move bitch, get out the way

I wish the administration of life was interesting enough to justify thousands of words and lots of titillating conversations. But it just isn’t. No matter how hard we all try to make the things we have to do everyday more interesting we cannot. Unless it’s something like rescuing baby sloths but I suppose even that can get boring.  My point is the reason there’s a big, fat, juicy lag in between posts here on the Seanologues is because my boring, old life has been getting in the way of nearly everything. My long simmering move from Denver to Portland, for those of you who are regular readers are aware has dragged on longer than the last Hobbit movie, has finally come to a head. After months of starts and stops, primarily caused by my husband’s workplace and its never-ending construction schedule, it’s finally here. We have a beautiful new home and we’re vacating our beautiful old home on Saturday. Cut, print, moving on.

Yet even though I’m moving across the country, something people do every damn day, this experience has had its own special set of, uh, shall we call them, “Life Lessons” that I didn’t exactly anticipate.

First of all, nobody ever tells you that moving away from people is fucking hard. Not just on you, the person who’s moving, but on the people who you’re leaving behind. If they’re lovely folks who you are close to, a series of  lunches, delightful dinners, chatty coffee dates and tearful brunches transpire that warm your heart and make it suddenly hard to say goodbye. But if they happen to be lovely folks who you are close to but who are just having hard time with this whole damn thing, it isn’t as easy. I didn’t anticipate the “shade”, “clap back”, “attitude” and whatever other internet slang for shitty behavior from a loved one but there it was. This beloved individual had problems embracing me leaving and therefore pushed me away like I was plate of boiled neck bones. It was, or maybe still is, hurtful but not out of the realm. The writing was on the wall and I knew this reaction was coming given other instances with other people, but I’m an addict so my default is always, “Maybe this time will be different!”

Nevertheless, it  wasn’t different and it all made me feel kind of sad and icky. But as somebody else reminded me, it’s nice to be missed.  Which is certainly true. Lord knows I’ve left many places where I wasn’t exactly missed and it was more of a “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass!’ situation. But as I hugged a dozen or so of my favorite folks on this planet on Saturday night, I also learned it’s nice to have people you’ll miss too.

Secondly, moving brings about a chaos that I’m no longer used to. The husband and I are not hoarders or collectors or collectors pretending they’re not hoarders. We’ve lived in a 1924 bungalow for 3 years with itty bitty closets (apparently in the 20’s you didn’t need much room to store your bootleg gin and flapper dresses) so we’ve had to continually purge and get rid of stuff. As a sober alcoholic, this is a good process to me and one not unlike every inventory I’ve had to write in recovery. That being said, we still had a bunch of shit and we’ve had to live out of boxes, bags and piles for several weeks. Even as the nicely packed storage pod pictured above travels onto Portland, I’m currently camping in our Denver house, living out of a duffel bag and eating take out with plastic utensils. It’s uncomfortable and not the cozy life I’ve gotten used to in the past 8 years. But I’ve sort of had a revelation while taking 20 minutes to find my keys or wallet: my everyday life used to be this crazy and messy.  And for years! While I was drinking and using, I could never find shit, accomplish shit or give a shit. So these last two weeks have made me feel really grateful for the simple, boring, pseudo organized existence I have today.

Lastly, the thing I’ve realized is me being ready to move on and the universe being ready for me are two totally different things. Personally, I’ve been emotionally ready to move since my grandmother died last fall. It’s been hard to live in my childhood neighborhood with her gone and making it a little harder to heal, if I’m completely honest. But it became pretty clear that none of this process was up to me.  Our timeline on this adventure has changed over and over and it’s been totally out of my control. Again, for an addict this is an awesome thing. Not being the boss or puppet master of anything is ultimately the best role for me to have. During this adventure I’ve just had to show up, move stuff and say, “Yeah sure. That’s fine” to a myriad of last-minute changes, Plan Bs and ideas that weren’t my own. I basically have had to move out-of-the-way and let all of this happen. This has been an excellent thing. Where we’re going to live, the time frame on which we’re getting there and every other detail that’s happened has worked out perfectly and not at all how I thought it would.

So the moral of the story as always is I don’t know any of the answers and things are just better if I get out of the way.

a new acceptance speech

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I guess it comes as no surprise that I’ve watched nearly every telecast of the Academy Awards since about 1982. But I’ve never seen anything like last night. A screw up of epic proportions befell poor old Bonnie and Clyde and the internet is unlikely to shut the hell up about anytime soon.  Nevertheless, Moonlight ending up winning and La La Land graciously danced off stage. But the real winner last night, believe it or not in a glitter covered affair oozing with self-congratulation, was humility.

