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Two nights ago I had a dream that, get this, and really, see if you can find any meaning in all of the convoluted dream like nonsense, I had a dream that I wanted to fly so, just like that, I started to fly. And while soaring about, I remembered that I had forgotten that I knew how to fly all this time. Right. No symbolism to be found here. And then I woke from the dream, sat up and muttered quietly, but out loud, “crazy” and promptly fell right back to sleep.
So, in the 44 hours since that dream I’ve heard that song, “Crazy” by Seal (as in my dog’s name) three different times, which is what I muttered in the middle of the night after having a dream about wanting to fly and remembering that I could fly- which is a song I’m sure I haven’t heard even once in several years. And in this song, Crazy (that Alanis Morissette does an awesome cover of), the lyrics are, “In a world full of people, only some want to fly, isn’t that crazy?”
Isn’t that crazy? I mean, come on. I’ve listened to the song intentionally a few times since and although the vague symbolism is obvious enough, what’s this about? Seriously, just tell me.
Well well well, if it isn’t… me. I feel like your first question is and rightly should be, “Where the hell have you been?” And that is such a fair question. But it’s the pressure behind trying to answer that’s the problem and makes the keyboard freeze. It’s just been too log now and I’m no good at the linear stuff. All of this blank-blog-page time is totally my doing, but it’s just been too much time now to try and figure out how to answer that. Prompted questions in general always make me stuck. So, if we can somehow get around the obvious questions and I can start wherever, well, usually, at some point, I somehow fill in the blanks anyway. Cool?
So, anyway, I got married last weekend. Don’t worry, Violet knows. She was there.
And all that bull poo about how your wedding day can be “the best day of your life”? Yuck. And let me just tell you this: Totally true.
I know, I know. So gross, right? And I won’t go on and on about it for too long but my wedding day was seriously one of the very best days I’ve ever had. It really truly might be the best day I’ve ever had- but I’ve had so many days, and so many incredible ones at that, that I’m not ready to give it that title until I’ve taken a much closer inventory.
Regardless of titles, it was simply beautiful and full of so much love and fun and magic, including a late night lightening storm with no rain that lit up the sky with fireworks for hours. All the while, most of the most important people in my entire world were all in the same place at the same time, laughing, hugging, talking, dancing with each other for hours and hours and hours. It was simply incredible.
And in case any of you are wondering, yes, of course we ended our ceremony with a Cher song. I mean, of course we did.
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Political interlude: Hey! Speaking of marriage! Earlier this year Washington’s Governor legalized marriage equality. It was awesome! And then a half a hot minute later a bunch of assholes collected a ton of signatures to get a referendum (referendum 74) on the ballot to keep marriage equality illegal (booooo! hiss!).
If this has you angry, inspired or so inclined, there is a very brave, incredible, tireless organization, Washington United for Marriage, that is working it’s butt off to help us and could use any support you have. The campaign to keep homophobia alive and well has raised over 7 million dollars to keep marriage discrimination legal here (seven million freaking dollars!). So, I encourage you to donate (if you can), volunteer, post about them, tell your friends, anything you can do to get the word out that The Good Fight needs a lot of financial help to keep up with the hate groups’ bank accounts. You could consider it your wedding gift to all the queers out there, to yourself even.
Also, a super fun fact: If YES ON REFERENDUM 74 wins the vote this November, Washington state will be THE VERY FIRST state to vote in marriage equality by the people, for the people. This is a BIG deal. So, no matter where you live, your help with this will count big time and could make history.
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So, this random return to the blogosphere is short(ish) and sweet(ish), but it’s something and it’s the best of what I have for now. And if you want credit for the push that has me hitting “publish” it was the recent random tweets and the few, almost simultaneous, emails that finally did it. So, thanks for that. I’ve been thinking about you too.
And now, the Cher song that Violet and I kissed the bride to. For the full effect start the video at minute 1:48. That’s exactly where the song came in when our officiant (a.k.a my bestie, Rene) said, “By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you wife and wife!”
It’s been awhile, huh? And once again I have no idea where to start, so I’ll just go the same old route that has served me well thus far and ramble until one of the sentences looks like a good place to stop.
Truth be told, I’ve written a few posts and then wimped out and never put them up. My unconquered fear of this space finally got me.
