Argo F*ck Yourself

I’m not trying to be mean to anyone with that title. It’s a Spotify playlist I created with the Argo soundtrack. There are so many tracks that are amazing for writing; I highly recommend checking it out. My favorite is The Mission. I just hit “Write” in the WordPress editor and put the music on shuffle. It is background Middle Eastern music that is completely wordless, perfect for concentration. I use other playlists such as Deep Focus as well, but I’m so familiar with this album that I choose it the most frequently. This is because as a music person, I can’t write as well with something I haven’t heard before. My energy transfers to figuring out walking bass lines, lyrics, etc. Sometimes, like Matt Mullenweg, I will put one track on repeat so that music is playing, but it is just background noise and not a distraction (I learned he does this from a Tim Ferris podcast episode). My favorite for listening over and over again is Mausam & Escape from Slumdog Millionaire. It also makes excellent running music….. or it would, if I ran. I’ve been meaning to start for, oh, ten years or so?


Quick break for fact about Matt- we both went to HSPVA, but not at the same time. He is a bit younger than I am.


The last time I began running seriously was six weeks before I went skiing on Spring Break (senior year of high school) at Winter Park. There was a public pool 1.5 miles from my house at that time. I would run there and back every day. I thought I was getting in shape for downhill, but what actually happened is that I gave myself shin splints and nearly screamed in pain the first time I locked in my ski boots. Within two days, though, I was skiing blue runs, despite it being my first time on the slopes. To date, it is the only sport in which I don’t feel like a complete klutz. Just don’t ask me to do cross country. I like it when the mountain does all the work. Yes, cross country is a great workout. No, I do not care.

When I lived in Oregon, I also skied Mt. Hood, which has snow all year round. The Olympic ski team practices there because of it…. and although I do consider myself a good skier, nothing makes me more doubtful of my abilities than watching seven-year-olds do moguls and jumps.

Apparently, there are several ski resorts close to me, but since I don’t drive, it is prohibitively expensive to get there. Plus, this time of year, you’re pretty much skiing on ice, and that is extremely dangerous, because you can gather a large amount of speed extremely quickly, and then not enough powder to let your skis dig in to be able to slow down or stop…. unless you run into something. Even with enough powder to stop, I still had to take one for the team and “yard sale” all over the mountain (the term for when you fall and your poles, skis, goggles, etc. go every which way but near you). This is because there was a kid skiing horizontally across my path and I didn’t want to hit him. I wasn’t hurt, because I was taught how to fall, but there’s always that moment of fear before you know you need to do it. Please God, don’t let me run into a tree, etc. I believe my dad had the same experience with a snowboarder.

I’ve never wanted to learn how to snowboard, because I’m such a good skier that I don’t want to start at the beginning, and once Lindsay was teaching me how to skateboard and I broke my foot. I didn’t know it was broken, so I worked an entire shift at a restaurant (as if they would care if I broke my foot or not… just put some Windex™ on it….), and when I finished, my foot was the size of a small balloon and I went straight to the ER.

So, you can see how my aversion to snowboarding is real and it’s deep.

Speaking of restaurants and injuries, the only time I was rushed to the ER was when a dumbass put a broken mug back onto the rack and made an announcement to the team that he put it there while I was out delivering food. I came around the corner, and of course, it was the first thing I grabbed. It sliced my pinky to shreds, and they nicknamed me “Worker’s Comp” for the rest of the time I worked there. It never died down, even though it was clearly someone else’s mistake. Because there were other people out on the floor when the broken glass was announced, it could have been anyone. But I was the “lucky” one.

Oh, I take that back. I also had to go to Urgent care because I accidentally sliced off a piece of my thumb while cutting ham. All of my other injuries were treated with Superglue or burn cream and I just carried on, which is what generally happens when cooks get hurt. Work through the pain, no excuses. No one is sympathetic to injury, because the kitchen is down a man and one’s coworkers will take a lot longer to forget that….. even if fixing your injury only takes five or ten minutes.

