Better Nate Than Lever

I am writing this again after having had a miserable experience with writing in my browser. For some reason, linux has an option to turn off the touchpad while I’m typing, but it doesn’t work with every application. So, I’m working hard on telling you all about my dinner with Nathan, and BAM. Gone. All because the palm of my hand made my browser hit “back.” So I will still tell you all about dinner with Nathan, but if you hate this entry, the other one was better….. or at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Nate is my mother’s sister’s kid, but he has become so much more than that to me. Of everyone in my extended family, he’s probably the person I know/get along with the best, simply because I see him more. I am thrilled to be able to be his friend on a day-to-day basis now, because we’ve never had that before as adults, and as kids, there were only five years in which we lived close to my grandmother and therefore were able to share holidays. As we were talking about earlier, it’s been kind of sad how disconnected we’ve become since our grandmother died, and we’re trying to fix it. He’s been great about telling me how to get help for mental health in this area, because he’s a forensic psychiatrist himself. It’s interesting, basically he works with insurance companies as the third-party who can tell the insurance company objectively whether a patient’s mental health can be directly correlated to an accident. He’s also trying to get back into patient care, which I support wholeheartedly, because if he is this wonderful to me, I can’t imagine how much the people would love him who get to call him their doctor.

We started at a Mexican restaurant called Lauriol Plaza in Dupont. I had Chuletas de Cochinilo, grilled pork chops (they had me at chuleta….) served over mashed potatoes, greens, apples, and pineapple. It is the first truly outstanding meal I have had in DC, and I can’t wait to go back, possibly even for work.

I don’t know that I could be a line cook there, though. Fine dining is not my area. In terms of my role as line cook, I am somewhere between organ grinder and monkey. I think I would be a much better server, because I can be quite charming when I want to be. I just need to practice my wine service. To me, that’s the only hard part of waiting tables in fine dining, because I am not smooth enough without constant repetition and it’s been years. However, I cannot impress upon you how cool this restaurant is. You’ll just have to visit it yourself.

After we finished at Lauriol Plaza, we walked to Afterwords, because as it turns out, Afterwords and Teaism are two of Nathan’s favorites as well. We had coffee and dessert, and I got to remember why it’s my favorite place in the city all over again. I had bread pudding with apples and bananas. Nathan had a lemon tort. Both desserts were equally outrageous, and before we left, I bought a book I’d been thumbing through while we were waiting for our table.

It’s called “The New Codependency,” written by the same author of the watershed book “Codependent No More.” In it, Melody Beattie posits that codependence has changed, and now it looks more like a taker’s entitlement rather than an inability to stop giving. I don’t know that I believe her, but I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, because I cannot imagine she hasn’t done her research. :)

I personally think it’s a combination of both… a spectrum in which we all fall somewhere in every relationship but not necessarily the same role in each one. Perhaps that’s what Beattie says as well, but I am not finished with anything except the synopsis on the back. I will keep you posted. I know you’re riveted. I’ll try to read fast.

After books, it was time to go home. Nathan and I hugged and said our goodbyes at the Metro, and then I got on the train. When I arrived in Silver Spring, there was something big going down at the Mickey D’s, but I didn’t stay around to see what. I am sure I will find out in tomorrow’s edition of the Post. No need to go looking for trouble, even though I’d planned to get a Diet Coke and settle in for an hour of writing or so. Instead, I just walked home.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude at all the love that has poured out for me here. All the “oh my God I can’t believe it-s” and the “I’m so glad you’re here-s” make my days brighter than they’ve been in months. Divorcing my precious Dana just whipped the shit out of me, and I am just now recovering from it, especially since being so far away makes my relationship with Dana naturally fall back to best friends without any danger of crossing lines so that we are confused about the nature of our relationship….. or at least, now I’m not confused. That’s probably the take-home message I meant to write in the first place.

I made a friend-connection on Tinder a few days ago with a roller derby chick named Sarah. We’re going to have coffee in the next week or so. She’s seeing someone, so no danger of anything but fun. It’s nice to get connected with a lesbian in this town, because even though it’s one of the gayest places on earth, it’s hard to get established when you don’t know anyone…. although I do know one person.


