The World Series and Elections

Well, I hardly think this requires a ‘spoiler alert,’ it’s been on the news and every social media platform you can name–the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last night, taking ten innings to break their tie with the Cleveland Indians. They won in spite of play being put on hold for seventeen minutes for a dousing rain, in spite of a one-hundred-eight-year drought (or curse, as many have called it) since their last World Series win, in spite of their controversial pitcher blowing their two-run lead in the eighth inning.

So, here’s the thing. I didn’t see it. I watched Game Seven from the beginning, had watched the series from Game Four, but I didn’t have a dog in this fight, not like I’d used to. I followed baseball years ago, actually followed the Cubbies when their lineup consisted of a majority of traded or free-agent former Atlanta Braves players, but I hadn’t watched a televised game in years.

This was history in the making, though. Both teams had gone without winning the Championship for decades (and decades and decades). Generations of families had rooted for these teams together, and many of those family members have passed from this world without seeing either take the win.

History.

And when the rains came and the officials called a weather delay and the tarp was rolled out by the grounds crew, the announcers said play was expected to resume in thirty minutes. It was already past quarter-after-midnight. I was tired, I was agitated after watching the Cubs lose their lead, and I was not sure I wanted to watch them be denied once again, so I went to bed.

Just before I drifted off, I thought about the race to the finish and how maybe this game was good practice for next Tuesday night. Election night. Another night that will be one for the history books, no matter the outcome. This time, though, there is a lot more at stake. Could I watch the results, rolling east coast to west coast, as the states report their counts and the electoral votes are tallied? I suspect there will be a teetering of the lead as the polls close across the country, states going ‘red’ or ‘blue,’ and I just don’t think I would sleep at all if the worst predictions come true. So, frankly, it may be wise to go to bed, to get the last good night’s sleep I may get for a while.

I will probably place a moratorium on my use of social media and TV viewing for that night. I’m planning on a nice meal, maybe I’ll read a book, listen to music, and then go to bed none the wiser. On Wednesday morning, I’ll learn the results, at which time I hope to find that my country remains in the 21st century, and not that it has become Germany in the 1930’s.

Fingers crossed.

Nineteen Days

Was it cruel or was it kind?
You know the Universe
can be a fickle bitch
with a wicked streak sometimes.

Our paths, misaligned,
but passing by
close enough
for that fine-tuned pitch,
the hum between us,
to resonate into the very marrow
of our bones.

Crossing borders
as our boundaries
melted into sand,
we were unable to ignore
that pull towards the source.

Stretched out, we lived a lifetime
of nineteen days,
a life together
between two lives apart.

You told me from the start
that it would end
and warned me not to,
but I fell for you.

I know you knew.

Nineteen days.

You fell, too.

We talked, whispered,
and you showed me the Truth,
made me swear I’d look for you
in someone else’s eyes.

I promise, I promise, I promise.

Nineteen days.

I promise.

But she won’t be you…

Heart in Pieces

You came to me,

tearful,

like a child would,

their favorite toy

in pieces,

holding out your hands,

showing me

your broken heart.

 

I took the puzzled parts,

exchanged them for another,

mended,

its scars apparent

and thick.

 

And when you walked away

whole, and able to love again,

you never realized

that I had merely traded

your fractured heart in pieces

for the one

that was once

my  own.

The Closet

This closet of mine is empty,

and has been, for years,

balls of dust and detritus

rolling to the corners

when I open the door and look in,

confirming that it is truly vacant,

and there’s nothing left inside

that needs to be aired

in the light of day.

 

So, if it’s become too great a burden

and you want to let it go,

I’ll let you store your pain in it…

NC Legislature Passes ‘HateBill 2’

This is a piece on the NC Legislature’s recently-passed ‘Restroom Law’ that I had written in the week it was passed and signed into law. In the time since the passage of HB2, Gov. McCrory has attempted to back-pedal on the intent of the law, signing an Executive Order that tried, poorly, to ‘clarify’ the bill, resulting in a deeper pit of shit from which he cannot extract himself.