Initially, I started this blog at the consistent and flattering push of Sinclair. I wrote a piece on her site years ago and her adoring fans were very kind towards my first online publishing. After that, with a few more, “come on, just do it” and a lot of set up help from Sincalir I did it. And so began Just Like Jesse James. And I’m so glad I did. I could write forever about how much this space and the connections in it mean to me, how, at many different times, it has been my saving grace. I love this place.
But in starting this totally public blog, writing out loud if you will, I have always struggled with my identity here. Let’s just pop the bubble and be honest, (spoiler alert!) my real-life, walking, talking name is not Jesse James. My life revolves around a few more characters than my best-fish-friend, a raccoon (who I haven’t seen in quite a while), the Seal, Cher and Violet. Although they are major, maaaajor players in my day to day, it’s a much bigger, more complicated world for me than that and that is where this blog stops- right where there is no punch line or obvious lesson to be learned. Everything past that is the event horizon of this blog-universe and just falls off into the land of things that happen in my life and go unwritten.
And pretty unconsciously the boundary on this continued to tighten until I had almost nowhere left to go. And so the obvious, you haven’t heard from me in a while.
Sinclair has told me a few times, “you are a master at telling a story about yourself without revealing anything.” Greg said something very similar when I met her as well. And oh how that is true and I take some pride in that. It is also something I’m working on doing less of. Sharing in general, reaching out, not being so private is HARD for me. I can’t even begin to tell you how hard. Which could lead you to think my blog seems a bit ironic then, but that’s not the case at all.
JLJJ was the beginning of working on this fear of sharing myself. A lot of writing here was just learning how to come out in a bunch of little ways, through stories. I used to read and reread every post over and over to try and dissipate some of the panic I felt when I finally pushed “publish”. (And then when the comments would come, dear god, more panic.) Slowly but surely I came to appreciate that under my alias I was free(r) to write (my) truths and that here they didn’t need to be edited or filtered through the social structures and dynamics that are everywhere else in my day to day. I could be in this space, say whatever I want and 99.9% of you could pass right by me on the street, having no idea that I’m Jesse James. I loved that! So James Bond.
This duality has never ceased to keep things a bit complicated (and interesting), having two worlds to walk in (and walk quite differently in at times). But there is something about the two of me that I cherish remarkably and that has acted as a profound outlet to bits and pieces of who I am that might never have seen the light of day otherwise. Like songs that get sung in the shower. Or like when I pretend The Seal is an opera singer and how I sing Cher songs, really loudly, in an operatic voice, pretending that The Seal is singing them… but only when it’s just us. This is something I am trying to figure out how to hold on to somehow… and maybe merge a bit?
Here’s the dilemma in a tighter little nutshell: I have a really hard time sharing my brain (and let’s just stay honest, heart too) with people I know and love (weird, but that’s the deal.) So, I started this blog to share my brain with people that don’t know me because that made me feel safe and set me free(r). But then, there’s a twist! My relationship with the blog continued to grow and so did the relationships with quite a few of the readers and other bloggers. Oh no! My love for you is real! And so, I began slowly tightening the reins on what I felt safe and comfortable saying until I finally ran out of things to say at all.
Jesus, that is just ridiculous.
But that is what happened.
I guess the other unconquered fear to my blog-world-life is a really obvious one in that anyone can come in, read my brain, do whatever they want with it and leave. However, that has never been as scary to me as the ideas in the previous paragraph. And I’ll always cherish the woman who called me a left winged bigot. Always.
So, once again, here I am, at the end of another ramble. Only this time, I’ll post it. This time I’ll stop writing before there is a punch line or some lesson learned. Truth be told, most of the time, I don’t have either.
Aaaaaaaand… gulp… publish.
Here’s what I’ve decided: If I don’t just start to write, in the middle, towards the end or even just make something up you’ll never hear from me again. My hang up, this whole time, after a few weeks went by from post to post, was where do I start now?
This weekend I spent a lot of time with an old friend who I hadn’t seen or talked to in several months and we just picked right up with, “As I was saying…” as if less than 5 minutes had passed since the last person spoke.
And then I thought to myself, I can do this. I can do this on my blog.
So, as I was saying…
Let me start towards the end, and see where we go. I’ll use the greg-bullet style to get things rolling (hold on tight folks, the margins are going to be a wonky mess and all over the place! And I don’t know how, have time, or care to learn, to fix any of that.)
- Most recently, as in 5 minutes ago, I submitted the “ok” to an editor who is putting the final touches together for a story of mine that will be publish sometime this summer. When I have permission to talk about the book (a compilation of essays by different authors), I will of course, let you know more about it, where to find it, etc. I’ve never been officially “published” before so, this is rather exciting.
