Friday, December 10, 2010

and then we were three--my version of willa's birth, in a little too much detail but minus her head coming out between k's legs pics

Oh, what a day (actually more than a day) it was.

On, Monday, November 29, kk woke at 3:56 a.m. calmly announcing that her water was breaking. She gushed and gushed some more. We texted our midwife and doula just to let them know it had begun.

We laid down layers of towels on the bed to catch the waterfall seepage of amniotic fluid and tried our best to sleep while k mildly contracted. At 7:00 a.m. I got up and watched the sun rise. Pink slashes on the sky. Orange lines rising over the downtown cityscape of Ypsilanti.

I took a shower and put on some cords and a t-shirt. Good thing I wore a toughly built belt (it came into play later). Then around 7:30 k got up with her contractions increasing all along and coming every 5 minutes. She showered and put on some leg warmers, one of her grandmother’s slips and a sweater. I gave her some breakfast and her contractions got more painful.

The beginning

Around 10:30 our doula (also, good friend) [I’ll call her Steadfast doula for the duration of this story], arrived. And, shortly thereafter, kk experienced puke fest 2010 in our bedroom. She puked in a bag; she puked in a bowl; I emptied the bowl; she puked some more…Did I mention I have a huge aversion to vomit? But that deep inner-survival spirit went all hot and got activated; plus our doula stroked k’s back, stayed near her mouth and handed off the full bowl. Then, I emptied the bowl again and again and rinsed it, etc.

My mom came around the time that our doula arrived.

From then on out, kk’s contractions were wicked and coming every 3-6 minutes. From then on, means for hours and hours.

Around noon our midwife, SP of trillium birth services who I will dub Awesome One for the purposes of this telling, arrived (at least I think it was around noon, but time started getting flaky for me).

K ended up testing positive for strep group B, so Awesome One brought the hardcore cleaning fluid, and I sprayed it all over k's birthing parts every four hours.

My darling labored on her side in bed, she labored on the floor of the baby’s room with Steadfast in front of her and me behind, she labored on the toilet—where my thick belt proved to be an awesome handle/anchor, she labored on the ball, she labored with me in the shower, she labored and labored.

laboring in bed

laboring on the floor of baby's room. check out my belt it was a magnificent handle when cradle by my massive hips throughout the labor.

Later in the afternoon, S, Awesome One’s assistant arrived (I will call her Trigger Finger for this story cause she took photographs for us all night long with our new fancy camera, and I am ever thankful for her gift to us).

All of the laboring described thus far took place in the upstairs of our house. Please note we only have one bathroom and it is upstairs. During this afternoon and into the evening of my beloved contracted and tranced and breathed deeply and moaned and avoided the sound owwwww which was ever-present on her bone dry lips.

K was in this incredible tranced out place. Now I must digress from the major theme of this telling—the birth story of our daughter—to explain how K’s trance-like state so resembled the death trances of dying people. I have sat vigil with people in the process of leaving this world. And, from my perspective, there are direct parallels between the death vigils I have witnessed and this birth vigil.

Throughout the sunlit afternoon time of k’s labor, when I would gently cup K’s chin and ask her to open her eyes and look in to my eyes, there were times when that not-of-this-world edge was so present in her stare that my heart skipped beats and salt water welled in my eyes. My breath would get caught up in the distance that was enunciated in K’s stare. She was elsewhere—landed tightly on an otherworldly precipice; a place I could not touch. This place left my chest echoing with the hollowness of what it would mean if k were to fade from this time, from our life together. Of course, I quickly slapped my flushed face back from this chatter of loss and into the moments at hand—the hard work that was the birthing of our daughter. But these strange like-death moments will live for always on my heart. These coming and leaving edges are so close. I think they may blur at times.

Around 7:00 in the evening Steadfast decided K needed a change of scenery and also, on the dl to me, she confided that K really needed to know that she could do this and while we were all there to help her through it, in the end, she was going to have to do it alone with all of her strength. So…we made her walk down the stairs. The plan was to make her walk back up the stairs after making it to the foyer, but by this time Steadfast, Awesome One, and Trigger Finger had concocted a new plan.

getting ready to walk downstairs

K had not planned to use a birthing tub at all. Even though my darling is a water person through and through (the kind of carefree swimmer who will swim a mile out from the pontoon with no flotation devices leaving me perturbed at what I deem to be unsafe practices), she did not have a desire to birth in a pool. However, after 12 hours of laboring, Awesome One thought the pool seemed like a good idea. So, she drove home to collect a birthing pool. By a little after 8:00 in the evening, the pool was full and K was laboring hard in it.

Around 9:00 our good friend and chosen family member, Auntie A, arrived. Her resilience and strength proved invaluable through the next many hours. The pool time was the party part of the labor. K was still in pain and eventually started having the urge to push in the pool, but I played a mix I had made in consultation with K and we sang (even kk sang at times) and thumped around and A and I even drank a beer.

Below: A slew of birthing pool laboring pics

The mix was 4 hours and 22 minutes and then we killed the music and K labored in silence and when it was not silence she labored to our conversations, my crass jokes, and the ticking away of the minutes.

This is the mix (there is nothing like assisting your beloved in birth as she twitch dances while contracting to the Cramps and/or Bikini Kill):

Around 11ish k started having a serious urge to push. Awesome One performed her first check on k, at this time, and realized that k’s cervical lip was hanging out and that was causing no progress to occur. Also, Willa was turned all whack, so AO worked to turn Willa and overcome the cervical lip. We learned that as long as the damn lip persisted pushing would continue to amount to nill.

Through all of this our whole team stroked and held and talked with kk. My mom would hold k’s head and Auntie A poured countless pitchers of water over K’s back. Steadfast held her hands on k’s low back for what must have totaled hours and I bent over and kissed her and whispered to her and hoped for relief.

Little did we know relief was a long way off.

Eventually, our wise midwife and team decided it was time for a change of scenery and they also determined that k was dehydrated. Her contractions had been slowing. Around 2:00 a.m. we headed back upstairs and the hunkering down/rest and re-hydration period began. Awesome One administered some homeopathic to help Willa turn and everyone in the house went to rest. Auntie A and Steadfast pulled out the thermarests and sleeping bags and slumbered on the art room floor, my ma stuffed blankets around her body and slept upright in the chair in the nursery, Awesome One and Trigger Finger took naps on the couch and chair downstairs, and K and I tried to rest in our bed.

