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I was laid off last week. I’ve written several posts about it and once again nothing was posted. I’m still struggling with, well, god, to be honest, a lot right now. But I’m still struggling to find my way back to this space. So, instead of a dramatic play-by-play of how my last day went down, which is a good story and what I am used to writing and what you are used to getting, I’m going to try a different route, the insider’s scoop, i.e. what’s really going on with me rather than the story I could tell to distract us both from, well, me.

So, I lost my job last week. In some respect this is a huge relief for several reasons. In the other direction it seems to be heading up what some could define as a bit of an existential crisis… or really, I guess this is what’s tipping me over the edge onto one that has been lurking and looming for a while now. I know I can find another job – that’s not it at all, that’s the easy part. It’s the painfully exhausting question of what it is that I should be doing… really doing… with my life. And lately, just choosing whether or not to even consider this question tosses me down the rabbit hole so hard and fast that all of a sudden trying to consider a new career move puts everything about my entire existence on earth under question, under fire, under the spotlight and it takes just seconds in this mind space to expand bigger and bigger and bigger until I feel like my brain pops and everything freezes. Well, I freeze and the world keeps going.

I am being reminded by friends and loved ones regularly that I am really sensitive, highly sensitive, emotionally guided, whatever you want to call it. My dad just had me take the Myers Briggs test the other night and surprise! The world breaks my heart regularly and I care so intensely about everything that it wouldn’t be beyond me to name and care for wild animals with the same love and regard as a family member.

And if you’re laughing, so am I. I mean, I’ve written more stories here about a raccoon than my best friend.  I cried for a week when Fraidy Phat the Fish died and it still makes my heart hurt. So, I’m not worried about or trying to downsize my being a bit more concerned with/ emotionally invested in/ sensitive about things that might slide a bit easier by another person. That is just who I am. That part, as exhausting as it can be (for everyone), I’m ok with. But I have been concerned with the extent in which this has me flat out frozen. Having no clue what to do, what it all means, as a result, I’m not getting any closer to doing anything at all. Or at least, right now it feels that way.

(As a semi-relevant side note: I’m reading a physics theory book that is only compounding my unrest by confirming the importance of my questions alongside the impossibility of every knowing the answers to any of them. Basically, this book is confirming that the foundation of my existential crisis is backed up by hard science. Awesome. Now try to sleep.)

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?”

…is one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite poems by my very favorite poet, Mary Oliver.  I think this line frequently. I get to an impasse, whether to turn left or right or which college to attend and I think this line. And usually, when I think it, sing it, chant it, it makes me smile, my body flutters with the potential of it. But lately, it has been haunting me. It’s as if her tone has sharpened and there is a clock ticking in the background. This all sounds so dooms day and I don’t mean it to sound this way. I know this isn’t my usual style.

Except that I want all of my questions about life, purpose and meaning answered in full, I really don’t know what my problem is right now. My optimistic guess is that it’s a culmination of things and that at some point all of this angst will have worked in my favor, offering insight and information that I wouldn’t normally tune in to. You know, where in hindsight you just briefly mention to your friend, “Ya, that was a bit of a rough patch but look where it got me.” I’m holding tight for that version.

I’m turning 35 next week  (and now you say, “ah ha!”). I know. But birthdays usually don’t hold much power over me. I mean, I like cake and Violet always gets me something really sweet, but this one is bugging me, tugging at me in a way I’ve never dealt with before. It feels like this number is creating time lines on certain things that just undeniably need to be flushed out in a way that I could always answer “someday” to before. I know that along with a series of things, this is making me review and scrutinize my life under a slightly brighter bulb with a series of questions I’ve thus far dismissed with, “no comment.”  But now I want answers. And for certain things, I think I need them.

What I also want to do is just get over myself. I’ve learned this to be a key component to living with myself without driving myself totally bat shit crazy. I come close to nutso but then, just in time, I get over myself just enough to continue putting up with me. But now that’s beginning to feel more like complacency or fear. Or maybe it’s a part of survival? Hell if I know… if I haven’t made that obvious enough.

