Don’t Give Up

What if I’ve been given lemons but I don’t want fucking lemonade? What if I can’t figure out how to ‘keep my head up’ while burying it under my pillows? And sure, ‘this too shall pass’ but can you give me an exact time for this much-talked about passing? These and other sunny, optimistic thoughts have been on my mind all week. See, your old pal Sean had his car breakdown in FuckIt Town a few days ago and the walk back to positivity has a been a long, painful one.

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First off, if I wanted to live a life where I never felt rejected, frustrated or discouraged maybe I should have bypassed the whole writer as my passion and chosen profession thing. So that inherently exists as part of my reality and most of the time it doesn’t rattle my cage. However, this week has been chockfull of “No thanks”, “We regret to inform you” “this doesn’t work for us at this time” on the professional front.What I naturally hear when these words are flung my way is, “You suck and you have no talent. ” Just keeping going and not retreating to my bed with a bucket of fried chicken and a season of some reality show has been a major accomplishment. Add to the feel-sorry-for-yourself stew a heaping tablespoon of unwanted 3rd party criticism, and we have a real recipe for a delicious pity party. It’s the discouraging words and haterade of others that really steams me. Mainly because those are the things I have no control of and  yet have total control over how I react to them. After a few days of this, I’ve limped toward Thursday and the crap storm actually got worse.

Luckily, a real storm happened too. Last night a legitimate blizzard finally dumped down on Denver and what a relief. White dudes in fuchsia thermal vests and cargo shorts walking around in 60 degree weather in February in Colorado is just fucking wrong. It’s a winter wonderland and going outside sucks. It’s kind of like Mother Nature was like, “Bitch, don’t go nowhere. Just relax and take care of yourself.” Yeah, Mother Nature talks to me like that. We have a complicated relationship. Anyway, I spent my morning praying, my afternoon brunching, took a Top Chef break, followed by a nap. Now at 351pm MST I am at last ready to write, work and handle some stuff. After a few days riding the punching bag express, do I currently feel shiny and ready to burst into a Julie Andrews number?

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No. But its passing. The word ‘discouraged’ seems to sum up what I’ve been feeling this week. So naturally, every meeting I’ve been to over the last couple of days has been about, wait for it, the courage to change! Courage is the opposite of discouraged so it makes sense that this is the message I need to hear. Sadly, I didn’t get to just get sober and never have to change anything else about me ever again. In fact, it seems like I have to be in constant change to not feel discouraged. Its been hard for me this week to give myself that pick yourself up by your booth straps talk and get back in the saddle. I am sure I’m pissing on cowboy metaphors there but you get the idea.

Most of the time, courage isn’t something I can get on my own. I have to rely on my friends, my family (regular and sober) and my higher power. So if you’re feeling like roadkill and you’ve been nibbling on the discouragement buffet recently, all I can tell you is I get it. And it won’t suck forever. Hang in there. Don’t give up and I promise to do the same.

TweetUp & TalkBack Event for ‘The Singing Room’ on April 19th!

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I don’t often to use these pages for whoring of personal projects but I have an event coming up that I wanted to let you guys know about and if you are in the Denver area, I’d love to have you attend! My new play The Singing Room opens at Spark Theater on April 12th and to celebrate I’m throwing a #TweetUpAndTalkBack on the following Friday April 19th! What the !@#$ is a #TweetUpAndTalkBack, you ask? It’s a chance for my friends to see my new show at a discounted rate (only $15 bucks!), eat some snacks and attend a post-show discussion with me and the cast of The Singing Room!

The Singing Room tells the story of April, a Spain-bound writer who’s picked karaoke as the activity of choice to celebrate her 25th birthday. Lots of drinking, lots of singing and lots of revelations soon take place. The Singing Room is about growing up, waking up and finding yourself even in the most ridiculous and dramatic of situations. Based on my own countless days spent in bars and some personal birthday disappointments from the past, The Singing Room is a play with real karaoke meaning that every show will be different, rowdy, sporadic and hopefully, hilarious. I’ve never written anything like this and I can’t wait to share it with folks who get me. Talkbacks are a blast and a fun way to get audience’s reactions on the show. To sweeten the deal, yours truly can make a mean chocolate chip cookie  and whip up a life changing batch of guacamole. How you like me now, David Mamet! Boom.

