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.

TV Lesbian Deaths

I am too fucking old for this.

It would seem that there have been ‘contracts’ taken out on lesbian characters currently on television, and ‘They’ (aka the Television Conglomerate of the Free World) are killing them off, one-by-one, in the most ‘trope’ ways possible. There have been eight lesbian deaths on television since the beginning of the year, and this is only March!

Did the Television and Media executives have a secret meeting to discuss this? In my mind, I see a room filled with straight, white males of varying ages, wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth, saying, “Well, they’re allowed to marry now, something’s gone wrong, it has to be the way we’ve been representing them. They’ve become too happy, too self-assured, we must do whatever it takes to break them and push them back down.”

“I know what to do,” speaks up one. “First, let’s kill them all off.”

“Yes,” says another. “This all started when we put them in our shows and movies, when we made them seem ‘almost human.'”

“You’re right,” another joins in. “None of this would be happening if we hadn’t been so kind to them, letting them think they’re worthy of existing in our world. Let’s do this. Let’s kill the ones that are there, and then, if we must have them in our shows, we will only show them as ‘defective’ and ‘sick.’ You know, the way it used to be.”

Agreed,” shouts the group. Unanimously.

So, here we are. Again.

How do we counter this? I love your passion, I really do, but we can all ‘tweet’ until we’re blue in the face, we’ll have a few more articles written by several more International papers, maybe several ‘world-wide’ magazines, but to what end? After a few weeks, when the furor dies down, well, there it is. It is no longer ‘newsworthy,’ it is no longer a ‘hot topic,’ and everyone moves on. Back to ‘business as usual,’ until another lesbian buys a bullet, or an arrow, or a car crash, stabbing, poisoning, fall while rock-climbing…then the process repeats itself and here-we-go-again.

What if we stage letter-writing campaigns to the advertisers? Boycott their products? Do you think they honestly care? Has anyone heard Proctor & Gamble make any statement siding with us? Do you think they’ll shed real tears if you tell them you can live without their Tide laundry detergent? Has any other national or international corporation come out on our side, expressed their condolences or spoken against the manipulative and hateful behavior that’s come from the networks-in-question, or the ill will from those who believe that because we’ve been ‘represented,’ we have no reason to complain?

Of course not. It would be ‘bad for business.’ They ‘could’ lose consumers from the ‘other side,’ the Million Mother-whatevers, the majority of their market share. It could lead to ‘burnt bridges’ with the Media Conglomerate itself, where ‘They’ could diminish a company’s ability to advertise, or, possibly, force them to pay higher costs as punishment for their support.

So, where do we go?

First, let me propose this: turn off your TVs. Don’t watch ANYTHING. No shows, no news, no weather, nothing. Granted, it won’t do a damn thing to their ratings because you are not their primary audience. The point is, you are not going to find anything worthwhile for yourself there, nothing that will make you feel good so…just…STOP. Hell, unplug the damn thing.

Secondly, go online. Everything you could possibly want or need is there. There are some great websites out there, in every flavor you can imagine. If you have to watch something, YouTube has some pretty good series going on that deserve more viewers (looking at you, CARMILLA), and you can actually tailor your searches to your own ‘likes.’ Anything you want, I’m pretty sure you’ll find it, or something close to it. Or, seriously, start your own show. I’ve seen some pretty cool stuff from people who have no association with Mass Media Conglomerates doing some really neat things out of their own kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, garages, shot with an iPhone.

Read a f*cking book. Use your own imagination. You’d be surprised at what your mind can conjure on its own. There are a lot of great books out there, with all kinds of people in them. That’s what PUBLIC LIBRARIES are for! Thank you, Ben Franklin! Free books!

Write a book. Write your own story, with your own characters tailored to you and your goofy crew. You don’t have to be perfect, just get the words down to start, share them with your friends. Hell, write fan fiction and put that on the web. Who knows, maybe someone’ll share your story with a friend, who shares with another friend, who shares with someone in the ‘business’ and suddenly, you’re talking to editors and oh, hell, how far can this go!

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The point I’m trying to make is that they, the ‘mainstream media brokers,’ don’t care about us. They never have. We are not their ‘target demographic.’ We have little-to-no representation in the offices and on the sets. While those from our ranks that are there do what they can to help our cause, their jobs are their livelihoods. They are not likely to go toe-to-toe with the showrunner about minority representation and storylines without cutting their own throats in the process, with the threat of ‘never working in this town again’ from someone who could do just that, in the insular little swamp that is ‘Hollywood.’

I am heartbroken, not just for myself, but for all those young and younger people out there who’ve been manipulated for ratings, been lied to, cheated, then cast off by showrunners and media executives who didn’t give ‘a good goddamn‘ about the people they used and abused to further their own objectives and careers. Don’t give them the opportunity to do it to you again.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me every damn time we play and I’ll quit your sorry ass. I know you don’t care, but I will not be hurt by you again.

