This Question is Impossible and I Hate It

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I can only do what I do. Keep putting my crappy first drafts on this web site to prepare me for my real writing. These entries serve as my warm-up, and are my favorite of all my projects because there’s no pressure. I ask for money via donations, but I don’t make you pay to read. These are WordPress ads, and I don’t make money from them, either. I’ve just made a commitment that this is important whether money is involved or not. If you’re curious, sometimes I make enough to cover the hosting and sometimes I don’t. In the meantime, I am celebrating other authors in hopes that they’ll celebrate me. Being well-respected is more important than famous. I’d be crazy to think that people adoring me is more important than me adoring Jodi Picoult when she likes something I wrote. Same with Mary Karr, Margaret Cho, Amy Tan, Wil Wheaton, and James Fell. I don’t want to be known by everyone. I want to be known by them. In fact, I once made a joke about Jonna Mendez being excited to meet me, complete tongue in cheek. SHE REPLIED THAT SHE WAS HONORED and I died for a second. This is because I sent her the entry I linked to via Facebook Messenger, literally handing her a piece of me and hoping that it at least wouldn’t offend her because her husband’s memory is my blessing.

I didn’t even know she was watching because I am a complete n00b when it comes to social media, and not because I don’t know it cold. I choose to spend my energy on something else. It’s the whole reason I use WordPress. I don’t have to do anything but type even though I could code CSS and HTML blind (I have been dared). I don’t forget because of anything but protection of my energy.

In my reflection on being a preacher’s kid, I figured out something big while I was sitting with the bees (we talk every day now, I think Brian has asthma). There are so many people in Texas that want to know what I’m up to, as well as some in Portland. Bryn is the absolute only person I record for, because she’s the one who asked me for it. It’s also a lot more work than I thought it would be, especially in terms of finding a place to store the files. It also freaks me out that my audience is bigger now, because I have followers on that platform as well in the “Storytelling” category. I’m trying to decide if I want to spy on my friends or not, because SoundClouds stats are more granular. I know which area of the city the play is coming from. Guessing there are a few people that would like to know that. If you still want to read, WordPress only counts by country. You’re welcome, three people that would freak.

Spying on my friends is not my intention because it wouldn’t serve a purpose, it would just hurt me. I’d put in double the amount of effort in resolving issues with those people in order to do the work so it doesn’t dog me. But the people in Texas have a unique need when it surfaces. I was the kid in their pastor’s church. They all knew and loved me on the platform that was his, understanding me through that filter. Then, when we moved away, it was no contact. My dad never wanted to be threatening to his colleagues and social media didn’t exist. When I was gone, I was gone.

But now, social media exists and when people Google me to see where I am, it’s important to them. It surprises me to know that other people love reading me that have no connection to me at all… that by focusing on my own people I’m coming across as focusing on the world…. Sometimes. I have my selfish moments and I’m entitled to them, because no one can give me more energy than me. No one else could or should have the time. I live here, capiche?

A lot of the people that would Google me are dead in the first place. I know that and I write for them, anyway. Breadcrumbs or complete entries all about them so that not only do I live forever, so do they. Ours is the story that will stick, not because it’s perfect, but because it exists. I live for people’s curiosity, and answer questions gladly… with the knowledge that first of all, looking at my writing doesn’t tell the whole story and I’m different in person. Secondly, allowing for the fact that rarely do I think the same about things a week after I’ve written them. That’s why I post a lot. I give myself material by reflecting on what I’ve written and a new idea will pop up. I can get through things extraordinarily quickly that way. I’ve already gone back to thinking of my beautiful girl as Supergrover, because she’s inherently cuddly and yet wears a cape and tights, in my humble opinion. I only think the opposite sometimes because her walls not only keep me out, they keep her from listening. Information is being cut off both ways, and I know that because I wrote about it. Her story is “The Monster at the End of This Book,” and not because she was a monster to me. It’s what she thought of my friends when they hurt me. Yes, she knows what you did. Every single one. And if you’ve been reading even a few months you know which bodies are buried. She’s been my lockbox because I was hers. That covenant is not broken between us. I will keep what she’s already told me walled off. I just didn’t want a future, and I wanted to be able to talk about my experience of her without her bothering me… and it’s not what you think. I don’t get irate when she’s mad about something I published. It’s when she’s touched that I just fall apart at what’s been lost.

Internet communication made both of us quick to react and quick to anger.

And yet I can bet dollars to donuts that she’ll eventually want to look me up and see whatever happened to?

This is only problematic because I don’t recognize it as only letting me know she loved something. I pick right back up where we left off and she won’t tell me she doesn’t want that. So I don’t notice that she’s not receptive and get angry she won’t resolve anything. We expand and contract over time. It would be a great relationship if I could back off and be comfortable with the pattern we set up, but it’s not. It reminds me of early days, when sharing a beach umbrella with drinks and books would have been a viable option. I can’t live with panko when I would have made breakfast for everyone, and you can’t even believe how big that is. That is a catering operation. At the time she had a teenage son, and whom I jokingly called her “hundred siblings.”

