What a Great Christmas!

It’s almost 6pm on Christmas Day and I am home spending the final hours of this wonderfilled day with myself and my dogs – both of who are completely exhausted and are crashed hard on the couch in little heaps of very tired dogs.  They had a grand time today.

This has been a Christmas season to remember.  I have had the BEST time ever this year.  Yes, this will be a Christmas that I will look back on with some very good feelings and fond memories.  Last Christmas (2015) was so stressful of a time that I really didn’t enjoy it much.  I had just moved into my current home; had just finished living with my cousin for 6 weeks – for which I was completely appreciative of, but it was a difficult 6 weeks with me and the dogs feeling totally out of place and wanting our own space back.  So when I got moved it Christmas was fast approaching.  I basically had 22 days between moving in and the Christmas holiday.  Needless to say that was not enough time for me to prepare physically for a good Christmas, let alone prepare mentally and financially.  I had just gone through some tough weeks of waiting for the closing on this place to happen, being basically homeless, having 2 needy little confused pups on my hands, and I wasn’t working at that time…so yeah, it was a bit of a rough patch to say the least.

This year was a 180 degree turn around.  Life is Good.  I have been at my current job for almost a year now and that is going well for me.  I’ve settled in to the house; made it into a home for myself, Nola and Lulu.  It’s a place we can call our own, where we can relax and enjoy the warm comforts of home.  We even had a grand garden this summer here.  One that grew pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and more.  This spot on the big blue marble is ours and I think we may have even peed on all the corners to mark it as such! hahaha

It has been and will continue to be a good home for all of us.  No one wants for anything.  It has a good roof, solid walls, locking doors and all the comforts that any of us needs to live here in complete comfort and happiness.  And now we have Linda in our lives too.  She has become my bestie; a truly loyal and dedicated friend to me.  She loves my dogs too – sometimes I think she may love them – and they her – more than I do!  I love having a close friend back in my daily life.  We do so much together, it’s almost like having a girlfriend without all the romantic complications of it.  Linda is very straight and I am very gay….thus this works for us being best friends.  We get along famously, and like many of the same things. I’m always telling her she’s too Butch to be a straight chick!  haha

I got some new flannel sheets.  Yes, next to flannel shirts, flannel sheets are right up there in the list of “great things to give a Butch that will make them enormously happy.”  I got two nice sets, one printed with light blue snowflakes on a white background, and one printed with red pine tree designs on a white background.  They will – in combination with the new heated blanket that I got also – make my bed a very comfortable and cozy place to be. And to go along with these great gifts from my mother, father and sister Deb, I got a great pair of jammie pants which are black printed with red and white deers on them.  And Linda gave me a new pair of fleece lined slippers with hard bottoms so I can walk outside to get the dogs in them.  They’re wicked comfy.

So you know that I am going to be sleeping in some serious comfort tonight!  And I cannot wait to see what the dogs think of the new heated bedding…Nola has already fallen in love with the heated throw blanket that I gave to Linda.  She commandeered it right off quick this morning once she figured out that it was soft and fuzzy AND heated!  Nola is one of those dogs that dives deep under the covers, or balls the blanket up so that she is a burrito inside of it.  Lulu is a top sleeper.  She has long flowing hair and I think she stays quite warm thus she sleeps on top of the covers and directly on TOP of me. Luckily I am a back sleeper, always have slept flat on my back, so Lulu just plunks herself down in the middle of my chest and goes to sleep – after spinning 12 circles on my chest to insure there are no snakes in the bed and everything is good.  She’s quite a character.

So, yeah, I had the BEST Christmas ever.  I got lots of nice things from Linda and my family.  Got some new adult coloring book, a coloring calendar, 2 new knives – one pocket knife and one with a belt case which Linda gave me and is my most favorite gift this year.  I got some great new Stanley thermal socks to insulate my feet on these bitter cold days in Maine, a new nail care clipper set and a few other small gifts…all of which made me very happy.  But most of all I got a ton of love from one great family and some seriously terrific friends.  THAT is the gift that I cherish every day of my life.  I am truly blessed.  And I am one lucky Butch!

