Adventure in Speaking Up

A little over a week ago a friend came over to interview me for his podcast. I can’t deny this was an odd experience. I do not find myself interesting enough to be interviewed by anyone for any reason. In the process he asked me some pretty good and hard questions. Questions about things I haven’t told many people. Things that will be available for anyone to hear starting tomorrow. Because maybe it’s time for me to start talking about it, or at least stop hiding it or feeling like everything about me is a lie because I can’t be honest about this one thing. So tomorrow you can hear it. Tomorrow I have to be okay with knowing that people I love are going to know, and people I barely know are going to know. People who have hurt me are going to know.

If tomorrow you find yourself wanting to hear it, know that you can. Know that it scares the shit out of me, but you can hear it. You can hear it here.

And if you are someone who has to respond to it, to shut me down or give false pity or who has genuine questions, that’s okay too. And I’m going to work on being okay with that. Please, be patient with me. Please, be gracious. And might I just recommend doing that with everyone you meet. It’s a hard world.

For a preview.
https://soundcloud.com/guerrilla-bio/episode-035-hayley-johnson-preview

Unrelated, I went to Chicago this weekend.

I went to the Art Institute when it opened and alone, which meant I got to spend about 20 minutes in a room filled with Van Gogh paintings all by myself. No one was there. Which also means I cried openly in a room alone. I was transfixed. I could not look away from his eyes. The man could have painted himself anyway he wanted to, but he chose to convey every single ounce of pain he had in him. I looked into his eyes, and he looked into mine. And centuries apart we had a moment.hayley 5 hayley 6

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But then I couldn’t stop staring at people’s eyes. Seeking out similar pains. No one carried quite the same sincere hurt.hayley 8hayley 7hayley 15

I kept expecting her to move. She was so flawlessly realistic. I couldn’t handle it.hayley 13hayley 14hayley 16

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Oh, and it was my birthday.
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And my friends are perfect. Far better than I deserve.

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Adventure in Adventure Bag

Peter Pan is my favorite book. I have three copies of it. All of them are annotated. All of them are worn.

When I was little I was determined to be an adventurer. I was going to explore the whole world. There were tigers hiding in the day lilies. There were hunters hiding in the trees. And while I knew it was just a story part of me was pretty sure that Peter Pan was based on actual events. In the same way I believed (believe) the Doctor is real. It’s all just so generalized now. One person heard one specific story, and those details spread. With the Doctor, if I’m honest with you, I believed every detail. Gobbled it up. Now I know–erm imagine, some details stuck. Big, blue box. One person saw a big, blue box a few times and was like “yep, it’s always that.” And then came a tv show. And then came a fan base. And then came a skewing of the truth. But I know that if I wait it out, he’ll come to my TARDIS. my tardis

With Peter Pan I got carried away. Maybe. Understand me here. I had a great home life. I did. Shoot, I still could if I wanted to move back. But I was a restless kid. I still am. And I thought one day I’d run away. Not out of spite or fear or anger. I just needed to get away. To be free and to explore without restrictions. So I packed a bag. I kept a bag packed, for just the right time. Truth be told, I kept a bag packed in quiet anticipation of Peter Pan coming to my window. I remember crying myself to sleep a few times thinking about how I’m not English, and he’d never come to America.

It wasn’t a big bag, but I wasn’t a big person. A change of clothes. Underwear. A stuffed animal. Webby, from Duck Tales, I think. And my blankie.

This week I did something I hadn’t done for a very long time. I packed the bag. It’s a bookbag I stole from my brother. Olive drab canvas. I stole it when I reattached a strap. “I fixed it, so it’s mine now.” (I’m a bad person). A change of clothes. Shorts. Jeans. Two shirts. Underwear. Spare toothbrush. Deodorant. Yellow, stone-washed Toms. My favorite copy of Peter Pan. The current book I’m reading. Blankie.

Adulthood isn’t so different, and I know I’m not going anywhere, but I feel like I could. I could run away. Is it running away if you’re an adult with no actual obligations or ties?

Know that if the Doctor comes, I’m going. I’ve got my bags packed just like Donna Noble (on a much smaller scale). And when–if he does, we’re picking up Jeff Blossom, and hitting the infinite time/space highway.

