My Own

It was an exciting day to be a Lanagan in this town on Tuesday. Lindsay and I went to a Japanese restaurant that served Tsukemen ramen, something I’ve been wanting to try since David Chang introduced me to it in season one of “The Mind of a Chef.” I took down that noodle bowl in a matter of minutes, and we also had fried chicken bao. OMG. And, of course, we couldn’t help but order the Hello Kitty cocktail, which I don’t remember all of the ingredients, but used Calpico to turn it pink. I used some of my PTO so I could pick Lindsay up at the airport, which was good because we were able to get seats at the bar immediately. There are only 27 seats in the entire restaurant, so on nights and weekends, the wait is usually two hours. The restaurant is called “Toki Underground” for my friends who want to try it. Lindsay got curry ramen, and it was different than mine, but just as good.

The difference between regular ramen and Tsukemen is that the noodles and the broth are served in separate bowls, so that the noodles remain a little al dente and don’t continue to cook in the soup. You take a few strands at a time and dip it into the sauce and eat it as quickly as possible, because the broth is boiled down into a very salty base and you don’t want it to soak in… you just need a quick dip. 🙂

For dessert, we had fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies with a salt and caramel dip and half-n-half on the side for dipping. Lindsay found the restaurant while she was on the plane, and our meal couldn’t have been more perfect. I will definitely be going back, because now that it’s on my radar, I basically had the Roger Smith reaction… “what is this and how can I change my blood to it?” (Editor’s Note: It’s from the episode where Stan is passed over to speak at the Republican National Convention and decides to join the Log Cabin posse, and of course, they dress him and teach him how to make a proper cocktail.)

After that, we went back to Lindsay’s hotel, so full we couldn’t even move. I laid on her bed until I could get up and drive myself home. It took a little while. 🙂

T-money checked out a copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to me from her library, and I managed to get about halfway through it before we talked for two hours straight. She told me that she told someone that I’d nicknamed her T-money on this web site, and the person said, she gave you a rapper’s name? Yes, but unintentionally, as A-train, L-train, A-money, and L-money can attest. She’ll probably get another nickname as time progresses, one that reflects her personality, but I don’t know her well enough to make that leap yet. I mean, “Curly” might be appropriate, but that reminds me of Of Mice and Men, and that is Just. Not. Happening.

Friday night we’re going to an open mike at the original Busboys & Poets, but I don’t know that I’ll actually read anything. It depends on whether other people read prose or not. When I picture spoken word, I picture poetry with a beat, like in So I Married an Axe Murderer. I’ve never written anything like that, and I don’t know whether it’s within my capabilities or not. But in this phase of trying new things, I may not get up in front of people, but I might start a loop at home and see what comes out. It wouldn’t NOT be good for me. We shall see what we shall see. Plus, my friend Scott set a high, high bar when I used to go and watch him. If it’s not Scott-ish, it’s CRAP. My favorite started out Miss Carrie is so very… and now that it’s been 20 years, that’s the only line I remember. But I do remember being intimidated by his brilliance.

Today Ops is having an Egg & Spoon race, which is just one of the reasons I love my job, because today is also donut day. Donuts in the morning and a game in the afternoon. It doesn’t get any better than this. I’m in charge of putting together the games, so I looked at the web site where I order our trophies and this was one of the games in which you could actually buy a trophy for it. So I think I’m just going to keep going down that list until I hit things that we can’t possibly accomplish, like baseball. I mean, we probably could play baseball, but I can’t picture it going well. We’re Geeks.™

All of this new activity is helping my pain move down the Z-axis, as I have mentioned before, and I’m glad of the distraction. But it’s still hard to close my eyes without dreaming of my old life, and just how perfect it used to be until the walls came tumbling down. Perfect in all its flaws, failures, and vulnerabilities, that is. T-money asked me if I thought there was a chance that Dana and I would get back together. I used to keep a door open until I realized I could never go back to someone who would hit me like that, and the phrase “pick on someone your own size” doesn’t even begin to cover it. It is true that when she pushed me, I went off like a chihuahua with a Napoleon complex, which doesn’t excuse my behavior in the slightest, because I should have realized that this was not going to end well and just run away. But survival instinct took over, and I couldn’t walk away from a fight. I’m just not very good at that… but getting better as I mellow with age.