I pumped fluids into k every 8 minutes. And for about an hour K sucked inward instead of pushed through her contractions in order to try to help turn Willa. Toward the end of this period the urge to push returned with a vengeance and k pushed and pushed as we tried to get some shut eye. No sleep came to either of us. And, during this rest period, when it seemed as thought there was no end in sight, I wept heavily. K heard me and I apologized to her, but she said it was okay.

Around 3:30 in the morning, Awesome One checked K and decided the cervical lip had receded. We determined that K would move to the toilet and push for one half hour, if after that time there had been no progress we would begin to get things in order for transport to the hospital. Our midwife was concerned that if k pushed for two more hours at home with no progress, upon arrival at the hospital unwanted medical interventions would be more likely to happen due to k’s intense exhaustion. So, AO wanted her to limit her exhaustion (ha).

We moved to the toilet and k gripped my belt like a true champ. Her strength abounded from some primal depths that I have never accessed (and never plan to access unless I am stuck in a cold cavern trying to survive and waiting for the rescue party to arrive). Up until this time, the baby’s heart was beating normally and strong. During toilet pushing, her little heart rate plummeted a little (it went from the strong 130s to 110ish). AO assured us it was still okay and so k pushed and pushed.

AO kept asking K if she felt progress. The answer was no for the first many toilet minutes. A half hour slipped by quicker than flick of a light switch. Around 45 minutes into this pushing AO asked about progress again, and K said I think poop is coming out. AO said this was good, but really there was no poop.

About an hour into the toilet pushing, we decided to begin prep for transport to the hospital. K came off the toilet and went back to our bed to labor there. I knew K was dreading going to the hospital and so was I. While we live in a progressive bubble and the University of Michigan hospital has always been ultra-respectful of our relationship, I was having a hard time swallowing the idea of bright lights and over-zealous residents poking and prodding my beloved.

After being back in the bedroom for a few minutes, our midwife looked me in the eye and I recognized this otherworldly intuition in her stare. She said, “let’s do one more check for progress, before we leave for the hospital.” By this time K had been in labor for 24 hours, and any progress would have been like a cool rain on a steamy summer afternoon.

AO checked K on our bed through a push and she said, “there is progress; let’s stay here!”

We all agreed and new energy fell on our small camp of strong women.

Auntie A and Steadfast took on the job of human stirrups. My mom and I held k’s hands and I helped k curl through each push into a human C. A and Steadfast pushed k’s legs in a crazy pose back by her ears and Awesome One turned and checked and reported progress down on the home front. Trigger Finger took pictures throughout.

We are almost to the end of it--the final pushing time

We all yelled and screamed with K through this whole last part of pushing. The verbage flying around consisted of:
“dig in deep”
“get her out. Just get her out!”
“you can do it. You are doing it”
“She’s coming, she’s almost here, her head is peeking out.”
“reach down and feel her k; she really is there.”
“Dig in, dig in, dig in.”
“Deeper k; deeper; push deeper!”

Our faces together, through this part of Willa being born, tell a story of grand perseverance and strength. I am forever thankful to have been a part of a group of women with deep calm and entrenched fierceness who beckoned the birth of our daughter through physical and verbal encouragement for my beloved.

After a couple of hours on the bed (at least I think it was a couple of hours), our daughter’s sweet, cone head came busting through what for those moments in time was the most beautiful place on earth—the soft, swollen, stretched and fleshy parts between the legs of my beloved. A place full of the power of giving life.

And then her shoulders. And then her body. Awesome One placed her directly on k’s chest. She had muscle tone and open eyes, but she had not taken her first breath; she was not breathing. AO called for the life-starter kit (oxygen pumper thing) and after a couple of doses of that, she went right to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. This is the only time, during this long, hard labor, that I lost it. I jumped from the bed beside k and paced and fidgeted. Trigger finger calmed me by placing her hands on me and telling me this had happened to her two girls also and that it was normal and that many infants need a jumpstart. All of this took place over a few seconds, but it seemed long and endless. AO flicked Willa’s feet and then she took a breath.

Her little breathing body was still on kk and I laid hands on them both—my two great loves. My kk and my Willa.

The cord pulsed for a bit. K was still laboring out the placenta. AO had given her a shot of pitocin to help expel it because AO did not want my kk to push any more after such a long time of pushing.

I cut the cord.

And then we were three.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

She is here - our Willa Sea

There is so much to tell, but tiredness abounds.

Our daughter, Willa Sea, was born on November 30 at 7:09 am at home after 27 hours of labor (24 of which were active). I'll tell all about it soon.

According to me, she is beautiful beyond beautiful.

Her first name is for Willa Cather (one of my favorite novelists) and her middle name is for the first initial of K's last name and her mama's first name, Cheryl, but we made it into SEA for three of our grandmothers who have passed on in the last year: Grandma Sterling; Grandma Esta; Grandma Anna = SEA.

A few pics:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

8000 miles into the many folds of my imagination

I made this deal with myself that our baby could get born once I hit 8,000 miles on my bicycle. Well yesterday that happened, so k's vaginal gate is now allowed to loosen up and let it fly.

In all actuality, we have no idea when this will happen, but the aforementioned deal with myself is an example indicative of my strange thinking habits. I tend to have a grandiose imagination and the absurd ability to develop worst case scenarios in my mind.

For instance, part of our conversation with our midwife on Wednesday morning, Me: "So...S what is your back up plan in case you are experiencing violent vomiting and diarrhea when k hits active/active labor?"

Of course she has a solid back up plan so I have no worries, but I will envision all the crazy ass things that could go wrong (or right) about 1000 times before our bundle of joy comes rolling out of kk's nether region. It is just how I am.

some new age folks might think that this is negative thinking that will impact the way things turn out for us, and I sometimes end up thinking that the negative thinking will indeed make things roll out negatively, but then I think that that is simply part of my neurotic imaginative tendencies, and I get over myself and the self-implied power present in all of the power of thinking BS that circulates the new age airwaves like an overactive muscle spasm.

