National Cathedral

There’s a reason they call it that, you know.

Hundreds of people who never thought marriage equality would happen in their children’s lifetimes, much less theirs, gathered in the church, one by one and then five by five and then ten by ten until it was all of us together. Some people, like for instance, me, were weeping. I am a sympathetic cryer anyway, but no sympathy needed. The straight woman next to me said, “I don’t know why you’re crying, but you’re making my husband and me cry, too.” I looked at her a little bit startled, and said, “I never thought this day would come.” I thought a moment, and said, “and also because the church has spent years hurting people like us, and yet, here we are.”

I’m sitting in a Whole Foods in Georgetown stuffing down sweet and sour tofu with vegetable fried rice, because I needed comfort food to decompress and debrief. The music was so glorious, and I won’t lie. The last hymn was “Marching to Zion,” and I turned on my Diane-Syrcle-opera-voice afterburners, the kind where when I do it, Wendy calls me a “descant whore.” And then, after Dana and I moved to Houston, she started calling me a descant whore in Wendy’s place. It just felt so glorious, though, soaring above the people next to me and yet, just blending in. The tenors behind me were obviously descant whores as well, so I leaned into their sound and it was all of us together. After the last note (A with attitude), we patted each other on the back and smiled in the musician’s fraternity sort of way, that knowing look we all have when we know we are not reading from the approved notes on the page. We also sang the descant on First Song of Isaiah, because I cannot remember the last time I didn’t. If you’re wondering why I am telling you all this, just being a diva all over the place, it’s because it wasn’t until that moment I realized with pain in my chest and shortness of breath that Dana and Argo weren’t there. Dana wasn’t there to be half embarrassed and half amazed, and I have long told Argo that all I wanted to do in DC was hit the B-flat at the end of something where she could hear it.

And then, I had a Dana moment so severe I had to sit down. I had to borrow a pen. I went up to a woman and said, “I notice that you have a bag. Might there be a pen in it I could borrow?” Her partner said, “she is the woman with a pen,” and pulls it off the clip on her shirt. I said, completely second nature, “I know that woman. I have that woman at home.” And all of the sudden it came crashing back that no, I don’t. It was just my standard response for the last 12 years coming out of my mouth before I could stop it. The concept of not being a “we” is fine most of the time until these things happen… the moments when I forget that standard responses no longer apply. I got the dean of the cathedral to sign my BCP, and he said, “Andy Doyle confirmed you? I was just at a meeting with him last week!” I said, “Bishop Doyle is one of the most fantastic people on earth, and he is doing God’s work down there.” He looked at me and smiled and said something about the audacity of Texas to refuse the SCOTUS opinion while I looked at the Maryland flag above me and tried not to flood out, because I still had to give back the pen.

I walked over to the woman and gave her back her pen, begrudgingly, because it was a fantastic one… and then went to a chair with a kneeling pad and said a quick prayer for the end of my own marriage, just an Episcopal “forgive me for the things I have done, and the things I have left undone.”

Then, I headed toward the preacher, a Baptist (I KNOW). I told her that I was a preacher and writer myself, and her sermon was well put-together and really spoke of a sense of occasion.

And it did.

She preached about the fight. The struggle. The people that have died to get us this right, because they have. You might think that’s stretching a bit, but it is definitely not. Gay rights started in earnest after the fight between the cops and the drag queens at Stonewall Inn in New York City, and have slowly come to the rest of the nation since 1969. Harvey Milk was gunned down in cold blood, and there have been no shortage of people that have killed themselves due to the hopelessness that gay bashing has produced… so, not only have people been beaten to death and shot, people have killed themselves because they thought that they were next- the situation was hopeless. 

She spoke of the current fight, sitting on boards and councils and being on TV while people yelled at her, cursed her out, called her ministry unfit. Treated her like a sad, lost dog that only needed to be pointed in the direction of the “correct” God. She did not say if she was a lesbian herself, but if she is straight, that almost makes her more worthy of respect because she chose to enter that fight willingly, and DID NOT BACK DOWN when it got hard.

It was hard on all of us together, but we made it. In joining together at the NATIONAL cathedral, I would like to think that we represented a nation whose mourning had come to an end, the morning after a long night’s journey without stars.

That’s why I had to let the last note ring in the cathedral. Some of that win was for me.

Amen.

