Fallout 3 -or- Blowing it Away

washington_monument_fallout3
View from the top of the Washington Monument of the Capital Wasteland

This morning I woke up with a headache and nausea, how my depression and anxiety present. I was a psychosomatic ball of nerves because I couldn’t put my finger on the problem. That’s always the worst part- feeling crappy and not knowing why.

I didn’t have to wait long, because Facebook always sends me notifications that there are memories on which I might like to look back. Today is the memory I’m calling “Fallout 3.” Three years ago, Dana and I announced our separation, literally blowing our entire world away, the one we’d spent seven years building.

If you’re going to build a life with someone, it wasn’t a bad one. Today I am not mistaking the part for the whole. I’m employing the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, we got the marriage we both needed & deserved. It’s the 20% that curled my hair. I think what’s making me ill today is that the divorce was the second worst thing that has ever happened to me (my mother died in Oct. of 2016), mostly because a lot of it happened at my own hand and is therefore also the worst thing I’ve ever done. It takes two to tango.

There are so many things I know now because of reminiscence that I didn’t think of then. Some of them would have helped us navigate not breaking up. Others presented facts that I’d absolutely made the right choice to let the past lie. For instance, I wish I’d apologized more for my behavior and made more efforts to change it. Also, I didn’t realize how much Dana’s DUI affected me- just how angry and miserable I was that it happened, and how I covered it all up because I thought Dana needed more support and not less… not realizing that I needed someone to support me. It was a serious lapse in judgement on her part, because it would have been so easy to take the bus or get a taxi. You can take a taxi through the drive-thru at Taco Bell. I’m sure of it. I would never in a million years say that this #dumbass attack meant that Dana had a drinking problem. Everyone has those moments they wish they could take back. She was just being cocky about driving, which happened every single day. It made my life a little bit harder, because when Dana had her license taken away, she was working graveyard at the airport and I drove her for three months straight. Being completely sleep deprived made me awfully cranky at the driver ed football coach in the front seat.

I think that was the first time a fissure happened without words to articulate it. It was under my skin, but not apparent to me or anyone else that it was happening. Later, we moved to Houston so that Dana could get an alternative certification to teach, because in Oregon, all teachers need a Master’s degree. There is definitely more than one program out there, but Dana got rejected from the one she wanted, and took no steps to either find another one or get a different job. She didn’t need one. I made enough money that I could afford to keep her in the lifestyle to which she’d become accustomed. 😛 It’s just that the problem was bigger than that. Sitting in isolation prevented her from building a life outside of our little world…. and my support system was no help. My boss told me that I should get Dana pregnant so at least she’d have something to do…. which turned into fantasies of kicking him… hard. My work life suffered because of everything that was happening at home, because I am terrible at compartmentalization. And there we have fissure number three.

I skipped over fissure number two, because the third one started in Portland and carried over. The second one was all Houston, all the time. Remember in my marriage article when I said that the cardinal rule of marriage is to say to the world that you are creating your own family, forsaking all others, and not to let your partner get hung out to dry with your first family? Well, two things about that. I got hung out to dry with both of our first families. With Dana’s, it was hard for her parents to conceive that we were married in the first place. With mine, I specifically asked Dana to keep a confidence for me at about 5:00 PM. By 9:00 AM the next day, she’d met with my family without me and spilled said confidence all over the place. Breaking rule #1 was almost it for me. I broke up with her on the spot, and told her she had enough money to do whatever she wanted to do- get her own place, go back to Virginia, whatever. Just get out.

Then, I couldn’t make it stick. I couldn’t throw away our long history of taking care of each other, and we were back together within two hours. However, I’d already had it UP TO HERE, and we were never able to regain all the ground that was lost.

At the same time all of this was happening, my truly emotionally destructive side started to show in a major way. I am excellent at making horrible choices, especially when they seem like great ideas at the time. I desperately needed a wine-and-yoga-pants girlfriend, and I found her…. it was wonderful right up until it wasn’t. Because of my abused nature, wires got crossed- I’d never been so intricately tied up in someone who was all the sweetness and light I could ever want, because I did not understand the nature of friendship between women. Over a short amount of time, I became more and more starry-eyed when I thought of her, and it wigged her the fuck out…. because even though I didn’t understand, she certainly did…. that women’s friendships were deep and close, and why would there ever need to be romance involved? Because it’s “how I was raised.”

