burritos & broken hearts

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The burrito in question

It wasn’t the end of the world. Because if it was the end of the world they’re wouldn’t have been burritos. See, Mexican food is at the very epicenter of my emotional core thus if it should suddenly somehow not exist, I will know that we as a society are really screwed. A disturbance in the force looks a lot like a lack of tortillas and hot sauce. So it wasn’t the end of the world yesterday because I gobbled down a burrito at lunch. It was just a broken heart.

Go ahead and mock the humble burrito but if you’re some white person who thinks that just random crap in a tortilla constitutes a great burrito then keep that shit to yourself. Seriously. There’s an actual art form when it comes to burritos. A great burrito is all about ratios (not too much rice, not too little salsa) and amazing condiments (homemade guac and hot sauce only). It’s a delicate balance that begins and ends with a good tortilla and well-made ingredients. Don’t get too fussy and in the same note, don’t half ass it, either. Trust me. I’m not some pinche gringo who pretends to know everything about Mexican food. My affinity for the cuisine started at childhood and carried on through adulthood as I waited tables ta not one but three Mexican restaurants. Also, being an Angeleno for 15 years meant that Mexican food became my religion and people were judged on what taco trucks they were loyal to. I had a mental map of that town based on what Mexican places were where. I even dragged my husband to the Mission district in San Francisco to try what was dubbed the country’s best burrito (totally worth it, by the way). So when it comes to a great burrito, I know what the hell I’m talking about. And yesterday’s offering, while a decent Portland college try at a Mission style burrito with its charred chicken and toasted tortilla, couldn’t erase what was happening inside of me.

Getting sober sometimes means letting things go in order to get better. For me in 2009 that meant letting go of my dog Jake and cat Phoebe. I could barely feed myself and was just trying to get through the day without being loaded. It was a heart wrenching decision but I had no other choice. Jake passed a few years ago loved and taken care of by my ex while Phoebe has lived for the past 8 years with my friend Regina. I got a Facebook message yesterday from her and she told me that Phoebe was being put down. At 17 years old, the girl had a good run and I am eternally grateful that she wound up being cared for.

Nevertheless, the news for some reason knocked the wind out of me. Feelings of loss and sadness bubbled up inside me. My body temperature raised and I felt like I was going to burst into tears. As usual, I’m unable to deal with any genuine emotion unless I turn it into a social media event so I tweeted about it. Yeah, there isn’t anything more 2017 tragic than tweeting and crying. “Tweetin’ and Cryin'”, my new country single. Still, it sort of helped and forced me to go for a walk. I went and had a cappuccino and some chocolate biscotti. But much to my dismay they weren’t prepared by a wizard and therefore couldn’t make all of my sadness go away. As I sat in the cute faux Euro cafe flipping through some shitty free newspaper, I started crying again. “Tears in My Cappuccino”, the b-side. My heart was really hurting and I knew exactly why: even though I’ve been sober for 8 years and even though my life has changed for the better in every way possible, sometimes the past just fucking hurts. And sometimes my heart hurts too. Not just for those two poor sweet animals, either. I was also devastated for me. Poor Sean, who was so mangled by addiction and alcoholism, who had to make that kind of choice. I texted my husband and cried more until I realized I better get out of this cafe before some concerned Portlander asked if I was okay.

After more walking, I wound up back at home. I didn’t feel better but at least I was tired. As if he knew how shitty I felt, Larry came and laid down on my chest. Larry, for the uninitiated, is my rascally black cat and, despite his name, not our building maintenance guy. The miracle of this moment wasn’t lost on me but the pain didn’t vanish either. As I tried to turn the heartbreak off with some Netflix therapy, I finished off the rest of my burrito. A few hours in the fridge did it some good and made it saucier. However, it was still only a 7.5 on the Mahoney burrtio scale at best. To fair, however, the kind of relief I wanted didn’t exist inside of a tortilla or cappuccino cup.  I sat in my bed and watched whatever the hell I was watching until my eyes got heavy. I went to bed knowing that I’d feel better today and I was right.

All of this is to say, it wasn’t the end of the world. There’s more burritos and more heartaches to come. But there’s more miracles to come too. In the end, I’m lucky to experience all of it even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. So for now, pass the hot sauce.

