Giving Thanks

Here, in no particular order, are the things I’m grateful for:

My wife, who continues to love me more than I deserve, and when you find that marriage, it will be the one that truly completes you, especially if you are also complete inside yourself. Now, I feel I have both of those things. I learned a long time ago that I wasn’t longing to be owned. I was longing for a mate. I found her.

My friends on the ground, who love me beyond all measure even when I feel like I’m just waiting for The Doctor. In this metaphor, I believe wholeheartedly that I am Amy Pond. I love my Doctor beyond all measure, but Dana is my Centurion, the one that would wait 2,000 years… And then I flip the metaphor on its ear and I become The Doctor and Aaron becomes Craig, because it would be just like Aaron and I to lose track of a baby in the mall. I am also surprisingly like Matt Smith’s Doctor- I feel that I am twice as awkward and half as clever, but we both pull off the “giraffe in a bow tie” image quite nicely. Therefore, I am thankful to Doctor Who for giving me an additional world of description.

I am thankful for Shonda Rimes and the work she does on Scandal, because it is the highlight of my week to disappear into that world for an hour.

I am thankful for Pizza Night, because through it, everyone I’ve ever loved has sat with me on the couch and shared the communion of bread and tomato sauce….. both physically and metaphorically. There’s always love at supper time.

I am thankful for stories, both mine and everyone else’s- fictional or not. I love media not because I’m trying to be numbed out, but because cartoons and other TV shows are worlds to be explored. Podcasts are usually daring interviews with people I want to meet. I want to live on Battlestar Galactica. I want to have coffee with Frasier and Niles. I want to stand in the sun with Jake Ballard, and friggin’ adopt Quinn and Huck (because don’t you see that under their baddassery lies a need to be loved?). SuperGrover is my hero. If you doubt a mother’s love, you won’t after meeting Molly Weasley. If the TARDIS landed on my front lawn, the surprise would be in who popped out. It’s always going to be The Doctor, of course, but the fun is wondering which face loves YOU!

I am grateful to start the process of writing fiction. It sucks, there are plot holes all over the place that I don’t know how to fix yet, but my characters are worlds in which I can disappear. I can make them the people that I need them to be, and if that isn’t part of healing yourself, I don’t know what is. Through your characters, you are in charge of your own world, including getting the people you love to say the words you need to hear and be complete…. because you didn’t need them to process. You divided yourself in half and the conversation erased a scar.

I am thankful for dreams in the same way I am thankful for fictional media. The people that have hurt me the most show up, and we have eight uninterrupted hours to talk, relax, and just be together without the pressure of resolving anything. I go to my dreams to just *be.* There’s no fighting, there’s just love. For instance, Diane and I have had coffee every Wednesday for a year and a half. In those moments, I don’t remember abuse. I remember the way her hand feels on my head when she tousles my hair. In my dreams, there is more forgiveness and love to me than when I am awake. I go to sleep to remember the parts of Diane that make me, well, me….. if that makes any damn sense at all. It is 15 til 7:00 AM and I haven’t had a cup of coffee yet.

I am thankful for Aaron Sorkin, who created the legend of a knife passed down by a Boston silversmith named Paul Revere.

I am thankful for my Fanagans, who support and sustain me every day without fail from all corners of the earth.

I am thankful for the experience that pulled me out of The Matrix and taught me that my feelings matter, and I do have the ability to both speak truth to power and lead people in a way that I wasn’t sure I could. I’m no longer hanging on to ANYONE’s coattails. Not my dad’s. Not Susan’s. Not Tara’s. Not Christine’s. Not Lisa’s. I finally, finally, finally BOUGHT MY OWN DAMN COAT.

I am thankful for Meag, Tym, Lake, Wade, Deah, and Giles…. my Canadians. They are like me…….. and so not. They remind me of a different side of politics that I never knew I needed. To get past the politics of kindness.

Did I mention I was thankful for Dana? It’s because she lets me have the life I want to create and makes room for it. Allows me to be bigger than I thought I could be and stands by me even when I am a right jackass, which is most of the time. She says that our relationship evens out by the amount of crap she throws at me in return, but this is my blog. If she wants to say that we’re even, she’s going to have to sign up for WordPress on her own. :)

My “Deal”

One of my Facebook friends asked me what my deal was with Cosby. Here, in its entirety, is my reply:

Here is my DEAL about Cosby. I am one of those people blown away by victim-shaming because it happened to me. My abuser is a fabulous musician and educator, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what happened. Federal agents dragged me away from her and I still spend hours every DAY trying to release shame. Fifteen women have the same story and you still don’t believe? Kiss my motherfucking ass because you deserve my rage.

