No One is Coming

I took Uber from work to the church so that I could get to the Ash Wednesday service, only to find out it was already over. It had started at 5:30. However, I did get there in time to clean up. At CCC, we have a professional kitchen, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on it. So what did I do when I walked in? I ate a metric fuck tonne of pancakes. But after that? John knows what I did. So do Drue, Knives, Dana, Shaun, Ian, et al. I made that grill my bitch. I used to be quite known for it, and by that I mean anal retentive. And by that I mean that if I was in the bar and it was someone else’s shift, I’d go back there and make sure it was up to code. My code.

We didn’t have any vinegar, so I used club soda and ice instead. We didn’t have a brick, so I used towels and a green scrub thingme. In fact, there’s an entire list of things that our kitchen needs and I will get them, because a day care meets in our church and I wasn’t going to let the youth group get yelled at. So I did the job with the tools I had, but next time, I’m coming prepared. I told the kids that we had to play “the health inspector is coming tomorrow.” I don’t know who it was, but there was a 17-year-old white boy I swore was an Ecuadoran dishwasher, he was so efficient. I couldn’t tell him that, only chuckle to myself, but he deserved tips. JMSK, he could have given Jimmy a run for his money, especially since we had a dishwasher half the size of one in a restaurant… but at least it was professional grade… enough to the point that I burned the ever-living shit out of my hands and I hadn’t felt more alive in months. I started giving orders, and one of the volunteers said they thought there was a janitor… I said, “not before preschool starts tomorrow.” I wasn’t dictatorial about it, just firm, because clearly someone needed to be in charge and no one had ever worked in a professional kitchen before. I knew this because no one knew that the appliances had to be wiped down, the floor had to be mopped, etc. I basically took them step-by-step through closing down Biddy’s, and it worked.

I mean, they were making *pancakes.* I assure you that no one in that kitchen knew more than me about cleaning up after brunch food. I missed Dana so much that I almost cried, because I thought to myself that if there was anything I’d forgotten, she would have remembered it. It’s scary when you realize that this IS your circus and these ARE your monkeys, but I did the best I could without her. I just made sure to go through her checklist as I was cleaning up…. and if there’s anything I *did* forget, it wasn’t anything major. Apparently, the youth group got ripped a new one last year, not by the pastor, but by the people at the day care center for the way they left the kitchen. I was not going to let that happen again. The only thing that really confused me is that there were no instructions on the dishwasher, and I couldn’t get the damn thing to drain. I pushed Off, like, ten times and then finally just closed the door. It drained and I said, “SMILINMIGHTYJESUS!” which is Christian for anything I would have said at Biddy’s.

My aim was to leave the kitchen better than I found it, and that wasn’t too hard considering they’d just stopped cooking the moment I walked in. I filled one of the sinks with soap and water and just started scrubbing everything down. The floor was the hardest, because the pancake batter was dried and stuck on like concrete. I spent quite a bit of time digging it out of the grout on the floor. I also emptied the grease traps and did all the things I knew to do that maybe the kitchen staff hadn’t done in a while.

And after all that, I did not get ashes, nor did I have alcohol.

But it was still a great holiday.

The Other Leslie

My favorite holiday since I don’t have a Valentine is Feb. 13th, “Galentine’s Day,” created by Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation. I have my own poetic and noble land mermaids, and I intend to spoil the hell out of them…. which reminds me…. I really need to go shopping after work.

I won’t mention names, but they all (hopefully) know who they are. They’re the ones that picked me up and dusted me off when I couldn’t see hope and life was this big, nebulous ball of “nunh unh.” I told Dana for a long time that my life would be boring without her. I wasn’t wrong.

But luckily, my gal pals have stepped the fuck up. It’s a different kind of love, and no less worthy of celebration. I think friendship gets ignored, as if it’s not as important as romance, but who else can you e-mail or text at 3:00 AM and say, “I’m hungry?” Who else will go to Walgreen’s for you in the middle of the night when you’re so sick you can’t move? Who else will tell you to grow the fuck up when you need it?

I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not invested in friendship, really invested, treating my friends like family… which, to me, means “you can have anything you want out of my fridge” and “of course you can borrow that top.” I am in the unenviable position of trying to surreptitiously get people’s addresses so that they don’t know they have things coming.

