Music and Silence

One of my favorite pieces of music is “4’33” by John Cage. People think that it is four minutes and 33 seconds of silence, and that’s minimizing its power. It probably doesn’t make sense on a recording, but live, it’s incredible. The piece is not written so that the silence is the point. No. The music is the environment of the room in which it’s being performed. Every time it’s programmed, it looks a little different.

It also puts classical music on its head. Other pieces require you to be quiet. You still shouldn’t talk, but the music is in movement- dropped pens, unwrapping a cough drop, patting a toddler on the back. I’m generally cold, so my contribution is generally rubbing my hands like it’s the start of Toto’s “Africa.” Admittedly, it is “cheating,” because I am the rhythm section of something that’s supposed to be completely random. I feel like the ringer in the crowd. Again, silence is not the point. I have had people tell me to stop. The problem is that I am not a ringer on purpose. I really am that cold. More than once have I been called “Leslie No-Blood.”

Cold, though, is relative.

I will take being physically cold a lot better than someone being emotionally cold to me. For instance, caring about your reaction to my feelings more than you care that what you’re doing is hurting me. At that point, I don’t care what anyone thinks. It isn’t right for me to keep saying I’ll go along with thinking that your feelings are more important than mine. Then, it’s not a relationship. Healthy ones mean that sometimes my problem is more important than yours, and sometimes your problem is more important than mine… but no matter, we’ll attack either and it’s easier when both minds are on it.

However, if one person puts the other in the position of “your feelings don’t matter,” the relationship doesn’t deserve to survive. Until now, I have been the person who already thinks her feelings don’t matter. I will never again let it be reinforced by another. I have let people (particularly women) emotionally vampire me for years. They use me as their dumping ground because I’m willing to listen. I seemingly have a jackass magnet on my forehead, because nearly everyone I’ve ever met has wanted to tell me their life story whether I was interested or not.

One of my friends told me that I should be CIA because I was good at gleaning information. I’m really not. I’m just empathetic to the point of losing myself and people naturally let it spill because they feel safe. I don’t create an environment to be The Little Gray Man. I’m just capable of saying “there, there.” I have a feeling that if I *was* CIA, it would be under Napoleon’s instructions: “never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Why go out of my way to get information out of people when they’ll just give it to me?

20-30% of the time, it’s great. The rest of the time, people are quite invasive of my space and have no problem stealing my emotional energy without thinking I might want it back. People allow me to refill when I can talk to them in the same way. It’s just that most of the people who have talked to me (generally on the bus or train when I’m in public, anyway) have no idea that it’s been 20 minutes and I haven’t said a word. Not only that, they haven’t even taken a breath long enough to give me an opening. It’s “hello,” big emotional dump, walk away. I allowed it because that’s what I’ve always been taught. Being good was not needing anything. Taking up so little space was a bad thing.

Now, I feel like there have been some instances of overcorrection, but I have learned something important. Extremely important. The only people that will test you on needing anything are the people who have benefitted from your silence. If they were getting something out of you being a friend, yet never speaking up, they’ll be so mad. Let them be mad. They’ll either get over it or they won’t, and that’s not up to you.

Brene Brown says that vulnerability is showing up to a conversation without being able to control the outcome. I haven’t allowed many of those people in my life because I didn’t think I deserved them. It was natural for my feelings not to matter, so why wouldn’t I let people steamroll over me as if I don’t exist?

I “all of the sudden” seem very selfish for needing anything at all. It’s not that. It’s that when you ignore me, I’ll get louder because your ears are clogged. If you don’t listen even then, it’s time to pack up. I can only do what I can do. The one thing I have never been able to do before now is stop the bleeding. I would just let other people use up every emotional resource I needed to use for myself because obviously, they were more deserving of it.

I am not saying that I am always blameless for everything. It’s impossible. At times, I’m excellent at being the world’s biggest asshole with a God complex. My only point here is that I come by it honestly. If I tell you in plain voice how I’m feeling and it’s ignored, if you don’t mean anything to me, I’ll walk away. If you do, I will repeat what I said until you acknowledge. At this point, no matter how much I care about you, I’m out. If I am putting myself out there as someone who is taking care of you, I will go to extraordinary lengths to make sure we have equal airtime. If your idea of equal airtime is that we both spend the majority of the time thinking about you, I will call it early.

Before, I would just stuff everything down. I would spend years being unhappy because that’s what I thought I deserved. With the set of relationships I’ve been talking about in the last few entries, they are all people to whom I have spilled my guts. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a place to go with my feelings. The entire problem with all of them is that when I expressed the fact that there was a problem in our relationship, they wanted to minimize, move past it, or institute a monster avoidance policy.

It’s just not worth it to go into the minutiae of who did what to whom, but I will say that all of them benefitted from me listening to their problems, but when I spilled mine, there couldn’t be a discussion. All the time they spent talking about their problems was good and wanting them to talk about our problems was bad.

All of the music would get sucked out of the room, leaving me in absolute quiet. I could think about our problems on my own. Laying them out was also problematic. Most people are intimidated by the depths to which I feel emotion. Most people don’t know how they feel as easily as I do, and are not capable of putting it into words off the cuff. I have compassion for that, because INFJ personalities are only 9-15% of the world’s population. Very few people deal in emotions the way I do…. Meaning I am not arrogant enough to think that I am more emotionally intelligent than others. I can bring the receipts, but you wouldn’t know it unless you’re asking for them. People do think I’m arrogant, though, just for being me. I know how I feel and express it well. I am also female, which lends itself to my arrogant reputation whether it is true or not.

….because men are visionaries whether they have the letters to prove it or not. I just have resting bitch face. Best not interrupt a man who can’t tell shit from Shinola. He needs all the brainpower he can get.

Speaking of my arrogant reputation, it is non-existent to everyone except the people I’ve let have power over me and now want to be an equal…. Especially those who don’t feel there’s a balance of power issue at all. Why would there be? If you already have it all, why would you give it up? Why would you complain when there’s not a problem for you. Both of us love you to pieces.

Women taking back their power always looks like arrogance, even to other women, because they’ve all been programmed to think we shouldn’t need anything. Someone breaking out of that mold is not to be trusted. I think it’s a large part of the problem in female leadership. Men aren’t used to women demanding things, especially when their performance is poor. They’re not bad at their jobs, you are a threat. It’s amazing how often HR thinks the same way.

I think the reason women in lesbian relationships are less willing to play is that they don’t have to deal with men’s shit at home. They are all at once the problem and woefully unprepared to deal with it on two levels. The first is that they don’t understand why things are the way they are. The second is that they are powerless to do anything about it.

Even if I was the CEO, some of my male employees would think I was worthless at it because I got it through some type of nepotism, whether from my husband or the collection of men I had to sleep with to get the job. I like the second option better, because I’ve had so many relationships with women that the idea of “sleeping my way to the top” is just too ridiculous not to laugh. They don’t put enough women loving women in power for that to be an achievable goal whether I was interested or not (I’m not).

Speaking of women loving women, someone called me out on my straight girl crush when I said, “don’t think I don’t know what I lost” by saying, “she’s straight. You were never in the game.” I’m glad they called me out, because that’s not what I meant. I didn’t mean that I lost a romantic relationship, because it was clear from the start that was never going to happen. I meant the complete idiocy it was to lay it out there in the first place, because then I was an untrusted entity and all the work we’d done previously was down the drain. You would have to know how important friendship is to me to know how seriously I mean that. My platonic relationships aren’t less important than my romantic ones. I feel deeply no matter what, which is why I only have two or three friends. I don’t have the emotional capacity to lay out that kind of energy for everyone, so I don’t.

What happens is, in effect, putting on a recording of 4’33 and grabbing onto the music in the room. It’s always there, humming, pulsating, rhythm on fire…. But fire is quiet when couched between music and silence. I have to find it, though. Else I’ll just rub my hands in the cold.


Texas Questionnaire

Notes on Being a Texan According to Me

BBQ brisket or ribs:

Neither. Turkey and sausage with white bread, pickles, raw onion, and an iced tea on the side because I like the spicy barbecue sauce best. Now that I live in another part of the south, I hate to say it, but I like this barbecue better. Pork and vinegar are such good friends.

Big Red or Dr. Pepper:

Neither. Diet Wild Red from HEB. Why is Big Red even on this? Wild Red is the GOAT. I am positive that HEB would like to hear this. Please tell them the next time you shop.

Tacos or Tamales:

Combination plate. Let’s not get stupid.

I like all kinds of tamales, but the green chile chicken at Pappasitos is my go-to. I also have said for years that “I like crunchy tacos because chips are a part of the meal.” You only lose points with me if the chicken is too clean. I want it to look like it’s been in the oven for hours and just prepped (pulled)…. And if you’re wondering what I mean by “clean,” it’s stuffing canned chicken with no seasoning into anything that’s supposed to be Mexican food.

Texans or Cowboys:

I don’t watch American football much. I am likely to be seen at a Dynamo or a Dash game. Watching sports on TV is kind of boring to me, but I do like going on YouTube to see 30 second clips of really elite golf shots, points on goal, etc. I used to have two friends that were obsessed with golf, and thanks to them, I got a free beer. Jordan Spieth was the answer to a question at pub trivia, and I never would have pulled out that answer unless I’d heard someone else talking about it.

UT or A&M:

Texas, because nobody is trying to upset Matt McConaughey here.

Sixth Street or Riverwalk:

I have never been to Sixth Street, so I can’t really say. What I can say is that my favorite restaurant on the Riverwalk is “Paloma del Rio.” Keep in mind it’s been a long time, so it might not be there. If it is, give it a shot and tell me if it’s still good. 😛

Houston or Dallas:

I don’t know Dallas well enough to really have an opinion here. I just hate Dallas because I’m from Houston and that’s what we do.

Ever drove across TX:

East to West a few times, but not South to North.

Been to the Alamo:

Yes. It’s basically the only field trip that anyone likes. The IMAX movie is also amazing, and it’s near the mission.