Over the past few weeks, this state has lost millions upon millions of dollars from the loss of a number of potential businesses, meaning a huge loss of tax dollars and jobs for under- and unemployed residents and vendors. It may also lose millions of dollars in federal aid, if it has not already, funds that impact a number of programs and businesses statewide.

Not that this state really cares about that. The Republican legislators prefer a large, poorly-educated voter base over an educated middle class, and that is reflected in the cutting of education funding over the past two decades. A full reading of the bill will also provide information as to what the legislature is actually hiding (and, in my opinion, the absolute and entire reason for the bill itself) regarding workers’ rights–they now have absolutely none in this right-to-work state, thanks to this bill, and attention is being deflected away from those actions with the ‘bathroom’ shenanigans laid atop them.

Admittedly, there are ‘pockets’ of liberalism in the areas surrounding the universities and the few larger cities in the state, with populations bolstered by out-of-state students and residents transferred in by large corporations.  Not far outside of those cities, however, less than twenty miles in many places, are the rural areas where the majority population of the state reside. The area east of Raleigh, extending from state line to state line (a portion of the state I am extremely familiar with), is agrarian-based, where the ‘Religious Right’ is the ruling class, and is why this state is so deeply mired in the bigotry and contempt that has long been its history.

_________________________________________________________________

“Who needs dystopian novels when we can just read the news?”–this isn’t mine, credit to whomever it belongs…

 

I’m sad. And mad. And I am too damned old for this shit.

I live in North Carolina. I am a butch lesbian living in North Carolina. And I’m really, really pissed, but, strangely, not surprised by the heinous actions of the NC legislature. I have lived here long enough to know that this state has been heading in this direction for the past twenty years.

From “Complacency Kills:”

I’m in a small, rural, southern town in a ‘red’ state, a state that has a legislature comprised almost solely of white men who are trying to pass laws that would turn back time, take the state and, in their last, best hope, the country, back to the 1950s. They are trying to legislate my people back into the closet, and, being ‘female,’ back into the kitchen. Trying to legislate the poor back into the fields and the warehouses by gutting education funding. Trying to rig elections by passing the ‘first cousins’ of Jim Crow laws. Their ‘rule of law’ is based on the Bible, or rather, their interpretation of it, where they, as white men, are at the top of the heap, standing on the backs of the people who’d elected them, their sheep, easily frightened by the slightest noises of the things they don’t understand, do not wish to comprehend, or even acknowledge. 

theautonomousbutch.wordpress.com

 

I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know if there are enough people in this state to turn this around, understanding that the world is not just as ‘black and white,’ ‘male and female,’ as so many here would like it to be. The legislation passed by the predominantly-Republican legislators literally undoes decades of fairness in employment laws and wages, as well as the ‘restroom issue.’ The deed is done, for now, and I believe that it is not going to change until an Appellate Court and/or the Supreme Court of the United States hears a case that challenges this law, either from here or from another state.

From the time I was a teenage lesbian in the ’70’s and, at that time, living in the State of Georgia, wearing the typical jeans, boots and flannel, I have always been a little nervous about using public restrooms. I was relieved when, on road trips, I would find myself alone in the ladies room of whatever fast-food restaurant or service station we’d stopped at, moving fast to get in and out without encountering another woman. When that was managed, I could literally feel the stress leave my body as I walked out. On the occasions when I was not alone, I would wash up and leave without making eye contact, except for a few glances that let me know that I was being suspiciously appraised, and found lacking.

 On more than one occasion, when I was younger, I’ve had women, usually older, say, “Excuse me, this is the ladies’ room.” “Yes, it is,” I would reply, then smile. The looks I would receive following that were sometimes sneering, sometimes tight-lipped, but always disgusted. They were aware of my ‘femaleness’ after I spoke, but I wonder how many of them would have liked to tell me to grow out my hair, wear makeup, a skirt, hosiery, and heels, so that I would not look so ‘mannish.’