Reacting with anger to anger has never worked out well for me, but the survival instinct is in place from years of it being wired into my neurons. I don’t know what it will take to get rid of that instinct completely, because if I pop off at a church committee or something like that, I am not only defeated, but possibly fired. In some ways, I think pastors are too expected to be perfect, without being allowed to have a full range of emotion. You have to meet rage with “let’s think about that,” like the forced smiles of McDonald’s employees.

You have to be able to take a step back, and see where their rage is coming from, and have enough clinical separation not to take it personally, even when the other person is trying to get under your skin with ad hominem attacks. Speaking of which, that’s a good correlation to the relationship I had with Dana in our last couple of years of marriage. When we talked about money, I needed facts, not accusations against my character. If I’d had enough foresight to see it for what it was, we might still be married today. But no, my survival instinct was so wired that her escalated language escalated me and vice versa… and I am not immune to the fact that it was the way Argo and I fought as well. My best hope for myself is to learn this clinical separation so that even when other people are trying to rattle me, they’ve lost the ability.

In a very real sense, Argo already has. After not communicating for a while, I realized that there was never a time in which she wouldn’t bring out the big guns, her stalker shit that never turned into anything. Of course you can harass people over the internet, and I take nothing away from the shitty things I said to her, but at the same time, we have a shared responsibility for shittiness at her own admittance. Because our pattern is so entrenched, I don’t know whether or not she could rattle me anymore. I just don’t. But what I do know is that I have stopped paying attention to her shitty accusations and it has made all the difference in my self-esteem, because I know what is true and what is not. E-mail cannot possibly convey more than seven percent of a person’s personality, and for us, the other 93 is lost to history… I think. We’ve both said “never again” so many times that it has lost its meaning… so maybe we mean it, and maybe we don’t. Only time will tell. I can’t promise that it would be easy not to lapse into old patterns, but what I can promise is that I’ll never stop working on it… but it can’t be a one-way street. She has to stop wanting to get under my skin in an equal sort of way.

But even if we never speak again, she’s forgiven completely and absolutely, because it might not change her, but it certainly changes me. I am glad to get away from all of her anger at me, glad to get away from the e-mails that just cut us both off at the knees, glad to get away from the weight all that pain put on my shoulders. In this relationship, no good deed has gone unpunished, and I mean that on both sides of the equation. I am not immune to negativity, but I am also not the person she has made me out to be, because she only knows less than a tenth of who I am. For instance, I think she thought that by moving here, I wanted her to be my support system. That was true when we were getting along like gangbusters, but by the time I ACTUALLY moved here, we weren’t even speaking and I’d made my peace with it. I feel bad that she was scared of my move, but I am not responsible for those feelings, because I had my own set of friends, my own roommates, my own everything.

Everything became new again, and for that, I am grateful.

Amen.

Getting a Grip on Reality

There’s really no better feeling than being single and not worried about it. I feel that too much emphasis is put on being coupled, when in reality, most people get married before they even know who they are. I heard a great “This American Life” episode that spoke to it this weekend. It’s called “Choosing Wrong,” and the first few minutes talks about both relationships and work, and how we are so likely to choose wrong in both of those directions because we expect to take on these gargantuan tasks (finding work and people we love) using only intuition… and a complete lack of cognizance on our parts as to where we might really fit into both of those things. For instance, most people get married without knowing the ways in which they are annoying to live with (shut it), and that living together before marriage doesn’t even bring out these tendencies. Most people have to deal with their failed expectations, and don’t realize that there’s so much of the time that you’re not sure you chose the right person, because the miracle isn’t in the intuition. It’s in the dedication… the same could be said of work. Even the jobs we love come with days where we wonder if we’ve made the right choice, and a lot of times we are not prepared to deal with that reality. It takes a gargantuan “it gets better” campaign to get through one’s career and love life.

It resonated with me because I knew there was an “it gets better” campaign in my marriage to Dana somewhere, but I failed to find it in time. I don’t think either one of us were prepared to deal with loneliness, even when the other was home. I don’t think either of us were wired to deal with all our failed hopes and dreams as to who the other person really was. We all can accept our partner’s outstanding parts… it takes a leap of faith to accept their downright dirty ones…. and we all have them, even me.

