Butch Bag Part 2

A while back, I got myself a new bag. Not a purse, a bag. Yes, there is a difference. As I said in that one, I self-identify as butch yet carry too much crap to keep in my pockets.

I loved the bag for about a week or two but some things about it just didn’t work for me.

– One, it is all black inside. I couldn’t see a thing. Normally, I see just great in low light but apparently that does not transfer so well to a dark bag.
– Two, it has velcro on the front flap. There’s a clip but then you had to peel the velcro apart to get in the bag. Noisy. Although it meant you didn’t have to clip it closed all the time.
– Three, in that dark inside were too many pockets. I know, sounds odd coming from me but it was just too many. It wasn’t like I could just feel my way to whatever I was looking for.

Lorna, however, loved it. So she stole it. She says she appropriated it. Whatever. She likes all the pockets, can find things relatively quickly, and really likes that it has the pocket for her Nook Tablet. And neither of us feels we wasted the money since she is using it.

I’ve been looking around, still trying to find something that worked. Duluth Trading Company has a cool leather bag but I just could not justify spending the money ($149). Same for the LL Bean oiled canvas bags they have.

A few weeks ago, I went back to eBags to see if they had anything new and I found it. It is actually the same bag, just updated. The two major updates? No velcro and the inside is yellow. Way. Cool. The other bag was 11.75″ x 8.5″ x 4″ and this one is slightly larger at 12″ x 10.5″ x 4″.

It came the other day and I’ve messed around with it some. The flap has a pocket. It’s odd shaped but roomy. My phone fit just fine but it made the flap heavy. Under the flap is another zippered pocket. This is where I’ll keep my phone. On each side of the bag are pockets. One is a mesh bottle holder and the other is a fleece lined pocket for sunglasses. My sunglasses are prescription so I’ll keep ’em in the case and not there. Not sure what I’ll use that one for. Inside is a large pocket for a tablet computer on the back and in the front are a few pockets. One for a pen, one narrow one, and a wider one that just holds my sunglasses case. Behind them is another big pocket. In the back is an odd pocket they say is for your boarding pass. I’ll try that out going to Dallas in a month. And I just looked at the photos and saw another pocket. It’s a zippered one. Maybe there’s as many pockets as the other one after all. But maybe they feel like less since I can see them.

We went out to do an errand this afternoon and I got to actually use it. My water bottle fits just fine. Took some convincing but that should get better with use. At least it holds it in! Everything else I carry fits just fine, too. It is the same width (front to back) as the first bag but it feels and looks wider. They added a pocket, removed some of the inside ones, and changed the design of the front flap. I don’t need the strap right now so I took that off when we got back. It’s just extra weight and gets caught on stuff. Lorna catches the dogs with it every day when she comes home. However, that strap will be great for Dallas since I can hang it on the back and carry extra stuff in there. AND my camera fits, too. There’s a cool camera store here in Asheville called Ball Photo. We were there not that long ago and I saw they had a lot of the old style camera cases/covers. We’ll go back and see if I can find one to hold my camera. I dropped my sunglasses case into the main compartment then later had trouble getting them out. So I’ll try standing them up on one of the smaller pockets to see if that helps. This is the fun part of getting a new bag, figuring out where everything should go!

Of course, pictures!

Top row: the bag and my Nalgene OTF. Next row is my phone and the bag that holds my folding headset. Then there’s the glucose meter, wallet, sunglasses case, glucose tabs, pen, and bandana. Still to be put together will be the medication supply, eye glass cleaner, and a small notebook. Hey, that can go in that padded pocket! (also, as a side note, that thing dangling from the arm of my chair is my holder for the water bottle.)

The next two are the inside of the bag.

The two bags together.

Butch Bags

LGBT lesson of the day: In case y’all didn’t know, I self-identify as a butch. That means I embrace my masculine side more than my feminine side. Those on the opposite end of the spectrum are called femmes. I ain’t one of those. Not as many lesbians go for the role thing anymore. It’s not really a role, it’s a state of being. But that’s a different lecture as well as the theme to Butch Girls: Stereotype This, the next BG book I am trying to write.

Anyway, as a butch, I don’t carry a purse. Never have, I don’t think. I might have some in high school. I remember something about a leather bag with a horseshoe? That’s been a while! I’m lucky to remember what I had for breakfast this morning! Where was I? Oh, right, purses and the fact I don’t carry one. I’ve used various bags over the years to carry my shtuff. My fave by far was the Mountainsmith Day bag. I loved it except for one thing: it had a waist strap. They could be tucked into the back but it added bulk I didn’t want. I could have cut them off but sometimes Lorna needed it for something and she liked to use the waist strap. The bag had served me well for many years but was starting to show its age (aren’t we all?). Then when I had to start carrying medication for my headaches, then the glucose meter in addition to the usual bag crap, it was getting to be just a tad too small.