This is not to say that I think that what we think does not impact our overall demeanor and state of comfort or lack there of. I know how to work myself up over the things I imagine in my head and then I know how to talk myself out of the panic i drive myself to.

But I do not believe that if I imagine horrific things (which I do all of the time) then I will bring those things upon myself or my loved ones. If I did believe all that super-human nonsense, then I would have to be placed in a very cushy room to stop the tragedies that cross my mind from befalling the universe. I am not a supernatural superhero or antihero; I am simply a getting closer to middle age over-imaginator.

And please understand that the shit that flutters through my mind is not all death and destruction or vile images of fluids exploding out of both human ends; I also think lovely thoughts. There are even times when I think nothing at all and simply ride in a state of marvel through the changing colors with a dark liquid snake of a river rushing next to me. While eight species of birds dart and swoop and flutter all around the fecund, layered decay beneath sumac and dried mullein and evening primrose and touch-me-not that has fallen to brown remnants for winter. And I laugh at the lone blue jay standing amidst the Canada geese calling out screeches of derision to the ever-growing colder autumn morning and my mind settles softly to the place where there is no thing but the calls of earth catching me breathless in anticipation for the most amazing coming experience of our lives...

Monday, November 1, 2010

a bath and her lovely belly with a bounty that is beyond, beyond

Trying times are met with brilliant moments.

We have been through death and sorrow (my gram went on, my too young uncle, also) in the last month. Work is full and good. Preparation for our dear one is in full swing as K is 35 weeks into this mystery. We are gathering supplies, writing down notes for our desires, and moving toward giving birth at home.

These walls have held the years of others' living like dark stories caught in sunlight. These walls are thick with horse hair plaster and layers of paint and old wall paper glue. These walls are witness to the stretched vocal chord sound of song, fury, love, heartache, winter frost, summer dew, the scent of sex, the idleness of waiting, the quiet of stillness, the hectic murmur of insomnia, the bewildered moments before knowing, the aches, the pitter patter of small animals and children (animals too), the last breaths of loved ones. So much has happened in these rooms in the last 107 years; so much we do not know; so much we do know.

And soon we will be adding to the memories of these walls and the ceilings and the floors. Soon, K will be wailing the cries of child birth; notes that have long vowels and crazy consonants carrying out the ends of her mouth. Soon, she will walk over worn wood in rhythms we are yet to understand. Soon, this thing we know so little about and have tried to learn too much about, will devour us with its mystery and we will make invisible etchings of experience all around us.

On Saturday, we took ourselves out for a fancy date (the last one till our world is turned upside down by the introduction of this new being into our lives). Beforehand, K bathed in our old, deep clawfoot tub. Dusk was on the fringe; gray cascaded through the windows in autumn clad slices, and I took pictures of this graceful beauty unfolding within and throughout this woman i love with every ounce of all of me. Below are a few:

belly ball in bath



shimmer in the tub

gorgeous beyond, beyond

Friday, October 15, 2010

love won ou.t--NOT

Back in 2003 or 2004 K and I "infiltrated" a love won out conference (you know the movement founded by focus on the families james dobson? you know that movement that says we are sinful, psychologically damaged, ill-equipped to raise children humans? You know what I am talking about right? the whole ex-gay movement? and while it may be laughable to many of us, it is a truly damaging, hate-filled, movement) held at a church in south eastern michigan. We went as non-violent observers (slash if we could get a conversation in with a struggling parent, good).

with all of the backlash against queers lately and the recent suicides of young folks who were forced to struggle due to who they were or perceived to be and the reemergence of a scarier christian right (ya, i think it is scarier), i thought i would post my reflections from way back then. My good friend was in town recently and he reminded me that these reflections even existed. Some day soon when more time becomes my friend again, I'll reflect more on this reflection.
Here it is:

We woke up tired and groggy—not so ready to face the difficult day before us. I turned over and kissed the sweet skin of my bird; her shoulders and face shone yellow gray in the morning glow. I stepped into the driving hot water of the shower and scoured the sleep from my eyes. Clear-headed. I needed to be as clear minded as possible for the day’s events. As the water woke me from the garbled moments of rising, the burden of the future hours filled my chest.

We took no breakfast. Our stomachs were in knots.

I went with so many expectations. I went with the desire to talk to people—to share with people that being a lesbian was not bad and sinful but a beautiful gift. I wanted to express that the love and care I hold for my partner is deep and rooted. K and I have searched into the blankest parts of one another and foraged for meaning and truth. We have discovered the bounties of loving in what we had only perceived as absences. We have found abundance amidst the famine of previous loneliness and struggle.

Not to say that the struggle is over, but we have joined together in our own community of partnership to press on and to work for justice. We have developed a stronger sense of what it means to love in this world through the love we share. I have grown to understand, in part, the meaning of loving so much as to be able to lay down your life for another person.

I have held my love in my arms as she wept over her dying mother. A mother she loved and shared life with. A mother not separated and distant, not cold and dominant, but a mother who was carefree and caring—a mother who called up beauty on canvas and paper and in the lives of her children.

I have held my love and wept as I pondered the thoughts of what the lump in her breast might be. I have wondered at life in the possible absence of her being, and I have felt devastation at the thought of losing her. This fear of being without is not because I am co-dependent or overly “enmeshed” with my partner—this fear of being without is connected to my own fear of dying (an all too culturally constructed fear) and my fear of one day not having my inspiration and companion by my side to walk with, and talk with, and work with, and eat with, and sleep with, and strive for justice and peace with.

I wanted that love to seep from the surface of our skin, as we walked through the day at love won out, but all that we want does not always appear.

Sometimes the air is too thick with lies and disgust—hate and fear.

I do want to believe that the parents and friends and families attending this love won out conference were filled with good intent and love, but after hearing the mean-spirited and unfounded claims of the presenters and after hearing the “bravos” and applause from the crowd, I can only think that many of the people in attendance were either na├»ve and willing to be lead by wolves in sheep’s clothing--people who were taught to think through the minds of others--or people of no-good-will. The claims made by the speakers, who were organized by Dr. James Dobson’s focus on the family, were scantily clad and narrowly organized drivel.

