Taking the Low Road

I try not to do it, but I’m really fucking good. I can reduce people to tears when I want to, as you can imagine. I have enough verbal flexibility to completely cut someone off at the knees, and I feel very important about saying this because I preach so much forgiveness and patience. The reason I’m able to write about forgiveness and patience so much is that I am a mother fucking instruction manual on what NOT to do. My pain is your gain. I can only hope that I am learning with you, over time, when I go back to my own words and realize I’m not living up to the ideals I’ve presented.

God, sometimes you just want to take the low road so bad. The things that enter into my head that slip through the filter are always the things I should have kept to myself. When things aren’t fair, they’re not just unfair. They’re completely FUBAR. I do not deal in “middle-of-the-road.” I yell a lot. My cats could give me the “stop thinking about it” lecture.

There’s only been 12 years of my life that you haven’t been completely fucking with me. I want those years back. Give them to me. NOW.

See, I just took the low road. And what do I have left? I’m angry again, and I did it to myself on purpose. But that little jolt of anger was a rallying cry to be more than I am. To rise above. To just be the best writer I can be because I’LL SHOW THEM! No, I won’t. And I probably can’t ever, because again, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Anyone who’s known me longer than 10 years has a glazed look on their faces when I speak about my writing. That’s why I connect to my readers. I put a lot of emotion on the page, and I don’t always have a place to go with it except here. I don’t want my real friends to get bored and not want to be my friends anymore.

Thanks for giving me a place to crash whether I’m on the high road or not. I hope you’ll let me fall occasionally, but be there to pick me up when I do. This is not a web site.

I have built a community.

Because the low road? There’s a reason they call it that.

Advice Column Thursday Special Edition

Every once in a while, I’ll run across a question for Advice Column Thursday, and then realize that it’s too important a question to wait until the next week. I received an e-mail that I will not attribute at all to protect anonymity, but the question was, “if you’ve lost the love of your life, and you both know it, how do you go about fixing it?” I decided I could make this into a much bigger piece than an advice column, because life is so rich that there is no one way to decide that one person is an embodiment of it… until you do.

And then there are those loves of your life that are ripped away even when you do your best to take care of them. In relationships, this means getting dumped or maybe, the person dies. There is no one way to lose love. We can even talk about things about your own body that slip away. You meant to take care of your hands, because you’re an excellent carpenter. Then you went to work at a restaurant and used a deli slicer to take an inch off your professional bird-flipper.

It can all be expressed as the same problem, and can be expressed as the same solution. It just takes a little bit of extrapolation. So let’s not talk about romance exclusively. For the purposes of this article, “love of your life” can be anything from music to manhole covers.

In this manner, I have lost the love of my life a lot, and each time, I thought I was going to die. Each time, my heart felt like it was beating outside my chest in fear. I don’t have her anymore. I don’t have him anymore. I don’t have it anymore.

It is gone.

There are a lot of steps to healing something like this, but let’s just take first things first. Let’s start with you.

How much of a mess are you right now?

Level with me. Let’s triage this. (I used to be a basic medical assistant and I am a mental patient myself. It’s what I know.)

  1. What happens when you wake up? Are you able to get out of bed? Once you are out of bed, do you get ready for the day, or do you spend the day in your pajamas?
  2. How much sleep are you getting? Average is normal. WAY TOO LITTLE or WAY TOO MUCH is what you’re looking for in terms of symptoms. No, you are not Garfield.
  3. How much are you drinking? Be honest with me. No, really, I am one of the least judgmental people on earth, and this is clinically important. HOW MUCH ARE YOU DRINKING?

Just looking at those three things alone should be enough to wake up your weird shitometer. Those triage points are not really there for me. I don’t really know you, but you do. You can take a look at these three things and I’m pretty sure it will give you a clear enough picture to know whether you need professional help. If that wisdom comes to you, let it sit.

Don’t fight it, don’t cajole it, don’t do anything to it. Just hear it. Invite the idea to come sit a little closer so that you can think all the way around it. Let the idea sit until it’s comfortable. It’s not the answer, it’s an option. You might choose poorly this time around, but the next time you’re in this situation, going to get help will reappear and you will all of the sudden be more interested in it. Don’t be threatened. Be real. You’ve just lost the love of your life. Save your own.

Take care of yourself first, because what person seeing what a mess you are is going to run back and say, “Oh, God! I was completely mistaken! What was I thinking?” If it were me, though, I’d cocoon in my dirty house with all the windows drawn like a modern-day Auden poem writ large (STOP ALL THE CLOCKS, BITCHES). If you’re like me, you need a few days of “dumped girl” to get it out of your system. Allow yourself to nurse you. Allow yourself to go out and buy those things that make you feel at home in your own skin. For me, these are things like almond soap with little shards of almond for pumice. Stash Tea in Double Bergamot. Ginger snaps. Rogue blue cheese. Apples.

Treat yourself with kindness, and just think.

This is the part that most people skip. They skip that time “in the desert” that they need to get their heads in the right gear. Maybe it’s not intentional, but it seems to me that as soon as a relationship starts to circle the drain, people get uncomfortable with living in grey area and will actually throw someone out of their lives before they’ll admit it. Better to go on the defensive because they can’t hurt you if you hurt them first, can they? What you miss is that relationships are born and reborn in the spaces inbetween.

