The New Theme -or- Every. Single. One.

I haven’t had much time to actually work on my site, because I’ve been too busy wrapped up in my own head and trying to create a life worth writing about…. even if I did have to end that phrase with a preposition. Yes, I realize. Know the rules, break the rules, etc. Hopefully the new design is a bit cleaner, easier to read, and has less of an annoying footer on every post that I didn’t even realize was there until I delved into the “widgets” section. Well, technically, that’s not true at all. I knew it was there. I was just too lazy to do anything about it. Perhaps lazy is the wrong word. Unmotivated at best, which is different because I’m not lazy about the writing. Just how it looks to the general public. I also didn’t realize that my PayPal link had disappeared, so I fixed that, too. I hardly ever talk about money on this web site, but domain name cost has come around, so anybody that has a spare dollar would be thanked immediately and profusely. There are some of you that have donated that have not given me your home addresses so that I can send you a thank-you card, complete with signature in case it ever becomes worth something. Let me know. My e-mail address is ldlanagan AT gmail DOT com, and you can always find me on Facebook.

However, even if no one ever donated, I’d still be spilling my guts, because as I’ve said from the very beginning, this web site is for me, and you are invited. Money helps, but it is not the driving force as to why I do this. Not then, not now, not ever.

The whole reason I chose over buying my own server space is so that I didn’t have to work on development in the first place. I mean, I’m a total bad ass when it comes to HTML/CSS, but that’s never been the focus of this web site, and it never will be. I had a donor who bought me WordPress premium for a year so that I could add my own CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and what I found was that I used it for custom fonts and not much more. I can only hope you don’t care about drop shadows and shit…. because you know it’s true if it has a drop shadow, an impressive font, and a graphic  that expresses more than I do.

WordPress already does all the things I need, and the free themes are infinitely easier to deal with than either creating my own or customizing something already built to my own satisfaction. If I went down that rabbit hole, I’d never get back out. I am a perfectionist. Every #class and #id would have to be perfect, and I would drive myself crazy in my own Virgo way. It’s such a blessing to have all of those things already set. I nearly said “taken care of,” thus ending another sentence with a preposition. I AM TRYING, PEOPLE.

Perhaps a couple of cups of coffee will help, as I have not had any for three or four days, and because I haven’t kept track of how long it’s been, I didn’t realize that my headaches were almost entirely due to the lack of them. I’ve been waking up dehydrated, and I don’t like the metallic taste of water, so I add mix-ins to my water bottles and drink two or three as soon as I wake up. Because of this, I always feel better, but not thirsty enough to brew coffee as well. Then, about 10:00 AM, I’d get a horrible headache and not be able to figure out why. #dumbassattack

I realize that I could have just rode out the withdrawal, but coffee is also motivation to adult…. you know, using my grown up manners and able to speak in complete sentences, even when it’s early. I do limit my caffeine intake, though, because I need to get to bed early, as well. I am much more productive in the morning than in the evening. To get to peak performance, I usually sleep from 9p-5a. As of late, I have given this up, and it shows. “Peak performance” has dropped off in the face of grief, which leads to depression, which leads to isolation, which leads to not having enough energy to use my grown-up manners and speak in complete sentences (just making sure YOU’RE PAYING ATTENTION). It’s getting warm enough that I can also write outside, which is my favorite thing ever… although today is out because it’s raining cats and dogs. Even though the porch is covered, rain blows in sideways and I hate writing while soggy… much less taking the chance that my iPad will get ruined. I’m about to switch to a Windows 8 tablet, though, because the WordPress app I use now requires iOS 10, and my iPad isn’t new enough to upgrade.

My dad sent me a full-fledged Windows 8 tablet, which means it has a touch screen and tablet mode, plus full desktop mode so that I can install regular apps like Quicken and Plants vs. Zombies. It also has a keyboard with a USB port, so that I can use a regular mouse, and Bluetooth so that I am not tied to said keyboard if I want to add a mouse and headphones. It is superior to my iPad in every way, not because I don’t like iOS, but because it offers way more functionality. The only way in which it is inferior is that I’ve looked it up, and it is not upgrade ready, because Windows 10 works on a different partitioning scheme and will brick the whole tablet if I try. But Windows 8 isn’t that bad as long as I keep it in desktop mode. Plus, there’s no better price than free.

I thought about selling my iPad and getting a new one, but because it can’t upgrade past iOS 9.3.5, it isn’t worth anything. And yes, I know Android tablets are cheap, but the ones I can afford won’t upgrade past the OS that comes with it, either…. even though they are also superior to the iPad because Jesus will come before Apple offers an expansion slot and a radio. I suppose that I don’t necessarily need a radio anymore, because most stations stream…. but the radio uses less battery and I love NPR.

My local station doesn’t stream (or it didn’t the last time I looked), so I usually download OPB, waiting for the woman that Dana and I used to call my corporeally challenged celebrity girlfriend on the radio. This is because I went out on two or three dates with her before she admitted she already had a girlfriend in San Francisco and I was out. I didn’t even touch her, thank God, but that didn’t stop Dana and me from making fun of the situation for years on end…. actually, almost a decade.

