background

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Living with Depression [for those who do and those who don't]



I am supposed to tell you, the audience, of my unbelievable recovery. How the last 3 years, I knew where I went. That I did not billow into a strange Arizona cloud of desert dust. Yet, I cannot. I have been tucked so tightly inside myself, that growth and evolution are all but mirages in the heat. I think, for a time, maybe the words were on the tip of my tongue. Depression and confusion and isolation create amnesia, you see. I can't really recall if I was close or it was just a dream, a story I told to remind myself that I was not dead-yet.  I thought I was in love, I thought I was gay, I thought I was psychotic, I thought I was sick many times — and through it all, I kept scratching the surface and recoiling.

Why am I like this? Do all the pretty journal entries about birds and flowers and lovers kissing my spine matter when, in effect, I cannot recall the very next week? I can recall details, but mostly it feels like a macerated  hunk of meat that a dog puked on the road. I literally feel like nothing is certain or cemented except the unwavering illness I suffer with, and have since I was 14.

I am not sad. I wish I was sad. Because sadness, you understand, is a feeling I can identify and it is exactly 100% better than numb. Numb is an inescapable weight. It crushes with its silence and abundance of nothingness. Numbness has no sexual energy or orientation. It fears nothing, not even death itself, because even death would provide a feeling of overtures and success. Truthfully, the worst part about death is knowing I am not brave enough to give it a go.

I think that depression seems a lot like sadness because it can often follow long periods of grief. When a lover leaves, a parent dies. It can last and it can and does, take many people down a long, torturous road of emotional drudgery. But eventually, even with antidepressants, people usually come back and stand against the wall, and finally, come forward and join the crowd. Sometimes, they even dance.

I think with chronic, long-term, whole life-long depression… the feeling becomes less hopeful. Year after year, the crimes seem more against the act of living than of daring to let go. Who will I hurt this year with my inability to feel? When will that person let go because another night with the crying is too much? And can I fault them? But they will fault me. For an invisible disability. For trying again and again to dance with my broken and mangled legs. And every attempt, every year, it feels a little more awkward. A lot more terrifying… and as inertia and gravity become cruel, unforgiving mistresses, not even the impulsiveness of youth is an excuse.

I don't want to die. I have said this over and over, alone, at night. Holding an adopted dog, into journals and art and pillows. I want to feel that something in this life matters. I see my daughter and I watch her grow into a young woman who is brave and talented. Even in times of great anxiousness, she muddles through, stumbles and puts her head into the wind and works her magic. I admire it. Watching someone I created, teaching her to be brave, it's hard. Very hard. Maybe that sounds awfully selfish, but I forgot how to be that brave. Depression constructs a mythological world where the creatures are both heroes and evil monsters alike. Her brain is not a normal brain, either, as she has ADD. But hopefully, she can avoid the years of waiting for a depression cure like her mom. And her grandmother. And her great grandparents, and the great uncle who killed himself. The bipolar and depressives who fought and fought & waited on the storm… and waited until the inevitable parting of the clouds.

Let me tell you something you may not know. Depression is unbearable at times. I mean, there is not a person who has severe depression who did not just pray for a break, where no words, no guilt or shame or "friendly recruiting" to social events existed. There is not a single one of us who have been in the middle of the black sea abyss of depression and felt like fucking, eating, dancing, making art, doing anything. It's not for a lack of want, but a lack of connection to the purpose. The reward of life-STOPS. Like a cold death grip around the throat of living, depression cuts off the air, suddenly and without warning. Sometimes, it even feels like warning us, but it doesn't matter. 

Me, I write. I write down anything that makes me feel real. To remember I am not dead in the midst of this chokehold. Music makes it tolerable, if only to sink into something besides my mind. People can be good, too, if they get it. If they know the black dog. But if they can't understand the ebb and flow of what it means to be depressed and live with it- and God forbid if they ever turn their back in the middle of it-i just can't bear them. I also make art, walk, take a benzodiazepine. Believe me, it helps sometimes in that cold prison cell of the mind-to be allowed to just sleep or walk in a fog that doesn't reverberate with what a total fucking loser I am.

I don't think this way. I really don't. Most days I make dinners, I go out, I make neat art and craft pieces. I love decorating and shopping and dressing up and wearing makeup and fixing my hair. Most days, I cuddle my chihuahuas and I write the plan for the day- and I live.

