Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Gil Scott-Heron and “Whitey On the Moon”

50 years ago this past week, my chunky little 7-year old butt was sitting on Maria Soda’s scratchy living room wall-to-wall while we watched Neil Armstrong boing-boing on the moon. Later Maria would drop me like a hot potato when she entered 5th grade, and I would begin trying to understand why certain black kids were calling me  “honky” when I  was bussed to a junior high where other kids hadn’t had the experience of going to integrated grade schools the way I had. But for the moment, Maria and I were tight, I hadn’t had much education on the history and fallout of systemic racism, and what was happening on the tv was weird and exciting.

Gil Scott-Heron, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for going up against all the hype and hoopla surrounding that long ago moon landing then and now.

 

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 July 24, 2019 at 3:21 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes — Ghosts and Love

We’ve all of us queer femmes lost people. It’s just part of being human. And it’s human to miss those people from time to time, even the ones with whom we had extremely conflicted relationships. We’ve lost people through death, physical or emotional distance, no good reason it just happened, and then for we queers, coming out can shift friendships and family connections subtly, dramatically, dangerously.

Sometimes I think about my college roommate, with whom I came of age in so many ways. Sometimes I think about my mother’s mother from whom I learned so much and who I loved so deeply; I wish I had been brave enough to come out to her before she died. Sometimes I think about my aunt, my cousins, various childhood friends, even people with whom I had only short but very intense relationships, sexual and otherwise. Faces, intimacies, and shared moments can pop up, surprising, saddening, stirring up all kinds of emotions. Powerful ghosts.

On a walk recently, I began to explore the possibility of being able to connect with my elder son despite the fact that he’s currently choosing not to communicate with me. Talk about a powerful ghost. I wake up in the night with regrets about his childhood, memories that torture me about his high school years when he began drinking and drugging and how little I understood what was going on with him, how worried I was and how clueless. Could I have done other, better, more? The answer is no, of course not, I could only work with the information I had, and during the day, when I can get to an Al-Anon meeting or just think things through, I know this. During the night, I am very often at the mercy of demons.

The same day I started trying to figure out how to talk to my son even though he won’t talk to me, a femme friend reminded me of the practice of metta, or loving kindness. It’s pretty simple. Love on yourself. Love on specific people. Love on everyone. And because it’s a chant, a prayer, an offering, you can memorize it and say it in the middle of the night when you’re tortured and also when you have a few moments or as part of a regular practice. I don’t think there’s one way you have to say it; my friend says go ahead and make up your own version, using the most soothing and comforting words that make sense for you.

One version is:

May I be filled with lovingkindness

May I be held in loving kindness…

May I feel connected and calm…

May I accept myself just as I am…

May I be happy…

May I know the natural joy of being alive…

You start with yourself, then move on to a specific person. Or you can just go straight to the specific person:

May you be filled with lovingkindness

May you be held in loving kindness…

May you feel connected and calm…

May you accept yourself just as you are…

May you be happy

May you know the natural joy of being alive…

Sometimes I just say, short and sweet:

May you be safe.

May you be happy.

May you be free from harm.

We can’t always stay connected in the way we want with those we love. I miss my sweet boy and worry about him, and I am holding onto the hope that one day he will be ready to reconnect. In the meantime, I can send him love, and in so doing, remember to release myself into love as well.

Dear femme sisters, remember today to turn your transcendent femme love on yourselves and on some of those difficult ghosts from your beautiful, complex lives. Turn it up, turn it on, turn it around. Your queer femme love is a healing force and you are filled with power.

Take that, demons!

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 – Sandra Steingraber

Sweet sisters, I confess that I do not know if Sandra Steingraber identifies as femme. I haven’t met her, and I can’t find anywhere where she says, “I am a femme,” which is usually how I tap my featured femmes for Femme Friday. So please don’t jump to any conclusions and please don’t think that I am “claiming” her as femme, because I’m not. Only she gets to identify herself! The reason I’m featuring Sandra today is because her story touches my heart as so quintessentially one kind of femme story, a version of which I’ve heard over and over from other femmes. Whether or not Sandra identifies as femme, her coming out story struck a chord with me, and I hope she won’t mind hanging out on The Total Femme today!

How many of us femmes came out late and stuck with men as romantic partners because we had no other options? Because we were so isolated? Because of a lack of community and role models? Because of full-blown heterofacism? For me, femme bookworm that I am, it wasn’t until I could find diverse, love-filled, well-written, and humorous representation of queerness in publications like Dykes to Watch Out For and Hothead Paison that I was able to begin to dip a toe into an exploration/admission of my own queer identity, and even then, it still took forever to come out as femme.