My energy is creeping back up. My thought processes are becoming more and more positive every day. Dragons invade my dreams and tear through sadness with fire, and I know it’s my gal pals talking to me, destroying the obstacles in my path and helping me to reach greater heights than I could ever do on my own.

I wish I could take them all out for waffles, because they each deserve a stack on me.

 

Ashed & Smashed: DC Edition

Today is the first annual DC Ashed & Smashed, and if you are not familiar, it is a holiday in which Dana and I created ourselves. It’s been so long now that I do not remember what year it was, but Dana came to hear me sing at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and then we went to Jake’s Grill in the Governor Hotel for drinks. We both had Hurricanes, which were inexplicably blue (Portland, eh), but the way the holiday got started is that the hostess saw the ashes on our foreheads and said, “Happy Ash Wednesday!” I turned to Dana and said, “is that like Happy Root Canal?” We went over and over what our holiday should be called.

Blessed and Blasted

Kneeling and Reeling

I’m sure there were a few others, but “Ashed and Smashed” won by a landslide. It’s been at least ten years, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was reminded of it as I passed the Lutheran church, because their priests were ashing people in their cars as they went by. I am not sure of the theological precedence of that, because my tongue-in-cheek smartass answer (always) is “would you like fries with that?” I think it has more to do with thinking that the ashes are more to show off for your coworkers than you could possibly get in an run-by ashing. But I could be wrong. Lots of churches have had success with it, but it is not my theological cup of tea.

Tonight at CCC we are combining the Ash Wednesday service with pancakes, which is also theologically weird, but it has been proven over and over that people will not show up to things two nights a week at church. For those not in the know, pancakes on Fat Tuesday got started because during Passover, you could not make anything leavened. Pancakes were a way to use up all the yeast, fat, etc. before the penitential season.

Emotionally, I am trimming all my own fat this year. I think I’m going to give up my old stories to make room for new ones. I can’t really give up alcohol. I don’t drink enough for it to really cost me anything. For most people, it would be like giving up broccoli when they don’t eat it, anyway….. like George H.W. Bush. :P

Time to run for the train.

Love you miss you mean it.

 

Sportsball

You guys know that I love Dana to the ends of the earth, and in some sense, I always will. But at the same time, the best thing that’s happened in being divorced is not having to watch any sport. At all. When I was a kid, my whole family followed The Cowboys (we lived two hours north of Dallas), and the Oilers (when we moved to Houston). However, every person in my immediate family is a music nerd just like me, so it wasn’t like we were all about it. It was just a thing that was on in the background while we ate. A lot. In fact, I don’t remember anything much about going to see live sporting events except the amount of food I consumed while pretending to watch.

When I married Dana, I learned more about the Washington Redskins, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Sacramento Kings than I ever knew about any of my own Texas teams. I could recognize Deion Sanders, Emmett Smith, Warren Moon, etc…. but that’s about the limit to my sports knowledge. I was also in the marching band at Clements for two years, going to EVERY. DAMN. GAME. and I still can’t tell you the rules.

So, last night, I took a sleeping pill around 8:00-ish, and watched PBS until I fell asleep around 9:30. I didn’t even know who won the game until about 7:00 this morning (Broncos- go Peyton). I figured that the easiest way to watch my preferred amount of football was a few clips on Facebook. I was right.

Because Sarah Vowell recommended it, I watched Murder of a President, about James Garfield. I now believe that we lost an amazing amount of ground when he was killed, because he was so passionate about the rights of free blacks that eight full years with him as president would have changed the face of the 1960’s…. not only that, he was in a sense, murdered twice. Shot and then given septicemia by a doctor that refused to clean any of his wounds.

To me, that was way more interesting than football.

The other thing I have to include in this entry that happened, because I want to put it in the pensieve, is that Susan and I were going back and forth and she said, “no need to make a career out of reading into/out of things.” I laughed so hard tears came to my eyes and I thought, “I know me. We’ve met.”

It’s good to see that some things don’t change.

Time to get back to work. It’s amazing having a full night’s sleep. Monday doesn’t seem so, well, Monday.