But there are weeks, months where I can't tell you who I am or what I want-or what I did last week, nor why- or if it was in the least bit gratifying. I don't remember love or feeling loved. I do not want to say I can't feel or empathize, but after watching people be hurt by a mental illness I can't always control [nor can the unmentionable number of meds doctors have prescribed over my lifetime, which are always hit or miss] I have to put up walls. Not your average "healthy boundaries" but thick, heavily constructed walls to keep people away from the damage. They fall. sometimes I let them because I am human and like most humans, I love warmth. It feels safe and nice. But when they fall for me, hard- I run. That's to protect them as much as myself. Here's something else about depressed people you may not know: We do not want to run. We want you to ask us to stay. We want you to sit it out, knowing that is the most selfish damned thing we could ask of anyone with a normally functioning brain. So our gut reaction is to push you out of the boat before the thing overturns.

When you see a depressed person, when you think they have nothing to offer, I promise you, they are thinking within the asylum of their chemically fucked brain, ten times worse. Ten times the shame. Ten times the guilt over it all. And do we drink, do we get high, do we hide, do we write it or fuck it all away…? Maybe yes, maybe no. But it's how we survive. And while I have learned not to destroy myself in the sea, crashing from wave to wave in the storm, it takes a lifetime to navigate a tumultuous ocean. Seasoned sailors, then finally Captains of depression. That's what we become, complete with salty language, robust bellies and scratchy beards… and yes, weary eyes that have seen many of our crew swallowed up by the unfairness of the high seas.

Friday, February 21, 2014

the terrible sadness of us

I see you in this photo. Barely comprehending the date and time. I know the texture of your hair. I can feel it perpetually coarse, grey and thick. Slightly oily and poorly washed, as you loathed the shampoo's irritation of your skin. Delicate British skin that I wore as a soft, cooing love affair for two years. i knew when it started to flake off and die, the affair, not your skin... but it feels like that, some days, i guess. Love starts out in that way; babying, pampering flesh- then malignant, misshapen, cancerous and oozing. Before we know it, we've no course of treatment. no more salvageable days. We only have mourning. Moving out and beyond the shore, to a blue abyss where nothing feels real, stable or directed. It's just afloat. That's the only place for me, that love enters. It has always been so.

I wish I could have held your wounds in my palms and washed them, licked them, taken you to my breast and fed you milk to nourish your pained heart. I know it was broken and i know what it feels like. I know from both sides, more than once, the pain of leaving- and being left behind. It is not a part of being a human being I find agreeable. Most of my life I have been "with someone" and so, to be without, on purpose, especially a decent man, seemed ludicrous. The guilt, the sadness, the loneliness was awful, but not as awful as it was for you. But you left so fast. If I were testing you, it was a failure on both of our parts. for me to do it, and you to fall for the trick. 

Admitting I am capable of love has been so hard. I knew we had friendship and i knew that your hands touched my dogs in such a kind way, I just had to try. I see now that i must feel lust, passion and some thwarting of my sensibilities for my heart to alight with fire. I knew it never lit in such a way, but I couldn't understand if that was just "getting older" or a new, gentle kind of love. As it tired out, I think it was friendship that should have stayed as such. but I am a stubborn ass... and relight, retry, relight I did, as many times as needed. It feels silly even saying it.

the sadness in my heart tonight is for the memories we did not make. The chances for forgiveness that were never to be. The sexuality you may to discover and how I have this unforgivable ego that seems to believe I have a magical vagina. I am sure you will go on to brave your way to love again. you're not a dumb man. not at all. Just too kind, too quiet, too giving and too closed off. These walls are constructs of emotional frailty and they did you not one bit of good. the same way my hyper vigilance  doesn't suit my anxiety in the least. Not once have I worked about a headache being a brain tumor & my anxious hunch was correct. Silly brains and hearts. They are but dwarves to reality.

Lately, I need you to know, i am mad... at myself. I wanted you to be here with me and things to be relaxed and ok. I would find time to write and I would passionately break out of my shell to make art again, to crate this magical world. I was so good at narrating the story of us. Remember? but I have found this guy... who is so brilliantly beyond my own mind, reads everything, touches my tenderest heartstrings and - makes me want to care for him, I just can't imagine it's even real. I wish in many ways, I could tell you what he means to me. i wish I could sit down and be adults together and you could feel happiness for me. but that won't happen and i am ok. I do not know if you will ever find this journal and that, too, is okay if you do or not. I write this to know I am in loving kindness, forgiving myself for the pain i caused you. for the life i denied you and the things i took from you. I hope that you learn to give them back to yourself some day.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Femme by birth? not quite.


