follow me stereo jungle child

Somewhere in the ethos, somewhere in VHS tape Narnia. Somewhere in a Memorex/memory junkyard exists that videotape of me. No, not “videotape” in a Kim K. Ray J way. Mercifully, I never made a tape like that. Mainly because I could never think of why I’d want such an item. “Hey there’s nothing but reruns on. Good thing I have that old sex tape!”  Yikes. No, the tape I’m discussing is the filmed evidence of the  super weird, super gay, super crazy kid I’ve always been. On said tape, I can be found lip synching to Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper.  From what I remember, it’s a pretty entertaining performance. I was 11-years old and had studied Lauper’s every dance move and facial expression. For 80’s kids who worshipped at the church of MTV, lip synching skills and a repertoire of dance moves were essential skills and mine are on display in this tape. You’ll just have to take my word for it. I was spectacular.

Not spectacular in the same way the icon on display in the video above is but spectacularly a kid being 100% himself. Gay, weird, creative me dancing and lip synching and genuinely not giving a shit about what people thought about me. I danced to my own drummer and usually it was in my living room to  Cyndi or to this song

or this song

or this song

I didn’t need some dumb coffee cup to tell me to “dance like no one was watching.” I did it anyway. In fact, I danced, colored, played, lip synched with my whole heart, regardless of what people were watching. Simply put, I was free which is a powerful thing to type when you spent as many years as I did being alcohol’s bitch. But on that elusive video there it is evidence of my freedom and my spirit. Despite being knocked down, drugged out, battered and bruised, the free version of me was possible. The video proved it. So did the drawings, the glitter covered Christmas decorations, the crazy poems.

1267560085001

While that tape may no longer exist, I’m happy to report that my freedom does. Recovery has truly helped me get it back. Right now, I’m in the middle of rewrites and finishing drafts on projects and remembering that kid filled with freedom is an important thing for me. Too often it’s that voice that says, “You are not good enough! Why bother!” that keeps me out of freedom and in total paralysis. I guess what I want to say on this rainy Wednesday is that my life is better when I remember to take care of that free crazy, authentic little being inside of me. He needs to be put on the dance and given permission to spin around.  So I hope you let your wild child dance today, even just for a little while. Remember what a wise woman once said, “All you need is your own imagination. So use it that’s what it’s for. Go inside, for your finest inspiration. Your dreams will open the door.”

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Run and Hide Sunday Girl

0094633139558_600

I read recently that 68-year-old punk/pop icon Debbie Harry hopped up on stage and sang Heart of Glass with Arcade Fire at Coachella. Just because she can. Just because she’s, as Arcade Fire’s Win Butler introduced her, “Debbie fucking Harry.” But mainly, because she’s always had guts. Don’t ever get it twisted- No Debbie? No Madonna. No Gwen. No Gaga. No Miley. Period. The queen of the underground personified balls and moxie in the 70’s and 80’s.  Harry’s  tough stalkerish lyrics (I’m gonna getcha, getcha, getcha), jaw-dropping fashion sense, which basically every hipster chick would end up trying to copy for the next 30-years,

tumblr_mrkcfz5Qvn1rgb1kfo1_r2_500

and her never-ending ability to surprise (rapping, for example)

put Debbie on the top of the heap. Debbie changed everything America thought they knew about rock and roll frontwomen.

Debbie-debbie-harry-31504119-500-307

Personally, Debbie blew my little gay mind when I saw her on shows like American Bandstand and Solid Gold during my childhood.

Henri Matisse once wrote, “Creativity takes courage.” Debbie Harry has that in spades. Me as of late? Uh. Maybe not so much. Yes, I’ve been monthly toiling away on a collection of one-acts that’ll be read this summer and yes I’ve been working as a  producer on a new show. And yeah I’ve read 15 novels since December and tried to intake as much art as I can but over the last month I feel like I’ve been hiding. It’s like writing and creating stuff are the things that make me feel the most free but somehow I’m ignoring those things and choosing to feel paralyzed and uninspired instead. Yeah. That sounds really healthy. In fact, it sounds like the recipe card for my classic Self-Sabotage Souffle. Damn. I thought I threw that fucking thing out. It’s humbling to think that self-doubt can easily creep in my windows, tie me up in the basement and basically hold me hostage regardless of how long I’ve been in recovery. One way or another, it’s gonna get me, get me, get me.

