Friday, December 5, 2008


I always loved the wind and wondered what it was about.

There was and still is a kind of enchantment for me when I see leaves dance with skittering delight across the horizon. And I hear music when I see tumble weeds join in a kind of natural chorus line. They eventually succumb to the wind and are forced to fall out of step with their group.

I now know that I am a tumbleweed that was forced to be a part of a social chorus line. Because I finally succumbed to a brisk wind in my life, I fell out of step with my group and became what I have known that I was since I was thirteen--I am and have always been a lesbian.

Growing up in the 40's was not conducive to think or speak about homosexuality. During this period there was a term for homosexuals and when I heard it in my home they were referred to as "god damn queers”!!! "Sex " was such a forbidden word that I can never remember saying it until I was in high school.

As I began to realize about my own sexuality, I knew that I must never let this secret out and it needed to be buried deeply. After all, I could not and would not be a "god damn queer".

The pain that goes with being a homosexual is only known by another homosexual trying to live in a heterosexual world. My true feelings about other women came to me strongly when I was 13 but I really knew before that time that there was something so different about the way I felt about women. It was at this age that I knew it was going to be important to bury what ever I felt because I was not one of those "god damn queers! "

How those words ring in my ears and the same pain rolls over me like a smothering darkness. That was because I constantly had to bury deep within me who I was. I buried and hid my true feelings for years! Who and how I was freed is my real story. There are other issues that were social values and restrictions at the time and I feel they are worth writing about so any young woman will understand what kept women trapped quietly in their minds and bodies.

I have two granddaughters and I would like them to understand that I lived a lie that I thought was totally necessary to protect my family. Was I a cheat?

Yes, I cheated my family and myself because I could never be who I wanted to be. I cheated my husband and kept us both in a relationship that should have ended years and years ago.

When it did end-- -I have never felt such freedom in my life.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


When Lady Love and I were in Michigan we couldn't wash our clothes at home because the
the well water would turn everything orange! So I seemed to find myself sometime during the week sitting in the Laundromat waiting for clothes to either wash or dry. Now for the average person this waste of time---for me it is another essay in the making.

You can always tell us novice Laundromat folks. We never have the right change. (I nearly always have quarters when the machines take dimes and vice versa.) The true "Laundromatter" has bags of dimes and quarters and never has to run to the changer. Maybe this will come with experience--but I doubt it. I wonder if I get a kind of Las Vegas thrill out of those changers. I do lead kind of a sheltered life!!

Then there's my soap---- or rather where's my soap, my stain remover, and my softener? Oh well, just this once I'll buy it here. I discovered that a couple of this and that is something just short of the national debt. I have to leave that stuff in my car!

Then I always forget my clothes hangers and regular "laundromatters” look at me with pity as I try carefully to fold a shirt that would have really gone well on a hanger. Maybe I should leave extra hangers in my car, too.

Then intimidating "Laundromat" signs: DO NOT DYE IN THESE MACHINES!!!! Or DO NOT OVERLOAD!!! There are never enough chairs in these places and there are always big signs that say, DO NOT SIT ON FOLDING TABLES. Those signs are harder to read 'cause there is always someone sitting on them. Another sign says, "This dryer holds three washer loads of wash!" I never have but two, do you suppose there are laundry police that check on these things?

As I pondered these and other questions, I watched a very large man stuff a quantity of dirty coveralls in a machine. If he had thrown his leg over the side and tamped them in I wouldn't have been surprised. Even the laundry police wouldn't have argued with him!!!

Then a woman with enough clothes to fill a thrift shop came in. She made six trips in with her big loads. She stuffed 10 washers (there is no load limit sign and she seemed to feel comfortable that she was not breaking a laundry law.)

The "launder matter" attendant scrubbed the extra bubbles, soap and dirt off the machines.

I gave him my best cheery "Good Morning" and he came back with,” People are pigs!!" I went back and climbed up on a folding table and sat down. I did have ONE thought for him, though. Instead of grumbling, try putting a broom to the floor (the same orange peel has been there for two weeks.)

I didn't try to cheer him up---I guess I would be pretty disgusted too if I had printed all those great signs and no one read them.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I love words. But then I'm supposed to love words. I am a writer. Writers love to talk but they would really rather write. Words come into my head like leaves blowing around your yard. Now stop and think about leaves for a minute---you know how they skitter (now there is a great word.) and fly about. My head is full of skittering, flying words. If I’m lucky they end up in my computer and then on the printed page.

Words. Lesbian words, lesbian life and lesbian laughter and once in a while a serious thought. It is important that we keep the humor in lesbian life so we may face the tough issues with courage and still keep in mind they are not the only issues in life. There are everyday incidents that are too absurd to pass up. You will find some here.

There are words that make us smile, i.e."Is it my turn to clean the bathroom again?” or "Honey, can we eat lobster in the nude? where to put the butter.” Words that scare us and make us sad i.e. "Oh, no,another gay person has been killed." words that are friends, i.e. love, sex and chocolate chip cookies; words that are enemies, i.e. diet and chocolate chip cookies.
(My personal favorites.)

Love is a great word. How can people be against love whether it is heterosexual or homosexual. True love between two people is so hard to come by. When I hear the spewing of such venom against giving equal rights to lesbians and gays I shudder.

When I went to Michigan to be with Lady Love , I was employed in a large retail sports business. No shortage of "rednecks" there but I was determined to be "out."My employer
was in agreement and she told me if I had any trouble just let her know. I told her I would tell her if it happened but I would handle it. And I did.

Sure enough,about 3 weeks into my employment I came to the lunch room and one of the young men carried on a conversation in a loud voice meant for me:" I hate queer men and queer WOMEN!!"

I walked over and pulled out a chair and sat down beside him. I spoke to him in a quiet, even
voice: "Excuse me, I haven't met you yet, but I am a queer women and really you don't know me well enough to call me queer, perhaps if you get to know me better, I'll let you call me the old queer---only my friends can call me queer."

He was red faced and thunderstruck but he responded with a smile and polite conversation all related to hunting. He never referred to my gayness again. I chatted with him many times in the months to come and we had good conversations and we really enjoyed visiting.

He always treated me with respect, but he never attempted to call me the "old queer."


The words running about in my head this a. m. are all to do with exercise. I love exercise. Walking, Tai Chi, reading a book, (exercising my mind) and have course, watching Tiger Woods play golf on TV. I am a senior lesbian so I lean a little towards conservative exercise.

Saturday I sat down to take a break from writing and eat a Snickers bar. I flipped on the TV---golf-flip-auto racing-flip-basketball -flip-infomercial, mmm an "abs" builder. No doubt about that my "abs" could stand a little building. Probably could start by not eating Snickers bar when I break from writing.

Guess I'll watch this guy. It is ENLIGHTENING! For $19.99 and 20 minutes a day I could have "abs" as hard as a "six-pack". I wondered what that meant and I also wondered how long it would take --a month, six months or a year? Better assess my abs.

When I pulled my shirt up to look at my "abs. My god, where were they? They were there, but they looked like a cross between cottage cheese and beige jelly. May be a Twinkie six pack. Not a pretty sight. My "abs" could be better described as “flabs"! As a "before" the abs builder I would probably be considered an overachiever.

But then during a commercial in the middle of the infomercial the "abs" man said he would be right back with a woman "who lost inches and weight" using the abs builder. Great this would give me a break to go to the bathroom and then see if there was any leftover pizza. A little piece wouldn't spoil my supper. Ask any writer--sometimes-writing just needs to be fed.