Crossed the border:

Several times. I went with a group from my church and attempted to preach in Spanish. Hilarity ensued.

Floated the Frio:

I don’t know. Is it near San Marcos? I’ve done most of them.

Been to the State Fair:

Yes. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories. One year we also saw “Cats,” which is much better if you’re seven.

Killed a snake:

No, but my dad has. We came home to a huge snake in our garage when I was a kid. We didn’t stop to check if it was venomous or not. My experience with Texas wildlife is limited to trash pandas (raccoons).

Saw a rodeo:

So many, yes. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the most famous in the world. I know I’ve been to a couple of cool concerts as well, but I’ve slept since then and can’t remember the acts.

Two stepped at a dance hall:

Very, very poorly.

Rode a mechanical bull:

Absolutely not. Have fun tho.

Own boots and cowboy hat:

I have owned boots, but I just don’t like those kinds of hats on my own head. It’s not that they don’t look great on other people.

Drove a tractor:

I would, but no one has ever asked me.

Shot something:

Yes, but I wasn’t living in Texas at the time. I went to an outdoor range in Estacada, Oregon and proceded to waste a trashed Dell computer. As an “IT Guy” it was cathartic in a way I didn’t know I needed.

Willie or George

Neither. Chicks for life…. although I would like to meet Willie.

My “Autogeography”

What is your favorite type of weather?

This meanders because one story leads into another. Good luck. God bless. Here’s the audio if you’d rather stream/download.

The weather I enjoy the most depends on where I’m located. In Portland, it’s the summer, because it’s not always hot. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat on the banks of the Willamette on July 4, absolutely freezing, and once I even drove down from Government Camp in a blizzard (Government Camp is the small town at the base of Mt. Hood where you rent your skis or snowboard). That being said, I have a place in my heart for dark and gloomy weather. It’s just that I need it much less often. When it is dark and gloomy here, I just tell people it’s “Portlanding.”

Willamette Week makes fun of Portland all the time, and it’s so snarky, which in my book means hilarious, generally. Things like “welcome to Portland, home of the eight month November.” “Welcome to Portland, where even our black people are pasty.” Portland being cold and wet was a given, and it was really, really nice to be out of Houston for most of the hottest days there. The weather is so different you really can’t even compare it. Even the rain falls differently. In Houston and DC, we have rain showers that we call “toad stranglers.” It floods. Lightning strikes down trees. There might be a hurricane offshore, like on Galveston or South Padre. Rain comes down in tight bursts, like the clouds are holding the drops hostage and they’re struggling to get out.

In Portland, the rain is a blanket. It covers you, and for an introvert, we’re all about having a cover. If you don’t like socializing because it’s loud and noisy, that’s not its vibe. Its vibe is coffee or beer with friends in a pub or cafe with a little music to drown out things you’re not trying to hear. I think it’s because it takes so much time and energy to get out of the house in the first place. I did take my sister to “Way Bitchin’ 80’s Night” at the Fez Ballroom, but that was an exception, not the rule. It’s also not just my personality. It’s seasonal affective disorder working on everyone you meet. Everything feels heavier in the winter, from emotional problems to saving enough energy to do something after work. Most of the time, the weather didn’t clear up or get more intense. Just this constant drumbeat of sorrow because to my mind, it looked like God was going through a breakup 280 days a year.

In Houston, it’s winter. It doesn’t get cold enough for me most days, but between Christmas and New Year’s is lovely. I remember when I was in 7th grade, my friend Jess and I went swimming in Galveston. It was November. The water really wasn’t warm enough, but I assure you that the Gulf of Mexico in the winter is still warmer than the Pacific Ocean in the summer. I have never been swimming in the Pacific. I have waded into the water until I couldn’t feel my feet…. which means I lasted about 20 seconds before I was doing the full body convulsing shiver.

Sometimes I wish I’d just laid out the money for a wet suit, because I love the ocean. In fact, when I was thinking about moving to Houston back in 2013, I thought of living on Galveston first. I changed my mind when I realized the commute wasn’t worth it. Having the ocean a few blocks from my house was worthless if I was driving an hour each way to my job. I wouldn’t have time to go there. However, the setting and characters call to me occasionally, and maybe someday I’ll listen.

This is because my dad was an associate pastor at Moody Methodist, so I lived there for kindergarten and first grade. Some of my favorite childhood memories come from that church, that parsonage, and those parishioners. Plus, Lindsay had just been born, so it was my last gig as a solo act. Let me tell you about that, too. Preacher’s kids come in two kinds. I am one, Lindsay is the other. The first type totally gets into it, loves it. The other rebels and develops a wild hair. I’ll give you a hint. The first time I met my then-wife’s parents, I was wearing a t-shirt that said, “I’m with the band.” Guess who was *in* the band? I’ll give you another hint. It wasn’t me. I have always stood behind Lindsay, literally and figuratively. She’s the outgoing, bubbly one. I’m also a lot shorter than she is, and that is a blessing on its own, because I can hide behind her and glean information. She knows I’m not going to talk about what she’s working on, I just like Knowing Stuff…. especially since the demographic she serves is the entire population of SE Texas queers.

I am getting to the age where I can’t really help her much, because I’m stuck in 1990 queer, where it was a slur. I still get angry when straight people say it, and said as much when I thought it had happened on NPR. When it turned out that the woman who said it was a lesbian (Neda Ulaby), my response was “call me. For now, she is just my corporeally challenged celebrity girlfriend on the radio (you’re welcome, Dana).

Editor’s Note: That’s what Dana used to call Alison Frost of Oregon Public Broadcasting,  with whom I had two dates, but we joked about it for YEARS ON END. I have never met Neda Ulaby, but she lives in DC, so it’s not impossible that we’d run into each other. Also, one of the funniest conversations we’ve ever had is “if you weren’t married to me, would you be a Fanagan?” She said, and I quote, “Yes. Of course. But I am married to you so I don’t have to be.” I laughed so hard that tears and snot rolled down my face. Well played.

Things have changed too much for me to see everything clearly, because I cannot see them without the filter of how I was treated and why it hurt. I do love that Galveston has a pride parade, though, because I can’t think of a better day than the parade, then swimming, then drinks on the beach. Speaking of which, I also love Capital Pride, because not everything centers around the parade. There’s also an outdoor market and all kinds of activities- like a coloring tent for littles. That’s the kind of stuff I never saw as a teen, and the first time I did, I started crying.

I am an earth sign, tied to the land…. Setting matters. Context matters. Why would it make me cry to see little kids coloring at a Pride event? Because when I was a kid, I didn’t know any lesbians with children. I didn’t ever think I’d be able to have a child, because it just wasn’t done. My frame of reference was having someone everyone else called my roommate for a hundred years and pretended to notice I didn’t have a boyfriend. Setting and context are also extremely important to a novel, so being able to recreate places I’ve lived, worked, cooked, and eaten are stored in my memory. Just like Harry Windsor, I don’t remember dates, but I will “recreate a setting down to the carpet tacks” (I’m reading “Spare,” and I’m about 10 percent into it. My heart has already broken at least six times. It went from TBR to mandatory when I found out that Harry had been in Kandahar when The War Daniel was embedded with his Marines.)

I could not finish my work in progress without going to Vietnam. For me, writing about a thing has to come from experience. The book just won’t be as good if I don’t actually touch the plants, feel the grass under my feet, hopefully go fishing or something else that lends itself to writing (my idea of fishing is putting the pole on the boat and waiting for something to bite while my notebook is in my lap). I don’t know what my favorite season is in Asia. I’m just going to have to find out for myself.

In The District, it is all Spring all the time. I love the cherry blossoms, I love the Tidal Basin, and next time Lindsay visits, we’re going to have to recreate a photo of us that we don’t have anymore from 2001. We’re holding hands and pushing on the columns because we are SO INCREDIBLY STRONG we can hold up the Jefferson monument.

Any gift shop you go to in DC will have trinkets with cherry blossoms on it, whether it’s Spring or not. It is one of the things that defines the city that has nothing to do with politics. The trees were a gift from Japan.

Spring is also where it starts getting warm, but not all at once. It’s incredible sweater weather in March, perhaps a bit of April. It’s when DC is at its finest, where you can take a long walk in all that beauty without your face melting off. There are some days in the summer that DC is actually hotter than Houston, and that’s a mean feat.

I have been to New York, London, and Paris. None of them hold a candle to DC, but that’s an unpopular opinion because the people that don’t live here don’t know its beauty, and the people who live here forget to take it in. For instance, the approach into DCA at night leaves me in tears every single time. That’s because you can see The Washington Monument, the Pentagon, The Lincoln Memorial, and The Jefferson Monument all at once. It’s overwhelming…. especially because I only named about 10% of what you can pick out.

I have a favorite drive here, though I haven’t owned a car in years (with public transit and Uber, I don’t need one).

It is going from my old house (803 N. Van Dorn) into DC. You *start* at the Pentagon, and there is no such thing as Philip Johnson’s sense of restrained monumentality. We don’t do restrained monumentality here. It is full-on pageantry. Even if you drive an Econoline, your van will still feel small. I feel small when I walk downtown (shut it), but not in a way that makes me feel small inside. I am awed by everything, the same sense of excitement I felt when my parents took me to The White House when I was Leslie Lanagan, Age 8. It feels amazing that I am just as in love with it now as I was when I first landed 37 years ago. That trip is the reason I moved here in the first place.

In 2000, when Kathleen graduated from UH, she got a job at ExxonMobil and they asked her if she wanted to start in Houston or Fairfax. I’m not sure that Kat had a preference, but I sure did. 😛 We were here for Sept. 11, and that changed me forever, but it’s not why I left. If anything, it made me want to come back because there is an institutional memory here that soothes me. I am at peace with all of it now, but I didn’t just hear about it. I heard it happen. The Pentagon wasn’t far enough away from my house not to have the paintings rattle. Seriously. It was so loud that I thought there had been a construction accident across the street. I was disabused of that notion when our neighbors came over. So many people were affected with deep grief, and I didn’t lose anyone I really knew. I am not here to say that I had the same experience as someone who lost a loved one. I am here to say it was scary AF. We had fighter jets flying over our house for several days afterward, just watching federal airspace, and I was grateful even though it was very, very loud.

