DC VOTES NO!

My dad and I started the morning at Union Station, where we had breakfast and then walked over to Pete Olson’s office in the Rayburn building so we could get gallery floor passes for both the House and the Senate, and scheduled a tour with a red-headed toddler (seemingly). He must have been over 21, but I’m not so sure. He looked a little like if William F. Buckley and Molly Weasley had a baby. As we were walking toward the House gallery, I stopped into Eleanor Norton-Holmes’ office, because I had heard of her my whole life, the “shadow congressman,” but I didn’t know what she looked like. They told me that they were glad I stopped in, because she’d be arguing today over a bill for DC, limiting reproductive rights in The District. I said, “I don’t even know what to say to that…. the stupid. It burns.” They told me they were glad to have me as a constituent (I didn’t bother telling them I lived in Maryland, because correcting them after the fact seemed rude). I told them that I was glad to be standing on the right side of history on this one.

Speaking of history, when we got upstairs to the gallery, Holmes-Norton took the floor and explained passionately why the bill was terrible for DC. When she sat down, the conservative asshats on the other side started using the same tired old argument for limitation on reproductive rights they’ve used for the last fifty years and I have a feeling it will still be voted down now. I mean, we’re not just talking about Roe vs. Wade. Let’s talk about Griswold vs. Connecticut. It’s not just women at issue- men as well. The state was found guilty of restricting access to education on reproductive rights, which also teaches men that in order to avoid pregnancy in their partners, they probably ought to wear a condom. Griswold established the right to privacy in marital relationships, which is honestly the illegal bus the pro-lifers are driving right now.

It makes people angry. Really angry.

The four people in front of me, when the opposition started speaking, stood up and held a giant DC flag, draping it over the railing (a huge no-no) and yelling “DC VOTES NO! DC VOTES NO!” I was just about to jump in with them when I realized that a) it was against the rules b) they were dragged out and arrested.

At that point, I said to my dad, “I have to get out of here or I’m going to lose it.” Both sides of the coin deserve to be heard, but when you’ve heard the same argument as a woman and lesbian over and over and over why your rights don’t mean as much as his, it’s hard to sit still. My dad came out a few minutes later and then we went down to the cafeteria. I was boiling and I needed a Coke Zero, STAT. We chatted and played with our phones until it was time to go and meet William F. Weasley our tour guide, which was totally worth it. I got to stand in the original Supreme Court, where Marbury vs. Madison was decided. Jill and Lindsay will flip their shit (my sister, Jill, and I were all in Con Law together). I STOOD IN THE ROOM WHERE JUDICIAL REVIEW WAS CREATED, BITCHES. The only other person that it meant something to was my baby giraffe tour guide. But we each had THAT LOOK. You know the one. The one that comes from “this is my first time in DC.” It wasn’t, by any means, but that’s just the look I’m talking about. Wide-eyed and unbelieving at everything because it’s like believing six impossible things before breakfast. You mean Thomas Jefferson has stood RIGHT HERE?” Locals get over it quickly. I feel like Mr. Smith every single day.

Perhaps this is because I know what I lost when I left Virginia the first time, and I don’t want to let it go ever again. Going back to Virginia was not what mattered to me. Anywhere in the Metro area is fine. Just don’t take away my wonder. Just don’t take away my awe. Let me fall in love all over again.

Later, I saw three Marines having their picture taken on the steps of the Supreme Court. I got unbelievably choked up, and took each of their hands into my own and said, “thank you for your service.” I have been taught to say that over the years, along with “thank you for your sacrifice,” because you never know how the soldier feels about what he/she has been through and you never want to be offensive. But service and sacrifice are universal regardless of political affiliation. It’s just a way to give back from a grateful citizen, which I desperately am. I sleep better because I know they’re out there, protecting me even when they don’t want to. Because frankly, sometimes knowing me makes me harder to protect. 😛 Anything I can do to support those who serve me without being asked is another reason I love being here- I see service men and women all the time, and I am adamant about going up to every one. At National Airport during Christmas of 2011, I cried like a baby from the outside door all the way to my gate.

Can I move somewhere else?

DC VOTES NO!

