she is like a cat

She is like a cat.

She is like a cat that you desperately want to call your own, for a little while.

You put out food, hoping to lure her close.
She takes the food (and is grateful for it).
Then she slinks back out of reach, jumping on the fence, balancing one foot in front of the other.
Never looking down, or left, or right.

From this distance, in this light, she is glorious to you.
Radiant fur, shining amber eyes full of heat.
She must be so soft. She must be so warm, to hold.

You want her to stop circling your legs.
You want, finally, to feel her climb into your lap.
Then, oh then. What you would do.

We both know what you would do.

And she would stretch herself luxuriously, under your touch.
And you would hear her purr, which is as rich and loud as you've imagined.

But also, after a little while, you would notice that she is not that glorious.
You would feel the grit in her fur. (She's been outside a long time.)
You would see, up close, that the shine and heat in her eyes is actually low-simmering fear.

And then, maybe, you would stop feeding her.
And she would feel the pinch of hunger more keenly than you would feel the loss of temporary pet.

That is why it is hard for her to trade your legs for your lap.

Not that she wouldn't.

Not that she won't.

Pride and Compromise

Pride and Compromise went walking together in the rain, not paying much attention to where they were headed. Suddenly the pair found themselves in a heap on the ground, a tangle of mud and limbs. Neither was sure how they ended up that way, but each secretly thought it the other's fault.

They spent a few moments sitting in the dirt, frowning at the mess they made. Then Compromise stood and offered Pride her hand. "I'm sorry," she said humbly. "These clumsy legs of mine! It must be quite a challenge to walk with me." Her words were cheerful, if heavy on the tongue. Once they were out, however, it was her heart that felt lighter.

Pride nodded primly, accepting the apology, but offering none of his own in return. "I hope the mud hasn't ruined your dress," he said. "Good evening." And with that he turned and left.

Compromise felt the sting of loneliness that came, as it always did, with arriving at a halfway point only to find herself the only one there. But it was still raining, and rain had a way of washing more clean than just dresses.

a potential cure for jealousy

I've fangirled for The School of Life before, and I'm sure I'll do it again. I don't think the importance of emotional intelligence, humility, and self-awareness (all of which SOL triumphs), can be overstated. And this video about flirting is a surprising new favorite.

Historically speaking, I've been a terribly jealous partner. In 99/100 cases (how sad to think there could have been that many!), the jealousy had less to do with feeling genuinely threatened by an interloper than with facing my own insecurities; I am nothing if not well-versed in and thoroughly convinced of my inadequacies.

Watching a partner get chatted up by someone (that I perceive as) more accomplished, more successful, more this or more that - has always been an exquisite form of torture. He likes her more than me. He relates to her more than me. They have more in common. I'm not worthy, and she's helping to make that clear to him. 

Lovely, I know.

Anyway, this video takes the concept of flirting and makes something really sweet out of it.



I love the idea of a "redistribution" of confidence. I love the idea of my boyfriend - of anyone I care about - getting a harmless dose of it. Feeling just a bit more handsome, or walking just a bit taller after a throwaway conversation with a member of the opposite sex.

It's almost comical how quickly this philosophy of flirting dissolved at least one gnarly arm of my own green eyed monster.

baseline

In October of last year, while simultaneously applying for (and accepting) various writing gigs, I knocked together what I called a "lapsed server" resume. Because before I'd started dancing, in a previous lifetime, that's what I'd done. I waited tables, I worked counter jobs - I even did a brief stint as a barista in a cafe inside of Borders. (I'd also had a few retail jobs, but I passionately hated every one of them.)

It was actually a friend who pushed me in this last-resort direction, pointing to the acting community as an example of creatives/artists doing what they had to, to survive. He was right. It was one of few options I had. If I wasn't going to lie my way into desk job that I didn't want anyway, there wasn't a lot else open to me. At least, not a lot with the potential for decent earnings. I've worked for tips before. I am good at getting tips. For all my character flaws, I am pretty personable.

So I pitched myself as someone looking to get back into hospitality after years of working for herself. A friend who has made a fantastic career of high-end serving helped me write a creative, clever, and sincere resume that I felt good about. Actually going out and applying with it - now that was a truly humbling experience. If there's one thing I learned last year, it is that LA does not give a fuck about anyone's career expectations, whatever that career is.  LA is a city full of hungry, hustling people. Even the most basic serving jobs are shockingly competitive.

