Sermon for Proper 12, Year C: BAM! BAM! BAM!

I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Jesus was tired and a bit burned out on Judaism… not because of his lack of faith, but because of his exhaustion on the focus given to the law. For him, knowing God was not an endless repetition of facts, but a feeling of connectedness that would not and did not stand up to judicial scrutiny. For Jesus, it was enough that you tried. It was enough that you kept going. It was enough that you recognized your own sin and if you walked away from it, that it would mean more than anything a trial would have proven. Jesus knew something that other Jews did not; there would never be a time in which you could legislate someone into perfection. People are going to do what they’re going to do, and if they choose to walk in darkness, that’s an “up to them sort of thing.” Jesus never advocated punishment, but an invitation to rehabilitation.

The main thought that runs through all of Jesus’ parables is simple: if you invest in yourself, you will reap the rewards. He believed that if you started walking in light, you would want to continue, and that would be the path to enlightenment rather than continually harping on someone’s sins until they wanted to be right with God because someone else wanted them to be instead of claiming promise for themselves.

Changing for someone else is short-lived, while making your own changes last a lifetime. In short, in order to get peace, you have to want it… and wanting it makes all the difference. It is why I believe that most people drop out of conservative denominations. Fear-based theology just isn’t working for them anymore. Shame is a terrible thing, and conservative theology only reinforces it. In conservative theology, there is only a comfort zone about thisbig, and if you stray from it, you are destined for an eternity of burning in hell. It is legislating morality using the same tactics that the orthodox Jews used before them.

It is an ideology that I do not understand, because Jesus freed us from Talmudic law, choosing to forgive sin rather than berate it based on some infraction or another, because it does not endear people to you, but allows them to hide in their shame… it’s just “easier” that way. There is no path shorter to internal conflict than stuffing down your sins and trying to run away from them. Where people think it’s easier is that they don’t have to talk about them, don’t want to talk about them, want to keep sin locked away in a box without realizing that they are internally poisoning themselves… because eventually, the box leaks. What we have done and left undone comes out subconsciously in the way we treat people. We do not like ourselves for it, so why should anyone else?

Our ability to receive love is stepped on, even if we are capable of giving it.

Our ability to see magnificence is marred by our own troubled pasts.

What would it mean to let go? What would it mean to acknowledge our flaws and failures so that they did not continue to dog us in the night? What would it mean to our collective self-esteem if we were continually able to forgive ourselves for our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?

Forgiveness is not a one-time thing, but a never-ending proposition in our humanness. Thinking of hell as a very real place and hoping not to go there is different than recognizing fallibility, because once you process it, you have walked through it rather than skipping over, because the skipping over is the hell part. Why worry about eventual hell rather than abating the hell that’s already here?

When I was five, I lived in Galveston, Texas, where my dad was the associate pastor of Moody Memorial UMC. The parsonage was on Pine St., and I quickly made friends with the kids on my street… including Amber Cantini, one of the most persistent people I have ever met in my life, which is saying something, since I was in kindergarten at the time. Every day, she would walk up to our house, and knock so loud that the neighbors could have heard it. Just “BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!!!” until somebody came to the door. God forbid we weren’t home, because she’d just keep at it. Amber learned at an early age what Jesus was trying to tell us in today’s parable… knock and the door shall be opened unto you… but I think the severity of Amber’s knock would still have thrown Jesus for a loop.

Today’s gospel focuses on hospitality.

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, `Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

The setup for this story is that it was not unusual for travelers to arrive in the middle of the night, because it was easier to move in the shadows while the Middle Eastern sun was not beating down on their backs… and in that culture, hospitality meant everything. Travelers had shown up after the day’s bread had been eaten, and when people show up, you don’t just give them a loaf of bread. You give them a full spread… not to do so was an embarrassment. The man going to his friend’s house and knocking like Amber Cantini was deeply rooted in fear. In desperation, he kept at it until he’d woken up the whole house and the friend finally relented.

At face value, the moral of the story might be “annoy people until you get what you want.” But as we take a deeper look, the man’s friend took care of him and didn’t allow him to be embarrassed because once he was “woke,” he understood the problem… even if he was initially aggravated.

Pachelbel’s Canon in D is playing in my head as I think about the next verses:

So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

It is one of the few verses in which I have memorized in paraphrase, because the classic song fits into the aforementioned Canon:

Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And his righteousness.
Knock and the door will be opened unto you
Allelu, Alleluia….

I used to sit at my mother’s piano and play that mashup for hours, because it’s one of the only things I know how to play… but if I was only going to learn one thing, is it not a good one?

People by nature are not mind-readers, and you’ll never get anything you want from them by wishing. In order to get something, you have to ask… and sometimes repeatedly. However, it is on us to decide whether we are asking the right questions. If you need something from someone, is it a path to darkness or to light? Are you the type friend that will answer the door when you are called to serve? That last question may be the difference between a “yes” and a “no.” It is our job to know when the balance of power in a relationship is off or not… whether we are asking something of someone that we ourselves would not do for them.

It is the point of the Lord’s prayer to turn us outward, so that when we knock, we are not saying, “take care of me, because this is all about my needs.” Jesus does not specifically talk about reciprocity in this parable, but living in community requires it. I would like to think that reciprocity is an extrapolation… that when you’re the one with the bread woken in the middle of the night, you will have the ability to understand the problem and give equally, even if you are initially annoyed.

The law cannot cover brotherly love, nor will it ever. You cannot force someone to take care of you when you need it, even when you know you would take care of them if the tables were turned. Because in that moment, your friend may not know that. It is stepping out on a ledge to trust that if someone comes to you for help, you can also go to them… that they will remember the kindness you extended and reciprocate.

However, it is our ability to forgive ourselves when we ignore the world’s ills and try to do better that counts. The will to keep going is the “it gets better” campaign of our lives, and that is all that Jesus requires.

We fall. We get up. We learn. We fall again. We get up. We learn.

It’s an ongoing resurrection, whether you can see it or not.

Amen
#prayingonthespaces

Power Lunch and Komodo Dragon

I took a caffeine pill at 0700, but I also took two Benedryl to put me to sleep last night, so I got a large cup of coffee as soon as I got to SBUX this morning. The Komodo Dragon is one of my favorites, and since I got here by 7:20, it was the freshest of the fresh. I can’t remember the last time a cup of coffee did so much to improve my mood, because when I walked in, I got exactly what I wanted. My choice of power lunch is a protein box, a bag of chickpeas blown up to look like Cheetos, a banana, and a large bottle of water. Not bad for $8.00 I had to have something for breakfast, so the banana was gone in .3 seconds, but I’m saving the rest for when my stomach starts growling and I won’t have to leave for lunch. As I have said before, Fridays and Mondays are my busiest days. I am sure that I could make time to leave the office, but it is inconvenient at best. I might make a 7-11 run because I need gas, and a Big Gulp never hurt anybody. Besides, I have a 7-11 app where I get every 7th cup free. Coffee, Slurpees,™; and sodas all count, and I am one away from a free one. My only beef with the Slurpee is that they don’t make one that’s Diet Coke only. It has regular cherry Slurpee in it for flavor. It’s delicious, but I don’t *do* sugar, especially since it’s working. I am burning fat in all the right places. I only wish that Starbucks would come up with a version of Bulletproof coffee so I could buy one here instead of making it in the mornings. It’s not that I can’t; I would just prefer to write here.