 

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emergency, in bloom

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I woke up yesterday with a really strong feeling that I had to get going. I needed to leave. I wanted to get out. While I’m not currently punching a time clock and not really expected to show up anywhere (other than by the food dish to fill the bellies of my feline monsters), yesterday I just needed to go. A couple of weeks ago, I spied some cherry blossom trees in bloom down by the waterfront and for some reason, I really wanted to check them out. You know you’re reaching a certain age when a seasonal floral event is a “rouse you out of bed” sort of thing. Whether it was my age or an itch to see something springtime-ish, I just knew I had to GTFO. So drizzle be damned, I hightailed it over to the waterfront park.

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Yet when I got there it looked as if the poor trees had been crying pink tears. The path beneath them was dotted with petals. These lush blush-colored beauties were now mostly spring green and didn’t exactly offer up an apology for not living up to my geriatric, floral fantasy. Might as well walk the “floating bike path” was my thought. Okay. I didn’t know that it was even called a floating bike path until the bearded guy with a ponytail  told his bike tour group that’s what it was called. He also said it was the largest floating bike path in North America. So there you go. Armed with that little nugget of trivia, I marched forward. After coming from the driest winter in Colorado in quite some time, I’m still in love with the romance of walking in the rain. It’s still lovely and cinematic. Check in with me next year and I’ll let you know I how I feel but for now I’m happy to slosh around town in my boots.

While the natural beauty was sleepier than I had expected, I wasn’t bored visually. Portland has this rad mix of super industrial steel and old bridges mixed with flowering trees and leaves so green they look like Kermit decorated the joint. It’s man-made meets nature and they oddly seem to get along and even look fantastic together. Like the section of the path that runs parallel with the train tracks. As I walked it yesterday, a train was rumbling by while the water on the other side of me stayed calm and unimpressed. Standing there snapping photos, my body rocked back and forth. Soon, whatever I was thinking about was drowned out by the sound of train. It was exhilarating and meditative at the same time, if that makes any sense. Either way, I ‘m pretty sure some old cherry blossoms couldn’t pull that off.

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Splashes of street art were guideposts as I continued walking. Locks placed on the fences, Sharpie written declarations of love and perfectly placed illustrations all blended in as if they were meant to live there too.

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Walking, as I’ve mentioned before, is sort of my magic potion. I haven’t been feeling depressed lately but maybe a little lonely since the hubby’s not around for me to annoy. Also, the sluggishness of relocating has certainly taken its toll too. So moments like this one, doing something I love and doing it alone, that need to be hung on and slipped into my pocket. A very satisfied looking goose just hanging out on a log by himself, whom I bumped into a little further down the path, seemed to confirm this.

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An hour into my journey, I’d forgotten what had brought me there in the first place. I was calm and happily exhausted/hungry. I decided to call it and head back home. On my way past a firehouse nearby the waterfront, there it was: the reason, the emergency that made me leave my warm, toasty house.

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Fragrant and a candy color of pink I want my whole life to look like, there was a row of flowering trees with no one around. This private natural art show was on view in an unexpected place and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I sniffed them and took a ridiculous amount of photos as the nonplussed firemen on their way into the station gave me a smirk and a “What Up, bro” head nod.  This little blooming surprise was the emergency I woke up for.  I just didn’t know it at the time.

Several hours later, the news of the US bombing Syria hit. While not unexpected, it certainly falls under the holy fuck category of things. Violent, depressing and sure to open a can of worms, this was a real emergency. The thought of the civilians taken out by such an action churns my stomach. It’s the kind of news that made me head to bed early and watch stupid Food Network Shows until I passed out.

In a post-news, pre-coffee haze, the thought hit me this morning, maybe things like enjoying nature, hanging out with friends, reading, laughing and walking are vital in times like ours. My time here on this little rock is limited and I want to squeeze in as much amazing as possible. Sure, to look the other way and pretend everything is just fabulous isn’t a cool way to live your life. Acting oblivious to the world around me has never, ever done me any favors. But I also refuse to spend my days huddled in fear and feel victimized by every piece of terrible news. My only option? To take all of it seriously, to help people when I can, to laugh when I can and to get out and enjoy beauty. Especially when it feels like an emergency.

Handle With Care

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It’s a recipe. That’s the only way I can describe it. I’m sure that has something to do with the fact that I’m ravenously hungry every single time I sit down to write but it’s the only metaphor I have in my writerly rolodex right now. The ‘it’ I’m talking about is self-care, in case you were wondering. Those two words were a head scratcher back when I was on my tequila soaked kamikaze mission. The closest I ever got to self-care back then was going 24 hours without lying or avoiding a blackout for an entire week. So now that I’m this sober adult and shit, I still regularly tinker with this recipe on doing actions that help this love cruise of mental wellness stay afloat.

