Zoe Dolan


What I Would Have Missed in February 2018

“Everything normal is bigger and brighter when I’m with you.”

What’s going on here and where’s the Intro/Table of Contents?

On Thursday, February 22, 2018, I would have missed feeling so fucking inspired by Black Panther that tears sprang to my eyes and chills overcame me. Seeing such a gorgeous unfurling of everything I have been fighting for in defense of our Constitution, the fundamental dignity and potential and beautiful strength of all human beings, rendered onscreen and dripping with splendor… oh my God the experience gave me life. It saddens me that my resources and energy to continue the Battle are running out — but the hope inherent in youth and vigor (there those concepts are again!) just sort of fortified me for this final leg of my law practice. I so do not want to throw in the towel and go chase money full-time — but, we don’t always get what we want and sometimes we must suck it up. I walked out of the theater with a sense that, even though I will have failed in my endeavors, at least I was able to participate, and speak Truth to Power. I would miss knowing that I have been lucky enough to be a part of it all and stand up for what is Good and Right, and in that way aspire to form a drop in the wave lifting society up into a better place and carrying us all Forward. Also, I would have missed a waitress from Benny’s Burritos in the West Village recognizing me after, what has it been, a decade since I used to go there regularly after water polo? She was older, and so was I. How remarkable to be remembered among the millions and millions of faces that make up the changing visage of New York City every day.

On Friday, February 23, 2018, I would have missed walking into the park upon leaving the house for the first time since hitting the gym that morning, after an entire day in front of the computer at work on a petition for certiorari to file in the Supreme Court of the United States (and intermittently fucking around on Twitter). My God, the world outside is so fresh and real.

On Saturday, February 24, 2018, I would have missed getting to e-file a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court. In my excitement that those dinosaurs finally have an electronic filing system up and running, I entered my own name as the Petitioner instead of the client’s! You know, I never get sick of filing these things — even though I know the Court does not read them. The United States of America is my adversary. Lemme at ‘em.

On Sunday, February 25, 2018, I would have missed discovering that, with the few pounds I’ve gained since like omg 40 or whatever, my boobs have gotten slightly bigger, which, I mean, you know, I’m not going to complain about. I would have missed turning into tears on the dance floor at 5Rhythms because I’m just not ready to let go of everything-up-to-now and holy fuck it all flashes by. After spending the whole weekend trying to figure out where I might possibly maybe head toward next, I’d have missed our teacher saying, at the end the class, “Take in a deep breath, hold it in… and now let it go with the words: ‘I am home.’” How does the bloody universe always know? I sure would have missed the girl who came up to me a minute later, having recognized me from last week at the Baths, and looking into her eyes and watching her lips as we spoke. And what a day was to follow! I’d have missed a phone call with one of the loves of my life in Israel — the guy I fell for at first sight before I knew he was transsexual (and then only became more interested in, thereby learning that, if I could so feel for him, then it stands to reason someone somewhere someday might so feel for me). Also I got to discuss justice and injustice at my favorite coffeehouse with a young man I’ve been mentoring for the past couple of years — my God, he’s graduating law school already — and, on the way to dinner, stumble into an exhibition of works by Vanessa Prager and Anne Vieux in the Bowery.

At the Baths, the Extraordinary Facial Bone Structure Guy told me that he is “loving” the first chapter of this project — someone’s reading it! — and also we had an appearance by the Pudgy Chiropractor who moved his practice to Israel a few years ago — because I guess the world wants to drive home the point that it is such a great big tiny place filled with endless wonder packed inside the littlest moments of time imaginable.

On Monday, February 26, 2018, I would have missed an email from the girl whose eyes I looked into after dance class on Sunday, and saying Goodbye to an old friend on Houston where I saw many movies I liked.

On my way back from jail, I’d have missed ducking into the church where I went at the conclusion of my Kevin Spacey story — which you can read about in my book There Is Room for You: Tales from a Transgender Defender’s Heart if you’d like.