I can’t imagine how good Komodo dragon would taste with grass-fed butter and coconut oil. I think it would be off-the-chain, but no one asked me. They just can’t call it Bulletproof coffee, because that’s an actual company in which the knockoff recipe leaked. The company started with a guy who was hiking in the snowy mountains (perhaps Everest, I can’t remember) and the indigenous people gave him tea with yak’s milk and butter. He noticed immediately the difference in his energy and his ability to burn fat with fat. For me, this is not a diet, but a lifestyle change. I have also given up alcohol, unless it’s a “treat yo’self” day, like a party, because all I can think of when I put a beer in my hand is just how much sugar I’m consuming. Especially with microbrews, it tastes like drinking a loaf of bread.

My brain is changing a little bit every day, and so is my body. It makes me feel really good about myself, something I desperately need. I don’t think I realized how much nutrition was a part of brain health until I made the choice to find out.

I don’t much like talking about food on my blog, because in a way, it’s kind of boring. But it’s also what’s going on in my life, so you’re stuck with it… and I am certain that there are people reading that are glad my mental health is improving so drastically. I don’t even get rattled when people disagree with me politically, because even though I am passionate about politics, I’m not so passionate that I can’t tolerate other people’s views. I can see how not being able to own an AK-47 seems like an infringement on freedom, even though I don’t agree with it. I am much more the type of person that likes to go shooting and rent firearms rather than keep them in my home, because studies have shown that you are way more likely to shoot yourself than someone else… or your kids are smart enough to find the keys to your gun safe and shoot themselves, which I believe is even worse than shooting yourself, because losing a child is so painful there’s not even a word for it.

And God forbid if your child shoots someone else’s. More children have been killed by firearms this year than we’ve lost Amerians to terrorists. But fear is a powerful motivator, and if you think terrorists are out to get you personally, you’re going to have a different opinion on guns than someone who believes that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind… and I do.

My beef is not with former military and civilians who are willing to invest in extensive training classes. The reality for untrained gun owners is that it is far more likely that in a burglary, they’ll miss, and the burglar will find a way to wrest the gun from them and the homeowner will be shot with his own firearm.

As someone wit monocular vision, I can’t hit the broad side of a barn, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the smell of spent rounds… but again, renting is not the same as owning. Plus, I was taught to shoot by two former soldiers, which made all the difference in learning gun safety. The one with which I had the most fun was a Chinese plastic 12-gauge, because it was light enough that I could actually lift it. Shooting Volfe’s .308 was a lesson in kickback. My shoulder was purple for a week…. but that didn’t mean I didn’t have a TON of fun.

But at the end of the day, the soldiers took their guns home, and I was able to have a great day on the range without the temptation to buy my own. I could not defend myself with a gun, because again, I’m not that good a shot, and buckshot inside a house is…. unadvisable.

It doesn’t seem like a tear-worthy moment, but Diana Gabaldon twisted my heart to bits when she mentioned that Captain McKenzie had monocular vision as well. It helps to close one eye, but even that doesn’t solve the problem entirely.

Interestingly enough, a soldier just walked into Starbucks, so I got up from my table and went up to her and said, “thank you for your service.” I think she must have needed to hear it, because her eyes got wet… and that’s exactly why I do it. Sometimes soldiers go a long time without hearing “thank you,” and you never know if you’re the one who’s said it at a time when things are going to hell in a handbasket for them. For soldiers, you never know if they’re safe in a desk job in Washington, or whether they’re about to leave for a clusterfucked shitshow… or whether they’ve just returned from one.

The fire alarm is going off in the Starbucks right now, and it is loud and annoying, the smell of smoke pervasive, but I think it was just a sandwich that caught on fire or something, because there’s no evidence that the entire store is about to break down. If there was, I’d already be out of here. I’m just tuning out the noise, trying to concentrate on what I need to say today. The employees have opened the door to let some fresh air in, and they’re not evacuating everyone, which I take to mean that it’s just like when you’re cooking at home and the fire alarm doesn’t know the difference between a house fire and accidentally burning a dish.

Ok. Now I’m out. When you’ve run out of things to say, stop talking. Plus, I need to get away from the noise. It’s starting to cut through my thought process. I thought I could tune it out, but it’s been going off for about seven minutes now. I have just enough time to go get gas before I have to be at the office, anyway.

See you on the flip side.

Tall Cappucino & Short Brain Chemicals

I’d been without Lexapro for two days because I had to wait for a refill request from my doctor, and I couldn’t order it early because my insurance wouldn’t cover it. I should have paid for two pills out of pocket, but I didn’t think of that. The last time this happened, the pharmacist just sold me four pills and subtracted it from the number of pills on the refill request. It’s amazing the number of things I forget. I think it’s the amount of medication I need to keep my brain chemicals from wigging the fuck out. But I would rather be forgetful than crazy, like when my Lamictal made me so nauseous I felt like I’d been pregnant for four years. My line about that was that I’d rather be sick to my stomach than crazy. Same software, different case.

I’m starting to feel better as things are righting themselves, and because of the Klonopin, it wasn’t like I was spinning out of control with physical side effects. When you drop Lexapro completely, it gives you something comparable to withdrawal from alcohol or illegal drugs. Your body just can’t handle it. You get headaches and sweats and it feels like the world is upside down. However, the Klonopin allowed for a soft landing, and I am on my way to my version of normal, whatever THAT is.

I’m glad I was able to get my medication straightened out this weekend, because Pri Diddy and Elena have decided to move to Colombia in October, and travel until then. I am so happy for them, and I cannot even. It’s a mixed bag of emotions, because I know they’ll eventually come back, but having Pri Diddy in my city for the first time in our long friendship has been a comfort of gargantuan proportion. Luckily, Skype from computer to computer is free (calling regular phones costs money). So we could talk every day if we wanted, but the contact comfort will be gone. There is so much to be said for hugs and cheek kisses and sititng in the living room together. They’re having a goodbye party, and I am glad that I will not be tempted to cry all the way through it, because the other thing that having short brain chemicals makes you is incredibly weepy, to the point of crying at commercials even when they’re not that touching. In fact, they’d normally be stupid, but you can’t help the tears that fall.

And don’t even get me started on YouTube videos of veterans coming home. That shit is ugly cry on a silver platter. I also can’t listen to The Moth for the exact same reason. If I have my headphones in, I will cry in a Starbucks, a Safeway, pretty much anywhere that would be totally embarrassing.

In other news, I am doing good on my diet of low sugar. I feel heavier, but not in a bad way. More like just solid in my own skin. I weigh the same, but I feel completely different. I don’t feel like I’m going to blow away on the wind, because my muscles feel stronger than they have in a long time, and I am building up the chutzpah to start exercising. Exercising is a mixed bag, because whether you’re running outside or in a gym, there are people that will talk to you as you’re sweating. Please, God, no. Running and lifting weights are a solitary activity, designed to take me away from excruciating small talk. But you pass people on the trail, you jog next to others because there’s no empty treadmill next to you, etc. I need to be alone with my thoughts while mobile, because the endorphins create new neural pathways that lift me out of where I’ve been and into where I’m going… dreaming forward has never been my strong suit, but it will be. I know it. I want the past to fade so that I don’t have to think about it, and the only way it will is being more excited about the future than trying to figure out the past. There is nothing good about that if you’re stuck except the willingness to walk into your own demons and make friends with them in order to create changed behavior… to know why you’ve been the way you’ve been, instead of boxing feelings that will kill you if you don’t let them out.

