“We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…”
On Thursday, March 22, 2018, I would have missed recognizing that my life will have to change even if I don’t understand how yet. Like the deserts miss the rain, I would have missed beginning to uncover what an intellectually and morally righteous fraud a particular federal judge who appears to think the world of herself actually is. Not that I expect justice to be done. To the contrary. But still. It’s fun fun fun — at least until I wrap up my law practice and move on with things. I’ll be sad to see it go — though I expect to treasure these memories and feelings always. Because fuck them. The world’s too beautiful. And, on that note, how much would I have missed the electrifying, transportative first half of Angels in America? The stagecraft is blowing me away… and I am in awe our world today, in which majestic, visceral queen Prior Walter can be played by a straight man, and Louis Ironson, a likable and goofy gay ’80s gay American, can spring to life so pitch perfectly from a straight Scottish dude. This experience — of seeing the play I always regretted missing these last two-and-a-half decades — so curiously coincides with The Luscious Guyanese reappearing in my life for birthday wishes — for, as you now know, he is the guy I got to have sex with for the first time as a woman after I’d forgotten who my prior first was, the first first from back when I was a boy, I mean, because of the sex addiction which pulled me so far down into the pit of compulsivity that I can never remember who it was, that is to say, I think I might be able to recall, perhaps it was that Russian guy from 14th Street, though I’m not really sure because it might have been someone else, and anyway it’s all black, the whole period is darkness, whereas recovery has always been the horizon approaching, an edge of this journey where, after so many years, all became light and at last I was in the right body, and then the horizon moved back again. It was back in 2005, mind you, the second first time, when I was fretting because I didn’t really give that much of a shit about subsequent affairs, but, you know, I wanted the initial do-over to be special, something memorable, since how many second opportunities for a first chance will I ever get? I couldn’t find anyone thou and I really did think the search might go on forever, like seriously for realz — until, out of the blue, after we’d lost touch for half a decade, The Luscious Guyanese materialized (he’d periodically messaged my sister-in-law over the years after I’d left a chat open on her laptop back in like 2001 or whatever) — and, the next thing I knew, there we were catching up over Indian food on East 6th Street, and, then, oh fuck, in my apartment, and suddenly — whoa — he was giving me a massage and I was like, No, he couldn’t, and then like, Well, why the hell not, and so I said, Rob, will you do me a favor?, and he did. He closed his eyes halfway through and probably imagined I was still in a male body or whatever, and he soldiered right on like the gentleman he is and afterward his eyes burst open and he said, I’ve had sex with you as a woman and I’ve had sex with you as a man — how many people can say THAT? And we both laughed. And so here I am, 41 years old in 2018 and living the 1990s all over again:
On Friday, March 23, 2018, I would have missed wondering why every Mini doesn’t just come with a witch hat, and getting to see the new incarnation of artwork outside the subway station that I took a picture of back on Monday, February 26, 2018.
I also would have those incredible jazz musicians in the Union Square subway station who made me feel so goddamn motherfucking alive.
On Saturday, March 24, 2018, I would have missed tumbling into One Day by David Nicholls, after it happened to catch my eye on the shelf above the microwave — from among the final stack of physical books I’ll probably ever buy. I would have missed (re)reading it all the way back from New York, and wending my way through slower this time I think, so much more afraid that I’d miss a single word or that I’d get to the end too soon, and, in this fashion, catching a quote by James Salter the almost-too-much of which made me wonder if I’d missed it before: “Sometimes you are aware when your great moments are happening, and sometimes they rise from the past. Perhaps it’s the same with people.” I would have missed that feeling of landing in Los Angeles and remaining open enough to the world as a result of this project to see colors so bright that I had to turn around in the middle of traffic on Vermont to take a picture.
On Sunday, March 25, 2018, I would have missed careening to the end of One Day and — after the shock of learning that I had misremembered which character had died — crying even more powerfully than last time, for, I think, I am living of a broken heart. I would have missed FB reminding me that several years ago I posted words I still kind of live by: “And then one day it occurred to me that each time I have decided to do something, or to abstain from doing anything, even when the conclusion seemed foregone, I was making a choice; and, at any given moment, these choices add up together, over the days and months and years, and their sum total is my life; so, while the whole time I felt victim to fate and the whims of forces beyond me, I was in fact creating my own destiny; thus, in asking whether I am living out my dreams, I alone can answer.” Because I hunger for more pictures and experiences to write about in here, I would have also missed ascending Wildwood Canyon and looking out at the Valley where I have made out with both a man and a woman in parking lots this year.
