What’s So Funny ‘Bout Sobriety?


“You use humor to hide your pain”

– a person with no sense of humor

I should take things more seriously. Things like bills and responsibilities. And….? Um. And relationships? To some degree, I suppose but if I don’t have a sense of humor when dealing with people, I’ll end up in a sanitarium. I’d say world events and news but please see the previous note about the funny farm. I certainly take my sobriety seriously yet there’s quite a bit of laughing going on in the rooms of recovery, especially for a group of people who were all slowly trying to murder themselves. 

Cute Pandas Playing On The Slide

I’ve always been a smartass and fast with a one liner so when I first heard people share in meetings about serious shit but with a sense of humor, I exhaled. This I could do. Sure, there was some crying going on in meetings but there was a lot of laughing too. This was fantastic because I desperately need a laugh back then. A few paramount meetings in the early days filled with funny, raunchy tales and uproarious laughter let me know it was okay to talk however I wanted to as long as it was the truth. After all, pain and laughter have long gone hand in hand in my own life.


The clown, weirdo, diversion creator of the family was a role I was born into and one I played well into my thirties. Being funny was a way, as the person with no sense of humor said, to mask my pain. But in recovery it was different. There was a little of that going on for sure but in order to stay sober it couldn’t just be one-liners. I also had to share about the truth. Well, once my sense of humor met my new friend honesty, it was on. I verbally vomited whenever I could, sometimes met with laughter, sometimes met with tears.  What was happening is I was getting better and not letting things live inside my head. Soon what people thought of what I said didn’t fucking matter. It was my truth and that by itself was a revelation. The truth that I was an alcoholic, that being honest was the only way I could stay sober and that I could still have a sense of humor smacked me upside the head.


Now, for the most part, humor and truth go hand in hand. But if there’s pain in there too than so be it. After all, using humor to talk about pain and humor to mask pain are two different things. I found being funny sometimes opens doors for me to talk about more serious shit. If I can’t laugh at really messed up parts of my life, than I am beyond screwed. Turns out, other people sometimes like laughing at it too. I’ve even been asked to speak at meetings specifically because I’m “funny”. I guess this should irk me that I’m not being asked based on my wisdom or brilliant insights but I’m an attention whore so it doesn’t bother me. Plus if I can in any way return the favor of laughter so freely given to me in my early days, I’ll gladly do so.827937719-1

And finally getting around to the title question, what’s so funny about sobriety? Nothing and everything. Life in and of itself is absurd and ridiculous. This includes getting sober. I can laugh at it and be in on the joke or I can feel like its out to get me and be miserable. I’ll take door number one, Monty. This is all on my mind today I guess because I’m celebrating 7 years (in a row!!) of sobriety. None of these years have been a walk in the park but I can guarantee you they would have been worse had I not been able to laugh. So thank you for making me laugh, for listening, for making me lighten the hell up and for being there.



A Post 4 Years in the Making

Today is really special and important and I hope you got me a gift. As of today, I’ve been blogging here at WordPress (with sporadic regularity) for four years! Woo-hoo! Let’s dance!


Okay. Maybe it’s not that important but I’ll still take the gift. Blogging, for me, has been an amazing tool to journal my ongoing recovery, to get things off my mind and onto a page and a testing ground for other things I’m writing or working on. When I started blogging, I didn’t really know where it would go. As an obedient alcoholic, I did it all one post at time. At nearly 3 years of sobriety, my main goal was hanging onto what I had and this blog helped me do that. Through blogging, I met other people like me, some of which I even met in person and I was routinely greeted with a chorus “You Are Not Alone” in the comments section. This affirmation and the support of other bloggers helped me finish two full length plays, publish a short story and grow as a writer and human being. Thank you for that.


Now, at almost 7 years my life, my writing and my recovery have changed. It’s gotten bigger and honestly, better. They told me when I was first getting sober that this would happen and they were right. I’ve got a few writing projects burning a hole in my brain for 2015 and I don’t know how much blogging I’ll do. But I hope to hang onto it and use it as an outlet to reach out to other peeps in recovery, to develop new ideas and to help ease my crazy brain– one post at a time.


