the point

get-to-the-point

And so we’ve reached the end of my 30 day blogging experiment. I know. You’re heartbroken. But fear not, I liked it so much that I’m going to try to post everyday from here on out! Even if it’s little stuff or goofy videos, I like talking to you guys and surprisingly not out of things to say.So I’m afraid your stuck with me. Although a few days ago, I wasn’t sure if I should continue at all.

Midway through this month of blogging, I stated to wonder why I do this? I mean does anybody care? And do I just repeat myself? And what the hell am I even talking about most of the time? And for the love of God what exactly is the point of this blog anyway? I wondered if had peaked or this blog has run its course. I considered that last question seriously. What indeed was the point? And then a few days ago, I remembered. When I got sober in 2009, I hung onto books and blogs and affirmations. Mainly because my life sucked and I needed some sort of hope, even it was from complete strangers that I’d probably never meet. These words were like messages in a bottle telling me to keep going and I clung to them. I believe deeply in the power of words and in the power of laughter so a little spark in the back of my head went off as my life was truly going down the toilet, “Maybe my words can do this for somebody else someday too.” In 2011, that’s why this blog was born. I had zero expectations. I wanted to share my experiences, have a few laughs and continue to use writing as a way to heal myself and gain perspective. Nearly two years later, the little miracles this blog has brought about have been incredible. From the meeting of  new real-life friends to incredible messages from strangers who enjoyed my writing, the wonders never cease. It’s also helped me in the creating process of several other book projects and script ideas.

This month of blogging was yet another miracle. In a  30 day period where I felt physically awful, blogging once again provide solace and an outlet. Blogging everyday made me realize that this stuff– the real life stuff and the not so pretty stuff, is what I want to write about. It’s what I want my next book to be all about and it’s the way I think I can provide the most light and hope by using my talent. By writing everyday this month, I also unlocked many key things to my new show which were previously hiding from me.  This little month of June did all that and all I had to do was write everyday! So I’m gonna keep going even if I don’t know the point or what all of this is all about. Because if I’m doing things like writing that make me happy, the rest of it isn’t really that important.

listen up

 

listen-up

 

 

Here’s what happens when you work alone most of the time: you lose your damn mind. I mean you kind of keep losing it and keep finding it. Naturally, you keep coming up with ways to re-find it, over and over again. But yeah you go crazy. And when you’re in the business of creating clever like I am while spending a lot of time alone, it’s easy to believe that you are the king of the universe and pretty darn special. As I sit and procrastinate writing, I usually have all kinds of brilliant things to say to imaginary people in my head or amazing ideas that could change the world if only everyone listened to me. Like I said, you go crazy. When I first started working freelance from home a friend of mine from the program said, “Make sure you get out during the day. After all, you’re spending a lot of time with the person who tried to kill you.”  That was a bitch slap I try not to forget so I’ve gotten better about leaving my house during the middle of the middle to run errands or go to meetings.

Even though, I’m incredibly hilarious and a wealth of knowledge, I find the most powerful thing I can do while I’m out in the world and away from my desk is listen. After writing, programming and listening to continuous broadcasts of The Sean Show, now presented in stereo on radio station KRAZY, all day long my brain needs to hear other stuff. After a particularly long stint listening to my own garbage, I found myself incredibly grumpy and mercifully on my way to a meeting on Friday afternoon. While there, people were discussing meditation. As they talked about the power of the tool and how it can transform their days, it dawned on me that my spiritual life had really taken a crap over the last few days. I got busy. I was stressed. I haven’t felt well. And blah, blah, blah. The meeting continued as I was instantly awakened to the fact that maybe things seem stressful and maybe I feel terrible in part because I’m not meditating. Major lightbulb! One I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t listening.