It requires an ability for which few people have patience: living in the inbetweeen. Living in the inbetween is so hard because you have to be comfortable with what you don’t know. You have to be comfortable with being able to carry huge questions in your head, and sometimes, you have to carry them like a burden for a very long time before there’s any resolution at all.

When people have to carry burdens without knowing where they’re going or what’s in the bag, they intentionally try to make a snap decision that will resolve the cognitive dissonance. That’s why you don’t really mean that you never want to see someone again. It means that it will be a while before you can even think of engaging with that person.

In short, don’t snap.

Hold the cognitive dissonance in your mind long enough to map it. If you need help with this, use a drawing program like Visio or Freemind. What drawing software will do is allow you to see your thoughts on paper as how they appear in your brain. You can spend as much time as you want grouping and regrouping your ideas until they come out in a rational order (this is also invaluable for work brainstorming, btw).

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go back to the love of your life and tell him/her/it that you’ve got it all worked out now. YOU USED SOFTWARE! No, the software is just a tool, as are you.

Once you’ve looked at these drafts, you’re in a better position to know yourself, and that’s the point. You cannot give anything to anyone else if you’re pouring from an empty cup. Plus, this guy that dumped you? Do you *really* want to go back to him after you see all his shit in black ink glory?

If so, then you need to proceed with caution, but I understand why you’re doing it. Stay strong, sister. I’m not going to lie. The chances that your babe/dude will respond the way you thought they would in the car is almost big, fat zero. This is why you’ve spent so long caring for yourself. You haven’t even attempted to come here unless you were ok with any outcome, right? RIGHT?

Here is a piece of advice, free from me to you. Do not go wait on her front porch.

No, it’s not.

It is NOT A GOOD IDEA. What are you going to do when you show up with flowers and you’re sitting there like a jackass when she pulls up in the driveway driving her “physical therapist’s car?”

I write letters. This is a large part of why. I want to tell my true love what the possibilities of our relationship might be, and let him/her SAY YES TO THE PROPOSITION. It’s a more genuine connection than springing something on your love and expecting an immediate answer. I understand. You’re panicked about your life, so they should be, too.

Be cool.

Be. Cool.

Breathe.

There is nothing better than the confidence of that “yes.” WAIT FOR IT.

When you get it, read “Getting the Love You Want,” by Harville Hendrix. It helped me to vocalize what I wanted in relationships, and is one of the few self-help books I still have.

He advocates that if you want to get back together, act as if. Eventually, the muscles will retrieve the memories from your brain and tell you why. For instance, in the beginning, your muscles will just think, “I’m getting her a coat.” After a few weeks of doing this every day, “it’s going to be cold out. My love will need a coat.” Caring about someone when you don’t actually reboots your brain into caring about them. It’s a very simplistic analysis of Dr. Hendrix’ work, but I hope that I was able to make it as clear as banana. I don’t like mud.

I will close with one last thing. I lost a great love of my entire life within the last few years. I have no idea what she’s doing, where she is, anything.  But I spend my days caring about her so if I see her again, the anger and embarrassment won’t eat me alive.

If your love is a memory, maybe you should do that, too.

Enough

I think that our goal as humans is to master the concept of “enough.” I was thinking about this a few days ago when Margaret Cho tweeted my marriage article on her own stream, and again when Martina Navratilova re-tweeted it this morning. I think about the concept of “enough” a lot, because I think it is the primary thing that’s created much-needed sanity around my head. I sit with my eyes closed and my headphones in, playing “White Noises- Best of,” and in the silence I hear nothing but my own voice. That is intentional. I am so ADD that I cannot hear me if anything else is on. Because why in the hell would I want to watch me when I could watch Burn Notice?

Sitting there has to be enough. Listening to nothing and having all the sound blocked out around me. That has to be enough. The comfort of my own voice speaking to me, telling me tender things I could have missed. That has to be enough.

Because if it is not, one friend is not enough. One celebrity endorsement is not enough. One beer is not enough. One pizza slice is not enough.

If I cannot rest in “enough,” I run in “more.”

Do you know what I mean? Have you been there?

When you cannot rest in the concept of enough, you will constantly run toward things that you think will fill you up. But they don’t. Because you don’t see the one purse you bought to make you feel better about losing your job as enough to heal the pain. You’ll go shopping fifteen times, and every time you go shopping, you’ll buy something to make the pain stop. That pain won’t go away if Kate Spade is giving purses away for free on the sidewalk in front of your house (But, dear Jesus, that would help. Please remember me in your kindom…). In that way, things become distractions from stopping long enough to ask yourself, “what is this really about? What am I doing?”

Let’s say you don’t think shopping is a “real” addiction. Ok. Let’s get dirty. People smoke crack and buy throws from whores for the same reason they buy 15 purses.

I can’t get vulnerable enough to address my issues on my own, so I’m going to try and intentionally avoid dealing with it until my face collides with a concrete wall.