I told her flat out that the reason I was giving her this information was because I wanted her to be sensitive to it- to hold me at arm’s length because I was having trouble with true sensory overload. I didn’t expect anything from her- I expected me to manage me. It would just take time. There was no reason to act, not ever, because I was wired for monogamy and she was wired for men. Because I was so down, the tiny bit of dopamine that “new relationship” provided was enough, because even in friendship, there’s that explosion of “oh my God you’re the coolest person ever.”

I wanted to be absolutely transparent about all of this with Dana, and I still can’t decide whether it was the right thing to do. It was all my stuff to deal with, and I felt like Jimmy Carter, not Bill Clinton. But she was a rock star, saying, when it comes to Argo, I am not threatened. I feel like I have more than proved my worth. It was so true I could have taken it to the bank and cashed it…. and, of course, because she presented herself as being so cool about it, I told her a lot more than I ever should’ve. Argo became a threat with which she thought she couldn’t compete, but there was never a game in which either one was going to win or lose.

Even so, Dana’s self-confidence slowly began to deteriorate because of this perceived slight, and I take that all on myself. It was my responsibility to work on myself, and I thought I could handle it on my own. In short, I couldn’t. Jeannie did not go back to the circle couch. It got so bad that Dana was convinced that Argo was in love with me, she just couldn’t say so… that over time, she’d eventually bend to my will. It was crazymaking. While I can be absolutely charming and adorable, I’ve never been powerful enough to change someone else’s sexual orientation. By that point, I was writing these absolutely desperate e-mails, such as could you send Dana a 12-page report with graphs and pictures on how much you like dick? It would help. Thanks. I was trying to inject humor into an awful situation, because that’s how I deal…. and then I laughed until I farted when Argo changed the subject line to “Bullet Points.” One of them was I am not a threat to your relationship. I knew that, but Dana didn’t.

We couldn’t even deal with the simple problems we were having without Dana launching the RPG of Argo somehow…. because everything came down to the fact that I was already out the door, because “Argo and I loved each other.” It brought new meaning to the word “bullshit.” Every single discussion that could have been resolved in five minutes became sulking that lasted for days.

I kick myself every single time I remember that in one fight, Dana broke the physical barrier between us by pushing me over, and I just went off like a chihuahua with a God complex. It ended with Dana’s substantial fist smashing my glasses into my face, which left a bruise under my eye and phantom pain for weeks, because again, it wasn’t just physical, but psychosomatic as well.

Berating myself doesn’t just come from my role in our physical fight, but the fact that I was STILL willing to stay married after that. It was insane. I just thought to myself that after the flood comes the rainbow, and eventually we’d get our happy ending.

Not so much, actually.

It’s not an accident that I moved to DC afterward. Our divorce ceased to weigh on me, but the loss of her friendship certainly did. I figured that even if our paths weren’t parallel, eventually they might be perpendicular, because running into each other a couple times a year was completely different than trying to rebuild what we’d lost.

In the end, it didn’t matter. I was butt-hurt that she didn’t reach out to me over Christmas break after posting on my parents’ Facebook pages until I realized that e-mail goes both ways, and told her that if she wanted to see me, I wanted to see her…. that if she didn’t, it was fine with me, because I had my own stuff to work on. It’d just be nice to catch up…. or something to that effect. I’m paraphrasing.

I did not get an e-mail back from her. I got one from her attack cat, who said not to contact Dana at all through any means…. and that was that. If this was the kind of behavior I could expect from her, I didn’t want her in my life, anyway. It was nice to receive a clear message to let go, and not be held by emotional strings. I celebrated quietly and patted myself on the back. Everything was going to be all right.

It was time to go back to my house in Megaton, while the waters of life washed over me…. knowing for sure I purified that water myself.

When the Weather Report is Wrong

The Capital Weather Gang wrote a long article about how they thought snow was over for the season. I have never been happier that they were wrong. Living in a sub-tropical climate for all those years renders snow magical for me…. especially when it is big, fluffy, ski-worthy weather without ice and sleet. Of course, it could turn into that later on, but for now, the goal of the day is to take my laptop downstairs to the picture window in front of the porch and just think. I finally figured out how to start the clock running on my book review, therefore, I have more time than I thought I did to get it done.

