love is still the boss

Today was undoubtedly a victory for gay rights and marriage equality! As a gay man who is married my heart exploded. Yet as I read the “DOMA defeated!” headlines this morning on my phone on my way to my meeting, I knew there wasn’t any winners here. It was a matter of human rights and the Supreme Court did the right thing. But if there is a winner that winner is love. As always, love, not me, is the boss.

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When I look at something like gay marriage and inequality, it’s hard not to feel like it’s personal. It’s even harder to not wish harm on the folks who worked overtime to create things like Prop 8. After all, the LGBT community are the victims here and Mormons, Westboro Baptist and all the other bigots deserve the hatred they’ve so happily dished out, right? Uh. Maybe not.  Belonging to a fellowship like I do which has ‘love and tolerance’ as the code, retribution is something I can’t get behind. After all, it’s not “love and tolerance of only those who think like I do.” It’s of everybody. Dammit. The annoying lady at the grocery store. The screaming guy on the corner. The people who don’t believe in recycling. Love and tolerance for all of them. Period. There isn’t a loophole for douchebags. This doesn’t mean I have to agree with them or give them all hugs but it does mean I can’t tear them down for thinking differently than I do, regardless of how batshit it is. It struck me not that long ago that trashing religious people who are perceived as anti-gay,while easy and kinda fun, in my mind, is just as bigoted and shows little or none of the compassion so many of us have been demanding from the world at large. This revelation blew my mind. Maybe I was just as bad as they were? It also drained the victimization out of discrimination. I could no longer hid behind the thought that the straight world was out to destroy me while wallowing in a self-pity jacuzzi. As love is a two-way street so is intolerance and I’ve been guilty of my own prejudices born out of fear or misunderstanding.

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The good news is this though, love trumps my personal idiocy. Love still solves problems that feel personal or too big to ever get fixed. Love prevails even when my own wisdom does not. Love, even when the most loving thing is to walk away or shut the hell up, knows what it’s doing. Love, not clever rainbow memes or links to headlines or Kim Zolciak with tape over her mouth, made DOMA a thing of the past.  Yeah, love won bigtime today. But then again, it always does.

movie therapy, part 1

After a day of medical ups and downs ending with a solution (they adjusted my meds, officially ruled out pneumonia and cancer and sent me on my way with an easier plan than before–yay!), I had that feeling. You know that “I need to sit and stuff my face and watch a favorite movie” feeling. Aside from psychically still feeling sort of horrible, I need to turn my brain off. All of this uncertainty has worn a bitch out. So no era of filmmaking helps me forget my troubles better than comedies from the 1980s and early 90’s.

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I really wanted to watch Overboard or Outrageous Fortune or something incredibly cheesy of that nature. Since I’m a Netflix/Hulu/YouTube only kind of guy having said “See Ya” to cable years ago, however, I had to make concessions. I settled for the underrated camp classic Soapdish, the straight up brilliant Fish Called Wanda and Heathers, a film so funny it still slaughters all other teen films. With the exception of Sixteen Candles which is a comedy from God. My mini-moviefest helped. It was nice to laugh and quote the lines before the characters said them. Movies, I realized have always been my therapist, my escape and my friends. I watched hundreds of hours of old movies as a kid on local channels and on AMC. They were my education outside my little Denver neighborhood and catholic school world. Moreover, they were the reason I wanted to move to LA and tell stories. I’m sad that new movies don’t really inspire me or get me excited. But the thing about being in love with movies is you never give up hope or stop believing that maybe next season there will be ten things I want to see. In short, it’s a romance I won’t let go of.

This got me thinking about my LIST. You know that list of movies you can’t live without and that somehow made your world a better place? Maybe they aren’t all academy award winners or sheer genius. But they mean something and never fail to move you when you watch them. So here’s my part one of my top 10 list and feel free to leave the titles of your own movie therapists in the comments below.

1. All About Eve: Since I like show business, theater and films, it would only figure my favorite of all time would be about just that. But All About Eve isn’t only a great movie about showbiz, it’s also a great movie about life, friendship and integrity. Plus the writing is so damn good it blows my mind.