I am trying to imagine a life without all the tools of a Femme Warrior. No more heels, lipstick, no shaving, no drag show clothes, freaking out over glitter makeup and MAC cosmetics or the absolute RUSH of finding nail polish on sale. It would suck. To quote Kelly Clarkson: "My life would suck without Femme." OK, not an exact quote, perhaps.

I do have some complaints. For one thing, there is a shortage of *me* in the world. I see girls aplenty, but not enough of us are open or out about being gay. That gives me a sense of cooling toward my Femme sisters when they say: "I don't need to come out. My butch does it for us." I can understand that, but what a sense of pressure for one person to bear the outing by herself, and frankly, butches have enough to contend with. I was once, for a brief time, quite *butchish* in my dress and short-short hair. 

I thought while I was 20, I'd get a short pixie cut, but I was 220 pounds, wore oversized hoodies and wide-leg skater jeans and Doc Martins. So...while I thought my Tony & Guy pixie cut was cute, My mother proclaimed I looked like a "dyke." which, I assume she meant "butch," it hurt because I was young and trying new things. It hurt because I wanted to be seen by her as beautiful. My mother's emphasis on beauty growing up was militant. By 14 I wasn't allowed out with her unless I had on makeup. It's ok, don't start crying, Argentina. I really liked my makeup and hair and all that jazz. 

My *butchish* nature started as a tomboy girl, climbing mimosa trees, dancing around campfire and shooting guns with my step father. I knew what a deer scrape looked like by age 6. I could point out a good tree for a deer stand, I knew what foxfire was, [we lived in the Louisiana swamp area] and by age 10, I was schooled in scaling fish, skinning rabbits and I could estimate what kind of pond had either frogs, catfish, bass or crappie. I was NOT a Femme child. I was the most outgoing, talkative little girl and sided most often with mange-ridden dogs and butterflies. Dressing *up* was a sundress and my red cowboy boots. I called them my "shitkickers" and was told by my 1st grade teacher that was "not what little girls were supposed to talk like.-"

Shrug. Who knew? Cuz here I was a little girl and I already had a foul mouth.

The lessons I learned farther down the *butchish* road were from women, who while not always butch or lesbian or even tomboy, taught me to be strong and that learning was the most important thing a woman could do. My grandmother told me she never learned to drive and I had to learn in order to be free. My MeMe Lena taught me to sew, to be gentle with things, to slow down because I  was always in too big a hurry. She also taught me in Taco Bell one afternoon to take back food I didn't like because life was too short to settle for what I didn't want.

My mom taught me things in nature on our walks to escape my often abusive stepdad, who while a great sportsman and outdoors hippie, had his own battles brewing inside. My mom would languidly, as if in a dream, hold my hand and show me tulip trees, explain when the persimmons were okay to eat, taught me to tend a fire, how to reel in a fish slowly, without breaking a line on the pole. She taught me hummingbirds and birds, flowers and leaves, how to listen for the thunder and lightning to tell stories. I knew what time of year it was and can still smell a rain coming. That's intuitive, my grandpa Sam told me. Indians know the weather. We know how to use our sniffers. He knew how to drink whiskey and Budweiser and made the best crackers and buttermilk in a glass over Sanford & Son, too. He showed me how to garden, how to tend a yard. 

It was as if, even amidst such an abusive and tumultuous childhood, people all around me were teaching me things. Our trailer park landlord would know a fight had broken out in our trailer between my mom and Danny when I'd show up one Saturday morning to "help milk cows," there was nothing like kneeling down and squeezing those udders. They were soft and the cows seemed so relaxed. I'd forget all abut how strong I had to be for everyone and just milk and squeeze and the warm milk hitting the metal sides of the bucket always made me happy. Even for a little while. Animals, to me, were my most valued and trusted friends. They talked with smiles and tail whisps and wags. It was a language I knew very early.