I am finished with the basics, but not the editing. So far, it’s turning out to be interesting, even though the book was not something I’d have chosen on my own. I can’t tell you much, only that I chose it because it covers a subject in which I know nothing, and I love Knowing Stuff.™ There’s enough character development so that it’s not all about the sport at hand, but should I want to engage in such sport later on, I’ve found myself a solid foundation. The web site I’m working with has been around for years, which is how I know it’s the real deal, and not just a way to get authors to submit their work for free…. I also found a web site for freelance authors, but I don’t think I’ll sign up for that one. It’s because I think that the ads for work should be paid for by the employers, and this one is $100/month. It says that satisfaction is guaranteed as long as you can prove you’ve actually done the work, but there are better ways to go about freelance writing than having to pay money in the hope you’ll get something. Besides, this is not a job so much as a side hustle.

I’ve applied for jobs in several restaurants because I’ve noticed that I do not have time to write if I am tethered to my phone and laptop with IT. Now, I would not turn down a job in IT should it come along, but there is something to be said regarding being done with a shift and going home to write, rather than having your phone ding at all hours of the night with clients expecting a 30 minute service license agreement. The hard part is finding a job in a restaurant that will cover all my bills in the meantime. It’s a good thing I put in an application at both Starbucks and Costco, because both pay well and offer benefits. With my fanatical devotion to good coffee, it also doesn’t suck that I’m also gifted a bag a week. I also don’t want to go a minute longer without a Starbucks baseball cap. I had a friend in college that worked there for three weeks just to get the hat and the apron and then quit, because he was a Linux server administrator. I will not be doing that, but it was funny at the time.

For those who are wondering why I would rather work at SBUX than an independently owned shop, it has to do with health insurance and not much else. I also learned that once you’re in the system, you can take a vacation to anywhere and pick up shifts wherever there are stores. This was a piece of advice given to me while I was waiting in line at Dupont Circle, from a barista that “took off a month” and went to the original store in Pike’s Market (Seattle, of course).

The biggest problem I have is in getting around the city, because it would be a godsend to work in Silver Spring or downtown DC. If I got a job in the tech corridor or Annapolis/Baltimore, it would take me over two hours every morning to get to work with what would be a 20-40 minute drive. Of course it would be more than that with traffic, but with computer jobs, there are generally programs for both working at home and off-hours so that traffic would be a non-issue. Fingers crossed. This is because everything on the server is keyed by changes in file time and tied to user account. I could work anywhere in the world, but I am reticent to leave the 32-inch monitor on my desk…. although I did once see a guy drag a 22-inch iMac to Starbucks.

Believe it or don’t, there are even terminal programs for iPads and Android tablets, which, to me means my laptop just lost six pounds. Full-size Bluetooth keyboards have made my backpack lighter and my muscles hurt less. Plus, the weight of my backpack with my laptop and all the things I need in order to keep from going back to the house bothers my corkscrew scoliosis so that one part of my spine is absolutely scraped to bits. I even had Hayat (landlady) cover the rip in Neosporin and a thick bandage, to no avail.

I talked to my old friend Meag, an RMT in Ottawa about it, and sent her a picture. She told me she couldn’t wait to get her hands on me, but nine hours is an excruciating trip without a car…. and would make the trip prohibitively expensive whether I was flying or taking an Uber. If I was going to go to a clinic that specialized in both massage therapy and chiropractic medicne, she’s the only one I’d want to see. In Canada, the requirements for getting licensed are much steeper than in the United States, and she is one of the people on the legislative board who approves others. I have been told that eventually I will need surgery, but not for another 15-20 years or so. Until then, I just have to nurse my pain. Making my bag as light as possible is as good as it gets- for the moment, anyway.

It was nice being able to stash my bag in my car while it lasted, but here’s the thing about that. Like most people, I do not like to exercise. Walking and taking the bus/train is the only workout I get, because I don’t even notice I’m doing it. If the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, the destination is being mentally healthy. Medication and a great diet help, but there is nothing greater than natural endorphins that adds fuel to the fire. Silver Spring Station is only two miles from my house, and when the weather is nice, I’ll generally walk at least one direction, possibly both. Though I don’t often walk fast enough for true cardio, the landscape is hilly enough to add incline. Plus, the bus schedule for the main road back to my neighborhood runs every ten minutes, in those moments where I just cannot even, I have someone to bail me out (Hiiiiiii, George!) It is absolutely amazing how much walking overclocks my processor, though I wish I could add memory….. and then I think to myself, God will provide the RAM.

