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!

 

 

 

Rules Don’t Apply: Being Butch

butch-name-tag

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.

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

V

Butch Christmas Stuff


ITs common around this time of year to hear partners of Butches – usually in my experience our femme counterparts – ask what to get their badass Butch for Christmas. Of course if they are asking for something specific  or special then your job should be pretty easy.  You just have to figure out if it’s a one gift exchange or if you have in mind maybe an assortment of smaller gifts which will take her to open on Christmas morning and will be much more exciting and pleasing for about any Butch I know.  Maybe you just do stockings filled with little gifts and maybe some of their favorite candy.  Whatever you choose as your tradition is cool…but make dampened sure that your Butch partner is on that same page!  One thing that we tend to hate are surprises.  Don’t say you only want one gift and then present your Butch with several from you.  Because we do listen at this time of year.  We secretly want to please our girls and make the move us more.  So make sure that your Butch knows what you want too!  
Ok now I like the multiple present kind of Christmas if possible.  And I love just thoughtful small gifts.  I’d rather get things that I need and will use or wear rather than get something I won’t use and don’t really need or want.  

Here’s a suggestion list of small gifts you are sure to please just about any Butch with a at Christmas.  Of course this is just a list of things that I am ways happy to receive, but I am a typical Butch with typical masculine tastes. I like to get lots of little things that I use everyday. so here’s my list I think you’ll find it might be helpful in making your Butch happy this Christmas.

  • Pocket knives — every Butch lives a good pocket knife or 3.  
  • Ties and belts.– just be sure you know your Butch’s tastes in these kind of articles, like I like black belts with my black shoes and brown belts with my brown shoes. And I like my ties to be fairly thin. if you know your partner well then  you’ll know what she likes.
  • Good pens — we can never have too many good pens especially as writers. if you want to make it extra-special have her name engraved on it or a nickname.   Like I’d love to have a pen that said “mainelybutch”
  • Watch or bracelet — just remember don’t make it too girly we like thicker things, heavier things.  Rings are cool too.  Just make sure you know what type of metal to shop for. I E. Does she like gold or silver?
  • Her favorite cologne or aftershave.  Just make sure she hasn’t got a full bottle in back up.  We don’t wear much of this stuff and usually only on special occasions.
  • Good hair gel.  I recommend “Sebastian Liquid Steel”  It is awesome stuff and spikes up a crew cut like nobody’s business!
  • Small electronics like a wireless speaker or a nice set of wireless headphones.
  • Hobby gear.  If you are significant other likes to fish why not buy her a fishing license for this next season. you can generally get them at any sporting good store in your local area. If she likes video gaming then maybe the latest video game she’s been raving about would be the ticket.If she likes to ski for half the lift ticket for the two of you for a nice weekend would be a good present.  You get the idea you can pander to her interests. 
  • Then there is ways clothing that we need yearly to react the stained or worn out old stuff like new plain white t-shirts, boxer briefs, and good socks.  Personally I always like that stuff.
  • Good hard bottom slippers.  Just in case we have to run outside and chase the dog.early in the morning before we get our boots on.!
  • Gift certificates — to the barber shop, movies, bookstore, Sears (they have nice tools), sandwich shop, coffee shop, etc.  

So that’s my simple list of little things that will please just about any Butch on Christmas morning.  It’s really not that hard or expensive to make us smile.  

I hope this helps some of you as you go about your Christmas shopping.  And if you are Butch let me know what I missed here!  I’m sure this is,a list that can be expanded in many ways.   PEACE. ~MB

Last of November

It’s that last day of November, wow has this month flown by!  It feels like just yesterday it was early September.  It’s raining here in Maine and it’s cold.  I am just thankful that it’s not snowing!  I know that snow is inevitable but the longer we go without it the happier I am.  

I’m off from work today and not positive of what my day has in store just yet.  It’s very early and I just got up about an hour ago.  Yes, I am a very early riser!  My body just won’t allow me to sleep past 5am. Sleep is overrated in my opinion anyway.  I feel like I am wasting time if I sleep too long in the mornings.

