The War Daniel in His Own Words

It happens every time.

Well, not every time.  But almost every time.  You’re at a gathering of friends and theres always at least one person that finds out you’re ex-military and you can just see the question forming on their lips but a struggle of “do I ask???”  And usually they can’t help themselves and ask.

 “Did you have to kill anybody.”  I sigh, because I fucking hate that question.  It was one of the harsh realities I had to struggle with spiritually before I joined, knowing that scenario was going to present itself.  You ask yourself day in and out what you think you will do in “that” scenario.

Before you are assigned to a Marine Corps unit as a Corpsman, you go through a 9 week course called Field Medical Training Battalion.  It’s essentially a crash course in being a grunt.  You familiarize yourself with the M4 and 9mm and 50 cal.  You go through what’s called Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain.  And it’s not a video game situation.  Were armed up with paintball guns, and the instructors play the part of the locals/Taliban.

That’s one of the mindfucks about MOUT.  Who is a civilian just trying to make schwarmas, and who wants to kill me?  And heres another mind fuck—these mother fuckers don’t play fair.  They will use “civilians” as explosive devices.

Especially children. 

The kids will come up to the Marines on patrol asking for candy or whatnot but they’re really a lure to get you to drop your guard long enough for them to shoot you from a second story window.  Look up then down then up again was the training mantra…. but MOUT was a humbling experience in just how quickly it could all be over.  I remember one of my guys getting shot in the leg.  I went to pull him behind a wall to kwik clot the wound and I didn’t get down low enough and took a paintball pellet to the neck.  If it was real, I just died.  I didn’t sleep that night.

So to truly answer your question you have to start back behind the wire.  

You could be playing football and grilling hamburgers when your fire team is called to gear up.  A fire team is a group of 5-7 that patrol together.  It consists of either a Sgt or Corporal that’s the Fire Team leader. 

You’ve got a doc, an EOD guy and the rest are gunners.  So you’re playing football and talking shit about how Tony Romo would always break your heart and then the next moment you have to go put all your gear on and get ready to go complete a mission.  As Doc that sucks even worse because you wear everything the Marines wear plus your med bag.  

You’re responsible for making sure your whole fire team has certain things in certain places.  Their tourniquet on the top right; kwik Clot in the right cargo pocket.  Things like that.

Not knowing when your team is going to be called sucks, but knowing 12 hours ahead of time is worse.  All that time waiting around to be under the stress of “is this the last thing Ill ever do?”

Some of my grunts thrived on the anticipation of getting to kill bad guys.  That was part of the mission.  And they had no moral qualms about it at all.  They saw it as a very clearly black/white/them or me, no fuck that these people want to take me from my wife and kids and they can go fuck themselves.  So in that aspect, the boys’ conscience is totally clear and the more people they shoot the better.  I don’t think that makes us sociopaths.  I think it makes us like Dexter [Dexter was a sociopath.].  Vigilante killers of people that need to die, minus the vigilante part.

I am a corpsman, so I am not wired that way.  Every time we went out my prayer was 1 that I come back alive, and 2 that I bring everyone back with me, and 3 not to have to use either of my firearms.

On the shittiest day of my life we went out just like any other one.  The mission was to go into town and give hep A and b, hep c , smallpox and anthrax vaccinations.  My spot in line was last, giving hep a/b. 

I don’t even know why there was a lull in the line.  I think we had run out of smallpox spears or something, so I was looking around.

  Out of the corner of my eye I saw it happening. 

Dipshit wasn’t even trying to be subtle.  So without thinking, safety goes off; I used my marine’s shoulder to balance my weapon on and I shot the fuck stick through his eye.  Then I yelled “FIRE FIRE FIRE” which was the alarm for a bomb.  EOD snatched the kid and worked their magic.  My first trained response was to look for others because they are human hyenas and not averse to sacrificing one for the sake of the many.

At that point the field ex was terminated and it became about securing the town.  No one was hurt, and that’s all I remember of the post action.  We all came back across the wire and that was that [also terrifying that you have to feel like you’re in that much danger to feel comfortable in that much danger].

I can’t tangibly measure what my cortisol levels were.  I know when I came back I was like “holyfuck holyfuck HOLYFUCK.” And I couldn’t get still.  I couldn’t stop shaking.

I cried because now I knew I was capable of taking a life.  Commander Baker, our on site Psychiatrist, talked to me for about two hours about innocuous stuff; the first Van Halen album; why the cowboys can’t win in December; why The White album should have only been one album of 14 songs.  He gave me some Xanax, ambien and dilauded and sent me to a drug induced sleep. The next day they handed me my down chit, which meant I couldn’t go past the line for 6 days.  So all I really had time to do was think.  

And one of the things I thought about the most is that regardless of what we think over here, over there, we’re the heels and they’re the babyfaces.  They are the heroes of their country trying to rid it of these arrogant westerners that think their culture is so superior to their own.  They have families and dogs.  And that family and dog hated me.  I took someone’s dad, husband, favorite uncle, drinking buddy.  

A day doesn’t pass where I don’t think about it at least once.  And that’s part of why I drink like I do.  Because when I’m sober it comes back to haunt me, and when I’m drunk I can let it go and forgive myself for doing what had to be done……………………………………

Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been here to see The Cubs win their first world series in a century; hear the first new Guns n’ Roses music in 17 years; to get to the point where I played 50 shows a year.  And most importantly to be able to see my kid graduate high school, to make the very brave decision to come out as trans; to develop into this fabulous artist, to see my sister realize her dream of having a goat farm; to be able to help my mom through her post cancer recovery.

And to get to marry you.  

And now im going to go cry.

Editor’s Note: I have been sitting on this for a while, because I thought I had something to say here. I don’t. It’s perfect on its own. I’m still crying.

          

Lopez, Island.

Trigger Warning: Teen Sex Abuse

I told you earlier that a friend was doing guided meditation on me, went down to the point I could, then pulled in a humorous story about Sam because I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t tell you another story in which I felt emotionally abused, because I was a ninth and tenth grader. At the time, I thought I was making friends.

I wasn’t. I was an accessory. The person chosen to sit in the classroom so that one of my friends and our teacher could get away with an affair. I unwittingly protected a sexual predator who was actually fucking one of my friends and I didn’t say shit. I don’t feel guilty for two reasons. The first is that I was never older than 15 in their presence. I don’t know what would have happened if I’d stayed at HSPVA, and I don’t mind saying where it happened because I found out later that everyone knew. The second is that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with someone 11 years older. In my head, we’d each found love. Neither my friend nor I knew it was toxic until years later…. and I don’t think my then-love thought of it as abuse, either. I think she thought she was treating me like I treat my own daughter, the one I adopted through the rainbow flag. We are our own country. No woman is an island, to paraphrase John Donne.