But seriously, folks, I do my best writing while mobile. My head space is just so positive, and God help me if I don’t have my phone. I used to carry a notebook, but if I write things down, I have to retype everything when I get home. I now use Google Keep, but my favorite words in the English language used to be, Siri… open Notepad. This seems like a no-brainer, but I have to use my phone rather than my tablet (if you have 3G on yours, that’s fine, too) so that the notes sync immediately. I am a nerd that needs my information on all my devices instead of just the one I have to hunt down- because of course I’ve dropped it somewhere in my house and the battery has died.

Still using my old iPhone while I search for my Android. I am operating system agnostic, so the only reason I really want to find my Android is that I am missing the tons of extra space I have on it due to the fact that expansion slots are par for the course. Apple just makes extra space prohibitively expensive. Yes, Apple devices are designed well, but so are Android. And for less than half the price of a new iPhone, I can get an Android with 128 GB of space. It’s especially useful now that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will let you download movies and TV directly to your device. But, if you want to pay $1,000 for a phone that you’ll fill up in two weeks, who am I to stop you?

The amount I know about IT is somewhere between organ grinder and monkey.

Well, that’s not true. At least I, most of the time, remember to buy my own bananas.

The Book Review

There’s an organization that’s willing to pay me between $5-60 per book review, but they ask that you write the first one for free so they know you’re capable….. They do, however, gift you the book on Amazon. The company doesn’t want me to talk about the book or the content of the review, so I’ll post a link to it on their site if it gets chosen for publication. I’m not on a deadline yet- the book doesn’t have to be finished for 30 days (read it in two sittings), and I have another four after that to write. It’s a different style than blogging, but I am well-schooled in all of ’em. My classes in college required extensive amounts of research and written responses once I got out of core curriculum (with the exception of intro English, of course). I will say that the book isn’t easy. I think I chose……………… poorly. As I said, I finished the book in two sittings, so if you’re guessing that it’s the writing that’s difficult, you’re onto something.

So of course I’ve now run all the errands that have been on my list for ages and scrubbed the bathroom. Even though it’s 8:30 at night, I decided to make myself some coffee and power through. I chose a friend to be my editor, and she has time to read it on Thursday night. That gives me plenty of time before I hand it over, as long as I don’t leave it to the last minute. I had to stop doing that- ADHD eats my lunch. Occasionally, the pressure after procrastination makes my writing stronger, but more often, it’s frenetic. You can tell that I’ve just rushed through and hoped for the best.

I chose said friend as my editor because I needed a closer deadline to help me focus. 30 days in the future will render me into thinking that I have a few more days right up until I’ve forgotten to review the book altogether. A lot is on the line here, and it has little to do with money and more with getting my name out there. Respect as a writer means more than getting paid, although that doesn’t hurt, either. As Dorothy Parker said when asked about her two favorite words in the English language, mine are also “cheque” and “enclosed.”

I do have quite the following already, though. Thanks to you “Fanagans,” I have about 48,000 readers (which seems enormous until you look at it in internet terms- not that I’m ungrateful), but I have literally been read in every country in the world…. even tiny ones, like Lichtenstein and Micronesia. I feel the most humble when I think that there are people on six continents that know my name. There might even be readers on seven, but since Antarctica is controlled by 40 different countries without a government of its own, I don’t think there’s a way for it to appear in my stats. I would bet dollars to donuts that at least one of my readers has been there, though. #fingerscrossed

If you are wondering, the greatest international following I have changes between Australia and the UK every few months. No offense meant to my UK fans, but it makes me happy when my biggest followers are from a country founded by criminals. It makes me feel like I’m in good company. Bad girls of the world unite, mmmmkay……

Speaking of bad girls, it’s only the best day of the year- Galentine’s!!Galentines-Day-Card-1 I wish I could send all of you a stack of waffles. One of these days, when I am obviously rich & famous, I will do it. We will take over Waffle Houses from Alaska & Hawaii to Maine…. or perhaps International Houses of Pancakes, because they’re international. It says so right in the name.

But whether I can actually send you breakfast food, know that I could not live my life without the women around me, both the ones I see (almost) daily and the ones who connect with me here. Just because we met over the Internet doesn’t mean that our friendship is any less real. Sustenance comes from a variety of places, and it has done me well to remember that fact.