All of my missions accomplished, I snuggled back into the couch just in time to see this gorgeous woman (a size 3) shiny, tan, and muscular. No love handles and sure enough---"abs". It was when they showed "before" picture that I really lost interest in sending for this $19.99 wonder and expending that 20 minutes a day. She must have been a size 3 1/4 when she started on this wonderful program.

Oh well, time to get back to writing---I think I have spent more than enough time on exercise.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I was ten minutes late for my stereotactic biopsy on my left breast.

An adorable young woman named Alec whisked me to the counter to take a copy of my insurance card. To take my pre-filled papers and a form. The form was called the "Gray Form" and it was indeed gray. I smiled when I filled it out thinking that someone had a sense of humor and that perhaps forms should be given either appropriate color names or appropriate absurd names. You know the kind that question form and if you bought red car you could always use "the red car form." Back to the Breast Business.

I was then hurriedly turned over to another sweet lady called Susan. After all I was ten minutes late! (All these people moved so quickly, they were obviously afraid of a BIG BREAST BACK- UP. You know how disconcerting these can be on a Tuesday.) Susan took me down the hall to watch a breast video.

"Have you seen this yet?” she asked.

"Was it on prime time? If it wasn't I haven't seen it."

She smiled pleasantly, put in the video and left.

The video began and as it was explaining how the procedure would take place, I'm thinking,’” god, this is "gutty" ---good thing I'm not too squeamish." Periodically, someone was sticking their head in the door and asking me if I was done watching the film--- I said "no" and in a few minutes they asked again. Again I said "no".

Finally, a, nurse came in and looked upset as she said,"Oh no, that is not the film you should be watching. That is a training film. You were suppose to be watching a little 4 minute film that was going to tell you that everything was going to be alright!"

She put in a new video.

Well, I got a minute and a half into the "okey-dokey" film and they swept me into the surgery room. Probably figured I had seen enough and that I should be taken somewhere before I took my breast and ran.

There was a small step stool leading to the breast table in the sky. I climbed up as I was instructed and placed my left breast in the allotted breast hole.

The nurses and the doctor were very kind. They put forth great effort to make me comfortable.

My mind kept wandering back to the facts of life. They were going to clamp my breast in a mammogram vise, take more pictures of the suspect tumor and then launch a needle the size of a cocktail straw into the tumor. Yeah, right. How could anything like that possibly hurt?

I was prepared. After all, I had seen "the film."

The nurse was comforting. "You are doing great". (Of course, my breast was in a vise and I was strapped to table with a Velcro belt. Where does" great " enter in?)

Doctor spoke softly, "You will feel something like a bee sting and then a little pressure as we do the procedure." (Hey, I saw "the film”, don’t kid me.)

Then it happened. I looked at that computer. He had launched the cocktail straw and I hadn't felt anything. Good job!

The nurses rolled me over to my back, applied a band- aid to the teeny-little hole. They helped me down from the table. I got dressed; they stuck a little ice pack in my bra and sent me on my way. I took only one Advil in 24 hrs. The pain was minor.

The next day I was back. My results were that my lesion was benign. What more could I ask?

Well, you know when a bunch of us old women are sitting around talking about our aches and pains you can just bet I'm going to take my turn and say,

” Did you ever have a needle the size of a cocktail straw launched in to your breast?"
It won't shut them up, but it might slow them down!

I gotta tell you this one.

My friend Peggy, has "funny" things happen to her. They are not awful things or earth shaking things they are just plain "funny." Peggy is a single mom and she prides herself on running a tight ship when it comes to taking good care of her home and teenage daughter.

One morning around 5 am Peggy was awakened by a loud crash coming from her living room. She lay there a moment trying to determine whether she had heard a noise or perhaps dreamed it. About that time her daughter came in and said in aloud whisper, "Mom,Mom, there is someone sleeping on our living room couch!!"

Peggy grabbed a robe and peeked in her living room sure enough---someone appeared to be sleeping on her couch. He was someone that they didn't know. She and her daughter tiptoed through the slightly open patio door to the patio and called the police while observing their unwelcome intruder.

The 911 dispatcher asked if he was breathing. Peggy said,"Well, I guess so, he sure is hiccuping and burping a lot."

The police arrived and tried to awaken the young man. He was reportedly high on marijuana and had been drinking. Peggy listened as the officers tried to awaken their unwanted guest. He again passed out. The officers continued to try to get him awake and on his feet. He continued to burp and hiccup. They were finally successful in taking the unknown intruder away.

The officer called later and told Peggy the man had thought he was walking into his friends house when he staggered into Peggy's house and collapsed on the couch, knocking a picture off the wall. He walked right in because they had let their dog out and had not replaced their patio door rod. Bet that won't happen again.

Peggy finished her account and I said, "Peggy, that was awful. Were you scared that someone had broken into your house?"

"With all that hiccuping, the worst part for me was I was afraid he was going to throw up on my new couch!!!"

Lucky for him, he didn't.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Roger and Smokey Knew

Roger was sweet, and dear. He and his big brother were well behaved. They had soon learned that I liked that in them. When my granddaughters came to visit, Roger loved it and the three children would dance, put on plays, and paint with watercolors. (Much to the dismay of his bigoted father.) His father had already teased the older boy out of these “sissy” things. Occasionally when his father wasn't home he would become involved with all of it and have a great time.

Roger and I were "Buds", as he put it. When we chatted as I work around home we had some sweet conversations. He didn't really know about being queer but I was obviously discussed in his home. His parents would have been dismayed if they knew the things Roger told me.
Roger shared a lot one of those Colorado, partly cloudy days. You know the kind-- where you can paint your house and get a suntan and not dry the paint too fast. I was sitting on my favorite stool, had my radio tuned to my favorite jazz station, paint was well stirred. I was ready to go. This was going to be so relaxing.

My brush was moving along with an even speed when I heard a rustle and sniff. I turned to see my friend Roger and his dog Smokey.

"Hi, Roger and Smokey." They both responded to my friendly pats on their heads. Roger expected me to ruffle his hair. He had said one day that he wished I would pat his head like I did Smokey's. From then on I always did.

"What are you and Smokey doing today?" I asked and continued to paint.

"We just came over to talk to you."

"Uh,Huh, well you and I always have good talks so what would you and Smokey like to talk about?"

He ignored that I had included Smokey. This usually drew a giggle. Must be something pretty serious.

"I wanna talk about you,” he said quickly.

"Me? Really?" I put my brush down.

"When I went to bed last night I heard my dad tell my mom you were queer."

"Roger, do you know what the word "queer" means?" I'm thinking terrible things about Roger's dad and his low level mentality. (The brainless clod of dirt.)

"Yeah, it means you are different."

"Roger, is it o.k. with you that I am different? Do you know there is nothing wrong with a person being different?” I replied. Knowing I must not let my anger touch this gentle child.

"Yeah, I like you 'cause you're different. You talk different and you use words that are different and you always tell me what words mean when I don't know what you're talking about."

"Right." I heaved a sigh of relief and picked up my brush to resume painting.

Then Roger said,” Dad said something else. He told Mom she better not be visiting with you so much when you are gardening cause you might pinch her butt or try to kiss her. My mom said you wouldn't do that."

My brush was set aside again. My temples pounded with anger but I would never let Roger know. He would find out soon enough that his dad was stupid!!!

I put my hands on his shoulders looked him in the eyes and said, "Roger, you know I would never do anything like that, don’t you?"

"I didn't think you would but now since you told me I know you won't. (So he perhaps had some doubts at one point.) I gotta go 'cause Mom said lunch would be ready pretty soon. Bye."