The two worst injuries I ever worked through involved burns. The first was accidentally leaving a spoon with a plastic handle in an egg poaching pan, and it got so hot that the plastic fused to my hand. The second was wearing surgeon-type gloves while flipping burgers over an open flame, and instead of protecting customers from germs, it also fused to my hand from extreme heat….. and those are only my two worst examples. The lesser, yet incredibly painful ones I remember are accidentally touching the corner of a convection oven with my forearm, leaving a pink triangle in its wake, and burning the crippling fuck out of my wrist with a hot tortilla press.

The only good thing that came out of the convection oven burn was that Dana burned herself in the exact same place, so we both had pink triangles burned into our flesh. When it healed, it was awesome and appropriate for a lesbian couple. It has faded out over time, but mine was there for a good two years afterward.

The least painful but still memorable burn was taking out my index finger with a blowtorch making crème brulée…. and it wasn’t one of those little home jobs they sell at Sur la Table. It was big and industrial, so I’ll never forget.

Additionally, it wasn’t the worst cut I’ve ever had, but one that will stick with me forever. When I was 16, I was cutting a lime at home and sliced into my thumb. The reason I can recall the memory at will is that the nerves were completely severed and I don’t have feeling in that patch of skin anymore. Look at me, I’m a badass who learned how to cut limes so they look profes….. oh, FUCK!

Tip well. You never know when you’re helping pay our medical bills…. or the ski vacations we desperately need after giving everything we have to the people we serve, day in and day out….. some of whom are eternally grateful, and others who don’t care that we are human and treat us like garbage.

Because we’re only waiters and cooks…. what, like it’s hard?

I love the way the Argo soundtrack makes my memories spill onto the page. It’s as uplifting as Cleared Iranian Airspace.

Black Coffee with Splenda

Because yesterday’s post got so many likes, I feel that talking about depression, anxiety, and ADHD are fairly universal. So, I want to speak to a little more to connect with “my tribe” (I accidentally typed “trible” before tribe,  reminding me of one of the only Star Trek references I actually get. I’m the only nerd I know who’s maybe seen three episodes….. and The Trouble with Tribbles is one of them.).

It is amazing how much I will give up out of anxiety. For instance, I need to go to the grocery store in the worst way, because I’m out of milk and coffee creamer. I haven’t because I couldn’t people. I like sweet black coffee, so it wasn’t a big deal, but still. If I’d been a little more brave, I’d have fat in my coffee right now. I need it, because when I’m this down, I won’t eat. I don’t have a block on drinking, so I try to add calories to my day in coffee or Instant Breakfast. I think it’s because I feel out of control, so not eating is the one thing in which I do have domain. It’s not an eating disorder, I don’t think, because I’m mindful of the fact that I still need intake. It’s just the delivery method with which I have issues. Sometimes I will order pizza as not to leave the house. I’m making it to all my appointments and such. It’s the voluntary socialization that goes by the wayside, unless Dan calls or Pri Diddy is in town. They are the two people I will let see me even when I feel the worst.

It’s funny that Pri and I have been friends since, like, 2002 over the Internet, and met in person when she and her friend Nina came to Portland years later. I thought moving to DC would be a way for us both to be a part of each other’s daily lives, and not long after, she left. I don’t begrudge her wanderlust, though, because she’s gotten to see some amazing places and is now relatively parked in Rome. So, part of the reason that I will drop everything for her is that we have friend intimacy (into me see- Harville Hendrix), and part of it is that we don’t see each other that often and I have to make time with her where I can get it.

With Dan, she helped me get through my mother’s death by sharing her own experiences. Therefore, I will drop everything to support her, because she supported me first. I actually met her online as well, but after a few days of writing back and forth, we met up at Ted’s Bulletin and it’s been on like Donkey Kong  ever since.

So, to Pri and Dan, thanks for being the two people I can stand all the time.