On Monday, March 26, 2018, I would have missed the immense gratification of delivering legal work product to a client. I love being scuttled to the cutting edge in crypto and able to apply my knowledge and experience to something that helps other people in their endeavors. At the supermarket in Echo Park where I used to go regularly but now only hit when it’s on the way back home from something or other over there, I’d have missed standing in line and watching everyone move and thinking that the husband and wife in front of me, and the cashier, and the guy who bagged up my groceries with a smile, each have hopes and dreams and travails and sensations and feelings and a world inside them and a body made of stardust. Meanwhile, I would miss going over the early entries of this project for publication because my hysteria about the ups and downs of the crypto market is helping me take the current cycle in stride.
On Tuesday, March 27, 2018, I would have missed the third man this year complimenting my mind. What is it about connecting with other human beings — but especially males — through thought? What is thought? And why is it so fucking sexy? Each day I am becoming more acutely aware — and, more pertinently, appreciative — of these particles of the universe that we are all borrowing and how extraordinary simply being here on earth. Plus, there’s always the expansion of possibility that inheres within any instant. I would miss the feeling in the air that summer is coming. Summer is to live for.
On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, I would have missed a huge grin of recognition from the Little Thrasher (see August 4) who is — finally, mercifully and thankfully — back from China. Goodbye to all the horror that has built up in me from not being touched for too long. Sayo-fucking-nara. What a massage: she’s a godsend. I would have missed going on a walk around Echo Park Lake with Mom and goading She Fucked That Up with a picture of the paddle boats — which have been upgraded into giant swan designs that are far cuter than the tired old normie contraption that we floated around on. And oh boy would I have missed have my house filling up with life from my nieces and their squeals of delight when they learned we were going to eat dinner on the floor. “Yaaaaaaay!!!” They couldn’t care less that I don’t have a great big mansion with a dining room — or even a kitchen table (I double the table I use in the kitchen area as one of my computer desks) — and my station in life matters naught to them. I would have missed the joy they give me despite the world raging on outside.
On Thursday, March 29, 2018, I would have missed being a little tired on the way over to Venice, a little chilly at the beach, a little hungry walking up and down the beachfront shop walkway, and a little agitated dealing with work calls — because it was all followed by one of my nieces resting her head on my shoulder after lunch in what seemed like the most natural movement in the world, as the restaurant bustled around us. I’d have missed walking around the canals with my family and seeing the sun break through the marine layer and fill the air with warm light. Admittedly, I struggled to stay awake all the way back on the 10. My exhaustion drove me to a nap and, because I was asleep when the girls came back, I got to be awakened by their voices at the front door, which Mom and I had left open for them. At the place where we went for dinner, the maître d’s eyeliner curved up at the ends and the two black pigtails up at the top back of her head and the pink lip gloss she wore and also the see-through black top and leather skirt all made her so softly fierce. She was like a drop of Paris just floating around the every-so-fancy well-lit Italian restaurant a few doors down from that cool sex shop on Colorado. Pasadena’s not all bland.
On Friday, March 30, 2018, I would have missed Mom telling me, when I returned from my morning jog, that she almost cried watching me run up the path into the park across the street from my house — because I was the sole human being on the entire hill and it seemed like a metaphor for how I have lived this whole time. I would miss how strong I have come to feel against the onslaught of a cruel and cold world, and how necessity has taught me to seek and find warmth and comfort from others in ways I might never have imagined and which kind of inexplicably string together into hope that fills the black hole of loneliness.
On Saturday, March 31, 2018, I would have missed my morning run down at Mom’s. Recognize the first view? I wanted to show you the tree bath spot this time.
On Sunday, April 1, 2018, I would have missed the pure joy of working most of the day on something I am very proud to be a part of. I have been incredibly lucky to experience so many things at such perfect moments — New York in the lit mid-90s into the early 2000s and the Middle East around the same period… San Francisco post-dot com bust and pre-douchery… the New York federal trial scene with those national security cases over this last decade… the transgender movement a handful of moons ago (which I secretly resent and am glad has blown over)… the blockchain and crypto explosion last year… and now the part of history where Web 3.0 starts coming to life. I would miss wondering whether I will get to sink or fly with whatever unfolds as much — if not more — as saying, Well, here goes everything.
On Monday, April 2, 2018, I would have missed finally getting around to one of my resolutions for 2018: figuring out how to overclock my mining rig!
I also would have missed getting to be a part of crypto history.
