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.

sit. 

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?”