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Family and the Art of Imperfection

Family

My father died 16 years ago today.  In one way, his death seems like it just happened yesterday, but in another way, it seems like at least a century ago; I am left with a hazy, vague impression of events that might as well have been from a movie I saw long ago.

I guess time blurs the edges of pain. Maybe time blurs everything.

Between the anniversary of my father’s death today and Mother’s Day yesterday, I have been thinking a lot about family.  I was an only child, so I am the only one left to remember.

My relationship with my father was always good. Straightforward, solid, steady. Predictable. Consistent. I knew he loved me, although we didn’t say it; no, we were both much to stoic for that kind of mushy nonsense. Instead of words, it was his actions showed love. He took care of me whenever my mother was too busy, too self-absorbed, or simply too forgetful to do so. It was my father I could always depend on: for unexpected pop quizzes on random topics; for a cheese sandwich on gooey white bread with extra mayo and a teacup of whole milk anytime I was hungry; for endless rides to and from school; for help whenever my car(s) broke down; for listening to my ramblings about life on long walks from the time I was old enough to walk all the way up until he got too sick to walk anymore.

My relationship with my mother was much more complicated. My mother herself was much more complicated. My mother was fierce, difficult, egocentric, demanding, and stubborn. She was also funny, smart, strong, über-organized, and quite independent. I once took this quiz, “Do You Have A Narcissistic Mother?”, and let’s just say the score was significant. Very significant.

From the time I was born until the time she died, my relationship with my mother was a challenge. I would often feel exhausted in her presence, sometimes falling into what I called a “coma nap” when I visited with her, which felt like being dragged under into a deep, deep sleep by a force more powerful than myself.  Mom was shockingly self-absorbed, rarely showing any interest in me or anything I did or anything I was interested in; for instance, she never even asked what subject I got a Ph.D. in, nor did she ever show any interest whatsoever in my studies. As another example, I once traveled all over Europe for a summer, and upon my return, she did not ask my anything about the trip. At all. Not one thing.

That is certainly not to say that Mom and I didn’t have many good times, because we did. I can remember staying up late with my mother and watching Benny Hill, laughing until we cried. I remember her selling her high school ring to buy my high school ring. I remember her rescuing me from a wannabe molester like a superhero. I remember how I escaped the “coming out” horrors that many Lesbians endure, and I believe that this was likely, at least in part, because my mother decreed publicly that it was fine with her, and everyone was always too afraid to go up against my mother. I fondly remember playing cards with Mom, her friend, and my ex every Thursday night for several years after Dad died. I remember Mom coming immediately, without questioning, driving over 4 hours, to help me move out of my apartment when I was young and had just discovered my first girlfriend cheating on me…although I also distinctly remember her saying “I told you so”. (My first girlfriend and my mother were mortal enemies; I realize now that it was because they were simply too much alike).

When I first wrote about my mother, I wrote: “Love her or hate her (and I still vacillate between the two, even after her death)….

Doing a Mother’s Day collage yesterday, I realized that it is time to amend that statement, because I no longer feel hate when I think of my mother. Now, I just feel love…it’s a complicated, difficult love, but it’s clearly love nonetheless.

In doing my Mother’s Day collage yesterday, I suddenly felt a kind of burden being lifted from me; one I wasn’t even fully consciously aware of carrying. The cloak of hurt, anger, anxiety, perfectionism, and angst that has been wrapped around my shoulders/neck ever since before I can remember was lovingly unraveled and discarded. I feel that I can finally breathe freely now.

It turns out that the answer was stunningly simple and had been available all along: My mother wasn’t perfect. Nor am I, nor are you, nor is any other human ever born.

I have come to believe over the years that most people are doing the best we can with the resources we have at the time. Sometimes it’s good enough, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Sometimes we succeed admirably, sometimes we fail miserably. Sometimes we hurt others, sometimes we get hurt.

I realized while doing the collage yesterday that I needed to forgive others, starting with my mother; to forgive myself; to accept that life is not perfect, others are not perfect, and neither am I.

