Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Moving is one of the most stressful events in a person's life. So is buying a house. So is starting a new business. All these things are happening in my life currently, and yet in the midst of all this mayhem, the one thing that is not causing stress is my relationship with Mr. Lesbian. We are getting on like a house afire! There is something about having a shared vision for the future that unites couples, and I'm guessing that this is what is helping the two of us so much. We are surrounded by boxes (my mother calls and asks how life is in the "Cardboard City" when she calls me lately), the mortgage process has been difficult, fraught with problems and emotionally challenging and yet we are doing really well together. We are down to the wire with just a few more days before the closing and the move, and we are managing to stay closer and more connected than we've been in years. Hmm..I think I have to go into the real estate business - buying houses seems to be good for our poor, tortured romantic souls!

At the moment I'm stressed out from packing and plannig, so this is also by way of explaining the paucity of posts on my blog. I'll be back in the writer's seat in the next two weeks. In the meantime, send good moving thoughts my way.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Being a Lesbian Grandmother

Being a mother was, and is, a wonderful experience. But as others more eloquent than I have written, there are often impediments to closeness and connection with one's own children that are miraculously by-passed with grandchildren. My daughter and I are very close, but it wasn't always that way. We had a long period of estrangement when drugs and alcohol claimed her allegiance, and I lost her for many years. Sobriety brought her back to me...at first mad as a tick, and occasionally still she is angry and withdraws defensively, but we always find a way back to each other, back to loving each other. And, over the years we have begun to find peace in the connection we have with each other, to value each other highly, to enjoy spending time together and delight in each other's company. We love each other and say so frequently. I apologize often for the mistakes I made as a parent. We pay our dues, in our own ways and for our own reasons.

With my granddaughter there is no such tortured history. The love bond between us is unhindered by the absence of a shared umbilical cord - we just love each other outright and unabashedly, with nothing in the way. I remembered this in a big way today, and especially this evening hanging out in Starbucks. I happened to be on the phone with my daughter who mentioned that she and granddaughter were thinking of walking up to Starbucks to get a cup of coffee for my daughter, and a hot chocolate for granddaughter. Would I like to go? Well, I normally avoid drinking coffee late at night, but as it's a Saturday and I can sleep in on Sunday, I decided to see if Mr. Lesbian was interested in going to the local Starbucks for coffee. Affirmative.

Arriving at Starbucks, my granddaughter selects a cookie (M&M cookie) and places her drink order (child's Frappuccino, no coffee, with whipped cream and caramel sauce), and my daughter and I order for the three adults. Settled in easy chairs, we watch as granddaughter gets out her large tin of crayons, and opens her art books. Tiring of that, she leaps onto my lap, and asks me to read the latest book we had bought for her. It's a Hallowe'en book, called "Trick or Treat, Smelly My Feet." Sounds inoccuous, right? Turns out to be the story of a boy and girl whose gender-appropriate Hallowe'en costumes get switched around accidentally and the boy is forced to dress in the pink ballerina costume (wearing a paperbag on his head so he can't be recognized) while his littler sister proudly wears his Captain Space Pilot costume (which she had coveted all along) to the Hallowe'en Parade. In an accidental tumble, her brother's paperbag falls off his head, and he is revealed to all his friends in the ballerina costume. Quelle horreur! However, the little boy bravely decides to make the most of it and proudly pirouettes across the floor, while his little (male) friends applaud him for his unique costume. Issues of gender identity fascinate my 7 year old granddaughter, who is still trying to make sense of Mr. Lesbian. (Oh, the funny stories I could tell you about THOSE discussions! Later, girls, later!) She lies snuggled in my arms as I read to her, and I breathe in the sweet smell of her hair realizing how she still smells like the tiny, preemie I held all these years ago. She is such a survivor.