Deep gratitude to Sandra, for her unwavering dedication to justice, for her vital scientific work, and for her generosity in sharing her survival stories. Welcome to the family, Sandra, sweetheart!

https://www.terrain.org/2019/guest-editorial/just-found-out-im-gay/

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/air-force-anti-fracking-veteran-risks-jail-stands-her-ground-282250351.html

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 July 19, 2019 at 10:52 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Morgan Parker

Reading a poem or more a day is clinically proven to increase your intuition, dreampower, and self-realization. Buy Morgan Parker’s most recent book of poetry, Magical Negro, or her previous books, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, or all of them, and get started!

Morgan Parker, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for your poetry, especially the poem “Now More Than Ever” in Magical Negro, for the fucks you do not give about comforting or explaining to white people, for Reparations, Live!, Poets With Attitude, and The Other Black Girl Collective.

http://www.morgan-parker.com/

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.”)

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Library Cleanse

Just this morning, I had occasion to head to one of our many bookshelves to pull out my copy of Mary McCarthy’s collection of essays, On the Contrary: Articles of Belief, 1946-1961. Holding it, flipping through, stopping to read what she has to say about the orgasm, politics, character, and modern fiction* – exactly what I’m thinking about these days as I work on my own novel — made me realize how much I was longing to just sit and read it, cover to cover. And yet, stacked in the other room are about 40 library books, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, ones I checked out all along this summer, keeping me company as I rest and recover from chemo treatments. They are my security blanket, and many if not most are equally as yummy as my very own McCarthy.

However.

I’ve been thinking a lot during this healing process about turning inward. Making use of my own resources and the wisdom I’ve accumulated, lo these 57 years of my life. It seems to be a time to do this, rather than a time for expansive searching for anything new and kicky. For example, as grateful as I am to the western medical system for its expertise with chemo and other anti-cancer drugs, I know that I would be a lot less able to weather the deleterious side effects without my knowledge of non-western methods of healing (the title of a class I took as a sophomore in college). I am also indebted to my years’ long study of Buddhism and to a more recent connection to Al-Anon, both spiritual programs bolstering and connecting me to my own innate spiritual leanings. All of this knowledge is supporting my current healing and spiritual work.

As I was fondling my McCarthy this morning, the words, “Library Cleanse” came to mind. Although the new topics, novels, and poetry I found at the library would bring me joy, although the library is practically my second home and fills me with vigor, the books I’ve collected over the years and have squirreled away to read later are calling to me. I found them, or perhaps they found me (I believe in book magic) for a reason and this morning I realized that “later” is now.

Wise, intuitive, industrious, magical femme sisters, what are you surrounded by that may deserve a second look? Do you have collections of various and sundry? Do you keep adding to the collection but not appreciating or using the already-collected? Is your collection gathering dust? Do you even remember what you have?

Our souls call out for peace, intellectual succor, emotional healing, sensual satisfaction. It is humbling and gladsome to know that when the soul calls, we are equipped to answer. Right here, right now, once we stop reachingreachingreaching, we have what we need.

Surrounded by love. Surrounded by resource.

Fully realized femme eminence.

*What do I mean by a ‘novel’? A prose book of a certain thickness that tells a story of real life. No one could disagree with that, and yet many will disagree with much that I am going to say before I am through so I shall try to be more specific. The word ‘prose’ and ‘real’ are crucial to my conception of the novel. The distinctive mark of the novel is its concern with the actual world, the world of fact, of the verifiable, of figures, even, and statistics. from Mary McCarthy’s essay, “The Fact in Fiction”

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 – Stonefemme, Victoria Darling!!!

Deep gratitude to Victoria, for her explicit and exuberant stonefemmeininity, for her irrepressible sense of verve, for being so incredibly queer and stoneproud, for resonating in the world, and for giving us her loving and beautiful work! Make sure you check out both her books, A Stone’s Throw, and the latest, launching Tuesday, July 16, 2019, A Stone Shelter. Below, she introduces herself.

A Stonefemme Perspective by Victoria Darling

I came out in January of 1990, thirty minutes into my first therapy session. I was there to get more traction on my goals, and during that get-to-know-you chat my therapist asked what my week had been like. I responded first with what was at the top of my mind from the night before: a news program that reported on some LGBT violence, with a cavalier and condescending tone.

