In-Vesta-ing

I got to Vesta on Wednesday at 12:50, and read my Kindle until about 2:40. It was all right- the intake process is a first-come, first-serve sort of operation, and I was lost in Obama’s Wars. Now that I know a lot of soldiers, I was looking for their pictures, even in text. I found them. Every single base is somewhere that a friend was stationed. Then, when I got home, I scared the absolute bejesus out of myself by watching Zero Dark Thirty… but that is neither here nor there. We’re talking about intake here.

The therapist was a lot better than the one I saw in Rockville. She told me to stick to facts, because she did not want me to flood out. I thought it was so sweet, but I said, “I’m on Neurontin and Klonopin right now. Nothing will rattle me at the moment.” She laughed her ass off and said, “ok. Let’s get started.” She took almost an hour and a half with me doing a complete H&P (History and Physical, for those not in the know). I just rubbed my left ring finger (right now, not then) knowing that something was missing and then realizing what it was and saying, “OMG. Duh.” The indentation is still there after seven years, and I can’t believe that I still rub it… not to get it out. Just to remember. I probably did it because the first thing I told her was that I’d just gotten divorced in February and it was a disaster of a situation. I also told her that I’d lost a good friend at my own hand at the same time, and it bothered me just as much… mostly because I believe then and sort of believe now that it was all my fault. I had a breakthrough in therapy that convinced me that perhaps I was wrong, and for the first time in months, my stomach settled from the ever-present clench I’ve felt since then. It’s something that’s private between Argo and me. The point of the story is that I had a breakthrough that I thought would never come.

I also got some relief when she asked me if I’ve ever committed any violence against anyone, and I told her about the fistfight where Dana pushed me and I reacted by punching her. She told me that didn’t count because it was a reaction and not an action. I am sure that several people will raise their eyebrows at that assessment, but at the same time, I can’t help but believe her, because that’s what I felt in the moment. There was no way I was ever going to be bigger than Dana, but I thought I had to prove that I could be if needed. Just went off like a Yorkie with a God complex. It was a breakthrough to realize that Dana and I had done an incredible amount of emotional violence to each other, but it did not mean that “she needed hitting” was a valid defense.

It stopped me from leaving the house. I stopped going to church. I stopped everything in my life because I did not want to have to explain the bruise under my eye to anyone at any time. The flip side of this is that I still miss Dana, I still reach for her in the night because I am expecting her to be there because I’ve just dreamed that she is. When I wake up, I have a half-second of wholeness before I realize that I am whole within myself without her, and that is how it needs to be.

I am still furious with Argo that she made my move all about her, because it wasn’t and she wouldn’t listen to me. She just assumed the worst because we were already mad at each other- first children who couldn’t let the other one win under any circumstances. I’ve often thought about what a “win” would have looked like to me, and it would have been this: “I love you, but I cannot deal with you right now. I feel threatened that all of the sudden, you’re moving close to me… but let’s cool off and see what happens, even if it’s years in the future.” The real reason I came to DC is twofold. I already had friends here- real ones- and I didn’t want to start fresh. Like, there was no way I was just going to take off for Minneapolis and hope for the best, you know? The other thing is that Dana’s parents live here, and I liked that even more. That maybe, years in the future when we are both settled in ourselves, our paths may not be parallel, but certainly perpendicular…. crossing at a time when we could sit at a cafe with a cup of coffee and not ruminate on the past, but tell each other what we’ve done with our futures. It would delight me to no end if that meeting ended in kisses, but I’m not counting on it. We might fall into old patterns and that would be a disaster for both of us. Plus, I always got the feeling that she was hiding something from me, and I want a woman who is not afraid to kick my ass into next week when I need it. I think that’s why I thought Argo was so perfect~ she wasn’t afraid to tell me I was being a “judgmental dickhead” when I deserved it. Another funny memory I have of her is that she helped me solve an issue with Aaron and when it was over, she said “tell him he owes me a fucking drink.” That’s my girl. :P It is my eternal hope that one day, he’ll be able to buy it for her.

And as I was thinking all of this in my session with the therapist (whose name I cannot remember), everything came in waves. Nothing was chronological in my thinking because it never is. I work in a Minority Report kind of computer, where everything is on the x, y, and z axis. Some things are closer, and some things are further away, but they all combine into one narrative. Dates and times are not my specialty, but details are. I may not remember your first or last name, but I guarantee I will remember if your shoes were untied the first time I met you and if you wore perfume I did or did not like.

Dana was wearing a George Mason sweatshirt that her godmother had given her, a detail I remember because when I lived in Alexandria, I worked for ExxonMobil  at Gallows Rd. and there was a branch of George Mason right down the street. I let Argo scare me into not moving back to Alexandria, and I will never forget that fact, either. It was something I also told my therapist, because if there is a definition of unfair, I thought that was it. But Black Friday became Easter as I found out that Montgomery County was way more equipped to deal with me and my shit than NoVA ever would. But I still miss my old house, my old Metro stop, my old everything.

Maryland was new and exciting, but at that time in my life, I don’t think I was prepared for it. I told my therapist that as well. I also still remember flying down Little River Turnpike in my little white Mercedes because the freeway was always a nightmare. I remember driving 395 into the city and having tears come to my eyes as I passed the monuments nearly every single time, because I was so overwhelmed by their beauty.

It was never about Argo, but feelings are feelings and hers are just as valid as mine, fair or not.

It was about me trying to find myself again, after Kathleen and Dana, the people I then considered to be the closest people to me in my life, and how I needed to be single now, because I’ve found that I just do not function well in a relationship. I am too insular, I don’t share enough because I am scared that no one would love me if I did, and I disappear for hours at a time with my reading and writing. I think INFJs are programmed for it- not necessarily the unworthiness bit, but especially the disappearing act they are wont to do.