Finished with the book, and energized by the powerful effect of sugar on a small child's adrenal system, she wants to play..and I mean PLAY! She bounces up and down on my rickety knees demanding more and more bumpy play. She loves, loves, loves to be squeezed hard and laughs till tears roll down her cheeks as I pantomine being disinterested in playing, and then suddenly grabbing her and squeezing her tight. "Tighter, Nana, tighter!" she shrieks, barely able to talk through her giggles and laughter. "Do the disco animal dances, Nana!" she demands. So, I perform the various disco dances in the manner of their animal namesakes, and all in time with the motown music playing over the speakers at Starbucks that moment. I'm not afraid of making a fool of myself. I've spent too much time working with children to be deterred by feeling a trifle foolish - it's fun to play. She copies my moves, the panting tongue and floppy paws for a begging dog, flapping fins and "fish faces" for swimming fish moves, the prancing disco horses reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance routine - well, you get the picture.

In this way, two hours go past. I can think of few ways to pass two hours at the speed of light than to hang out playing with my granddaughter. I feel like I'm beaming love at her constantly, steadily and unabashedly for the whole two hours - she's easy to love, and shows her love back. Oh god, she will have her struggles. She will grow up, fall in love, and she will doubt herself on occasions, as we all do. But please let her remember how much her grandmother loved her, let her remember how loveable she is, not just at the age of seven, but when I'm dead and gone and she's fifty-seven. Let her please never doubt how easy she is to love.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Maine is beautiful

I had forgotten that Maine is beautiful. The shoreline reminds me of Wales, with its majestic, tree-covered mountains crawling down to rocky shores - the combination of mountains and salt water is one that I love dearly. The weather was beautiful on our trip away. Cloudless, China blue skies were above us for the whole weekend . We admired them as we rode around in the convertible, hair-blowing, music humming. Remember that this was October - in Maine! Those last three words are not something that you would associate with riding around in a convertible with the top down.

The inn we stayed at is run by two older lesbians who are confirmed, almost obsessive, anglophiles. Their vacations are spent in England, and both of them collect china and pottery. As a result, the whole Inn was smothered in English china plates, cups and bowls. On top of this, I have never seen so much chintz fabric in one place - it looked like
Liberty's in London had exploded in the house. The breakfasts were incredible - French toast with wild Maine blueberries, candied walnuts and Maine maple syrup, Dutch pancakes with fruit and yogurt, steaming pots of PG Tips tea, poured into porcelain cups and saucers. Just delectable.

I didn't want to enjoy myself, in part because I didn't want to let down my guard with Mr. Lesbian. I've learned to protect myself from hir and I'm horribly defended. This is not my normal relationship style - I'm open, candid, speak my mind and don't back off from a good debate. With Mr. Lesbian, I practically disappear myself into a small, dark hole. I didn't do this on our weekend away. For the first few hours, I felt like I was weaving and bobbing, avoiding potential angry outbursts in the way I've come to expect of our time together. Nothing. S/he didn't lose hir temper once and by the end of the first day, I was beginning to enjoy myself. This was more like the person I met and fell in love with all those years ago. And gals, we actually touched in bed that night - nothing sexual. But we cuddled and I can't tell you how major this is. Normally we lie on our own side of the bed, not even kissing goodnight. This was a change, a tentative attempt to connect. I wasn't ready for sex, sweet readers. But I felt myself having "willingness" to feel sexual, and this is a goddamn big f***ing deal, let me tell you.

We ate lobster and salad. We walked along arm in arm through the streets of Bar Harbor, looking in stores, admiring the local Tourmaline gem stones. We sat and had coffee in a wonderful internet cafe, and talked about our plans for our new house and what was likely to come next. I felt myself feeling emotionally generous for the first time in a long time, responding to hir good treatment of me, feeling myself open up towards hir.

Three days later, we are heading home. On the drive, despite the beautiful day, the almost painfully blue sky and soft, balmy breezes, my heart was heavy. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's four days since we returned, and while she has retreated a little, it's nowhere near the level of distance that s/he usually maintains between us. I don't know what changed. My normal style is optimistic, but I've been slapped back too much and am nearly out of hope. I'm waiting to see what happens. But it was a wonderful weekend.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Searsport, Maine - here I come!

