Leaving is supposed to be my specialty. Getting the hell out of Dodge is something that I am naturally programmed to do better than the average person. As a Sagittarius, shooting my arrows in the air, the ability to pack up and bounce at a moment’s notice should be second nature. Yet there’s a part of me that’s decidedly cozy and likes to stay put. I hesitate to use words like reclusive or sedentary but yeah I will fully channel my human mushroom, if given the chance. Sometimes, my idea of an exotic destination is a new position on the couch as I binge watch a ridiculous reality show for hours on end. Not moving or going anywhere sounds really damn appealing a lot of the time. It also sounds a lot like another word. The “I” word. You know the one they caution against in rehab and therapy sessions and 12 step meetings? Isolation. Isolating is a big time no-no for folks like me who have the my flavor of mental health specialness. Therefore I gotta keep it in check. Admittedly, living a life under a pile of cats and blankets after the few weeks I’ve had is an incredibly appealing idea. Oh but the Universe, the tricky little vixen that she is, has other plans.


In May, the husband, the ever diligent researcher and deal hunter, found amazing flights to Mexico. We didn’t think twice about it and we booked a trip to Puerto Vallarta for October. The thought was we’d probably need a little fall break. That turned out to be a really fucking great thought. As many of you know, my grandmother died last week. It was a heart wrenching but beautiful time that left me utterly exhausted. So much family, so much sorting through old cabinets and boxes, so much crying. So much. While I don’t know how someone feels after dying (I’ll be sure to write a blog post about that when it happens) I do know that it sure is an emotional marathon for everyone else. The weirdness around all of it alone is sure to wear a person out. Each day brings about a new WTF conversation and series of revelations that,while oddly entertaining,are certainly trying. Death creates some kind of twilight zone of emotions where the grieving say and do really odd things. It’s all okay because grief is happening and it is all part of the process. Needles to say however the process can really make your ass tired. So me and my tired ass are really excited to step on an airplane on Tuesday morning. If sun, sand, a trashy book, tacos and time away won’t recharge my batteries than I’m not sure what will.

Leaving and getting the fuck out of here is a recurring theme right now for me. Not only did my grandmother beautifully find the right time to say, “Adios!” But other things are leaving too. As if it wasn’t enough that we live on a planet wherein both Bowie and Prince left and are not coming back, other things are hitting the road too. The Obamas are days away from packing up their shit. The leaves are falling off one by one. And some of my old mental garbage has, thankfully, skipped town too. 2016 has forced me to get the hell over myself. Being obsessed about what people think or fighting change at every turn are just worn out patterns at this point that are serving me little or no purpose. Last year at this time I was in the hospital. A skinny and nearly dying bag of bones whose butt had been spanked hard by pneumonia, I had to think long and hard about what I wanted to change and what I want to hang onto. What I came up with is some of my crap needed to be left behind if I wanted to be happy. I couldn’t turn into a human Netflix-watching statue even though I really wanted to.


Thus here I am. All of the writing of the last few months, all of the travel, all of the “holy shit this is different” life changes have dropped me in this moment. A moment where I’m leaving for Mexico in two days. A moment where even bigger life changes waiting for me when I get back. The truth is my romanticized human mushroom existence isn’t actually something I want. When I first got sober, I’d hear people say that their lives got bigger. That sounded incredible. My life was so tiny and depressing at the end. I wanted things to be bigger and to be able to leave and experience life, even the shitty parts. Well, I got the big life I wished for. Sometimes it’s so big that it feels like my life is Marmaduke and I’m the sadly drawn stressed out family just trying it reign it all in.

Yes, I am leaving in 2 days and will back in 8. This blog, my podcast and my life where I currently feel like I need a seatbelt, will all be back too. My grandmother and so many others who have left this year, sadly, will not be back. I guess it’s easy to feel abandoned. The heartbreak around that is authentic and appropriate. But the truth is we all leave. The trick is: what do we do until then? How do we savor every second of this massive life in between times of coming and going? I have no idea but I do know sometimes you just have to leave.

For Grams

2015-08 Adam (8).jpgYesterday, I had the honor of speaking at my grandmother’s funeral. My grandmother, Geraldine Magnie was 89 years old and her life, as well her funeral, was filled with love. The husband being an amazing singer and myself being a wordsmith came up with a tribute that hopefully fulfilled Gerry’s love for both of those things. While I don’t yet have a video of the song, I’m publishing the eulogy I wrote here for anyone who was unable to attend or for anybody else who knew and loved Gerry the way we did. xoxo- S.

I’m Sean Mahoney. I’m Gerry’s grandson which would maybe be amazing if I was the only one but the fact is Gerry had 17 grandkids and 10 great grandkids. Therefore, I could never speak about anyone else’s relationship with Gerry as there are so many of us and this eulogy would take about 4 hours if I tried. The truth is she somehow managed to have unique relationships with each of us and some of us even called her by different names. For a lot of us she was just grandma. For the Gregerson girls, she was g-ma. In an act of teenage sassiness for my sister Maureen she was Gerry. And to me in the last years of her life, she was Grams.

I started my life with Grams and my Grandpa Bob just right down the street as I was born in a house on 9th & Fillmore. We Mahoney kids simply got used to having them around. From babysitter and snack giver to sewing instructor and mountain trip facilitator, Grams and Grandpa Bob were just a stone’s throw away for whatever we needed. They were always enthusiastic audience members at school plays and recitals. They were fans at whatever sport we were participating in and genuinely so. These weren’t two people rolling their eyes and begrudgingly showing up. They were always thrilled to be invited and, as all of her friends know, this excitement was something Grams carried into every invitation for every event, big or small for the rest of her life.

