Monday, October 28, 2013


Firstly, I apologize for this. Really. Truly.

What I intended to write as a prompt based on a love letter to an inanimate object took a rather pornographic turn. So I went with it.

You have been warned!

Dear T-bone Steak

My mouth is starting to water already, just thinking about you.  Your grilled perfection excites me to no end.  I remember when we first met, on the back porch that warm, muggy summer night. The frogs at the pond were just starting to sing and the sky was a fiery red.  The smell of the swimming pool filled my nose when suddenly your musk wafted over from the grill.

My pulse quickened as I took in your scent. Sizzling, my father presented you to me on a reinforced paper plate. I watched with eager anticipation as your juices mingled with the baked potato, coloring its white flesh red.

Ill never forget that first bite.

My molars delighted in your tender chewiness.  My canine teeth happily shredded you, rejoicing that for this purpose they had evolved.  So consumed with you I was that I forgot about the fresh green salad.  In fact, I forgot about green things entirely.  You were my universe.  On planet t-bone steak there is no sorrow, no salad, only salty, juicy, masticatory satisfaction.

I admit, sometimes when I cant have you I eat chicken.  Its mealiness is no match for the jaw pushups that are you.

I lift you off the plate, taking your tenderloin into my mouth. Like a velociraptor I devour your satisfying flesh, tearing every last shred of meat off your sublime bone.  I am transported to the beginning of time, in my cave, pounding my chest with delight at my first primordial taste of you by the fire.

Sometimes, when I lift my head out of your pink feast, I wonder if others notice my wild eyed delight as I shamelessly, single mindedly consume you.  Its only when my dining companions stare that  I realize the aftermath of our union covers my face.  Yes, that is steak all over my face.  Sensing their jealousy I slowly lick my fingers, enjoying your lingering taste and reluctantly wipe my mouth, chin and nose.

I am always disappointed when our encounters end but the tasty morsels lodged between my teeth help me look forward to our next meating.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

For anyone who has ever had a crush


When Im with you I want to chase you through my backyard. Over the grass lawn, the straw in the field and into the woods. As we splash across the creek we stop to look for tadpoles. Maybe we whittle boats and race them down the stream. We compare pocket knives and talk about what animals we would be, if we werent humans. You show off how you can roll your tongue. I shyly smirk.

Dangling from trees like monkeys, eating candy. Earnestly looking into my eyes, you confess your secret desire to be a chef. The statement bursts from your mouth like a popped corn kernel, the vulnerable moment an abrupt departure from our playtime. Our eyes search one anothers briefly, unsure. Immediately you jump down from the tree and run off to explore the woods as if I dont exist. Hot. Cold.

What does it mean that I feel smothered by a need to be super charming and awesome when Im around you? The words get caught somewhere, like a badly skipped stone that sinks with a loud “plunk” as it hits the water.

I am 14, confused and trying to figure out these feelings for a girl who ran off into the woods.

Tag. Im it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


During my writing class we get to submit one piece for the class to critique. Yikes! My piece was critiqued tonight.  Its an expanded version (draft 2) of the Genderqueer Undearthed piece I wrote back in March.  Besides wanting to flesh out that piece some more, my understanding of myself has changed (and will continue to evolve) so some of the passages in the original piece are no longer true.

 I got a lot of really helpful feedback and Im going to keep working on this.  Its hard for me to share work that I think is still in progress, I think especially this one as it chronicles a lifetime of denial/self acceptance and some really difficult moments. Im glad I can look back from a place of confidence and put humor around things that were not at all funny for me at the time.  So without further adieu...

A Bender on Gender

"Can you call my grandfather? He could come pick me up."  The school nurse had caved yet again and was letting me go home. In the 6th grade I developed a habit of faking sick. Usually the ailments were embarrassment or boredom, manifesting as a mysterious, incurable pain in my stomach. I don’t remember why I was at the nurse's office this time.  Maybe it was that day in sex ed when the teacher claimed some girls have more testosterone than "normal."
“These girls might have lower voices,” she explained, provoking a lot of snickers and pointed fingers in my direction.

