We have our winners! Congratulations emmarosemillar and Maia!
Happy Sunday! We have a fabulous guest blogger for y’all today! Rae Theodore recently released her debut novel Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender.
She’s here to tell us all about her inspiration for the book. And, because she’s super fabulous, she’s giving away a couple of paperback copies. Drop a comment in the space below and I’ll draw the winners next Friday, 7/17.
Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender
by Rae Theodore
As I sit here wondering what to write for my guest post, I’m hyper-focused on the word “Women” from the Women and Words logo that sprawls in dark red script across the top of the website as if standing guard.
For a moment, I feel like an interloper, but I remind myself that I’m a different kind of woman.
I’m a butch. A masculine-presenting woman. A cherry red Tootsie Pop with a center comprised of flannel shirts, sturdy shoes, power tools and ESPN every day of the week.
These are snapshots from my butch life:
“It was like she wanted to be a man,” the clerk at the post office says when a Janice Joplin song comes on the radio. “Gross.” He is so disgusted by the singer’s masculinity that small beads of spit fly from his mouth when he speaks. I try to make myself invisible as I wait in line in my cargo shorts and Polo shirt and fresh haircut, a number four on the sides.
The old man and his wife pause as I hold the door for them. “Let’s not hold this — ” She pauses as she tries to decide whether I am a man or a woman. In the end, she can’t tell. “Let’s not hold this person up,” she says.
The guy at the fast-food drive thru gets it wrong every time. You can tell he wants to take it back — that “sir” that he was so confident doling out a few seconds ago. He looks like he wants to disappear as he stands there in the drive-thru waiting for someone to rescue him by handing him my paper bag of food.
The little girl in the women’s bathroom alerts everyone about the presence of an intruder. “Mama, there’s a man in here,” she says. I hide behind the metal door of my stall wishing for the superhero power of invisibility.
Every time I am at a Back to School night, I can see the painted nails and lips of the other moms reflected in my shiny black boots.
I remind myself that I belong here on this website and at my kids’ school functions. And in every public restroom emblazoned with a graphic of a person wearing a dress.
It’s certainly not for the weak or the timid. Being butch, that is. Thumbing your nose at stereotypical notions of beauty and fashion and crafting your own out of buzz cuts and striped neckties and Oxford shirts that come from the left side of the department store.
My memoir, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender, starts with a quote from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”
And that’s the essence of my book, of my life. A search for that true place — my authentic self — that started when I was a pre-teen tomboy and a little more interested in Charlie’s Angels and Olivia Newton-John (black leather pants and red high heels Olivia Newton-John from Grease) than my female friends.
It all circles back to a place of acceptance and self-love. As I write in the book:
Here’s what I know: You can’t rewrite what has been written. It has been carved into your bone like scrimshaw. But you can admire the delicate lines and the intricate design and pay homage to an ancient mariner with a steady hand who etched mermaids — backs arched, tails curved, hair flowing behind like soft green ribbon — on a single side of a whale’s tooth.
Rae Theodore lives in Royersford, Pa., with her wife, children and, in stereotypical fashion, her cats. By day, she works as a staff writer for one of the world’s largest communications firms. By night, she writes about living in that middle place where boy and girl collide. Her favorite day of the week is Tuesday because that’s when her writers’ group meets. You can read about her adventures in gender nonconformity at middleagebutch.wordpress.com. She has been recognized by the blogging site for a story she wrote about a soggy fish sandwich and another about a mystical message from a plumber.