I also told my therapist that Dana and I grew apart because of Argo, because Dana couldn’t believe that I loved her more than anything despite loving Argo to the ends of the earth AS WELL. It wasn’t polyamory, or at least, it wouldn’t be once I got my act together and stopped feeling all my little kid shit. It was that Dana had always been my best friend, and the way I viewed it, she got a promotion and Argo was there to take her place. She wasn’t my best friend because best friends let each other cry on their shoulders with a good bit of tears and snot all over, but she sustained me in a way that I’d never had before, and Dana’s jealousy isolated me from it so that I’d never have that relationship with Argo at all. It was all Dana, all the time, or she was out.

We were allowed to have friends severally, but not individually.

The relationships between all of us became toxic and when that happened, I couldn’t get either one of them to understand where I was coming from. That I needed time, because this wasn’t all going to get solved in a day.

I needed my time with Dana on the ground. I needed my time with Argo in the cloud. Neither one of them got what they needed from me, and it was pulling me in different directions so that I was forced to choose. I didn’t want to play anymore. I picked up my toys and literally “went home.” Houston had nothing left for me. It was the right decision at the time to move there, but the mission was over and I aborted. I went to a mental hospital because they both meant so much to me that it was tearing my heart apart to an enormous degree and I got so far down I thought I couldn’t save myself, and I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t gotten a message from Argo that changed my life. She said, “why do you think it’s everyone else’s job to fix you?” When I heard that, I had my dad drive me to the emergency room and checked myself in.

What happened was a miracle. By the end of my stay, I didn’t feel worthless anymore… partly because my cohort had plenty of people in my exact situation- unworthiness- and all of the love that poured in for me as I recovered. I never should have gone back to my house after that. Not ever. Dana mentally thrashed me with everything she had, and I found myself locked in my office with lots of sedatives so I didn’t have to face her. I just slept, disappearing into dreams of happier times, the ones where I didn’t have to worry that Dana and Argo weren’t going to be a part of my life because in my dreams, there they were… saying and doing all the right things, giving me the responses I knew I wanted because they weren’t really there to say differently.

In my waking hours, Aaron was there to wipe my tears and give me Kleenex for all the snot. I felt a little less anxiety because at the hospital, they’d given me gabapentin to take the edge off the physical reactions to anxiety, but I knew I needed to talk to someone and now, I’m getting them.

There are 30 therapists at Vesta, and I’ve been encouraged to keep trying until I find the one that feeds me, not to just take the first person I get if I don’t have the right chemistry with them. I’ve already been through four in the past that have cooked my noodle in all the wrong ways:

  • Therapist #1 said to me on the second session that I was so interesting she told all her other patients about me. Dealbreaker.
  • Therapist #2 didn’t talk at all, didn’t offer suggestions, didn’t do anything except look like he was half asleep. Dealbreaker.
  • Therapist #3 said that she didn’t want to take me on because she was so near to retirement that she didn’t want to take me on because she thought that my therapy would take years. I respect that, but it came across as “you are way too fucked up for me to help you…. after I’d paid her $225 because she wasn’t on my insurance. Such a fucking dealbreaker that I couldn’t decide whether to cry or take a chunk out of her drywall.
  • Therapist #4 ran a battery of tests on me that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was more fucked up than most people and gave me some books to read- all very good- and then when we finally got somewhere, dumped me because he said that he was too close to my family to listen to anything I had to say. Dealbreaker, especially after the MMPI, because I thought he was the first person who might ACTUALLY be able to help me.

After those four experiences, I told my intake counselor that it was a miracle I’d showed up at all. She agreed with me, and told me she was proud.

I wonder how I got this fucked up, and then I remember that it wasn’t one thing. It was emotional abuse, it was being in show mode and having a dark personality behind it, and after the emotional abuse, I got a severe case of detachment disorder from everyone I really loved, because I was convinced that because I was gay, no one would love me if I told them…. but she did….

I also told my therapist that I was great at one-on-one, and great at being in front of a crowd, but I could not do large parties or anything close to it because I was so afraid. She said that was very typical and she understood- that being in front of a crowd wasn’t personal. It’s why I’m going to be an excellent minister someday, because after the amount of therapy I will undergo myself, I will be able to handle so much more than just standing in front of a crowd.

And that’s where I’m choosing to end. All of this therapy has a point. It is to be my authentic self no matter who is in front of me. No show mode allowed.

I’m in-Vesta-ing in my health, one appointment at a time. My next one is on Sept. 15th at 8:30 AM. By then, I’ll be a year older. Maybe not any smarter, but at least beginning the process.

Amen.

The Vesta Virgin

In Silver Spring, there’s a great mental health facility that offers both therapy and psychiatric services called Vesta. I thought that today was open enrollment, because they do it every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00 to 4:30. The part I missed was that Tuesdays are in Germantown and Wednesdays are in Silver Spring. So, basically I Ubered over for nothing… well, perhaps not NOTHING. I did get my paperwork for tomorrow so that I don’t have to fill it out right before my appointment. That’s always nice. It wasn’t a total loss. I just felt dumb because I didn’t read the web site closely enough. So, I get to be a Vesta virgin all over again tomorrow.

The Uber driver that picked me up told me that he was an angel from heaven when I asked where he was from. I said, “we’re all that, but where are you from on earth?” He said that he was from Haiti. I said, “what a coincidence… my dad went to Haiti on a mission trip when I was young. What year did Baby Doc take over from Papa Doc?” He said 1986. I said that was around the time he would have gone. He said, “praise the Lord for your father.” I grinned. I do that every day. Anyway, he said that I was the first person he’d driven that knew ANYTHING about Haiti. I have that effect on people. That’s ALL I know about Haiti’s history, but it’s surprising how little it takes to make people think you know things. This has been used to both miraculous and disastrous effect.

Most of the time it’s a disaster, it’s asking people for directions in Spanish. I am not fluent, to say the least, so when people start speaking at least 400 wpm, I am lost in the first three. I just nod at derecha, derecho, and izquierda. Most of the time, I pick up at least half of what is being said, so that the next time I have to ask for directions because I’ve forgotten the Spanish ones, I am at least a little closer than I once was. In Spanish, my favorite phrase in the entire world is “habla despacio, por favor.” Please speak slower. It at least gets them down to 300 wpm. Occasionally.