Some people describe prayer as talking to God and meditation as listening to God so it isn’t a surprise that this topic came up and resonated deeply with me. Later that day, I had a chance to actually listen to a friend whose life has been incredibly difficult. No one-liners. No advice. Just listening. Again, its powerful stuff to practice for the kid who was labeled “Talks to Much In Class” at an early age. It certainly goes against my nature as a loudmouth, joke telling smartass. But listening is something I need to do more of.

So in the spirit of that, I’ll be doing 30 Days of meditation when this 30 days of blogging ends. I have a practice but like my personal writing its spotty. This 30 Day Blog experiment has been a blast and now I can’t wait to implement in meditation. Who’s with me?

Catchup

41415

 

 

Day 27 of 30 Days of Blog finds me running around like a moron. I’m attending a wedding, putting out some work fires and generally trying to keep my head out of my backside. I would consider myself the “b word” (no, not that b word). Busy. But not in the cop-out American “I’m so busy” way like being busy should deserve me a parade or a special parking spot. I’m busy in the way that I am blessed to do things I love. Listen, I’m lucky to have a life that is full and involves more than waiting tables and drinking tequila until my brain falls out of head. This being said, I thought I’d use today’s post to breathe and let readers get caught up while sharing some news.

First off, the news. My new e-book, The Potato Salad Variations has been delayed on the account of my health funkiness and some editing sluggishness. But it will be out in the middle of July and I hope you guys read it. I think it’ll be funny-sad-ridiculous-uplifting. Plus, it has some stories I’ve never put on paper with yummy recipes to boot! It will once again be available thru SmashWords.com and I’ll let you know the exact date as we get closer.

Next the catchup. I have had friends and readers say that my 30 days of blogging has given them too much to read. Fair enough. Take today to get all caught up. Some of the posts I really enjoyed writing this month are as follows:

* loved the cathartic feeling of blogging about being 17

* also really liked this goofy post about penguins.

*my fav post of the month (so far) also features my favorite Stevie song 

* and when in doubt, start at the beginning!

So will I survive being busy without acting like an entitled jerk? And what accessories will save my wedding outfit? And how many pieces of cake will I really have? You’ll just have to read tomorrow to find out! And thank you in advance for doing that, by the way. 🙂

 

 

love is still the boss

Today was undoubtedly a victory for gay rights and marriage equality! As a gay man who is married my heart exploded. Yet as I read the “DOMA defeated!” headlines this morning on my phone on my way to my meeting, I knew there wasn’t any winners here. It was a matter of human rights and the Supreme Court did the right thing. But if there is a winner that winner is love. As always, love, not me, is the boss.

image 75

When I look at something like gay marriage and inequality, it’s hard not to feel like it’s personal. It’s even harder to not wish harm on the folks who worked overtime to create things like Prop 8. After all, the LGBT community are the victims here and Mormons, Westboro Baptist and all the other bigots deserve the hatred they’ve so happily dished out, right? Uh. Maybe not.  Belonging to a fellowship like I do which has ‘love and tolerance’ as the code, retribution is something I can’t get behind. After all, it’s not “love and tolerance of only those who think like I do.” It’s of everybody. Dammit. The annoying lady at the grocery store. The screaming guy on the corner. The people who don’t believe in recycling. Love and tolerance for all of them. Period. There isn’t a loophole for douchebags. This doesn’t mean I have to agree with them or give them all hugs but it does mean I can’t tear them down for thinking differently than I do, regardless of how batshit it is. It struck me not that long ago that trashing religious people who are perceived as anti-gay,while easy and kinda fun, in my mind, is just as bigoted and shows little or none of the compassion so many of us have been demanding from the world at large. This revelation blew my mind. Maybe I was just as bad as they were? It also drained the victimization out of discrimination. I could no longer hid behind the thought that the straight world was out to destroy me while wallowing in a self-pity jacuzzi. As love is a two-way street so is intolerance and I’ve been guilty of my own prejudices born out of fear or misunderstanding.