My Femme desires came when I wanted to be accepted and cared about by friends in junior high school. I wasn't much of a pretty girl, but I was funny, loud, willing to be ridiculous and I was good with thrift stores. Sill am. I believe I have not only a right to my butch and Femme sides, but that I honor anyone who would have me by not denying both. I will gladly shoot guns or hang out in a tree or put a worm on a hook for a girl. [or a dude, if need be] It's not something I think is unfeminine. I just think it's knowledge and the more of it, the better. Why label that as "girl, butch, Femme, tomboy?"

When I realized I was not ever going to be beautiful, not to me, I developed a shield of flowery dresses, fishnet stockings, cute miniskirts, heels and makeup techniques taught by drag queens on youtube. I learned most about how to be Femme from queens and old women. I think that perhaps says a LOT about my style and Feminine presentation. I am gentle and loving, but loud and invite unquestionably difficult diva moments a lot. It's okay, I know how to behave, too, but given the choice, I'd rather be a mixed bag of obnoxious and crude with a sprinkle of classy dame. The other way around, for me, is just too hard & maybe a bit boring.

Femme to me, is not a closed book. It doesn't end in cold cream at 11pm and it doesn't always start with lipstick. I got dogs to feed, bills to pay, several online side businesses I check everyday, social media and art updates, appointments, gardening, cooking, mending, tending-home, fires to keep going. I run, I walk, I hike. I like poking at things with sticks. I enjoy looking at another woman, the more masculine version of me who probably isn't going to slip into a thong, or a bubble bath, and I like knowing *she* appreciates that I do. (And will, most especially for her.) It's easy to be Femme, alone. I think the task is like any relationship; not to dissolve into a strong personality of one, but to remain autonomously sexy. I see it. I don't want that to happen. I like the contrasting colors, textures and shapes of femininity in those ways. Her up is my down. My pink is her black. Her pocket knife is my lipstick. But I also want to watch the fire with her, both of us warmed by the same flame. I wanna sleep under the stars & feel safe. I want to cook for her, who ever this elusive dandy girl is who can tie a bow-tie and build a good fire.

Femme is important to me. it's my swan song... a late in life lesbian's identity that says "hey, it's okay. you see those girls over there, they know you. they have always known you. they looked away, not because they didn't think you were amazing, but because they knew, even before you, you could't see yourself yet." that identity is the chant of my grandfather's people. It's my beautiful Native American blood, it is distant, but very real to me. As I grow more into this skin, I hear him from above, saying "intuition, kid. It's in the belly." He'd usually then turn it into a play fight where we'd spar in the front yard until my grandmother would break it up with a call for dinner. I never forgot how hard his gut was. I could hit him for days & he'd just laugh.

I'm lucky, really. Even though I do not know what it feels like to be in the tornado of a butch/femme love affair, I have the wisdom of knowing who I am and what I want. It's not an easy thing to explain because even with very few words for my sexual orientation, I am still vehemently not attracted to overly feminine women. It's just... not at all what I like. Let me explain it like this.

Every year my mother has these night-blooming primrose bushes that she has trained to come back. Year after year the things spread and get bigger. They are yellow flowers that open at dusk and once 20-50 blooms are opening at one time, the whole bush shakes. It's an incredible sight as the flowers literally unfurl right before your eyes. Now, come an hour early, you'll see nothing but a bush of wilted buds from the day before. Come an hour late, and it's just a bush of yellow flowers.

But in the perfect cool night air, while they are blooming, it's pure magic. It takes a special in-between time and place to see that magic. I feel like that bush. For years I was just a bunch of wilted blooms leftover from yesterday. Then for a while, I was a bush of yellow bursts of color, but stagnant and pretty. Not much too it. But when I came out in my full Femme lesbian glory, and gladly accepted my Femme stance and my butches appreciated me and showed their support, I was a bush shaking with magical mystery... I was, and am, in that moment, perfect. I can't say if every year I'll come back to that magic. I hope I can plant gardens with my wife someday. I hope for a lot of things, not the least of which is to be seen as I really am. But you know what? I've already won half the battle.