I only remember the date because it’s been drilled into my head so many times, but here is what I remember on my own. The sun was brilliant that day, nothing but blue skies for miles. The leaves were beginning to turn in “our front yard,” in quotes because it was a rowhouse and the lawns weren’t divided.

I was sitting in my office, chatting with my friend Jim (former boss)…. then….. BAM!

Because I thought it was a construction accident, I barely looked up. Then Jim told me to turn on the TV. He had to tell me to turn on the TV because I was home sick from work that day. Kathleen had taken me to a tapas bar for my birthday (10 Sept.), wherein I ate bad mussels and spent the night after we got home in the bathroom. I slept in, then threw up some more. When the first set of fighter jets took off, I realized how alone I was.

I see DC now and am glad that I am part of the institutional memory it holds, because that was my first time in deep grief. I didn’t lose anyone except a passing acquaintance. The loss was not personal, it was my mirror neurons going off and feeling the pain of the city, stepping into its river and taking drink after drink. The beauty still arrived that Spring, as much as I don’t think we were ready for it. Beauty and grief don’t make friends in the beginning.

Since my mother died, I have learned to love picnics in cemeteries because they’re always quiet, serene, and a great reminder that there are more people grieving than just me. Gore Vidal is buried here, and I haven’t been to pay my respects. I intend to make change by hopefully stealing some of his talent since he is not currently using it.

Because Congressional Cemetery is lovely in my favorite weather here.

The Monster in My Head and the Ghost Out to Get Me

The blog post, read poorly by the author.

I just watched an exploratory criticism of “Vincent and the Doctor” that I really love. It talks about depression, because there’s who The Doctor thinks is an aggressive alien chasing after Vincent, because only he can see it. The Doctor has to use a gadget with a mirror so he can see the alien in reverse, and it’s not aggressive. It needs help.

Which the creator of the video calls the alien representative of depression itself. It’s a monster only you can see. Depression is also not feeling sad, necessarily, because there is no rhyme or reason to it. I could be panicky, I could be absolutely devastated regarding something, so that pain also mixes in…. But mostly, depression is the absence of emotions at all. People, places, and things don’t matter. You have to drag yourself everywhere, even into the shower or actually completing any task that would make you feel better…. Because of course, it’s what depression thinks you deserve. It knows the very best lies to use against you…. That you are worth nothing, that you are not deserving of being able to take care of yourself, because you don’t matter to anyone… and if you do matter, you think it’s just because other people are being nice to you.

Because who could ever love dumbasses like us?

If people do show that they care, genuinely, you still can’t accept that fact… because depression knows the very best lies to use against you. It is an alien who needs help, a foreign brain infection. Depression thinks that it’s saving you from pain, because you think you’re a burden on everyone, especially when they tell you that.

I’m Bipolar II, which is like regular manic depression but without caffeine or calories. Nothing to get you going at all. You’re just hanging in until you get just enough hypomania to function out in the world without being stuffed full of bravado and confidence that is unparalleled and leads to extremely poor impulse control. One of the worst thoughts I’ve had after an appointment with a psychiatrist. He said that he thought I was bipolar, not unipolar, and switched out my medication. I was over the moon that I’d found a really great doctor, and eventually learned once my protocol changed that a mood stabilizer was the right answer.

I called Dana in tears, the kind that threaten to swallow you up. I said, “I don’t want to be Sally Field in ER!” If you know, you know.

Bipolar I is so different from Bipolar II that there’s not really a direct comparison. You don’t go up in to true mania, where you’re buying ten cars in one day or putting yourself in more danger than is necessary because you like the thrill.

Bipolar II is a lot of depression without coming back up. My hypomania presents as insomnia. I don’t get it very much, but I wish I did. Depression is a complete shitshow, because it will rob you of thinking you deserve anything at all. You’ll pick the most toxic person in the room because you actually think that being treated poorly is almost necessary. You’re still getting some contact comfort, and still focused intensely on how bad you should feel for inconveniencing other people. If they’re crazy, too, you figure that taking on their pain so they can function is the one thing you can do to prevent them walking away. It generally doesn’t work for either party, because two people care about them to the point of losing ourselves. For unipolar and bipolar depression, this pattern occurs a lot… because again, you think your job is to take care of everyone else so that they see you actually have something valuable to contribute to the conversation, because if you’re dealing with your own pain, adding on someone else’s is a no-brainer. If they’re not a narcissist, you’ll get support and love because they may not be able to sympathize, but empathy goes a long way.

But that’s a healthy relationship, and we don’t find those, because it would show self worth and esteem, and we don’t do that either. Why would we? We don’t even like ourselves…. And from the Gospel of RuPaul Charles, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the HELL are you going to love someone else?”

I feel it’s time for a snarky reminder that RuPal is a drag queen. Get out of here with your bullshit. You’ve loved RuPaul since high school. “But I’m a Cheerleader,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and the list goes on.

I didn’t think of it before, but I’m thinking of it now. Minorities are more adept at thinking they’re trash than the cis, straight, fits in everywhere sort of person…. And white people are awful. Full stop. It’s embarrassing. Even though I’m white, I use the queer card everywhere because I want to take people’s slurs and stupid comments because it makes me feel less like a traditional white person and more like the minority I really am.

Being queer is great if you keep to yourself, because no one can tell if you’re queer just by looking at you…. Even though I joke about it all the time. For instance, “are you pregnant?” “You can see me, right?” But the hard truth is that I am not having the same experience of the US as people of color. I could absolutely hide from it. I want to marry a man. To me that says bi pride flags everywhere and Daniel becoming a part of my community because Cora will also be there. Kidhausen and Lesliehausen are a team for life.

The suffix -hausen is used to represent the best of the best of the best. So of course my favorite movie is now “Argohausen.” Seriously, I love the dialogue.

“I should have brought some books for prison.” “Oh, they’ll kill you long before prison.” “If you get caught, The Agency cannot claim you.” “They barely claim me as is.” “What’s your demographic?” “People with eyes.”

And the list goes on. My favorite that runs through my head when cooking in a professional kitchen is “I’ve seen suicide missions that had better odds than this.”

In case you were wondering, I did type all of it without looking up. I have seen it so much that I’ve memorized most of it. The only part I cannot do is speak Farsi…. But don’t think I haven’t tried to learn it by transliteration.

Tony Mendez is literally in the Top 50 spies to ever work for CIA.

There is an Argo line or conversation for every occasion. This is “He (meaning President Carter) says you’re a great American.” “A great American what?” “He didn’t say.”

But my favorite has to be when they go to present their very best bad idea… by far. “Careful. It’s like talking to those two old fucks from The Muppets.”

Things that really make me laugh are important, because it lifts my mood overall. I have learned that I am not the sort of person that can go without listening to music for more than five minutes, because it silences “The Committee.” You didn’t show up knowing what that meant, but if you have depression or alcoholism, you know. It’s the tapes in your head that tell you you’re no value add.

It’s why most people die of depression, and I will say it exactly that way. It’s a disease in the sense that the brain is an organ, focused on survival. It will do anything to protect you, because to it, protecting you means isolating. It’s “obvious” no one likes you. They can’t get away from feeling that we don’t deserve to be alive at all.

Because it’s the monster in your head, and the ghost out to get you. For a lot of people, it does. The one that hurt the most was Tommy Raskin, son of Jamie, because Jamie is brilliant and I had to watch him on TV while bleeding out emotionally because I know what it’s like when someone close to you dies. Every neuron in your body is re-wired to accept the loss and move on. Losing a parent or a child fundamentally changes you in a way that people who haven’t lost parents or children will never understand.

They don’t realize you are literally a different person than you used to be, and you can’t go back… especially when they look at your method of grieving and decide it’s unacceptable, because they also don’t realize that grieving is as individual as a fingerprint. Everyone reacts differently. For Nora Ephron, it was keeping her husband’s shoes because she thought he might need them. She’s right. It’s at least a year of magical thinking. The brain fog is interminable, like putting whatever you’re holding in the freezer whether you meant to or not. I thought my notebook was missing for days. It was in the pantry.

For me, grief was being “show mode” in public and unable to function when I was alone. I’m not sure I got out of bed more than a few times in the first month my mother died suddenly. She broke her foot and developed an embolism. In one way and one way only, it helped a lot to know that there wasn’t a doctor on earth that could have done any better. They would have had to catch it early on. When it blows, it blows. Periodt.

The part that was terrible was that I had just come home from church, where I talked to Sam, my choir director. She asked me if I would do a solo, and I asked her if it was okay to invite my mom to play for me.

I was writing a blog entry about it when my sister called and told me that mom was in the hospital. I wasn’t even finished with it when Lindsay called to tell me that she died. She died and I was so far away, when I still had a car and was “threatening” to take a road trip home. She said she thought it was a bad idea, and I have been kicking myself ever since.

I went into complete shock mode, putting away my emotions because I knew that a crowd of people I didn’t know would be filing past me to give condolences, or coming up to me at the potluck afterwards, etc. The worst comment I got was that a woman said she knew how I felt, because her cat died. It’s not the same playing field, Karen.

No one saw me cry because I was incapable of doing so. Falling apart in front of strangers is not something I do, ever. I could cry in front of this audience because I was alone in my room, and it felt natural. I just left it that way, even though the moment I started telling the story of how I met Jonna Mendez, Tony’s widow, made my stomach clench and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stop from showing grief.

Showing grief is uncomfortable, almost as uncomfortable as being depressed. People don’t know what to say about your loss, and you are mindful that people have no frame of reference for what you’re going through, because again, grief is as individual as a fingerprint. Sometimes people who are grieving are surprised that you’re not doing it the same way they did.

It felt like “you’re not doing it right, Leslie.”