Or at least, that’s what I thought about my friend and me. I thought Lopez definitely was…. she could get away with anything and my friend was so lucky. She got everything I wanted and a bag of chips. What stopped it from happening in my case is beyond me, because all the grooming was there. I just got lucky. Whatever it was that stopped her, I think it was positive now. She had me dead to rights back then.

I was just as genderfluid/genderqueer as I am now. I always felt a bit of white knight valor, as if saving her was up to me. It’s a pattern I struggle with to this day. I want to save everyone. Every little girl. Every woman…. and even though they’re a minority in terms of sexual violence, boys and men. I can’t think about children being put through any of this. Even if it’s just grooming that sets up a trigger and not actual intercourse. It’s especially egregious in little boys, because it’s before the weight of the world is on them to be a man. So they’re raped or molested while they’re still young enough to be sweet and affectionate and every bit as kissyface as little girls are…. and then that shit gets buried, because no one wants to hear their pain. Sexual trauma is difficult. It’s even more difficult to exorcise when “being a man” means “cut off all your emotions and never speak of anything but how angry you are.”

I feel it’s another reason I can love Daniel for all he’s worth, which is a hell of a lot. I knew him befoe life broke him. I knew him before anyone ever said “buck up, buttercup.” I had forgotten, but he remembered that our “first date” was to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas. My mom was with us that day. I know she was, she was one of our substitute teachers that year… actually, I’m not sure that I had a year where my mom wasn’t my substitute in elementary except K-2. So many great memories, and Daniel was there for all of them.

For instance, my mom and John Brennan have both taken me to Egypt. It’s just that my mom was first.

The connection to Brennan is a scene from “Undaunted,” his autobiography. When he was young, he went to University of Cairo. Picturing John at like, 19 or 20 riding around the city high as hell on hashish and getting his ear pierced is just as much of a happy place as Beirut. I have John’s number. Invite him to Cairo, and leave an earring and some hash on the table. What I wouldn’t give to hear his stories, even ones I’ve already heard before, in his own patois.

My mom and dad went to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan when I was small. I have always wanted to walk the Bible like them, and was even more obsessed with the idea when Bruce Feiler published a book called “Walking the Bible,” an atheist’s journey. The ending is too rich to spoil, but he ends up Jewish (Beth dies, he was dead the whole movie, K has a daughter). They brought all kinds of cool stuff home, and then Mrs. Watson had to have her thyroid out.

Enter Carolyn Lanagan with all her cool Egyptian accessories.

Keep in mind this is a *substitute,* okkkkkkk. I have never seen anyone more dedicated to their job. Mrs. Watson was out for practically the whole year, and we didn’t watch a movie once. She ruined me for every sub ever. I never paid attention to any of them. I was a blogger even then, I just couldn’t type.

Though I can’t speak for them, I am sure most of my classmates will remember walking into the fifth grade hallway and seeing the lights dimmed, all the chairs arranged like the rows on an airplane, and the three fifth grade teachers handing out handmade American passports and *personalized* plane tickets. I probably also remember a little bit better than they do because of the time it took to create such a thing.

I am not sure, but I think my mother had a PC at home. I know I had an old one in my room, but I don’t remember whether she just used mine when she needed it. I know that Mrs. Watson had an Apple IIe, but I don’t think my mom used that one, either, because it wasn’t in her classrom. In any case, I was the computer person, so I made *some* of the stuff for her. It’s not like it was hard. It was Print Shop and a dot matrix. I can’t remember what banner it was, but it was something with a plane and a piece of paper that looked like a menu.

It was. The teachers took drink orders.

The cart came by as the lights dimmed and we “took off.” In front of us was a screen full of pictures from my mom and dad’s trip. I saw my mom picking out my souvenirs, and I knew they were mine because I already had them. That day I think I was even wearing my Coca-Cola spoof shirt, the one that said “Enjoy Torah.” We all felt good, literally on air. My mom was really good at that for kids.

It wasn’t until she put me in a terrible position that I started to hate her as much as everyone else who was hurting me, because she became one of them. She saw what was happening with my abuser, and that I was going to be coming out of the closet whether she wanted me to or not. When I was 13, she just gave up. She didn’t know what the fuck to do with a lesbian daughter, so me running to a narcissist was seemingly fine. She noticed, but it was too late. They had me.

Then, when I was 15, she heard me talking on the phone to a girl I was interested in at school. She told me that I would *not* talk on the phone like that, I would not cause my father to lose his job like that. I was terrified. I could cause my father to lose his job? What in the actual fuck are you talking about?

Hell wasn’t that she said it. Hell was knowing she was right.

Or, at least, her fears weren’t unfounded. In the United Methodist Discipline, it says that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” I personally think that being a judgmental bastard of an organization is way more incompatible, but no one asked me. “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.” What a crock of shit. They can’t even hear themselves out loud. They are also perfectly happy for you to attend church as long as you don’t want to get married or ordained or in my ittle 15-year-old mind, both. They’ll also thank you for putting money in the plate while denying you all of these things.

In my case, it’s an eyeroll and “you know we can see you, right?”

If I was still a Methodist and actually cared about the organization, I would have fought tooth and nail for equality. It is criminal how the Church has managed to mangle Jesus’ from “widen the net” into “the gate should have closed after I got in.” No one likes gatekeepers, particularly because no one is good enough to do the job…. which is to destroy the gate altogether.

It was in this righteous indignation that I stopped caring what anyone thought of me. I am one of the most empathic people I’ve ever met, along with every close friend or partner I’ve ever had say that I’m too intense for them at some point or another. It’s not that I don’t feel. I have to cut off my emotions to stay alive. Everything that is a weight on the world feels like it’s on me as well. I’m not egocentric, I was made for this….. sort of. It’s an INFJ’s lot in life.

For me, it’s A LOT in life. I don’t go a second of any day without feeling somone else’s pain. One person’s in particular is wound around me. Another person’s pain is so far inside me no one will ever find it. And then there’s the two women that ratcheted up my libido before it was supposed to be ready.