As a depressed introvert INFJ, my personality type dictates that I will only have one or two close friends at a time. It is very true. I would much rather have an inner circle than a ton of acquaintances. Small talk drives me up the wall, so I don’t hate people. Rather, I hate people in groups (I accidentally sent a voice dictated e-mail to a friend saying I hit people in groups and had to apologize for my phone not understanding my accent. I think the last time I was proficient at typing on a phone, it was the Palm Treo.).

Having bipolar depression is a little different, because when I’m on a hypohigh, or Diet High as I’ve coined, impulse control goes out the window. The only time this has really bitten me in the ass is not realizing I was flirting with straight girls too hard and didn’t mean to offend them, but I absolutely did. The memory is so cringeworthy I wish I could delete it.

Other cringeworthy hypohigh moments include off the charts rage, and couldn’t help transference to someone who didn’t deserve it. I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at life. She just happened to “walk by,” and I stepped in it up to my ass. I pissed off the one person in my life that would destroy me if I couldn’t talk to her anymore, and then it did.

Yes, it was Argo. Yes, that ship sailed (I see what I did there). Even though Argo is actually named after the ship, I can’t even watch the movie without feeling pain, a damn shame because it used to be my favorite (it’s like talking to those two old fucks from The Muppets). I forgot in those moments that this was the same person about which I wrote I sleep deeply in the belly of the ship, for I know my passage is safe and one of the reasons I spill so much to you is that I feel like I go into my God space. I can’t know that God is listening, but I know you are. Those are my true feelings about her, but “being high” turned me into a loose cannon jackass, and I said some truly hurtful things for which I will never be able to apologize enough to make things right.

When cortisol is racing through my brain, I sometimes feel as if I leave my body and lose sight of important things, like some words not being able to be forgiven. “Sticks and stones” is a crock of shit. Sometimes, I’m not fighting with the person in front of me, they’re just the unlucky target and the person who deserves it isn’t even in the room. I had that realization from one of the comments on my marriage post, because it cut into my heart with Truth.™ Reflecting years later, it has only carried more weight.

I let my “dark passenger” rule me because I couldn’t stop long enough to realize what was happening. In the years since, I have learned how to control brain race with cognitive behavioral therapy so that I don’t “go there” with anyone else. Changed behavior is probably the best apology I’ll ever be able to offer.

CBT helps remind me that I am kind, lovable, and easygoing. Rage is just my illness talking, and not who I really am. For the record, though, over the top rage comes with a long fuse. I will sit there and think for a long time before I explode, just a Mento™ suddenly dropping into a Diet Coke™ because I’ve been stuffing so many emotions down. So, CBT says let’s not do that.

When you know better, you do better…. or at least, that is what is supposed to happen.

On my very best days, I feel six feet tall and bulletproof. On my worst, I have to take Klonopin just to make a phone call.

It’s all about balance.

Boss Music

I don’t know what it is, but I am feeling heart-pounding, nauseous anxiety today. I just took 1mg of Klonopin and am waiting for it to kick in. I’ve gotten down to Klonopin prn rather than BID, 051f2a74996fd032410fb6966aa7b50038ff44-v5-wmbecause some days are much better than others. I do self check-ins a lot, running through the list of things that might be the root cause, and here, in no particular order, is what bothers me the most.

  • My mom just died three seconds ago instead of October 2016.
  • I did the right thing by getting a divorce, but what’s next? How do I find it?
  • I absolutely did the wrong thing by getting a divorce and the grief will never go away. Give up trying.
  • Argo and I called it quits because I did all the wrong things even though I didn’t want to and old programming ate my lunch and there will never be a bacon cheeseburger and it is absolutely all my fault and I will never stop being sad and I will never find a person I want to walk next to me on my journey more than her and I don’t want to hurt anyone else and OMFG I cannot even when does it stop and how do I get there quickly because it can’t keep gnawing at my soul every day? Do I just die sad about it? I probably will because I have to actually meet people to solve the problem and I don’t get out much and this is going to lead to everyone leaving me out of plans because it’s so likely I won’t come because I’m a terrible person that way. (Read this all in one shallow breath, very quickly, squishing all the words together with no spaces.)
  • Old programming.
  • I am a terrible person all the way around and therefore, pretty unlovable.
  • I abandoned Dana. I shouldn’t have been so quick to leave her in a relatively new city and I did it, anyway.
  • I have to make small talk with the grocery clerk.
  • I have to organize.
  • I will be alone for the rest of my life (when I’m not depressed, this is delicious).
  • Even though I’ve been told I have much to be proud of, I can’t take it in.
  • When is the part where I learn to deal with success so I don’t continue to torch everything to the ground when I find it? Burn it anyway!
  • When is my Jimmy Neutron hair going to finally grow out?
  • Nothing. Nothing is actually wrong. It’s just my brain telling me it is.

