CIA……… and Bob

Today was my first ITIL v3 Foundations class, and it was a blast. Everyone except me worked for the government, and as we were talking about upgrading old systems, I said something about, “yeah, ’cause Bob’s about to retire,” and that became the running joke of the day. This one guy talked about this old Army system that a few people know how to run, but they have no idea how to extract the data “because Bob’s dead.” My only reply to that was, “they say you can’t take it with you… but apparently, you can.” Bob became an icon for all old technology that’s fading because it is no longer worth the cost of upgrading, or perhaps has to be printed out and retyped because the database no longer matches up to anything in the modern world.

Later on, the instructor gets up in front of the class and says, “let’s talk about CIA… and I don’t mean those guys from Langley.” It’s an acronym, and it stands for Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability. Basically three questions:

  1. Is the data restricted from those who should not have access to it?
  2. Is the data complete and legible to those who do?
  3. Is the data accessible?

The last question has more to do with network connectivity than the data itself, but you get the picture. It’s more a question of network drive redundancy in several different physical locations, because you have to take into account things like Acts of God (in the insurance sense…. I doubt God cares much about your PDFs). In terms of computer support, it means a “follow the sun” approach, something I first experienced at Alert Logic when I worked in Houston and the Cardiff office opened so that I wouldn’t have to stay up all night… so when you have questions about why you can’t access your data at three in the morning, it’s not three in the morning for the people answering the phone.

All of these things prevent disaster recovery, because it’s much easier to set up failover devices preemptively than to rescue a dead hard drive.

This is going to be short, because I have homework to do for tomorrow. I don’t think I’ve had homework in ten years. I bought a new pencil and everything.

More tomorrow once I’ve finished the class and the exam, although I won’t know my results for about three weeks. I better pass, though….

Because Bob’s about to retire.


Sermon for Proper 21, Year C: “Poor People”

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.

-Stephen Colbert

If you are really paying attention to the Gospel today, and I mean REALLY, it will lay out for you everything you need to know about what it means to be Christ in the world, because this scripture does not address sin, but sin of omission.

It means something to see suffering and just walk by. It means something to be okay with letting poor people eat the food you toss in the garbage. It means something to hoard away video game levels‘ worth of money and ignore everything else because hey, you’re not one of them. We are all guilty of grouping together poor people in order to keep them at bay. It’s much harder to know someone and not help them than it is to lump them all in one category because then it’s not personal. They are wholly other, set apart in their apparent lack of work ethic and inability to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and grab on to all the things we have, as if it were just as simple in practice to do so as it is to say those words out loud.

Maybe that’s why this parable is the only one Jesus ever told where someone was given a name. He didn’t say “poor people.” He didn’t say “homeless.” He didn’t say “the sick, the friendless, and the needy.” He used a man’s name… and to GREAT effect.

The man’s name was Lazarus, a variation of Eleazar, which means “God is my help.” Every day he laid in front of the gate to a rich man’s house. The rich man is not named, but over time, theologians have called him “Dives,” which literally just means “rich man.” And we are not talking about just any kind of rich man. We are talking about somone who wore dyed purple robes, hideously expensive even by today’s standards. Someone whose gate was not just a wooden fence, but the kind you’d imagine at a celebrity’s house. Someone who ate Michelin star meals every day in a land where people were lucky to get meat once a week.

By contrast, Lazarus could not get up, so covered in sores that he could not even keep the dogs from licking them. In terms of begging for food, we are not just talking about the crumbs under the table. In those days, there were no napkins or utensils, and it was common practice for everyone to wipe their hands on pieces of bread that were then thrown out. If you’ve ever seen a homeless person taking a cheeseburger out of a trash can and wiping off the coffee grounds first, you get the picture.

The best part of the whole story to me is the first line… “Jesus said to the Pharisees…” It is the ass-kicking they so richly deserve, because these are exactly the people that Jesus is talking about when he mentions “Dives.” Whether or not the Pharisees picked up on the fact that Jesus was talking about them or not is moot. It brings an evil grin to my lips just thinking about it.

In the parable, both men die. The rich man is in hell, and Lazarus is in heaven, and they can see each other. What becomes immediately clear right off the bat is that “Dives” knows the man’s name. He knows Lazarus. He has walked right by him every day, so this was not an unknown person to him. Did “Dives” sin outright? I mean, he didn’t tell him to leave. He didn’t mind that Lazarus ate his trash. But Jesus clearly wants more from us than that.

“Dives” begs for water, and Abraham is unmoved. According to Jesus, Abraham says, “my child, remember that you have received what was good in your lifetime, while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.” “Dives” isn’t tormented for all the things he’s done, but for all the things he failed to do. He walked around with blinders on his whole life and it cost him dearly.

