Femme FATale


the moratorium is over.
December 9, 2008, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

the title of this post should say it all. the moratorium on blogging and other fun and enjoyable things is officially over! monday night, i took my oral preliminary exam and passed! i am now an official ph.d. candidate and considered “all but dissertation” (ABD)! resuming normal life starts now!

blogging is not the only thing that has been put on the backburner in the last few months because of these horrific exams. socializing, laundry, moving generally beyond the 625 sq. ft. of my apartment (or library), are all other examples. seriously, i leave to see my family and friends back east in a week and my apartment has never been messier. life has been on hold far too long because of these things.

i miss being physically around my friends here in minneapolis. i’ve seen folks here and there and i’ve been to others’ houses for dinners and movies and thanksgiving, but no one’s been in my apartment since october. i realize that sounds pathetic, but when things got intense with writing my papers, my whole way of keeping up my apartment just took a nose-dive. i think it’s because it’s the one thing i *can* allow to slip, so it does. alas, i’m preparing to teach my last class of the semester tomorrow and then, for days on end, i will be armed with laundry detergent and pine sol in order to get this place livable again.

in the midst of all this stress and letting my apartment go to hell, i’ve never been closer connected to friends and family. there are folks out there in this world who, no matter what time of day and no matter with what frequency, high or low, allowed me to call them excited and hyper after too much coffee or crying and sniffling over what i assumed would be my academic decline. i owe so many thank you’s to the folks who got me through. allow me a few shout-outs, no?

my post-exam acceptance speech: (ahem!)

* to my parents, who don’t read this, but who i absolutely must acknowledge. i think we’re closer than we’ve been in a while because i called you nearly every day for weeks just to hear the encouragement and support in your voices even when we were talking about banal things like christmas, living wills, and the downstair bathroom renovation. mom, i’m sorry i bugged you so incessantly, but you make me feel better when no one else in the world can. knowing i make you proud is what’s most worth it. dad, i know you’ll never understand that what i’m writing is a dissertation and that it’s a lot different than my undergraduate “thesis,” which is how you repeatedly refer to it. still, the best part of passing monday night was calling you right after, when you were working on the trucking dock, and you yelled and cheered so loud that all the other guys on the platform knew i passed and they beeped the horns of their 18-wheelers and forklifts in congratulations. i will never forget the pride in your voice.

* to kelley, i’m finally getting around to giving you the address to this blog and with perfect timing. now i can say ‘thank you’ without breaking down into tears on the phone. i’ve never doubted the power of our friendship almost 10(!!!) years old now, but you reminded me why you will forever be so important to me. thank you for letting me sing entire songs to you that night i was losing my mind. thank you for telling me silly stories and rehashing all four years of college in order to take my mind off of the present. thank you for nearly getting into a throwdown with your boss monday night when you squealed with delight over my exams during the office holiday dinner party at a fancy pants restaurant. you’re the best surrogate sister a girl could have. family indeed, genius OF MY LIFE. xo.

* to emily, for being supportive and loving two time zones away. thanks for allowing me the occasional freak out phone call, my bombarding questions over gchat, and for not allowing me to wallow or be as self-deprecating as i probably would have liked to have been at times. you’ve always taken such good care of me – from first year to now – and you somehow still manage to do that even all the way over there in san francisco. i miss you way more than i can ever say. thanks for my surprise celebratory dinner. nothing says “you passed!” like pizza luce. you’re truly the best.

* to e, i’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, for all of our drama, you still know me more than most and know how to comfort me truly as a result. thanks for the much needed distraction of your neverending shoe dilemma, the oh-so-helpful and last minute study session over this past weekend and the reassuring phone call right before i went in. you are the only person i texted when i was waiting for the verdict to hear if i passed. that must mean something, no? xoxo.

* to all the other folks, some who read this and some who don’t, but who nonetheless i’m so grateful for: grandma, katie b., jasmine, porter, becky, uncle david & john, ricky, kandace, diane, bevin, and victoria (who sent me the most amazing femme-inspired care package ever!). special thanks also to leo, freedomgirl, kyle, sublime femme, and others for keeping me in your thoughts and leaving comments/sending emails of support and encouragement. love, love, love to all of you.

i worked harder than i’ve ever worked before these last few months and for all the effort i passed an academic milestone and simultaneously was reminded of the epic amounts of love and support i have in family, friends, and community. i am so thankful for all of you.

i’m sure that to some this whole post is going to seem dramatic and maybe it kind of is, but i’m too elated to really care right now. i’m happy and excited and *relaxed* for the first time in weeks. i’m savoring all of this and making it last as long as i can.

…in fact, until further notice, you can all refer to me as ph.d.-elect, hussy red!

xoxo.