It’s summer, and summer is brutal to my heart and mind. The way that winter destroys so many other people. Summer kills me. I’ve been trying to prepare myself. Getting myself ready with favorite memories from summers past. How can any summer live up to the summer of Fox Mulder? How can I survive another summer at all? This one may do me in.

I’m just so fitful. Restless. Chickenshit.

Adventure in Con

haycation(Thank you again to my friend Amber Sturgis who made me this beautiful thing)

After much effort I squirreled away four days for the weekend. Four days for one big reasons. Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, colloquially known as C2E2.

Let’s start at go.

After a sleepless night I drove to Waterloo to wait for the train, which was, as it always is, delayed.

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I boarded the much delayed train from Waterloo to Chicago a little after 8 in the morning and effortlessly made it into the city.

Passing by the Elkhart train station, a station too cute for my own good.photo (48) photo (50)

Finally, I slowly rolled into the city and made my way, much more gracefully than my last trip, to Jenn, Courtney, Kyle, Steve, and Keeley’s. Oh Larry’s. Did I mention Larry?

photo (47)My first night there I stayed up late with friends catching up, but not in the these 20 things are the things I rattle off way. In the way that you pick up and start right where you left off the last time, which is the most beautiful way.

The next morning I got dressed in my finest and headed to C2E2. Flawlessly.

photo (46)The first two beautiful costumes I saw were these two very tall men, seemingly father and son. One was dressed as Peter Davison as the Doctor, the other was dressed as David Tennant as the Doctor, with amazing detail. I wandered. I wandered and wandered with Erica and Heather. We skipped our panels to see a shadowcast of Once More With Feeling, which no matter who you’re talking to always gets called “Buffy: The Musical.” Within the first two minutes you could see the whole audience shift their gaze from the stage to the screen, because they were dreadful. But the show can’t fail. We all know that.

While waiting for the dreadfulness to start I did see this Doctor Who love fest below us. It was actually really cool. Tens and Roses all in one big group hug. About 15 people getting their picture taken together. I saw it from this angle, and the longer I stared, the more I saw this unfold.

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It’s already more beautiful.photo (43)

But this picture. This one right here. That Doctor in the corner. He’s on his knees talking to a little boy. On his knees at eye level with that boy. Because that boy is a person too, and he wouldn’t talk down to him.photo (39)

Just like this. 

These are them. There were even more, but look at all of those Doctors. Would ya just look at ’em. (Photo credit: bacon_pancakez)
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This was probably the best Tennant Doctor I saw, and also the most HORRIFYING Rose. (photo credit: cdgo77)photo (17) This is the Doctor who was down on his knees. (Photo credit: katesemily)photo (18)

Honestly, I’m not sure what else we did on Friday.

But when we did leave I made my way to dinner with Headset, for our first reunion in two years.

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Dinner was surprisingly not what I thought it’d be. I suppose that’s not surprising. It was just tricky. It was loud. It was distracting. It was still good to be back in the arms of friends. It was just different than I thought it would be. But I suppose it’s been six years since we were all in school together. It would have to be different. Nonetheless, we did eventually get back to business as usual.

photo (33) photo (34)This would be the result of the above photo. We’re clapping and laughing at a job well done. photo (32)

The next day I almost missed my panel on writing for television, and after the guy who was directing the panel asked if anyone had a question on one specific thing, about 10 minutes in, we went down a terrible path of “What’s your favorite episode of NCIS that you wrote?” He never got to what he wanted to talk about, so I left 45 minutes into it. And made my way to the Patton Oswalt Q&A.  I skipped my panel on Fierce Females in Television. And after we were snarked by a turdknobbler in line for the Supernatural Fans panel, we opted to skip it. And I opted out of the Peter Davison Q&A the more I thought about how late it would go. But as we left the Supernatural line I did realize that the 400 or so people in line for whatever it was were probably in line for that Q&A, which meant that the line to meet Peter Davison would be nothing. It was nothing. I walked right up to him. photo (29) photo (28) photo (22)That was the end of the my time at C2E2. It was best to go out with a bang. But here are some more highlights. Some AMAZING costumes.