We moved out of Congress Park when I was 13 but her love was already firmly cemented. As an extremely imaginative and effeminate child it could have been easy to keep me at arm’s length and not really understand me. But Grams always loved me no matter what. She never tried to change me or steer me into more traditional boy like behavior. In fact, she encouraged me to be even more creative. She cherished every poem I wrote and picture I drew. She took me to plays and musicals to expose me to theatre, a love we would jointly share into my adulthood as she would attend plays that I wrote and productions my husband Michael and I created.

During the last years of her life, I found myself right down the street from her again. In a rental deal that could only be orchestrated by a master organizer like my grandmother, we landed on 10th & Detroit just five houses away from her. My last three years with Grams have been an extreme gift. As a neighbor, grandmother and friend, Grams provided the love support and enthusiasm I had known when I started my life with over 40 years ago on 9th and fillmore. And now I got the chance to do stuff for her. From hilarious navigating the world wide web together to helping her transcribe her writings, any task I was assigned fit my skill set, especially after she figured out I was not the one to call if you wanted things fixed or hauled away. Just over a month ago I helped her renew her passport so she could attend Kay and Terry’s wedding in Mexico. See. I told you she never turned down an invitation. That our relationship had so beautifully and magically come full circle is nothing short of miraculous.

While our individual time together as grandchildren with Gerry was unique and special the one thing we all had in common was The Sound of Music. Whether playing on local tv on holidays during the 70’s & 80’s like it was for us Mahoney kids or on VHS tapes for the McClellan and Gregerson kids, the hills were always alive with the sound of music on 945 detroit. And if you think about it: what a perfect movie for Grams to love. It has incredible songs, an inspirational story, a slew of children and of course lots and lots of nuns. So now, please enjoy the Sound of Music as performed by my husband Michael Emmitt and my Uncle John Magnie. The last time these two played this song was at Thanksgiving two years ago after dinner. As they sang, I looked over to see Grams tearing up and wiping her eyes. It was incredibly touching that some fifty years later she was still moved by this song and it’s message of hope. So Grams, thanks for always making me feel like the most special person in the room and this one is for you.

everybody’s a little bit Liza


Maybe it’s because we’re both adult children of alcoholics of the elite ninja level. Maybe it’s just a rite of passage for every gay man transitioning out of youth and into uh, shall we say, more mature years. Maybe it has something to do with he fact that her whole life seems to be covered in rhinestones and glitter. Whatever it is, the older I get the more I love Liza Minnelli. As I watched this week’s Sloshed Cinema film, Arthur from 1981, I found myself waiting for her to pop back up on-screen. Sure, some of that had to do with the film’s now downright offensive screen portrayal of an alcoholic and craving an escape from Dudley Moore’s buffoonish performance but mostly it had to do with her sheer Liza-ness. It’s the throwaway sassy girlfriend role so frequently found in 1980’s comedies to be sure. Minnelli, at this stage of her career already a Broadway legend and an Oscar winner probably just needed the paycheck .Yet it doesn’t matter because within seconds of appearing in the film, in that red cowboy hat and yellow raincoat, we’re smitten with her just like Arthur is. There’s just something about her that crackles on every level regardless of how underwritten the role is. Granted, razzamatazz was something she was probably born with. I mean she can’t help it. Even sitting at a piano singing on a talk show in the 1970’s, she’s dialed up to an 11. And gloriously so.

Being the daughter of Judy Garland sparkly showbiz just runs through her veins. Yet there’s always been more to her too. A sadness. A desperation. A loneliness and usually along with those things comes addiction and self-destruction. Liza’s battles with drug use are well chronicled (probably another reason why I’m drawn to her). According to lore, her dependency on Valium kicked into a high gear when her mom died in 1969. There’s even a legendary Warhol diary entry where he writes Liza arrived at Halston’s apartment in 1978 and declared, “Give me every drug you got.” My kind of girl.

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photo by Warhol, dress by Halston, drama by Liza

By the mid-80’s when I was massively consuming pop culture and not drugs (not yet anyway) Liza was doing guest spots, tours and lesser film roles (Rent-a-Cop with Burt Reynolds anyone?). Like any good addict, she’d been in rehab a few times and had a few terrible, short-lived marriages. Thus she wasn’t really on my radar. In this time frame obsessing about Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Boy George were full-time jobs, leaving little room for a Broadway star from yesteryear. It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles in the 1990’s was I quickly educated by older wiser gay men that Liza is a genius and must be revered as such. I watched Cabaret for the first time in adulthood and had my mind blown open.

I was also sat down in front of her classic Bob Fosse directed television special Liza with a Z. 

I was even turned on to her Results record, a guilty pleasure of the highest order that she recorded with the Pet Shop Boys in 1989.

Later career Liza wasn’t always the prettiest. Like this call-your-sponsor worthy performance from the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary performance from 2001.

But time and Liza Minnelli both march on. Last year, she was in rehab once again for painkillers (she was pill popping way before we called it opioid addiction, y’all) and like clockwork the minute she got out, she was spotted singing at clubs and on stages. Back and forth from legend to camp to trainwreck and back again, the woman is human teflon. And this might be her real appeal to me.