Yo can I please tell you how much I would have missed the sun bursting apart a sliver of clouds somewhere overhead in juuuuuust the right spot:

On the short walk from there to Whole Foods — where I’d have missed talking with the Curly-Haired Salad Guy who recognized me from our years as neighbors in the East Village — I got to be reminded where we’ve been living.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, I’d have missed starting my (very early!) morning with another couple of chapters in The Next Africa: An Emerging Continent Becomes a Global Powerhouse by Jake Bright and Aubrey Hruby… and somehow ending up in a Twitter chat with an African venture capitalist who’d recently followed me — and whom I’d followed back — via some sort of crypto connection. On the plane back to LA, I’d have missed twirling into a two-hour conversation with my Political Minnesotan Row-mate (on a nearly empty flight!), who, as it happens, does a lot of work in Africa for the United Nations. As I turned back to The Next Africa once we ran out of things to say to each other, I found myself reading about the very venture capitalist I had chatted with earlier in the day. Just before we deplaned, the Political Minnesotan Row-mate invited me to some sort of consular event — perhaps African representatives will be there, or something? — for Women’s Day. Maybe I’ll go but nah. On my drive to the spa, I’d have missed talking with my Hot Musician Ex-boyfriend, who encouraged me to go ahead and fuck off to fucking Africa — like I’ve been talking about doing for a year now. I’d have missed sitting in the car, parked but not quite yet ready to move, staring out the windshield blankly and thinking, Hell, you know, I just might do it. Then again, I might not and that’s okay, too.

On Wednesday, February 26, 2018, I would have missed the Tall Asian Lawyer message me — in the context of a crypto law discussion — that I’m “a badass” and the world “needs” me. Even though I remain skeptical and think he’s probably just being nice after reading the intro to this project, I totally would have missed replying that I’d try to take his word for it — instead of something self-deprecating. Progress! I’d also have missed a crystal singing bowls performance by a Danish musician at the Alexandria Ballrooms — holy fuck does LA have some deviously cool venues tucked away.

On Thursday, March 1, 2018, I would have missed a conversation smoothing things over with Mom after exasperation and frustration had peaked between us the day before. I would miss how much she understands and how profoundly it helps to go through the process of communicating with another human being when you both know you love each other and you’re working out a difference of opinion that, deep down, you sense is fundamentally the same. I also would have missed dinner with the Short Cute 40-something Indian Guy — in fucking Burbank — after I broke down and went to Fry’s to replace the motherboard on my mining rig — and getting to kiss him in the street. Can. I. Mention. OMG: I’d also miss Humans — a show about chromosomal people and synthetic humans (synths) that I just cannot get enough of. Wow I love it.

On Friday, March 2, 2018, I would have missed a rainy day in LA and this thought: we are lucky enough to live on a planet where water we need falls from the sky.

On Saturday, March 3, 2018, I would have missed “We’re here, but only visible … to the right … kind of eye.”

And wandering the Fry’s in Woodland Hills:

On Sunday, March 4, 2018, I would have missed diving into a pool of water warmer than the air outside and sinking into gratitude that I get to be in something close to the right body. I got to play polo with the other women on the team against the men and score two or three goals as we held our own. I would have missed showering with my teammates and being included as a normal person: as much as I take this experience for granted so often, I understand it is precious.

On Monday, March 5, 2018, I would have missed standing up for my clients and their Constitutional rights, in accordance with my ethical and professional responsibilities, and, not least, my own motherfucking personal beliefs and convictions. I really oughtn’t say more, but I do know that the appreciation I feel whenever the opportunity arises — notwithstanding the risks involved, or, perhaps more appropriately, because of them — is, in some ways, its own reward. Meanwhile, I caught up with Jimmy about the fracturing and dissolution of our country — it is just so distressing to watch the vitriol and ugliness play out on the national stage! Come to think of it, “devastating” may be more accurate. Yikes. Sigh. Well. At least the voice of this Utah-born carpenter in Hollywood with whom I share a spiritual connection helped me feel less alone, and ever so slightly more fortified. So. Anyway. You bet your ass I would have missed binging on as much Humans as I would allow myself before bed. Am I developing a thing for synths? No but seriously. The storylines sort of astonish me by how they wend toward emotional identification with machines over normal human beings. I’d miss wanting to explore this concept, and how it is impacting work on my little mining rig (it’s still in progress, and still teaching me more about it every day) and computer programming.