I found out that Hawkeye is moving to Germany on Sunday. She didn’t say where, but there are plenty of Air Force bases there. I know she’ll be at one of them, and it makes me happy because it’s not the Middle East. I will miss getting to know her, but at the same time, I won’t worry about her, either. She’ll just be a part of my life that also fades into the background.

I want to worry about the things that justifiably make me cry, rather than the things that are so unimportant that they are not worthy of my energy. Police brutality is at the top of my list, because while I support police, I do not support racial inequality within the system. It’s a rock and a hard place to feel both, but I am capable of holding that cognitive dissonance in my brain for years, because who doesn’t? It’s the same with the military. I support boots on the ground, but I am also aware of the “friendly fire” that pervades the culture between male and female soldiers. I cannot support rapists, but I can support the military as a whole… but the major problem with that “friendly fire” is that so many cases go unreported because of fear of retaliation. There’s no easy solution for that, either… but it is one worth solving, just as the difference between good cops and bad ones.

I tend to wish that these problems could just be solved immediately, but the issues are too complex for it to happen. The only way I can help is to get involved, to care in ways that most people don’t. Voting is part of it, but so is showing up. Too few people are involved in local politics when they have a much more direct effect on your life than the president ever will. Knowing who runs your city and county is so much more important, and that’s the Thomas Jefferson coming out in me. He was so passionate about local leaders, and I cannot help but follow his example, praying on the words and the spaces that my community will evolve into something we can all be proud of, because we’ve done the work.

Amen.
#prayingonthespaces

Ululation

Today I got a direct FB message from Jeffrey Thames asking me to come to the town hall meeting at the Silver Spring Civic Center. I was running a few minutes late because of an accident on 450, but I got to hear most everything… and I was worried. Tempers did not run especially high, but it was an intense discussion on race and the police. People were asked to grade the force from A to F, and predictably, the whites rated it higher than the people of color… because the people of color had stories to back up their grades. There was only one white woman that stood up and gave them a D, saying that she’d personally witnessed three white undercover cops trying to pull down a black man’s pants in broad daylight, and she was pretty sure the Fourth Amendment didn’t cover that.

She called the police department and got no reply. She called internal affairs, where they told her it would be kicked back to the police department… and asked why they are allowed to investigate themselves. The police chief was visibly shaken, because if there was something he expected to hear, that wasn’t it.

Additionally, there was someone I couldn’t see that was obviously black by the intonations in their voice. At first, I thought it was a young boy, because they said that their life’s dream was to become a police officer, even joining the 14-20 year old Explorer’s Program, until they were held by the police, given bruises and a bloody lip, and only saved by her white mother (she’d been adopted from Haiti), who happened to be standing nearby. It was then that she said she was a woman, and my whole perspective changed. I struggled to see her, wanted even more to touch her arm or her hand in solidarity. I didn’t get either chance. I just listened.

Her white mother got an apology… she never did. She also never said whether the cop who hit her was male or female, but it doesn’t matter. The fact that a cop hit her at all was an abuse of power, especially since she wasn’t guilty of anything. After her mother came up to the police, all of the sudden, the charges were dropped. Not only can I not imagine being punched by a cop, I can’t imagine watching my child get punched in front of me. By this time, there were tears streaming down my face, and I was fighting not to go into “the ugly cry.”

It was all just so sad, with plenty of mothers in the crowd who got up and asked why they had to teach their children how to act in front of the police. The chief’s response was nothing short of victim-shaming. I wish I’d taken out my keyboard when I got there, because I type fast enough that I could have recorded the whole thing and I would have had his exact words on record. They are lost to me now, but it was basically that it was up to the black and brown people to prove their innocence rather than white cops becoming more racially sensitive. As one woman eloquently stated, “America’s biggest sin (slavery) has become America’s greatest lie.” She talked about a ’50s congressman who said that black people were an inferior and dependent race… and that policemen should be required to read everything they can about slavery and Jim Crow, specifically Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.

It was required reading in tenth grade at HSPVA, and I burned through it in about an hour and a half, then read it again. She was right; education begets prevention… as well as, as other people suggested, better personality tests that look for racism when applying to the academy.

Because the saying is not “it’s only a few bad apples.” The saying is “one bad apple spoils the bunch.” There’s no way to make policing perfect, but if you see a black man as intimidating and a white man as inherently innocent, there’s going to be issues.

Going to be? It’s happening right now.

Millions of years ago, Africa birthed me. There is no such thing as race. We just like to pretend there is. There is no one on earth that wasn’t “born” in Africa. Our skin just got lighter the further we walked away from it.

Our skin got lighter, and our sin got darker.

For instance, there are still slave owners on our money. I can’t imagine taking George Washington off of the one dollar bill, and I also can’t imagine being black and the sickening knowing of just how many slaves worked on his plantation… and he is just an example when there are many.

The biggest lie in American politics is that we couldn’t have formed the US without abolishing slavery as it was happening. There are no clauses in “all men are created equal.”

And yet, even today, there are…. we just don’t write them down.

French Roast and Chia Pudding

All you have to do to make “pudding” is put chia seeds in coconut milk and let them expand. It doesn’t take as long as regular pudding to set, and I am all about it. Last night I prepared two containers so that they’d be ice cold by this morning, and I was not disappointed. I use Trader Joe’s Vanilla Coconut Beverage, and I generally put a few Splenda in there, as well. That way I can eat dessert for breakfast, because I’m an adult.

I’ve had Bulletproof coffee two days in a row, so I skipped it this morning in favor of black French Roast, because I reasoned that I did not need the good fats from the coconut milk and chia seeds AS WELL AS grass-fed butter and coconut oil. I assume that by “coconut beverage,” they mean it is somewhere between coconut water and Coco Lopez. Speaking of Coco Lopez, the virgin pina colada was my favorite mocktail growing up, especially at Benihana, where they’d put it in a glass shaped like a geisha girl (hey, maybe that’s MY ROOT!). Then, when I was older, I learned that Coco Lopez has approximately a zillion calories and 85 grams of fat per can. Then I wasn’t so taken with them anymore. Remember that I have not always been the size of a fourteen year old boy.

So I’m glad I’ve found this happy medium, because coconut beverage has just the right amount of good fat and protein to sugars ratio. I was right. I do have more energy. I can’t remember the last time I prepared something at night to eat in the morning after I got home from work… or perhaps it was the shot in the arm I got from the French Fries I ate….