Clan Lanagan

My family on my dad’s side is Irish, and here is our motto:

Patriae Infelici Fidelis

Faithful to an Unhappy Country

I get tired just thinking about it. Reminds me of this completely memorable line in The Departed:

Colin: [to Madolyn] If we’re not gonna make it, it’s gotta be you that gets out, cause I’m not capable. I’m fucking Irish, I’ll deal with something being wrong for the rest of my life.

I’m wondering if this is why it’s so hard for me to let go of people, no matter how they treat me. I cannot stop saying I’m sorry, I cannot stop making amends, and I cannot deal with the fact that I just need to stop caring. I’m not capable. It’s hard for me to come to that point where I realize that I am taking on way more responsibility than is rightfully mine just to smooth things over and make good. I stop caring about whether things are right or fair or good and just take the blame because it’s better to be wrong and together than right and alone. I stop standing up for myself and just acquiesce.

For instance, Argo and Dana both believe that I constantly treated them like shit. There were plenty of times when I was in the wrong and I wholeheartedly accept that, but constantly? You can tell from this web site that’s not true. I have given them love, and in their anger, they wipe it away as if it is nothing. I am the villain, the crazy person, the easy way to dispose of their situations with me because it means never having to acknowledge their parts in our relationship. Never acknowledging that it always takes two to tango in a fight. Never seeing that I have valid emotions toward them, both positive and negative…. but they choose what they see, and what they see is all of the times I was wrong and never the times I was right.

And yes, I have used always and never, which therapists tell everyone that’s a bad idea. But in this case, it is apt. They do not see me as a human with a full range of emotions, just a psycho.

Tidy.

I finally had to come to a place in my healing that said, “if that’s what they want to believe, then let them believe it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, because it’s their perception, not reality.” Or, as a great philosopher once said, “well, that’s just like, your opinion, man.” However, it does not stop me from being faithful in trying to forgive them for their opinion of me because it just hurts me. All the way around.

I never in a million years thought that Dana would say to me, “your eyes don’t look like home anymore.” This was after a fight in which I told her that her words created a tape in me that pushed all my abuse buttons at once. I had to breathe through it like labor, and I was thinking, deeply, about the issue at hand. When I told her as much, she said, “I just keep making it worse!” Meaning that she thought I was keeping score and she was losing. There was never any scoreboard. I never kept track of anything in terms of judgment, but if a new behavior smacked of an old one, I would tell her so. People who don’t want to open up to you and examine their behaviors tend to say you’re “throwing things back in their faces.” People who are comfortable with themselves are open to analyzing behavior and talking about it. Because in a discussion, how do you come to resolution if you are not open to creating new patterns, new ways of being in the world rather than repeating them? If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.

The other thing is that when people say to you “you’re just throwing things back in my face,” they tend to stomp off and end the discussion altogether, so that no progress is made at all. Then, the relationship is just the same fight, over and over and over and over and over ad nauseam, infinitum. I should know that I cannot change people, and I shouldn’t try. But what do you do when their pattern hurts you and you can’t change it? What happens when the person cannot listen to your complaints and take them in and change themselves without your influence?

The relationship ends.

My forgiveness is just about instantaneous, but my memory is long. Not only that, I thrive on conversations about analyzing behavior, because while that is not my profession, it is my personality type. With Dana, those conversations were especially difficult because she insisted that her memory was better than mine, that I wasn’t remembering things right, that I didn’t have a point because my memory just didn’t work.

My father will tell you that is inaccurate. So will Diane… one of my favorite lines that she ever said to me is “why do you think I don’t tell you anything? You remember it.”

Even Argo plays that game. That I cannot “keep my story straight.” It’s not that. It’s like the old story about all the blind men touching different parts of an elephant. They all have different perspectives that don’t line up. I remember different details at different times, and the timestamp matters. Everything I have remembered is true to the best of my ability, but they aren’t all on the same place on the z-axis. Some are closer, some are further away, and they switch places at random. The best way to get a story out of me is to ask me to tell it three or four or six or eight times and then look at them synoptically.

Except for the fistfight between Dana and me. The trauma from that evening caused spots to disappear, and I don’t know that I will ever get them back. They’re just dead. And this applies to both things I said and did as well as the things she said and did. I am not trying to make anyone look better or worse in that scenario, I just can’t bring up what I can’t remember. The most traumatic moments compete with each other, they do not line up chronologically… and that is my weakness, because it makes Dana’s memory “better.” Therefore, easier for her to throw my viewpoint out altogether because obviously, I am a liar.