In terms of a court case, it is clear that both “a preponderance of evidence” in a civil trial and “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a criminal trial have been achieved. I hope that no jury in the world would be that starstruck or that stupid. Who was it that said, “the hardest part of being a lawyer is convincing twelve K-mart clerks you’re right?”

Then I posted Diane Syrcle’s “It Gets Better” video because “It Got Worse” for me. My friends saved my life, and they probably wouldn’t think of it in those terms, but I do. There are only four people in the world that know how bad it got, and one ripped me out of my reality. She is the rock of my church, because if we hadn’t met, my resurrection wouldn’t have happened. She is the reason that the Risen Christ means so much to me, because her words became an additional source of Red Letters I could “ponder in my heart.” I don’t need to know facts to know that miracles happen all the time, and this was one of them.

She gave me the belief that it would indeed get better and to that end, assured me that I didn’t have to worry anymore, dried my tears, and kissed my head- metaphorically because the only side of her that I know is her brain.  Through the power of the medium, it is also hilarious to me that the Internet CAUSED the resurrection to happen.

She is the reason I am so incredibly religious, which is extraordinarily funny because the only deity *she’s* mentioned is running. I believe in running.

Apparently, it works miracles.

Bill Cosby, Trademark

I have followers on “Stories” that aren’t my Facebook friends, so reposting here:

This Cosby thing is freaking me out, because from where I sit, there are too few people willing to believe that Cliff Huxtable is a rapist, and that’s the problem. Cliff and Bill are not the same person, never have been. Bill Cosby, Trademark is not the same as bill, either. Duality lives in a lot of people, and it is frightening for all involved when worlds collide. I refuse to take away his legacy of joy to the world, but at the same time, I think he is one of the most despicable people on earth because he won’t own it. Won’t sit in his wrongness and ask to be forgiven. Won’t apologize for all the gaslighting he’s done to these women to make them believe that if they talked, they were going to be in a lot of trouble. It’s what rapists do. Stop looking at guilty vs. innocent and start looking with your heart. Even if these women weren’t raped, can you not see that they have been through *something?* Can you not see that when these women came forward, they weren’t told that they were brave? They were told that they were wrong.

Sit in that.

Small Ball

One of the greatest sermons Susan Leo ever preached at Bridgeport was about baseball. She went to seminary in San Francisco, so there is no one more beloved to her on earth than her Giants. You would think that baseball and theology would be mutually exclusive. Not so much.

The sermon itself was about building a church one base hit at a time…. that nothing comes together with one big home run.

As I sit here in the quiet, writing, I’m thinking about small ball.

I have been so locked up inside that I’ve realized I’m trying to make every pitch into a game-winning homer, when in reality I am not going to come back from 5-0, even with the bases loaded. I have to change my strategy, because the home run is the unachievable dream while a base hit combined with three or four more and suddenly, the score doesn’t look so bad.

A home run is getting rich. Small ball is saving five dollars a week. I can spend my life hoping for the homer to end all homers, when in reality, I would be much better off by reorienting my expectations of success.

For instance, I am already successful, but not in ways that you can measure with money. There’s not much in my bank account, but I am the only one of my friends who can say that people from France to Bangladesh KNOW WHO I AM. They know my flaws, they know my charms, they know MY STORY. I could never put a price on that, because it saved the direction of my life from going into deeper disaster. I have a dream for a church that is viable and profitable…. but profitability is relative in ministry. By profitable, I mean that any money left over in our regular budget becomes savings for a disaster so that there is a rolling stability instead of a church dependent on its members in a week-to-week kind of way. There are always going to be economic disasters, and when that happens, you have to have a place to go. For me, church is that place.

It’s how Epiphany is rescuing me right now.

Next Sunday I am being received into the Episcopal church for the first time. I have attended since I was 17 in some capacity, but I have never officially put my name on the books as a very member incorporate.

Christine asked me if my plans for St. James meant that I didn’t want to join anymore. I held back tears and said, “I don’t have a home church. I want this to be home.” St. James will never be that for me. St. James is my creation. I am birthing it. While that is happening, I need to be Epiphany’s creation. Epiphany is a rebirth into light and life, which lifts me out of the darkness I often perpetuate because I don’t have the emotional tools to keep calm all the time. If I want to be a leader, I must first learn to serve.

