Meditations for Queer Femmes – Where Am I In All This?

The pandemic took me in a lot of ways, but one of them was not cleaning out, sorting through, getting rid of accumulated stuff in the house. In fact, I probably brought home a few things that you chucked out onto the curb. A tasteful bag that says I LOVE IRELAND for example (I gave it to my son, Owen – he was ecstatic! — so maybe it doesn’t count?), as well as a couple of lovely old-fashioned soup bowls that we use almost every day (while you now have lots of space in your cupboard for your modern matching set).

This very morning, I walked by another clutch of temptation, the dregs of someone’s yard sale arranged attractively on the lawn. I stopped to browse, that old urge to rescue and find a fun use for surfacing most dreadfully. But I walked on by! Calmer thoughts prevailed, I am happy to say. I walked on by, bringing to mind how many things I have squirreled away in my own house, waiting to be discovered, rescued, found fun uses for. Even set out on the curb! Or otherwise redistributed. Is my zine collection from the 90s still ok up there under the eaves of the attic? Wouldn’t it be fun to flip through Rachel Pepper’s zine, Cunt? Or one of my old favorites, Office Supply Junkie? Ah, those were heady days! And given I haven’t crawled back there to look at them in, oh, 15 years at least, perhaps they could be moved on to a more appropriate and useful location? If the meeses haven’t gnawed them up for nesting material, that is. I could go up there now to find out! (Maybe later.)

No matter if you cleaned your abode down to the nubbin or if you’re still up to your eyeballs, you have your stuff around you, queer femme phoenixes, and it might have something to tell you. As we transition into whatever comes next (today is the Solstice, after all), what can you divest yourself of? What might you like to see again? What makes you sad, or happy, or deeply relaxed? Might you let one go, repair another, put the last on your alter or give to your friend who needs it because she’s going through a hard time?

We are always changing, ever moving, loving, living, breathing works of human beauty and wonder. I know however, that the space where I live is not always a reflection of that change, that movement, and I can feel very stuck, energy-wise. Today, darling ones, look around, really look. Breathe. Feel all parts of yourselves, inside and out. Ask yourself: Where am I in all this?

Proceed with all love and queer femme blessings.

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 June 21, 2021 at 11:13 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – 70’s Flashback

Yesterday whilst working in the kitchen, I threw on my Three Dog Night Greatest Hits CD and Tex came in as I was grooving to “Shambala.” For two seconds, she thought it was cute, but then it gave her a hot flash – too much Top 40 on construction sites in her past – and I had to turn it off.

But I love Three Dog Night, just because I do, and also because it reminds me of my dad, who would often come home from his job as a university professor with the latest record recommended by his students. Cream, Jimmy Cliff, Three Dog Night. He would dutifully listen to them, and then I would inherit. Also, it was fun singing “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog” in 5th grade chorus.

Three Dog Night, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for being part of my childhood soundtrack. Hit it, boys!!

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.”) And…as I go through graduate school, I will post as I am able, Mabel.

Meditations for Queer Femmes — First Hugs

Over the winter, I was outside with a friend’s 3-year old and for one brief moment I held her mittened hand as she jumped off a low wall. It was so automatic for both of us – she reached out, I reached out, we grabbed on and down she hopped.

That was it, though, for physical human contact outside of my (admittedly very cozy and yummy and cuddly) spouse, Tex.

And today, young people! A 4-month old baby! TREASURES!

Young friends are in town visiting family, darling folks whose wedding we attended and one of whom I’ve known since he was 4-years old. They made time to come hang out in our backyard this morning. Lucky us, we get to be family, too. The gift made so much more moving by the isolation suffered, the devastation witnessed, the overwhelm and dismay.

My first hugs in over a year. The incredible pleasure of holding that baby, letting her enthusiastically remove my mask (all adults are vaccinated – we decided it would be ok). Walking around with her, showing her Grandmother Rhododendron, who is blooming. Feeling her solid, wiggly, joyous little body in my arms.

I knew I missed hugs – it was so horrible and hard at the beginning of the pandemic – but I’d gotten used to the lack. Now I’m just weeping, from relief, I guess. From the loving touch of people who make up my people pack. Who have been in my history and will be in my future and who right here and now gathered me close and squeezed.