The rhetoric of the right is so bathed in their perceived understanding of Jesus’ blood that their arguments flounder and drown before the ears of anyone that does not believe in the saving grace of Christ (or anyone who has a different understanding of the saving grace of Christ).

And it is here that I must interject my critique of evangelical Christianity. While I desire deeply to get along with all people and to participate in the growing of community that is founded on love and respect, I cannot embrace or remain silent about the aspects of Christianity that put forth the notion that their god is the only way—and that the redeeming blood of Christ will set one free, and if you choose not to believe this then you will surely perish. There are many “queer” Christians that hold these very tenants to be true and I cannot help but think they are participating in the very perpetuation of their own oppression.

I think it is essential that we get to the roots of the colonizing traits of the proselytizing characteristics of many forms/sects/denominations of Christianity. The very nature of colonization is steeped in the message and the act of conquering. To many anti-gay Christians, they are taking part in the grand battle of good and evil here on earth—they are working to conquer the enemy, the evil one. And that is the same message that has been propagated throughout the planet, since the dawn of Christendom. It is the same message that contributed to the annihilation of the Native American peoples in the “new world” and it is a form of interacting and relating that needs to be very carefully dismantled and critiqued. Gay Christians must be cautious when handling their faith.


As Janelle H___ spoke on the causes of lesbianism, I found myself angered and laughing at the absurdity of her claims. She proposed that lesbians have missing foundational pieces in their psychological make-up. She blamed the “condition” of lesbianism on absent mothers or mothers who were cold and distant from their baby girls. She so carelessly placed the blame on mothers that many women were weeping in the audience.

First the mothers were blamed and then they were charged with the mission to go out and try to bring a healing love to their lost and mislead daughters. I found these assertions to be padded with the saccharine sweet syrup of the cover over reality church. A church that is basically homogenous in appearance and attitude—a church that shrinks at the idea of diversity and bellows at the existence of difference. A church that aims to blend all beings into a straight edged box—white and dominated by men with women carrying on the production of off spring and the maintenance of the house. A church that cannot give any sort of multi-faceted definition for man or woman (except in the narrowest of terms), and is still so wed to the idea of creating automated creatures--sterile and one-dimensional humans that laugh and weep on command. People who are told how to think and act and respond—people who are never given the tools or opportunities to think for themselves—because they have been so put in their places. But the problem is that the forced energy and brainwashed mind set that the automans bring to the universe is filled with hate and destructive power.

Not that queer affirming people and people who are embracing of all faiths and paths are perfect beings that do no harm; there is always a destructive force behind the skulls of controlled minds.

The warning that I believe needs to be shouted out after attending this conference is one of preparation. We, those who believe in diverse and healthy communities, must be prepared to counter the very loud and dangerous message of the Christian right. I realized before attending this conference that there were deep-rooted ideologies permeating all facets of society, both secular and religious, when it came to queer people. But after attending this conference, I now realize that their message is more stifling and hate-filled than I ever imagined and that many, many, many people are seeking answers from their supposed expertise.

We must be prepared to offer up examples of love—not just words of love, but true and tried examples. We must be prepared to be visible in all dimensions of our lives and to share the realities of the love that seeps through our lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gay relationships.

I went into this conference thinking that I would share my feelings with many people that I encountered throughout the day, but when it came down to it I only had the courage and the strength to speak with one woman.

I had stepped outside to finally breathe. The florescent lights and new carpet smell had just about done me in—not to forget that I had just been bombarded with assaultive words that had left me bleeding. I had stepped outside needing air and space away from so much sameness and so much hate. [beware if you have children and you are just coming out—the “experts” at the conference recommended that grandparents may need to contact a lawyer to battle for custody of the children—if the straight, and very Christian grandparents think their lesbian daughter may be a “danger” to the children.]
I sat on a bench; I chose a sunny spot so that the heat of the sunshine would counter the brisk, chilly wind that pushed through the air.

After a few minutes of just sitting stunned and drained, a woman in a bright orange vest approached me and asked if it was all right for her to sit next to me. I nodded and she sat. My nerves felt shot, but I scoured up the gumption to ask how she was and if she was enjoying the day.

She told me that she was learning a lot. She had come for answers to some questions she had and she was finding answers. Her eyes were red-lined—tear stained. She was shaken to the bone.

I asked her what had brought her here, and she shared that her daughter—her youngest daughter of three girls—had recently come out to her. She did not understand how her daughter could be a lesbian. The orange-vested woman—let’s call her C—had gone to her Assembly of God minister for advice and he had told her about the conference; he had also told her to Love the sinner but hate the sin. She expressed that she had divorced her husband when her youngest daughter, the lesbian, was four years old. From that time on she had to work full time to support her family. Her husband had been an alcoholic and she needed more than anything to get her daughters away from him and into a safe space. She told me this point with a veracity of exclamation—she was trying to rationalize her decision to leave her husband and therefore, according to the focus on the family rhetoric abandon her youngest, and currently lesbian, daughter to day care and leave her with an absence of proper foundational love.

She had drawn the conclusion that her lesbian daughter may have very well turned gay because she had left to go into the workplace when her daughter was so young. She had left her daughter with a void, and C had been hearing all morning that young girls left with a void will later in life try to fill it with a mother figure, a lesbian lover. According to the “experts” that we had been subjected to, a lesbian relationship is based on an infant’s need to be held by a mother that they never had.

I approached her curiosity and confusion about the whole subject with a calmness that I did not know resided within me. I affirmed that her decision to leave a violent and abusive husband was good and that I was sure she had been the best mother possible. I told her that I detected a genuine love for her children—a deep and profound love. I also came out to her directly. I connected with her by sharing that I too came from a family of three daughters. I shared with her that I believed it was entirely possible for two women to love one another purely and wholly, and I suggested that she might be experiencing so much confusion, because she just did not know any gay people before her daughter came out to her.

It felt so good to express my love for my partner to this searching stranger. It was honest and right to tell her that there are other ways of loving than the straight-boxed definition of love and relationship.