After bouncing around interviewing for a couple of weeks and spending two horrible days working at a "mom and pop" sandwich place run by an angry control freak, I got lucky. A spot opened up in a restaurant pretty much exactly where I was hoping to land. The exact neighborhood and in fact the exact location in that neighborhood.

Now, I've thought a lot about whether I want to share where I'm working. I've had the experience a few times now of strangers recognizing me (or Chaucer, hilariously) from my blog and stopping me on the street to introduce themselves. And don't get me wrong - I find it flattering and for the most part a really cool thing.

But I'm not so sure in this case. The idea of someone coming by my work just to gawk, just to see me in all the un-glamour of waiting tables...that isn't particularly appealing. Not that any of you would. But I've had some freaky social media encounters over the years, and some less-than-positive attention directed my way. (As I myself have put less-than-positive vibes out into the world.)

So while I'd love to throw myself open to local readers and say, "Come say hi!" - I can't.

Suffice to say I work in an extremely popular, very trendy place that is almost always busy, with multiple vendors and restauranteers in a single space. Celebrity chefs. Laid back atmosphere. Sustainability and ethical sourcing. All in a neighborhood that is rapidly rising in popularity and price. Employees like myself - lots of twenty, thirty, and forty-somethings with "other things" going. Artists and musicians who wait tables or work registers to keep themselves afloat while they navigate concurrent creative lives.

And I love the job.

The money ranges from good to truly spectacular. It's largely a location, location, location thing. Which is not to say that we don't offer great stuff, and have a solid reputation. We do. But our real estate is prime, considering the target demographic.

And I love the people I work with. It's taken some time to really bond with everyone (thoughts on why that is to come in a future post), but I'm there now and it is wonderful. Coming to work is a pleasure. No stress, good energy, easy, and mindless in the best way.

Timo calls this my "baseline" job. That's a good name for it not the least because, perhaps unsubtly, it reminds me that serving is not my end goal. And while it has been a massive relief to have reliable income with a regular schedule (in fact I have pretty much the exact days/shifts I requested) for a few months, it's definitely time to get back to pursuing my own concurrent creative life.

So I'll talk about where that's at, next.

in which I set a porklord straight

The view count for my last few posts has been approximately ten times what is typical. I tried to dig around and find out why, if maybe my blog had been mentioned somewhere big or something. But I'm not seeing anything. So I have no idea what's driving all the traffic, but hello to anyone new!

I did, however, see that someone had added to the SOMI thread about me on GOMI. And I tried to log in and just reply there, but for whatever reason, clicking the "Click Here to Post A Response" button doesn't do anything.

Which leaves me two options. Ignore the post, or reply to it here. Here's the post:


It is of course entirely possible that Headpat Junquie knows someone that knows me IRL. The world is small. But I haven't really socialized a ton in LA, other than with my small, long-standing group of friends. Also, I only started working outside of my apartment early last year. So I dunno. Possible but improbable, from where I'm standing. Then again, who knows.

But oh man. The idea that at my age I could still be dancing? I mean...thanks?

Alas, those days are over. I do have a job, which is what I actually logged on tonight to blog about, until the curiously high numbers distracted me. But it is not dancing. Far from it.

Re: the "pretty disastrous choices" - really not much I can say to that. Indeed I have made some lousy decisions. Dancing for way too long. My marriage. The abusive relationship in Tucson. Moving in with Terence. Not working for years. Lots of big lessons in those mistakes. Lots of compassion and gratitude and perspective gained, too.

Anyway, just wanted to set the record straight. The only dancing I do these days is in front of a stage, not on one. Fully clothed.

Way less profitable, but way more fun.

the mirror of lack

There once was a girl with two mirrors in her room. In one she saw all that she was; in the other, all that she wasn't.

The girl looked in both mirrors every day. The first showed her someone lovely, with grace and poise and laughter in her eyes. It was easy to smile at this reflection, and to turn from it with her head held high.

But in the second mirror was a face drawn with reproach, and the heaviness of disappointment. This image left the girl feeling shot through with shame. Not for having done something wrong. Just for not having done enough.