To wit, I have never met The Divine Mrs. B in person, and I can think of few people who are that flat-out awesome. I can tell from DC. While it’d be nice to give her a hug, care comes through over black and white text just as easily.

My first Galentine, my sister Lindsay, and I ended up at a fantastic restaurant in the District last night, Arroz. Nestled in the Marriott Marquis lobby, they offer up both tapas and full-sized entrees. I also played against type and had a cocktail- one of the most delicious of my life. Called the “World Famous,” it contained chamomile bourbon, coconut, pineapple, lime, tiki & mole bitters. It was garnished with orange slices and a cinnamon stick. The pièce de résistance was the ice. I normally like my cocktails to have one huge piece so that the drink is cold, but doesn’t dilute quickly. I changed my mind when the ice was straight out of Dairy Queen. That right there was a “shut up and take my money” reaction. If bourbon didn’t make me stupid, I would have ordered five. In retrospect, I should have ordered an iced tea (the house wine of the South), because the water was served chilled in a carafe.

The food was good, too, but it’s definitely not what I’m going to remember in years to come. I will just remember how kind it was of my sister to “take me on staycation.” I need her brand of extroversion in my life, because left to my own devices, going out is the last thing on my list…. and not because I don’t enjoy it once I’m there. While you might not be able to tell just by looking at me, I am an absolute workaholic when it comes to writing, and it would never occur to me to leave my desk unless issued an invitation.

I will leave you with a funny story. One of Lindsay’s friends that I clicked with in Houston just moved back to the area (went to college at American). I told Lindsay to tell her that if she didn’t have a date for Valentine’s Day, I’d be happy to accompany her (in a Galentine’s sort of way). Lindsay said that she lives with her family, and I said, “that’s ok. We need a chaperone. I’m trouble.” Keeping in mind that my sister knows me better than anyone, that I am shy to the point of wallflower, she laughed heartily. We shall see if said plans materialize, but I am proud of myself for putting myself out there regardless of outcome. It wasn’t a “fix-me-up” kind of ask. Have never really asked the friend about orientation and assume she’s straight. But everyone knows how hard it is to make friends as an adult, and taking a chance on that type of mutual respect was hard enough for me without adding anything else on top of it.

Speaking of which, Dan and I haven’t gone out in a while. I need to call her…… but not until my editor sees if I am doing well, or have the talent of pudding.

#prayingonthespaces

Unexpected Pleasures

Last night, my sister and I ended up at Chaplin’s, another ramen house closer to her DC hotel. The restaurant we originally planned for that I couldn’t think of yesterday is called Toki Underground, but is closed on Sundays. I recommend that if you come to town, try them both. As I said yesterday, you can’t go wrong with the tsukemen style ramen at Toki Underground, and at Chaplin’s, it’s the miso that is so over-the-top delicious that there isn’t even a word for it. Lindsay also had a matcha pina colada that was delicious, but after one sip, I was convinced it would kick my ass. I had a bit of house sake and ice water instead. Even the basic house sake was top shelf- smooth.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and I asked Lindsay if I could make a cup of coffee in her Keurig. She said “sure, but I’m about to go to bed.” I said, “well, I still have to make it home.” She invited me to stay. In less than a second, I was in bed with the covers pulled up to my chin. “Staycation” might as well be my middle name. In fact, I was taking a marketing survey the other day and it said to describe your dream vacation. I told them I wanted to go to Washington, DC. Even though it’s my own city, it never gets old. I am a perpetual tourist, albeit one that knows all the local customs. I have often said, and I mean it, that I could see one incredible thing every day of my life and by the time I died, I still wouldn’t have seen it all. And let me tell you, even if you’ve traveled to and from DC a hundred times, the view of the monuments from the air never gets old, either. I tear up every time on the approach at night.