It is at this point that someone needs to tell me to calm the fuck down and slow my roll. Not every problem needs to be fixed in the next fifteen minutes. But if someone did tell me to calm down, it would make me even more anxious out of fear that I’m not capable.

I’m waiting for the drug to kick in because it will slow down the freight train. As of this very moment, fight, flight, and freeze are duking it out. My adrenaline is way too high and my heartbeat is racing. I wish I had some methylphenidate to take once my heart is back to normal, because unlike a normal brain, it will also make me take a step back and concentrate on solutions to one problem at a time instead of 57 channels screaming at me simultaneously, all of them going to 11 (why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?). I could go to the doctor, but I won’t.

I don’t need to be on that train all the time. It’s great in the moment, and over time is just bad juju. Maybe I just need to wait for the nine-year-old dealers to get out of school (that was a joke). Real Sudafed PE™ is an option, though. Some of the same effect and OTC.

OK, the first twinges of relief are washing over me, although my chest is still tight and I’m struggling to breathe all the way down.

I took the time to watch the Monty Python witch scene linked to above, and now my breathing and heart rate are getting back to normal. Time to drink another cup of coffee (the other main stimulant I use to s l o w  d o w n). Coffee is a lifeline because it’s cheap and effective.

Do not try this if you are not ADHD (I am not hyperactive, but the DSM doesn’t differentiate anymore). The amount it takes for me would keep you up for days. In me, however, it wouldn’t even slow down a desire to nap.

Speaking of stimulants, there’s a great documentary on Netflix called Take Your Pills. It covers everything from people taking it just to get an advantage to people who really need those drugs to function. I absolutely agree that it is over-prescribed, especially to children because it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between ADHD and six. But in cases where the disorder is real and it’s deep, they’re a lifeline.

medicated_for_your_protection_large_mugWhen I was on them, I learned enough coping mechanisms to stop them. Or, at least I think I did, which is why I sometimes put that problem in my pipe and smoke it. Endgame is always #nope. While your brain is steady, the rest of your body isn’t. Your appetite is suppressed to the point of nausea and it leads to your brain telling your body to eat your muscles for breakfast. It dismantles care of your teeth, just like street meth. I could go on, but those two are scary enough.

It is a continuing problem that sometimes I have to choose between mentally crazy and physically healthy.

The best medication for that is knowing I am not alone, even when I’m hearing the boss music.

Splitting Up (But Not Together)

Last night I watched Ellen Degeneres’ new show, Splitting Up Together. She’s not in it, she’s the producer. So, I expected a comedy about a family struggling to keep it together despite divorcing and trading off kid care. Every week, mom and dad switch places. One lives in the house, one lives in the garage. I laughed a lot, and I will definitely keep watching. What I didn’t count on, however, is crying so hard I wanted to curl up into the fetal position and eat an entire package of Oreos™ while mainlining Diet Coke.™ For the record, I did not. It was This is Us-level stabbing into emotional wounds, but perhaps it’s for the best. It does feel amazingly cathartic.