On Tuesday, April 3, 2018, I would have missed slowing down to a walk on that certain curve atop the first mountain on my morning run — to look out at the San Gabriel Mountains and quite literally smell the flowers. For several minutes I watched bees buzzing around a huge bush from one spot to another, feeding on pollen that collected in the little sacks on their back legs — a phenomenon I’d never observed up close before. The coordinated randomness mesmerized me. I also would have missed stopping to contemplate the pond — holy fuck, I thought the entry with the boy delighting in the turtles in this spot was just a month ago but it was fucking July 19th, omg, time is passing swiftly, too swiftly — and seeing, across the water, what looked like a… was it? I made my way all the way around to the other side to check and, yes! Sure enough: a turtle was sitting there upon a rock that jutted out into the water — I mean, how did he even get to that spot? — sunning himself. I mean, like, totally, self-satisfiedly kicking it. He had his chin lifted up toward the warm light and blinked sideways from time to time as he alternated to the left and the right and back again. His back feet were splayed up and outward, resembling webbed dog-ear antennae, in the air. And then suddenly a bee appeared, bearing his yellow pollen sacks and all, buzzing around the turtle, and then crawling about on his legs and shell, before flying off into the sunlight and the rest of the day.
On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, the magnitude of this project hit me. For one year, every day, I have been trying to rework my brain to appreciate what makes life worth living. At the outset, it seemed like an impossible task — and now I am careening toward the conclusion (of this phase?) faster than I ever imagined. This process has changed the wiring of my brain and awareness of the world: not only the realities around me, but also my own being, my physicality: what a gift to be a fleeting presence on this rock spinning through space, protected from nothingness only by the wispiest of shields: an atmosphere that somehow breathes into us and gives us life. I miss this past year already. And, what’s up, yo — on this day on particular of days I’d have missed the Alesso remix of The Chainsmokers-Coldplay mix of Something Like This (which I used to listen to on repeat all through May last year, at the outset of this project, when ether was going bonkers and everything seemed so exciting) come on over the satellite. I’d also have missed — from one of Brock Pierce’s retweets in response to the killer piece that CoinDesk published on the whole Puerto Rico crypto thing — learning that the quote I mentioned from Brian Armstrong back on July 21 should be attributed to… Theodore Roosevelt.
On Thursday, April 5, 2018, I would have missed a lawyer from Greece — he follows my Twitter and was just saying Hi — sending me the “wave speech” from Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which so beautifully captures what I have been thinking and feeling all week:
How does the universe know? How do we know to listen?
On Friday, April 6, 2018, I would have missed stopping at the top of the first mountain on my morning run, gazing out at the valley below, and wondering what the very first human being to set foot up there might have thought — sorta like on my December 29 walk up Mt. Hollywood except at the other end of a day.
On Saturday, April 7, 2018, I would have that sense of belonging in the world — on the back of a motorcycle with my arms around a man.
With my torso pressed against his back, I could feel Jimmy’s muscles flex and move at every turn, all the way up Mulholland drive to one of my favorite outlooks in Southern California. We caught the day right in time, and, on the way down, wound through a gigantic cloud that suddenly blanketed the mouth of Runyon Canyon in puffy white-grey tentacles.
On Sunday, April 8, 2018, I would have missed venturing up Highway 39 and thinking, Hey, now I remember: it was on this very road into the Angeles National Forest where the Hot Musician Ex-boyfriend ate me out with the shades drawn when the RV overheated and we were stuck. And then, a couple of hours later, I jumped off the Bridge To Nowhere.
Yeah, of course I would have missed zig-zagging through the river on the five-mile hike back to our cars, being surrounded by nature and beauty and (I hope?) slightly cleaner air… and getting to hear the bighorn sheep clanking one another as they tussled…
But it was only afterward, once I’d gotten home and the Short Cute 40-something Indian Guy sent me a picture he’d taken, that I realized he had been watching with such gentle, receptive eyes the whole time.
On Monday, April 9, 2018, I would have missed being sore from bungee jumping because wow: how I have always — ever since I competed as a gymnast when I was young — loved that feeling of having done something. I also would have missed tweeting my own little Crypto Manifesto, which kind of sums up where everything is with this project for me as I keep spinning through time — reluctantly, ever so trepidatiously — toward that epic one-year mark next month:
I watched The Internet’s Own Boy over the weekend and would like to say something about countering the toll that fighting for freedom can take — in the context of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
I am a relative newcomer to the space. I did not acquire my first coins until almost eleven months ago. I started with ether. Bitcoin seemed too expensive — not to mention cumbersome — and I only purchased my first bitcoins the following month.
