The Day We Met

I learned from the “Memories” section on Facebook today that the blog post I published that introduced me to Argo was three years ago today. As you can imagine, a stone has dropped to the pit of my stomach and I’m kind of sweating out the grief. I made the fatal mistake of e-mailing her about it, but not fatal because she wrote anything back. Fatal because of the promises I’d made to myself… it let me down that I couldn’t keep them. She’s told me that I’d never hear from her directly again, and I’m ok with that. What I’m not okay with is being untrue to myself. I wanted this detente to last, to stop the fighting between two unhappy countries, and I haven’t done anything except make myself a sad sack’s worth of memories.

But I did tell her that to me, she was perfect despite all her flaws, failures, and vulnerabilities, and anything that happened after that was irrelevant. Those words may not resonate with her, but it made me feel good to say them. And perhaps that is why I needed to write- to ease the pain inside myself, rather than the pain inside her. There is nothing I can do about that, because her reactions are her reactions and I take nothing away from them. There’s also a chance that she’s not getting my e-mails at all, and that kind of makes me feel even better, because knowing I can write into the void of space and time without knowing whether I’m being heard or not is better than anything she’d probably write back. Although there was a time when she told me that she’d blocked my e-mails, and after writing to her regardless because I knew it was just going into the void of interspace, I realized she was indeed getting everything. Just everything.

However, I am lucky that I did not say anything in those e-mails that would have mattered one way or the other. I just talked. One was a 20-minute voice message in which she never said anything about, but was mortifying knowing she got it in the first place. Again, it was nothing. Just talking into space because I thought that if she could *hear* me, really hear me, it would be different than just seeing me in black and white. What I learned from that escapade is not to count on the fact that she tells me my e-mails are blocked. 🙂

Holidays are hard, extremely so, because those are the moments I remember back to the people we used to be to each other and wishing there was some sort of reset button in which we get to start over at flipping each other shit and leaving it at that…. or at the very least, a chance to give each other our hearts and mean it in the sweet and light it was meant to be. The kind where Dana wouldn’t have had to be threatened. The kind where I wouldn’t have had to be threatened. The kind that would have sewn our fabric with a double stitch instead of ripping it apart.

And then I think, “who am I kidding? Dana would have been threatened no matter what I did, because she didn’t like me having friends outside of her.” We could have joint friends, but individual friends just wouldn’t have happened on her watch. Her jealousy knew no bounds, because, well, I can’t tell you why, but it just was.

I could have Dana or I could have Argo, and I made my choice. It was the difference between “you’ll never amount to anything” and “I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in you.” Given those two statements, I doubt anyone would have made a different choice. It didn’t matter that Dana was my partner and Argo was my friend. I could do without being married if my wife was going to treat me like shit.

My friends are my lifeblood, and are saving me one day at a time as I navigate learning to live again. What I never counted on was Argo’s “oh-shitometer” going up as high as it did, because moving to DC only had as much to do with her as she wanted it to be, to cultivate real friendship instead of just knowing each other in the space we’d created over long e-mail exchanges. By that time, she wanted no part of it, and I respected her wishes.

Eventually we made up, but not to the point where we were comfortable enough to meet on the ground. Just enough that seeing each other’s names in our inboxes didn’t incite fear. Because the truth of the matter is that we were both afraid of each other in our own ways, not sure how to navigate being geographically close (but not incredibly so), and how I tried to meet her fear with braggadocio that covered up a million insecurities because I didn’t want to be in a small place of fear. I wanted to stand up to her, because the more she harped on me, the worse I felt…. and yet, there was nothing I could do to be equal. By God, she was going to be bigger and stronger than me no matter what I did or said, and the more she impressed upon me just how big and strong she could be, the more I folded into myself, unable to get light in my eyes again because I was again trying to take up as little space in the world as I could. I sat in my room and prepared to get owned.

For the first couple of months that I was here, I didn’t even leave my house unless I had to go to the grocery store or to the pharmacy. Occasionally, I’d let myself have a trip into DC, but they were short-lived due to enormous anxiety. Anything and everything I said was filed away as just another reason why she needed to be scared of me…. and had she looked at me, really seen into my eyes instead of into my letters, she wouldn’t have been scared of me at all.

Instead, we’d have a close moment, and then fight our guts out, and the close moments got ignored in favor of every fight escalating into cutting each other off at the knees. I got plenty tired of kneeling, but as a fixer/pleaser, it didn’t stop me from trying to erase all the fear and turn it into the goodwill I actually wanted for her…. but even being nice to her was fraught with being wrong. Even in trying to be kind, I felt small.

My other friends have rescued me from this fixer/pleaser attitude because clearly, it was only hurting me. I still hurt, every day, in fact, but the fact that the fights are gone are doing me a lot of good. I don’t feel so small. I am coming into the fullness of myself after having missed it for a long time. So much so that I realize writing to her is the biggest mistake I could have made, because it hurts so damn much that I couldn’t not. I couldn’t keep the most important promise I’ve made to myself in years.

Even if it was the anniversary of the day we met.

 

The OBX

Scales is on Ocracoke Island this weekend, and her pictures are gorgeous enough to wish I’d thought of getting on Air BnB and going to the OBX as well. OBX is shorthand for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and if the pictures are doing it justice, one of the most gorgeous places on earth. I would have picked a different location, only because Scales is with her family and all I would have wanted was to walk on the beach alone. I wouldn’t have wanted to crash her vacation, just saying that it would have been cool to create my own.