"OK" I said quietly. My painting was at a stand still. Momentarily my head was in my hands. I began to pick up my things and realized that Roger and Smokey were standing end of the house.
I tried to regain my composure.

"Roger, I thought you and Smokey were going home for lunch.” I said
with a forced smile.

"I can’t”, he said with his lips quivering and big tears bubbling out of his eyes as he tried to blink them away. I hurried toward him, dropped to the ground and put my arms around him. He sobbed a wretched sob.

"Roger,Roger, please don't cry. Tell me what is wrong", I said.

He sucked in a gasping breath and said, "I know I must have said something terrible to you and now you must hate me. "
"Roger, I don't hate you. You and I are "Buds". Remember? You are my best friend in the entire neighborhood. Why do you think I hate you?"

"You never said goodbye, you never hugged me and you never patted Smokey and me on the head." More tears came.

"Oh, Roger, I'm sorry. Come here, Smokey." I patted and hugged them both.

"Smokey and I saw you put your head in your hands like you were sad. I think it was our talk about you being queer." His crying was letting up and he was gaining courage. His chin jutted out, his lips formed a very tough, straight line. He was standing up straight and his hands were on his hips.

"Jeanie, Smokey and I like you the way you are. Please will you just stay queer.”? I roared with laughter, hugged and patted them both.

"Yes, Roger, I promise you--- I will always stay queer."

Roger spoke to Smokey as they walked home,"Now,that's better."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"We just ran out of time."

"Jeanie,Jeanie,Jeanie." I heard Lady Love's voice calling me off in the distance. I tried to shake myself from a very deep sleep. She handed me the phone: "It's Robin."

Robin's voice came through in a bursts of sobs: "Oh Mom,Mom, Uncle Bob died. He had an aneurysm and died with in three hours. Aunt Jo would have called but she did not have your phone number."

I responded with, "Well, we just ran out of time." I was filled with a strong grieving pain that seemed to envelope my body. Robin and I talked. Elizabeth and Kathryn called into the phone,
"we love you ,Granny!" Robin continued to fill me in on few things about his passing and then she said, " Aunt Jo wants you to call. I'll give you her number. "

"Really?"My heart leaped in my body with the thought of hearing her Jo's voice. I had not talked to her in so long. I thanked Robin, we said our goodbyes.

I dialed Jo's number and waited with nervous anticipation---I was afraid how I would react to the sound of her voice. I did not want to burst into tears and make her feel any worse than
she was already feeling.

My niece, Sally answered the phone. She was calm,and sweet told me a few things about my brother's health and then asked, "How are you doing?"
I answered with a quiet,"OK, I guess. It hasn't all sunk in yet---I was asleep. It will take a little time for me to absorb. I am happy that he did not suffer and that he slipped away peacefully."

Sally said aside,"Mom, it's Aunt Jean."

The next thing I heard was Jo's, strong calm voice say,"Hi, Sis." Years of distance seem to crumble away as we talked. I was overjoyed to hear her voice:
"Sis, your brother was a hard and stubborn man. We had 53 years and for the most part we were in good health and I guess one cannot ask for more than that."

I said,"I only wished he would have had at least a dialogue with me."

"Yes, I'm sorry about that ,too," she said.

We told each other how we had never stopped loving each other and we were still each others sister. She thanked me for welcoming her as my sister when she came from Germany to our home. We again agreed that we did not ever want to have a division between us.

I ask if I could bring Lady Love and come and see her some time. She said that would be nice
I told I would call about when the services would take place. We closed our conversation with ,
"I love you."

Then I called Robin, briefly to relay my conversation with Jo.

Her response:"Oh, Mom , I prayed you and Aunt Jo would make a bridge for each other. I'm so thankful."
(My Dear,Mother Hen,Robin,me too,me too.)
We always close our conversations with, "I love You."

Monday morning,June 17th
Having spoken with my daughter last night, I felt the need to see how my son, Jeff was doing. He deals with death in a strong matter-of-fact way and his pain is private. So I knew I should call and talk with him.
When I ask him, "How are you doing?"

He came back like a flash. "No, Mom how are a you doing?

"Hangin' in, hangin' in. Just needed to talk to you."

"I told Pat if I didn't hear from you I would call you tonight."

After I chatted with both he and his wife,Pat I realized how wonderful it was to have exchanges with my children at this sad time. We were about to hang up when Jeff said, "Oh,Mom please give our love to Lady Love."

Hearing love coming to Lady Love and I over the phone is important. My children always supported me even in my gayness. Thank you dear children.
We closed our conversation with "I love you."

Monday night June 17th
I called Jo to find out about funeral arrangements. Jo told me the visitation would be
evening: Bob would be cremated and the memorial service would be Wednesday at St. John's.
I ask if there was a memorial fund; I preferred sending a check rather than flowers. I told her I would not come. I felt strongly that he did not wish to see me in life and that he would not wish me to be there in death. I felt it was the last way I could respect his wishes.

Jo and I confirmed that we would never have a division between us; I would write her and we would try to see each other.
We closed our conversation with, "I love you."

Tuesday, June 18th
I went into work about 11:30---the girls ask me how the week-end went. I told them I was
devastated; my brother whom I had adored and looked up to had died without us ever having one word of dialogue about what was a life issue for me; the fact that I was gay,a lesbian and I had known I was "very different" since before I was 10.

At 1:30 a bouquet of roses arrived from the five women I work and was signed "We love you."
They all knew I was gay and they loved and respected me for the woman I am. It was great to be surrounded by their love.

My grieving for my brother has been ongoing for years, for he refused to see me, talk with me, or write to me, or respond to me in any way. I have never stopped loving him.

So with or without grief, I would have always closed a conversation with my brother by saying
"I love You."

Monday, November 17, 2008


Are you a dreamer? I don't mean an "apple pie in the sky" dreamer but a person that can look way beyond themselves and see possibilities that can only be sought by effective dreaming.
Columbus, Ben Franklin, Edison, Henry Ford, and many more were effective dreamers and the things they brought to our history and lives made such a difference.

I believe the most remarkable dreamers are those that dreamed about outer space and then were able to go there.

As children growing up in the mid-west, there were hot summer nights; no air conditioning, no fans. We would sit or lay on blankets in the yard until the house would cool.

As the darkness settled around us, we star gazed. We children always talked about who lived in outer space? Was there a man in the moon? It fascinated us and it was an endless source of fun. We never doubted that it was possible.We must have been like other children over the centuries that have dreamed about space.

As we became adults it seemed just childish thoughts. In February of 1962,John Glenn,Jr. was the first American astronaut to circle the earth. We had a new hero.

I remembered being glued to the TV as we landed on the moon. How much better could it get?
It did get better and as Americans we became used to manned space flights and just accepted them as part of the 6 o'clock news. How sad that as a country we have become blase' about so many things. Thank God for those effective dreamers that continue to look outside themselves to accomplish impossible dreams or the mission to Mars would never have taken place.

I find this mission so exciting. Imagine a seven month trip traveling at 12,000 miles an hour.
The Pathfinder left December 4th 1996 and arrived on July 4th 1997. A coincidence? I think the timing was well planned as anything about the entire flight. An Independence Day in space? Why not?

What about that plucky little rover? Rolling around the "red" planet like an American on a mission ; sending its information on 186,000 miles per second radio signals. Information returning to earth in 10 minutes. How thrilling since its flight took months to get there.