One day, with the shifting of seasons, she noticed the light that came through her window no longer hit the second mirror - the mirror of lack. And though she tried, she could no longer make out the inadequacies she'd once beheld there.

It seemed obvious what to do next. Because how many mirrors does one need, anyway?

beauty in the grey

Next thing I promised to talk more about: therapy.

I found my therapist through Open Path, which is a discounted psychotherapy collective. Cheap counseling, in other words. So right off the bat you know you're going to be working with someone compassionate, because these people ask for pittance, basically, in terms of an hourly rate. In some cases they charge as little as a third of what a typical session of therapy costs. Patients only need to pay an initial membership fee; then they can see anyone in the collective, forever and ever amen.

I scrolled through the listings, looking for I don't know what exactly. An especially sympathetic face, primed to give me all the pity I crave? I found a man whose picture and description spoke to me (he specializes in loss), and I emailed him. This in itself was a very tragicomic exercise, trying to condense my many issues into a sort of please-take-me-on-as-a-client pitch. I ended it with my goals for what I hope to get out of therapy, which felt a bit like sucking up to the teacher - but I wanted him to know I'm serious about getting my shit together.

He didn't answer for a few weeks, and in typical Ellie fashion I just assumed I'd been rejected, and that I didn't deserve help, and I told myself I'd revisit the issue soon. But then he got in touch, apologizing for the delay, saying he'd been out of the country. He asked whether I'd like to come in for a complimentary consultation, which made me laugh out loud, because that's like asking someone with a totaled car whether they'd like to bring in their vehicle for a free checkup. Better clear your schedule, buddy.

No joke, I was already crying when I got to his office. I'd had a terrible night at work and the ol' avalanche of negativity had nearly buried me alive. As it does. So woo boy was I ready to unload on his couch.

Long story not much shorter: he had my number inside of ten minutes. "In the past thirty seconds you've said 'amazing' and 'horrible' and 'always' and 'never.' You swing from black to white rather quickly, don't you?"

So we're working on that.

We're also working on the inextricable closeness with which I keep to my emotions. My inability to detach from them, and from the experiences that have fostered them, even when those experiences are years old. I can tell the story of the abusive relationship I was in, in late 2011, and be instantly wrecked. He was quick to note that the upside of this is (he imagines) the amount of deep joy I can dial into, instantaneously. (I assured him that indeed I can do that.)

Bottom line, we're working on getting me to be more even keel. On finding beauty in the grey. And eventually we're going to put to bed all the crap that I've been keeping knotted inside of me for the past ten years.

And I like him a lot. He doesn't pull punches, and often uses humor to make his point. He makes me laugh at myself, which is something I love. My favorite people are the ones who know how to tease me, and do it effectively - and with warmth.

I told him when I initially emailed him that things are tight for me financially right now, but this is something important that I'm going to prioritize. Manicures are awesome. Mental health is awesomer.

in

I can't sleep, so I guess I'll plow ahead and I'll bring you up to present day, starting with what happened with Timo.

I walked away from him that day last month, didn't look back, and got on the bus home. (For locals: we'd met at The Grove. I made him meet me at the fucking Grove.) My heart was just a lump of icy lead. I didn't tell anyone, didn't even text my best friends, because doing so would have made it real. I just went home and faced it down alone.

I worked nonstop. I worked eight days in a row, took one day off to move, and then worked another six in a row. Work saved me. It kept me busy and distracted, and I was grateful for it. Every morning on my way to the train, I listened to songs that, for whatever reason, empowered me. I latched on to them, knowing that forever after they'd be ruined, but needing something to channel my feelings through.

At some point, and already the timeline of this is hazy, he messaged me. Said he wanted to see me before he left to go home for a month. I told him that if he was just looking for closure for himself, that I wasn't interested. That if he just wanted to say he was sad for how things turned out or whatever, that I didn't want to have that conversation. I explained it would just hurt me more to say goodbye to him yet again. He said he wasn't sure what he wanted to say, but that he really needed to see me, so I said ok, and asked when. He said he'd think about when he could make time, and that he'd get back to me the next day.

But then he didn't get back to me the next day, and that was almost worse than The Grove. I felt jerked around and so, so hurt. Then the next day he finally messaged and said he didn't know if he'd be able to squeeze in seeing me before he left after all - and that's when I wiped my proverbial hands. Because what the fuck.