I was one person’s first choice. I was on deck for the other. One of them was at church. One of them was at school. Women to absolutely rearrange my insides whenever they felt like it. Sometimes it was being particular to me over my friend to ensure that it looked from the outside that she was objective while she was fucking my fourteen year old friend. Sometimes it was flirting that seemed innocent until after my reality cracked.

Neither woman was an island…. or at least, the one I loved wasn’t. She was watched meticulously. She met with my mother and agreed to stay away from me. It injured us both and lasted three days. Because, see, we needed each other… just in completely different ways.

Lopez is an island.

The one true sexual predator out of all of the abusers I’ve known. It wasn’t me, but it felt like it…. especially when said friend wanted to hide the fact that she was in this relationship and probably also thought that she needed to take care of The Leslie Problem in case I got designs on “her woman.”

She was a visual artist. She made up a postcard calling me a predator and saying that I was out to harass/rape/whateverthefuck all the straight girls and made copies. Put them in people’s lockers. Had a shitty picture of e on them and everything. I mean, if you’re going to go to the hassle of making a poster that shits all over me, at least include a picture that actually looks decent.

That is how I eventually turned into an island. I shut down. It just took about 25 years. I didn’t know how fucked up my humor reflexes were until I got called out by three straight women that I love to the ends of this earth, and I blew it. The worst part was only realizing it in retrospect, because I lost all three friendships at the same time.

I am only now being networked again at my own hand. I haven’t had enough strength. I disappeared into myself for every reason imaginable. It’s nice to have a close mom friend, because I don’t have a mom. She’s not my replacement for her, just the one I go to when I have those sorts of issues. It was actually pretty funny, when I asked her if she could answer those mom questions, she said sure…. as long as I didn’t expect her to answer the same way that my own mother would have.

I choked a bit and said, “I think of you and my mother being alike in the same way that Tom Brady and I are both 43.” I have grown since then, I am 45. So has she. Before, she identified as a mom. Now she identifies as a dragon. Or a wolverine. She alternates, but whatever it is, it will eat your face off either way. The fire, teeth, and claws aren’t for me. They’re for anyone who dares try to hurt me. There are several people who I know would be under her pool if need be, but even though she’s a beast, she’s on a leash.

It’s the kind of love that makes me fight for my baby girl just as hard. We’re not blood, we’re queer. This is how we avoid the institutional pain of isolation. I adopted Cora so that I wouldn’t be an island, and neither would she.

Working on My House

I believe that most things are a house of cards. Humans aren’t strong enough to build everything right the first time… even me. I am glad that I have the strength to go back into the basement, and have so many stories that have gone through countless revisions over time based on telling them again and again (sometimes over and over to one person….. sorry about that, all y’all). Today I discovered a new level of dark. Luckily, I had a friend to guide me down, and then back up again.

We went to high school together. They were there. Leaving even their gender out because they wouldn’t want it to be known that they noticed.

They didn’t know it, but they were doing guided meditation. I closed my eyes and saw Carrie, my partner in that woman’s class. It was a health class, and we were “married” and caring for our egg child. I got lucky. All the boys were taken. Carrie was (and probably still is) a gorgeous girl. I knew she was straight. It wasn’t about that. For an hour a day, she was my arm candy. 🙂 James, Alex…. don’t tell her.

(note to my French Horn brassholes- I just made it up. Tell the others.)

As an aside, I am DYING thinking about how hard Sam will laugh at “brassholes.” She should know. She had a near miss in terms of almost marrying one. I absolutely thought she was the love of my life, and if you didn’t think I mourned that relationship, she hit me harder and deeper than she will ever know. That’s because I didn’t tell her what she did wrong. I didn’t care. Let’s just say that I got the thing I wanted, and in return, she hit and run. Take that phrase and run with it.

She absolutely devastated me. To get over it, I had to cut off all my emotions and pretend that she meant nothing to me, because she made for damn sure I knew I meant nothing to her. I blocked her on everything. E-mail, phone number, all social media. I was crushed. It was my first real relationship in seven years. Why wouldn’t that kind of thing destroy me? Do you have any concept of how long that is? I didn’t even get Leah while I was waiting for Rebekah. I was completely alone. Touch starved except for a few hugs along the way. Depressed. Down and out.

Sam and her kids were balm to a soul that needed them, and I can only say that now, when the outcome of that relationship no longer matters to me. She could have had me for multiple lifetimes, and she threw me away like the bird shit on a newspaper after one day in the cage.

Yet, the only way she’ll ever know how I feel is if she comes up in my yard. My dog bites, motherfucker. I reserve the right to be angry at any time. I also reserve the right to not.

That relationship still confounds me, I just don’t care enough to find out why. She didn’t want to get together to figure our stuff out, it was just over by text message. Why are you guys more concerned that I started dating Daniel so quickly when it wasn’t me that wanted to separate? Why are you guys on me about Daniel at all? Isn’t he a logical successor to be my partner after realizing what Dana had done?

On my very first date with Sam (sorry if I’ve told this story before, but it’s a card that needs to fall), she texts me to tell me that she’s sitting on my front porch. I run downstairs to meet her, and she’s adorable. My heart didn’t even take five seconds to assess the situation. Just a seductive, take your breath away fantasy from the moment I said “yes.” She matched me feeling for feeling, or so it seemed. I saw so much of myself in her. I thought that we’d be together so much longer than three weeks, but I did something. I just don’t care what it was, because it might not have anything to o with me at all. And since she’s not going to marry me, I don’t really care what it was that I did. I would correct my behavior if it mattered.

Back to why Dana even matters. She definitely shouldn’t, but she does. When she hit me, she installed a trigger. Sam’s fist coming at my face whether I wanted it to or not. I realized that I might never get rid of he tripwire, because Sam had fixed hers, but what about the next woman?

Just another reason why I trauma bonded to The War Daniel. He’s huge. He’s weapons trained. No one would ever fuck with me ever again. I have had enough of the bullshit in life and not enough enjoyment. So “noping out” to a different country and trying to make a life there is attractive to me whether Daniel comes or not. My top choices are Aberdeen and Phnom Penh. Two completely different cities, two completely different cultures. It’s just that I have friends in both places. Suzanne has known me for somewhere between 10 and 15 years. I don’t remember, but I do know that she was friends with both Dana and me. It’s not that she remembers Dana, it’s that she’s familiar with the story of my life so far.

My friend in Cambodia has known *of* me for a long time, but we’ve recently connected because I was brave enough to ask him if I could come and visit. I know I will go there first, just not when. The attraction to him is that he’s the exact opposite of Suzanne’s story. He’s only just finding out who I am. So obviously I need six months a year in both.

