Femme Friday – Literary Femmes — Else, Femme Forever?

            Let’s keep talking about Elsie, later known as Else. After I posted about this character from Isaac Fellman’s novel, Dead Collections, I continued reading and lo and behold, things began to switch up. I’m going to talk about that, but first I want to talk about me for a moment.

            When I say that I’m an old school femme lesbian, I think sometimes other queers take that to mean that I have really rigid ideas about identity. Like they wouldn’t be surprised to hear something gnarly issue forth from my lipsticked lips that would make them need to say something grumpy about me on social media. I wonder if even my last Femme Friday about Elsie might play right into that scenario. But, my loves, I kept reading, as one should and must and sometimes does, and it turns out that perhaps this character wouldn’t identify as femme, at least not all the time.

“These days,” says the main character, Sol, “the best word for my partner is genderfluid.” Previous to this passage, there’s a sex scene where Elsie asks Sol to fuck her like he would fuck a man. When he does, it’s so super hot and mind blowing and wonderful, but then Elsie says, “This will ruin my life.” Now that’s oppression, the effect of narrow-mindedness, not on Elsie’s part, but on our own queer culture. Elsie’s worried that now they’ve unleashed parts of themselves they’d kept hidden or didn’t quite know about yet, that their community will turn on them. They’ve been perceived one way – a femme who loves a butch – and now they’re acting “wrong” for that identity according to the aforementioned oppression and narrow-mindedness. My tagging them as femme was half hopeful and half recognizing certain things in them that ring femme to me. Even after reading the above passage, I felt like there’s room in Femme writ large for someone like Elsie. I personally used to wear the occasional suit and carry a wallet – I liked the way it let me play with power. I’m also remembering endless threads on butch-femme.com about how there’s not one right way to be femme or butch.

            Femme has never stopped feeling right for me, and I rather suspect I’ll take the identity of butch-loving old school queer femme lesbian to my grave. You can throw as many era-specific qualifiers around it as you want, femme remains the anchor for me. It’s how I queer gender and sexuality. It’s at my core and it’s at the heart of how I am in the world. And sure enough, I’m not certain I could ever pinpoint its exact meaning because it shifts and moves, changing as I change, but it never stops feeling right. I do wonder if that might also be true for this character, but I can’t be sure. And if not, I won’t stomp around insisting otherwise! But there is a point in the novel where Else says that they think they’ll always be femme (I seem to have lost the page number so don’t have an exact quote, but look, I’m posting anyway, go, recovering academic, go!). I wonder if they have kept some of their femme leanings or loves, and that things they treasured about femme have stayed with them. I do believe Else might very well be part of the Femme family, and their journey is precious and lovely to read.

So, once again, deep gratitude to Isaac for loving Else onto the page. For giving them strength and anxieties and grief and horniness and a full and intricate queer life, and for exploring one aspect of femme with respect and joy.

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 life! 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 or four times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, Femme Friday on Friday, and (new for spring 22!) the occasional Sometimes On A. 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 life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Enough? Enough! Enough.

        I have the hardest time understanding the concept of “enough.” Writers are notorious for never feeling like a project is done, and I certainly fit the bill, always tinkering, always revising, always finding one more thing to do. But it doesn’t stop there. For whatever reason, my busy mind takes that feeling of never enough into just about every other aspect of my life as well. This obnoxious habit causes nothing but trouble.

            I took a walk today. But was it long enough? Did I stretch out enough afterwards? Did I get enough cardio? Never mind that I moved my body, saw red bellied woodpeckers and bunnies, a fading moon and beautiful clouds. Never mind that I was breathing and thinking and beginning my day outside and alive. I can’t tell if it’s enough, and that nags at me.

            In the past, I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out why I am the way I am. All the usual suspects and huge influencers play a part: brain makeup, family, when and where I was born, illnesses, traumatic events, US culture, capitalism, homophobia, sexism, misogyny, racism. I’ve lingered in the negative and the ensuing anger and hopelessness for longer than I like to think about, and the pull is always there. But lately, I’m less interested in the why, and more interested in how to enjoy myself more, feel more alive.  