And here is the crux of the gospel that continues to this very day. Jesus preaches Abraham with words so sharp you could pierce steel. Write them down.

Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours. He (“Dives”) says, “Then I beg you, Father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them lest they too come to this place of torment.”

Abraham says that the brothers already have the Torah and the prophets, and “Dives” begs, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”

Abraham’s reply is so chock-full of reality that the words resound today. If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.

The chasm between rich and poor is still here, and we are still so ignorant of it that mummies could dance before our eyes and even then, it might not change our behavior. Charles Dickens was the only person we know of that actually changed someone by making Jacob Marley resurrect, but let us not forget that Ebenezer Scrooge was a fictional character.

And, of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Jimmy Carter is the first person that comes to mind. But there are so many more Christians that say the words rather than putting in a quarter of the shoe leather he does.

We are on a ledge with this election, not in terms of candidates, but in terms of issues. Republicans want to rip apart an already tenuous social safety net aimed to help poor people when they cannot help themselves, particularly the homeless who are mentally ill and often unable to hold a job because of it, thus continuing the problem of homelessness as they go untreated. Democrats support these legislations, but the problem still remains as to how to get money allocated efficiently so that resources go directly to the people they’re trying to help rather than being tied up in overhead.

Many people say that there should be no safety net under poor people by the government because charity organizations exist for people to give privately, but the truth is that they don’t. Charitable contributions are down across the board as the chasm between rich and poor gets deeper and the once great middle class has no extra to give… and the richest of the rich avoid paying taxes due to a series of loopholes so that all the Lazaruses of the world are just left out in the cold. There is no easy way to solve this problem, especially when there is no state in the union where working 40 hours a week leaves enough income to rent a two-bedroom apartment, and God help anyone who’s trying to buy a house.

Where is the hope in all of this? Where can we find succor?

It starts from the inside out, deciding what kind of people we want to be. Do we want to be the type people that think it’s ok for others to eat out of our trash, or do we want to be the type people whose eyes are open wide to the Lazaruses of the world?

Our choice is not to blanket stereotype “poor people,” and learn their names. Learn their histories. Learn what they need, rather than trying to guess.

Because of this chasm between rich and poor, our choice may not be to give money, but we can give time at local soup kitchens. We can see homeless people and buy an extra entree to give away on the way out of a restaurant. Tiny things add up, because what might be a widow’s mite amount of money to you might mean the world to someone else.


Day by Day, Night by Night

I’m in a bad way today. My stomach is still torn up, even though I have finished all the Tamiflu and am still taking the Zofran. But it’s not just feeling physically ill. I found a Facebook memory that took my breath away, and this morning I could not get out of bed, because I just wanted to hide from it and hope it went away.

The physical is much worse than the mental, which is why I decided not to go to the book fair. There is nothing more embarrassing than being out and about in town and realizing you need a bathroom RIGHTNOW. RIGHT THE FUCK NOW. This was not a case of psychosomatic illness, but the after-effects of not being quite over the flu yet, and I didn’t want to push it.

But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t tell you what the Facebook memory was:

Favorite tongue in cheek comment so far, because I love my friends: “I didn’t watch the video, just saw that it existed. I just felt like someone who caused you so much trauma probably wasn’t the best person to tell teens that “it gets better.”

It was Diane Syrcle’s It Gets Better video made at Oregon Ballet Theater. In response to the post, I said something about loving that video, because it showed her without The Mask.™ Then I realized I hadn’t seen it in years, and when I made the egregious mistake of watching it again (at that time, not today), I ended up with vomit on my shirt. That’s because the new context in which I saw it made all my kid nightmares/fears bubble up to the surface and I could not ignore them anymore, as I had for so many years previously. I haven’t watched it since, because things certainly did not get better for me. Only more muddled, more fear-induced, more protection mode for someone who didn’t deserve it.

The same friend in the above quote said that one day she would have no more power over me, and when that day came, I felt a freedom I hadn’t felt since I was 11. There are still selected moments in time where she can still rattle me, but it has more to do with destroying old tapes than it will ever have to do with trying to reconcile something that never should have happened in the first place.

For instance, about a year and a half after I left Portland, I got an e-mail from her that contained a photo of her with a Timbers scarf and a program autographed by every player that said without my influence, she never would have become interested in soccer. My reaction ran thusly… everything I had to say about all the emotional abuse I’d suffered as a teen was already out on this web site, and I have no doubt that she’d followed every word closely. Because I knew this, I said, “we haven’t talked for almost two years and this is the first thing you want to say? Go fuck yourself.” It was a reaction and not a response, but I doubt after thinking about it I would have said anything differently. Pretending like nothing had happened and just wanting to be buddies creeped me the fuck out, and always, always will.