On Tuesday, March 6, 2018, I would have missed how my hand shot out to catch my fall when I missed a step going down the stairs outside. I was carrying stuff and still managed to hang onto a bunch of it as well. The human body — however the hell it manages to interact with instinct and the brain — is a remarkable creation. I also would have missed how I felt — as I drove to Thai after the spa and again on my way up the hill back home — very much at home here in Los Angeles. It took four years, but, it happened: the feeling has imbued my bones. I would miss the secretive sensation of being externally in the middle of something far greater than I alone could ever imagine and yet pinpointed enough to apprehend with a human mind. I like the dark edges of life. The bad angels. The taste of saliva that seems almost like someone else’s. The origins of love. Independence. Grandeur. Brutality. The astonishing plain beauty of everyday wonder.

On Wednesday, March 7, 2018, I would have missed a private tour of the ladies’ facilities at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, in their attempt to pacify me because I’ve raised all hell about the gender discrepancy in the men’s having been done so long ago while we’ve just been tossed in the gutter, without adequate communication, let alone any sign of improvement, as the finish line gets pushed back month after month. I’d have missed remembering that the Woman With Seductive Black Eyes (the ones I looked into back on June 30) once said she snuck in there with another girl a few months prior and they made out — and frankly I wished it had been I. Afterward I’d have missed standing in the elevator lobby with the membership manager who gave me the tour, relishing waves of that very curious and wonderful emanation that inexplicably comforts somehow — and by no more than the mere instance of being. One of those moments has stuck with me for 27 years: in jr. high, one of my best friends (from elementary school) was reading aloud in history class and Mr. Godfrey asked her to go on because it was so pleasant to listen to her. The whole class seemed suspended on a cloud. Mr. Godfrey used to keep Joseph Campell’s quote “Follow your bliss” hanging at the top of the back wall and once he told me I was a spoiled brat — to which I replied, “I’m sorry you feel that way” — although he did apologize, a few months later, as he got to know me. I wish more people might take the chance to know me. I would miss this desire to share what’s inside.

On Thursday, March 8, 2018, I would have missed looping the scene of Humans in which Mia professes her feelings for a man in the most breathtaking depiction of falling in love I’ve ever seen: “I like you more than anything I’ve ever seen, or heard, or touched. Everything normal is bigger and brighter when I’m with you. You make everything… more.” I also would have missed playing Friday I’m in Love and YouTubing the video and marveling over so much time and life and past washing over me all at once. That song was The Cure’s last one to top the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Success so often spells the end… or maybe success is the end? I look back on the past few years of my career and cannot help but wonder whether they comprise the pinnacle of what I might ever achieve — in which case I must be glad that I stuck around. I would have missed picking through more memories in my little book There Is Room for You, overcome with joy that I have lived. Funnily enough, later in the day I’d have missed walking into a pool room at the California Club, and, instead of continuing on to the law school event I was headed for, vanishing into a plush armchair in the corner to page through Wiki entries about various author life stories — all the way back to Henry Miller… and June. Google them sometime if they haven’t made it into your consciousness ever before — they were hot. I would have missed missing the phase of my development, earlier on in life, when I inhabited those worlds all the time.

On Friday, March 9, 2018, I’d have missed editing the second chapter of this project and coming across a passage about traveling in Love, Africa that struck me just so — and reliving, in my mind’s eye, the moment in Cairo when I encountered that heartful young man who had just come to Egypt for the first time, at the same tender age of 19 when I myself once did, and expressed the sentiment to him that I wrote about in There Is Room for You: “’Travel,’ I said. ‘Take the overnight train down to Luxor and Aswan, take the bus to the Sinai and climb Mount Catherine for the sunrise, visit the desert oases and especially Siwa,’ I said, thinking of the Temple of Amun. ‘Do not wait for anyone else to go with you. Just go. Go everywhere and see everything you can. You will never regret it.’” If I were dead, I would miss flipping through these pages of my life and tasting the poignancy of their nearness so untraversably far from now. In a strange and indescribable way, I’d also have missed rendering myself highly compromised for the foreseeable future: I hopped the back fence on the way to my morning run as usual, and a pain shot up my right calf muscle! I spent the rest of the day considering how I ought to have listened closer to an injury that’s been building up for the past week but which I had chosen to ignore: a placeholder that serves to remind me of my mortality, imperfection and vulnerability, as a dependent creature limping the earth until whenever it may be that this little life of mine happens to get snuffed right out.