Last night I waited too long to eat, driving around trying to find what I thought would be a good fit for my high fat, low sugar diet. I should have gone to Taco Bell (no, seriously) because a power bowl would have been perfect. Or perhaps Cava, a greek fast-food place that does a mean salad with lentils. Instead, I ended up at a wings place, because I thought naked wings and celery/carrots would be perfect. Except they didn’t have naked wings, and by the time I ordered, I didn’t care. I felt like all the life energy was draining out of my ear. Some of their kitchen equipment was broken, so they didn’t have the ability to make what I originally ordered, a salad with grilled catfish. I was too tired to drive anywhere else, so fried wings and potatoes it was. I picked off most of the skin, and they were dry as hell. Somebody needs to teach those kids how to use a deep fryer….

The lesson learned was that I need to go back to TJ’s and get some more salads and snacks so that I don’t get into that desperate place again. Today has to be about damage control, which means lots and lots of veggies.

My allergies are also in high gear, which means that even taking Zyrtec isn’t enough. I’m taking Sudafed PE as well. I may not be able to take a crap until fall.

Despite all that, though, it’s exciting to be excited about food again. It’s been such a part of my life in the past, and shopping for myself allows me to get a little bit of it back. Hell, I’m excited to be excited about anything. Depression and anxiety suck excitement right out of you at an alarming rate… and that is the whole point of this diet- to try and give my brain what it needs in addition to my medication to function properly. Nutrition is such an important part of physical and mental health, and I am sorry I didn’t get on that bandwagon much sooner.

It’s a conundrum when you don’t have money, because shopping at the Dollar Tree is filling, but not necessarily nutritious. Now that I have enough money to shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s all the time, I can afford to feed my brain as well as my stomach. If you’ve ever wondered why a lot of poor people are overweight, it’s because guess what food is the cheapest? The shittiest. I could save a lot of money per month if I ate a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s every day, but it would do nothing for my mental health, and the bad fats far outweigh the good ones, as well as the extraordinary amount of sugar in the bun and in the ketchup.

Plus, I’m not really spending my money on anything else. I’d rather spend what seems like a fortune at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and then realize that it’s not a fortune when I’m more full for far longer, and I don’t have to tip.

I’m stepping into the future by feeding my brain, one day at a time… because the better I feel, the less time I have to ruminate on the past. I tend to get stuck in the past when I don’t feel good enough about myself to dream forward.

Speaking of dreaming, I found the herbal chewable sleeping pills that I like at Dollar Tree, and got some Tylenol PM to keep me asleep. Yesterday night, I woke up from 0200-0300, which probably also played a part in making poor decisions last evening. The herbal is mostly melatonin, which is great at helping me fall asleep, but not so great at keeping me there.

I think the combination of the two is ideal, because I slept so deeply that I did not dream. I am ambivalent about dreaming, because sometimes I get the time with my friends that I want, and sometimes I get long ruminations on fear, anxiety, depression, etc…. like a blog entry that runs through the night and I can’t tell when it’s going to end because I have no sense of time. I am very much into lucid dreaming, where I can direct myself where I want to go. It’s the lack of control that makes me feel crazy, because I when I can’t direct myself, sometimes I end up in a very bad place that reinforces everything about myself that I hate.

For instance, I really like when I can start out thinking about coffee with Bryn, where we can sit for hours with a pot between us, catching up on our lives. I don’t like when I end up in the deep, dark recesses of my memory… the skeletons in my closet that won’t exorcise themselves without a massive amount of Freudian psychoanalysis. For me, the way forward is releasing the past, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy so that I can learn to create healthy habits (and perhaps not lose things quite so often…). And as I get better, I want to switch to a gestalt approach that sees me for all of who I am, the blessings and the curses rolled together.

I am a psychology minor (finished that already, actually), so I have taken enough classes to know what I do and do not want out of a therapist. I might even be willing to try hypnosis once to see if I am susceptible to it, because there are so many memories under my skin that I cannot quite reach, and perhaps hypnotherapy will “make it so.”

Depression and anxiety started for me when I was a pre-teen, probably about fifth grade, because I remember clearly when I was that age my parents telling me that I could not sleep all day. In those days, I was struggling with my sexuality, knowing even at 10 or 11 that I was attracted to women, and how wrong it was… or perhaps not wrong, but felt wrong in light of the fact that I did not have any friends who were struggling like I was, so there was no frame of reference for it being a normal part of the human spectrum. It is one of the only helpful things that came out of meeting Diane when I was 12, because she reassured me that feelings for girls were normal. My NE Texas friends did not handle it quite as well, as you can imagine.

At that time in my life, moving to Houston was the best thing that had ever happened to me, because I was no longer limited to a small town where my girl friends ranged from straight to straight-er.

Straight, No Chase-her… little jazz haha for you there.

And on that note, I have six minutes until I need to leave for the office. Have a good day, everyone. I know I will.:)

5″4 and Bulletproof

Editor’s Note: I know that I’m 5’4. That’s just a little Spinal Tap humor for you there…. HAHAHAHA…..

It’s funny.

Yesterday I decided to change my life, hopefully for the better. I went to Trader Joe’s and bought the best fats I could possibly find, and lots and lots of salad. The only thing I didn’t grab was avocados, but I got coconut milk, coconut oil, Kerrygold butter, chia seeds, kale chips, broccoli chips, and dark, dark chocolate (85%). Both the kale and the broccoli chips are excellent, but I’m going to have to learn to make my own. Roasting them in the oven in infinitely preferable to the amount of fat and calories in a processed bag, but I bought them to see if I liked them first. I am trying to eat as few carbs as possible because the sugar spike and crash all day long, plus their lack of nutrients, is not helping me in my goal toward mental and physical health. For breakfast I had sprouted toast with almond butter and a small piece of dark chocolate. For lunch I had two vegan “chicken,” feta and spinach sausages, and then a pudding I made myself out of chia seeds and coconut milk with oatmeal and apples from a mix (trying to use it up- it will be grains next time), and for dinner I had Bulletproof coffee, which I thought was okay because there’s not really enough caffeine in it to keep me up. Bulletproof is a tablespoon of Kerrygold, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and eight ounces of coffee brewed strong. I use a very dark roast, and the longer you roast the beans, the more the caffeine leeches out. And when was the last time I only had eight oz of coffee at a time? I’m thinking a quarter to never o’clock.

You’re supposed to have it early in the morning, but once I got all the stuff to make it, I was too excited not to try it right away.

As I have said before, I am not vegetarian, but I enjoy it most days. Others, I am one of those cheeseburger with bacon-eating vegetarians… although I do care about cows’ rights, in that I do not buy the cheapest meat you can get. I would rather eat from a cow I know was grass-fed and treated well while it was alive. If you’ve seen Food, Inc., you know what I mean. The meat I eat is Temple Grandin approved.

I used to hate grass-fed beef because I thought it tasted funny. I got over it.

I will also never truly adopt vegetarianism because you know what tastes so good it will make you cry on a veggie burger? Bacon. Dana and I used to make them at Biddy’s all the time, because you know what ELSE makes a veggie burger delicious? Dropping it in the deep fryer.