Being a gringo in Maryland is interesting, while we’re on the topic of Spanish. In Texas, there’s at least some recognition that if you live in a Hispanic neighborhood, you’re going to at least pick up a few phrases. In Maryland, I have had SEVERAL people look at me like I have three heads when they say “no habla ingles” and I switch over. The funniest time was at the mall, when I asked for directions to the bathroom. The woman just held up her hands as if to say, “I have no idea what you are saying.” I said, “donde esta el bano por las damas?” I was wearing my Rice baseball cap, my surfer t-shirt, and my Converse All-Stars, complete with navy hoodie because it’s cold in the mall. She was all like, “por las DAMAS?” But she gave me directions anyway.

And then there was the time I went to SuperCuts and every single hairdresser in the place spoke Spanish. I flipped into Spanish as well, so they continued in Spanish the entire time I was there. I only picked up about half of what was said, but there was this one woman that came in earlier that they ridiculed and I started dying laughing because my first job was at SuperCuts when I was 16 and I have now proven that regardless of language spoken, the conversation is the same. And, because they thought I was fluent, every time there was a laugh line, they would point at me as if I was in on the joke. I was. Sort of. In a manner of speaking. The woman did not like her haircut and threw a fit and called the hairdresser some very bad names…. and if that’s all I got, that’s all I needed. It’s all we EVER talked about at SuperCuts.

So anyway, after I finished my time at Vesta, I decided to walk to Starbucks and try to get some work done. On the way I stopped at Smoothie King (orange/vanilla Slim and Trim, add banana) and CVS (notebook, toothbrush, cards). By the time I actually got to Starbucks, I ended up writing most of the time (by hand!). It was close to dinner when I was actually packing up, so I had a burger and fries at Mickey D’s and then walked the two miles home. That is my bargain with myself when I want a McDouble with Hot Mustard.

I also wanted to make myself tired enough that I go to bed early. The woman at Vesta said that she never knows how the crowds are going to run, whether there are going to be more people in the morning or in the afternoon. I’m going to try and shoot for 9:45. She said to get there any earlier probably isn’t advisable, because I’d just be waiting. I can’t decide how long I’m going to “wait,” because really that just means reading my Kindle. Right now I’m in the middle of Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward. Here’s something that’ll cook your noodle I’ve learned so far. Lindsay Graham is smart. I didn’t believe it at first, but read the book. Through back channels, he’s actually a friend of the Obama administration and advises on military matters. I had no idea. I thought he was just a sack of shit in a cheap suit. If Obama can give him a chance, so will I. I suppose.

Begrudgingly.

Especially as I’m waiting to become a Vesta virgin.

Sax and Violence

On Thursday night, vandals cut the word “black” from our large #blacklivesmatter banner in front of our church, and placed aJeffrey Thames and His Horn picture of the reporters in Roanoke being shot on the glass doors that mark the entry. The police are involved because the picture looked like a direct threat. Despite this, the church was nearly full this morning as Rev. Jeffrey Thames guided our thinking in facing fear.

The title of his sermon was The Certain Samaritan, which talked about The Good Samaritan and made the point that we are certain we are Samaritans as well. We will not back down from attending church because of this threat. We will continue to do the work of peace and justice that we always have, because it defines who we are as a congregation.

But Jeffrey didn’t start his sermon with words. He stepped out with his horn and played Amazing Grace while the congregation sat silent, reverent in the threat placed upon us and praying for relief. I heard sniffling and saw a woman’s tears. All of the sudden, it got real. Someone had taken a piece of us, and now we needed to know what to do.

As Jeffrey played, I could hear the entirety of the people gathered take a deep breath. Sometimes, there are just no words to be said. As James Duffecy once said, music can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable… and there is just a world of things we don’t know. We are venturing into the future with hopeful hearts, not that we can prevent violence, but that we can respond to it in a Christ-like way. Christ would say to turn the other cheek. I don’t necessarily believe that. While I do not condone meeting violence with violence, I do believe in non-violent protest… to take back our power as victims. To stand up and say that even if you try to hurt us, we will not back down. As Jeffrey said this morning, “we will continue to let people rest and recuperate as they need.” We will continue to clothe the naked. We will continue to feed the hungry. We will continue to make people of all faiths and origins our friends. We will continue to fight without a fight. It doesn’t take violence to respond. It takes certainty.

I want to believe that I am one of those Samaritans in Jeffrey’s sermon. When Rev. Matt said that he was a little nervous about church today, I told him afterward that I was willing to run toward the danger, because I don’t believe in using a Bible to beat people down, but hymnals are fair game. I was only half kidding. I don’t want to meet violence with violence, either, but if active shooters had shown up, I would have found a way to help. What that might have been, I don’t know. But I do know that I am at least short enough to throw someone off balance and possibly bite an ankle…. not because I want praise or gratitude, but because that’s the kind of person I believe I need to be.

Fred Rogers said that in tragedy, look for the helpers.

Jeffrey inspires me in that kind of confidence. He was a Marine (oorah!) who was routinely called to run toward danger, and he did. But violence for Jeffrey happened right here in Silver Spring. A cop asked him for his ID, and when he reached into his coat pocket, the cop pulled a gun on him. He was on the streets trying to help the homeless, and he was almost shot. Rev. Matt got him a reflective vest that says “Clergy” on the back so that hopefully, it never happens again… because there is no chance in the world that Jeffrey will ever stop running towards danger. Where there is darkness. the people who are called to be Christ in the world bring the light.

All Christians are called to be Christ in the world, not just the ones who study for ordination. The question presented today is what kind of Christian are you? Are you the kind of priest that would have walked by the injured man because you don’t want to get involved, or are you the kind of person that would take the injured man to an inn? I audibly gasped and said “wow” when Jeffrey uttered this line… that it is interesting that Jesus used the word “inn” when there was no room for him when he was born.

It was a clarion call to keep working, keep fighting, keep MOVING toward the kind of world we want to create because we are who we are, and that is CHRIST Congregational Church. What does it mean to attend a church that has Christ in the title?

