Pingy-Dingy Wednesday — Nnedi Okorafor talks about African science fiction

My sweet femme friend Miel Rose recommended Nnedi Okorafor’s writing to me, and I just finished reading her second novella about an earth girl who travels far and gains great responsibility, Binti: Home, which I adored. The astrolabes, the Meduse, the otjize, the okuoko and the edan are so beautiful and real. And my newly empty nest would be a lot easier to endure if my kids were at Oomza Uni instead of attending their mundane ol’ earthbound colleges!

Nnedi Okorafor, you get one pingy-dingy! Thank you for sharing your prodigious imagination and gorgeous writing with us! Your work lives on my bookshelf next to Octavia’s books.

http://nnedi.blogspot.com/2014/01/african-science-fiction-is-still-alien.html

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 and inspiration to be had elsewhere online.

 

Published in: on January 10, 2018 at 3:29 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes – FEMME LOVE HEAL WORLD

In honor of the Scandinavian side of my family and to accommodate a custody schedule, here at the Total Femme’s house, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. This Dec. 24, for the first time in a few years, everyone was front and center, in good health, and capable of enjoying each other’s company. Glorious!

Inspired by my friend Miel’s way with ritual and intent, I rode the good vibes and came up with a family ceremony that I know we’ll do again next year. It was short and sweet and a little last minute, but the power of love was with us, and even my cynical old grump of a father joined in with only one small grumble.

For the ritual, I spoke briefly about the Winter Solstice, and read the poem “Thank You, Fog” by W.H. Auden. Then we went around the circle and each offered up a wish for the world.

We wished that there be more quiet, that communities devastated by drug cartels in Mexico be healed, that the earth be healed by understanding how we’re all connected, by getting rid of pollution, by getting rid of the Trump administration and by rejecting the western notion of progress.

We each said how we would manifest the energy to address those issues in 2018. We promised to do more educating of ourselves and others, to be good role models, to unplug and slow down, to be aware and to help where we can.

We each chose a charity for an end-of-the-year donation and spoke briefly of the work of the organizations and why it’s important to us: Youth on Fire, The Center for Coastal Studies, Animals Asia, Arlington Eats, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network and Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project.

The ritual was calming and bonding. It was so lovely!

Below, I offer a femme version of this ritual to you, sweet femme sisters, as we ride out the last bits of 2017 and get gussied up to meet the new year.

We need each other, we must connect and share our wisdom.

I love you.

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FEMME LOVE HEAL WORLD – a femme ritual to be done at the New Year, or any time it’s needed

This can be done by a femme alone, or in a group of femmes, and you can tailor things to meet your own needs.

You can open with a poem, preferably by a queer poet. There are so many to chose from! “To Martha: A New Year” by Audre Lorde is a beautiful one…

On a piece of paper, write down the answer to the question: What is your wish for the world?

If you’re in a group, fold up the paper and put it in a bowl/hat/basket; each femme picks one (switch it up if you pick your own). If you’re alone, just speak your answer out loud, maybe looking into the mirror or up into the sky.

Go around the circle and ask each femme to read the question and respond to it by saying, “I will manifest femme energy to address this issue by _______________________.”

Everyone responds, “So mote it be.”

After all the femmes have spoken, you can burn the paper to release that energy into the world.

You can keep a record of your answers in order to revisit them the next time you do the ritual, or as a reminder to yourself when you’re feeling scattered. You can chose a charity for a donation, and educate the group of femmes about the work of the charity you chose.

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Post here to share your wishes, how you’re manifesting femme energy, and your favorite charities! Share the femme love!!! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Every Monday (or Tuesday), 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.

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes — “What, you think we needed your permission?”*

“What is it with all these quotes?” my father asked me plaintively. I was in grad school getting an MFA in Creative Writing at one university and he was well into his 30th year teaching philosophy at another. “The kids these days use so many quotes at the beginning of their papers!”