Everyone, everywhere deals with the concept of enough, because you have to find it within yourself. You have to find it sitting in the living room with your headphones on because one celebrity endorsement isn’t enough in one day. I am unemployed. I have to work to make the money to buy my sweetie whatever she wants and I can’t breathe because she’s so important to me and she makes so much more money that all I need is a few more people to recognize me. A few more.

See? In five more sentences there would have been track marks on my arms.

One of the things that has gotten me to slow down about my getting noticed craziness is that the more people notice, the more its enough. The waiting for the people to arrive is over. They’re here.

And they love me enough.

100 Things- “Stories” Edition

Back in the day, I got a meme. You list 100 facts about yourself. That’s it. Simple. Last time it turned out hilarious. I have high hopes for this one.

  1. The first time I ever smoked pot, I was 25 years old. I had just gotten my nails done, and due to a broken lighter, I set my fingernails on fire. These things only happen to me, people. I mean, how should I know that acrylic burns?
  2. I have had eight relationships over my lifetime, when I ever really only wanted the one. However, it is hard to keep a relationship together when you’re a lesbian in one country and your partner is a lesbian in another. Dating was good for me. Marriage is even better. I’m in my element. Plus, about earlier in my life, I said “18.” There’s a big fat “I told you so” in there somewhere.
  3. Dana and I are both smart as hell, but I would say that our “emotional quotient” is much higher. We like helping people. Dana more than most. I am an irritated old bastard, and I show it a lot of the time. Dana is a better person than I am, trust me on this one. Even though I do like helping people, it has to be on one of those days where I like people.
  4. I am a first soprano, and nearly always have allergies. Singing ranges from resplendent to repulsive. I’ll blow a low note and then measures later a high C will float off beautifully. I’m also a terrible sight reader. But I’m a first soprano and I’m not jealous of others. Miracle! Holla!
  5. I knew Beyonce in high school. Do you know how much that yearbook would be worth if I’d had her sign it? Dana and I would already have our retirement paid.
  6. I am pretty much a person that likes to be told what to do. I am getting more and more interested in trusting my own intuition, but no one is perfect. I have the skills to lead, but I’m very afraid of conflict. I want to help people, I don’t want to fight with them.
  7. The color of my hair is natural right now, but most of the time, you can’t find my hair color in nature but you can find it at Walgreens.
  8. I’m only at number 8. Holy fuck.
  9. We have some Toasted Corn Doritos. Could I interest you in some junk food?
  10. I like expensive beer, but I can afford Hamm’s.
  11. Diet Cherry Coke is more expensive than Hamm’s, and I like it better.
  12. My favorite game is “Cards Against Humanity,” because it allows me to be the absolute creeper that I want to be for shock value. Preacher’s kids are the worst kids.
  13. I used to be a preacher’s kid, but I’m not now. My dad helps run my stepmom’s rheumatology practice.
  14. Ok, FORMER  preacher’s kids are the worst kids. Even former preacher’s kids still fall into two categories, and they rarely vary. First child wants to go into the ministry or at least thinks about it because they won’t have to work so hard, they already know the ins and outs. Second child wants to grow a large wild hair and do everything Christianity hates until they run out of steam and realize it wasn’t so bad. (Editor’s note: Guess.)
  15. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an opera singer, but I chose trumpet instead. To make matters worse, Lindsay (younger sister) was in the children’s chorus at HGO. I sat at every rehearsal like a brooding Salieri. I liked instrumental music, but I think I would have done better at music contests if I’d embraced my inner diva while it was still young enough to be malleable. It’s not that I’m ancient now, it just wouldn’t be as easy. Here’s the reason I chose instrumental music- choir didn’t seem like real music. In our choir, I was one of the only students that could actually read music and I damn near failed choir because of solfege. They caught on to me because I was just moving my hand up and down in peace signs. So singing is amazing, and most of the singers I know (professionals, not amateurs) are fucking morons, wrapped up in their own drama with very little “other-awareness.” I am lucky in that I always found someone I liked in choir, because all singers aren’t like that, but the pressure and attitude made me crazy. I don’t function in that world because I just don’t like it. And I don’t feel like I have to apologize, because every choral singer in America knows the type I’m talking about. DON’T YOU? If you’re a first soprano and you say that you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you are either lying to me or one of those types who just can’t admit it. If you REALLY don’t know what I’m talking about, then you must not be a musician. I’m in our church choir, but I’m pretty sure it will never be more than that again. Blow your hair back rep is fun, but the rehearsals aren’t.
  16. My outer personality and my inner personality are quite different. My outer personality is a cross between Brittany and Eleanor on Alvin & the Chipmunks. My inner personality is a lot like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino.
  17. I drink. A LOT. However, my favorite drinks aren’t alcoholic because I’m ALWAYS thirsty. It’s been looked at and I’m not diabetic or have failing kidneys or anything, I just don’t go more than 20 minutes without something to drink- when I’m home. When I’m out and about, I at least try to act like a normal person. I would say that I’m pregnant, but everyone knows that Dana’s sperm count is way too low. Can I check into a hospital just for the shaved ice? Dana broke my heart when she was working for the meat department and I saw a huge tank full of chipped ice. It’s used for wrapping fish, so it wasn’t food grade. That cured me of pining for it, though.
  18. Speaking of cure, my grandpa Max always said that if your lips were chapped, you could put cow dung on your lips. It wouldn’t do any good, but it’ll keep you from lickin’ ’em. The first time I heard him say it, I literally fell down with laughter.
  19. I almost asphyxiated when my grandma Rena said, “she can’t help it that she’s ugly… but she could stay home.”
