Breaking Bad Never Got Me Addicted

At the risk of having serious television fans throw things at my head, I have to confess I’ve never seen a full-episode of Breaking Bad. I know, I know! Listen, I love Bryan Cranston as much as the next person. I liked the first few seasons of Mad Men so it wasn’t an AMC phobia that kept me away from it. Although the old movie queen in me misses the Bob Dorian days. No, oddly enough this drug addict couldn’t never really get excited about the concept.

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Maybe it’s like doctors who don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy or chefs who can’t stand Food Network. But I was never intrigued enough by the premise of the show to tune in. Granted, I never made my own drugs or even sold drugs for that matter. Okay I made flavored vodka once with Green Apple Jolly Ranchers but it was disgusting and hardly an enterprise idea to pay for my cancer treatments. As a user and frequent customer, the idea of a drug dealer/family man I guess should have been an interesting one. Perhaps the 4 mind-numbingly bad seasons of Weeds that I watched turned me off from drug dealer tv shows. Or maybe it’s because on some level as a connoisseur I know that television could never capture the real-life sketchiness of the drugs dealers I have known. (Reminder: Pitch ‘Drug Dealers I Have Known’ as a coffee table book.) I never ever, once bought weed from somebody who looked like Mary Louise Parker. They usually looked more like Mexican versions of Al Roker and the guy I bought meth from I never actually saw. He was like Carlton the doorman. We’d call and someone, not him, would run it out to the car. Still, I feel like I’m missing out on something. The oddest assortment of people I know love this show. From bank employees and actors to retirees and teachers and beyond, everybody loves it. Everybody but me. It could be the drug dealer thing but I also don’t like watching shows about assholes.

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That early 2000’s trend of building an entire television show around reprehensible awful people seems bland to me now. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Dexter and countless more pounded us over the head with this “Hey aren’t we subversive by having a polarizing character as the lead?” Um, no. It’s titillating  a couple of times but when every show has a drug dealer, hooker, heroin addict, gun smuggler then it becomes boring.  Personally if I hate every character, I’m less likely to want to spend an entire hour with them every week. I worried that Breaking Bad would just make me feel yucky instead of actually caring about what happened to the Walter White.  And don’t give me the “Well, what about Seinfeld?” argument. Seinfeld was a comedy and laughed at the worst of humanity. Plus, Jerry and the gang always got theirs in the end. And oh yeah, Seinfeld was genius.

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In reality, my aversion to the show might have more to do with timing more than anything else. The show premiered in January 2008, the first year I really tried to get sober. By ‘really tried’ I don’t mean going to rehab or even meetings. This stab at sobriety consisted of smoking a lot of cigarettes and watching endless marathons of Real Housewives (a program I also no longer watch due to the high asshole factor.) Just watching people even drink wine or do blow on television was tough back then. It was like having your jaw wired shut and being forced to watch people eat Thanksgiving dinner. Staying away from Breaking Bad might have been more strategic at that point than anything else. Not surprisingly, this fragile time on the sobriety merry-go-round didn’t last. breaking-bad-all-characters

Being sober for over four years and with my days of  dealing with dealers long behind me, maybe I’ll finally catch up with Breaking Bad. Or maybe not. Now that it’s all over, I feel like I’ve missed the party. Which is okay. For a pop culture junkie like me, television addictions are picked up and let go with regularity.

But friends am I missing something? Is Breaking Bad worth watching? And what other shows are you addicted to? And what show does everybody love but you? Tell me in the comments section below!

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Are smart kids destined to be drunk kids?

Wait. Maybe I wasn’t just a teenage alcoholic and drug addict because I was bored or because I hit the genetic jackpot.  According to a new study, my eagerness to pick up a drink at such an early age was most likely caused by the fact that I’m a genius.  Suddenly, it all makes sense.

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New research suggests kids who develop language and intellectual skills earlier are more likely to drink and take other drugs than their less intelligent peers. The nice folks at Time magazine explain it like this:

“In 2011, for example, British researchers found that women who were in the top third of the IQ range when tested in elementary school were more than twice as likely as those scoring in the bottom third to have used marijuana or cocaine by age 30; for men, the top-ranked boys were almost 50% more likely to have taken amphetamine and 65% more likely to have used ecstasy (MDMA) by adulthood.”