Today, however, I’m in North Carolina and, with those encounters in mind, I think that if a man was found in the ladies’ room, a man who entered said facility with the intent of doing harm to a woman, any woman he encountered would not be afraid to 1) call him on it, 2) give him a beat-down the likes he has not received since his mother or grandmother last whupped him. See, I know the women in this state and they work hard. They are tough. I just wish they believed themselves to be that way.

The NC Legislature believes, however, that ‘women and children need protection,’ that only they, as white men, can give them, from ‘bad’ decisions and ‘dangerous’ situations. And that is the plank this whole ‘restroom’ mess of hatred rests upon and hides behind; first, that men think women need ‘protection,’ and secondly, that men think women are only just above children in the Male Hierarchy of Human Value. This is a trope (I’ve heard this word more in the past month than I’ve ever heard in my life) that is perpetuated by the White Male Patriarchy (another term that I am thoroughly sick of), and it is drilled into little North Carolina girls’ heads from the time they are old enough to recognize the difference in the sexes. It is perpetuated from the start and, as these women grow up and move through their lives, it is reinforced from all sides by their church-based communities.

And that is what makes this fight so damn difficult.

Far too many women born and raised in this state seemingly believe that they need protection, not just from anyone not straight, white, and male, but also from themselves, as seen in the ‘War on Women’ regarding birth control and abortion. These women are given no faith in their own ability to make decisions for themselves, and they acquiese to the whims of their ‘betters’ on every matter in contention, letting ‘the men’ make laws regarding their bodies and their lives, with only a few taking a stand against them for themselves. Incredibly, there are women in the NC Statehouse, holding high office, who rgularly vote with their male counterparts to pass such atrocious legislation, siding with the oppressors of all beings not white and male.

It is a present-day Stockholm Syndrome compounded by a real lack of education, both scholarly and worldly, and the nationwide scholastic testing results bear this out. Admittedly, these are harsh words, and I’ll insert the required ‘Not-All-Women’ here, but I see and interact with these people every day, as I have for the past twenty-five years. I make this point to say that far too many of  the women born and raised in this state have and will vote in the same manner as their straight, white male fathers, husbands, and pastors, because they truly believe what they’ve been told their whole lives–that they are only being ‘protected,’ that whatever ‘it’ is, it is ‘for their own good.’ 

How gallant of these straight, white males.

I don’t know how to ‘fix’ that, either.

I can only hope that North Carolina will be where the LGBT Community and its supporters take a stand, in a way that mirrors the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro in the 1960s. The predominately-white male NC State legislature needs a reminder of its own history, because they obviously did not learn it well enough the first time.

Still, once again, because of this mess, I suspect that I will be closely scrutinized when I use any public restroom in the State of North Carolina. I believe that an altercation is far more likely to occur, given that the white male population, old and young, righteous and ‘in charge,’ will use this law as permission to put their hands on me and demand that I prove my ‘birth sex,’ in whatever way they may deem necessary in that time and place.

Ignorance and fear make people do terrible things…

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Thankfully, there have been calls for ‘sit-ins’ and lawsuits have been filed by several groups to seek relief from the courts but the law essentially stands as it was written, even with Gov. McCrory’s hastily-written, changes-nothing Executive Order. Some may protest the claims I have made above, that women are ‘brainwashed’ into believing they are unable to determine what is ‘right’ for themselves, to make their own ‘Life’ decisions, and that people who believe in the full intent of HB2 allows them to physically stop me, or anyone else they may decide is using the ‘wrong’ public restroom, but I stand by my assertions and words, determined by my own interactions and observations, and by the actions best displayed by Trump enthusiasts at his rallies. They are all of the same ilk.

ALSO: In addition to noting that women had voted for this bill (following the Republican ‘party’ line), I was also truly shocked to learn, nearly ten days after the bill’s passage, that this group of cowardly legislators, working quickly and in the dark, also included eleven Democrats, six of them male, elderly, and black. This was left out of nearly every news account I had read up to that point. I found the information in an op-ed piece and the writer speculated that the Democrats’ votes were cast at the behest of the pastors of their respective churches, but I still find it amazing that, within that group, is a once- and still-oppressed minority that would willingly turn on another, and do so ‘in the name of Jesus.’