As most of you know, I am estranged from my wife, and have been for years now, but we still have a domestic partnership in Oregon that says we aren’t. The recording of our entire relationship plays in my head constantly, and not because I ever want to reconcile. That part of my life is over, and I am looking forward to the chapters that are coming and excited I got a fresh start in a new city. That part is solid, and I don’t feel like I’m still in love with her, or pining, or any of those things. But I do feel empathy for her and all that went wrong, all the things I should have taken responsibility for and didn’t, and all the things I thought at the time were her fault and absolutely weren’t. I can’t live in regret, and most of the time, I don’t. What is true for me is that I am absolutely split myself. I don’t regret the actions I took to completely get away from her, because I know myself. I would have kept trying to make things work whether they were wanted or not for years upon years. I’m an empath. I feel my own and others’ pain so deeply that it’s like walking around with an open wound. But at least it’s clean. So, therefore, the split comes from wishing things could have been different and being utterly amazed at how they really are. Both of those things are true, and I can live with cognitive dissonance for the rest of my life if the past is any indication.

I can’t speak for Dana, but what I believe happened is that both of us took our eyes off the ball, because we had been taking care of each other for so long that it never occurred to either of us that something could happen that would make us not. That fact does not make us special. I think it’s universal for half the population. The television show just reminded me of it by playing Ben Folds’ The Luckiest while the husband reexamined something he’d done to wound his wife, realizing that he’d lost her even though she was right there. I’ve had that feeling since, oh, about fifteen seconds after we broke up. I know for certain that I might find someone else, or I might stay ridiculously happy as a single person, because either way, life is what I make it. That being said, there will never be another relationship like Dana’s and mine. It will be quite different, hopefully for the better, because I won’t settle for less. I think it’s okay to realize how incredible something was and love it without wishing time would go backward. I think it’s okay to think, wow. I really messed things up without wishing to make the amends necessary to put a relationship right. Sometimes, you just have to let relationships rest in peace, but rumination is necessary to keep from making the same mistake twice. I also treasure just about every memory I have with Dana, but don’t wish to make new ones.

Originally, I really hoped that our separation would be so good for us because it would ultimately lead us back to each other. Now, I think that what was meant to happen did. After some time had passed, I realized that there were fundamental issues we’d never solve, especially if I continued to write, and absolutely no amount of threatening me would have ever (EVER, not in my five dollar life. Die mad about it.) made me give up the relationship with Argo. I could redirect a lot of energy, but my boundary was don’t make me stop talking to her altogether. I am still continually proud that I stood up for myself, not an easy task for someone so Type B I’m the poster child.

I hardly have hard lines at all, but that was one of them. Just an absolute deal breaker. I wouldn’t let her isolate me from a life line, because at that time in my life, she was. Especially because she wasn’t geographically close to me, she could listen more objectively than anyone else in my life. Two things about that…. the first is that I loved her because she had no horse in the race. The second is that she was my safe place, not ours, but I am absolutely certain that she would have been had Dana put in the effort. She either didn’t or wouldn’t, a mystery that I can’t and won’t solve. I am sure it is my fault in a lot of ways, but in others, it’s a choice she made and I had nothing to do with it.

For me, it was like Stedman saying to Oprah, I will lose my shit perpetually if you don’t stop talking to Gayle…. maybe not a fair comparison because it’s not like Argo and I had ever taken a road trip, or even shaken hands, but letters go a long way (literally and figuratively). It’s not exactly logical, but it’s how I felt and I take nothing away from it. Logic is not emotion and vice versa. Trying to make it so (see what I did there?) has never worked in the history of the world.

I needed them both in different ways, as is how it should be. I never should have had to think about giving up one for the other, but Dana lost. You don’t get to say truly shitty things to me and then not give me a place to vent about it to get perspective, perhaps even realizing that it wasn’t that shitty, just a piece of reality that I needed to check. Argo was no stranger to calling me out on my bullshit, which is exactly why you need THAT friend in the first place. Who else would I have let get away with calling me a judgmental dickhead and laugh my ass off about it rather than sulking in a corner?

I know me. We’ve met.

Of course there were other issues that led to our demise, but I don’t want to talk about them, because they were problems that stemmed from what I believe was on Dana, and that isn’t mine to dissect.