My life would suck without my Femme identity and I can't wait to share that with some brazen warrior like myself who knows her life would suck without being a strong, tough butch. Protectress & Angel; child and mother. We are all these, each of us embodies all points of the divine Feminine... that's what I want and what I need. I'll wait until I have found that. Lord knows, I have waited this long.  & yup... I'm bringing my heels, lipstick AND a lighter. Because you never know. x




Wednesday, February 27, 2013

skin

Things I have not done since I became a lesbian.
  • laundry
  • thought of a man sexually
  • written by hand in my journal
  • embraced a love interest 
  • balanced my budget
  • cleaned my bedroom 
  • cooked a big nice meal
  • meditated daily
  • played piano, written anything new
  • planned my garden for spring
  • given much of a shit what anyone thought

Things i have done since i became a lesbian.

  • made art in my studio
  • talked on the phone to another lesbian
  • went out to dinner with lesbians
  • came out to my family
  • hugged all my family members in loving kindness
  • went to UU church
  • hiked/walked/ran 50+ miles
  • lost 5 pounds
  • written numerous times, poems, fictional story and essays
  • read many books on lesbian culture, community & relationships
  • made brownies
  • got my nails did
  • put money into savings
  • had coffee, dinner, went out with friends, been socializing
  • drank champagne without consequence 
  • cried about 10 times
  • continued therapy
  • built more muscle






Sunday, February 24, 2013

backseat, 1992

you were crouched over the white leather seats
a giant oldsmobile and street lamps dripping orange light
through murky windows, "fuck, this thing broke"
i believe i said "let me try" but was thinking
"is it too late to stop, to end it, nevermind, just get it over with"

when you want to see it, smell it
i rinse my brain of fight, i hold my power down to my sides
clenching it in my fists, small and pale
Richie Sambora plays on your mix tape
my heart pounds, everything is loud, even the foggy moon
it moans like a whale
the trees creak, my ghosts move within my body

after, we walk to the river's edge and the smell of dead fish
permeates the air; years later you will ask me to marry you
in a similar fashion, quiet and with great pause,
with river stench awake on the shore
and mud between the soles of our shoes

saying "yes" was an easy ordeal for me. always "yes"
because "no" signifies a terrible resistance to happiness
and hope and belief in boy/girl fairytales.
there is hardly any sweet, delicate sunday afternoon spooning
in the word "no." so "yes" it was

even the dead things understand, washed up ashore,
we long for corporeal mirrors and touch that is warm, words that are soothing
even these small creatures know, there in the depths of
brown river water

reaching out for another
only to return great armfuls of air
is a lonely & unsatisfactory ordeal
even if "yes" in the backseat means we are giving away the last
vestige of a dream

sublimation [stream of consciousness]

what eats at me, is what i most desire to dine with daily.

I haven't felt lately like falling in love with myself. i do the things that need doing, and i smile a lot. but there is a seething and tearing at my skin, something deeper. trust. relevance.

there is performance for family and friends. there is an angel inside me who is sweet and tender.
also, the left out, starved tigress who needs to fuck shit up.
from the inside out, i want to devour, restrain, go for jugulars. hate you. completely rip you open until there is nothing to hide from, not even yourself. violently open your mind and heart.

but i smile, i nod, my way: self-deprecating and awkward as i do, glancing down away, then loud.
i hate this about myself. i want to be the girl not afraid of anything.
instead there are hugs and tears, questions and deep listening.

i talk in kisses.
i write in fists.


i am filled with the angel and devil dichotomy. you want to be seduced [and not] i want to be seduced [and not] so this hummingbird chase, light, deflect, take off, fly away, all day and we burn everything, all the nectar just because our wings beat so fast.

it's never enough and won't be;
interesting. frightening, too.
bad form for a wife. which is why i was shit at that task.
mother guilt. female guilt. shame over not finishing things.
shame over not having a degree. who is going to listen to a woman with no degree, and i cut my throat, rip out the music as if there is none, as if playing by ear is a nasty fault, instead of an incredible gift.

writing is hearing. hearing is touching with sound waves.
i touch her with music, from some soft place i can only find when i am still and writing or creating in deep listening sessions with myself.
i keep fires going and sometimes the fire itself says to me: "ya know? no. i am here to burn, you are there to build rocks around me and i do not want that. i have had that. let's get bruised this time. let's burn to the ground."

i fucking hate being needy.
i think a lot about butches. specificity. the action and reaction of male gendered bullshit, i am suspect. my trust knows nothing about my heart or my cunt. the sexuality of a desire is guilt. sexuality of a brain function is something, i am inhibited about, mores than vagina pleasure. that isn't guilt to me. i feel bad about wanting to taste your head and get into your mind. because it is vulgar and violating and constant, if done well. i did this to men, for money, for what i thought was adoration- i was constantly in control, making the story up as i went along.