In my old home group, we had woman who, god love her, could not stay sober. She would get 4 months and relapse. She’d get 6 months and relapse. She’d pick up 30 days and go back out. After a long disappearance, I heard this gal is now sober and recently celebrated 2 years. I wanted to burst into applause when a friend told me this. What can I say? I love a good comeback story, including my own. Humans,especially addicts and alcoholics, can crawl back from some pretty gnarly times. Given her heritage and where she comes from, its remarkable Liza has been able to survive. Turning 70 last spring, she’s already outlasted mama Judy Garland by 23 years. She’s changed a tragic family legacy, even with stumbles off the wagon and bumps in the road. This is miraculous not just for Hollywood royalty but for anybody.The fact that we can change inevitable tragic endings and changed doomed old behaviors is truly magic.

So maybe I love Liza for just the razzle dazzle. Maybe a fucking great film like Cabaret is enough to cement a person’s superstar status. But maybe it’s more. Maybe all of our collective comebacks and failures are actually helping other people too. Maybe we keep just trying and that alone is enough.

Listen to my thoughts on Liza, Dudley Moore & Arthur on an all-new Sloshed Cinema! 

the election drinking game for people who don’t drink

1491486523020454577-740x416.jpgFor people who don’t turn into a lost member of the Barrymore family every time they ingest alcohol, Monday’s debate was a chance to drink. And drink a lot. That clever little devil the Internet was littered with “Debate Drinking Games” over the past week. You know drinking games like the Star Wars drinking game where you drink every time they say, “the force”. Or the Law & Order drinking game where you drink every time that dramatic music plays. The debate version of the drinking game had things like, “Drink when you hear the word deplorable” or “Drink when they talk about immigration” or perhaps drink because this is the most fucking depressing election of all time (I’m projecting here as I didn’t watch the debates)

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For those of us who are more Barrymore-like, every day is a chance to drink and therefore it’s a good idea we just avoid it altogether. Besides, my drinking game for the better part of 20 years had looser rules like “Drink every time it’s Tuesday” and “Take a drink every time life pisses you off” and “Have a shot whenever you’re awake.” Unsurprisingly, I was usually playing alone and not having all that much fun. Yet we still have 40 days of this political gum scraping to endure so what’s a sober guy to do? Well, this sober guy is gonna make his own brand new non-drinking game,goddamnit! The thrown together, half-assed rules look something like this:

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The prize? I don’t get to hate myself and I won’t wind up in jail or in the nuthouse! Weeeeee! Okay, I throw in some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as a bonus prize. Besides, look at that whimsical font and little brown bunny! It’s the best game ever. Actually, it kinda is. Smartassery aside for just a moment, I often marvel at how any of us addicts and alcoholics get through anything sober. I was one of those drinkers who thought everything went better with booze. Screw white wine with fish. White wine also went well with laundry and episodes of Young and the Restless. Tequila paired well with waiting tables. And cocaine was a nice accompaniment to everything from New Year’s Eve to Thursday nights at a Silver Lake leather bar. My point is, I didn’t necessarily need an event to get shitfaced. Events were a nice excuse for sure but far from necessary. This being said, however, for the last 15 years every magazine under the sun has wondered if the screwed up state of the world actually makes people drink and use drugs more. Studies from all over show a huge spike in drug addiction and alcoholism since 9/11. No shit. I was in Los Angeles on that day and went directly to the bar, do not pass go, do not collect $200. And that’s how we dealt. Or not dealt in my case. No, 9/11 didn’t make me a drunk (that was divine gift written in the stars or some shit) but trauma and the planet going to shit certainly helped grease the wheels of this hot mess machine. It didn’t matter that I was on the opposite coast. What mattered was I had a what I thought was a legit excuse to get hammered and an excuse I wore out until January 2009. So today when we– and by that I mean people like me who are sober– don’t meet for drinks to bitch about the state of the world, it’s nothing short of miraculous.

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The above trigger warning caught fire on Monday shortly before the debates. It was posted by Hofstra University, where the shitshow was held, as a precaution. Cynical internet a-holes bemoaned the pussiness of millennials and scoffed at their inability to cope. I sighed and shook my head, as I’ve been known to do for the last year and a half. I personally think the warning is a good idea and what the hell– maybe ongoing messages like this to young people could get them to talk about their problems. Can’t hurt. As addicts we don’t get these kind of warnings because, let’s face it, everything would have to come with one. WARNING: The dickwads on this freeway might make you want to shoot heroin!  WARNING: Entering this line at the post office could cause you to drink a box of wine in our employee parking lot. WARNING: America is still America and therefore you might occasionally want to get wasted or slap people but you won’t because you’re sober. So maybe I don’t get warnings on institutional clapboard signage. But I do get to live my life differently. I get to laugh at this ridiculous world. I get to send eye roll emojis to other sober people. I get to remember every moment, even the mundane and depressing ones. And, if I’m lucky, I get to play the game all over again.

When it comes to spirituality, nothing is ‘Transparent’


I need to pour myself another cup of coffee and take a deep breath before I even begin to talk about season 3 of Amazon’s comedy (which in this day and age actually means half-hour drama) Transparent because to say there’s a lot to unpack with the show is the television understatement of 2016. From white privilege and sexual politics to mental health and of course all sides of the trans discussion, the show is like a Vegas buffet for hot button contemporary issues. Thankfully, that’s not all it is. So beautifully shot, masterfully acted and well-written, we often forget we’re ingesting a show that asks a lot of heavy questions. Among the most brazen are the ones Transparent asks about spirituality and religion.

