Non Sequitur – A Birthday Request

My birthday is coming this week. I’ll be 39.

Save the date for next year. There will be a celebration.

But for this year, it’s pretty low key. Back in my 20s I set the standard that I only celebrate the Zeros and the Fives with parties, but the rest of the birthdays pass by with small-scale celebrations.

It’s been a really strange week. On Thursday night I got an email from a coworker whose recently former ex boyfriend had been found dead in his apartment. He’d been battling addiction and losing, which had prompted their breakup – but she was torn up about ending their romantic relationship and trying to remain his friend. Over the past year, she’s come to me for counsel more than once because she knows I’ve been in a similar situation.

And now her experience is that much more similar.

Then I found a couple of new podcasts for my commute. One is RISK! – a storytelling podcast. The other is the Savage Lovecast which people have been telling me about for years.

Both of the episodes I listened to this week featured a story about a young widow and the struggle to reconnect with your sexuality – stories that resonated with me deeply. Then I read a post in one of the facebook groups I participate in and another young widow shared her story, which also had similarities to mine.

And then yesterday, I saw the article from a young widow who wrote an open letter to the people criticizing Patton Oswalt for announcing his engagement so “soon” after his beloved wife passed away (like, nearly 2 years ago).

It just seems like that subject keeps trying to pound its way into my head, and all in the course of the six days after I signed escrow papers to begin the process of transferring ownership of my home, where my own widowing took place.

I’m not like, devastated. In fact, I have found all of the stories I’ve heard this week to be uplifting and generally comforting. It does feel nice when we realize we’re not alone, even three and a half years after it happened.

Hearing their stories doesn’t just remind me of what I’ve lost. It shines a great big light on what I have gained, as well as makes apparent what I’d had all along. It reminds me to appreciate everything I have every day that I have it.

Well. That wasn’t the post I was planning to write.

Honestly, I thought this was going to be the post where I asked people to donate $3, $9, or $39 to one or more of a list of charitable organizations I would like to benefit from my 39th birthday.

I guess that post got away from me.

A few weeks ago, I asked my friends to share with me some of the charitable organizations that they feel are doing good work in marginalized communities – specifically for LGBTQ+ and POC. I wanted the recommendations to come from those who have, or continue to benefit from the services these organizations provide. As someone who works in the nonprofit sector, I know better than to trust the website or the PR….

….I trust the people that are being helped.

In addition, yesterday someone had posted a video to an IndieGogo campaign that I thought was worth funding, and doesn’t have much time left.

So below are the links to the organizations that were recommended to me by the very people these groups exist to support. And if you are the type of person that is inclined to give gifts for people’s birthdays, then I would ask that you consider making a contribution to one or more of these organizations for my birthday.

You don’t have to tell me if you did or didn’t – but if you do, I would love to share my appreciation publicly in a future post.

The Relational Center The Relational Center exists to promote the essential importance of relationships. When we value our connections with others and with the environment, we create the necessary conditions for health and sustainability. So our work promotes personal, interpersonal, and social practices that help people build strong, resilient relationships. Our programs provide healing support, a space for community building, and tools for leadership.

Los Angeles LGBT Center Since 1969 the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond.

Lambda Legal Lambda Legal, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

Trevor Project The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

And the IndieGoGo Campaign that only has a few days left:
Woke Girls Woke Girls is a new line of fashion dolls and chapter books that celebrate the power of today’s American girls. Through empowering representation of girls from marginalized identities and stories which finally portray them as the magical heroes that they are- Woke Girls shows girls that even when the world is unfair, they have the power to love themselves, stand up for what is right, and build a better world.

I will be making a personal contribution to each of these causes myself. I hope you will consider joining me.

Wipe the Glass (Happy Birthday, Tony.)

He’d have been 55 today. I didn’t want it to affect me, but I can’t pretend it didn’t. It’s a really strange combination of emotions – knowing that I’m happier and healthier now, knowing that I’ve found love again and pulled my life back together and survived an incredible loss.