There was nothing I wanted more than for my life to go back to the way it was, with Argo and Dana and me all able to make room for each other and for the wiggy “more than a friend” feelings for Argo to go away for me so that I didn’t have to deal with them anymore in the context of my attention being better divided between the two of them, because as Argo and I descended into a world of secrecy, I couldn’t help but let my attention be diverted, because it wasn’t that Dana didn’t need me and Argo did. It was that Argo needed me more right then. We were lost in our own little world for far too long, and then when Argo said to make sure Dana saw all, I showed it to her… and it made Argo so mad she said she’d never forgive me for it. I didn’t understand… I was lost and hurt because she told me to tell Dana everything, and when I did, she slammed the door in my face. It didn’t start out that way, but it became a major divide and conquer op on both sides. Tell Dana, but don’t. I’m ok with Argo being your friend, but I’m not. My fatal mistake was putting Argo and Dana on the same level, trying to please them both all of the time. I spent a lot of time mystified at all of our behaviors, with not enough time in the day to realize making both of them happy and keeping myself happy, too. Aaron and Dana will both tell you that I was a fucking mess. The only thing that really kept my sanity intact was that they occupied completely different parts of my brain, and never crossed over. There were plenty of times when I was with Dana that I thought about/talked about Argo, and plenty of times with Argo that I thought about/talked about Dana. But there was never a time in which I wanted that marriage and that friendship to fall apart, until I got so anxious that I didn’t know what to do. I could think of them as completely different people and situations… the crossover came in the verbal processing about them, because I needed a place to go with my feelings about both of them.

To her credit, Argo never got tired of hearing about Dana (except for when she thought I was making excuses, and I thought I was giving her context for comprehension), but Dana sure as hell got tired of hearing about Argo. I thought I had an open line with both of them to say what I was feeling, and in retrospect, I did not. I also did not have the abiliity to bottle up my emotions and just ruminate about them in my head, because hearing their insights helped me immensely. Sitting and thinking alone led to descending into depression. Hindsight is always 20/20, because as Søren Kierkegaard once said, “we live life forwards, but we understand it backwards.” In that way, I now know that I was out of my mind not to get a therapist so that there was someone listening to me that didn’t have a horse in the race. Talking to Sarah, my therapist at Vesta, was the first time in which I felt true relief, because she was able to show me ways of lifting myself out of rumination, out of sadness, etc… but writing has also helped, because as any therapist will tell you, you don’t get better one hour a week.

I am also one of those people that will use a thousand words when one will do.

I am sure that I cut both Argo and Dana to the quick with both of them, which just feeds my intuition that this is not the right time for a relationship. However, I am not opposed to going out with people and seeing if we have that “friend-click” that could turn into something down the road. If I think hard about my relationship with Dana, I come up with the answer that in our own way, we were 1930’s courting in our own best friend kind of way. There were times when we could read each other better than we could read ourselves… and very possibly, that was our undoing.

Dana “just knew” that she was losing me to Argo. There were two problems with that. The first is that I didn’t feel that way, and never would. The second is that Argo didn’t feel that way, either. I saw my feelings for Argo as inconvenient and foolish… even more so in retrospect because of the bleeding heart it caused on both fronts. You can’t win a war on two fronts, and it certainly felt like I was fighting one. Fighting to keep my head above water, mostly.

Argo began to see my defense mechanisms as threat, and I don’t really blame her. It’s just all so fucking sad. What I wouldn’t give to be able to just have said, “I’m anxious,” without it coming across as fits of rage that no one deserved, especially me… because I didn’t hurt Argo nearly as much as I hurt myself. Shame and regret are both horrible, horrible things, and I have a lot of both to slowly work through over time. She wasn’t emotionally equipped to see the anger for what it was, and shouldn’t have to have been, anyway. I should have been able to manage my own emotions, but I wasn’t, and the pattern became entrenched unless we stuck to “ladies who lunch” type topics. Over time, anything I sent, no matter what it said, was either ignored or taken as a gutter-snipe even when that was the furthest thing from my mind… but she’d respond with escalated language, anyway, and instead of writing it off, I’d just escalate even more, because my sense of injustice would just boil and I’d try to give her a taste of her own medicine… and even though it’s painful to admit, negative attention was better than no attention at all… choosing the wire monkey that had once been covered in soft, thick cloth.

That worked out well for me, as you can see even if you’re a casual reader. And by “that worked out well,” please know that if this is your first entry, you can read that dripping with as much sarcasm as you can muster.