Have a good one yourself. :)

The Entry You Should Have Gotten Yesterday

I couldn’t bring myself to focus on Dana for more than about 20 minutes, and didn’t want to take the time to come back and post what I’d written in them. Today, things look better.


my dear, I have nothing to say.
my heart burns
like the evening sky.

– Sanober Khan

The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.

– Sophocles

Dana and I rushed our decision to get married by quite a bit, but not because we were fools that wanted to rush in. For us, it was completely rational. We’d been best friends for three and a half years, and in this new iteration of our relationship, we decided that we wanted to be a family. It had so much less to do with romance and more to do with wanting no one to be able to say that we couldn’t visit each other in the hospital, that we couldn’t make life decision for each other if one of us got hurt, and even this was rational, because everyone in our biological family was at least a 2-3 hour flight away. For Dana’s parents, it was a lot more than that. DC to Portland is not an easy trip. We each wanted family that was right there. As I have said before, it seemed like the most natural thing I’d ever done in my life, because I knew what contract I was signing. I knew I was agreeing to take care of my best friend for the rest of her life, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

And, well, it did.

Today would have been our eighth anniversary, and my heart is absolutely bleeding out. I have gone over and over all the things I did to push Dana away instead of bringing her closer, and it’s a rare form of torture, all the feelings that plague me. Of course it takes two to tango, but I’m not focusing on that. I am focusing on me, and the things I don’t want to do wrong in my next relationship, God willing that it happens. Because of all the mistakes I made with Dana, I am very gunshy about being in romantic relationship with anyone. I hide in solitude for a reason. I am very capable of hurting someone without meaning it, or popping off in anger and trying to hurt someone as badly as they’ve hurt me. It’s a wrong-headed way of going through life, and I want no part of it anymore.

I kick myself for ever telling Dana anything about my relationship with Argo. Just anything. Because as Diana Gabaldon wrote in the first Outlander novel, “secrecy deserves honesty, but always respect.” I went off on a tangent in which the relationship couldn’t sustain, and I thought that Dana knew that down deep, that I had a lot of shit to own and move past, but my fidelity and actions belonged to her. Instead, it turned into a fight of gigantic proportions and blew us apart with one bomb after another, including the completely ridiculous assumption that Argo was struggling with the same feelings as me. I knew for a fact that she wasn’t, but I trusted Dana to the ends of the earth, and there was a nagging feeling within me that she might be right. If I’d kept the relationship with Argo on the downlow, I could have worked all that shit out in solitude, and it wouldn’t have given Dana so much ammunition to use against me when we fought. The reality is that I couldn’t know all of Argo. I could only know the face she presented to me through e-mail. So “love” was relative. I loved the idea of her way more than I loved the reality, because I didn’t know what it was.

That idea should have lived in my head, but I had never kept anything from Dana and when I let her into this part of my life, it was a fucking disaster. Just crying and moping all the time because I did not know how to navigate living in the cloud and on the ground at the same time. I chose the ground because I could see it. Living in the cloud was allowing my crops to wither, and I reached into my own heart and pulled out the piece that belonged to Argo, and it was the first time I’d ever done such a thing. Have you ever broken your own heart? It is so much worse than when someone else does it. I cut off all contact, because I realized that energy that was supposed to be Dana’s was going toward Argo at an alarming rate, because I felt she understood a side of me that no one else did. The truth is that Dana understood that part of me, too, but she was less vocal about it. I thought we were hand fasted into a truly shitty club, but as I strayed further and further away from her emotionally, I realized that we were; she just didn’t want to talk about it, or minimized it in a way that Argo never did. Because Argo understood me, I tried so hard to cut off contact and I never could. I wasn’t strong enough, and I’m still not. There’s a hole in my heart with both of them as I accept all the things that have gone down over the last two or three years…. all the things that are clearly mine to own in the ending of this relationship that have nothing to do with Dana and only my wrong-headed actions and reactions.