Let_Love_Rule

The good news is this though, love trumps my personal idiocy. Love still solves problems that feel personal or too big to ever get fixed. Love prevails even when my own wisdom does not. Love, even when the most loving thing is to walk away or shut the hell up, knows what it’s doing. Love, not clever rainbow memes or links to headlines or Kim Zolciak with tape over her mouth, made DOMA a thing of the past.  Yeah, love won bigtime today. But then again, it always does.

movie therapy, part 2

Young_Frankenstein7

The world lost somebody pretty special when it lost Roger Ebert. No writer ever understood the power of film better than Ebert. “Every great film should seem new every time you see it,” he once said. It’s this kind of thought that illustrates what a fan of movies the guy was. And I happen to agree with him and I’m a fan too. As I round out my top ten favorite films today, I guess it’s important to repeat that these are movies I love or that affected me or helped me and maybe not considered the best films of all time. Different list. So without any further ado, here’s the rest of my top ten.

6. Guys & Dolls: Sinatra the actor and Brando the singer are two things that shouldn’t work but for me in this movie, they sure do. Add to it ace directing by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (director of my all time favorite, All About Eve, coincidentally) and terrific songs like “Luck Be A Lady” and “Sit Down Your Rocking the Boat” and you’ve got a film that never fails to put a smile on my face.

7. Young Frankenstein: As kids we must have watched every Mel Brooks movie a million times. But none of them can still make me laugh like a crazy person like Young Frankenstein. Particularly great in this movie are the women. Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr and Cloris Leachman are all hysterically funny. The folks in this film taught me how to be funny and I’m still working towards being a pale imitation.

8. Lady and the Tramp: No doubt there are better Disney films and this one is far from perfect. But I distinctly remember watching it as a kid and thinking, “That’s what love is like”. I’m sure my 6-year-old brain thought love was nothing but spaghetti dinners and Peggy Lee numbers but to this day I still think its one of the most romantic and charming films I’ve ever seen.

9. Rear Window: We were also big Hitchcock fans in my house and my parents and I watched this one a few years back during my first holiday season sober. My husband and I even worked on a stage adaptation of it. It’s great storytelling, terrific acting and Hitchcock doing what he does best.

10. Chicago: This was tough and could have been a four-way tie to round out the list. But Chicago is a movie I can’t get sick of and I’ve seen it A LOT. I remember watching a few times when my life wasn’t exactly great and for a few hours, Chicago made me feel better. Plus the casting and choreography is nothing short of inspired.

Honorable mentions and close calls: Wall-e, Clueless, Sixteen Candles, The Muppet Movie, Silkwood, Gone with the Wind, 9 to 5, Private Benjamin, Postcards from the Edge, Cabaret, Casablanca, Some Like Hot, Sense and Sensibility, Thelma and Louise, Dangerous Liaisons, Aliens, Working Girl, Out of Africa, Broadcast News, Hugo, The Piano, When Harry Met Sally, A Fish Called Wanda, and Grease. 

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me all about your favorite films and those movies that helped you. I’m dying to hear your list!

movie therapy, part 1

After a day of medical ups and downs ending with a solution (they adjusted my meds, officially ruled out pneumonia and cancer and sent me on my way with an easier plan than before–yay!), I had that feeling. You know that “I need to sit and stuff my face and watch a favorite movie” feeling. Aside from psychically still feeling sort of horrible, I need to turn my brain off. All of this uncertainty has worn a bitch out. So no era of filmmaking helps me forget my troubles better than comedies from the 1980s and early 90’s.

a1106-01_dnnbdwwb

I really wanted to watch Overboard or Outrageous Fortune or something incredibly cheesy of that nature. Since I’m a Netflix/Hulu/YouTube only kind of guy having said “See Ya” to cable years ago, however, I had to make concessions. I settled for the underrated camp classic Soapdish, the straight up brilliant Fish Called Wanda and Heathers, a film so funny it still slaughters all other teen films. With the exception of Sixteen Candles which is a comedy from God. My mini-moviefest helped. It was nice to laugh and quote the lines before the characters said them. Movies, I realized have always been my therapist, my escape and my friends. I watched hundreds of hours of old movies as a kid on local channels and on AMC. They were my education outside my little Denver neighborhood and catholic school world. Moreover, they were the reason I wanted to move to LA and tell stories. I’m sad that new movies don’t really inspire me or get me excited. But the thing about being in love with movies is you never give up hope or stop believing that maybe next season there will be ten things I want to see. In short, it’s a romance I won’t let go of.