It’s why I’m deathly afraid of choosing wrong, no matter what kind of love a relationship entails. I don’t want to fight with my friends, either… which is why I’ve spent so much time “in the desert,” not willing to branch out and make any new friends, sticking to the ones I had before I moved here in the first place… or going to church, where every relationship was intellectual but not emotional… or at least, if it was, you could have measured the emotion with a teaspoon.

I isolated so much that even my roommates didn’t see me for days at a time… married to my own thoughts and how to direct them into something better for myself. I may not be able to solve all of my issues, but at least I have a grip on what they are.

Day by day, I am choosing right.

How it Went

I just got back from kayaking and my shoulders are so sore I can hardly move. There’s going to be some Advil in my future when the beer wears off. I went to Dogfish Head for lunch considering how many times I’d passed it and never gone in, and had a lovely pairing of grilled mahi-mahi tacos and fresh peach, summery ale. I’m very seasonal about my beer, lest anyone think that I am only a “bitch beer” kind of chick. Let’s save the stouts for snow, shall we?

I was so embarrassed that I was late this morning. I actually got there early, but I didn’t know you needed $3.00 to get into the park and who carries cash anymore? So I had to go and get some, and then the signage within the park was so poor that I must have driven five miles before I actually found the boathouse. The good news is that I took to kayaking like a fish to water. Never overturned my boat, mostly because I looked up tips on the internet before I left the house. Apparently, the stroke is “toes to butt.” I had a great time, and my date paid for everything… I thought we were going to lunch afterward, so I was going to return the favor by treating her… She said she had some chores to finish, which I do not know if it is code for “I have to finish my chores,” or perhaps, “I’m just not that into you.” Either way, I had a great time, and I’m not worried. She’ll text back or she won’t (I sent her a text message saying that I had a great time and it was so sweet of her to invite me). I was looking forward to lunch, though, because there’s only so much talking you can do on a boat (motherfucker).

My insecurity says that she took one look at me and decided I looked like a ten-year-old. My ego says that I’m awesome, and just because she didn’t see it, that’s not my problem.

Yeah, let’s go with that.

Yesterday’s date was much more fun and lasted a lot longer, because neither one of us could stop talking. But it wasn’t really a date, because I’m not the type person that wants to jump into anything quickly.  I told her that friendship was what I had to offer, and she told me that might be  hard, which was a great ego boost and nothing else. I need to enforce boundaries with everyone I go out with, because I’m Just. Not. Ready. Not ready to give up any part of myself to someone else, because the pieces that have left me over the past year or so haven’t scabbed over. The bleeding has stopped, and there is a Band-Aid (brand name, not Dollar Tree crap) over them, but the cuts still feel fresh enough that letting myself invest in someone else is not quite an option.

With the woman yesterday, there were clearly some compatible wounds, which set off my weird-spirometer in a hurry, because that is my past and not my future. I have also made the promise to myself that Agape and Eros should not cross, and it may take me a while to break those walls as well. Because, of course, now that my boundaries in place, they are quite iron-clad. I never want there to be another Argo, period.

It’s going to take a lot to get my boundaries down, even when I am ready. I thought I had trust issues before, and now I have them even worse, because I don’t want to cause harm to anyone and I don’t want anyone to cause harm to me. But the thing is, Agape and Eros are supposed to cross in the right relationship, just presumably not with a a straight girl. But it doesn’t matter right now. Those boundaries cannot cross too soon. With Dana, it took 3 and a half years, because the relationship before her was classic Agape and Eros crossing even when we both knew they shouldn’t and we did it, anyway. It put my heart into a blender.and it gave me plenty of time to think about what I wanted the next relationship to look like. Turns out, I want to marry my best friend…. If the two people I’ve already got domestic partnerships with will real ease me from them. It’s getting time to file on my own, because now I don’t believe that Dana will take care of it as she said she would, and I know that Kat just wants me to claim abandonment because she married a man three months after we broke up and I haven’t heard from her since. I’m not even sure that her current husband knows about me, but it wouldn’t be hard to find out if you knew both of our last names.

I never should have taken the legal advice just to let it go, but hindsight is always 20/20. There’s no way that national gay marriage could have been predicted in 2002.

And that’s what I was thinking as I was driving home from kayaking. This dating thing is so much harder with two domestic partnerships now hanging themselves over my head like rain clouds, fluffy and full. In a sense, I already have two wives. What it God’s name do I want with a girlfriend?