–     –     –

The sun is out today and has been for a few days and that is a really good thing for me right now.  Even though it’s still cold out, that bright cobalt blue sky is reminding me that it really will be warm again. Flower seeds are making roots and incredible plans of escape. The light really is returning. I tend to forget that right around now. Or maybe you noticed?

I woke up late this morning because I could. Yesterday there were rumors flying around that I would potentially wake up to several inches of snow and get to stay home. I got up, peeked out the window where there was not a flake to be found. Bummer, but oh well. I went downstairs to find fresh coffee, a la Violet, and hopped online, like I do. Then WOMP! I saw the news. It is everywhere!

EQUALITY HAS ATTACKED AMERICA! (also being covered under the guise of “Obama Orders End to Defense of Federal Gay Marriage Law”

My favorite despondent correspondent is this lady from FOX. that Joe. My. God posted this morning.

Her eyes are popping out of her head. Her speech is slurred. She’s just sort of yelling at the camera, fumbling over “s s s same s s s sex…”

I don’t get off on other peoples unhappiness, and in this case, on other people freaking the fuck out. But this morning, while sipping a delicious cup of liberal-launched, fair trade, organic, shade grown, french roast coffee while watching Megan and so many others simply dissolve into terrified, mumbling idiots because I might some day soon be that much closer to being recognized as much a citizen as I am human in this country, well, I just find that amusing.

It was a toss up this morning, whether to try my damnedest to finally write a post for my blog or update my resume. Somehow the space between December and now, here, feels like miles. And for the many times in my every single day I feel this aching pull to get back to this space I get stuck on, “but where do I start now?” I don’t know where to start, or where I left off really.

My life, since starting this new job, has shifted and changed so drastically and so suddenly. Mostly this is a good thing but in other ways I’ve been so consumed by all of the new that I have put aside and flat out dropped pieces of myself, like this blog, that are so, so very important to me. So, here I am, trying to get back.

Hi there, friends and passersbys. How have you been?

How about I start with the recent good in my life, the stuff that is keeping me above water as I continue to struggle a bit, to find a balance and other things:

Last week I turned 34 and for this Violet, the Seal and I went on at weeklong vacation in the middle of gorgeous Nowhere Washington where the three of us did a whole lot of skiing, eating, napping, kissing, laughing and nothing at all, all the live long days. We were surrounded by huge mountains and trees and deer, unfamiliar faces, good food, tucked in a beautiful warm cabin with no responsibilities as far as all of my mind’s attempt to circle back to worrying about something could find. It was amazing. I needed it. Badly. It was a simple get away and both Violet and I are toting it as potentially the best vacation we’ve ever had together… so far, of course.

When we re-entered reality I immediately crashed, emotionally, again. I keep doing this, which has me considering a few serious changes, one being my place of work. (The job is ideal, nearly perfect, the place in which I do this is not, but this, hopefully, will be a different post, post a resolve of sorts.) So, I skimmed the surface of responsibilities and made it through my short work week. The light at the end of this week being an evening out with my bestie in the whole wide world and universe, including all other yet-discovered worlds and universes, Rene, that Friday. She and I, as I have mentioned before, have known each other our entire lives. Well actually, I was born 12 days earlier than she, so I guess I had a week and some without her, but that, very truly, is all.

So, just this last Friday Rene picked me up so that we could celebrate our 34th anniversary out on the town together, just the two of us, which is not something we find much time for these days. And usually when we do find time together we make grand plans of going out, drinking fancy drinks and then going dancing till the wee hours. And what we end up doing is choosing to order Thai food around 5 pm., eat it right out of the containers at her place, in sweatpants (that we like to call “our eatin’ pants”) as we watch the trashiest tv we can find while talking about anything and everything, like we do. And this sort of evening is usually all said and done, with us soundly sleeping by 10p.m… 11 p.m. at the latest.

But for our 34th anniversary, for this one, Rene was pretty insistent that she wanted to go out! Wear real clothes and go out in public, together. So, that’s what we did.

We had a lovely evening, which is obvious enough. We ate, drank, and talked about everything. We wrapped things up early, like we always do, and headed back to my place around 8:30.