The Rockefeller and the Clinton

Last night my dad took me to a little bar after dinner called “Off the Record,” in the basement of the Hay Adams hotel. The guy next to me started laughing because I ordered whiskey and a beer back, and they brought me the tallest beer I have ever seen. I picked up my cocktail glass and said, “I meant that I wanted this size.” The waiter said, “here, that’s what we call a back.” It was delicious, but I didn’t finish either drink. I ended up sleeping most of the way home, because I’m not much of a drinker, especially now that I do not work as a line cook. My tolerance level is way, way down and I have no interest in bringing it back up again.

However, I did spend a lot of time talking to the guy who was laughing at me, because his making fun of me led into the traditional, “so what do you do?” conversation. He’s some kind of trader, and was VERY interested when I said that my passion was social media and blogging. He gave me his card, and told me to call him- that he might want to do social media for his own business. We liked each other immediately. He said that he was a “Rockefeller Republican.” I said that I was a “Clinton Democrat,” and there wasn’t much of a gap between the two. I asked him what he thought of The Tea Party, and he said, “not much.”

That was the right answer.

And now I’m thinking that I need to go to Off the Record more often….. Because hey, the drinks might be a little pricey, but if it nets me a job worth bank, maybe it’s just an investment. I like DC Brau. I could get used to it. 🙂

The 180 Review

When I was working at University of Houston, my boss had us review him as he reviewed us. I want to take an inventory of what I’m doing, so I’m turning the circle toward me. I can’t conduct a meeting as fast as my boss could, but let’s at least hit the hot points.

Dana and I have been planning to see each other in DC since I left. Now she says that she might not have time because her friends and family are more important than I am. I told her, “I get it. I won’t call again.” It irritates the piss out of me, but she’s my ex for a reason. I have met so many people here that I’m not really interested in revisiting the past. It’s probably better that we don’t see each other anyway, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sad about it. I originally called because we both need to go to the bank to sign documents to get her accounts out of my login screen. You would think that would be important. Apparently, not so much. We’ve banked at B of A since, well, forever, so I had this vision in my head of meeting in Columbia Heights so we could go to some type of cool restaurant and shoot the shit until the sun goes down. But that’s my dream, not hers, and what are you going to do?

Walk away. If she doesn’t care that I can see all of her transactions and transfer money in and out of her accounts, I cannot help her. I just don’t want to see them. I don’t want to know where she is and what she’s doing based on the transactions that come in. It would be handy if we were still together because we could bank together from separate cities. But we’re not, and I want to move on. The worst part is that I thought she was still dedicated to being my friend, and her voice on the phone with me sounds different than it ever has. I want no part of it, and if you can’t tell already, I am being a little bit judgy. This is because I cannot even. There are nights when I lay in bed wondering what the fuck I did with my marriage, because it broke over the two years I spent changing my core. However, as I was doing the work to be who I am, Dana wasn’t. We just couldn’t stay together because I was a totally different person to her.

I am a totally different person to myself, too.

Checking myself into Methodist psych ward was the best thing I ever could have done for myself, because it gave me new context for old problems. I react differently, I see differently… and honestly, the moment it happened was when I put on my glasses- even before going to the hospital. I could literally Think Different. However, thinking differently does not happen in a moment. It is a lifetime process. My glasses were just the lightbulb, because I carried myself differently when the prisms kicked in and made my left eye stronger. Monocular vision affects the way I hold my head and my posture, because in order to function, I have to move my head to see everything around me. Monocular vision means three things- no depth perception, no angle of convergence, and no peripheral vision. The journey into stereo is not complete, but I want to work on it. As I said before, my autobiography is called “Staring at Myself,” so named because I only have stereo vision if I am looking at my nose. I have to train my eyes so that they track together even when I’m not looking that close. Some people use beads on a string because it gives them a focal point and they can gradually move the bead back on the Z axis to get the stereo to stick around. I have tried the bead method, and it hasn’t worked so far… mostly because it gives me a raging headache to “practice.” This one change, though. I have had glasses before, but there weren’t prisms in there so they didn’t work.

I always thought it was a neurological problem and there was nothing anyone could do. Then I picked up “Fixing My Gaze” by Susan Barry and I was proven wrong, both by Susan herself AND the great Oliver Sacks, who wrote a brilliant foreward. For the uninitiated, he wrote Awakenings, later made into a movie that still gives me a great excuse to have a good cry. 🙂

Sometimes I’m a big crybaby, because I have to get emotions out. I am not happy until the ablution has taken place. I don’t want to stuff down my feelings, and I don’t want to eat them. I love the line from Will and Grace. Will is talking about going to visit his family for Thanksgiving and tells Grace that his family uses the buttons on their clothes to hold in their feelings. I have been like that my whole life, because especially as a preacher’s kid, I was in “show mode.” I don’t have a “show mode” now. I am as authentic as they come, so of course I say things without thinking that have the power to undo marriages and friendships, because I know that my friends shouldn’t have to handle the shitshow I become when angry.