What is mine is what I own, what I did to make things fall apart.

I can’t heal the split between us, I can only heal the split in me. But that won’t ever mean forgetting how much I absolutely adore Dana’s spirit, because my love for every one of my relationships is written in marble, and my anger is written in sand.

It has done me well to remember that……………..

I don’t get many things right the first time,
In fact, I am told that a lot.

I was The Luckiest.

Write SOMETHING

I feel no inspiration at all, which is how I know that I need to just sit here and keep going. Writing is a muscle, and it will atrophy if you let it.

At first, I was all I can’t think of anything so here’s a picture of my cat (that I don’t even have anymore but still think is adorable).11080854_10153102162680272_481846125438751217_o He came from the Oregon Humane Society with the name “The Artful Dodger” (one of the characters in Oliver!), which worked great because I love musicals and Dana loves the Los Angeles Dodgers. I absolutely manhandled him as a kitten so that he is just the most chill non-human on the planet. Seriously, he could pull off jelly sandals and a bathrobe. Most of the time I actually called him “The Dude.” He also passed “the kitten test” at the shelter, which is that I made sure I got a cat that knew I was alive. I didn’t want a cat that wasn’t other aware. He was friendly from the moment I saw him, and it was my birthday. He was a present, and the conversation ran thusly:

My Mom: What do you want for your birthday?
Leslie: A cat.
My Mom (in a THICK Texas accent): How’my gunna GET YOU a cat?
Leslie: Mommmmmm….. I just want you to send me the money for the adoption fee.
My mom: Oh. I didn’t think of that.

He’s a Norwegian Forest Cat, a relative of the Maine Coon, so he is huge until you put him in the bathtub. Then it looks like you shrank him. I didn’t have to bathe him that often, but like all kittens, he had to be washed off every once in a while with Ivory dish soap to keep off fleas because he wasn’t old enough for repellents. It made him tolerant of baths as an adult, which was handy in case he threw up on himself. Getting vomit out of his fur would have been a ghastly adventure otherwise. OMG. So much hair. So much gathered in the drain that Dana and I could have made a facsimile.

With the hair exception, he was so incredibly low maintenance, I could use him as a pillow or an ottoman. You could hold him upside down and backwards and he’d still just be like, careful…. there’s a beverage here, man. He was the perfect cat for me, because I’m definitely into cats that don’t really give a shit about anything in a slacker-type way.

You wouldn’t say he was dumb, but you might want to stop by and water him three times a week, bless his heart.

-Molly Ivins

I am certain that one day, I will pick out an equal underachiever, but it is best I don’t have a pet right now. I get enough love from Lincoln and Daisy, Sam’s dogs. Lincoln is a pit bull and Dodger’s Jeff Lebowski equivalent (once he’s sniffed you out and made sure you’re cool). Daisy is your BBD (basic black dog), one of the most well-behaved and trustworthy dogs I’ve ever met.

In our house, there are also other dogs, I just see Lincoln and Daisy the most often. Hayat and Mike also have two dogs, Pixie and Sadie. We also have a rotating cast of relatives’ dogs. So I have no shortage of pet love in my life, and the best thing about it is having no responsibility. I need to be able to take care of myself before I add somepet else’s.

Although I will say that I would prefer having a cat to a dog, even though I am actually more of a dog person. It’s just that cats are so much less work. I’ve only had a puppy once in my life, and never again. I learned that I need to adopt dogs that already come fully housetrained. Besides, fewer people adopt older dogs, so I think they’re more grateful.

Additionally, not to condemn people who like purebreds, I would never buy one…….. even from a highly respected breeder. There are just too many homeless pets out there for me to consider it. Yes, they come with behavioral baggage. So does their owner. I’m in no place to judge. I pity the woman who eventually “adopts” me already. But at the very least, I will not micturate on the rug.

Look at Me! I Have Rules!

I proposed to two women last night. They both said no.