On the way home Rene said, “It’s pretty early, even by our standards. How about I come in for a drink and just hang out for a bit.” I thought that sounded great. I warned her that Violet was out with friends and so I was certain she turned the heat down to below freezing and that it might be chilly in there at first. Normally Rene would admit to minding this, but she just said, “Oh well, it will warm up. That’s fine.” I guess if there was anywhere to get suspicious, that was it. But I just said, “Ok then.”

We pulled up to my house, I unlocked the door and said hello to the Seal as she ran towards me like a wiggly flood of happiness, like she always does. But then…

As I looked up I saw streamers hanging from the ceiling and then… then as my eyes began to drift to the left I saw a friend of mine, Mark, standing on my stairwell, in the dark. And as my mind began to lose grip on what was real and what was not I saw another friend of mine, standing right next to Mark, standing next to another friend of mine, standing next to another friend of mine… on my stairwell. And just as soon as my brain let my eyes realize that my stairwell was covered in friends they all yelled, “Surprise!”

Violet, who, before meeting me, used to be an honest girl who couldn’t even exaggerate without blushing, had totally duped me and collaborated with Rene and everyone else that I love and adore so much and threw me a surprise party.   And let me tell you, I was so, so very surprised. After they all yelled “surprise” I started to feel this feeling, along with a mad rush of adrenaline and an overwhelming jolt of immense love for every single smiling face I also felt like my legs were going to give out on me. I don’t think I was going to faint, but I certainly couldn’t stand so I just sort of fell back onto the couch and sat there staring at the stairwell full of all of my favorites. Speechless. And if you’ve ever read any of this blog or know me at all, you know that speechless is not a common condition.

Eventually, I pulled myself mostly back together and had an incredibly fabulous evening with an amazing collection of wonderful, favorite people. Two of my newest wonderful-favorites being Jen and Sara (from we are (having) so much fun.)

Looking around my living room that night was like a head count of reasons and reminders why I am very certainly, one of the luckiest.

So, there we have it. This little snippet of the best of my world lately is my attempt to reopen the door back into my own blog and all of the other places that keep me upright in the day and warm at night. More to come… and thanks for hanging on and coming back.

Violet and I promise each other every year, as we find ourselves running out to get one last thing on Christmas eve, or as we are wrapping everything early Christmas morning, we will not wait until the very last minute to get things ready for Christmas ever again! We will not wait until the very last minute to get things ready for Christmas ever ever ever again!

This year Violet and I have waited until the last minute to get things ready for Christmas. Every year, in the 11th hour, we scramble to buy a few things and make a few things for everyone in our collective family. One year everyone got a little something we bought and a  jar of home made kahlua, another year it was candied orange rinds, the year before that it was home made hot fudge.

This year we had all but given up on making anything, as time has slipped by and we are just too busy. But then, last night we decided we should try to one up ourselves and wrap the gifts we had scrambled to get that day before Christmas morning.  But it was late and we realized we didn’t have any wrapping paper.

That’s when Violet dug out several paper bags, a potato and some paint. And here’s what came of it all:

We cut open the bags, cut the potato in half…

And then we carved:

And then we covered our potatoes in paint and stamped and stamped and stamped the night away.

We made wrapping paper, tags for the presents and holiday cards.

Here’s one of the cards (and yes, the red collar has been hand painted on each and every dog, it’s the Seal’s signature look after all):

The model/inspiration for the project?

Coolest potato ever, no?

Two things to cover here: Burlesque and Chaz.

1st:

I saw Burlesque in it’s 15th hour of going live in the theaters (as live as an already made movie can be) and here’s the truth: It rocked my fagilicious-lesbianitious socks. I was nothing short of totally entertained for every single mil-second that the movie was playing.

Here’s the other truth: The movie isn’t great. The plot is kind of silly and doesn’t do a thing to make you say, “We couldn’t have known that would happen!” Christina uses her sexy mousy-speaking-voice-self to eventually get on stage and blow the place away with the singing ability of 4,752 burly chorus women. But we already know this about her, don’t we? Not that her voice isn’t incredible and constantly mind-blowing, it is. It’s just… we already know this.