I learned an important thing from the last two years. If Dana or anyone else gets pissy with me, HANG UP and think about it for a while instead of just exploding all over the place. Instead of yelling at her and causing a scene from a time zone away, I calmly said that not planning time to visit me was thoughtless and kind of mean because I’ve been looking forward to it hard core. Not that I am trying to accuse her of anything, but like I said, it seems urgent that our money is disconnected and I also wanted to show her my version of The District.

That being said, if I don’t get to see her, it worked out the way it was supposed to. But Pride is that weekend, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather go with than Dana. But I won’t. I’ll go with Prianka and Elena, making other friends as I go along. Surely at Pride there are people who will adopt me as one of their own. In these cases, it’s usually large groups of gay men that need a hag to drive them home. The last time this happened, I was handed the keys to the most expensive car I have ever seen. I told the drunk gay boy that I wasn’t a very good driver, and he told me to drive it like I stole it because that’s what insurance is for.

I didn’t take him up on it. I drove so far under the speed limit that cars were passing me on the right, and I didn’t care because to me, driving like my grandmother was going to save him a claim. If I remember right, it was a loaded BMW, the kind meant for an autobahn because it can do 140 ain’t nothin’ to it. If you hit the accelerator, it only takes .5 seconds to back into a parking garage pole or something similar… oh, and did I mention it was snowing?

I love the snow. It’s white and pure, something I strive to be, and fail the way all humans do.

She Doth Protest Too Much

As I stood out in front of the Supreme Court, I walked around all the anti-gay protesters and knew that I had to get away before I would lose my shit in front of them. One particularly goaded me, and I told him that I would rather live in the depths of his hell than be thought of as a fucking asshole. Of course he was waiting for it. They always are. He told me that my parents were terrible, that if they’d done their job I wouldn’t be in front of the Supreme Court, that my father wasn’t a real Christian minister because he would have beat the shit out of me by now, etc. I should have walked away long before I did, but eventually I said, “your God is too small…”

And walked away.

Mawwidge Is What Bwings Us Togevvah

Today the Supreme court will hear four cases on marriage equality, and there are already thousands of people in front of the SCOTUS building. I will join them shortly, because I need caffeine first. Let’s not get stupid. But at the same time, I am going to inhale it because I can’t miss one more minute. Today, if the arguments only take a few more hours, it might be the last time in which I ever feel like a second-class citizen.

When I was a kid, gay people were sick. Gay people had something wrong with them. In some parts of the country, this is still considered true. However, the year I came out (1990), it was much more widespread a notion and much more believed. Never mind that I was only 13. Never mind that I’d never had sex in my entire life, so therefore the promiscuous argument was out. Never mind that all I wanted was to hold a girl’s hand without feeling like I was going to get beat up in a parking lot somewhere and left for dead.

Yes- my fear was that real. Why wouldn’t it be? At the time, there were beatings in the Montrose regularly. I had to watch my back, and I did. I walked around town with no small amount of fear, and the idea that children cannot come out as gay, as we know now, is ridiculous. By the time puberty hits, people may not have kissed who they love, but they know who they WANT to. The problem is that when it is realized that kids are straight, there is very little incentive to try and change it. Not so with gay kids. Most of the time, their parents think it’s a phase.

I’m 38 now. Still love women. Longest. Phase. Ever.

Today, I am hoping to grow in the fullness of the law, because where the law goes, so does the rest of the country. Maybe in time, I will not have to worry about going through a small town and getting my ass kicked just because I look a certain way. Yes, I dress like a boy. No, I do not wish to be one. I wish to look preppy, sharp, clean… and I smell good, too. 🙂 To think that anyone would want to physically injure me over it is ridiculous, and yet, those pockets of (in)humanity exist, even in liberal places like Maryland, DC, and NoVA. Even when I was married to Dana, I looked around when I gave her affection in public because I could not turn off the internal homophobia running through my brain that says I do not deserve to be able to give Dana affection in public, because it’s just not “normal.”