Speaking of exciting, I’ve got news. News that makes me feel light headed and nervous even as I type. But I’ll wait a second and mention this little bite first:
- Violet and I were in San Fransisco in May and we both really liked it there. It is a gorgeous city. I did some research and the sun shines there 100 more days a year than here. The people were really nice, in this way that weirded both Violet and me out. Like, we would walk by someone and they’d be all, “Hi.” And we’d be thinking, “why in the world are you acknowledging our existence, you freak!?” But we’d just shoot this look of confusion as we returned the hello. We both began to realize the we have been overly Seattle-ized and that a lot of places in this country aren’t like here. Seattle is great and has been very good to us for a long time now. But, in general, it is overly behaved and passive in a way that can be very isolating in a way that you forget to notice. After you are done being constantly offended by the lack of real interaction with people you don’t know you just sort of get used to it – that is, until you go somewhere else and are reminded that humans do talk to people they don’t know and for no other reason sometimes but that they are both in the same place at the same time. It’s an awesome concept and I miss it. A lot. So, we both applied for jobs there and just when we decided we didn’t even make the form-letter “thanks but no thanks” email I got a call and have been asked to interview in a few weeks. Obviously, this is to be continued.
Ok, you skipped to this part of the post anyway, so here you go:
(this is the shortest version of anything you’ll ever get from me, ever.)
- Two weeks ago Violet and I spent a week in San Diego. One morning we were sitting on a gorgeous beach in La Jolla. The sun was shining, the waves were rolling up to tickle our toes when she told me she loved me. I put my arm around her as I stared at the ocean and then she pulled a ring out of her pocket and asked me to marry her. I said I would think about it and get back to her within 3 to 5 business days.
Actually, I smiled and kissed her, watched her put a really sweet and delicate gold band on my finger and told her nothing in the world sounded like a better idea.
I knew she was going to propose. We both knew. We’ve talked about it a lot and for quite a while, but that has nothing more or less to give or take from one of the better moments I’ve ever had. I have a book I could write at this point, on all of the things around marriage that Violet and I have talked about and I’ll put some of that out here later. We have very particular and intentional reasons for exactly why we are engaged, exactly why we will get married and several ideas brewing as to how we will marry. They are lovely and profoundly important and intimate reasons and they all make me blush and they all make me even more excited to move in this way, forward, if you will, with my best friend. And what ever pieces I can brave to let out, set free, I will write about here. Later.
- In more general-life upkeep news, the Seal is still the raddest dog ever. Marcus has been rather elusive but her big fat babies are out and about, causing trouble and knocking our garbage and compost down and all over. Last week Violet and I bought 25 little baby gold fish that are now zig zagging around our pond, playing fish games by day and hiding from Marcus’ babies at night. So far I haven’t really made any new fish friends but they seem happy and I look forward to naps in the yard next to them.
So, I’ll leave things here for now. This is a start. A start to the middle of it all.
More to come.
You know when you click on something to watch on YouTube because a friend who tends to have pretty good (i.e. similar) taste sends you a link and then you give it all of 2 seconds to totally impress you which, even if it does, in no way guarantees you will last another 10 seconds and then you realize that you’re not just impressed but mesmerized and as you continue to keep watching you continue to squash the explosively dynamic feeling of unrest transforming itself into resolve to an outwardly reaction-less implosion because you don’t want to interrupt or chance missing even the tiniest, most insignificant bit even though there isn’t actually a moment that would qualify as insignificant and then when it’s over you watch it again and again plotting what to do next, how to share it with eyes and brains and ears that will probably get and maybe even appreciate it as well and so, then all of a sudden you’ve turned into the person sending a link to someone in hopes that they will watch it? Ya, me too.
Here’s the video:
(Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Beyonce, but come on, no we don’t.)
I wrote a hundred drafts. I thought about what and what not to say a thousand times. I called old friends and my high school girlfriend, Marie, to talk about that time in high school to see what they remember, ask them questions, see if they could help me fill in some holes.
After getting that email from (one of) my high school bully(s) my head just spiraled into this place that it never spent much time, if any in the last decade. All of a sudden I felt like I had this right to go back in time and look at it through this lens of “Holy shit, this was terrible” rather than the narrative I used as an excuse to never totally break, “Eh, high school just sucks for everyone.” All of a sudden, after reading Joanne’s email, I felt like I had permission to go back and feel it all in a real way, like I had never considered. I finally gave myself the room to really take a look at what it was like for me to be little-teenaged-me and to be outed and treated the way I was. And guess what I always knew but never really admitted: It was awful! So very terrible. I mean, I knew that. Of course I did. I just never gave myself the chance or the permission or the time to really absorb it, want apologies, offer forgiveness. These are not things I would have ever guessed I would do or need to do or be given the opportunity to do. But I did and I did and I did.