I think we’ve decided on resilient.

WE’VE MET

Grant has moved out, and I’m getting another roommate soon. I would prefer a man, but at the same time, a woman is also acceptable. Once Nasim got over living next door to a lesbian, she was fine, but it took some convincing. By the time she moved out, I was genuinely sad to see her go, especially because she used to talk loudly to her family and friends in Farsi, which reminded me of Argo (the movie) constantly. I pretended she was the white guy at the end trying to prove to the guards that they indeed were making a movie and explained the story boards. It’s my favorite scene, because he turns out to be the major hero of the movie. If you haven’t read Argo (it’s based on a book by the same name written by the real guy, Tony Mendez), it’s even more full of information that I keep reading over and over because it’s such a creative op. Of course Ben Affleck had to pump up the action to make it an exciting movie, but the real story is no less gripping. Tony is a fantastic writer, and I am sad to know that he is developing Parkinson’s and may not write anything else. So there is only concentrating on Nasim and listening to lilt of her voice, sad because she doesn’t live here anymore.

Eventually we will “get back together,” because I asked Nasim and her best friend Sahar if we could write a book together. I am glad that I am on anti-anxiety medications, because it will keep me from getting rattled when they tell me their story. It is not pretty. Let’s leave it at that. They escaped from Iran. How could it be? There was no film crew for them.

I believe that immigration placed Sahar and Nasim in Albany, and Nasim has moved back. That means we’ll be Skyping and talking on the phone to get the book done, but since we’ve actually met on the ground, that will not be a problem. And Sahar is here, so we’ll be able to Skype together. They have another friend, Leyla, who is also interested in the book, so perhaps she will be in it as well. The possibilities are endless. I am floored that they would trust me with such information, and believe in me to such a degree that I am capable of getting their story right. In fact, it shook me up to the point of tears.

We talked about it right when I moved here, and I felt so broken when Dana said that I would never amount to anything that it was like Nasim invalidated her words right in front of me and I couldn’t help but cry my eyes out. It shook Nasim, but she just held me while I cried. It was one of those moments that you get all the time if you notice them. Even if this book never comes to fruition, that moment healed so much. It was better than a therapy session, because I certainly made a breakthrough.

It took all the pain of feeling worthless after bombing my relationships with Argo (the person) and Dana and turned it into hope for the future. At this point, I am not sure what that future entails, but I at least know what I’ll be doing for side projects. If there’s anything I learned by living in Portland, it’s that you are not defined by what you do for money. Most of the people working at New Seasons (Portland/Vancouver grocery stores) have Master’s degrees and are playwrights, actors, creative types just like me. If you ask them what they do, they’ll tell you who they are, not defined by something as trivial as money.

It’s why I have no fear about working at McDonald’s or a grocery store or Homo Depot or any of those places that seem menial, because I am not defined by my job. I am defined by my ability to make people and stories live forever.

I am getting excited about turning 38. It feels like the right time to have a great year, unencumbered by the past or the future, but taking one step at a time as long as I know it’s in the right direction. So far, I believe I have done very well. When Dana said that she didn’t want to be my wife anymore, I realized there was nothing left for me in Houston and I went back to all the people that loved me in DC.

It killed me that Argo made it all about her, but who could blame her? I was mean to her because I was trying to blow her away to try and save my relationship with Dana, and in a lot of ways, I chose………….. poorly. Dana was going to leave no matter what I did, and if I had been a better friend to Argo, it wouldn’t have become the mess it did when I moved to DC in the first place. I miss being a better friend to her, because I can’t think of anyone more hilarious…. Well, maybe my friend Amy Sco, but she’s 3,000 miles away.

I have to tell you the funniest story EVER about Sco and me. We were laying around on the couch at her place and we saw a local news article about a soldier who’d died in Iraq that was going to have a memorial service at Mall 205. Amy looked at me, completely deadpan, and said, “let us gather in front of the Orange Julius stand, because you know how he would have loved it.” I almost swallowed my tongue I was laughing so hard. Yes, it was evil. But that’s just the way Amy and I roll. She would OWN MY ASS at Cards Against Humanity.

Speaking of which, I have done a lot of things in Cards that would make you look at me like you’d never known I was such a sociopath, but one of the funniest things that happened is that I was playing with my friends and Matt was the judge. I didn’t have anything in my hand that was evil enough, so here’s what I did.

The black card was “here is the church, here is the steeple… Open it up and see…”

I knew that I could play to the judge, so I put down Justin Bieber. I knew I would win when he lost his shit he was laughing so hard.

And that makes me remember just how much I miss his sister, Bryn, and how it would be so cool if I could get her out here, especially on Fourth of July. This year, we had a crab fest at the house in enough time to get downtown, but I didn’t go. I probably should’ve, but crowds are not my thing at all, and I didn’t want to go by myself because crowds aren’t my “host family’s” either. Maybe next year I’ll go with my Meetup group, especially if Leslie is going. She just cracks me up.

I hope I get a roommate like Leslie. It would be good to come home at the end of the day to a roommate in which we really have a connection. I never made a connection with Grant because I was always so mad that I felt like his maid. It also wouldn’t hurt to have one of those roommates that comes in and flops on my bed and says, “what are we watching?”

Because the answer is always going to be “whatever I want. It’s my TV.”

Oh, and just for the record, I’ve found two stations on Spotify that I didn’t even know I needed, but now I use incessently. One is called “Deep Focus” and the other is called “Intense Studying.” Also, I really recommend the Chrome extension Noisli. It has all kinds of noises that you can set in the background, like busy cafe, white snow from a TV, a fan set on high, nature sounds, etc. I know this is seriously off-topic, but when am I known to stay on topic?

WE’VE MET.

My Mood & Behavior

My psychiatrist changed my protocol, and my dad asked me how my mood and behavior were. I’d never been asked that question, and I liked it. It was a doctorly thing to say, and yet, I haven’t had any doctor say that to me at all. Really must send my dad a thank-you card for that one. I owe him several, but this was special. It was a MOMENT, one of those things that sticks out in my brain as something simple that made me feel so much better because it was the question no one was asking and the one I needed to hear.