Of course, I know that this isn’t earth-shaking, ground-breaking insight. Countless others have figured this long out before I did; in fact, the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi has been teaching this lesson for centuries. I’d read about wabi-sabi years ago and truly didn’t understand how anyone could accept, much less embrace, imperfection.

Now I finally get it…better late than never, right?

Stone Butch, From A Femme Perspective

On the off-chance that there’s anyone out there who doesn’t know what the term “Stone Butch” means, here is how Dirt described it in a previous post:

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Dirt further explained the confusion involved in and origins of Stone Butch in a later post:

image-4Many alleged “Lesbian experts” (who are neither Lesbian nor expert) claim that being Stone Butch is simply a preference, like some people like to be tickled while others don’t, or like some people like chocolate while others prefer vanilla.

These alleged “Lesbian experts” make the situation seem like it’s just another fun and fabulous way to be in a relationship: they incorrectly paint a rosy, sexy picture of a totally and mutually satisfied Stone Butch with a Straightbian Pillow Princess (while incorrectly calling her a Femme)**.

**Just to be crystal clear, since many (uninformed) people mistakenly associate Femme Lesbians with Straightbians, the difference is clear and quite simple: Femmes are LESBIAN and Straightbians are STRAIGHT.

And in regard to today’s topic of Stone Butch, only  Straightbians would prefer to be a Pillow Princess. Why? Because Lesbian is a sexual orientation. While being Lesbian is NOT all about sex, sexual attraction/interest is definitely a component.

Here’s the thing that confuses people, because sometimes Femmes will remain in relationships with “Stone” Butches (in other words, Butches who fear, and are ashamed of, being sexually touched):

True Femmes may settle for the inequity of a relationship with a Butch who feels she cannot allow intimate touch. We may try to convince ourselves not to feel rejected, unwanted, and lonely. We may tamp down our true desires in order to make our (Stone) Butch lover feel less threatened and for the sake of harmony.

But, over the long haul, Femmes who do so typically end up feeling sad, lonely, and unfulfilled.

The main factor to consider here is that Femmes are Lesbians. As Lesbians, we desire reciprocal intimacy with our Lesbian partners. We aren’t vending machines who just accept the change without dispensing the chips (so to speak, LOL). We WANT to dispense the chips. And we feel progressively guilty and uneasy over time when we are relegated to always being the receiver and never the giver.

So, what is a Femme to do? It truly seems like we are stuck between a rock and a hard place when faced with a Butch (who is Stone) who we want true intimacy with.

On one hand, if Femmes settle for the status quo of one-sided sexual relations, over time, we will likely start feeling rejected, unwanted, and lonely, as mentioned above.

On the other hand, though, if Femmes push the issue, we are likely to encounter resistance, rejection of our advances, and outright anger from the Butch (who is Stone). If we push too far, too fast, we risk even losing the relationship altogether.

The elephant in the room here is that true intimacy requires vulnerability from both partners. In the unequal, one-sided sexual encounters of a Butch (who is Stone), the Femme is expected to allow herself to be vulnerable, to allow herself to be touched intimately, to be “naked” (perhaps literally, perhaps figuratively). But: the Butch (who is Stone) doesn’t have to allow herself to be vulnerable. The Butch (who is Stone) remains in control, covered, distant, safe. This inequity is incompatible with true intimacy.

The good news is that being “Stone” is NOT set in stone.

I have come up with the following very general suggestions for Femmes who desire more intimacy, but are dealing with the complexities involved in a relationship with a Butch (who is Stone). Obviously, each situation is different, so not every suggestion will apply. Each Femme knows her own situation and her own lover best, and each Femme will need to decide for herself how best to proceed. Also, the following list only scratches the surface of this complicated topic, so this list is therefore NOT intended to be a comprehensive guide by any means.

1). First, before you say/do anything concrete at all, take time to figure out yourself, your motivations, and what you want from the relationship. What, exactly, is going on and what, exactly, do you desire to happen, with you and your partner, both separately and together?

2). You may want to take time to write in a private journal (which is kept in a safe, private place), and/or to talk to a trusted friend who understands (preferably another actual Femme).