omniscient love is boring as fuck.

i don't want to write the narrative of love. i love complex, unwritten, dissatisfactory, gibberish, chaotic, unpredictable, dysfunctional bullshit, noir/black/dysphoric.

i like complicated situations and very complex, smart women.
i like a drinking woman, though i, myself, reserve that for once a year or less.
control, but not bing in it, fear of losing it and loving it. i love being out of control.
i love that shit. i can easily become addicted to that sensation because i am always thinking and reviewing and when i cannot plan or write it or GET IT, just fuck yeah. I want to fuck *that* place in life. where i am about to tear my mind in half, better yet- you do it for me.
so so sick.

i love being drunk and out of control. i love taking drugs and just puddling down on the bed and having my way with you, nothing keeping my hands rigid or soft. wrestle, fight, throttle and take. it's stupid leftover anger/repression and i need to work this out, but i can't get it out. not out OUT.
that's where i must write it. pissing it out, like a dude.
when i stood over that one poor submissive and pissed on him, missing and hitting his eyes. that was awful. a moment of skill which i failed the once, but never forgave myself. he adored me after. but it was not my intention to blind someone for even a few seconds.

i pledged to be a grown woman by now. edging closer to 40. i might sleep a little and camp out in the stars, by myself. that's a good thing to do before i turn 40. i also wanted a degree because i fel weak and invalid when i have no audience. i can eat, dance, work out, walk the dogs, make my art, write- all this alone. the shopping, the caring of the house, the repairs, garden... all these things i do, alone, as a strong fucking woman, but yet- i feel completely alienated from women who make more money, know more, have more education.

stupid guilt. imposed by a societal standard of education.
when education isn't anything to the cunts who creep in and out of classes without interest in anything other than a degree. fuck that.

i am too emotionally generous because when i am angry, i get withdrawn and sullen.
i always think i can give enough for two or three people.
truthfully i am a fucking horrible person. i lie constantly for love.
my words are lies. they sit here, heavy on the screen and pretend i can do relationships.
they sit there, black and blue, like bruised stepchildren in front of a social worker-
but the stories are all false. they hate, they instigate. but they seek pity and difficulty and even though they shit on the couch and slap their mother, these kids, they just keep taking the victim role.
and it's so tempting to keep writing that shit down.
i hate victims. i hate whiney victims but i am the biggest one i know.

i felt sexually excited in church. i wanted to be brave and big for Jesus.
i needed him to see me as a daughter of warriors. my mom said my name "Kelly" meant "warrior woman" and I believed if i fought hard enough, with words, paint, men, sex- fucking and fisting the pain inside me, God would welcome me into his heart. i would think of how Jesus had a penis.
I did think that in church, looking at boys, thinking that i hated them for having it so easy. I could not piss standing up. Classic penis envy.

I was told by my brother the daddy butch paradox is so fucked up.
i agree to some degree it can be, but i want it to be taken down for me,
butch/father/mother and the equal and opposite "femme" self, but i struggle against both. like a packed cock inside foreign underwear. i am somehow in this state of between the male and female, with a phantom cock that needs to be used, touched, choked, subjugated and respected.

i do it in makeup and lingerie and heels for men.
not sure about navigating around a butch female, because that phantom cock is visceral and hunts. i am not that strong in it. not with women. not true, i am.
i do not WANT to be this strong any more.

I want to get the patient, smiling girl into her bed and be completely eviscerated by her great huge butch cock scimitar. wow. that's hard to actually write. nothing is hard unless it's truth. getting somewhere!!
finally.i'll leave it dripping.
like a painting right when it needs to be left.
like a bad, bad girl.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

coming out intoxication


"The world and words fuck each other."-Kathy Acker

I am trying to find the place where my tongue can say "lesbian" instead of hiding behind a computer. I suppose this is rich with sophomoric newly out lesbian ridiculous anxiety, but there it is. I have a very hard time saying I am a lesbian. I usually quell this thirst to admit my trueness in words like "I've come out," [that's very diva-like, anyway, which is my style]. My 1950s and 40s aesthetic is pretty girly. I have to come *OUT* about twice a day, but I had that practice when I had a gastric bypass.