The answer is that my mood and behavior are great as long as I can stay awake for them. I feel settled in a way I never have, although upping my Lamictal was not the right choice, I don’t think. I don’t see any additional improvement and it makes my coordination even worse. I didn’t think that was possible since I already have a cerebral palsy, but I’ve fallen a lot more and one of them would have been a disaster if I hadn’t had my hands out. My doctor warned me this would happen, and it is not a side effect that I want to live with. Alternatively, adding the Klonopin at night has helped tremendously. I sleep well, and that is an essential part of a good mood.

The only thing that hasn’t put me in a good mood is that someone told me that they were afraid of what was lurking underneath, as if all of these major life changes are just a mask. It is the most untrue thing I’ve heard in weeks. There’s nothing lurking underneath except love, acceptance, and joy. The split personality I’ve been working with since I was a teenager is gone. I feel completely integrated, because the endless ruminations about Diane are gone. I don’t have to think about her anymore, and I haven’t had that peace since I was 12. It’s like all of the sudden, I am the person I used to be, and I’m getting to know her one step at a time. I am investing in myself in a way I’ve never had the ability- as I’ve said in earlier posts, the ability to plan forward instead of thinking about the past and how to bring it into the future with me. It’s just not possible, and I’ve finally learned that lesson. Being happy with the present and future was letting the past be the past and not trying to change it at all…. because I thought it was possible in my own little world, and it’s just not. I can no longer be the teenager stuck in an adult body ruminating on how to fix everything that’s been wrong that’s already happened. I feel healthy and healing instead of battered and broken.

I look forward to starting school, although Howard’s lack of movement has put me in the position that I can’t start in the fall. I’ll have to wait until winter. That’s going to be fun…. trudging through the snow to get to school on time. I don’t think that I will ever have children, but if I did, it would be the ultimate story…. “when I was younger, I had to trudge five miles uphill in the snow to get to school…….” Although I am old enough now that I could also tell them I rode a dinosaur and they might believe me.

I have put my application in to McDonald’s, but no callback yet. I want to work there because they have money. Big money. And they are fond of using it for education. My friend Stacey paid her way through college by working there. Which invariably leads me to old school Kanye:

But why y’all washing watch him
He gone make it into a Benz out of that Datsun
He got that ambition, baby, look in his eyes
This week he mopping floors, next week it’s the fries……

At Mickey D’s, there are scholarships out the wazoo (where is the wazoo, exactly?), so what I’m hoping is that I can use McDonald’s for tuition reimbursement. If I don’t get a job there, I will go to another company that also has tuition reimbursement because I really, really love college.

That reminds me. I haven’t looked on Howard’s web site to see if they have any positions open. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. It’s been staring me in the face and I missed it. Why did I not think of this before? My background is academic technology. Duh. I think my brain malfunctioned on that one. But to be fair, I’m on new medication that makes me so sleepy that in order to function I have to drink more caffeine than I’m sure my doctor would like. I have hi-caf black tea and those Crystal Light packets with caffeine. They don’t have that much, but they do if you slam three of them like I just did.

I am also looking at director positions in places that work with youth. I have checked out all the churches in the area, and I haven’t found anyone that’s looking for a youth director. Most of the churches around here are looking for pastors, which, honestly, I could probably do in my sleep (luckily, because I am sleepy most of the time), but having that stole and that degree means something. The ordination ceremony means something. Just because I’ve done every job in the church since I was old enough to participate and have learned how to construct a sermon doesn’t mean jack shit until I have the papers to prove that I’m capable, because it means as much to me as it does to my denomination. I can’t wait to stand in front of the bishop and have hands placed upon me. I can picture it as clearly as I can picture the mouse on my desk. This is why school is so important. I need a cohort in grad school with which to mold a clear theology, and to present to my group what I’ve come up with so far. I’m glad that I live in a city with a UCC school, and don’t have to do everything online. You’d think I’d be more comfortable in an online classroom, but it isn’t true. I realized that in my relationship with Argo. Since we were only online friends, we were only seeing a fraction of each other, when in reality, we are both so much more than what we put on the page. It will be a different concept for my cohort to see all of me, not just how I present myself on “paper.”

It’s why I love Tinder so much. People talk about it as a sex app, but not once have I encountered that. I’ve met women that live close to me that actually can meet me for coffee and we can talk in real life instead of typing out responses that may or may not reflect the authenticity of who we are.

In fact, “lawyer chic” and I met for drinks at Afterwords, and then our second date was going to Blues Alley for a jazz concert. OMG did she ever know the way to my heart. All of their entrees had jazz musicians attached to them, even Maynard Ferguson. There’s no pressure with this whole dating thing. It feels right to have someone to go out and do things, without worrying about where we are and where we’re going. I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but I do know that I enjoy her company and that has to count for something. Neither of us are or want to be tied down to one person, and I think that’s appropriate for me considering I cannot think of anyone but Dana when I dream. In my dreams, we are still the hilarious couple we set out to be, and everything is back to normal. When I wake up, reality is not scary… but it does mean that I am not ready for a relationship. I probably won’t be for a long time. Both when Meag and I broke up and when Kathleen and I broke up, I waited three years to be in another relationship. That’s six years total of being by myself and trying to figure out who I am.

And that’s where I am now. Who am I without Dana? Who am I without anyone else?

Stay tuned.

A Little Bit of a Lot

I’m waiting for the second page of an article that “lawyer chic” sent me- nothing is worse than waiting for the second page of something to arrive. Maybe it’s that Starbucks has less bandwidth than I do at home, but I needed to get out of the house and do something, even if that doing something is searching for jobs at Starbucks instead of my bedroom/office. Since I didn’t get the youth director job, I’m focusing my search on both computer jobs and non-profits. Maybe they’ll marry- like IT for poor kids or poor adults. Like the mantra of FreeGeek in Portland, “helping the needy get nerdy.” I could very easily start up Evangelinux again, and that would be perfect because I could set my own schedule. The problem with that is not having a space. I might talk to the church about renting a room. That seems the most obvious place for me since I don’t drive.

