Femme FATale


it seems i’ve been tagged – twice!
October 20, 2008, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

last week, while i was working tirelessly on my second prelim paper, y’all were playing a fun game of blog tag that i kept up on, but didn’t have a chance to participate in. this is late to say the least, but i’m slowly catching up on life outside of exam-writing…for the time being. i still have another one to go. the lovely queer rose and colleen both tagged me so i’ll do a total of 14 random facts to satisfy the masses. here goes:

The Rules are:
1. Link to your tagger(s): Queer Rose, Colleen, and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog – some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. i can’t sleep with my feet under the covers. whether it’s 90 degrees outside or -30, my feet are always sticking out from under the sheets and blankets when i sleep. my feet get hot really easily and i hate, hate, hate feeling all stuck. someone sweet once told me feet were like “little furnaces.”

2. i’m addicted to daily, online comics. i never knew i was such a dork and frequently made fun of an ex who used to read whole comic books, but dinosaur comics, xkcd, natalie dee, married to the sea, and toothpaste for dinner make my day.

3. this whole academia thing is a total front. what i really want to do is move to portland and open a bakery with my mom called “two tough cookies.” the boxes would be hot pink and would somehow incorporate our home state of new jersey (thus the “tough” in the cookies!). our specialty would be cream puffs.

4. when i was five years old i was possibly nearly kidnapped. i was visiting family on long island and my cousins and i went out for a bike ride except they were all older and on two wheelers and i was still peddling around a tricycle. they got too far ahead of me and i lost them and was by myself wandering the streets and crying because i wasn’t a city kid at the time and didn’t understand the concept of a block (i.e. if you make 4 lefts you wind up where you started). some old man told me he’d take me home and offered me junior mints. i dropped the bike and ran screaming down the sidewalk. i suppose he could have just wanted to help a hysterical child on the street.

5. i really like invoking catchy phrases from generations past: i.e. “rat bastard” when someone is a total jerk, “schtoopin'” for doin’ it, and “wreck of the hesperus” for someone who looks a total mess.

6. for the most part, the people closest to me, are the ones furthest away geographically. that makes my heart ache a little bit.

7. the third day of kindergarten, i received a black eye from a boy whom i notified could not continue playing with me at the dollhouse if he was going to continue throwing the furniture out of the house and across the room.

8. the next day, when he was walking down the bus steps in front of me, i grabbed onto the railing, hoisted my tiny leg outwards and kicked him off the last two steps. he didn’t talk to me again until high school.

9. you know that line in the classic film, “the parent trap” where hayley mills is sniffing her grandfather’s coat as she’s embracing him and he asks her what she’s doing and she replies, “i’m making a memory. years from now, when i’m all grown up, i’ll remember my grandfather and how he always smelled of peppermint and pipe tobacco”? i do that all the time with the people i love. most don’t notice cause i’m stealthy.

10. i’m not one who believes we have a “love of our life” or any kind of meow meow like that, but sometimes when i’m not even thinking about the future or relationships, i get this overwhelming sense of a person i haven’t yet met who i just know is going to knock me off my feet. i feel you out there, in the universe, and i like it. i’m onto you.

11. i feel like i might have to give in and just realize i’m never going to be one of those femmes who can apply false eyelashes. it’s a blow to the ego, but i think i’ll make it. can’t someone on the femme’s guide give a tutorial?

12. one of my proudest achievements, which i buried under memories as having been nothing big and or exciting, is that at the age of 15 i designed and ran a riot grrrl website which received tons of traffic and led to me publishing a weekly digest of national riot grrrl news, book reviews, cd reviews, events etc. to about 100 readers. i don’t know how or why i forgot about how awesome this was until about a year ago.

13. i am a clasically trained pianist who passed on her audition at julliard because she wanted to study gender studies instead. my parents didn’t talk to me for a week.

14. my very first “girl crush” was on sue milliken, a t.v. chef on the former show “too hot tamales.” i didn’t even know she was a big ol’ d then, but i knew there was something i liked about her and found desirable. now she kinda just reminds me of ani difranco. also, what person in the early, early teenage years finds t.v. chefs attractive? weirdo.

because i’m a week late, i’m not going to tag anyone, but feel free to comment and link your list here if you’re self-tagging. xo for now, friends! i promise i’ll crawl out from under my rock here and there. i’ve been working on a post in my head for the past few days entitled, “what i will do with my life post-prelims.” “blog more,” is near the top.