This summer, I got a laptop and a cool bag but after using it at the GCLS con, I didn’t like it very much. Since I carry my laptop bag at my feet, the messenger bag flap was a pain in the ass. If I left the flap flipped back, then the front bit slowly unzipped. When my niece was with us, she didn’t have a laptop bag so I gave her that one and got a new one. Since I’d only used it that one time, it still had the new stink to it. She loved that it was so big because then she could carry her art shtuff. I got a toploading bag, the same as the other one but without the flap. I started carrying my necessities in there in the front pocket. But its a huge bag. Nice bag, cool bag, but huge ’cause I got a huge laptop. So then I started just stuffing my pockets whenever we went anywhere, put everything in the truck, then restuffed when I got home. Bigger pain in the ass.

So I started the search for a new bag. I hit the usual websites (Campmor, REI, Duluth Trading, etc) but just didn’t find one I liked within a reasonable price range. 80 bucks for a laptop bag is one thing, 80 bucks for a butch bag was another. I didn’t want waist straps or backpack straps so that left out a huge chunk of them. I wanted removable shoulder strap. I wanted a carry handle. Yes, I am picky. I looked at Targus’ smaller laptop bags but, really, that’s not what I wanted. Close, but not quite. Timbuk2 has some awesome bags but pricey and the ones I liked didn’t have removable shoulder straps. Campmor didn’t carry much of the Mountainsmith bags so I went to their website. And I found it.

It’s the Mountainsmith small Messenger bag. No cool name on it but it is made of recycled water bottles. At least 7.5 bottles went into the construction. I got it from eBags, a site I should not be allowed to visit. Because for all of my dislike of purses, I love bags. Not flowery stuff, but bags. Yeah, I’m weird.

It finally arrived today! (bit of trivia: companies use FedEx and UPS because they are allegedly faster. They’re not. More expensive, too. However, for many of the rural areas, FedEx and UPS take the packages to the Post Office who then delivers them. So I waited ten days for a FedEx delivery, only to have it delivered by the post office who could have originally done it faster and cheaper. sigh.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah, it came today. And I love it already. It has tons of pockets. The flap has a zippered pocket and there’s an odd open one on the back. One side has the mesh bottle holder and the other has a padded MP3 player pocket with headset cord hole. Cooool. My iPod Touch (hush Kevin) fits so all is well with the world. Inside there is the usual big open space. Along the back ‘wall’ are several more. There’s a big open pocket (hook-and-loop tab in the middle). Then a zippered one (with a key hook thingy). Then another open one (no tab) and yet another zippered one. The shoulder strap is well padded and removable! The handle is rubber and easy for my hand to grasp. And big enough to slide over the armrest of my chair.

All of my crap fits with room to spare. If I had a tablet computer, it would probably fit. I know it is big enough for Lorna’s Nook. Not sure it is big enough for an iPad.

Oh, and the water bottle is new, too. It is the Nalgene OTG (on the go). Not sure I like the lid, though. I just ordered another, the OTF (on the fly) direct from the company. We’ll see how the lid is. If I like it, I think that lid will fit the OTF one, too. I drink a ton of water each day and wanted a smaller bottle to carry in the truck. At my desk, I usually have a huge 32oz Nalgene with a sippy cup insert. Seriously. Yes, I have the smiley face one but I usually use one of the others and let Lorna giggle during the day.

I cannot wait for my new chair and new cushion to arrive. My current one is looking rather ratty!

Come Out!

It is National Coming Out Day. As in coming out of the closet and saying to the world, “I’m a homosexual and damn proud of it!” But I ask, when is the heterosexual coming out day? I feel sorry for those folks. There’s no Het Pride Parade, either.

I can look back now and see where I knew I was ‘different’. I was quite young. Not even a teen. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Sigh. And Wonder Woman. Bigger sigh ’cause she’s got bigger lungs. During the entire show, when she was in that costume, it was not her face I was watching. Sears and Roebuck catalogs. Didn’t all of us go to the underwear section? But I looked at the women section more than I did the men. Trivia fact: most men underwear models are stuffed. As in padded to hide everything, not make it look bigger.

I was in 7th grade when we were shooting the sh..breeze in class. Someone said that if another girl said she liked her, that she would freak out. I said “But it’s a compliment. It’s like someone with the same bike as you admiring your bike. They know what you have, what you got, and what it’s like.” Silence. Absolute silence. I didn’t consider that maybe I was a lesbian.