I began to wonder if the permission slip my parents signed allowing me to participate in sex ed was really more like a waiver for skydiving. Grandpa pulled up in the Cadillac. Tan. My grandmother's was canary yellow, which he referred to as “the junker.” The smells of leather and Old Spice greeted me as I slid across the passenger’s seat. Trying to keep up my sick act, I attempted to suppress the relief I felt and focus on the guilt of dishonestly cutting school.
Bullshit was Grandpa's native language so of course he knew I was full of it.  He played along and we made some small talk on the way home. Grandpa had just got a puppy named Max. Max was a wild Collie, tearing through the apple orchard after deer and peeing all over the kitchen floor. He seemed entirely nonplussed to be beaten with a newspaper while chewing on Grandma's rattan furniture in the sunroom.
“Max doesn’t seem all that obedient,” I commented.
"Well," Grandpa replied, “that’s because Max isn’t old enough to understand English."  I nodded knowingly while wondering if dogs really ever understood English. Grandpa smirked his wry smile, the same smile I smirk when someone believes a total bullshit story I tell them.
Born an androgynous female in rural America in the 80s, gender is a concept I could have done without. From the get go I wanted to be a boy.  I dressed like a boy. I carried myself like a boy. I played exclusively with boys, tackling, fighting, spitting.  I was confused when my dad wouldn’t let me take my shirt off to play basketball. I wanted very, very badly to be a Boy Scout. More than anything I remember wanting to be my grandfather. He was always so put together; I remember him in brown slacks and a striped oxford and a tie with a gold chain tethering the tie to his shirt. He didn’t speak much, but had this way of making you believe anything he said.

“Is that a boy or a girl? I think it’s a boy.”
I sat on the ground nursing my elbow. I’d just tried riding my boyfriend's skateboard. Turns out a maiden skateboard voyage down a steep sidewalk isn’t the brightest idea. Both my elbow and my ego were smarting as the kids across the street mulled over what I was. I pulled down my ball cap and walked around the back of the house.
While I was just being myself my childhood peers were noticing that I wasn’t the same as they were. I think at some point my parents uncomfortably realized it wasn’t a "tomboy phase" that was going to go away.  I was a lone queer in a small town. By the time I met other queer people I had no idea that I was one of them. I was convinced that something was wrong with me. I was too aggressive, wore the wrong clothes and had the tiniest breasts of anyone I knew. And dating? I understood as much about dating as Max the dog did about English. I never had feelings for the boys I dated. I just assumed it was some kind of defect, just like my masculine traits. 

Growing up we had one of those big console TVs. It resided in a stunning fake wood enclosure which attempted to legitimize its place among the living room furniture. To change channels you had to get up and manually turn the dial. 44 was PBS. 38 was FOX (best after school cartoons). 16 was WNEP Newswatch 16. The rest was white noise. If you tuned the dial to a setting just before a channel you could faintly make out the image and garbled audio in the white noise. I felt like one of those phantom channels; something was there, but it wasn’t quite in focus. I tried to modify my behavior, my clothes. I tried religion, graduate school, getting married to a man and extreme sports. In hindsight I was kind of like Max the dog, tearing around spending my nervous energy in an attempt to flee my pain. The whole time it never felt right.

“No matter what someone says, it’s never about you. It is always about them.”
Shifting listlessly in a metal folding chair I found myself in some hippie group of people trying to learn to communicate better. I wasn’t a hippie, but I was a soon-to-be-divorced terrified 28 yr. old running around (again) this time trying to salvage a relationship that had long been dead. We drank tea and talked about our feelings. Eventually I got over being jaded about west coast new age woo woo and learned some things. Like how to empathize with myself, and that the things others tell us really have nothing to do with us. Really!
Suddenly, I realized I’d spent my life blaming myself for who I was and I resolved to face it.
In a truly meditative fashion I began unearthing myself. Meditating goes like this: you resolve to sit still for some time, usually longer than you’ve sat still in a long while, maybe ever, and attempt to “clear your mind.” What actually happens is you get about 30 seconds into your “om” chanting and someone lets Max out and he chases deer all over the orchard like a maniac. After some time you realize what is going on, lock Max back up, and then repeat. Occasionally you scratch your ear and wonder if that’s OK.

Om - “I’ve always wanted to live in Northwest Portland. I’m going to move there!”
Max- “I'm going to work out like a maniac, climb Mt Hood and do a triathlon!”
That’s kind of intense. How about we pick one sport? Cycling. That’s a nice sport.

Om - “Cycling is great. I like riding with these nice people on country roads and having a beer.”
Max - “I’m going to race bikes! Ill join a team and train 10hrs a week in the pouring rain because I’m that hardcore. I’m also going to take hot yoga, because that is also hardcore.
Annnnd now I’m injured. Guess I’ll just stick to yoga for now.

Om – Wow. I really feel amazing around my yoga teacher Cindy. It’s like all the feelings I expected to have with men but...
Max – I shall learn the lyrics to every Indigo Girls song! I’ll hang out with softball players and go to Pride.
Why is nothing happening? Clearly this was a dumb idea.

Om – I don't enjoy my job. In fact, I think what attracted me to this field is that it is so mentally demanding I don't have time to think about my life. I’m going to figure out what I’d really like to do.
Max – While changing careers I’m going to train to ride my bike on the world's steepest, longest mountains in Northern Italy! While I’m grinding up glaciated peaks Ill chew on rattan.