That’s been the hardest part of this whole process… discovering ways in which I felt entirely creeped out and was powerless to do anything about it… and later discovering I wasn’t powerless, it just seemed like it. If I’d been willing to talk as a teenager, I wouldn’t have spent years pouring meat tenderizer on my skin, trying to get the poison out.

It is not a shock to me that I got so ill I had to be hospitalized, because that’s not something that should have happened as an adult. That’s something that should have happened about the time I turned 15, and yet kept everything locked inside until I exploded. I was so lucky that I had a gaggle of women ready to catch me when I fell, but ultimately, it was up to me. Argo gave me a swift kick in the pants when she said, why do you think it’s everyone else’s job to fix you? When she said that, I was on the phone with my insurance company within the hour. I didn’t just need medication by that point, but a cohort of people who’d been through similarly horrifying experiences with which to debrief in a very real, no bullshit sort of way.

I had leaned on Argo & Dana long enough, because they weren’t trained in dealing with mental health issues this severe, and I don’t think I realized the toll it was taking on them to try and be my support system…. because how do you do that when you’re in the situation and not looking down on it? I couldn’t make myself have enough out of body experiences to be able to look at the situation logically, because even though I could disconnect from my emotions, it wasn’t always in the healthiest of ways. Sometimes I thought I was coolly calculating my next move. In reality, I just made things a whole lot worse for myself, and have had to dig myself up from enormous emotional holes that I spent a lot of time digging, not realizing that if I didn’t stop, the earth was going to swallow me up… not in terms of dead, but in terms of losing everything I held dear and not being able to repair those relationships because too much had happened for them to feel safe with me.

The two sentences I have had to give up thinking that mean the most to me are:

  1. Hey Argo, can I buy you a beer? I’ll make good on Aaron’s promise since he isn’t here.😛
  2. Hey Dana, let’s go away for the weekend and see if we can come to some sort of understanding, a working relationship not tinted with the past.

With both of them, there is everything to say and nothing. What could I possibly have to offer them that wouldn’t end in what a piece of shit I was to them previously? What could I possibly offer that would say “I am not perfect, but I am trying?”

It’s all connected, this creepiness I’ve felt over my lifetime except for the first 11 years. My psychosexual dysfunction has crept into every relationship ever, and working with a therapist has helped enormously, and why I didn’t think of it before is something I’ll regret until the day I die.

Life is all about putting away regret and shame, but there are always those cuts and wounds that stay with you, healed over into scar tissue that hopefully makes you stronger. But sometimes, just sometimes, the scab gets ripped off and that part of healing has to begin again.

What I lost in the transaction with Argo & Dana is a lot of laughter, for a lifetime, really.

I am still trying to gather what I gained in terms of life lessons and perspectives. I have a great big tapestry to look back on, but that doesn’t always help. Sometimes, I giggle through our memories, and sometimes really tough ones come to mind and I lose myself in the rumination of what should have happened instead of what did.

Knowing myself is the key to moving forward, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with, day by day by day by day by day, Sisyphus pushing as hard as he can only to have the rock fall night by night by night by night.

I wish I could have their grace and mercy, but at least I know I’m working toward my own. And, in the end, that’s what has to matter most. I hope that this is the part of my life meant to propel me into the person I’m supposed to be, because I don’t have any desire to keep repeating mistakes. I at least want to switch to new ones.