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pittsburgh sweet.
October 11, 2008, 9:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

it’s almost something sacred. the word “you,” when you speak it in reference to me. it is one word in a sentence made of many others, but it’s the only one that hangs on your tongue like the way honey drags down the length of a spoon – slow and thick at first and then rushed and ribboned towards the end. my punched down, plumped up heart doesn’t care about the sentiments or about the words that surround this mention of me in your mouth. i am focused only on the way it feels to be cradled by your lips like that; attention paid only to the feel of your breath grazing when you exhale me.

this is about absence. the kind that causes me to rock away grief. because sitting still with it is just too great an ache.

i am responsible for near tidal waves.

when we were a part of one another still, i noticed not the way you held me in your mouth – pulled me in, pushed me out – but more the sound. the gravel of your generations-deep, southwestern pennsylvania, coal miner family accent and the way it snuck out between the cracks of a crooked smile passed down from a grandmother every bit as pretty then as you are handsome today.

my concentration on the way you spoke me, the way you still sometimes do when i let my guard down a little too early, is about the ways i loved you. i wonder now if something as simple as how you wore your lips when you grinned – practically a right angle instead of a more even, upwards bevel – should have been a sign of the unpredictability of you.



taking space, taking time.
September 21, 2008, 12:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

it’s been a rough week and so i haven’t written much. things have been crazy busy, as i’m preparing to go back east for a week and some to attend nolose and then to visit my family in nj and nyc. my best friend, kelley, is coming to visit my family and i in jersey for a few days, which will no doubt be good for the soul.

as i mentioned in my post a week or so ago, i’ve been having a lot of heaviness on my mind in regards to identity issues, not so much personally as much as how we’re all capable of getting caught up in labeling people based on what we want them to be in this queer community of ours. the range in severity of this can span from a minor offense to something tragic and hurtful, but either way i’m finding it so tiresome lately. more on this later as i develop it. i think i feel, in ways, responsible for some of the above mentioned stuff that i’m seeing in my own life and the lives of those around me and i want to figure out my own place in it before i spew on and on about it.

i’m working on these new methods of really trying to be self-reflexive about the things that bother me, partially spawned by my friendship with e, who maybe will always feel like more than a friend. we both have tempers that are quick to burn, so in the interest of trying to keep our shit on lock this year, we’re being more and more patient with one another and more cognizant about taking time and space when we need it to think our shit through. it’s been working well so far and i feel closer to her than i have in a while which is nice.

i’m finding out more and more lately that one of the most loving things we can do for each other is to know when to take space and sit with what we’re feeling. maybe at the end of a lot of sitting, we’re able to talk things through, process, get things back on track. maybe, we can spend months thinking and come to nothing but what we can say to one another only inside of our own heads. regardless of the outcomes, i can think of far too many times when i should have, or you should have, or we should have, stepped back and thought a little bit deeper about the shit between us, but instead we blurted out a lot of filler without giving things much thought and glossed over the important bits. i’m tired of doing this, so i’m taking space from a few things right now to think more about them. no doubt you faithful readers will get an earful…eyeful?

aside from this heavy stuff, good things: i’ve got a pitter-patter crush sorta thang going on with some handsome butch who lives way too far away but who i appreciate continuing to blow up my phone. i’ve got an achey, but full, heart from spending 2 weeks with my friend emily who has now returned home to san fran. i’m one prelim paper down and the second well on it’s way (i have 3 to complete by november). i just received the most beautiful dress, handmade for me by jane bonbon, which i am far too excited to wear – photos to come, i promise! my students are giving me enough humor/horror to keep me going, i.e. “i thought this was feminist film theory, not race film theory?” “errr…really?” mostly, though, i realized that after quite a few days of not posting, i missed talkin’ to y’all out there. what’s a girl to do without her extended blog family?



these are not playthings.
September 10, 2008, 1:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

i’ve been doing some heavy thinking lately about these pieces of me i hold so personally dear in the depths of my heart. my identities: my assertion of “femme”, my claiming of “bottom,” particularly. with the exception of the last two or three years, these have never been easy words or titles under which i’ve stood. i did not learn these pieces of myself from others. i did not do only as i saw them do and come to these places. they are both identities that, for me, are wrapped in complicated personal histories of a host of things: love, inadequacy, pleasure, guilt, passion, unhappiness, and two hundred other emotions. these identities are not ones i take lightly or for granted.