I should have realized that protecting Dana from my relationship with Argo was more important than rocking the stability of our relationship. I should have realized that even though Dana and I were married, that didn’t mean I wasn’t allowed to have my own friends, my own conversations, simply my own, period. We didn’t have to come as a package deal in all things. I say this because now the “love feelings” Argo created in me with her life raft of enormous proportions are now a distant memory, and would have become so whether I was married or not. The love I felt for Argo never meant to me that I was out the door with Dana, only a problem I needed to resolve, because my conversations with Argo allowed me to be a better partner to Dana, as well. Argo wasn’t interested in hearing about those love feelings, because they scared her. But what she would talk about with me is all the ways I was being a jackass in my relationship with Dana, and it helped immensely. I began to focus on the ways that Argo cared about me in a deep friendship sort of way, and when Dana couldn’t see that, I pushed Argo away with such vitriol that I will never forget the way I behaved, and I’ve said I’m sorry a million times over, but that “I’m sorry” cannot come with empty words. They don’t mean anything unless my behavior changes to match it.

I cannot help but think that it might have happened with Dana as well, that an “I’m sorry” with changed behavior might have saved our relationship so that today would have actually been our eighth anniversary instead of me looking at it as a day of remembrance.

I am choosing to focus on all the laughter we had together in order to dig myself out of the mess I made on the way out. There were so many years where we made each other double over, laughing so hard no sound could come out. Those are the memories I want to take with me, because if I focus on everything that went wrong, this day will not bring me peace, which I have striven to create in myself.

I have said before that I want to walk humbly and hope that grace prevails, but grace does not mean contact with Dana. Grace means peace within myself over all that happened so I can bless and release it into the universe and have the universe call it good. For extremely personal reasons, I cannot let Dana into my life again, but I can remember all the joy she brought into my life. I could see that my life was running off the rails and my exit was necessary. All I will say is that I will not let Dana off the hook for her abusive behavior any more than I will let myself. It was great right up until it wasn’t, and we were fighting against each other instead of taking care of each other like we’d done previously.

I am sure that my treatment of her family didn’t help, but they put me into a corner and I lashed out butt-good. I should have realized that Dana didn’t need protecting, but I thought she did, and I thought I was doing the right thing at the time. Maybe now, not so much, but at the same time, I cannot go back and undo anything. I can only say for myself that I thought I was being the protector and advocate, when in reality I was just filled with rage at how Dana was being treated. I let that rage out, when I should have gone into my nothing box and tried to say the same thing with calmer words. But by that point, there were no calmer words. I’d said all the calm words I could think of and it didn’t get the point across, and when that happened, I lost it.

The good thing that came out of it was that Dana bonded with her family even closer, because now they had a common enemy. I don’t like that I was the enemy, but I do like that whatever it was that I said got through and they didn’t treat Dana the way they had previously. Sometimes boiling rage can be a good thing if used properly, but it wasn’t, clearly. It just created one more crack in our foundation, but for the record, at least Dana’s family realized that I needed her as much as she needed me and they couldn’t divide and conquer…. or could they?

It is something I will always ponder, but at the same time, it goes in the memory box just like all the other ways in which Dana’s presence and absence affect my life. One thing I have learned is that I am stronger than I thought I was, because this thermonuclear war of a breakup didn’t break me. It only reinforced the fact that I was right. The relationship was great for me in some ways, and awful in others, and in the end, the awful won out and I rebounded from it alone in my grief, rather than trying to cover it up with partying, other relationships, and the things people generally do when they’re too sad to function.

I’ve sat in my pain and worked it the fuck out, because again, changed behavior is the key to saying you’re sorry. I look back on the moments in which I raged and just cringe that I let my anger boil over in the first place…. and forgive myself because through all of my hospitalization and therapy I realized I did not have the tools to deal with anger and I needed to develop them. These emotional tools did not come overnight, because deep-seeded rage had been bubbling since I was a teenager and I let it out in the most inappropriate of ways.

I wish that Dana could know the person that I am instead of the person that I was, but that is not to be. What is to be is a peace and grace that passes all understanding, because I have prayed my way through the fucking mess. Sitting in it was the right thing to do, because I don’t think I’ll ever be capable of moving backward…. something that would have been imminent had I not recognized my own destruction and dealt with it.

Back in the day, I thought of both Argo and Dana as my rocks and my redeemers. That’s the part I take with me, instead of all the anger. They were my world, in the best sense of the word, but now I am, and I am enough.

