Monday, 28 September 2009

First Tattoo

I wanted to get my first tattoo for my thirtieth birthday but I couldn't decide on a design in time. Shortly after my birthday, though, I realized what I want: a bee on my left arm, specifically using the bee design that is the logo for the city of Manchester, England.

The bee works on multiple levels for me:
1. I have a fondness for bees as creatures. I love watched honey bees flying in and out of their hives and I love watching a bee working its way through a flower. And given the range of comparisons I make between femmes, especially FG, and flowers, well, it just works.
2. It's the symbol of Manchester and so a powerful evocation of the place where I transformed my life, a place I have come to love very dearly. (The symbol there is related to Manchester's history as a mill town: the bee as industrious worker.)
3. I have a whole repertoire of puns building off b-for-butch that I use often as short-hand. In Stone Butch Blues, the old slang "b-girl" as code for butch was invoked at one point. Bee for butch then, it's a private linguistic joke.
4. I love honey, the taste of it, the imagery of honeycombs, the whole thing.
5. My mother is somewhat allergic to bees and has a serious fear of them, so the image is also a protective totem.
6. I just like how it looks.

My goal is to have as large a tatto as fits, aesthetically, into the space of my upper left arm. That's the plan. Now I will start asking around and looking for a good artist. (Tips, especially in the Boston-Providence area, gratefully received.)

Here are some versions of the Manchester bee. I'm leaning toward not having too many colors and followng the gold-on-black design, which appears on bollards and lampposts in the city itself (though I imagine I'd used black or another dark color for the gold, and my skin as background). But I include the mosaic image because it's lovely. FG thinks I should add a stinger to my design. Maybe so.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Safe Spaces

I started my new job at the beginning of the month. It's going well. It's in a different city from where we live and I'm spending two nights a week there which is working out nicely. It has the unexpected benefit of allowing me to build my own space in my room here and have it as a sort of contemplative, all-me retreat. And I have my own office, too. I never realized how much I would like that, but I love it.

And... there is a new post at MacCool Uncensored, this one less content-free than the last.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

If Only to Reassure LLCoolJoe...

... I thought I'd update you all on how things are going in the non-passworded portions of my life.

I think I'm taking up running. I've gone for a run four times now, over the last two weeks or so. I quit my kung fu place, partly because of scheduling but mostly because I wasn't comfortable with their safety precautions.

So I needed some other form of exercise and tried running. Which makes me laugh--I tried fighting, now I'm working on running, I figure I have a better chance that way! But it's been nice, actually. Just a little bit at a time, but I've been able to run farther / longer (before switching to a walking break) each time.

Running was kind of a nightmare for me as a young person. We would do "conditioning" every fall in gym class, which meant running six laps around the track, a total of 1.5 miles. I was terrible at it and felt like such a disgusting fool. The gym teachers were not very sympathetic and would make fun of people for walking for a while or for how hard we were breathing. Also I turned a deep red that one of my (sort of) friends at the time labeled purple. I still turn red when I work hard, it's just how I roll. I'm fine with that now.

Anyway after that I never imagined taking up running but here I am, giving it a go and enjoying the feeling so far. It's nice to reclaim something that was so mixed up with bodily shame before.

And finally: new post up on MacCool Uncensored. Per yesterday's post, e-mail me if you want the password.

Monday, 21 September 2009

New Site for Times of Trouble

In the middle of a little nervous breakdown here, y'all. FG and I are fine, but I'm wading through some kind of big stuff. And I want to write about it, but I can't do that here. So at long last I am setting up the password protected blog.

It's at E-mail me for the password (butchgirlcat at gmail dot com). If I don't already know & love you, tell me a little something about yourself, like where you found me, if you have a web site yourself, that sort of thing.

This is some very personal stuff that I'm aching to talk about but I feel paranoid about it being findable by my family, first of all, and second of all, I just want to have a better sense of who's reading. Oh, and if you could *not* share the password, that would be brilliant. And if you're Tina and you don't read passworded blogs, um, write to FG maybe? Even just to tell her you love her, that would be super. Thanks, Tina. ;)

Oh yeah and. The passworded blog is not my sole method of coping. Just to reassure y'all. Ok, see you over there or back here once I can write things that only rate 10, and not 11, on a scale of 1-10 for deeply personal...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Stone-as-Liberation Post

It’s a little like a video game, but instead of moving up a level by killing enemies, I cross another taboo-laden threshold on a journey of enlightenment into the inner sanctum, the ninth circle of my own personal inferno. Slaying demons right and left along the way.

Or it’s like relaxing into the truth that has always been there, for better or for worse. I am one of those people: I am homosexual, I am a lesbian, I am butch, I am some kind of trans, and I am stone. And falling backward through that list I discover that the power of each label is dispelled in the claiming. All that trying to be not that, oh please God just not that one was more confining and rigid than admitting: yes, of course, that’s what I am and always have been, and in fact it’s more varied and complicated than I ever could have guessed when I was ducking my head and shading my eyes and hoping the monster would go away. Or maybe it’s just more personal and more alright.