She told me over and over again that she loved her daughter, that she actually felt the closest to her, and that she did not want to lose her relationship with her. I suggested that she might want to see her daughter’s love for another woman as something beautiful and that this may lead to her relationship with her daughter remaining solid and intact. I could only see my own love as such… Beautiful and right.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

women, women, women

Yes, I have "girl" parts including some devout ass and boobs that do not hide easily. I did not ask for the ass and boobs, but they both make their presences known to most seeing people.

My ass is so well-developed that I have started referring to it as the PAG. PAG stands for Perpetual Ass Growth. This PAG phenomenon is the result of thousands of miles of pedaling my bicycle and probably, also, beer consumption and the sinister pharmaceutical known as (which I have more or less successfully removed myself from).

Any-which-way, over the last year my naturally (without bicycling copious amounts, without drinking thick delicious, small craft microbrews, without the introduction of a pharmaceutical poison into my body) well-rounded rump, has spread and bulged and is very, very "womanly".

a glance at part of my ass; it practically takes up the doorway

Conflict of interest and identity expression alert: I do not prefer my big ass on me, I might like big butt on some folks, but remember, other parts of me (the parts besides my boobs and ass) are very boyish. And that is how i like it. I am comfortable in my boy skin.

With all that being said, it is almost impossible not to see my butt and titties. My boobs, thank something, have not been subject to perpetual breast growth (or pbg), they are their regular old size somewhere on the brink of a C cup, which is damn large for my boyish self. My darling kk loves them and so they are hers, and I do not bitch much about them.

But the whole point of this story is to express this kind of fucked up altercation I had in a women's restroom this weekend.

Even though my rear and front are plentiful and make it pretty hard for me to pass as a dude, strangers still call me sir, son, and mister in passing; it does not bother me. I actually like it. I like messing around with these two carefully constructed ideas of gender expression (you know the whole spiel--man/woman binary bullshit). I like walking the real spectrum and fooling folks who believe in the binary constructs. It is who I am.

But, i do not like meanness.

On our way up north this weekend for our fall getaway. K and I stopped at this coney island and k bought the hugest milkshake known to humans. I was holding the door for k and a trio of older, true-blooded american white folks. The old man in the mix said sweetly, "thank you very much sir." And I responded, "you are very welcome." and that was all good. No corrections needed cause I am who I am.

The next day, once we were up north, I had another gender fuck experience, but this one irked me and made the heat rise to my already wind whipped cheeks. My friend M and I rode our bikes from Carp Lake over to Cross Vill.age for lunch with K and M's family--distance about 19 miles. K, etc. met us there by driving cars. Inn is an up north restaurant where many different folks stop by for polish food in the middle of nowhere (or in the middle of everywhere if water and trees and non-humans are your thing; they are all my thing).

I was wearing a pair of bulky, cargo shorts, a green t-shirt and a shell-vest unzipped, with knee socks and my cycling cleats. I emphasize the unzipped vest, cause my jugs were more apparent due to the unzippedness.

When we arrived at legs, i really had to piss. I was sweaty and my hair was unwieldy and sticking up like a surly, flattop mohawk.

I rushed into the ladies room and started to open the stall door, when an old, white woman wearing a vomit green pastel sweatshirt looked me in the eye and said in a hostile voice, "Are we in the right restroom?" to the woman behind her, but really she was saying it to me and then she said it all snottily again after I had sad in a pee induced hostile voice back, "excuse me?"

Her woman friend said, "Of course we are in the right restroom." And i simply mumbled some fuckity, fuck, fuck words under my breath and took a long pee while squatting (not standing but nearly).

You are probably like, "so what? she was maybe really confused or something or it does not sound like that big a deal." But I want you to know the body language of this woman was poised for a stand off. She was not gentle or truly confused, she was making her snarky point with inflection and raised eyebrows and a briskness that could have frozen my line of piss. She was asserting that me and my boyness should not be there. Maybe I did not belong in the men's room either, but I for sure did not belong in the Women’s room, because I guess my butchy/queer self must simply emanate some kind of threat.

All I really wanted to do was unload my full bladder and frankly I never care where that takes place as long as it is not on my own self.

They ended up seating us near the bathroom door. As I was swallowing a potato and cheese peroigi, I noticed the women’s room had three different signs on the door all announcing the restroom as WOMEN’s. I had to chuckle. Here’s some footage of the door:

To top off this story and the weekend up north: On Sunday evening, I had to eat a fancy dinner at a fancy restaurant in ann ar.bor due to a thingy I spoke at on Monday. So I had this dinner with all these high-up academic people from the university of mic.higan. I was wearing a pair of cords, a stinky long john, under shirt (due to coming directly from up north and having sat in front of fire all weekend), and a light blue-collar shirt with a jean jacket. K had wetted my hair down with my water bottle water while I was driving the long drive home, so it was tame. I had dinner sans jean jacket and drank some wine, but guzzled lots of water due to excessive nervousness, due to being with all those intellectual/academic types.

So, at the end of the meal, I had to empty my too full bladder before hopping on my bicycle and riding home (I dropped myself off at restaurant and pulled bike off rack in order to ride home late in the evening). Anyhow, a line ensued for the ladies room.

Yours truly really had to take a leak, so when the woman in line before me went into the single-cell toilet room, I wiggled my way into the dudes’ john, relieved myself over a lifted lidded toilet, and, after scrubbing my hands, sauntered on out to the innocuous stares of ultra rich ann arbor.ites.

dude/girl smooches

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

in a whisper, "chickens"

ya. we bought a flip for the coming infant.
ya. she is coming soon and life is chaotic.
therefore, i am becoming a very bad blogger which i hope to remedy soon.
so. enjoy this fun snippet of my red boots and some of our chickens.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

kid at heart

I rode home in humidity that seems to be breaking toward fall--My chin dripping, my arms coated in a nice sheen of wet, my pants splotted with sweat. I walked in the door to find my lovely lady in her panties and bra on the floor doing pregnancy pilates.

She is 7 months and 1 week pregnant and her belly is bulging--beautiful, round, and bountiful.

I can't believe she is growing us a baby, but that is what she is up to.

So, I walked in the screen door (totally unlocked) rolled my bicycle by my nearly naked lover and stood over her to drip some summer sweat onto her big belly.