I forget that I have the power to do these things. You know, like book my own hotel rooms, drive to my own destinations, etc. Most of the time, I stay holed up in my room with books and movies because it wouldn’t occur to me to branch out… especially today. If I went into DC today, I would be mobbed with tourists from the train to anywhere I wanted to go, and if there’s anything I hate more than being alone, it’s being alone in a crowd so tight I can’t breathe.

I think that’s why so many people that live here go on vacation for Memorial Day. Having a “staycation” this weekend just sucks. It’s just hot enough to be uncomfortable and get sunburned even if you’re waiting to get inside a museum. There are beaches in Maryland, to, but if I really wanted to go, I should have thought of it yesterday. I don’t want to do two three-hour drives in one day…. because I think there are closer ones, but those are the ones that are going to be the most crowded with locals who hate tourists just as much as I do.

Sometimes I forget where I am.

NYC is less than four hours away. Boston, seven. And conceivably, you can drive to the White or Green mountains in one day if you leave early enough. Ottawa and Montreal are also not that far, but I’d rather save Montreal for when JazzFest is going on. Plus, I had a bad experience in Montreal, one that I’m not eager to repeat. The people at the gas stations were so fucking rude to me, but since I don’t have an American accent to really speak of, perhaps they thought I was a Canadian who couldn’t speak French, a much bigger sin than being an American in Canada. And besides, the only thing I really want to do in Canada besides JazzFest is go to a grocery store and load up on all the Canadian foods I love.

  • Sugar Free Juicy Fruit.
  • Grapefruit Trident.
  • Ketchup chips.
  • Mint Aero bars.
  • Coffee Crisp.
  • A trip to the beer store to get an Alexander Keith’s to drink while I’m sitting outside.
  • A trip to an outdoor market that sells Beaver Tails, a pastry that we call an “Elephant Ear” here in the US, but taste inexplicably better.
  • Going through the drive through at Tim Horton’s knowing they already have hot tea brewed that you can order with milk and sugar without having to wait for it to steep.

There are a few Tim Horton’s in the US, but I doubt they sell hot tea that way, because it is just not as popular here as it is in a British territory.

I also want to see the wilds of Nunavut, thanks to Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, because “one fifth of my country…. is also Nunavut.” 🙂 The fact that I don’t know anything about Nunavut (or much else) has never stopped me before.

There’s so much I want to do that needs advance planning, and I am of the “not so much” variety when it comes to doing so. I get into the “it’s not worth the hassle” movement and slowly back out of plans. Just got a new book from Amazon. That’ll do, right?

I also downloaded S2, E1 of Outlander, and the first scene grabbed me. It was exactly as I’d pictured in my mind. I wish they’d stayed in the “present day” a little longer, because Claire and Frank’s interactions regarding their “starting over” marriage and the baby that would eventually become Bree was as close to the book as the movie that ran through my mind. I also realized that because of the scenes from the last season, I hadn’t watched all of Season 1. So perhaps I will spend my day flipping between Jamie and Frank, because the book that the second season is based on, Dragonfly in Amber, is probably my favorite of them all… although I will never forgive the cunning stunt that spoiled Claire’s pregnancy for me in an Amazon review.

And on that note, I will continue to look at Scales’ pictures with no small amount of jealousy and read in the sunlight on my beloved porch…. a staycation without tourists.

My favorite.

48 Mondays

I wrote a blog for the first 3 months I was in Iraq (I called it 48 Mondays due to the amount of time I would be deployed) It was cathartic and exactly what I needed. I stopped writing just after Christmas as I used so much emotional energy just to get through the Holidays that I didn’t really have it in me to keep it up. I regret that. I should have written about the pain, the sorrow and the seemingly bottomless pit of despair I felt realizing that I still had 9 months to go.

I got this from my “Memories” section on Facebook, and I was too busy flirting with all my newfound readers to really pay attention to it (It was the day my marriage article EXPLODED). When I saw it again today, I was struck by the reality of Memorial Day in a whole new way. This soldier didn’t die, so by the grace of God it is not her Memorial Day, but I happen to know that she’s deployed again and I don’t know how many Mondays are left this time, but I am struck with all the waiting.

  • Waiting to know if she’s coming home safely.
  • Wondering if she’s in danger, and if so, how much?
  • Waffling between whether I’d want to know.
  • Knowing she couldn’t/wouldn’t tell me, anyway… Partly because of confidentiality in the military, and partly because I made a huge mistake that ended our friendship permanently, but it doesn’t stop the worry altogether. There will never be a time in my life when I don’t know her, and she doesn’t know me.

Struck by how real and vulnerable she was in typing that on my Facebook page in the first place, and regretting that I didn’t answer it quickly, because this is as real as it gets… as it will ever get in terms of seeing into the mind of someone who knows the pain of being overseas in a place where her family is safe at home and she’s stuck in some shithole in the Middle East while life goes on without her. Another re-integration. Another putting down of the luggage and hopefully the memories they contain, because I would imagine that it’s not the deployment itself that’s the problem. It’s everything that goes with the deployment.