These are the two wonderful men who were also dressed as Five and Ten on Friday.
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photo (16) photo (21) photo (27) photo (24)This remote control R2-D2 beep boop beep boop booped all over the convention. He was incredible.
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I left the convention and made my way to Patrick and Pose’s for some time with more friends. Much needed laughs.

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Sunday I laid around the apartment with Courtney for a while, mostly because I realized too little too late there was a panel with the author of My Friend Dahmer. But it was good to just be around Courtney.

That afternoon Hannah picked me up and we went on a romantic stroll on the beach. The fog was pouring in off the lake. It was haunting. We just kept waiting for a g-g-g-ghost.

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Hannah wanted a romantic feet picture. But she thought this particular patch of sand was dirty. I reminded her that sand is dirt. She called me a douche. (photo credit for the next four photos: Hannah)photo (61)

Then I tried to lick the lake to make sure it wasn’t the ocean. This was never confirmed.photo (60)For the record I’m not laying hands on the beach.
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We finished the day we always do before I have to board that train home. Making fun of each other and driving around the city. I some times forget what it’s like to be around people who push me and still keep me from falling. But the minute I’m around them again, I’m overcome with what I can only assume is happiness. I think that’s what that is. It must be.

As that final push right before the train station, we passed this. This one last blow to my heart. Through the cackles of reciting John Mulaney jokes and laughing at each other, we passed this. This one thing that I think I’ll always be shooting for.photo (19)

Adventure in Bear in a Cape

First, I think it’s important that I let you know how Halloween turned out. Well it was dead at work, which wasn’t so bad. Not for us. Dressed up as the Sanderson sisters from “Hocus Pocus.” Are you ready? I don’t think you are. At Chipotle and a few other times I was reminded how much I actually look like good old Bette. I’m not mad

 

 

This weekend was a real bear in a cape. It just was. I was given Friday to Sunday off for a much needed respite. I purchased train tickets to and from Chicago and was packed obscenely early. As in, I left Friday morning right? I was packed on Tuesday. This is unheard of in my life. Not to mention my train didn’t leave from Waterloo until 7:33 a.m. Or at least wasn’t scheduled to. I woke up at 4:30 because I couldn’t sleep anymore. Got my business out of bed and was on the road in way too much time. How much time? Well, as is the custom with Amtrak my train was running about 25 minutes late. So I get to the platform (because that’s really all Waterloo has, and even that’s generous. It’s a sidewalk) just before 7. Around 7:40 I start to get out of my car. I put my keys in my book bag and planned to unlock the passenger side door, but got distracted by an old lady trying to carry a very heavy looking bag. I offered to carry it for her, and of course, as I did I closed my now locked door. Having never unlocked the other door. My keys and all of my worldly possessions are now locked in my car and the train is coming in less than 20 minutes. Even a few weeks ago I would have wigged out. I probably would have just called my mom and cried and not gone on the trip. BUT instead. I instantly took off the antenna on my car and began trying to pry the window open. Five minutes later my arm is holding the window open as I unlock the door and gather my things to wait 10 more minutes for the train.

I’ll get to your train lessons and etiquette soon, but for now to the weekend.

It was exactly what I needed. I got into the city and realized I had no idea where I was going and had no real instruction. So I asked strangers. Strangers led me to all of the wrong places. Finally Hannah just insists that I come back downtown to her office. After work she gets me safely on my way to Jenn and Courtney’s. At this point I was nearly finished with the only book I brought on the train. Girl, Interrupted. This is probably not a healthy life choice as far as reading. But it didn’t seem to be destroying me. I read until Jenn got home, and I got to just sit. On the couch. with two of my very dear friends and hear about their lives. Kyle made us a wonderful minestrone. And we all headed down to Lady Gregory’s where Steve was working to meet up with the Glasses. It was pretty perfect.

Kyle torturing Jenn in a helping way

The next morning I was able to sit with Courtney over coffee and just relax in the company of friends. I spent the rest of Saturday with Hannah. Saturday afternoon turned into Saturday night. And by Sunday morning I was in love with Elias and Jane. Hannah, the kids, and I went to meet up with Posegates (yeah. that’s right not the Hardings) and Cara for lunch. It’s just so good, ya know? Being around people who have known you so well.