Effective Dreamers. Wouldn't life be boring with out them?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


That first Thanksgiving morning in Michigan, Lady Love and I woke up to a generous covering of snow outside our bedroom window. Our bedroom window has no curtains so nature greets us directly each morning. It is something quite simple and yet so wonderful and precious like our love for each other.

We snuggled and hugged and agreed we were deeply thankful for each other. We laughed and talked. I suggested that we must make some new traditions for "us"---like we should have breakfast in bed every Thanksgiving morning and watch Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. My Lady Love winced but graciously agreed.

I hurried off to make coffee before she changed her mind. In twenty minutes I returned with coffee ,eggs and toast and found her smiling and watching the glamorous "Rockettes" kicking their heels and swinging their hips----an obvious lesbian bonus she had not expected. Another tradition we would want to ad to our list.

Lady Love held my hand. I commented about my hands being rough and that she had a callous on her hand. She began rhyming words---"Palaces,callouses,gallus---".Mmmmmm she said,"I think those are what my Grandfather wore to hold up his pants. I think they are some kind of suspender--am I right?"

"How should I know? I don't think I ever heard the word but we'll find out!" I hopped out of bed ,ran and got my dictionary and sure enough there was "gallus".

Isn't that typical that two writers would be sitting in the middle of the bed looking up words in a dictionary? Then we chatted about memories of our grandfathers. It was sweet. We decided that would be one our traditions--looking up a new /old word on Thanksgiving.

The parade was over. Lady Love's back was aching from sitting up in bed. "I just have to get up.", she said.

"Me, too. O.K. You move to the couch and I will start cooking our Thanksgiving feast." I laughed.

We were sad we could not meet Jeff and Patti in Chicago because of weather ----our road was completely closed and because Lady Love was not feeling well. So we had made tentative plans for our dinner which included roasting a chicken,Stove Top dressing, etc. I fussed around in the kitchen while she read some literature to research a purchase for a scanner.

By 1:30, we sat down to our simple but pleasant Thanksgiving dinner complete with a pumpkin pie. Last Thanksgiving we were both alone. How nice to have each other to share this day.

She and I cleared the table. I suggested she rest while I clean up the kitchen. When I came back to the living room she told me she thought she felt well enough to put up the Christmas tree.
I went down to the studio and brought up a six foot Christmas tree. She and I checked the lights. I opened boxes,dug out ornaments. Lady Love did most of the decorating. She had not had a tree in her living room in a long time and she was like a child, looking at and enjoying the ornaments. We must have spent 3 hours putting the tree up.

How very special our first Thanksgiving together.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Lady Love is on a diet. Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? She had check-up and found that her cholesterol was very high. She knew she had put on a few pounds---I told her she is beautiful and I love womanly womyn.

With Lady Love this meant war!!!!! DOWN WITH CHOLESTEROL AND DOWN WITH THE WEIGHT!!!! Lady Love never starts any project without researching it adequately. (The Pentagon should have her on their staff---they would never end up buying any $50 doorknobs.)
She found the most popular and prominent cholesterol book. Read it; reread it; made lists. I would come home in the evening and find her curled up with her books and her lists. When I would arrive she would chat excitedly about what was gospel in the world of cholesterol. I smiled.
"Why are you laughing?" she said.

"I'm smiling--did you forget that I love the way your mind operates?"

She grinned and her nose dropped down in her book and she was back to the big problem at hand--how many grams of fat in a chicken breast? (Sorry, did not record it here.) So it went for a week or ten days. A bit obsessive? No, no just very thorough.

I get one weekend off a month. It arrived.

Lady Love asked, "Would you like to go to the big super market in Kalamazoo on Sunday? I think they will have some of the special foods I need for my diet. I know already that I cannot get some of the things I need at out market. And then I need to take some yarn over to a friend and she could meet us there and pick it up. "OK?"

" Sure." I replied, "That will be fine."
Truly it would be fine but I hate "hyper stores" of any kind. Somehow they have a way of assaulting my social demeanor so that after I am there for forty minutes I become a shopper in "hell." I have tried to identify why I dislike them so much. I love cities and walking from shop to shop. Put me in an "everything" store and I don't want to look at anything.

Sunday came. I was determined to not to get exasperated and just try to enjoy our adventure into the land of excess.

We entered the store. Lady Love with her lists in hand had a look of enthusiasm on her face. She spied the cheese man and asks him about a particular brand of lo-cholesterol cheese. He said he didn't have it but by the end of the month the store would be stocking 150 different kinds of cheese. He was sure they would have it by then. Me, too. There could only be one or two they would be missing--I didn't know there were 150 kinds of cheese!!

With list still in hand we marched on reading every label determining if it would go in the cart. The miles of meat displays, the city block of canned soups, the acres of candy were all wasted on us.

Ugh! I was hungry and I needed to use the restroom. I inquired as to the restroom and found that it was located at the other end of the store. I assured Lady Love that I could probably find it without the aid of the local hyper store travel guide. She smiled weakly as I left her in the land of candy and nuts. (I hoped she would be safe, as I knew hunger was wearing on her, also.)

When I trekked back she was almost in the same place. The giant store was now becoming smaller as the thundering hordes were pushing their carts up and down the aisles hoping that they would be able to find a yogurt they would like out of the 75 choices offered.
I suggested we go to the deli and pick up some lunch.

Lady Love looked at her watch. "I need to meet Brenda to give her the yarn. You stay by the pharmacy and I'll be back as soon as I can."

I talked to her back as she walked away, begging her to stay but her resolute step let me know that my pleading was falling on deaf ears.

So there I was trapped in a vitamin aisle---cod liver oil permeated my nostrils and almost upset my stomach. Might as well check these out. Mmmmm there was something so attractive about those vitamin labels, you could have a different label for everyday of the week (kind if like those panties with the days of the week on them. I bet they sell those here, too.) I was about to go check something else out and I heard a familiar:
"Well, that's done. Let's go to the deli." I smiled and quickly turned our shopping cart towards the deli--we were like happy salmon swimming up stream.


When I left the gift shop (which I called "the Land of Cute") in Colorado and headed to Michigan to make my life with Lady Love I knew I would need to find another job. I found the my creativity to write must be constantly stirred by the interaction of people.
I needed what I called a "throw away job"; one that would stimulate me and yet flexible enough that I could go to Colorado in June to Jeff and Patti's wedding and go to the Michigan Women's Music Festival in August. I easily found a job and told them what time I needed off for these important things. The job turned out to be laying out a new Gift Shop. Go figure. They hired me and gave me a poor salary but great benefits---they seem to know what the old queer was looking for. There is something about me living in the "Land of Cute".

So here I am again in the work-a-day,8 to 5 world. It requires me to rise about 6 a.m.(Lady Love could sleep until 8 but of course she hears my blaring alarm and growls as it buzzes.)
Lady Love is not a morning person. I find her sleepy grumpiness quite delightful ; by her third cup of coffee she is finding her way and starting to look at the light of day. However we have had a week to end all weeks in the sleep department. We have critters living in our attic.

Flying squirrels . They are nocturnal. At night,they run, skip, square dance and chew until the mornings light. We have tried all of the remedies people have given us and yet each night we continue to have more noise. I think perhaps they have even invited friends over to party.

After 5 days and very little sleep Lady Love took drastic measures. Someone told her to make an escape route for them, then put a light bulb there and they would come out drop to the ground and yeah they would be gone. Saturday night it seemed to work and we did have our first full nights sleep with very little noise. Sunday morning we were cheered and thought at last we had won the critter war. WRONG! They had just taken the week-end off.

