my therapists poop in a box

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18 days in and it’s come to this: a post about cats. Between yesterday’s post about my ass and today’s about my cats, I’m clearly on a downward blogging spiral. Buckle up!

However, these little creatures are on my mind today because with my husband out-of-town for six weeks, let’s just say that me and the cats have spent a lot of time together. So much so that my older cat Maeby can often be seen sitting by the front door as if she’s planning her escape or at least waiting for another damn human to walk thru the door. You can almost hear moan, “Really? Are we sure the other guy isn’t coming back?” To be fair, Maeby has a special affection for Michael. When he was home over the weekend, she slept by his side and followed him from room to room. I don’t begrudge her that at all. Trust me, I’m sick of me too. Still, I’m grateful for their little furry behinds because believe it or not they’ve helped me a lot.

Maeby, whom we inherited from Michael’s old roommate and who is named after Maeby Funke from Arrested Development, is the shy but sweet and thoughtful type. Happy to say hello but happier still to give you some space. Larry, on the other hand, whom we inherited from a suburban Denver alley, is more in your face. Unlike his older and more reserved sister, Larry will come darting from whatever part of the house he’s napping in just to say hi and hang out the minute you come home. He’s a little more type A and outgoing so it’s no mystery which cat truly gets me. These two are both survivors in their own right, Larry being an orphan and Maeby getting shifted from multiple owners. They know something about adapting to new surroundings and getting settled.

Carefree, crazy Larry and relaxed af Maeby don’t really give a crap about my existential non-crisis of being new in town. After all, they’ve somehow managed to make themselves right at home despite being basically snatched from their old lives against their will, shoved on an airplane for the first time and dropped off somewhere totally foreign.  I think I can handle not knowing where the dairy aisle is at a new grocery store.  When we were first planning this move, Michael and I were a tad worried about how Maeby would react. The last time we moved it took her 3 months to stop hiding and resenting us. Like the good cat of an alcoholic, she can hold a grudge. We were not, however, concerned about Larry. After all, this is the goofball life of the party who actually likes the vet’s office and sleeps in his carrier. Turns out, we were wrong on both counts.

In a feline plot twist, our older lady took to apartment living like someone’s recently divorced mother-in-law while Larry had a total meltdown. Within our first 30 minutes here. We lost our damn cats. We went to the grocery store and when we came back, they were gone. Like vanished, which is nearly impossible as it’s a large loft-like space with almost zero places to hide. As Michael panicked and ran down the massive hallways, I heard a little meow. The little rascals had wedged themselves behind the refrigerator and snuggled up together. Flash forward to a few hours later upon returning home from IKEA, we were greeted with howling coming from a unknown source. One of our critters was obviously in distress but they weren’t back in the refrigerator hiding spot. With a visual on Maeby, we knew it was Larry. After another panicked search, we discovered that somehow the lunatic had fallen in between our two upper kitchen cabinets. The physics of all of this is still perplexing one month later but all I know is after I hopped up on the counter, I spied his skinny long black legs pointed toward the ceiling. I tried to grab him but my arms are too short and I was afraid I’d hurt him. After mulling over the idea of making the world’s most embarrassing 911 call, Michael was able to somehow pull Larry’s lanky, disheveled body from the depths of our fancy modern cabinets. And this was all in the first 4 hours.

I wish I could report it’s been smooth sailing ever since that ridiculously traumatic day but I cannot. Larry still cries at night as if he’s wondering where the hell he is and where all of his old stuff went.  He’s found other places to hide but is thankfully keeping himself out of peril. But they spend their afternoons together watching birds from our huge windows and nap with me during the day. They chase each other and sleep for 14 hours. While none of this may sound very therapeutic or relaxing for me, I swear it has been.

As an alcoholic and drug addict who’d usually forget to feed himself, it still blows my mind that I can care for and keep other living things alive. Therefore, having Maeby and Larry to look after has been a relief. “Turning our thoughts towards others” is a tool of recovery and nowhere does it state those others have to be at all human. Feeding them and cleaning their litter box gets me outside of myself which is always a relief. In fact, cats are often referred to as the “Unsung Heroes of Mental Health”. Animals for people like me who also struggle with depression, are great for the soul, self-confidence and reducing stress. The simple act of them being here when I return from a day out running around my new city, makes me feel more at home. Just by being present for these two, I’ve reaped the benefits of their magical powers and I’m a better person for it.