Within seconds of La La Land being mistakenly announced, my twitter feed was filled with angry fans raging about “white mediocrity” and “rigged” awards shows while some even said they’d thrown their phones and turned off their televisions. We’re so used to feeling victimized by information, (or letting ourselves feel that way rather) that we swim in the reactionary pools of the times and join the angry mob chanting, “See? We Told you. Everything is fucked!” Being a person who is still not over Sissy Spacek not winning for her brilliant work in In the Bedroom, I understand this thinking. Films are passionate things and therefore bubble up volcanic responses. In 2017, after the most contentious political season ever, we’re now more prone to react and feel like we’re being taken advantage of. Yet within moments what we thought we knew, what we were ready to rage against, had completely changed. And what had emerged was humanity, a simple mistake. Talk about the ultimate plot twist! Maybe it isn’t always bad guys winning or terrible circumstances. Maybe we just fuck up. It’s a hilarious twist and the pitch perfect dose of humanness that even the most optimistic writer of musicals couldn’t come up with. By now, all the requisite apologies have been sent out and people are embarrassed. But I think it’s poetic. Maybe the most punk rock thing you can do in an era of a president who likes to incessantly toot his own horn is to admit that you screwed up. Certainly worked for Adele a few weeks ago at the Grammy’s. Certainly works in my own life too.

Anybody who’s gotten sober or had to ask for help at any point in their life has had to muster up a shitload of humility. My own journey in sobriety is a never-ending slew of moments of me saying, “I screwed up. Can you help me?” I’m honestly tired of how many times I have to apologize, ask for help and accept things I can’t change. I mean can’t somebody else do that shit for a change? Alas, no. And so I’m lucky to continue my spiritual growth (also known as “the fuck up and clean it up program”) with the hope that maybe I’m a tad better than I was yesterday. This tablespoon of humility and acceptance, although tough for an entitled diva like myself to swallow, sure makes day-to-day living a fuck ton easier and even enjoyable. I’m getting ready to move (I know. I know. I’ve mentioned it so many damn times that this blog is starting to feel like The Secret of NIMH for fucks sake) and it’s brought up a lot of fear and old behavior. In a fancy hotel room just a few days ago, I had to admit all of this to my beloved who quickly reassured that it was all going to be okay (and it was) but the point is I wouldn’t have felt better had I pretended I was okay even though I was freaking out on the inside. I’m a human and when I remember to act like one, crazy emotions, fears and mistakes included, I just feel better.

As I type this, trolls a plenty are bashing the Oscars for that one mistake, for being human. Which is too bad. There were so many other fantastic moments to focus on. From that moving Sara Bareilles tribute to that incredible Viola Davis speech I literally spent most of the night sobbing into my mozzarella sticks. I personally found the whole show to be beautiful, celebratory and inspiring. Look, nothing is perfect. Not even Moonlight, which in my film opinion suffers from a soggy second act, timid direction and an inability to really go balls out, since you asked.

But the point is beauty is still exists and it shows up when I accept things for the fabulous fucked up, imperfect way they are.

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Sit. Just sit. If I can just sit. It’ll start. That magical “it” where I can quiet my brain, where I can breathe, where I can do this thing called meditation.

I recently wrote a piece about meditation for AfterParty Magazine and I wasn’t called on to do so because I’m meditation master capable of levitating while sitting crossed legged in front of a pool of lotus flowers. The opposite actually. The point of the piece, without sounding like the biggest self-promoting writer douche on the planet, was to cop to the fact that I’m a bit of a disaster with the whole mediating process. It’s unfashionable I suppose for someone with a spiritual life to say that they aren’t really that good at it. But you know this bitch likes to keep it real. I’d be lying if I said, I’ve always been a purple glowing ball of spiritual light and energy. Just getting to the point of sitting my ass down and being quiet has always been the hardest part.  Nevertheless, over the last 40 some days, I’ve been able to do just that: sit.

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As previously stated, I am no expert in this department so I need as much help as I can get. I stumbled on some guided meditations on YouTube for the piece I wrote. So I started there. Having someone in my headphones telling me to sit still and breathe helps reduce my thoughts of eating tacos or watching reality TV. Not completely but still it’s nice to have a guide to help keep me grounded. Some are 3 minutes, some a 15, others 10. Some have dippy new age music in the background. Others have the calm, accented voice of Deepak Chopra. They’re all great. Honestly. I’m not here to review guided meditations and I’m back to such an infancy state of my practice that anything is fantastic. I’ve found it to be helpful but me being me, my mind occasionally wanders and I find myself checking the time left on the video. This is okay. I’m a human being and one with a hummingbird mind so it’s just gonna happen. Some days are certainly harder than others but the point is I keep trying.