            When my father turned sixty, I asked him if the fact of his mortality was making more sense to him as he got older. He laughed and said, “It’s just getting weirder!” Now that I’m sixty myself and the third anniversary of his death approaches, I agree: mortality is definitely weird! But for me, the weirdness and inevitability of death begins to free me up. I’m starting to feel that I have the time and the energy and the wherewithal to regroup about that troubling concept of enough.

            In the never ending stream of data we get to choose where to stop. Perhaps, this fleeting moment, it might be enough to remember and state, as the robot does in Becky Chambers’s Psalm for the Wild Built, that no matter how much you did or didn’t do today, yesterday, in your life, it’s all enough, “[b]ecause I know that no matter what, I’m wonderful.” We are not products nor do we always have to be producing.

            Imagine for a moment you have no purpose. It’s what can happen looking at flowers sway in the breeze. It can happen at that first sip of a soothing cup of tea. When you watch a baby dream. When you’re dancing, swimming, savoring, making love, hugging, laughing.

Today, my most amazing miracles, call on those blessings. Allow yourself those lifts and sweet surprises.

Breathe.

Release.

Rest.

            Say with me, sway with me:

            I have enough. I do enough. I am enough.

            I am through and through purely wonderful.

            Just as I am.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women. Would you like to offer up a Meditation of your own? I would love that! Send it along to me at thetotatalfemme@gmail.com.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three or four times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, Femme Friday on Friday, and (new for spring 22!) the occasional Sometimes On A. 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 life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Published in: on September 12, 2022 at 3:53 PM  Comments (2)  
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Sometimes On a Sunday: Those Little Pieces of Paper…

I recently moved my study and am awash in stacks of paper, as you can perhaps imagine. Or if you’re more organized than I am, perhaps you can’t! Anyway, many of these bits of wisdom I have no memory of nor do I exactly know what to do with them, other than post a few here today and recycle the rest! This is a whole Buddhist exercise in letting go, I tell you! These things I suppose meant something to me at the time and, here’s what I also hope: they got in me in positive ways and influence me for the better every day.

            p. 185 stroke those petals!

            son from a previous marriage?

            p. 227 “things that feel otherwise so”

            say the library ones I couldn’t read next time

            content warning

            (as she switches over) both closer and wilder with emotion

            values – what are they?

            small assignments — chunk it!

            experimented with this

“She had thrown off from her that wondrous aroma of precious delicacy which is the

 greatest treasure of womanhood.”

On that merry Trollope note, I will end this superfluous post and wish you a strong values, wondrous aromas, close and wild emotions, small assignments, and lovingly stroked petals! At the library.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three or four times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, Femme Friday on Friday, and (new for spring 22!) the occasional Sometimes On A. 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 life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Femme Friday – Literary Femmes: Elsie from Dead Collections

I’m halfway through Isaac Fellman’s 2022 novel, Dead Collections, and Elsie has not (yet?) referred to herself as a femme, but I’m going to call it. Elsie is bi, was married to a butch lesbian, is attracted to butch all over the place, and falls for the main character of the novel, Sol, who is a trans man. And a vampire, which it turns out Elsie also rather likes.

Here’s Sol’s description of her when they first meet:

            … she was all stiffness and solidity. A tall woman, big, in a stiff green velvet dress whose skirt stood out from her hips. Some big women are loose and soft, with a creamy invitingness – I mean not of attitude or personality, but a coincidence of how their body’s built. Elsie’s body was of denser stuff, and her face was matte and inexpressive, and her brown hair in a curly bob was very much “done.”

And later, when they’ve gotten to know each other more:

            I pressed my face to her broad shoulder. God, I love a girl you can rest on.

 Deep gratitude to Isaac for loving Elsie onto the page. For giving her strength and anxieties and grief and horniness and a full and intricate queer life. Thank you for adding to the all-too-short roster of queer femmes in literature!

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 life! 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 or four times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday, Femme Friday on Friday, and (new for spring 22!) the occasional Sometimes On A. 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 life life life, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Published in: on September 2, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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