And so it went. I started coming into focus on this rollercoaster ride. My family started noticing that my witty quips and wry smile were coming back. I wore dresses and makeup and grew my hair, then I chopped it all off, bought a men’s suit and started lifting weights. Finally things were feeling right. As it turns out I wasn’t too off base with the yoga teacher and to my delighted surprise I am quite a charming fellow. I feel like a mixture of Rainbow Brite and HeMan, soaring through the sky on the back of Falcor.
As a child, faced with the compartmentalization of "boy things" and "girl things" I definitely wanted to be a boy. What I’ve realized is really, I just wanted to be myself and forget about all this gender nonsense. Sometimes that means I want to crochet or wear makeup. Other times that means I want to be a quick witted, dapper gentleman, smiling wryly as I try to convince a pretty lady that at a certain age, dogs understand English.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Growth Rings

At some point, I promise I will write some creative non fiction that doesnt end with some kind of profound tear jerky type ending. But, that seems to be where my feels are at right now, so I give you week 2 of creative nonfiction essay

Growth Rings


The log split solidly under the force of Amy's swing. The two halves tumbled to the ground as she wiped her brow.

“Its kinda like swinging a baseball bat.” She explained as she showed me how to grip the axe. Starting with hands apart and then sliding together as the axe comes through the backswing, legs slightly bent.

“Really pull down through your legs when the axe head is dropping.”

It was a warm fall day and Id just arrived home from work. My landlord stopped by to show me how to stack and split the wood I would use to heat the house for the winter, here in the frigid hinterlands of Portland Oregon. It fit well with my romanticized ideas about homesteading in the woods; Id warm my house with my bare hands, and if that didnt work I could fall back on the electric zone heaters.

I spent my Saturdays in the backyard woodshed, preparing my cache for the week ahead. It reminded me of Pa from Little House On The Prairie, providing for his family against the harsh elements of winter. Or even my own father, who spent the fall with a borrowed wood splitter preparing logs for chopping and then hucking them into our basement. Between the satisfying ache in my body, the fresh fall air and recollecting my rural upbringing I blissfully melted into bed on Saturday nights.

As the weeks went by the heavy axe began to change my body, and with it, my sense of self. My newly muscular arms guided the axe to split open the logs, inside which I discovered things long forgotten; my life long urge to be strong – to have a muscular body and to provide for my family. To be a rock physically and emotionally that could be depended upon. The power and pride behind creating my weekly assortment of fuel, kindling and tinder lit a pilot inside me. Unafraid, I let the flame grow, with the developing awareness that it was casting light onto things I tried to turn away from. My desperate need to do something of use. My true self that had been emasculated under a drag show of who I thought I should be.

The crack of the axe became a sort of mantra. I chopped wood while I mulled over my feelings for women. I chopped wood after I came out to my inner circle on a cold January Tuesday. I was chopping wood when I was suddenly overcome with grief. More than anything, in that moment I wanted to share with my late father what I had learned from the ax. I wanted him to know how it freed me, that I was finally “OK.” As the tears rained down I removed my leather gloves and fished around my overalls for a hanky. After a moment I wiped my nose , cleared my throat and returned to my chore, steadying myself for the task ahead.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Writing class begins

My creative non-fiction class got off to a start last week.  Ill be sharing some of my writings from the class here. Lucky you! :-P

There was a comment made in our first class that creative non-fiction is an expensive art form.  For me, the interest in creative non-fiction comes from those moments in my life that have generated a lot of, mostly painful, emotion.  Pouring yourself out on paper (or, the screen) can be a frightening process  Some of the things Im writing about occurred long enough ago that the pangs have dulled, but some are still very fresh. Still others Im feeling my way through in real time right now.

At any rate, here is my essay for week 1.  The prompt was to write an essay that ends with ".. and nothing was ever the same again." either literally or inferred.

I had always wanted a cuckoo clock.  My parents had one in our living room that they bought on a trip to Germany.  I was fascinated with the way the pine cone shaped counter weights slowly inched their way toward the floor as time ticked on. The wooden characters dancing happily on the hour, unaware that their jolly swirling would abruptly cease when the counter weights ran out.

We had just hung up our very own cuckoo clock, purchased a few weeks prior on our belated honeymoon in Germany. It ticked away pleasantly as we headed out on our way to the Gorge for apple picking.

It was one of those idillic fall days; blue skies, slight breeze, fantastic scenery.  Were the air a little more crisp it would have been just like fall in Pennsylvania, where as a kid I had climbed the apple trees in my grandfather's orchard, daydreaming about the day I would marry my soulmate.  We would live happily ever after, just like my parents did. Of course it wouldn't be easy, there would be compromise and hurt feelings along the way. Being 5 years into our relationship, Charles and I had a pretty decent handle on these things. I was proud and excited. Charles was the first long term relationship Id ever had. I was relieved when we got married; after 7 years of being single I had wondered if I would ever be a bride.