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Saturday morning as I woke up at a ridiculously early hour, the full moon and the comet that was passing by were both out as were my two cats. Nature doesn’t have alarm clocks so it’s nice to know that I’m not alone when I get up these dark, sleepy hours. I gazed out my window , yawning and clutching a cup of coffee. I took a moment to appreciate the lovely nothingness happening. Soon enough, I got to work at the business of sitting. As I plopped down, I was joined by the lady whose photo is at the top of this post. No. Not the one with the fancy ass dog but the gray and orange cat sitting on the couch. I tweeted about this a few weeks ago but it’s insane how cats and I’ve learned, pets in general, seem to know when we’re meditating. If you think about it cats and dogs spend much of their day sitting and focusing on their breath so it makes sense that they’d snuggle up to us when we’re doing the same thing. So this fuzzy little lady, Maeby, the older and less in-your-face sister to internet star Larry, has joined me most mornings to do something she’s a Jedi master at: sitting. My cats teach me daily about staying present in the moment thus having Maeby by my side during meditation feels oddly comforting. Even Mr. Chopra himself says, “pet your cat” during a meditation on living light-hearted and carefree so her presence feels important. Like she’s there to help guide me and keep me on track. Yeah, I know. That was a crazy cat lady sentence. But it’s nice to have company while I do something that I struggle with. Or should I say used to struggle with.

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In typical addict fashion, I’ve shown an itty bitty amount of progress in an area of my life and would not only like a significant amount of applause but would also like to be deemed an expert in said area. Girl, please. I’m still a baby bird in the wild kingdom of meditation but I have improved. Just sitting and breathing has become the best part of my day. As the months of 2017 slowly tick by, it’s getting easier and more habitual to just sit and start the process.

It’s shown up the precise right time in my life too. I’m moving to Portland next month, I’m leaving my day job next week and a plethora of personal and professional adventures are ready to unfurl as a result. My brain could spin wildly out of control without some serious spiritual help. Slowing down when my world is moving fast is far from easy but it’s totally necessary. Now more than ever, I need to breathe. I need to focus on gratitude. And mostly, I need to sit.

The Lady Of The House

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“Is this the lady of the house?”the anonymous droning voice of an early 2000’s telemarketer would often ask when I answered my landline. Now, I undoubtedly have what is commonly referred to as “gay voice” which I guess if you’re a cable company in 2004 sounds distinctly female. If I could go back in time, I would answer those calls and really play up the lady of the house routine and you know say stuff like, “Why yes it is! I apologize for taking so long answering the phone. I was making finger sandwiches for women’s auxiliary.” Alas, I never did and usually let the comments ruffle my feathers. More often than not, I would snap at the poor minimum wage worker on the other end of the line. My annoyance didn’t really make sense since my girly voice wasn’t exactly a news flash, as I’d been living with it my whole life. I would also get an occasional “ma’am” slid in on these calls too. Which I now think is hysterical given the fact that many of my legitimate female friends also in their forties aren’t huge fans of that moniker. Nevertheless, embracing my big gay voice wasn’t really something I did back then. When you’re waist-deep in a decades long hating yourself marathon, despising what you sound like is just part of the package.

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I was never one of those kids who could “pass” for straight or even remotely normal and of this earth. I’ve marched to my own pink glitter covered disco beat since I entered this world and that’s just the way it is. Being a special gayer-than-gay kid was, as you can imagine, not exactly comfortable in the 1970’s and 80’s. We didn’t have gay characters on TV. We didn’t know any queer neighbors. And side from folks like Boy George on MTV, we didn’t have  a whole lot of positive openly gay role models. Naturally, I was a failure at anything athletic. I had no interest in anything traditionally “boy.” I was simply an effeminate kid who liked imagination, reading, movies and being alone with my stuffed animals and dolls. The unfortunate thing was that I was labeled gay by other kids and adults even before sexuality had ever entered my mind. Therefore it was equated with something awful and shameful long, long before I’d even thought of kissing a boy. When I finally came out of the closet it was met with a chorus of “No duh” and light shaming that I had been so dishonest for so long. It was an impossible situation. So thank god for drugs and alcohol and hanging out in nightclubs. With lots of substances, I could be myself and hang out with other freaky people who didn’t care what sounded like or who I was attracted to. I was a long way off from liking myself but at least when I was high and with my people, I didn’t really notice it as much.

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It’s fucking bizarre how your own sexuality and journey to like yourself often becomes about other people and their reaction to it. Yet feeling less than and that people didn’t like who I was, as is, really messed with my mind and kept me loaded for many years. So when I finally got sober, I was faced with the daunting task of actually trying to like who I was. Big gay voice included. That first year of sobriety I took a speech class at Santa Monica College. When we had to do a 3 minute introduction speech, mine was what you’d expect: sassy, very gay and really self-effacing. As I spoke, it was met with a chorus of loud laughter and not the laughter of people making fun of me but people who enjoyed what I was saying. Likewise at meetings, sharing and speaking helped me be truthful and tell my story regardless if it was too weird or too queer.  Again, it was usually met with a lot of laughter and head nodding from people who could identify. The great thing about 12 Step programs is that the attendees are so mangled that the outside shell of person doesn’t matter and they are instead connected to the message and the shared experience.

Later on as a playwright, I was given the opportunity to use my voice further but this time speak through characters. I even did talk backs at the theater and hosted different events. The fact of the matter is I like talking and speaking in public and it’s something I’m pretty good at. Getting sober helped me find my way back to that. I even host my own podcast and have appeared on others and I can honestly say I no longer cringe while listening to my big gay voice.