I’d like to imagine that her rank makes her safe in a SCIF somewhere, in the planning and execution rather than on the front lines, but that is just a guess to make me feel better, when the reality might be quite different. But we as supporters of soldiers make all kinds of shit up in our heads to try and make ourselves feel better. You know, so we can sit here and have hot dogs on our day off because soldiers give us that right.

The truth is that what we see are the illusions of news, and not the reality of being the boots on the ground. It is more that we can imagine, more than we can reasonably wrap our brains around, more than we can process at any given time… which is why there’s a reason that the reality isn’t shown. It’s terrifying, viscerally so.

Although if you’re really interested, don’t watch American news. Watch the BBC or Al Jazeera. It will scare the bejesus out of you, but it is more than the American media are willing to part with as not to panic the American people. The American media “protects us.” But it is to our  detriment. In order to celebrate Memorial Day, we need to focus on what really matters. Disarming IEDs in the middle of the road. Snipers on both sides of the equation and soldiers caught in the crossfire.  And here I sit, drinking a cherry Diet Dr Pepper, staring at the screen while our soldiers give me the right to just sit here without worrying what’s going to happen to me, but it doesn’t do jack or shit to stop me from worrying about what’s going to happen to them.

The best I can hope for is that intelligence on the ground from friendlies will give us enough information to stop attacks before they happen… their own Claire Fraser (Outlander series) who knew which way the British were coming for the Scottish. Because of time travel, she wasn’t a spy. She’d read what happened in a lot of the battles and when she fell through the stones in Scotland and ended up 200 years and some change from the present day, passed on the little she knew from history books. But it is not the same. How do you know if you’ve really turned someone into a friendly? How do you know that the information they’re passing is correct? How do you know that they are helping you prevent an attack instead of leading you into the middle of the fire?

You don’t.

You just hope you got the right information at the right time, and that it’s actually usable. Otherwise, you could end up kicking in doors and instead of finding the right HVT, it’s just a woman armed to the teeth with explosives, ready to blow up three city blocks without even thinking about it.

And this is where my mind goes as we “celebrate” Memorial Day.

Good luck and godspeed  to all of their Mondays, and the Mondays after that.

Amen.

 

The Flashlight

I actually can not get enough of the mirror. Please never stop. Help me see all of myself, especially the hideous, shitty parts that I have kept hidden from me for so long I didn’t even know they were there.

Sure it’s scary, the truth is scary, and once you know, you can’t un-know, but that’s the point. Why the hell else are we here: to be inadvertantly fucked up by the people who have the best intentions (our parents), take our experience based belief system into the world and continue the cycle…until we realize there’s a cycle, and then decide which parts of it work for us and which ones are garbage. There’s no way to do that without getting down and dirty in our own minds, by listening to the people we trust when they shine light on the dirt.

We just have to be sure it’s our decision to vacuum that shit up, or leave it there and be proud of it. Flitting between those decisions can only happen once we know it’s there.

Thank you for helping to shine the light on my dirt Leslie. XOXO

Bryn

I truly believe that this is the finest comment I’ve ever gotten from anyone, anywhere, I am quite biased because Bryn has been one of my best friends since Jesus was a boy, but at the same time, she shoots straight. So it isn’t all bias. As she would say, “it’s just true.” But I will say that based on our past conversations, I don’t write about Bryn’s dirt specifically. We are on this journey together, and when she sees herself in me, she takes it in like, “why are you in my brain?”

We have similar stories in terms of letting our emotions be controlled by how other people are feeling and trying to fix something that really can’t be fixed. She’s a lot further along in her journey than I am in mine, despite being a lot younger. That’s because she’s taken more steps to get away from the people who controlled her emotions than I have. I need her strength, especially right now, because it sustains me as I walk my own path toward the freedom of being self-directed. I find that I am fine on my own, but the minute I give my heart to someone else, I don’t depart from the dysfunction I’ve always known. Perhaps that means I am better off as a single person, because when I am partnered, I become the fixer/pleaser that eventually no one likes because they can’t make a decision to save their lives…. because they want to do what you want to do.

I dated Bryn’s brother for a short period of time, and we were both fixer/pleasers, and neither one of us wanted to disappoint the other, so our relationship never went anywhere. I saw this Tweet about marriage that made me think of him and our relationship, that marriage is “just a series of asking each other what you want for dinner until one of us dies.” Dana and I had a little bit of that, but at the same time, I always thought she was in charge because I was only allowed to be right so much of the time, and when I was, I made sure that it was duly noted because it happened so rarely. 🙂

I completely decompensated in that relationship because of it. When I cleaned something, Dana would come along behind me and do it “right.” Just an example, but a huge one as I felt more and more devalued. I went into my small place and couldn’t get out, which is why the lifeline to Argo was so important to me. There was someone in my life who thought that I was capable of more than, well, that.

By the end of our relationship, I thought I was a complete failure and Dana wondered why I’d stopped taking care of myself. Because when I don’t feel valued, I don’t take care of myself. Period. I try to take up as little space in the world as I possibly can. It was nice having someone do all my laundry and fold everything with military precision, but each little thing she took over because she thought I wasn’t doing a good enough job took a piece of my soul with it…. to the point where she came over after we’d broken up and looked at my kitchen and started tidying and I said, “no, this is my kitchen now. Get out.” For a cook, a kitchen is the same space as a sanctuary. There might as well be a cross on the wall. To Dana’s credit, being a chef in her own right, understood and immediately retreated.