It's official. We're going to Searsport, Maine this weekend! (Go on..go look it up on Google..I'll wait here for you while you do!)

The weather is going to be gorgeous, and despite the hints that Mr. Lesbian is dropping about not needing to take clothes because we'll be in the luxury hotel room all weekend (over my dead, cold, un-aroused body!), I've packed my cutest duds.

So, do any other dyke girlfriends out there take on the responsibility for the packing? Hmmm. I never did this before when I had lesbian girlfriends. We always took responsibility for our own packing. Mr. Lesbian, trans soul that s/he is, looks crestfallen if I don't pack for h/ir. So, I have capitulated again. Plus, it's really the only way I can guarantee that h/ir clothes won't be covered in automotive droppings. There I am packing the hairdryer and socks that match my shirts, and s/he's making sure that the Pepcid is packed and has printed out the maps online, checked the oil levels in my convertible and has picked out h/ir one pair of shoes that are going with us. (I never travel with less than 3 pairs. Anybody else?) Very gendered travel responsibilities, wouldn't you say?

Squirming with embarrassment as I type this, I realize that I'm shocked to think what a bunch of queer folks whom I have never met (yes, that's you lot) will think about these superficial ramblings. It's hard to believe, but I'm a kick-ass dyke feminist, I really am! My poor dykely brain still hasn't figured out how to make sense of this partner who looks like a woman, and is a man. I can't quite orient myself and I'm shocked by this. I respond to h/ir obvious femaleness, and don't know what to make of the maleness. It's not like s/he's butch. As I've said elsewhere, nothing butch about Mr. Lesbian. Wimpy guy energy, yes. Butch, nope. I'm attracted and completely turned off with one fell swoop.

Anybody else out there been through this? Anyone?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Not Married in Maine

As I mentioned in the previous post, Mr. Lesbian has arranged a weekend away for the two of us and we are going to stay at a classy hotel somewhere in Northern Maine. Okay, not that I wouldn't tell you if I knew, gals - I honestly don't know where or the name of the hotel. It's all very hush, hush. S/he did this as a treat for me because I don't take enough vacations and was complaining that I'm tired all the time. Yes, it is very generous. I should at this point mention that Mr. Lesbian is very good at buying gifts and spending money. S/he isn't good at being loving and thoughtful, and expects big expenditures of cash to take the place of affection, connection, intimacy and authentic bonding. S/he truly is a man. (I'm more than a little jaded, I guess.)

On top of this, I believe that Mr. Lesbian thinks that a weekend away will re-kindle flames that flickered out yeay these many months ago. If this had been 4 years ago even, I would be excited at the thought of a weekend away in a hotel. Now, I'm not looking forward to it. I feel as if I'm constantly raining on h/ir parade. But it really is too little too late. Sometimes when the flame flickers and dies, no amount of huffing and puffing can make that baby spark up again. I've just spent too long feeling first sad, then scared, then hopeless, then sad, then scared again, then angry - angry some more, and some more, and some more. And now, I don't care. (Okay, maybe I'm still a little angry, which means I'm still engaged.) Please don't think I'm heartless - I'm not. I have been so patient, too patient and for too long. Not only that, but I have been treated very badly and I don't trust that s/he will be able to sustain treating me well.

Anyway, here in Massachusetts we're legally married. In Maine, as far as they're concerned we're just a couple of gals with no civil rights to speak of. It's going to be strange to drive across the Massachusetts border and realize that we are no longer married. I'm expecting to feel like I ran out for the newspaper and forgot to put on my pajama bottoms.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Firing Our Therapist