2. The Philadelphia Story: If it’s raining. If I’m sad. If I need to laugh. The answer is usually The Philadelphia Story. Why would anyone ever watch a Katherine Heigl film when this exists in the world? It’s brilliant and was the film that made me fall in love Hepburn, Stewart and Grant all at the same time. (Ps if you get this film confused with the sappy,overrated AIDS drama with Tom Hanks, you’re missing out and should see this one instead. )

3. Almost Famous:Another showbiz film and boy oh boy do I love it. I really think it’s okay that Kate Hudson, Cameron Crowe and Patrick Fugit never made another great movie after this one. It’s so good and so profound that the world was given a true gift with this movie and all involved should still feel proud.

4. The Hours:  “I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself: So, this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.” It’s incredible observations like this one along with performances that I will never forget that make this movie list-worthy.

5. Hannah and her Sisters: When I was 14 I watched Hannah and Her Sisters on VHS (80’s child alert!) and that’s when I finally “got” Woody Allen. This funny and heartbreaking film covers everything from God’s existence to the complex nature of sibling relationships and I’m so glad my teenage self got to see it.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the rest of my movie therapists and please share your own! I’m always on the look out for a new love affair.

12 Days of Blogmas: The Odds are Good

Greetings! on our 9th day of blogmas ,we’re talking all about my failed attempts in early recovery to become a “ho, ho ho.”

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The post The Odds are Good but the Goods are Odd is my pick for today for a few reasons. First off, every so often as a writer you get write something that makes you laugh and entertains you first without worrying about the readers, this was one of those posts. Thankfully, others seemed to like it too. Secondly, the photo of the  cheesy Ken dolls is one of my favorite images on this blog.  It just worked. It’s not the above Ken dolls however. These beauties are from an Etsy card entitled “Fairy Christmas”.  Uh. Yeah. So there’s that. Lastly, this post made it in to our celebration of blogs because its one of the only ones that talks about dating and sex in early sobriety. Hmm. Why is that? Oh right that’s because I wasn’t exactly a hot ticket in my early days of sobriety.  Or as the post puts it, ” My life was a hot mess and I was fucking nuts. So no, my toxic, curdled milkshake did not bring all the boys to the yard.”

Love and dating for anybody is tough but in early sobriety the whole thing seems like a huge puzzle. Granted, I have a laugh in the post and the sentiments expressed there are the truth but I was also really lonely. It felt like things were never going to get better and I was never going to be “dateable” again. But the writing was on the wall: I had to deal with my issues before real relationships of any kind were possible. It took a lot of work to get where I loved myself and was okay with myself. Once that happened, a better quality of guy (i.e my now husband) started to show up on the radar.

Yet it is hard to deny the comedic nature of  sex and romance and thus our 9th Day of Blogmas post was born.I’m lucky to come out of the other side of feeling miserable and lonely and be able to laugh about it today.  Here now is another chance to read The Odds are Good but the Goods are Odd as well as a photo of me with a giant pink Betsey Johnson-designed Christmas tree from the Plaza Hotel in NYC. Just because.

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Inspiration for August 21st: ‘Friends’ by Bette Midler

Standing at the end of the road, boys,
Waiting for my new friends to come.
I don’t care if I’m hungry or poor,
I’m gonna get me some of them. 

Like myself, the album The Divine Miss M was released in November 1972. The record featured the above ditty which went on to become a standard for Bette Midler and a song she performed during the 80’s as an homage to friends she lost to the AIDS epidemic. Midler was sensational in the early 70’s and attracted top claiber talent like Cissy Houston, Barry Manilow and Melissa Manchester to work on The Divine Miss M.

Midler’s own friends, Buzzy Linhart and Mark Klingman wrote the song and gladly turned it over to her after seeing her perform it in one of her legendary shows at New York’s Continental Baths. Despite it’s melancholy under tones,  to me, “Friends” is a rousing and intellectual song about the importance of human connection. And it’s this message that inspires me today. As a writer, it’s so easy to live as an island and not connect with others. But as an addict and alcoholic in recovery, isolation is the worst possible thing I can do. It’s all about finding a healthy middle ground.  I used to hoard friends and have boatloads of shallow relationships with lots of people. Today, I have a tiny handful of people I love and consider friends. And I’m good with that. As August 21st winds down, I’ll use the rest of the day to be a friend to myself and others. I also have a list of people I’m dying to talk to and so perhaps I’ll call some of them or reach out to them tonight.

