the skinny

I don’t think I believe in a God who over the course of a week made this whole world like a big Play-Doh playset. But if I did, it would tick me off that he went to all the trouble to create walking, talking thinking humans who all in some small way or the other hate their bodies. Whether it’s our noses, our asses or our feet everybody has some issue with the way they look. Mine recently has been my weight.

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Given the reaction I got when I walked into a room after getting out of the hospital last month, I knew I was skinny. Like Calista Flockhart in the 90’s skinny. Like human Pez machine skinny. Like someone call Feed the Children skinny. My clothes were a lot baggier. My wedding ring looser. My ribs poking out like they were thinking about leaving to go fulfil their destiny at Chili’s. But I was sort of focused on not feeling like hell so being skinny wasn’t too much of a concern. Until other people started talking about it and asking me about it. Look, if I drive my narrative car over into the whiny lane during this post, I apologize. That’s not really my intention. The issue, my issue–on newsstands now!– is how weird people are about weight loss. Clearly it wasn’t a “Wow! You look great!” comment I was garnering. It was a “Oh my god, are you okay?” comment. Which is fine and appreciated. We’re nosy creatures so mainly the ballsy folks who asked about my weight wanted to know the why, how and what’s going on of my dramatic weight loss. How dramatic, you ask(you nosy thing you) ? I’m a skinny dude without my pal pneumonia so I didn’t have much to give to the weight contribution basket to begin with. So  me losing around 15-20 pounds was admittedly shocking to folks. Some random neighbors who don’t always say hi to me wondered if I was okay. Weird people I don’t really know at my day job asked me how much weight I had lost. Folks who I maybe don’t bond with usually in “The Rooms” suddenly were interested in why I looked the way I looked. It made me surprisingly self-conscious and made me long for the days when white people would be concerned but do the polite thing and talk about behind your back.

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When they’d ask, I’d tell them an abridged version of my pneumonia battle, they’d say they were glad I was feeling better, I would thank them and take my emaciated ass out of the situation as fast as I could. It was awkward and I tried to be gracious but on days where I felt like shit answering questions about my weight really pissed me off. Like we don’t do that when people gain weight, right? As I struggled with sizes the other day at H&M, it hit me what a fucking drag body issues are. While trying to decide if was too fat for a small or too tiny for a medium, anxiety swept over me. Now, I am lucky that I’m not a person who’s struggled with anorexia or bulimia or body dysmorphia but in that moment I felt pretty shitty. It could have had a little something to do with the bad techno and my heavy coat which was making me hot. But I felt like I was too skinny, too old and too sick looking to buy the sweaters I wanted so why was I even bothering?  What happened there in the mall, however, was something bigger. I remembered I’m a human being who is not always going to love himself or how he looks, regardless of how many affirmations he’s got posted to his mirror. I grabbed two smalls without trying them on, had a nice conversation with the sweet supermodel behind the register and left.

When I got home, I took a deep breath and tried on my sweaters which fit fabulously. My temporary mall-induced fears of not being enough had passed. I have realized in the days since that the road to loving myself-fat, skinny or whatever– is a long one and handled one day at a time like everything else. And just for today, I’ll try to love myself with my giant head and tiny body and that’ll be enough. Because I’m enough.

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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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Viva La Revolution!

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“All books about all revolutions begin with a chapter that describes the decay of tottering authority or the misery and sufferings of the people. They should begin with a psychological chapter — one that shows how a harassed, terrified man suddenly breaks his terror, stops being afraid. This unusual process — sometimes accomplished in an instant, like a shock — demands to be illustrated. Man gets rid of fear and feels free. Without that, there would be no revolution.” – Ryszard Kapuscinski

Every year on this day, I want to pull the covers over my head. I want to acknowledge the date and its significance by not acknowledging it. I want to hide. I know that’s not the patriotic response or something that inspires a “Never Forget” truck mudflap or Toby Keith country song. But that’s me.  I find life to be ugly and hard and then I hide. Whether its September 11th or a random Thursday in March, fear of the world being real, sad or hard kept me under the covers (and in the bottle) for the better part of nearly two decades. While my drinking and drugging ended in 2009, fear still manages to slip in and cripple me. The above quote, however, got me thinking, what if the changes I seek in the world and in myself begin with finally telling fear to fuck off?

Seriously, fear. Suck it. I don’t think the lives lost are honored by me feeling afraid or by living in fear that it’ll happen again. Or by drowning my sorrows. The more I stare fear in the face, the closer my revolution gets to becoming a reality.  My revolution starts by writing this blog. Not that I have any delusions that my pictures of ponies and quips about reality shows will save lives but facing my truth and telling my story helps kick fear right in the crotch. My revolution continues by spreading the message to gays, lesbian and transgendered folk that they don’t have to live in bars and hate themselves. It’s not Westboro Baptist Church or the Mormons or the GOP that’s killing us, its self-hate and an incredibly high rate of fatality due to drugs and alcohol. Also, my own private revolution is committed to not living in shame about being in recovery, being HIV positive or being gay. Yeah it’s not a worldwide peace treaty but it is what I can do from my dining room table to maybe help somebody else going through the same thing.