Mr. Lesbian and I fired our couples therapist this week. Or rather I should say that I fired our couples therapist. Mr. Lesbian wanted to tell him that we couldn't afford to keep seeing him. I couldn't allow a lie to be the basis for leaving therapy. I knew that it wasn't working. Working with couples is my specialty, so I know good couples therapy when I see it, and I wasn't seeing it. For $150 per 50 minute session, and for a couple in crisis (you could tell we're in crisis, right?) you expect something more to happen than the therapist colluding with your avoidant partner by discussing politics and health insurance woes. I've had to work much too hard to keep the therapeutic ball in the air during our sessions, and over the period of one year, not enough help has been provided for me to feel that continuing with him was worthwhile. Mr. Lesbian probably got more from it than I did. As we were leaving the therapist's office building, Mr. Lesbian turned to me and said, "God, you're so fearless! How come you're so brave?" I had to reply that I'm not fearless. I was very scared to tell the therapist that we were terminating with him because his therapy had been ineffectual. It's hard to tell another shrink that - but I feel strongly about my personal and professional integrity. Slinking out of there with my tail between my legs just wasn't an option. Plus, here's the thing, gals....I realize that if Mr. Lesbian can't even be straightforward and non-avoidant with a therapist, whose very job description is about making a safe place and encouraging dialogue, what hope for my relationship with h/ir?

While chatting online the other day, my best friend said to me "So when are you going to end this thing?" and I realize that it's almost inevitable that the end will come. I think I want to be with somebody who wouldn't lie their way out of a strong feeling.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

100 Things

I took this from Suburban Lesbian's blog site. I really love lists.