I have listened to all the sad music. It’s enough that I have to deal with idiots who think that I move really fast in dating. What in the actual fuck? Am I supposed to mourn people longer than the relationship actually lasted?

I broke up with Theresa because I had spent *weeks* planning the perfect first date and she told me that she was backing out and just wanted to talk on the phone “this trip.” No, baby. That’s not happening. We have done too much to go backward and reassess. It’s too hard and it’s too much. We’ve been talking for three weeks. If you can’t have a drink with me, it’s not happening.

That relationship was weird, too, because we were off to such a good start, and then I probably ran my mouth too much or something, because lots of people have no idea how INFJ people operate. They make plans, then contingencies, thn more contingencies. For instance, here was the process of cleaning my room this week. It was hell.

I’d been trying to organize little by little when the house caught fire and I needed to get it ogether immediately. I reserved maids over the Internet. First mistake. Two appointments. Two companies. Two no-shows. Finally, I contacted Hayat (landlady for those just joining us) and asked her to get her own handymen out here and I’d pay them. Even that tuned into a nightmare.

It’s all done now, except for the cleaning and designing. The paint cans and drop cloths are still all over everywhere. It’s painted bright white, like the marina where I wish I lived in Beirut. I’ll include a photo because it’s hanging in my living room. I want my room to feel the same way… that when I’m dreaming, I’m not in my own bed. I’m there.

While I am working on my ugly house of cards, I can dream of what it will look like when I am finished. I want a welcoming space, full of that same pure energy of white and teal and waves and sailboats…. though it isn’t for everyone, Beirut is my happy place. I have been Lebanese for almost eight years now. When I see it for real, I will fall.

….just like a house of cards.

Beirut, Lebanon

Doctor Who Knows? Who? Nose.

He can’t leave. He’s The War Daniel.

I am not saying he did or did not leave. I am saying that I am wrestling over what kind of impact I’ve had and continue to have on someone I love to a nearly desperate, crazy amount. I just don’t show it. I haven’t seen his body in years, but I see his soul on paper multiple times a day, just bleeding out in front of me while I go blurry with teary eyes and back into my own history, particularly with alcohol. I’ve never truly had a problem, but I used to be really bad about counting and timing because if it had ice in it, I wanted some. I have literally gotten drunk by accident. I helped it to continue, but originally the loopiness came on because I was thirsty. I know how that plays out in an alcoholic’s eyes.

This is my experience from what my AA friends have told me, particularly the ones I’m closest to, but reflect a lot of people there. They can’t watch you sip. They can’t watch you take a drink and sit it down and walk away, then come back. It has nothing to do with cravings, or at least, over time it’s not about that. Over time, it’s shame. You have done something they could not. You left a drink on the table and walked away.

Something broke in me when Dana got her DUI. However, the way it broke let light in. When she was asked to go to these classes on alcohol and the brain, I went with her and sat in the back. I was in my 30s, it was like doing an extra rotation after going to medical school in the backseat of a Lexus.

I don’t diagnose anything, but I know a million symptoms and how they connect. I recognize things like shingles by the pattern. I can recognize the emotional fibromyalgia of trauma. As a resource, I am a great friend. I have the capability to listen and an acute awareness of when you are above my pay grade, Clown Shoes. The closer you are to me, the more I hug and kiss you while I tell you that you’re not only clown shoes, you’re all three rings and a big stripey tent……. and I wouldn’t have it any other way. All my friendships are this deep. I love my friends until they can’t take it. Literally. There have been meetings, most of them on what to do about me. 😛

Add alcohol rehab onto major trauma, and it’s just like real fibromyalgia. You might never get rid of it. You just have to manage it. My poet friend Wendy said this to me a hundred years ago, and it’s how I express this idea now that I’ve ripped her off verbatim for like 15 years…… She wrote me an e-mail that said, “you don’t have to love it, Leslie. You just have to live it.”

This is what I think to myself when I’m thinking about rehab and everything that goes with it. The semicolon and the ampersand, if you will. In fact,The War Daniel is the semicolon itself, and the ampersand is all that comes with him. Everything about who Daniel is contained in one punctuation mark (Full Stop and Keep Going), and everything that’s important to him in another. I have nicknamed it the “andhausen.” Daniel and his daughter will fall on the floor laughing at that.

I want to give it to them, because their word for the best of the best of the best is actually a suffix on the end of a word. For instance, Doc and Cora are Dochausen (or Danhausen) and Kidhausen, or Corahausen. Cora is not my daughter’s name. It’s from Coraline, Neil Gaiman’s novel.

[Incidentally, my favorite movie is now Argohausen. Bryn is going to love that. She calls me Rev. Argo. I did her wedding. I have literally married her. Just not to me…. I’m a Rev. in the Church of The Latter Day Dude because none of my friends wanted to wait until I finished grad school to do a ceremony I’ve had memorized since I was like, nine.]

Here is my own best of the best of the best. Daniel is “The War Daniel.” Cora is The Doctor’s Daughter. Do you see it now? Do you SEE IT?

The War Daniel is from Doctor Who. The War Doctor without an MD…. He’s not a fan, but says he wants to be. I hope when he sees John Hurt he will remember who he is. HE IS THE WAR DANIEL. I told him that if anyone needed a clarification, not to say to a Whovian that it was my own way of saying that he was my River Song, and that he wouldn’t even know for a few years what that even meant….. also that he could make very, very large men weep in the street, particularly in the UK.

I didn’t want to be married to this Doctor. I wanted to be married to all of them. I wanted the young boy. I wanted the teenager. I wanted the man he is. And I am so curious to find out what happens next. Literally I will watch this next regeneration that chooses the same face and hope to God he remembers that his companion is me. I’m your Amy, and you’re my Rory. You cannot even imagine how that feels. That out of nowhere, Rory Williams showed up…. and Rory is a nurse.

That’s just the Doctor Who connection. We haven’t started on MASH yet. Sorry, it’s not spelled right because my 8 key isn’t working, but you get it. Saying that he’s Hawkeye and Honeycut and Winchester and Potter all rolled into one is an understatement, because they never really got bombed. But all of these medical characters mean something to me, Hawkeye in particular. I have said for a long time that it was rough being a Hawkeye in a Frank Burns world…… and then Hawkeye showed up on my Internet front porch.

