When you can only remember what you want to forget

I had a conversation with a former co-worker who I was well aware is a conservative Christian, and while I didn’t think this would happen, it did. I think in my head we were both just aware that we’re canyon-deep different, but things come up. Or out. But she is super nice, and I still think so, but whatever.

She basically called me out on being as queer as the day is long and the kicker on that is that it’s probably my own damn fault. More on that later.

You could ask about the words that were said, but honestly, I basically panic blacked out in mid-conversation and re-lived a bunch of really traumatic and shitty things from 18 years ago all at once, so I don’t remember specific moments in our conversation.

It can’t have gone that badly because nobody cried, probably because I was partially in shock. To be fair to her, I’ve probably been being way too honest for 9 months of working together and maybe that’s enough to inspire someone to get shirty with me.

Also, she didn’t get me kidnapped and sent to some camp to be reprogrammed as straight. Because that’d be inappropriate. And I didn’t try and kiss her or something truly awful or inappropriate either.

So instead we had a long talk, then I walked with her to her house. And her mom fed us rice and beans, fresh fruit, and asked about my new job.

What is actually happening? I don’t know.

Also, much more importantly, this:

We worked together absolutely seamlessly for those 9 months. Like I’ve almost never had a better co-worker. Sometimes we talked but often we just worked and it was fine. Also, she’s funny, nerdy, and delightful in ways that human beings are. And she laughed at some of the ridiculous stuff I said.

On my last day, she was only scheduled until noon. She stayed until my shift ended at 3:30 and we closed the shop together.

And had a very brief, tiny, lovely moment.

She said she’d learned a lot from working with me. She told me she mentioned to someone that her colleague was, in her words “very non-avoidant.” And that she wants to be more like that. See, it is my own damn fault she told me how she really felt, and I probably, weirdly, in a way, inspired it.

She’s not wrong. I am strongly (aggressively?) non-avoidant.

I thanked her and mentioned I’d learned a lot from her too. And one thing was to be kind. It just matters that we as human beings are kind.

She simply said: “That’s God.”

She’s not wrong.

Neither is my existence.

So, when you see me running around Seattle wearing my queer pride flag as a cape and the dope-ass, hot-shit hat I just got from my favorite brand, Chrome, you can smile or you can wince, and that’s fine.

Because I am fine.

If you haven’t been reminded lately or managed to forget, here’s Brandi Carlile singing her anthem at the Grammys a couple of years ago, for which she received a standing ovation. From a crowd full of Grammy nominees.

Happy Pride.

Doughnuts at altitude

I got out of Seattle last weekend because of the annual Solstice shitshow celebration. I don’t like people that much when they aren’t naked, painted and really wasted, but have learned to just avoid being home for that particular party.

Denver is always fun, and since my partner had to be there for work most of the week, I was more than happy to join her for the weekend. We found the local Voodoo Doughnut outpost, and I wanted one, even though I generally don’t eat any doughnuts, as the sugar concentration is insane.

After acquiring said sugar bombs, we were headed to Cheesman Park, but stopped in the little bar (Blush and Blu) next to the doughnut shop for a quick bevvie. That’s where we stumbled across Leslie Herod’s hangover townhall, to which she graciously extended us an invitation though we were just visiting. She’s Colorado’s first LGBTQ African American Assembly member. It was unexpected, and delightful as was the bartender, SJ.

We made it the park, which was gorgeous, ingested a billion calories of sugar, walked around punch drunk for a while, then stumbled some of the way back to our hotel before succumbing to the allure of a brewery, a seat, and a Lyft back to the hotel.

I don’t regret the doughnut per se, but I’ve never been sugar high at altitude, and it did a number on both of us. After having some real food, we gave into the need for naptime, and later rallied, but holy crow.

A different kind of Rocky Mountain high…

I did the thing

And I also failed to do the thing. I’ve been to a few classes at the gym, which seems mostly like a funny metaphor. Like, I used to go to a gym regularly, and sorta at least figured out what I was doing. Or I was at least doing similar shit to other people who were also there, and at some point, I was fitter than when I started.

Good thing I didn’t expect that this time. First of all, this isn’t your gym where you go and hop on your treadmill or elliptical, then pick up something kinda heavy and put it down again. Second of all, I am in a shape, but I wouldn’t call it in shape. But the process of learning is good, or valuable, or at least advancing my knowledge of what my body willingly will do and will protest about. The knees protested an apparently basic hike this past weekend, but I listened to them and decided to head back to the trail head and wait it out, rather than persisting. Mostly because I wanted to walk this week. And I can, which is a bonus.

Most of the time, I actually feel completely lost. I don’t know how to do the stuff. and people are really nice about trying to provide some guidance, but it’s clear it’s going to take years, not months, to get a clue. Granted, I’ve only been at this for 2 weeks. And I tend to be a bit self-critical, but really, it’s gonna take years. I hope it’s not a parallel metaphor for getting another job. Because I would like to make that happen a little faster than not. In the meantime, things will run their oddly similar paths – trying to figure out what the hell I am doing. And knowing crap all about what the end goal is, really, but trying to live/learn/embrace the process.