The point is not to lose weight, but to keep my headaches at bay from the way I used to eat, which was making my blood sugar go up and down all day long. If I start to gain weight, I know I’m not exercising enough… which I’ve been worried about ever since I got my car, anyway. In the spring, when it wasn’t hot enough to roast garlic on the sidewalk, I used to walk the two miles to the Metro frequently. I’ll need to find another way to exercise, though, because with the overhaul, the Metro is not reliable enough to get me to work on time every morning. There’s a trail that runs from my house all the way to the White House (parallel to 16th), so perhaps I will take up running. Even if I am moving at a snail’s pace, it’s still better than driving. Plus, while I was so depressed and anxious that I couldn’t move, I isolated so much that I lost muscle mass and Dana started to worry, because she was the only one I let see me with my shirt off. My pecs had wasted away like an anorexic’s… so even if I am heavier on the scale, I know it’s no thing if I’m exercising. It just means that I am burning the fat that needs to go and gaining the muscle that needs to arrive.

Yes, I am small. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to get rid of the fat that consistently hovers around my abdomen, and if I lost weight in my breasts, it would actually make me happy, because then my shirts would fit better and my suspenders would stay in place. I love looking sharp and crispy. I have exactly one pair of “girl jeans” and one shirt in which my current rack makes jaws drop, but it doesn’t always make me happy to wear them. Because I wear sharp and crispy 99% of the time, I tend to feel like I’m in drag, or as the gay boys say, “all nellied out…” But it doesn’t exactly feel like me. It feels more like Leslie Lanagan.™ Because when I wear that shit, I also want to put on the makeup that goes with it, otherwise I really just look like a small boy who wears his mother’s clothes.

Being the genderfluid, female-identified person that I am, I am not without my girly moments. For instance, I’ve started getting my nails done, and today they are dark green with different colors of glitter mixed in. I tell my manicurist to cut my nails really short because “I type all day,” which is code for “lesbian.” I do type all day, but I also commit what is, I believe, a necessary sin of omission. Besides, acryllic makes it where there are no rough edges.

Theoretically, I could have my nails as long as I want, because technically typing is the only thing about which I have to worry… but that’s none of your business…. although it does lead to a very embarrassing story on my part. I was talking to a Marine and she apologized for her bad typing, saying she had fat fingers. I have no idea what the hell I was thinking, but I said, “I’ve always wanted a well-hung soldier.” It just slipped out. I think I had Tourette’s that day. Anywho, she had no idea what I meant, and I said, “good GOD. If I have to explain it to you, I will blush until I die.” This is just one of the many, many times I have been embarrassed by my “think it, say it” plan. Having no filter is going to get my ass kicked one day, and I will probably deserve it.

Back to you, Bob. Let’s go to the phones.

Every time I’ve talked to someone or seen someone on TV that has transitioned away from carbs and onto grains, greens, and healthy fats has had more energy and stayed fuller much longer, therefore no need to snack all day because their blood sugar isn’t crashing every half hour and telling them they need to eat again. It’s the “more energy” that I’m most looking forward to, because I don’t want to be so insular anymore. I want to have energy to get out and explore my city, which is pretty much all walking, all the time. Even if I drive into DC, that doesn’t mean the parking space is going to be within a mile of where I actually want to go. I’d rather keep my car at the house when going into the city, because the Metro is fantastic (when it works). Parking is expensive, and an Uber to the station when I don’t feel like walking or taking the bus is much less, even if I hitch a ride both ways AND pay for the train.

Speaking of going into the city, it wasn’t exactly “the city,” but I did go to Alexandria on Saturday and found that the friends I was meeting live on “Leslie Ave.” I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of the sign… If Meag had been there, I am sure that we would have stolen one. When we were 18, we stole one of the handicapped signs from one of the Baptist churches in Sugar Land. Don’t ask me why. I think it was for Meag’s bedroom, because she already had a Canadian stop sign that said both “Stop” and “Arret.” Technically, all I did was drive the getaway car, but if we’d been caught, it wouldn’t have been any better for me. The take-home message is that if I ever move to Alexandria, I know where I want to live.:)

Speaking of moving to NoVA, I don’t think it will happen. I just don’t. I didn’t like living there 15 years ago because even though NoVA is the most liberal place I’d lived to date, the laws in the STATE of Virginia are controlled by Richmond. Annapolis is much more liberal than Richmond ever will be, because as I’ve said before, there are still state Congressmen who are sad they lost the “War of Northern Aggression.” Maryland is technically under the Mason-Dixon line, but Annapolis and Richmond couldn’t be more different. I think it’s because of the proximity to New York, Pennsylvania, etc. That’s my educated guess, anyway. If you know the real reason, feel free to leave it in the comments. As for living in The District, it’s kind of a no-man’s land. Congressional oversight often means Congressional no-sight. In fact, for years and years, 5:00 PM in DC was known as “white flight.” It is only in the last 10-15 years that DC has truly gentrified and there are more livable residential areas. When I lived here before, there were tourist areas and ghettos, with no middle class… and even now, it is upper middle class because it is hideously expensive. Housing prices are what the market will bear, and DC is only 60 square miles… and nothing can be taller than the Capitol, so there’s no way to build up, either.

That being said, I am very proud of the work that the mayor, Muriel Bowser, is doing… but I miss Anthony Williams and his little bow tie. I didn’t always agree with him politically, but I always agreed with his outfits.

Plus, moving to Virginia feels like giving up on the work that needs to be done in Montgomery County. Jeffrey Thames can’t be the only one fighting the good fight. He’s a Marine that runs toward the danger, no matter what kind. He supports so many people that I want to be one of the ones that supports him (spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically…). So perhaps even a move into Takoma Park is ill-advised. We shall see what we shall see. I am so happy where I am that there’s no reason to think about moving now.

What I need to concentrate on right now is building up enough energy and stamina to be able to keep up a school and work schedule simultaneously. I wish I could start at Howard right now, but as I have said before, they do not have a political science department and my hours would be lost in the shuffle. Not losing that B+ from Wall. I was sad that I didn’t get an A, but a B+ in his Con Law class was an A+ anywhere else in the university. So, I’m staying at UH, taking classes on the system I originally helped set up. It’s amazing how things circle back like that. I don’t think I’ll have any problems.

I mean, I type all the time.😛

In the News

I have a friend in DC who works behind the news, so every time something terrible happens across the world, I wonder if they might be in the crossfire, shaping the story that will live in people’s memories long afterward. I’m not, but it’s like being friends with Anderson Cooper, except I don’t have the asurance of seeing them on TV every night, because if you’re watching Cooper on TV, you know he’s still alive.

So I watch, I wait, and I can’t help but worry a little bit, because who wouldn’t? Last night I was in the middle of watching the previews for “Ghostbusters” and playing with my phone (though I turned it off when the lights went down) when the news came across regarding the coup in Turkey (pronounced “Turkia,” according to Hayat). I was glad that I was doing something entirely distracting when I saw it, because I didn’t have time to wonder whether they were at the DC desk or on a plane toward the danger. I was with a very large group of friends that I met through Dan & Autumn. Dan works at State, so she was just as distracted as me when she came home from work, because of course the story broke for her faster than it did the rest of us. When I left for the night, I pulled Danni into a big hug, only now realizing why. Holding onto her was a little bit of prayer… both for the innocents and the NOT. It never hurts to pray that enemies will calm their little asses down.