It hurts that these perceptions are from the same people that initially thought I was brilliant, clever, funny… and none of those attributes seem to matter anymore. Their opinion is that none of the emotional RPGs they threw at me were as bad as the ones I threw at them. They were never actors, only responders. Nothing I ever said to them was in response to their nastiness, they just came out of thin air. I call bullshit, and should. Things get said in anger that don’t get said in peace, on both sides of the equation, but apparently only my words matter. I am so tired of it that I could scream, but screaming doesn’t do any good because it goes up against a brick wall and bounces back toward me… because they didn’t hurt me at all. I’m just a bad person.

They accuse me of analyzing their behavior for creating excuses. I do not excuse any of my behavior. Not in the slightest. But I am not only a product of my decisions, but my reactions as well. Trying to understand the complete picture does not mean that I am making excuses. It means that I am trying to understand all of the working parts in a situation and not just mine.

Circumstances are everything.

Trying to understand circumstances is bringing the whole picture to life, because I understand the pawns that I moved, but I also want to understand the ones they did. I want to see the whole board for what it is, and not just quietly stand next to the king.

I do not see what is wrong with that, but to them, obviously it is. I just need to find people in my life that also like to understand the whole chessboard… that do not think actions and reactions are singular.

Everything matters.

But right now, in my smallest place, I am living up to my name. Extraordinarily faithful to an unhappy country in which there are only two citizens.

Out of the Deep, I Cry Unto You

I changed the words of the psalm because I am crying to you, my Fanagans, the ones I turn to in both joy and pain. Somehow, I knew it was going to happen, but I did not expect it to affect me this deeply.

I got a text message from an old friend congratulating Dana and me because now we could get married in Texas. I mean, obviously an old friend because Dana and I broke up in February… or at least, I think it was February. This entire year has just been a blur of activity.

I feel the loss acutely. The loss of family, the loss of friend, the lost of comfort and safety and home and all of those things that marriage represents. The wisdom is that it was a loss I needed, a catalyst toward greater things because when I said I wanted them, Dana did not want them with me. She doesn’t like that I’m a blogger, doesn’t like how my writing affects her, and I accept it. She thinks that I have the capability to lead millions, but thinks that those people are more important than she is. I validate that those are her feelings, but they were never my own. There will never be another person like her in my life… but now, she is just a memory. When she said that she didn’t want to be a part of this life, I let her go. I released her into the ether and sometimes I see her in my dreams and we go for coffee, just like we did on the ground. But nothing more. Not ever.

What I realized is that our patterns together were never going to get me where I needed to go. That I was never going to achieve much by just hanging out, going with the flow, doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed my nothing quite a bit. Many deep conversations will live in my memory because we gave ourselves the space for them to happen. We sat in the backyard, we sat on the couch, we sat at the kitchen table, just talking. Wisdom always happens when you’re doing something else.

The thing is, though, those conversations were not being followed by actions, because we just enjoyed our nothing so much. When I noticed that our nothing box was leading to inaction, she took it as a personal affront, thought I was saying that because of her, I wasn’t succeeding. It was never my truth, but it was hers. My truth is that I thought of doing great things, but I also enjoyed the sweet, still moments, and I lingered in them a little too long for someone that’s about to be 38. I felt the pull of mortality, that I would not be able to do what I perceived I’d been sent here to do on this planet, that I felt a calling greater than myself… while sitting on the couch and talking about it but not putting anything into action. The fault was in how much time I was sitting around doing nothing, not her.

It was also easy to let go knowing how much she thinks of me as the manipulator. The actor, and never the responder. It always takes two to tango, and I am shamed beyond belief because some of the emotional arrows she threw stuck to my heart in a way that it’s taking major emotional surgery to get them out. Anything that happened in that relationship, save leaning on Argo for emotional support instead of Dana, is ours to own and not just me.

The biggest thing is that I explore myself to a frightening degree, and Dana just wasn’t down for it. Didn’t want to explore herself and get answers as to who she was and why she acts the way she acts and who she is in the larger picture of the network, the one we all strive to achieve. My asking her to do it was not well-received.

It was taken as launching emotional grenades and waiting for them to go off, when I thought of them as peeling back the layers of an onion, wanting her to open up to me when she would not.

Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.

– H. L. Mencken

I didn’t want to marry anyone who wouldn’t dig deep, didn’t want me to know them on that level. In the end, it was that way with Argo, too. They thought I was just pushing their buttons, when in reality, I thought they’d never answered those questions because no one had ever asked. I was trapped in this cycle of my closest friend and my wife battling me over stupid shit because they didn’t want to open up.

In a way, I was more surprised that Argo thought I was trying to push her buttons because the entire reason we became friends was to be able to ask those questions of each other, open up in a way that we never had before. When it became clear that I was going too deep for them, they both pushed me away, so I retreated to my own silence, asking those questions of myself.

I thought that by asking questions of them, they would ask questions of me. That we would all be able to wrestle with our demons in order to release them. They grew tired of what they viewed as bringing up old shit, when I found that it was the only thing that gave me the strength to keep going. That knowing myself was a battle for which I was initially unprepared, but has brought me more gifts than anyone could possibly imagine.

I can’t breathe when I think of all the times I thought I was starting a dialogue and they thought I was starting a war. That I became this person that wanted to meddle instead of this person that was just curious. You never think you’re being nosy when it’s a close friend and your wife. In my mind, it was information that I’d hope we’d want to know about each other.

We’d all fought our separate wars, and I wanted to hear their stories. But you can’t get anyone to tell you a story if they don’t wanna.

I lifted myself out of the situation so begrudgingly. I thought they both had so much more to share, so much more meat to chew that we left unresolved.

In a way, it tells me that it’s time to find people that will share their stories. That aren’t threatened by introspection. That do not take my knowing of them as a threat. It turns my attention away from them, because while they were the people I needed then, they are not the people I need, now.

How I wish they could be, though.

Nine Guys in Robes

My Con Law professor had me from the first class by saying that the Supreme Court Justices were nothing but “nine guys in robes.” He wasn’t discounting the women at all, just making the point that you don’t have to be a lawyer… hell, you don’t even have to have a GED to be on the Supreme Court. It’s an at-will position. Sometimes they make right decisions. Sometimes they don’t. They are no more and no less than the rest of us, powers derived only from the ones we give them ourselves. On some days, it seems like it.

On some days, they seem hundreds of feet tall…. like today.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.

It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage,” Justice Kennedy said of the couples challenging state bans on same-sex marriage. “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

-Anthony Kennedy, Author of Majority Opinion

Today, we all have a chance to breathe, take in these words, and find them self-evident. Words that are beautiful enough to be carved on the facades of state and federal buildings the country over as we prepare a new way of being in the world, gay and straight people alike.

For instance, we can all stop calling it “gay marriage” now… because there is no difference. One marriage license does not have any demarcation from the other… or at least, it won’t a few weeks from now. I am sure that there are thousands of clerks across the nation taking heterosexual marriage licenses out of their file cabinets and making the necessary changes in black ink. Some of them have tears in their eyes as they do it, not knowing that this day would ever come.

I certainly didn’t.

I didn’t even want to plan a wedding with my then-wife of 7 years because I was too internally homophobic to stand up in front of everyone. I talked a good game, like just how many brass quintets we would need, but inside, my heart was turning upside down. She talked to the priest before I was ready to have that conversation, and I did not get to hear it. My stomach churned as she was recounting it. I loved her (in some ways, still do), but as I have said before, my internal fear was “what if we planned a wedding and nobody came? What if it just looks silly?” My ex-wife’s parents said they would be there, begrudgingly, after SEVEN YEARS OF TRYING, but their attitude was way closer to my own because it was the same attitude that let me beat myself down for years and years. That it somehow just wasn’t right… interesting because I have been to lots of gay weddings and never felt that way about my friends. Just about me.

In my formative coming out years, gay marriages were the equivalent of hopping over a broom so quick no one would see it. Vows were taken in the privacy of your own home. Rings were worn on any finger but THAT ONE. Pronouns were altered. Gay marriage wasn’t out loud, it was on the down-low.

Now, marriage has a sense of legitimacy for me, because while Kathleen and I have a civil union in Vermont that still hasn’t been annulled (which I can now get based on abandonment because she is married and has a kid by someone else now) and Dana and I have a domestic partnership in Oregon (I asked her to file to no avail), it didn’t feel THE SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE.