I wouldn’t have survived if I hadn’t turned on my inner sociopath (in terms of cutting off your emotions, not nefarious activity). It was the only way I would survive the onslaught of being thrown into public, akin to being dropped in the middle of Tehran without language skills, a map, or anything else that would have been helpful.

I felt like Marcus Brody in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

“Marcus? Marcus would get lost in his own museum.”

Oh my God it’s just the truest thing ever. You only think you’re prepared, but you’re not, because you have no idea what your brain is going to do to protect you. It might be close to how you think you’d react, but it’s a sure bet it’s going to be absolutely nothing like what you thought you would feel. It’s also a different scenario when a parent dies suddenly at a young age rather than you getting to enjoy them until you’re both relatively ancient. I feel like I got robbed of at least a decade.

If someone is dying slowly, you have the opportunity to ask questions, get educated on what’s going to happen, make major life decisions for them, etc…. Most people think of it as a burden to become a carer. My response in my head is generally “fuck off,” and not because I’ve suddenly started to hate this person. It’s because they seem ungrateful that they get to watch their parents finish their lives instead of it being stolen.

My mother would have hated every minute of it, and would probably be grateful that she died suddenly. This is because she would literally rather die than let us take care of us. Depression is genetic, and she was never diagnosed or treated. You could just tell, because you think you’re good at hiding it until someone finally tells you they can see you and it’s astonishing how much you think you’re hiding it. If I had to take a guess, my mother was dysthymic, which is a low level of depression that presents all the time. You don’t feel bad enough to go to the doctor because you think it’s just a case of “the blues.” You’ll get over it soon. And then you don’t realize that ten years have gone by.

But it’s a bullshit diagnosis because I’m not an actual doctor. I just call ‘em like I see ‘em, and I’ve had enough experience with crazy people to see them. Acknowledge that they’re hurting and try to help. I have actually been to what poet Mary Karr calls “the mental Marriott.” It was great meeting my cohort because all of a sudden, I had seven people who understood me completely.

Because they too have a monster in their heads and a ghost out to get them.

Stories That Are Factually Accurate

Here’s my “blog entry” for today. I am sick, so this is what you get. I know, I know. You’re terribly grateful….. 😛 😛 😛

Listen to Stories That are Literally True and Actually Happened by Leslie D. Lanagan

I talk about a lot of stuff, mostly meeting my favorite authors- Anne Lamott, David Sedaris, and Jonna Mendez. I have told all of these stories before, but not in my own voice.

I finally broke open to let some light in, and it feels good. Like, dragonfly in the sun, you know what I mean.

You get it.

You’ll see why I’m telling you this joke. Altos and basses live on cigars and vodka. Sopranos and tenors live on shoes and compliments.

All the Things You Never Knew

This is the most stereotypical thing you’ll ever read from the mind of women who love women. I mean, it is brutal. I will go into the lesbian falling in love with a straight woman HALL OF FAME. I just want to correct assumptions. I don’t need anything, I want it, and there’s a huge difference now that I don’t care if anyone likes me or not. I just don’t have enough time left to worry in terms of a second act. I will also not be recording this one because I can’t sit that long in this much pain, even though there’s glory, too. Maybe in a year.

You have trauma reflexes. So do I. I was taking everything you said as yelling at me and so were you. It devolved into madness and I was trying to stabilize. Future proof for both of us so that we could move the fuck on and love each other like we should’ve in the first place, when the connection was so explosive for both of us that it woke up everything within me. I paid attention closer, and I felt that was necessary because our story is a book series because I didn’t change all at once, like a magic wand. I changed because I did the homework and you sometimes would and sometimes wouldn’t, and that’s what hurt more than it helped…. and thank God I am not literally writing a book series on this. First of all, what a terrible idea.

You never seemed to realize that I was paying attention to you because I thought you could do no wrong, ever, as long as we were doing the homework as a group project, but we were just never in sync.

I’d say things like you and anyone you want to bring can be expats wherever Daniel and I are living, and you didn’t respond to it. I was always confused, and because I’d been in love with you, it caused me so much pain that I just couldn’t take it. I didn’t know if it was a good idea or not. I was scared to throw it out there, scared to say anyone you want, and I didn’t know how you felt about it.

I’ve always told you that I was just laying out my feelings, that I was writing like I was blogging. The way you reacted was frequently to feel like I was coming down on you instead of building our relationship, it had to be dead on brick by brick for a while. So that we could forgive each other and ourselves from some really deep shit and move on without those feelings constantly coming up to bite us, and I can’t think of a single problem we’ve ever had that didn’t escalate into thermonuclear war.

I loved you every day. All day. It will never go away, and I will love you until my last breath. Just because my trauma reflexes told me otherwise doesn’t mean that it was true. It was just true in that moment, that snapshot of my day. So many times I thought you lost your camera. Lost sight of the fact that it was for life because it had to be. There has never been an instance where I hashed out our problems in front of you and waited to see if I was correct. I wanted to know if I’d said something helpful or hurtful so that I could tell you what I meant if you had questions because you thought it was an attack and it wasn’t. That’s what I meant when I said that there were moments that shit had gone down at work and I was having a panic attack and neither one of us could handle the other’s emotions. We just turned on each other again… but never did we once go back to being ourselves, the ones that loved each other until we just couldn’t because we were the only people in each other’s lives where it was okay to go that deep because we’d been doing it so long we’d forgotten why small talk exists. It was intense and beautiful and fed me in all the right ways, but I never knew how you felt about it until I’d hit a trauma reflex and in the next few minutes whether it was verbal or in writing I’d feel like everything was gone. When I told you that, I was trying to goad you provoke you make you mad, whatever the story you were telling yourself and I told you that I’d done the homework. I fucking taught Microsoft Word to Brene Brown and I joked about it with you, but how in the hell could I have gotten this interested in resolving everything without her?

You didn’t seem to be curious when I was letting my feelings out about you when they were negative. You accused me of going into combat mode and stop hearing me and start fighting.

It was never me. It was someone else in the room, and I got that from a comment on my own marriage article. When we weren’t triggered, we each tried to bring light into the darkness and it always failed. I always had empathy for everything you were going through in terms of what you might feel about me laying out all my feelings, and you being so busy that you simply didn’t have time. I understood and waited in line. I’m still there. But if you choose me, know that love makes me as serious as a heart attack in a way I don’t want to be. I see how you’re struggling and I want to help you but I can’t if you don’t let me know what the problem is. Most of the tme, when you feel annoyed and angry, I’m just gardening. There are so many follow-up questions that you haven’t ever seemed to have time for… but again, I don’t sit in judgement of you. I lay out my feelings and you call me an asshole and before I can even take a breath I’m trying to find out why and when you’re doing it so that I can figure out which trigger I’ve hit and why. That way, I know not to do it anymore. When you don’t tell me what you were thinking and feeling about that, I get anxious because the only thing I want in the world is for us to enjoy each other and it seems like it is a thing that could happen and something it couldn’t and it’s confusing as fuck no matter whether I’d ever been in love with you or not when I have no idea what in the hell I’m doing to you when I write. Because then I could adjust, make it better, make it where you can lean on me again. But because you don’t see it, you see me casing and trashing the joint.

I couldn’t talk to you in a way where you felt loved and special because I couldn’t. My trauma reflexes would hunt me down and go for blood, and so would yours. But I didn’t want to be stuck in trauma reflex mode.

I wanted to return to the spectrum we’ve always had, which is that love wins. When I was teling you how I could love you and why, you ignored all of it and waited for your moment to gut me. There was too much pain and not enough teasing me.

I was trying to be funny when I talked about trading dick for a live-in chef and how you know you fucked up, but I was just flipping you shit. Your reaction was so hard core you are going to fuck up everything or that’s how I perceived it and spiraled out.

Do you really think that was about you? No, it was a trauma reflex kicking in. There was no apology phase except from me… the part where we hug each other and all is forgotten. I didn’t really think that was all you. I thought you were just having a bad day and I wasn’t the dog you needed to kick. They weren’t even there. It was the monster in your head and the ghost out to get you. I also know that I needed to be corrected, called out in love, but your way of doing it was to absolutely incinerate me when you know abandonment is my trigger.

I am choosing to resolve all of this shit if you are, but the longer you don’t speak the more it convinces me that you don’t want to do any emotional work with me when I told you there was no shortcut back to nice on this one and you showed up with such intensity that it made me lose my head for a little bit, dreaming about later in life when we’re all ancient, sitting on the back porch because you have nowhere to be and your kids are all grown and all that shit. It could be more if you were willing to move in my direction, but I don’t think it ever will be. I wasn’t focusing on you disappointing me, I was focusing on everything I needed to tell you before we were ancient, and I know that if you want to say it, you have to say it rightthefuck now because my mother went from having to wear a cast and being dead in the blink of an eye.

The reason I got so deep into our shit is because I love you, not because I hate you. It’s not a flirting, blushing love but day in, day out hard work. You live for the highs, not the lows. I gave you a letter that contained all the things about you that I love, and it was ignored. I don’t need you to take everything and throw it all away, because that’s what you did. I don’t think it was intentional, I think it was just my own trauma reflexes talking because I constantly think you don’t care when you only respond to me saying shit that makes you feel horrible. You don’t respond to me when I’m telling you I’ve been willing to be devoted in a way that couldn’t be duplicated, and again, I think it came across as goading and provoking, because my trauma reflexes aren’t smart enough to back down. So while I have things to say that are hard to digest, that doesn’t mean that I’m trying to load you up with guilt and shame. It means I love you enough to struggle until it’s right for both of us. It’s just not right for both of us, or at least right now. You seem to me to be happy this way, and I don’t even have to be angry about it because I know it’s just you responding to trauma and not burn the whole world down. I didn’t know you didn’t know that, so when you’d accuse me of throwing emotional bombs and trashing everything, I wasn’t asking for that. I was asking you to take it away and think about it while you need to be apart from me. Recognizing that your time is worth so much. Recognizing that In the Beginning I would have done anything for a walk and talk. And you know I’d do some shady shit if you needed me. If you needed me I wouldn’t stop for red lights.