We were both very different personalities that somehow made it work for a lot of years, but at heart, our years of communication styles were set in stone by our parents. For Dana, it was “wait until a little thing drops the Mento over the Diet Coke and explode about everything I’d ever done wrong all in the same fight.” For me, it was “get angry in the moment, and then it’s over and we don’t have to revisit it.” She felt like I was picking on her all the time. I felt like she was intentionally keeping things from me because she didn’t want me to get angry. But at the same time, I understood why. We fought differently, and always would. It felt like not being able to be the full emotional range of a human being, because if Dana was angry about something and didn’t bring it up, I couldn’t express anger and then the fight would be over and problem solved.

There was only one time that she got mad at me in the moment, and it was a doozy. I’d gotten a lot of parking tickets in PDX and it was going to wipe out our emergency fund to pay them. She yelled at me on the street in front of God and everybody, and instead of being embarrassed, I almost cried with joy. We were going to have this fight right here, right now, and then it would be over. She wasn’t going to save it up for later. Of course I was just as frustrated with myself for being such a right jackass, so it was a mixture of emotion. Shame and pride coursing through my body because eventually, Dana would cease to be mad and we could get shit handled. She finally got angry at me in a way that I desperately appreciated, and I told her so. She was utterly baffled at first when she finished screaming and I said, “I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!”

So, a few years later, when her car got towed and impounded for something or other, I didn’t even flinch. It was like, “I ain’t even mad.” Dana handled my issue with such grace that getting mad at her seemed unnecessary given the amount of shame she was putting on herself for it. We just got shit handled.

It was the same with her DUI. We’d been through so much together that this was just one more thing to add to the list of situations in which we needed to lean on each other to survive. She was embarrassed enough as is; I didn’t need to add anything on top of it. Even driving her to work at 2:30 in the morning became a ritual that has stayed with me all these years as something sacred. Driving through the night when all was quiet.

I don’t remember the exact moment that we turned against each other instead of taking care of each other, but I can think of several moments that added up in my memory. But the ultimate reason for us to be apart is that Dana and I would always fight differently, and there was no way around it. Our communication styles were too different, too entrenched, to go the long haul. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to. Reality hit me like a brick wall.

I loved Argo’s brain because it worked more like mine- we’d get angry and yell at each other, and then it was over. This latest go ’round is, to me, for the best, but not a case, as she puts it, of being “creepy AF.” Curiosity killed the cat. I thought that if I came her way and recognized how it must have felt to her, that she’d recognize that I was just being me, processing grief in the best way I knew how. But there was no compromise, but I feel good that I made the effort, anyway.

And then there was just more escalated language and more “I’m done.”

And that came from me. She was putting a lot on me that just wasn’t there, never would be, and escalating a fight far beyond what it needed to be, as we have done, again, since Jesus was a boy. She finally pushed me one too many times and I got tired enough to fight for myself instead of for her.

I wrote her a letter once that she said that she hoped one day she’d have enough courage to respond. I hope for that, too, because for all of our flaws, failures, and vulnerabilities, I would like to think that there is a modicum of affection left. I don’t know if when she throws her escalated words around if she actually means them, or is just mad in the moment and doesn’t know what to do except launch RPGs designed to hurt and regret, just like I do.

I don’t want to fight anymore, even if our fighting styles are more similar to each other than not. I also don’t want to crawl back on my stomach the way I have pretty much every month for the last two years…. because I’m not getting argo. I’m getting Argo.™ And I’m afraid that there is nothing that will bring argo back, and she’s the one I love.

Argo™ is tough as nails with armor to match, and once it’s up, you’re late.

I tried to love barbed-wire Argo™ to the best of my ability, but friendship requires a modicum of reciprocity, and I got tired of there not being any. That I could come her way all I wanted but she wouldn’t give an inch. Everything to her came across as an attack. Nothing was ever a conversation-starter or a way to bridge the past into the future. Once I realized that, I was out.

But I’m not very far out, and that’s where Bryn comes in. I look at her for strength when I just want to cry to Argo and beg to have her in my life at whatever level she can engage…. to stop going back into dysfunction and keep delving into myself to try and find the pieces of me that allowed all my triggers to be pulled at once. To look hard into the past and find out how I got here from there.

I think all the time about what would have happened had Dana consistently made room and argo calmed down. I think back to all the things I could have done and didn’t.

And then Bryn reminds me that I cannot change the past, and it is so very useless. But I am one of those people who has to look at all 85 sides of a problem before I can put it down. Right now, I’m at about 16.

Sometimes I really hate that aspect of my personality type, but that’s what INFJ does. There is no self-improvement without a Freudian amount of delving into the past.

Penis.

The Break

I haven’t written for a while because my stomach has been torn up for days, mostly brought upon by finding a Jamaican joint near my work and not thinking the sauce was hot enough and putting scotch bonnet sauce on it as well. I seriously could not stop eating. It was a high better than drugs…. until I woke up at 1:30 in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep, thus wrecking my schedule for the day. Luckily, I had to go to the grocery store to get all the stuff for an ice cream social that I planned for all the employees, so I wasn’t the one that was late. I was the one that brought ice cream…. and sanctioned late at that.