To celebrate four years at WordPress, here’s 4 of my favorite posts in no particular order. Thank you for giving a crap and Happy Holidays!

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time: Death defying acts! A good Jennifer Lopez Joke! Acid Wash! This post has it all.

Fear Itself: This post from earlier in the month was an exhale of the fear I was walking around with as well as my reflection on the times we’re living in. It was therapeutic to write so again, thank you.

That One Time At That One Meeting: My love letter to the program that saved my life and all the beautiful weirdos you meet there.

Am I Blue: This post from September 2014 makes this list because it was the first time I wrote about my ongoing relationship with depression and doing so was really helpful. Turns out, other people read it and identified too which is really fucking cool.



Owning the Label: Why I identify as an alcoholic

Last night, I stumbled on an article by a sober blogger who doesn’t believe in the term “alcoholic”. Hmm. Tell me more. I kept reading.  Turns out, they think the term keeps people stuck in a story, that most alcoholics are actually just heavy drinkers and that the term creates fear. That was the gist of the piece. I won’t link it here because the author has enough publicity without my help but if you Google it, it’s easy to find. It’s an interesting argument and I could see where they were coming from. Maybe the term does get people stuck in a behavior. Maybe the term is out of date. Maybe calling yourself an addict or alcoholic would be a self-fulfilling prophecy for relapse. I thought about all of this as I tried to fall asleep. It made me wonder: I’ve been sober for nearly 7 years and after all this time, am I still an alcoholic?


The resounding answer I came up with at the crack of dawn this morning was, “Fuck. Yes.” No, I don’t want to drink anymore. And no, I don’t arbitrarily go up to people and introduce myself as an alcoholic. “Hey! Nice to meet you. I’m an alcoholic!” Nor do I list “alcoholic” on my resume or social media profiles. But in a meeting? I’m Sean and I’m an alcoholic. And if a friend or a friend of a friend asks about my drinking, I’ll tell them I’m an alcoholic. Why? Mainly because at this stage of my sobriety, it isn’t about me anymore. It’s about helping other people. Look, we’re in seriously fucked up times when it comes to addicts and alcoholics. People are dying at alarming rates all over the US. The recent numbers are jaw-dropping. Alcohol related deaths topped out around 88,000 last year and it looks like it’ll be even higher for 2015. We’re at an epidemic state with drugs and alcohol so arguing the semantics of terms (like I’m sort of doing here) is fucking ridiculous. As is criticizing recovery programs. We’re officially at a “whatever keeps people alive and sober is a GOOD thing” state of emergency. We can’t afford the luxury of denying people help based on what they call themselves or what they believe. We have to do whatever we can. So If somebody somewhere knows that I’m an alcoholic and that helps them get help, then terrific.

The other thing is identifying as an alcoholic does is it keeps me grounded. When those words come out of my mouth, it’s like an exhale. Each time I say it, I’m living in the truth. As an alcoholic, I lie to myself. Like a lot. And like all of the time. So saying, “My name is Sean and I’m an alcoholic” helps me combat my lifelong penchant for living in denial and delusion. Likewise owning that I’m gay, HIV positive, the child of an alcoholic and a person who suffers from depression. These are all parts of who I am and I gotta say I’m proud of it. All of it. I’ve worked hard on overcoming a lot of shit (and still have even more stuff to work on) so hell yeah I own being a drunk and all of the other labels attached to me.

Lastly, introducing myself as alcoholic reminds that I still need help too. That I don’t have this shit figured out. That I’m not some expert in sobriety who can fix the drinking problems of others (thank fucking God). Basically, it opens the door for some sort of humility to creep in. Those words tell me I’m not better than or more sober or more amazing than any other alcoholic or addict and I need that. So yeah, I’m Sean and I’m an alcoholic.