Learning to rely on myself and my own intuition cost me months of self-reflection, but it was worth it. Because today was just a regular day, filled with a few memories and a celebratory Valentine’s Day heart filled with Twix. Now there’s a plastic heart that sits on my desk, and I know what it represents. Sweet freedom. Literally.

Boston Cream Pie Donut and Black Coffee

I have no motivation to write today. None. Yesterday I said I wasn’t feelin’ it, but that’s nothing compared to my lackadaisical attitude right now. Generating content for a blog is part of my life, because pages that are static do not get traffic. But at the same time, I tell the truth about what I think in terms of my life’s goals and issues. I can’t just make shit up out of thin air. And right now, all I’m doing is working my ass off, which makes my coworkers happy, but doesn’t generate a lot creatively… I’m too tired to care about my personal problems, and I know for damn sure that’s a good thing.

Tomorrow is my former anniversary with Dana, and Facebook presented me yesterday with my status update from Valentine’s Day last year. I don’t know why. It’s not even close to Valentine’s Day. But here it is. I was a mess:

I see a lot of bitching on Facebook about Valentine’s Day and how it’s so commercialized and all. Valentine’s Day is as meaningless as you make it. For instance, Dana and I did the grocery shopping we were going to do, anyway, and did some wine/liquor tasting at Spec’s. It was so simple, and so memorable. Later that day, she handed me two pages of handwritten notes describing her love for me on plain white notebook paper, saying that she had worked on it for two days and she hoped it was just right and that it had made people at her work cry so she was pretty sure it was good……… Crying just thinking at the memory of her words before she handed them to me, because it was just the most amazing, bare moment. A girl laying her heart in my hands and hoping it was enough.

I allowed myself to be a mess for ten minutes or so, and then I turned on an episode of History Detectives, in which they tried to find out exactly how Glenn Miller (bandleader) died. I’ve learned how to redirect when I’m focusing on the past, but I don’t let those moments slide, either. I allow myself to feel, and then I put whatever I’m feeling back in its box and lock it. I have come to the final decision that getting out of this relationship is the best thing that has ever happened to me, because my life is going in a completely different direction than hers, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Now I realize that I do not want contact any more than she does, because there are personal issues that we’ll never fix and they’re not worth trying. The way Dana deals with her problems is completely different than the way I do, and they’re just not compatible. Realizing incompatibility allows me to take back my power and not feel so small.

I’ve also realized that a lot of marriage is having a good business partner, and we were never comfortable talking about any of that stuff, but it’s amazing how good I thought we were at the time. It’s amazing how good I thought we were together, period, when in reality there was a lot roiling under the surface. There are things I didn’t know that I should’ve. There are things she didn’t know that she should’ve…. but neither of us were willing to tap into those feelings until I started writing and uncovering the layers upon layers of shit I’d been thrown in my life and how it wired my behavior into everything else.

We became strangers in our own household, because we still did all that surface-y best friend stuff, but the opening up was a one-way street. The way she painted me to my face was narcissist bully, and I can see why she thought that. I need someone who can stand up to me and call me on my bullshit. I don’t need to be in relationship with someone who is scared to do so.

Or at least, that’s my take on it. One of these days I’ll meet that woman and she’ll kick my ass into next week and I’ll love every second of it because I’ll know for sure that I’ve found someone who can see right through the mask I present to the world and call it like she sees it. It reminds me of the day Argo called me a “judgmental dickhead” and I laughed so hard my desk chair sagged because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is totally, totally right.

But that’s not all of who I am. That’s just a piece. I am not any one thing, and I am learning to love all of who I am, even the parts I’d rather not talk about, because they’ve all brought me to this place, this journey in which I didn’t even feel like writing today.

 

Not Feelin’ It

I am just not feelin’ it today. I doubt anything brilliant will come out of my mouth because I haven’t had any conversations in which I can lift wisdom verbatim. :P It’s so much easier to write these things when other people just write them for me. Thinking about Susan and waiting for a letter from her, because they make me smile in a world that’s kind of grey. And by “kind of,” I mean that it’s really starting to hit me that it’s been a year since the divorce and I only feel somewhat better. I mean, I start and end my day alone, and that feels good. It’s everything in the middle that sucks. Starting and ending my day alone makes me feel like I am adulting. Not having a partner feels like something is missing, like phantom pain in a missing limb. But I couldn’t be married to just anyone. It’s not being married that’s the thing. If I just wanted someone to take care of me or someone to do my finances or what the fuck ever, I could hire it done. I miss long conversations staring at the ceiling fan lying on our bed. I miss sharing secrets and flipping each other shit. I miss the piece of my soul that belonged to Dana, and I can’t wait until it’s just a dull roar. Our former anniversary is on the fourth, two days away, and body memory is threatening and full of joy all at the same time.