And let me tell you something, an unexpected apology from an unexpected person at an unexpected time is incredible! I didn’t even realize that Joanne realized that she hurt me. I think, to some degree, I didn’t even feel worthy of letting myself realize that I had been so hurt. That sounds so strange, but the degree to which her email had me reeling for days and days and day, still, makes me realize that the validation she offered me in such an authentic and kind admission, were things I had never even offered myself.
Anyway, with all of the drafts I’ve written or imagined, in all of the late nights, early mornings, middle of work meetings, dog walks, brushing my teeth, reading your blogs, just sitting here in my living room, rereading her email, I finally wrote my high school bully back. I kept it simple. I didn’t feel unsafe but I also felt the need for some reserve. The actual letter(s) that I have thought to write her would take months to read, so instead I tried something I rarely do: I attempted to stick to the point, to the facts, to the purpose (very much unlike my style here at jljj) and here’s how it turned out:
November 21 at 5:33pm
What an amazing email just sitting and waiting for me in my inbox. Thank you. I actually received it several days ago but have felt so tongue-tied I haven’t written back yet. I still feel tongue-tied but wanted you to know how much I appreciate you writing me and everything you said. It means so much, I can’t figure out know how to express that properly. Maybe more than you could guess? Maybe not.
High school was most certainly not my favorite time in life. It was actually really difficult for me, terrible at times, and to be honest I didn’t know for sure that you knew this until your email. That email has lifted some heavy weights from some dark places and memories and I admire you for writing me as much as I feel thankful - which is a lot. I hadn’t thought about so much of it in so long, but when I look back and really think about all of the awfulness of being outed and then abandoned and then I read the email you sent me, I start to feel lighter and feel a balance that was never there before now.
I’ve always known that you were a good person, and I want you to know that. I was never mad at you, I just missed you – and I want you to know that too. It makes me really happy to hear that you made it through some hard places in your life and I hope, so much, that you are happy in your life.
xxxxx is telling the truth, I am doing well and have found a good life for myself that makes me feel really, really lucky every day. I’m in Seattle these days and if we’re anywhere near each other I would love to get together sometime and catch up.
Thank you, Joanne, for reaching out. It was more than welcome, and could never have come too late, that is for sure.
This simple tale will only require your needing to know two and a half things about my mother.
1. She is terrified of bees. Ridiculously, irrationally afraid of them in a way that makes all things with wings something to dramatically flail away from while screaming and swatting furiously.
1.a. All of the James’ are a tad dramatic by nature and we are all certain that the exaggeration-gene comes from my mom.
2. My mom is very cute and small and blonde and smart, with big blue eyes and a smile that turns heads. She also has this amazing ability to sneak swear words into a sentence and somehow make it sound sweet and appropriate. I will tell her some good news and she might say, “Honey! That is just great! Fucking great!” Or I’ll tell her something she finds surprising and she might say, “No shit!” I don’t know how exactly to explain it, but on her, swear words work. They are necessary at times really.
Yesterday we were on the phone for a bit as she was driving home from work. Right as she pulled up to the house some very small animal with the ability to fly flew past her face and that is all she saw before she hopped out of the car with a big squeal.
mom: “Well. Something just flew into the car. Hm.”
me: “Mom, it was nothing, don’t worry about it.” And I continued on with what I was telling her.
mom: “Better not have been a bee!”
me: “It wasn’t a bee.” And I continued…
mom: “Well, I don’t see it. Hm. That bee better not be in my hair!”
me: “Nothing is in your hair, mom. Are you listening?”
mom. “Yes. Of course. You know what, hang on honey, let me put the phone down for a second while I freak the fuck out.”
me: [waiting while hearing distance sounds of her flapping and rustling around]
mom: “Well damn it, who knows. But if that bee is in my car tomorrow morning…
me: “Mom! There is no bee. Knock it off.”
mom: “Because that will just scare the shit out of me.”
me: “There is no bee in your car, mom.”
mom: “Oh sure, you can say that. You’re not the one who is going to get stung to death on the way to work tomorrow morning.”