In his defense, he had a lot going on. A huge project at work, getting ready to go to Europe for a month, and a stopover in Pennsylvania for work on the way. Also in his defense, he knew he wanted to see me, he knew he wasn't ready to let go - but he didn't know what he would say to me, anyway. And Timo doesn't do or say things he doesn't mean, or isn't ready to. Ever. It's one of his best qualities.

But from my perspective? I was donezo. I put my head down, threw myself into work, focused on settling into my new place, and tried to think about him less and less every hour.

This plan didn't last long. He texted me and said he'd sent me something on the messaging app we'd used before, the one I had dumped the day of The Grove. (He didn't know I had dumped it, I guess.) I said ok, I'll check it out, and I reinstalled the app. It was a voice message. He was about to get on a plane to Amsterdam (I could hear the call for boarding in the background), and he wanted to tell me that he'd been thinking about me every day. That he hoped I'd see him when he got back. Said he loved me, in English and German. Used his pet name for me.

I didn't know what to make of it. I felt like someone had yanked my head off my shoulders, played a round of tennis with it, then reattached it. I texted a friend for support, and that friend said, "Uh yeah, I meant to tell you. Timo messaged me asking about you. If you're doing okay. If I'd spoken to you. Also, he wanted to know if I have your new address, so he can send you something."

On the one hand I felt enormous satisfaction to know he was thinking about me, needing to talk to me. On the other I felt mistrustful. Suspicious. Not that he had impure motives, more that he was just missing me on a superficial level, and that if I wasn't careful, I'd get sucked into some kind of prolonged, protracted breakup again upon his return.

Like I say, the timeline of everything is hazy, but we messaged a few times. The gist of his communication was to say, "I want to talk when I get back. I need more time to think, but I know I want to see you. Give me a chance." The gist of mine was, "I'm here and listening. I've made my feelings clear. Figure out your own." He confessed to being scared I'd meet someone else. I told him, perhaps a bit brutally, that I meet people all the time. But that I wasn't interested in anyone else.

A few more days went by. And then it was Christmas Eve, and I was walking home from work when he texted. "Merry Christmas, Ellie," he said. I think it was raining. I'm pretty sure, in fact. Anyway, along with the text was a video.

This video was the boombox outside my window.

It was him sitting at his desk, talking into the camera, addressing me. "The other day Spotify showed me that you were listening to this song," he said. And he named the song. And it wasn't even a favorite song or anything, it was just a random track from a group I like. But apparently the name of the song jumped out at him as some kind of clue to my feelings, so he looked up the lyrics. And one of the lyrics was something like, "You say you love me, but what does that mean?"

Do you remember a few months ago, when I was talking about the things that worked so well between us, and I mentioned the whole "love languages" thing? How we speak the same ones, in the same order, and in the same intensity? Well, the premise and structure of this Christmas Eve video was Timo telling me exactly what it means when he says he loves me...as divided into the five love language categories.

"So this is what it means, when I say I love you," he started. I couldn't even watch it at first. Or even the second time. I could only listen. It was too much.

It was a series of statements all starting with "It means."

It means that you enrich my life, by challenging my way of thinking. It means thinking of you makes me think profound things. It means that the tears are worth it. It means I want to dance with you in front of a stage. It means I want you to wear my t-shirts. It means it pains me when I cannot find the right words to talk to you. It means I want to make sure you have the right pillow. It means I want to take a photo every single time we're together. It means I want to share the road with you, in seeing the world, and discovering new things. 

And on like that, for nearly five minutes.

Obviously, it opened things back up between us in a big way. We talked on the phone. We agreed that we needed to talk in person, not via satellite over the Atlantic. But we didn't really hold back. We copped to missing one another terribly. We expressed love. Timo told me that he made the video because he couldn't wait, that he didn't want any more time going by without letting me know how he felt. That so much could happen in five weeks, and he didn't want to risk losing me.

He didn't stop with the video, either. He made a playlist for me, of dozens of his favorite German songs. Pages of notes accompanied the list, a primer on the feelings associated with those songs, why he was sharing them, excerpts of lyrics translated for me. A few days later he made a sort of playful PDF report on my Lobby Ellie pictures, winnowing down his favorites by category. He sent me homemade cookies, along with a picture of us he'd printed up. He recorded a twenty minute audio message for me.