Going Around

  • Are you named after someone?
    • Yes, but not anyone I know. My mother saw the name “Leslie Diane” in a church bulletin once and thought it sounded pretty. I think she was the organist.
  • When is the last time you cried?
    • I don’t remember. I could make up something, because I cry a lot, but at the moment, nothing comes to mind.
  • Do you like your handwriting?
    • I like the weird way my handwriting starts to look like the person I’m thinking of while I’m writing… like, say I’m thinking about Meagan. Involuntarily my handwriting goes into block capital letters.
  • What is your favorite lunch meat?
    • It changes all the time, but right now it’s brown-sugared ham.
  • Do you have kids?
    • Not that I’m aware of……. ;P
  • If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
    • It depends on the day I met me. How did we see each other the first time? Was I laughing or sitting in a corner? It matters.
  • Do you use sarcasm?
    • I don’t so much use it as bathe in it daily.
  • Do you still have your tonsils?
    • Yes, but I am not sure that this is necessarily a good thing.
  • Would you bungee jump?
    • I think so. I’d have to get the opportunity to say yes or no first. However, the fact that I have not put down money on my own says it’s not necessarily a life goal.
  • What is your favorite cereal?
    • Multi-grain Cheerios straight out of the box.
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
    • I have to- I wear Chucks and Docs, neither of which lend themselves to kicking them off by bending the heels.
  • Do you think you are strong?
    • Only after the fact, never in the moment.
  • What is your favorite ice cream?
    • Spumoni
  • What is the first thing you notice about people?
    • Whether or not they hold my attention intellectually.
  • Red or pink?
    • Why choose? I wear them both, but rarely together.
  • What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself?
    • I have to pick just one? I hate the extraordinary lengths I will go to be “right,” and even then, I’m usually not. Just leading the charge into hell, anyway.
  • What color pants and shoes are you wearing right now?
    • You mentioned nothing at the beginning of this survey that said I needed to be wearing pants…. That being said, I still have my red plaid pajamas on, and I am barefoot.
  • What was the last thing you ate?
    • A miniature Mr. Goodbar
  • What are you listening to right now?
    • Mostly silence interrupted by cars passing outside.
  • If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
    • Cerulean, which is the color of most of my wardrobe, too.
  • Favorite smell?
    • Dr Pepper, with the soda close enough for the bubbles to tickle my nose.
  • Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?
    • My dad- I was telling him about Google Allo and Google Spaces
  • Favorite sport to watch?
    • Baseball…. Always baseball.
  • Hair color?
    • Brown, but with more and more grey with each passing haircut. It looks distinguished. I like it because I look less like a ten-year-old.
  • Eye color?
    • Brown, although I like to call it “limpid pools of espresso.”
  • Do you wear contacts?
    • I would if I could, but there are prisms in my glasses.
  • Favorite food to eat?
    • I’ve been on a potato chip craze lately. Found Ketchup Chips at 7-Eleven Thursday and I haven’t stopped thinking about them since. THANKS, CANADA.
  • Scary movies or happy endings?
    • Yes.
  • Last movie you watched?
    • The Secret Life of Pets. It was ok.
  • What color shirt are you wearing?
    • Multi-colored. White background with rainbow letters that say “women’s rights are human rights.” It’s from the Clinton campaign, and it’s got her signature stamped on the back.
  • Summer or Winter?
    • Having lived in Houston for so many years, I will always choose winter. I’ve had enough deep heat to last my whole life. MD/DC/VA can be just as hot, but not for as long.
  • Hugs or kisses?
    • From whom?
  • What book are you currently reading?
    • Too many to list, because I have a Kindle and just pick something based on my mood.
  • What is on your mouse pad?
    • I don’t think I’ve owned a mouse pad since the early 2000s… perhaps late ‘90s.
  • What is the last TV program you watched?
    • Breaking Bad….. again.
  • What is the best sound?
    • Someone saying “I’m sorry” and/or “I forgive you.”
  • Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
    • Who are the Rolling Stones?
  • What is the furthest you have traveled?
    • Off meds- and it was memorable enough to realize chemical imbalances are a thing.
  • Do you have a special talent?
    • I have plenty of them… not all for publication.
  • Where were you born?
    • In Tyler, Texas, at Mother Frances Hospital with the statue of Jesus directing traffic.

Well, that was anticlimactic. Any other questions? Just ask.

Joining Them

It’s finally starting to cool down around here, but not by much. However, it is a welcome change. I love the turn of the seasons, and this weekend holds an enormous amount of promise. I’m going to see Sarah Vowell & Bob Woodward at the Library of Congress book fair, and unfortunately all of their books are on my Kindle… however, I might bring a sharpie to have Woodward sign the back. It just depends on how “drooling fangirl” I feel when I get there. My favorite book of his is easily Obama’s Wars, but I believe i have read them all. Having read that book introduced me to the idea that you don’t have to wait to be president in order to get national security sitreps, the candidates get them, too. I can only hope that Donald Trump’s sitreps are just a series of SpongeBob coloring books. Having Donald Trump know actual state secrets sounds like the Worst. Idea. Ever.

If I can find a cheap copy, I might take a DVD of The Incredibles for Sarah Vowell to sign.🙂

There are many other authors I’d like to see, but they’re at the top of my list. The biggest “name” that’s going to be there is Stephen King, but I’ve never read any of his books (I don’t think), so even though he’s known the world over, he’s not that big a draw for me.

The biggest draw for me would have been David Halberstam, but he won’t be there. He’s the one author I would literally follow into the ocean if he asked, but he was killed in a car accident years ago. I believe that when he died, he was the first author death in which I literally fell to pieces.