I came out by having gastric bypass surgery in a very big way. With a youtube channel, emails and sharing and lots of pictures of my progress. I have come out similarly, as a lesbian. But both provide me with dread and slight shame whenever I say "I had weight loss surgery" or "I am now a lesbian, and yes, I was married, have a daughter and was engaged not once, not twice, but three times to men. [none of which provided actual marriages]" I am not ashamed of either, but I know what the thoughts are because I had them.

Weight loss surgery is the easy way out.
You will probably gain that weight back.
Why didn't you buy something useful with that money?
You've set a horrible example for women.
What does your body look like naked, with loose skin?

The answers I give if asked usually result in my feeling awkward and paranoid that some stranger is going to go home and Google my weight loss project and find out I was a horrible mess when I had that surgery. They might watch only partial bits and leave out the recovery, the coming to Jesus, as we say in the South, of what that surgery did for me and my whole outlook on life. So while I am not, personally, ashamed, I feel bad for not having the desire in me any more to educate the ignorance. Just judge me, fuck it, right? I cannot possibly make all these opinions go away.

Then I came out. I came out publicly, with love and passion, as a feminist, as a Femme, as a butch dyke loving girly girl who isn't afraid. But really? I am so very afraid. That's what I don't talk about in the narrative of Facebook or daily Instagram photos, or even with Twitter or Youtube. I am out as a LESBIAN and perfectly delighted, but incredibly terrified of the label. What does a 38 year old lesbian even know about this new tribe she has been magically embraced by? I thought I'd instinctually get it. That I'd feel brave and not at all vulnerable, now, that I was just being my correct Femme gay self.

HA.

The questions come, much like the weight loss surgery questions.

How long have you been gay?
Why do you like girls who look & act like 'dudes?'
Are you going to cut your hair?
My darling father even told me he didn't care about my gender... as if that was suddenly changing, too?

Well-meaning as the comments and questions are, some I just have no answers for and am not prepared. I have been gay since I had sex with a girl which was in junior high. I was crushed when she left me and dated my ex boyfriend. She had the most beautiful lithe body in her pink swimsuit and I recall her standing on my family's pool diving board in 7th grade, dripping wet, the suit pale pink, and her dark nipples were visible. I was kinda DONE with boys then.

But I was like every other girl in the world: I wanted to belong. I hid from first kisses [sorry Jason] and I lied about sexual promiscuity with a sarcastic slutty authority of someone deeply afraid of being gay. I was hyper sexual for years before I came to another, fully grown woman, married, only to find out she wanted something more and I couldn't do it. Maybe it goes back to the Golden Girls and Bea Arthur? Or maybe it goes back to "Just One of The Guys" when the girl dresses as a dude to go to a school undercover, and in the end reveals her breasts under a tuxedo jacket. I am not sure.

But I can say that my most fond memory of a full blown, hardcore honest to goodness BUTCH woman, was in Wyoming. I was in Girl Scouts and she was a guide. I saw her chain wallet. Her hips, that swagger. No, woman's hips ever did that. None I had seen. EVER. She was pure mythical, magical warrior, full of something not girl, not guy-but butch. That term, I have fallen in love with. I used to shy away thinking it was bad. But believe me, a butch knows what a femme knows; our labels are symbiotic in many ways if we connect. Pure fire.

so Wyoming Butch would walk, talk, laugh, hug, act really immature for her age, and i had never seen anything so fine. i was developing my feminine wiles with boys from emulating other girls my age, and i had really big fancy boobs, so you know, that didn't hurt. but the good hearted, funny butch lady was where i was at, mentally and sexually. i wanted to pull her aside, say "hey, can we talk about what's happening here?" but Wyoming Butch would hardly look at me. I was kinda girly. even though I was funny, too, I didn't want to use a pocket knife on anything or break limbs and make fires. I wanted to watch her do it, sure... but that's it. She ignored me the entire time she was with us.  Except once.

I asked to take her picture at the breakfast table and she stuck out her tongue and had oatmeal on it.
I still have that photograph. I still look at it. It was the playful spirit that I just wanted to sidle up to and just be with, understand, grapple with, feel in the cold night. When we left, and I knew I would never see her again, I went to my sleeping space, a colorful girly sleeping bag, zipped into it, and sobbed for hours alone.