However, I’d also like to be a part of the masses again. Not stuck in isolation while everyone else enjoys slamming coffee on the Metro platform as they’re running to work (well, as fast as the Metro goes, anyway). My perfect job would probably be in Takoma Park somewhere, so that Busboys and Poets was within walking distance from work and the No. 14 bus, which as I have said drops me off as close as the school bus.

The other thing is that a lot of the tech jobs are in Fairfax county, closer to my old hood than my new one. I would take a job over there, but my commute on the Metro and the bus would be over 2 hours and the traffic would be just as bad. There is no good way to travel in NoVa except Uber, because then at least you can sit in the back and get some of your work done in the car. It would be nice to arrive at the office and already have my monster of an inbox clear. I could do the same on the Metro if rush hour wasn’t standing in a can of sardines without the room to get out my laptop or my tablet, and I’m not proficient at touchscreens, anyway. As I told “lawyer chick,” typing on my phone went out with the Blackberry Pearl. She still has one. Maybe I should apply where she works. Sometimes being in the dark ages counts for a lot… even a Motorola Sidekick was better than the iPhone for me. If I could just get phone companies to listen to me when I say “don’t put the keyboard on the screen,” I would be very happy indeed.

Plus, who doesn’t miss Brickball?

As technology moves forward, I am finally old enough that I feel like a Luddite, even though I’m not. Between voice dictation and a little correction, I do just fine. However, I am MARRIED to my laptop with its full keyboard including number pad. I’ve also found a way to disable my touchpad so that it never interferes when I’m typing. It has opened up a whole new world of simplicity. I hated it when touching my palm in just the right way would erase a whole paragraph. CTRL-Z became a favorite of mine because I used it at least once every few minutes.

So now that’s solved. I got that goin’ for me.

Now that Argo knows what her present was, I will tell you. It was from Share a Coke, two bottles. One with her real name, and one with Argo. She has a fairly easy name, but with an alternate spelling, kind of like trying to find Katelyn instead of Caitlin, or Rikki instead of Ricky. I got to have a quick e-mail exchange with her and for now, I think we’re good. Peace offering accomplished. I told her I just wanted to get her something in the spirit of giving that said, “sorry I was such a bastard to you.” I don’t know how ok we are, but it was amazing how quick the rumination over the situation stopped cold. My mind freed up so much because everything was out of my control and I felt SO bad.

It feels nice not to have to worry anymore, because two things. The first is that peace is somewhat established. The second is that I carry that peace with me all the time. I do not have the capability to go back to where we were. I do not have the intestinal fortitude nor the want. I don’t know where we will go from here, but if that is the last communication I ever receive, I can wholeheartedly rest in it.

The ball is now in Dana’s court and has been for weeks with no word. If she doesn’t respond to me, honestly, good riddance. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that she told me I would never amount to anything. I do not need or want that temperature in my life, and I also do not need someone in my life that I’ve fought with and sees it as all my fault. She says that she doesn’t, but her eyes say it all. Plus, she still acts like a child in front of her parents and she’s almost 40. When I acted like an adult, it was not received well. If I’d just stayed in my place, we’d probably still be together, with me being unhappy that Dana was willing to forego standing up for herself in favor of trying to fit into the mold her parents made for her. When I stood up for her, it did not end well for me, but ultimately she is closer to her family now than she was when we were together. I can also rest in that. I was able to say clearly to her mother that she needed to get with the program, and she did… to her credit.

The fact that Dana edged me out of the equation is not my deal.

What is my deal is trying to figure out who I am without her. We talk almost every night in my head while I’m dreaming, and then in my dream I try to hand her something or reach out for her and I open my eyes and I am utterly surprised she’s not there. It doesn’t bother me so much as I am annoyed that I still dream as if we are still married, but it’s not about romance, necessarily. Sometimes when my eyes are closed I ask her for a drink of water, and then when it doesn’t appear in my hand, I remember she’s not there. It’s only disheartening for half a second, because I want to move on so much. I want to be with someone like Argo, not because I want to be with her, but because I want someone that has her ambition and drive and her absolute fire and hilarity at the same time. I deserve that in a relationship, and it took meeting her to realize what Dana and I were doing wrong. We were the same personality type in two bodies, neither one of us able to drive the bus.

We were both Type B, and probably still are, although as I recover from my childhood emotional abuse, I realize that my inner Type A is showing more and more because I believe that I am capable of direction and delegation. When I got on the Neurontin and the Klonopin, my “ADD” went away. I mean, I am sure that I will always exhibit those tendencies, but at the same time, all of the things that I attributed to ADD that were actually trauma are being resolved one day at a time.

And on that note, it’s time to plan out the rest of my day. I think I need to go back to Macy’s, and I know I need to go grocery shopping. It’s been interesting how much I’ve avoided it. I don’t like crowds. Today, I think I have the strength, because when I woke up this morning, I pissed excellence.

The Committee

I took a break from blogging because I didn’t want to tell you that I didn’t get the job. The woman from the church that called me said that the meeting went on for a long time, that they thought I was brilliant and that I had a bright future in ministry, but that I was just a little too green. I asked her what might happen if the already ordained ministers got a call for churches of their own and didn’t last very long. She said, “well, we might be having a different conversation.” So I know that I did very well in the interview, and one of the things that they thought was interesting is that I was the only one that interviewed the kids as much as they interviewed me. None of the other candidates thought to ask the kids what they’d like to see in their own youth group. It got me big points with the committee, and lots of fans. She said “you cannot believe how close it came because we liked you so much. We just thought you were a little green.” I could agree with that assessment, and I thanked her for being honest about what went on in the meeting so that I had some context. It’s never happened to me after a job interview before, that someone would actually describe the meeting that happened without me. There were many people on the committee that were sad that I didn’t get the job, because they saw a passion and drive in me that they didn’t see in the other candidates. I have a feeling I will know who those people are, because they’ll come up to me at church and tell me so. Even though I didn’t get the job, I actually feel good about it. I impressed several people, more than I thought I would, and they gushed about me. I think I will volunteer so that if the pastor running the program does get a call to a church of his/her own, I won’t be so green anymore. I’ll have one more thing to put on my resume unless I get a call of my own from another church as well. I am not hesitant about that possibility. To have a committee fighting over me was very cool indeed. I do have the mad skillz. I just need more on my resume to convince people of that.