Guilty! I had probably just written a paper about Maud Gunne and Yeats where I’d prefaced it with the quote, “I’ll be your mirror; reflect what you are,” from the Velvet Underground. Certainly meaningless and banal to someone like my dad, but replayed in its full glory in my mind, incredibly important to my sense of self, my understanding of the world and its many complexities, and utterly relevant to the topic of the paper at hand.

Last week, I wrote about the album “Horses” by Patti Smith. The album certainly means nothing at all to a lot of people, but for the people who were there, whose minds were similarly blown, well, you know what I’m talking about. And even if you’re more “eh” on the subject of this particular rock poet goddess, you’ve got your own heart and soul connections to other songs, so you still know what I’m talking about, even if you don’t feel Patti in your DNA.

It happens when you’re young and it doesn’t stop happening, that intense connection to a piece of art that reaches you at the exact moment you are examining life’s most compelling questions. And as high school teachers try and explain when talking about Shakespeare or the Greek tragedies, those questions just haven’t changed since Lucy (whose name was surely not that). But oh, those moments when it happens. When you feel that indescribably deliciously satisfying CLICK that both nails something in place and flings wide open doors and windows you hadn’t even known existed: someone has been here before me! someone amazing! they had this to say! they know what I’m feeling!

A good teacher can convey this experience, definitely, although it doesn’t have exactly the same impact. Still, when my junior high French teacher, worn out from decades of trying to reach the untamed minds of hundreds of uncaring American children, held onto her desk as she swayed, eyes closed, quoting Jacques Brel’s “Barbara” to us, let me tell you, I was not one of the kids whispering and passing notes. I still get goose bumps thinking about it:

                        Rappelle-toi, Barbara,

                        Il pleuvait sans cesse sure Brest ce jour-là

                        Et tu marchais souriante

                        Épanouie ravie ruisselante

                        Sous la pluie

                        Rapelle-toi, Barbara,

                        Il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest

                        Et je t’ai croisée rue de Siam

                        Tu souriais

                        Et moi je souriais de même

                        Rapelle-toi Barbara

                        Toi que je ne connaissais pas

                        Toi qui ne me connaissais pas

                        Rapelle-toi

Remember! And reconnect with those most passionate feelings that make us human, that carry us forward into spiritual, political, sexual maturity. Those feelings that might dim, but that can be ushered back into brilliance with the sound of a few dirty guitar chords, a poem, the cover of a book, a painting, a play, a quote.

Queer femmes have had to do so much translation in this regard. Nico wasn’t singing to a butch in “I’ll Be Your Mirror”; the narrator of “Barbara” is not queer and neither is the vision to whom he writes; none of the seminal texts (and I use the adjective deliberately) we read in high school allow for any queerness at all to seep into our worlds. This is why it is so important for us to make and to seek out queer art. So that we can feed our queer femme souls.

Do not lose sight of our rich resource, our queer femme art. There are so many of us, and we are all and always engaged in the art of reframing “reality” to include our bodies, our lovers, families, interests, concerns and stories. From Liz Nania’s paintings and her Femme Flag; Miel Rose’s embroidery, candles, fiction and prayers; SublimeLuv’s poetry; Kathleen Delany-Adam’s smut; Constance Clare-Newman’s dance; Tina D’Elia’s theater pieces; Dorothy Allison’s fiction; Kitten LaRue’s burlesque Nia Witherspoon’s plays, and so many more, to the art of any and every queer femme’s daily life. Reach out for it , surround yourself with it, reconnect and go forth fierce and with love. Do not wait for permission.

*The Butchies, “To Be Broadcast Live”, Are We Not Femme

Every Monday (and sometimes Tuesday!), 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.

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes — Crafting Queer Femme Ritual

Today, in honor of the solar eclipse, Miel Rose guides us in the basics of crafting a queer femme ritual. She says,

Ritual appeals to/communicates with the deeper parts of ourselves through symbolic action. So the key is to find the symbolic action that feels intuitively right for you.