And that is what the Supreme Court did for me today. It made nothing I asked any different from anyone else. There don’t have to be special words, special documents, special anythings for me to get married. It is as if the weight of a thousand Chevrolets has been lifted from my chest.

It’s too late to marry Dana. It will always be too late for that. But what it does allow is that when my Sassenach comes along, I’ll know that it’s ok to ask her if she’ll marry me. I know that if I am someone else’s, it’s ok for her to ask me to marry her. I won’t have to feel like we have to go into our bedroom and close the door so no one finds out what we’re saying to each other…….

Thanks to nine guys in robes.

So you want to run Ubuntu……….

I have a 2.15 gHz machine, which is substantially slower than a gaming machine, but fits my lifestyle perfectly, especially since I run an operating system that does not consistently hog all of my available RAM. I started a company in Portland called Evangelinux dealing with this topic, which gave me the intestinal fortitude to actually help people when they asked for it. I had to get over my shyness when it came to linux, because I realized something very important. If they were a basic desktop user, I knew more than them. Always. It’s only when you get into server administration and networking protocols that I am still watching videos like a fiend. I want to get all I can out of command-line tools, but for people who just want a basic setup that will just flat work, here is my advice.

The install for Ubuntu is fairly explanatory. Since you, presumably, are a total n00b (newbie), just let the installation program allocate your hard drive. I’m going to start with a fresh Ubuntu installation and go from there. These are the things I do to set up a perfect desktop.

Just fyi, sudo means “install as administrator.” When asked for the password, use the Administrator password you created in the setup process.

  • Unity does not place an icon for the terminal in the launcher. Click the Ubuntu button, type “term” and press enter. When the terminal starts, it will be listed in your open programs on the left-hand dock. Right-click the icon and click “Pin to Dock.” Additionally, I prefer my terminal to have greetings. This is easily accomplished by doing two things:
    • Install fortune-mod and cowsay. sudo apt-get install fortune-mod cowsay
    • Edit the file that controls what happens when you open your terminal. The terminal has a built-in text editor called “nano.” If you want to use something else and you know how, please update the command accordingly. nano .bashrc
    • After nano opens the file, scroll with the down arrow until you get to the end of the file and type fortune | cowsay
    • Hit CTRL-X to save the file and the next time you open your terminal, you’ll get a cow with a surprisingly deep thought…. for a cow.
  • In the terminal, type sudo apt-get update to refresh the list of available software/updates you can download.
  • When the catalog finishes loading, type sudo apt-get dist-upgrade to update your software with all the bug fixes, security updates, and newest software since the disc .iso was released.
  • There is a long and complicated explanation why the version of Flash is outdated for Firefox. Download Chrome. Netflix won’t work without it.
  • You will also need to install audio and video codecs that are proprietary (such as MP3) in order to play them. The command is sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras.
  • Once you have these extras downloaded, you need to run this script in order to watch or backup encrypted DVDs:
    • sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

If you are only going to search the web and play the occasional video, you’re done now. From here on out are some advanced tweaks.

I think that Ubuntu uses swap too much. It slows down the operating system by quite a bit. Here’s the fix. Open a terminal and type sudo bash -c "echo 'vm.swappiness = 10' >> /etc/sysctl.conf". Your machine will run much faster when you reboot because the “swappiness” already set (60) works great on servers… not so much for your average desktop user.

From here on out, it’s all about user preferences. I hate the default desktop that ships with Ubuntu, called Unity. Lots of people prefer Gnome Shell, but I do not. I think it is an even bigger resource hog than Unity, and I would rather have more RAM for my applications than my operating system… However, if you have a boss machine and are not worried about resource allocation, install it by typing sudo apt-get install gnome-shell gnome-shell-extensions.

Once installed, log out and change the icon next to your user name from Ubuntu to Gnome. When you log in, the extensions will not be enabled by default. Put your mouse cursor in the top left-hand corner of your monitor, and type “tweak” into the search bar. Choose Gnome Tweak Tool to customize Gnome by turning on all the extensions. In order to use them, log out and log back in.

My personal preference is Mate, pronounced Mah-te like the tea. Get the latest version by adding their software catalog to your available list of downloads by going to the terminal and typing sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/ppa. Again, update the list by typing sudo apt-get update.

Now, install MATE by typing sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment.