Monday morning Lady Love was in rare form. She told me.: "Not only did they run and chew all night but you slept right thru it and when they left to go outside---YOU SNORED!!!! I have had about two hours sleep all night long!!"

Well, of course I was very sorry that I had a wonderful nights sleep and she had an awful one. I found it very hard to apologize for sleeping well. Lady Love had 1/2 cup of coffee and rolled right back into bed. I continued to moved thru my morning taking her grumpiness and allowing it to fester into a pissiness of my own.

I decided I had better let her sleep or it would really upset her if I kissed her "goodbye" and she woke up. I hated not kissing her goodbye--after all we are newlyweds but I weighed that against this particular days early morning grumpiness.

Our five sleepless night had taken a toll on both of our ordinarily cheerful dispositions. I wasn't up for that this morning so I quietly slipped out the door still feeling pretty "pissy"myself. I marched resolutely out the door,jumped in my van, started the engine, spun the steering wheel around and promptly backed into what I thought was a rock. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw our mailbox uprooted and hanging there like a child's loose tooth. "Oh NO", I thought.

This is the mailbox that Lady Love had so proudly planted in concrete herself,decorated and then lovingly put our names on there together. I felt terrible but it was late and I needed to get to work ; I would fix it when I got home.
I worked hard at the store but nothing would relieve how awful I felt about not kissing Lady Love "goodbye" and then how stupid it was to let grumpiness boil over into backing into the mailbox. I spent a miserable morning. Someone paged me to the telephone, I answered with my usual brisk "This is Jean!"
Lady Love was on the line with,"Hi Sweetheart,how are you?" My heart melted as I heard her soft voice.
"I'm awful,--you saw I ran over the mailbox and I have been feeling miserable all morning. I'm sorry and I'll fix it tonight. I know how hard you worked on it."
She reassured me with her sweet gentle voice, "Stop worrying about it--there is so much that is right about us that in the grand scheme of things I don't want you thinking about the mailbox but I did feel bad you didn't kiss me goodbye."
"Me,too--I think I was thinking about that when I backed into the mailbox." Her expression of love made my day so much better.
When I came home that evening I pulled the van up to the mailbox and nudged it gently back into place. A neighbor going by in his pick-up truck almost lost control of his vehicle as he watched me making this simple repair.
Lady Love and I live a very busy life and some times our days are filled with us coming and going and irregular schedules, notes left on tables with lists and declaring our love. The day of the mailbox episode I found a new note on my "Honey Do" list and it read : "Always wake Lady Love and kiss her goodbye."
I will.


What's wrong with cats? Nothing except in most lesbian print they have away of creeping up on you like a bad pair of underwear.

I was just wondering. Is there a Lesbian Law written in stone " all Lesbians shall love cats or you shall be forever be stricken from the Big Book of Lesbians?" Probably not.

Don't get me wrong. I love cats. I live with three cats that totally charm me. Cats have been in my life in important ways. They have given me many pleasant moments and I have used mostly good adjectives to describe them. I did a magazine story on the effects of cats and dogs on Alzheimer patients. So I appreciate what animals do for all of us.

In Michigan there was monthly events resource paper, which was a good calendar of upcoming local and national events for women and a chronicle for someone's cats!!!!
What Fluffy did and didn't do. How she did it and where she got the instructions to do it.
GIVE ME A BREAK!!! This last little kitty episode was about hairballs. Now that is one we have never heard or experienced before.

Am I too critical? Should a writer feel free to write about hairballs? Of course. All those in favor of a hairball column raise your paw, switch your tail, or meow in your best exorcist voice.

Because I am an old queer, I happen to believe that if I send you money for a subscription for what should be a monthly resource paper, if you are going to have a column in it -- let's talk lesbian: tell me about your new girlfriend, your old girl friend, your best relationship, your worst relationship, what you like or dislike about being "out”, what you like about woman love etc. Give your cat stories to someone who cares.

When I was writing out there in the very "straight" world, I wrote a column about a friend and how the death of her cat affected her life. It was tender, sweet and poignant. It was a very benign column I thought. I got calls, some good, mostly bad. It was close to the time of the Oklahoma bombing. People were hurting from watching so much death on TV. I got calls asking why I could be so concerned over the death of a cat when there were so many more important things. I tried to explain. My explanation fell on deaf ears or dial tones.

I vowed I wouldn't write about cats. If I have an audience of more than one I am going to tell them how they should be living "out" or at least some other worthwhile lesbian thing. Instead this essay turned out to be about something I said I would never write about again---CATS.
Maybe there is that Big Book of Lesbian Law that requires queer writers to write about cats. Do you suppose it is tattooed in our brain?

I would like to go into greater detail here but China is eating a houseplant, Kitana is scratching at the door and Tomiko is running though the house like a cat from
a tom and Jerry cartoon Did I mention that Lady Love and I have three cats?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Have you ever thought of the word "queer" as we use referring to our lifestyle?

I have called myself "old queer"for so long is that it is apart of me. I the early days I thought of it as my persona non grata (unwelcome person)but I have come to treasure the word queer. I hold it close to my heart and my lips as one of the powerful words in our culture. The shock value of this word loses its threat when they it used by someone who has the dignity and the respect and carries this word as banner. As an old queer, I can do that.

Being "out" is so important to me that I have used this word with my straight friends. When they could look at me and call me an "old queer " my heart soared. I not only had freed myself but I had freed them to use this word not as something derogatory but as a term of affection for me.

I had what I would call a very queer experience and let see if you would agree.

I had joined my Lady Love in Michigan two months before Jeff and Pat's wedding in Colorado. Lady Love was a newspaper woman and could not get away to go with me during the month of June.

I was going to Colorado for my son's wedding. Now this is not queer, but Lady Love's ex-partner drove out with me. Isn't that queer? She is interested in meeting my ex-partner. Who of course,is also queer. This even get more queer.

My brother hated me----you know how it is, I was his favorite sister, but I was not his favorite queer. He was to be at the wedding and he hadn't spoken to me in years. He thought it was terrible of me to appear queer even if I was queer. He did not come to the wedding. I'm sure
he found out I was going to be there.(He since has passed away and we never repaired our rift and I loved him so much it makes me sad. Prior to my being "out" I would have thought this never could have happened. )

On with my queer story. The facts of the story bring me here:
At the wedding I was seated next to my ex-partner on my left and Lady Loves ex-partner on my right. So in the middle of this very straight wedding there were three very queer guests.

There was plenty of queer confusion there. My children and grandchildren adore me and accept me as the queer I am, so that is no problem. But when the people that knew me realize that I was with two queer woman that didn't belong with me---how queer did that seem? Especially when I told them that my old queer stayed in Michigan because she had to work. They wondered who were those other queer woman? How would we handle it?

Oh,easy. We would just sit there and appear queer and when the music begins to play the three of us would dance together. No lesbian would ever think that was queer.


Ten years ago I was asked to mentor a young women in a class on ageism as part of a Master’s degree in the nursing program. She was working as a caregiver to a neighbor,who was a paraplegic. I had met her at a party and other times when I was visiting with our neighbor. I agreed to mentor her but I was unaware that the young woman I was mentoring was very homophobic and she did not know that I was a lesbian.

The Masters group had been meeting in small groups,eating,talking,watching movies discussing. Finally, we met with all the others to have a round table discussion.
During this time, one of participants lumped,pedophiles, prisoners, and homosexuals in the same statement!!!

I was on my feet and in the face of the of the young offender and she was back peddling and apologizing. How dare she group us in such a way!!! I raged with great passion of how I was”out” and proud.etc,etc.

I looked down at my new young friend and she was red faced and thunderstuck and I knew she did know I was gay.