This morning, it was announced on local news that the Obamas were having their portraits revealed at the National Portrait Gallery. I nearly threw on my clothes and ran, but didn’t for two reasons. The most important was that I didn’t have my psych meds on me, and withdrawal from them is getting the shakes, a massive headache, chills, sweating, and crying because of all the other symptoms. So I really didn’t have any choice but to come home. I also knew that because the Obamas were going to be there, if the event was open to the public the line would be an entire neighborhood’s worth of people and if I wanted to get in, I should have left last night with a tent and my Kindle. I will, however, turn up eventually. The NPG is probably my favorite so far of the Smithsonians I’ve visited, because they have everything from Lincoln-era photos to modern art. In fact, the portrait of Bill Clinton looks like it’s made up of multi-colored hamburgers and hot dogs (you have to get close to see the shapes). How’s that for knowing the president’s personality? 😛

Yes, I know Clinton is now a vegan. But that does not mean that there aren’t incredible vegan versions of all types of junk food. I know, I’ve tried them. There is nothing in the world I love more than healthier versions of “bar food.” Two words, people. Daiya. Nachos.

Back to you, Bob. Let’s go to the phones.

My “staycation” also included watching the Olympics on TV. A Canadian whose name I cannot remember (comment, would ya?) stole my heart both with her technique and skating to my mother’s absolute favorite piece of music, Rhapsody in Blue. Quick flashback- when my mother and I both sang in the same church choir, we always ended with a devotional by a different member. She had come to see Alejandro Vela play it at HSPVA, and her talk was about watching his technique and seeing how a particular figure was done, and it being a light bulb moment for her.

The last unexpected pleasure was coming home and having to deal with Amazon customer service. A book that I’d ordered for a baby shower on the 24th (the twins, who I now know are boys [!!!!]) hadn’t arrived yet, and when I told them that, they not only sent me a replacement, but I told them I needed it by the 24th and they threw in same-day shipping for free. They did all of this through web chat, which was spectacular. I didn’t have to go wait in line, and I didn’t have to wait to talk to anyone. Being put on hold is a special kind of hell, but through chat, the response was immediate. Five stars, highly recommend.

I’ll tell you which book I chose after the shower is over as not to spoil the surprise. I will tell you, though, that it was one of my favorite books when I was a toddler, and it’s not a book that is popular today, so I know it’s a likely possibility that it will be a unique gift.

Hopefully an unexpected pleasure for the babies and parents alike.

Rats.

I am going (more) crazy trying to find my phone. “Find My Device” says it’s here, but the last ping was 18 hours ago, so I could have left it pretty much anywhere since then. Trying to decide how long I’m going to search frantically before I give up the ghost and activate my old iPhone… because of course the minute I get home from AT&T is the moment I’ll find it. I wouldn’t be so quick on the draw to give up except that my sister is coming to town tonight and we need to be able to communicate.

My sister being in politics is the best thing that has ever happened to me, because I see her almost as much now as I did when I lived in Texas. She makes enough money that she could come visit whenever she wanted, but it’s nice that her trips are already paid for by someone else. Getting to see me is just icing on an already pretty great cake. She says she wants to go back to that ramen restaurant we found on H St. At the moment, I don’t remember what it’s called, but they have tsukemen and I’m all about it. Tsukemen is a different style of soup, where the ingredients are served separately from the broth. That way, the noodles don’t continue to cook, and you just dip. I learned about it from David Chang on The Mind of a Chef. It was exciting to taste it because I thought the dish was exclusive to Japan.

I don’t know whether that’s actually where we’ll end up, but it’s a good place to start. Eventually, I want to take her to Ben’s Chili Bowl, a DC institution that’s been serving up the “half-smoke” for over fifty years. I’ve never been there, either, so it would be nice to have a new experience for both of us.

At some point, perhaps not this trip, I want to recreate a picture taken of us at the Jefferson Memorial that I don’t have anymore. We’re standing between the columns, holding hands and pushing on the stone so that it looks like we’re holding it up. She flew into DCA the weekend that my mother was performing with her choir at Carnegie Hall so that we could road trip up together. I will never forget cruising down West Side Highway, looking out over the water.

One of the reasons that I wanted to get back to the mid-Atlantic in the first place is that the cities are so concentrated. It takes about four hours to get to New York City, about seven to get to Boston. Both are incredible experiences. I’ve seen the hole where the World Trade Center used to be, but not what has been built in its absence. Interestingly enough, Kathleen and I had tickets to see Rent on Broadway that weekend, and unsurprisingly, the show was canceled, so we went to Boston instead as a stopover for Vermont when we got our civil union. Man, that was one of the best and worst decisions I’ve ever made in my life. We were together for three years before we got married, and after that, it all went to hell in a handbasket. But we were the first gay couple to get joint health insurance at ExxonMobil, because a PR guy said in the Washington Blade that XOM would recognize officially married couples. We sent our certificate to HR, and they freaked out a little bit, because they didn’t know that PR had said it. They literally had to create a policy for us overnight…. they either didn’t think anyone would take them up on it, or perhaps the PR person was speaking off the cuff and didn’t really have the authority to promise something like that. However, domestic partner benefits were published in the newspaper and it wasn’t something they were going to be able to ignore. We were legit heroes to other XOM employees, but what would have been even sweeter was the marriage lasting more than 11 mos. Sigh.