Since premiering on Amazon on Friday, I’ve already sucked down 7 out of the 10 episodes of season 3. Yeah, I know. I have a problem. (Hi. My name is Sean and I’m a tv-oholic.) Season 2 was a not easy to love journey into the family’s Jewish history while giving Maura (always so touchingly played by Jeffery Tambor) a real life. Season 3 asks the question, “So now what?” and it asks that question of each member of the Pfucked Up Pfefferman’s lives and circling back around to spirituality makes a lot of sense. The finding religion or meditation or prayer in times of personal distress is a tale as old as time but oddly one not often told on television. During a break between episodes, Michael and I had tons to talk about– which is another thing to cherish about this show. How often does TV actually do that? And we started talking about how unapologetically Jewish the Pfefferman’s are. The idea of a TV family and one of a sitcom no less being open about their religion still feels pretty revolutionary. After all, we never knew what kind of church George and Weezie on The Jeffersons went to. Ditto with the Stone family of The Donna Reed Show. Outside of safely assuming that Darren and Samantha Stevens of Bewitched were probably your happy, neighborhood pagans, the spiritual lives of sitcoms families have been kept under-wraps until recent years. Not content with lightly dipping its toes in the waters of a subject, Transparent really goes there as it uncovers a modern Jewish family who struggle to keep their faith while wanting desperately to believe in something,anything.

In a benchmark episode entitled “Oh Holy Night”, the family attends “Hineni” a spiritual event organized by the family’s most lost lamb, Sarah(played with wild-eyed inappropriateness by Amy Landecker) and led by Rabbi Raquel (Katherine Hahn), who despite being kind and optimistic continually winds up being Pfefferman family roadkill. It’s Silver Lake Jewishness for millennials. Pretty quickly we see that things aren’t going to run smoothly. In a classic, very LA joke, the tacos for this hipster Shabbat have been replaced by pupusas. And a highly charged conversation about Palestine nearly turns into a fist fight at the aqua fresca station which hilariously crescendos later with Cherry Jones’ character winding face up in a ditch. But it’s during the event’s candlelight prayer led by Rabbi Raquel that the show’s power,beauty and central message become illuminated. “What if the miracle was you? What if you had to be your own messiah?” the Rabbi asks. The candle is passed around for attendees to share their blessing. From the arrival of monarch butterflies to praying for the LA’s homeless, the thoughts are powerful. Naturally, when a woman says, “Guys, I’m seven months sober” I got teary eyed. Of course, even this moment gets high jacked by the Pfeffermans as Maura changes the entire tone to acknowledge the death of one of the show’s more controversial characters. The word “hineni” in Hebrew means “here I am” and in essence this episode and the season at large is about a seeking, an arrival and a wanting to expand spiritually.

As we’ve talked about before, I’m not a formerly religious person. I belong to the Church of Suck Less and Be Nice to People (All are welcome! Enjoy the donuts!) It works for me. I’m more of a believer in magic and nature then I am in some dude with a white beard flocked by angels. But I tend not to get trippeded up about other people’s religions either. I was told early on if I wanted chance of changing and staying sober I should probably have an open mind and I try to do that. Plus, I think the seeking we all have, religious or not, is universal and this is what Transparent taps into so beautifully. There’s no easy answers when it comes to spirituality and the show knws this. Yes, this family is screwed up and yes they’ve got more issues than Life magazine. But it isn’t just the shows lead character Maura who is transforming. Her journey from male to female is just the tip of iceberg. The road to self. The road to enlightenment. The road to transformations are all messy and filled with detours. These are journeys all of the Pfeffermans are on and ones I, as a viewer, can’t wait to see where they end up.

everything is rigged! everything is a conspiracy!


I consider a myself a master inventor of excuses. If there’s a lame brained, half-witted idea to get out of something, I have usually tried it and without the visual aid of a vintage I Love Lucy episode to boot. So imagine my dismay when the excuse of “The System is rigged!’ went mainstream. See, over the last several months this idea of the system being rigged has taken off. “What system?” you ask. Kids, it truly does not matter! Washington DC. The electorial process. The debates. The Oscars. The DMV. The line at Starbucks. It’s all a system therefore eligible to be considered rigged. This ingenious and totally testicle-free way of blaming something we have no control over is an excuse that me the bullshitter, er I mean “storyteller” should have thought of decades ago. Alas, it took an orange billionaire to illuminate us on how if we tell the world the system is rigged, we in turn have zero accountability.

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Before we continue, please note: I have taken considerable care to ensure that this blog is free from inflammatory and hemorrhoidal political content because quite frankly it’s fucking boring and currently on every other website therefore making anything I have to say equally as boring. However, I’ll dip my toes briefly into those waters this morning. But have no fear. If all of this goes according to plan, this post will seamlessly loop back around and return to talking about the thing I love the most–me! I will even not soil these pages with images or the name of said orange billionaire. Instead, please enjoy this disco space portrait of Lester Holt. Which is appropriate as I talk about him too. Moving on!