At the break the Professor thanked me and congratulated me on being such a lighting rod in the discussion. I told her I had not planned on it.

G. and I talked on the way home but I felt the need to write the next morning:

Dear G,
I assumed you knew I was gay and because the whole neighborhood knew and you have been around the neighborhood for quite a while now.
Let me say this first: I loved being with the small Master's group---it was very nice: They treated with kindness,respect and tried to include me. Socially, eating and conversing with them I felt o.k.
However, for me it is very uncomfortable to interact, discuss a movie or social issue with any group without letting them know that I am gay. I bring things to the table that these people have never thought about or considered thinking about because gayness has been so misunderstood.

It is my responsiblity as an old lesbian to educate you. I refuse to be invisible because I am gay. When I live in a world where people are KILLED just for being gay then I must say "I am gay." What you don't understand we must continue to FIGHT for our rights ---all the rights that are available to you should be available to me. Spousal,legal,marriage etc.. I know gay woman that have been together for 40 years and would have loved to be married, but can't have that piece of paper that is so important to some.
I am 67 years old and I have known I was a different since I was nine. When I was 18, I was in love with a woman my same age. However, I married a man when I was 18 because during that social era that is what my family expected me to do. I was a good daughter so when I met a man that my mother liked I married him. That put me in the closet.
CAN YOU IN YOUR ABSOLUTE WILDEST OF DREAMS IMAGINE WHAT IT IS LIKE LIVING IN A CLOSET FOR 40 SOME YEARS !!! Close your eyes and put yourself there. I could never love a woman again. And I never did--until I fell in love with another lesbian. Lesbians really only fall in love with women that fall in love with them.
Not only is ageism a social disease--misunderstanding homosexuality is also a social disease. I am not perverted--though how many times do you suppose people of "my kind " have been called "queer." I openly use the words "queer" and "dyke" because now they are words of power for me. I am out of the closet and I am an old lesbian who must be fearless so another young lesbian does not have to live the life I led. I want anyone to be free to love a woman that loves her
You thought you were being gracious when you you said you had gay friends. But said you did not understand "it ". You were not comfortable saying the words---two woman loving each other. (Please, I am not criticizing---you are a product of conforming to what society thinks.) I want to change that. I may only educate a small group of people at a time--but it makes no difference to me how many as long as I continue to do it. Those people will educate someone else ,etc.,etc., the ripple in the water.
I certainly know I cannot educate or change everyone----how very well I know. My brother, who adored me all my life---now no longer speaks to me because I am "out". I risked everything that has been near and dear to me to be "out". I created a tidal wave in my family. My children listened to me, absorbed,understood and still love me. Even though I am a lesbian, I was a great mother and they will tell you that and so will my gracious ex-husband.
Do I look at woman differently? Of course, I do. I look at women as works of art--just like do men. Do I admire beautiful faces, and bodies? Of course, I do. Don't you and your friends do the same things with men? Of course, you do. And both sexes comment back and forth to their friends and think of it as "admiration conversation," right??
My comments on the movie even as it progressed would have been much different had I felt truly "free" to be me.

Examples:The panty lines and the butt so unattractive in the very first part of the movie was no accident. W.A. was making a statement about women.
W.A. is out to lay everyone he can. Dysfuntional and shallow.
D.K.'s use of marijuana is our first clue that she didn't love him. (I've been with women that really looked good after two cocktails That's why I don"t drink anymore. )
D. K. has a great body why would she ever waste that on a man? Etc. ,etc., etc.,so do you see what I mean?
The other thing is that converstion about the nursing home scene. Shouldn't society be discreet enough to close the door and allow my partner and I to engage in sex or cuddling or whatever we perceive in pleasing each other. Because we are two woman must society say we can no longer please each other?? Or even if it was two males still in love after long years of being together.
The social problems for gays are of course, not just about sex. In order to make a change, society must perceive me as they would any other socially acceptable individual that deserves the same rights you have extended to you without question. All I am asking that you do accept me as a socially responsible individual that deals with the usual everyday problems.
Please do not patronize me as being "feisty"--this trivializes my comments. I consider myself to be a courageous old lesbian that is truly trying to make a difference in society in her own small way.
I must be in your group on my own terms. I am gay. If I am correct they will soon forget that I am gay and just accept me as another human being that can contribute greatly to their knowledge. Soon they will get to know me as a non threatening,kind, and loving individual that happens to be gay. And the next time they go to the polls to vote they will remember me as a person of value. Hopefully, they will think that all people of value deserve the same rights.
If they can't handle it then I don't want to be there. My comfort level where I work and with the people that know I am gay is very high. Do you know why??? I educate them each day with humor and love.
The other reason: I lived a lie for 40 some years and I can no longer do that.
Dear G, you are such a sweet woman and I want to get to know you better. I must have you understand me to do that.
Thanks for listening.
Love from a dear queer named, Jean

We did meet several times after this with the small group and it was was better for me but I finally found out that G. could not accept any gay person because of her religion. The poor girl. Also that is the way I lost my brother. Forever.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Lady Love and I had "writers weekend" August 12th,2003 in Mesick,Mi. and this is the piece I wrote for us.

The couple rocked in the same unison as the ticking of the clock. Each were in their own chair but the rhythm remained in the same steadfast unison----one would think the rockers were one.
They held hands. The gnarled and knotty fingers intertwined like the "love roots" of two rose bushes planted too close together. With such roses, the roots reach out like groping tentacles and soon appear to become one. So it was with this couple. The life experiences, love experiences and parallel events that brought them together made them one.

For many,many years they both held tightly to their own roots. The odds seemed very remote that this couple would ever be able to find each other. After all,they were beyond middle age ; they were 1300 miles apart. Can roses that some gardeners would call "faded" over come such obstacles ? Let alone have the opportunity to become entwined in a romantic love that they both had been looking for.

This couple had things in their lives that were cause for change. Each were experiencing the same thing---loneliness. They both yearned for the right person to come into their life and they knew that this could not be left to chance. They must value time;they must each pick a direction and go for it!!

Each of these individuals knew of an organization that would introduce them to a pen pal of sorts--with a degree of safety.

Unknown to them an other parallels were to take place. They both wrote to the same organization the same day; they read each others information and both thought ,"MMmmm a writer,interested in art, I think I'll write to this address."

They did write to each other and this began a courtship by letter ; falling in love by letter; arguing over their differences by letter. Not the usual relationship??? This is not your usual couple.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Have we all had gender issues?

When I started to write this piece I knew I needed to do some research on what I was going to tell you. Before I sat down to my computer I had to run into my bedroom, take off my underwear and put on my softest most worn out pair of jeans. Yep, I was right they do feel great---just like I remembered.
You may not recognize this as a lesbian statement.

The summer I was nine I knew I wanted to be a boy more than anything. It drove my mother nuts. One of my most favorite things to get my point across was to take off my underwear and get dressed in my brother's most worn out pair of bib overalls. I thought they felt like velvet on my butt. Being barefoot and wearing those overalls was probably my first lesbian statement.

But it fell on deaf ears and blind eyes.
I told my mother things like: "I don't know why I couldn't be a boy. I can run faster than Kenny, I can hit a baseball farther he can; I can ride a bike and roller skate faster he can. So there! "
She would continue to attend to whatever she was doing and calmly say, "Yes, you can, dear". (She would look up.) GLORIA JEAN! (Bad news when she called me that and spoke in capital letters) Why are you wearing your brothers overall--and do you have on any underwear????"
The only answer she got was the slam of the screen door and I was outside taking up the argument with my cousin Kenny.
Cousin Kenny tried to be sweet, "You can't be a boy 'cause you look too much like a girl with all those curls. Mom says you look like Shirley Temple."