But tell what you think. Do you identify as alcoholic? Did you ever? Why or why not? There’s no wrong answers here, kids and I’m fascinated by this discussion. Let me have it in the comments section!

baby, it’s crazy inside

According to my phone, it’s a balmy 16 degrees outside but it feels like 10 degrees which actually feels like, “Someone please stab me with an icicle because it’s so !@#$ing cold!” (By the way, how does my phone know what it feels like? Don’t you tell me how to feel, iPhone!) I am an absolute wimp when it comes to this weather. I know, I know. It’s weather. I mean talk about the ultimate in accepting the things you cannot change. Me bitching about the temperature is proof I sometimes just like to have something to complain about. Ugh. Complaining. A character defect I’m working on.

Anyway, this weather is actually a blessing though. After 15 years of living in the “Forever 85” temperature of Los Angeles, a little freezing my face off is good. It builds character. Because, you know, that’s what I need. More character. Also, acknowledging seasons is healthy for a sober person like my bad self because it confirms I’m alive and participating in my existence. In LA while drinking and living in “kinda hot” to “holy-shit-I’m-melting” hot, every day was the same. Same tequila. Same cocaine. Same blackouts. Same fights. Same hangovers. Rinse and repeat. It was a gayer and more depressing version of Groundhog Day. My life was in reruns, enjoyable maybe the first 10 times but boring, tiresome and toxic after that. Like old episodes of Full House.


Today, I get to have new experiences and feel my whole life. But feeling all of my life today means feeling all of it. Crappy weather, depressing world events, grief, sadness, that-douche-with-bad-hair-running-for-President-whose-name-I-will-not-mutter-on-these-pages. I get to feel those things. But I also get to feel happiness too. After a recent bout of depression and general itchiness brought upon by my upcoming birthday, I was directed by my sponsor to pray and meditate more. If I’m honest, this task always sounds exhausting. Like I have to bust out a singing bowl, light 40 candles and sit for in perfect stillness for 2 hours. I mean isn’t there some app that can meditate for me so while I eat cookies and peruse Twitter?


Still, I took the advice and started praying and meditating everyday. (Look, I know the internet gets it’s panties in a bunch when you talk about spirituality but I sort of don’t care. I’m not on a mission to convert anyone and I myself have no religious affiliation. Nevertheless, if me talking about prayer bugs you, feel free to leave. Or go read a post inspired by Madonna. These are your choices.) This time around, I eased myself into this sit down with God thing. For the last several days, I’ve set the timer on my phone for ten minutes. In that time, I pray, I read something alcoholism related not Jack Kerouac but maybe like The Big Book and I sit in silence and meditate. Pretty easy. Okay. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes I walk away and feel refreshed and spiritually in tune. But sometimes it sort of sucks. Like I can’t get my brain to shut the hell up and I squirm around and wait for the mystical chimes on my phone to go off so I go drink coffee instead. And this okay too. I used to beat myself up when this happened in early sobriety. Like I was doing this meditation thing wrong and someone would find out and kick me out of recovery. What I’ve learned talking to other crazy people people in recovery that this normal.  It’s not always going to be some scene from a Shirley MacLaine book. And a lot of time it is going to be a bit of slog. The point is I need to keep going regardless of how sucky the last time I prayed/meditated was.


So far, I’ve felt results! And felt them pretty much right away. This is fantastic for my alcoholic self. I like fast results and I’d like them right now, thank you very much. The rattling I was feeling in my brain. The uncomfortable batshit craziness that screwed with my psyche. The overall I’m-gonna-cut-a-ho sensation I took with throughout the day? All gone. My crazy can be kept at bay if I do a few simple things. Prayer and meditation are part of that. Because of this tiny practice I feel actually happy and more relaxed. Not that stuff hasn’t come up because, trust me, it has but this practice helps me weather those things too. The moment I stop treating prayer and meditation like this impossible task, it gets easier. Just 10 minutes a day? I can do that. Twitter will still be there.


If you need me, call me

Note to self: always bring a choir and wear sequins. Always.

