions, the ones that have little chance of lasting, the ones that can be utterly destructive. How amazing and magical that this same sonnet has stayed with me, and continues to feed my heart and soul.

Dear lovers, dear queer femme sisters, how have your understandings about love changed over the years? Did you used to think you were straight? How did you think about love then? What about now? What art do you reach for when you want company thinking about love? And more broadly, what art has accompanied you for the long haul? Has its meaning(s) deepened and changed as you’ve gained wisdom and experience? Today, let’s pay homage to love and art and to every little bit of effort we make to grow with health into our huge queer femme hearts.

 

Sonnet 97

How like a winter hath my absence been

From thee, the pleasure of the fleeing year!

What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!

What old December’s bareness everywhere!

And yet this time removed was summer’s time,

The teeming autumn big with rich increase,

Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,

Like widowed wombs after their lords’ decease.

Yet this abundant issue seemed to me

But hope of orphans, and unfathered fruit;

For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,

And thou away, the very birds are mute;

Or if they sing, ‘tis with so dull a cheer,

That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.

–Shakespeare

 

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

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.”)

 

Femme Friday – Pris from Yesterday’s Writing Exercise

Yesterday, I gave one of my students the following writing exercise:

Write a poem in the form of a letter saying goodbye to someone. Make sure the reader understands your/the narrator’s relationship to the person.

I always do the writing exercise with my students, and, gracious, didn’t Pris just spring up and ask to be written about!

Deep gratitude to my femme muse who brought me Pris and allowed me to love her onto the page!

 Dear Millie,

 Back then it was under-

stated under

the table

without a surround

sound of other voices

stories sounding real

sounding far and deep

it felt like just

us no justice

we wouldn’t have known

what to say, anyway.

 

The letter from your wife

she found our letters

so lesbian of her

to let me know

of your passing – I

suppose we might

have weathered dyke

drama been friends yes

I think we might have

been

 

“Millie left us last month,”

she writes and even

her cursive is femme

(I looked her up on facebook,

and she is. Of course

she is). “Friends have

been in to help me with her

papers, you know,

the Herstory Archives want

all this early butch/femme stuff

and tied with an old necktie

(the paisley? it must

be—the one I gave her

in 1973, silk, I dared

buy it, alone in the foreign

men’s department and I

know what they

must have been thinking and I was

so proud, knowing different)

were your letters.

Damn, girl.”

 

I stopped reading

and remembered: you tied

my wrists with that necktie

and fucked me and fucked me

you wore it to Eddie’s funeral

you might have worn it

at our wedding

if we had made it

that far

 

“It’s a wonder those

perfumed stacks of raw hawtness

didn’t burn the house down one lonely night!

Just, damn.

Anyway, I thought you might

want them back, but

the Herstory gals are

lusting for them, you

know, so I’m asking. You want me to give

them over? Or send them to you.

Just let me know.”

 

Millie, baby,

I remember, I keep you

somewhere, my heart, my

pussy — I have, even after we

exploded – talk about too

must heat –

so what the fuck,

let those Herstory gals

get an eyeful

of pure and dirty

incendiary

legendary

butch/femme lovin’

‘cause we were so

hot for each other

I remember

those marathons

so, Millie, baby

let that be our

legacy let that

be what we leave

for posterity

that blistering passion

that butch/femme sorcery

goodbye, you old dagger

you old dyke

you old dear.

 (wait, let me put on my lipstick)

 kisseskisseskisses from your old flame, Pris

 Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! 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! New Femme Friday feature starting fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

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.”)

 

Published in: on January 11, 2019 at 4:52 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – The Reading Challenge at the Provincetown Library

All you queer darlings who might not have gotten the chance to visit Provinctown yet can still participate in town doings by taking on the library’s sweet reading challenge! Doing a reading challenge is like browsing the stacks and allowing book magic to wash over you in a sparkling wave! And actually, in order to meet the reading challenge, you do have to browse the stacks, and, people, really, is there anything more fulfilling than a good dose of library therapy? What are you waiting for?!

Oh, and my first book (“choose a book for its cover”), was Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. It wasn’t bad, lots of music and the dragons were kind of fun – basically like Vulcans – but does growing up have to involve getting a lover? I mean, there are other parts of growing up, although they seem to be few and far between in YA books. Always with the girlfriend or boyfriend! I was really hoping for a threesome here, as that would be the perfect solution to the ye olde I-like-him-but-he’s-betrothed-to-her-and-she’s-pretty-awesome-too, but that hadn’t happened by the end of the book, so it will just have to happen in my head.

photo 3.JPG

 

Provincetown Library, you get one pingy-dingy! Thanks for making the winter months more fun and for keeping the reading fire alight!

http://provincetownlibrary.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 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.”)