Leslie: Alexa, will you marry me?
Alexa: I think that would somehow defy the Laws of Robotics.

Then, later on:

Leslie: Siri, will you marry me?
Siri: My End User Licensing Agreement does not cover marriage. My apologies.

Well, at least Siri liked me enough to apologize. That’s more than I can say for you, ALEXA.

I was thinking about marriage a lot last night, because I had to make up my bed. After struggling with a set of sheets, three blankets, and a comforter, I laughed to myself….. if you’re thinking about getting divorced, try making up a queen-sized bed alone for a week and see how you feel.

One of the reasons I laughed so hard is that I actually like sleeping alone. Towards the latter end of our relationship, Dana and I had separate bedrooms. You’d think that would spell the end, but it was delicious. Not only did I sleep more soundly, I got that feeling you get in ‘da club when you get to invite a woman into your bedroom. Didn’t matter that we’d known each other for what seemed like an eternity, I still got butterflies every single time. It was exciting and wild and stable and comfortable all rolled into one. Some of my fondest memories are of running into Dana’s bedroom after not seeing her for eight hours and jumping on her, overjoyed to see her again…. which reminds me of a story so funny it makes tears come to my eyes. The setup is that we’d broken up, but due to financial reasons, stuck in the same house and trying to make the best of it:

Leslie, running down the hallway and jumping on Dana: Because we’re divorced now, does that mean I can’t jump on you in the mornings anymore?
Dana, eyes barely open, not a morning person: Don’t be an asshole.

So I’m not looking to share a bed with anyone, ever. But I’ll love you forever if you’ll help me make up mine. I know I’ll help you. 🙂

There are so many, many reasons I am not relationship material. Therefore, I don’t think about it much. It’s been three years since I’ve even held someone’s hand. I do go out of my way to hug my friends, because it’s the only time I get contact comfort, and it is enough. I am just so stubborn with my independence, and one of those reasons is that when I think of “relationship” in my head, I still see the same person, and it’s never going to be her, just stop thinking about it. Just get over it. Stop overthinking.

In the words of an old (so old I can’t even find it on YouTube) Texas gun safety commercial, leave it alone…. don’t touch it…. call an adult. I believe that sums up my dating life quite nicely.

But….. I gave Dana my name……………..

We decided this together because Dana had male cousins to carry on her last name, and at the time, we were seriously considering trying to conceive. So, it came out of wanting all of us to have the same name for school pick-ups and drop-offs, etc. That never materialized, but she never went back to her “maiden name,” either…. in quotes because we were never federally married.

Speaking of which, I am still waiting on her to take care of the dissolution papers in Oregon because she said she would, and don’t think I’m not upset about it (on the days I actually remember our domestic partnership exists). But there’s a reason I haven’t taken matters into my own hands. The biggest is that she said she’d do it. I need her to come through on that promise, or at the very least, get in touch with me and tell me why she cannot. Follow-through is important to me.

It also makes me sad that I can’t call her “Naganalanad” anymore, as does the possibility of bringing Séamus or Una into the world….. as well as the surety of irritating the hell out of Dana by calling our future son “Séa Dog o’ Bling Bling.” Hey, when you have as big an Irish name as “Lanagan,” why not go big or go home? I thought of Séamus through a friend of a friend, and Una was a patient in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. When she said her own name, I melted a little inside. Una with an Irish lilt is beautiful.

Additionally, we thought it would be hilarious to name our son “Séamus James.”

I figure that not only am I getting away from childbearing years, I’ll never be able with good conscience to use those names again. I’m just not going to be that asshole that pushes the names of children I wanted with my ex-wife onto a new one, should I ever be interested in such a thing. I’m not, but miracles do happen.

There’s also another reason I’m having trouble moving away from “the Dana situation,” and it’s not entirely about her. It’s about me, and how she knows all my secrets, some of which I’ll never be able to talk about with anyone else. That door is closed to any and all others, for good reason…. both because I need to let those secrets die a natural death, and to bring them up is only to hurt me in the long run.