These findings sound remarkably like my teen years. I was always a smart kid, I just didn’t always go to class. I was extremely busy with more important things. There were music videos to be watched and cigarettes to be smoked. Nevertheless, this drunken genius idea holds water, right? I mean Carl Sagan smoked weed, Steve Jobs liked LSD and Freud was a big cokehead. Yet leave it to the Finns  to rain on my “I’m an alcoholic because I’m a genius”theory.  “Social drinking in many countries and nonproblematic drinking is more frequent and common among people with higher education,” says Antti Latvala, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki in Finland and lead author of the study. The article goes on to suggest that, “Intelligence can serve as a vehicle for moderation when it comes to alcohol or drug use — the more educated people are, the more they internalize and appreciate the dangers and risks of overindulging. The higher education that’s correlated with greater intellect also puts more at stake for those who indulge in alcohol or drug abuse.” Aaaand they lost me.

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This statement gets an epic eyeroll for a few reasons:

*  I know several genius drunken hot messes who didn’t use intelligence as a vehicle for moderation and instead chose to simply drive said vehicle into a tree or through someone’s living room.

* Spend enough time in 12 step programs and you’ll see a lot of folks with Ivy League educations and high-powered jobs who continue to relapse.

* As a teenage drug user, drinker and schnapps shoplifter, I never got high with the valedictorian of our class. Those kids actually did say no and did really go to class. I did however get high with the artists, actors, debaters and writers. And continued to do so for the next 20 years.

My point is, and I honestly have one (I think), that addiction and alcoholism doesn’t give a shit about how smart you are, what school you went to or how you did on your SATs.  In fact, unless you’re 17 nobody cares about your SATs. Smart, dumb, black , white, purple– from what I’ve seen this disease is an equal opportunity killer. Maybe its the other way around maybe the kids who were born addicts become smarter and more verbal to get what they wanted? Who knows? Today I’m just grateful that I’ve been struck with the wisdom that says on a daily basis, “No, Sean you can’t drink with moderation. Like ever.”  i also know that people like me are going to drink and use drugs regardless of how impractical or crazy it sounds. I submit this study about the fine folks of Alaska to support that statement.

Happy Tuesday, my fellow geniuses!

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Viva La Revolution!

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“All books about all revolutions begin with a chapter that describes the decay of tottering authority or the misery and sufferings of the people. They should begin with a psychological chapter — one that shows how a harassed, terrified man suddenly breaks his terror, stops being afraid. This unusual process — sometimes accomplished in an instant, like a shock — demands to be illustrated. Man gets rid of fear and feels free. Without that, there would be no revolution.” – Ryszard Kapuscinski

Every year on this day, I want to pull the covers over my head. I want to acknowledge the date and its significance by not acknowledging it. I want to hide. I know that’s not the patriotic response or something that inspires a “Never Forget” truck mudflap or Toby Keith country song. But that’s me.  I find life to be ugly and hard and then I hide. Whether its September 11th or a random Thursday in March, fear of the world being real, sad or hard kept me under the covers (and in the bottle) for the better part of nearly two decades. While my drinking and drugging ended in 2009, fear still manages to slip in and cripple me. The above quote, however, got me thinking, what if the changes I seek in the world and in myself begin with finally telling fear to fuck off?

Seriously, fear. Suck it. I don’t think the lives lost are honored by me feeling afraid or by living in fear that it’ll happen again. Or by drowning my sorrows. The more I stare fear in the face, the closer my revolution gets to becoming a reality.  My revolution starts by writing this blog. Not that I have any delusions that my pictures of ponies and quips about reality shows will save lives but facing my truth and telling my story helps kick fear right in the crotch. My revolution continues by spreading the message to gays, lesbian and transgendered folk that they don’t have to live in bars and hate themselves. It’s not Westboro Baptist Church or the Mormons or the GOP that’s killing us, its self-hate and an incredibly high rate of fatality due to drugs and alcohol. Also, my own private revolution is committed to not living in shame about being in recovery, being HIV positive or being gay. Yeah it’s not a worldwide peace treaty but it is what I can do from my dining room table to maybe help somebody else going through the same thing.