3). Make time to take care of yourself before (and during) approaching the situation, particularly if you are feeling insecure. I don’t mean take care of yourself sexually (although that is fine too, of course, LOL!), but rather, I am referring to general self-care. Do whatever nurtures you: take walks, take baths, get massages…whatever. Why? By taking care of yourself, you will be better able to clarify and ask for what you need, and better able to approach your partner from a calm, centered place rather than from a state of anger, hurt, or frustration. Plus, those “small” self-care techniques are not really so small after all, because they symbolize valuing ourselves and our own needs, which is really what addressing this issue is all about.

4). Once you are clear about what you want for yourself and in the relationship, communicate your thoughts/desires to your partner, preferably at a time when your partner is fully dressed and calm and not feeling vulnerable.

5). It is very likely that your partner will immediately pull out phrases from the Universal Official Stone Butch Code Book  (written/influenced by Straightbians): “This is just the way I am!”; “I get my pleasure from pleasing you”; “I am perfectly happy with the way things are”; “I am wired this way!”; “It turns me on watching you”; “What’s the matter, you had fun last night, didn’t you?”; “My sex organ is my brain!”, etc.  She might even quote the alleged “Lesbian experts” like Shar Rednour (who are neither Lesbian nor expert) to back up her claim that Stone is a perfectly normal sexual expression.

6). When #5 happens, it’s important to try to refrain from becoming annoyed, angry, or defensive. Listen to your partner’s statements and concerns, and then ask questions to try to clarify, then listen again. Rinse and repeat.

7). Realize that we’ve all been brainwashed. Most Lesbian” advice has been written by non-Lesbians. Most people, including most Lesbians, have never met an actual Butch/Femme couple in real life (we are THAT rare). Therefore, Butch/Femme is misunderstood, misrepresented, and maligned. It will take more than a few conversations and certainly a lot more than one post to undo decades of false information. Part of that false information is “The Legend Of The Stone Butch”: strong, silent, and untouchable. It is time to start dismantling ALL the lies we’ve been spoon-fed.

8). Start reading the truth about Butch/Femme and issues regarding Stone Butch, preferable reading together with your partner. And: yes (because I know some smarty-pants will ask), I am telling you that Dirt and I know the truth. I know that probably sounds arrogant, but I don’t care. Why do I say we know the truth?  Because we actually are Butch and Femme. Dirt and I are not just talking about these issues…we have faced, and successfully dealt with, these issues ourselves.

9). Related to numbers 7 and 8: Immediately stop reading nonsense about Stone Butch, such as the drivel that Shar Rednour spouts, as discussed here. The attitudes such as those listed in the link, and in most other places, are detrimental to both Butches and Femmes, and encourage a very unhealthy dynamic. Let the brainwashing stop.

10). Connect with other real Lesbians. Most so-called Lesbian sites are cesspools.

11).  Realize that you cannot, and should not, change anyone else. You know that saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make her drink”? That saying applies here. Your partner may, or may not, be amenable to discussing these issues with you and/or open to changing her pattern. If she is not open, explain clearly why the issue is important to you and delineate the possible consequences from your perspective if no changes occur (e.g., your loneliness, frustration, etc.). Please note that I do NOT mean this as in a “threat” to your partner to “shape up”, but rather as an honest, frank communication of what the situation means to you.

12). Make sure to not blame nor shame your partner, but instead, focus on your own feelings, thoughts, and needs.

13). Realize that the issues driving your partner’s Stoneness are complex and are rooted in Butch Shame. Your partner is not trying to hurt, frustrate, or deny you, and her hesitation to let you reciprocate in love-making is not a sign of a lack of love or caring.

Read what Dirt wrote here and here (Please read the entire posts at the links…not just the blurb below):

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14). If you are a currently single Femme, it is important to have these conversations BEFORE the relationship progresses to sex.

In summary, there are no easy answers for Femmes who are seeking greater intimacy with their Butch partners (who are Stone).  Healing and hope are definitely possible, but, truthfully, the road there will likely be fraught with pitfalls.