Yesterday (or was it two days ago?) a story broke about how whats-his-face had already declared the debates rigged as he knew in his little black heart that moderator Lester Holt (I’m assuming the normal, non-disco space version) was a Democrat, making him incapable of fairly conducting the debates. Let’s just say this was a reasonable concern. And let’s even assume, although we have no evidence to suggest this, that Holt has a history of being biased and shady. Let’s go a step further and say that the political party of every television debate moderator ever has warped the debates they were in charge of and so we can assume that as a Democrat that Holt will do the same. But the thing is,as we know now, Holt is a Republican. Oops. Yet this little snafu and mild, mistaken character assassination doesn’t even matter. The point is that guy already sent out the loudly cawing, “It’s rigged! It’s rigged!” carrier pigeons into the world and now we’re suspicious of an event that hasn’t even happened. What’s more is, if the little dicked casino owner totally tanks next week, he can blame a rigged system. It’s genius.


Last night, I read a juicy piece on celebrity conspiracy theorists. These colorful characters believe everything from the relationship of Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift (you can’t make me type ‘Hiddleswift’ dammit!) to the hidden romance of two One Direction members is a conspiracy. They are mainly harmless types and often hilarious. The piece highlights how we the people create these back stories and conspiracies to make our own lives and consequently the lives of celebrities more fascinating. As a casual celebrity gossip dabbler, I enjoy a good Illuminati or Katy Perry conspiracy like everyone else. Thankfully, that’s kind of where it ends for me. Ditto with systems being rigged. It may not have occurred to me to blame fucked up systems because as a sober person, I’ve committed to a life of personal accountability. This means, as much as I’d like to blame America, the IRS, the Grammys, Groupon, Southwest Airlines, Apple, my parents, straight people, pot smokers, the LAPD etc. for rigging systems and solely bearing the responsibility for fucking up my life, I cannot. Curses! Foiled again!


I guess I’m being rather flippant about something as problematic as our depressing cultural default setting for blaming systems and claiming things are rigged and that’s intentional. I mean how ridiculous. Yes, there are systems that are “rigged” and unfair. Thankfully, there are tireless watchdogs policing those systems. I’m a gay man with HIV and honey child, I have done been a part of some for legit fucked up, rigged, bigoted systems. Please. If that reality show hosting twerp thinks he knows unfairness, let him take his orange ass through the public health matrix and get back to me. Thanks. Yet believing in conspiracies against me and that the world is out to get me, that’s old behavior and something I cannot indulge in. As I’ve talked about recently, I just did one of those inventories that sober people do to clear out resentments and hopefully have chance of staying sober. This time around I was reminded of ongoing refusal to take responsibility for how I act. I acted out because I was bullied. I lied because I need to protect myself. I used people because I never had enough love growing up. It was always something or someone else’s fault. This thinking lead me to drugs and alcohol too. “If you had it as bad as me, you’d be drunk too” was my motto for so many years. As nice and easy as putting the blame on some else sounds, it’s a toxic and unsustainable way to live. When I bottomed out, I had to realize most of my problems were ones I caused. Well, that was certainly an ugly realization but one that needed to happen.

Thus, it makes me wonder: what if the system, all systems, are in fact rigged? So what? I mean it. Who cares if they are. Listen, pulling off this daily mental health miracle takes all the effort I can summon from the four corners. I ain’t got time for a conspiracy theory. I reckon no one else does either if we are all doing our best to pursue emotional intelligence, compassion and a little damn dignity. It is appealing, however, to point at something larger as trying to sabotage our every move. Take writing this post, for example. I’m a fan of the midway edit and spellcheck but a few moments ago this was impossible. My website was not having it. The edit button froze and I was kicked back to my post. I laughingly wondered if it was a conspiracy against me. That WordPress knew I was writing a smartass piece about conspiracies and didn’t want me to publish it. That someone gave enough of a shit to continue their evil plot against me, just to fuck with me. Within seconds, the edit was working again. And that’s it. Sometimes, things are just fucked up, with no ulterior motive. And sometimes there are evil forces out to get you. But if I’m working on being a little less shitty than I was yesterday, none of it actually matters.


I will survive…but not alone

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On dancefloors. Under discoballs. Next to thumping speakers and kids in furry backpacks. Thru fog machines, cigarette smoke, and puffs of glitter. In empty, burned out warehouses suddenly transformed by day-glo foam sculptures of mushrooms and hearts, evoking a modern Alice in Wonderland. This is where I felt like I showed up. Like this was my moment. It was 1992 and I was 19 years-old and rave culture had caught fire across the United States. By this time, I had already cycled through teen goth clubs, shady underage gay bars and high school parties and all of the drugs that accompany those events. I always had my eye on the next cool thing to walk around the corner. Not because I had my finger on the pulse but more out of an insatiable desire to make the party never stop. So thank god when rave culture showed up. Here were hundreds of other kids who all felt the same way. The music was the draw. I could link videos to rave classic songs for days but really 20 plus years later the truth is revealed: that music? It was pure and simple dance music. A road forged by disco culture nearly 30 years earlier was now being paved by house music, techno and everything else with a drum machine. Back then, it was rave music, now it’s EDM, tomorrow we’ll call it something else. But the appeal, whatever generational version of it, remains consistent. It paired well with drugs, with escape, with sex and with dancing with others who wanted the same things. I took so much ecstasy and danced so many hours it stopped working but I’m persistent, dammit. I rode the rave thing until the wheels fell off. When that party ended thanks to an unwelcome appearance by crystal meth, I moved on to the next which I burned out from and then moved on once again to another party, this time in Los Angeles at age 23 and one that would have incredibly high highs and crash with the worst of lows. And that so-called party lasted until I was 36.