“Just pick up the phone. Just reach out.  Just call.” These are simple directions but when I’m a shit storm of self-pity and feeling like I’m the worst person on the planet, picking up the damn phone is impossible. Besides who’d wanna listen to my crap? No. I’ll just sit here in the corner and silently bleed to death. Don’t mind me.

This is what my brain tells me when I’m in pain. Over the years, I’ve gotten better about calling or texting or sending an SOS that says, “Hey I’m really out of my effing mind! Please help!” But as we’ve discussed a zillion times, my pain threshold is pretty high so it usually takes me being horribly miserable to finally reach out. Sponsors, siblings, my husband, friends of mine- all of them get frustrated at how long I can feel miserable and not say anything. Lately, however, I’ve seen how vital reaching out can be.

Last month, I was walking back from the bank and I thought,”I could have a margarita.” This thought morphed into, “I DESERVE a margarita! I mean it’s the middle of the day, who would know? Just one wouldn’t kill me. It sounds fun!” Thankfully, I quickly remembered that one margarita has never existed for me. It’s usually 6 more,  followed by blow,  followed by several beers and wanting to die. Yeah. That sounds really fun. Well, I knew that I’d have to tell on myself and tell somebody I was having these thoughts. Sitting alone with wanting a margarita, regardless of how passing the idea was, is something that I as an alcoholic can’t get away with. The urge to drink after almost 7 years? I gotta be honest– it scared the crap out of me. It wasn’t something I should keep to myself and yet I did! For a few days! Finally, I reached out to my sponsor who informed me that, “Congratulations! You’re still a drunk.” Getting the thought out of  my head and in front of another sober person took the terror out of the moment. Plus, we figured out I hadn’t had lunch and disastrous ideas always happen when I’m hungry. Now, I’m not saying I would have drunk had I not reached out but how long could I keep secrets or lie about my program until drinking or using sounded like a good idea? Not very long, as proven by past personal field research. Opening my mouth and picking up the million pound phone isn’t easy or even something I like to do. But I gotta do it if I want to stay sober.


Telling the world, “I’m fine. Actually, I’m great!’ just because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone with my pain is utter garbage. Not to mention the fact, it’s some of my oldest and most toxic behavior. Around this time of year in 2008, I’d talk to my family and sell them a load of how happy I was when all the while I was on the verge of eviction and alcoholic collapse. It was all “Merry Christmas!” when it should have been “Please help me.” Needless to say, the people in my life were surprised when I admitted right after New Years that I was fucked and needed help. This practice of asking for help and picking up the phone is just that. And I frequently fail at it. But eventually, I come around and I call someone. This is certainly progress for person who really enjoys bleeding in the corner.

If you hang out in the rooms of recovery, we see how terrible sitting on your pain can be. Over the last few years, I’ve witnessed a lot of lovely folks who don’t share in meetings or talk to people afterwards or even make their presence known simply disappear. Or relapse. Or die. It fucking sucks, mainly because it happens a lot. This isn’t a theory or something sober people say to scare each other. I’ve personally seen friends and people I love sit in meetings and smile, all the while they’re hurting inside. It’s happened a couple of times lately in my circle and it’s horrible. Horrible because seeing people you care about in pain sucks. Mainly, it’s horrible because it’s so unnecessary.

However, as they say, the phone works both ways. If I see someone in pain, I can get off my ass and call them too. Not like I’m so magically sober that I can keep other people sober. Thank God I don’t believe that. But reaching out–calling a new person or someone struggling- can’t hurt either. And it might just save my life too.




your heart is a radio

Wait. We need this before we can start talking.

Okay now that I’ve gotten Donna Summer out of my system(for now), I’m excited to share that my new play “Your Heart is a Radio” is getting ready for staged readings! It’s been a year in conception and writing so it feels good. Did I say excited? I meant terrified. After all, it’s not really theatre unless you’re scared shitless, right? The crazy thing about this show is how personal it got during the writing process. Like split open my insides, put lights around them and throw them inside-kind of personal. But before we go any further, I need to tell a Fleetwood Mac story.