Stay tuned for more on this important topic, and as always, please feel free to ask questions and/or give your thoughts here in the Comment section; and you are always welcome to email me at sayebennett@gmail.com.

Important Usual Disclaimer: This blog is NOT intended to be professional advice, nor to substitute for the advice of a licensed professional. The reader should consult with an appropriate professional regarding any/all mental health needs.

Black Mirror’s San Junipero: A Happily-Ever-After Lesbian Love Story…???

!!SPOILER ALERT!!

The 4th episode of the 3rd series of Black Mirror, “San Junipero” (and if you’re unfamiliar with Black Mirror, think Twilight Zone meets the technological age) has been much-ballyhooed as a triumph over the tired, homophobic “Bury Your Gays” trope.

And, in many ways, it indeed seems to be a happy ending. After all, the 2 lead female characters (Warning: Second, and final, spoiler alert!!) ~ after back-and-forth drama ~ do end up in virtual-reality eternity together, complete with a happy end-scene montage to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth”.

But…

There seems to always be a “but” when it comes to how Lesbian love is portrayed, and this particular portrayal has a big “but”:

Only one character (Yorkie) is a Lesbian; therefore, the relationship could never be mutual, happy, or true love. (And: Yorkie is a Lesbian whose family would not accept her, leading to tragedy…an all-to-familiar outcome for many Lesbians).

The other character, Kelly, is a bored straight woman who was married for 49 years to a man. Early in the episode, Kelly vaguely alludes to some never-acted-upon same-sex attractions over the years of her heterosexual marriage:

“They were crushes…Never acted on any of it. Never did anything. I really was in love with him.

This fleeting reference to Kelly’s unrequited same-sex flirtations led some viewers to call her “queer” or “bisexual”…but the truth is, it is clear that Kelly is oriented toward males. She married and stayed with a man for decades; plus, only a week before she meets Yorkie in San Junipero, Kelly was f**king a random man for “fun”.

The creator/writer, Charlie Brooker, explains in a spoiler interview (in reference to the same-sex relationship which is central to this story):

“in terms of the writing of it, I tried not to think of that. It’s just two souls.”

The actress who played Kelly, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, chimes in with:

“And that’s sort of the beautiful thing about the characters—in relation to their sexuality—is it’s really not about that, it’s not an issue, it’s not a problem. Obviously they all have their own relationships, how they’ve come to be in San Junipero and their own histories, but I think it’s about human beings and love and souls. And it’s not about it being a problem. That wasn’t the focus of the story and I think that’s actually really refreshing.”

Of course, all of that sounds very accepting and liberal and oh-so-very-nice, doesn’t it?

But here’s the thing: That sort of “sexuality-is-fluid, it’s not about same-sex love, we’re all just people, it’s just two souls” rhetoric is completely dismissive and erasing of real Lesbians. Note that they cannot even say the word “Lesbian”; instead they both refer to us and our love as “that!

For Lesbians, our love is not just about “two sexless souls”; our orientation is not “fluid”; and furthermore, we deserve to BE the actual focus of a story.

But it’s not just the hetsplaining and (seemingly) benign ignorance of the creator/writer and the actress that  I had a problem with in this episode.

My MAIN problem is, as usual, the Lesbian was just expected to accept, even embrace, shoddy treatment from a Straightbian, as if we are somehow LUCKY to be graced by their presence.

I am referring to the scene that decisively showed Kelly’s true colors and her arrogant straight privilege: the scene in which she abusively slapped Yorkie in the face, then condescendingly lectured her:

You can’t begin to imagine. You can’t know the bond, the commitment, the boredom, the yearning, the laughter, the love of it. The fucking love.
You just cannot know! Everything we sacrificed.
The years I gave him. The years he gave me.
Did you think to ask? Did it occur to you to ask? We had a daughter. Alison.
Always difficult, always beautiful. Died at 39 years old, bless her heart.
And Richard and I, we felt that heartbreak as one.
You think you’re the only person ever suffered, go fuck yourself…I pitied you, and that’s the truth.I pitied you. Now you give me some sales pitch about how fucking peachy forever could be… You wanna spend forever somewhere nothing matters? End up like Wes? All those lost fucks at the Quagmire trying anything to feel something, go ahead. But I’m out. I’m gone.