In high school, it came up a few times but, really, I had better things to do than sit around and consider stuff like that. I lived on a farm. We were too busy to wonder about such stuff. Although, the funny thing is, my grandmother lived just up the road from us. And a lot of times, I’d walk home from her house down to our place in the dark. She’d say “Be careful. One of those homosexuals might drive by and pick you up.” She also whispered when she said homosexual. And she meant MEN homos, not women. I kept telling her that homosexual men wouldn’t want me. To this day, I still don’t think she understood what a homosexual was. Add in the fact we were in the middle of absofreakinglutely nowhere, and it was even funnier.

It was in college that I figured it out. I kissed my first girl. Immediately I thought “Oh. Well. That was different.” I’d kissed guys before that. Four I think. Three? Anyway, that kiss was so very, very different. I could not describe to you the difference. I just figured all the guys I had dated were really bad kissers. Nope. College for me was a very emotional time. I got off the farm and discovered there was a world out there. Not always a good world, either. My relationship with J did not end well and after college, I moved up Nawth where Mom and both brothers were.

It was in NJ that I finally realized who and what I was. And, typical me, I reached that conclusion in a very weird way. It was the early 90s and HIV/AIDS was considered God’s way of cleansing the planet. Being gay was not a good thing at all. It was frightening to think about. But I worked for a non-profit agency and had a cool co-worker. She mentioned her girlfriend and I asked her about what being gay was like. She was cool about it and answered questions and little pieces started fitting together. So I talked to her one day, after much thinking, and said I was going to live like a lesbian for 6 weeks. Think, act, live, be a lesbian for 6 weeks then decide if that was what I was to be. Seriously. Well, girlfriend, when I came out of that close? It was like…it was like I had come out of the cocoon and was a butterfly. I haven’t looked back sense.

Telling my family wasn’t as pretty. Mom was NOT happy. Older sibling just laughed and said I’d get over it. Younger brother was cool. I don’t remember his reaction much. About a year later, I found Lorna and that’s where and who I have been since. Mother has gotten over it I guess. My younger brother’s kids call Lorna “Aunt”. 22 yrs and it seems we keep going backwards, not forwards.

I saw a bumper sticker in a catalog that said “If you want to defend marriage, why not ban divorce?”. And: “If the fetus you save is gay, would you still fight for its rights?”.

So, how did you know you were gay? How did you know you weren’t? When did it first occur to you that you might be gay or not?

22 Years of Subversion

22 years. That’s how long Lorna and I have been undermining heterosexual marriage. The existence of our relationship had been detrimental to so many heterosexual marriages and is part of the reason the divorce rate is at least 50% now. We take full responsibility for it.

Today is our 22nd anniversary. We celebrate the day we met (on 8th and Market in Philadelphia), June 23, 1990. Wow. Lots of things have happened since then. I was but a young 25, she was a young-ish 38. Several years after we met, we teased each other and said we would have a 38 yr contract (so that Lorna had been with me half her life). Sixteen more to go. Think we will make it?

No One Can Answer

No one can answer the question I posed the other day. I’m still waiting.

I found myself questioning my faith but I believe I have pulled my self out of that. I was deeply depressed. I respected Mr. Graham tremendously and considered him very knowledgeable on the Bible. Not any more. If he believes, as he says, that the Bible actually defines marriage at all, then he must be losing his mind. I had briefly hoped that it was Franklin Graham who was releasing the statement in his father’s name (oh how ironic that line is) but others say it cannot be due to the way it is worded.

“Watching the moral decline of our country causes me great concern,” said Graham, 93, who lives near Asheville. “I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected.”

You’re right, sir, the home and marriage is one of the foundations of our society. Yet, you wish to deny me both. Why? You honestly believe that keeping me and others like me from marrying will automatically strengthen others? Please, sir, I wish to know. I can’t marry in this state anyway. The failing of this amendment won’t change that. So what is its purpose? Why are you so for it that you step outside of your long policy of staying out of politics? Why put down the people you say are such sinners? You aren’t bringing us closer to God by doing this. Instead, you are pushing us further away. If your God–I often wonder if I worship a different deity than you and others like you worship–considers me a sinner simply because who I choose to love, then I do not want to follow that god. Thank you, sir, for pointing this out to me. Thank you, sir, for tossing another stone.

****

Some news linkages about Mr. Billy Graham (I have decided to drop his Reverend title).

BibliFact Brief: Billy Graham and Marriage in the Biblical Sense

With all due respect to Reverend Graham, who has tended to avoid engaging in political debates about homosexuality and gay marriage, the Bible does not clearly define marriage. Nor is the Bible clear that God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. Nor is the Bible straightforwardly applicable to any of the current policy debates about gay marriage, civil unions, and homosexuality.