I  hope that each one of you are having a wonderful holiday season – whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or some other winter holiday, I just hope you are safe, warm and enjoying yourselves.  Best wishes to all as we now begin the count down to the New Year.  It’s time to clean out all that old energy and make room to bring in some of that new, highly charged energy.

I usually spend this week between Christmas and New Years cleaning out things like my closets, my office, files, and do a big general cleaning of the entire house.  This helps me to prepare for the next year; making room for whatever it may bring.

Do you have a tradition about bringing in the New Year?

Peace and Love.   ~MB

Here are some photos of the dogs today.  Lulu got a bunch of new toys and was VERY excited about them.  She hoarded them all on the couch where she proudly guarded them.  Nola LOVES Linda’s new heated couch throw, so much that she won’t give it up.  And the two of them at the end of the day…they had a very full day of food, fun and festivities along with me.  Tonight we are all exhausted and are going to bed early….work tomorrow!

 

 

 

Timberland PRO Work Boots

I am freak about good boots.  I love a good pair of work boots in particular.  I’ve always worn them, since I was a teenager.  And I have to say that every pair have been Timberland’s.  I have never waivered in my loyalty to the Timberland brand because they have always been the very best of boots.  Comfortable, durable and long lived.  I have a pair that is over 20 years old still, good old fashioned tan work boots.  Yeah, they are dogged and worn, but you would expect that with 20 year old boots.  And I still wear them on occasion!  Mostly now for mowing the lawn and doing yard work – exactly what they were made for anyways!  They are my working work boots, so to speak.

So, I purchased a pair of Timberland PRO series boots about a year ago.  They are classic black, and very nice looking boots.  I fell in love with them.  They were the most comfortable boots I have ever owned.  And I certainly have owned some boots!!!  And damn, did they look fucking sharp!  Went very nicely with a good pair of jeans and a black belt.  (Belt color MUST match the boot color, black with black, brown with brown, etc.).

Anyway, now I have a problem.  It seems that these boots have decided to come apart!  I am astounded because I’ve never ever had a problem with any pair of Timberland’s in my life.  NEVER.  And this pair has been babied, never having been worn to do any kind of hard work or subjected to raw conditions like mud, snow or excessive water.  They have been treated very good, being worn when I would go out on the town, or to work.  I work as a service associate at a convenience store/truck stop.  I stand on a floor mat on top of a linoleum floor.  They aren’t even subject to the wear of a concrete floor!  The wear bars on the bottom of the boots still have the factory hash marks on them, haven’t even worn them enough to wear them down a little bit!  Yet, they are coming apart; delaminating.  The soles are separating from the uppers and the rubber is coming out in chunks.   I am just totally surprised.  I never expected this from a good pair of Timberland PROs at all.

I have written an email and tweeted Timberland and TimberlandPRO and am hoping that they will respond.  I would like to have the boots replaced with a like pair.  I don’t care about the money, and don’t want any money back, just replace the boots and leave me feeling good about the company and their warranty practices.

I did take them in to the Kittery Trading Post , where I had bought them originally, but they begged off dealing with me and directed me to file a “warranty claim form” directly with Timberland.  This would mean sending the boots back to Timberland’s claim center in Kentucky for them to examine.  I felt this was a big process to go through when there was a manufacturer’s representative (the KTP) right here that could have -and should have- just replaced them on the spot.  But since I didn’t have a freaking receipt they wouldn’t deal with me.  Who keeps a receipt on a pair of boots you bought a year ago?  Not me.  But I will keep things like that from now on.  I can easily toss big ticket item receipts into my file in the office or into my jewelry box in the bedroom and keep them until the warranty’s are expired at least.  I do keep receipts for all of my electronic equipment in a file in my office, along with directions and warranty info on the items.  I also keep a household file of receipts for things like the stove, furnace and all the work done on those things.  So it will be easy enough to keep a receipt on a stupid pair of work boots.