On the morning of my 26th birthday in Los Angeles, I loaded up my beautiful but hyper dog and took him for a hike. It was one of those perfect beautiful LA days and my drinking felt like it was under control (ha ha ha) and my relationship hadn’t gotten terrible so that morning was pretty fantastic. On the way up the canyon, I listened to one of LA’s classic rock stations. Before playing the above song, the dj, one of those guys with a gravely voice and endless rock knowledge, told the heartbreaking story of how “Sara” by Fleetwood Mac was written. At the time,  Stevie Nicks claimed the song was about a friend she had loved and lost (It would later be revealed that Sara was about a baby she had with Don Henley and lost making the story even sadder.) The dj’s story was impactful to me for some reason as I parked the car. I then just sat there and listened to the song and felt incredibly moved.To this day I cannot hear that song and not think of that morning, that birthday, that moment.

Flash forward 16 years later, at age 42 my husband and I were having a conversation about writing and he said, “Music has such a profound impact on you. You should write a show about it.” He’s one of my most succinct collaborators and as a director he has an insight into theatre that I don’t. At the time, I thought, Hmm that could be interesting but didn’t know how or what I’d do exactly. This lead to thinking about the moments and the songs I’ll never forget, like “Sara” on my birthday or the time I was blaring Tom Petty and again with Stevie Nicks and got into a car accident with my sister

Or listening to the Promise by When In Rome on repeat and pining for a douchey, hipster goth guy.

Or dancing to “Thinking of You” high on ecstasy as the sun came up.

Turns out my life was filled with these moments and I suspected other people’s were too. Like Donna Summer, my life, my loves everything could be heard on the radio. So I took to Facebook and asked,”What’s that song the immediately takes you back to a place or memory?” Suffice it say, my suspicions were right. Over 100 people responded with touching, funny, bizarre stories.  It was then I knew I was onto something.This wasn’t about the best song or your favorite song it was about music impacting your life and your life happening while music was on. The responses were genuine and really inspiring. I started really writing the show, with the help of my writing group, in January. Piece by piece the show came together as s series of monologues that I starting calling Your Heat is a Radio, a monologue mixtape”. As my own memories of songs shaped the monologues, the show got really personal. And scary. Like I said at the beginning of this post, terrifying. Putting that much of your soul out there is freaking intense and I clutched onto the script and didn’t want to let it go. Until this week.

My plan was to have the show up in October. Pneumonia had other plans, however, forcing the show–and all writing into hibernation. Feeling better and ready to finally birth this darn thing, I got the courage and opened the document. Turned out, it was in excellent shape. (I mean aside from needing an ending and having whole portions rewritten or tossed out completely. Aah theatre.) I dove back in this week and it felt good. Of course I had the requisite, “Oh my God. This is horrible and it should never see the light of day” but that’s art for you. Being sober has taught me to not pay too much attention to the voices of fear. I can hear them and acknowledge they’re in the room wreaking havoc, give them the finger and keep going. My story, this story has merit and deserves a life so fear can suck it. I’m now planning on a staged reading in spring and submitting it to some festivals. The cool thing about theatre is once it gets in front of people it stops being about me. The audience gets their own relationship with it and takes it somewhere else. And I love that. At the end of the day, I’m proud of it and I’m proud of me and that’s fucking huge.



Weird but okay

I guess I should warn you, I have no premeditated game plan sitting down and writing this morning so if shit gets weird, I apologize. Or maybe I don’t. Maybe you like it weird. In which case, you’re welcome, you big weirdo. Sometimes I feel like I just need to write without some clever witty destination in mind and I guess this Tuesday morning is one of those times. Currently, I have nothing to bitch about and for normal non-addicts, this is a good thing. But for weirdos like me(yeah, I’m one too) it makes me kinda itchy. I know it sounds insane. My life is fantastic. I’m on the other end of scary health trauma. My family is good. I mean nuts but good nuts. Like cashews not like I don’t know, Brazil nuts. I’m employed. I’m feeling creatively inspired. So yeah the fountain of things to whine about has run dry. I should be dancing in the streets.