Kenny knew that made me mad. When my reaction brought on a hail of how much better I was at everything than he was----he always played his trump card.
"Ha, Ha you can't be a boy anyway 'cause you can't stand up to pee."

Still mad I headed for the house. He knew my retreat to anywhere would be a relief for him.
I continued to behave like a wounded tiger cub. Never ready to give up the fight and always mad.
By the time I was almost eleven, my menstruation started and I learned about babies. What a blow to a girl who wanted to do boy things. I heard, "Now aren't you glad you aren't a boy? Women are meant to have babies. (My mother, a nurse, gave me a glowing "birds and bees" account of how it was.) And Honey, boys can't have babies," she said in a very tender way.

I was on my feet and half way to the door. "Wow, I'm going to tell Kenny. He will be so mad that I can have a baby and he can't!!!" My mother had a hold on the back of my shirt that I can still feel it if I close my eyes. She told me the rest of the story and why we didn't talk about this with boys.
How awful! This was better than anything Kenny could do and I couldn't tell him.
I kept the news about babies in a smug little place---and I would grin and say.” I know something' you don't! " Wasn't very satisfying and I soon stopped.

Gender identity. Haven't we all felt in crisis over it at some time or another? Being an old queer, I have led a life that had gender identity crisis woven all the way through. Sadly, social constraints and my lack of courage led me thru a life very different than my tough little girl of nine would have chosen.

A True Lesbian Fairytale(60 Years of Fairy Dust)

Once upon a time there were two little girls. One was named BrownEyes and one was named BlueEyes. On the day Browneyes was born, she and BlueEyes were the subject of the Fairy Godmother's Annual Meeting.

No one really knows where Fairy Godmother's Annual Meetings are held. We know for a fact they must be held high above the earth because once in a great while the minutes of their meetings fall out of the Queen Godmother's brief case and are carried to the earth by soft faith winds. If they fall in a just the right meadow the news becomes told among all the little people.
Here is the way it was told to me: It was May of 1939 and the Queen Godmother was assigning new god children to "Goldie”, a Fairy godmother of some experience.

The Queen Godmother spoke, "Goldie, you have an exciting and challenging assignment. Do you see the baby BrownEyes being born in Michigan today?"

"Yes, Yes, I do. " Goldie had very good eyes.

"Now do you see the little girl named BlueEyes in Chemung, Illinois? She is right down there and she is roller-skating on a hill by a church."

Oh, yes. She is coming into view at the corner."

"Goldie, your assignment is to see that they fall in love at the end of 1999 and they meet in January of 2000."

"What!! Queen godmother that is a 60-year assignment. Er, excuse me --do I understand you correctly? How can this be? You know I take my assignment seriously, but I can't believe that you would give an assignment that would last that long. Most of my other godmother duties end at age 16 or 18. These women will be old women by then."

The Queen Godmother smiled. "For someone who has been around for centuries I find your reaction amusing. These women will each grow up in their respective states where they were born. They will only be separated by Lake Michigan and a little land, but they will never meet until they are in their sixties. They will both marry men, they will both have children, and they will each have a child that dies. BlueEyes will leave Illinois and move to Colorado."

"Queen Godmother, that will make me travel back and forth between Michigan and Colorado for over sixty years. I will need to have so much Fairy dust that I will need fairy dust stops far more than usual. And one other thing did you misspeak when you said, "they would fall in love and then meet?"

"My Dear Goldie, I have never heard you offer so many excuses. Do not worry about the fairy dust stops. You have always been a godmother noted for your great patience. I chose you particularly for this assignment. In 60 years surely, you will figure a way for them to meet. You see, Goldie, these are very special women. These women are artists and writers. But this is not what makes them special.

They will fall in love because of their writing. They have great gifts they must share with each other because they will be searching for each other all of their adult lives. In all of their searching, loss and love there will is one thing that will keep them special. It is because of their hearts. In their lives, they will manage to keep there 16 or 18 year old hearts."

Goldie’s face had softened and her puzzlement had disappeared.
She said,” Really, Queen Godmother, this hardly ever happens, does it?"

"Sadly, that is true. No one really needs to lose us out of his or her life but suddenly they stop calling on us. Soon their young hearts are gone. Goldie, be sure you don't spare the Fairy dust. They will both have hardships and great losses. They will need you spreading your Fairy dust and whispering childlike encouragement in their dreams."

So it was in the next 60 years, Goldie carried fairy dust to the highs and the lows of Browneyes and BlueEyes lives. They continued to keep their hearts in the 16 or 18-year-old time frame. Goldie was amazed the time had moved by so swiftly.
In 1999 she sprinkled Fairy dust on their heads. They each thought they had a great idea-----when they wrote to Golden Threads, a safe letter writing organization for lesbians who want to write to each other. In the months that followed they wrote to each other. They talked thru letters; they ironed out differences and they fell in love. Goldie’s work was done. Goldie smiled.The Queen Godmother is going to be so proud when Goldie accepts her "Godmother of the Millennium" Award at the 2000 Annual Godmother's Meeting.
Goldie will know she had done a good job for BrownEyes and BlueEyes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Farewell to the Land of Cute