I am NOT trying to come down on this movie, I am just trying to offer some honesty before I freak the fuck out all over again about HOW AMAZING AND FABULOUS Cher was… is. She has a lead role and her camera time is way too thin. If this movie wanted to triple it’s viewers and sales there should have been a whole lot more Cher – but we could say that about anything couldn’t we? Want to make a bazillion dollars selling squashed fire ants? GET CHER! You’ll be able to retire rich as all hell in two and a half hot minutes.

So, here’s how Burlesque went for me in a verbose and dramatic summary:  “Ya, ya, Christina’s hot, Christina can sing, Christina isn’t a terrible actress but her character didn’t give her much to work with. The boys are all dumb and love her, the girls are all jealous and want to be her, the dancing is totally entertaining but…

And then, all of a sudden, 20 or so minutes into this film with a silly story line where the waitress’ name is Loretta and the main dumb boy’s name is Jake… all of a sudden the world goes silent and there she is, standing on stage, as she slowly turns around and begins to shine a light back into life as we are so lucky to know it, with that melting golden butter blanket of a voice: Cher begins to sing.

And then I whimpered and then I died and then I turned into a puddle of faggy-goo. Violet tried to save me as I slid through the cracks of the theatre chair onto the ground and flowed down the sloping theatre floor until I hit the movie screen, seeped inside of it and got totally lost for what could have been forever, in everything that makes Cher the most remarkable definition of fabulous that ever was, is or could ever be.

It is no exaggeration to say that Cher makes this movie.

Cher carries the whole thing. Her gay sidekick, played by Stanley Tucci, was a definite second best, upping the bar on the acting scale and making the poorly written lines a bit more believable. But Cher. Goddamn that amazing woman. Whatever she did, said, sang, however she laughed, moved, licked her lips, flipped her hair, (SPOILER ALERT!) smashed a window with a tire iron… Holy mother of all things wicked, perfect, sexy and hot, she was just simply, incredibly, wonderfully, flawlessly Cher. And by Cher I mean the truest form of fabulous that ever was, is or could ever be.

So! Go see Burlesque, be ready to not be totally excited about the content but at the same time watch the Goddess of All Things Fabulous and Sparkly be absolutely amazing in every single way… as usual and to be expected.

Now, this Chaz thing: To everyone out there who has come up with some decided, negative opinion of Cher because of this whole Chastity now Chaz thing: To you I bid a sincere fuck off. Seriously.

This is about Cher and Chaz. This is between Cher and Chaz. This is about a very loving and uber famous mother and son, once daughter. This isn’t you and your college roommate, Christie, now Christopher. This is one of the most public and famous (and fabulous) women in the world with her very public adult child trying to maneuver in the world the best that they can.

If I all of a sudden changed my name from Jesse to Jasper and my mom got tripped up on that and said things like, “I just think of her as Jesse still.” Well, guess what folks – that is not an insult or an injustice or homophobic – that is just my mother, who named me, who has been calling me Jesse for 33 years getting a bit tripped up by sudden and dramatic change to how she has known me all of my life.

Chaz gets this. Cher admits this.

Yes, I am defensive of all things Cher, but that is because she is perfect… but also, folks calling her transphobic for accidentally calling her son, Chaz, who was very recently her daughter, Chastity, for the last 40 years, by female instead of male pronouns, isn’t anything else but forgetting to call her very loved child, now son, all of less than one out of forty one years, very recently daughter for the last forty years, ‘him’.

Still taking issue? Well, how about this, how about right this very second you start only writing with the hand you never use – and when you forget and write with the one that makes you the most comfortable- BECAUSE THAT IS THE ONE YOU’VE USED YOUR WHOLE LIFE, well, consider it blatant self hate.

Oh? You just forgot and aren’t used to it or comfortable or good at it yet? You aren’t left-hand-transphobic!?! You’re just a righty who finds it really difficult to remember to use the other one? Ah, I see. Well then, give it some time, because we’ll just assume you are, at the very least, one smidgen of a percent as kind and wonderful and amazing as Cher, which is more than enough to know that you’ll be just fine. Be patient with yourself, Righty… eh hem, sorry, I mean Lefty.  We’ll get there.