Speaking of which, I pray for Donald Trump all the time, just for that very reason. Of course, my prayers for Donald Trump always include, “please, just go away.” When other Republicans are skipping the convention just because they don’t like you, perhaps you’ve gone too far. However, I pray for the Republicans that are skipping the convention, as well, because I hope they change their minds if they are in any kind of voting capacity. A brokered convention would help the Republican cause, because God forbid the Republicans win, I’d rather it be someone else… anyone else. I would rather vote for Forrest Gump.

I think that Clinton will pick up the votes from the Republicans who are terrified of a Trump presidency, canceling out the Bernie voters who, apparently, would rather eat glass than vote for someone, at the very least, sane. I hate the people who are picking Hillary out as such a villain over this e-mail thing, when Dick Cheney and George W. Bush didn’t even have private servers… they were deleting damning e-mails from the official record… comparable to the infamous Nixon 18 minutes and 36 seconds (p.s. “Dick” is now one of my favorite movies- see it for free on Crackle).

I’m writing this from my local Starbucks, where I am very excited to announce that now there are USB ports built into the wall plugs. Nice not to have to carry a block for my iPad anymore. Just an aside, more distraction from what I believe is an epidemic of negative world events. It’s the little things that make me happy.

For instance, I ordered a nutrition supplement from Bryn that not only acts as a sugar buster, I’ve had this rash all over me for years, and within two weeks of taking it, the rash was gone. I thought I was going to have to be showering with dandruff shampoo until Jesus came… which, incidentally, is awesome if you want to smell like sulfur and mint. #eyeroll

I felt vindicated in buying a supplement when I started watching this show called “My Diet is Better Than Yours,” wherein one of the trainers said that a dietary supplement is necessary because foods grown today are not as nutritionally dense as they used to be. I also don’t eat as much as I should most days, so it ensures I am still getting the brain food I need regardless… as well as the aforementioned sugar buster, chromium picolinate. It has really helped, because sugary snacks used to be the only thing that would get me to eat. It doesn’t suppress my appetite, just the craving for gummies, chocolate, etc.

The next thing for which I am truly grateful is that my mom sent me a “TV Guide” type magazine with “Claire” and “Jamie” from Outlander (Starz) on the front and a section of the newspaper in which my dad’s best friend and trumpet player, Noe Marmelejo, was on the front. She does this for me from time to time, just as her mother did for her- putting news articles in the mail that would be of interest. For instance, I still have the section of the newspaper in which two players on the Houston Dash married each other.

I am not really into the TV show as much as the books. I’ve watched all of season one and the first episode of season 2, but it doesn’t match up with my imagination as I’m reading, so I’d rather keep that intact. For instance, I was really rooting for Karen Gillan to get the role of Bree, because I thought that only a role as rich as Bree Fraser was worthy of someone who played Amy Pond. She isn’t Bree, so I’d rather picture Karen in the role in my head. I am sure I will eventually watch the rest of the TV show to feed what “That’s Normal” calls “Droughtlander,” because I am waiting with bated breath for the next and final book to come out.

It was “The L___nator” who recommended Outlander to me in the first place, and I wasn’t thrilled with it at first. But she didn’t know the magic words that would have gotten me to stick with it… Jamie is based on a “Doctor Who” companion. The fact that Diana Gabaldon is a Whovian would have rocked my world. I picked up book one several times before it really caught my attention, and then I read all 8,000 pages in like, three weeks. At that time, I didn’t have a job, so any moment in which I wasn’t working on resumes, attending appointments, etc. I was reading… and then I read all of the novellas and the “Lord John Grey” series, because at that time in my life, Lord John was not just a character. He was a reflection of me. If you’ve never read the books, Lord John is desperately in love with Jamie, and though he knows he can never have him, the feelings never leave him… but Lord John and Jamie are connected for the rest of their lives, a deep connection and bond that surpasses understanding…. and if you have to ask why I wrote that, you haven’t been paying attention.😛

It feels good not to be in that place anymore, shedding feelings of love and attention and even friendship, because “my Argo” isn’t “my Argo” anymore. She stepped on my head one too many times, and though there are situations in which I cannot deal with the sadness of it all, just how much I lost, it feels even better to put shoe leather into relationships that value it. I will never be the same person I was before I met her, but I don’t have to be. I can just take the lessons I learned and keep our memories safe and pure in my heart of hearts. I want to cast away all of the fighting and just remember how much we meant to each other at that time in our lives, rather than the cloth that bound us unstitching with a violent rip.

Excuse me while I rattle on, because I can’t think of Outlander without thinking of Argo. They go hand in hand, because the book explained me to me in a way I needed so badly when I read it. It became a goal to turn Argo from my Jamie into my Jenny, and it failed over and over. But I cannot say that I didn’t do all I could to prevent it from becoming a clusterfuck of enormous proportion. I made a mistake that made her uncomfortable, and anything positive I’d ever done was thrown out the window in a hot second, rather than listening to what I was saying… please don’t fault me for my curious nature. Please don’t box me into this dark place, the person you think I am instead of the person I actually am. Please don’t leave me. Please don’t give up on me. I am more than the sum of my parts if only you could see me with fresh eyes.

I recognized her discomfort, how my mistakes must have come across to her, empathy flowing from me until she threatened me and I lost my shit… which only proved to her how right she was, instead of recognizing that my fight-or-flight (or freeze) went off and I thought I had to protect myself, putting up walls of defense that never should have gone up in the first place. I reacted instead of responding, and spent days afterward in a deep depression because I’d failed myself. I promised myself that next time she tried to ratchet up my fear, I’d simply walk away and think about it. That I would craft a proportional response, but not one of anger. One with more love, more care, just more… showing that I didn’t want to up the ante anymore. That flew out the window as my breath shortened and my eyebrows went over my forehead. It is my eternal hope that one day she’ll realize she was trying to kill a gnat with a two by four. Because as things stand now, every time I go to visit friends in Virgina, I Google Earth that shit to make sure it’s not anywhere near her. What I know for sure is that running into each other would be a bad surprise for both of us, especially me, because I have a lot of shame to own, and it feels like crap that I can’t.

Because I’d stand in front of her, emotionally laid bare, and just cry it out, even though sometimes I hate it when I….. emote (inside joke for Dana & Amy). I would hope that doing such a thing would allow us to laugh again, but I can’t hope anymore. What will be will be, and what won’t just won’t. Keeping hope alive doesn’t hurt anyone but me.

However, it doesn’t stop me from talking about her, verbally processing grief in order to leave it behind. Right now, it is extremely loud and incredibly close, but will become less so the more I move on with my life. Her presence as one of the angels on my shoulder is a comfort and not a catastrophe. When I’m truly ready, she’ll fly away, just as Diane did long ago, because I was no longer interested in grieving her because I realized that the hurt she’d caused me far outweighed her idea of friendship. With Argo, it’s much different than that. Argo will fly when I am able to forgive myself. I was an adult using childish language because I just hadn’t had enough time to process trauma and it was keeping me from “aging up.” Her life raft of friendship floated down the river without me, and I cannot say it was ever undeserved. But that doesn’t mean that just because I caused a lot of our negativity and toxicity that it hurts any less. I have no one to blame but my own hands, typing into the void without taking into account that I was writing to a real person with real feelings when I would get angry and pop off. Her story to me is that she never sent me anything negative unless it was in response to one of my shitty e-mails, as if she’d never taken anything out of context and therefore, I wasn’t reacting to her shitty e-mails. I was the sole cause, even when I didn’t mean to be. If you’re looking for fighting words, you’re going to find them whether they’re there or not.