1. I don't know how tall I am. Sometimes I say 5'3". Sometimes 5'4".
2. I'm of a certain age, i.e. I'm forgetful. I have to write numbers down or I've forgotten them 3 seconds later.
3. I have had my height measured. But then I forget what it is.
4. I don't like chocolate.
5. I like home-made carrot cake best.
6. I had my first orgasm when I was 25 years old.
7. I did it myself.
8. My favorite food is Sushi.
9. There is no signficance to, or subliminal association with, the order of the above 3 "favorites."
10. My least favorite foods are squid and octopus.
11.Not all Sushi restaurants like to substitute the above least favorite foods from the menu.
12.I'm a true Sagittarian. I used to fire those damn arrows and follow them anywhere they landed.
13. I still fire those damn arrows. I just don't follow them as frequently.
14. I like expensive Italian men's leather shoes as long as they have square toes.
15. I bit my nails until I left home at 18 years of age.
16. I used to smoke 3 packs of Rothmans cigarettes a day until 18 years ago.
17. I had a brief stint as a vegetarian chef.
18. I make fat-free muffins that taste like full fat and are to die for! (Recipe supplied on request!)
19. I prefer Macs, but I work on PC's.
20. I had a stint working for AOL as a chat room facilitator.
21. I trained as a ballet dancer in my youth.
22. I used to do illegal acts when I belonged to "Women Against Violence Against Women." (Hint: We were not against acts of violence towards men.)
23. I'm a pacifist.
24. I am a lazy neatnik.
25. I love how clutter looks in other people's houses, but I hate living with it in my own.
26. I'm scared of spiders.
27. My brother is gay.
28. I love to knit with mohair wool.
29. I plucked my eyebrows a couple of times in my teenage years, and they never grew back.
30. I am doomed to a look of "constant surprise" ever since.
31. I love Brooke Shields' eyebrows.
32. I only wear cotton underwear.
33. I prefer cotton bras.
34 I didn't wear a bra until 8 years ago.
35. I didn't sweat until I was in my mid-twenties. My face would grow red, but no perspiration.
36. I use unscented Secret Deodorant.
37. I too am "Safe enough for a woman, strong enough for a man."
38. I believed in Peter Pan until I was 13 years old.
39. I still have the first ever Peter Pan book I bought as a small child.
40. I prefer to swim naked.
41. In the ocean, I swim out far enough and then take off my swim suit.
42. I'm scared of having too much water below me.
43. I'm scared of drowning.
44. I can't watch movies with people drowning, boats going down, or folks trapped in cars under water. It makes me sick to my stomach.
45. My favorite ice cream flavor is Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heathbar Crunch.
46. With Butterscotch and whipped cream.
47. I'm not supposed to eat it.
48. I recently dropped 60 lbs in weight.
49. Eating Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heathbar crunch was not on the menu.
50. This list is much harder to write than I thought, but ah, the joys of the half-way mark!
51. I'm not a practicing buddhist but I'm drawn to Kuan Yin (sometimes spelled Quan Yin or Kwan Yin), Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. I have many statues of her in my study at home.
52. Couples Therapy is my favorite thing to do as a psychotherapist.
53. The last non-fiction book I read was about Michael Jackson. (Yeah, I know!)
54. I love the idea of the mythology behind mermaids and "Silkies."
55. I think red-headed mermaids are hot.
56. When I was a little girl, I asked my grandfather to take me for a lollipop. He said the weather was too cold, so I asked him to take me for a hot one instead.
57. My paternal grandfather was the person I loved most in the world. He died when I was 6 years old.
58. My father is a drunk.
59. My parents are divorced. They separated when I was 28 years old.
60. I'm secretly fascinated (and also horrified) by "The Girls Next Door" on E! TV.
61. My father subscribed to Playboy when I was a child.
62. Playboy's "Little Annie Fannie" was my youngst sister's favorite cartoon character when she was a child.
63. My parents didn't see anything wrong with that.
64. I play the piano.
65. When I was young, I learned to play the piano, the Timpani drums, the violin, the descant and tenor recorders and the cello. The piano and recorders "took."
66. I speak French, German and English. I took 7 years of Latin in school.
67. I lived in (what was then West) Berlin for a number of years.
68. I worked in an Antique bookstore on the Rue St. Jacques in Paris, France, when I was in my late teens.
69. I was on the pill when I got pregnant.
70. I came out when my daughter was still a baby.
71. My favorite home goods catalog is "Ballard Designs."
72. Followed by Pottery Barn.
73. The walls of my study are painted sage green.
74. I play computer Scrabble for hours.
75. I frequently beat the computer.
76. I stay in relationships longer than I should.
77. I love my daughter so much that when I look at her my heart hurts in my chest.
78. And no, I don't have heart problems.
79. But I do have stretch marks.
80. I'm a Netflix addict.
81. The last DVD I watched was, "The Celluloid Closet." I cried all the way through.
82. Breast implants are mysogynistic.
83. My first lover had really, really small breasts. She called them her "two fried eggs."
84. I think I'm fixated on breasts today.
85. Easy to understand why.
86. The last two search terms for this blog were "lipstick wearing husband" and "lezzbe."
87. Mr. Lesbian plays soccer.
88. On a women's over 50 team.
89. S/he is not "out" as transgender.
90. I'm writing but should be packing.
91. Boxes for moving that is...not packing as in "PACKING!"
92. Mr. Lesbian calls hir dildo "Captain."
93. The last one was called "Esmerelda." I cut it in half and threw it away in a fit of pique after a big fight.
94. Appearances to the contrary, I am not subject to impulsive actions such as that.
95. I'm currently reading Sheila Jeffreys book, "Unpacking Queer Politics."
96. I'm disagreeing with it a lot. (Do I feel another Sheila Jeffreys blog coming on?)
97. The second half of this list has gone much faster than I expected.
98. I recently bought a big pile of silk camisoles for the first time in my life.
99. I wish I had time for a nap every day.
100. I'm going away to Maine for the weekend with Mr. Lesbian, to stay at a fancy hotel on the coast.

Monday, October 02, 2006

One Republican + One Socialist-Anarchist = ??

Mr. Lesbian is a Republican. S/he actually worked to get Mitt Romney elected governor in Massachusetts. We don't talk about that though, and in this way we remain married.

However, I've recently realized that I'm more anarchist than I thought I was.

I worked hard to become a US citizen so that I could vote. But this year, for the first time, I didn't vote in local elections. And I don't believe I'll vote in the elections next year either. This photograph sums up why.