As Jill says, “you are really not subtle about hiding Daniel from all your friends. You only have one friend named Daniel on Facebook, and his last name is Williams.” Given that I think he’s part Rory, his last name counts. I was never trying to hide him. He told me that he’s an open book. I am sure that he is looking for a PowerPoint presentation on his flaws that’s just not going to come until I’m not punching down anymore. I want him fighting fit.

Yes, I’m terrible about hiding things. I should learn to leave so many less breadcrumbs than I actually do. But this is not one of them. I will wait and change my relationship status based on two things. The first is staying out of Facebook Jail long enough to do it, and whether or not this miracle occurs. I only own half.

Because here’s what I see. I see a writer that should be teaching how to write war fiction or journalism. It seems like everything I know politically boils down to David Halberstam’s books. I know I’m marrying The Best and the Brightest. If he were alive, he would approve… and probably retort that it will get better…. it’s just The Coldest Winter. The War Daniel has Pulitzer Prize talent. What he does with it is completely up to him. It’s just that the raw talent is there.

He’s also electable. He could do any job in this country, including president, because the US elects war heroes all the time. I know him. He would turn down POTUS in a heartbeat to get right to Veterans’ Affairs. The first time I brought it up, some light came into his eyes and he said, “I could help my brothers.” I’m just talking about his character. That’s the man I want to marry. I don’t care if we stay on the beach and do nothing. It’s not about that. It’s about seeing options and choosing from them (not always saying “this is the very best bad idea we have, sir. By far”).

Like choosing to have a daughter.

I have been “Other Mother” for a little while, and I have to say, I really enjoy it. Falling in love with a child is a whole different ball game. Here’s how much different. I am going to make you bawl, because I’m about to make myself bawl for like the 30th time so I am telling you, get the Kleenex.

Cora and I were talking about trans pain vs. queer pain and how they’re different and how they’re the same. I told her I felt like she was overfocusing on her own pain and that it might be holding her back from empathy.

Holy God I have never seen anyone turn around this fast. The next day, she was talking about getting new driver’s license, passport, etc. We were talking about names. I said, “Cora, I want to change your deadname for you a little bit so that you can think of it as someone else’s name, and only two people in the world know what it is…. and in fact, I would be very surprised if it was information retained. Is that okay with you?” She said, “sure.”

This may be telling tales out of school, but it needs to be.

“When Meagan and I were planning our own future, we picked baby names for our future son and daughter. Your deadname was going to be the same name as my own son should he have appeared, and isn’t it crazy that I named my son your deadname and your father, who I will remind you I have known since I was seven, thought of the EXACT SAME NAME for his kid.” It wouldn’t be a thing if it was a common name.

It is, but I wanted it spelled differently, and he picked the same spelling I wanted. Not so much “isn’t this eerie…. we’re mated now based on that one fact.” No. Bullshit. I just meant that great minds think alike. This time, really. An INFJ and an INTJ belong together. No one else can stand us. This has been proven to both of us time and again. 😛

Meagan proposed to me when we were 18. It was just as ridiculous as agreeing to marry someone who was going to rehab, but I said yes, anyway…… like two months before she noped back to Canada and found someone else. What is different about Daniel is that he is everything she’s not. She was a romantic who didn’t really think things through, and I could say the same about myself now except I’m almost 20 years older now and I’ve learned from my mistakes. He is a seasoned combat veteran and doctor. I will put his street creds up there with any trauma surgeon in the nation. His stitches may not be art, but you’ll live. If that kind of person can’t be trusted with my heart, it will only be due to incompatibility and/or timing. Not that he’s not the right person- for me or anyone else.

The first lesson in being older is don’t marry someone you think you love but underneath realize they’re kind of a jackass. Marry someone who wears their jackass proudly, like I do (and like many of my friends also do, because I wouldn’t love them as much if they didn’t).

Here’s why being a jackass is important to the story. I’m not the same person I was when I was 18, but I’m grateful to her, the woman I was. She protected me from me. She was a musician, yet alone. She found ways to disappear. She’d been outed at school and humiliated. It was ninth grade. By 12th, I’d had enough. I just wasn’t that smart. I did everything right, and I still got dumped in a terribly humiliating way, which is completely forgiven a hundred times over because her friendship has been so valuable… but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hell on earth back then.

In present day, after we’d talked about The Struggle, I told Cora everything about my name and why I hate it so goddamn much. Leslie is fine. The D is no longer with us. It humiliates me to even think about changing the name my mother gave me now that she’s dead.

Cora, in her empathy, said, “I have a name that I’m not using. Would you like to have it?”

When your child says something like that, their name could be Osama and you wouldn’t blink. I actually think Osama would be a cool name for me, based on the movie about the girl who had to become genderqueer on purpose to fool the Taliban into believing she was worthy of education and training. She’s adorable, and she has my heart…. and if Daniel and I ever travel to the Middle East, you can bet my gender non-conforming ass that I will carry her picture everywhere and say, “See? I’m like her. I’m just ancient.”

When I loved my name, I wasn’t ashamed of who I was. I was lonely. It was Meagan or nothing. I would have died rather than choose nothing, for only the simple fact that Southern women are sold a bill of goods that only one person will fulfill their every need until they die… forever and ever, to God be the glory, Amen.

I do not believe that. I believe that The War Daniel and I have woven through each other’s timelines, and because it’s always the future, there’s never a conflict…. no moments of “fixed point in time. I’m so, so sorry.” I also believe that being married to Dana was also wonderful, and being with Kat was adequate. It just wasn’t all wonderful, all the time…. and neither is this. It’s just a much bigger gamble. If I win, I win big. If I lose, I still played a part in keeping my friend alive.

Relationships can be built. Regenerations are a fairy tale told to children, and they work so wonderfully well because you do the same thing your whole life…. instantly recognizable on the outside. Completely different on the inside.

Same software, different case.

It was an astounding offer, one that could only be made by someone with childlike wonder and innocence. Someone who’d been beaten down by the world every bit as much as me. Her trauma might be more prevalent nowadays because people don’t understand the ideas of transgender or genderqueer as easily as they accept queer sexual behavior. I don’t know why it’s such a mystery that people have a spectrum of sexual behavior and gender identity, but it’s becoming more nd more true every day. I am just a regular queer, but people have been coming at me 20 years longer than they have Cora. Cora’s 24. She has no idea. None. I don’t think she even knows how big a sacrifice it is. To hear her deadname come out of my mouth, to see her letter where mine used to be… it’s too much for me. I can’t do that to her, even if it wasn’t her real reaction. I can’t take that chance. To be that careless with a deadname would be devastating if it hurt after the fact. I see her pain, she sees mine. I am sensitive to it in all ways.