So, we will see what happens now that I have contacted Timberland directly about the boots and the issues I have with them.  Will they respond?  Will they be eager to please the customer (me)?  Will they stand behind their product?  We will see.  I hope to hear from them in a timely fashion at least.

Have you ever dealt with a large company on a warranty issue?  What has your experience been?  Do you think that social media and posting about things like this on social media has any influence in getting the problems solved?  I both posted on Facebook and Tweeted Timberland about these boots.  I  wonder if it will do any good.

Have a great Monday!  Peace!  ~MB

 

Rules Don’t Apply: Being Butch

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I am Butch.  A Butch who loves femme women in particular and a member of the Butch-femme community; a community that struggles in today’s politically correct sort of world.  We are more often than not, ostracized for “copy catting or aping” heteronormativity.  My partner is asked why she feels the “need” to be so feminine, and I am grilled about my “wanting to be a man” by those that just don’t understand the Butch-femme dynamics or lifestyle.

Within my own community I find people telling me I should just “transition and get over it” when that is the furthest thing from my mind.  They seem to think that I must “want” to be a guy, because I look and act in more masculine ways.  The truth is that I love being Butch.  I am not afraid of my female parts.  Since I have had chest surgery I am much more comfortable in this female based body.  Sure, I hated my boobs when I had them, but that didn’t mean I had to transition.  Many lesbians, like me, are uncomfortable with their breasts – even some that don’t identify as Butch!  I was just lucky enough to be able to do something about my upper body dysphoria and have the surgery I had wanted for all my life.  I am fine with my body now; I’m flat chested and happy.  I am fine with my masculine appearance and my butch ways.

See, the rules don’t apply to me.  I have chosen to live outside the definitive lines of the gender binary.  I don’t prescribe to much of anything that would label me a girl/woman/female person.  As well as I don’t identify as a male person.  I fall somewhere in the middle of that scale, a gray area where I embody the best of both worlds.  It’s a comfortable place for me, mentally and physically.  I lean hard toward the masculine end of the spectrum, by pure nature.  I was born this way; born Butch.   It’s the only place I fee comfortable, safe and seen.

I am pretty stereotypically Butch.  I dress like a guy, talk like a guy (thanks to the US Army and smoking I have a pretty deep and rough voice) and I embody most things masculine in nature.  I’ve even been told that I think like a dude.  I am not very emotional and I rarely cry….all things that people believe are stereo typical of most Butch women. That tough exterior and rough attitude everyone believes we have. I like to think that Butch is my actual gender, that I am neither man nor woman, but somewhere in between and we call that “Butch” in my world.  In my world Butch is a noun.

I am often mistaken for a guy.  I get called “sir” and “dude” all the time, and it doesn’t bother me.  It often makes me smile, like I have some sort of secret.  I wear my Butch like a scarlet letter, prominent and proud.  I walk the walk and talk the talk so to speak. And it embarrasses me when people who I am with will try to correct those who mis-gender me; somehow it’s easier for me to just shrug it off and laugh to myself. I get a kick out of it.

I feel bad for my friends who are femme lesbians.  They are so invisible. Usually being seen as “straight” all the time.  Only we see each other; we seem to recognize each other somehow.  I know that it must be hard for her when she’s told that she can’t be a lesbian because she’s too pretty, or she hears the dreaded “why do you date girls that look like guys, why not just date a guy instead?”  As Butches and femmes we hear these types of comments, or get these questions, quite often.   I’ve heard some brilliant answers to them over the years.  But it never ceases to amaze me when someone feels so emboldened as to ask such personal stuff.  And it’s always so disappointing to hear it from anyone who identifies with the LGBT community, that just feels like a true back-stab. You would think that they, if anyone, would understand that we are all unique and we all like different things; differing lifestyles and have various tastes.

So when I lace up my Chippewa work boots and tug on that worn old ball cap over my closely cropped crew cut hair, I definitely look the part that I gleefully embody:  Butch to the core.  And loving it. I blur the lines of the gender binary and I am comfortable in my own skin, being authentically who I am, and I never want to change that.