Maeby is back to snuggling up to me during morning meditation and Larry is, well, still the Larryest. As I was turning off lights last night getting ready for bed, I couldn’t find him.”Oh terrfic. I lost Larry again. ” I searched all the usual hiding places and some new ones to,just in case. Nowhere to be found but I was tired enough that I headed by to my bedroom. After one last-ditch glance around the room, I found him. He was snuggled up inside a basket by my side of the bed. Turns out, we’re both a little more comfortable than we were just a month ago.

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what’s new?

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What’s new? What’s new with me, you ask? Well, naturally, I’m thrilled that you did because there is a whole lotta new going one in SeanLand. New furniture to sit my pampered behind on! New sparkly town to live in! New places to go to meetings at! New fancy folks to hang out with! New yummy places to eat! New thrilling things to do. New, new, new! But the bad news is that I’m the same old me wherever I go which is exhausting regardless of my current zip code.

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I noticed the other day as I got unexpectedly snippy about an inane topic like where to put the little thingy that holds our spare change that my mental health wasn’t exactly award-winning. In fact, I was a level of cranky which quickly made me feel like I was crawling out of my skin. And this was AFTER I had been to a meeting. So it wasn’t just feeling “dry” but more of that “spiritual malady” business that the recovery kids talk about. Meaning maybe all was not so well on the mental health ranch.  Granted, I understand that being snippy after moving is par for the course. Given the amount of ridiculous crap me and the hubs have had to endure over the last 10 days, a little tantrum now and then isn’t the end of the world. Still, I don’t love being an asshole about ridiculous stuff like where to put the little thingy that holds our spare change. Because the reality is at the core of my being I don’t actually give a shit where that little thingy goes. No really, I don’t. I’m NTKOH (not that kind of homo). Michael’s department in this relationship is Home Decor & Organization and I happily turn all of it over to him. And I know I’m in good hands as he actually does this kind of thing for a living. If I’m being testy about stuff I honestly do not care about, I’m clearly not taking care of myself.

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The short(ish) answer to that question, “What’s new?” is “same old, same old.” Feel free to say that response in a Texan accent or like a bored waitress at a roadside diner, by the way. Whatever you like. I trust you. Anyway, the predictability of my own bullshit is tiresome yet comedic. Like a Lucy rerun or a Looney Tunes gag, you can see the joke setup and it’s punchline from 40 miles away. As I finally meditated this morning after days of running around like a person gathering stuff for an impending apocalypse, I had to laugh. It was hilarious that as usual the things that make me feel less crazy still do and are fairly easy to accomplish. Duh.com.  As I’ve lamented recently in these pages,  meditation has really rocked my clock in 2017. Breathing and taking a few moments that aren’t all about me is a fucking relief  so when I don’t do that I tend to feel pretty gosh darn horrible. It’s a part of the combo that makes me pull off this 24-7 mental health magic trick and when it’s missing, the shit is not cute. But if we’re really gonna sip some coffee and tell the truth, me not taking care of myself mentally is actually a tad uglier than all of this.

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The other night after a long day of something tedious and moving related, the husband and I went to dinner. He doesn’t have the specialness of alcoholism that I do so he sometimes orders a beer or a cocktail at dinner. It isn’t a big deal. I certainly don’t obsess about drinking or freak out when he has a drink so it’s not a thing between us. Yet when he ordered whatever alcoholic beverage it was at dinner, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think to myself, “Oh! I should order one of those too!” Luckily, that thought was immediately followed up with another thought of “Yeah because that’d work out real well.” But nevertheless it happened. Oh and it happened a few days prior to that as I watched him and coworker drink wine at a farewell thing we attended. Look, these thoughts aren’t pretty and having them immediately disqualifies me as some sobriety guru I’m sure. Darn it. You would assume that after 8 years I would never, ever think about drinking. But in my case you’d be wrong. The truth? I drank and used drugs for a long ass time so I’m just going to have occasional fantasies about it. The important thing is that they pass and not turn into plans I want to materialize. Also, now I tell on myself and have a little list of things I can do to make myself feel more human and less like a snippy weirdo who wants to start a fight about the thingy that holds the change.  The flip side is when I don’t do these things, there’s a possibility that the passing thought actually becomes a reality and that’s just something I don’t want to risk.

