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.