Hello Stranger

Fancy bumping into you here. I’d love to share a cigarette with you or buy you a drink but I don’t do either one of those things anymore. Instead, please enjoy this Barbara Lewis track and we’ll get all caught up.

Not enough songs have shoo-bop-shoo-bop-my baby in them, do they? Anyway, the internet breadcrumbs have recently led me back to blogging. I live my life one day at a time so I can’t promise I’ll be blogging everyday for the next 15 years but currently it feels like a good thing to do. I’ve been wrestling with a new play which went from this seemingly fun, frothy piece into a deeply personal,”shit got real” kind of work. So like a good addict, I’ve been avoiding it. It’s too hard. It’s too personal. It’s too raw. It’s too me. Thing is, I can’t run from it anymore and it’s demanding that I finish it.  These sorts of projects usually sit on my chest in the middle of the night and say, “Look. Finish me or I will make your life hell!” So much for being a master avoider. Curses, foiled again.anigif_original-26198-1430253629-9

So bleeding on the page and finishing my script is something I’m doing this week. If you hear crying and howling and general bitching, it’s just me, your tortured playwright friend who really isn’t that tortured but insists on making his life more dramatic than it really is. I know. Exhausting.

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I’ve recently crossed over into a new realm of my life and recovery and it’s kind of freaking me out, in a good way. When I got sober in 2009, I’d hear these people talk about how they experienced a neutrality around other people and how  difficult life situations would come up but not cause complete havoc.  My usual response was something to the effect of, “Good for them but they’re totally lying.” As usual, they, that ubiquitous all-knowing “they” were right. At 6 years and 6 months sober, I get it. I’ve had some stuff come up over the last few months that would normally spin me the fuck out and yet it hasn’t. Instead, I’m accepting stuff, feeling my emotions and moving the fuck on. Ah-ha! THIS is what they’ve been yammering about in meetings for years. IT DOES EXIST!

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Oh but the journey is not over. Just yesterday when I was a total dick to one of my co-workers, I was reminded that I still have a long, long way to go. In order to continue to experience the magical Pegasus sobriety that I have currently, I’ll have to do the work. Which includes making amends to people who drive me crazy. Sigh. At least, today I have people, people like you, who know what I’m going through and know how to do this thing called life sober. I appreciate you and I promise I won’t be a stranger.

everything’s a miracle

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With all due respect to the words “epic”, “literally” and “awkward” the word miracle has got be one of the most overused and misused words in the English language. A great parking space, Miley Cyrus in pants, 2 for one bacon cheeseburgers, a short line at the airport– all of them get labeled miracles on social media or in casual conversation. In recovery, the word gets tossed around with even more liberally. People back from a relapse, what’s-his-face getting 90 days, newcomers to a meeting– also all miracles. And yet those are the kind of miracles I really believe in. I mean the fact that me and all of the addicts/alcoholics I know aren’t dead seems like a bona fide miracle to me. And yet there’s such a thing as a “certified miracle” too. Like this story of a woman in Costa Rica who recovered from a deadly brain aneurysm after looking at a photo of Pope John Paul II. So what is a miracle anyway and who the heck certifies them? While my brain tries to untangle this, please enjoy Barry Manilow in an epic performance that will literally blow your mind. Sparkly sweater alert in 5,4,3,2,1….

While the Barry-break got me no closer to a better understanding of the word, I do think Sean Mahoney: Miracle Certifier would make an excellent reality show for A&E. Webster’s defines it, primarily as, “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” Sounds good enough to me and completely applicable to events I can’t explain. Like Courtney Love and Dave Grohl making up after 20-years.

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Or Prince and Warner Brothers finally burying the hatchet leading to a re-issue of Purple Rain!

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Or this little fish who became the first fish ever to be taken off the endangered species list!

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Or this 13-year-old who survived being shot in the head!

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Or this!

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Or maybe a miracle to you looks like not getting fired when you should have been or being nice to your mother-in-law at dinner  despite wanting to slap her or not getting pulled over for that busted tail light you can’t afford to fix. I guess my point is, whatever miracle you’re celebrating today, congratulations. You deserve miracles, no  matter what they look like. Literally.

 

 

do they make a brita filter for your brain?

Weathering the non-stop, roaring rapids of information can really wear me out.There are only so many tweets about Kate Middleton’s baby, only so many Facebook posts about some politician I’ve never heard of and only so many unimportant emails I can handle before my brain feels like it’s about to collapse. I’ve come to believe that perhaps its better that I don’t know all the details of a divorce currently being shared by someone from middle school whom I barely remember? Maybe its okay if I never see pictures from your spleen removal surgery? I just think I liked people better when I knew less about them. Says the guy who routinely talks about his drug use and once sent a tweet about his anal pap. But what I do is art, so it’s different.