Your story is important, more important than mine right now. Mine will come later, and I want you to fucking be there. I have been singing through the pain, and you should know me well enough to know what a big fucking deal that is. It’s my trigger, and I was leaning in. To have you not even respond was excruciating.

And if that feels like me goading you, it’s not. It’s recognizing that when you emote, I feel it deeply. You’re my friend and I have been in love with you in the past, so our issues on both sides are deeply seeded, seated for maximum root system. I have never, ever been saying that you are wrong and bad. I was saying “I think you are wrong about this.”

I have so much crap in my life that it was over the moment you said “you made me.” I don’t need people who think that way. But I can’t break the connection. It feels weird, but it’s correct on both sides. The thing is a direct quote from “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” “Just talk to her once and it won’t be weird anymore.” What I mean is about these topics. We only have to cover them one time and then we can move on… when our trauma reflexes aren’t constatly telling us that we’re disappointing each other. I am not you when I am with you and become you in some ways because some of your lines go through my head because you’re such an extroardinary writer that I can’t get over it.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to have feelings about it. I would do anything for and with you if you’d just tell me how you feel. I am an INFJ. I don’t see the world as what it is, but what it could be. I wanted to build something with you, and when I told you there was a monkey wrench in that plan, you were silent.

Just like you, nothing intentional, whether it was bad or not. That’s what love does. It is a series of vulnerablilities, not all sunshine. That’s when we have to find it for ourselves, going back to a discussion when there’s not a chance we could change it, but doing something about the present. Feeling better and stronger in self esteem, being other aware and communicating, and I am not asking for you to be this way all the time. I’m asking for a tiny bit more than you can give, and that’s okay with me. I know why. We both need a step back. I also told you that you were welcome until I took my last breath, and then my trauma reflexes kicked in and it came across to me as “it’s always going to be this way. I’m always going to feel confused and lost when something big comes up, because you don’t spend your days in all that touchy feely crap.

Because if one comes out, they all do. That’s when it’s hard as fuck, but then it passes and you become more integrated. But again, only seeing through my own lens and not yours because I don’t know if I’m welcome in your life or not, because we both tell each other to fuck off at the exact moment we start getting somewhere.

But like I told you before, I’m sure you could get in touch with me if you wanted, but I have no idea whether you will or not. I’m not carrying a flame for you. I haven’t seen enough evidence that you’re willing to speak with me in my love language if I am willing to speak to you in yours. When I was telling you who I was, it was through my jokes and humor because that’s how I deal with enormous pain. Just enormous. I am totally cool with it now, But don’t think I don’t know what I lost.

Thus the jokes that make you cringe and let me blow off a little steam, just like you. We are so much alike in so many ways that it boggles my mind. Having you say that I’m painting my feelings as fact was rough, because my truth is my truth. I’ve been doing it the entire time. You only blink when our problem is about us. It is suspicious or angry. It feels like our emotions are struggling to get out.

You said “I trusted you” in many, many different contexts. Sometimes, it was because you felt like I’d screwed you over and I hadn’t. Sometimes it was because you really did trust me and it was fantastic or terrible depending on which issue we were talking about.

You thought I was trying to irk you in the most serious way possible and it didn’t calm you down that I told you I was laying out my feelings, that nothing I ever did would have anything to do with you, that my actions were my responsibility, not my obligation. That I was offering you love so profound you couldn’t even wrap your arms around it and your response was nothing.

That’s why I always knew what trigger I’d hit and when. But only after I’d done the homework and learned you enough to see you clearly. I could respond that way when I laid out my feelings, but if I hit a trigger in you, you immediately stopped seeing love and started seeing an incredible amount of negative energy. Why would I ever raise my voice? When I’m writing, it’s just stream of consciousness and I throw it out there to see what sticks, and the cycle continues because once our reflexes have calmed the fuck down, what I saw is that we loved each other with intensity, not that I was always ragging on you. That I couldn’t be counted on for anything but constantly saying we were done and not done. I know that’s not true, and I also know that you know it.

This is because I never knew if I was welcome or not. We couldn’t futureproof if our lives depended on it, and yet we need each other in a million different ways. You see it differently than I do, and it hurts so much that I’m just as miserable now as I was after my divorce and my mother died. I loved you that much that I feel that much pain. But what was coming across was that I was trying not to poke the bear, and you didn’t see that I was doing it because the lens through which you were reading was that everything was bad and this would never go away and why was I still on this?

Because we can’t move on until we fix this thing, this toxic cycle because that’s the hand we’ve been dealt and we have to manage the downward spirals, not assume that the other is trying to hurt them when it escalates. I have never tried to hurt you, ever, unless we were both in escalation mode. When that happened, our trauma reflexes made both of us scared of each other, when if we’d talked it out in person it would have taken a few minutes, but we didn’t. We chose to hash it out with seven percent of what goes into communication instead of just saying “I can’t with your writer personality. Get your ass over here.”

I don’t know where your anger is, but I feel it. Whatever we’re both fighting, it should NOT be each other. I told you that you could cry on my shoulder if you needed a place to go with your feelings, but I never knew if I was welcome to tell you that….. but we’ve been friends since Jesus was a boy.

Because you say nothing and I don’t want to live like that. I want to embrace my true authentic self, and I swear to Christ you’re always welcome in my life. If you show up BIG, and accept the love I’m offering and recognizing that we are just enough alike and just enough different and we both need to bend and sway instead of letting the tree disease.

You have no idea. None at just how much hearing your voice changed me. I got the idea that my voice was a mask long ago, and the idea to actually put it out there from you. The other thing I realized is twofold. The first is that hearing each other’s voices while we talked it out would have solved the problem nearly immediately. Secondly, not knowing you had a partner was brutal on many levels. Not knowing that you’d deleted everything led to the change you see now, but a huge fight in the moment because trauma on both sides. I tried to tell you that every day for too long and you never responded to it. I let you go because I was exhausted. I couldn’t go any longer without you being willing to engage in resolution and resurrection, and you focused on all the wrong things.

So did I, beautiful girl. I got the idea to call you that because that’s what I call Cora. It wasn’t trying to dive into history or anything like it, because I am stable enough to love you absolutely for who you are. You are a Doctor Who is a very bad patient (I can work Doctor Who into goddamn anything, just roll with it). The absolute only thing I ever asked you about that show even though it’s the biggest fandom in my life, you never told me how you felt about it, or if you even clicked the link. I thought you would do it because you love me, not the show. It was about Vincent van Gogh, and how someone didn’t save his life because he changed it, it’s that sometimes you can’t change your story.


And you thought I was being a drama queen. It’s not that at all, it’s that your response was a trigger. When I told you that, you dismissed me. I never wanted to talk to you again in my whole life. But I made an exception with Daniel because he is important too. The reason the email telling you about Daniel was begging and pleading is because I told you that I never wanted to speak to you again and then found out that I hadn’t sent it. I didn’t want to trigger you.

I wanted you to show up, and you couldn’t or didn’t. Whether I know it or not is up for grabs, but that depends on you. Because whether I thought love was romantic or platonic, it’s been such an extraordinary experience, but you kept thinking it was terrible because our trauma reflexes constantly rubbed up against each other. When I told you that my letters were going to be received as me being an asshole whether I meant it or not, you had no idea what idea I was focusing on, and the idea has been she’s the most beautiful, most interesting, most puts my mind in hyperdrive person in my life so do anything to keep that relationship strong and healthy for the future. I am speaking with such love and trauma here:

“The longer you go without speaking, the longer I don’t think you want to do any emotional work with me.”

Your response was to show up big, and then when I emoted about you, you shot me to shit. It just feels like you can’t handle large emotions anymore, when to me that is actually the most valuable part of our relationship. That’s why I don’t wanna pay attention anymore. It’s that I feel like I am Putting everything out there , and you’re not. I am not your personal content creator. You are not my therapist. Both of those things are well established. However, you are the friend that agreed to listen. So am I. Nothing was ever a half ass threat to trigger you. I am sorry that you feel that way. How it comes across is you not taking my mental health issues seriously. When I told you that, you stepped all over my ass. I forgive you. I haven’t forgotten. This is because in that moment, you decided that your trigger was more important than mine. I even said that there are certain words that you say that send me into a blind panic, but you never asked what they were. Now you know.

I’m sure my response was sharp to you, and I was triggered.

To me, it was our love story and how it changed over the years to accomodate both of us. It was recognizing that I had my own demons where you were concerned, that I wasn’t ever being flippant or trying to hurt you, goad you, provoke you. This is what I am talking about in terms of a toxic cycle.

It was so much bigger than that to me, both including you as family and showing up big, but I would have shown up so much bigger than that. If you look at my letters through that lens, you can see it so clearly that even I’m frightened by it. I don’t know how to manage it.

And as I’ve always said, this is not about you. This is about me. I couldn’t stand that we were both in each other’s heads and hearts, and we couldn’t make it any better. Those things are both true.

I was crying when I told you that I had become the Lord John Grey you could love and not the one that you couldn’t. You couldn’t listen to “can’t you see that I am screaming for empathy and not with anger.

I’m also saying that I escalated. I hurt you. Screwed you to the wall. But we both needed to be selfish. Maybe this is a time of interim, maybe it’s not. But here’s what I can control. I can stop actively letting you into my life if you won’t tell me how I can be a better friend. You keep saying that you’re tired of letters that try to guilt you and it makes you delay writing back or putting me on the back burner.

Putting me on the back burner turned out to be a huge fucking stove. I’m frustrated that your responses are short and never about us. I know, beautiful girl, that you can’t. Both because of time and trauma.

We’re getting to the age where we need each other, but we’re not moving in the same direction.

If you want to show up big, it means taking “you made me” out of the equation, taking lecturing you out of the equation, all that. The spectrum is large. I have now had every feeling that can be described about you by now, and I’m still showing up even though it was really fucking hard. But as I told my friends, it was worth it.

It wasn’t my obligation. I could have gone on hurting about it forever and kicking myself, or I could ask you to compromise. Asking you to compromise was not the tack I should have taken, for many, many reasons.