So my friends, thanks for reading. I’m so happy we found each other. Just because I love you, I’ll leave you with the Muppets version of the song.

Enjoy! (That’s an Order)

I hate blogs that start with some rambling explanation about why the blogger hasn’t written so long. Like who cares? As if the blog reading public was wringing its hands while I slept in and spent my days making cupcakes and going to the library.I barely give a crap so I’ll keep the explanations to a minimum. I’ll only say that for the last ten days while I haven’t been blogging or really pounding away on my other projects with dwindling deadlines, I’ve been doing this weird thing I could never quite manage while I was loaded: I’m really enjoying my life.

Last week my niece had her “continuation” which is basically a nice way of saying “Congratulations on surviving middle school, now run like hell and don’t ever look back!” The whole affair was lovely as was the dinner that followed it even though my sister’s favorite sparring partner, her ex-husband, was in attendance. Everybody got along and my niece was really happy. Other events included the opening of our new theater space, the increase of paid work, trips to the movies and even a few rides on some roller coasters with my nephew. As we’ve talked about before, I truly believe in order to offer anything as a writer that I really need to try to the best of my ability to go experience my life. This can be a tricky task for someone who’s very nature wants to get high and vanish off the face of the Earth. Nevertheless, I’ve needed it.

Things have been really busy around here since January and even though I snuck off to the desert in March, I found myself feeling drained and uninspired. So I stumbled upon a “staycation” of sorts as projects for clients were done remarkably and uncharacteristically early. This allowed me time to read, research my new show, and hang out with my niece and nephew. I was also able to show up for some people in my life who needed the support so that felt good too. The real miracle here (and for non-addicts I realize how stupid this sounds) is that by just being open and available my life has been really fun and lovely. I no longer spend days wanting to drink or get high. I have a spiritual life and love in my life and blah blah blah. What’s incredible is that I don’t wake up in panic or constant calamity everyday. For years, there was always some impending doom or shitstorm brewing. And most of the drama in my life was handcrafted by your’s truly. Right before I quit drinking, I remember laying in my hallway crying and having a hard time breathing.  My stomach was tied in knots and I was in bad shape. Things had gotten really jacked up and I was feeling like my life was about to be over. Turns out I was right! And thank God. Now a few years later, I can actually be present and have fun and sleep well at night. It’s so crazy to be able to feel and experience every part of my life. The good, the bad and the glittery.

So friends and inspirations, what have you been doing to enjoy and savor your life so far this summer? And what’s that little activity or gift from the universe that never fails to put a smile on your face? Fill my comments section with happiness and joy. That’s an order!

The Odds are Good but the Goods are Odd

When I heard there were hundreds of gay AA meetings in the Los Angeles area when I first got sober, I thought to myself, “Great. I can make my life all better and pick up a boyfriend while I’m here. Fabulous!” I mean you might as well multi-task, right?

So I showed up to my first gay AA meeting in Santa Monica expecting good things. I figured since sober gays didn’t hang out in bars to meet people they must have come here to find hookups and boyfriends. As the meeting started, however, my plan crumbled. First off, there were a lot of lesbians there. Which is fine. In fact, I’m kind of a lesbian groupie. Later on in my Santa Monica sobriety, I befriended all of the coolest lesbians in the program, watched their dogs and even had one as my sponsor. But that didn’t help with the boyfriend item on the agenda. Secondly, the people in this place were really jacked up. I know. Fucked up people at a 12 step meeting–go figure! As they went around the room and shared. I heard these kinda cute guys tell stories of DUIs and suicide attempts. My heart went out to all these men who were battling to stop drinking and just to stay alive. But hitting on them after the meeting seemed highly inappropriate and just wrong. Around that time,  my friend Sarah passed on the wisdom that when it came to the men in AA, “The odds are good but the goods are odd.”

Lastly, and this was the worst part, I realized I was like them and therefore in no position to date. Bummer. That didn’t mean I couldn’t look, no? Seriously, thank god for all of the alcoholic actors and models in AA. They made a lot of boring meetings more enjoyable. I remember when I was looking for a sponsor, I went to a meeting in West Hollywood in the middle of the day. When the time came for the, “Would anyone willing to be a sponsor” announcement, a dozen or so guys who clearly just stepped off the Gay Porn Express all raised their hands.  Well, that wasn’t gonna work. I’d spend all my time trying to figure out how to get my sponsor to sleep with me instead of getting sober. Hence why I wound up with an ass kicking nurse and later a loving lesbian as my first two sponsors. But I digress.