in short: these are not playthings.

my journey to femme was a hard one ripe with insecurity and an absence of community or language to define who i was and what i was feeling. where i came out as queer was certainly a positive space to do so, but only in particular ways, ways that embraced an androgynous aesthetic that was doubly inaccessible and undesirable for myself.

growing up femme there was heartbreaking.

my queerness was questioned daily by my lovers, friends, my community, the definition of myself by others as nothing more than a “lesbian until graduation”. and i tried, and i tried, and i tried to fit in there, to be that non-femme thing they wanted me to be and even donning sports bras and cargo shorts, i failed. miserably. i didn’t pass as anything non-femme.

i remember, there was this time, friends of mine were throwing a “frat row” party, and all these dykes just slightly amped up their already masculine clothing to get closer to that douchey, frat boy image. i was supposed to do the same. i was able to hold it together long enough to put on those cargo shorts, t-shirt and borrowed a visor from my next door neighbor. but it was actual fucking tears i cried when my best friend told me i couldn’t possibly go if i was going to keep on my make-up. there was no place for that. no mascara allowed. no place even for “sorority girls” at this party either. no femininity. period. i left two hours in, cried my way home, and wrote heart-wrenchingingly in my journal that i wondered if i’d ever find space where i fit. “will i ever be able to make this queerness work?”

that was a breaking point for me. a moment when i realized it was hurting too much to be queer in this way. and i slowly started to let it go and started to embrace my femme. and as i shed that sorry excuse at androgyny i was trying to pull and stepped up to the plate femmed out the way i’d always wanted to be, i met her. this big, ol’ rugby playing butch. this rough, tough femme-lovin’ butch. and i was home. i flourished. things fell into place. and i was accepted, my queerness was embraced in this community suddenly. but then, just as quickly as it was handed to me, it was stripped away in my realization that it was just because of her. because i was counterpart to her uber masculinity that was so revered in that space. i was femme, but not my own.

and this went on long after college. still, i held strong to my femme in the midst of queers completely ignoring and straight up disavowing my sexuality and gender. read me, called me, named me “ally” to my face because i was all girled out at dyke night at the bar. how could i be anything other than straight looking like that, they asked my friends. i cried my way home again.

i am home now though in my skin, in my femme, but it wasn’t ever easy. it’s still hard sometimes, but it’s improved. this things is volatile though and i hold it close to my chest because of everything it means to me; that road was rough, but i don’t regret the conversations with myself it forced me to have, the questioning of my communities it made me do, the loneliness it caused and the absolute joy and love it has become.

my femme thing is not a plaything.

nor is this thing i claim as bottoming. they are not the same, they are not inextricably linked, but they are related in the depths of me. this identity is newer to me than femme in that i have only in the past few years named it for myself, but hardly a new need or want. this part of me that weaves itself between memories and history of myself alone and myself with her and constantly has me digging for evidence of it that proceeded and followed her. proof that this has been me all along. i find it everywhere.

bottoming is not new to me, not new like her and that love whirlwind we had. it is not trendy to me. i do not will it to be radical so that i might have my points raised as some kinky, subversive queer type. i claim this space because of desire foremost and an investment in all that desire contains – respect, dynamic, communication, need. a big part of this is because of having experienced those desires, knowing what it’s like to have them and knowing what it’s like to feel their absence. and this is not to say that if you have not done x, you cannot claim y. more so, it’s a feeling inside me that is very tied to the act of doing and having done, both being undoings and redoings of me.

i come to bottoming first from a place of love – because that’s where it was first really named for me. of giving, of expecting to be valued and respected for this generosity of giving myself, of allowing you to take and experience me. this is not about who gets fucked and who does the fucking, it’s about yielding and holding, ebbing and flowing.

i do not claim this identity as a mere desire to occasionally have a little control taken from me. i do not claim it as something i think i want, but have never done nor thought about beyond actual physical results. i do not call myself a bottom to satisfy an equation of “femme is…” or use it as a way to critique someone else’s needs or desires…

and i wish you wouldn’t.

because this femme thing, this bottom thing, they are not playthings.

these are heart things, soul things, me things and my chest is heavy when they are cheapened by your carelessness with them.



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.