Our Beyonces, Ourselves

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If you’re wondering where I’ve been (and I know you spend hours worrying about such matters), I’m sad to report that I haven’t been hanging out in very nice places. It shames me to admit that my wit and candor can be largely seen in the comments sections of pop culture blogs these days. I know, I know. The internet’s equivalent of a roach-infested dive bar. Lately, all I can muster up, creatively is a one-liner and comments sections or Twitter are easy places for them to live.  One-liners about James Franco, one-liners about Nicki Minaj, one liners about anything really. One-liners, zingers or terrible puns are how I express myself. I’ve always been “funny”, “sassy”, a “smartass”, what have you. However, the psychological community at large tells me this is a defense mechanism. This need to make jokes about everything is a leftover from old childhood behavior to simultaneously diffuse tension while seeking attention and in general is a way to conceal hurt or anger. I’d  like to tell the psychological community that while I agree, sometimes I just really want to make fun of Beyoncé.

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In my defense, Beyoncé is really easy to make fun of.  I mean…

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Plus, I think people with dead-eyes and no sense of humor are actually hilarious and ripe for satire. From the lyrics of Irreplaceable and her performance in Dreamgirls to that elevator thing and her Pretty Hurts video, I just think she’s comedy gold masquerading as a pop music icon. But then again, I saw Tina Turner in concert at a young age so perhaps Beyoncé’s powers would have never worked on me.

Of course, none of this is actually about Beyoncé. Or Kimye or Nicki Minaj’s ass. It’s about me. Truth? I’ve been kind of depressed lately. Depression is one of the many colors I represent in my mental illness rainbow. Lucky me. For my first five years of sobriety though, the bitch hasn’t really been an issue. Turns out, she was just sitting in the corner sipping her tea, waiting to pounce.

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Thankfully, I am now aware enough to take action when she shows up and wants to knock me out. While I’m not on medication (and don’t have any issues with folks who are) I do take certain physical and spiritual measures when depression becomes a problem.  For me, I know depression is a chemical thing because the honest to God’s truth of my life is that it’s pretty terrific. The evidence is staggering that despite minor glitches and little areas for growth, all things in Seanland are undoubtedly fabulous which makes depression’s appearance all the more baffling. But when things get rough or my thinking is off, getting sober has taught me to ask myself,”So whaddya gonna do about it?” (Because when I ask myself questions I sound like a pawn shop employee from New Jersey.) Part of that answer is “Write more!” My second sponsor, in her infinite wisdom, once told me that, “Self-esteem is built through esteemable acts.” As we’ve discussed, writing makes me feel good so why not write more and write thru whatever I’m feeling and maybe, gee I don’t know, feel better as a result?!?

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But let’s not get overly excited here. I’m stopping being a smartass anytime soon. It’s kinda who I am. I would argue that making jokes about the Kardashians or Chris Brown has at least kept my creative juices flowing. And as readers of this blog, I laugh just as much at myself as I do at Beyoncé. My sarcasm is all-inclusive and equality opportunity.Plus, making people laugh is a tiny way I can be of service. So just for today, I’ll aim to be a more productive, more spiritually fit clown and not a sadsack, comment section clown like this guy.

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Swing From The Chandelier

A weird thing happened on the radio this summer– pop music got sober. Okay not all of it. But it’s hard to ignore one of the season’s most popular songs which talks about that special kind of self-destruction only we drunks and junkies can really understand. The song I’m talking about is Chandelier by Sia and to me it isn’t her faceless presence in the video that’s most fascinating. It’s the catchy lyrics and Sia herself’s story that I find utterly captivating.

The above video has a staggering 92 million views on YouTube and is without a doubt one of the most talked about music videos of the year. It’s an incredible visual interpretation of a song that’s nearly impossible to get out of your head. Having been a fan of Sia’s for many years, it’s the kind of arty, bizarre and entertaining video I’ve come to expect from her.

As interviews and details of the meaning behind Chandelier filtered through online press, my love for her and the song only got deeper. At first blush, you could consider lyrics like, ““I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier/ I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist, like it doesn’t exist,” to be part of a rebellious party anthem but the more you listen, the more heartbreaking the message really is. “But I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down, won’t open my eyes\Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight.”  I certainly identify with that sentiment. “Holding on for dear life” is something I did in my addiction for many years and leave it to a fellow addict to succinctly come up with the words to capture that misery and isolation so well. Although she shies away from the press, Sia has talked openly about her own alcoholism and addiction. “I was really unhappy being an artist. I was always a drinker but I didn’t know I was an alcoholic. Then I got seriously addicted to Vicodin and Oxycodone,” she told Billboard last year.  Sober since 2010, Sia’s life and career have totally turned around. Since then, she’s written hit songs for nearly everyone

and some even that quote what we hear in the land of recovery.

Sia told NPR that AA has helped her stay sober and become a better songwriter. “”I can sit while people cry,” she says. “I can stand when someone’s angry. Like, I don’t know. I’m fine around other people’s feelings. It doesn’t make me nervous or anxious. Probably because of the program. If you’re in an AA meeting, people are sharing. Sometimes there’s crying. Sometimes there’s feeling. And we’re just witnessing it.” Her new album, 1,000 Forms of Fear debuted at number 1 and Chandelier has been nominated for several MTV VMAs including “Video of the Year”.  Sia’s not the only one singing about recovery. Sure, addiction has long been fodder for really dramatic pop, country and rock songs. Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Pink, Eminem, Aerosmith, Trent Reznor and the Postal Service are just a few of the artists who’ve covered hitting bottom in song. But it does seem like there’s a new crop of recovery rock on the charts. Global smash hit, Habits (Stay High) by Tove Lo details an unhealthy coping methods of a young girl dealing with a breakup.

While the inescapable  I Wanna Get Better by Bleachers talks about changing old behaviors, if not specifically getting sober.

As a writer and creative person myself, sober success stories like Sia’s are important. Seeing people like her or Robert Downey Jr or Zak Efron or Anthony Hopkins or Stephen King continue to create and stay sober is incredibly inspiring. It tells me to keep going and that if I stay sober anything is possible. I need hope in the rooms and online but it’s amazing to hear it on the radio too.