Last night Scales and I went to Cava, and that didn’t sit well with me, either, but I only woke up for a few minutes in the middle of the night and was able to get back to sleep, but slept in until 7:30. Since it’s only a 20 minute drive, I can conceivably sleep later than that, because it only takes me about 20 minutes to get ready in the morning. The problem comes in when I don’t know Duncan’s schedule and he starts the shower at the exact moment I was trying to beat him to it.

I try not to get to the office too early, because when I get here early (as I’ve been doing for ages), there’s no one to unlock the door and I end up running to CVS or 7-Eleven or Walgreens or whatever just to pass the time. The best time to get here is 5 after, because at least I know I’ll be able to carry all my stuff in one pass, rather than putting it on the porch and waiting for someone with a key. Maybe one day I’ll have enough seniority to have my own key so that I won’t have to go to Starbucks. I can actually work in my own office. #dreams

I also opened a huge can of worms with Scales at dinner last night, one that I didn’t mean to. I am just on the “think it, say it” plan most of the time and she was showing me a picture of her current squeeze and I said, “it’s not beyond me that she looks a lot like me.” Why. Just why. I felt like a raging jackass because even though it was true, it was a can of worms that I didn’t know what quite so tall.

I’m still getting over all of the grief of my past life, and she’s moving in four months. I’m not interested in anything casual, and having done long distance relationships before, I am quite gunshy. Meag had a girlfriend in Canada while I was in Texas and moved in with her and they’d lived together for a month before she told me that she was breaking up with me. It stung, so long-distance relationship is a fucking dirty word to me. But to be fair, it wasn’t the first time Meag had ever kicked me around, and I got used to trying to please her all the time, hoping she’d cut that shit out. But she didn’t.

She’s told me since that she wishes she’d treated me better. I take that for all its enormous worth, but it didn’t help then.

And again, I do not know where I am in my grief cycle, because there are times when the only person I want in the world is Dana, and there are times when I feel we were just living in this Never Never Land and it was time to grow up. When I met Argo, I began to dream bigger and want to do more with my time and just try to concentrate on giving back to the world as much as she does.

And because I wanted out of the relationship with Dana, I’m getting to the point where I can speak about her in the past tense. With Argo, I talk about her all the time because I cannot wrap my brain around past tense with her. Surely there’s something I could have said, something I could have done, something I could have achieved that would make this all go away, as if our fights and impasses were all some sort of crazy nightmare that will end when I wake up, and yet, this is reality.

I screwed myself out of time with her on the ground, and the thing I wanted most in the world was to tell her thank you for real. To say thank you for saving my life, because she did it in more ways than one. Even seeing stupid things like her Twitter handle is enough to make me sniffle, so I blocked her from both @ldlanagan and @lesliecology because I know she’s smart enough to type in the URL of this web site and I prefer not knowing if she’s reading or not. I don’t write for her, just about her, because these are the things that trouble me. So much I wish I could have done differently; so much that I wish she’d done differently, because it made us both terrified of each other.

My then-friend Notorious’ first words to me were, “I thought you’d be taller.” It was a big hit around our house for months, but to me it articulates how utterly small and non-threatening I am. But the right words at the right time bite, and I used enough of them to make my online persona completely different from the person I am on the ground. I realize that mistake, and now I don’t talk to people on the Internet at all, except for Tinder, because it’s the easiest way to meet people quickly for real. People who tell me it’s a sex app make me laugh and say, “not when you only add doctors, lawyers, diplomats, and soldiers.”

One of these days, it will click, the enormity of the desruction that I’ve caused, and how it’s better for Argo and me to be apart so that we can’t continue to fight like first children. We both have the power to fuck each other up royally, and I think those things are better left alone, because all the fight is out of me and I would give anything to have my sweet small-a argo by my side.

Like last night. I wrote her a long, long letter in my head. I hope she read it, but I don’t know if my brain waves reach all the way to Alexandria yet. I’ll have to ask Nate. 🙂

But I just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and put it in our chord, because even if her end isn’t there, it becomes a loopback, feeding me. So what if I’m sending everything back through localhost (obscure joke, talk to your IT guy)? Did she really need to know what I was thinking for me to figure it out on my own? My thought process is that a real relationship with Scales would end in a huge mess because I wouldn’t have wanted to let her go…. and I also wasn’t ready to let go of that part of myself yet. Kisses like I really mean them, vulnerability enough to be naked in front of someone, and a libido that borders on non-existent. There are so many things I’m just not willing to let go of, and in order to have someone special in my life, I would have had to.

But then I started thinking about my enormous grief loop and wondering how over I needed it to be to move forward because nothing will ever be perfect. That I am limiting myself to my own head most of the time, and how healthy that may or may not be. Besides, Scales’ squeeze is a colonel in the Air Force. I’d pick her, too. Although I laughed my ass off when Scales told me that one of her Marine friends told her to tell said colonel, “Congratulations! That’s almost like being in the military!” Although, I can tell she’s tough shit if she works in a SCIF in the Pentagon. So beat that with a stick.