And now, a clip from the movie with the woman that makes the world go around when gravity takes a break:

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.

WOW, right?!?

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

Hey Joanne,

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.

jesse

So, this is what happened. I never talk about it really. I wonder if Violet even knows the story. I would say that it’s because the story annoys me, but the truth, as annoying as it is to admit, is because it still stings.

So, here’s what happened.

I was in high school. I was lucky and had a pretty tight knit group of friends and quite a few really. I also had a girlfriend. This is the part no one knew about. She was more popular than me and was the best lesbo-cover-up a dyke in Smallmindednowhereville could ask for. She was smart and pretty and sweet and everyone loved her. Including me, obviously.

We started secretly dating each other our sophomore year. It was a funny and awkward progression into realizing that we were a couple. We didn’t actually talk about it for the first year of being together. The first time I tried to tell Marie that I was gay I decided to downgrade it a notch (in my mind) and say I was bisexual. But when I looked into her big beautiful blue eyes I knew. Every time. I knew that I was gay and she wasn’t. We were in love, don’t get me wrong. We were very, very in love but that didn’t change who we were. So, I looked her right in her big blue eyes and said, “Marie, I’m, I mean, well… I’m a bi…” when she jumped in and said, “What, jesse?!”

“I think I’m… well, um… a bicycle.” And then I said I had to pee, which I did, and that I would be right back ,which I was. When I got back to her room she said nothing and I said nothing. We said nothing about that again, until we did.

A few months later I tried again. At this point we had been a couple for a little more than a year. This time we were taking a walk around her neighborhood in the middle of the night. We use to sneak out of her parents’ house and go on walks together in the middle of the night so that we could hold hands. It was a big deal. Holding her hand filled me with more butterflies than kissing did. It was harder to do and because it was so difficult and risky, for some reason, it felt more intimate.

As we were walking, stepping around street lights I asked, “Remember when I was a total weirdo and told you I was a bicycle?” Marie said, “Ya, I didn’t know you were stoned until you said that. Whatever.” I put my head down and said, “I wasn’t high.” And in the same breath I said, “I’m gay.”

 Marie stopped so I stopped and we both sat on the curb together. Something about the stillness of sitting there in the dark with Marie’s hands all wrapped in mine made everything boiling inside of me  fall out and I started crying in a way that I never allowed myself to. I tucked my head into my hands and felt like I might have to sit like that forever. I felt so embarrassed and exposed and wrong and sitting next to the only person who really knew me, who loved me deeper than my whole being, I still felt alone. It took me years to realize how strange it was that the first person I ever came out to was my girlfriend.

So we were sitting on this curb a few blocks from Marie’s house at 2 am and as she wove my hands back into hers, she leaned in and put her head in my neck and whispered, “I know, jesse. You’re beautiful.” And I just sat there sobbing until I nearly fell asleep on the street as she rubbed my head.  There were a million more things I wanted to say and ask and it was the first time in my life that I felt like I couldn’t say any of it to her. Any of it. And some of it I never did. And when the night sky began to lighten we knew we had to go.

—–  —–  —–

This whole post is supposed to be about the shit I went through in high school, so, let’s jump a year. Junior year sucked the most. The more my relationship with Marie grew the more isolated I felt from the world around me. I was crazy in love and no one knew, except for Marie. I also hated that I was gay. It was a safe secret so it mostly seemed like another stupid problem that I really didn’t have time for. It felt scary, the potential of it. I saw what happened to the kids accused of being gay. It was not pretty and usually it was terrible and sometimes it was bloody and sometimes the accused just disappeared to another school in a different district, never to be seen or heard from again, ever.