(Gagging loudly).

Kelly obviously didn’t remember (or care) that she was the one who refused to talk about serious topics, opting on insisting on a “good time”, instead of forming a real connection. Kelly obviously thinks that Lesbian Yorkie couldn’t possibly fathom the “depth” of her heterosexual marriage. She admits she married Yorkie out of PITY…not love…or even friendship. Furthermore, Kelly is quick to dismiss and disparage the people in the Quagmire (a new-wave, punk-rock sort of “anything-goes” club) as “lost fucks” even though she herself visited there for recreational f**king! Hypocritical much, Kelly?

Many viewers discussed in reviews and in online discussions about how “touching” the above scene was, because they perceived it to show “depth” to Kelly’s character.

Um…no.

What this specific scene showed was NOT true “depth”…at all. Instead, what it showed was Kelly’s complete disrespect and disdain for someone who had been nothing but kind and loving toward her. It showed the writer’s casual and callous dismissal of Lesbian feelings in favor of the alleged fabled “bond” of a heterosexual union. It showed the underlying nastiness lurking below Kelly’s seemingly fun and free-spirited facade. It showed outright physical and emotional abuse. It showed Kelly’s true heterosexual orientation and straight privilege. It showed an utter lack of understanding of, and a complete lack of respect for, not only the Lesbian lover who Kelly purported to care about, but also for Lesbians in general. And there is absolutely zero acknowledgement of, or empathy for, the tragic and HOMOPHOBIC circumstances that ruined Yorkie’s life.

Instead of discussing the very real dilemma Kelly was facing in a way that would have shown respect for the woman she allegedly cared about, Kelly’s character was shown to lash out physically and verbally in a very mean-spirited, immature, unattractive, narcissistic, selfish, straight-privileged, and egocentric manner.

And instead of handing Kelly her ass on a platter as she should have done, the Lesbian character, Yorkie, ends up apologizing, as if she had anything whatsoever to apologize for.

Furthermore, despite Kelly offering no apology to Yorkie (nor did any scenes afterward indicate any real soul-searching on the part of Kelly), the audience is magically supposed to believe that Kelly suddenly decides to show up in San Junipero for a happily-ever-after eternity with Yorkie and we are supposed buy into the concept that Yorkie should be happy to get Kelly back.

The sad truth is that Kelly would be f**king a man within a month, and Yorkie would get her Lesbian heart broken.

This is not the happy ending Lesbians deserve. Instead, San Junipero turns out to be just another slap in the face. 

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#PicsArt #FreeToEdit

Lesbian Bed Death: Where Myth Obscured Truth

NOTE: Please read Dirt‘s companion post on the same topic:  Lesbian Bed Death: Unstraightening the Lies

Back in 1983, a sociologist flake named Pepper Schwartz wrote a book called American Couples, which reported that Lesbian couples have less sex/intimacy than heterosexual and gay male couples.

Thus, a hypersexualized STRAIGHT academic  dillweed single-handedly brought the damaging concept of “Lesbian Bed Death” into the public’s consciousness, where it persists, even among Lesbians ourselves, like a demented stalker steadfastly ignoring a restraining order.

Schwartz’s assertions and methodology have been challenged repeatedly ever since. One fatally flawed study about the sex lives of “queer” (ugh!!!) women  even claimed to have completely debunked this myth. [That 2015 study, although well-meaning and well-received by all of us hoping to invalidate the myth once and for all, is sadly not valid because conducting a self-reported “queer” (ugh!!!) survey which was “open to all women who have sex with womendoes NOT equal Lesbian].

So, what is the truth?

Lesbians can’t trust Schwartz, and we certainly can’t trust people who think a self-report survey of  so-called “queer” (ugh!!!) women would in any way be valid for actual Lesbian experience.