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Writers and people in recovery alike often wax self-indulgently about the journey to find their voice, that years of dysfunction stood in their way of hearing who they really are. While it sounds like a load of self-help section manure, the struggle was indeed real for me. Turns out all I had to do was stop killing myself with booze and drugs, get brutally honest and embrace all of myself, big gay voice included. Being gay, funny, effeminate, weird, vulnerable, sensitive, sassy- it’s all just part of the package and one I happen to like very much.

So even though I no longer have landline (nor doesn’t anyone else under the age of 65) I would happily answer the question today, “Yes, this is the lady of the house. Who the hell is this?”

lost weekends found

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To all my people who know where your wallet is this morning, put your hands up!

All my people who woke up in their own beds, put your hands up!

All my people, who didn’t have to read their sent text messages to remember their weekends, throw your hands up!

I mean not to invoke every terrible, cornball hiphop 90’s song ever but if you are sober and accomplished those things over the weekend, bra-fucking-vo. I mean it. Staying present during this nightmare happening in slow-motion is some badass stuff. What a time to be über conscious! Like of all the eras I picked to not check out and live in my own chemically enhanced alternate reality, I chose this one. I’m just thrilled.

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Heavy sighing and bitchy remarks aside, I am actually glad that I’m sober right now. Incredibly so. Believe it or not, I’ve tried to drink my way through difficult times and I just wasn’t that fabulous at it. The problem is you eventually wake up (perhaps covered in puke or not knowing where your phone is. Throw your hands up!) and you are still you and the world is still the world that you were trying to obliterate. So here we are sober as fuck with a front row seat to the world’s crappiest real-time reality show. Pass the popcorn. popcorn-gifdream-of-jeanniebarbara-eden.gif

When people ask me, “How was your weekend?” I’m always a Debbie Downer as I usually work weekends. These best weekend ever weirdos are the same ones who are giving themselves aneurysms trying to have the best Halloween ever and the best New Year’s Eve ever. Exhausting. The best weekend ever for me involves a decent night’s sleep, tacos and plenty of pop culture. So yeah I fail miserably at that question. I should probably just have prerecorded messages like, “It was awesome! I went wind surfing!” that I can press play on and walk away when asked. Nevertheless, my weekend was great. All the boxes were checked including tacos plus bonus deep dish pizza with friends. In general, I’m winning at life (as long as I don’t read any current news or look at Facebook for extended periods of time.)

It has been on my mind recently that I do have it really good. I’m not rich by any means but I have a roof over my head and regular employment (things I didn’t always have, even in sobriety). My health is better than ever, despite being dealt a whack immune system and a delightfully Scandinavian set of mental health challenges. But mainly the big freaking gift here is I am not in a constant state of chaos like I was for so many years. And I’m not being alcoholic-dramatic when I say “many years”. My drinking, drug abuse and its subsequent fallout happened from about age 14 to the tender age of 36. That’s roughly two years longer than the run of Gunsmoke and just eight years less than The Simpsons, to put it in television terms. Therefore not living like a lunatic for several years at a row is  something that never stops being cool.

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Remembering entire weekends is something pretty special too. There are large chunks of time that are fuzzy at best for me. You don’t do as many drugs as I did to not lose whole portions of your life. Hello. That was sort of the  whole point. Mission accomplished! Now, knowing where I am, what I said to people and how I got home is my new normal. While I still have to apologize for being a jerk (All. The. Dammed. Time.) I,at the very least, remember being a jerk and can clean it up fairly quickly.

Last week, I recorded a new episode of Sloshed Cinema about the 1945 film The Lost Weekend with Ray Milland and Jane Wyman. The story centers around a man, who fresh out of rehab, relapses and falls into a weekend of alcoholic insanity. It’s a terrifying film that is trying to have an evolved conversation about alcoholism in 1945. Director Billy Wilder, whom I adore like most movie nerds, does a fantastic job of portraying the disease as a real nightmare. Yet what really resonated with me is the film’s ability to tap into the chaos and insane thinking. I had so many weekends (and weekdays for that matter) filled with alcoholic despair and downright insane actions that I just got sort of used to living in terror. My last few months drinking, I had a series of heart pounding anxiety attacks which really felt like the end of the world and the only thing that would make it go away was drinking more. This is exactly the horrific predicament that Ray Milland finds himself in the movie. He either drinks and stays miserable or he ends his life. It’s a chilling place that most of us wind up and the fact that a movie so old was talking about it is amazing. Films like The Lost Weekend and the conversations they have are precisely why I do my podcast. Movies have this ability to tap into things that maybe we haven’t ever talked about out loud (Moonlight is currently doing just that in theaters across the country). When I research these films, nine times out of ten, somebody on some message board posts, “Watching this made me realize I had a problem” which is incredible.