So, here it is – the moment that started super-suckdom-of-all-suckyness-in-all-the-land:

Marie, most of my friends and I were at a slumber party at Sarah’s house. Marie and I went into the bathroom together to change into our pj’s. We started kissing. The part of this story that I didn’t know about for several months was that Sarah’s little brother had put a ladder up outside the bathroom window to be a perv and watch us change. Well, little brother got a whole lot more than a couple of training bras putting on pj’s, that is for sure. And so, the next day he told his sister. His sister, Sarah, and I were friends but as it should turn out our friendship was not as valuable as this new information and she began to tell our friends what her brother had seen.

I still don’t know how quickly this spread or exactly how, but it did and here’s how I found out:

I got to school about a half hour before classes started, like we all did every day to have our teenage social needs met first thing. I walked down the hallway, found my group of friends sitting where they always did and just as soon as I sat down three of them stood up and walked away. The one closest to me said this as she walked away, “Gross, I think she just touched my arm.”

[Writing this out is making me take some really uncomfortable breaths. Like I said earlier, I don’t talk about this because it sounds so trivial and teenaged and that compared to the way it can still sock me a good one in the gut 18 years later, that imbalance makes me feel silly and unadjusted with the world.]

So, they all got up and walked away, leaving me sitting there alone with a bright red face and empty lungs. My mind raced to come up with, invent, another reason for what was happening but I knew what was happening and if there was any way to wish yourself dead I wouldn’t be writing right now.

So, fast forward past all of the obvious repercussions of being me and outted against my will or want in Smallmindednowhereville, past the feeling of being totally isolated turned total reality and past all of my hatred for myself being promoted and validated by everyone that mattered all around me. Past starting to flunk out of school, drinking too much, too often, past the eating disorders, past the late night drunken plans to get out of this tiny awful world somehow: running away, killing myself or just hiding in every way possible, for as long as I possibly could until I turned 18 and then leave immediately (I went with the third option), past all of the bold face lies I told to the few friends that tried to stay true, that confronted me and said, “Just tell me. I don’t care, I just want to know.” Fast forward to now. To tonight.

I hadn’t figured out how to contribute to the It Gets Better Project and at this point had decided I wouldn’t, not in the forum it was happening anyway. I am an activist by nature and I have and do and will contribute, of course, I just didn’t think I would be writing this post.

But then, tonight, I got home and checked my personal email, like I do, and found an email with a name on it that I could say I vaguely recognized, but I would say that to save face and I would be lying. The name on this email is someone I haven’t spoken to in 18 years. Tonight, just now, I got an email from the girl in high school, my friend until that early Tuesday morning when we were all 15 years old and sleepy and needed each other so much that we made it a point to get to the one building we all wanted out of more than anything, even before we had to be there, so very early in the morning, just so we could see each other, because that was enough to make it until lunch, at the very least. This woman now, my friend until that morning, that got up as I sat down next to her, who looked me in the eyes and was suddenly disgusted that I may have touched her arm emailed me tonight. Just now. And here it is:

Date: Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Subject: Hi…

Hi Jesse,

I hope this note finds you well. It has been a long time since I have seen you. I was looking through some old pics the other weekend and ran across some from our sophomore trip together. It reminded me of what great times we had together. I am pretty sure the first time I skipped school it was with you. Anyway, I really turned out to be a super shitty person the last couple years of high school.

I wanted to take a moment to apologize for my behavior and ignorance. Most of all for being so judgmental and saying hateful things. I hope you are happy, I get updates from xxxxxx now and again, and she says you are doing well. I am sorry it has taken me this long to write you. I assure you I have thought many times about reaching out to you, but worried that it was unwelcome. It may still be unwelcome, but I did want to thank you for being a great friend, and tell you I am sorry I didn’t turn out to be one for you.

Take care,

Joanne

So, in conclusion, I am a true believer, and very happy to quote Cher when I add that I am Living Proof, that this is no joke, folks:

It Gets Better. I promise.  

Thank you, Joanne, for your apology and for your kindness. These things can never come too late. And for the needed nudge to write this post.

Here’s how it goes these days: On Sunday, I iron five shirts. That way, my biggest morning (in)decision happens on Monday, after that, things get easier. By Friday, I just reach into the closet, throw it on, button up and go. It’s a good system really.

Mornings are not my thing, never have been, but this new job of mine is early and that’s just the way it is.