 

debbie_harry_2128573i

Nevertheless, I’m doing what 5-years of being sober has taught me: telling on myself. Moving the things that scare me into the light is the surest way to thwart their power. So I’ve been hiding but what am I going to do about it? For one, I’m going to follow a friend’s lead and write a little every morning. Hence the rebirth of this blog (the suggestion of another friend).  The simple equation of “No writing= feel bad” is easy enough to motivate me to move past fear and hop up on stage, metaphorically speaking of course. Doing things that scare me or that seem impossible helps pull me out of the dark. I say all of this to hold myself accountable. I’m going to blog for the next 30 days just to get my brain moving and to help kick fear in the ass. Friends, I would love to hear about the things that scare you but you do anyway. PS- It’s nice to see you again.

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.

439504_BRITA-Tischwasserfilter-Set-Marella-Cool_xxl

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.

pushing through

12179pushing_it

 

Thinking about writing, they say, is often more painful than just actually writing. I guess I have found this to be true. But I’m kind of like that with everything. From calling someone back to scrubbing the toilet, thinking about doing things often kills my projects before I’ve even picked up the phone/toilet brush/pen. If I have an excuse to get me out of writing, I’ll take. Want me to feed your lizard? Done! Want me to go with you to a True Blood convention? Sure! Need your living room painted? I’m your guy! Anything to avoid doing what I’m supposed to be doing. This personality trait made me the excellent addict you all know and love today. So surprisingly, this 30 Days of Blog has been incredibly helpful.

Don’t get me wrong. I write everyday. Usually its for clients and something of the stimulating copywriting variety. Yet its still writing and better yet– it pays me. This in itself is progress considering I went years while I was drinking where I couldn’t even get a word on a page. But blogging everyday for this here little bundle of hot-messiness has really been a great challenge. It’s really forced me to push on and keep writing when honestly all I’ve wanted to do is nap. “Did I write about this already?”, “Is this too whiny and self-involved (the answer to that is always yes by the way) and mainly “What the hell do I write about today?!?” are a few of the questions I have had to answer myself this month.But what I’ve discovered is it doesn’t matter. No, really. It doesn’t matter what I’m writing about as long as I keep writing and pushing through. Like recovery, 90% of my success is about showing up.If I don’t write everyday, I’ll never know what new project will appear to me. And if I don’t keep going I’ve already assumed none of it is worthwhile which I know in my heart not to be the truth.

So what if every post isn’t going to win a Pulitzer prize or if half of the damn things read like they were written underwater? The point is I did it and got it done. For a guy who tries to move as a little as possible and groans about working, this a victory indeed. Just so you know, I was kidding about painting your living room, by the way.

So friends, what helps you push through and keep going? What helps you stay inspired? Give me some pointers in the comments section, if you feel so inclined.

12 Days of Blogmas: Write Christmas

Well, hello there! Just in case you care, I’m combining our fifth and sixth day of Blogmas not just because I’m lazy (although that of course has something to do with it) but because both posts are all about writing!447802176

The tricky topics of putting the old pen to paper, banging our heads on our laptops and slaying the dragon called writer’s block provided some of my favorite discussion with you guys over the last year. Writing, by nature is a solitary sport, so when we all got a chance to honestly talk about our process and how we survived it, magic seemed to happen. This transpires with my writing group regularly and happens when I read works from other writers about writing too. Also, tend to get really butch around writing and act like”Yo! I got dis. I don’t need no help.” But really it’s nice to have help and to say, “I’m stuck” or “This is hard.” And sometimes writing about, well writing, demystifies my own work and knocks some perspective into my think skull. (By the way, if you’ve turned this blog post into a drinking game and taking a swig of alcohol every time I’ve used the word “writing”- congratulations! You’re hammered.)ernest-hemingway-writing1  I wrote about writing a lot over the year but the  two posts chosen for the 6th and 5th days of Blogmas are The Glamour of Getting it All Down and The Voices in My Head-The Musical, respectively. The first talks about the blogging while the second is more about play writing  Each have memorable photos (Gotta love the Sybil poster!). And they both kind of deal with the mental road blocks involved with this writing thing. Working with other writers along with other people in recovery really feels like what I was put here on this Earth to do so the posts where I got to talk directly to both sets of “my people” felt special indeed.

So check out the Glamour of Getting it All Down and The Voices in My Head-The Musical!, why don’t you?  And while you’re here, please leave me some of your thoughts on writing and your own writing practice in the comments section!

write now. yes, now.

Everybody needs a cheer or a chant or a mantra. Everybody needs a theme song. And everybody needs a little push. More often than not, my theme songs are from the 80’s and in my mind they look like a montage from Can’t Buy Me Love. But that’s just me. As many of my writing and creative cohorts are tackling National Novel Writing Month this November, I am taking on two giant creative projects– editing this very blog into a witty, glittery touching collection of essays and getting my second play ready for rehearsals which start this winter. So I felt like I needed a new mantra/chant/cheer (cherranta?) to give me a little push during this busy and creative month. So here it goes!