I'm pretty geeked to be a parent and also nervous. I think we will be fun and ultra attentive. I mean I like being a goof and I do not even have a kid yet. See below for goofiness:

Yes, I dressed in a bee outfit and rode my bicycle in a parade. I love riding my bicycle in parades. It's even better in a bee costume; you should see how excited the kids watching on the sidelines get when a giant adult human bee comes peddling by.

And I love to hang out and watch animals.
See below:

a gold finch eating in the sunshine

my bees coasting home and coasting out to forage

lazing,sunning chicken lady

So, all in all, I got some pro-kid interests going on:) Some more things that make me a kid-at-heart:
drawing and making art
talking about bodily functions
watching interesting movies
listening to interesting music
riding my bike--a lot
riding my bike in parades
dripping sweat onto other people
swimming in lakes
digging holes in my backyard
swinging on swing sets (even though it makes me feel like i might puke)
chewing inappropriately (only in front of the right people)
walking in the woods
sticking my hands in my compost on a daily basis to test the heat levels
watching all of the various life-forms in the compost heap for hours and hours
splitting wood
chasing chickens
playing fetch with my dog
reading young adult novels and kid books (little house-series, anne of green gables--series, and bunnicula, just to name a few)
and much more...
see a kid just fits naturally into this little world of ours.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

a smoking hot 25 weeks and 2 days (okay I think she took the pic at 24 weeks, but still)

100 days left till our little bundle of joy parades her beautiful bloody head between k's legs:)

Do you really want a belly shot? Okay, you can have one, cause I do not mind sharing my ultra hot soon-to-be-mama with some of the world.

Yes, ultra-hot. I'll tell you what: I cannot seem to keep my hands of kk while pregnant. I mean my hands love her lots while not pregnant, but she is smoking right now. Her body, her face all of her just gleams with this scrumptious air of sweetness.

Sweetness that I want to gobble up.

She loves being pregnant. Even her posture, seeps with this love.

and here she is all yellow and blurry:

the pictures do not do her total justice, but please believe me she is beyond lovely to look at and her heart, well, it sings with happiness.

speaking of hearts, we heard her little 145 beats per minute heart roaring along the other day and she kicks like a soccer player. she is an active little bugger and her little body flinging around makes me smile.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Have you ever read Walt Whitman's Specimen Days? I've been visiting those words lately and feel compelled to share about this experience that coalesced with the reading (of a particular part of Specimen Days), the doing (a particular thing was done), and the dying (a particular person has died).

A few weeks back Waddles, my once favorite chicken, had to be killed. She was heavy with vent gleet which is an incredibly nasty chicken yeast infection. She had flies laying eggs in her behind and I tried to cure her but with no success. We were getting ready to leave for our mini vacay and kk was gone to pick up our friend M from the airport. I was home tidying up the "farm" with our friend R. I went to change the bedding in Waddle's isolation pen-I had separated her out from the rest of the flock cause she was so ill-and she fell over when I pulled her out. Her comb was turning purple; her eyes were not opening all the way; she was simply suffering and I could not leave her with my intern and her girlfriend for the weekend cause that would have been mean for all involved.

I dug a hole under the great oak in our yard. R said she would hold Waddles for me and I could hatchet her neck, but I said no I cannot put you through it when you don't even believe in eating animals, really. So, we waited for kk and M to arrive. K was going to hold Waddles and I was going to hatchet her, but M said she wanted to do it and so she had jumped off a plane from Brooklyn made her way to Ypsi by car and now stood in our backyard ready to help in this mercy killing.

M held Waddles, R burned sage, K readied the newspaper lined bucket, I readied my sharp hatchet. In the end I could not cut her neck. I tried and tried, but M graciously offered to switch spots with me and our vegetarian friend walloped Waddles on her main vein and ended her suffering. I placed her in the bucket and dumped her in the deep hole I had dug. And then I covered her and this peace filled my whole, physical body. It was this almost other-worldly experience; I felt a calm that I can only dream of replicating.

And what does this have to do with Specimen Days. Well, I was reading a section shortly thereafter where Whitman describes the deaths of three young men he had witnessed some years before his writing of them (and actually one of the deaths was witnessed by a dear friend of Whitman and then the friend relayed the dying to Whitman cause the friend thought Whitman would appreciate the death of the man who had died). The piece is called Three Young Men's Deaths--surprise, surprise. And these deaths were immortalized in Whitman's text. The details of each man's gentle parting are simple yet plentiful. They had left and in their leaving also left behind a significant hunk of life due to the remembering of this wise poet transcribed onto the page. Whitman's comfortableness with the transitioning from this world to something different is so full of value and lessons. His words ring true for this present moment and they ring true for tomorrow and the day after that. He witnessed the deaths and sufferings of many young men and some women in the civil war hospitals and the dying/battle fields. He captured the inhumanity of war and also the peace that came too early to so many who had been blown apart by the violence. Specimen Days is spattered with the tattered lives of people long gone. People most likely turned all the way into dust and earth, maybe some chunks of bones here and there.

Anyhow, it seemed timely for me to read about these three particular deaths represented in Specimen Days. I had this sort of great affinity for the simple emotion that he captured through the very act of writing a small snippet about each man's character and likes and then a small snippet about his demise--that one man thought enough of each to capture the essence of the last breath; the fact of it--the inhale where there seems to be no exhale or maybe the exhale looks remarkably like an eternal inhale, the struggle, the no-struggle, the eyes forever open to nothing or closed forever to all.

"He was one of these persons that while his associates never thought of attributing any particular talent or grace to him, yet all insensibly, really, liked Billy Alcott. I, too, loved him. At last, after being with him for quite a food deal--after hours and days of panting for breath, much of the time unconscious, (for the consumption that had been lurking in his system, once thoroughly started, made rapid progress, there was still vitality in him, and indeed for four or five days he lay dying, before the close,) late on Wednesday night, Nov. 4th, where we surrounded his bed in silence, there came a lull--a longer drawn breath, a pause, a faint sigh--another--a weaker breath, another sigh--a pause again and just a tremble--and the face of the poor wasted young man (he was just 26), fell gently over, in death, on my hand, on the pillow" (Whitman, Specimen Days 836).