We  headed into the orchard with a radio flyer wagon. Fall! Apples! I was excitedly calculating how many apples we would need to make several quarts of applesauce. And pies! Charles lifted me onto his shoulders to pick apples higher up the tree. As I looked out over the orchard, queen of all I surveyed, I thought to myself “wow, I am so lucky to have such a fantastic man in my life”  We giggled as I slid off his shoulders, he offered his cheek as I leaned in to kiss him.

Not being the best at expressing my feelings, I sat in the car on the way home trying to figure out how to tell Charles how totally overwhelmed with happiness I felt.  As I lamely uttered something like “Youre a really wonderful husband” he smiled painfully.  After an awkward exchange over dinner I knew something was really wrong. I confronted him about it when we returned home.

“Youre not going to let this go, are you?” he said
“No,” I replied “Something is bothering you.”

Frightened and concerned,  I continued to press him. He sighed. After a few long moments he blurted out,
“Its gone.  I dont know what happened. My feelings for you.... they're just... gone.”

If our cuckoo clock was still ticking I couldn't hear it.  My heart, like the counterweights, had sunk to the floor as we both sobbed on the couch.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Do not hide your light

After being estranged from my religion for many, many years I unexpectedly ended up "witnessing" to someone today.

While recruiting for the Pride parade at work, my table-mate asked me what the Bible said about homosexuals.  I told her about the Old Testament laws - "man shall not lie with man.." "widows should marry their husband's next of kin..." "clothes made of one type of cloth.." all the animal sacrifices.. etc.  I ended up summarizing it as "really, its meant to show how impossible it is for us mere mortals to please God, which is why Christ was sacrificed on our behalf."  

I shared with her how relieved I felt the first time I heard the "Good News."  Somehow, I had missed this point in Sunday school and was beating myself up for "coveting" things and not "obeying my parents."  I said "you know, for God so loved the world that he sent his only son.. Its an incredible thing really, the idea that God saved humanity like that"  Suddenly, she stopped me.

"I just got chills all up and down my body when you said that.  I had a friend that told me when you get chills like that it is because someone has just spoken the truth to you."

We talked some more about the New Testament passages that refer to homosexuality. The conversation brought up a lot for me that I want to process and share, for now I will say that having studied the Bible extensively, having been a former opponent of homosexuality among Christians, and now coming out as homosexual myself I have A LOT rolling around in my head. Im taking a creative non fiction writing class in July.  I for sure have a lot of material, so, perhaps that means more blog posts to come.

Right now Im just feeling very grateful; after 2 decades of thinking something was fundamentally wrong with me I am surrounded by love and support as I go forth and live the life I was created for. Also, I didnt mean to look so totes queer today.  Ive been dying to wear my new suit, and the cool weather today gave me an opportunity to wear my vest AND a collared shirt AND a bowtie.  I couldnt help myself!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Drizzly day in Corvara

Its looking a lot like Portland outside today so Im taking a day off the bike. Misty, foggy and fir trees is my view at the moment.  Yes indeed very much like home.

 The Posta Zirm Hotel where we are staying has an extensive "Wellness Farm" with various saunas and pools.  Im getting my bod a much needed massage this afternoon.  For now Im enjoying a leisurely morning; usually its breakfast at 7:30 and on bikes by 9, today folks sauntered down to breakfast after 8 and lingered over coffee while we waited to see what the weather was doing.

We have been pretty lucky with weather so far (fingers crossed!) and we are now half way through the tour. I think Ive ridden myself into fitness where my body is feeling pretty good and strong.  Im still figuring out how to avoid getting chilled on mountain passes.  There are refugios at the top and a lot of times the support van is there too so its easy to spend too much time snapping pics, grabbing a bite and some souvenirs.  We stopped for lunch at one yesterday after a 30km climb from Brixen (good morning legs!)

Im taking tons of pics. The vistas are incredible and the towns are quaint.  We rode through the Landin valley yesterday on our descent off the passo Erbe.  They speak a different language there than the rest of the region

After a 20k section of highway riding we arrived in the heart of the Dolomites.

The great thing about touring on bike is that you are going slow enough to really take in the scenery.  Like this milk shed I saw when I stopped on the climb yesterday

I love riding in the morning, and watching farm sprinklers.  It was very hot a few days ago and I giggled as we got sprayed while riding past a field, refreshed by the cool breeze

On our approach to Stelvio (climbing over to Bormio, first time) we rode past Lake Awesome for several km on a lovely bike path

The beautiful vistas unfold slowly on the bike and come with some feeling of accomplishment, whether its riding just a short, flat distance or up a huge mountain.  I brought myself here with my own body to experience something truly unique and special.