I’ve always felt normal. What’s their problem? Hopefully by the end of the day, they won’t have the right to have one.

I Live Here Now

It’s amazing how fast I have acclimated to living in DC. It’s like I just dropped in and picked up where I left off. It’s a weird feeling that I’m NOT homesick. I mean, I miss my family, but outside of that I am so glad to be here that I cannot EVEN. I am still looking for a job, but I have some leads. I went in and talked to the managers at Five Guys, Starbucks, and Petco. All of them have online applications, but I wanted them to remember my name when the electronic submission comes through. I would prefer the job at Petco because I have run my own fish tanks since I was a kid and it’s insane how much useless knowledge I have running about since I didn’t bring my fish tank with me. I may need to get a goldfish bowl for my room, because it’s amazing how much I miss them. They’re my inspiration when I get writer’s block. I just watch them until an idea pops into my head. I don’t remember who said it, but one of my favorite quotes is “what partners of writers don’t understand is that we’re actually working harder when we’re staring out the window.” For me, it’s staring at a fish tank. We had a gift exchange at Alert Logic when I was there, and one of my coworkers got me a one gallon aquarium soI could have a betta on my desk. I named him Tester, because of course I did.

Even without a fish tank, I get to stare at plenty, though. When I am feeling writer’s block, I go to the Zoo. As long as I have a full battery on my laptop, I have plenty of time to watch animals and get back to it. It’s amazing how much inspiration one gets from an elephant.

Actually, my favorite animal is the giraffe. No kidding. I think they are the most beautiful creatures in the world, and I could look at them all day. Ditto with Zebras. There’s a reason my favorite gum is Fruit Stripes. 🙂 Both animals just feed my soul, and seeing them play in the sunshine while I’m thinking is such a good feeling. I love this city, because there is so much inspiration for FREE. If I had to pay Houston prices to look at giraffes, it just wouldn’t happen. I think it’s almost 20 or 30 bucks to go to the Zoo in Houston, and it’s like a Zoo with one dog….. a Shih Tzu. After I pay the admission fee, I am intimidated by $4.00 bottles of water.

However, I will GLADLY pay whatever they want for drinks at our Zoo, because hey, I got in for free. They also have one of my favorite foods…. ice cream with M&Ms in it, in a vending machine so you can still eat it when the Zoo closes and it becomes, for all practical intents and purposes, a jogging trail. It’s almost enough to make me start running…… almost. I really need to run on a treadmill first, because walking all over DC has given me shin splints like a mofo. I have Mobic and Tylenol on board and it still hurts, mostly because Mobic will stop the pain, but it won’t keep me from walking and re-injuring myself. I can’t not walk. It’s my lifeblood, the thing that gives me endorphins and stories for later. I meet people. I talk to people. I hear their stories and because I probably won’t see them again, it’s a stranger on a train interaction (sometimes literally) that I feel okay writing about because I don’t even know their names.

The only thing I don’t like is that I look approachable, and I am asked by homeless people for money ALL THE TIME. I don’t give them any, but I am convinced that there is some sort of jackass magnet on my forehead that says, “please tell me your whole life story.” But then again, as an introvert, I kind of want to hear it. I’m trying to find the balance between “I don’t have time- fuck off” and “tell me everything about you in 20 minutes.” BECAUSE THEY WILL. And then there are those people who tell me their stories whether I want to hear them or not. Yesterday a lady told me all about her grandkids in Minnesota. The baby is cute (really? Never heard that one.). Generally, those people are called “tourists.” Locals have their headphones in, and do not want to engage. I don’t do that anymore, because when I can’t hear the overhead, I tend to go a couple of stops past the one I originally intended. Since I don’t have anywhere to be yet, it doesn’t bother me. If I was commuting into work, that would be a major problem. So, better to leave off the headphones and listen to the conductor.

I took a break from writing and now I’m at Teaism in Dupont Circle, or as we gays lovingly call it, “The Fruit Loop.” Literally walking around Dupont Circle is the reason I don’t have a car. If you saw it, you’d know why. I have been stuck in that mofo before, and as a result, I never took my car into DC again. I had to have a car last time we were here because I lived in between Van Dorn on the Blue Line and King Street on the Yellow Line, so walking was convenient to neither- the worst place in DC ever. I didn’t mean my neighborhood. I mean that if you don’t live within walking distance of the Metro, you live in DC, but you’re not doing it right. DC is not meant for driving. It’s too small, and everyone who already lives in the District has taken up the majority of the parking (and rightfully so). So when you talk about the Virginia and Maryland cars as well, you’re talking road rage as you circle the block fifty times and you’re 30 minutes late for a meeting and 2 minutes from the restaurant.

