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.

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tbh

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A few years ago when millennial girls all decided to start every sentence with, “To be honest” I could feel my eye twitch and my brain start to sizzle. I mean, I had already accepted the overuses of literally I cannot change, the courage to change the literallys I can and the wisdom to literally know the difference. I already embraced the new teeth gnashing existence of bruh. I swallowed the linguistic pills of bae, fam and everything in between. How much more is a 40-something gay book nerd supposed to endure? Besides, there was always something so redundant and awkward about “to be honest” or “tbh” as we say online. Like unless you clarify with “to be honest” we are to assume the rest of the time you are full of shit? Or is it like “to be honest” as in I’m gonna get real. I’m gonna let you have it. I’m going to tell it like it is.

As with many internet speak phrases that drive me nuts, however, I surrendered and started using it too. I found ways to drop a “tbh” in funny places, no big deal. You know ironic, smart-assy. You know. How I say basically everything. In case you didn’t realize this, I watched old movies as a kid with the sassy, salty sidekick and assumed it was a tutorial on how I should behave as an adult. This, for the most part, has been a disastrous assumption. Sarcasm doesn’t work too well with doctors , bill collectors, strangers, religious fanatics, people sensitive to jokes about being a drug addict, people on Facebook from high school who I don’t actually remember but now wish I never followed, etc. But in the world of online banter? It’s a hit. Or if it’s not, I stream of consciousness vomit out so many posts that at least one is bound to land. As long as we’re being honest here, the real reason the phrase probably makes me uncomfortable is that being honest is something I still sort of bristle at. After nearly of 8 years of having people tell me I needed to get honest, I’m still sort of holding out for fantasy to pay off. I’m still waiting for a magical story in my mind to become real life.

The urge to be dishonest remains pretty powerful. Without busting out the sad silent movie violin solo, I’ll tell you that I learned to bullshit at an early age as a way to cope, to divert attention and to handle the craziness around me. The BS fest went from white lies to full on delusion somewhere around the age of 30. I’d lied to myself and everyone else for so long that the truth felt horrifying and more than that, totally unattainable. Thus the mere idea of getting real about everything when I got sober sounded insane. And it felt like one I could probably bullshit my way through. Honesty, schmonesty. There just had to be a way to skate through that part of being sober.

After all, I thought I already was honest. I had no problem telling you what was wrong with you, how fucked up your life was and what you needed to do to change it. Too bad in order to stop killing myself I had to be honest about myself. Well, fuck. That I was horrible at. I mean really bad. I tried to nap car accidents away. I tried to drink angry landlords into oblivion. I tried to snort so much cocaine that bad relationships would vanish. All to no avail. So here I was, me, the guy who thought I told it like it is, I had to tell on myself, I had to stop lying and I had to do it all of the time, darling.

Honesty, thank freaking glitter unicorn goddess in the sky, is a practice. I didn’t get all super fucking honest all at once. It has taken time. A lot of time. And just as I think I’ve embraced all the gnarly parts of my past and of my personality, more crap will show up in a flaming bag on the doorstep of my mind. Terrific. On good days, I face these things and rely on new ways of thinking. On bad days, I blurt out lies knowing I’ll have to clean it up eventually. Such is life. C’est lie vie, as it were.

So if I’m honest, if I’m telling it like it is, if I’m being real right in this moment, what would that look like? I guess I would say I spent much of this summer feeling disillusioned and very sad but now I actually feel better. I guess I would say that after nearly six years, I am very much still in love with my husband despite misplacing my wedding ring during a homemade salsa making session. I’d also say that some days I wake up thinking everything is really fucked, only to be inevitably proven wrong by some kind person or miracle of nature. I would tell you too that the juggling of the ongoing care of two diseases that could kill me wears me the fuck out and I still slip into a fantasy where I don’t have these things. I would also say that I have a lot of thoughts that are toxic but I have just as many resources to help me combat them. But mainly I would say despite daily bouts of “why the fuck did I lie about that” I know that I am more honest than I used to be. I wake up without panic and without being suffocated by lies and insanity and this is something special. My life is real, messy and,for the most part, fantasy-free and I wouldn’t have it any other way, to be honest.