In many conversations with Lesbians over the years, I have found it shocking how many of us simply accept “Lesbian Bed Death” as truth, even when conflicting experience and information is presented.

In some cases, the myth even seems to become a self-fulfilling prophecy; whereby the natural/normal decreases in sexual frequency that often typically accompany long-term relationships are misinterpreted as the death of passion, which, then, in turn, is often misinterpreted as the beginning of the end of the relationship.

I don’t have any formal research to prove it ~ (and, quite frankly, no self-report research could ever truly prove nor disprove anything anyway, and self-report is the only  way to ethically conduct sex-related research) ~ but, regardless, based on much anecdotal data from numerous friends and acquaintances, as well as many online conversations, I am confident in saying that “Lesbian Bed Death” is indeed a myth.

There are several important factors, however, that I feel contribute to the longevity and tenacity of this nonsense, and I wanted to address some of those factors in this post:

1).  Lesbians are vulnerable to the very same issues that can cause sexual desire decreases in everybody…but the difference is that we attribute these universal issues to “Lesbian Bed Death” due to Schwartz’s ridiculous fiction. These factors could include, but are not limited to: aging, chronic pain/illness, stress, grief, menopause, surgeries, injuries, relationship issues, mental health concerns, body image issues, overwhelming work or personal responsibilities, boredom, schedule conflicts, unresolved trauma, etc. etc. etc.

2).  People in general tend to believe so-called “experts” and take what they say as fact, when we all should be questioning everything that we are being spoon-fed. “Lesbian Bed Death” was reported over and over and OVER until it became generally accepted. But just because something is often-repeated does not make it true. (Earth is not actually flat, but for centuries people were TOLD it was; therefore, until someone challenged that myth, people actually believed that if they walked too far they would fall off the planet!).

3). As Dirt and I have repeatedly discussed, Straightbians perpetually wreak havoc on Lesbian lives, and sex is one of the many ways Straightbians are harmful to Lesbians. As related to the “Lesbian Bed Death” mythology: if one of the partners is NOT A LESBIAN, she is never going to share true sexual attraction/interest with a Lesbian partner…and particularly not over a long period of time. So, while a Straightbian may initially have sex with a Lesbian (due to curiosity or novelty or commitment-seeking or manipulation, etc.), once the relationship is established, it is highly likely that the frequency of sex will decrease significantly (or may even disappear totally). Note that when this happens, it is NOTLesbian Bed Death“….because one of the partners is NOT A LESBIAN!  Instead, this is a simple case of 2 people not sharing a sexual orientation, which negates true attraction.

Moral of this post: Lesbians: please forget you ever heard the term “Lesbian Bed Death“! Schwartz was wrong, but in true Straight-privileged fashion, she felt free to DICKtate and hetsplain Lesbian sex lives, and her lies have haunted us ever since.

It is time for Lesbians to tell our own stories, listen to our own intuitions, and focus on our own Lesbian selves for a change.

Our sex lives are our own, to do with as we please, and what we do, how we do it, and how often we do it is our business and within our control. We don’t have to be victims of a fictional syndrome perpetuated by a straight woman. Lesbian love is so far outside heterosexuality that what occurs emotionally/sexually between two Lesbians remains inconceivable to hets. Hets cannot and should not speak for us…we can, and should, speak for ourselves, thank you very much.

Hetsplanations for Lesbian sex consist of outright fiction and damaging myths ~ so hetsplanations need to go STRAIGHT to where they belong:

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Home

Woods

Image: #PicsArt #FreeToEdit

I grew up in a small town.  Well, you really couldn’t even call it a small town, I guess, unless deer and bobcats and crickets can be counted as neighbors. More country than town. Where I grew up made Mayberry seem like a bustling metropolis.

Our nearest neighbors were my grandparents on my father’s side.  When I was about 3, I learned a shortcut through the woods to get there. Even with the shortcut, it was still a 20 minute walk through fairly dense woods, and I had to jump over logs and climb over barbed wire fences to get there, but the trip was always well worth it, because all the magic of my childhood lived at my grandparents’ farm house: warm cookies and milk; books everywhere; creaking floorboards; ghost stories; a dusty attic full of mysterious treasures; hand-churned strawberry ice cream; fried chicken cooked in bacon grease; the overpowering smell of wisteria; fireflies on summer nights; rocking gently on the front porch swing, drinking sweet iced tea and feeling the summer breeze on my face.