Spot me in this crowd! Hint? I’m the raver in flannel!

The thing I loved about raves or trashy glam clubs in LA or gay bars, in addition to the music, was the feeling of belonging. With considerable effort and dedication to the craft of going out several nights a week, I became enough of a club presence to usually get on the guest list, maybe score free drinks and a bump or two in the bathroom. I was a minor celebrity among club friends and known in a tiny microcosm which was good enough for me. I slid naturally from clubs and guest lists to dive bars to drinking nightly at home. Formerly sparkling and social became sad and the part I loved, feeling like I belonged, vanished along with the smoke and glitter. So then what? What happens to a disco diva when the lights come up, the free drinks stop and the club friends vanish in thin air upon hearing a whisper of the word, “sober”?


For this disco diva, life got real/real depressing. Things like health, debt and broken relationships were waiting in line outside the club like I used to and just like me they were gonna get in, even if they weren’t on the guest list. In addition to waking up to the shit storm that was my existence, I also had to remove a huge chunk of my social drinking circle if I wanted any semblance of success at staying sober. It had never occurred to me in the 600 other times I tried to stop drinking that by hanging out with daily drinkers I wasn’t exactly giving myself a fighting chance. Well, it sounds obvious when I put it like that but as I’ve mentioned before I’m a slow learner. So fine. I did that. I lovingly detached from the old crew but now what? Turns out the recovery world was filled with people just like me. I didn’t take too long to find my people. They certainly didn’t look like me but honestly the world only needs a handful of valley girl voiced Moby look-alike alcoholics. What was important was they knew how I felt and knew what I was going through. They even nodded their heads when I shared horrible, crazy, unspeakable things. yea-uh-huh.gif

2816 days later, I’m still finding my people and in delightful and unexpected places. Mainly online. There are a lot of debates about sobriety, recovery and anonymity online and as you know I detest digital bickering of any flavor so we will not go there. What I will say is this: just like I did in meetings all over the country and just like I used on dancefloors, I have found other people who were like.My #RecoveryPosse is always available on Twitter or if I’m really desperate on Facebook. Many of them have blogs. Others have podcasts. Others are normal, hilarious folks who make me laugh on a regular basis. Others I’ve even been lucky to meet in real life. The point is thanks to that cursed blessing known as technology, my people are always here and easy to find on my phone. A couple of days ago, I tweeted the opening line to the song referenced in the title. What transpired was the kind of loopy, brilliant, back and forth I’ve come to know and love from my online tribe.


But it doesn’t begin and end there. When I blogged on UrTheInspiration, I was lucky enough to meet my people like Heather Kopp or my now real-life pal Jen and my friend Paul, who even though he’s in Canada and straight, is someone who always for some reason gets what I’m going through. A few years ago, we started an Artists in Recovery meeting in Denver and every week I run into my people there. By being on Facebook, I randomly will have someone reach out from the past who tells me they are now sober or maybe they are struggling so I meet my people there too. The thing is by speaking my truth, whether in person or online, the world becomes less scary and I’m less isolated. You don’t have to search too hard to find hundreds of studies that say people who have support have a better chance of staying sane and sober than those who don’t. I’ve found it to be true. When I tried to get by all by my lonesome, I never stood a chance. I end every Sloshed Cinema by saying, “You are never alone.” Partly to pass that onto others but mainly to remind myself that no matter how bad I feel, there’s always help. There’s somebody willing to nod their head to what I’m sharing if I just open my mouth.  And there’s always someone dancing to the same song I am, somewhere.

The Waiting Game


If you have an aversion to waiting for things, please avoid in living in large cities like Los Angeles. In my 15 years in that town, I’d guess that approximately 1/3 of that time was spent waiting for something. Waiting in line at the grocery stores. Waiting in traffic. Waiting tables. Waiting for opportunities.Waiting to get into clubs. Waiting to get into movies. Waiting for drinks. Waiting for drugs. Waiting for pain to end. Waiting to get my shit together. Therefore, the longer I lived there and the more my shit did come together, the better I got at waiting for stuff. Most of it was out of my control anyway so short of figuring out how to bend the time and space continuum, I had to become better at waiting. Sobriety has helped with that too. At 11 months of sobriety, I remember crying at a meeting and wondering why I didn’t feel better. To which a friend of mine replied,”That’s why they call it slow-briety, honey. Takes forever to not feel terrible.” I thought,”Well, now you tell me.” For an instant gratification junkie like myself, the idea of having to wait to feel better was fucking torture. Yet what choice did I have? So I waited for bad feelings to pass and they eventually did. Much to my disappointment, the good feelings passed too. However, I realized that waiting, as long as I was living my life and trying to grow, wasn’t so horrible. It’s a good thing my outlook on waiting is so darn healthy too because the last several months of my life have been filled with a whole lotta waiting.