When it has been installed, log out and change the desktop to MATE on your login screen. When you log in, it will look surprisingly like Windows 98…. clean and minimal, helpful when you’re running games on a slow machine. 🙂

I do change it up a bit from the default, though. Not saying what you should do, just things that I find pretty and/or helpful.

I delete the bottom MATE panel entirely because I don’t think there’s a need for two of them. Just right click on the top panel and click “Add to Panel” in order to add a list of windows to it, because that’s basically all the bottom panel is used for, anyway…. and then click on the bottom panel and click “Delete this panel.”

I also change the top panel to a color (#333333 is my favorite) and set it to 50% transparency because I think it looks prettier.

If you are a Mac person and like that kind of doc, there’s an app for that (see what I did there?).

sudo apt-get install docky

It will be in the Accessories section of your programs once its installed.

The other thing that’s kind of cool is right-clicking on the clock and looking at the preferences. You can change it from military time to AM/PM and get it to show the weather. Since I’m in DC, I use National Airport (never calling it Reagan, not gonna happen).

In closing, I also recommend adding WebUpd8 to your bookmarks bar in either Chrome or Firefox, because there you can get information on cool software. And if anything you’re using on Windows is open source, there’s probably a Linux version of it, too, so the applications will be the same no matter what operating system you use.

Keep in mind that I am operating system agnostic. Mac and Windows are fine. I just like free.

It’s my favorite price ever.

There’s No Crossing Your Own Timeline

I can’t remember the date, but I remember the conversation. Aaron and I were talking and I said, “are you making room for grief?” He said, “I don’t have to. Grief makes its own room.” That statement knocked me on my ass with Truth. I divide truth and Truth. Truth with a small t is subjective. Truth with a capital T is objective. I loved Aaron’s words because they were in no way subjective at all. “Grief makes its own room” affects everyone at one time or another.

I am just so sad at all the things I’ve broken, and the reality is smacking me in the face that there is no going back. That I will never get a clean slate with any of the people I’ve hurt, because they don’t want to get hurt again. I understand that so much that my body vibrates with pain… not because I am hurting for me, but because I am hurting for them. I wish I could be the one to heal what I broke, rather than them moving on and not seeing what I see… that I was so sick I wanted to die, and I lashed out rather than opening up to push everyone away so I wouldn’t hurt so much if I got enough courage to actually do it. I sat in my pain day after day, and I recognized the signs in myself that it was getting serious and I needed help.

With mental illness, getting help labels you for life. I am now a documented Bipolar II patient, with medical records that say I’ve been hospitalized for it. There would be no reason to worry that employers would find out if I lived anywhere else, but most government jobs here require at least a bit of security clearance. It limits my options, because no one is going to issue me Top Secret. I’m not talking about intelligence agencies, either. I’m not qualified to apply, anyway. I’m talking about civilian jobs that require Top Secret because they intersect with the military in terms of electronic records, databases, etc.

It doesn’t matter that I have done everything I possibly can to scale down, to make my life manageable so that I can pay attention to my disease and fight against it. Bipolar is every bit the battle that people make cancer out to be, and in some ways, it’s worse… because even though you have a mental illness, you cannot un-own behavior and some people never get over your actions enough to acknowledge that sick people get well and relationships have the ability to rebuild from the ground up. To them, you are a crazy person and it’s ok to write you off completely no matter how much damage they cause to you because you have to deal with the fact that this illness bites you in the ass and the side effect is a lot of loneliness. People tend to kill themselves over mental illness because as people leave, their worthlessness dwindles into nothing because it is obvious to them that the people they love cannot love them back.

I think that’s why I liked being a cook. Cooks aren’t generally mentally ill, but they do have a reputation for substance abuse, which makes their behavior flip out as much as being Bipolar and they have to own their shit as well. It’s not the same thing, but it is comforting nonetheless. We have a lot in common, but enough difference to make it interesting.

If you’re wondering, when I’m on Tinder and they ask me what I write (my profile says that I’m a writer so they know that before they swipe), I send them my URL. That’s because I don’t want to become friends or date anyone who thinks I’m too much to handle. Sending them my URL is a “separating the men from the boys” type test because I am not interested in anyone that cannot meet me where I am, accept that I am Bipolar II, and want to get to know me in spite of it.

I am, as we used to say every Sunday at Bridgeport, “acknowledging my humanness.”