But, when I became a teenager, I suddenly couldn’t wait to leave home. I wanted to get out into the real world, where I was convinced that excitement and enlightenment waited.  I skipped 9th grade to hasten the process and made sure to obtain academic scholarships so that my ticket out of the boonies was guaranteed.  I’d just turned 17 when I left home forever, convinced that there was much more to life than could be found in the rural South.

And I never went back home…at least not to stay. In the many years I have been gone, I have only returned for holidays and family events, only to quickly hightail it out of there as soon as possible to get back to my “real life” in whatever city I was living in at the time.

The simple truth that I have realized over the years is: the main reason I avoid going home is because it makes me sad.  When I go back, I feel a yearning for something I cannot put into words; a nostalgia for the simple, pure happiness I knew as a child.

When my father died, my mother moved to an apartment to be near me. I began renting my childhood home to provide a bit of income for her.  After a few rental horror stories, we finally found the perfect renter, who has been there for the last decade.

Until now.  I just learned that the perfect renter will be moving out at the end of August, and now I have to decide what to do with my childhood home and the 80 wooded acres it sits on.

Of course, I could rent it again and I have already had inquiries, but being a landlord long distance is often a lot of trouble, because things break and I am not there to fix them.  Not to mention the considerable headache of finding a good renter.

The obvious solution is to sell it. It makes a lot of sense to do so, both logistically and financially. I am living 700 miles away now and, of course, the money would certainly come in handy.

So: why do I feel like crying at the very thought of selling a house which I have not lived in for many more years than I did live in it?  Why do I find myself dilly-dallying about; procrastinating whenever I even think of making the necessary arrangements to go prepare the house for sale?  Why do I get tears in my eyes just thinking about someone cutting down even one of my Dad’s precious trees which he cared for so diligently? Why do I still dream of being in the cool, dark woods, the silence only broken by the leaves crunching beneath my feet and the occasional bird call?

My spouse, partner, and all-around sweetiepie, Dirt, says that the decision is mine: she says we can move back there if I want.  She is willing to uproot herself from her work, friends, and family to support me if I decide I want to move back there. Her unconditional love and willingness to do whatever makes me happy means more to me than I can possibly ever fully express.

So now I am torn, stuck between wanting to hold on to a place that made me happy and staying in a place that makes me happy now.

I don’t know the answer yet, but I will. And whatever happens, I know everything will work out, because my true home is not a place…my true home is a person.

True Love

Since I just found out today on Twitter that it is apparently Butch Appreciation Week (how did I miss that??), I would be remiss if I didn’t say how much I appreciate my Butch spouse, partner, and all-around sweetiepie, Dirt.

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Before I met Dirt, I had often been called “the least romantic person in the world.”  And I guess it was true. I would roll my eyes so hard at Hallmark movies and other sappy fare that I was at-risk for a concussion. I honestly thought that all the hokey romance stuff was for suckers.

And yet.  I always felt an underlying vague wistfulness that I couldn’t pinpoint. On the treadmill, I would repeatedly watch one of my favorite movies of all time, The Princess Bride (a movie, by the way, that Dirt steadfastly refuses to watch with me, which I suppose is rather ironic), and I would snort with derision at the sappy kissing parts ~ but somehow underneath my cynicism and sarcasm, I must have wanted what that movie was basically about…true love.

And then I met Dirt. And suddenly, all the love songs ever written suddenly made sense to me.  It was like a cartoon-style proverbial lightbulb suddenly appearing over my head.  Every love cliche ever written suddenly became real.  Birds singing, blue skies…well, you get the picture.