Meanwhile, I braved the inaugural Ethereal Summit in Brooklyn, and then the Consensus convention over in Manhattan. Connecting with others who shared such passion invigorated me — but I also headed into the summer overwhelmed, and depleted.
It helped / did not help that I was simultaneously battling a depressive episode I found myself unprepared for. This one — precipitated by just one too many rejections from a man because I am transsexual — became the wisp of a straw that broke the camel’s back…
…and tore open a black hole in my little universe.
I did not think I would make it.
I started making plans.
I sank further and further.
At the nadir of the abyss, however, I struck a bargain with myself: just one more year.
What if, each morning, I write down at least one experience from the day before that I would have missed if I had been dead. For one year.
Was it coincidence that this promise of crypto and blockchain tech — a step forward toward an incrementally better, ever-so-much more egalitarian and open society — swept me into its vortex at the same time? I think I asked for it?
I am publishing each month from my project to stay alive as its own chapter — with the goal of synthesizing it all together when the time comes. The most recent installment is here.
But back to the genesis tweet: Aaron Swartz’s Guerilla Open Access Manifesto spoke to me so profoundly, I suspect, because it pulses with the hope I feel from crypto: that, despite the daunting, seemingly insurmountable odds, We The People might stand up to the Powers That Be.
Going toe-to-toe with the most powerful adversary in the world — the government of the United States of America — has comprised the bulk of my very empowering, mightily humbling law practice (federal criminal defense, predominantly, until crypto) for almost a dozen years now.
Whether I personally gravitate into the struggle for openness, transparency and accountability because of how I’m made, or whether I strive to become the person I want because of what I have seen and learned in my life and work, well, it’s a chicken-or-egg-first question.
My point is simply this, and no more or any less: the sense of purpose inherent in the Crypto Revolution shall be what I continue to throw my heart and soul into — and to focus my career on — for the foreseeable future.
See, there was a flash each time I jumped off the Bridge To Nowhere when I let everything go and gave in to trust — or was it faith? — that the rebound would catch me…
…and that each bounce back up would imbue my brain with resplendence.
Transform me a little.
Going up against The Establishment feels just like that instant… so ruthlessly thrusting us to face ourselves alone… but only to discover that jettisoning every pretense of control was the way to achieve the autonomy we sought: belief in one another and the world arising.
On Tuesday, April 10, 2018, I would have missed completing my download of the entire blockchain so that I can run bitcoin!
On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, I would have missed working on my taxes because the process is helping me get some perspective on how much I’ve learned since I started my first job at The Bookstore when I was 16, how I have made sound financial moves in some areas and can still improve in others, and how good it feels to be a productive member of society paying no more — and no less — than my fair share. I also would have missed those naps on the heated floor at the spa and — finally — getting some sleep. Onward.
On Thursday, April 12, 2018, I would have missed a heart-to-heart with one of my dear friends — a decade-long-crush-though-frankly-more-like-a-brother, whom I wrote about in my books To Whom I Could Have Been. We’re talking about the guy I still remember standing next to in his parents’ kitchen out in Montauk all those years ago, when I just closed my eyes and felt the feeling of him and knew that I was experiencing something that would carry me through my whole life, emotionally, in a way, probably. We talked about how he lost his job up in the Bay Area and what’s already maybe up next for him and stuff. As it happens, his response to a workplace injustice was much the same as mine in challenging the corrupt and internally corroded federal criminal court system — and his employer’s response was, of course, much like the judges who kicked me off the indigent defense panel for calling out their shit down here in LA. I would have missed this exchange because our lives — the crush-but-brother’s and mine, I mean — have paralleled one another’s all these years. We started cycling (that’s how we met) at the same time, we fell in love (with wonderful but slightly crazy people) at the same time, the people we fell in love with left New York (where we were then living) at the same time, and we both moved out here to California (which we both love and get exasperated with) at the same time. I would miss this particular instance of synchronicity because he got married last year — after coming down to visit me for a weekend that I will take to my grave — and so there’ll be a baby coming at some point… at which our paths will diverge forever.
On Friday, April 13, 2018, I would have missed watching Lynne Ramsay’s film adaptation of Jonathan Ames’ book You Were Never Really Here — and gawking at the Clifford Bailey portraits of Buster Keaton and Marlene Dietrich in the upstairs lobby of my favorite place to see movies — the Arclight Hollywood! — and then getting to attend Jonathan’s captivating reading over at Skylight Books. He is a such a talent.