Peace.   ~MB

Undetectable=Untransmittable

Yes, I said it.  Undetectable equals untransmittable.  This is a silent secret evidently in the HIV world.  I have known this for a long time, but the stigma around having HIV has kept me quiet about it too.  I’ve been reading a lot on the topic and I think that if people knew this that there would be a little less stigma and it could also lead to more people being tested, more medication adherence, and much more.

What it basically means is that someone who is undetectable (has no HIV present in their blood when tested) for at least 6 months cannot infect their sexual partners.

I am tested every 3 months.  They do two basic big tests.  One is my “viral load” test, which measures the amount of HIV in my blood stream.  The second is my CD4 cell count, which is also known as the “T-cell” count.  This is a measure of how strong my immune system is.  The higher the number the better.

I have been consistently testing in the zero range on my viral load tests now for over 3 years.  And my T-Cell count is always above 600.  (The average woman without HIV is around 500).

So, basically I am not someone who you can get HIV from in a sexual situation.  This is a huge relief to me personally, as that is always a worry with me.

The hardest thing for me about living with HIV is dealing with having to tell a potential partner that I have this condition.  I am very out with my status.  I have  been since the beginning (1992 for me) of living with this virus.  I found out in 1992, but I had had no high risk behavior for 3 years prior to my being tested, so most likely I contracted the virus in 1988-89 when engaging in IV drug use.  I believe I know when it happened specifically because I was always a very careful user, and didn’t make it a habit of sharing needles.

Telling a person who you may become sexually involved with at some point isn’t easy.  There is so much stigma surrounding the disease.  But I have found in my own experience that the more educated a person is in general the more accepting they are – and this is something that many have grown up with and know a good bit about now.  I am always open to questions, and I stay well-informed so that I have accurate and current information for anyone who asks.

Undetectable = Untransmittable

“People living with HIV on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and virally suppressed, are not capable of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner.  With successful ART, that individual is no longer infectious.”

Dr.Carl Dieffenbach, National Institute of Health, 8/26/16

 

I couldn’t imagine dating in today’s world without knowing the status of my partner before we ever had sex.  I urge everyone to be tested.  It’s just normal protocol nowadays and something everyone should do. You can even do home testing now.  It’s become quick, easy and stays confidential.

Would you date someone with HIV, knowing this information above?  It’s a difficult question for many, because we remember when people were dying of AIDS because of this virus.  I remember vividly thinking I was going to be one of them a long time ago.  But now with today’s treatments and good living I am looking at living to a ripe old age and leading a normal life. Thank God.

Vlogging on YouTube, and more…

Ah!  I managed to actually sit down and film a vlog on YouTube tonight.  I haven’t been that interested in keeping up with my vlogging on there in the last year or so.  Just didn’t appeal much to me.  The “old crowd” of dedicated individual YouTubers seem to have faded into the proverbial woodwork.  Now it’s mostly big vloggers like Jenna Marbles and the such.  More power to ’em.  If you can make that kind of cash doing silly videos on that platform then go for it.  Me?  I manage to make a buck thirty a month on mine.  Chump change.

I had a really interesting day.  I had to go to district court to appear for a ticket that I got picked up on back in September.  Stupid me.  Anyway, I got the case continued until mid-February and hope to have it filed at that time.  Sometimes we just make choices that we later deem “mistakes” that come back to haunt us.  I did that exact thing. Last night I was incredibly nervous, and I sort of shut the world out while I dealt with my case of nerves.  Once I got there today and dealt with it head on I felt a whole lot better.  Hopefully by February when I have to go back my lawyer will have handled it and I will be okay.  I have a very clean record and would like to keep it that way.

I have been in a great mood tonight.  I got to talk to Beach Girl for a while on the phone and she made me smile from ear to ear and feel a little like a teenager in puppy love.  I haven’t dated in so long that I think that I have forgotten how to act sometimes.  We had a great conversation tonight and we’re really getting much more relaxed with one another, which feels great.  I had built a wall around myself to kee[p this kind of stuff (feelings and shit) at bay, but I’ve been slowly letting down my wall with her.  She has a way of making me less afraid to do so, and I trust her.  I’m discovering she’s a really awesome woman.