This got me thinking about my LIST. You know that list of movies you can’t live without and that somehow made your world a better place? Maybe they aren’t all academy award winners or sheer genius. But they mean something and never fail to move you when you watch them. So here’s my part one of my top 10 list and feel free to leave the titles of your own movie therapists in the comments below.

1. All About Eve: Since I like show business, theater and films, it would only figure my favorite of all time would be about just that. But All About Eve isn’t only a great movie about showbiz, it’s also a great movie about life, friendship and integrity. Plus the writing is so damn good it blows my mind.

2. The Philadelphia Story: If it’s raining. If I’m sad. If I need to laugh. The answer is usually The Philadelphia Story. Why would anyone ever watch a Katherine Heigl film when this exists in the world? It’s brilliant and was the film that made me fall in love Hepburn, Stewart and Grant all at the same time. (Ps if you get this film confused with the sappy,overrated AIDS drama with Tom Hanks, you’re missing out and should see this one instead. )

3. Almost Famous:Another showbiz film and boy oh boy do I love it. I really think it’s okay that Kate Hudson, Cameron Crowe and Patrick Fugit never made another great movie after this one. It’s so good and so profound that the world was given a true gift with this movie and all involved should still feel proud.

4. The Hours:  “I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself: So, this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.” It’s incredible observations like this one along with performances that I will never forget that make this movie list-worthy.

5. Hannah and her Sisters: When I was 14 I watched Hannah and Her Sisters on VHS (80’s child alert!) and that’s when I finally “got” Woody Allen. This funny and heartbreaking film covers everything from God’s existence to the complex nature of sibling relationships and I’m so glad my teenage self got to see it.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the rest of my movie therapists and please share your own! I’m always on the look out for a new love affair.

has anyone ever written anything for you?

First things first please, take a few minutes to listen to this song and story behind it and then I promise I’ll talk your ear off.

There’s a special kind of grace needed when you have a “chronic manageable disease” like HIV. See people will tell you that “Oh yeah. My neighbor has it and he’s fine”, “Oh I just read a thing about a girl in France who cured herself from it by going vegan” or “Maybe you should take more vitamins/take less vitamins/get new medication/stop medication/do yoga/do Pilates/meditate more.” Grace comes in handy when you can nod your head and say, “Okay.” But the thing is these poor, well-meaning folks are just trying to say something to make you feel less awkward and don’t really realize that we’ve pretty much tried everything if we’ve had a manageable disease for a few years. I’ve told this story on these pages before but its a funny one and worth repeating. When I was first diagnosed with HIV nearly 4 years ago in August, my nurse when trying to talk me off the ledge said, “HIV is a manageable condition like diabetes.” Oh in that case, sign me up. because diabetes always seemed like a trip to the tropics. Tahiti? No thanks! Who needs it when you have diabetes!