I’m not in the office much, half the time really, but when I am I like it, a lot actually. I’ve never really considered myself a team player. I mean, I’ll play on a team but I’m not always ready and willing to hug it out at the end and I do get a little annoyed when in the middle of things someone wants to hold a meeting to make sure we’re all being heard. But this job, this job has major meeting fever. And that’s fine really. I’m attempting to just jump into the culture of this place and make it work. I’m surrounded by awesome people, so, for that, my tolerance is pretty high.

The office climate is so nice though, and not in that “oh you’re new so I’ll be nice to you in an awkwardly plastic way.” I’m talking about an entire building full of really good people: Kind. Fun. Good looking.

So, to keep things real I’ve been trying to start office rumors. A few have flown and that was great. A few tanked right from the start and a few, just to keep folks guessing, have been true. And I mean, whatever the flow of information might be it’s always harmless and fun enough to spread whether you believe it at all or not. That is actually an important angle to a good rumor – worthy of wanting to be spread, true or not.

I WISH I could share some of the rumors that have become rather popular but they are all co-worker specific and because I plan to keep this job until I die, I need to be really careful here.

So, instead, tonight on twitter, just to take a little break from all of the reality of election stuff I attempted to spread some rumors. I offered three, one of which is true. I was going to say which one, but I think I’ll wait… (one is true, I promise.)

1. I danced with Tom Cruise at a gay bar in Budapest.

2. I’ve had a few beers and chalked it up with the SNL crew, Tina Fey included.

3. I almost kissed Alanis Morissette but then the sprinkler went off.

Oh, and hi there! I’ve missed you something fierce. Thanks for holding tight and I hope the world spins you about kindly in all of our inbetween time.

Well folks, a while ago I said goodbye to the days of being overpaid to sit in an office, in front of a computer all day while composing Cherday posts. And now, most recently, I’m bidding a fine farewell to the long days of house-wifery, p.j’s till noon, grocery shopping at 2 p.m., lengthy conversations with the dog, lengthy conversations where I would talk back for the dog in an atrocious french accent all the while spending way too much time staring at walls in between composing and sending cover letters.

Yes sir, I got a job. And here’s the catch: It’s not like a job where I am relieved to have found something, it’s a job that I went to school for and have aspired to do, be when I grow up. I got THAT JOB, the one where I am counting down to the start date, can’t wait, already planning and plotting how my office will look, which photo of Violet will sit at my desk. The kind of job I knew existed somewhere but always felt far far away from me (especially in this job market!) I got that job that will most certainly challenge me every single day and in a way that I actually want to be challenged. I got that job that makes me feel like a grownup who sought out, found and grabbed a… how do grownups say?… a career.

It took an obsessively composed letter, several pestering phone calls, three competitive interviews and a ton of paperwork, but folks, it’s mine. All mine. I start the beginning of this month and as I’ve no good excuse for such thin posting here lately, now I do. So, when you hit this page and see nothing new, rather than cursing my lazy-bloggin-ass know that I am out there, doing something good and to top the cake, something I really, really want to be doing.

You ever have one of those totally insignificant moments that just makes you stop and remember again how totally insignificant we all are together, emphasis on the together part?  I think sometimes I totally forget the bigger picture, that no matter what we believe in, who we are, how we are, where, any of it, we’re all on this big rock together, right now, and that, in the scheme of things, is a pretty significant.

I was at a store the other day, grabbed a few things I needed, a few things I didn’t and went to check out. As I stepped into the line I caught the very tail end of the man in front of me saying to the check out lady, “…that’s all I’m saying.” And then it was my turn.

As I was checking out I noticed that the check-out lady was a bit shaky and not making eye contact. Finally, when all was said and done, even though nothing had been said, she looked up and attempted to say, “Have a nice day.” But she barely made it passed nice before she let out the saddest little cry. It was just so sudden and strange and real and human that I didn’t know what to do with any of it. And the lighting was weird and the folks behind me froze up. My first squashed instinct was to jump behind the counter and give this poor gal a hug and say, “look, I’ll take over for a bit, go get some fresh air.” But really, that would have been a crazy thing to do, which I find crazy. My helping this woman take a little break would have been a totally strange thing to do. Isn’t that strange? Isn’t it strange that some sort of engaged effort to help her would have made me seem and feel a bit nuts? So, instead I asked the obvious as I swiped my debit card, “Having one of those days, huh?” just to offer a very basic acknowledgment of her out of place tears.