  20. I wear a t-shirt and jeans nearly all the days of my life, so when I nellied out at Kelly’s wedding, grandma Rena said, “you look good as a woman.”
  21. I’m in love with whiskey a little bit. Dana is okay with this, because she has actually seen me spend 15 minutes just smelling an empty glass. It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality. If I know that I have enough money for two drinks at a bar, I will forego having two drinks and have one spectacular one instead. However, anybody can make good *expensive* whiskey. Even when I’m poor, I can still afford Old Overholt, one of the best ryes on earth. My favorite drink in the world is rye and ginger, but I’m emotionally connected to it. I went to visit my first love in Canada, and it’s very popular there. So rye and ginger is the moment I step into the joy of that moment. I’m not going to tell you my favorites, because I’m sure they’ll be in Recommendation Wednesday’s column soon.
  22. Advice Column Thursday is getting really popular.
  23. My wrists hurt really bad because I’m trying to do this in one sitting.
  24. That was a terrible mistake.
  25. I’m blessing and releasing it.
  26. I’m an asshole for that last one.
  27. I’m not going to tell you why.
  28. The best poem I read when I was a kid started out “psychedelic rainbows, multi-color tears.” God, no wonder I live in Oregon. I thought that was cool.
  29. I’ve tried shrooms twice, because it’s Oregon and that’s what we do.
  30. The first experience almost ruined shrooms for me forever. It ended angrily, with a lot of fighting, and that friend’s dead now so I can talk about it. Basically we did shrooms and went to a bar around the corner from our house. Dana and I love shitty bar food, so we got an appetizer platter. We didn’t know that the waitress had charged our appetizer platter to his credit card, and instead of being cool and accepting money, he came at us with all he had. We walked home and ended up eating peanut butter sandwiches to heal the pain.
  31. The second time I did shrooms, it was in the privacy of my own home. Dana let me have them and she stayed sober. While we were talking, I told her that I could see galaxies, and I could. They were just appearing when my eyes were closed. It was transcendent, and we went out on a high note. Quit while you’re ahead.
  32. I used to have a doll named Rattyobotic. I have no idea where the name came from, and if I had to hazard a guess, I had her right about the time that my dad discovered Radio Shack.
  33. I was addicted to the Quimby clan when I was a kid, and can quote them almost verbatim. I’ve also read “A Girl from Yamhill County,” the Beverly Cleary autobiography. There is a Ramona statue in Portland’s downtown library that made me cry the first time I saw it.
  34. My other favorite books were the Caldecott winners. I loved The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin. To this day it’s still one of my favorites.
  35. Just because of the way my mind works, I feel a lot of the time like I am The Giver. The Giver is the character and the title of a book that changed my life. I will treasure it always, and I give it as gifts when I have the money.
  36. Another series that I really dug was “Hatchet,” by Gary Paulsen. It’s about a junior-high age kid that goes to visit his dad in the wilds of Alaska. During the flight, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. Brian is alone in the wilderness for about 30 days. The second book explores what would have happened if he hadn’t been rescued and had to survive through the winter. There are others, but those two are the ones I still have.
  37. I love teenage fiction to this day. I really like the “Angus” series. It made me roll on the floor with laughter. So did “Can You Keep a Secret?” by Sophie Kinsella, as well as “A Girl Named Zippy,” by Haven Kimmel
  38. The best dramatic book I’ve ever read in my life is “The Solace of Leaving Early,” also by Haven Kimmel.
  39. I am very affected by books, as you can tell. I feel that I am part Leah from “The Poisonwood Bible,” by Barbara Kingsolver.
  40. I have secrets that I can never tell, because they’re about interactions that I promised to keep quiet. But it is KILLING me not to tell. I was involved with a woman that was not out, I have an old friend who is now a very public figure, and I have the desire to tell those stories, but not the inhumanity.
  41. I am unusually close to some of my old girlfriends, because they have absolutely invaluable insight into how I’m doing mentally because they’ve known me so long.
  42. I like all of Dana’s exes, too.
  43. It’s amazing how we have this weird little community that we wouldn’t trade for anything, because it’s how we measure against how healthy we feel.
  44. Our friends are gracious enough to be both honest and comforting.
  45. The first thing I ever did for love was calling a radio station and having them announce her birthday on air, and sending her a rosebud. On the card, I wrote, “for all you do, this bud’s for you.
  46. I was 13. Budweiser’s ads are ubiquitous.
  47. The biggest thing I ever did for love was take my girlfriend on a cruise down the Potomac with the monuments glistening in the night. The worst part was that I kept it a secret for three months, and as she was getting ready, she asked me what to wear and I said, “well, it’s probably going to be cold on the boat” and clapped my hands over my mouth.
  48. I gave my high school girlfriend a key to our apartment with mixed results. One day, I came home to a “sorry I was an asshole” card with a dozen roses that said “go to your stereo and press play.” Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” filled the room. I forgave her. Also, one day I came home and the girlfriend and her best friend had short-sheeted my bed and turned everything in my room upside down. However, there is no causation link.
  49. I was alone a lot my senior year of high school, and my girlfriend started to feel like home. For her, it didn’t feel like that. Home has always been Canada, and always will be.
  50. I wonder how my life would be now if I had emigrated then and can’t imagine it, as if that dream died with that relationship.
  51. I’m lying. I totally think about Canada all the time, and all my friends know it. They would bust me in a hot second.
  52. Canada works on a point system, and not being fluent in French is a big fat deal.
  53. That would never happen in the United States. Not ever.
  54. I’m not usually right on stuff like this.