When I came to Village Gifts years ago Jim, David, Sharon and Helen all warned me that I would be surrounded by very "cute" things. One of the devastating side effects of working in a gift shop was that soon everything would appear "cute". If I was to ever leave here, being debriefed would be an important part of letting go of "cute".
I scoffed at this.
As my time now approaches leaving the comfortable confines of Village Gifts (where I have learned that "cute" may be used for almost everything inside its walls) I am beginning to realize the word "cute" continually crept into my vocabulary--- much to my annoyance.
It was true. I must be debriefed or I shall be trapped in the language of "cute". How this would occur? I did not know but it must be soon for it would not be good for a writer to be caught up in only "cute" language.
It seemed like just an ordinary day.
And so it was I entered the Land of Cute and I was surrounded by big
cute,little cute and a wicked cute woman that looked strangely like Helen. She spoke in her cute voice and the usual things fell from her cute little mouth.
My god, what was happening? My brain was going "cuteless." !!!
Helen stood there and I saw a wart on her nose with a hair growing from the center;her eyes became teardropped shaped and she took on the form of an ugly Precious Moment doll gone bad. Her hair was uncombed,her teeth were black and crooked.
My god, I thought surely I had died and gone to the comfy Land of Ugly, a kind of heaven. for those people that live in the Land of Cute and sometimes need to escape.
It was strange here. I was seeing everything in a very ugly light. The things on the shelves were dirty, upside-down,dusty. The store windows seemed blackened by some sooty film. The sparkle had gone out of the crystal,the Boyds Bears were now Floyds Beers and they had grossly ugly labels and smelled like urine. The Cherished Teddies were all Garish Teddies and they lay in their little ugly gaudy coffins. The Precious Moment figures all had eyes that looked like cuss words in comic strips. Could it be that through no fault of my own I was like Alice and had just fallen into a Wonderland of Ugly?
It must be so. There on the shelf, where once stood Beanie Babies soft and cuddly and( you know the " c" word), stood ugly little bears made from sharp cockleburrs that would cut anyone that touched them. They were ugly.
The round, fat Teddy Bears were anorexic and their bony wire frames stuck through the once beautiful material that now was a nasty color I couldn't describe.
I rounded the corner and looked at the porcelain dolls. UGLY!!!! They looked like perfect candidates for the bar scene in Star Wars. The Merry Moo Moos were not merry. They stood on all fours instead of their hind little hoofs and they had foam frothing from their growling lips. UGLY!.
The charming Calico Kittens had all turned black,their backs were arched,the "c" clothes they ordinarily wore were torn,dirty and they smelled bad. They were beyond Ugly.
I hurried to tell Pickles . She was seated at our table. Oh no, she had really turned into a big pickle! Her sparkling blue eyes were now yellow mustard seeds as were her nose and mouth. She smiled an ugly yellow smile and a piece of dill fell over her right eye and she turned her green pickle head and called out in a snarl,"Pheeeela,get over here!!!!"
Phala came walking towards us. What a sight !! Her eyes were fiery red ; her hair hung down to her waist and glowed like she was standing under black light ; her teeth seemed to drip with a kind of venom. She spoke with harsh gravelly voice," Peeeekles,don't you ever call me 'Pheeeela'again"my god, they were going to fight. I couldn't watch. Helen had promised me that every one here was civilized. I turned and ran.
In my path stood a tall thin number 2 lead pencil with a white eraser. As a writer I have known a lot of lead pencils in my life and this one was beautiful. Oh , the pencil was Irene! The thought went thru my mind--Irene was still beautiful because the "ugly" was the cancer inside her body. That had to be the reason. It was a relief to see a bit of beauty among all this UGLY---even if she was a lead pencil.
I looked up to see Vicki, Tania and Jen walking across the parking lot. Were they all supposed to be here? Thank heavens,they were all looking their sweet and lovely selves. They walked through the door.
Suddenly Tania' s beautiful long braid stood on end. It was bright purple, opened up like a fan and bumped the ceiling tile as she walked. Didn't she notice the clumpity, clump noise her hair made? Her skin was turning bumpy and orange. She carried her purse to the back seeming oblivious to it all.
Wouldn't this ever stop?? How did we all end up in the Land of Ugly?
Where was Vicki? She had climbed up on one of the stools by the checkout but now she was standing on it. She looked like a Krystonia character and she was only about 18 inches high. Her hair was still beautiful but when she smiled her teeth were Krystonia gems and the glare caused me to jump backwards. The warts on her face looked like green olives. Good Grief!! She was smoking a cigar!!!
I was about to tell her to stop, when my eyes fell on Jen. Was this Jen? She waddled toward me. Her shapley figure had turned to marhmallow fluff and her butt dusted the floor and cleared counters on both sides. Her hair was wooly, curley and beady little eyes peered out at me in a maniacal glance as she went by.
I ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror--my blond hair stood on end like a janitors broom. My skin was the color of an avocado;my eyes had lost their merriment and my long, yellow eye teeth stuck out below my chin. How ugly..
I walked back up the aisle. How could I tell everyone that our "cute" world had just gone to ugly? I had to tell them. They must know. There must be something that would bring us back to "cute". Maybe there were magic words that could once more transform us .
Lost in thought,I rounded the corner,passed the greeting cards over to Cairn display.
The Cairn gnomes were never "cute". I always thought they were ugly,but they were clever. They drew me to them with their delicate call to the imagination. They were still dark,interesting and charming. So here in the Land of Ugly they would now reign supreme! I did notice one thing about the little guys---they all seemed to be smiling.
Then I heard a cute little voice. My reverie was broken.
"Jean, would you like to take a coffee break? I picked up some crispies at King Soopers." At last,it was Helen--with magic words--she had broken the spell.
Helen patted me on the shoulder and said, "It's o.k.. You'll heal now."
I had been debriefed.
I was back in the Land of Cute where they serve coffee and crispies .
Now I'll never know what they drink in the Land of Ugly.
the End---almost-----
To all of you beloved Village Gifts Staff--thanks for your love, your thoughtfulness and for making this "old queer" a part of your family without question. If the world was as open-minded as all of you, I could kiss my lady Love on the cheek, hold her hand,list her as my partner,claim her on my insurance and just love her without being judged. If I have left anything with you--remember this--we all should have the right to love the person we choose,if they choose us.
I am proud that my 10 year old and 13 year old Grandaughters know that my move to Michigan is about loving Lady Love, a woman and this is what we chose.
Someday it will be so. The next time you vote for human rights think of me.
I shall never forget my time here and the joy, laughter and tears shared.
How special you all are to me.


Now you are ready; it has been dark and lonely in that closet and sneaking around hasn't been good. Some co-worker saw you kissing your girlfriend "goodbye" in the office parking lot and had the courage to ask you if your were a lesbian. You decided to "out' yourself.
You gritted your teeth and were almost angry as you said "yes". When he responded with an uninterested, "oh" and walked into the building--then you were really mad. You had been hiding your gayness all these years, it was tough and all that person could say was "oh"!!!!

After Mathew Shepard was killed, I decided I would be "out" and be fearless.
So how far is "out" enough? It is all the way out. Is it worth blasting out of your closet for happiness? Oh, YES.
I created a tidal wave with my family and friends. All of them were taken aback, but only once.
Did I lose anyone along the way? A brother, who hasn't spoken to me since and he died without ever speaking to me again. This saddens me. I have never stopped loving him, but I would never return to my closet to reclaim him. Being happy with who I am just too fine.

I put a gay flag on my car, have a gay insignia on my checkbook; in the memo part of my checkbook. I often write "Lesbian money." No one calls me "missus" if they want to do business with me; they are all a little taken aback, but only once.

My co-workers on the newspaper loved and respected me for who I was. Then I retired and
when I applied for a part time job (other than writing) I told the store manager after a very successful interview that perhaps she might not like to hire me as I was gay; I certainly hoped she wasn't prejudiced ; I would like all my co-workers to know and I would tell each person because it may be too awkward for her. She was a little taken aback, but only once. She hired me.
As I worked told each co-worker I was gay, also I did not appreciate dirty jokes about gays, I refer to myself as "queer" and they should feel free to do so; if my gayness bothered them then they need only speak to me when necessary---they were taken aback, but only once.
Now I am so far "out" that all my co-workers forget I’m gay. But I do my best to remind them by calling myself the "queer" and I am the one who make the clean queer jokes---which they love.
When I later in my employment fell in love, the store staff excitedly told customers that I had fallen in love with a woman from Michigan. They did it with their heads held high. They were doing this for me--they knew that I was a good human being. I was reliable, trustworthy, and honest and they loved me as a friend. The fact I was queer was not an issue.
Did they take customers aback? Yes, but only once.
If as lesbians we are to be free, to walk safely, hold our heads high then we must be out.

I keep this note on my computer, all my mirrors and my refrigerator door:
In a world were people are killed just for being gay---It is important for me to say, "I am gay."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


When I moved to Michigan to be with my Lady Love, the main thrill was Lady Love ,of course--- I thought living in the country was an added bonus. Michigan is beautiful in the spring,green ,green, and more green. I had lived 28 years in Colorado which is more brown with bits of green so besides being in love,I was about to really learn about the country:

Having a good night 's sleep in the country is soon as you can get the bat hanging on the curtain to go outside.

The scenery on country roads is appreciated by so many people......your auto mechanic,the tire dealer, and body shops

Country living during the spring is nice....Mud doesn't fly.

Living in the country can be disconcerting..... like when you say "Honey, I'm home.and the family of mice living in the wall recognize your voice and answers with squeaks.

Country living during the spring rains is nice....Mosquitoes are all in seclusion.

Your open window offers you so many many nice things about the country....Fresh air and 20 thousand frogs making love.