The check out lady was still staring at the ground when she said, “That guy was just mean to me, for no reason. Sometimes it’s too much, you know?” I responded with, “Of course it’s too much. I’m sorry that guy was mean to you.” She smiled a little bit and I grabbed my bag of stuff and headed to the parking lot.

As I was walking to my car I saw the guy who was supposedly the impetus for the poor lady’s tears. I felt this flush in my chest. That one where I’m not totally sure I should do what I’m about to do but I also know I’m going to regardless. But what an asshole. He makes her cry, she’s stuck there and he just gets to walk away. So, as he attempted to drive away I stepped in front of his car and glared at him. He rolled down the window and looked at me. It immediately turned into a stare off: a game I am practiced in and have championed many a times. And yes, I was totally exposed standing in front of a car with a dude who is clearly not afraid to make someone cry but I just stood there, saying nothing, glaring at him.

Finally he said, “What the hell is your problem?” (This means I won the staring contest, by the way.)

“You made her cry. Just so you don’t get to drive off all free and clear, or maybe that’s what you were after.”

He leaned his head way out of the window and said, “Listen. You don’t know shit. Get out of the way.”

And then I thought, “Ok Jesse, this is escalating. This is you and your small bag of stuff versus a big dude in a big car…what now?” So I stayed put and opened my mouth again, “Who the hell do you think you are really? You really don’t care that some woman who is stuck behind a counter is crying right now because of you?  Even if you are just an asshole, you really don’t feel even just a little bit bad about that?” At this point I just assumed he’d tell me to fuck off and then I’d flip him off and we’d all get on with our day. But instead he pulled up closer and very calmly said, “Look, I didn’t mean to make her cry. I would never try to do that. You need to move now.”

At this point I had my deer-in-headlights look going full blaze and said back in a sort of grumpy, shocked voice, “Ok… well, um, she is. So, what now?” Again I assumed he’d do or say something to attempt to intimidate me or hurt my feelings but instead he launched into an explanation full of sincerity and openness. The details of the situation are actually rather moot, the gist being, in his own words, he “felt like I wasn’t getting the attention I needed.” Apparently, the check out lady was having a conversation with someone else, making his check out experience feel like it was taking way too long and “like I was invisible.” His feelings were hurt so he told the check out lady that he thought it was rude that she was ignoring him. She got defensive. He got defensive. He said, “Well, I’ll make sure to avoid your line in the future.” Check out lady started to cry. Then I stepped in line.

As he was explaining his side of the story he started most of his sentences with, “It was upsetting me that…” and “my feelings were hurt that she continued to ignore me…” This big dude in his big car, who had just made the check out lady at the store cry was sharing his feelings with this random little dyke who just yelled at him and then blocked him in in a covered parking lot by standing in front of his car and refusing to move.

And if you’ve made it this far in the story I have a feeling this whole scene might seem and sound a bit moot. But living in Seattle I am in a social climate where if you are walking down the street and you try to acknowledge another human being most of the time you will be totally ignored or they will shoot you a dirty look like, “Why are you looking at me? Why would you do something like that?” So, this strange and brief and authentically human interaction with a few other folks just made me pause for a second.

When I think about it, it creeps me out how much intention and effort we put out there to stay eerily distant from each other. And although this whole scenario was quite strange and the context of the story is mostly irrelevant, it was a genuine interaction with the world and that’s all too rare, so, I’ll take it.

On that same note, the note where we are all so guarded that we have no idea what to do when another person we don’t know creates a totally authentic moment- note, here is a fine example. (It’s a wee 18 seconds for all of you attention-fearing folks):

My name is Jesse James and this website is just like me. read more about me

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY!

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jesse james on twitter

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