In addition to being a plug for my podcast, I do have an actual point in post this. No, it’s not just the Jeannie eating popcorn gif. It’s that I need reminders that things are actually good today. I need to remember that I’ve come a long way and that no amount of racist, baffling headlines refutes the miracle that I am sober. I need to stay grateful, no matter what. So all my other grateful people out there, throw your damn hands up.

 

viva the smartass revolution!

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Hours and hours of laughing. How dare they. Didn’t they realize the state of the world? Didn’t they notice that the planet was slowly hurling itself into a vortex of shit? Hadn’t they been paying attention to the last year and a half of jaw-droppingly horrendous headlines? Surely they must have. But here they were. My two coworkers the day after the Inauguration laughing their heads off. Not just polite, ladylike laughing either. That kind of laughing where you can’t breathe and have to take breaks to wipe the tears from your eyes. How dare they.

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It annoyed me because I knew it’s where I needed to be. I needed to be laughing. After all, laughing and rolling my eyes is my preordained destiny on this planet as a smartass since birth. Yet last weekend, I simply couldn’t rally. I was,for lack of a better word, mopey. Like really mopey for the better part of a week. Like dress me in black and turn on some Morrissey mopey. Like that sad white blob in the depression medication commercials mopey. It wasn’t until Wednesday when my sponsor and I had our weekly conversation wherein I own all of my crazy/toxic/weird ass behaviors and actions that I was able to really laugh. It wasn’t I until then that I realized I got wrapped up in groupthink misery and forgot Rule 62.

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Ugh. How could I? I always prided myself on being able to see the sassy, sarcastic side of life but for about five days, I just couldn’t muster that shit up. The irony here was that I am always the first in line to roll my eyes at humorless twerps and here I was among them. Yet upon consorting with my Twitter posse, I learned I wasn’t alone. A lot of us we’re struggling to see the light at the end of the current events tunnel. There was general malaise for days, honeychild and it felt pretty bleak. Even extremely funny folks whom I always relied upon to help not turn Facebook into a graveyard of depressing “The End is Nye!’ status updates were now posting things that made Sylvia Plath feel like Preston Sturges. After days of this mopey marathon, I’d had enough. Yes, there are things in life and in the news that should be taken seriously. But Sean Paul Mahoney is not one of them. As person who has also been given the gift of diagnosed massive depression (Oh! You shouldn’t have!) living in blah is a fucking terrible place for me to be. I had to snap out of it and the people closest to me sensed it too.

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My husband, the person who unquestionably makes me laugh the most, showed me the above image right before I went to bed last Friday night. He did so with a caveat, “Look I know you’re not looking at the news today but I think you’ll enjoy this.” He was right. Look, I’m a gay man with a heartbeat so OF COURSE I thought a white lady with bad hair dressed like a cracked-out nutcracker was funny. That sort of thing transcends political lines. It’s just funny. Thus my journey to be less mopey began.

By Thursday, I was back to laughing at work. After hearing the thunderous clang of a poor person who didn’t realize our large glass doors were in fact not open, I shared my story of how I did the same thing. It was when I first started and I was sent to run across the street. Ever the people pleaser, I set out on my mission and darted out the door– or into the door rather. My head hitting the glass made a dreadful sound that stopped the chattering, packed lobby cold. Before the even more humiliating choruses of “Oh my Gawd! Are you okay?!?” began, me and my bloody nose ran out the door and across the street. My coworker who is fairly new and not around at the time, was laughing her face off as I recalled the story and I was laughing too. I occurred to me then, like earlier with my sponsor, this is what we do for one another. This is how we help each other. We laugh together. And if you think about it, being a smartass in this current climate seems pretty punk rock.

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When I first started writing a lot as a teenager, I really wanted to be serious. I wanted people to know how dark and profound I was. Yet time and time again, the critique I always got–and still occasionally get- was “You’re writing is better when it’s funny and honest.” 30-some years later, message received. I was booked to speak at a twelve step meeting once not because my deep and inspiring journey was going to change lives but because, in the words of the person in charge of booking speakers, “You’re just really funny.” So I’ve leaned into being a clown and am honored the my goofy dipshit antics can benefit someone else, even for just a few moments.

Therefore, having a sense of humor right now feels particularly powerful given that the current administration is one of the dumbest and most humorless ever. Even Bob Dole, with the face of one of the evil trees from the Wizard of Oz and who walks through like he’s got a porcupine up his ass, reportedly enjoyed being parodied on Saturday Night Live, something What’s-His-Face is perpetually butthurt about. This is unequivocally a group of people who can’t laugh at themselves, who didn’t get the Rule 62 memo. We are living in times when inflated fragile egos and dour brainless bragging are trying to flatten wit and creative expression. The reality is crusty honkies in ill-fitting suits with no sense of humor are now running this joint. When I stop laughing, these assholes win. If I wanna resist and hang onto my sanity, my recovery and my soul I have to laugh. Moreover, I have to make others laugh. And If that means running into another glass door for you, I’ll do it.