 

 

Published in: on January 9, 2019 at 5:32 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – “All acts of kindness are lights in the war of injustice.”

Those are Joy Harjo’s words, from “Reconciliation, A Prayer”, a poem she wrote for Audre Lorde’s memorial service in 1993. I have been meditating on those words as the year booms along and the tasks seem to multiply. A work party last night. Some New Year’s cleaning for my parents over in their assisted living facility. New projects, old projects, health issues, family pressures… I am sorry to report that I found myself feeling irritated when I was with my parents, discomfited by how slowly everything moves in their world now. Phew! Just breathe a moment! How grateful I am that they are safe and warm and happy and engaged. How grateful I am.

Yesterday, I met with a young queer who is going to help me with some technology for one of my projects. We were commiserating about how much there is we care about, how much there is to do. She was concerned that she just hasn’t done enough social justice work in her life. I suggested that her being out at work, to her family and friends, in daily life, and in her many and varied art and other ventures, is a powerful form of social justice in and of itself. This is something I tend to forget myself, although I fully believe it to be true.

A long time ago, I was doing some volunteer work with an organization that captured feral cats, neutered or spayed them, and let them go again. It was close to where I lived and I really liked going over to the office to stuff envelopes or whatever else they needed, especially since there were always cats hanging out and sitting on whatever it was you were trying to do. This was around when the whole Anita Hill insanity was going on, and one day when I was feeling particularly upset, I burst out to my then-boyfriend that I felt like an idiot going over to the cat office when so much else needed to be done. This sweet man, who I did love but just not like that, remarked mildly that it seemed to him that I was doing something good and helpful for the world, and that that was a positive and healing thing to do. He gently counseled me not to dismiss or minimize any gesture of love.

My sweet femme sisters, do you dismiss your own acts of love because you are worried they’re not enough? Do you minimize your unique and generous moments of kindness; your lifetimes of love? Are you constantly feeling that you should be doing more, different, better?

Oh, darlings, breathe! Let your energy sink and connect to the earth’s core. Raise your eyes to the tips of the trees, to the clouds, to the unending. Feel peace bubble up in your beautiful bodies. Retune to the beat of your infinitely precious hearts.

Rest in gratitude, rest in the truth of Joy Harjo’s beautiful words, words honoring our brilliant and beautiful queer genius, Audre Lorde. Pray with me:

“All acts of kindness are lights in the war of injustice.”

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

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.”)

 

Published in: on January 7, 2019 at 2:54 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday – Inspirational Book: Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance by Bill McKibben

If you’ve ever lived in Vermont, this book will make you want to move back! It’s sweet, hopeful, full of seriously funny lines, as in “you will laugh out loud, baby!”, and, ok, get this: the only romance is a very sweet one between two extremely most excellent lesbians! Tex and I read this on the heels of pH by Nancy Lord, and between the two of them, we are both feeling a lot more space and hope and creativity about dealing with the massive horror and overwhelm. A sense of humor, of whimsy, belief in human ingenuity – not the “gee, what will happen if we split the atom” kind, either; the positive kind! – kindness, art, community, lesbian love… These are the things that will get us through; these are the things that will show us what “through” might look like!

Deep gratitude to Bill for loving this fable onto the page, and for all the other millions of generous and loving stuff he does for us all!

A book that’s also the beginning of a movement, Bill McKibben’s debut novel Radio Free Vermont follows a band of Vermont patriots who decide that their state might be better off as its own republic.

As the host of Radio Free Vermont-“underground, underpowered, and underfoot”-seventy-two-year-old Vern Barclay is currently broadcasting from an “undisclosed and double-secret location.” With the help of a young computer prodigy named Perry Alterson, Vern uses his radio show to advocate for a simple yet radical idea: an independent Vermont, one where the state secedes from the United States and operates under a free local economy. But for now, he and his radio show must remain untraceable, because in addition to being a lifelong Vermonter and concerned citizen, Vern Barclay is also a fugitive from the law.

In Radio Free Vermont, Bill McKibben entertains and expands upon an idea that’s become more popular than ever-seceding from the United States. Along with Vern and Perry, McKibben imagines an eccentric group of activists who carry out their own version of guerilla warfare, which includes dismissing local middle school children early in honor of ‘Ethan Allen Day’ and hijacking a Coors Light truck and replacing the stock with local brew. Witty, biting, and terrifyingly timely, Radio Free Vermont is Bill McKibben’s fictional response to the burgeoning resistance movement. (from Bill’s website)

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! New Femme Friday feature starting fall 2018: Books from which queer femmes can draw inspiration. What are your trusted sources of light and love? Please share!

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.”)

 

 

Published in: on January 4, 2019 at 5:23 PM  Leave a Comment  
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