It was so amazing when we met, because then I could put one face in my head that was my audience when really it was worldwide. So helpful to think of this blog as letters to her so I could be intimate without constantly thinking of the repercussions, again, allowing my friends to listen but looking at the bigger picture. The more personal I am, the more vulnerable I am, the more you’ll see me as I am. I’m not trying to be famous. I’m not trying to be successful. I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus because if you show up here, you’re important enough to me to look at our relationship deeply. To memorialize you in my history. Again, yours will be the story that sticks, and that may not matter to you in the moment, but what about 20 years from now? Won’t you want to remember what you were like when I glowed about you and that it showed even though you were never a perfect angel? That I loved you this big in spite of your actions pissing me off sometimes? That I loved you even when you didn’t get it? That I only walked away because I couldn’t get through to you?

I am explaining the relationship I had with my Internet friend to avoid talking about one of my real friends. I’m not going to bother with her name because you wouldn’t know her anyway. She read something on my blog that pissed her off about Sam and didn’t listen when I told her that I’d only leaked as much as Sam allowed me to leak while still being pissed off that she hurt me. She apologized, but wouldn’t let it drop. She told me on the phone that she had talked to her friends about it, and they agreed with her, never having read me at all. These were friends gathered at a restaurant where I was expected to walk in shortly. I am an introvert empath. I couldn’t take it and couldn’t believe she didn’t recognize that she was setting me up for failure, thrashing before a committee, and she’d already thrashed me twice. At this point, you’re not a concerned friend. You are in my way.

I guarantee she won’t agree with that assessment, but she doesn’t get to decide my story. She could help with craft, but she can’t help with plot. I’m sure she thought I lost it, but I couldn’t get her to understand that I was already validated by my decision to lay everything out here and that I had millions of readers over the years. That I’d been doing this for 20 years and the cost benefit analysis favored me. That I wasn’t choosing to throw anyone under the bus, I was telling other people what was happening in my brain at the time of the incident and it’s up to them to believe whether I am a reliable narrator or not.

I feel like people should self select whether they want to be on here or not. I talk about Zac and Bryn because they allow me to do it. Zac and I have not discussed the particulars of what I can say and what I can’t, but I do ask him if it’s okay to use something he said as a writing prompt. I just don’t want to tell his story for him, to intrude where I’m not wanted. My connection to him doesn’t involve anyone else yet, because I’m not friends with any of the other people he interacts with on a daily basis, and I’m not itching to get to that point with him. If we do, we’ll keep talking about what I can and can’t say. Only Daniel has said that he’s an open book, say whatever you damn well please. In fact, his actual words, and I’ll remember them forever, are “my girl, be prolific.” God damn it. Why does he have to be so impossible and so endearing at the same time?

I hope what I’m doing is talking about the “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ” moments of my life. The clusterfucks that lead to forks in the road, letting you know which one I’ve taken.

I am not saying I wouldn’t get more involved with Zac, I just don’t know yet. More than what we have right now is too much for me to think about. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t love him with the same intensity as a friendship with someone like me. That it requires care and work even if it’s ultimately platonic in the end. We’re at the stage where I don’t even know what to call him and I don’t want to, if that makes sense? When I can give energy to that question, I will. In the meantime, all I ask is that the time we’re together, we’re together. Be present in the moment. You can tell me everything and my reaction is my own. If I see a problem I’ll call it out. As of right now, you can do no wrong because I’m not sitting here thinking of all that could go wrong when everything is so right.

Maybe that sounds a little dude brah of me, not going the traditional route of a woman begging to know if she’s his girlfriend or not. I am just protecting my energy because I don’t want to fall too fast, too soon, messing up everything before I have enough heuristics to feel out what I’m doing. I just need time to soak everything in and decide how I feel, what CIA calls a “DADA loop.” I know this because I’m reading a book by a former officer called “How to Think Like a Spy.” DADA stands for “decision, analysis, direct action.” Things have changed since the Cold War Era. CIA has stepped back up to paramilitary and this time embraced it. Analysis of every decision is absolute. You better know six ways to Sunday what is most likely to happen if you do x or y…. Because the rule at CIA is that you can call off a mission even if it just doesn’t feel right… but you can’t always see those things coming. Mistakes have been made. I just choose to ignore all that because it’s not like the people who work there aren’t under the same pressure as the military. Do you think all boots on the ground like what they’re asked to do?

Part of that I got from Zac as well, because his job has always been intelligence, since the Navy, in fact. There is no universe in which I’d dump Zac over anything he’s ever been asked to do. If anything, I’d take on his pain as my own, becoming his lockbox as much as I have been for my other friends since I was five (probably earlier, but I can only remember starting at five). That’s the other thing the title of preacher’s kid gives you. You’re the lockbox and you know it (clap your hands).

I hope that in ten years, I will show the world that I have fought against this instinct because I had to have a release valve somewhere, otherwise I would explode from having so many people’s stories in them that cause me pain. I hurt when other people hurt, more than I realize when my own life is going to hell in a handbasket.

If I focus on myself, I have room to handle bigger emotions.

At least it’s an ethos.


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