Write now!

now?  there’s no way I mean I have all these things I need to do and

No, right now!

now? but the time isn’t right. I’m not ready. It will be crap.

I don’t care. Write now!

Okay but first I need to nap, pretend like I’m going to clean something, call somebody I don’t really wanna talk to, eat something, feel sorry for someone (mainly myself), and then maybe I’ll be ready

Write, now? 

Hmmm.

How about now?

Okay but what I am a gonna write about? You know I should think about that first.

Not “think” now. Write now. 

Sure but it’s going to have to be amazing and life-changing and award-winning, okay?

No, not “write well”.

Write now.

But why now?

because if not you,

then who?

because if you don’t write,

somebody else will.

and if not now,

then when?

umm. soon?

no. now.

write now,

right now.

write now!

Inspiration for 10/4: “Try Just a Little Bit Harder” by Janis Joplin

“If it’s a dream, I don’t want nobody to wake me.” 

42 years ago today, Janis Joplin was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room. On that October 4th, the world lost a soulful, powerful vocalist who’s influence would be felt for deacdes to come. Janis was one of many artists whose flame was put out by drugs and alcohol. Her story has sadly become a rock and roll cliche and gets repeated several times every year. Yet it’s her take no prisoners music and badass vocal stylings that survive today. And “Try Just a Little Bit Harder” is one song which truly captures this legacy.

The track appeared on her 1969 record I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! While not lyrically, complex, “Try Just a Little Bit Harder” embodies the kind of attitude and sass that the world found irresistible in Joplin. While reading about Janis I found this quote by another idol, Stevie Nicks, that sums up Janis’ power perfectly:

“Janis put herself out there completely, and her voice was not only strong and soulful, it was painfully and beautifully real. She sang in the great tradition of the rhythm & blues singers that were her heroes, but she brought her own dangerous, sexy rock & roll edge to every single song. She really gave you a piece of her heart. And that inspired me to find my own voice and my own style.”

So on this chilly Thursday I’m going to rally and turn “Try Just a Little Bit Harder” into my funky theme song. Maybe I’ll blast other Janis tunes during my day to honor her.  Also as I work on some writing projects, I’m going to strive for that “beautifully real” quality that Stevie pinpoints in Janis. Finally, I’ll use the title of the song as kind of a mantra. Spiritually, creatively and emotionally I can try just a little bit harder today. And it’ll feel good. Or  as the lady herself would say, “You know you got it if it makes you feel good!”

 

 

The Stuckness

I was cruising right along, minding my own business- writing, creating and pumping out printed words at a feverish rate.  Happy clients, pleased editors and even some enthusiastic readers all confirmed that hey, maybe I can do this writing thing. And then it happened. The Stuckness.

For five sluggish days, I was barely able to squeeze out a Tweet. Last night, as I was forcing out  a simple puff piece about social media trends and noticed the degree of difficulty was more akin to that of composing a dissertation on the current economic climate in Cambodia, I had to realize that I was knee-deep in the Stuckness. I call it this because of the all encompassing feeling of paralysis that I experience while I’m in the Stuckness. “Writer’s block” seems too simple and “uninspired” is too defeatist. The Stuckness is a destination. A gray, bland shithole that no quip, one-liner or tagline will get me out of. And it’s not an out and out shithole because at least that would be inspiring. No, the Stuckness feels like looking at a test pattern and waiting for the television show to come back on but knowing in your heart you might be waiting forever. Being the dramatic homosexual that I am, whenever I wind up in The Stuckness, the thought temporarily crosses my mind, “Well, here it is. It finally happened. The well has run dry. I am out of ideas. I should go apply for a job at paperclip making factory and be done with it.” Thankfully I know this is not the truth and I also realize it’s hard to write abut recovery and inspiration when I’m feeling like Eeyore waiting to refill his Cymbalta prescription.  Yet, perhaps there’s some value in The Stuckness. I picked up some classic books I’ve never read before at the library. I’m blasting random music while creating new dishes in the kitchen. We’re watching shows on Hulu and YouTube that aren’t on our usual menu. The point is creativity was here the whole time and determined to push its way out.