I named her myself. Can’t you tell? Her actual name is Prianka, but come on. If I am not calling her Pri-Diddy, I do not know what I am doing with my life. She’s in a relationship as well, but we’ve never done the whole crush thing. I started chatting with her years ago, and when she had the opportunity to come to Portland, she stayed with me and it cemented us for life. She is absolutely going apeshit that we are practically neighbors in terms of the Red Line (I’m Silver Spring, she’s Van Ness). So am I. I have always wanted a daily relationship with Pri-Diddy, and now I have it.

On Wednesday, I am going to see my friend and former voice teacher, Giles. The way he became my voice teacher is that he was taking a pedagogy class for his master’s in voice and needed a guinea pig. He is the best voice teacher I have ever had in my life, which is surprising because he’s also the youngest. If he’s amenable to it, I’d love to start voice lessons again. It’s been since college, when he first took me under his wing and laughed at my German diction. We became fast friends, what with his whole “I’m a Canadian” schtick. He’s also handsome as a model, and I am not even kidding about that. His husband is one very lucky guy… but then again, so is Giles. I just can’t say for sure because I haven’t met him yet. I am so glad that now Giles is married with a son that I get to be a part of his life now.

I am beginning to see that I could have made a life in DC without Kathleen just fine…………..

Better nate than lever.

The Walking Red

Wait, if I’m going to have a title like that, I need to redye my hair, because the red has faded over time. Guess I’m going to have to go to Walgreen’s……… because as I always say, “you cannot find the color of my hair in nature, but you can find it at Walgreen’s.” It’s part of my personality now, and people have called me “Red” or “Spike” since college. Because that is my style- bright auburn and cut my hair until it stands up on its own. My former boss at University of Houston, Scott, is the one that originally named me. I had his number, though, because his last name is Reval. I called him DrReval for the entire time I worked there. :)

Speaking of University of Houston, when I worked there I did a host of jobs. I was hired originally as a computer lab monitor, and then they saw that I was really good at helping students go from “this is a mouse” to competent quickly and promoted me to the Graduate School of Social Work lab, where I taught grad students how to hit Save for a living. Just FYI, I had one student who lost an entire thesis because his floppy crapped out on him and he’d saved his work to it and deleted the copies on his hard drive. The floppy issue is no longer, but removable media in and of itself is going to be more likely to fail than your computer. Make sure you backup to the cloud with documents, because then they’re accessible from any computer with Internet access and you won’t run the risk of saying “oh, fuck” and all of the blood running out of your face when you realize that your entire graduate education is now smashed into oblivion. Think about it. All those keychain drives are going to be roughed up way more than a stationery hard drive. Use the Internet, people. Saving you from dumbass attacks one document at a time. Both Google and Microsoft provide excellent web apps for documents- so much so that you probably won’t miss LibreOffice. If you do, you can use Dropbox or Boxee or whatever to sync your documents folder. The only drawback is that if you upload .odt files, they won’t be viewable or editable. You’ll just have a repository of documents that you can’t do anything with while mobile.

I use Google Docs because at Marylhurst, we had Google Apps for Education and used it all day, every day, so now I’m married to it. I don’t think that it has as many features in the word processor as the Microsoft Web Apps, but I don’t need them. This is what I do. I type. I don’t really use formatting tools so much as collaboration. It’s kind of cool when the whole group signs into one document. Everybody has a different color cursor so you can tell who is changing what instantaneously. The first time I saw it, I nearly fell out of my chair with awe.

And, as usual, I have drifted off into ADD territory and told a story that is informational, but has nothing to do with the topic at hand. I’m just that way all the time. As the bumper sticker says, “I like non-sequiturs and peanut butter.” Yup, that about covers it.

Yesterday all I did was walk. For ADD people, movement encourages brain activity and it helps keep me thinking about what I need to do and how to do it. My mental health is also a hell of a lot better, because I am high on endorphins all day every day. I don’t know exactly how FAR I walked, but I know it was at least seven or eight miles, because the trek from my house to the Metro and back is four miles all by itself. It makes me feel good to walk, so every time I pull out my card for the bus, so far I’ve thought about it and said, “nah. I’ll just walk” And then I put my card back in my pocket and move on.