It’s stuff like that I really miss, those conversations that were epic tennis matches in which the story didn’t really exist without both of us telling it at the same time. They were much, much funnier that way- between my dry-witted delivery and Dana’s rubber face/physical humor it brought the story to life, as if you were dancing in it.

There were so many of them I’ve forgotten, but I promise that if Dana started her part, I’d pick it back up like no time had passed.

I can’t think of any friend in my life that I have that with anymore, but it came from being best friends for almost four years before we realized what everyone else knew first. I was so pissed at her when she told me that she had a crush on me six weeks after we met, because I wasn’t there yet and I couldn’t even conceive of returning her affections. It got weird, but we pushed through it…. and it wasn’t until we had time apart that I realized she’d become the face I loved, wanted to see every day for my whole life, and when she helped me move all my stuff from Portland to Houston in a very ill-advised move (which I was excited about at the time, but in retrospect…..), I realized 20 minutes after she left that my entire world had just gotten on that plane…. and even then it wasn’t about romance. It was that Dana’s wife, Carol, was on the road all the time, and we’d developed our own routines (both comedic and practical), the thing that saved me over and over when I got my heart broken and needed a friend.

Dana came to visit me in Houston and I went to visit her in Portland. When she came to visit me, I had a girlfriend at the time who was overly jealous and paranoid that I would leave her, to the point that she didn’t even want me to go back to night school because she thought I’d run off with my professor. She didn’t want me to see my doctor because I mentioned in passing that she was cute. But that was nothing compared to seeing the tennis matches between Dana and me, and then later on, Meag and me… even though both were married and settled and there was no chance in hell that I was out the door with either of them.

When I went to visit Dana in Portland, she was having ankle surgery, and the front door was unlocked when I got in from the airport. I walked in and said, “honey, I’m home!” It was a joke that didn’t turn out to be so much of a joke…. but if you know anything about me, it’s that I often say things before my brain has a chance to connect consequences. It didn’t necessarily change Dana, because I’d told her over and over that I wasn’t interested. It was just the thing that started the tape that I was wrong.

On that Sunday, we wrestled with whether to go to the cathedral or to Bridgeport, because I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to go to the church that sustained me when I fell out with Diane and Susan, or whether I wanted to take a chance seeing all my friends. I argued with myself until 10:00, which made my decision for me because Trinity had already started. Of course it was on purpose….. not in the moment, but in retrospect…..

So, I show up for the service with Dana and Carol in tow, and I was excited for about fifteen minutes. The rest of the service, I cried like a baby. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t seeing Diane and Susan that broke my heart, but the woman I’d loved beyond all reason and responsibility, a relationship that started out as a May/December fling and was supposed to stay that way until shit got real. To my friends, age didn’t matter. Her friends, which had once been mutual, dumped me in a hot second.

I have said many times that my friendship with Dana started as a pity invite to Easter dinner, because her empath heart went out to me. For me, it was joining a new social circle so that I wasn’t lonely all the time, and still scary because it wasn’t like I knew these people well. We’d run into each other at church, but that was the beginning and the end of it.

Attending Bridgeport brought all of it back. All of it. The anger at me for supposedly “taking advantage of her,” the humiliation of having been dumped by someone I could see a life with, despite all odds and reason, because she couldn’t see a life with me. It wasn’t just that I missed her. It was that I missed the person I was when I was with her. Stronger, more capable, ready to take on the world. Those three months helped define who I am now, because what I’ve found is that it’s not the amount of time, but the amount of growth that happens in it. However, we didn’t really “break up” so much as take our relationship underground and hope no one found out. When I realized just how much I was being gutted like a fish, I was out. It took almost a year to realize I didn’t want to be with anyone who was seemingly ashamed to be with me.

By that time, Dana had earned her best friend status, and she listened patiently and picked up all the pieces of my heart (and my apartment) so that I could function again.

She was also the person that picked up all the pieces when Diane decided that she could drop in and out of my life at will… and as soon as I started to emote, would ghost again and put my heart into a blender. It was in those moments that I realized that I didn’t love Dana, I was in love with her, and it came down to something very, very simple and profound at the same time.

My friend Holly told me it would help if I went into the Gorge and sang it out, that music would fill the hole that Diane left. So, Dana and I hiked up to Wahkeena Falls and I stood up to my knees in freezing water and, with my voice shaking, started with the Rutter Pie Jesu and ended up screaming my lungs out. It wasn’t enough to sing. There was so much pain inside me that I didn’t even have words. It was as if I’d turned from choir nerd to insane banshee on a mission.

Dana was sitting on a rock about four yards from me, and when I turned around, tears were streaming down her cheeks, and I knew. The fact that she was crying simply because someone else had hurt me was the tipping point.