Daniel and I might want to foster/adopt kids in the future. The first thing I did was ask Cora if it was okay. The girls (important, because our idea was getting children out of impossible situations, like being betrothed to a Talib fighter who is 47 years old) would be at least a decade younger, possibly more. It was important that she see my dreams as clearly as I saw hers, and we talk about them.

Last night, I remembered almost 20 years ago, curling up with the thought of my wife and my son….

I woke up this morning thinking of my daughter. The D is no longer with us, but only physically. I have a right hand ring that’s him all over. A claddagh with skeleton hands. My daughter and I are bonding without him, which is a very good thing for all three of us. You can’t be in love, or even think you love an alcoholic/addict until you’re ready to think about murder. We need each other. If for nothing else than going to Finland so he can stand out in one of FORTY BAZILLION FORESTS and take the band pic. It’s Finland. There’s only one.

Why yes, he did want to move to Helsinki at first. I’m glad you asked. I believe that I have talked him down off the ceiling by agreeing to go and live there for a little bit and see if we like it. As I was telling Zachausen the other day, “I’m using the Internet wrong. I don’t think I’ve even adapted to the reality that Air BnB is a thing we could do.” It’s just not all about us (Zachausen can come, too).

I got Cora at such an incredible time in my life, the part where she’s young and doesn’t have anything figured out and doesn’t know shit about Civil Rights or where we came from in terms of people like JFK, RFK, MLK, Bayard Rustin, and all of the best and the brightest Halberstam talked about. Talked about how three of the brightest stars in the Civil Rights firmament were all assassinated and how Bayard Rustin was out of he closet for ALL OF IT. MLK knew. Baptist preacher. Knew his top advisor was gay and didn’t give a damn, because he wasn’t perfect.

She also doesn’t know that Jesus isn’t perfect yet, but I will definitely disabuse her of that notion. Dude who killed a fig tree just because there wasn’t any fruit on it is not the picture of mental health you see before you today… you know, the one that’s white. What, like he’s the only baby born in Israel with French features? Seriously. Explain it to me like I’m five. Everyone around Jesus was brown. Get there faster.

I’m not pulling for her to choose Religion or Not Religion. Just that it’s a spectrum as well. One of the funniest things that The War Daniel has ever said was when he was angry, so it was not appropriate to laugh as loud as I wanted to… because it wasn’t Doc making me laugh. It was the characterization of “show me someone who can keep their anger in check when they’re angry and I’ll show you Jesus Christ.” I fell out thinking about how many tax collectors of the day might have taken exception to that.

Every day, I know more about Jesus just by being me. I’m not saying I’m divine, I’m saying that the Historical Jesus posited by Marcus Borg is very much like me. Being the son of God and a preacher’s kid can’t be all that different, right? Jesus was born to the Source. I was born to upper management. We were both baptized, but I’m going to bet that since he was an adult and I was an infant, he peed on John a lot less than I peed on Bishop Crutchfield.

But when you are baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit, stand up. Don’t you dare think you are any less than it is or Jesus was. We were never meant to be Jesus. Jesus was always meant to be us.

The writing that comes out of me when I’m thinking of Daniel and our daughter is better than anything I’ve ever written in my life, and it’s not all here yet. Some of it is praying The War Daniel to DC or Baltimore.

Some of it is praying we just make it through tomorrow and tomorrow without reliving yesterday.

Who knows? Who…. nose.

A right hand ring to show sup

CIA, MI6, and MiB

I can’t find it.

This has never happened to me before in terms of writing. Ever. I’m a blogger, right? So I’ve hit post and never had to search through a directory tree in 20 years. The worst part is that I’m fluent in DOS and Linux, so I know how to do all the shit that would compare and contrast documents…. and it didn’t even occur to me to do that with my writing until right now.

I even have a pen pal that I’ve known since Jesus was a boy and I know to create different subject lines so that all our crap doesn’t mix together, like separating personal from professional (editing vs. friendship, really… not for this, for my books…. this is graffiti with punctuation [cracked me up in Contagion]).

Today I started with creative writing instead of memoir type stuff because every time I write about my life, blowback comes from somewhere. So, no more about that. I’ll write about things long enough in the past that they don’t matter anymore, or put up fiction. If I write about a decision that is currently being made, there are just so many, many people who have an opinion that is either stupid or invalid.

Let’s start with Daniel.

I would marry that boy like yesterday. I still feel that way even though right now he is acting like a jackass by being a doctor and a patient.

Now, why would I know what his motivations are?

If you have to wonder, you’re not my friend.

How do you know that I don’t have years and years of experience with addicts?

I’m a line cook. I’ve wondered if people relapsed to the point of wondering if they died and that’s why they didn’t show up today or give me a call.

I’m not laughing.

If you are, you’re not my friend.

How do you know that I’m building a family too fast?

My daughter is trans and 24. The reason I call her my daughter is not because she actually is. It’s that her biological mother is straight and I’m both bisexual and genderqueer. I get it, where her mom and dad are blind. I am giving her the relationship I should have gotten.

If you have to wonder, you’re not my friend.

None of you have ever asked if I had friends who I’ve married in terms of loyalty and confidentiality so I have people that hold me together. I have friends in multiple places who support me and I can reach out any time, day or night, because it might be 1100 there. My friend Suzanne is in Aberdeen. I wake up at 0400. I have coffee, she has tea.

Since I’ve never gotten asked that question, I feel like it’s necessary. I have friends who have supported me for years and years now. I don’t need a romantic partner. I want one, but I don’t have to have one to function.

And finally about this topic, if you know all of the above, than you’ll know that my absolute best friend at one point was a severe alcoholic and now she’s one of the most successful people I know. All of you who are so incredibly worried about me can stop now.

Even if Daniel broke up with me every day from here til kingdom come, I wouldn’t believe it until January 2024, which is the conservative estimate on how long it takes his brain to clear. Right now he’s finding out that life is rough without medication to control cravings and all that shit.

So if you think for one second that I thought this would be easy, that I’d have it made in the shade, or that I didn’t know exactly what I was doing. Daniel was in a bad place. I sold him a fantasy to give him the courage to get to rehab. He did. My work here is done. But that isn’t the whole story. The whole story is that I love him more than anyone on earth, including me. He just doesn’t know it, because his brain is dopamine-starved and using every trick in the book to try and get him to believe that he’s a worthless piece of shit.