I keep the one e-mail where she truly laid herself bare and apologized to me in the pocket of my Kindle, so that I can take it out and read it when I feel the most pain. It’s been in there for over a year now, and I don’t think I’ll ever take it out. Memories are a powerful thing, and just one more step in the right direction as I realize that our relationship is starting to rest in peace. I got the apology I wanted and needed; nothing more needs to be said. The hard part is taking the chord that runs between us and trying to sever it, because it is manhole cover in size. It is in these moments that I remember the words of Ludwig Bemelmans: she turned off the light, and closed the door. That’s all there is. There isn’t any more.

If there’s a sequel, it will be in the news.

Manual Labor

What we perceive about ourselves is greatly a reflection of how we will end up living our lives.

– Stephen Richards

Whether I think I can or I can’t, I’m right. I’m sure someone greater than me originally said those words, but I am thinking about them today. Co-dependency for me started in childhood, and has followed me all the days of my life… or at least, it did. Writing gave me a chance to let go of some of those fucks. I became driven to own my life, my mistakes in it, and verbally processing my interactions with others so that especially down the line, I got some clarity on them. It is cleansing to me to look back over the past months and years, realizing that I’ve gotten stronger instead of less so, because I realized that if everyone was allowed to take up emotional space, I wasn’t using mine… that being said, no one will ever have a real name on this web site unless they choose. I’d like for my next partner to be a real person, but it is not necessary. I gave Diane Syrcle a “Google Tattoo” because what happened between us happened when the balance of power was ludicrous. I was a child. She was an adult.

It may not have seemed predatory on her end, but it didn’t just come across to me that way. My parents and my adult friends would have had to jail me to keep me away from her, and God knows they tried. But they couldn’t see the underground letters and phone calls that kept our relationship alive against what is now my better judgment, because I am old enough now to see it from a parent’s perspective and not the swirl of emotion I was feeling then. When I started seriously thinking about having children, I thought about what it must have been like for my own parents as they tried to control my interactions with Diane, as they should’ve, but didn’t count on the fact that we both got sneaky about how letters and calls were executed.

To add insult to injury, I had an age-appropriate friendship with a 12-year-old at my church in which sometimes we were in choir together and a few times I helped her with her homework. Everything was above board, I was friends with her mom (and good friends at that, not someone I just knew peripherally), and she was the one who entrusted me with the ability to spend time with her daughter. Diane wrote said friend an e-mail and told her that my relationship with her daughter seemed predatory… and even then, I didn’t allow myself to get angry with her. Blood just ran out of my face and I stared into space, white with fear.

Thanks, Hector Projector.

A healthy relationship with Diane at that age would have been Diane’s good relationship with my parents and their allowance of access to me once she’d been vetted… and they were looking for any reason at all to have her arrested. At that age, things had been so logical. I hadn’t been physically abused, so abuse did not exist. I could not report what was not there.

Second of all, an arrest would have happened over my dead body, even if physical abuse had occurred. By that time, I was so enmeshed in her problems that I just wanted to solve them, and the ruminations ate me up. I wouldn’t have wanted to add to them for anything in the world… because that’s what children do when they’re afraid for their abuser instead of being scared of them. Plus, the thing that kept my weird shitometer at bay was thinking that everyone in my life was just prejudiced against gay people. I wasn’t wrong. They were. We weren’t doing anything wrong, we were just oppressed. I had another friend who, at the time, thought she was standing up for me by saying, “you leave them alone. They’re kindred spirits and they’re going to need each other.” However, even though that was the truth, it wasn’t all of it. You could see the transformation in my personality almost overnight as I went from handling 7th grade problems to 24-year-old problems, and since they were much more interesting, my grades and school life began to suffer, and I didn’t academically recover until college, except for English, but only when I had to write papers… and even then, they were rushed all-nighters without ever going to a library. I made up the entire bibliography because I knew all the publishers and I created great title names for my “sources.” It never caught up to me. I got As on all of them… except for my senior paper, because not only was I sick and missed three weeks of school, I was working hard on my then-girlfriend’s paper, and of course, hers meant more to me than mine. I got an A on that one, too.

By then, Diane had moved away, but the rewiring had been done over our two years in the same city, and was now irreparable… it has showed in every relationship since.

I am not a child anymore, so there is no reason to report. No reason to hold someone accountable to that level. Even as I write through my problems, I am writing around them. Sometimes I reflect on the fact that there’s more in the spaces than there is in the words, and how I may need to learn to write fiction. Because I know I can’t do it on my own. It’s a craft, and for whatever reason, I don’t got it.

But, of course, even in fiction there are parts of me that will stay inside, because we all have those demons that shouldn’t come out. I am much more well-suited for a manual entitled “What NOT to Do.”

….and perhaps, I’m writing it right now.

Amen.
#prayingonthespaces

Eavesdropping

One of the best parts of going to SBUX in the morning is eavesdropping on other people’s conversations without them realizing I’m even there. Sometimes I’ll interject, saying, “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhear…” Most of the time, though, it’s just things that are funny to me internally. The thing that I am most likely on which to comment is when women are being too hard on themselves.

It seems as if every morning, some woman will approach another, whether they know each other or not, and say, “do I look okay?” And it’s never “ugly” women who do it. It’s gorgeous blondes with perfect skin and perfect breasts with an ass that won’t quit and an outfit that pulls it all together and still, they cannot see themselves as they are. My first response internally is always, “who did this to you? Who took the beauty you exude to the world and made you feel so self-conscious that you have to ask strangers in a coffee house if you’re pretty enough to go to work?” You would think that if I thought they looked that perfect, they’d just be the type of woman who fishes for compliments, but you’d have to hear their tones of voice to know the incredible underlying insecurity. And, for the record, I do not think that any woman is “ugly,” just using a descriptive adjective to illustrate that even supernaturally gorgeous women experience the same feelings of imperfection as everyone else.

If I am within earshot, again, I will say, “I couldn’t help but overhear… and you look beautiful.” The smile that crosses their lips lights up my day, because they know I mean it if I’m willing to interrupt what I’m doing just to say so… and because of the way I look, I can’t help but think that my compliment means a little more because they can tell I’m into women, anyway… that I would know gorgeous when I saw it.

I always wonder if these are women who just lost an incredible amount of weight, because for a long time after I went from a size 12 to a size 5/6, I still saw myself as large, even though my clothes were too big in the dressing room. I kept all my size 12s for Dana, because as she began to lose weight, it was a victory to “get herself into my pants.” [As an aside, that’s one of the plusses of being a lesbian- your closet doubles.]