And then I cried for these long dead men and then I cried for the peace that surrounded me when I put Waddles in the ground and then I cried for the knowledge of kk's grandma c on her own deathbed awaiting that final inhale/exhale. And grandma c did die. She passed on Thursday. KK was able to make it up north on her own intuition she dropped everything and drove up on Wednesday morning. Her father and hospice had been saying she was ready to die at any moment for 6 days. But, like the young man above, her vitality was immense and she kept on keeping on for days and days. And then she drew her last breath a little more than half way through her 89th year after kk came once more to say goodbye.

So, it has been a dying time here in this August month. Last year in this same but very different month and season, kk's grandma s took her last breath and unfolded her limbs and skin toward becoming dust. We are now down to two grandmas between the two of us--both of mine are still inhaling and exhaling fully.

Back to Specimen Days and what any of this means. K and I have been gifted to be in the presence of midwifing some of our loved ones out of this world or perhaps deeper into this very world. Though it may be the most difficult of all human emotions, there is something deeply peaceful about witnessing the end of suffering. And while it is impossible to compare a chicken's death to a human's death, the peace that seeped through my ribs after laying Waddles to rest in the tangle of roots and worms and fungi and leaves and decay was profound enough to translate to the following observation about myself and my own coming demise: Through all of this I came to the grim and lovely conclusion that being buried in a box or gauze/ or basket makes perfectly good sense for me.

A strange place to leave it all, but I am working on my exhale.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

lakes, legs, and love

lake michigan after a day of rain

k and i just returned from a lovely mini-vacay. i went on her "girls weekend" this year, because only two of the "girls" could go on it, and we had to cancel our regular vacation due to k saving up all her vacation days in order to take a 3 month maternity leave. she gets paid leave only in using up her vacay and sick days and then it becomes unpaid.

K's legs my fingers

it was really good to go up north and be near so many of michigan's wonderful lakes and all of the rivers that flow out from them. of course, we have lakes and rivers downstate too, but up north the inland lakes are large and deep and then lake michigan or lake huron are always near-by (or nearer by). we stayed up the hill from crystal lake in a cottage. we could not see the lake cause a huge condo-complex got built sometime in the late 80s/early 90s and now blocks the view, but we were not far from the lake and we could smell it on the air and know it under our feet.

whipping and skipping rocks on lake michigan

whipping and skipping rocks on crystal lake at sunset

there is this thing in the longevity of loving another person like i love k that is so subtle and simultaneously deeply spread, like the roots of a black walnut. as the days go by, our love seems to sink longer into the folds of this planet. And with that love comes this greater understanding of one another. obviously, our rhythms are sometimes different, our views diverge, our moods cross and rough one another up, but, all in all, we get along splendidly and enjoy each other, day after day after day.

On our little vacay, our friend M spotted this big-ass tree and she decided that K was going to get up i t with her semi-big pregnant belly and M was going to do a photo shoot of my kk up in this tree. Now the crook of the tree where M wanted to shoot K was a good 12-15 feet up off the ground. Mhm, you heard me right. My stomach was a little queasy as K climbed the ladder that M and R had set up in the tree. And then she was on this lovely limb with her solid, rock hard sexy legs hanging out from under her skirt. And, my stomach was still a little queasy, cause I am one overly cautious person, but K up in that tree, well, she was (and is) just gorgeous.

M shooting K in tree from top of the car

and another shot of the shoot

Time to come down!

Down she comes; hot legs

Thursday, July 29, 2010

brief and scattered

damn. time is flying. k is something near 22 weeks along. we saw it in an ultra sound. we did find out the sex last week because I want to name the little thing a very gendered name while it is still up inside her mama and so she has been named.

in other news, k is moving toward planning a home birth. we have a midwife and everything!

and approximately three weeks or so ago k, a, and i had to kill another chicken due to what i have home-diagnosed as vent gleet. this nasty ailment is basically a chicken yeast infection. it causes the chicken's ass to become a pasty mess and the chicken suffers from nasty shits.

one of our other-still-living-older chickens now seems to have it also. She has been isolated from the rest of the flock, and we are treating her with minimal amounts of apple cider vinegar and yogurt. but i fear another killing is in the near future.

we also have acquired two young, five month old hens. they are speedy demons.
The gardens are bumping along. Below are some pics to brighten your day.

New hive and experimental squash garden

comfrey and new gardens

bee hives, squash gardens under black walnut, straw layering new clover seed

buffy; she is not a sick chicken; waddles is sick and is now named raggedy ass number III

Friday, July 16, 2010

My grandmother's kitchen--a sedative

The last five months I have been battling chronic insomnia. I've said it before; I'll say it again: I've suffered from insomnia since I was in the fifth grade, but it usually comes in waves and does not hang on week after week for five months at a time.

A few weeks back when I was wide awake at 2 something in the morning, I started going over the contents and layout of my grandma h's kitchen in my head and then after awhile I found it worked in putting me to sleep.

From the fourth grade on, I grew up three doors down from my gram. We were tight. I saw her almost everyday of my life. I would walk in her backdoor (which she always kept unlocked during the day whether she was home or not) and pour myself a glass of her sweet tea and guzzle it and then set about on the rest of my afternoon. If she was home, we would sit and talk in her kitchen or hang on her porch and talk and people watch.

My grandmother is from southeastern Kentucky and she is (was) ultra hilarious. She has been afflicted with Alzheimer's for the last 9-10 years and if there is one thing I regret in my life it is my personal inability to deal with her mind's demise. I can deal with a lot. I can deal with dying loved ones; I can deal with conflict and upheaval and hurt, but I cannot handle the shutting down of a person's, who I knew so well, reasoning and personality capacities. When I do see her now, I spend time with her and stroke her head and every once in a while I witness a scant glimmer of the person who she was, but I rarely see her. I do not visit much. I actually mostly avoid her because of my own inability to cope (please understand if she was my mother or did not have proper caretakers I would be there all the time).

But that is not what this post is about. This post is about my grandma's kitchen and how remembering it--the smells, the organization, the late afternoon light slanting in the back screen door and window, the coolness of tea and lemonade and mountain berry kool-aid (which my mother never ever let us drink at home), the canning jars cascading over her small kitchen table and dining room table, the blow of the fan in the heat of the summer whipping around heavy humid air thick with the smells of cooking (always cooking)--help rock my adult insomniac-self to sleep.