That being said, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on being with Dana for anything in the world. The old saying about not crying because it’s over, smile because it happened is one of the truest statements I know. When I left for DC, I was also incredibly happy because I didn’t think of it so much as an ending, but two new beginnings. I don’t have many regrets in life, but I do think about what I could have done to be a better partner to Dana all the time. This is not because I’m scheming to get her back, only what I will have to bring to the table in my next relationship so that it goes even more smoothly.

But that is for later- not now. I made jokes about getting a new girlfriend right away, but my actions have proved them to be only that. I love my independence, and I am not willing to give it up, as well as working on myself to be my best before the next great love of my life shows up. I have a great gaggle of friends for companionship, and that is enough. More than enough, actually. I wish I could say that I missed romance, but I don’t. It’s just not a priority right now. Too many things up in the air for me to commit to it. I’ve been on a few first dates that never amounted to anything because they were more akin to job interviews, and that’s when I realized I was done.

But wait, that’s not entirely true. One of my friends got under my skin, and when I told her that, she didn’t blink. It was not entirely unwelcome news. But we had different priorities and nothing came of that, either. We laughed about it, but never took any actions to further the cause. Laughing about it was enough for both of us.

And then my mother died, and my world tilted so that I couldn’t even go out with myself, much less anyone else. When I was in Houston for the funeral, I invited Dana just to say that she wasn’t unwelcome, that it was her mother-in-law for seven years and change and I was not insensitive to that fact. But she didn’t show, and that was fine, too. I had plenty of other people around me in person, by phone & text, and by e-mail to worry about anyone in particular. In fact, the shock of losing her suddenly rendered me pretty much under anesthesia. It was akin to the twilight after surgery.

I would say that the aftermath, when reality truly set in, has been much, much worse than those first few days…. although I am still susceptible to shock that renders me unable to remember where I’m going, or where a particular item might be after I’ve put it down and started thinking about other things.

Like my phone.

 

Ginger Lime Diet Coke

I didn’t expect to like this one in the slightest. I thought it would taste like high end furniture polish…. and it sort of does, honestly. But that flavor quickly dissipates the more you drink of it, and there is plenty of old school cola flavor to cover it up. By old school, I mean that it calls back memories of drug store cola, or perhaps small batch/home brew. It reminds me of cane sugar Pepsi with lime, or perhaps Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola (which is the ultimate “treat yo’self” in a grocery store).

Yesterday, I treated myself to excellent macaroni and cheese. I boiled dried ancho chiles in the pasta water, and added seasoning and fresh cheddar cheese to the roux. The base was Kraft Dinner, but I still make it the way I’d make homemade, adding the dehydrated cheese/flour mixture to butter and sautéing it for a minute or so before adding milk.

There is nothing in my life that has helped me more than being a professional cook. It was the ultimate in learning everything I needed to succeed at feeding myself for a lifetime in what seemed like a five-minute course. One night on the brigade is roughly equivalent to five years at home…. or, at least, it will feel like it. Ask your knees.

Pretty soon it’s going to be Friday night, which has always been pizza, from the time I was a little girl and my mom would put a quilt on the floor in front of the TV so Lindsay and I could have a picnic and watch Full House. Everyone is metaphysically coming over around 7:00, and you’re invited.

See you then.

Feisty Cherry Diet Coke

Feisty Cherry Diet Coke is my least favorite so far. It’s really good because it tastes more like the cherry in Wild Diet Pepsi, but there’s a black pepper tasting note that makes me cough. It’s hideous, truly.

It’s kind of like falling in love and realizing too late that you’re dating a meth addict.

In other news, I now have a new roommate. I haven’t met her yet, but I have heard that she has a cat. I have also heard that she’s crazy in a good way. Sounds right up my alley. I might not love her- that remains to be seen- but I can love a cat…. especially one in which I don’t have to feed or change litter. That’s just God right there.