My crazy ass actually wondered, on several occasions, why I wasn’t being hit on at more meetings. Like didn’t they know how hot I was? Weren’t they dying to break off a piece of this? Um. No. And I can’t say I blame them. My life was a hot mess and I was fucking nuts. So no, my toxic, curdled milkshake did not bring all the boys to the yard. And perhaps I wasn’t getting hit on because most people at meetings aren’t there to hookup. They were there to get better. What a concept!

As the wild ride in recovery continued, I realized I needed these meetings too and I needed to stay alive and I wanted my life back. I eventually started believing that maybe one day somebody could actually want what I had going on. And maybe, if I did the work and stopped drinking, even my goods could be a little less odd.

Unplugged with love

This Twitterddicted, Facebook fiend and habitual Hulu-er is doing something radical for four days. I’m not going online!

I know the fact that I consider this radical might a be pathetic but for me it’s kind of a big deal. I’m ALWAYS online. I work online, I socialize online and I write from this here laptop. But as I prepare to leave for Scottsdale, Arizona my laptop is will be staying here in Denver. Last summer, I went to NYC and didn’t work at all. I found I enjoyed the city so much more. So I’m taking it a step further this time and powering off the whole time I’m gone. For the first time in years, all of my three beautiful and amazing siblings will be in one place and I don’t wanna miss a moment! My dad put together a little family reunion in the desert and I want to show up for the whole thing. So for once in my life I worked ahead, got all of my writing done for my clients and left no projects hanging. I even knocked out a nice solid start to my new play!  All signs point to unplug. And that’s what’ll do until Tuesday. Will I survive the high desert and my family without being high? Certainly. Will I survive without Twitter? That remains to be seen.

I’ll be back next week with reports from my sparkletastic trip to Arizona, some thoughts on getting your fabulous back after getting sober, and a post about how  play writing  is like having multiple personalities. Love all y’all! – S.

The lies our hearts tell

When my nearly 13 year relationship crumbled as I got sober in 2009, my heart and my brain conspired to tell me a series of convincing but damaging lies. “You weren’t meant to be in love” they whispered. “No gay man in his right mind is going to want a sober, HIV positive partner” they told me. And of course my favorite lie was the one that played on repeat whenever I felt utterly alone, “You won’t ever know real love.” Naturally, it was all bullshit and thankfully I stopped believing it.

When I first crawled into the AA meetings in Santa Monica, I would see handsome, single, interesting, non-trainwreck gay men and think “Wow. They do exist.” This thought was usually followed by a head shake that would remind me that I was in no condition whatsoever to date anyone. Ever. Or for at least awhile. Besides, who would date me? The recently single, barely sober, life in shambles me was not exactly a candidate for The Bachelor or anything. My heart was smashed open so to protect itself, it told me little lies and truths to protect me. I was not open to the idea of love nor did I think I would ever have anything to offer anyone else. Nevertheless, little changes happened the longer I stayed sober and my life got bigger, so did my ideas about what I could or could not achieve. Soon my heart started saying things like “Maybe I could write professionally and not go back to waiting tables?”

At almost exactly a year sober that is what happened. I started writing copy for an agency. Other mind-boggling things started to happen too. Mainly, I began to like myself. I mean like really be okay with myself and by myself. I spent a summer meditating, writing and taking care of some chickens. I don’t know if the preceding sentence is a guaranteed recipe for successful self-love but it freaking worked for me. Maybe I’ll open a rehab with writing classes and chicken coops. Or not. The point is those lies were no longer being listened to or even transmitted. There was a new set of programming that repeatedly told me, day and night, that I deserve love. Moreover, that I already had love in my life. I might have been single but there was love coming from people everywhere and I was open and lucky to receive it. At one year, seven months and six days of continuous sobriety, I met the man I’m married to today. He wasn’t who I thought he would be meaning who I thought the guy I would marry would be. He was even better. He’s an artist, he’s hilarious, he’s brilliant and he isn’t nuts. And thank god. This family only has room for one crazy person and I fit the bill nicely.