My therapist asked me if I was frequently upset by mistreatment of LGBT people, and I responded affirmatively. She asked why. Not why as in how anyone could feel that way, but rather, what was under my need to defend. My entire life flashed before my eyes in single still images, one rapid-fire after the other. All the tomboys I had lusted after. All the best girl “friends” I had been devastated by when I lost them—and the absence of grief when I lost a boyfriend. And then, all the way back at the beginning – when my grandmother caught me playing “doctor” with a tomboy at the age of ten and I was so humiliated I knew not to ever do that again.

I was gay. 

I blinked several times to process that information. It occurred to me I did not feel the slightest bit bad about it, either. When I admitted it out loud, I liked the way it resonated in the room.

I went home, made a list of who didn’t know, and within two weeks I had come out to all of them. And, I’ve never waffled all these many years later.

Coming out as stonefemme was a much more time-intensive and laborious process. There is no section of the lesbian handbook that says it’s normal to want masculine presenting women who almost exclusively have strap-on sex, generally do not want to be touched directly on their genitals, dislike having their chest referred to as “breasts”, and usually have their orgasms through the use of their strap-on (by penetration of their partners or strap-on blowjobs) or when causing the orgasms of their partner without being genitally stimulated at all. It’s also not particularly “lesbian-ish” when the occasional stonebutch wants “under strap” oral sex, especially when it is only if their partner does it in a manner that simulates a blowjob.

The early partners I found adored and flourished under my unprecedented and near limitless support of their masculinity. That masculinity fed my extreme femininity, which increased my sense of verve and personal power, and in turn fed theirs. It wasn’t about them transitioning or wanting to be male, it was about us being the truest but most extreme representation of female-bodied contrasts. For us it was incredibly queer.

But gender lives that sought to exist outside established norms were not allowed in the early 90s, so several of my partners—even in my greatest moments of vulnerability and giving—suggested I would be better off with men, because I was too good at wanting them the way they were. If femmes and our soft skills are invisible, you can imagine how impaling those words were, and how much more diminished I felt.

Isn’t it possible that there are organic mates for all of us?

Coming out as stonefemme meant trying to understand why my body was aroused by the smell and touch and energy of masculine females, when men and other women left me indifferent and dry. It meant gaining strength to step terrifyingly out into unknown and decidedly anti-allowed relationships. It also meant othering myself even more than I already was, in such a way that my small (lesbian) corner of the world would kick me out and shame me painfully with their you’re-REALLY-weird judgments.

The road to success came in millimeters, not inches or instant flashes, but eventually I came into my own. My first book, A Stone’s Throw, is a collection of essays, poems, fiction pieces, and gentle erotica written over ten years or so and compiled in 2004. It captures a small sense of what it is like to be a woman like me loving the type of partners I do.

Today, I am excited to announce I am releasing my newest book, A Stone Shelter, next Tuesday, July 16, 2019, which is a collection of real-life love letters written in an old-world/old-fashioned style (with bdsm themes thrown in for an interesting twist). These letters allow readers to see inside an actual stonebutch/stonefemme romance as it begins. Here is an excerpt from Atlas, the author of the stonebutch letters:

“I’m not surprised that you found my explanation of things a bit befuddling. I’ve never heard anyone describe their gender identity the way I do. With that being said, it’s not something I usually discuss with people. I feel almost entirely masculine on the inside. I just don’t think of myself as a guy. Because I’m not. My sense of sexuality, my sexual preferences and my particular way of relating to women are probably quite close to how heterosexual men relate to the women in their lives. I’m sure that most biological females who feel the same way I do, would likely go on to identify as male. I’ve never felt compelled to do that. I exist in a world between the two. But actually, you described it best when you mentioned masculinity within a nonmale person and a female body. That’s it exactly. You’ve managed to word it in a much more understandable fashion. I would agree with you that the attraction to the masculine in another woman is not what one would consider to be lesbian in nature. It’s something else. I call it queer. 

    My desire for women is not measurably different than a hetero male’s. That’s what makes me different from most of my friends who identify as lesbians. Yes, I exclusively date femmes. High femmes if the stars are properly aligned. I get lost in their femininity and softness. They’re mysterious, wonderful, life-affirming creatures. It’s only femmes that can relate to what is the masculine within me. They set me free, Isabel. They make me real. Everything seems to make sense when I’m with them. They complete me. It’s indescribable. Without femmes I would simply be lost.”

And one other excerpt, from further along in the communications, from myself (writing under the name Isabel Dane) to Atlas:

“It has taken me some minutes and several distractions to find my way to a response though I received your last post the moment it was sent. Sometimes I am so moved by what you say and how you speak that I… I am… Well, let’s just say it takes a bit to sort myself again. 