  55. Dana’s parents live in DC, and I am so blessed because I still have friends there. Going to visit the parents is one-stop shopping.
  56. Sometimes I wish that my mother-in-law could see how much I absolutely adore her. I hope that she doesn’t mind if I call her that, but I have it on good authority that I am now folded into the family, because sharing a backseat with my two Bamberger girls is a bitch. It only takes a few minutes before I remember that I didn’t ask my psychiatrist for any Xanax.
  57. I don’t take Xanax a lot, only when I’m about to have a panic attack.
  58. I’m the smallest, so I’m in the middle. You get the picture.
  59. I bet Dana’s parents’ heads explode as well.
  60. I am so much like Dana’s dad, because he and I read voraciously. We also get into humorous arguments.
  61. I’m still right about the whole checking in for a flight with an iPhone.
  62. Sometimes I wish I was Dana’s sister, because she’s an attorney and it’s always been one of my dreams to be a lawyer.
  63. I’ve made it just far enough in Con Law to be such an asshole during a fight.
  64. My sister got an A- in Con Law. I got a B+. I was consoled that I did better on the final. I got 102; she only got 100. She probably doesn’t remember it, but it is one of my greatest wins. 🙂
  65. That was the hardest class I’ve ever taken, and the professor has kissed me while drunk. So, he liked me, but he irritated the piss out of me, too. This takes explaining. He’s warm, funny, brilliant, handsome, has taken the bars in both Texas and Louisiana (beat that with a stick). He’s also a sadistic bastard and his heart is black given the way the tests were worded.
  66. I met one of my closest friends right before that class started. Einsteins had given me a free bagel dog and I passed it on to her. We’ve always said, “you had me at bagel dog.” We both agree that it’s unfortunate she’s straight, because it would have been a killer meet-cute for our grandkids.
  67. I love straight people. I don’t know what you Evangelicals think, that I just live in this bubble of gay that creates prejudice against straight people. No, Portland is post-gay. Everyone just has partners, it doesn’t matter how they go together. They just do. If you want to live your life that way, it’s fine to me… as long as “live your life that way” doesn’t affect me.
  68. I hate people a lot of the time, especially in groups.
  69. I don’t mean to hate people, it just happens. I get very socially anxious for no reason at all.
  70. It’s probably not “for no reason,” it just happens so infrequently that I don’t know the trigger.
  71. My first concert was The Beach Boys
  72. My last concert was Talib Kweli. I’m hoping to see more, I just don’t have the money to go to concerts. It’s not just the tickets. I don’t want to go the length of the concert with nothing to eat or drink.
  73. My favorite slang is “dumbass attack.”
  74. My favorite curse word is fuck. I can conjugate it at will.
  75. I have worked in kitchens. You will constantly hate my behavior from now on if you do not just accept this fact. Cooks are dirty motherfuckers and we show it.
  76. At work, Dana’s the boss. It’s bled over so that I think she’s the boss at home, too. She reminded me that this was not true and I haven’t gotten my ass in gear this fast in, like, ever. It’s all because of you.
  77. It’s 3:35 and I’m starting to wonder whether Dana is going to come home soon or whether she’s trapped in the kitchen with no respite. I never trust her schedule unless she has the day off.
  78. That’s just what it’s like being a cook. That’s why we don’t have regular friends. We eat, drink, and be merry after we’re finished entertaining guests. That is a fact about me, because it’s an apt description if you don’t know me.
  79. Think of me as a cross between Mrs. Padmore and Daisy.
  80. When I really like people, I often call them by their full names.
  81. Low libido is an excellent way to stay married.
  82. So is high libido.
  83. My friends tell me that I should consider becoming a marriage and family therapist. I think I would be happier in sexology. It combines the aspects of sex with the aspects of lovemaking, and would allow me to help people with both, thus keeping me happy because I don’t think I would ever be bored. I might, though. Dr. Kinsey’s work reads like Moby Dick.
  84. My crazy place is feeling unloved and unworthy and unmotivated to the point that I can’t get out of bed. I take pills so I don’t go there anymore.
  85. The picture I lost and miss the most is the picture of my girlfriend Jenn and me kissing in the surf. I love how I look, I love how she looks, and it doesn’t matter that I’m with Dana now. It’s just a damn good picture.
  86. I am really grateful that Dana isn’t jealous in the slightest.
  87. I had to take Plan B because I was very intoxicated. I hardly knew the guy except that he knew Dana. Just goes to show that every woman has to put up with this crap, even if they love women.
  88. I say that to prove how deep our love is, because that was years and years ago.
  89. The wound heals quickly when you stay home every night so that your partner knows where you are at all times. In those moments, I grabbed Dana tighter than ever, and I won’t let go.
  90. Dana thinks that as the more attention I get, the more I’ll forget about her. I say the more attention I get, the more I need her and to not ever use those words with me again because it’s a future I cannot imagine. We took divorce off the table so many years ago that to me, it’s like breathing. Dana is my lobster.
  91. We’re not legally married, but we’re registered in Oregon as domestic partners. Texas doesn’t have that. Neither does Virginia. We both feel a little exiled.
  92. Although Maryland wouldn’t be so bad.
  93. We can’t afford to live in DC.
  94. My observation of DC, which luckily is slowly changing, is that there are tourist areas and ghetto, and if you’re lost, you’ll wind up in the ghetto sooner or later.
  95. I once got lost behind Camden Yards in Baltimore. There’s 30 minutes of terror I wish I could erase.
  96. I saw a drug deal go down behind Fredrick Douglass’s house.
  97. I didn’t make it to my dinner party. I gave up being lost and tried to get home. For those of you that know DC, I thought I was crossing the Potomac and I was crossing the Anacostia. I had only lived there for three months, and it was dark.
  98. Dana got me a lap dance for getting the job at Marylhurst. To date, it is possibly the weirdest and least sexual thing that has ever happened to me.
  99. There’s a strip club next door to our house.
  100. We go there because we can stumble home.
    1. Not always.