Being here, being stuck is something that has happened before in my career as a freelance writer. Thankfully, my job is so deadline ridden that I usually can’t pay much attention to it. I have to grab onto something and let it yank me out. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times. As I wrote and re-wrote the same dumb lines for the same dumb article, I realized what I had to do. I looked around and said out loud,”I’m stuck.” I stared at The Stuckness and noticed it’s bleak stranded quality, realized I was truly there. I even tweeted about it. I read other blogs and chatted online with other writers. And that’s when It happened. I was rescued. It sounds simplistic but just by saying “Yeah, I’m stuck. So?” the whole thing stopped being a big deal. No, the rest of that piece did not come easily. And honestly it kind of sucked.  No, I wasn’t able to bang out several chapters and a few scenes right after. But the acknowledgement alone set me free. As an addict, this act seems to happen a lot. Realizing I’m fucked, saying out loud “I’m fucked” and then asking for help-divine or otherwise is a routine we recovery types have to get into. So winding up stranded in The Stuckness is no different and luckily I have my tools to help me get out of it. This being said, The Daily Inspiration will return tomorrow as will more blogs etc. I know. Longest explanation for a blogging absence ever. Enough of me, now it’s your turn.

So fellow bloggers, writers, artists and creative types, tell me how do you get out of The Stuckness? What kinds of things do you do to stay inspired and how do you avoid burnout? Let me know all about it in the comments section! 

Inspiration for Sept. 20th: “Fame” by David Bowie

Sometimes I need to start my day with a deep, reflective moment. And other times, I just need a funky, booty-shaking jam that serves as my soundtrack to my day. Today is the latter. Therefore imagine my delight when I found out that on September 20th, 1975 , Fame by the incomparable David Bowie was the number 1 song. That’s right- 37 years ago, the country had actual taste! I’m kidding. Kind of. “Fame” is one of those “attitude” songs. You know. The kind of song you move your head to and maybe even strut around your apartment to. It’s a track with a funkiness you can’t deny- see the Soul Train dancers in the above clip for further proof.

The song like most Bowie songs has a great back story. Apparently Bowie wrote it as a kind of response to being ticked off at his management company at the time. According to Wikipedia:

Bowie would later describe the song as “nasty, angry,” and fully admits that the song was written “with a degree of malice” aimed at the Mainman management group he had been working with at the time. In 1990 Bowie reflected that “I’d had very upsetting management problems and a lot of that was built into the song. I’ve left that all that behind me, now… I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants.”

To make “Fame” even more awesome, the song was co-written by John Lennon, who can also be heard on the backup vocals! Ever the collaborator, Bowie later re-released the song in 1990 with a rap from Queen Latifah back when she was still a badass.

So on a day like today where I’ve got a lot to do a song like “Fame” is the perfect jam to rock out to. But Bowie’s ability to channel a bad experience into something genius is über inspiring as well. Instead of stewing in situations or feeling hopeless, I will try to remember today that I have talents and tools to help me make things better. Also, Bowie’s willingness to collaborate and learn from other artists is something I need to take with me all day too. Mainly, I’ll use “Fame” as my funky, full of swagger, theme song today.

Readers, what’s your Thursday theme song? Post it below!

 

.

 

Inspiration for September 17th: Henri Rousseau

Beauty is the promise of happiness. -Henri Rousseau

In September 1910, Henri Rousseau died at the age of 66. He died relatively obscure and definitely broke. You know. The oldest artist song in the book. While alive Rousseau exhibited his works with other artists and usually took a critical beating for painting in the “naive style.”  Obviously, Rousseau transcended bad reviews and snobbery by his fellow artists. His work captures the imagination and brews up excitement for art lovers of all ages.

While reading about Rousseau this morning, one biography of the artist said that despite falling on hard times and harsh criticism “his faith in his own abilities never wavered.” A former army officer with a teenage delinquent past, Rousseau claimed that for the most part he had no formal art training and that nature and his surroundings were his only teachers. Paris’ botanic gardens, taxidermy in museums, the countryside and illustrations in books were all Rousseau needed to paint his famous jungle scenes. These works are what most artsy types consider his quintessential pieces despite the fact that they were universally hated at the time and that Rousseau himself never went to the jungle.

Rousseau’s final painting was entitled The Dream. It was shown in an exhibition in 1910, a few months before he died. Despite dying in poverty, Rousseau’s own dreams live on. He was a major influence on Picasso, Jean Hugo, Beckman, and the Surrealists. His paintings inspired Joni Mitchell’s song The Jungle Line and even the animated film Madagascar.

There is clearly a lot to be inspired by with Henri Rousseau. His resilience and perseverance are good things for me to strive for on this gray Monday morning. Also, as I work on some big projects, I need to remember that so much of what I need for research or to stay inspired I can find right here or in my imagination. I need some library time today and Rousseau’s use of the resources around him have made that a priorty for me today. Lastly, I will have an unwavering belief in my own talents today. Haters (especailly the ones in my own my mind) be damned!

Happy Monday everybody!