Because my trauma literally lines up with yours. We irritate the hell out of each other, but it doesn’t mean there’s not something here. It means it’s gone until we can both fucking chill.

But to my mind, you’ll always be the one who stole my heart, and returned it stronger than it had ever been. I couldn’t have become who I am if you hadn’t been you. That’s the real story, and I felt like you lost the plot because I never knew yours. I asked you what you were doing, and it was just another emotional bomb where I wasn’t upset at all. I was genuinely asking “where are you, and where do you want to go.” I probably could have worded it better, but that’s what I meant.

In most cases, I could have worded things better because there was no context. You weren’t sitting with me, watching me write, asking questions when you didn’t know something, and me getting to tell you what I was feeling in my own tone of voice, so you know I’m not throwing emotional bombs. It’s a prayer of relief in the legal sense in that I am telling you where I am and where I’m going, and asking for resolution on the few things that still need closure. None of this is predicated on my gender or sexual orientation. It’s what having a relationship where both people are open and vulnerable means.

But again, you don’t have time for that and it is really, really okay as long as you carve out a tiny, tiny bit of tme to help me be less confused. You have the funniest bullet points in the known universe and I’m here for it.

This is the relationship where I’m willing to drop the funny with you. You have no idea what that means to me. I wore a mask through my entire childhood, trying to be funnier than I am, more polite than I want to be because sometimes I just didn’t want to engage. I never had the strength to dictate terms, and I’m not going to be that anymore.

Wanting to be liked has cost me so much, and so has not. But what’s different about not is that I chose it. It is mine.

I chose you. If you choose me, it’s on like Donkey Kong. If not, “may the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.” I really do love you with that day in, day out kind off love. It gives me more strength than you can grasp, and I’m not sure that you ever have.

You are fuel for me, because once the fire was lit, I put it out. It may not have been the way you wanted or enough for you, but please know that I have always loved you as a complete person, not for your body. That’s shallow and inconsequential. I lit a glowing campfire. It keeps us all warm.

This has been all about consequences on both sides of the equation, where I could hear you say things like “I am furious with you right now.” Because I know you won’t be furious forever, and I will wait as long as it takes if you’re thinking that this is accurate and you want to reach out, but if you’re going to take it as more negativity than love, you might want to clean your glasses.

It’s your brain that turned me on. I think that should mean something, because I may be extraordinarily intelligent and paint my feelings as fact, but that’s because I got to it through you. That I could dictate terms, that I could stand up for myself, that I could say when there was a problem and do what needed to be done to fix it.

It’s a bigger ladder to get to me now that I’ve loved you, because I’ve learned to compartmentalize and focus on what’s happening right now. And what I’m doing right now is thinking about direction, and I always have been.

Sometimes I want you to return with something beautifully written, because I know that when I receive it, I’ve gotten a letter from the one I love the most, and no matter what it says, it’s valuable. Even the ones that drive me up the wall, because it’s a tapestry.

It has torn, but I have thread. I have stitched it up before, and I hope I will stitch it up again. I take nothing away from what I have and haven’t done. My reflexes are deeply intrinsic and have nothing to do with you.

I felt like I owed you the homework, not because it felt obligatory, but because there’s nothing more in the world that I want you to feel except Leslie loves me and we’re all good, it’s just that when issues come up, she will irritate and anger the living shit out of you because you don’t garden as a writer, and it’s a problem that I am… except that I have always been this way, a thinker in longhand. Neither one of us are the people we met, and we’ve never had a do-over.

If there is a God of the universe, I got them by writing to you. Every letter was a prayer in longhand. Every letter was how I process emotion from beginning to end. You do that with your mind, I do that with my heart. Maybe we can learn how to think and feel together. We are so different in some ways. Being empathic is a rough gig. I don’t mean that you are not empathetic, I mean feeling the whole world at once. It’s not that great. I am constantly emotionally laden. Writing is to deal with all that Because it is a comprehensive response to life.

There was never a chance that you were going to believe that I could call you out and love you for exactly who you are simultaneously, as if my feelings aren’t as crazy, wild as yours.

I never, ever want you to forget that, because even if it’s over I would do anything to prove that your sacrifices are not in vain. Just because I have to do a thing doesn’t mean I don’t get to feel about it.

We both do the things, just in different contexts. And you can see that so clearly when I lay out my relationships with other people. I seem to write beautifully about everyone but you.

When you’re the one I choose whether you ever choose me or not.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say you were ever in love with me, or that we weren’t taking in different realities. Our frames of reference were different because I had to get rid of the trigger that said I had to be with you to open up like this. I don’t. I just need to love you the way you were made. We both have different ways of being in this relationship, and that’s okay as long as we make the effort to speak in the other’s love language and not our own so that things are exactly are the way we are now, both of us butt hurt over what would be nothing if our trauma reflexes hadn’t kicked our asses. I asked you how we could move on, no response. But I swear on a six pack of Bibles it surprised the hell out of me that I got a response leaving me with a brand new asshole like two weeks later.

Do you see what I mean? Instead of asking about context, you went off. If it was a different day, it wouldn’t have been you. I have ripped you new assholes with as much dexterity as you. We are both so brilliant. I remember when I told you that you were the Hemingway of e-mail or some shit, that you write clearly and beautifully even when you’re angry and my response is “I’m not pleasing her,” but that’s not me. That’s my trauma reflex.

And if we’re really, really being dead honest, if we take sexual orientation out of the equation you could have written this about me.

And it would be better than mine.

Jesus Comes Up a Lot

Link to Audio Version

It’s always great when a memory from your childhood comes up and makes you laugh. This is from a Facebook status earlier today:

I’m staying in a hotel this weekend because we’re having our wooden floors refinished at the house. Two things about that. Apparently, there is a hockey tournament for littles going on, because it is crazygonuts loud when they’re awake. Luckily, I have three pairs of headphones that all go up to DEFCON OMFG. #SamSmith #Unholy Aaaaand, I forgot my good razor. I managed to get smooth legs from a twin blade without making it look like I have poison ivy. Ryan Darlington would be so proud. Ask him about it. I’m certain he remembers the story, it’s our “meetcute.” What I remember most of all is that my dad turned it into a sermon illustration. 😛 😛 😛 I don’t remember what scripture it was “enlightening,” because I don’t remember a story in the Bible where Jesus shaved his legs.

Here’s the story since most of you can’t actually ask Ryan. I know that some of you can, but this is for the rest of you.

Editor’s Note: Shout out to Ireland, who beat the United States in my stats yesterday. It means a lot to me because I’m not Irish, but that’s where my family originally began. Also another shout out to the Irish. I say editor’s notes because of Diane (Jennings), who divides herself into her YouTube personality and who she calls “Editor Diane,” and those clips are even funnier.

When I was in 7th grade, I was a trumpet player. I was not a prodigy, but I was good for my age because my dad is a trumpet player and he was able to help me until I got a private teacher. So, in the summer between seventh and eighth grade, I went to band camp at UT Austin. All of the other girls were shaving their legs, and I had never done it before. I didn’t even have a razor. So another girl lent me one, and it was already dull. I had gashes under both knees.

This beautiful boy with curly blonde hair walked up to me and said, “Hi. I’m Ryan Darlington. You look like you could use a Band-Aid.” I laughed and he stole my heart. We were an unusual couple for kids- together for over a year. His parents are just as important to me as my own, even after thirty years.

I don’t want to write about the funny part without writing about the serious part, too. Another instance in which I chose someone to love that didn’t deserve it over him, when he was The One. I wore his promise ring for years, long after we broke up, because I liked the thought that he was with me even when he wasn’t in the room.

I was stupid enough to tell him I was gay, but not out of malice. Out of idiocy. If I had known then what I know now, I would have done things so much differently. I would have explained to him that I’m bisexual, but that doesn’t mean I need two partners. That means I need you to understand that my identity as a person is different than yours, and we’re going to have to hash it out over what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not, because my words tend to get me in trouble….. “Sometimes you are very funny. Sometimes you are very not.” Tis true. I was a line cook for a long time, and sometimes it doesn’t occur to me that other people have never worked in a kitchen and have no context as to why I’m so outlandish and often don’t think of the consequences of what I say. It generally clicks in my brain that I am in kitchen mode when someone says, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”

The one friend I’ve lost to that disease that surprised me was a woman who owned a bar. Because of that one fact, the one I call “I didn’t choose the pub life, the pub life chose me,” I really began to look at the difference between indoor voice and outdoor voice. That I was actually hurting women and not joking with them like it came across to me.

It’s an experience I’ll never forget, because even though I lost that friendship, I will never in a million years stop loving her for what she gave me, which was new insight into my own behavior. It allowed me to do the homework. I have no idea if she still reads me or not, and it’s been so long that I don’t care. But it would make me happy to know that she knows I didn’t just tell her I was sorry, I changed my behavior for the better.

I can say that I’ve been changed for good without it being a double entendre.

I’ll sing that one line in the audio just to her, yet not to try and make amends to get something out of it for myself. I just want to tell her my truth. You did change me for the better, and it is permanent.

I continue to make mistakes and step over the line when it’s unwelcome, and all I can do is apologize profusely. But now it’s not a constant struggle between the language I use with coworkers and the language I use with friends.

It makes me happy to make other people laugh, and devastated when I’ve hurt them. I don’t want to be that person, ever. I’m also human and ADHD. Having your impulse control that fast and loose with everything and putting kitchen language on top of it is not new or interesting, because most of us are like that. ADHD, addict, misit… a kitchen is a tribe that will have you no matter what you’ve done or who you are. Believe me, that is a good thing. We all bust our non-neurotypical asses and have a great time doing it.

But speaking of impulse control, my rage went off once when I was a dishwasher. I verbally went for blood when my chef left both chef’s and bread knives in the bottom of the sink with dirty water on top so you couldn’t see them. You know what’s worse than being cut by a knife? Being cut by a knife that is soaking in bacteria. If I’d cut myself on a chef’s knife, it wouldn’t have been great. The serrated edge on the bread knife could have done so much more damage than that.