Growing up in an alcoholic home and being a dramatic hot mess drunk myself, I have a lingering other-shoe-is-going-drop anxiety that simmers on my emotional stove even now after years of recovery. Calamity was a warm cozy comforter that I cuddled up with for a few decades so shaking it off isn’t exactly easy. Fountains, stoves, comforters. Jesus. What? Did I write this at Bed Bath and Beyond? Mixed metaphors aside, the point is I lived in crazy for so long that I frequently forget that I don’t anymore. At a few weeks shy of 7 years (in a row!!) of sobriety, I still need a lot of help remembering that everything is actually alright. Waking up in panic was something I did for years drinking and a habit I probably picked up long before that. Rolling out of bed and feeling like I was already doomed was a horrible way to live. Even in my first 2 years of sobriety, I’d still find myself waking up like that. All the things that they yammer about like prayer, meditation and gratitude lists have helped enormously with my ingrained “Holy shit. Everything sucks” programming. But it hasn’t happened over night. Even just the other day, I found myself chanting, “You are okay. Everything is okay” after a moment of panic.


Thing is around this time of year, I am prone to moments of emotional PTSD. I bottomed out in the winter of 2009 and it was pretty darn gnarly. An eviction, a breakup and a bitch slap that my way of living was not fucking working was what I needed to get sober but I’d be lying if I said that don’t feel a little woozy every year when December rolls around. Total delusion and panic was my norm in those days. I specifically remember a meltdown in my bathroom just days before the shit hit the fan where my cocaine induced panic was so bad I felt like I was going to collapse. I am far enough away from this life that the memories can’t hurt me but they’re still powerful enough to rock my core. Which is probably a good thing. I mean if I ever start thinking, “It wasn’t so bad!” please come to my house and kick my ass. Because it was bad. It was bad enough to freak me out even 7 years later. And honestly, I’m grateful for that. The truth is I can weather emotional wooziness today, pray my way to my anniversary on January 2nd and wake up thankful that I’m no longer killing myself. Also, fuck if the other shoe drops. Let it and as long as I’m not making it drop, I’m okay. And you’re going to be okay too. Actually, you already are.


fear itself

When I hauled my pathetic butt into the halls of recovery, I heard everybody talking about fear. Like at every meeting. “I’m in a lot of fear about my job,” they said. “I had to let go of fear about my relationship,” they said. “I’m struggling with my fear inventory,”they’d complain. Honestly, I had no fucking idea what any of this had to do with stopping drinking but seeing I was kinda dying and out of options, I played along. Months later (and it did take months) when my cocaine and tequila fog started to clear, I heard what people were saying: Fear was a bad enough muthafucker that it could keep people in misery, it could ruin ambitions and it could keep people drinking.


Nearly seven years later, I really get it. Fear, that tricky bitch, still creeps up on me, paralyzes me, ruins plans and generally pisses me off. The trick today is seeing it when it’s happening AND taking action. The second part of that is important because I can be in fear and know it but not do anything about it because misery is a hot tub I like to soak in for hours. Like the rest of the folks on this planet with a soul, I could not make sense of the horrific events in San Bernardino last week. Senseless. Horrible. Fucking sad and redundant. But I kept the details at an arm’s length. Engaging in hours of 24-hour news torture porn was one of my old drinking activities and I choose not to do it today. I’m good with the headlines, praying for all involved and not getting obsessed. Besides, the other 65 billion voices on the internet screaming about Islam and gun control have it pretty much covered I think. Yet I did stumble on an article on my phone which not only discussed the events ad nauseam but talked about, you guessed it–fear.