On Saturday, March 10, 2018, I would have missed Alex Garland’s feminist masterpiece Annihilation transporting me into another dimension in which dreams and imaginative force felt as real as they really are. The story inspires me because I remember when The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio came out and we were all like omg this is kind of stupid but whatever since we totally kind of dig it: Garland is capturing something about right now, this moment in time, this crazy juncture we’re living in… and now, over two decades later, with Ex Machina and now this one, he is making movies that inspire pieces of my soul to dance and twirl up into possibility’s stratosphere. I would miss these reminders to stick with it. Never give up. And, on that note, I worked through my calf muscle injury on the elliptical machine at the spa — holy fucking cow I went right into the pain and, sure enough, it started to dissipate! I’d been ambulating in half-steps for 36 hours, but, by the time I steamed and hung out in the jacuzzi for a while after my workout, I had regained a good 75% of my function and movement! I also would have missed the rain, especially on a day such as this one, for I’d never stopped to think: If I must ever rely on crutches or wheel myself around in a chair, how would I hold an umbrella? I would miss God creeping into my life unexpectedly to remind me how fucking precious it all is.

On Sunday, March 11, 2018, I would have missed this guy:

On Monday, March 12, 2018, I would have missed turning 41 and welling up with tears atop a hill on my morning run as I gazed out at the San Gabriel Mountains through a valley of mist: I’m not ready to be over halfway home yet — I still have so far to go.

On Tuesday, March 13, 2018, I would have missed the resplendently horrible and horribly resplendent assurance that the ground will always be there. Mostly I would have missed thinking about the day before — all the people who wished me Happy Birthday and especially the men. It matters less and less that so few guys in the world may wish to be intimate with me because of how I was born — and so much more and more that the ones in my life who offer their friendship are so warm and loving with their emotional embrace of someone different. It’s as if they don’t even notice. This line of musing led me to think about WhatsApping with The Luscious Guyanese, a boyfriend of almost two decades ago, and his beautiful light golden brown skin as he wished me Happy Birthday shirtless from his apartment in New York where we used to make love. He has, I think, the most gorgeous dick I’ve ever seen and I’m so glad it was the first one inside me after I got into the right body so many years later. For me, love pulses with the burgeoning of union in thought and feeling, the wellspring of intellectual desire to couple and comprehend.

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, I would have missed wanting to continue working through the evening because the process of focusing my mind on efforts for clients engaged and gratified me in equal measure. If I’d done so longer than I did, though, I’d have missed an open and mystical experience with the Kundalini Activation, Chakra Harmoninzing and Pyramid Energy Infused Vibrational Release Guy, who brought me to some sort of polymorphous spiritual orgasm in the Dry Sauna at the Baths. He was cute.

On Thursday, March 15, 2018, I would have missed a text from — of all people — She Fucked That Up — and a subsequent text discussion (omg conducting human relations via text message is BONKERS), in which I realized that, yes, she did in fact fuck it all up. It really wasn’t I this time. Maybe I moved swiftly, sure — but yeah whatever I don’t actually think it was either too swiftly or too strongly, all things considered, and, in any event, I was full of respect. She sort of admitted as much, but not really exactly, umm, so, what was going on there, whoa, I don’t actually know? I sure would have missed prodding her back and having some fun with it, especially when I had to alert her that, yes, I was in fact flirting with her. Women. Jesus. Reset. Fucking HELL I’d have missed getting shit done yesterday. It sure felt good to grind it all out — and then just check the fuck out at 5pm for a 90-minute conversation with the hot 6’4” personal trainer in West Covina (from like Tinder a couple of weeks ago or whatever) who also happens to be this articulate and thoughtful man straight out of Compton with one hell of a story. As always, but perhaps ever so much more so on this occasion, I’d have missed the Extraordinary Facial Bone Structure Guy at the Baths, who asked me about smelling like batteries. At sushi afterward, I literally laughed with The Healer about James Corden and Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” drag of the President past the point where my stomach started hurting and oh shit I thought I was going to pass out. Mostly I’d have missed learning that a guy and girl I introduced to each other a while back appear to be together now. I hope they experience something absolutely beautiful and soar into the goddamn clouds and beyond. Fingers crossed.