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why i love my family
September 30, 2008, 9:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

my mother’s family is embroiled in an ugly inheritance-related battle right now. my poor grandmother is alive to have to witness the insane greed of one of her sons and the ways in which it will change her family’s relationships forever. after a really explosive family meeting at my grandmother’s on sunday where my father and my mom’s brother nearly came to physical blows (which, what?!), my parents came home and told me all the gritty details. we sat around the kitchen table quietly for a few seconds and then it started…and by “it”, i mean endless references to the godfather. because in times of crisis, really, what else is an italian-american family supposed to do?

begin scene.

mom: well, i guess we all know what this means…it’s time to go to the mattresses!

dad: yeah, too bad he doesn’t have a horse we could behead and stick in his bed!

me: we could always just send him a wrapped up fish?

mom: what??

me: you know! “it’s a sicilian message. it means luca brazzi sleeps with the fishes!”

dad: cue godfather voice, “my boy! look what they did to my boy!”

mom: “leave the gun! take the cannolis!”

me: whistling the godfather theme song.

end scene.



the mommies.
August 31, 2008, 3:19 pm
Filed under: mom, queer, random ramblings | Tags: , ,

after ten long days of visiting by mom and grandmother, i have returned to my life as it was. somehow, when they come to visit, which is always fun and productive (not poor word choice, i promise. more on it in a sec!) , i feel like i enter into some other universe where my usual self doesn’t exist. phone calls and emails go unanswered, blogging doesn’t happen (clearly), friends aren’t seen, shit sits on my neverending “to do” list with no checkmarks beside them. it’s this strange putting on hold of my life that also happens in other ways and winds up, around day 5 or so, causing me to feel so completely not myself.

my mom and g’ma are great. they’re strong and fierce and together and so when they come, they regulate. like, they help me get shit done. thus, the word “productive.” i’ve been saying for six months that i was going to paint my bathroom and two months that i was finally going to clean out and organize my closet, but i didn’t do it until they rolled up and were like, “seriously? let’s do this.” they’re hardcore and i love them and appreciate them, they just take over life.

also, it’s really hard maintaining any semblance of my queer self when cut off my from my friends and my community and any sort of queer outlet when they’re here. i’m out to them and all; have been for years. my mom, especially, is cool with it. grandma, meh…she ignores it for the most part, but i’ve learned to be ok with that. she’s 85. i get it. but, like, it’s painful and fruitless to have conversations about why, for example, i have a book titled “female masculinity” on my bookshelf or a femme mafia postcard on my fridge. my mom engages *briefly* for the sake of my g’ma and my g’ma just smiles and nods or looks at me like i’m some perversity. out of touch with friends and queer life on and offline makes for this really uncomfortable space for me after ten days.

then there’s this complete denial of my sexual self in the sense that i’m not saying mom, g’ma, and i need to sit down and talk knockin’ boots or any such thing, but for two women who have met people i’ve had relationships with several times, there’s this strange naivety about the fact that i’m 27 and have a sex life. like, for example, my mother’s questioning of an extra toothbrush in my bathroom or the men’s body wash in my toiletry drawer. my mom knows i date butches. she gets what that means. last christmas, i brought a butch home with me and she bought her boxers with cowboys on them! but the idea that *gasp* i might have someone who sleeps over regularly and uses such things? nonsense! or my grandmother’s absolute disregard for privacy showcased by my entering my bedroom to find her rifling through my nightstand “looking for a pen!” now, i know how to mommy-proof. all of my various naughty things were stowed far, far away, but isn’t it a fairly ubiquitous notion that said naughty things are often kept in nightstands and nearby dresser drawers? ubiquitous enough that someone might be dissuaded to randomly pull one open and start digging? maybe this is generational? i don’t know. regardless, g’ma needs to check herself.

this is all just frustrated ramblings, but all to say that i’m still here and will be blogging fun things soon.

sigh. it’s good to be back.

xo.



misplaced(?)
July 25, 2008, 1:55 pm
Filed under: arg, butches, cancer, dad, death, exes, memory, mom | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

this afternoon, my mother called me from the hospital in nj. my dad has been admitted for vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath. he’s undergoing some tests, specifically an m.r.i. of his head to see if there is anything to be suspicious of there. my dad’s had cancer for the past several years. it started with his kidney, which was removed and he enjoyed about a year and a half of remission before it crept back up again in his spleen and liver. through chemotherapy, those tumors wound up shrinking significantly, but it’s always been made very clear that there’s no more opportunity for him to “beat” cancer. it’s more just a waiting game of where it will pop up next and with what kind of vengeance. earlier in the year, it was discovered he had a spot on his spine. it wasn’t particularly large or intrusive, but once cancer hits bone, especially spine and its column of connecting fluid, it’s not the best of signs. needless to say, it seems the dr. is going straight for scans of his head to see if there is any brain tumor or lesion to be found there.