Basically, the piece touched on the fact that while the mass shooting incidents themselves haven’t increased (depending on which report you read) our fear has skyrocketed. USA Today writes, a “Congressional Research Service report on mass public shootings found that 2012 was a particularly brutal year — seven mass public shootings, compared to an average of four per year — and suggested that the horrific year had a lasting impact on public opinion. ‘Several such mass murders in 2012, seven incidents by most counts, compounded a fear among many people that, ‘this could happen to me’,’ the authors of the report wrote.” Ah ha! Out of all the sadness, ignorance and talking heads of the last week, this little tidbit from that newspaper you only read on an airplane made sense to me. Fear. Making trouble again and putting the planet in a tailspin. The idea that yes these mass shootings are incredibly awful and fucked up but our fear that we might be next isn’t exactly helping matters was a revelation to me for some reason. Although it shouldn’t have been. After all, I’ve been listening to drunks and drug addicts for years talk about how fear has wrecked their lives.


The truth is, I am truly heartbroken over San Bernardino. And Paris. And Tulsa. And Waco. And Charleston. And Detroit. And Columbus. And Paris. Again. And Aurora. And Sandy Hook. Still. And me being in fear isn’t going to heal any of this. But maybe being compassionate to the average person on the street or trying to be of service or just not being a self-involved twat for an afternoon might help. It certainly can’t hurt and I’m willing to give it a try.


the skinny

I don’t think I believe in a God who over the course of a week made this whole world like a big Play-Doh playset. But if I did, it would tick me off that he went to all the trouble to create walking, talking thinking humans who all in some small way or the other hate their bodies. Whether it’s our noses, our asses or our feet everybody has some issue with the way they look. Mine recently has been my weight.



Given the reaction I got when I walked into a room after getting out of the hospital last month, I knew I was skinny. Like Calista Flockhart in the 90’s skinny. Like human Pez machine skinny. Like someone call Feed the Children skinny. My clothes were a lot baggier. My wedding ring looser. My ribs poking out like they were thinking about leaving to go fulfil their destiny at Chili’s. But I was sort of focused on not feeling like hell so being skinny wasn’t too much of a concern. Until other people started talking about it and asking me about it. Look, if I drive my narrative car over into the whiny lane during this post, I apologize. That’s not really my intention. The issue, my issue–on newsstands now!– is how weird people are about weight loss. Clearly it wasn’t a “Wow! You look great!” comment I was garnering. It was a “Oh my god, are you okay?” comment. Which is fine and appreciated. We’re nosy creatures so mainly the ballsy folks who asked about my weight wanted to know the why, how and what’s going on of my dramatic weight loss. How dramatic, you ask(you nosy thing you) ? I’m a skinny dude without my pal pneumonia so I didn’t have much to give to the weight contribution basket to begin with. So  me losing around 15-20 pounds was admittedly shocking to folks. Some random neighbors who don’t always say hi to me wondered if I was okay. Weird people I don’t really know at my day job asked me how much weight I had lost. Folks who I maybe don’t bond with usually in “The Rooms” suddenly were interested in why I looked the way I looked. It made me surprisingly self-conscious and made me long for the days when white people would be concerned but do the polite thing and talk about behind your back.


When they’d ask, I’d tell them an abridged version of my pneumonia battle, they’d say they were glad I was feeling better, I would thank them and take my emaciated ass out of the situation as fast as I could. It was awkward and I tried to be gracious but on days where I felt like shit answering questions about my weight really pissed me off. Like we don’t do that when people gain weight, right? As I struggled with sizes the other day at H&M, it hit me what a fucking drag body issues are. While trying to decide if was too fat for a small or too tiny for a medium, anxiety swept over me. Now, I am lucky that I’m not a person who’s struggled with anorexia or bulimia or body dysmorphia but in that moment I felt pretty shitty. It could have had a little something to do with the bad techno and my heavy coat which was making me hot. But I felt like I was too skinny, too old and too sick looking to buy the sweaters I wanted so why was I even bothering?  What happened there in the mall, however, was something bigger. I remembered I’m a human being who is not always going to love himself or how he looks, regardless of how many affirmations he’s got posted to his mirror. I grabbed two smalls without trying them on, had a nice conversation with the sweet supermodel behind the register and left.