 

Handle With Care

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It’s a recipe. That’s the only way I can describe it. I’m sure that has something to do with the fact that I’m ravenously hungry every single time I sit down to write but it’s the only metaphor I have in my writerly rolodex right now. The ‘it’ I’m talking about is self-care, in case you were wondering. Those two words were a head scratcher back when I was on my tequila soaked kamikaze mission. The closest I ever got to self-care back then was going 24 hours without lying or avoiding a blackout for an entire week. So now that I’m this sober adult and shit, I still regularly tinker with this recipe on doing actions that help this love cruise of mental wellness stay afloat.

Last Thursday, I figured I better scramble to get some sort of self-care recipe in action. For starters, I logged off Facebook and Twitter and I avoided news headlines. Listen, everybody everywhere was talking about this world event happening, one that I find horribly depressing, and I honestly didn’t want to engage. Besides, what could I possibly add to a conversation with so many voices? I detest redundancy and more than that I hate being beat to the punch when making jokes about current events therefore I passed on reading and commenting. Intuitively something told me that hanging onto my serenity was more important than obsessively reading and wringing my hands over this train wreck in slow motion. It turned out to be a good move but it wasn’t easy and had a lot of steps like making a paella and macarons at the same time. Mmm macarons.

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In addition to not reading the headlines or being on social media, I had to take it one step further, I turned off my phone on Friday. FOR THE ENTIRE DAY! This deserves all-caps and an exclamation point because I’m undoubtedly my smartphone’s bitch and I know this. Hi. I am an addict so of course I cradle and obsess over the damn thing like I’m Gollum with a piece of shiny jewelry. I always laugh when people in recovery come to meetings only to spend the whole time playing on their phone. Boo, you are in the right place, you freaking iPhone junkie. So that was difficult but not impossible. I knew if I didn’t want to know anything, I’d have to cut off my pocket-sized link to the outside world. Next, I brought a book to work. Sounds simple but replacing the fondling of my phone with something more tangible was key in order to keep my mind off of that stuff that was happening. Books have always been my touchstone to my higher self so reading turned out to be a godsend.

The day was chill and clipped along at a normal pace. I engaged with a few visitors who were there just to see something beautiful and get their mind off of things. One in particular was so kind and clearly upset that our conversation made me teary. Like run to the bathroom just in case I totally lost it teary. Moments of tenderness aside, I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there and go home. But before I went home, I stopped at the bookstore. As I’ve mentioned before, libraries and bookstores have always been sacred places to me where I can manage to center myself. After about 20 minutes of perusing the fiction section and picking out a few titles, I wasn’t okay. I got sweaty and hot and felt like I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t  panic attack but I needed to go ASAP. I realized in that moment of feeling like crap in the bookstore that despite all of my wrapping myself in bubble wrap, something was still broken. I was fucking depressed and devastated.

I walked home with my books (along with some burritos for dinner) like a zombie. No sacred place, no amount of precaution could disguise the fact that I currently felt like I didn’t belong in the country where I was born. The country, that I believed when they told us in Catholic school we should be proud to live in, now wanted totally different things than I did and that really fucked with me. Which is fine. I’m one of those prone to butt-kicking depression types so to think that I wouldn’t occasionally get my ass handed to me by emotions would be like thinking that McDonald’s will just one day decide to stop making Big Macs. Ain’t gonna happen. For what it’s worth, I don’t think “getting over it” is the answer. I think that sort of “don’t deal with it” thinking is the reason we’re all hooked on drugs and drinking our faces off. I no longer shoot to get over things. I shoot to move through things, regardless of how long it takes or how much it hurts.

Nevertheless, I got home, had dinner with my husband, watched an episode of Top Chef and was actually in bed by 8:30pm. I’d had it. The final step in the recipe was, “if all else fails, go to bed” so that’s what I did. By Saturday, I’d glanced at a few headlines and was shown a picture of White House staffer in a nutcracker uniform but otherwise I was still off the grid. We saw a play, had dinner with friends and generally moved to a more light-hearted place. There was a lot of laughing going on which helps me immensely. Undoubtedly, the winner of the weekend was prayer and meditation. I’ve been gently directed to do more of those things lately and have been sort of practicing a half-assed spirituality for months. I only turn to these things when I’m in bad shape so suffice to say, I was praying and meditating like it was going out of style. On Sunday, I started peaking my head out again. Tweeting, processing events with coworkers, texting program friends, more laughing. I read a little more news and spent more time on Facebook, two terrible ideas. I quickly moved back into self-care and had a great dinner with my husband followed by another early bedtime.

I share all of these boring-ass details of my weekend because that’s what the recipe looked like. Handling myself with care took a lot of steps and to my surprise I still felt shitty. As I started to get down myself yesterday for still being a raw, emotional wreck, a little light came on. I didn’t drink all weekend nor did I use drugs and I also didn’t hurt myself or others. So in my mind the recipe was a success. Sure, I would like to feel magically fabulous with all of my hurt gone but staying sober and relatively sane was good enough. Hell it was a miracle. I recently talked to a sober homie of mine and we both agreed that drinking right now and being “out there” right now would be a nightmare.