On Saturday, April 14, 2018, I would have missed that nice-looking guy check out my legs — I was wearing my purple running shorts — at the skydiving place. I would have missed looking around at all the military types and thinking, This activity sure does attract a fascinating cross-section of human society and America is totally fucking amazing. And then I would have missed riding up to 12,500 feet in the back of what I think was a CASA C-212 Aviocar, getting strapped to a Puerto Rican I had met only minutes before, and then jumping out of an aircraft for the very first time in my life.
On Sunday, April 15, 2018, I would have missed scoring a goal at water polo and then going out for brunch with the team. I would have missed talking about sex and dating because — gay, straight or transgender — we all share the same basic desires and frankly it never ceases to astonish me how fundamentally we all understand certain things common to humanity such as an urge toward intimacy and sexual attraction. We take it for granted a lot — or least I do — but when do I ever pause to consider how extraordinary it is that we so instinctively comprehend this stuff? I would have missed looking into our captain’s crystal blue eyes as we discussed old Hollywood movies and stage plays and musicals and I was like OMG you haven’t seen this or that, you like don’t even qualify as gay. Every week we get together and play this sport called water polo that is so weird for pretty much everyone outside California and the disclosure of which has prompted many people have to ask, But how do the horses swim? — and we go out for food afterward and we travel for tournaments and weekend-long training retreats and people have parties and we all sort of get to know each other over the years and it’s a gay team, at least nominally, but so many of the players are straight and many are even straight couples and no one cares and we all share this niche interest and just sort of get it and I’ve always loved the water polo community for that, ever since I started playing in jr. high. I would have missed thinking all this as I was looking into those crystal blue eyes of another human being — a soul visiting this earth in the form of a body walking around and participating in everything like I get to, as well: life is such a miracle.
On Monday, April 16, 2018, I would have missed simply being alive. Is it okay if I leave it at that because I know you know what I mean?
On Tuesday, April 17, 2018, I would have missed the peach blossoms appearing on the tree in the backyard. But for those budding cuties, I’d have forgotten to take my phone running so that I could show you the yellow flowers carpeting a canyon hidden away in a corner of LA. But for stopping to snap that photo, I’d have missed the sole cloud in the entire sky coming apart as I rounded the bend at the first mountaintop on my route. But for stopping to document that phenomenon for you — something I’ve never watched before! — I’d have missed the puffy whiteness coming back together when I turned after pausing again on the second mountaintop to get the view of downtown LA that I’ve wanted to share with another person many times. And, finally, here — at long last — is the pond I’ve been meaning to show you all along.
On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, I would have missed awakening after the first good night’s sleep in as long as I can remember. Restored! At the pond on my run, I would have missed the toddler sitting on a rock next to her father and smiling and laughing as I waved to her. And, later on at the Club, I would have missed — at last! — getting to check out the new women’s facilities which have opened after a year of delays. It was so nice: I emerged from the whirlpool tingling — that feeling alone is enough to stay alive and search for — and I made my way into the quiet room and sank into a lounge chair with a warm blanket wrapped around me. As I showered off before getting dressed, I thought, My God, I don’t need a big expensive house, I don’t need to travel to five-star resorts in all corners of the world — I can just come here. Oh — I almost forgot — I would have missed waking up to find myself compared to… bitcoin? Really?
On Thursday, April 19, 2018, I would have missed thinking about how much I will miss this project when it ends next month. Similarly, I think I also would have missed reviewing, as part of working on an appeal for one of my clients, a trial transcript that reflects some of my best work in court to date. I partly dread saying Goodbye to that whole part of my life as it comes to a close over the next year. There’s a poignancy coupled with, I like to think, the sense that something else might begin — though tbh I can’t shake the feeling that this time is different because I’m older. Falling asleep on the heated marble floor at the spa sure felt good, as did the smile of recognition from a waitress at the Indian on Fountain that I’ve started going to more regularly. Even if I must dine alone, live alone, be alone so much, at least I get to experience these precious interactions with other human beings that make unexpected moments sparkle.
On Friday, April 20, 2018, I would have missed a metaphor from the first book of The Three-Body Problem that really struck me, the sun shining in, just so, onto a charcoal drawing I made a couple of years ago, and a new contender on my apple tree.
As common as they are, how often have I ever stopped to look at a budding branch?
On Saturday, April 21, 2018, I would have missed the warm breeze of late afternoon on my skin.
If this project speaks to you, please feel free to donate in crypto. Thank you for reading.