Or, maybe I should not be so naive, that these men would so quickly forget their own history in this state, or perhaps bigotry only exists when it is levelled directly at them. The Human Race has long had a ‘Hierarchy of Value’ when it comes to the people who comprise it, using skin color and religion as its quide to ratings’ worth. I find it disturbing, though, that an elected official would be so quick to discount another human’s value at a time when everyone not white and male is trying to ‘matter.’

I am quite sure that this entire piece will truly offend some people, but they should only be as dismayed and disturbed as I was when this legislation was passed and I was made aware of those behind it. I know that I should not fear my government but, given the circumstances, I have no reason not to, as both a worker and a lesbian. 

BD

Highway

This old North-South highway has been a part of my Life

twice now, I’ve lived on its edges

but in different places, different States,

different Lives.

Sometimes, when it’s late

and I’m tired, sorrowful,

I wonder…

if I was to stand looking down that southbound lane,

would I connect with that girl,

the one who, in the dark heat

of that summer night long ago,

paused on its asphalt,

and looked North,

her hopes stretched out like that ribbon of road,

Or has too much time passed

to catch even a glimpse.

Labels, Labels, Labels, I Made Them Up Today…

Okay, so I’m older than most, I’m not the Demographic Everyone is Trying to Nail, I’m more like the crazy-cool aunt you always liked hanging with because I’m up on all the shit and I always had the best shit, so…

I’ve spent way too many years in a back-woods, throw-away town in the southeastern part of the United States, so many years working and taking care of things and being a ‘good adult’ that when I finally did have a chance to put my head up and look around…well, a lot can change in ten, fifteen years.

And, a lot doesn’t.

Mostly what I’ve found, mostly, is that there are a lot of labels out there. And young people love labels! They’re labelholics, really, some of them are multi-labelled, no, actually, a lot of them are multi-labelled. Anyway, at its most basic, it’s like when we asked, years ago, “what’s your sign,” and what it amounts to is this: it still breaks down to ‘I am attracted to women,’ ‘I am attracted to men,’ ‘I am attracted to men and women,’ and ‘I am not attracted to anyone in that way, at all, ever.’

Feel free to add any more distinquishing labels to the above groups to determine your ‘Life as it Pertains to You.’

I’m not knocking this. This is great. It’s so great that even the older people have adopted labels. Labels make it so much easier to figure out if we should even continue spending any more time talking, or should we just go our separate ways, or should we just go on to having sex because we’re completely compatible.

Actually, the first woman I dated, once I rejoined the living, told me she was ‘pansexual.’

Uhm, okay…I had no idea what she was saying. I had to take a minute and google it on my phone, because, hey, I didn’t want to appear stupid but, at that moment, I was stupid.

And, let me also just take a minute to thank Urban Dictionary and its lovely contributors for educating me in All Things I Have Never Heard of Before in my Life.

So, okay, pansexual. Cool. Whatever. At least I know that I’m in the running…

We didn’t hit it off completely, though, in ways that I don’t need to detail, just know that there are still personality flaws–I mean…differences, that are insurmountable. That, and weirdly, she was born in the same midwestern Ohio town that my family lived in, in the same few years that my family lived there, and I honestly froze when I heard that because I did briefly wonder about the possibility that she and I could be half-sisters, since my father was a bounder, and how ‘yick’ would it be for a lesbian and a pansexual to date and eventually sleep together if they shared the same father.

Yeah, I thought so, too.

So, first date over, got my toes wet, let’s see what I can get into next.

Well.

I attended my nephew’s wedding last summer. First of all, I hate weddings. Always have. In this particular instance, though, it was because I knew that, with the people invited, my reputation would precede me (and I have no intention of detailing any of that here except to say that she left her husband of her own volition), and I really did not want to reignite that whole mess. This was about my nephew, though, not me, I really had no choice, my sister would have killed me if I didn’t go.