Uncomfortable yet? I certainly am.

Hang up the barstool, pick up a barbell

I quit my job. Pitched as a consultative role in the financial industry, it was in reality a volume sales play. I am not good at volume sales. I’m not pushy, or “sales-y” – the only way I’ve ever sold anything has been through demonstrating quality work, specifically content. My work, my words, my worth. Onward and upward.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to join a cult community of super enthusiastic, supportive and dedicated people at Fuelhouse. It’s a gym. It’s terrifying. Given my current lack of fitness it could be quite ugly. I am certain it will be painful. I might throw up. I might pass out. I might cry. Probably all three. But my partner won a free month to give to a friend, and like the awesome person she is, gave it to me…

I do have goals: build confidence, start some better habits, and well, someday, be much more fit that I am today.

If you see me collapsed in the grass between the sidewalk and the street, pay no mind. I’ll crawl home eventually. If you’re of a mind to send good thoughts my way, or an oxygen tank, I’m embarking on this adventure June 4th. If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’ll likely be that I can’t use my arms.

goodbye, year

But it won’t get any harder

And I hope you’ll find your way again

And it won’t get any higher

And it all boils down to what you did there

  • The Cranberries – Disappointment

 

The fine filament flows outward over the past, year, two years, three, however many. A retrospective gloom casts its way back over a year, always at the end, as though there is an end. There isn’t. The “new year” is as arbitrary in reality as our sense of time, our calendar, our construct. Every era has multiple, we’re just currently dominated by a certain hodgepodge structured around fairy tales, cannibalism, fear, secrets and probably some sprinkle of truth. And the kind of hope that arises from fear, or need against fear, or initially out of euphoria only then to become a battle with power and fear, sweating in tight halls with smoky air. Old vs. new. Truth vs. true.

 

None of it is really true. Like the lingering way my brain hasn’t purged it’s typical year-end lament. Apparently you need to sleep enough for the brain-sweepers to do their job. Maybe that’s it – the long sleep debt has cluttered my neurons with too much information and not enough clean synapse.

 

I need a brain broom. I need a nap. I have a hustle to pursue and one must start with a clean slate, a serving platter ready to take on the weight of the whole feast of year-to-come and things to be accomplished. What with wishes and dreams, and debt and anxiety, it could be a hell of a year, a hellish year, or likely some combination thereof as the real path is a vicissitude not meant for mapping. It’s not a trap, it is a ride, and opening, opportunity, threat, secret, promise and choice.

 

It is what it is. What it is remains to be lived. Staying on the right path, correcting direction when needed, sleeping the long hours if possible, making the long days productive as can be. Stop moping and start moving. Cut lethargy away from my bones, build strength. Ignore the dark, embrace the rain, enjoy the sun, the hours back and forth, the process. Live with the results. Live through them.

This election day

11062018I have a hard time with politics. Too much deceit, divisiveness, and lack of truth. Yet the election is the only thing anyone is speaking of, so here are my thoughts.

Hold me now
I am floating away
into the overcast sky over my hometown
on election day

What is it about Birmingham?
What is it about Buffalo?

That the hate-filled want to build bunkers in your beautiful red earth
They want to build them in our shining white snow.

                                                  – Ani DiFranco

Divisiveness is the hammer in our politics now. Though it is not a recent quote, it still applies. However, in looking for something else to contemplate in light of today, I saw this quote, used by Brene Brown in her book Daring Greatly.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who
points out how the strong man stumbles, or where
the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in
the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat
and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who
comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and short-
coming; but who does actually strive to do the
deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great
devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at best knows in the end the triumph of
high achievement, and who at the worst, if he
fails, at least fails while daring greatly…

– Theodore Roosevelt

I really hope that voter turnout is much higher than it has been. And, I hope, regardless of the outcomes, we remember to continue daring greatly.

 

Always on

I need an off switch. Specifically for my brain, because it’s not letting me sleep enough. Not a new problem, but an annoying one all the same. Currently, I can’t sleep for shit. Or for any other reason. Some days I wonder if it matters and other days I wonder how it cannot.

Though, to be honest, my lineage speaks of light sleepers and nocturnal wanderings. My mom has never been much of a sleeper. My dad could sleep through just about anything. Guess where I land?

As a small child (young enough I don’t recall doing this) I would crawl out of bed in the middle of the night and my parents would find me curled up by the front door, like a puppy. Luckily I either couldn’t reach the lock, or didn’t know how to work it, so I never got out.