Some people’s words stay with you for a lifetime, and his are enormous.

I could use a little inspiration from great people about now, because I’m on a ledge ready to jump and hope I fly. I have enough savings that it’s now or never. School is important to me, obviously, and I need to get back to it if I want to achieve my dreams. Back in the day, I made an egregious mistake by leaving UH before my coursework was done, and here’s why. I paid for Kathleen’s last year of school in terms of rent, books, food, etc. because I was the one with the full-time job, on the agreement that she’d pay for me to finish up at George Mason, because it was right down the road from XOM. That deal lasted a grand total of when she graduated, and DC was so expensive that we both had to have jobs. We both got them, and I was going to go to night classes. Before that happened, she broke up with me…. no contract signed, no nothing. She definitely got the sweet end of that deal. I’ve been playing catchup ever since.

I was making good money with a computer career, which is why I’ve been able to live comfortably without a degree. I believe that the college model is woefully outdated when it comes to technology, because by the time the books are printed, the information is out of date. Learning on the job has always come easily to me, and I have just socked away money by being the biggest hermit ever. It isolated me from friends, but watching my accounts fill up didn’t suck.

Then, when I moved to Houston, I met a woman that I thought was The One.™ The exception being that she isolated me from all my friends, and told me I couldn’t go back to night school because she was afraid I was going to fall in love with one of my professors and run away with him. Anyone who knows me knows how ridiculous this was, and it was the same with my doctor. She wouldn’t let me see her anymore because she thought I’d run away with her, too. In retrospect, it was classic dry-drunk behavior… all of the manipulation, none of the alcohol. Not marrying her was dodging the biggest bullet you can possibly imagine… but the thing is, she was a junior high school counselor, so everyone thought she was perfect, the one who had her shit together while I was just twisting in the wind. But no one saw what went on behind closed doors, especially when she’d laid down the law about me not going to night school and then having the audacity to tell me that she really wanted me to finish my degree so that she wouldn’t think I was such a flake. I also got an internship at the HRC in DC during that relationship, a three-month contract writing national Sunday School curriculum. She didn’t want me to do that, either, because again, it wasn’t about furthering my career. It was all about me running off with someone else and never coming back.

If I’d had any damn sense, I would have done exactly that.

We were the perfect couple to everyone but me.

She even hated that I was getting my paralegal certificate, comforted only somewhat by the fact that my sister and my dad were in the class. She raged that I wasn’t available on the weekends, even though it was only four or five. All of these manipulations started to add up, and I was entirely beaten down.

I went to extraordinary lengths not to be alone with her, because that’s when the emotional violence was at its worst. I finally broke up with her when Dana put her foot down, because she could be logical and I could not. I was visiting with Dana and I noticed that my girlfriend was tracking me through my bank account, noting the address of every transaction and beating me over the head with it every night… because obviously, I didn’t have any other friends in Portland except for Dana…. and I was going to run away with her, too. That didn’t cross my mind until much later.

Eventually, I did, but not before seeing what a freak show of a relationship I’d gotten myself into, and watching Dana hurt for me. There were a lot of times that I watched Dana hurt for me, and it is something for which I will always be grateful, even though it is time to move on. But no one can take good memories from me, and I choose to focus on that fact.

My then-girlfriend came by emotional violence honestly; her parents did two unforgivable things. Maybe she has forgiven them, but I have trouble. The first was that when she came out, her parents pretended she was dead for a year. A year. The second is that they were running low on money, and took out an enormous amount of credit in her name, and refused to pay it back, calling it “the gay tax.” In my case, shit rolled downhill.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell anyone how hurt I was until I was neck-deep… used to it, I guess. But I knew something was horribly wrong, and I was at a loss as to how to fix it, because I’d made promises… it took realizing that I shouldn’t be expected to stay no matter how bad it got, and I would never realize my dreams if leaving the house meant a fight about how every outing was an opportunity to cheat… I did nothing to deserve this scrutiny- Argo or anyone like her wasn’t even a twinkle.

And even when Argo came along, there was only one adjective in my vocabulary that fit- stupid…. just all the way around. And perhaps I am being too hard on myself, knowing that it wasn’t just my issue to deal with in terms of that relationship. It was also Dana’s continual jealousy that something was going on that wasn’t. Argo made me feel like fifty billion dollars when she told me that she pulled back so she wouldn’t be Dana’s excuse anymore. I told her thank you for picking up something I could not, because again, I was too emotional and not so much with the logical.