Last Thursday, I figured I better scramble to get some sort of self-care recipe in action. For starters, I logged off Facebook and Twitter and I avoided news headlines. Listen, everybody everywhere was talking about this world event happening, one that I find horribly depressing, and I honestly didn’t want to engage. Besides, what could I possibly add to a conversation with so many voices? I detest redundancy and more than that I hate being beat to the punch when making jokes about current events therefore I passed on reading and commenting. Intuitively something told me that hanging onto my serenity was more important than obsessively reading and wringing my hands over this train wreck in slow motion. It turned out to be a good move but it wasn’t easy and had a lot of steps like making a paella and macarons at the same time. Mmm macarons.

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In addition to not reading the headlines or being on social media, I had to take it one step further, I turned off my phone on Friday. FOR THE ENTIRE DAY! This deserves all-caps and an exclamation point because I’m undoubtedly my smartphone’s bitch and I know this. Hi. I am an addict so of course I cradle and obsess over the damn thing like I’m Gollum with a piece of shiny jewelry. I always laugh when people in recovery come to meetings only to spend the whole time playing on their phone. Boo, you are in the right place, you freaking iPhone junkie. So that was difficult but not impossible. I knew if I didn’t want to know anything, I’d have to cut off my pocket-sized link to the outside world. Next, I brought a book to work. Sounds simple but replacing the fondling of my phone with something more tangible was key in order to keep my mind off of that stuff that was happening. Books have always been my touchstone to my higher self so reading turned out to be a godsend.

The day was chill and clipped along at a normal pace. I engaged with a few visitors who were there just to see something beautiful and get their mind off of things. One in particular was so kind and clearly upset that our conversation made me teary. Like run to the bathroom just in case I totally lost it teary. Moments of tenderness aside, I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there and go home. But before I went home, I stopped at the bookstore. As I’ve mentioned before, libraries and bookstores have always been sacred places to me where I can manage to center myself. After about 20 minutes of perusing the fiction section and picking out a few titles, I wasn’t okay. I got sweaty and hot and felt like I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t  panic attack but I needed to go ASAP. I realized in that moment of feeling like crap in the bookstore that despite all of my wrapping myself in bubble wrap, something was still broken. I was fucking depressed and devastated.

I walked home with my books (along with some burritos for dinner) like a zombie. No sacred place, no amount of precaution could disguise the fact that I currently felt like I didn’t belong in the country where I was born. The country, that I believed when they told us in Catholic school we should be proud to live in, now wanted totally different things than I did and that really fucked with me. Which is fine. I’m one of those prone to butt-kicking depression types so to think that I wouldn’t occasionally get my ass handed to me by emotions would be like thinking that McDonald’s will just one day decide to stop making Big Macs. Ain’t gonna happen. For what it’s worth, I don’t think “getting over it” is the answer. I think that sort of “don’t deal with it” thinking is the reason we’re all hooked on drugs and drinking our faces off. I no longer shoot to get over things. I shoot to move through things, regardless of how long it takes or how much it hurts.

Nevertheless, I got home, had dinner with my husband, watched an episode of Top Chef and was actually in bed by 8:30pm. I’d had it. The final step in the recipe was, “if all else fails, go to bed” so that’s what I did. By Saturday, I’d glanced at a few headlines and was shown a picture of White House staffer in a nutcracker uniform but otherwise I was still off the grid. We saw a play, had dinner with friends and generally moved to a more light-hearted place. There was a lot of laughing going on which helps me immensely. Undoubtedly, the winner of the weekend was prayer and meditation. I’ve been gently directed to do more of those things lately and have been sort of practicing a half-assed spirituality for months. I only turn to these things when I’m in bad shape so suffice to say, I was praying and meditating like it was going out of style. On Sunday, I started peaking my head out again. Tweeting, processing events with coworkers, texting program friends, more laughing. I read a little more news and spent more time on Facebook, two terrible ideas. I quickly moved back into self-care and had a great dinner with my husband followed by another early bedtime.