You are probably asking what I did on said walk. I ate at Panera Bread and asked if they had any jobs available, because I got a broth bowl with couscous, greens, and eggs that was literally the comfort food I have been looking for my entire life (get in my face OM NOM NOM). I bought pseudophed at the pharmacy and asked if they had any jobs available (especially after being a medical assistant, pharmacy notation is easy). I went to Lillie’s in the evening for a house Malbec that made me cry, it was so good. Then I went to the server’s station and asked if they had any jobs available. This is the one that may work out, because they’re looking for people and I left them with my contact information and said I was looking for work as a line cook or a server because I have experience in both. Later on, I went for a redeye at Starbucks and asked if they were hiring, too. Starbucks is key here, because their employees get health insurance from day one. Out of pocket, my plan now is over $300 a month, which is just unsustainable for me.

I absolutely do not care where I end up, only that I need a job and all of these places said they had spots open. I have said many times that the goal is not to get a high-octane job because all I really want to do is write. It is not fair of me to give my time to someone else when I am building my own dreams instead of theirs. Being the chip and pickle guy at a deli is fine. Just don’t put me on call.

There is no shortage of low wage jobs in DC because most people can’t afford to live like that, but I can. As I have mentioned, my house only charges $800 all bills paid. It’s insane, but Hayat’s daughter explained to me that her mother was an immigrant in this country and feels a duty to help other people acclimate as well. She is the mother hen, and I couldn’t be happier about it because I have someone who worries for me that I don’t have enough towels. Her generosity in rent allows me freedom, and for that, I am so grateful. It’s funny how I found exactly the right place for myself by clicking on an ad on Craig’s List randomly.

God is in the details. I learn that every day by slowing down. People with cars and road rage are moving so fast that they cannot see those moments where they break down under all the pressure of running so hard and inflict emotional damage on the people around them. I am trying to understand me, so that I have appropriate reactions and boundaries because I inflict emotional damage when I feel threatened. I just pop off and say things without thinking about it and people cry and I don’t know how to handle it, because I was just angry in the moment and not trying to fuck up relationships but I do. We get to the point where I can’t apologize enough, and I just let go.

In fact, I just walk away.

Sitting Shivah

Killing Argo (the character) is the hardest thing as a writer I’ve ever had to do. As I told her directly, “sometimes I have to take off my glasses and wipe my eyes, because I can’t write to anyone the way I write to you. I can’t write ABOUT anyone the way I write about you.” She changed me for the better- I’ve been changed for good. YES, WE ARE DOING SHOW TUNES NOW.

I hope that in killing her character, I can somehow, some way get out of the loop where I react on paper. I wanted a life in which she could SEE ME, because my words on a page do some of that, but the disconnect between the Internet me and the regular me is STARK, let’s just say that. I would rather go to her and tell her my thoughts in person than ever have a moment where she worries that I do not take her words on a page as seriously as I do my own. If that does not happen, I know for sure that the message will get passed along just because of the medium. I love Marshall McLuhan, because I needed him today. The medium is the message, but what am I going to DO WITH IT?

I want to start with the axiom that I did not come here *for* Argo, but to do the great things in her name that I have been saying I was GOING to do for ages, but haven’t actually done jack shit. I am turning inward by moving to a location where I know no one, because you don’t get to see Jesus. Have some wine. I am not saying that I AM Jesus, only that because of our personality type, we both need the same isolation in order to prepare. In a way, I have already started. In fact, the people I talked to knew a lot about how to get started, and I wish I had recorded the conversation so I can go back and listen to it again. One of the young girls at the table had a lime green cast on her arm because she’d been hit by a car. It made me think deeply about indigence and how to change it, because a broken arm is not a cheap fix, and every time I see someone like Stephanie who has just been roughed up by life one day after another, it is hard for me to deal.

I don’t give money, but thoughts run through my head like, “she doesn’t have a coat. She sleeps outside, and SHE DOESN’T HAVE A COAT.” Do you know how hard it was not to take off my own even though if I had, I wouldn’t have a coat, either? I am crying as I write this because the experience was so jarring. There is just this inane perception that homeless people want to be homeless so they don’t have to get a job, etc. From what I saw, that is LITERALLY crack-smoking foolishness. Why would anyone want to sleep outside from April to November? As I said in my Facebook status update, it’s only 55 degrees, and it is almost noon. Can you imagine how the temperature drops when the sun goes down?