Also, let’s talk about this manageable word they like to throw around.Doctors are in essence are telling us that we are becoming managers of whatever our given affliction is. Correct me if I’m wrong but management seems like a lot of work. Whether you’re managing Mariah Carey or a McDonald’s, managers are some hardworking motherfuckers. As my own condition has recently caused me some health problems with a side order of fear ( I would have rather had onion rings, by the way), I have to get into gratitude. I am grateful that it’s treatable and that I have good doctors. I’m grateful for all the prayers and spiritual assistance. Yet I acknowledge that it sucks and that it’s hard. So here is where Stevie comes in.

steienicks_4fe37368e087c359fb00046f

That song so beautifully talks about giving it away when you feel the absolute worst. I hope I can do that. I need to do that right now. Here’s my attempt to do so. If you have traumatic brain injury, manic depression, rheumatoid arthritis, bipolar disorder, suffered a stroke, are getting off drugs, have just lost a loved one, can’t get out of bed, tried to kill yourself, suffering from MS, learning to walk or speak again, trying to not pick upon a drink, living with HIV and yes diabetes; all I can say is I get it. As a bonus, I won’t tell  you what books to read or that my old English teach has whatever you’re dealing with.  All I can tell you is even if it is manageable, I know you hurt , that everyday is a battle to stay positive and healthy and that I am sorry. I hope you can laugh, I hope you do nice things for yourself and know that by fighting and managing everyday, you’re helping me and lot of other people. So has anybody ever written anything for you? I have.

And I hope you can do the same for someone else. As Stevie says, “If not for me, do it for the world.”

the dig

One of the things I’ve grown to like the most about being a writer is research. My version of research is probably a little different considering the subject matter of my plays doesn’t require me meticulously recreating a 14th-Century courtyard or delving deep into the patterns of the human brain. No, when you write shows about Craigslist personal ads and karaoke bars, the research process is decidedly a little more lighthearted. Whatever I’m researching, however, the process of digging is one that excites me and since recovery its one I’m no longer afraid of.

feKLK1nCdQT

My past used to be like the attic of an old recluse. You had to be careful when you were digging around in there because you didn’t know what horrifying thing you might find. I had tucked away memories, thoughts, beliefs that I just knew were all too scary to deal with. I thought if these things were tucked away, they’d never hurt. And just to make sure, I dumped tequila and cocaine on them so they wouldn’t pop back up. Well, as you can imagine, that didn’t pan out the way I wanted. When I got sober, I had to unpack that attic.I had to look at all of the things I was hiding and drinking over. While uncomfortable and certainly not as fun as watching hours of karaoke videos on YouTube, it wasn’t terrible. It actually felt good. Not only did these ‘awful secrets’ from my past not kill me but a lot of them that I was convinced would kill me weren’t really that bad. I was miserable enough that I had to just trust that digging around would be okay. And it was. More than that, it saved my life.Digging-22

Several personal inventories, meetings, therapy sessions and years later, it doesn’t freak me out. My new show, Welcome to Ladyland, is in the research process right now. Since the show is maybe more autobiographical than my others, the digging here is more personal too. The show deals with relationships and as part of that I’m looking at my own behaviors and personality traits that maybe aren’t so great. Uncomfortable? Yeah. Ugly in parts? Uh huh. But I’m hoping by addressing these character flaws honestly, the work will also be really funny, human and uplifting too. The amazing thing about digging and being open to learning more about myself is that by welcoming it, nothing I find can ever hurt me, regardless of how deep its been buried.

Is it too late to become a penguin?

penguins 2560x1920 wallpaper_www.wallpaperhi.com_68

I only ask because after watching a documentary on the Patagonia, I think penguins could teach me a thing or two about compassion, loyalty and direction. Seeing these waddling little characters travel thousands of miles every year without getting lost and then finding their mates nest with no specific markings is beyond impressive especially when you consider they all look identical. But somehow the couples find one another, year after year. And unless we kill them all (people suck.) they’ll keep it doing it and we might not ever know how or why. Maybe Google should hire penguins to help with mapping. Anywhoo, their affection and loyalty is as impressive as their built-in GPS. These penguins stay mated for their whole lives and wait for one another while the female goes and searches for food. If you asked most singles what they want in a relationship, I could bet it would sound a lot like the penguin life I just described. At the end of the day, we want somebody to be there when we get home, to do their part to help the machine run and to help us protect our chicks so they don’t get eaten by sea lions. Okay maybe not that last one.  For more proof that penguins rule, may I present Cookie?