I also think that one of the reasons I’m so stuck on soldiers is the way they move in the world. They’re not afraid of anything because they don’t have to be. Anything they’ve seen is in no way comparable to the #firstworldproblem life we live here. Plus, there’s a part of me that feels so small inside that sometimes it would be nice to feel like I have my own protector, my own advocate. And then I get into the loop of “well, what if I spend my life attached to her pant leg because I think can’t make it on my own?” How much of it is rooted in the safety I’m trying to get away from?

For a time, my life was based on how Argo was feeling… and it came over time, not at the beginning, because originally she saw me as the brave one, the strong one…. and in true Leslie fashion, I incrementally pushed that relationship into the same dysfunction I’d always known because I never knew any different.

That’s the pitfall I want to avoid in my next relationship. I don’t need a parent or a child, but a partner. I’ve been in both of those relationships, and the power imbalance destroys everything. Just everything.

I didn’t want to make things weird with Scales, because I truly enjoy her friendship. It just fed my ego that this new squeeze looked like me, because she was the version of me I wish I was. I’ve said before that I wanted to be in the “Airmen of Note.” And there she was with her French Horn in one of the Air Force bands. Of course, being a trumpet player is far superior to being a French horn player, but I wouldn’t be a trumpet player if I didn’t say that.

It was something that came out of my mouth too fast, because there’s a solid reason I chose to be friends with Scales. She and I were both broken when we came into this friendship, and being friends has helped us to combat some of that. And I didn’t want eros and philia to cross wires, and so far, they haven’t. I don’t know what I would have done had Scales asked me out directly, but what I do know is that it’s better that she didn’t. I am a selfish jerk right now because I cannot afford to focus on anything except getting my own shit together. I didn’t want to put that aside for a new relationship dopamine rush.

Plus, it’s just not a good idea to break up with someone and not get tested for everything under the sun (I trust Dana to the ends of the earth, this is not about her) before you date someone else. I did it when I broke up with Kathleen, too, and even though everything came back clean it was the most I’ve ever sweated in a doctor’s office. Diane took me and I could tell she was jus as uncomfortable as I was, so I leaned up against her and just let the time pass. She usually got freaked out when I wanted that amount of affection, because affection is hers to give. But I didn’t care. I just took it.

Mostly like I’m taking all this time for myself, trying to figure out who I really am independently of what anyone else says about me… and the Truth being that what someone else thinks of me is none of my business.

I listened to an interview between Terri Gross and Marc Maron that made me cry as I was driving home yesterday. He said that in his personal life, the people who confide in him are tired of him confiding in others, like the people who listen to his podcast, because it’s that it’s only his voice out there… that they don’t have a way to answer. And then Terri says, “but we as your audience are also the people that want to be confided in.” Game. Over. Bawling on the freeway.

I liked Scales’ perspective that my writing didn’t have anything to do with our friendship, that it’s so different from our interactions in real life that it’s easy to compartmentalize as the other side of me, and not necessarily the one she sees. It was touching to an enormous degree, because it’s the piece that’s been missing in my relationships for a long time.

What invariably happens, and I will use Argo as an example because she’s the best one, is that people read my web site and fall in love with my words until they can see themselves in it…. and then once they can, they hate it. They don’t necessarily like the mirror I hold up, because sometimes the truth is too real and sometimes they don’t think I’ve gotten it “write” at all. But the truth is that there is a comments section, I have an e-mail address, and I’m easy to find on Facebook and Twitter. Disagree with me all you like, and don’t think you don’t have a voice because I am very good about calling myself out on my own bullshit…. and at the same time, I change my mind a lot, so if you read an entry from last week, it may or may not contain the same sentiments, and it’s not because I’m just trying to be an asshole…. it’s that NEW SHIT HAS COME TO LIGHT.

And secondly, I just don’t care about your feelings, and not because I’m trying to be an asshole about that, either. It’s that this space is not for you. It’s for me, and if you don’t like it, CHANGE THE CHANNEL. The things you say to me do cut me, deeply, but not enough to make your opinion more important than mine so that I stop writing altogether. Clever Title tanked, and it was even more popular than Stories. I had a few famous followers and I was getting big in my own right. If I’d stayed consistent, I wouldn’t have been Dooce-level by now, but I might be able to work part-time, because I got in when blogs were all the rage and now everyone and their dog has one and it’s harder to stand out. So I suppose it’s a double-edged sword. Your words get to me, and I take them in, but to care about them than I do more than I care about myself is defeating the purpose of writing altogether.

I will not let that happen again. If you see something negative written about you on this web site that you don’t like, remember that if I come knocking on your door, you’ve probably done something to get me there. But our relationship on the ground has nothing to do with this web site unless you let it. Me blowing off steam so that I can have different interactions in real life is because I’ve had time to think in longhand, and I would hope that is worth more to you than me just shooting my mouth off on the “think it, say it” plan.

Because it worked out so well for me last night.

Venti Gold Coast

Jill (Nin-Jill, Jill-o shot, Jillicious) was so funny when she said that based on the timestamp of my last post, I probably needed A LOT of coffee. She wasn’t wrong, but I’m not nearly as tired as I thought I would be. I did the exact same thing I did every night (Pinky), except for the fact that I took a Sudafed as well. Sudafed is one of those drugs that keeps me awake even if I’m on a morphine IV drip. In fact, I can take Sudafed and Benedryl at the same time, and THAT is saying something. Taking Benadryl all on its own is inviting the type hangover where your entire morning feels like trying to nail Jell-o to a wall.