There’s been a lot of fallout (my own Fallout 4) over the Argo situation because some people around me thought that moving to DC was genuinely bizarre stalker behavior. That I was running towards Argo expecting that we would be buds when I wasn’t. I knew that she was furious with me and I accepted it wholeheartedly. As poet Wendy Thompson once said, “you don’t have to love it, you just have to live it.” I moved to Maryland to show Argo that I meant business when I said I wanted to move back to DC, but I didn’t want to be anywhere near her. I didn’t want to give her the impression of jack shit, that the city was big enough for both of us. Plus, even though my cousin Nathan lives in Old Town, I didn’t want to go back to my old neighborhood and re-live the memories I had with Kathleen. I have relived them enough.

As an aside, I will tell you one of the funny ones. Kathleen took me to a tapas bar for my birthday in 2001, and every time we told people that’s what we’d done, they startled because they thought we’d said we went to a topless bar.

Which as an aside, leads me to tell you that my birthday is September 10th. It was September 10th, 2001.

Let that sink in before you read further.

The mussels were not fresh at the tapas bar, and I called in sick to work the next morning because I wasn’t finished throwing up yet.

It was horrifying, because I heard it happen. HEARD IT. My father was good friends with Barbara Olson’s mother, and I cringe every time I think about the cold hard fact that I heard Barbara die.

When the plane slammed into the Pentagon, my pictures rattled and I was THREE MILES away.

Let THAT sink in for a little minute.

To me, the bizarre behavior was moving to Portland in the first place. Moving back to DC was reclaiming my Paris, the city that feeds my soul and has since I was eight. I’d asked Dana long before we broke up if she’d consider moving back, and we put it on the 3-5 year plan.

Maybe my detractors didn’t know that, but it’s ok. I could write a fucking book on everything they don’t know. Let them think I’m batshit crazy, because I certainly can be, but not about this. I have said before and I will say it again that I have always told Argo that the world would explode with our agreement, and nothing less. I behaved badly, but that doesn’t mean that I am a bad person, that I am not capable of owning my behavior and moving on from it.

When Kathleen and I divorced, I folded into myself and I just wanted Diane… not as a girlfriend, but the mothermentorsisterfriend that she’d become over our 25-year relationship. I wanted her hugs and her laughter and her care and concern until later on, when it all fell apart. When I started talking, I couldn’t stop… incensed that she offered to go to therapy with me and I told her straight out that my nephew was in medical crisis and please do not let me down because I cannot handle the grief and the waiting to see if my nephew was going to live (he did, and he is now two).

Editor’s Note: Speaking of which, I owe him a letter.

However, that does not erase the fact that the letter saying she would not meet with me came when my nephew was literally on the operating table. In a way, it said, “fuck you, that’s how.” In another, it was very healing because the relationship died and the baby boy was born, making it through the operation on his heart all at the same time… as Susan Leo eloquently said, “a resurrection in the middle of the mess.”

Let me put this in perspective for you. Wi-Phi was born with the vena cava and the aorta in reverse. It was major surgery, and we were all waiting to hear whether he would live or die, the operation was so massive. I will remember it forever, especially since he is my first nephew. I don’t know if there will be others, so right now it’s ok to say he’s my favorite.

However, it was Dana that stayed by his side for an entire summer, and they bonded in a way that we just didn’t. It is something I will regret always, so I write him letters that he can read when he’s older. That he’ll know how much I prayed for him when he was little.

The emotional beating from Diane and the anxiety of Wi-Phi’s surgery did not cause my mental spiral, but they certainly did not help. Argo’s care and concern in my life helped heal all of that, because as she heard me talk, she recognized something I did not. Diane didn’t deserve all my care and concern, so I should stop worrying about her, stop ruminating on the past and what could have been, stop loving her altogether.

As the enabler, it took more strength than I was able to muster to let go (then), and again, I folded into myself. I lashed out butt good. Argo’s words saved me from myself because she was so patient, so kind, so loving. Everything I needed and wanted in a friendship, and I broke that too. My ability to receive love had been trashed long before I met her, and I fought against it tooth and nail because how could I ever believe that someone like that loved someone like me? I struggled with my feelings for her because I knew that deep down, I was capable of being the friend she needed and I was fucking it up left and right, mostly because Dana’s jealousy made it hard for me to give of myself. It is useless to wonder what if? However, I will say that I think it would have been a different relationship had those been group conversations instead of Argo and I being lost in our own little world. It is not as if Argo required it from me. Dana just didn’t put any shoe leather into getting to know her. If she had, she would have seen that all three of us could be friends and it didn’t have to be the toxic triangle it became. It ended badly, as all toxic triangles do.