So what’s actually new? Nearly everything externally  is new which I have to say is exciting. I feel like a kid again and I’m ready to explore and be inspired in a different town.  But absolutely nothing internally and that’s really okay because I love me, snippiness, random thoughts of drinking and weirdness included.

 

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.

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.

all I need to know

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*Insert a profound quote about knowledge here.

I turned 44 years-old last week which is not remarkable in and of itself. In fact, it’s only remarkable because I no longer make my birthday an over the top 3 day long mandatory hostage situation from hell. Thankfully, this year it quietly passed like a well-dressed stranger who walks by me in a hall and whispers, “You’re old.” But I was thinking about all of the wisdom I’ve gained in my 44 years and all of the amazing tidbits I could pass on to younger folks. After all, I’m a chatty muthafucker. Certainly, I can come up with a couple thousand words of priceless advice gained in my four decades on this planet? Uh. Yeah. Turns out, I couldn’t really come up with anything.

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The more I’m around (which is a weird saying like the earth is a coffee shop that I’ve just been hanging out at for forty plus years– wait. Maybe it is?!?) the more I realize I don’t know anything. Not like anything “anything” like my brain has been wiped clean of all vital information. I still know the important stuff: my name, my address, my mother’s maiden name, all the original Charlie’s Angels chronological by appearance. But treasure troves of amassed wisdom collected through the years and just waiting to be doled out? Like I said I got nothing. Maybe I’m not wired in the “have life experiences and turn them into priceless chestnuts of knowledge” kind of way. Admittedly, the whole Life’s Little Instruction book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Advice from Kindly Old White People isn’t really my style. I’m more of the “OMG. Something horrible happened that I probably caused but now it’s fucking hysterical and here’s why” kind of person. Besides, I actually think being in a place of “I Don’t Know” is a kind of a great thing.

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Like take this very moment in my life, for example. As I’ve mentioned, things have happened in my husband’s career that have us moving to Portland, Oregon. It’s a move I’m excited about and one with crazy timing right after my grandmother dying and a host of other weird cosmic shit that I could never come up with on my own (more from the I Don’t Know file) We were going to move in the spring. Then the location was fast tracked and we were told we were moving in January. I did all the stuff–told the day job, started collecting boxes, slowly saying goodbye to my beloved recovery family. A relocation of our lives right after the holidays while working a ton was going to be hard but I rolled up my sparkly sleeves and got busy. This was all moving along swimmingly until Thursday. Thursday afternoon we got news the move was now postponed again until March. Ugh. Intellectually, I know all of this is actually fine and I know the timing isn’t up to me and etcetera etcetera. But the I’m currently in a place of I have no clue what I’m doing or what’s going on. And this is okay.

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Not knowing the future. Not knowing when I’m moving. Not knowing the exact moves of my career and how everything will shake down until the day I die sounds a lot like faith or trusting the universe or whatever you need to call it so your spiritual panties don’t get all twisted up. Sure, if I want stuff and have goals I need to do the work. I have to show up and do a series of things (go to meetings, make phone calls, send emails I don’t want to send and ask over and over again for what I want) to help me get there. But things like how or what or when? Honeychild, that shit is not up to me.

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Getting into this glorious place of I Have No Damn Idea is actually pretty freeing. Without having my stomach twisted in knots about controlling things I can’t change (gee, I wonder where I came up with that idea?), I’m now free to focus on what I do know. What I do know is that it’s the holidays and I might as well enjoy them. I’m gonna bake and go to a holiday party and even host one of my own. I know that I’m getting paid to write a lot lately so I’ll do more that for sure. I know that I love the guy I married five years ago so I’ll hang out with him and our insane feline children as much as possible. I know there’s a ton of fantastic movies out right now so I’ll watch as many of those as I can. I know that moving and my career and even the insanely depressing political climate will all work out. Perhaps maybe not in the way I want it to or when I want it to but it’ll all come together.

Until then, I also know that there isn’t anything that a duet with Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville in a denim vest can’t fix.