Mostly just the first and last call of the day.

Social Butterfly

So far, I’ve made all my social engagements without problem, but here I sit with my venti skinny vanilla latte, completely exhausted and remembering what it feels like to adult. Being busy is a constant source of sleep deprivation, because when I lie down at night, I cannot wrap my brain around the concept of sleep and not re-running in my head everything that happened while I was out. And then other things creep in, like whether circumstances or personality dictate your actions, how I’m going to take action on dreams I say I will, how to make friends in this town (doing a good job so far), and anything and everything else my brain can possibly think to throw at me until 2:00 AM. It doesn’t matter whether I take sleeping medication or not, but at the same time, if I get home at 10:00 or 11:00, I don’t want to take it because it won’t have enough time to wear off. It’s now a never-ending cycle of coffee… as is for most adults that don’t come home from work and immediately take sleeping pills so that they’ve kicked in at my actual bedtime, which used to be somewhere around 9:00, and now fluctuates. I know I can handle it, because I’ve done it before, but the insular nature of sleeping A LOT has made a difference in my mood and behavior. It’s a balance between wanting to go home and wanting to make friends, because I can’t get together with people until after 6:00p. Because I don’t have to be at the office until 9:00, staying out late shouldn’t bother me. But it screws up my writing schedule most days because I am usually there by 7:10. This morning I managed to get up at 0600 easily, but God knows why. It hasn’t happened for the past three days.

Scales’ colonel and I made an explosive connection, and I think she could be one of those people I could talk to for hours at a time… a new friend whom I hope will one day become my old friend. One of the things I did not know about her before our outing on Wednesday is that while she was stationed in Colorado Springs, she got a Masters in Theology from Iliff (in Denver). I asked her how she did it, and she said, “I was tired all the time.” Pretty much the best answer I could have heard, given how much it must’ve been true.

Last night I went out with new friends Autumn and Dan. We chose Ted’s Bulletin, and it’s one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in DC so far. It’s relaxed and a bit hipster. They even have PBR on tap. I felt right at home, considering how much time I’d lived in PDX.

I had “The Rachel,” which is basically a Reuben made with turkey, and really good iced tea (it’s how I judge a restaurant on the first pass). When I got there, though, I had an amazing cocktail called “The Big Ugly.” I’m not sure what was in it, but it was basically a sweet and spicy Manhattan. Dan and Autumn said they thought it looked strong, and I told them I’d rather have a little bit of something awesome than a lot of something not.

They agreed wholeheartedly.

They just bought a townhome in Alex, something to which I used to aspire, but Kathleen and I were so piss poor at managing money that even with making over 100k a year, we couldn’t have done it at gunpoint.

I don’t know how much it takes to buy a house in the ‘burbs, but I’m all for it. I don’t think I’d be able to swing it unless I was coupled, but perhaps not if I keep misering it up. My friends Ruth and Brian bought a great house in the ghetto back in the day, and Brian is a carpenter. The frame was strong and true, and he customized the house with all kinds of built-ins… now, 16 years later, gentrification has taken off in their neighborhood and the house is worth eight times what it was.

Ruth and Brian are straight, but it is overwhelmingly true that if gentrification starts happening in small batches, it means the gays and lesbians have found it. #nolie

If I did live in the District, I’d probably choose Anacostia for housing prices, but ultimately I think I’d be happiest in Takoma Park, the Portland of Washington. It’s expensive AF to live in TPark, but there are pockets of Anacostia that are coming along nicely, and perhaps I can find that spot on the Anacostia River for both myself and St. James.

If I did, I’d want to steal Jeffrey Thames part time. We would be so cute as co-pastors. I am 5’4, it feels like he’s 7’5. I’m a computer geek. He’s a former Marine. Every service would be a Mutt and Jeff episode. Plus, he’s black, and I’m white. The visual would be friggin’ adorable. He’s so tall he could set the offering plates on my head. Jeffrey, if you run across this, please for the love of God laugh. 😛

Meeting Dan last night was awesome, because she showed me some pictures of Pride at State, complete with John Kerry at the podium. Meeting Autumn was equally awesome, because we inhabit the same geek world.

Tonight is going out with the Lt. Col, and I’m excited about it because we’ve had some good conversations about military health care and I am sure that we are both more interesting in person. I hope we laugh a lot, and I really have no doubt. My only concern is trying to make it to Alex from Landover in a timely fashion…. leaving now… see you Thursday, etc.