Argo pulled away and called it off. Dana and I got a divorce. I have felt freer than I have in years, because Dana didn’t like sharing me with Argo and in a lot of ways, rightfully so. In others, Argo became a convenient way to wound me when we were fighting.

It was masterful the way she manipulated me by treating Argo as “the other woman,” using her as her excuse not to interact with me, not to open up to me, to get courage to leave because I was clearly the problem and she had nothing to own. She yelled at me, and I will hurt from it always, “so what you’re saying is that I drove you to Argo and it’s all my fault?” That is not the truth and I will not accept it.

We developed a pattern of checking out from each other. Dana would zone out while I talked to Argo, waiting for Dana to be ready to engage. When she was ready, Argo and I would still be talking and I didn’t want to leave in the middle of the conversation. So, when I was ready to engage, Dana was doing other things and didn’t want to engage with me. It wasn’t anyone’s fault because the issue was that we weren’t ready to engage at the same time. It was a shared responsibility, and I cannot take on more than is rightfully mine.

Then, the pattern changed to telling me she was ok with my friendship with Argo and CLEARLY. NOT. I ignored Dana’s feelings because I felt it was outright manipulation. That she was ok with it until she could use it as an RPG in a fight.

And use it she did. Like I said before…

Masterful.

She could not look into her own heart and see how her actions affected me. She could not see into my heart and how she was wrapped around it. She could not accept that past history twisted my relationship with Argo and that I needed help for it, not separation from her. She also did not see that my personality type dictates that I am most comfortable with one or two friends that will willingly walk in my inner world as a companion, and that she did not have the right to expect that my friends wouldn’t be almost as important to me as my wife.

I didn’t see how she couldn’t see it… she’s a Doctor Who fan. I would have made the same choice that Amy Pond did, choosing her husband over her friend, but when they were all together, she loved The Doctor and Rory equally. Rory was jealous at times, but he always came around in the end.

She did not see that having a close friend was valuable as a sounding board to make sure that I was on the right track for success in marriage… that my words regarding Argo were an operatic swell of emotion on the page because that’s the kind of writer I am… and who knows what would have happened had Argo and I sat down for a cup of tea. Maybe the separation of being on the Internet allowed us to get to know each other in a different way than people do on the ground, and who knows whether we’d gotten along on the ground or not? We never tried.

Argo has said that will never happen, another thing that I don’t have to love, but I do have to live. I have long called Argo The Doctor because since she was a virtual friend, she was very much the madman in a box. I talked about her to Dana and Aaron but she wasn’t real to them. She was only real to me.

If I have hope in a cup of tea, it’s because of rule number one. Let’s all say it together.

The Doctor lies. 😉

I bless her and release her both awake and in dreams, but the door will always be open for resurrection (She will never, ever get off the hook for pizza night.). I am trying to do great things with my life to pay her friendship forward. That regardless of how it ended, I still value all the gifts she gave me and the purity of her care.

You can’t go back and cross your own timeline to recreate the past, but you can move forward with grace if you have the strength to look at yourself and tell yourself that you have handled things in the shittiest way possible and incinerate it so that you don’t do it again.

It’s been said many times that you have to break yourself open to let light in. I am in that place, shattered but not defeated, because my dreams outweigh thinking about my worthlessness. Hope is a miraculous thing as long as you are doing the work to make your dreams happen.

Hope is terrible if you’re just sitting there waiting… unless your only hope is dating the person that delivers your pizza.

Which is not unreasonable. As I have said before, dating the pizza delivery person has its advantages. You know three things right off the bat:

  1. They are employed.
  2. They have a vehicle.
  3. They already know where you live.

And on that note, it’s time to walk to the 7-11 because that’s where the homeless people gather. I get a Big Gulp and let their stories envelop me while I mainline Diet Coke. I can’t do much, but I can absorb their stories and at least give them a few moments of comfort that they’ve been heard.

Sometimes I get stories like, “my father just died.” I offer to pray with them, and no one has ever said, “I’m not a God person.” I cannot imagine that there aren’t homeless atheists, but a few moments of quiet and reflection never hurt anyone.

Next Big Gulp’s on you.