Finally, my revolution needs to be fueled by love. Theres nothing more fear hates than love.  On a day where so many feel loss and heartache, actions motivated by love instead of fear are more powerful than any bumper sticker, flag or network TV report. Luckily, the incredibly human and flawed world I live in gives me ample opportunities to practice this. Again, the practice of love starts with this guy behind the keyboard. I’ve lived in fear about silly, stupid stuff lately and yesterday I had it. I was sick of making the conscious choice to feel afraid or doomed or that the planet was out to get me. It was as if I did as Kapuscinski said and got rid of my fear and felt free. I know this in an ongoing battle, this war against fear. And I know there will be times when fear wins. Nevertheless, it feels like a war I should keep fighting.

buckle up

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“Ladies and gentlemen, please make sure your ass is in the chair and you buckle up.  Put out your damn cigarettes and turn off your cellphone. Because you have no idea what kind of ride you’re in for,” so says the woman’s voice coming from the crackly open loudspeaker in my mind. Or maybe she’s from a dream. I’ve had a lot of weird dreams lately. Including one where a close friend was getting married to a person so tall you couldn’t see their face and they were having their ceremony in my grandmother’s backyard which was actually the first Mexican restaurant I worked at in LA. Anyway, wherever the voice came from, she is definitely telling the truth.

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Twists, turns and loops. I’ve felt them all over the last few weeks. The things I had mapped out or knew the answers to have morphed into something bigger or more amazing or have painlessly fallen to the wayside. Most remarkably, I’m open to it. All of it. These thrill rides usually go down like this: first I get afraid, then I get crazy, then I let go and put my hands in the air and enjoy the ride. And that is certainly going on but it also feels like my perspective is different. Like I wound up in a strange, unrecognizable place and I was just okay with it.

alice-talking-flowersWhile we can, thankfully, rule out psychotropic drugs or falling down a rabbit hole, I’m not really sure what this change can be attributed to. Not to beat the metaphor to death but I feel at peace and protected even when I’m about to fly out of my seat as the ride turns upside down. My desire to fight everything is dissipating too. I am grateful for this because by nature I am one fightin’ bitch. The struggle to be on top or to be right doesn’t excite me right now. This is not to say the sun is shining out of my behind and I’m dancing around without a care. But today I’ve leaned into them and surrendered to something bigger.

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This is all swirling in my mind currently because on Tuesday, with bills to pay, deadlines to meet and obligations I didnt know how I was going to fufill, I walked down the street smiling. I felt ridiculously happy. This wasn’t Oz or Wonderland. It was just my normally complicated life with potholes and fuck-ups aplenty. But it felt like magic and something I was blessed to experience. Terrific.  I’m rolling with that, buckling up and appreciating the ride for exactly what it is.

happy laborless day

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I’m all for juggling, multitasking and running around but every once and awhile, I need to do nothing. Like grab a book and maybe read it or maybe just nap kinda nothing. That was goal numero uno this weekend. After closing our incredible playoffs show on Thursday, I needed to relax for a couple of days. Besides, that evening of theatrical goodness, wherein I spoke quite a bit, had left me physically feeling wiped out and sounding like Demi Moore. Granted, I had a couple of deadlines and some preparations I needed to attend to this weekend along with some secret ninja service work stuff. But taking it easy was on the top of the list.

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And so far, I’ve achieved it! Taking care of myself these days most of the times means knowing when to power down and chill out. Thankfully, one of the gifts of being positive is that my body lets me know pretty quickly when I need to lay the hell down. Overall, my health is better than the beginning of the summer which is an incredible gift.  It took me feeling really crap to realize that my self-care is a nonstop job and one I do better when I take the time to relax.

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So friends, I hope that you too have found some time this weekend to do a little nothing. Oh! But what you should do (look at me getting all bossy) is go do a Google Image search for Lazy Animals. It’s like a total cute explosion. Happy Labor Day!

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