I share all of these boring-ass details of my weekend because that’s what the recipe looked like. Handling myself with care took a lot of steps and to my surprise I still felt shitty. As I started to get down myself yesterday for still being a raw, emotional wreck, a little light came on. I didn’t drink all weekend nor did I use drugs and I also didn’t hurt myself or others. So in my mind the recipe was a success. Sure, I would like to feel magically fabulous with all of my hurt gone but staying sober and relatively sane was good enough. Hell it was a miracle. I recently talked to a sober homie of mine and we both agreed that drinking right now and being “out there” right now would be a nightmare.

As far as me and this country goes, it’s one day at time like everything else. It’s acceptance, like everything else. It’s love and tolerance, like everything else. And it’s also plane tickets. Late Friday night, my husband purchased our flights for a long-brewing trip to Europe. Because when the going gets tough, the tough make a recipe for self-care and the tough also get going to Paris.

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83

83. 83 days. 83 freaking days! That’s all have we left. In 84 days, we will be crying or celebrating or at least shutting the fuck up about who is the president of the United States. Insert every happy dance/whew/hallelujah gif ever. It’s been a long and arduous pain in the ass. Yet it’s also been incredibly revealing. The friends of mine with a sense of humor and an ability to keep their head up have floated to the top. The ones who need to yell or think there’s a global conspiracy about everything? It’s been a tough year for them, to say the least. Bless (and unfollow) their crazy ass hearts.Nevertheless, here we are just 83 days away. Just 83 days left of this nonsense and we can all go back to talking about ourselves. It may seem like a long time away but for those of us who have gotten sober, we see a number like 83 days and we think, “I got this.”

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When you’re counting days in early recovery, it can be a long,long time. 30 days without drinking is a huge deal. 90? Even bigger. A year?!? Get the hell out of here. These milestones seem unachievable, mythical even. Yet if you’ve got the right support and you’re really ready, they can happen. So in later sobriety, I’ve been amazed what I can do for days in a row. I’ve quit meat for 6 months. I quit Facebook for 3. I quit smoking. Period. This structure I used to quit drinking and used to change my life has since been used to change all kinds of things. I recently decided when I launched this website that I would publish three times a week until the end of the year. I have tried to be divorced from the results, the page views, the comments and just write and publish 3 times a week. And this, my friends, is how we ended up here at my 32nd post. 32.jpg

Truth? I’ve had some stumbles along the way. I haven’t always wanted to write nor have I been crazy about everything I’ve published. There’s been pieces I really liked that no one has read and pieces I’m indifferent about that people respond to. Such is life. But the point is a little 60 days later, I’ve kept going. I’ve kept a promise to myself. So woo hoo for that.

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And while we’re throwing glitter and celebrating days passing, why not dive into the Seanologues Greatest Hits? Sure 32 posts might seem a little premature to put out a greatest hits but I disagree. I mean. If Stacey Q can have a greatest hits than gosh darn it I can too!

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So here are some of your favorites and some of mine too:

1.) I Won’t Ruin Your Barbecue: This was hands down the most read and most reposted. Thank you so much for that. I’m glad my exploits as the world’s worst drunken barbecue disaster resonated with so many people.

2.)Your Permission Slip: Well, holy shit. Just thinking about this post puts a lump in my throat. I’m just glad people read it and it struck a chord with them. I wrote it after being devastated and sad after Orlando. And I wrote it for myself. So that fact that you responded to it is overwhelming.

3.)Angry Anymore: Gosh. I loved writing this, even if it dealt with a less than savory part of myself. Turns out lots of you hate the angry bastard lurking inside too and you left some amazing comments.

4.) I Walk Alone: Walking is kind of the closest thing I have to a regular spiritual practice and writing about it felt good.

5.) Hey Ninety: Ditto writing about the amazing older people in my life. Plus, a Steely Dan song!

6.) I See You On The Street & You Walk On By: My very first Redditted work which is so millenial for a post about a 30 year old Madonna album. Nevertheless, I’m glad people read it as it was one that I worked on for a while and was very close to my Material Girl loving heart.

7.) the bullshit of busy: Another one I wrote to call myself out for bad behavior that readers gave me a big, “Amen, sistah” to. Writing this, as a matter of fact, has helped me change “busy” as my go to answer so thank you for that.

8.) Long Train Running (or not): Sometimes, I like to write to capture a moment in my life so I won’t forget it. This post about a train trip with the husband did that and bonus–you guys liked it and read it.

9.) Flight or Fight (or Write): This post makes the Greatest Hits for two reasons- 1.) I really enjoy writing about writing and 2.) people who I respect who also write got something out of it too. Win!