Matt told me that my resume didn’t have much in the way of youth ministry, and why would I want this job? I told him that I’d been running from a call since I was ten… and then later in the meeting, I said that I’d run from a call since early adulthood. One of the other ministers in the room (it’s a joint youth group with another church) said, “I thought you’d been running from a call since childhood. Speak to that.” I said, “this is the first time I’ve ever put my money where my mouth is. I have been running from a call since childhood, but I didn’t know how to get there from here. For the first time in my life, I’ve actually applied to school with the intention of finishing my MDiv, and the $50 I spent to apply to Howard meant more to me than gold, because it represented a new chance in life, one I knew I would take eventually, but now I’m ready (je suis prest).” He asked me why I chose Howard. I said, “first, it’s a UCC school. Second, I’ve been to majority white schools my whole life and if it is my job to be Christ in the world, then I have to understand race relations and how it affects us nationally and globally.” He said, “I have so many more questions to ask you, but I won’t in the interest of time.” We could have gone on for hours, and I hope we will meet again. If anything, I need him as an ally, because the UCC and the Presbyterians have joint ordination. It would mean a lot to me to follow in the steps of Katie Morrison and Michael Adee, who were the first lesbian and gay candidates to be ordained in the Presbyterian church. I met Katie at the More Light conference in Portland in 1997, and then in 2001, when I took Kathleen to Lambda Rising, we found a book that featured both Susan Leo AND Katie Morrison. Her chapter was called, and I remember this clearly, “Black Leather Bible Dyke.” In 1997, meeting her was one of the great moments of my life, because not only did she have her head on straight theologically, she was, in two words, fucking hot.

I keep up with Michael Adee on Facebook, and he is just a joy. His feed lights up my day, because he always has uplifting quotes and stories that don’t focus on negativity, but how we are all Christ in the world, degreed or not. I found him on Facebook because I remembered his name in all the articles about Katie and Michael getting ordained. He’s like an angel to me, because we haven’t met on the ground, but he blesses me from the cloud.

And now that the interview is over, I want to go on the record as saying I think joint youth groups are a terrible idea. The idea is to feed your own church with growth. What happens if all the youth that are supposed to go to one church end up feeding the other because it’s more “fun?” Then, one church is effectively poaching kids from the other…. and their parents, too. It also skews the relationship between the churches if the events are held at one church more than the other. In the interview, they said that I would have offices at both churches and I’d go to church there as well. The possibility of growing two churches at once floored me with awe, until I came back into my head and realized that this relationship was probably going to end poorly. They say it is working now, and I hope for them that it continues to be true. However, my church has many more programs for kids and it is word perfect (I see what I did there). I could see the poaching happening and it did not make me happy, but of course I did not say anything about that in the interview. It’s just something I saw happening in the long term, rather than right here, right now.

They also missed a chance to mold me exactly how they wanted me… that I would learn more on the job than I would in a million years of Google (from whom all blessings flow). It was a disappointment, to be sure, but not one from which I can’t rebound. I have the confidence I need because there were people on the committee set on hiring me, and in the end, they lost. But the fact that the debate was so long makes me feel incredible. I am blessed beyond all measure, and it is my plan to keep it that way.

Amen.

Just As I Am

As I am starting this, I have exactly two hours before I go in front of the search committee in front of my church. The hymn that keeps going through my head is just as I am, without one plea… I just want to be accepted for exactly who I am, because the things that make me fallible also make me invincible. I am one narrative, and I hope they see it. I also hope they see the light of Christ that they are looking for, because I certainly have stopped hiding it. In fact, my life got a lot better when I did. When I started living simply, the light within me shined as bright as I needed it to be to change my life and heal my pain. With the frenzy of the last two years, I lost my light because I didn’t have the ability to see it. When you feel worthless, you act it.

Getting out of a crazy existence allowed me the time in the desert I needed to find myself in the middle of the mess. My own resurrection, in a manner of speaking. I couldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t seen the destruction of which I was capable. I couldn’t see how gigantic my love could be until I got that out of the way. It was the shock of cold water, or perhaps the smelling salts, God saying, “wake up, dumbass. I need you.” I stopped playing with darkness and started drinking tea and sitting still. I started dreaming forward, which I’ve never really been able to do. I have had the ability to endlessly ruminate on the past, but I have not had the ability to see my own future. I clued in, but it took a whole hell of a lot for it to happen, emphasis on the hell.

I am wearing the necklace that Lindsay gave me at her wedding as a maid of honor present, and in some sense, I feel that Diane is here with me, too, because even though we are apart, I know she would be doing gymnastics to hear that I finally accepted my call. Plus, Sandi Patty is playing in my headphones, reminding me of the time she was flipping through my CDs on a road trip, found a Sandi Patty album, and proceeded to sing every single track. I couldn’t help but laugh and remember our time at St. Mark’s. Plus, it was a small car and she has a BIG voice. I think we ended up rolling down the windows so everyone could enjoy the high As. :)

The last track I listened to was Rutter’s For the Beauty of the Earth, which was the last anthem the choir did at Bridgeport and one of the only things I remember singing with her at St. Mark’s. We went out like we began, and as I was singing I remembered her elbow on my shoulder, dressed in her preppy, looking all cute. I was about 13 and she was about 24, and the last Sunday at Bridgeport was 20 years later. No matter what happened, there were parts that were an amazing journey, and the music is one of them. I am getting to the point where I can listen to those songs again without pain, because there are so many reasons to smile when I think of her. There will never be a way to let her back into my life again, but at least our music is sacred to me again.