Here’s the thing. I sold him a fantasy to get him to rehab. I want to make the fantasy real so we can be done with rehab and off to living in Fez, Cairo, Casablanca, wherever. I don’t care. Just anywhere to get us somewhere cheaper. The US is bananas. I didn’t fake him out. I didn’t do anything but promise him a fantasy that was doable if he would only get his shit together.

Every addict in the room is quietly nodding. They might not agree with what I did, but they will also tell you to do whatever you have to do to get your partner into rehab. WHATEVER. So I did. I got him there. Whether he comes home and still wants to marry me is up for grabs. But does it really matter?

I GOT HIM TO REHAB. I MADE SURE HE WAS GOING TO LIVE. I HELPED SAVE HIM.

The rest is totally up to him, and I’m going to let him figure out all that. He’s the one in therapy most of the day, so I think I can move on to something else. They’ve got him. I can rest until May.

And I will, because I’ve already got two best friends who love me enough to marry me, but not enough for the fun stuff. That is for the love of my life if he decides he wants it.

Again, none of this comes from a place of “he’s going to screw up.” Addicts, raise your hands. Who among you got through the last drunk and getting into rehab without fucking up some relationship or another?

I thought so. I can hear you choking with laughter from here.

Now that I have explained myself and hopefully shut the shit down (can I get a witness? HELL YEAH!), it’s time for today’s lesson on metaphor.

Men in Black II is a documentary.

K was a designation in the British system of intelligence. If you’ve seen the more recent Bond films, K has not been in use since WWII, I believe. However, it’s the rank above M, played by Ralph Fiennes and Judi Dench. You don’t see C in movies very often, but my biggest example of who C is comes from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I can’t remember whether C is the bad guy in that one or not. I’ve slept since then. No UK disrespect meant. The C I’m talking about is basically Stephen Fry in Doctor Who.

Q means quartermaster. In MiBII, this is like the scene where K says, “guess I’ll have to buy The White Album again.” That’s because Q is representative of an entire department of people. In the US, it’s called the Office of Technical Services. Back when it was OSS and CIA hadn’t started…… chefs and cooks, sit down. You’ll need it……. Julia Child worked for OTS. She developed shark repellant. Why case officers would need such a thing is where I draw the line in terms of research.

Z is probably also a rank somewhere, but to me it refers to the decryption of the Zimmerman Telegram in 1917. That was the first time in modern history that signals intelligence (SIGINT) was useful on the world stage. Interestingly enough, the guy that played Z (Zed) was in my grandfather’s class in high school.

In terms of rank, I’m not sure where Zed falls. My guess is that he’s C.

C was named for Sir Mansfield George Smith-Cumming. If I were to compare him to an American, it would be “Wild Bill” Donovan, because he’s the one that started OSS to begin with. Cumming managed to wrangle together MI6, which is why the head job is named after him. I’m honestly not sure who he would match in today’s CIA, because they don’t publish how they do things. For instance, are people like John Brennan C, or is C under cover and people like Brennan are just figureheads?

Damn, Gina.

If you got that joke, you can stay.

If you’re wondering whether I just like Bond and spy shit or if I have a direction with this, yes to the first and still working on the second.

People have no idea why I like spy stuff. At 18 I wanted to be a trumpet player in the Airmen of Note. I didn’t care that the Air Force was basically a group of people standing next to the military. I just wanted to play.

I didn’t get to, which began my lifelong obsession with books and movies where people fought each other without using violence.

And then CIA appeared on Doctor Who, and it was all over for me. Of course I can love Everett. Of course I can love The Doctor when Richard Nixon asks him how he’ll be remembered, and of course The Doctor can’t say SHIT, and just says, “Oh, Dickie. THey’ll never forget you.”

Of course I love MI6 and CIA. They’re basically the closest thing to magic we have on this earth, and as I was telling my friend Zac, “it’s like science fiction because they already know the new technology coming out, but they can’t tell us about it.” It’s real in the way that real magic occurs.

MiB training even reflects real life. Jonna and Tony Mendez both write beautifully about taking their subordinates to Georgetown and giving them a head start while they make everyone and no one makes them. Jonna was even the old guy….. Chief of Disguise gonna Chief of Disguise. Can you imagine being a case officer and finding out your boss was Tony Mendez, then stayed in long enough to have also had his wife as a boss? That’s magic.

Like taking an American and a British intelligence agency and filling it full of aliens and putting a Burger King in the lobby of the spaceport.

In terms of the actual training at MiB, case officers in VA had to lose themselves in Georgetown and try to pick out who was watching them. J shot a little girl alien because she was carrying a chemistry textbook that was way too advanced for her. It’s the difference between life and death, that noticing things.

Down to a Lay’s potato chip bag life and death.

That Burger King isn’t really a joke, either. If you look on CIA’s web site, they’ll tell you they have a Starbucks at Langley and it’s one of the busiest in the world.

I have also found a place for The Hot Sheets that’s really friggin’ funny. In my head, The Hot Sheets are the Presidential Daily Briefings.

I swear to Christ, you just cannot get photographic journalism better than this. Even Shane Harris couldn’t write something this good (teasing him because he’s the local National Security reporter at WaPo and has been on Maddow several times). I don’t stop hoping, though. Pro tip, Harris. Memorize it.

Zed, think about it. I could be Agent H………

An Open Letter to Wil Wheaton That I Just Sent

I’m an idiot. I pulled a classic IT geek move. Claim to know about computers. Forget to attach link and/or image.

On December 31, 2022, at 8:00 AM, “Leslie D. Lanagan” <the famous lanagan @ gmail . com> wrote:

Dear Wil,

Really all I want you to do is read my blog and listen to the story of my boyfriend and one-day husband, Daniel. Then boost the signal if you like what you read. However, I am not only checking in with you because of that. Just asking what I need up front in case you’re busy.

———————-

First of all let me say that you are one of the people I love most in the world just for being you. I am proud to see that when you were acting, you took a huge risk and it paid off big. I take you as you are. All your crap because all people have it and your incredible capacity for love shows through every damn day. We are not strangers, but I doubt that you would remember me because we have not communicated since roughly 2003. You used to be one of my fans and on my Blogrolll (orwhatever). We exchanged comments a few times, and then when you published “Just a Geek,” I came to Powell’s on Burnside to get it signed (Or did you do Powell’s Technical Books that tour? I don’t remember). My blog back then was called “Clever Title Goes Here,” and when you matched a name to a face, you signed my book, “Dear Leslie, Clever Inscription Goes Here.” Those are such precious memories.