You really haven’t seen anything like a dishwasher dressing down a chef, but at least he had the humility to look embarrassed. He almost really, really hurt me, and he knew it. He stood there and just took it because he didn’t break a rule, he broke one of the biggest. In a kitchen, it doesn’t matter if it’s idiocy or malice if I end up in the hospital trying to get rid of whatever was in all that used food.

Like I’ve said before, when I don’t love someone, I don’t say anything. It’s not important. Every chef I’ve ever had earned my respect, but I didn’t like all of them. I’m only still in touch with two, the cream of the crop.

But that’s not the whole story. Cooking doesn’t drain my energy. I am excited and overwhelmed with possibility every single day, even if it’s just making the same shit. My nickname has been either “SpongeBob” or “Bob Esponja” in three kitchens running. The only time I’ve ever wavered in that kind of bubbly excitement was the day I had to go to work at 3pm when Anthony Bourdain had died that morning.

My chef/line cook friends leveled me with their posts, and I was in so much pain…. and so much more when I got to my kitchen and no one really knew who he was… and then Chef got there, and we looked at each other. We’d both been crying. No words, just a nod. Trying to talk was too much. By then it was 4:30 PM, when all the stations are mostly prepped and the dinner rush is trickling in before the “pop.”

Cooks live for “the pop.” We’re not cooks. We’re fucking gladiators doing ballet in front of a stove, an oven, an open flame grill, fryers… Picture Bikram yoga but for people under so much pressure they can’t breathe. That’s what makes the end of the night, when you’re breaking down the cardboard boxes and taking out the trash, feel like you’ve just won or lost a war.

You live for the W. Anything else is unacceptable, and we all know it. If we got in the weeds and ticket times were slow, we beat ourselves up over it…. or, we do at first. Over time, you learn that you can’t win them all.

Thankfully, I’ve won so much more than I’ve lost in every area of my life except cooking. I’m not sure that anyone understands my grief except other chefs, because I had so much trouble at work and it never occurred to me that I had too many physical limitations to work in a restaurant because I didn’t know I had them. I just felt incompetent all the time.

In another entry, I talked about the landscape smoothing over. It was the blessing of my life to learn that I hadn’t screwed anyone over on purpose in the kitchen, not even once in my lifetime.

The curse is knowing I can’t go back.

I wish I had listened to myself when I was young and been better about telling myself over and again that I could find a job in intelligence. I didn’t know that there were more options than C/DIA, because Foster was a helicopter pilot for both. And interestingly enough, I am learning about spycraft for a novel I’m writing. My interest in being CIA is equal to working for State, because it’s not about the spycraft. It’s about being able to travel. I think I would have been happy just about anywhere, but because theology is another great love of my life, I would have tried to walk every inch of MENA, State’s designation for Middle East North Africa.

Interestingly enough, one of my friends who works for the government told me that, and then a day later Lindsay said that her first boyfriend, Saeed, was from MENA… which I knew, but it was just interesting that I’d never heard a term before and it came up twice in two days….. But anyway, if I could find a safe place anywhere in MENA, I’d stay. I have too much to see before either I die or the Israelis and the Palestinians try to kill each other so hardcore that they also ruin everything important to Christians. I’m not hating. Both sides do shady shit all the time, I just feel ike it’s more justified for the Palestinians because they aren’t a recognized state and don’t have an actual military. Israel also has tons of American money pouring into it because of the Christian contingent in Congress. Jesus CHRIST this is not our fight, literally. Israel is not the one that needs help right now. If you think that the Russian army is overbearing and Israel is not, it might be a question you’d want to ponder further.

I know I do. I do not believe in Evangelical White Jesus. I believe in the historical brown Jesus posited by Marcus Borg, because it is absolutely insane to think that Jesus was the only baby born IN THE MIDDLE EAST and yet has French features. I’m bipolar. I know from crazy. This is it. There are stories out there about Jesus’s family escaping to France after the crucifixion, because Joseph of Arimethea had a shipping company. That’s how he was rich and powerful enough to get Jesus’ body back from the Roman government.

What would it be like to experience stories that are all true, and some of them actually happened in person? (Now you know how I picked the title of the blog….)

What would it have been like to sneak away for a weekend in Turkey to actually stand on Mt. Tabor? What would it be like to sit on the shores of Lake Kinnaret (in the Bible, the Sea of Galilee)? My mom went once, my dad has been twice. When he came home, he made us an Israeli recipe for broiled fish with lemon, and it is one of the strongest food memories I have, one of the things that made me fall in love with it. Indirectly, Jesus made me a cook. So you can thank him or yell at him. Choose your own adventure.

Because of my focus on travel, none of my interest in spycraft started as recently as it seems. It started with a dream about my great uncle, Foster Fort. I was an older kid when I learned what happened to him, but he died in a helicopter crash in Somalia. The dream was wondering what it would be like to talk to a real spy. Ask him where he’d been, what he’d done (UNCLASS).

In 2008, when Argo came out, that was all she wrote. The movie was fantastic, and Tony Mendez divined that there would be people who’d want to know the rest of the story, so a companion book that told the real story was greenlit by George Tenet. The funniest thing is that the movie focuses on CIA and not the Canadians who helped us, so I have it on good authority because I’ve read it at least six times that it says “thank you Canada” about every five pages.

Then I thought Tony and Jonna walked on water because Argo was so good, and I’ve read every single thing they’ve ever published, and Jonna has a memoir coming out sometime this year. I’m so excited, because there needs to be a “sequel” to Master of Disguise…. and I’m going to say it that way because Jonna had the exact same job as Tony 10 years later.

Which gets me thinking…..

What’s my sequel? Where is it going to come from? I can only control so much, but I’m vulnerable enough to just let people and opportunities show up.

Like a blonde curly-haired boy who thinks I could use a Band-Aid.

I Forgive You

This is a writing prompt from Bryn, to write a letter forgiving myself for a mistake. I started it a week or so ago, and am just now finishing it.

Dear Leslie,

You are forgiven. Honestly and completely.

You read that in Matt Smith’s voice, didn’t you? Of course you did. Watching The Doctor forgive River reminded you of something important. Apologies and forgiveness stand alone. I would even end the letter forgiving myself here if I wasn’t trying to garden my way into a new thought process, because there is nothing more irritating than a comma after I’m sorry or I forgive you. It reeks of “I feel your pain, but I didn’t cause it. It’s not my fault.”

I suppose it’s different in this case, because I already know I’m at fault.

I forgive you for trusting your abuser above all others. I forgive you for writing those letters, making those phone calls, visiting Portland. I forgive you for being old enough to have broken that relationship early, yet not having the wisdom. She told you she needed you at a time when few people did. She said that she was often older and not wiser. I forgive you for your abuser admitting to you that there were times when you were smarter than she was, and not even that gave you enough strength to cut the connection. I forgive the road not taken, where I was the sort of person where out of sight could become out of mind.

I forgive you for loving someone so hard that didn’t deserve it. I forgive you for wasting our precious energy. I forgive you because you were pliable enough to find diamonds in the rough, always. Out of great chaos came a calm that hasn’t been here before.

I can look back on those years with a little more light because the diamonds I’ve found continue to shine while the rest of the landscape has smoothed itself out.

I would not have wanted to miss meeting Dana and I realize that the connection never would have happened any other way. I would not have wanted to miss meeting anyone I met in Portland, and I never would have considered the Pacific Northwest at all otherwise. It was so far from Houston. Just impossible to get away for a weekend. It was a long haul for anyone in my biological family and that’s why I’ll never move back. I forgive myself for unintentionally isolating from my biological family, but it had been happening since I was 12. I don’t know another way of life because every time I move back to Texas, I am triggered by one of a thousand different things and I feel like I can’t breathe. I genuinely thought that having Dana with me in Houston would change the city for me, but it didn’t.

I moved to DC because I knew it was the one place that I knew I could run that wouldn’t damage my chances of getting back together with her, because at the time, I thought we needed therapy jointly and severally. I didn’t realize until later what a scary thought I’d had- running back to someone who had physically injured me was not smart. I prefer not knowing what would have happened had we’d both thought we’d find our way back to the other. I believed, six months later, that the advice not to go back to people who’ve hurt you was sound because the swings only get worse.

Though I’m devastated that the relationship ended, I am not sad that it happened or wish it had never begun. We had a terrible problem, and it’s something I’ve thought of over the years but was reminded of today. I was listening to “Don’t Ask Tig,” and Tig said that she and her wife realized that they couldn’t laugh all the time. That they had to go back and talk about an issue once it was less charged… that they’d laugh and sweep things under the rug. Tig acknowledged something important, though, which was that she and her wife were pretty good about getting out of heated situations because they were both hilarious.

Leslie, I forgive you for being subjectively hilarious. It was a great coping mechanism, it just went wrong because we didn’t get out our calendars and say that this or that issue was important and we were tabling it until X date… or sometimes we were, just not consistently enough.

I forgive you for creating another relationship that wasn’t in the room because you didn’t know how to live without one. I celebrate that you recognized the pattern.

It is a different relationship we are creating, you (plural) and me. Now you’re the only relationship I have that’s not in the room, and it’s not a secret. The only part that’s ever a secret is the time it takes to craft. Meaning that if I’m ever married again, it’s not like my partner won’t be able to read every word. They just don’t get to be with me while I’m writing. They get the same information you all do, mostly because it’s a big conversation to have with a partner. I forgive myself for the ways in which it affects others’ lives, both seen and unseen, because to constantly worry and predict makes me run away from writing at all.

And then the people who are mad generally forget why over time… that they came in my yard and made sure I knew what a terrible person I was for saying x or y, then have the audacity to ask why I don’t write anymore. It’s such a fine line in terms of revealing enough to be vulnerable and real in front of an international audience while at the same time, not making the people you love on the ground upset with your silly ramblings.