Now, I don’t wander, but lately have been having some hilarious antics while sleeping or nearing sleep. I kicked something off the coffee table trying to hurdle a fence in my dream. Luckily, I spared the plants. A few nights ago I was having this weird dream where I was trying to guide a family with 6 kids of various ages to the right parking lot. Don’t ask me why this featured in my dream, I couldn’t tell you. At any rate, another small child wandered through the dreamscape and the whole family freaked out and were chasing this tot, meanwhile, I’m all herding cats. Dream-Me decided that shouting at them was the answer. So shout I did – waking myself and my partner in the process. And there have been several instances of almost falling asleep, then jerking myself awake because I feel like I’m actually falling… weirdo.

However, fall is here, and it’s lovely. The days are growing shorter and the orange moon rests low and full this week. Trees color the hills. Mornings are slightly crisp and afternoons are sun-kissed. It’s flirting with raining here and there, but it may be my favorite season here. I’ll relish it while I can. As winter approaches, perhaps I’ll sleep more, as it’ll be dark from 4 pm on.

Summertime

I am much remiss in posting this summer. No real excuses, but all the same. I have a job this year, which I didn’t hold last summer. Apparently, that takes some time. Which is great. I’m quite happy to be working away. But haven’t done crap about balancing that with keeping up on the writing, especially the sharing thereof.

Yep, I am busier this summer, with things that aren’t conducive to writing and sharing. So it is.

Here’s a couple of updates. Some of you may recall I said I was going to write a book of sorts. Well, draft one is hand written, and a bunch of it longs to be part of the manuscript online, but hasn’t migrated there yet. So summer goals – finish that. And, then, much to be done, meaning the draft needs love, editing, attention, editing, cutting, building, trashing, and growth. All that stuff. But has to be in one form, first.

In the mean time, I’m trying to get it together to post anything relevant, to avoid melting in the summer sun (which we are sorely under prepared for in Seattle), and generally trying to avoid being warm grumpy.

However, here’s an important side note: RASPBERRIES. There’s a lovely untended bramble just down the street from where I live, practically encroaching on the sidewalk, and ignored by the residents who live in the adjacent apartment building. I love fresh, sun-warmed summer berries, of almost any kind. Free raspberries within a block of my place are perfect. Especially if they appear to be free game raspberries. Nobody, in the 6 years I’ve lived here, has ever said anything negative to me about my picking their raspberries. Honestly, my best guess is that people would rather pay $5 or $6 for a tiny basket so they don’t scratch themselves.

Perhaps I see the berries differently. As a kiddo, our neighbors’ backyard was overrun with black raspberry brambles (note: not blackberries). They are awesomely delicious, and we’d always hope to gather enough to make a pie. They are tiny. The raspberries here are slightly bigger, generally, than black raspberries, but still very much smaller than blackberries. Also super delicious. I’ll risk a few scrapes and pokey moments if I can get a couple of handfuls. I’m not making pie, but throw them over vanilla ice cream and add a little whipped cream, and I’ve a perfect summer treat.

So, whereas I’ve not found a balance between chasing people who aren’t engaged because they are on sunbathing mode, and despite the fact work takes a longer time to execute because it’s not raining for a change, I get to enjoy the best of summer. I may be pale, but those raspberries are just what the summer goddess ordered.

Post 9/11 Hero

After undergrad, I went straight on to get my Master of Theological Studies. In Boston. We started class 9/12/2001. It was intense timing. One of the first classes I enrolled in was Islam in America. I was surprised to be granted the opportunity to be one of the few students in the lecture, as selected by the professor. It was a small seminar, and my first semester in the program, so I wasn’t certain it would work out for me to join. I suppose I had as might right as anyone to be there, but to be honest, little credibility or reason.

And how little I knew. I once butchered the name of a famous scholar, because I hadn’t ever seen it before and just simply didn’t know how to pronounce it. (And of course hadn’t researched it, wide-eyed wonder that I was.) The professor didn’t bat an eye and gently told me how his name is pronounced. I was probably at least tomato red, but she just had me go on and make my point. She built a safe place where we could learn. Us non-Muslim students were honored to go to the local mosque with our Muslim sisters, who were so gracefully coping with insults and threats of violence everyday.

Our professor led us in exploration and held on while our eyes adjusted to the beauty of what we were there to learn about. So much grace.

Goodnight, Chef

I woke to the troubling news that Anthony Bourdain is dead. According to news reports, he committed suicide.

It saddens me, but it also makes me think of why, because I certainly didn’t know the man. But I knew his stories. And I loved the way he told them. In fact, I had the opportunity to see him tell a few, live, here in Seattle. I wrote about it then, for the blog where I worked – if you want to read, it’s here.

As Anne Sexton once wrote “Suicides have a special language.” It’s a hard language to hear, much less understand, but suicide is not a simple issue. It’s certainly a heartbreaking one.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255, chat (click chat button at top right), or text CONNECT to 741741. Please reach out. Please let someone try to help. You are not alone.