Tomorrow is my mid-week day off and I have a ton of stuff to do.  I’ve got to get over to the hospital in the morning and have blood drawn for my quarterly T-cell/Viral Load counts to be done.  I am pretty sure they will be stellar this quarter. I’ve been spot on with my medications, taking them as scheduled every day.  So the results should be high T’s and hopefully an undetectable viral load.  Undetectable=uninfectable.  Which is my goal. My check in appointment is next Tuesday and I expect a very good visit with my specialist.  I’m healthy and happy, what more could I ask for?  🙂

I also have an eye doctor appointment tomorrow afternoon.  I need a new prescription bad.  My eyes have gotten worse and I notice that I am squinting a lot.  I need new glasses I think, which is going to have to wait until after the holidays for financial reasons.  Glasses are so damned expensive!  But I know I need a new pair, so I will make it my priority in January.

So I ‘m off to bed to have sweet dreams….I hope yours are equally as good!  Peace!  ~MB

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Great Books

I went to the local Barnes & Noble bookstore tonight to order Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan E. Coyote and had the luck that the bookstore had been overrun by a local kids band that was playing Christmas carols on the platform of the magazine section. They had the place completely mobbed.  I did, however, manage to get the book ordered and should be getting a call from the store in a few days when it’s in for me to pick it up.  I’m looking forward to reading this new book by Ivan.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the other books written by Ivan and can’t say enough about them.

Most recently I read Stilettos & Steel by Jeri Estes, which was one of my all time favorite books!  It’s a Butch/femme romance and action book.  Set in the 60’s in San Franscisco complete with mob influence and seedy nightlife.  I found it to be a very easy and quick read.  Although it could have had a bit more sex, still it was really good and kept me quite interested from beginning to end.  The book is based on a true story and Jeri Estes really brings it!

I am always on the lookout for new books to read, especially about the LGBT culture and stories of living in our community.  I feel like they are becoming harder and harder to find as the internet takes over our visual fields and minds.  When was the last time you read a good book?  I mean really sat down and read it from front to back?  I know that before Stilettos & Steel it had been quite a while for me.  I pick up my daily reading now from my laptop, like most other people today.  I tend to look to people like Cleis Publishing – who publish a wide variety of  books from LGBT authors – for most of my reading list.

What is on your reading list?  Have you read any good books that you can recommend?

 

 

 

I’ve Missed Me

I have really been feeling great lately.  I’m realizing how much I have missed this feeling.  My overall outlook and mood is so much better.  I actually look forward to getting up every morning to see what the day has in store for me next.  I look good, I feel good and I am healthy as can be.  Yes, life is a good thing once again.

I’ve struggled with a few things in life over the years.  I’ve coped with addiction, depression and health scares.  I’ve come to the realization that I am no different than anyone else because everyone has some sort of baggage that they carry just like me.  You cannot go through life wrapped in plastic, so you have stuff you have to deal with.  For me it’s the abovementioned things, it’s different for everyone, but in the end we are all seeking the same basic things — love and understanding.

I’ve seen people come and go from my life.  Some for the better and some for whatever reasons.  People who love and understand me have stood by me through the bad and the good times.  That’s how you know who is really there for you in life’s big picture.  I am very thankful for the people who have stood by me through it all. And I know who I can count on to continue to be there for me.  

I’ve learned some hard lessons in my journey through this life.  But I can say honestly that I have no regrets because what hasn’t killed me has made me who I am today.  I’m strong and I’m on the right path.  That’s what really counts.  

It feels so good to get back to a place where I am feeling so good about things once again.  I really missed this.  I’m glad that I didn’t give up on myself. And I thank God for good friends and those who love me.  Their encouragement and understanding helped me through the troubled time I was having and they didn’t give up.  I just hope that I can be as good a friend in return.

I’m still learning and working on things.  The process is never finished.  And it doesn’t end until you get buried in a box.  And I know I’ll never be perfect, but I can be perfectly happy with who I am.  

Live life today as tomorrow things will change, it’s inevitable.  MB

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