As far as me and this country goes, it’s one day at time like everything else. It’s acceptance, like everything else. It’s love and tolerance, like everything else. And it’s also plane tickets. Late Friday night, my husband purchased our flights for a long-brewing trip to Europe. Because when the going gets tough, the tough make a recipe for self-care and the tough also get going to Paris.

she’s got the power

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Some battles just aren’t yours to fight. Sometimes the best you can do is cheer from the sidelines. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little excited about the march on Washington this Saturday. With over 1,800 bus permits issued (about 1,600 more than that tragic ass event happening the day before) and over 100,000 people expected to attend, I will admit to having serious FOMO. As man with three nieces, one sister, oodles of female friends, cousins and coworkers, I love women. In fact, growing up it was always, “Sean and the girls.” I had found my allies at an early age and it didn’t matter that we were of different genders. What mattered is that we liked hanging out together. Girls always had my back and protected me and I, in turn, would make them laugh. It was a simple and mutually beneficial agreement that lead to beautiful friendships starting around the age of 5.  Couple this with the presence of badass women in pop culture of the 70’s and 80’s (everything from Pat Benatar and Jem to Wonder Woman and Debbie Harry and She-Ra and beyond) and I was as girl crazy as any boy who didn’t actually like girls could be.

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That’s why right now in history seems pretty darn special.  So yeah we don’t have a woman president. I noticed, dammit. But energetically, maybe that doesn’t matter. There’s something bigger going on. Pardon the joke but a force perhaps? I felt it last week when I was watching Rogue One at the movies. I don’t need to explain why a 44-year-old man was at the first showing of a Star Wars movie on a Tuesday. I’m grown up. I do what I want. Suffice to say, me, a guy who looked like Larry David and a man with a lumberjack beard all seemed to enjoy this little matinée. Besides being an awful amount of well-paced, well-constructed fun, Rogue One stood out because of its casting. With relative ease, it put people of color, people with accents and a woman in leading roles. Translation: something we’re not used to seeing in a Hollywood blockbuster. It wasn’t a stretch or something that felt forced having a female lead character propel the action. After all, this is the franchise that gave us Princess Leia. And excuse me, when I was a kid we also had Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver regularly kicking ass. But this feels timely and kind of punk rock especially for a country currently hell-bent on rewarding untalented, straight, white assholes.

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Clearly, I know that having a female lead in a blockbuster sci-fi series isn’t the same as the government staying the fuck out of women’s bodies and equal pay but it’s a message. One of thousands right now, as a matter of fact. Without getting all corny here, I’ll say that I’m a big believer in the more twinkling lights of hope from as many sources as possible, the better. Consider Queen Sugar, a series for OWN with every episode directed by a different female director. Or Hidden Figures with its predominately black female cast, which is currently number one at the box office for the third week in a row. Or perhaps the fact that even my beloved Wonder Woman is finally coming to the big screen. I talk a lot about how the presence of recovery storylines in the media is important for my podcast as well as in my gig over at AfterParty Magazine. When people see folks getting sober on television in their living room, a spark happens. It feels relatable and real even if it’s only coming from a sitcom or movie. It’s the same with representation. As a gay man, I think I know this as well as anyone. (I mean what was the last movie with a gay lead character that wasn’t tragic or in the closet? I’ll wait.) All of these films and television shows are a start but yeah it isn’t enough.

Some 700 words later, I’ve changed my mind. Maybe this is my battle too. Despite lacking a vagina, I get it on a cellular level. And I’m thrilled that they’re pissed off, that we’re pissed off. All good things happen when we finally say, “I’ve  finally had enough.” Just ask any sober addict. In times like the ones we’re approaching, I honestly think the only way we’ll survive is by saying, “I’m sorry you’re hurting. I understand and I’m hurting too. And fuck them.” Mainly that last part. We need one another more than ever. Know that me and others like me are marching next to you. If not in person, certainly in spirit and for the next four years too. So for all the times you had my back, women of the world, now is my hour to have yours. For the honor of Grayskull, as my girl She-Ra would say.

New Year, New Sloshed Cinema Episodes!

under-the-volcanoThat podcast that talks about movies that talk about drinking, drugs and getting sober is coming back with brand new episodes in 2017! We’re kicking off this fresh batch of episodes with listener requested movies like Under the Volcano, Trees Lounge and an all-time alcoholic classic 1945’s The Lost Weekend.

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Plus recent movies like Krisha, Genius and the Adderall Diaries. I’ll also finally cover the movies that people keep telling me, “You should really do a show about….” like When a Man Loves a Woman and Rachel Getting Married. 