I needed time to sit with my feelings and work them the fuck out, which now I have. It hurts that I had to do it alone, and at the same time, is extraordinarily freeing. I have had time to make room for light. I have had time to forgive an enormous amount of shit, not for them. For me.

So I will go to this book fair, and take in all the light that published authors have to offer… because one day, I will join them.

Back To “The Grind”

Sitting at a Starbucks as per my usual in the morning- the title only being funny because I am having a green tea Frappucino. Reminds me of when we moved into the parsonage at Christ UMC in Sugar Land, because our phone number had originally belonged to a coffee shop called “Beans and Leaves.” We got calls for them all the time, and we had a sneaking suspician that they were selling more than tea leaves, just based on the calls from the clientele. Because of course the new preacher’s family had a phone number on their land line connected to a drug front. It’s the kind of thing that would only happen to us. After a while, the calls stopped coming, once they realized that the shop had closed. I can only imagine how. SLPD, probably. Whatever it was, we were extremely relieved. Perhaps they just changed their phone number, and that’s ok, too. But I never saw a physical building around town, so I doubt it.

Later on, we got a coffee shop called “The Daily Grind,” only funny because it’s the same chain in the TV show “Weeds.” Everything is connected.

Speaking of drugs, I’ve started watching “Breaking Bad” again. It stands up over time. I am enthralled by every twist and turn, just as I was the first time around… and in fact, there’s a lot I’ve forgotten, so it’s like getting to see it fresh. The idea is to turn Walter White from a mild-mannered chemistry teacher into Scarface, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a look. I was hooked from episode one, even though I have never and will never try meth off the street. Prescribed Adderall was quite enough.

In other news, I signed up for an ITIL class, which will further me in my career, and I did not choose the online version. It was only $995 for the 2-day class and the exam, and I will be sought after like a boss because not many people have that certification. If I like it, I can graduate into project management later on, which seems to be more my style than programming, because I just do not have a math and science brain. However, I do have the ability to manage, delegate, and come up with excellent ideas. I am a big picture sort of person, and to be honest, coding is lonely. The class starts next week. #fingerscrossed

I don’t want to leave DSI, but I am hoping that with this ITIL certification, I can get a job at a school with tuition waivers…. particularly Howard, but not necessarily because I’d have to change my major. Not too much of a problem because I have so many hours in psychology, but political science has more bearing on theology than you might think, because it teaches you more about how people are influenced by many factors in how they vote, faith being one of them. It’s not my job to teach people how to vote, but to determine how everyone comes to those decisons and how to reach all of them. I don’t want to base my church on the Democratic party, I want it to be inclusive of all. But there are certain things for which I will not stand, which is the idea that Jesus was somehow for bombing people… and that reaches across party lines. We all get up in our feelings regarding terrorism, and our feelings direct our votes when we’re terrified. Being Christ in the world is not about embracing retribution on either side of the aisle, as many did on Sept. 12th. I don’t think we completely thought that situation through, and if there’s anything Jesus taught, it was thinking all the way through a problem before acting on it. Bombing the hell out of Iraq was a kneejerk reaction, and not limited to Republicans in the slightest. It was a reaction instead of response, and the difference between the two is time.

It is a lesson I have learned over and over, with both success and failure laid out like bricks in Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado… because I didn’t do anything except box myself in with the enormity of my failure to think things through. My heart broke in terror when I saw the bricks rising to my neck…. avoidable if I had taken the time to respond rather than react. But as always, hindsight is 20/20. My next move is taking down the walls I’ve built, because while it is keeping bad stuff out, it’s not letting good stuff in, either. I wallow in the mistakes I’ve made, unable to forgive myself. I am hoping this course is making room for the future, because I can command an even higher salary that will allow me to sock away money to graduate without debt, even from grad school. It’s something that I desperately need, because you know, pastors make SO MUCH.😛

But the important part is not the money, but the ability to lead as the ultimate Nouwen wounded healer. I will never be able to approach ministry as somone who’s not. People know too much about me to believe that the light of Christ shines through me with perfection, only by breaking open my flaws to let light in…. filling the cracks with gold to make the broken more beautiful.

Sometimes you just have to show your crack… that was a joke…. it’s funny.

At least I am well enough to joke. It’s been a rough few days, but I am making it, step by step along a deep and winding road.