One technique I like to use is to do some automatic writing and this is my suggestion: set a timer for 5 mins (or whatever length seems appealing). Write continually for this time whatever pops into your head. The first topic could be: what themes are up for me right now? What have I been thinking about? Are there recurring themes in my dreams?  What has been most present in my mind, or what has been nagging at the edges that I’ve been ignoring? 

The second topic could be: what do eclipses mean to me? What are my associations, memories? When I hear the word ‘eclipse’ what do I think of? 

 After this, read your writing out loud (getting in an openly curious and intuitive state of mind). If you are doing this with another person(s), look for overlap between the pieces and share what you think relates in the other’s pieces. Alone or together, see if there are already easily accessible imagery/symbolism that jumps out at you. If not, look at the themes and open yourself up to see what imagery comes to mind.

 Examples– someone feels burdened so they fill a bag full of rocks to symbolize their burdens, naming them and carrying them around until it feels right to empty the bag and let the burdens go.

 Someone feels called to work with water, but doesn’t have access to a body of water near by, so they fill a clear glass bowl with tap water and do their ritual around that.

 Someone wants to do ritual to preserve some of the high energy of the harvest season to carry with them into the dormant winter time. The first thing that pops into their head is a pantry full of canned goods, so they turn canning into an intentional ritual of kitchen magic.

If you get stumped, or don’t have the time or inclination to craft your own right now, a really simple format is writing down either your intentions for what you want to manifest/what you are committing to/what you would like divine help with in the coming months OR what your ready to shed and let go of. Write them on pieces of paper and burn them, sending the intentions out into the universe. You can also do both of these in the same ritual, burning what your letting go of and then what you’re calling in. When you’re doing this with someone else it’s really nice to do it out loud and witness each other.

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.

 

Published in: on August 21, 2017 at 8:33 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Femme Friday — Miel Rose

Femme Friday   Miel Rose

Miel Rose has this to say about herself: I am a rural, working class femme who was raised by hippies in the wilds of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. I am crafty in multiple senses of the word, being both a witch and a lady who loves to work with her hands creatively. I am a textile artist, magic skills teacher, and healer currently living in Northampton, MA.

I have this to say about Miel: she is luscious, delicious, yummy, fabulous, beautiful, talented, creative, wise and sweet and that’s just the beginning! We met some years back during a reading tour for the anthology Femmethology, and have been fast femme friends ever since. Look for her at the winter farmer’s market in Northampton, teaching all kinds of interesting classes and of course, writing. Check out her collection of profound and loving stories, Overflow: Tales of Butch-Femme Love, Sex, and Desire, and find her in many anthologies, like Best Lesbian Erotica 2015.

Deep gratitude to Miel Rose!

There’s this woman I work with. She moves around with more confidence and self-possession than anyone I’ve ever seen. Sometimes I think it’s because she’s in her late forties, older than most of the people I hang out with. But who knows? Maybe she’s always been that way.

            She works in the bulk department at the grocery store I cashier for. I love to find excuses to sneak into the back and watch her, the muscles in her arms tense, as she hefts the 50 lb bags of dry goods around. She has this old school butch feel, and in this town, old school butches might as well be unicorns.

            After she got hired, my work clothes got a lot more interesting. My skirts got shorter, my jeans tighter, and this is really saying something. Plunging became the best adjective to describe my necklines. I started wearing more make-up to work, but drew the line at heels after spending most of a shift barefoot when I decided it was more comfortable than standing eight hours in front of a cash register in stilettos.

            I would watch her move around the store, her short graying hair tousled and messy, like she’d just rolled out from between some girl’s thighs. She drove me crazy. My mind would start running in circles. Did she date femmes? Would she even recognize me as a femme? Or would she think I was some young, freaky straight girl trying to fuck with her? She looked like the exact kind of trouble I liked, but outside packaging can be deceiving. What if she wasn’t a top? Lord knows she inspired bottom space in me.

            I turned on my best flirt.

from “Undone” in Overflow: Tales of Butch-Femme Love, Sex, and Desire by Miel Rose

Every Friday, I will showcase a queer femme goddess. Suggestions welcome!