So the deal is this: I am writing this to tell you the truth even if your heart won’t. You deserve love. You are already loved. Despite what you did or didn’t do while you drank or used drugs somebody loves you and somebody will love you like you never knew was possible. I know this all sounds corny but it’s Valentine’s Day so fucking indulge me. Love isn’t for just pretty people or rich people or sane people (clearly). Love is for people who know they are worthy of it and who give it away without condition and even a lying heart would agree with me on that one.

And now you’re back from outer space

Sometimes you haven’t blogged in awhile. And sometimes you wanna use part of a Gloria Gaynor song as your title when you finally do blog again. And sometimes you just want to post a disco ball version of the Death Star because late at night it seems to make sense. This, my friends, is one of those times.

First off, I feel like I’ve been in outer space. My mom came to town, my play opened and social obligations exploded. All blessings and quality problems. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was, I am exhausted. My chronic manageable condition, HIV, really takes a whooping on long stretches where my life is go, go go. I feel like a car that’s run out of gas on the freeway and waiting for Triple A.  And yet being really busy keeps me happy and out of trouble. For the most part. My other manageable condition, alcoholism, needs treatment too. I haven’t been to a meeting in almost a week and it’s time. I started to act like a bratty bitchy teenager with my mom earlier and had to check myself. It wasn’t her. It was me. Bitch just needs to get to a meeting. So that’s what I’m doing before I hang out with the family in the afternoon. The extreme highs and pressure of opening a play and putting myself out there have kinda kicked my butt. But I’m so happy! And it went so well and I’m so proud of the work.

Overall, I’m thrilled with finishing something and not letting fear cripple another creative project. But more on all of that later next week. I also want to blog about songs that save my ass, talk about poor Demi Moore and my own Nitrous experiences, and other sparkly, scary, life affirming stuff. In the meantime, do me a favor. Turn up some dance music and shake your booty all by yourself. Or sing loudly and horribly your favorite song, preferably a guilty pleasure like the one referenced in the title. Or just be nice to yourself for a whole day. You deserve it. Dammit.

That Cat Blog

It’s either a desperate descent into internet popularity whoredom or a sign that I might actually be running out things to blog about (already) but I can’t help myself. I need to write about my cat. Don’t judge me.

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Today I snuck away from Ye Olde Home Office and went to a meeting. A guy shared about his dog who died over the weekend and the fact that he didn’t drink over it. This heartfelt and devastating share opened the flood gates for others to talk about their loss and the lives with animals.I can’t speak for other alcoholics or addicts ( and the minute I do , please call me on my shit) but I am so awkward around people and worried about saying the right thing that being with animals is a relief. They don’t care about what I’m wearing or what I do for a living or who I know. They want food, some petting and they want to sleep which oddly enough sounds like a lot of alcoholics I know too. Anyway, we could all identify and I was thinking about how sad I’d be if I lost that little lady  in the photo with the toy lobster.

Maeby (after Maeby Bluth on Arrested Developement) came to us through my husband’s old roommate. The condensed version is she couldn’t take her  to her boyfriend’s condo where she was moving and we had hung out with the cat a lot so we said, “Sure.” Fact is we had already fallen in love with her and her ridiculous ways. Without sounding like insane cat person (too late), she’s just the quirkiest and cutest cat on the planet. She meows day and night like she’s talking, she sleeps on the refrigerator and she knows how to play fetch (thanks to hours of practice at Ye Olde Home Office). Hilarious and adorable. Mainly, she’s become a companion as I work and write from home. But loving her and having her in our home is also a living amends to the dog and cat I had to give up when I  first got sober. I heartbreakingly had to leave two furry faces behind when I embarked on my journey to get better. At that stage I couldn’t even take care of myself so my ex and another friend stepped in. I missed them but knew animals would stay constant in my life even if I didn’t have any. And boy did they. In my first year and a half of sobriety, I turned into the AA pet sitter to the stars. In 9 months I looked after 4 dogs, 3 cats, and 2 chickens. And then I moved to Colorado to be with my future husband and Maeby snuck into my life.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is everything comes back and love comes from all kinds of places. Even in the moments when I thought I was all alone, I was surrounded by animals. Or family members who cheered and prayed for me from distant sidelines. Or program friends who brought me groceries when I was broke. And it’s amazing that a  blog about a little cat who meows too much can make me realize how lucky I am.