easier

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“I thought it would be easier.”

From a simple errand to the grocery store to a short flight to a neighboring state, we always think it should be and would be easier. After all, we live in technologically advanced times, everything should be easier.  So it’s a genuine shock to our pampered 21st-century selves when daily errands turn into a harrowing epic journeys involving things like –gasp!- standing in line or waiting on hold. We also say, “I thought it would be easier” after we’ve attempted something we weren’t at all familiar with but somehow our crazy ass ego told us it wouldn’t be so hard. “I thought it would be easier” in this case means, “Holy shit. This is hard and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”

Either way, we usually only say this once whatever we thought would be easier, turns out to be a colossal pain in the ass. Yet there are a lot of things that I think we can agree on that don’t seem easy at all. They are the sort of tasks that are dubbed as “pretty fucking hard” and therefore if you attempt these things, you know what you’re getting into. Climbing Mount Everest, taking a case all the way to the Supreme Court, childbirth, a marathon, being the leader of a country– none of those things sound easy. And yet if the ego is out of control enough, we’ll try one of these universally known as difficult tasks and be genuinely shocked when it doesn’t turn out to be a cakewalk.

Our president said these exact words in an interview with Reuters, published yesterday when talking about his first 100 days in office. I laughed naturally but let’s be clear I don’t think he’s funny or that our country is funny right now. People keep saying, “Well, he’s at least good for comedy!” No, asshole. Richard Pryor was good for comedy. We only laugh at this idiot to stop ourselves from hurling our bodies in front of speeding trains. I laughed in that, “This muthafucker” eye roll sort of way. I laughed because of all the things I think about being the president it being easy is not even on the list. I’ve always thought it looked pretty hard, to be honest. It sounds stressful, terrible, like a living nightmare. But not easy. I mean have you seen those guys after they leave office? They all look 500 years old with their skin the color of paste and like they haven’t eaten in four years. Yet our dear president thought it would be easier and according to the article, he misses driving and misses his old life. Sigh. Trust us, boo. We miss that for you too and wouldn’t begrudge you if you just skedaddled out of the White House in a puff gold dust, never to be seen again. Alas, that’s not going to happen. In fact, I’m of the Negative Nelly mindset that we’ll be stuck with him for 8 years.

Anyway, all of this is to say that thinking being the president would be easier is hilarious to me. I mean, easier than what? Building your own rocket in your backyard and going to Mars? Learning brain surgery online and performing it on your mom?  I guess thinking things will be easier is symptomatic of the our collective entitlement and as much as it pains me to admit this, I too, just like Whats-His-Face, have started things only to realize how hard they were once it was too late.

As delusional as it sounds, I actually thought it would be easy to get sober. I really believed I could maybe go to two or three meetings, learn how to drink normally and maybe even pick up a new boyfriend while I was there. Surely, there had to be a drive thru version of AA or an accelerated program? My rude awakening came at a meeting in a depressing as fuck library inside of a seniors center in downtown Los Angeles. A nice older man in a red sweater greeted me and even gave me a hug. He later shared that he’d been going to this meeting for 20 years. 20 goddamn years? I wanted to cry. I was going to have to sit in sad, shitty seniors centers for the next 20 years? Where was that speeding train when you needed it? Other people with 5 years, 10 years and even 11 months weren’t exactly helping me keep the dream alive about this being an in-and-out kind of jam.  I left that meeting utterly depressed and if it wasn’t for the cute rocker boy who said hi to me, I probably wouldn’t have come back. But I did come back to that meeting and others. I woke up to the fact around 60 days of sobriety that this was going to be a hard, that I was going to be fighting for my life. In fact, more major challenges were yet to come and things would get a hell of lot worse before they got better.

Sober people and people dealing with mental illness know that it isn’t easy. None of it. Despite time under your belt and doing all of the right things, life can still be hard. I was humbled with this very thought a couple of days ago. Sure, it’s infinitely better than it was before but I’d be lying if I said my existence has been 24 hours of butterflies and rainbows since I got sober in 2009. Sobriety has granted me the gift of being realistic and knowing that some things are going to be hard. Really hard. I’ve also been given the gift of boundaries. I know that it’s okay too say no to things that are stressful and not worth the effort. While I can’t speak for that guy with the powerful job that turned out to be hard (duh), I know that when I think things were going to be easier, it  really means I have no idea what challenges are coming next.

 

she’s got the power

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

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

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

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