I wasn’t ready to die.

I shared my distress with my crew of girls at work, and one tried to cheer me up with the comment that ‘maybe you’ll shag a bridesmaid.’

“At my age, it would be more like a bridesmaid’s mother,” I replied.

She laughed and agreed (damn her) but then qualified her first statement with “unless you find one into May-December relationships.” I looked at her, blinking, realizing that, in this scenario, I was the ‘December.’

“Fuck you,” I said.

“Jus’ sayin’,” she replied.

So, I attended the wedding and, sho’ nuff, got hit on by one of the bridesmaids’ mothers. Well, I’m not entirely sure she was actually hitting on me but she made sure I had a list of all her labels. I wouldn’t have thought she’d have more than one or two, but her list was fairly extensive. I mean, I could practically pinpoint her location on the Big Map of Demographics that political strategists routinely use when they’re canvassing cities and counties for their candidates.

And I’m not complaining. Really. She was witty and charming, could tell a good tale, and she absolutely knew who she was and what she stood for. After forty-five minutes and a shot of tequila with a beer chaser, I knew who she was, too.

She was Involved. Like, every day, all day long. I had met a rare bird in this area, a ‘radical feminist’ who ran her own flower shop, and had raised three kids on her own after throwing her ‘worthless husband’ out on the street for not keeping a regular job and putting ‘huntin’ and fishin’ ahead of his family. She was proud of herself, hell, I was proud of her, proud to know her, but I had to wonder if she took everything in her life as a challenge. She seemed to approach everything as a ‘Fight to be Won,’ but I was in her corner from the start. She was so forthright, though, as I’m sure she’d had to be to get the things she had in her life, but I’m fairly easy-going and I wasn’t sure that I could keep up that Level of Intensity all day, every day.

So, I took her number and we had lunch a week later. That was less intense, but we still had some issues (kids, raising kids, sending kids to college…) but in the end we decided that ‘lunch’ was ‘a thing we could do’ on occasion. And that’s what we do, especially when we’re approaching an election season and I want to talk politics with someone who isn’t staunchly old-guard Republican.

Okay, so, last one…I chatted with a twenty-six year-old who was smart (she could actually spell), funny, and determined to meet me, even though I explained that I was far too old for her. She asked something I hadn’t heard in years, asked if I thought people would think I was ‘robbing the cradle.’ I said “No, I think people would think you’re robbing the grave.” She laughed, as best one can in writing, and went on to give me her ‘deets’ which were: non-binary genderqueer, polyamorous, bipolar (but medicated and stable), vegan.

The only way I could reply to that was, “Hey, well, that’s great! You Do You!”

Amirite?

Because, shiiit. What the hell does all that mean? Well, what it meant was, because she was persistant, and funny, and smart, I met a skinny little dyke in a Denny’s off the four-lane that connected our towns. Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, she reminded me of a friend of mine when I was a teenager. That girl was a misunderstood kid who didn’t quite know what to make of herself, either, but she was my friend and I paid attention to her as best I could because, in the end, that was all she really wanted, or needed, for that matter.

After about an hour of talking about a number of things too superficial to recall, I paid for my new little friend’s fruit plate, patted her on her cute little snap-backed head, and high-tailed it home.

So, I’m still in this backwater town, still looking to find my way out, but I have the Internet, I have a solid, working knowledge of all of the current Labels, and I have learned so much about Life in the Real World. I have learned, most simply put, that I am a Curious Butch Lesbian willing to listen to anything you want to share with me.

And I’ll try, really hard, not to judge…but…really? Really? That’s what you’re going with?

Warnings and Regrets From the Dark

I want you to know who I am, that this all begins
with a kiss, I will leave you,
I have no choice.
I leave everyone I love.

Don't tell me I can change,
there are far too many years
that will deny that.

So if you take me at my word,
I will give you a love that is endless,
and never-lasting.

You say you willingly accept
the loneliness coming, for this taste
of love tonight,
Understanding that I will turn your Life
in a way that cannot be reclaimed.

I'm telling you to run.