So what did I do this morning? I took all my morning drugs, including some more Sudafed, and left for SBUX at 6:51. Sudafed and coffee are an excellent replacement for sleep, especially since I am normally asleep before 9:00 so that I can keep my early mornings sacred. So I might be a little sleep-deprived today, but I won’t be tomorrow.

For those of you that have a computer hooked up to your TV and use the Kodi app (cross-platform, although the most annoying is that Windows Media Center went out with Windows 7 and it was the one app from M$FT I actually *liked*), I was mostly playing  with the Jamendo add-on for Kodi music. Jamendo is a catalog of unsigned artists, and you can download anything as long as it’s not for commercial use…. Although you do not have to download anything. You can stream everything rather than saving it to your local hard drive, or in my case, “Goliath,” the nickname for my 3TB drive.

My rent includes cable, but because of Kodi, I don’t use it. I might if I get a TV card for my laptop, but it has all the channels I’d normally watch. Right now I’m hooked on “The Fosters” and “Switched at Birth” on ABC Family. My favorite video add-on is PBS ThinkTV, where I can catch up on everything from History Detectives to American Experience. Also, “Geek and Sundry” has a channel with shows like “The Guild” and “Tabletop.” The reason I want to get a TV card before I hook up my cable is that with streaming media, I don’t have to be home when the show airs… but I do miss things like live debates. The TV card would allow me to record in real time, like a free and open source Tivo.

I leave my laptop plugged in like a desktop all the time now, because my iPad mini and my Bluetooth keyboard have replaced it entirely. My mom and my aunt Nancy went in together and got me some Best Buy money for Christmas, and the Bluetooth keyboard is seriously the best thing I’ve ever bought for myself. It has what most nerds would call a “KVM switch,” and that means there is a dial on the left side that allows me to pair with three devices. My iPad is one, my phone is two, and my computer is 3. When I do bother to carry my computer, I carry a mouse and this keyboard so that my palm doesn’t accidentally hit the touchpad and erase everything I wrote (recoverable with CTRL-Z) or somehow changes the page from WordPress to something else (not recoverable, even with a lot of swearing in its general direction). The other cool thing is that the keyboard works on two AAA batteries, which means that even on the go, I can recharge it easily… and I haven’t changed the batteries in months.

And now that I’ve talked about the fabulousness of my keyboard, I want to talk about eventually getting a new phone. Right now I have a pretty sweet deal. I’m on my dad’s business plan, and I only pay $20.00 for voice and data. I don’t want to lose that price, and I don’t want to make my dad sign a contract for my new phone, either. I’m wondering if a 3G + wifi tablet will let me use navigation in the car, because those are relatively cheap and I want an Android, because most of them come with radios and an expansion slot, and 9/10ths of what I listen to is NPR… which is why back in the day I bought a Zune over the iPod. Additionally, Android has two things going for it that blow the iPhone out of the water. A) It’s compatible with Linux. II) It doesn’t encrypt your music so you can drag and drop from your music library to your phone and back again.

iPhones are perfect except for the fact that the storage space is so small and you can’t add more. I can fill up the entire thing in three days with podcasts (I download them over wifi so that I’m not using mobile data in the car- same with Amazon Music). I thought about getting an MP3 player that I could load up, which would have been perfect when I was taking the Metro everywhere, but I can only drive two or three places without navigation. Check this out! I can finally get to work without turning on my GPS! #smallblessings

Plus, even when I know where I’m going, the directions do two things for me. The first is to keep me concentrated on where I’m going and how fast I’m driving (Waze has a spedometer on the left-hand side). The second is that when my mind wanders off into space with all of my mind-worms, I don’t forget where I’m going, miss my exit, and show up late because I am directionally challenged…. VERY directionally challenged. I don’t even know how to read a map properly. If I was dropped off pretty much anywhere out of my comfort zone, you might as well just say, “I’ll miss you.”

Yesterday I discovered a gorgeous drive, from my house in Silver Spring to Nathan’s house in Alexandria. For the life of me, I can’t remember how I got there, because I don’t do street names. As the Facebook wisdom goes, “bitch, do I turn left or right at McDonald’s?) The other cool thing, besides it being drop dead gorgeous even in the pouring rain, was that I passed the CIA campus in Langley and it reminded me of every “Covert Affairs” episode ever. Annie Walker goes that way at least once an episode, and because everything past the exit is pretty much a restricted access road, that’s the only real part of the drive you see. For a split second, I imagined that someone was tailing me just because I could. That show is GOLDEN. You can watch it all on Amazon Prime, and even though there are situations that could only happen on TV, Valerie Plame is the technical consultant on the show, so I know at least some of it is real. For instance, I did not know that Langley has a food court, and when I found that out, I thought it was really interesting, so I Googled it and what came back was lots of employees complaining how bad the food is. You’d think that with all the tax money that goes into military/intelligence you’d at least be able to get fresh bread at Subway. But no one asked me.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen Covert Affairs, drop everything. It reminds me a lot of “Alias,” because have you ever seen Jennifer Garner and Piper Perabo in the same room? Check that shit out. Also, not sure that Victor Garber was actually on Alias. I think it was Merrick Garland… you basically have to save up if you want to work for the government….. One of the things that the show points out is that for all the danger that the agents are in, they’re still paid regular government salaries. Things like big, shiny cars and millions of dollars wired into accounts don’t make the agents themselves rich. It’s the government’s money. They just get to decide what to do with it and then go home and eat macaroni and cheese. I suppose that the money comes in when you are so busy you don’t have time to spend any of it.