There are so many things I could say that it would take more than a dissertation to write, so here are just a few of the many things I love and appreciate about her every day:

I love that she is the most stubborn, outspoken, opinionated person I have ever met. I love it that she is completely and unapologetically herself, regardless of the approval or disapproval of others.  I love that she is up by 6:00 a.m. and fully coherent.  I love that she loves our cats with a fierce yet mushy devotion.  I love that she can cook anything from scratch (without a recipe), and that she comes up with creative meals every day.  I love it that she realizes that she is Butch and can still love cats and cook delicious meals.  I love the way she dresses, and the way her close-shaved hair feels when I rub the back of her head.  I love that she works out every day, even when she is exhausted from work. I love that she makes me laugh so hard that my sides hurt and my mascara runs. I love that she makes up silly songs about our cat, Ari. I love how she supports me and encourages me and never makes me feel bad for being a super-klutz.

I love being in love with her, because I have learned that happiness is not just about how much you love someone, it also is about how you feel about yourself when you are with her.

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Red Devil Dog

AnnaHoychukshutterstock

Irish Terrier Photo ©AnnaHoychuk (Used under license from Shutterstock.com)

I love stories about strong, independent, courageous, motivating, unique, funny, and/or quirky women.  I LOVE THEM.  I could read them all day.  My spouse, partner, best friend, and sweetiepie, Dirt, already does segments on her blog, Doing Woman Different, so I won’t be reinventing the wheel here, but I do sometimes want to spotlight stories about the many wonderful women who inspire and motivate me.

Today’s example is not a human ~ she was a dog. Her name was Fiona and she was an Irish Terrier.

My mother said many times, with a mixture of curiosity and jealousy, “You ADMIRE that dog!” And she was right. Fiona was full-of-life, fearless. She approached every situation with the zest and joie de vivre usually reserved for 2-year-olds who have ingested copious amounts of cotton candy.

Life was her adventure, and Fiona lived it to the fullest.  Whether it was flinging herself headlong off of a precipice without looking what was underneath, or fearlessly defending her territory against interlopers such as snakes or the mailman, or sucking lizards down whole while I frantically attempted to save them, or teasing her yellow-lab-mix big brother, Fordham, Fiona was a red-hot ball of energy from the moment she was born until her last breath.

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Fordham and Fiona

Once, a hawk made a serious miscalculation and tried to carry her off.  The hawk swept down upon her suddenly, buried his talons in her back, and attempted to fly off, but there was no way he could lift her muscular, sturdy body, so he flapped his wings frantically, no doubt puzzled as to what the heck was going on. In one smooth move, Fiona dropped & rolled, reversing their positions.  Now she was on top, and she wasn’t going to let this matter drop easily. She pinned him and held him firmly to the ground. Whenever the hawk attempted to raise his head, she would use her other front paw to slap him in his face, as if to say, “Go ahead, make my day.” They remained that way until physically pulled apart. It took the hawk about an hour to recover, and I would put money on the bet that he never messed with another red dog.

Fiona was quite mischievous.  She would take icicles off of the Christmas tree and hide them in random places all over the house.  She played jokes on her brother Fordham, hiding his toys and charging at him while playing in the backyard, then dropping and rolling under him, nipping his privates in the process, eliciting a startled yelp.

She was a handful.  She could dig a hole in a wall quicker than you could say “Bob’s your uncle”.  And I don’t mean a tiny little hole either. I mean the kind of hole you could fit a Thanksgiving turkey through along with a few side dishes. She precipitated many trips to the Home Depot.

She also could be remarkably stubborn, and didn’t take orders from anyone. When taken to an obedience expert, he gave up after 2 weeks, refunded the money, and admitted he could not even get her to sit.

But to balance out all the headaches, she was also remarkably endearing, sweet, and loving. She loved as she lived, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically, and intensely.

So, what did I learn from my wonderful years with Fiona? I learned that sometimes I just have to trust my instincts and embark on new adventures without any guarantees, because, really, are there ever any guarantees?  I learned that there is always time for fun and love.  I learned that there is a time to play, and a time to fight.  I learned that sometimes the best defense is swift and decisive action. Most of all, I learned that I should spend every day living life exactly the way I want, because life, like Fiona, will be gone all-too-soon.