I used to think that at least my one democratic vote wiped out Mr. Lesbian's republican one.

Now I realize that it's pointless. The two-party political system is just a breeding ground for sociopathy. I think I'll just get increasingly more locally subversive.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Revolutionary Feminism, Sheila Jeffreys and a blast from the past...

I have written elsewhere on this blog about my early coming out days. This particular posting is about my first-ever meeting with honest-to-goodness lesbian feminists (other than occasional sightings in "Spare Rib" that is.) What got me thinking about this was that I happened to stumble upon an article about Sheila Jeffreys . She was one of the formative influences on my feminist politics in the early days. As I read this description of her, I am reminded of how much I changed after meeting her.

Remember I said that it was my ex husband's fault that I came out when I did, because he brought home a copy of "Spare Rib" ? (It was the mouthpiece for the Women's Liberation Movement in the early 70's in the United Kingdom.) Well, one service that Spare Rib provided was a listing of consciousness-raising groups throughout the British Isles. And, sure enough they had one listed for Bradford, West Yorkshire, where I was living at the time. The group was held mid-week at the University of Bradford. I took especially good care with my make-up that day, put on my best heels, a nice frock and my flared trench coat and off I went!

Okay, so I think I might have been the only straight gal there. Okay, and I think I might have been the only one in the room wearing lipstick. Or heels. Definitely the only one in a dress. Not another tasteful, flared trenchcoat in sight. Who am I kidding? I stuck out like a priest at a Hell's Angels convention.

There were about 7-8 women in the room. They mostly had short hair. Very short. Almost buzzed. And everyone to a girl, oops woman, had Doc. Marten boots on. And big men's shirts. And combat pants. In fact, most people there looked like they had just been recruited to the armed forces.

This is where I met Sheila Jeffreys. She was scary, but impressive. I swear to god she sneered at me. I became a lesbian right that moment, I swear to the goddess! Girls, I had NO idea what they were talking about. Remember what it's like when you first join a new club and everybody's talking about all the great times they've had together and using cultural short-hand that means nothing to you? It was like that. I felt ashamed immediately that I didn't look like them. I felt embarrassed by my heels and dress and can't swear to this, but suspect that I surreptitiously rubbed off the lipstick. Sheila was very vocal. I don't remember exactly what she was talking about, but I know that the women there talked about political lesbianism, about the personal being political (okay, I knew about that from reading Spare Rib, but the other stuff was beyond me at the time) and about patriarchy. I left there all fired up. The women scared and fascinated me and it was a while before I saw Sheila Jeffreys again. She was adored and hated in the West Yorkshire Feminist community - lesbians couldn't decide whether they were for her or against her and heterosexual feminists were mostly affronted and offended by her views which were passionately revolutionary.

Photos taken shortly after this document my slow transition from lipstick-wearing-suburban-wife to Doc. Marten-wearing-dyke. There's one particularly poignant photograph, where I'm wearing green bib overalls, with a black tee shirt and "Docs" but I still have my frizzy "big hair" perm and eye shadow. I was kind of like a half-dyke.

I identified as a "Rev/Rad Lesbian Separatist Feminist" for many years. Now? Not so much. I think I'm pretty radical, but not in the way that I was. Reading the article linked to Sheila's name above, I realize how far I've come from my early coming out days. I'm wearing make-up again. I didn't for years, but I do now. I'm not even sure why, and I find that I'm not even sure I knew why I stopped. I know that I wanted to fit in and I wanted Sheila Jeffreys to like me, wanted to be part of the club and that was the ticket through the door. Sheila was kind of like the mean school teacher, wagging her finger at you because you haven't done your homework.

In retrospect, meeting Sheila Jeffreys was life-changing. I think it didn't hurt to be confronted and to have to think about where I stood on the patriarchal battlefield. And I actually have come to think that being a lesbian femnist, with or without lipstick, is all by itself challenging to The Patriarchy. (Just don't tell her I said, that will you?)