To illustrate the length and breadth of the waiting in question, let’s go back to the spring, shall we? A magical time before the surface of the Earth turned into a truck stop griddle and when afternoon rainstorms were an actual reality and not something people were desperately dancing for. It was during this season of rebirth that we, my husband and I, got news of a potential relocation to Portland, Oregon. The hubs works for one of those glamorous furniture companies with the drool worthy catalogues and said company was opening a new location. We were curious. Listen, we’ve got a good thing going here in Denver. An adorable house, walking distance to both of our workplaces, my grandmother up the street and my favorite meetings around the corner. Life is good. But we are also in a fortunate place that with no kids, no crazy mortgages or car payments we can sort of do whatever we want. And we are always down to mix things up. So with that spirit in mind, we visited in April. We, of course, loved Portland and decided to go for it. Now, if impatient drug addict me had his way, this is where the story would end and we would have gotten what we wanted and moved months ago. The universe, as it has been known to do, had other plans.

20th July 1946: Queues forming outside a bakery in Streatham High Street, London, on the last day before bread rationing is introduced. (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)

See, what I didn’t take into account was slow-moving construction, permits, HR manuevers and endless starts and stops. Honestly?I was fine. Like I said, my little is pretty great so if it stays the same, fantastic. If not, that’s cool too. Plus, I wasn’t moving to fix things or to run away from stuff like I had in the past. It sounded like a fun adventure and that was enough. Seeing as I can write and stay sober anywhere on the planet, I’m lucky to be flexible. It’s been harder on my husband. He’s been in professional limbo and had to endure a series of mini interviews and endless hours of workplace chatter. He’s vacillated back and forth from really excited to “Fuck this. I’m over it.” The holding pattern has taken its toll. It’s hard to retain excitement for something when months have dragged on. But, eventually, we both surrendered to the all-powerful force that is waiting.


Suffice to say, spring ended, summer burned on and now with fall around the corner, the move is back on the table and– there’s more waiting. But just a few weeks. By early October, we will know either way. The amazing thing that has transpired during this long waiting period (which will turn out to be close to a year when all is said and done) is life. Life doesn’t wait. Halfway through our waiting, we looked at each other and decided that we might as well enjoy everything, regardless of the outcome down the road. This has turned out to be a good strategy. In this time, my beloved 18 year-old niece has graduated high school and is now attending college in Manhattan. We’ve had several trips and will also go to Mexico and LA before the year is out. We’ve also seen plays, films, friends and much more of that on the books too. I’ve done lots of writing and collaborated on cool projects with even more on the horizon. I’ve also dove back into some difficult but rewarding personal work in recovery which has pretty much adjusted my entire attitude while stripping down my old ways of thinking.

So I guess the end of this story is not very satisfying, given the fact that I am still waiting. But maybe it’s not the end that’s important. Maybe what matters is what happens while I’m waiting.

hey! shut up.

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It’s the same canned music at my day job, day after day. You know, that innocuous steady bum-bum-bum in the background that plays at every store, airport, cultural destination. Inoffensive enough if you’re just visiting an establishment. Truthfully? You might even not notice it. You might just stroll around and be none the wiser to the sounds that populate my days. You might wonder if music was even playing at all. You might, if you’re not a person like me. I’ve always paid attention to the song in the background for some reason because who knows? Maybe a great song has been paired by the universe to particularly match the moment of what’s going on. Or if by chance its a really awful, wildly inappropriate song for the moment, even better. Sometimes, it’s just a lyric or an idea from the random song picked out of a hat by the digital music gods, droning on the background that inexplicably matches the moment. Like, “Hey! Shut up”, for example.

This lyric, featured in what’s sort of a love song from 1989 by Bonnie Raitt entitled “Have a Heart,” slaps a smirk on my face each time it comes on. For one thing, it’s the very first thing we hear Raitt say at the tip-top of the song. It’s a funny and sassy on-brand way to start a Bonnie Raitt song. Though tiny in demeanor, Raitt’s been to hell and back so if she playfully tells you, “Hey! Shut up” you might wanna consider it. Not only do I find this a hilarious way to start a song, it’s advice I pretty much need to hear all day long.

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A beloved friend I got sober with, who met me when I was whirling dervish of emotions and a category 5 hot mess, once described me as “wonderfully verbal.” Although too much of a saint to admit it, I’m sure he was trying to say I talked too much. This is something I’ve known for decades. “Blurt it out and clean it up later”is how we roll around these parts. As frank and fun as that can be, it’s also frequently insensitive and just stupid. As I’ve aged, however, I’ve tried to run things through a filter BEFORE they blast out of my mouth and for the most part there has been some improvement in this department. My husband, who just last weekend shook his head and tried to get me to stop blabbing my big dumb opinions around friends who may be offended by said opinions, might argue about my progress. Nevertheless, I am at the very least aware that I need to pause before things fly out of my mouth. What I still struggle with is shutting up entirely. Particularly when there are dynamics that have NOTHING to do with me or where my opinion isn’t really necessary. If I’m really real here (which isn’t that the bare minimum that we expect from people who never shut up?) I’ll tell you that I had this lyric in mind and wanted to give you sparkling before and after look at how someone who needed to shut up and finally did. You’d marvel at how my life had changed and soon you’d do the same thing. Yeah, that’s what I wanted to do but just yesterday more garbage flew out of my mouth at the speed of light. Sigh.


Without getting into the particulars and blathering even more, let’s just say I participated in a bitchfest, some gossiping, a little character assassination and general asshole-bigmouth shenanigans. It was at the end of my day too. I’d made it several hours without running my mouth and for nothing. 3 minutes of yammering shot it all to hell. I was really disappointed in myself too. Look, I’m 43 and what was cute in the cafeteria at 17 or delightfully vicious in the club at 25, is just plain ugly now. Earlier this week as my sponsor and i talked about my character defects (because we’re at that joyful and not uncomfortable at all stage of our work. Please stab me.), I fessed up to gossip being a big problem for me. What was fun, now feels icky. He pointed out that maybe it feels gross now because it no longer works. I wholeheartedly agreed and assumed that was that. It doesn’t feel good therefore it will go away and I shall never do it again. Roll the credits and cue the triumphant music!  What I neglected to consider is that in order to not feel icky I have to stop the behavior entirely. Double sigh.