I wish I could count the hours I spent in her tiny kitchen. Let me be clear her entire house is miniature. She raised 7 kids (she had 9 in total, but one died at age 4 and the oldest was out of the house by the time they all moved downriver) in an 800 square foot home with one bathroom and an unfinished Michigan basement. Her kitchen can sort-of-comfortably fit three people around the table. Usually two of us would sit at the table and then we would pull chairs around the doorway to the dining room and block the fridgadaire (that's what she called it) in.

My grandmother canned and cooked constantly. She instilled in me a love for cooking from scratch. My family ate at her house often; she was widowed before I was born and lived, alone, so we were her constant company in close proximity. She would fry potatoes in a cast iron skillet, whip up some skillet corn bread, cook down soup beans with lard and bacon all day, and fry salmon patties. Our clothes would stink of fish and grease long after we left gram's, but the food was to die for. Another favorite meal was biscuits and tomato gravy for supper. The gravy was thick and peppery spicy and her biscuits flaked off in our mouths. It was made with lard and homemade canned tomatoes.

As I got older, my Uncle Junior, my grandmother's bachelor brother, moved in with my grandma and I would often sit at the kitchen table with the two of them and talk about the mundane which in reality was really the sacred and today to me means more than I can say with words. It means a peace that passeth understanding when I remember and reflect on those times in the warmth of my gram's kitchen.

These reflections of the mundane hours spent with my grandmother cast a lullaby shadow over my restless mind in the night hours when I toss and turn. My gram scrubbing dishes so fast I thought she was a superhero dish washer, my gram chatting about tomatoes and beans with Uncle Junior, my gram's deeply wrinkled, agile hands wiping down her always table clothed kitchen table, my gram slicing watermelon and gently salting it (I can see her fingertips wrapping around her well-worn white plastic salt shaker), my gram commenting on how she, "wouldn't have another man if he had a golden asshole; if he had a golden dick." My gram always being on her porch; the reliability of seeing her there in the evenings and knowing there was more home to all my home.

These memories are like a sedative: sleeping over at grams and watching her get ready for bed then cozying up next to her night-gowned self and falling deeply to sleep in her steady bosom. Gram rising much earlier than me or my sisters and brewing herself coffee. Then us rising and finding her in the early dawn drinking her cup of coffee and eating a piece of toast with butter and jelly. Gram finishing up her food and making us a fancy breakfast of palachikas or pancakes or eggs (whatever we wanted). Sitting next to gram in her tiny living room and watching the grand ol' opry and the ralph stanley show. These snippets of memories--common and everyday, but sacred and substantial all the more--the beginnings of who I am today are forever (unless I inherit her brain-mush disease) fortified up in me.

But again her kitchen, the first feeling of fry grease splattering about that I ever did feel happened there. I watched her pressure cook beans, and chop pears, peaches, strawberries for canning. I mowed her lawn and hung up clothes on the line with her.

I husked corn with her on her front porch and snapped bean after bean. I helped her water her yearly garden. I listened to her stories of her childhood on the farm with her single mother. Her father died when she was eleven and her mother continued to farm without him. She told of hog killings, chicken neck wringing, dressmaking, and canning.

In her back yard I gutted my first fish with my Uncle Junior and brought it in the house and fired it in her cast iron skillet and ate it right there in that kitchen that has become my night salve--that healing comfrey balm for my mind.

The gifts that continue to bring me a calm and a smile are the minutes, hours, and years of time spent with my gram. Those regular everyday moments. Those foundational pieces of time that make me so in love with the earth and growing my family's food and building clothes lines and fishing and cooking and food preservation.

Last night, as I struggled wide awake from 2:00am on, my sweetheart said, "think of your grandma's kitchen; remember count on her kitchen."

So, the scent of her kitchen in summer came breezing across my nose and my eyes shut tight. The worn brown-stained sharp edges of her handleless cupboards drifted over my eyelids and fingertips; the rag rugs by her stove and sink wove their way under my small bare feet; my ears perked up to her twangy, southern voice, "Nat, I love that short hair of your's, Nat. Sis, you want some mustard on that ham sandwich; how about some potato salad?"

And, I drifted into other dreams.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ultra update, art fair, butt balm

we saw bones and a bouncing baby. However, the little creature was sitting in a kind of floating lotus position so the tech and doc could not see the bottom of the spine or the genitalia.

we go back in two weeks cause i guess it is important to see the skin on the bottom of the spine. hopefully, our stubborn and active soon-to-be-child will be moving into a different comfortable position by then.

speaking of comfy positions, k's over at the shadow art fair right now sitting over the bike ypsi booth. we made a bunch of stuff to sell for donations for our sweet little bicycle group. HOLE stencils (for DIY marking of shabby, dangerous roads), butt balm, stickers, a kids, jankily thrown together coloring book and then a.c. put together more of his super fine pamphlets: ride in the winter, how to shop by bike, and riding legally in ypsi along with some great reflective decals. Plus we have t-shirts and some informational stuff.

Below please see my new drawing that adorns my homemade butt balm; the drawing for the balm says butt balm not what this one says, but i thought you'd all prefer this to "butt balm":

Thursday, July 8, 2010

she's hot

yep, literally and figuratively.

and she's mine.

she's wearing the fun outfit in these pictures right now, next to me, on the couch. she's got it on to keep her cool, cause damn it has been hot. and since she came down stairs sporting her belly and her bountiful bosoms, I just had to take a picture and share with all of you her tube top and yellow shorts.

kk is going for the big ultrasound tomorrow afternoon. we will check the sex and make sure he/she is alive and all that. We will also check on the hemorrhage to see what she's been up to. hopefully, she dug a hole out and has permanently left my beloved's body.

we will be checking to see what hangs or does not hang between the little thing's legs. these queers--that's us--are checking the sex cause we have two very gendered names picked for the kid and so one of those names will indeed be assigned to the kid based on the sex. we still live in a very gendered world and still happen to prefer two very gendered names...lifted, of course, from two dead people who left remarkable bits of stardust and wisdom all over the pages of books and in the halls of libraries and the bedside reading tables of many, many people.

back to sweating by my sizzling mama to be.