I have been watching the news reports of Trumpy’s cabinet choices and nominations.  It’s been a virtual who’s who of straight white men parading across his golden carpet.  Sickening  to think that the alt-right is going to gain so much MORE power in our country.  It angers me and makes me want to find a group of like minded people around my area to gather and discuss strategies for us all to be of support to each other and to react to the outrage I am sure is yet to come.  I feel the real need to be prepared to protect myself and others from things I can only imagine are in store for us all.  

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day 2016 around the globe.  The theme this year is Hands Up for #HIVPrevention. I was reading that the new push for self-testing will help to give people better access to testing and information on accessing treatment and prevention.  I don’t know about self testing…mitt seems to me that having a test done by someone who understands the ramifications should that person test positive.  And taking someone with you when you get test results is a good idea.  I went alone 25 years ago.  I remember it like it was outlast week.  It was the day I felt like I had an expiration date stamped on my forehead.  I didn’t hear mush after the woman who told me I was positive told me.  I started immediately to think of how I was going to ever tell my girlfriend and my loved ones. And I asked for a retest on the spot.  I had to make sure that there was no mistake. But there was no mistake and I have been living with this virus in my blood for over 25 years now. In the first few years I did a lot of outreach and prevention work trying to get others to not make my mistake and to protect themselves.  Nowadays I keep up on thing and concentrate on keeping myself healthy and happy with my second chance at life.   Before the availability of the medications that I take every day to stay healthy and virtually HIV free, I lost a lot of friends to AIDS.  At the height of the epidemic there was no good  oh gmail like there is today. If only we had moved faster when this started they might all still be alive.  I’m one of the lucky ones. I managed to stay alive, suffer through many failed treatment options and live to see this day where we now have the potent drugs needed to sustain a healthy life living with HIV.  

SO…I am truly thankful for my life and for all of the support I have in it. I feel like I am certainly blessed in so many ways.  Tomorrow I will pause to remember those who weren’t so lucky and those who we have lost, but I will also remember that this fight isn’t over until we find a cure and make it accessible to all of those who need it.  I shall light a candle of remembrance.  And I will thank God for giving me a second chance and a chance to make a difference in the world.  

Nightmares…and New Books.

I woke up in a cold sweat.    Please someone  tell me it’s all a nightmare.   I cannot even mentally grasp the idea of DJT being President of this country.  What will it mean to us?  I fear the worst for sure.  My Canadian friends have all expressed their shock as well.  I bet we are the laughing stock of the world.  It just stands to reason.

I got a fresh haircut last Friday up at Boston Barbers whee I usually go.  For the first time I let someone else cut my hair in there and for the first time I experienced some discrimination from my barber.  I should have waited for Brandon who has been cutting it since Johnny left, but I was in a hurry and took the first available barber who happened to be a black dude who definitely was not comfortable with me, my presentation or the fact I wanted a crew cut. He did a half assed job of it and I was done in less than 15 minutes.  He didn’t edge my cut or shave my neck.  It was the worst experience I have had in a long time with a barber.  He didn’t enjoy his job when it was a Butch in the chair for sure.  And it’s a shame because I considered that place to be my go-to barber shop.  I usually love it there.  Next time I will ask for Brandon or B Skinny to cut it.  This last dude is on my no-cut list!

Went to Barnes & Noble bookstore tonight and picked up s new book.  I got Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation by Kate Bornstein and S Bear Bergman .  It’s got a lot about gender nonconformity and sexuality in it.  It is a compilation of submissions from various writers.  I find it kind of interesting but…a bit boring in some ways. Personally I am finding it to be a tough read.  It isn’t what I expected for sure.  I love going to the bookstore though.  It just makes me so happy to be in a place full of books and writing implements!  I got more joy from the trip to the store than I am from the book.  I also got a new coloring journal that I started tonight.

So tonight I will lay my tired head upon my pillow and try to dream of happier times.  I will try to think of ways to make some sort of sense of things.  I will try not to let the recent election keep me updated down for long.  But I still wonder if I will ever feel safe again in this world.  Peace.  MB