Happy Birthday, Marlene. Wherever you are. [I haven't seen her in about seven years :(]

I just sent this letter to Nolan.

Hi, Nolan.

I wanted to let you know that I plan to stop my therapy with Joanna tomorrow (unless I totally wimp out -- it will be hard). It's become somewhat repetitive, and I don't think much is happening. Though I've made some real progress in the last six months -- more than probably anyone realizes, except for WolfDaddy, with whom I've shared almost everything -- I would say that it is, for the most part, external change in a sense. You said once that you think I need to be able to be happy with myself before I try to be with someone else, and I don't know that I've changed much in that regard, although, while I know what you mean from a self-esteem point of view and things like that, I'm not so sure that I am unable to have a successful close relationship. (And while I don't want to sabotage my efforts, I am 40 years old after all; I don't have forever to get things in order.) Nonetheless, I think about that every day, because I value your opinion greatly. And, while I have to say that I've been doing all this "for me" so as not to offend the self-esteem police, I really want you to be proud of me as well.

I'm not unhappy with how things have gone with Joanna (and I very much appreciate you suggesting therapy, and connecting me up with her). Even if there haven't been changes deep down, or amazing secrets revealed [I got nothing out of the Bradshaw work that I did :)], she did presumably have something to do with the social progress I've made. Starting with talking to strangers a little bit, and my attempts at socializing with Rebecca (the Red Robin waitress), up through taking a dance class. But I think I can continue on that path without her, and I don't know that anything would ever happen along the other direction.

Perhaps most significantly, she made me look at my relationship with you differently ("the friendship test"). While I obviously still wish I could be the person you want to share your life with, I think I'm dealing with it, and you, better on a day to day basis; even through the couple of times that it was uncomfortable (and during which you were so mature and patient -- I wish you could know how much I respect you for that). In fact, though it's still a bit difficult, I was actually going to tell you all this not via a letter, but you weren't home when I called. As usual, of course, I think it's more coherent having been written down. :)

I don't mean to sound like I'm asking your permission; I just hope you're not disappointed in me, or think that I'm giving up. (In fact, I have a date Sunday with a woman I was talking to (okay, she started the talking, but I contacted her and asked to see her again) at Tony's party!)

See ya, my friend