As a writer, communicator and lifelong bigmouth, on a cellular level I know the benefits of editing. I know that I need to organize my thoughts for them to make sense. I know that sometimes being quiet and listening is more called for and even for valuable than talking just to hear myself talk. I also know that thinking about what I’m going to say can before I say can often save me from embarrassing or confusing statements.


Yet here we are at the top of a new day. With more opportunities to say stupid shit and clean them up later. Sadly, I am clearly in no position to give you advice on how to shut up and how it might change your life. What I can tell you is this : noticing the music in the background, being great at conversation, even having frank funny and unpopular thoughts that get you unfollowed on Twitter are actually character assets.


The other stuff? It’s a work in progress, as cliche as that might sound. I’m taking the fact that I feel terrible when I engage in this behavior as a step in the right direction. Following through and changing is the tough part and it always has been. It’s the part that separates the men from the boys and one where I really have to buckle down and change. Therfore, I wouldn’t be surprised if a post entitled “Oops. I did it again” shows up in your newsfeed soon. But until then I can try, I can listen and I can attempt to shut up.

Bukowski, Booze & ‘Barfly’


Insanity. There’s a word you hear a lot when you first try to get sober. Personally, I sort of took offense to it. I mean other people who drank everyday were crazy.  But me? I had seen worse. In fact, I know now that I purposely stacked the deck with folks crazier than myself to appear less messy,more normal. The thinking was classic bait and switch. If people noticed what trainwrecks I was with, my own trainwreckness would go unnoticed. Suffice to say, people noticed. People without serious drinking problems are rarely met with phrases like, “Thank god you got sober!’ or “You seemed pretty miserable.” Much of my insanity, as it turns out, was not actually knowing how insane I was. And therein lies the very thing I love about poet and certifiable drunken hot mess Charles Bukowski.


I started reading more of the man’s work in preparation for a Sloshed Cinema episode about Barfly. The 1987 film starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway was written by Bukowski and is,my mind, the very definition of alcoholic insanity.At one point, right after they’ve met, Dunaway and Rourke’s characters illegally hop over a fence to steal corn growing in a random downtown Los Angeles lot. The batshit initial idea to the sloppy execution to the police chase back to Dunaway’s apartment personifies the kind of bad behavior we indulge in when we’re wasted. Bukowski, who said the script was inspired by his own life, embraces the day-to-day craziness. His script makes zero attempt at redemption for these characters and in fact at times literally spits in the face of the very idea. Grimy, disgusting, loopy and oddly charming, the world of Barfly doesn’t give a crap if we the viewer likes it or judges it. There are itsy, bitsy glimmers throughout the film that maybe Henry and Wanda might have a chance of getting their shit together but in our hearts we know that won’t happen. Mainly, because Henry, Wanda and the other seedy sleazeballs that hang around in downtown LA shitholes are pretty freaking happy to wallow where they are. It’s a fascinating stance for a film to take too. Movies about drunks, of which I’m kind of becoming an expert, usually have to either make the drunk get better or get his comeuppance. Hollywood draws a very clear line in the sand, especially in classic films. Be horrible all you want but eventually you’ll pay a price. So having Henry and Co. gleefully march towards their drunken, destitute destiny with a “Who gives a crap” attitude is nothing short of revolutionary. Bukowski’s barfly status in real-life certainly helps with the authenticity of the film. He explains, here in a classic interview with Roger Ebert:

“The movie is called ‘Barfly,’ and it’s about me, because that’s what I was, a bar fly,” Bukowski explained. “You ran errands for sadists and let the bartender beat you up, because you were the bar clown. You filled people’s days with your presence, and maybe you’d get a few free drinks now and then.”

We were hunched down with our elbows on the padded edge of the bar, talking quietly, like conspirators. Linda, Bukowski’s wife, was taking down mental notes of everything.

“The way I became a bar fly,” he said, “was, I didn’t like what I saw in the 9 to 5. I didn’t want to become an ordinary working person, paying off the mortgage, looking at TV, terrified. The bar was a hiding place, to get out of the mainstream.”

“Did you decide to become a bar fly, or did you just look up one day and see a bar fly in the mirror?” I asked him.

“I can’t answer,” he said. “It was kind of a subconscious decision. Meanwhile, I was a writer on the side, selling short stories to dirty magazines. I gave up the writing after awhile and concentrated on the drinking. I refused to accept the living death of acquiescence.”

While Bukowski never officially got sober and eventually died of leukemia, the man’s legacy as the “laureate of American lowlife” is firmly cemented and we are lucky it was captured on film. In addition to Barfly, Bukowski’s alcoholic exploits played out on the big screen in 2005’s Factotum with Matt Dillon playing a version of the poet this time around. Bukowski’s own insanity works well on camera in both films and is the very thing he built his brand on. And while it definitely makes for fantastic film discussion, I can’t help feel a little grateful that I’m no longer crazy myself.

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from ‘are you drinking’ by Charles Bukowski