And I zipped my entire life, all my misunderstood feelings into that sleeping bag. I was "bad," I was a "pervert," I dated the most hyper-masculine black athletic or pimped out men you can imagine. I hated women. I listened to rap and to anything violent. I tried to fuck my way out of this head-body-soul disconnect, but I came back to "I am gay" and just shut down. I would have little affairs, no biggie, I told myself, because I was a powerful sex-positive feminist woman. I can have sex with whomever I so choose. Suck it. Then I had my "50 shades of Gray" experiences and more male-centered sex, where it was, or so I thought, enjoyable to be degraded and used, completely disrespected because that edge was something new. Better to go there, with a man, than have a really satisfying relationship with a, holy shit, GIRL.

I still feel guilt over things I did. Places I went, physically, to fix my head. Because tears were weak. I was a survivor. I was not weak. Not even pissing in the street, homeless, because of addiction. I was never going to be anything but GREAT in my head; normal was great. Great meant desiring men, having a family, owning a home and driving a mom car. That's the Femme issue. We are conditioned and raised not as wild free spirited "tomboys" or loners, but as pack girls. Chicks. We like beads and crafts and clothes and hair shit and makeup techniques and Pinterest. But we're gay, too, so where is that safe place with our female straight friends to say "well, I love all these ties, but I only see them on other women in my mind?" thinking about a sexy tie on a butch makes me melt completely. But for 20 years of my sexual experiences, I refused myself that image. [unless I played with it myself, boyish fashion, but it was silly. I am not turned on by myself as a dude... at all.]

Now, though? I put on my girly clothes, and all out lesbian Femme and feel so sexy, so appropriate. Not like a slut for having cleavage, but a girly girl and adored by a butch. Totally different dynamic, and that is just what it is. "DYNAMIC," constant change, a system of progress. An exchange of positive energy, new ideas. I am not just a girl, not how a boy has been allowed to see women his whole life, no. I have new lesbian and butch eyes seeing me. I also see them in ways that are new and fresh to me. The collars and sleeves, the tugging at and wearing of pants, men's underwear. Brogues. Loafers. Boots. It's a drunken feeling, much like watching Wyoming Butch back in 1989. Only now, I am not hiding. Now, at 38, I let myself enjoy the scene and my very strong reaction to it.

I have one more thing to admit before I end my thoughts on being out:

I am a Butch Virgin.

you don't need to understand that, unless you're a butch or femme and you know. "oh." she has never really even HAD that fire she speaks of, and the truth is, no, i have not. i have known it in fantasy land and dream land and imaginary play with my writing stories, but not HAD actual Butch/Femme relations and it is pretty scary. i am kind of a virgin. not in the "Well, I like a Ducati but I have yet to drive one" way-but more in a "I was born with legs and just now discovered i can walk with them, but they are too weak to move."

So I stare at butches. I flirt with butches. I try and look unsuspecting in the coffee shop when a butch holds the door. I try and not focus on my lack of sex, and more on what I know in my heart. We know. When we don't know, life is miserable. [and I was] But now I am alive and while, yes, the very object of my Femme affections is not present in my life, nor do I know what the hell i'd do with her if she were, I am okay. I am fine with all this coming out. I was born alone, I have lived alone, I am alone. But it feels, just, unsettling and hopeful. I hold on to the Femme in me, proud of my bows and curls and rhinestone pins and 1950s pencil skirts and corsets and heels and stockings and fish net. I am quite the fashionista and "femme" is my bag, baby. I have to keep it fresh, for how am I to know?

She could show up tomorrow, in her butchbest or dressed down in jeans, chain wallet and chucks. I want to be the Femme who looks at her and she knows "I am seen." And I want to feel the butch gaze and know I, too, am seen. That's all I can do at the moment. So when people ask why do I like girls who look and act like dudes, all I can say is "there are no words for it. Like there are no words for the feeling when you see a girl or guy you are completely mad about & the air chokes right in your throat and chest and your body responds with a boner or wetness..."

It just is. and I love it. It is mine and all of ours, lesbians, gays, butches, Femmes, subs, bottoms, Doms- straights Queers.

That choke in the chest when you see something you know is your place in the world...
That's got to be right. I know I am somebody because the universe doesn't make too many mistakes.