He went, in short, all the fuck out.

Then he came home, loaded with presents and things to say. The first night I saw him, we tumbled into bed and didn't really talk seriously. The second night he sat with me on his couch and I listened while he told me what he was feeling, and how his perspective on some things had changed.

And here is where I need to stop and clarify for you, the same way that he was intent on clarifying for me: this wasn't - isn't - a situation where his feelings changed. His feelings, he has emphasized repeatedly, never changed, because he did and does love me. But spending time away from me, over some of the most emotional days of the year, back in the country where he has always planned to return to - if I understand him correctly (and I am still coming to understand it all), made him realize a few things. That it feels good and right to be with me, here and now. That he isn't necessarily in as big a rush to leave. That even at the most meaningful moments with his family and friends, he felt something missing, and it was me. That every time he saw something beautiful or surprising in his travels, that it was me he wanted by his side to share in the experience. That he doesn't have all the answers about his future or my future, but that maybe we can meet in the middle and figure it out together?

Of course I am paraphrasing all of this, and probably exaggerating some of the more romantic notions he expressed. But not hugely. Not hugely, I don't think.

So. That was the second night.

The third night was last night, and we tumbled back into bed, this time with all the barriers removed and all of the emotion having landed where it is going to land, for now. And god. Just... And when I fell asleep next to him, I felt as relaxed and happy as I've felt in I don't know how long.

And this morning he woke up for work, at my place, in my new space that I love, tiny as it is. And he tickled me and made silly sounds and kissed my stomach to try and get me out of bed even though I didn't have work, so that I would have a full, productive day and feel good about myself. Because he knows I am fighting to get back to the things that are important to me, and he has enlisted himself in that battle. Because he's in.

And I'm in.

And that is where I am, with that part of my life.

the one you'll not want to skip

Hello again.

It has been incredibly difficult for me to get back here; the only obstacle being, as ever, myself. Whenever I am stuck in blogging, when I push it to the corner or hide from it, it is due to fear of some kind. Or overwhelm. Or both. In this case, I have wanted to write a massive end-of-year tell-all, about everything that went down in 2016, so that I can start 2017 with a clean slate - creatively and emotionally.

But there have been things holding me back from telling all and getting to that clean slate. Namely, shame.

There is no point in hanging on to shame, though. It's doing nothing for me. I don't have a time machine, and I can't go back and undo any of my bad decisions. I'm where I am now for better or for worse. So let's do this. Let's just unload all of this crap and move forward.

2016 was by far, without competition, the worst year of my life.

I spent the first six months still living with Terence, even after we'd broken up. And it was so, so bad. A nightmarishly toxic situation that made monsters of us both. I was unrecognizable to myself. He was unrecognizable, from the man I'd met two years prior. We brought out the absolute worst in one another. Ugly, raging, middle of the night screaming matches. I broke my own heart with how awful I was. I hated myself. But we were stuck.

So there was that.

In March I started working for a man as his personal assistant. I wrote some about this. This was what gave birth to the Riley series. I alluded in general terms to his difficult personality, to how demanding and angry he was. What I didn't get into was how quickly I fell into a weird, semi-codependent relationship with him. I was his employee, and he was my boss. But he didn't need another employee. The "work" I did for him was nothing he couldn't do for himself. What he needed was a friend. And that was my real job. Being the confidant, the emotional validator - the crutch, really - of an exceptionally unhappy person. And I got paid for it. So I stayed. Because I needed a job.

Because I had run out of money.

That's right. That's the big secret I have been mincing around for the better part of a year now, the one that has made blogging with honesty and openness all but impossible. Because if I am dishonest about the basic circumstances of my life, there is no room for authenticity or real feeling. It's just me trying to represent some version of myself, as I want to be seen.

So here it is, here is the terrible thing that I have spent the past six months coming to terms with, in a sort of slow-dawning shock: I blew through not one, but two inheritances. My mother's (small) and my father's (not small).

There was no reason for it to happen this way. None at all. No excuse in a hundred thousand years that can justify it, though my therapist disagrees (yes I am in therapy now and I'll get back to that shortly). But there you have it. Gone. Where did it go? Well, it went to four years of rent. Mine, and for half of the time we lived together, Terence's (he paid a third of what I did). It went to food. It went to entertainment. Festivals and concerts. It went to clothing, and caring for Chaucer.