Three-quarters of Headset

But really probably most importantly by the end of Sunday Hannah and I were sitting on her couch watching four whole episodes of Doctor Who. I’ve got to admit I’m pretty proud.

Elias watching Doctor Who

I got to the train station last night, not certain of where I was going. Providentially I found myself right in line for my train which was boarding immediately. A tiny piece of panic set into my heart. Panic I hadn’t seen all weekend. Panic I hadn’t actually seen for a few weeks. I was instructed to sit in the 49th seat on my car. Next to a girl headed to Bryan. She was nice. She was also asleep the instant we started moving. Conveniently, I finished Girl, Interrupted and was given four books by Hannah. (Some traveling math: Left with two pairs of shoes. Came back with five.

New kicks

Left with one book. Came back with five.)All about the state of female adolescence. Books about, as I see it, why I’m such a mess. And conversations I had are starting to process. Processing a conversation I had with Hannah. Processing what’s wrong with me.

On top of learning that Mike L. Fry died. Mike Fry, if you don’t know, was the original Happy the Hobo of Happy’s Place. And the news to me was like hearing part of my childhood, part  of who I was. So that on top of processing things that were awful in my brain. Brings me to some train advice.

When traveling by train always choose a seat next to the cute nerdy type.

When traveling by train the appropriate way to ask if a seat is available is to say “Will it ruin your life if I sit here?”

When traveling by train eavesdrop. (I heard someone say “I used to study Internet.”

When on a train it may rock back and forth suddenly and drastically. This should always be as scary as heavy turbulence. It won’t kill you. The train won’t derail. Unless it does. And then it might kill you.

When traveling by train bring a book that is longer than 169 pages.

When visiting the city borrow books from friends because you were an idiot and ignored the 169er rule.

When on the train sobbing is not advised.

When taking the train hold it.

Adventure in the Holland Daze

Melissa has posted some of her photos, which I will share with you, as I continue to share some of my thoughts from the trip.I’ve been mulling it all over the last couple of days, and honestly any time I think about the weekend I cry. I think because I just get so overwhelmed by the idea of grace and what it looks like to come along side one another.

My hair is being cut to an extremely short length on Friday, by someone who ordinarily doesn’t do it. I picked someone else because I didn’t want to blame the girl who usually does it, because I do see her more. Not that I’ll blame the one who is doing it, but I’m less likely to see her frequently so I’m less likely to think, “haircut” every time I see her, and because she’s been asking for months to get a chance to do it. But I’m cutting it off. I had told myself it was because it’s hot, because I’m bored, I need a change, but the truth is I know I’m supposed to. I like my hair. A lot. More than I should. It’s a source of pride in my life and it’s time for it to go. Maybe not forever, but for now. And if I’m honest about it, I’m horrified, which just confirms for me how much I need to do it. So it’s going away Friday and will stay that way until it stops being a distraction.

It’s had me thinking about Abraham a lot today, and how I’m nothing like him. God sent him out and basically just said “go on now.” And Abraham was just like, “Yeah. Okay.” And he loaded up his family and off he went. All I have to do is lose maybe 7 inches of hair. 7 inches against miles upon miles. Suck it up, Hayley. You aren’t Samson. No one told you to keep it. So let’s get it gone. I’ve had this real issue where when God asks me to do things I just turn into Jonah and am like “shoot no.” And God looks at me like Stuart’s mom on MadTV and says “Now Hayley…what does Abba say about the haircut?” And I grumble and talk about how it isn’t fair that God wants to take away the one thing about my physical appearance I actually like. And I won’t do it. And I make a big, whiny fuss. And the next thing I know I’m in the belly of a fish. It’s not long after that I’m puked up on the shore of Ninevah doing what I’m supposed to, and I’m so pissed about it the whole time. So now it’s a matter of praying for my attitude. And remembering that it’s just stupid hair, and God is way more important than having my face perfectly framed.

In the meantime, here are some of Melissa’s pictures from the weekend. Also knocking my pride back a few.

Breakfast