Every Lesbian Needs a Gay Man in her Life.

Not all lesbians are fashionably challenged, but many are, and I’m no exception. We wear clothes as a necessary comfort, not to make a statement, except to say, “Yes, I threw on the first thing I saw in my closet without much consideration.” I wear clothes because it’s illegal to mosey around naked, and also because I don’t have the body that wears “naked” very well.

I can’t understand how anyone who knew me as a child (mom, siblings) were as surprised as they seemed to be when I came out. Since I was a little girl I hated wearing dresses. I have distinct memories of standing in the middle of my kitchen, begging my mother to let me wear my holey jeans.

“They have holes in them. And they’re dirty!” she’d scream.

Dirty, holey jeans were my preference of attire (and this was before they were trendy and stores didn’t sell pre-torn jeans). In the mid-eighties, ripped jeans were for burnouts with long hair, who smoked and listened to loud guitar-thrashing hard rock music.

I loved my holey jeans.

While I had no qualms with being messy, my brother (my twin) would change his outfit if one drop of anything – including innocuous water – touched a single thread of anything he wore. Pants, shirts, and shorts popped up all over the house. On the kitchen floor, across the stairwell, behind bathroom doors, or tucked between the couch cushions.

“Joey!” mom would scream. “Did you change your clothes again!”

Yep, mom. He sure did.

Though she never admitted it, I’m positive having a daughter eager to wear the same worn clothes over and over was a welcomed relief to the scavenger hunt of missing trousers my brother had tirelessly put her through each day, but one thing is clear. There was a mix-up somewhere in the womb because my other half (literally) got the girl genes and to me, befell the genes that to this day make me recoil at the sight of department store make-up counters, and to the perky saleswomen with their overly painted-on faces standing under those bright, shiny lights.

Thank Christ grunge was all the rage when I was a teenager. Flannel shirts, baggy jeans, sandals with socks – it was fashionable in 1993 to dress like a lesbian – and I loved every second of it.

I was twenty-years old when I crept into my first Gay and Lesbian support group where I met my friend Tony. My fashion disaster ways were still prevalent and every lesbian needs a fashionably sensitive gay man in her life to tell her it’s time to tweeze those eyebrows.

“Eyebrows are supposed to have an arch, Alicia,” he’d say. “And there’s supposed to be two of ’em.”

Goodbye uni-brow. Hello shapely new, separated eyebrows!

But it did’t stop there. He also gently persuaded me to dump my white leather fringe jacket and ditch the blue eyeliner and bright-red blush.

Farewell rosy cheeks, it was time for a more subdued look because the year was 1996, not ’86.

Eighteen years later, Tony is still my fashion confidant, but he’s also a dear friend – a friend who listens without judgement and has the uncanny way of knowing exactly what I need to hear during my most vulnerable moments. A friend who constantly reminded me I was a writer, even when I didn’t feel like one. His support helped me to never give up on my dream. When my first book was published, he was as happy for me as if his own dream had come true.

He helped me pass bookmarks out in a predominately lesbian neighborhood to promote my book. Over lunch he gushed about how talented a writer I am and then told me to burn the jeans I was wearing as soon as I get home.

Honest friends aren’t always good for your ego, but thank God for them because I shudder to think what I’d look like if Tony wasn’t in my life.

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Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

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Starbucked…Again

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about the book, Starbucked, written by Taylor Clark after reading one chapter. I’ve since finished the book, and with close to three hundred pages, writing a full synopsis of this piece would go way beyond the suitable length for a blog, but there is much to say/debate about the cultural issues and business practices that arise when Starbucks invades your neighborhood. Yes, “invades” because Starbucks travels in packs, never alone. When you have one, you will soon (emphasis on soon) have another. And another.

Starbucks is everywhere. The gourmet coffee craze has taken over the world.

Paris, France, the city known for its essence of cultural snobbery, has twenty-three stores (and more coming) of this ubiquitous American company wrapped within its famously charming and romantic streets and landmarks. Oman, Qatar, Chile, and Cyrpus are also places Starbucks calls home. Along with, Seoul, South Africa, London (Britons now consume more coffee than tea. What? No more spots of tea?), and Saudi Arabia.

Starbucks even made it into Beijing’s Forbidden City, the “political and cultural heart of imperial China” for over five hundred years. That’s a lot of culture, but still, when a “Forbidden City” opens a Starbucks, it loses much of its mystique. Now I’m walking into that “forbidden” town as though I own it, “Billy the Kid style blazing through Dodge” because there’s nothing less ominous than a store with a mermaid logo and employees bouncing behind a counter donning green aprons and khakis while lame remakes of Bee Gee songs play in the background.

Forbidden City, you need to be a little more forbidding.

There are so many Starbucks locations in this world, it would probably takes less time to list the cities and countries where they’re not.

*Note – there were more fun facts and not so fun facts I learned about Starbucks that I will share in a later blog.

*2nd Note – this book was written in 2007 – so when I write that a city has twenty-three Starbucks, seven years later, that city most likely has two-thousand, three hundred and fifty-nine stores now.