Government salaries are so wacky. I hate it that most CEOs make more than the President, because it’s not like he’s not busy or anything. Plus, most beginning jobs in the military are only a few steps above peanuts and popcorn…. but again, the money comes in because you are entirely too busy to spend it.

It’s also fucked up that you can either work for the government for a pittance, or negotiate a contract as a private entity and make five times as much. I would much rather give that money to the boots on the ground, because even though we’re spending tons on weaponry, we don’t always make sure that the “boots” have enough shoes, clothing, etc. My friend Volfe actually had to *buy* extras. That is a special kind of incompetence…. military intelligence at its finest.

I waffle back and forth over whether I want to date a soldier. Because first of all, damn they’re hot. DAMN. Second of all, though, and this is the hard part, I’ve already belonged to a military family once (Dana’s dad was a Marine in the JAG) and every time the family got together, we’d get ten minutes into a conversation and I wouldn’t understand anything. Too many acronyms, too little time. I also don’t know how to read “fruit salad,” so I don’t know what rank to call people and/or how important they are.

But did I mention that DAMN, they’re hot? I would let them bench press me any day of the week. Samantha says that I need to date one of the women that just completed Ranger School, and I’m all like, “first of all, how would I meet them? Second of all, how in the hell would I broach the subject?” In DC, it is REALLY hard to tell the difference between soldier and lesbian. I should know. I get thanked for my service more frequently than one would think, and I am giving my camo t-shirt to Goodwill because of that very reason. At first, I thought it was cute. Now I just think it’s disrespectful. It would look cute on an eight-year-old where it’s clear the camo is just for fashion. On me, it looks like I just got out of basic.

No one is out of the realm of possibilities as to who I would and would not date. I’m just saying that with the military, there would be a steep learning curve, because I didn’t get it the first time around.

But did I mention they were hot?

Spirit of Life #prayingonthespaces

This is an exercise that the kids went through at CYM (Cooperative Youth Ministry). It’s not my place to give answers there, but I can here:

  • I find strength in…
    • Watching others’ success and knowing that if they are capable of great things, so am I.
  • My heart goes out to…
    • As the Book of Common Prayer says, “the sick, the friendless, and the needy.”
  • I put my faith in…
    • Two boxes. One is academic and wants to know everything there is to know about every story in the Bible… every piece of commentary, etc. The other is the hope  that the God piece in me recognizes the God piece in you, especially when we’re in conflict, because that’s when it needs recognition the most.
  • So much calls out for my attention…
    • And most of it is ego-driven as opposed to societally placed.
  • I find joy in…
    • Driving around DC, knowing that in terms of the United States, I live “where the history comes from.”
  • I am overwhelmed when…
    • I am scared to ask for help.
  • I am grateful for…
    • My divorce, because it is hard to find yourself and worry about someone else at the same time, because your energy is too divided to answer the really hard questions.
  • I am frustrated by….
    • Christians who think the building is the church.
  • What matters now is…
    • Erasing a lifetime of defining myself by how someone else is doing.
  • I feel weary when…
    • I tell someone I want to be a writer/theologian/pastor, because those words are so loaded. Christianity has been boxed into a very narrow definition, and it’s a bad one…. and a long conversation has to follow about why I’m not representative of that idea. It’s not that I’m tired of people asking questions. I’m tired of the idea that “Christian” represents one type of person to the masses, and most people have no idea what a denomination is and how there is no polity between The Church of Christ and The United Church of Christ. It is like comparing donuts to Chevrolets, and yet, we are both called Christians.
  • I hope to…
    • Influence people from afar… that things I say stay with them even when we don’t know each other.
    • Find a partner, when I am capable of handling that type relationship.
    • Find new friends who will one day become my old friends.
    • Resolve the “having a kid” issue one way or the other. It is a deep grey area, and not too much fun, because the physical and hormonal realities of a biological imperative are crazymaking even when you’re sure you don’t want a kid at all. Logic and brain chemicals are not the same thing.
    • Preach in front of hundreds of people, because I am much more fun in person than I could ever be on this web site.
  • My own life is…
    • Perfect in all of its flaws, failures, and vulnerabilities.
  • One thing I can do is…
    • Empathize to an enormous degree.
  • I seek…
    • Not a higher calling, but the first couple of rungs at the bottom of the ladder. I seek how to get there from here.
  • I will…
    • Write… perhaps not well… but with consistency and drive and passion and all of the things that define me as a writer. The definition is not given based on quality, but quantity…. kind of like you have to take a thousand pictures to get ten outstanding ones.
  • I need…
    • To spend more time with my family. Seeing Nate, Emily, and the kids reminded me of the importance of their presence in my life, because oh, how we laughed.
  • I join with….
    • My fellow UCC members in affirming that #blacklivesmatter.
  • I am restored by…
    • Going to bed early or large cups of coffee. Usually with the former, I do not require the latter.
  • May I …
    • Ask you to pray for me?