I think with all the news, it’s easy to believe that as I mentioned earlier (jokingly) that people are the worst. I mean they don’t really try that hard to refute that theory. Ain’t that right, Paula Deen, Paul Ryan and all of Washington? A friend in the program once wisely told me, “No matter how great they are, people are gonna let you down.”  Yet there’s something freeing too in knowing that people, myself included, are going to screw up and do so royally. Maybe in a covert way I can even take the lessons of the penguin to help me be a better person. It sounds crazy but trust me I lived in LA for 15 years and I ‘ve certainly heard of wackier spiritual solutions. Hey, that’s not a bad idea.  Finding Your Inner Penguin: Waddle Your Way to Your Ideal Relationship coming to a Marriott conference room near you!

I’m actually happy being a person, despite all of our flaws. Besides, if I was a penguin, I would have  had to spend my childhood eating regurgitated fish. Yuck. Like I don’t have enough issues already.

inappropriately appropriate

I was told four years ago by a mental health professional that perhaps a future goal of mine should be having “appropriate relationships” with people. Say what?

LOLLLLLLL

This meant behaviors like blackmailing friends to do what I want, co-dependently controlling those around me and defaulting to martyr people pleaser mode would have to stop. Also getting the heave-ho in this quest for appropriateness? One night stands, relationships built on substances and friends acquired because of their status.They would have to be replaced by giving to others without wanting something in return, not dominating conversations with overblown emotions and generally being more considerate. This all seemed pretty difficult especially not letting emotions steamroll my whole life. When you grow up in alcoholism land, explosive crying, insane rages of anger and non-stop arguing are just kind of the norm. I learned it early and practiced it all throughout my 30s. Emotions, either of the crazy variety or the extreme repressed flavor, could become weapons in relationships and I wasn’t afraid to use them to get what I needed. Also, when you’re high and drunk for a couple of decades, the concepts of normal and appropriate become incredibly warped. You mean not everyone throws electronic devices at their boyfriends? My bad. So re-learning how to be a better friend, husband, brother and son has been a journey just like my recovery.  The biggest thing I’ve learned and have to relearn pretty regularly is that not everything is about me.

homebanner-its_not_about_me

 

Hard to believe but it is true. Dominating situations with emotions, personal drama and personal wants is the oldest of old behavior and something that needed to go. Teenage histrionics were something fitting at the time but in my late 30’s they were just pathetic. I’ve learned this isn’t about ignoring how I feel. Quiet the contrary. It’s about breathing and honestly assessing situations before I let emotions drive my bus into the Grand Canyon. The other thing this mental health person told me was I had to remember that no one could make me feel anything. What. A. Revelation!!! If I was in charge of my emotions, I could no longer blame others for making me feel certain things and therefore escape accountability for my actions. Again, this was another tall order. But if I wanted relationships built on love and honesty, I had to knock it off.

Today, being the married man I am, I have lots of opportunities to practice (and forget) these lessons. While my small group of friends and I indulge in the occasional bawdy, inappropriate conversation, I’m proud to say these relationships are appropriate. Free of guilt, ridiculous expectations and questionable motives, my friendships are simply allowed to be fun, supportive and precious. In my day job, I do a lot of social media marketing for clients on Facebook, Twitter and the like. I recently had to explain to a client the difference between ‘personal’ and ‘social”. Social is a lively Facebook thread about something timely from pop culture, for example. Personal, and therefore maybe not the kind of thing you should post, would be things like posting photos from a recent neck boil operation or the details of your divorce. As we discussed this delicate art of being able to express personality and humor without crossing into inappropriateness, it dawned on me I was the one being asked for advice on this kind of thing. Me, the former master of disaster relationships! Talk about a change. My friend the mental health professional would be so proud.