Are you tight with Anil Dash and Chason Chaffin? I remember you commenting on Chason’s web site as well, but he hasn’t told me if you stayed in touch. I’m a huge fan because you’re famous, and the way you got there was being well respected at craft. If you have any teaching experience in writing, I’m all ears.

I am definitely writing this to ask you a favor, but not one that’s hard for you……. yet impossible for me. I just need a tool that you have and I don’t. You’re famous, full stop, and you’re a well respected writer. I wrote a blog entry about my boyfriend winning a medal of valor that just left me emotionally spent, and it was short. If you like it, could you put it on blast?

I’m in Facebook Jail because a black girl called me “Raisin Potato Salad” and I took exception to that. She was clearly trying to insult me based on an hour’s conversation and she wore down my last nerve. I am a line cook. Food is life, and Africans/African-Americans have always been trailblazers In the kitchen. I said nothing racist, but she said something prejudiced. I said, “if you want to come at me with ‘raisin potato salad,’ you are messing with the wrong bitch. I’m from Houston, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world be cause it’s a port. We will throw down, and I will kick your ass sideways.” As my college roommate and soul sister would say, “I am a Christian and I also have no problem breaking your back tooth and praying later.” I don’t even want to tell you what she does for a living, but if she was queer, I would have married my life partner in 1999. This is because she’s already my life partner in a platonic sense, because she’s just one of the people I do life with and have since I was 20. Her daughter is a lesbian, and I said two things that are worth putting here in response to it.

The first was, “you know why your daughter’s gay, don’t you? God saw how you treated me and decided to give you a special girl of your own.” The second is hearing how she deals with homophobia. See above. “I need you to be my mom now. Fight for me the way you fight for her.”

My skin is white but I have a black soul when in comes to cooking because so many racist Southerners (only white ones. Racism is a system. People of color cannot even begin to create such a thing) eat the same shit and turn food into a ridiculous stereotype but only for POC.

Soapbox over. Rooting for you to win Celebrity Jeopardy. I think Ken Jennings is a hell of a guy. Never met him as a writer/content producer, but he’s bomb. Mayim Bialik is the absolute hottest choice known to God and man for this role. Fight me, although I know you won’t. Privately, rawr in the most respectful tone for the good doctor as possible.

If you have a minute, will you tell me what it was like to work with Gaiman once the adrenaline wore off? I’m not digging for dirt. I just want to learn what you learned about his craft, because I know you’re smart enough to have analyzed it by now. Actually, any stories you’d like to share with me about fellow creatives’ process would be wonderful. I’m very positive, not being a dick, wanting to be a student like watching Inside the Actor’s Studio every week even though I don’t act. These days I’m obsessed with carpentry and making check out Laura Kampf on YouTube- gay movies tend to suck because production values are low. So gays went to YouTube and made their own content. They own HGTV now, it’s just not on cable.

That’s what’s running through my mind as I’m discovering I’m not gay, I’m just queer. I’m writing through it. If you think of a project I’d be right for, I’d love to be in the writer’s room. I have legit no experience, but if T**** can be the president, I really don’t mind just shooting my shot and seeing what you say. Not willing to move to LA but would come and visit if you could pay. I don’t want your money. It’s just a tool you have that I don’t. I would also love a digital autograph I could use as the background on my tablet (not for publication ever in case you’re a privacy nerd like I am), also assuming that I’m not taking too much of your time.

All love, brother. I hope all is well. You seem good on the outside. Is that true? You okay?

This One Time, Listen Up and Hard

I want to tell you something about the man I eventually want to be with for the rest of my life. I need you to really hear me, really cry with me, really feel the pain and joy that I felt when Daniel decided that I was trustworthy enough to be trusted with a story this big. I want it to go around the world by tomorrow, and I’m not kidding. I want you to lose your MINDS when you hear his story, and I want to make myself the best known writer in the world for this one entry alone. I do not think this is undoable. Please make me famous for this one thing, and I will owe you everything.

I just got a text message from Daniel that said, “my girl, be prolific.”

Well, I am nothing if not that.

It was a calm day in the market when Daniel was in country. He noticed something out of the corner of his eye. He stood strong and shot.

The “noticing someone” was a terrorist wiring up a five year old child to explosives so that he could blow up everyone in the plaza.

If I showed you the award he got for it, the Marines in the audience would lose their minds.

I did. I took on all his pain. Just all of it. I sobbed and sobbed and couldn’t get ahold of myself for hours, and I’m sobbing even now. I can’t get over it. I am too filled with joy that even though it was the worst day of his life, it feels like the best day of mine.

I definitely had thoughts. The first was the strength it took for a military-trained nurse practitioner to break the Hippocratic Oath…. to wrestle with it, because he was tasked with saving life, not taking it. I wonder what it was like to look a terrorist in the eye, knowing that under normal circumstances, you’d be taking his history and physical. The second time was just how close I came to losing one of the great loves of my life before it ever happened…. well, as children. It counts, but there’s so much more. The third was how humbled I know I’ll be to be in his presence. It’s a reverence that will fade when he hasn’t done x or y, but will never be forgotten. Please don’t let it be forgotten by anyone else.

But don’t you DARE do it to honor me. I’m just the messenger.

This entry is going to be short, but I hope it hits you like you didn’t even see gravity’s rainbow until the bomb NEARLY went off, taking a five-year-old with it.

Sit in that. I did. I am humbled. Just bleeding out with gratitude. My heart can barely take it, but it wants to.

Editor’s Note (DW): When we called general quarters on the ship, I never felt the mixture of fear and excitement. It was all business. I took control of my sound powered phone with my CSOSS manuals and a dry erase marker and kept track of what systems were up and down. That was my job during the shit in the shop. Afghanistan isn’t even a different animal. It’s a different being. You literally see a bag of chips and ask if that’s a ied. The excitement is skipped and the fear is squared. Getting back to the wire was a tear leaking experience , because thank fuck today wasn’t the day and all 7 of us came back

I just had a thought that is so funny that I cannot end the entry without telling you. “When you want something done right, hire a Corpsman.”

Let me also add a note to my dad and all my friends in Naples, particularly Tiffany Anthony, MD. I am fully convinced that I am eventually going to marry Hawkeye and House, mixed with the very best of Jimmy Leeves we have left in this world and Dr. Anthony in our corner from Dallas.