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So grab your popcorn and fizzy non-alcoholic beverage of choice and meet me in the lobby for 30 minutes of film, pop culture and recovery. Ooh and while we’re here– please sound off in the comments section about other drinking/drug classic films you’d like me to discuss and check out vintage episodes here!

here’s to the ones who dream

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“The Dream” by Henri Matisse

Creativity takes courage or at least that’s what Henri Matisse said. But does it though? I mean really? Are we sure? Because courage? That’s a heavy ass word. Just typing it I shake my head and go, “Uh uh. No way.” The thing is if creativity does take courage then that means I’ll actually have to make the stuff I dream about! Also? I’ll actually have to let people look at it. So then it will take even more courage to deal with people hating it or worse than that- totally ignoring it’s existence. Oh fuck no.

Thankfully, it all has to start with a dream. Preferably not the dream I had the other night where I was high on drugs and trapped at a Christian themed amusement park run by sadists but a dream nonetheless. When I’m in dream territory, there’s no holds barred. It’s all “maybe I should” or “hey wouldn’t it be cool if” or “I’ve always kind of wanted to” type of ideas. They don’t need to stick. They don’t need to find budgets or time or audiences. They can just be dreams but I should be nice to them and take care of them like tiny, fuzzy baby birds. And the more of them I have at any given time, the better. I feel like my little old brain that’s perhaps been bitch slapped by chemicals one too many times needs a high concentration of dreams and crazy ideas. This is maybe why I consume films, television shows, books, magazines, music, visual art etcetera like I’m trapped in a never-ending game of Ms. Pac-Man(the superior Pac-Man and I will hear no other opinion on the matter!). I need a stream of ideas and inspirations running all day long so my brain and the dreams it produces doesn’t dry out. Creativity, or at least mine, has always been collaborative in the sense that it needs to be fed constantly and from dozens of sources.

Right now my brain is particularly well-fed thanks in part to the high density of terrific movies out right now. Saturday night, for example, I watched Hell or High Water, a modern western which is not my genre by a longshot. The film is so jam-packed with thought-provoking ideas and crackling dialogue that it didn’t even matter. We also watched Bright Lights on HBO, the new documentary about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds which given my love for Fisher was immediately heartbreaking and inspiring. Earlier in the week, we watched Manchester by the Sea. It simultaneously tore my heart out and made me laugh while reminding me how powerful great acting can be. Add to the pile recent viewings of Moonlight, Arrival, Sing Street and a few oldies thrown in more good measure and my head is overflowing with film dreams and inspirations.

Yet no current movie tackles the idea of dreams and the power to pursue them like La La Land. The film, which has become my litmus test for haters and negative people, is pure cinematic magic. It conjures up the beauty of classics like Singing in the Rain while somehow managing to feel totally fresh and original. It’s the sort of film that kids will watch in 5 years and fall in love with acting and the movies because of it. But to me it’s deeper than that. The central message of the movie is that pursuing your dreams is hard and heartbreaking but worth it. Emma Stone’s character sings an audition which feels more like a monologue (songologue anyone? I clearly can’t stay away from that pun) that utterly took the air out of the room in the packed theatre we watching it in on Christmas Day. In it, she tells the story of her aunt whom she loved and looked up to because she was a free spirit who followed her dreams. The story–spoiler alert– doesn’t wind up that great for her dear old aunt but she at least lived courageously. Which brings us back to what our buddy Henri said at the top of the post.

So terrific. I have a dream– cue the ABBA song. Now what? Well, some are just hanging out in the bus station of my mind, smoking cigarettes and drinking lattes for a short period of time. They’re funny. They’re charming. But they’re not built to last. They’ll leave but some of them might come back in the shape of something else later. It’s the dreams that won’t leave me alone that I have to take care of. These dreams are like pesky houseplants or whiny puppies. They need to be coddled, nurtured and looked after. But mainly they take large, daily amounts of courage. It takes some pretty big balls to pursue these nagging little dreams because it’s scary and there’s a really good chance that I’ll make something and nobody will read it or give a shit about it. But if the dream is persistent enough, it doesn’t really matter. This courage that felt impossible to muster up suddenly shows up simply out of necessity. It’s not a struggle. It’s not a should I or shouldn’t I moment. It’s a “I have to.” I need to remember that when this whole courage thing feels too hard or too heavy, that all the good changes in my life have happened because of courage. Fucking duh. I mean “the courage to change the things I can” is kinda the whole reason I’m no longer a tequila swilling, coke snorting vacuum from hell.  So I freak out and feel uncertain but find the courage anyway and take care of those little dreams and give them a fighting chance.  That’s where I am right now. I’m pursuing dreams and trying not to think too hard about how terrifying it all is or what a badass I’m going to have to become to make said dreams happen.

It’s also an incredible relief when I let myself off the hook for not always having courage. Courage, much like that tricky little devil honesty, isn’t something that comes second nature to me. It takes me a minute to get there and with some dreams, I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. But the point is to keep dreaming and keep praying for courage. And here’s to you if everyday you try to do the same.