And still feeling off on his birthday.

This would have been the birthday that I’d have broken the bank to get us a reservation at the French Laundry in Napa. It was a lifelong goal of his to eat there one day. I tried for this 50th birthday, but I missed the window of opportunity for a reservation and there wasn’t a chance in hell I could get it, so we’d decided to do it for his 55th.

Maybe one day I’ll still get a chance to eat there. At the very least, I have Thomas Keller’s cookbook somewhere in the garage (the gift my parents got him for his 50th). Now that I’m a fancypants home chef, I’ll dig that sucker out and make something.

So, I’m digging into these emotions, because I think if I can shed some light on them, I can overcome them. I mean, it’s not like I’m overcome with grief that he’s gone. Like I said, my life is better now. There is love again, and not just for the guy but for some really great people he’s brought into my life by association.

I’m gonna take a minute away from this whole thing to share some gratitude for my metamours. They’re both really wonderful, really unique people an I’m very, very grateful for them. I had a really rough night last night, fraught with nightmares and sleeplessness, and this morning wasn’t entirely pleasant, and one of my metamours came through and 1) made it feel safe for me to be honest, and 2) said exactly what I needed said to make me feel better. I’m really, really grateful for our growing friendship. The other one is her own brand of fantastic and has made me feel comfortable and welcome since day two of this relationship. I say day two because he forgot to introduce us to each other on day one.

Anyway, back to the other thing. Right. Guilt. What I’m getting at is that the reason I think I keep crying this week is that I feel guilt for moving on. Not surface guilt; like, rationally I know I have no reason to feel anything of the sort. But deep, deep, down there’s this sense that if I didn’t feel something on this day it would mean i’m a callous, unfeeling, cold-hearted bitch.

So I look at the date on the calendar and I furrow my brow because I’m happy and …what does that make me?

If I were you and you were me and you asked me this question, I could be completely rational about it and tell you that you’re crazy. Of COURSE you deserve this happiness. Of COURSE you’ll feel something on his birthday. Of COURSE being happy doesn’t make you an evil cold-hearted bitch.

And I can tell myself that, too.

When chatting with my metamour this morning I came up with an analogy for how this feels. So, if you’re in a glass-enclosed shower, the glass fogs up with steam. When I pick my emotions apart and tell myself there’s nothing to feel badly about, it’s like I’ve taken my hand and wiped a large swath of clarity. I can see the world clearly through the glass. But slowly, very slowly, the steam starts to fog it up again.

I have to keep wiping at the emotional fog collecting in my brain.

There’s more to it than just Tony’s birthday, there’s other stuff going on that has nothing to do with Tony. Work stresses. Family stresses. Distances from people I care about.

Life is awesome, but just ’cause it’s awesome doesn’t mean there aren’t days when the awesome isn’t front and center.

I was trying to think of a way to commemorate Tony’s birthday this morning. It was hard. I thought about asking people to donate one item of clutter …you know that thing that “might be useful one day” to someone who might use ittoday. Tony was a hoarder and I can tell you that after he died, a great many people benefited from the mountains of clothing and kitchen supplies and furniture and canned food that he collected.

I thought about asking people to reach out to friends or loved ones who struggle with depression or anxiety and saying “hey. You matter.” Tony suffered from both of these, and chronic pain. There were days when he didn’t want to live and lost himself in video games and ice cream to get by.

I thought about asking people to embrace something bizarre or do something weird today. Tony loved the bizarre, obscure, and perverse.

I thought about suggesting people show kindness to someone in need today. Tony always did. If it were his last dollar, he’d give it to someone needier than he.

But, this morning on facebook all I asked people to do was to find a reason to celebrate. Have a treat. Blow out a candle. Find a reason to feel good.

‘Cause he’d have been 55 today on Friday the 13th. And despite all his troubles, he was a good man who loved me. There is nothing wrong with celebrating that.

wipes the glass