Silver Spring is the first stop in Maryland, so everything is convenient to me. I go into DC all the time just because I like it, but I don’t really need to- most of the stores in which I stop are either walking distance or a short bus ride, and there is a bus stop at the end of my street. For those in the know, I live right off Colesville and Indian Spring. The neighborhood is very well-to-do and safe, kind of like living in the suburbs and yet, doesn’t feel like it. For my Houstonians, it’s kind of like living in Bellaire or West University, because Silver Spring is still inside The Beltway. It’s a nice mixture of urban and rural- not as busy as the city. It’s Portland-ish because it’s a city, and yet, laaaaaaaaid back. What do I mean by that? People will not push you down trying to get past you for the bus.

We also have a theater called The Fillmore. Stone Temple Pilots are coming, and I cannot decide whether that’s cool or I’m old.

Howler Monkey

It was like a scene from the movies. We were on our cell phones, trying to find each other, and then BAM! I must have sounded like a howler monkey, because my voice went up into the stratosphere (or, as a trumpet player, the Faddisphere) as I looked at Prianka for the first time in years. She’d lost over 100 pounds, due to diet and becoming one of those freak runners that’s training for a 50k. But she was still the same old Pri that I know. We picked up like five minutes had passed between us. I hugged her so hard I didn’t want to let go, and then we walked from the Columbia Heights Metro station to a great vegan restaurant. Seriously the best facon I have ever had in my entire life. I don’t know what they put in it, but I am almost sure it is crack. It was the first vegan bacon I’d ever had where I was like, “could you make me six pans….. thanks.” I got what was called a Texas burger- bacon and cheese on a whole wheat bun and a patty held together with sunflower seeds and awesome.

After lunch, we hiked through the zoo because it was close and I wanted to see the pandas for the first time since I was eight, but the Panda House was closed. The reason I haven’t seen the pandas since I was eight is that I’m pretty sure the Panda House was closed the entire time I lived here before….. The only other thing that interested me was the Reptile House, but even I chickened out at the last minute. Some of the snakes and lizards are the most beautiful in the world, but others are from the country of “Nope.” So instead, we just stayed on the main trails. I was telling Pri that when I lived in Portland, I’d become somewhat of a hiker for real, that I was comfortable with switchbacks and incline, and she freaked out, because she has never been able to convince any of her other friends to go with her. This is because hiking for the uninitiated is ALSO from the country of “Nope.” So we’re planning hiking trips and going to see Armin Van Buren and Childish Gambino this summer.

She and Elena, her fiancee, are getting married on May 16th, so we only got to spend about four hours together before it was time for her to go home and get back to the planning, because of course now it’s crunch time/freakout mode. I know four hours seems like a long time, but we’d not seen each other for, honestly, I don’t know how many years. Maybe 2008? I forget. But sufficed to say, it’s been a long time and the epic first convo could have gone on for four more. We talked about the places we are in our lives, and Pri Diddy and I are walking the same path, but we’re at different points. She’s a lot further along than I am, especially since she’s discovered the incredible endorphins that come with exercise. I told her that I was finding the same thing- that I walk at least four miles a day to ensure that not only do I get endorphins, I get a fair amount of sunshine as well. The only problem is that at four miles a day, the tread is already starting to wear off on my shoes…. not necessarily something to be proud of, per se, but it does show A for effort.

Unfortunately for me and my weird eyesight, today I tripped over a raised manhole and scraped the hell out of my knee, ripping a hole in the nicest pants I own (I dressed up for company). Prianka was so great. She’s all like, “do you need to get some new pants?” I was touched that she’d take time out of her day to help me shop, but at the same time, the object of the game was to walk and talk with her. I could deal with a hole in the knee of my pants if it meant more time on the trails with her. A little road rash never hurt anybody, and when I checked my knee when I got home, it was not nearly as severe as it felt in the moment.

And now I am on the front porch of my house, as per my usual, relaxing at the patio table and looking out over the neighborhood. It’s peaceful and quiet because Mike, Hayat, and I are the only ones home. Mike is washing his car as I type this, and the soap smells like cherries and apples. The sun is shining brightly…… outside, too.