In my own history, though, I don’t tend to go for pretty. As my friend Phil told me when I was dating Kathleen, “pretty is a dime a dozen… cute is dangerous.” Ummm, yeah, it is. I once came close to breaking my nose on a door trying not to notice.😛

I tend to go for women who carry themselves with confidence no matter how they look, because nothing is more unattractive to me than insecurity over looks, because it is a never-ending monologue of, “no, you look great… please don’t change clothes again.” I sincerely believe that part of this insecurity is propelled by the women’s fashion industry, because every store has a different cut for every size. A six is not a six in every store… so in some stores, you feel great in a six… and when you have to go to another store and a six doesn’t fit the eight does, you don’t say, “well, the clothes are cut differently,” you think you’ve gotten fatter in the 15 minutes it took you to drive to a different store.

One of the advantages of wearing men’s pants is that inches are inches, amen. I can go to any clothing store in the world and a 29/30 is just that. With boys’ clothes, I’ve never found a 16 that doesn’t fit… it’s the same across stores, because men won’t put up with that shit, and the clothing industry knows it. Women, if you’re feeling insecure, try on a pair of men’s jeans. That way, you’ll know for sure what size your waist is regardless of how much women’s clothes try to fuck with you, to tell you that you are less than perfect.

Because to me, you certainly are.

Amen.
#prayingonthespaces

Venti Iced Green Tea

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Louis Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

H. Jackson Brown

I’ve been thinking a lot about time now that I’m almost 39 (on Sept. 10th). When this quote came up on my wallpaper changer, I thought it expressed something I desperately needed to hear. Lots of these people did not hit their full potential until later in life. I have been told since kindergarten that I haven’t been “working up to my full potential,” mostly because my ADD was not diagnosed, and I had a hard time focusing on the tasks right in front of me. Then, in middle school, trauma added to regular ADD to make thinking about my home life 20 times more than I could ever focus on homework, unless I was trying to impress a girl. I got way better grades on their homework than I did on my own… a cautionary tale that would follow me my whole life. I could handle other people’s problems better than I could focus on my own… getting their lives together in a matter of minutes while my own languished behind.

I think that’s why I have been so selfishly inward at this time in my life, because I am tired of trying to make everyone else happy without realizing that I am wasting my own emotional toolbox, because I am directing it it outward without applying everything I’ve learned to, well, me.

If I am going to realize the dreams I have for myself, this must be the case. I cannot bring “my stuff” into the “swimsuit competition” of ordination. I have to resolve it so that I am not directing other people’s problems with what I would do, but able to listen without waiting to talk, waiting to pass judgment, waiting to deal with their problems swiftly and easily, when that is generally not what people want or need. They just want to be heard. This realization hit me over the head, and I realized that I did not have to internalize other people’s problems, I only had to step away and look with clinical separation… in short… Boundaries. Get some.

Pastors are generally called in during the worst times in people’s lives, because that is when they need pastoral care the most. I will never make a good one if I become those problems, taking them on and walking around in them as if they are my own. I know from my past that it interrupts my thought process and my dreams… because while I have never been a pastor, I have been that friend/girlfriend… giving them everything they didn’t need instead of everything they did. In some sense, you’re allowed to walk around in your friends’ problems, because they agree to walk in yours. But is it particularly helpful? You cannot pour from an empty cup, and dealing with others’ problems, no matter how close they are to you, is an easy way to start giving from nothing. Healthy reactions are built on the knowledge that self-preservation is what allows you to keep giving, day by day. Unhealthy reactions are built on allowing yourself to be “emotionally vampired,” and most of the time it happens organically, because you care about them so much that you allow it. Your emotional life is built on what you will allow. Life starts to make sense when you realize you cannot allow other people to drain you and still keep giving at the same time, because again, you cannot pour from an empty cup.

It is not even sane or reasonable to allow yourself to “emotionally vampire” other people because they’re doing the same to you. It just invites co-dependence, so that you are no longer responsible for your own well-being. Relationships are an interdependence, whereas both people have to remain strong for themselves, allowing verbal processing, but not making it where I worry more about your pain because you’re worrying about mine. That experience is hard won, and you can take it to the bank and cash it.

…because if you cannot stand on your own two feet, it bleeds into other areas of your life, particularly if you are in a profession that invites other people to open up to you because they see you as a “safe space.” You cannot have that co-dependence with everyone who walks into your office. Not only is it not healthy, but a power imbalance that is not easily broken, and completely and totally inappropriate.

I process in order to find out who I am, so that by the time I am ordained, I am secure in myself so that “crazy spatter” is limited to my own head and not imposed on others. It’s been a good decision, because the only thing over which I have absolute control are my own actions/reactions and responses. The difference between the two is time. A reaction is knee-jerk. A response is thoughtful, and requires craft.

I think all the time about what might have happened with Kathleen and Dana had I been willing to respond rather than react. It’s the same with close friends, but even more so with intimate relationships because with both women, I wanted to spend my life with them. Who enters into a marriage thinking it’s going to end? If you do, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a lot of ways, I should have thought about that before I married Dana, because she was convinced from our first date on that I would leave her… and nothin’ says lovin’ like we’re just going to break up, anyway. I’ve used that line before, and it is still just as true now as the first time I thought it. My relationship with Dana was everything I thought it would be and more, both of us willing to forgive an enormous amount of shit in the name of supporting each other through our trials and tribulations. I don’t know why Argo was different, but she was. Perhaps by that time, we both realized what a shitshow our relationship had become, because we were both hiding behind enormous masks of funny… resentment and anger boiling under the surface, but never bubbling up to the top so we could deal with it together. But it wasn’t always like that. We were a team right up until we weren’t.

Argo hit the nail on the head when she said, “you guys have taken care of each other over the years… this implosion is not good.” No. No, it wasn’t. I have realized over time that falling in love with Argo’s mind was not an action, but a reaction to all the loneliness and sadness I felt over the implosion, because it was an injection of dopamine at a time when I desperately needed to feel good about myself. Argo is so incredibly brilliant logically that it took me away from Dana’s depression and her unwillingness to pull herself out of it. I realized that I could not be responsible for her happiness, only she could do that. I begged her parents to help me, and it worked for a time, but the limitation of them being in DC and us being in Houston could only do so much. If Argo had anything to do with our breakup, it wasn’t the way I felt about her so much as the fact that she helped me see all the pieces on the chessboard instead of always trying to play White.

I should have played Black more. I should have listened more and talked less. I should have kept forgiving over and over, rather than being offended, angry, and resentful… because sometimes it is better to take one for the team instead of being right and alone. It might have kept the emotional swings at bay…. or maybe not. Perhaps our relationship had run its course, and it took stepping away to see it, because there is only so much you can do to pull others out of their depression when you don’t know what to do about your own. That problem might have resolved itself if we’d both learned to deal with anger appropriately.

But we didn’t.

I have talked over and over about the bait-and-switch Dana began to levy at me once Argo came into our lives, because all of the sudden, we couldn’t fight and forgive regarding our own problems without Dana making it all about how she thought I was on my way out the door. Nothing could have been farther from the truth, but it was her reality, and I should have paid more attention to it rather than being lost in my own thoughts.

There are plenty of reasons I was mired in that relationship, but I should have been able to step away with some clinical separation rather than taking on Argo’s problems as my own. However, it is less regret and more realizing with the passage of time all I could have done that I didn’t and forgiving myself for it so that it doesn’t happen again.

Because there are things now that I will not allow.