 

10 of My Secrets (meme)

I originally took on this meme from another blogger in October of 2007. I’m going to re-do it, but also leave the old answers in place. The old answers are in italics.

  1. Who were your last 3 texts from?
    1. Not a whole lot of people text me these days, so the answer is boring. They’re all from Dana.
    2. I’m still just as boring.
      1. Cool if I come over and take a shower? (Matt, after work as a landscaper)
      2. On the way shortly, loved your message 🙂 (Matt, after leaving him a message that Dana and I were lonely because it was getting too lesbian in here)
      3. We’re crossing the Ross Island Bridge if you want to come on down. (Matt and Wayne, his dad, picking me up for choir practice because Dana is a lazy bum and she knows it.)
  2. Where was your default picture taken?
    1. On Facebook, it was taken in John & Tony’s living room- it’s a picture of me kissing Tym goodnight. She’s my favorite Canadian.
    2. My profile picture is a crop of a picture that was originally Jill, Lindsay, and me. However, I thought it best if girls prettier than me did not share my profile picture space. THAT IS MINE! The picture itself was taken at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston. I think it was some sort of 70s dance.
  3. What’s your middle name
    1. Diane
    2. My middle name, on my birth certificate, is Diane. It’s a gorgeous name but I don’t think it fits me. I want to change it to “Doctor.” That way, I can still be “Leslie D. Lanagan” but I have a TIME LORD MIDDLE NAME! (Speaking of which, I want the Name of the Doctor to be something hilarious, like Gerald.) AND I CAN REPLACE THE D WITH A TARDIS!
  4. Does your crush like you back?
    1. Yes (blush)
    2. I’m married now. I don’t have to blush. Dana is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
  5. What is your current mood?
    1. I’ve got that brain race thing goin’ on. Life is chaotic right now, and I could use a nice cup of tea and a sit down.
    2. I am intently reading over my old blog entries and instead of importing them ALL into “Stories,” just picking out a few that I think are well-written and stand out from the noise.
  6. What’s your computer like?
    1. It’s a PC laptop. It does everything I need it to do and more. If I figure out how to get my wireless network card to work in Linux, this thing could help me take over the world.
    2. It’s a different PC laptop, but I still can’t get linux to run perfectly on it. For some reason, it will install, but it won’t boot. I’ll have to take a look at the partition tables and it could take a while, so for now, I’m just using Windows until I have more time. However, I do have linux running inside Windows because now my computer is at least THAT fast.
  7. What color shirt are you wearing?
    1. Cream-colored sweater with blue stripes, dark blue oxford.
    2. Silver Tab jeans with a Dunkin’ Donuts t-shirt that shows off my… neck.
  8. Are you horny?
    1. This is one of those questions that’s really fun when someone else answers it.
    2. Truth time: not a lot. Enough, but not a lot. Depression Medication is MAGIC! It can reduce you to “whiskey dick” in a single dose!!!!!
  9. If you could go back in time and change something, would you?
    1. They say that the past makes you who you are, but there are certainly things I would do differently- mostly to avoid hurting other people and to get a better world view earlier so I didn’t spend so much of my 20’s thinking that the things other people did were all about me… or perhaps a better phrase is “being so insecure in my 20s that I couldn’t go five minutes without taking the emotional temperature of a relationship.”
    2. Absolutely. I would have given up the charade a lot sooner with Dana and just told her how I felt. But how I felt wasn’t clear enough to base it on a marriage. We were really good friends, but I didn’t know if it could be more than that. But I wasted a lot of time in Houston dating women that were amazing and wonderful that ultimately did not fit me as well as Dana did, and it’s an interesting experiment to think what would have happened if *she* had moved to Houston with *me.* She would never have forgiven me for June, July, and August, but sitting by my parents’ pool with a margarita wouldn’t have sucked, either. At the time, Dana was also still married, and I couldn’t in good conscience cross that line, either. So it’s a moot point, but if I could do my life over, I would have moved back to Texas and taken Dana with me. Then we would have stayed there until we couldn’t stand it any longer, and then six months later we would have moved back. I know how that story ends: “MY BODY IS NOT SUPPOSED TO MELT WHEN WE’RE OUTSIDE, IS IT?”
  10. Do you speak any other language?
    1. Hablo muy poquito espanol, pero no practico mucho.
    2. Francais c’nest pas comfortable pour moi.