 

Listen to Sloshed Cinema Season 1 Now!

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Once upon a time,  a gay man obsessed with films and sobriety living in a marijuana filled forest reached out to a podcasting wizard. This wizard, wizard in like a magic kind of way not like a KKK kind of way, specialized in creating stimulating conversations about recovery and hence Sloshed Cinema was born! 

I mean. That’s basically what happened. We (we being me and Chris of the Since Right Now Network) thought wouldn’t it be fun/entertaining/provocative to talk about movies that talk about drinking? I’d pick a different movie every week and for 30 minutes, I’d ramble on about the film and how it relates to recovery and all the while I’d really be talking about myself. 10 episodes later, this show that was an idea, is now a reality. And now you can listen to our entire first season! In it I talk about new films like Burnt with Bradley Cooper and I Smile Back With Sarah Silverman, classic films like The Days of Wine and Roses and really campy films like Less Than Zero as well as the latest news and views from the corner of pop culture and recovery.

Listen to our first season here or here!

And Sloshed Cinema will be back in July with all new episodes.

I’m talking

hello

“Talks too much.”

That’s what they always said. They, ubiquitous they. They who fill out report cards. They who guide boring class field trips. They who lead tedious classroom discussions. They who never understood the true value and genius of my side conversations. They had no sense of humor. They were only interested in policing creativity. Truth? They were probably underpaid and exhausted by smartasses like myself who knew it all and had to comment on every. fucking. thing. “Not everything needs an editorial, you know,” an old friend once told me. While this friend and even “they” were probably right, I just couldn’t help myself. I still can’t. talking too much in the digital age, as luck would have it, is a good thing. As a blogger, a podcaster and a tweeter, I am now offered endless opportunities to never shut the hell up. I write plays and my favorite part has always been long stretches of ambling dialogue. I wrote a show once and someone who read it told me, “Wow. You really love people just standing around talking.” Guilty as charged. When I finished a new show last year, something didn’t click. Although, it was a monologue show (a wet dream for someone who likes to write shows where people just stand around and talk) there was something missing. that something? Me. seemingly overnight, I couldn’t fake wanting to write for other characters anymore.It started to ring hollow. It felt like I was pushing phony conversations I didn’t actually want to have. Turns out, the character that couldn’t wait to open his mouth was the character who wouldn’t shut up during class all those years ago. Turns out, I wanted to write for me.

That’s how we, you and I, got here. It’s me talking. My old beloved blog where I met so many people and learned so much kind of talked about my journey of being recovery and that was sort of it. And while I’m still in recovery and not some fucking crazy person who woke up and thought they could drink like a gentlemen, I want to talk about other stuff too. Life has given me opportunity to write about pop culture so I’ll talk about that since it’s an obsession and something I love yammering about. And I’m gay so I’ll talk about that because that still seems like something people get all fucked up about. And of course I’ll talk about being sober and the other assorted mental health delights I get to have. The images here are all mine or manipulated and changed by me so they become mine. I’m learning to talk with pictures too so maybe my next monologue show will be standing around showing you pictures. I know. You’ve already bought your ticket. So if you’d like to use any of them, reach out to me. I’m no professional photographer and just another tool with an iPhone who likes taking pictures of his french fries. Translation: I’d be thrilled if you wanted to use them and will probably be very easy/accommodating. I guess I should also mention that in true monologue style I’m not really going to get my grammar panties in a wad and edit 4 billion times. I want to talk and have a brain vomit, sort of stream of consciousness ramble. Like Jack Kerouac crossed with a drunk Care Bear. Or something. So yeah. I’m talking.

(thanks for listening)