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Recently, I’ve discovered in lieu of forcing the entire internet to change (I mean, I asked. But I haven’t heard back), I had to change myself. Wait. That sounds like I’m wearing adult diapers. You know what I mean. My endless bitching about the Internet and adding crap to a conversation online or otherwise is something I can change. Maybe it wasn’t the planet’s never-ending onslaught of negative communication that was the problem but my own. Duh. My problems, much like a Scooby-Doo episode, always end up the same way. The person behind the mask causing all of the haunted shenanigans isn’t a ghost or a demon but me. And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.

Anyway, over the last week I’ve been trying to practice filtering my conversations, emails and thoughts before I vomit them out. I’ve been trying to write about resentments and get my thoughts clear before going to others and wreaking havoc. I’ve been trying to pause before I indulge in the critical buffet and trying to say, “No, thank you” when they pass around the tray of invites to the shit-talkers VIP lounge. This a communication revolution to be sure. But I use the words “trying” and “practice” because this is some difficult stuff. immediately, the narcissist in me says, “I don’t NEED to filter myself! I speak the truth!” This is usually said with a lot of finger waving, by the way.

20obquWhat I’m discovering especially when it comes to my writing and my relationships I don’t have to share everything in order to be myself.  This doesn’t mean I have to repress my sparkle, however. In fact, filtering out the inner-crazy or negativity has let my actual personality come out. And there are Non-Ninja things I can do to make communication more positive like turn off my instant chat or listening instead of talking. Or not answering emails from lunatics.Or not commenting on every thread that annoys me. Or simply thinking of others and reconsidering my wording before I hit send.

It sounds ridiculous but it feels like a genuine start. Staying true to my personality while running it through the filter takes some considerable faith and skill.These are not easy habits to shatter. But I’m going to keep practicing it. Otherwise, I’ll be back to haunting old amusement parks and tweeting about the toenail that’s about to fall off.

Crazy pants

The very minute I start to research how apply for guru status in hopes of becoming this country’s new gay, white Oprah, is the very minute something happens that reminds I’m not in fact some all-knowing sage mystic sitting on a hill in Sedona. Yes, all it takes is one encounter that could have been avoided to confirm that I am indeed still batshit after all these years.

Without getting into the insane yet mundane details, I can tell you I had a meeting that turned into a screaming match. I’ve had a disagreement with a work collaborator for months and earlier this week things finally erupted.  It went from 0 to Housewives in 2.5 seconds. I sprung a Nene Leake, if you will. While these kind of explosions make for great television, they don’t really fit in with the way I try to live my life. Besides on those shows, the overdone screaming broads are usually nursing a kiddie pool filled with Pinot Grigio when one these kind of things happen. At 10:30am on a Tuesday morning with 3.5 years of sobriety, I didn’t have that excuse.

These days at Sean Inc. where the living being I encounter the most is my cat, yelling at another adult with my finger waving is not something I make the habit of doing. I mean, I’m supposed to be sober. I’m supposed to the kind of person who doesn’t yell at people anymore. But there I was screaming like a lunatic and I stormed off. Actually leaving was the smartest thing I did in that entire 10 minutes.  Yes a mere 10 minutes. It only took that long to turn me into a total lunatic.

I quickly discovered, as I rage-walked to wherever-the-hell I was going, that “letting someone have it” or “giving them a piece of my mind” doesn’t feel so good any more. In fact, it feels horrible. But what did happen, as the result of the crazy exchange, is that something dysfunctional finally ended. Would I have preferred to end this arrangement with an impeccably handwritten note on rose-scented monogrammed paper? Sure. Alas dignity and manners were tossed out the window  in favor of a ghetto “cuss a bitch out” type of exit. Oh well.

The good news is that I didn’t hang up the phone and go get drunk. Which was how I dealt with the aftermath of confrontation before. Instead, I called people in recovery. I went to a meeting. I told on myself for acting insane. And yesterday, I apologized to the person on the receiving end of my crazypants bullshit and made a real amends. This is truly an improvement and proof positive that even though my crazypants still fit me, it’s up to me whether of not I want to wear them all the time. Besides, my crazypants are out of style,  look ridiculous on me and have no place in current my spiritual wardrobe, so to speak. A few days after the blow-up, the fallout has been cleared and I feel better. It’s freeing to say, “Yeah, I’m fucking nuts but I’m working on it” and then carry on with the promise to try harder. Owning your insanity, I’ve heard it said, instantly makes you a little less crazier than you were before. If that’s the case, I’m on way to be becoming the poster child for mental health miracles!

Clean Up on Aisle 9!