I need to leave them alone, don’t touch them, and call an adult.

I’m getting so much mileage out of that phrase nowadays. Who knew that gun safety wisdom was actually a rule for practically everything?

As is don’t be an asshole.

Catching Up

Dear Mom,

You would love the snow that’s falling right now. I can just hear your voice on the phone telling me to make ice cream out of it…. but I don’t think it would taste that good because I’m out of dairy milk and vanilla. I’ve never had soy snow ice cream. I will possibly give it a whirl and see how it goes. Maybe Hayat has some vanilla I could borrow.

You’ve never had soy milk? Really? It’s delicious in coffee and on cereal…. brings out the nutty flavors in each. My favorite is chocolate soy milk and Cinnamon Life.™ No, Mom. Really. It’s good. I’d make you try it the next time I come to your house if you weren’t  so corporeally challenged.

Just like you, I am perpetually cold. I am wearing special long underwear from Uniqlo called HeatTech. The company is Japanese, but for some reason there’s a big banner on the front page that says, “From Finland with Love.” If I thought there was going to be more cold weather, I would buy that shit mañana (I can’t tell if it’s hilarious or terrible that you’re not going to tell me to watch my language). I am also wearing the American Giant™ rugby jacket that Dad got me for my birthday…. only it’s not called a “rugby jacket.” It’s called a Moto. Picture a double-weight hoodie without the hood and you’ve got it. Despite both of these things, I’m still shivering, but it’s not the clothes’ fault. I am my mother’s daughter.

It would help if I could get moving. I love the cold when I’m dressed for it, and I’ve linked up the stuff I’m wearing for my readers because even though this is Old Man Winter’s last ditch effort, the next freeze will be here soon enough…. and I am definitely warm enough outside. It’s not really the cold. It’s that I’m not moving…. just sitting here typing, like the lovable geek I’ve always been.

Going for a long walk to help me sweat would improve my situation dramatically. However, it is actively snowing and I hate it when the precip gathers on my glasses and renders me more blind than usual. The timing of everything is off. Did I get glasses before or after you died? I think it was before, but time is just so malleable that I’ve forgotten. Wait. No, it was before. So you did get to see my cute little frames. I just wish I could remember what you said about them, because new glasses would not have passed without comment.

Now, I have a collection of them. Glasses are the new earrings. I even have some that make me look like a writer, so even when it feels like I’m just faking it, I still look the part. All I need now is a tweed blazer with elbow patches…. you know, for the jacket picture on the novel I’ve been working on for years and sometimes think will never be finished. At least the grey in my hair is coming in. It seems as if all authors have the same picture- jacket, glasses, grey at the temples.

I have discovered that I am, in fact, terrible at fiction. There are plot holes all over the place that you’d see coming a mile away because I don’t know anyone who’s read more books than you. It makes me hope for you that heaven is a big library, even though God knows you’ve already read at least half of them.

I’m starting that process, the one where I read just damn everything I can get my hands on, regardless of storyline. It doesn’t matter. Romance, science fiction, biography, autobiography. Not only am I enjoying myself, I’m working my way up from volunteer to paid reviewer at a book club web site. I keep thinking about how much you would have loved the recommendations on what to read next…. some of them have been quite good. In every case, the novels have been solid stories, but what would have driven both of us up the wall is poor editing. It’s always a shame when the content is so good and you can’t really concentrate on it because your mind is running a thousand miles a minute thinking “no comma there,” “comma needed here,” and “what the hell does that sentence even say?” With those reviews, I am not generous with stars, but I make sure to tell my audience that the content is good. I sometimes feel like a teacher reading a child’s work, because in my reviews, I have to report the number of errors I find…. but only up to 10. With some of the books, I could go on for pages.

It was a good move on your part to become a music teacher. If you’d chosen English, I don’t think you would have had any hair left by retirement.

Speaking of which, how is it that you were a music teacher your entire career and I still can’t read bass clef?

I forgive you.

Love,

Leslie