It disappeared, because for four years, I didn't work. I didn't save. I just spent. So if you want to know how to blow through six figures in less than half a decade, that is how you do it. You just freeze up. You just become paralyzed about how to move forward with your life. You refuse to face reality and start at the bottom of a career path. You lie to yourself that tomorrow you'll start fresh. Make a plan. Figure it out. You tell yourself that lie day after day after day, for a thousand days.

And then all of a sudden, your self-sabotage will coalesce into exactly, precisely the disastrous ending you think you deserve: you'll have nothing. You'll be jobless, facing a dwindling checking account. Panicked but in denial. Sleepless with anxiety but totally clueless what to do.

Imagine that going on, while at the same time living with an ex-boyfriend whom you despise. That's where I was when I was introduced to an eccentric millionaire inventor who needed a roll dog and a whipping boy.

But here's a fun detail you don't know about that: the person that introduced us? Well, that was my girlfriend/neighbor, who also worked for him. And oh boy. Oh boy oh boy is this the point where shit gets interesting. Because I had spent the better part of a year, as her friend, listening to her complain about him. About how much he screamed at her, about how abusive a boss he was, about how she was just going to take advantage of him as much as possible and then get out with a cool million. About competing products she had in mind, to threaten him with. Per her words on a weekly basis, he was the absolute last person on the planet anyone should work for. Her job was miserable, because of him. And it wouldn't be until months later that I saw just how much he had informed her attitude about life, with his negativity. She truly is the most unhappy person I have ever met, and I suspect it's because of his daily (hourly, really) influence.

Anyway, the drama with her started immediately. She was, I guess, threatened by my sudden stature as preferred employee (a honeymoon phase that didn't last). She began to act coldly to me. Passive aggressive in the extreme. I confronted her, tried to have an honest and open dialogue about what was happening, but she dug her heels in. She blamed me for making her life more difficult, her job more challenging. The fact is that working for this man requires a delicate dance of diplomacy and tact. He doesn't always make decisions that are in his or his business's best interest - and sometimes he ends up pitting employees against one another. Vague I know, but the bottom line is this: I was nearly broke. In extremely dire financial straits. So I had zero choice but to do the work as it was prescribed to me. Follow his instructions. He was my goddamn boss, after all. She, however, wanted me to be more subversive. Risk my job (and his wrath) to make hers easier. A job that was providing her with an extremely comfortable and secure lifestyle, with plenty of money in the bank. She wasn't in danger of any kind. I was. She didn't care.

And here's another dumb detail of this sad story: she was furious about Riley. She told me that our boss was "her" story, and that I had no right to write about him. Mind you, in the six years she had been working for him, she had never once written a word. Not one word. But for some reason, all of a sudden my fictionalizing my experiences with him (for creative release and therapy, really), triggered her.

Anyway, March flew by, then April and May, and things escalated. Our friendship dissolved completely. My work life consisted of running around on a moment's notice, performing inane tasks and busywork, driving an inebriated boss home to his Bel Air mansion after tagging along on his dates with socialite models, and occasionally going to some "glamorous" event either with him or in his stead. Things I could never blog about, but holy shit. It culminated, the day before everything turned, in my attending a charity event at the mansion of a very well-known reality TV star. I sat at a table with soap stars I'd grown up watching.

Then, the very next day I believe it was, my boss snapped. We'd been arguing about a raise he'd previously agreed to, and he just lost it. He swung his very heavy bag at my head, and the metal clasp cut my skull open. Actually, that's not the whole story. What happened was this: we had been arguing at a cafe near the office, and he lost his temper and fired me. So I said, great, okay, I'll just gather my things and you can pay me, and I'll be out of your life forever. And he said, no, fuck you bitch, I'm not paying you. At this point I was scared. I'd seen him throw things before (he once threw a phone at me), and I could see him tossing my laptop out the window. So I rushed back to the office to get it before he could. Only he followed me, right on my heels, calling me a bitch the whole time.

And when we got to the stairs of the office, I was steps ahead of him. Maybe fifteen seconds. And on the steps I ran into a man whose office is right across from my boss's. It just so happens that this man is an award-winning film producer, who had become my friend in the previous months (another thing I could never blog about). And I said to this producer-friend, please don't leave, please wait and make sure I get my things safely, my boss has just fired me and is threatening not to pay me.