On Friday, March 16, 2018, I would have missed ripping a new asshole for a federal judge who has exhibited levels of intellectual laziness, complacency and petulance that have no place in the administration of justice. Not gonna lie: I remain concerned about the judiciary’s continued retaliation against me — but I am proud of fighting for my clients and doing the right thing to defend the Constitution of the United States. On my way to see the revival of Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero — which would invigorate and enliven me and the rest of the audience at the Helen Hayes Theatre, where I worked answering the phone on Saturdays many, many moons ago — I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, to stare at an aquarium sitting on the ledge outside a ground-level apartment window, beneath a bird perch on a curtain rod.

On Saturday, March 17, 2018, heading back home after the gym, I would have missed spring springing into the world. I guess life is what happens when you’re making plans — on the return from a workout.

Also, in the afternoon, on my way to go see The Shape of Water, I would have missed four spinach cans perched on a railing near one of the basketball courts in the park.

And, following the movie — which I would not have missed too much, but, oh well — I would have missed standing on a street corner uptown and thinking of that last scene in Annie Hall, after Woody Allen and Diane Keaton run into each other and catch up on old times and then say Goodbye and head off into the rest of their lives.

On Sunday, March 18, 2018, I would have missed a 5Rhythms dance class where, at certain points, I felt like I was flying. When it ended, I lay in the fetal position staring at the hand of a man next to me, his fingers, the veins running toward his wrists, his skin, sort of transfixed by the beauty: we are born, by a series of accidents that have been happening since before Time’s beginning, we somehow come into these bodies here on this earth, we eat this stuff called food and breathe this thing called air and go through this experience called life — and somehow, the universe congeals, for the briefest flickers of its history, into this organism of protoplasm that walks and talks and thinks and feels and attracts other organisms of protoplasm and communicates with them and transfixes them as I was: this guy’s hand, for me, in that moment, embodied — emhanded — what it means to be human. And then, wouldn’t you know it, the instructor — none has ended a class I’ve attended this way before, not in all the years I’ve been going — said, “Reach out and touch someone near you.” Now — in another twist of exquisite unfolding — this instructor, back in like probably 2013 or so, maybe ever 2014 — was the first person I ever danced with at 5Rhtyhms — I mean, the first person I ever even made physical contact with during a dance — you know it was sort of like kissing, except with our foreheads and our arms: I could feel his breath and it was when a part of me awakened forever. This same part, mind you, was the one that was lying there in this moment a few revolutions around the sun later, burgeoning quietly with subtle reverie: would you believe — here I was, suddenly, holding the very hand that had just held the whole universe for me.

On Monday, March 19, 2018, I would have missed being followed by the Cardano Foundation on Twitter — not sure what that development means, if anything, but I want to think it’s kind of cool. On the way back from jail, I would have missed a very nice-looking, dreadlocked trombonist mesmerizing everyone on the train over the Manhattan Bridge with the theme from The Godfather, and, subsequently, going down a block I don’t usually take:

On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, I would have missed fighting to defend the Constitution against an assault by the government and a federal judge who has already made up her mind to destroy the Fourth Amendment (search and seizure rights stuff), a coffee date with a fellow crypto fiend I’ve sorta become friends with on Twitter that rolled on like an Ecstasy trip for two hours, and a revelation: because he wasn’t wearing a robe, as his custom has been, I got to see the Facial Bone Structure Guy’s bare chest!

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, I would have missed my wish to stay in New York for a few more days come true due to a snowstorm that resulted in an opportunity from Virgin to push my flight back for free. Sure enough, a few minutes later, my theater buddy texted with the news that he won the ticket lottery for Angels in America — and now I will finally be able to see a play I could not afford to attend when I so much wanted to back in the 1990s! Oh my gosh how life works out. One other thing: I really would have missed this project reminding me to look up and watch the snow falling from the sky — one gigantic flake after another tumbled out of the grey whiteness, hypnotizing and relentless and tranquil and overwhelming in equal measure.

No wait — just one other thing, really just one: I also would have missed sending my brother and his wife their first bitcoin as an anniversary present.

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If this project speaks to you, please feel free to donate in crypto. Thank you for reading.

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