Tomorrow I don’t have anywhere to be until 1400, so if I want I can take a sleeping pill and wake up refreshed before coffee with T-money, the woman I talked to on the phone for two hours about victim advocacy, a Clinton presidency, equal sentencing, etc. She seems cool AF, so no doubt we’ll have a good time.

Still a bit nervous about kayaking, but I am done with thinking I can’t do things because I am too fragile, too weak, etc. I never played sports as a kid because of my eyes, and I am generally afraid of branching out in that direction.

But Dan mentioned a coed soccer team, and I told her that now that I had health insurance, I might try it out. We shall see what we shall see.

I am beginning to really believe I am more than the sum of my parts, and it is bleeding over into self-esteem. I don’t love me, but I like her so much that I am sure we’ll fall in love eventually.

Dating me is working out.

Shoots of Green

Who is this person?

I don’t recognize her, and yet, I do. It’s a strange feeling watching the past wash away… not as if it’s not there, but as it floats further and further down the z-axis. The woman that I’m kayaking with on Sunday called me a “social butterfly,” and if I hadn’t been sitting down, I might have fainted. Since I’ve been here, my only MO was to write quietly in my room… and then I got tired of only talking to Argo via e-mail (before World War Me), and I was freaked out that I couldn’t seem to stop processing the past instead of making room for the future. Scales called my attention to it, and when she did, it started the mind worm of how to make more friends, and if it worked out, a girlfriend…. but I see that as long into the future, because in my heart of hearts, I am not ready for any sort of committment, no matter how small. I still need to work on me, and getting lost in the dopamine of new relationship would take so much away from it that the best I can do is “new friend rush.”

Last night I talked on the phone to a woman for over two hours, and even that was big for me (I’ve made TWO phone calls now). As I have said before, I am deathly afraid of making calls, and also invested in moving out of my comfort zone to accomodate new life… because it certainly won’t happen if I don’t try.

I hope and pray that Dana is moving on with her own life in the same way, because I care about her feelings and it would be so easy to watch all of this happen. Even though we are now meant to be apart, that doesn’t mean that we don’t both hurt at the idea (I’m guessing… I can’t speak for her). But now that we’ve been separated for over a year, it feels like it’s time to let the grieving aspect fade into the background. Not that it’s not still there, just not so EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE. I have to remember that I moved here because of this very thing. I knew for certain that I could not create an emotional boundary with her, that I was certainly still in love with her (at the time) and it would show every time we got together, because I cannot imagine that our friendship would have ended altogether if we were still in the same city… or maybe it would’ve. Who knows? Judging by the response I got the two times she’s been to DC in the meantime, I cannot say for sure. But in Houston, it would have been very hard to stay apart because we had so many mutual friends and Aaron on “third mike.” I can’t imagine that the silent treatment would have lasted too long.

On the other hand, the way our relationship ended was brutally traumatic, mostly because hurt people hurt people… and I never want to put myself in that situation again… Lapsing back into old patterns would have torn me apart, even more than blowing up my entire life and “starting over” in Silver Spring… in quotation marks because I loved living here years ago, so it is not entirely unfamiliar.

But I write about Dana here so that I can let go of those feelings and not carry them into the new relationships I’m trying to create. I already have a space for this, I don’t need to talk about it… anymore. I am sure that Scales is tired of the Dana/Argo saga, but I hope that I was as good a listener as she was and that we continue to be that for each other. I’m really looking forward to meeting up for dinner tonight, because it’s been so long that we actually have stuff to catch up on.

I am sure I will have much more to tell her on Monday, because until Friday, I’m going out every night, on Saturday hanging out in Columbia Heights for the afternoon, and on Sunday, having what is hopefully a relaxing day on the river. I just hope that I am strong enough to follow through with all of these plans, and I think I am. It’s just a different side of me that I haven’t seen in years.

The woman that I am meeting on Saturday is a serious writer, both creatively and a journalist. Those are two different types of writing altogether, which is probably why we ended up talking for over two hours last night. There were no light and fluffy questions, but real discussions on what’s going on in DC- politics, but also the poorest of the poor neighborhoods and what is to be done about them?

We both go to liberal churches- she’s Episcopalian, so of course I had to sign off one of my messages by saying, “in the mystical body incorporate…” I want to go with her to church at least once so that I can actually use my red leather prayerbook that’s been sitting on my dresser since I joined CCC.

