Meditations for Queer Femmes — Honor the Gifts

Recently my spouse Tex, who is in hunger relief, forwarded me the newsletter of a local food rescue organization. “Scroll down to see someone we know!” she wrote, and sure enough, there was one of the youth who was in the Homeschoolers Queer Straight Alliance a couple of years ago. She is currently going to be participating in a fund raiser in her role as a winner of Chopped, Jr. I surprised myself by bursting into tears.

I loved being the adult advisor for that QSA. It was such a joy and so much fun that I often discounted the hard work I put in. But just because something comes easily for you doesn’t mean it’s not relevant and important.

This young queer won Chopped, Jr. when she was a member of the QSA, and she donated part of her winnings to the Trevor Project. Another project she started was to raise money for binders which she sent to trans youth in the south who weren’t able to purchase them on their own. She was an enthusiastic and hard working part of other efforts made by the QSA, too, cooking up a lot of goodies and helping decorate for the Drag Prom and queering our QSA table at Town Day. Her family was supportive of her identity, but in the QSA she was able to work with an adult queer (me) as well as other queer youth of all different identities in looking at the atmosphere in town, in the homeschooling community, and in the world, and figuring out what to do to promote education about queers and social justice in general. I helped make that possible.

My bumble bee beloved queer femme sisters, you, too, pollinate and effect change wherever you go. Whatever your gifts, whatever you do, when done in love, it matters. Hold yourself in love, hold your gifts in love. Today, honor your gifts. Today, remember something you’ve done far in the past or just last week that made a difference in someone’s life, or opened up positive possibilities that weren’t there before. Honor that moment. Those are the things that add up, those are the things that pull love into the world and help it grow. We need love to grow.

I am grateful for all that you do. It is an honor to be in your company.

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.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.

Lay your sleeping head…

Yesterday at the homeschoolers QSA, we had our check in, as usual, and at one point, one of the members muttered that some people were saying that 2016 was a cursed year.

“Let’s go around and say some good things that happened, then,” I suggested.

So many good things! One member is excited to have graduated to pointe shoes; another that her 18th birthday was this year; a third that a lifelong dream to be in a Gilbert and Sullivan show had come true. As for me, it’s simple: this was the year I thought my mother was going to die, and she didn’t. At 85, she is perhaps a titch more forgetful than before, but her enthusiasm, curiosity and sense of humor about the world are back in force, and I am SO GRATEFUL!

This has been a hard year, though. My work with queer youth has acquired so much more urgency and weight, my desire for queer culture grows daily, both for them and for myself, I am needy, wacky, freaked out, beside myself and all betwixt and between.

In fact, such is my volatile post-election emotional state, that I burst into tears when I read in Lambda Literary that Michael Nava has just published a new mystery called Lay Your Sleeping Head. AND THE TITLE IS FROM AN AUDEN POEM! Oh, Michael! Oh, Wystan! Oh, beloveds!!!

When he published Rag and Bone in 2002, the 7th Henry Rios mystery novel, Nava said that it was the last one. No more Henry, no more gay life in L.A., no more nuanced, gorgeous, queer Latino mysteries. It was wrenching, the loss of a literary friend, but I respected Nava’s desire to move on to other things, and have been waiting for the right time to read his novel, The City of Palaces.

But now, I can re-read all 7 mysteries, starting with The Little Death, and when I get to the end, it won’t be the end! What a gift. And the poem, the poem. I’m working on memorizing it, and I type it for you here.

May our 2017 bring solace in the form of oodles and oodles of ever-lovin’ queer art!

Lay your sleeping head, my love,

Human on my faithless arm;

Time and fevers burn away

Individual beauty from

Thoughtful children, and the grave

Proves the child ephemeral:

But in my arms ‘til break of day

Let the living creature lie,

Mortal, guilty, but to me

The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:

To lovers as they lie upon

Her tolerant enchanted slope

In their ordinary swoon,

Grave the vision Venus sends

Of supernatural sympathy,

Universal love and hope;

While an abstract insight wakes

Among the glaciers and the rocks

The hermit’s sensual ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity

On the stroke of midnight pass

Like vibrations of a bell,

And fashionable madmen raise

Their pedantic boring cry:

Every farthing of the cost,

All the dreaded cards foretell,

Shall be paid, but from this night

Not a whisper, not a thought,

Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:

Let the winds of dawn that blow

Softly round your dreaming head

Such a day of sweetness show

Eye and knocking heart may bless,

Find the mortal world enough;

Noons of dryness see you fed

By the involuntary powers,

Nights of insult let you pass

Watched by every human love.

W.H. Auden, January, 1937