Dana did me a solid by keeping Dodger for two reasons. The first is that I didn’t want to wander around DC trying to find an apartment that took cats. The second is that he was already bonded to Dana’s cat, Minerva, and splitting them up didn’t seem right to me, either. The only thing I regret is that Dodger was a gift from my mother, and I’d do anything to have him back just based on that fact. However, I’m still not in a place to have a pet, and Dana’s is the best place for him in all the world. I am sure that he is spoiled beyond all measure, and in more ways than I would ever think to or care.

Dana is a cat mom. I’m all like, it’s a cat.

I have always joked that the reason our relationship didn’t work out is that there are only two types of people in the world… pet parents and pet owners, and they do not mix. I take laughs where I can get them, okkkkkkk……..

The funny story about myself that I have for today is that I applied for a job with the APA, the American Psychiatry Association. However, they did not explain the acronym on the job posting until the exit page for the application, so I told them that I was a good writer and thought it would come in handy for research and summarization. I can only hope that they don’t think that’s weird, because I thought I was applying to the style manual. #dumbassattack It brings tears of laughter to my eyes every time I think of it. I just have to remind myself that there are plenty of times I’ve felt dumber.

I’m also coming up with ideas for my novel, Fish Ralph, because an idea dawned on me last night that had me really excited. But, of course, I am not going to tell you what it is…. just that it is a truly unexpected turn of events. I’m probably not going to win a Newberry award, but I’m having fun with it.

For the writers in the crowd, I’ve switched over from Microsoft Word to Storybook, which has sections for character development and dividing chapters. It’s brilliant because of its organization, and I highly recommend it for novelists… not so much for non-fiction. It also has the ability to switch between different writing projects so that if I come up with an idea for -frog.- or have a wild hair for even newer works, I can jot it down quickly.

I am also a big fan of Google Keep for ideas on the go, and on my phone, I can dictate instead of type. My handwriting, as I’ve said before, is a carpal tunnel pile of garbage even I can’t read if I put it down and come back to it later… and it’s a bummer having to retype ideas if I hand write them, anyway. I’d rather have the text in a format I can use.

In trying to find the link to -frog.-, which I wrote long ago, my search results returned entries I hadn’t thought about in years. I read them all. Some of it was truly touching, because enough time has passed that I feel like I’m reading someone else’s work. It doesn’t feel like bragging when you don’t even recognize the work as your own. It’s more akin to thinking, “wow. I wish I could write like that….” and a true feeling of humility that I’m the one that has been given this gift. I’m also astounded at the measure of truth I’ve been willing to put to “paper.” It is only mine, not universal, but I know for sure that it does resonate with a few who’ve stood in my shoes. In other ways, I am dumbfounded that I was ever so stupid to publish how I felt about that. That is an x-factor.

I have learned that my love for Argo knows no bounds, but is no match for the hatred I have of myself (at times). I am proud to be who I am, but that has come along relatively recently in the ebb & flow. My self-esteem has been rebuilt after disaster, and for that, I am grateful. It is amazing what forgiveness and mercy can achieve, both internally and externally. The fire in my lantern has returned, hopefully strong enough to light the paths of others, because they gave me strength when I could not return it.

I edited that paragraph above, because it originally said Dana & Argo. Now, it doesn’t. That’s because I read about a phone call between Dana and her mother, and Dana and the younger brother of a friend. One was about “appeasing the crazy,” the other about “not taking on projects.” It brought everything back regarding how little she thought of me and what I would do with my life while not exactly being the model of achievement herself. She was in no place to judge, and she did, both harshly and without remorse.

I also saw Argo’s loving words…… I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in you.

I put both of those perspectives in my pipe and smoked them, and by the end of staring into space trying to decide what I thought, I decided that Argo’s words are and always would be worth more, because who doesn’t love someone who thinks that about you? Who, in this world, can’t? And, of course, by love I mean that I would run to Walgreen’s for her in the middle of the night without complaining once. I am sure that she already has people to do that for her, but it is my definition of friends who love you. I might even be willing to throw in some chocolate, depending on how generous I’m feeling that day. 😛

I know for sure I’d be willing to throw in some Diet Coke, just for the love of God, not Feisty Cherry.