I don’t mistake the part for the whole, kind of like playing or singing something almost perfectly, missing a few notes. If I focus on the bad notes, I will not remember all the ones that floated off easily.

I made so many mistakes, but I choose to focus on the times I didn’t, because they bring me joy, and I want to live in that than the great Waterloo that has consumed me over the past few years.

I don’t know why Dana doesn’t want to have contact, I don’t know why she doesn’t want to work on our relationship, I don’t know why I’m not sure I would, either. But what I do know is that it doesn’t matter. I mean, I have some excellent guesses, but that’s all they are. There’s a difference between projecting feelings onto someone and knowing what they actually are, and that’s usually the disconnect in communication, anyway.

Focusing on those things will only drive me crazy instead of bringing me peace of mind. Peace of mind is focusing on the fact that I live in DC now, far away from anything that I have known previously because I live outside the city on the Maryland side, which I’ve never done before, but have grown to love. My neighborhood reminds me a lot of Portland, actually. There are so many things I love about it that it just doesn’t make sense to focus on what has been, but what will be. I have it on my to-do list to find a psychiatrist and a therapist, but it’s very hard now that I work 9:00a-6p. My primary care doctor can refill the protocol that I’m already on, and he takes my insurance. So it’s not like I’m twisting in the wind, just lacking some things that would really improve my quality of life if I could just remember to get up from my desk once in a while. I rarely leave here directly at 6:00. I am working more like 46-48 hours a week. We all do, and because I’m in the middle of a project, it’s hard to take personal time to go to the doctor. When things smooth out, I will be much more forward about asking, but right now, it’s too much. I can’t afford to lose time when I already have the medication I need, and I’m getting a lot of therapy right here (no, really), it’s just self-directed.

It sounds like a piss-poor excuse until I feel a bit anxious about actually asking my boss for time off, especially since I just started in Dec… but I’m sure you can all identify.

Ice cream also helps, especially when I’m not feelin’ it.

Deep Focus

I am listening to a Spotify station that I use frequently while coding called “Deep Focus,” and it is working. I haven’t even looked up from my desk in five hours. There’s one script I can’t get to execute properly and I am getting frustrated, but not enough to slam my head against my desk… yet. I need a set of fresh eyes on it, because I am using exactly the same logic that I’m using with every other section that works, it just doesn’t work with this one. I know that every time there’s a problem with the code, it’s my fault, because the computer only does what I tell it. However, if I am using logic that works, why doesn’t it work all the way through? I am scratching my head. Thank God I took my anti-anxiety meds this morning. It’s a huge dose of Fuckitol™ so that I don’t end up a weeping mess when things Just. Won’t. Work. I can handle frustration much easier, and let me tell you, code that won’t work is just about as frustrating as it gets in my world. Thank God I’m not a surgeon or something, because at least when my job is frustrating because something doesn’t work, no one dies. Perspective.

I almost didn’t take a lunch today, and then I realized that if I didn’t eat, things would get even more frustrating because my energy would start flagging and things would seem even more insurmountable. Now that I have had a break and some food, maybe things will look different. It’s hard when you’re staring at the same code for hours at a time, because it’s usually something you think is there, but it’s not. Kind of like bloggign and not seeing tpyos. :P

I will make this code my bitch, but it’s just taking a little longer than I thought it would. What makes me feel good about this project is that it’s for a very, very famous non-profit, so I feel like I’m doing something good for humanity even in my own nerdy way. It’s important to me to have soul in my job, and this is it. Reminds me of the time I was having a REALLY, REALLY crappy day at work doing support cases and one came across my desk and I dialed the number without looking. They answered the phone “Doctors Without Borders” and I nearly choked. All of the sudden, frustration over… because even though computer support can make your eyebrows go over your forehead, you’re not trying to save people in war-torn countries with outdated medical supplies… or none at all and improvising with strips of cloth and bubble gum. Perspective.