Zac reminded me of this the last time I saw him, but in a good way. He said, “I feel so much better after talking to you in person, because I’ve only read your blog.” I need to be better about making dates with people because sitting in front of them is so different than them reading about my life. I have a third dimension. There’s a lot in it that you miss, because I can only write one thought at a time, but I’m having 12.

I forgive myself for leaning too hard on the first two dimensions and not making as much of an effort as I should with the third. My goal in the new year is to get out more, even if it’s just going over to someone else’s house instead of mine.

All of this forgiveness has come with changed behavior, which is how I know it’s genuine.

Being genuinely yourself is all you ever need to be. I forgive you for overfocusing on people who think you’re too much and not enough on the people who know you’re just right. I forgive you for your constant need to be a fixer/pleaser even when the odds are stacked against you and you know you’re about to dual a windmill.

I forgive you for your crazy, quixotic life, because it doesn’t need forgiving.

I know you’re in such a vulnerable place, probably more open, hurt, and raw than you’ve been in years. Do not surrender your loneliness so quickly. Let it season you. Hafiz has whispered that into your ear since the 90s. Don’t give up on it now. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. But Hafiz did not specify “me time.” It’s time to forgive yourself for thinking that there’s always a combination of words that will unlock someone.

That surely you can apologize enough, make enough amends, and if it hasn’t happened, it just hasn’t happened yet.

It’s an indomitable spirit and deeply troubling all at once, because there’s nothing in your heart that says “this situation is untenable.” I forgive you for not getting up from the table when love was no longer being served… and recognize that your feelings are valid. You wanted to try. You did… for way too long and with way too much energy, but it wasn’t all bad. Never mistake the part for the whole, and I forgive you for the moments you were so angry you couldn’t see anything but red.

The anger had a purpose. You can’t walk away from people unless you’re angry. You had to get angry enough to leave, and it took so many more years than it needed to simmer.

I forgive you for hurting the one you love the most, because even though it’s not the same for her, you still hurt her.

Now go, and forgive everyone else as I have forgiven you.

Audio for Untitled Entry

Listen to Audio for Untitled Entry by Leslie D. Lanagan on #SoundCloud

It’s not any wonder why I’m a blogger. I prefer a world of two. I am one. You are the other. I run to you, my clubhouse. I feel safe here in this sandbox, because I built it. It is the finest construction, and will last eons because it’s digital. You can’t wear it out by rereading, and for better or for worse, it defines me.

I know so many people who love my blog and don’t want to talk to me for love or money, but it’s okay. How I feel? That’s none of their business, and their need to read is none of mine. I know I’m at least interesting enough to have made a highly respected doctor cry on the toilet. This level of fame is overwhelming, and I mean it. Words are powerful, and I can hit things in people both out of idiocy and purpose. Sometimes, I’m trying to elicit a reaction because I want you to feel what I was feeling while I was writing, or remembering.

Other times, my experiences are blending with yours and you’re bleeding out emotionally over something that has nothing to do with me.

For every bit as terrible as my emotional abuse as a child was, that disturbance brought me to a great place now, especially processing those experiences so that I could create new, healthy relationships later.

I have a relationship with a woman that resembles the one I would have had with my mother and my abuser had that love been pure and clean, the “rainbow mom.” Having the role of mother returned to just one person has been magnificent. It’s the first time in my life it’s ever happened. While my mother was alive, we did our best and she died. We lost our future. I have a lot of life left in which a mother’s love would be helpful, and she just shows up like a wolverine when I’m feeling the most vulnerable. It has provided a lens through which I see Cora.

I have a daughter adopted through the rainbow flag that’s giving me the ability to have clean, white, pure mother love flow through me, to give my child the love I should have gotten. And thankfully, I never have to worry about recreating that feeling of ickiness in her, that I was going to be telling her things too big for her age, because we met when she was 24 and I was 45. I didn’t have to work through what it would be like to actually relate to a child under 18 as “daughter.” I didn’t have to worry that I was setting up a bad pattern, that I was loving someone exactly the way they needed to be loved at the moment they needed it.

Mama Wolverine turned me into one, too, and not that I wouldn’t have gotten there on my own. It is that we are of the same mind regarding children, including us. Burn the world down to protect them. My relationship strengthened what was already in me, tempered it and made it shine.

Between having and being a Mama Wolverine, I don’t make a lot of time for other people. I like being a diarist, expressing myself the way I talk in my head, and not the voice I’ve curated over decades. I’m changing that now by recording my entries, but that’s because I realized that it was not really a bigger platform, just a convenience, especially for the seeing impaired, but not especially for them, because my friend Bryn said that she wished she could listen to me like a podcast.

It’s important that it’s not an actual podcast, unless Bryn (or another creator, hit me up) wants to do one. It’s important that I am writing my entries all the way out to the end, hearing them the way I’m supposed to hear before I put it out in the world. Because once it’s in my voice, it’s filtered through something. It’s vulnerability on a different scale, because on the one hand, my voice is a mask.

On the other, my voice gives emotions you might not have thought were there to words I didn’t want you to know contain them. Wondering if you can tell when Mama Wolverine and Cora and I haven’t talked in a while, or that Daniel is troubling me and not because we’re interacting, it’s just a hard situation to love a kid so much and to love her dad twice over.

I wonder if you can tell all that from one free .mp3.

My fates are not entwined with father and child unless we want them that way. Cora wants to be my kid whether Daniel is my husband or not, and it is a gift I never knew I needed. I needed someone in my life to love with such a fierce permanence it couldn’t be duplicated and to have it be an age gap where I was definitely “the parent.” I think I’ve learned enough to be trusted as a listener, and to know when I’m above my pay grade. My teenage years don’t feel like one large wound anymore. I get to take what I wished had happened in that relationship, everything that was good and right and helpful, and only pass on that much of it.

Everything else can be forgotten. Everything that made me feel too young, too helpless, too fragile, too shellshocked and broken…. all of it forgotten in favor of just remembering what it was like to have a person outside my family I could talk to that would act as a sounding board. Period. End of story.

It’s a little bit complicated when Daniel and I are together because I don’t want to tell Cora things that make her feel like anything she and I talked about has the power to end my relationship with him. It doesn’t matter to me that she’s an adult. The power dynamic is the same.

Being there for each other while someone we both love is in rehab is a very good thing, and I have so much love to give that exactly none of it has to do with Daniel. Cora can talk to me about whatever she wants, and it’s all right and good. Everything she says has so much value.

I wish I could do more financially and physically, but it has to be the thought that counts. You want to give things to your kids you didn’t have, right? So of course I want to do whatever it takes to make her feel safe as a 24 year old trans woman, pre-hormones and surgery. That kind of safety is expensive. It would at the very least require getting her into a more liberal part of Texas, when the best thing is to go to a blue state until Texas has better laws for her…. and I’m not holding my breath on that particular topic.

Too many Texans are hung up on having to change, especially the white men who’ve never had to change this much at once and it’s so hard, especially because you’ll be lucky if they give you credit for the fact that sure, their lives are hard, but they’d still rather be them than you.

If I have white hot anger at Daniel left, it’s over this very thing… not understanding that his pain and confusion at his daughter being trans was nothing compared to actually being trans. That his anger and hostility toward me for pointing out his homophobic and transphobic speech patterns is nothing compared to the pain I’ve felt over actually being queer since I was born.

My concern for “how hard all this is” for Daniel is approaching petty level 3000. It is an almost automatic reaction at this point for me to roll my eyes at cis straight white male pain. The fact that I’m even willing to try says more than I’ll ever write down.

Daniel gets to me in particular because he’s so masterful at using his writer personality to say that he doesn’t give a fuck how it feels to be me, I should have kept my mouth shut because he was in pain… and to have it make sense, so that I constantly berate myself into thinking that I could have been a better partner by saying a lot less… and not knowing how to explain that in this case, both things are important. If you can’t love me while I love you, no deal.

He couldn’t, and I’m glad to be rid of that temperature in my life. If I’m going to be with a man, it’s not going to be one that can’t admit when he’s being an entitled dickhead. Felt so beat up by a few days of me saying that things were not okay that he broke up with me permanently. So, here is what I know. Daniel can be mad all he wants that I called him on his shit, AND he’ll never be strong enough in a million years to actually be me.

He wanted to be able to act like a complete asshole with complete immunity from consequences, because he was sick and we weren’t. No, Daniel, love of my life. You do not get a pass because the things you say affect our mental health. In effect, the things you say are making us sicker because you’re hitting the same nerve that a thousand other homophobes have hit before you.

We are allowed to care about that. We should not have to wait until you get out of rehab to say that you have triggered either one of us in this manner.

And at this point, I’m starting to wonder whether this was Daniel’s master plan all along. That he could make up this wife and child fantasy with me and Cora, and then when it became inconvenient, he’d just get rid of it… or the part he could, anyway. For him, I was easily disposable, and I believe that even if it was hard. He couldn’t throw away Cora, couldn’t take out any of his anger on her, couldn’t emote in front of her without feeling fear.

So if my only role was to make Daniel mad enough to be a good father, then my work here is done. I don’t know what I want in terms of a partner, but I do know that Daniel isn’t capable. He’s out of the running, possibly permanently. He has a fight on his hands in terms of getting back to himself, because the man he is to me right now is weak-minded. Instead of being an adult and using his words, he pulled out Fox News language. That I was trying to “reprogram” him. That I was part of the “woke mob.” If that’s how he needs to think of me to get himself well, then by all means, bud. Go for it. I still get to be angry that you aren’t smarter than that.

And here is another reason I’m a blogger. I want to tell people what I think of them, often long after they’ve left my life for good. I don’t broadcast what I think. It’s just here if they’re ever curious.

I absolutely want him to know what I was thinking during this time, and that yes, I really was this angry and irate. You turned from Daniel, the thinker/writer boy into Daniel, former military from NE Texas and every stereotype that entails. Our story was worth more than that, and you made it on the cheap. Turned an arthouse flick into a segment on Fox news…. because there’s not enough content for a movie.

Never forget Aaron Sorkin’s warning about soundbites. “What are the next ten words?”

When I find them, I’ll blog them.