10.) new victors: Well every greatest hits has that new song on the end that maybe you’re not crazy about but maybe you’ll grow to love.  Enter “new victors.” I published it yesterday and it came from a scattered place but it felt oddly cathartic writing it so there ya go.

Yet, in the end, navel gazing at the past or freaking out about the future don’t really matter. All we have is one day: right now. In this the glorious right now, I just want to tell you thank you for reading, for helping me as a writer, for making me laugh my face off and for being the greatest.

 

I walk alone

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this morning on Detroit Street.

This is how it starts. It starts on a tree-lined street in my childhood neighborhood that is now my middle age neighborhood. It starts here. It starts with me. And I’m walking.

Before I go much further, I should take a minute to call bullshit on myself. I am the first person to roll eyes at exercise posts or nutrition posts or articles on how someone stopped being a prick for ten minutes and is now the light of the world. I think a lack of humility about basic, human and humane actions is part of our collective problem. We’re not horrible for 20 seconds and we expect a humanitarian award. Sigh. That being said I love walking. And, I will say this right here, I was wrong for making fun of people who post how great whatever exercise they love has saved their life. I think anything that makes us happy and doesn’t hurt other people is solid gold. So I’m a judgmental jerk and I’m sorry. I’ve never really loved driving and proudly say that I am a non-car owner and have been for awhile. I try to centralize my life so I can walk everywhere. Yes, it’s good for the environment. Sure, it’s good for my body. But mainly I walk because it helps my head.

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a local karate school mural entitled “Fight Together!”

Walking the crazy off is a vital component in helping me be a less horrible human. A couple of years ago, I slipped into a pretty dark depression. I talked to my doctor at the time and I told her I was open to medication but I’d like to explore other options first. I already take an Elvis sized handful of meds just to keep my body running so I didn’t want to add another pill. Now, do not take this as an anti-psych meds stance. The opposite, actually. If you have a chemical imbalance that cannot be fixed any other way, for the love of God man, take your effing meds. Seriously, humanity will thank you for it. My depression, however, is a bump in the road of my larger mental health picture. And oh what a picture it is. What I’m getting at here is my depression has never gotten bad enough that I felt like meds needed to be part of the story. Until that summer. She, my doctor, then asked me a bunch of questions. What’s happening in my personal life? How’s my family? Which of my routines have changed? Insert giant lightbulb emoji here or a picture of a gate in my alley I took, whatever works.

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an early morning shot of a gate in my alley that I’m in love with for some reason

I realized in that moment that what had changed is my walking routine. Whereas I used to walk 40 minutes to and from work I was now only walking about 6 minutes. She recommended that I up my walking and start journalling about my depression(don’t expect that one on the Amazon editors pick anytime soon, by the way)and get back to her. If nothing changed we’d talk about medication. Flash forward 40 days, things had changed. I was walking more and feeling better. Again, let me stress, this is what worked for me and I wouldn’t tell you to do the same unless somebody who actually went to school for this type of shit suggests you try it. I’m just some idiot with a computer and a giant cup of coffee. So don’t listen to me. How about these smart people? Or this study? Or how about this?

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Really, the point of this whole spiel is not to convince you to Go Take a Walk America! Or some crap. It’s to tell you that me, this guy Sean with the big cup of coffee and the sarcastic attitude, feels better after he walks around his neighborhood. I don’t wear special walking clothes for godsakes. Nor do I belong to a walking group. Jesus. Anyway, it’s not just the health thing either. It’s also because as a writer I get to see so much more when I walk. Like the creepy pink baby heads above. Or this clever piece of vandalism:

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push it real good.

Or people yelling at their kids or dogs. Or old people holding hands. Or flyers for weird shit I’m never going to but want to read anyway. I get to see my life up close when I walk and I get to confirm that it’s all pretty amazing.

Even bah humbug exercise me has a fitness app on his phone. On good days, I do over 10,000 steps. Over the last few days, it’s been closer to 25,000. This isn’t mentioned for applause or a special walking ribbon. Clearly, these numbers confirm that I’ve needed the extra help lately. I have been pretty honest about my dismay over the human race as of late and I’m walking that off too. Sure, I’m still me when I get home and the world still needs a brain transplant but I can be human and normal and in gratitude after a walk. Therefore, this how the story ends: I’ll keep walking. Maybe I’ll even bump into you. I’ll be the guy by himself in jeans and a t-shirt taking pictures of weird shit or saying hi to random dogs.