Buds and branches, blooms and biscuits, how I long to hold you and be held! Today, let’s celebrate the exquisite physicality of loving hugs and touches between humans who haven’t been able to express their human nature like this for over a year. Blessings on us as we slowly start to gather each other into our arms again.

Hugs to you, dear femme sisters. Hugs! Hugs! Hugs!

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 May 24, 2021 at 10:47 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Pingy-Dingy Wednesday – Marine Biologist Ana Pêgo and Plasticus Maritimus

As part of my writing program reading, my advisor asks me to include some works in translation, so much fun! I just finished a middle grade nonfiction book, Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species by Ana Pêgo, Bernardo P. Carvalho, and Isabel Minhós Martins, translated from the Portuguese by Jane Springer.

If I’d read this book as a child, I expect I would be a full time anti-plastic activist at this point, Pêgo is that good at conveying the mind-boggling scope of this dire problem as well as steering the reader towards ways both individuals and communities can work to combat it. It would be so easy to despair or live in denial, both of which I’ve certainly done, but this book helps me remember that even a little bit helps, not only with the bigger problem, but with the problem of one’s own feelings of misery. “One positive thing about the time we’re living in,” Pêgo writes, “is that we have a good understanding of the problems that need to be solved. This is a big advantage over other periods in history when there was less communication worldwide and when science was much less advanced. Today, if we care about the planet and about everyone who lives here, we can have a better understanding of what’s going on. Scientists study the problems and gather information and in many cases have already come up with solutions – and this is an enormous advantage. But things are not always resolved, are they? . . . This is why it is very important for us to take an active role. Being an activist means precisely this. If there’s a problem that we’re troubled by, and we can see that this problem has serious consequences, then we need to recognize it and get down to work to change the situation” (9).

Ana Pêgo and Plasticus Maritimus, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for your hard work and your heart work in educating, communicating, studying, building community, and inviting each of us not to lose hope. You have newly inspired me to pay more attention to the plastic in my life and what I can do to bring my lifestyle back into a better alignment with my values.

https://www.facebook.com/plasticusmaritimus/

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.

Meditations for Queer Femmes – Second Shot

I got my second shot on Sunday and am still wending my way through the after effects, which for me, so far, are a wicked sore arm, fatigue, being short of breath, being right spacey, and some neck and back stiffness. Post-shot things are so different for everyone, and there’s so much local lore circulating; I still have no idea what the next couple of days hold. For now, I’m sticking close to home, where I can easily rest, drink water, grab a snack. It was nice being in the park earlier with the dog, just a gentle perambulation.

Second shot – shoe to drop. That’s what it feels like. We’re all there, waiting to see what’s going to happen next. In my life, I’m wondering about, among many many others, if our chorus will be in person this fall, and even if it is, will I feel comfortable joining in? I graduate from my writing program Jan. 2022 – will that be in person? When might I feel ok about flying again? It occurs to me that this isn’t all that different from me coming back into a post-cancer life: things have changed and I’m still learning how.

It occurs to me that this isn’t all that different from day-to-day life. We’re just not all that used to paying such close attention.

One of the categories on the 2021 Provincetown Library Reading Challenge is “A book that is your favorite comfort read,” and that would be a good, not-too-violent, voicey mystery for me. I’m currently reading the latest in Spencer Quinn’s most excellent (except for the third one; be careful with the third one) series about Chet and Bernie, Chet being the dog and the narrator. When he finds things getting a touch too complicated, Chet is always saying things like, “I dropped this whole thing at once, made my mind a complete blank, and felt much better, more like myself. In fact, exactly like myself, which is when I’m at my best.”* Chet is my enlightened hero!

Second shot or not, my sweet worldbound queer femme dragonflies, if you can once and a while give it up and give it over today, finding yourself right there where you always are, things will expand and present themselves as they always do. Dystopic novel or not, every day, every hour, holds the power. Holds us if we let it.

*Of Mutts and Men by Spencer Quinn, 2020

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 – 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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