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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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.β„’

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.

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