Please Don’t Steal My Book

The first time I saw my book illegally downloaded on the Internet I wanted to cry – but not before punching in the face those six hundred-plus people who stole my book. Yes, stole. They didn’t pay for it, so it’s stealing. I had a discussion today with my sister about this issue. She knows a person who sells pirated-DVD copies of movies – new movies – movies less than a week in the theater new. She makes six hundred dollars cash a week. That didn’t sit well with me.

I told my sister this person was making money off someone else’s hard work. A writer’s words. A director’s vision. An actor’s passion. A costume designer’s sore, over-pricked fingers.

“She’s s single mom,” my sister responded. “Maybe I’d do that too if I needed the money. Would you rather have me work as a stripper and give lap dances?”

Please get over yourself, sister. You don’t have the boobs to be a stripper, but if you did, then yes. Yes, I’d rather you be a stripper giving lonely guys lap dances in dark rooms because at least that’s your hard work you’d be getting paid for. I had to explain it to my sister the way I explained it to my ten-year old niece that buying pirated movies is the same as walking into a store and shoving a DVD under your shirt and leaving.

“But we’re paying for it,” my niece said to me.

“Yes, but to people who stole it,” I responded.

The digital world has made books, movies, and music so conveniently available to us (on our phones, our computers, our Ipads) that it gives the delusion that we own the product before we even buy the product.

I know this didn’t just begin with my book. This type of theft has been going on for a long time. I remember Napster, but I never downloaded music I didn’t pay for, and that goes for books as well.

Authors don’t get paid much, especially authors of e-books that sell for three dollars. The price of a coffee. The price of my book. I didn’t become an author for the money because I knew long before the digital world came around that the writing business was tough. Not many people can make a living doing it, and those who do are probably not living the high-life, but merely scraping by (unless your last name is King, Grisham, Patterson, or Rowling).

Since I’m not here for the money, I admit, I got a little excited when I saw that over six-hundred people had downloaded my book. The prospect of over six-hundred people reading my book was thrilling, thieves and all. Recently, I’d been notified by my publisher about another piracy site. I checked it out and found that my book hadn’t been downloaded at all – not even once. I was relieved, but then quickly thought, “What the ^uck? People don’t even want to read my book for free?”

As a writer I think I’ll always be stoked when people read my work, but is it too much to ask them to pay for it, too?

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

“Her Name” by Alicia Joseph

I’d like to share an excerpt of my lesbian romance novella, Her Name.

Her Name
Her Name

I was on my knees washing the floor when I heard her call out my name. I immediately stopped. This wasn’t just a holler for more pillows or another blanket. This was an urgent “I need you!” scream.

I ran to our room. I found her in our bathroom, sitting on the toilet, hunched over with her arms pressed against her stomach. Blood trailed over the edge of the seat. I couldn’t move. With a scared expression on her face, she whispered, “The baby.”

I hurried to her and wrapped her head in my arms. The toilet was filled with blood, and when I moved to flush it, she stopped me.

“Don’t! Not yet.”

I fell to my knees and cried beside her. She gripped my hand tightly. It was hard to comprehend what had just happened. Even as I had washed the toilet, evidence to what had been so brutally taken from us was right in my face, yet, I couldn’t believe it. It happened so quickly. Everything changed in less than two minutes.

She was lying in bed when I got off the phone with the doctor. She needed to rest, and we were to see him early the following week. I walked into the dimly lit room, carrying a washcloth in my hand, and pulled back the covers. I held her shaking body in my arms.

Her cries were violent. I wanted her to stop, but knew she couldn’t. I knew there wasn’t anything I could say to ease the agony of having a life die inside you, but I wanted to take that pain from her and wear it like a tattoo across my heart. I’d bear all the suffering so she wouldn’t have to, but no matter how badly I wanted to, I couldn’t take it away. She held her sorrow too close to her.

“I let my baby die!” she screamed.

“No, you didn’t. Don’t say that. Don’t ever say that,” I said and kissed the side of her face. “There was nothing you could do. Please believe that,” I begged.

She didn’t say anything, and I stopped talking, knowing she wouldn’t hear anything over her bawling. I held her tightly for as long as she needed me to. Her deep sobs slowed to a quiet whimper. Her body finally found some peace as she fell asleep under the protective covers of our bed. I lay beside her, holding a cool wet washcloth across her forehead.

Alicia Joseph

Please check out my Author Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alicia-Joseph/1444411879162094?ref=hl

http://www.amazon.com/Her-Name-Alicia-Joseph-ebook/dp/B00LPIAGB4

You can also connect with me on Twitter @JosephJody76

Starbucked

I’m not a coffee person. I prefer tea. I don’t hate coffee. I just don’t need it the way my caffeine-crazed, addicted-induced, coffee-hound friends do. And when I do drink coffee – I sip on decaf. (Yes, there is a point to decaf coffee, especially if it’s flavored. It tastes good!)

Last night a friend asked if I wanted to meet for a cup of joe. “Sure,” I told her.  “Where do you want to go?” (Silly question.)

“There’s a Starbucks down the street (of course there is). We can meet there.”