I will not watch you perpetuate the myth that ANYONE WHO IS NOT straight, white and male, between the ages of eighteen and thirty-six, deserves a ‘less-than’ world, a ‘less-than’ ending to their story.

You can take that to the bank.

Stone Cold, Like Glass

I was cold, like glass, when I was young, fragile enough that my sign was ‘Do Not Touch.’ I made love, it wasn’t a mutual exchange, not to her, them, but my head told me otherwise.

One, managing to chip that glass, reached in, ran her hands over my smooth surface, and I cracked under her touch. I broke into a thousand pieces with her and when she left, I gathered up all that I could, pieced myself back together, swore that it would not happen again.

It did.

I am sure that there are pieces of me still scattered over this world.

Now, though, there is not as much of me as there had once been, and I hold what’s left all the more closely.

So, Nancy Reagan Died…

Nancy Reagan died over the weekend.

Please do not give her the ‘glory’ you all think she deserves.

You are hearing this from someone who was there…

Her anti-drug campaign was a fallacy based on an off-hand, dismissive comment that did not even begin to address the factors that young people faced in their every-day, working-poor lives. She flippantly told her handlers to “well, tell them to just say ‘no.'”

When AIDS reached our country, she, and her husband, the White House, the Nation, laughed and turned their backs as my friends died in droves, our communities decimated in a matter of months. No one deserves the lack of sympathy she and her husband showed us.

They left us out there, alone, because those homosexuals were not worthy of their concern.

I speak not just of the gay men whose deaths left holes in our hearts, but as a health care professional who honestly did not know if we would contract and die of AIDS simply because we touched the men who came to us, dying before our eyes so quickly, in days, weeks, and for reasons that we could not counter with any of the knowledge and medicines we had available to us at the time.

We did not know, but we touched them anyway, through gloved hands, our faces masked, our bodies covered with paper gowns that may, or may not, protect us.

My first AIDS patient was an eleven-year-old boy who had contracted the disease through a blood transfusion for a clotting-factor disease. His mother asked if she could touch him, hold him, as he lay dying, scared that she may contract the disease as well, but even more afraid that he would die alone, without knowing that she was there with him. And I honestly did not know, she knew that, but I said ‘yes’ anyway, knowing that he was all that she had and that neither of them deserved to be apart from each other in that moment.

It was a huge risk at the time, and she knew it, but she took it anyway.

She held him as he died, her tears falling on his face, risking her own health so that he would not die without her.

I will never forget that.

I will never forgive her, them, this Nation, for their callous indifference.

So please, do not glorify her. None of them deserve it.

I Remember…

I watched as the boxes were unpacked, decades-old and carted around with all the other things. Pulled from deep within, the shoes of my youth, still stained with the orange clay of those fields.

I remember those shoes. I remember those fields.

I remember you.

And it’s warm, the air is full of fever and promise, the sun casting long shadows through the pines on the edges. We race for the ends, cheers from the sides, our girls watching and chatting and smoking, applauding the points and the sharp turn-arounds.

We ran those fields the way we ran our days, fast and looking to score.

And I remember you.

Your smile, the shine in your eyes as you followed us, laughing, so happy to be where we were.

That is where I leave you.

So that I won’t remember you anywhere else.

All Any of Us Really Want…

Well, you went looking for something and you thought that I was what you were looking for, and when you realized I wasn’t, you put me down, you just left me there, nowhere near where you found me and I’ve been trying to get back there ever since. But I can’t go back, no one can, we’re either picked up by another and we move on, or we pick up someone else and move on. Either way, no one gets to go back, we’re all just moving, or being moved, farther away from where we started. 
And the only way to stop this is to reach out and grab on, dig in to wherever we are, and never allow ourselves to be picked up and moved again. We dig in, hold tight and then we’re alone, because it’s the only way to stop being moved farther away from where we really want to be. And all any of us ever really want, have wanted, in the end, is to go home. To just…go home…

Asking Permission

I have always asked first, before I did anything with a girl. And that always seemed to surprise them, because I don’t think anyone ever asked them before, if it was okay to kiss them, or touch them, and I know, now, why they were surprised. They’d always been, just, objects before and now they weren’t, they had a right to say yes or no, to give permission for the privilege of touching them, and some thought it was sweet, and some thought it was weird, and one girl cried, softly, because no one had ever….

Not Going to Apologize…

I don’t know how to explain this, I won’t apologize for it even if it makes you uncomfortable, and I certainly don’t want you to think that I’m some strange stalker of poets, but the words you’ve strung together will suddenly spring to mind, maybe from something said, or because it’s quiet, brief snatches of words and images set off like bombs in my brain, resonating in my head. Filmed through your eyes, the scenes appearing as remembrances, not well-lit and quick.

We’ve lived different lives, nothing alike but still the same, yours was mine as we both grew up, separated by distance and time. I would recognize you across the ages…

Poetry is not my ‘thing,’ I do not actively seek it out, but I am drawn to yours and there’s been only radio silence, nothing new from your world, leaving me to wonder if all is well and hoping to hear from you soon.