It’s painfully clear to me that I am becoming a homosexual of a certain age when things like vacuuming and picking out a toilet bowl cleaner have become truly soul-satisfying experiences. From licking cocaine off of the  private parts of strangers to Windexing my glass coffee table while I’ll listen to the Stephen Sondheim Pandora station– if my dealer could see me now! Granted, I’m not insane about cleaning. Cleaning didn’t become my new tequila. No, I’m still gleefully disorganized and live in a romantic state of what I like to call, “writer messy.” Still, working nearly full-time from home does require me to be a little more put together and it’s easier to create when my desk isn’t doubling as The Tiny Scrap of Paper and Dead Pen Museum.  Considering my old drunk house had a sunroom filled with water damaged yet empty appliance boxes, VHS tapes of bad 80s porn and mysterious toenail clippings, I do okay today in the cleaning and organizing department. If only the upkeep and cleaning of my personal life was as easy.

We are told in recovery that if we don’t drink, trust a higher power, help others and clean house, we’ll do alright. The clean house thing is always a struggle for me. Drunk me always liked to shove it in a closet and shut the door when it came to actual and emotional messes. Out of sight, out of mind. Out of control. This method of avoidance maintenance, unfortunately, no longer works for me. At three-plus years of sobriety, I can run but I hide. I’ve had little personality flaws, flaming character defects and some shitty habits show up on my doorstep recently. Instead of facing the music and dancing, I’ve decided to sit this one out and wait for a song I like better. In other words, I’m dealing by not dealing. As previously stated, this kind of shenanigan can’t go on for long. After being really uncomfortable and causing a fair amount of personal drama, I had to grab the metaphoric broom and mop and clean my shit up. This involved but was not limited to such delightful activities as admitting I was wrong, listening to someone I hurt without getting to attack them in return, and owning some really awful behavior. Ugh. I’d rather cleanup the toenails.

Unlike a sparkly clean bathroom blinding with it’s whiteness and smelling like a bleach bouquet, the benefits of personal cleanups aren’t always immediate. Usually for me they require a change in attitude and action. A week has passed since my mess was uncovered and the cleanup process began. This so-called major overhaul and shameful mess hasn’t been so bad. What I thought required an emotional forklift really just needed some honesty and humility. (Which by the way is not in the same aisle as paper towels and Ajax. I looked.) Sure, I’d like to be able to shut the door and say, “Nothing to see here, move along!” on my personal disasters. But as a person in recovery, it’s a luxury I no longer have. Today, I get to face stuff, clean things up and continue to change. And that’s pretty terrific.

So  pass the Pine-Sol and pump up the jams!

Sorry State of Sorry

Being me in a relationship means spending a lot of time apologizing, coming clean, admitting to whackadoodle behavior and saying sorry. I do this to catch myself and to call myself out and mainly to prevent myself from acting a fool in the future. Yet every so often I’m a human being and I act like a total jackass and no mea culpa can get me out of it. Yeah I’ve recovered from alcoholism and addiction but I haven’t completely recovered from being a self-obsessed, ego-driven jackass. Take last night for example. Please.

The husband and I had a misunderstanding that snowballed into a flurry of hurt feelings, definitive “I quit!”- type of declarations and general huffing and moping. In addition to being married to one another we collaborate on theatrical and artistic projects. Most of the time we work well together. Last night was not one of those times. As I piece together the recent  history of my assholery, I can see exactly where things went wrong. He was already in a bad mood when a work topic came up late last night after a day of rehearsals from Satan. Instead of just agreeing or offering to table the talk until later, I wanted to lock horns. Translation: I wanted to be right and wanted him to feel bad. Well as you can guess that worked out fabulously for me and we didn’t really talk until late this afternoon after spending several hours feeling horrible. I apologized last night. But it was kind of a Splenda apology, you know not the real thing. I was sort of like “I’m sorry but you suck because of …” Yeah not a great apology especially from somebody who routinely has to say sorry for the stupid things they’ve done. The fact is I was in the wrong for verbally jumping down his throat but I was too pissed off to admit I was wrong. This morning,  he went to a work thing and I stomped off to a meeting. As I walked home, I felt sad that I was horrible to my best friend and sad that I allowed myself to act like such a tool. I don’t have fights or drama or ‘stuff’ with people anymore so when I do it really makes me feel awful. Luckily, we cleared the air when I returned and after some veggie pasta and reality TV, things got back to normal. I even apologized for my crappy apology and gave him the heartfelt, real thing.

The lesson here was one I seem to have to keep learning: I’m not done. I’ll probably have to keep saying sorry and admitting when I’m wrong and praying for willingness to change as long as I live. And that’s okay. It sure beats bitching in a bar somewhere about how the world is out to get me and how I’ve been done wrong. Talk about a sorry existence.