Because the monster, in reality, was never the thing I feared (the lesbian, the butch). The monster that has been haunting me really has been this girl I was supposed to be, or this woman. And not only a girl but a certain kind of girl, the kind who has no boundaries and exists only to please. This is not the womanhood I see queer femmes reclaiming. This is the nightmare girlhood of misogyny and abuse.

Claiming stone(ness) for me has been finally letting that compulsion to girl go. It has been about claiming absolute autonomy over my own body and its responses for the first time ever. It means I get to set the boundaries where I need them, and what I owe my partner is not access or orgasm but honesty and communication and responsibility for myself.

Over the winter sex wasn’t always ending well. I felt a rawness and vulnerability welling up in me and I would override that and push through to achieve what I thought was necessary. And I found myself unable to keep faking it, I found myself defeated and shattered and miserable afterward, and my beautiful femme beside me begging to know what she’d done wrong while I sank into a white noise of fear and sadness.

And we talked and talked some more. And there came a moment when I decided I could be as stone as I needed to be or wanted to be, and I did not have to go involuntarily to that raw place. A breakthrough moment for me came when I declined, one day, to get off during a particular session of sex. And she was anxious, worrying that she’d done something wrong or that I was disappointed or frustrated. Which was not the case, not at all. And I said to her, “It’s not a boundary if I can’t say I’m ok and I’m done and have that be ok between us.” And she nodded, and somehow it was ok between us then.

I am not prescribing norms for butch behavior. I am not even prescribing norms for myself. I have no interest in listing out permanent boundaries. Just the one, really: I can ensure a basic level of safety for myself. I don’t know, really, how much this has to do with gender, and how much it has to do with all my personal messy baggage. We both exult in her radical openness, and I wonder about the cost to her of being so open when I need to be so closed, when sometimes I can’t bear to be touched at all, anywhere. But it is nonetheless a liberation to me that sexual intimacy isn’t an emotional roulette; or more simply, that it doesn’t have to hurt.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Second Meme in a Row (Don't Cry, a Real Post will Come)

Tagged by Rhett, the Asphalt Cowboy. Rhett, just so you know, I read you regularly. Just still can't comment, dude.

The rules are, erase the answers already listed and fill in your own then pass it on to four bloggers of your choice.

1. Who is the hottest Movie Star?
Like Rhett, I like blondes. But my movie start knowledge is way, way out of date. I fell hard for Scarlett Johannsen after "Lost in Translation" and I've stayed loyal. I used to really have a thing for Gwyneth Paltrow but not as much now. Oh, Marilyn Monroe was pretty hot, too.

2. Apart from your house and car, what is the most expensive item you have ever bought?
I don't own my house! And technically it's FG's car (little bit of queer-insurance there, in case something happens to me she doesn't have to fight anyone or prove anything to have a ride, anyway). I guess it's a tie, therefore, between our bed (nice solid wood frame, proper mattress, too bad it creaks...) and FG's engagement ring. A diamond with two sapphires. I told the salesman I was buying it for a friend. We chatted for a while, then he smiled gently and said, "How long have you two been together?" I was twenty; it was a few days before Christmas, 1999, and the stores were filled with guys who wanted to propose at the turn of the millennium. And I paid in cash, like counting off actual bills, because I didn't have a credit card yet. Ah, the memories.

3. What is your most treasured memory?
Speaking of memories! I don't know. I have a few. I'm feeling squirrelly today, though, and I don't think I want to write about any of them. Ha.

4. What was the best gift you ever received as a child?
My parents roto-tilled a patch of our lawn and put a fence up and let me make my own garden when I was 11 or 12. I kept it going for several years, until I moved out of that house when my parents got divorced. Working in it gave me a knowledge of plants that's been a source of satisfaction ever since, and the physical labor was one of the best and only such outlets I had at that juncture. It was really an oasis in a very difficult patch of life. And I grew some impressive veggies, too.

5. What is the biggest mistake you have ever made?
Giving up on myself after college. Deciding that I had to "grow up" and "be a woman" instead of facing up to what was really going on with myself and my gender issues.

6. 4 words to describe yourself?
Difficult, steadfast, mercurial, generous.

7. What was your highlight or low light of 2008?

Highlight: Hello, read the archives! 2008 was the year my whole world broke open. I rediscovered sex, came out as butch and then as sorta-kinda-trans, and remade just about everything. 2008 has been a highlight of my life.

Lowlight: all the crap I had to wade through while remaking everything. Lots of dealing with the past, especially, and plenty of mistakes along the way.

8. Favorite Film?
At the moment, I'm crushing on "By Hook or By Crook" which I saw for the first time recently. Never before have I seen a movie that looked like the movie playing in the inside of my head, if you know what I mean. It was amazing.

9. Tell me one thing I don’t know about you.
But haven't I told you everything already, dear readers? Hm. I like cream in my coffee, but at home I always use milk. There, that's a new one, I'm sure.

10. If you were a comic book/strip or cartoon character, who would you be?
No idea. Batman, maybe? I like Batman. Or, in a less heroic vein, possibly Garfield. A cross between Garfield and Odie, maybe.

The four bloggers I am tagging with this meme are:


Screaming Lemur