It pains me so much that I almost gave up the one coat I brought to Silver Spring because I knew that it would save someone I came to adore in a very short time from lying down on the ground without anything rated for 32 degrees.

Because you know what? At the end of the day, I can buy another one. What does she do?

I am going to find out.

BBQ, Stefon, and Rez

in the middle of Silver Spring there is a large seating area outside the Discovery Center. 
I finish my shopping, and went to sit down for a few minutes. There was a table full of black people next to me-unimportant because of their color, just trying to give you an accurate picture.

It didn’t take me very long to figure out that they were homeless, and my brain lit up. Ask them what they need.

Apparently, Silver Spring only has a homeless shelter in the winter. From April until November, everyone sleeps outside. They also said that there are no beds, there are just mats on the floor. Also, space is so limited that many people die of exposure. It is amazing what you can learn with some real intel. 35 minutes at a table full of homeless people, and already my brain is working like a machine. There is no all season homeless shelter in Silver Spring, and if I were to build one, people I know would use it.

you’ll have to wait a little longer for a full entry….. my laptop is dead and I left the charger at home.


Lebanese and Loving It

Apparently I have moved in with a large Middle Eastern family, and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s why…. Hayat was born and raised in Lebanon, therefore, she is the goddess of the house when it comes to Lebanese food. Dom is an executive chef that works for one of Jose Andres’ restaurants. We shot the shit immediately. He went to Tapalaya and ate Anh Lu’s food. Not while I was working there, but still. It counts. :)

We have five dogs, but it’s a multi-family home so they’re not crowding us out. One of the dogs is a tiny Pom that looks like a Tribble. I wanted a house with a dog, and I have one for each weekday. Because sometimes you need a Lab. I do. I like to hike. I am not carrying a little Pommie bitch all over creation. But then again, given that I have often said that I am a rat dog personality, perhaps it is me that is the little Pommie bitch. Time will tell. I felt like a little Pommie bitch today when I accidentally got on the blue line and rode out to Braddock and turned around. I called Dana immediately to tell her that the first time I got on the Metro, I went the wrong way, because Dana appreciates things like this. I also told her that I was B19 boarding this morning, because that type shit makes her weirdly happy.

I met a woman on the Metro that was in town for an anesthesiology conference, and we hit it off immediately in a friend-type way. I told her that I would rather tell people I was a serial killer than a doctor on a train or plane just because with serial killer, there are generally very few follow up questions (Do you get dental with that?). When you say you’re a doctor, people start showing you stuff.


So she does the classic doctor thing and says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do that!” and bends her finger. “Well,” we said together in unison, same tone of voice, “DON’T DO THAT.” We both dissolved into giggles and I could tell that she really wanted to invite me for drinks in that “you’re my new best friend and my daughter can’t pick me up for a couple of hours” kind of way. It was nice to make a connection on the train to my new house, because in that moment everything came together and I realized that I could rest and relax. I was home. However, I did not go for drinks with said doctor, because I was really bagged and just wanted to get home. Hayat came to pick me up at Silver Spring Station, and I looked all over as we drove home. Guys, it looks like Portland up in this bitch.


I laughed to Hayat that I’d only been here for a half hour and already I’m like, “the Maryland side is BETTER.” Plus, there’s a Washington Redskins coffee table next to my bed that would make Dana have an aneurysm.

It’s only 7:00, but I did not sleep well last night. I only got a couple hours because I was so excited. I was such a zombie that my dad is going to Fedex my glasses………….

That’s all you get for today. It’s the teaser trailer. I gotta check this mother out before you get any more.

Tuesday, Part II

Arriving at 3:30 at DCA, then hopping the Metro either home or to Afterwords, depending on how I feel. I may go home just to dump my stuff, but I don’t know yet since I’m just bringing a suitcase and a backpack. What I do know is that my house is beautiful, inside the Beltway on the Maryland side, 11mi as the crow flies from the White House, and the family I live with has gatherings every 2-3 weeks where everyone is invited.

It is so amazing to be this blessed at once.