i’ve always feared this moment and i’ve been pretty realistic in knowing it would probably come soon, at some point. spine and brain are so connected and usually once one has had a taste of the cancer stuff, the other is next to follow. all the reading i’ve done has told me that brain cancer is a quick and slippery slope with fatal results. it’s strange to write these words. my father’s and my relationship has been so strained my whole life. there have often been times since his diagnosis several years ago, not to mention times before that when he was still a healthy man, that i’ve thought of how it would be easier, especially on my mother, if he passed away. and now, with that reality staring me in the face, part of me regrets ever thinking it and the other tells me not to forget the long history of emotional violence that stems from him.

but what really gets me every time i worry about him or start to contemplate his death and what that will be like for me, i almost always lose sight of the reality, the right now. i eventually, without fail, always wind up overlooking him and land up at the fact that i will take care of and console my mother, what’s needed anyway, but who will take care of and console me? every time i think of his illness and his passing, i come back to this right here…and i miss you terribly; in ways that make me clutch my gut with the pain of your absence. because despite everything we went through and regardless of how you never knew what to say when i was upset over his illness, you were and still are what i think of when i think of comfort. when i consider all that i might need when his final decline begins, it’s only you that comes to mind. you, the person who struggled most with knowing what to say to me in times of sadness. you, who thought i needed more than just your silence and support or the physical strength and safety of your arms and shoulders. i have every reason in the world not to trust you and this won’t change that; this won’t find me dialing you aimlessly at 2am needing to hear your voice. yet still, it’s your absence i’ll cry for right now and not the eventuality of my father’s.

you were my safety net despite all of your fears that you were never strong enough for me. did you ever really know that?



i am my mother’s daughter.
March 20, 2008, 7:31 pm
Filed under: exes, love, mom, reciprocity, resistance, therapy | Tags: , , , , , ,

when i started going to therapy three months ago, i wasn’t sure what i was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t what i got – an amazing queer-friendly, sex-positive therapist with pretty progressive politics for a heterosexual professional who looks like a nicer, cuter version of ann coulter. it took only about three sessions until she had me pegged and left me wandering home, mouth agape, with the realization that after 26 years, there was no denying i was my mother’s daughter.

i had suspicions this was going to happen. i laugh like my mother – loud, unchecked, and with legs stomping if you really get me going. when i’m upset, my words pour out 100 m.p.h. and my new jersey accent is as thick as molasses (…or maybe toxic, newark sludge). my feet are near mirror images of hers…save for my slightly wider instep and far superior baby toes. she is strong, she is loving, she is smart, she is beautiful. she is my heart and i am hers.

unfortunately though, being my mother’s daughter also means that i have been witness to a cycle of emotional abuse that i have not only endured personally, but through her pain and heartbreak as well. my father, a manic depressive, has made 33 years of marriage a task worthy of receiving sainthood. i mean, it would be if you absolutely had to stay or, like, you would die. the fact is, though he has caused us hurt for decades, she has only participated in this violence through her decision to stay married to him and living within the same home. despite her reasons for not leaving being (somewhat) understandable, her continued involvement has enabled a cycle of anger, depression, and neglect. years of debating our staying and going manifested itself into an inescapable pattern for her.

and here i am now – 26 years old and on my own, living and loving the butches and the bois that come and go in some repetitious narrative (dare i say it?) of life that finds me – the strong one, the loving one, the smart one, the beautiful one – playing second fiddle to a conductor without ears. the lack of mutuality, the ungratefulness, the emotional ineptness is staggering, but i have taken it from you. i have participated, i have enabled. i have tried, like my mother, to unsuccessfully make good times out of your bad times. i have put my hurt aside to fix you, to care for you. i have loved you, i have listened to you. i have made you lemon bars, pastina, brownies. i have sent you flowers, taken you shopping, made you care packages. i have kissed your eyebrows, i have sucked your dick. i have raised your self-esteem, i have inflated your ego. i have been your saving grace, your biggest fan, your desire, your love. i have been what you said made you feel whole….

to me, you have been a dearth of reciprocity.

i am my mother’s daughter because i believed you, despite the lack of tangible evidence and despite the harsh words, mood swings, emotional voids. i stuck with you. i let it happen again and again.

except then it stopped.

because i was not going to pay one more $200 cell phone bill to hear you tell me that you loved me, but that now was not the time (5 years from now, you say? go fuck yourself!). i was not going to spend one more long weekend/holiday/spring break without you because you couldn’t get time off of work, but could, in fact, find time to go to nyc and see your mediocre best friend…and her harem of strippers. i was not going to spread for you on saturday, sunday, and monday for you to tell me on tuesday that you “hated” me. yes, even if you meant it ironically.

you see, i am my mother’s daughter, but i am not her twin. i have learned from her mistakes. i have meticulously studied her scars.

i say to you now what my mother should have said to my father at 26:

you, sir, are fired.