I woke up late and it just threw my day off to an enormous degree. I wasn’t late this morning, because I usually get up three hours before I need to be here, and today I woke up two. So it wasn’t a thing, I just didn’t get my writing time or my SBUX. I took a caffeine pill and drank a soda instead. I have to have lots of caffeine in the morning because I take sleeping pills to ensure I get a good night’s sleep. It helps to shake off the sleeping medication so that I can function. If I do not have caffeine in the morning, I kind of look like an extra on The Walking Dead.

However, I will not give up my sleeping pills, because I’ve found one that keeps me from dreaming, and that’s a good thing. When I dream, I go back in time and try to fix things that aren’t fixable and aren’t worthy of my time. I am in the process of moving forward, and dreaming about the past isn’t going to help that in the slightest. I don’t talk to Dana in my sleep anymore, I don’t talk to Argo, I don’t talk to anyone. While it was nice to have uninterrupted time with them in my dreams, it wasn’t helping me leave the past there.

It is onward and upward. Perspective.

Amen.

Big Night

When I arrived at the Silver Spring Metro Station last night, I was going to go home… and then I realized it was Friday. I got on the circular intending to go to the movies, but I saw this restaurant that I’ve been meaning to try for ages since it’s in the same building as Vesta. I knew that I would make friends if I sat at the bar, so that’s what I did. After I took off my coat and got settled, I realized that the bartender was trying to sell a couple on Old Overholt, and I chimed in that I thought it was the best rye you could buy, with an amazing price point. The bartender gave me a grateful look and poured me a shot on him. I asked him for a PBR to go with it, and he said, “want to try a local beer?” I said, “sure,” and he brought me something that tasted exactly like PBR in a different can. I’m pretty sure it’s all Miller High Life with a different label. Lone Star, PBR, doesn’t matter. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was an excellent back. Then, every time he opened something expensive, he gave me a taste of it. I sat there for three hours, enjoying the man sitting next to me, head of the National Association of Black Journalists.

We got to talking, and he’d actually spent quite a bit of time in Houston, because Kirbyjon Caldwell (pastor of Windsor Village UMC) was one of his fraternity brothers, as well as Melanie Lawson’s dad (I forget his name) that’s pastor of Wheeler Ave. Baptist Church. He had connections to TSU, and I told him that he was right down the road from me when I lived in the dorms at UH. He told me to let him know when I was ready to go on to grad school at Howard, because he had connections there, too. He’s a bachelor, so he has dinner at this bar almost every night, so I know I’ll see him again. I asked him who his favorite black journalist was, and he gave me a name I should have written down. I don’t remember who said it, but it’s true that “the biggest lie we tell ourselves as writers is that we’ll remember it and don’t write things down.” He told me that this journalist was friends with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has become my favorite black journalist, coming from the Washington City Paper and gone on to write several thought-provoking books. He was on the Diane Rehm show recently, and if you can catch that episode, you’ll fall in love with him, too.

After that, his friends came in, and I shot the shit with them, as well. I get along with old black men. We’re all funny together regardless of race or age, because I honestly believe I’m just an old man stuck in a relatively young woman’s body. :P

The man sitting next to me (I think his name was Darryl) was thrilled that we knew people in common (or at least, I knew *of* them since Kirbyjon and my dad were in the same conference when my dad was a pastor and there are very few Houstonians who’ve never heard of Wheeler Ave. Baptist since Melanie is a famous news anchor). He introduced me to everyone in the bar, even the chef, and that was amazing because we talked about lamb chops and how he was going to finish them. When he said “espresso,” I was in.

As for my own dinner, I had chicken salad on top of cheddar Sriracha biscuits, and a deconstructed Boston Cream Pie for dessert. It was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time, and I think I made an actual, let’s go out and do something friend with the bartender, who is also a stand-up comedian. I asked him who his guys were, and he said Louis C.K. and Steven Wright…. both excellent influences.