Billy Graham and Amendment 1: A Tarnished Legacy

The fact that the 93-year-old Graham, who was born during the final days of World War I, supports marriage discrimination is not, in and of itself, surprising, when one considers both his age and his evangelicalism. What is rather surprising, however, is the fact that he’s made such a public anti-gay pronouncement at all. After all, the man has been essentially in retirement since 2007. Since that time, he’s left most of the right-wing craziness to his son, Franklin “President Obama may or may not be a ‘son of Islam'” Graham, and his daughter, Anne “9/11 was God’s way of getting back into the government and our schools” Graham Lotz.

Billy Graham backs North Carolina amendment to ban gay marriage

Graham’s newspaper ad will say: “The Bible is clear–God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment on Tuesday, May 8. God bless you as you vote.”

The bill proposing the amendment says only a simple majority of votes is needed for the amendment to pass.

Supporters of the amendment hailed Graham’s endorsement.

“Reverend Graham understands that we as North Carolinians have a duty to preserve God’s first institution–marriage,” said Tami Fitzgerald, Chairwoman of Vote FOR Marriage NC, a group supporting the measure, in a statement. “We cannot be silent as activists work to radically redefine marriage–an institution that has been fundamental to our civilization for thousands of years.”

Opponents of the amendment lamented the move.

“While we were disappointed to see his endorsement it doesn’t change much,” said Paul Guequierre a spokesman for the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families. The coalition, which includes pastors from across the theological spectrum, opposes the amendment. “We have respect for (Graham) but we will continue to work with our clergy on this.”

Amendment One

This will probably be the shortest post I have ever written. Or the longest depending on if I get wound up.

Will someone please tell me, without using religion, how my 22 yr relationship with the same woman in any way, shape, or form causes anyone else’s relationship to falter, fail, or not even happen?

Because if the only reason you have is that God Said So, then keep the law off the books. God also said don’t wear mixed textiles and to not eat pork. Yet there’s no law on the books forbidding either of these or the umpteen hundreds of laws also in Leviticus.

Rev. Billy Graham, you have fallen from grace today. I am very disappointed and I think God is too.

Something to Think About

Sometimes I find a blog post or article that says something I so desperately want to say. And they say it much better than I could ever do.

First, go read this post:
I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.

Check this out, and feel free to correct me if I get this wrong…

According to Christians, Jesus taught a couple of interesting things. First, “love one another.” Second, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (“Her” being a woman who cheated on her man.)

According to Buddhists, Buddha taught a couple of thought-provoking things. First, “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” Second, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

According to Hindus, a couple of fascinating teachings come to mind. First, “Do not get angry or harm any living creature, but be compassionate and gentle; show good will to all.” (Krishna) Second, “Love means giving selflessly, excluding none and including all.” (Rama)

According to Muslims, Muhammad taught a couple interesting things as well. First, “A true Muslim is the one who does not defame or abuse others; but the truly righteous becomes a refuge for humankind, their lives and their properties.” Second, “Do you love your creator? Love your fellow-beings first.”

According to Judaism, their scriptures teach a couple remarkable things. First, “Love your neighbor like yourself.” Second, “Examine the contents, not the bottle.”

The greatest spiritual leaders in history have all preached love for others as the basis for all happiness, and never did they accompany such mandates with a list of unlovable actions or deeds. They never said, love everybody except for the gays. Love everybody except for the homeless. Love everybody except for the drug users. Love everybody except for the gang members, or those covered in ink, or the spouse abusers. They didn’t tell us it was okay to love everybody with the exception of the “trailer trash,” those living in poverty, or the illegal immigrants. They didn’t tell us it was okay to love everybody except for our ex-lovers, our lovers’ ex lovers, or our ex-lovers’ lovers. The mandate was pretty damn clear, wasn’t it?

Then go read this one:
A Teen’s Brave Response to “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay”

I am the Christian mother of a 15 year old teenage boy and about a month ago he came home from school with a copy of your article “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay”. The teacher gave his class a homework assignment to read it and write a 500 word essay about “what it meant to them”.

He came home and showed me your article and asked me what I thought about it. I read just the title and became furious at his teacher and at you (even though I know you had nothing to do with her handing out the assignment). Anyway, I confiscated it from him and told him he wasn’t to do anything with it till I had a chance to read it first.

And then I got madder and madder as I read it as I felt like it was a direct attack against our beliefs and our Christian religion and that it was promoting homosexuality, a practice that around here is a huge “sin”.

I gave my son an earful about homosexuality and God and told him that he could tell his teacher that he would not be participating and if she had a problem, she could come talk to me and then I threw the article in the trash. My son didn’t say anything just walked into his room and shut the door.

Both posts are rather long. But bear through them to the end.

Now, sit back and THINK. Really really hard. THINK. Not just now, this moment, but always. Before you open your mouth, THINK. Before you gossip, THINK. Before you put down, speak against, say angry things, say bad things, say jokes that put down someone. THINK.