But there’s a solid reason I went back to the UCC. It’s that I wanted to be able to create my own liturgy instead of always using someone else’s… I mean, I’m a writer. It’s a goal to create my own prayerbook, although there are very few paragraphs I could write more moving than “The Prayer of Humble Access.” Additionally, Howard is a UCC school, so I’ll be able to complete my denominational requirements there as well as all my classes.

Many, many people have said to me, “but you might be the only white person in your class!” Bitch, please. If that’s the most difficult thing about going to seminary, then I’m not doing school right. The issue I foresee that transcends race is that there is no polity in the UCC. Every congregation can believe what it wants. So I could have some amazingly conservative students in my classes, but even that doesn’t bother me much because in terms of other types of Christians, I’ve learned not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just learn all I can, and share all I can. Because it is just as possible that they will learn from me. The theology of promise and inclusion is one that widens the circle, and I am only as holy as the person I like the least (to quote Nadia Bolz-Weber). If conservatives are excluded from my inclusive nature, I have already been defeated.

And perhaps that is the point of trying so hard to get out of my comfort zone. If I want to go forth and be the person that God is asking, I should probably leave the house once in a while.

Dance Card, Part II

My dance card cleared out for tonight because the woman I was supposed to go out with is taking a project management course that has several hours of homework at night. So we’re going kayaking on Sunday as long as she doesn’t mind teaching a total n00b (I am amused that LibreOffice recognizes this as a word). I haven’t heard back from her on that one. We shall see what we shall see, but it sounds way more fun than just meeting up for drinks.

If we’re talking whitewater, though, perhaps hiking is more my speed. I’ve been itching to get out and explore because I was such a fan of getting lost in the Gorge, taking pictures… the funniest 249830_10150276212015272_4872151_ntime was when I laid down on the ground at Angels’ Rest near a cliff and had Dana hold my feet so that I could get the shot. We decided that it would be Dana’s job if I fell to call my dad and say, “Leslie was bein’ a dumbass, and got herself killed.” Said with as much Southern drawl as possible, of course. But what did I care? I GOT THE SHOT.

It amazed me that the picture turned out as beautiful as it did, because this must’ve been taken in, like, 2004, when all I had was a 2 mp camera that came on a phone that would seem ancient by today’s standards. So if the color is a little off, remember that it is not color-corrected. It’s just old. I am sure that I could have found a way to punch up each color, but that was the lighting we were in, so it stays. There were so many funny hikes between Dana and me, especially when we were just starting out. Our first hike was up to Multnomah Falls and back down again, but eventually we got more adventurous, like passing Multnomah and crossing over to Wahkeena and standing in the river, literally gulping water because it was moving fast enough that we didn’t think we’d get giardia… And then there was the day we’d realized we’d hiked, like, six and a half or seven miles and had to hike back. We were dying. It was the Bataan Death March of Troutdale, Oregon. Our legs were shaking and we were wet and cold due to the pouring rain… and that was when we realized we were still a half mile from the parking lot. It was definitely beer-thirty by then, and we went to Edgefield for a pick-me-up before we drove back.

But by far, the funniest picture story I have is that Dana and I were driving around Sacramento to get a break from the whole famn damily (Counselor lives there and the parents were in town), and as we were going down the highway, I spotted an enormous field of sunflowers. I said to Dana, “STOP!” It wasn’t unusual for me to say so, because she knew it had something to do with me wanting a picture…. it always did. In order to get the shot I wanted, I had to climb down into a muddy gulch between the highway and the flowers, and I got stuck up to my shins. The mud was so heavy that I couldn’t get back out. I literally couldn’t lift either foot to get traction, so I reached down and took off my1053385_10153710254770272_5683096917985658264_o shoes, my beloved pink and silver Nikes, and crawled up the side of the gulch. Dana was mystified as to why I was walking back to the Jeep in my socks, but I opened the passenger door and said, “I GOT THE SHOT!” Never mind that if the farmers were not paying attention, my shoes are probably still there, covered in ten feet of mud by now. Luckily, it wasn’t the only pair of shoes I brought on the trip.