Your manner takes my breath away. 

And you are such a novelty to me. 

It’s almost as if you pen your words, then bow gently with one arm behind your back as you lay them reverently at my feet, backing away once you do. That is a skill I have been unsuccessful in instilling in another to any large degree. Yet you have it in spades. I hear it too when you speak of your sisters, as if all the women you care for receive that bounty from you. 

If you had asked me anytime in the last few years what I wanted, what it is I sought, I would have said with great temerity that I wanted a devoted stonebutch, but one that would never fully acquiesce his mind to mine. 

I appreciate the keenness of your mind, I desire you for your strength, and I ache for your masculinity to embrace me, but I admire you for the manner you have cultivated in yourself and the manner with which you bless those you care for; there is such kindness in it. It stirs me beyond anything I have known. You have a way about you that causes me to lean back in my chair, eyes wide; my hand reaching up mindlessly to touch my pearls. Once in a while, like the last post you just sent, its utter sweetness brings a rush of moisture to my eyes that has me reaching for a tissue before I’m even aware.

You have brought me new hope. And an excitement for the wind on my face and the sun in my hair that has been long missing.”

# # #

Victoria Darling (yes, that’s her real name) is a writer, educator, and community organizer who has helped butches and femmes feel validated and empowered to live their truest selves for more than 25 years. She began presenting on butch/femme sexuality classes and advanced training courses such as Cocksucking for Dykes and Butch/Femme D/s in the late 90s, founded the Femme Posse, Butch/Femme Salons, and the Butch/Femme Barter List, and conceptualized and led the first-ever Butch Appreciation Day in 2002 in San Francisco. She also started and manages the first-ever stonebutch/stonefemme-focused Facebook group called “Stone for Stone (Butch/Femme)”. Victoria is single and for the last five years has traveled full-time across 49 of the 50 United States with her rescue dog, Jo, as well as to Cuba, Mexico, and Europe as a solo traveler.

Victoria Darling - current photo.jpg

Victoria Darling

Victoria Darling - photo of Jo.JPG

Jo

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.”)

 

Pingy Dingy Wednesday – Totem Star

The dominant culture does so many disservices to children and youth, constantly swinging between completely disempowering them and completely ignoring their needs, joy, hope. Organizations and individuals who make it their duty to stop and listen, respond honestly and with respect have my undying respect and love.

Totem Star, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for offering the power and beauty of music to the youth you serve. My beauties, get over there now and listen to the love!

https://totemstar.org/

Mission: Totem Star supports a diverse community of young recording artists learning music and life skills through mentorship and meaningful relationships. Our work in the studio and on the stage fosters growth in collaboration, leadership, and self-identity.

 Vision: Totem Star envisions a more just society where all young people have access to music learning opportunities and youth voice is championed in support of healthy, engaged, and productive young people using music as a universal language.

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 July 10, 2019 at 7:26 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – Depths

Chemo is hard as shit and it’s really kicking my ass today. I can’t believe I have to do this two more times. I’m scared I won’t be able to. I asked my butch husband Tex if she was sick of my punk-ass self, and she said no, not of me, but of this illness and the process – she’s awfully sorry I have to go through it, but she’s very clear that it’s saving my life. I said I’m afraid it’s hurting me in some other really profound ways at the same time, and she said that we’ll get to that healing when we get to it. Right now, we have to focus on the two more games in the tournament.

She said that if the US and Netherland teams had to play all the time as hard and full-on as they did yesterday in the World Cup Final, they wouldn’t last. People would get hurt, people would collapse from heat exhaustion, and someone might even die. But for those two 45-minute halves, the women went all out. Because that’s what they do. Because they’re strong. Because they’ve trained for it and because they are completely on board.

She said that I’m strong and I’ve trained for it and I’m completely on board. That I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing.

And all I could say, through tears, was, “Thanks, Coach!”

Sweet stoic femme beloveds, you, too, are so strong in your souls. Whatever hard thing you’re doing right now, know that you can get through it. You can get through it with your big heart, by accepting help, by surrendering and accepting, by being grateful, by feeling your anger and regrets and allowing them to dissipate as all emotions do dissipate, like weather. You aren’t alone – I’m down here with you, I’m rooting for you, just as I know you’re rooting for me, and together our femme power and love keeps our dear life’s energy moving forward in those channels of beauty and marvel. In the beautiful game.

https://lgbt.10ztalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Megan-Rapinoe-Photo-At-World-Cup-Becomes-Hilarious-Meme.jpg

Megan Rapinoe, posing after her goal at the Women’s World Cup, 2019

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.”)