#tbt is Early

There’s really nothing like your sister finding old pictures of you that make you either laugh or cry…. sometimes both.leslie_tbt I can’t get over my clothes, my earrings, my lack of punk hair, earrings that make me look 40 when I am 17 or 18 in this photo. You can tell by the “mall bangs” I am trying to pull off that have fallen in the Houston heat. My dad sent me some more, but since this is the only one that’s just me, I decided to leave their embarrassments to them. The one that’s the most fun is Meag wearing a sweatshirt I still wish I could steal… red with the “Roots” logo that they probably don’t make anymore, but could probably find on E-bay if I was industrious enough… but I’m not. I’m happy with the clothes I have, which are few and thus, easy to manage.

The clothes in this picture are probably me on my way to church, because St. Martin’s was and is very formal. I am sure this is also some kind of interview outfit, but I do not remember for which job. I hadn’t started my career at UH yet, and I doubt this is what I wore to Chili’s…. always a Chilihead at heart. Hand over the fries and no one gets hurt.

It was Meag, in the end, that convinced me to go punk. She looked good in it, so why wouldn’t I? Even in my late 30’s, it keeps me young. People don’t look at me and see 39. Mostly they see hipster chic, for which I am grateful. Preppy with punk edge is my jam…. but never this preppy ever again if I can help it. I ride the line between having my girly moments and rejecting them outright…. although I have noticed that kids’ clothes wear faster than adult, which is disheartening because I am buying the top of the line… “Tommy H,” as Meag would say. Nautica. Ralph Lauren. Calvin Klein. I am crispy to a fault, including my nerdy “Ira Glasses.” Where the punk comes in is Chucks and Docs for every occasion, as well as ball enclosures for my regular earring holes as well as my cartilage. I could also probably pull off an eyebrow ring because my eyebrows running unchecked are enormous (as you can see from this pic), but at the same time, I like having a job. It’s the same with neck tattoos. I could probably do something amazingly pretty that would make employers (and my mother) roll over and die. For instance, I think Kat von D is one of the sexiest women on the planet, but I can’t pull that off. I don’t think anyone else can. But it looks good on her.

The only tattoo I have had drawn up but haven’t actually had inked yet is a dragon burning the ever-living fuck out of my dragonfly. The dragonfly stays… it can’t not. It reminds me of a different time in my life… but it stands for something different, so it has to change and not die. I want to change it so that it is burning and slowly turning to ash, because that point in my life is fixed in the timeline of my grown and development as a human being. The drawing has stayed with me for years, and there’s no reason to change tracks now. The original tattoo was just a memory, marking a significant time in my life, as will this be, too.

So much has changed since then, but again, it is a fixed point in time… a memory that I want to keep. The only problem is that it will be on my back, so trying to look at it will involve a series of mirrors. But I can’t change where it is and will be. It’s one of the reasons I have tattoos on my left forearm and right wrist. I realized that all the tattoos I was getting were ones that were impossible for me to enjoy, as well. The drawing as it stands does not have a little of the dragon’s tail looping up onto my shoulder, but perhaps it needs to in order for me to have a chance to get strength from it, rather than the few times a year I can actually see the others. I just know they’re there, rather than actually getting to check and make sure.😛

The ink on my dragonfly tattoo is so faded that if it can’t be saved, I have other ideas as to what should go in that spot, but I’m not ready to let go of what it might be. I just know that the dragonfly tattoo has run its course, shattering the illusion that it is sacred and truly meaning to me. But I don’t think it will be a problem. I think it will be one of the most cathartic and healing experiences of my life, and that’s what tattoos are all about- marking time and creating conversation pieces in one breath. A dragon is meaningful to me because its fire allowed me to return to the Virgo that I am, able to relax with deep breath into soil that had been enriched in ash. Perhaps a phoenix would be more appropriate, but I do not want everyone and their dog to ask me where I got an AMAZING Harry Potter tattoo…. just like my friend Jac, who upon passing the bar, got the scales of justice tattooed on her ankle and everyone thought she was a Libra.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a Harry Potter tattoo, mind you. I’d just rather have, no lie, SpongeBob SquarePants if I was ever dumb enough to get a cartoon inked on my body. Perhaps that’s being too harsh, because plenty of cartoon characters speak to people, but I’d rather have pictures of them. Maybe one day I will write The Gospel According to SpongeBob SquarePants, because his everlasting positivity and deep friendship speak volumes about Christ’s message…. sometimes better than I do…. a lot of times, actually.

The things I am willing to ink on my body are much closer to The Illustrated Man, someone who marks his body with the stories of his past, hoping to never forget. There are again, fixed points in time that cannot be changed for me, and it is those fixed points that I’d like to never be given the chance to forget. Even broken relationships aren’t let go from their meaning, which is why the dragonfly will always be there, but it has to look different, has to reflect the next fixed point in time that is even more meaningful than the day I got the dragonfly tattoo in the first place. The only reason I haven’t changed it yet is that I want to be debt-free before I start socking away money for it, and I am SO CLOSE I can taste it. So perhaps in the next few months/weeks/years. Priorities matter.