 

i am a transgendered cyborg

Editor’s Note: This was written a few years ago by an online friend of mine, and I asked if I could re-post because it might give my friends some insight on what it meant to me to come out as having been catfished as a kid, because while we weren’t girlfriends, we were close enough for it to really, really hurt. I still hold out hope that Rainie MacMillan of Swansea Wales who played in a band called Jezebel Spirit is actually a real person. Rainie, if you’re reading this, I love you deeply and our friendship changed me in a lot of great ways. I wasn’t catfished if you were a real person. You just left in such a hurry that I think it happened. One minute, you were there and full of life… the next, you were gone from the world. Disappeared. No rhyme or reason, just absolute cut-off with no denouement or closure.

This essay is the one thing that is making me feel better, because it validates everything I’ve been feeling. This person catfished under a different gender; looking into his past allows me to look into my future. Because I was so young, I never engaged in cybersex or any of the more adult topics here. I just want to prove that even if Internet people aren’t real to you, they are to other Internet people. Aliases that die affect us, and this piece is one of them that shows how much.

For the first four years of my internet life, I was Karen Camino, an asian girl living in unspecified parts of Texas. I completed my persona with a web site and a bio, lending her an authenticity rarely duplicated in other mediums.

The funny thing is, she became real after about a year or so. She had her own motivations, her own family life, that usually mirrored my own, but she had the ability to act out her family life looking retrospectively at my own.

After a few years, the charade chafed as I began to meet people from online in real life and Karen became revealed for the fiction that she was, shocking many of the people who had grown close to me. To many of them, all they had ever known was Amy and this “Gregory” person had just replaced her, like in a bad horror flick.

This was one of my first and most intense experiences with the ability of modern technology to incorporate two seemingly contradictory truths.

I was/am Karen Camino.

I was/am Gregory Pierce.

While the name of Karen Camino is just a relect of my childhood now, she still exists. Not only in the memories of people she befriended, romanced, and loved, but in myself as well, as she let me become less “man” and more “human”.

Am I a transgendered? androgynous? or something new, made possible only through modern technology? I have no wish to become fully female in the classic transgendered sense. I am not a woman trapped in a man’s body. Nor do I deny both sexes, become a neuter, as the term androgynous implies. Yet I still have the yearning to feel as a woman does, to experience sex as a woman does. It tugs at me as if it were some lost fragment of humanity, once experienced, now gone.

When I engaged in cybersex as a female, my mind imagined sex as a woman. I imagined being penetrated, both riding on top, in control, and being ridden, on the bottom of the couple, releasing my control willingly to my partner. I experienced anal sex as a woman, different than as a man. I enjoyed the shared politics of lesbian sex, and the transgressions of de/constructing gender roles as a lesbian.

All of these things I imagined in my head, eliminating my penis. Did I feel as if power had been stolen away from me in some Freudian penis envy? No. I felt empowered as my boundries broke down, as I tried to understand how sexual relations felt to others. It was perhaps one of the most powerful moments of my life. Would I have felt the same if I was a woman pretending to be a man? I think so, and the number of women I knew during this period who went under the guise of male supports my hypothesis.

My Very First Sermon Ever- July 21, 2003

In just a moment, I’m going to say a word. If you have one, nothing will
make you give it away. If you don’t have it, you’ll want one. In fact,
if you don’t have one and you know someone who does, you might even be
tempted to take it from them. Are you ready for the word?

The word is… place.

Now I’m going to say a few phrases and I want you to think about the
pictures they recall in your mind:

“You don’t have a place here.”

“I just felt so… out of place.”

“I made a place for you…”

“We go there a lot, it’s our special place. . .”

Did you feel the tension as I read the first two quotes? Did your body
physically and spiritually say, “Ahhhhh” as I read the next ones? The
call to worship, the meditation, and the reflection were all picked
because they all reflect a world in which no one is excluded… and
everyone has a place.

In my freshman year at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts, I
was naive enough to tell my friends, “I think I might be gay,” and swear
them to secrecy. Now, how many of you had success with that policy in
the ninth grade? Yeah. Me, neither. The news spread like wildfire and
within minutes, I had my share of both supporters and detractors.