It’s the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded. Where are you sitting?

Our Song

I lost one of my best friends this week. Dana says this is our song, because EVERY WORD hits like a ton of bricks.

She was right. It completely kicked my ass into next week, and I sobbed like a baby all the way through it.

All I can do now is breathe, and pray on the spaces……………………………………

I am editing this post to say that the song *I* think of as “our song” says exactly the same thing, but it is more my style musically.

Smoking with the Ghost in the Back of My Head

Lisa Loeb’s song “Do You Sleep?” is playing on Spotify as I write. The house is quiet. Dana is getting ready for church, and I am sitting on the couch in the living room literally waiting for something to happen. I could make something happen, but I am not that industrious yet. I haven’t had any caffeine, so sitting here is about the most exciting thing I will be doing until I can get the energy together to go get some.

It’s nice, though. There’s a lot to not doing anything and sitting here. My mind runs 3,000 miles a minute, so I actually get more done sitting and staring off into space than I do at any other time in my life. For me, great thoughts come in the quiet, even when I am moving. Sometimes I pace. Sometimes I dance. I just know that the energy I spend while thinking is different when I move than when I sit.

One of my friends from church is a psychologist trained in dealing with emotional trauma, and luckily, she is in the choir with me. She can tell with one sideways look how I’m doing. I am very emotionally vulnerable at church, and because I’m in the choir, I try hard not to absolutely FLOOD OUT with emotion. If I look at her, she will smile and remind me to move. I rock back and forth on my heels until the tears dry, and every time, I am amazed at how fast it works. She cannot be my therapist because we were friends first, but she is invaluable to me as a friend who can take it. I don’t need her to listen to my problems. I need her to be able to read me and tell me what to do. If you know me at all, it is a gargantuan bit of control I’m letting her have, because most of the time I am hell bent on no one being able to tell me what to do. In some cases, it makes me Leslie. It makes me an original.

In others, it makes me a rigid asshole.

It’s something I struggle with daily, because I am fighting to own myself after so many years of NOT. I feel like I have to be stronger and more resolute in my willingness to bend because all I have done in the last 24 years is try and mold myself after someone else’s image because she told me I could trust it more than I could trust my own….. just not in so many words. Generally, if I am defiant, it means that I think you have heard what I’ve said, but you haven’t actually listened to it. For instance, I am no longer a fan of the high-pressure sell. If I say no, I expect you to respect it. I do not want five more minutes of arguing with you over whether I should do x or y, because that five minutes is not me hearing that you want and need me at said event. It is me hearing that what I want is irrelevant.

So I get angry. You just meant love and warmth, but in my mind, you’ve stepped over my boundary and tried to push me into doing something I just don’t want to do and you aren’t listening to the fact that going into social situations is not the same for you as it is for me. Social situations, for me, are a mixed bag. When I feel good, no sweat. I can front for a couple of hours. By “front,” I don’t mean that you aren’t getting part of the genuine me. I mean that I do not have the ability to be funny and charming when emotionally I feel a Chevrolet is on my chest. You just have to realize there are days when the Chevy doesn’t move. That I cannot overcome my anxiety long enough to think that going into a large crowd will be fun.

In the sense that an agora is an open market, I have severe agoraphobia. I do not dislike small gatherings of friends, but I dislike going to grocery stores at 5:00 when everyone is getting off work and shopping for dinner all at once…. or Central Market on Sundays. Seriously, I’d rather have a tooth extracted.

People ask me all the time how I function, because it doesn’t seem like I have any of these problems. Fanagans, there’s a lot I’ve been hiding over the years. I’ll never figure me out, much less you. What I know for sure is that right now, people are fighting with me over boundaries and Dana says it’s because I’ve never had them before.

She’s never wrong about stuff like that.

Pizza Night

Every Friday, we have pizzas and movies at our house. Aaron just called from Austin and before we hung up, he said, “I just had to make my proverbial appearance at pizza night.” He said I could pick the toppings.

So far, the order is sausage, bacon, light mushrooms…. a celebration of friendship all the way around.

Because lots of people proverbially come to our house on pizza night, and most of them don’t even know it. Even if it is just Dana, Aaron and me physically attending, it doesn’t mean that when we look around the house, we see empty chairs.