At the end of the night, I paid out and gave him a $20 tip, because that’s what you do when the bartender lets you explore his drinks for free. If someone gifts you $50 worth of tastings, leaving a regular tip is just mean. I’ve worked in restaurants long enough to know that much. And besides, I haven’t gone out to eat in months, hoarding money and ready to give up another night of eating a peanut butter sandwich and going to bed. It’s not something I’ll do again any time soon, but it was good to take a night off from complete isolation.

It doesn’t happen often that the bartender becomes your real friend, but because I’ve worked in the service industry for so long, we had a lot to talk about, and we were both passionate about high-end alcohol, because as I told him, I would rather have one perfect shot of something expensive than five shitty ones, and he agreed wholeheartedly. I was feeling stuffed up, and he noticed. He said, “so, can I make you a hot toddy, or would you like to try a beer laced with red chilies?” I opted for the beer, and it was so good that I ordered a pint. As he handed me my check, he told me that he’d rung up this outrageously expensive beer as a PBR can. See? That’s why you overtip the bartender. He didn’t have to be that nice, but he was.

After I paid out, I Ubered home and looked at Facebook. Kristie was watching The Godfather, so I put it on as well, and fell asleep during Michael’s homecoming. I cannot say enough how this one evening lifted my spirits, pun intended. It was a God moment, this wandering into a bar on an off-beaten path and genuinely meeting people I’d like to see again.

Especially someone that could make it possible for me to get into grad school a lot easier…. divinity school, in fact.

But when I looked around, I realized that divinity was already here.

Amen.

Donuts, Nachos, Popcorn

The title is an inside joke for every church musician ever. Grace and peace to you live from my office, where I am wet, cold, and want to go home. There, I can work with my electric blanket set to hell, and I won’t look like Gerald Ford every time I want to go somewhere. On the flip side, I had a meeting with myself. We got a lot done.

This project is consuming my life, but not in a bad way… although I did not have enough spoons for choir practice because of my epic fail in getting to the bus. Today was one epic fail after another as I tromped through the snow to get to the office from the Metro station. I finally gave up and decided to walk on the street, and that was another fall, trying to get down from the snow drift. Luckily, there were no cars coming when I landed in the right-hand lane. The snow was shin-deep and trying to get down caused me to really fuck up my hand. It’s covered in road rash and the right side of my left palm is swollen and sore, as if I slammed a raw nerve right into the concrete, which I probably did. It will probably bruise, so at least I got that goin’ for me. They’re so attractive……

At least I had my Docs on, so my feet stayed dry. Everything else, pretty much soggy. it’s supposed to get up into the high 60’s later in the week, with rain, but at least the rain will be warm. I hope. It’s time for the snow to melt, even if it doesn’t completely clear. Ankle deep would be fine. But do I miss Houston weather in the winter? Noooooo. I’d rather be knee-deep in snow, because even when it’s snowing in DC, it’s SNOWING IN DC. DC is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, even during Sept. 11th and the confusion it caused (395 was locked up for weeks with people stopping their cars in the middle of the freeway to gawk at the Pentagon. For the first few days, they stopped their ignitions and got out.). That being said, they don’t have DC in Houston. I checked.

Before I moved here, I decided that I didn’t want to be a Houston-based writer. I wanted to be a DC-based writer. My parents gave me that chance and I leaped at it. DC is my Paris, and I’ll never leave if I can help it. There’s just too much here to be explored, and I could wander DC until the day I died and still not see everything. I’ve been in love with DC since the first time I visited, when I was eight years old and we went to the White House. And, if I’m honest, it’s all Aaron Sorkin’s fault that the yearn to actually live in DC became a thing.

I was the one that convinced Kathleen we needed to move here. I do not regret that decision in the slightest. It was a wild ride, and I needed it. It was the first time I’d lived so far away from home and had the ability to find myself outside of everything I knew.

What I know for sure is that this is where I belong, and if that’s not pure peace, I just won’t find it. Landing in DC after the breakup with Dana was a huge dose of Fuckitolâ„¢ in that I could let go of my past to make room for an unencumbered future. I need to stop loving her, stop caring about her, stop worrying about her because that’s what she wants. It’s not what I want, but it’s what I need, and I will survive it. Grief is an amazing thing, but only if you make it so. It changes you in ways you didn’t think possible. It breaks everything in you and rearranges the furniture.

I still trip over the couch, but I just keep setting up the chairs.

Amen.