I need her as the angel on my shoulder, because she’s seen this calling in me since I was in middle school…. a cheerleader of massive proportions. I’m going to take her into the room with me. I’m also going to take my mom, dad, and sister, without whose love I never would have thought I was strong enough to take this interview in the first place. I’m also taking Sash and Bryn, whose love at Bridgeport became action. They both see this dream as clearly as I do, so they’re my angels, too.

And finally, I’m going to take Dana. She knows I’m going to ace it, even if she doesn’t say so. But I’m not taking Argo. She doesn’t do church or organized religion. I’ll see her tomorrow at Pizza Night, where I can dish all the dirt over Jack. My angels are the best, and they take me places I never thought I could go……..

just as I am.

I’m Ready, I’m Ready

A feeling of calm has come over me that I haven’t felt in weeks. I’m going to get this job, or I’m not. All I can do is my best, which I believe is pretty amazing. I gots da mad skillz. I just have to prove it. If nothing else, I get time in a room with power players in the church, getting to know them and how things work. That is invaluable as a member as well, in case I want to be on any committees in the future. Nothing about this interview can go badly, because I am solid about the fact that whether I am an employee, this is my church and I love it. It’s an eight-minute walk to my house, and all of the other churches in the area are quite a bit farther than that. It would take me almost an hour to get to the Episcopal church by public transportation, and as much as I love the idea of using my red BCP every week, I also find that being in close proximity to a church allows me to be involved on a much greater level than just Sunday mornings. I have said that my church needs me. If I believe that is true, then I need to be available for more than one trip per week.

Having drinks with a lawyer next week. God, I love lawyers. I hope she’s a pit bull. She’s definitely a Whovian, I’ll give her that. She knows her shit. We could probably talk about that for hours without moving on to the scales of justice. I doubt she knows I took Con Law in college and thought about reading for law myself, and have a paralegal certificate in the state of Texas, which I’ve never used, but only because every law firm to which I applied wouldn’t take on a newbie. Plus, at this point in my life, I’m pretty set on not reading codes of civil or criminal procedure. It wasn’t boring, by any means, but I have this whole pastor thing going on, and it’s kind of my jam.

In other news, I woke up with a zit just above my lip, because of course I did. God, I can’t wait for this to end. I switched to really harsh soap for my face, some brand of Irish Spring, because dry is key. I use a washcloth for exfoliation, but I am still surprised at the amount of crap the witch hazel still finds. I thought I was done with this in college, but it’s not the acne, it’s the environment. I barely ever had a pimple in Oregon. It’s the South. All the humidity, and I highly doubt the air is as clean.

I’m not the only one with problems in this area. It was a terrible idea to move the federal capital to DC, because the humidity will slowly destroy all of our old documents if we let it. Dry is key. :P

I also have a bit of a cold this morning, because of course I do. It started yesterday, but luckily has not progressed to a cough. I’m just stuffed up in my entire mask. Pseudophed and Afrin are helping mightily. I can almost even like, breathe and stuff. I would say that it’s allergies, except I have been on Zyrtec since I got here, and it’s working. I remember clearly saying to Samantha, “could you take me to the grocery store? Like, right now? I am dying because of all these plants.” She took pity on me and we were on the road within ten minutes. So I got that goin’ for me. I bought two months’ worth, because Zyrtec was on sale and Claritin might as well say “does not work” right on the box. Besides, it takes about two months for Zyrtec to build up in your system to really stop allergies cold. Spot treatment and Zyrtec are not two things that go great together. Also grateful to be in Maryland, where I only have to sign for pseudophed rather than having to get an actual prescription like in Oregon. It’s because the meth problem is so bad. I understand it, but it’s damned inconvenient to go to urgent care for just the sniffles.

Trying to decide what I’m going to wear tonight. All the people I’m interviewing with will be coming from work, so I’m thinking business casual. I can rock it, but not going to lie. I prefer my brown pants and surfer t-shirt. It’s my favorite outfit ever. Plus, the ever-important question. Shoes. Always Shoes.

Speaking of Kelly, I broke the cardinal fucking rule. I text-message broke up with Argo. Linday Lohan is going to kick my ass, as is Margaret Cho. I deserve it. With friends, you don’t usually break it off like that, but I was a deck.

Kumar: You’re worthless.
Roldy: I’m not worthwhile.

Technically, it was an e-mail. But that doesn’t make me feel any better. The Dana equation was getting serious. I didn’t want to hurt Dana anymore, and at the same time, I thought she was making a great play to get me isolated from someone I really loved. In short, it worked masterfully. She said Argo didn’t love me, that I was putting energy into a relationship in which I’d never get anything back.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. I just thought it could be, through Dana’s eyes. We could have been buds for life if Dana had just respected that love comes in many forms, and one it doesn’t is trying to pull me away from my other friends because of petty jealousy.

I was not impressed, which is why I packed up my shit and moved to the East Coast. I knew I wanted to start over in a way that I never had, settling down lifetime roots and trying to become the person I’ve always wanted to be.

And now I’m ready.

#TBT -or- Hymnody

I wrote this for one of my own youth-led worship services- I must have been about 14.
I wrote this for one of my own youth-led worship services- I must have been about 14.

My dad was looking through one of his old sermon boxes this morning and sent me a copy of this hymn I wrote when I was a kid. I must have been about 14 or 15. It was my freshman year at HSPVA. Being almost 38 now, it’s fun to look back at my growth and development, both as a liturgist and as a human being. For instance, I wrote that. Literally wrote it. I don’t write much these days…. too crippled from carpal tunnel syndrome to make that a thing.

I believe that I will plagiarize this from myself someday, updating it with inclusive language because I was a Methodist back then, liberal bastion of theology that it is. Of course, then I’d never heard of inclusive language, so perhaps it’s not really the Methodists’ fault. I give a lot of crap to the church that raised me, but at the same time, I grew, now didn’t I?

I was joking with people at church that DESPITE being a preacher’s kid, I still wanted to be a youth minister. It got a laugh every time.

I laughed out loud that I used imagery for God and Christ in the same verse, and then I was all like, “TRINITY, BITCH.”

There’s hope for me yet.