I actually ended up taking a series of pictures that day, but this one is my favorite. Dana’s favorite is one I named “Peek-a-Boo,” where I discarded all of the color except the yellow and brown on the small sunflower sticking out at the bottom. I think I still have a copy of it somewhere, but seeing the mud reminds me of just how much I lost trying to get one damn picture, and even so, it was worth it. The aspect ratio is a little off, because it was originally “wide-screen,” but I must have done something in the meantime that changed it… not sure what. I just know that I had to go REALLY far back into my photo gallery to find it, because again, this was taken a long time ago, but at least I had a decent camera phone on me… possibly the best one I’ve ever had- a Sony Walkman phone that I would buy again in a hot second if I thought it would comply with today’s communication standards. I ended up taking other gorgeous shots with that phone, including a view of Portland from Senator Ron Wyden’s office (again, working as a tech contractor… the only reason I’d be in Republican senator’s office in the first place).

If I’m going to take up kayaking, I need to find some sort of waterproof case for my iPhone, because there is no way I’m going to be out on a river and not want to say, “STOP!” A wrist strap is probably advisable as well… because I’m not known for being a klutz or anything…. 😛

So tonight, while said date is doing her homework, I’m going to make homemade mango salsa for the all-DSI cookout tomorrow. I may even be on grill duty, having had a lot of practice at flipping burgers. I just wish we had a griddle instead of a grill, because while grilled hamburgers are delicious, they are nothing compared to the absolute perfection of letting them confit (cook in their own fat). It’s also a thrill just to be cooking anything. It’s been a long time, and I’m looking forward to it. Again, cooking was such a part of my life that I don’t really have time for anymore, and I miss it. I might even listen to Aqua as I’m cleaning up… because nothing says cleaning up a cooking mess like “Dr. Jones,” which as Whovians, Drue and I changed to “Martha Jones,” also a doctor…. a real one, not a Time Lord.

So I suppose tomorrow is Doctor Who t-shirt and Chucks day… but let’s be honest. When is it not?

When I’m kayaking, I guess.

My Dance Card

My dance card is getting full. Tomorrow night I have a date with the woman I was telling you about earlier, Wednesday night is dinner with Scales, Thursday night I’m meeting up with a guy that works at State just to shoot the shit (not a date), and Friday is pizza night in Alex with a Lt. Col in the Air Force who makes sure patients get seen. She just got back from deployment, so to this web site I will be calling her “Hawkeye” (Health care… overseas… Come on.) I told her that and said, “please tell me you are old enough to get that reference.” She said, “I’m not much of a M*A*S*H* fan, but yes, I did get it.” I wasn’t much of a fan while it was on, except that my dad watched it every week, and it was one of the only shows where I could be fast asleep and woken up to him laughing so hard he could barely breathe… one of my earliest memories, actually, because I would have been five.

Medical care in the military is a cause I’ll fight for, having worked in the VA Hospital as a contractor upgrading all their computers in Portland… which brings me to the comic and tragic story of being both mortified/sexually harassed and with the benefit of time, can stop being such a tight-ass about it. So, my crew is working on transferring data from old computers to new ones, so we have to go into every office in the building. Every. Office.

I am the only woman on the crew (as per my usual in those days), and the boys unlock a urologist’s office that just has dildos everywhere. I mean, floor to ceiling. Every girth and length you can possibly imagine. So, every guy on my team takes a dildo out of this poor bastard’s office and starts chasing me down the hallway with them. It was a situation in which I felt accepted and rejected all at the same time, if that makes any sense at all, because I don’t think they would have done it if they didn’t think I’d take a joke. It was a cortisol and sin kind of moment, and then I realized that if the doctor in question walked into his office the next morning and discovered that none of his, ummm, stuff was in the right place, it would be my moment to tell the story of why.

The doctor never came forward (as it were), so alas I just let it slide. If I’d been a girl about it, I would have lost respect and they would have avoided me like the plague. My entire career, I’ve just tried to be “just one of the guys.” And it works right up until I realize that I’m not.

And I’m betting that every female soldier, gay or straight, can relate to that one.

But lesbians particularly walk a fine line, because we are alternately the ones men are willing to get vulnerable with because they don’t have to wear the mask of boyfriend/husband and the gender role that comes with it… and the ones who can hang, but only up and to a point, because men do not come equipped with the radar that says lesbians are still women. However, that does not seem to be the case one-on-one, just when a group of guys are posturing around me… I suppose to impress upon me that they have something I’ll never have. Joke’s on them. Doubt me?

See above.