I’m reading the book, Starbucked, by Taylor Clark. I’m not far enough into the book to give a synopsis. My bookmark lies across the page titled Chapter Two, so I don’t know yet if this book is going to be a “balls-out” bashing of Starbucks and everything that’s wrong with Corporate America, or if it will tell the history of how a young and inexperienced Seattle-based coffee company, losing over a million dollars in one year (1989) with eighty-five stores, would transform into one of the largest and most profitable chains in the world. (I suspect the book will include a little bit of both.)

At the end of 2013 there were close to 20,000 Starbucks locations, globally, with a collective revenue of $14.9 billion dollars. That comes to a net income of $1.7 billion dollars. *

Christ, that’s a lot of coffee, but more importantly, that’s a lot of expensive coffee. With Starbucks opening almost two thousand new stores every year, the coffee isn’t gonna stop pouring anytime soon.

I’m curious to learn how the concept of “gourmet” coffee was sold so easily to an entire society because not only have people accepted this, but they’ve seemed to embrace it in the way of an arms-stretched-wide thank-you hug.

“Thank you, Starbucks, for introducing ‘customized’ coffee wrapped up nicely in pretentious, nose-in-the air terminology.” If someone hasn’t written an “Ordering Starbucks Coffee for Dummies” book yet, they should, because it’s kind of of ridiculous.

Last night, I ordered the coffee for me and my friend. Three times she had to tell me what she wanted  – tall, skinny, vanilla latte iced. She noticed the dumb expression I was sure was sitting across my face and said, “Don’t worry. They’ll know what you mean.”

I walked to the counter repeating the order over in my head. I waited behind two women with coupons. It took a while and the last thing I needed was more time to forget what I was supposed to say. When it was my turn, I stepped to the counter. “I’ll have a medium…errr… tall mocha…I mean latte… vanilla…ummm…skinny with ice.” Yep. I got this. (As I wiped the sweat from my brow.) And thank you, Starbucks, for forcing a chubby thirty-eight year old to use the word “skinny” in her order. Me and the rest of your svelte-challenged customers appreciate it. 😉

Now, I am not new to Starbucks. I go there more often than what my stammering over an order of coffee would have implied. But I mostly order tea (very simple) and I don’t use their stupid size labels either – short, tall, grande, venti, or trenta. It’s small, medium, large, or extra-large – thank you very much.

Which, if you didn’t know, short is used for only hot beverages and trenta only applies to iced ones. This is where I think Starbucks attracted its customers from the beginning. Starbucks appeared as an exclusive club where only those “in the know” knew not only the correct terminology, but the precise word-order when ordering a Starbucks coffee.

It may be hard to imagine Starbucks as “exclusive” now – with tens of thousands of stores (the word’s basically out) – but I remember when Starbucks was first starting to pop up on every street corner (and then kitty-corner to that corner), and I avoided it like the plague. I thought it was super-trendy and I’m not a trendy person. I have no clue (or interest) what the latest style is. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a fashion disaster. I have left my house wearing outfits that forced people to ask if I own a mirror (and these are from people who like me). Holding a cup with the Starbucks logo on it seemed to be a fashion statement, but that wasn’t the only reason I kept it out of my hands.

I was so damn intimidated at the mere thought of standing in front of a counter and staring at a coffee menu filled with words I didn’t know – lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, mochas, and not to mention all the different ways one could order these new drinks –  no foam (wet), foam (dry), extra shot, skinny, iced, hot, vanilla, hazelnut, caramel – so many choices!

I stayed away, but I seem to have been the only one because here we are and I need to know how we got here. Why are we so willing to shell out ridiculous prices for coffee?

I used to work with a young woman who was a single mom and I knew money wasn’t flowing freely for her, yet, every morning she’d walk into the office carrying a big ole’ cup of Starbucks. For the sake of easy math, I estimate that she spent four dollars per coffee (including possible tip). One cup a day, five days a week, for fifty-two weeks is a total of just over a thousand dollars a year. (And that’s only based on the coffees I actually saw her drink.) I worked with this woman for five years. That’s over five thousand dollars a single, struggling mother spent on coffee and I’m pretty certain she had no IRA, Roth or Traditional, no college fund, and no rainy-day savings account. But every morning she had her Starbucks coffee.

Is it that much of a novelty? Still? I read in Starbucked that the company’s research department tries to anticipate what colors will be popular a year in advance so they can have flavors that will match the “outfits of trendy customers.” Really now.

God help a society comprised of people who will choose a beverage based on the color of their shirt or tie, but I’m frightened this might work. If Starbucks can market themselves so that people who really can’t afford their coffee buy it every day anyway, then who’s to say they can’t get a woman to buy a specific-flavored drink because it goes superbly with her skirt?

But that woman will never be me, and for more reasons than the fact that I don’t wear skirts.

As I write this blog, I am drinking a decaf coffee from McDonalds and it tastes better than Starbucks. And the best part  – it only cost me $1.39 and that was for a venti…Er, I mean a large.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

*Source for sales figures provided by m.nrn.com

My Interview with Ashley Ladd.

Today I am featured on author Ashley Ladd’s blog “Happily Ever After.” Please check out the link below where I talk about my new lesbian romance novella, Her Name. Thank you!

http://ashleyladd.blogspot.com/

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