And my boss arrived at this scene, heard what I was saying, and just exploded. He swung his bag at me full force. It's actually amazing it didn't send me spiraling down the stairs. But no. It just knocked into me, stunned me, and cut my head open.

I could write volumes about what happened in this moment. And I'm not even talking about the logistics and the legal fallout, which I'll get to here in a second. I'm talking about what it did to me, emotionally. In short - and this is how fucked up my state of mind was last year - I felt I'd deserved it. I was so disgusted with myself, with the thousands of terrible, irresponsible choices that had led me to be working for a violent abuser, that I thought, more or less, "Yep. This is about right."

But of course, it wasn't right. It was the wrongest of wrongs. And after a surreal five minutes where he desperately tried to act like he hadn't just committed a violent crime, I scrambled my things together and left his office. And I called one of my best friends.

And so here is where the story takes another sad turn, because this call was the beginning of a whole other sub-chapter of drama. Here is the broad strokes of what happened: my AZ (college) friends rallied around me when my boss attacked me. Big time. They made calls, they researched my rights, they told me that they had my back financially until whatever would happen was settled. They gave me money. A lot of money. Which - can you guess? Can you guess what I did with it? I blew through it. Again, 100% because of not working. In my defense I was trying. I was interviewing, I was applying. But I didn't know what I wanted to do, only that I wasn't cut out to be a fucking administrative or executive assistant. And the time I spent figuring this out was on their dime. So they were pissed. They are still pissed. I don't blame them.

Christ, this story. Have you ever read anything so loaded with sad, tangential drama? Ugh.

Anyway, an Instagram friend (who happens to be a very talented and well-connected attorney) put me in touch with, no joke, probably the most feared trial attorney in the fucking city. I can't tell you the huge, high profile cases this guy has handled, but holy hell. Holy hell. And this attorney met with me and agreed, because of my connection to his friend, to handle my case pro bono. So yeah. That was pretty unreal.

A settlement was obtained. And I didn't have to give a dime of it up for legal fees. But can you guess what I did with the money?

That's right kids. I spent it, because I was still. not. working. Had I had a fucking job by this point, I could have used it to pay my friends back. But nope. This was August/September, and I had lost my job in June, and I still wasn't working. One of my friends cut me off completely, he was so disgusted. I have been trying to fix things with him, but it is the source of enormous, gut-wrenching heartache to accept the fact that nope, he's pretty much over me and my friendship.

And I don't blame him.

So let's see. Where are we? The settlement. Oh! I forgot to tell you some more of the gross details, namely that this former girlfriend of mine, the coworker, did everything in her power to try and prevent me from getting a settlement. And this - this is the thing that almost above all was just...just mind blowing. She called up the police detective who was handling my case and told her about my Riley posts. Why you ask? I have no idea. I mean, I do. I know she did it to curry favor with our boss and ingratiate herself...but good grief. All I could do at that point was laugh. So, so, so unnecessary. I cannot for the life of me understand why this person was continuing to meddle into my life and my business, and why she wouldn't just leave me the hell alone, but there it was. She just couldn't live and let live. I don't know if she knows how to do that at all.

After the settlement, my boss reached out to me and apologized. He said he didn't blame me, that he would have sued, too. He offered me my job back. And I took it back, for another month, until I found the job I have now.

I know.

But here's the thing. This man? He is not evil. He is just damaged. He has been through some really, really bad shit in his life. And at times he can be so generous, and try so hard to be a better person.

I still speak to him. He knows everything, of course, including about my blog. He doesn't care, and he doesn't read it. In fact I occasionally do small writing projects for him. Letters or press releases or whatever. It isn't a big deal. I do them remotely. He pays me well. We know we don't work well together. But he has helped me, too. Written checks way beyond what I was owed, to help me as I got back on my feet.

So that brings us to now. And me being on my feet. But because this post is already way, way too long I will end it on four things that I'll expand upon, completely, next time:

1) I have a job that I am good at and that I enjoy very much.
2) Timo and I are back together.
3) I have a new place that I am wildly in love with.
4) I started therapy.

I am, by all measures, finally back on my feet. Happy new year to you, and to me.