Bobby Simmons, an upperclassman with a strong Southern Baptist
background, and I only had one class together- orchestra. The way that
the chairs were set up, we were both on the back row, in an arc that had
us nearly facing each other.

I should have known this would spell trouble. From then on, every
afternoon, approximately a quarter of the way through rehearsal, I would
hear this loud “pssssst!” sound. Norman, the trumpet player to my right,
would look at me innocently and point toward the percussion area.

Bobby Simmons would hold up a Playboy centerfold about six inches above
his E-flat timpani… low enough to be covered by the chimes so that the
conductor couldn’t see it… and high enough for the entire back row of
the orchestra to be convulsing with laughter. My face flushed. In my own
passive aggressive, non-violent way, I wanted him to die.

Because there was also the lunchtime incident. I was sitting with a
group of friends out on the front lawn, eating my lunch. Bobby and his
friends came up to us en masse, reading all those obnoxious Bible verses
that conservative Christians love to quote as “proof” of their
righteousness. I ran into the counselor’s office, finally sick and tired
of dealing with them. When I tried to explain what was happening, Ms.
Priest looked at me with pity and said, “Well, what did you do to
provoke them?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my first real taste of what it was
like to be on the outside, to wonder if I really had a place.

I might have had a little easier time of it had I known something that I
now call “promise theology.” Now, I’m sure all of you have heard of
process theology- the acknowledgement that contemporary understanding of
God and God’s expression through creation, including human beings, is
always in “process” and never complete. Promise theology is based on the
same principle, but in a very personal way. Promise theology is the
acknowledgement that God has a place, a promise, and a plan for our
lives that unfurls in small measure every day… but as humans we don’t
have the ability to see the finished product all at once.
What is in our power as humans is the ability to claim those things- a
place in the world that is uniquely yours, a promise that you will
flourish, and a plan not only for your life, but to connect you with others.

Reminds me of a sunny afternoon in September of 1981… my first day in
children’s choir at First United Methodist Church in Longview, Texas. I
was four years old. The very first song that the conductor, also known
as my mother, pulled out was a tune written by Bill and Gloria Gaither-
very prolific gospel composers that are still pumping out hits today. As
I remember, the rehearsal went something like this:

Leslie: I AM A PROMISE!
Mom: Leslie, sit down.
Leslie: I AM A POSSIBILITY!
Mom: Leslie, sit down.
Leslie: I AM A PROMISE!
Mom: LESLIE! SIT! DOWN!
Leslie: WITH A CAPITAL P! I AM A GREAT BIG BUNDLE OF… POTENTIALITY!
Mom: LESLIE! Do I have to get your FATHER to come and get you?!?!

I know what you’re all thinking. Leslie had to have made that story up.
There is no way that she would have ever gotten up in front of those
kids and just started belting it out like that… she is way too shy and
demure to have ever done anything like that.

Well, perhaps the message just resonated. That song was a very simple,
yet very effective tool in teaching me something I’ve never forgotten.
There is a plan for my life. I have a place. I am the very model of a
Christian individual… but that’s not all there is to it.

Now that we know there is a plan for our lives, that we are literally
and figuratively united in Christ, what do we do with it? In other
words, what does it mean to carry the name United Church of Christ?

According to Paul, “we are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to
do the good things God created us to do from the beginning.”

-Good things such as making sure that everything is taken care of so
that Susan has the time she needs to grieve and renew her spirit

-Good things such as taking meals to Jane and Laurie, and watching Ben
so that baby Grace got all the critical attention she needed in those
first few weeks.

-Good things such as analyzing the budget, as the Admin committee has,
so that we know exactly where we stand and the work we need to do to
make our ministry at Bridgeport flourish

All of these things are “faith-based initiatives” that bring us closer
to realizing God’s plan for our lives, and closer to one another in
sustaining our unique bond.

But the work cannot and should not stop with the local church. The
meditation today asks us about times when we’ve turned away from someone
due to preoccupation… or even fear. The contemporary reading is about
unity despite the harsh reality of race relations. There are Christian
churches all over the country, and in fact, all over the city of
Portland that do not ordain or marry anyone within the Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual, Transgender community. There is a war being waged against
people who want more out of life by people who accuse them of taking too
much.

People are divided in hundreds of different ways and it seems as if
there are becoming more every day. If we are called to be united in
Christ, then we are the first ones who need to take a second, or even
third look at our lives to ensure that we are living in the moment,
cognizant of the times when people are reaching out to us, and try to
bridge the gaps that permeate our increasingly isolated, fear-driven
society.

One of the easiest ways that we can possibly do this is realizing that
through Christ, every person around you, regardless of race, gender, or
sexual orientation, has the same place, promise, and plan given to them.
It’s just as the reading in Ephesians has said, “Christ came and
announced the Good News of peace to you who were far away, and to those
who were near; for through Christ, we all have access in one Spirit to
our God.” There is no “us” and “them.” We are all, to quote Rite I in
the Episcopal Church, “very members incorporate in the mystical body of
thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs,
through hope, of thy everlasting kindom.” Fancy language that says
simply- we’re all in. The doors have swung wide.

Thanks be to God.