This is because in order to do what I really want to do instead of half-assing it, it won’t be cheap. Cheap tattoos are the worst thing you can do to yourself, because it’s like seeing what it could have represented, and misses the mark so poorly that you need to head immediately to one of those clinics where they can take it back off. Thank God those exist.

I’ve thought a few times about getting my Celtic knot removed, only because it matches Dana, and then I realized she was also a fixed point in time that I never wanted to forget… and it’s not like it says “Dana” on it. I’m Irish. It just fits no matter what, and she will be precious to me until I take my last breath, and none of our time together was wasted. To look at it that way is bitter and unbecoming of the depth and breadth of my feelings for her.

In the end, our relationship had run its course, but that doesn’t mean that the last decade of my life didn’t mean the world to me as it was happening. I just realized that I was not comfortable with the amount of partying we were doing to avoid pondering our real problems…. issues that I am sure could have been resolved had we put in the shoe leather, and I kick myself every day for not seeing that fact. It is devastating that I could not make her see that I loved her as much as I did, could not convince her that I would never be on my way out the door, it seemed that way to her and I will not take her feelings away from her, because they matter just as much as mine.

On the flip side, I feel like I was running toward my destiny in DC, and I wouldn’t take that away from myself, either. I never would have left had I thought there was something between us, but I knew within myself that it was over. Time had run out to try and solve anything, and she made that perfectly clear. Knowing that allowed me to “get the hell out of Dodge” without ever feeling bad about it. She robbed me of any regret with her words. She made a choice as to who she wanted in her community, and I made a choice as to who I wanted in mine. Prianka and Elena folded me into their family from the first day I arrived, screeching like a howler monkey the first time I saw her face. I got to see my college best friend, Giles, and have watched him grow into the husband and father I always knew he would be.

Plus, Houston to DC is an easy trip, and I see a lot of my family as opposed to how often they came to Portland because it was so obscurely out of the way… although it’s interesting that now Lindsay goes there all the time…. but she comes here a lot, too, so I’m not too bitter.😛

I don’t regret leaving PDX for a second, because all my friends still talk to me via social media, and one of the people closest to me from that time in my life is now in school in New York City, a mere four hours from here… and my 7th-8th grade boyfriend lives in “The Dirty Jerz,” which is even closer. Being close enough to road trip up into New York and New England means a lot to me, as well as being able to take off for Montreal, Ottawa, and “Toronno.” It was the right move at the right time, having nothing tying me to Houston anymore except family that’s willing to travel here just as easily as I could make it down there.

And if it isn’t wrong to think of Dana as family given the long history of being best friends for almost four years before we got married, perhaps one day, when all our pain has passed, I’ll get to show her around “my DC,” too. I don’t hope for much, but I do hope for that. I don’t think we could ever get back together- too much negative history between us to keep us from lapsing back into old and painful patterns- but that doesn’t mean I don’t treasure her for all she’s worth, and regret that I had serious failings in showing it to her.

Most people have chided me for moving here to see what would happen between Argo and me, but that’s not true. I moved here so that the tie between Dana and me would never be completely severed unless we both wanted it that way. I tried to put some dirt back into the hole I’d dug with Argo, but as I have said before, I pictured an “on the ground” meeting as easily as I pictured getting to know the president as a close, personal friend. Those two things were equally impossible in my mind, and have stayed that way. The hole was too deep, the dirt “a little too little too late” (my words, not hers, but still extraordinarily true). But if that had been the focus of my move, I wouldn’t have found a community that I adore and vice versa.

My blog lags behind my real life as I process the past, and that’s all it is. I am not working toward reconciliation with Dana or Argo, just trying to understand the gargantuan mistakes I made and how to affect change in moving forward to leave them behind, because how they see me takes my breath away in ways that ignite flight or flight (or freeze, take your pick), and rip apart the happiness I have found here because I am too focused on how to fix things instead of how to overcome them.

I am aware that I have huge flaws, and the ability to create negativity, placing it where it never should have been. If there’s any hope in this garbage dump of a situation, it may not be them reminiscing of happier times and wanting to reach out…. but it MUST be learning the lessons from the situation I helped create, trying to make a better me for the new friends that come along.

I have to forget about the former, and create drive for the latter. That way, if there is reconciliation down the line, it will be a complete surprise, and not something for which I was pining and just didn’t get. There cannot be disappointment where hope does not exist.

There can only be hope in the redemption of the self.