When I got home, I took a deep breath and tried on my sweaters which fit fabulously. My temporary mall-induced fears of not being enough had passed. I have realized in the days since that the road to loving myself-fat, skinny or whatever– is a long one and handled one day at a time like everything else. And just for today, I’ll try to love myself with my giant head and tiny body and that’ll be enough. Because I’m enough.




Today I am 43 years old. And Billy Idol is 60. And Mark Twain would have been 180. And David Mamet is 68.And Clay Aiken is 37. And the point is people get older. Myself included. And big deal. Entering my “Fuck It Forties” meant the neurosis around birthdays– the planning, the freaking out, the taking people hostage and making them celebrate ME, ME, ME!!!!! for days on end– has vanished. Today, I’m happy with a cupcake, a movie and a day off. Like I said, fuck it.

Unlike Billy Idol, my life has been a far cry from a rebel yell as of late. Much of my October was spent recovering from pneumonia. If you haven’t had that glamourous condition, I wouldn’t reccomend it. If you gave your worst cold cancer and then pushed it down a flight of stairs, that’d be pneumonia. After feeling like I was dying in slow motion for weeks and then suddenly not being able to breathe, I was carted off to the hospital in the world’s most expensive taxi ($700 for 6 blocks but who’s counting?) and put up in the hospital for 4 days. 4 Days of bad hospital food. 4 days of Judge Judy. 4 days of interns with clipboards marching in smiling and asking me the same question the other interns who just left did. 4 days of poking, prodding and fluid taking. Since you’re sort of held captive in these situations, you play along. You sort of don’t have a choice. If getting sober has taught me anything it’s the more I fight it, the worse things get. Like a good patient, I leaned in. Eventually. Not that I had much leverage to act like a diva in this situation, mind you. My ego got leveled over and over in that hospital room. From repeatedly pissing myself to sharting the bed to having strangers stick things in all of my orifices, I pretty much tasted the rainbow of what could be considered humiliating expericenes. Thankfully, getting sober as also taught me to table my ego and just get help. These people with the clipboards have seen a jillion pissing, sharting souls and to them I’m just another one. So lying there in the hospital bed somewhere around day 2, I realized I didn’t have the information these nice folks did and couldn’t magically cure myself on my own. I let them do their job, trusted the process and low and behold I got better.

The other thing that happened is I turned it all over.(This where the post gets all spiritual and if that makes you wanna barf, quit reading.) But yeah in those moments feeling like death and scared out of my mind, I had to do something. Giving it all to something bigger than myself and praying my face off was the only thing I could think off. My discussions with my Higher Power were ongoing and ranging from, “Please help me” to “Thank you.”Kinda like when I first got sober. And without force feeding you a Hallelujah moment, I’ll just say it worked. It was my spirtual “Fuck it” and I’m glad I had it. I got the hell out of there and was actually grateful for the help I received.

Another humbling revelation was how I am still not that great at taking care of myself. Let me first say ,that most people who yammer on and on about how humbled they are are like the least humble people on the planet and maybe I’ve now joined their ranks. But after getting sick I realized that 20 years of treating my body like a toxic waste dump hasn’t exactly gone away. I still eat crap. I still hate exercise and I still resist medications, doctors, yoga, anything that might help me. And for once I wasn’t okay with this. For nearly 7 years clean, I’ve sort of had this attitude like I’m not doing drugs or drinking so i should do whatever I want. Aren’t entitled to that? But the reality is I’m also person also with HIV who needs to be good to their body if they wanna stick around on this planet. Pneumonia helped me finally receive this message. It was humbling to see that regardless of how sober I am or how much I think I have my shit together, I still need help. Like all of the time.

And so at a year older, what I know for sure is this: I don’t know. I don’t know how my life is going to turn out. I don’t know what’s best for other people. I don’t know how the universe works. I don’t know. And it’s beautiful place to be. Thanks for being there with me.