But seriously, I’d love to have you. So if you are interested in attending, I’m taking reservations at urtheinspiration@hotmail.com. We’ve only got 40 seats so act now as they say on the infomercials. And now back to your regularly scheduled blog…

xo,

Sean

A Dream Deferred No Longer

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What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

– ‘Harlem’ by Langston Hughes

I remember reading those words as a young kid and thinking, “Wow. That sounds awful. A life without living your dreams? How horrible.”  I read them again at age 36 and thought, “Tell me about it.” True, I have no idea about what living in the crime ridden Harlem of Hughes’ poem is like but I certainly knew a thing or two about deferring my dreams. The fact is I buried my dreams for a long, long time. Sure it sounds terrible but you’d bury your dreams too if you were me.  It’s because my relationship was bad. It’s because my childhood was tough. It’s because I don’t look like a model or come from a celebrity family or own a Mercedes. Actually, it was because I was high and drunk for a couple of decades and when reality slips away from you for that long, your dreams are the first things to go. It’s insane how easily I let my dreams just walk out the door. Things I wanted to do since childhood just vanished and I let them go without a fight.

A few years into sobriety, I had what someone in recovery poetically referred to as “the country song in reverse”- you know, getting the car, the job, the wife and the dog back. And the dreams. Mainly, I got my dreams back. When I was a kid I wrote plays for my teddy bears and stories and poems and that’s all I ever wanted to do. Yesterday, I finished my second full-length play. Me the drug addict whose biggest accomplishment was finishing a case of two buck Chuck finished writing another play! One that people are going to come and see! How the hell did that happen? Frankly I have no idea. This process this time around was TOUGH. I wrestled back and forth with the plot, the dialogue, the characters. I second guessed my creativity, my sense of humor, my choices. I battled with it for nearly a year with tons of starts and stops in that time frame. Magically, a few days ago I surrendered and moved the fuck out-of-the-way. That’s when the miracles happened and here we are with a great version that will look good and hopefully make people laugh when it makes it to the stage this spring. 

However, most of that is out of my control. I can’t force people to love it or pay people to laugh. Or maybe I could but I’m way too lazy to mastermind that sort of manipulation. All I know is that I delivered on what I promised, I showed up and did the work. And today, that’s what a dream looks like. It didn’t dry up or rot or get put on hold. But maybe they do explode. Maybe they blow up and set a bunch of other amazing things, hidden wishes and  life-long desires in motion. I know. It sounds crazy but a guy can dream, can’t he?

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

You’d think after fifty years a play about an aging alcoholic couple who bickers and lures an unsuspecting couple into their web of insanity would lose some of it’s bite. You’d think that this subject matter would no longer be interesting or powerful. You, of course, would be wrong.

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Last night one of my favorite people on the planet joined me for an evening of theater. Being both of the alcoholic variety, it was fitting that our choice for such a date night was Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Spark Theater.  For me, Albee’s masterpiece is the closest you can get to active alcoholism without having to pick up a drink. He so perfectly captures the delusional and paranoid thinking of the alcoholic mind without turning the show into a cautionary tale or after-school special. Each phrase is so pointed, so poetic and every twisted thought of the characters’ is laid bare on the stage. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is often referenced  by members of 12 Step groups when talking about alcoholic relationships and it’s easy to see why. The work captures the truly fucked up existence and warped behavior of an alcoholic couple. George and Martha prove that the couple who drinks together, loses their grip on reality together. Running at 3 hours, the show is an intense epic beast. I’m glad I waited for 4 years of sobriety to watch it again. Earlier in recovery, the work would have certainly fallen in the ‘too close to home’ category.

Like many of us, I lived through my own George and Martha moments while I was drinking. The “drinking and fighting” combination platter was one I ordered for many years.When I ended up being that person in that alcoholic relationship, I couldn’t believe it. I mean I knew better, didn’t I? Having grown up around drinkers who like to fight (or maybe they were fighters who liked to drink?), I always thought I’d never end up like them. I’d never identify with sad, awful souls like George and Martha. I’d never get drunk and yell in front of guests in my own home. Well, never say never. While non-alcoholics surely see George and Martha for the monsters they are, for me as a person in recovery it’s hard to not have compassion for them. If you’ve been there, you know how hard it is to get out and all of their crazy thinking seems rational to people like us.

If you’re in Denver, go see this show. Seriously. The acting is spectacular and seeing Albee live is something every American theater lover should do at least once. Spark’s productions are intimate and raw and this serves Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf extremely well. If you’re looking for a cushy opera seat and a production done by old, white corporate theater, skip this and go see Legally Blonde or some other mind rotting unoriginal piece of shit on stage. If however, you are interested in work that still has guts after 50 years presented with integrity, check this out. Watching this couple sink into alcoholic insanity on stage last night made me feel grateful for the life I have now, it made me feel grateful for artists like Albee who tell the truth about the human condition and made me feel inspired by theater and art and it’s ability to make us aware, alive and yes, even a little afraid.