I waited patiently until we were both ready to end the relationships we were currently in, because we realized that if we’d stayed with them, life would have been fine… but we didn’t want fine anymore. We wanted spectacular. It didn’t come around again until I went to Portland for a job interview and my girlfriend forbade me from seeing Dana at all. The final blow was my girlfriend realizing that I’d made a purchase in Dana’s neighborhood (not with her), and my girlfriend blowing up at me because she was tracking me through our checking account. So, after that, I did what I always do. I went to Dana for her advice and counsel.

For the first time, I saw the white hot flash of Dana’s anger as she told me I needed to leave under no uncertain circumstances. That this girl was ruining my life and I was oblivious to it. Believe me when I tell you that she was right. Not only was my girlfriend’s paranoia over the top, I got an internship with the Human Rights Campaign writing national Sunday School curriculum and I was forbidden to take it because my girlfriend thought that I’d go for three months and it would turn into a permanent position and I would leave her. There was no universe in which she thought I would’ve asked her to move with me and that I wasn’t out the door at all. I lived an entire life of appeasement, being isolated from all my friends because she thought any one of them could be my next great love.

Dana, again, was crying because someone else had hurt me…. so I hatched a plan to leave and so did she. It was time to stop putting things off, because our marriage was inevitable. There was no one that understood me better, no one that would more willingly step in front of a bus for me if it meant I was safe. There’s no one I should have listened to more than Dana, and for that, I’ll always be sorry.

In many ways, I put Argo’s needs above hers, even when I didn’t realize I was doing it. Though the flaming disaster where everyone got burned and scarred didn’t happen overnight, it did indeed happen… at my own hand, no less. And, actually, that is not entirely true. I wonder every day what might have happened had Dana and Argo become friends as well, so that Argo and I were not living in our own little bubble, with no one anywhere to pop it.

It might have avoided so many tears on my part, because I couldn’t endure the tug-of-war. There were so many things that Argo specifically told me not to tell Dana, so that I retreated from her in every way, because I wasn’t programmed to keep secrets from her, ever. And then, Argo told me to make sure Dana saw everything, to ensure that she knew Argo was not having an emotional affair with me… and when I showed it to her, unedited, Argo was furious. Actually, furious doesn’t even begin to cover it, because I didn’t know that what she meant was to keep our confidences and show her everything else when she said “make sure Dana sees all.”

Dana waffled between thinking that Argo was telling the truth and Argo was lying to herself. Pure, unbridled jealousy and anger came out at both of us…. obviously, because it led to Every. Single. Fight. turning from me wanting to work on our own issues and Dana turning it into why should we work on this when you don’t love me anymore?

I would have agreed with her had it been even remotely true. I loved Dana like I love air and water. I’ve never forgotten her kindness, her protection, her unlimited capacity for love.

I’ve never been polyamorous a day in my life. A passing crush was just that. It went away, just not as quickly as it appeared. Because of confidentiality, I can’t say why. I can say that I was lost in trying to fix everything in Argo’s world…. my natural state of fixer/pleaser on high alert. The problem was that I didn’t need to fix anything. I just needed to listen. She wasn’t looking for solutions, just a place to vent.

Once I really took that in, I let go of all of it. The blushing teenage feelings, the need to fix everything, the need to put Dana at arm’s length so that Argo and I could have our secrets in a place Dana couldn’t reach.

It was just too late in the game, and even a Hail Mary pass wouldn’t have won it… mostly because by the time I could have made it, Dana had made her choice to take our fights from emotional to physical, and even though I entertained the idea that it was a one-time thing and we could go back to normal, in my heart of hearts I knew nothing would ever be the same again. I couldn’t apologize enough, I couldn’t walk on eggshells for the rest of my life knowing that the possibility of violence existed.

Physical violence was a huge reason that I moved so far away. I wanted to make sure it never happened again, and her fist couldn’t reach 1800 miles…. the flip side being that I thought if we had long enough to cool off, a visit to her parents might include a visit with me, not to reconnect romantically but to start our tennis matches over. At first, it was a yes, and then it was a no…. not even when I reassured her that it wouldn’t just be a visit with me, but Pri-Diddy as well (they’d met before in Portland). It wasn’t just us sitting alone with no one to run interference…. not that I really thought I needed it, I just thought it would be more comfortable because it would ensure that our conversations never went too deep for comfort…. that we could be funny again.

However, again, I don’t want to be friends with anyone that doesn’t want to be friends with me, so saying goodbye got easy…. not on this web site, for sure, because I had so much to process about her that was my own journey and not one I needed to take with her. It’s all my work to do to prepare myself for my next chapters, whatever they may bring.

I realize that this entry has jumped all over the place, but the beginning was just turning on the faucet before it really began to run. I tend to start writing about anything until I find a groove and things start spilling out.

If you’ve stayed with me this far, know that I am grateful. I reread my own words all the time to hold myself accountable, but it doesn’t hurt to know that someone is listening, especially people who have no horse in the race. You are all invaluable to me.

Every. Single. One.





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