Finally, my revolution needs to be fueled by love. Theres nothing more fear hates than love.  On a day where so many feel loss and heartache, actions motivated by love instead of fear are more powerful than any bumper sticker, flag or network TV report. Luckily, the incredibly human and flawed world I live in gives me ample opportunities to practice this. Again, the practice of love starts with this guy behind the keyboard. I’ve lived in fear about silly, stupid stuff lately and yesterday I had it. I was sick of making the conscious choice to feel afraid or doomed or that the planet was out to get me. It was as if I did as Kapuscinski said and got rid of my fear and felt free. I know this in an ongoing battle, this war against fear. And I know there will be times when fear wins. Nevertheless, it feels like a war I should keep fighting.

happy laborless day

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I’m all for juggling, multitasking and running around but every once and awhile, I need to do nothing. Like grab a book and maybe read it or maybe just nap kinda nothing. That was goal numero uno this weekend. After closing our incredible playoffs show on Thursday, I needed to relax for a couple of days. Besides, that evening of theatrical goodness, wherein I spoke quite a bit, had left me physically feeling wiped out and sounding like Demi Moore. Granted, I had a couple of deadlines and some preparations I needed to attend to this weekend along with some secret ninja service work stuff. But taking it easy was on the top of the list.

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And so far, I’ve achieved it! Taking care of myself these days most of the times means knowing when to power down and chill out. Thankfully, one of the gifts of being positive is that my body lets me know pretty quickly when I need to lay the hell down. Overall, my health is better than the beginning of the summer which is an incredible gift.  It took me feeling really crap to realize that my self-care is a nonstop job and one I do better when I take the time to relax.

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So friends, I hope that you too have found some time this weekend to do a little nothing. Oh! But what you should do (look at me getting all bossy) is go do a Google Image search for Lazy Animals. It’s like a total cute explosion. Happy Labor Day!

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thanks for letting me cher

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In a misty Santa Monica park, on top of a green hill, with the sound of fog warnings coming from the beach and dogs barking, there’s a rec center. In addition to what sounded like some pretty spicy dance classes, this center also has meetings of the 12 step variety. Meetings I needed very much when I first moved to the beach in 2009 in hopes of turning my shipwreck of a life around.  My first time there I peered in the window and saw all these happy smiling people. Well, this certainly couldn’t be a meeting for drunks and drug addicts. Where was the crying? Where were the hobos with the red bandana knapsacks and pork pie hats? Where were the junkies in wheelchairs on death’s door? Being convinced I was in the wrong place, I quickly got out of there before anybody noticed me.  What I didn’t I know was that was the right place and I would be spending a lot of time there in the months to come.

12 step meetings are crazy ass places. Drama. Laughter. Breakdowns. Breakthroughs. Bunnies. No, really, there was an actress from the 80’s who used to bring her pet rabbit to the meeting. Maybe the bunny had a drinking problem. It’s all the stuff people watch reality tv for but without the commercials. Unlike those televised travesties, meetings actually save people’s lives. I’m not exactly sure how but people who go all the time usually stop doing drugs, drinking, gambling screwing everything in sight or whatever else might ail them. Again, this magical juju is beyond my comprehension. Sure I can tell you the names of the kids on Full House or the order of the singles released on Madonna’s True Blue record, but mysteries of the universe are beyond my comprehension. What I did notice about these gatherings is the folks who shared about their struggles and the solutions to said struggles and did so on a regular basis managed to stay sober. One day after a gathering of these brave people, my heart was full. I left the meeting and as I walked down the fog covered hill, this song started came from the SUV of one of the people leaving the meeting:

I started laughing. Not only because of the song’s goofy jingly-jangly intro or the lyrical parallels to attendees of the meeting, but because it’s Cher. Diva, icon and former spouse to someone who used drugs and alcohol like I did, Cher is everything. I love Cher for the camp factor, for her music and because as a gay man in his forties, it’s the law. Cher is also the ultimate symbol  of survival. Ain’t no Equal commercial or bad movie gonna keep her down!  Just when we think she’s done, she comes back. With a few months sober and back from the brink of self-destruction, I could kind of relate.  I could go on with the Cher metaphor (“I was once a ‘Dark Lady’ and now I ‘Believe”) but I won’t. What people like Cher, Madonna Cyndi Lauper and Boy George represented to me as a kid was individuality and strength, things I so desperately wanted. Meetings were the first place I felt like I could be myself. The real version. I could say, “hey, I’m not feeling good.” or “I need help” without giving a crap about what people thought. I soon began to find my life but bigger than that I learned I didn’t have to do any of this alone. And thankfully, my road to individuality and being able to share my problems was one that didn’t require headdresses or assless pants.

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Nothing More Than Feelings

“Just because you’re feeling it doesn’t mean that it’s the truth or that it even matters,” he told me at a few months sober. Basically, this friend of mine was telling me, whatever it was that I was feeling, it wasn’t a big fucking deal. Clearly, he didn’t know what I was going through. Because everything I’ve ever felt is a big fucking deal, thank you very much.

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In those early days of recovery, feelings raged bubbled up inside of me like hot lava and I couldn’t control where they spewed or what they destroyed. All I knew is after not feeling anything for decades, I was now in the middle of an emotional natural disaster.  There was never a middle ground with me and emotions. I either ignored my emotions or I let my emotions rule my life. Both ways were totally out of control ways to live. If I ignored whatever it was I feeling, eventually my insides would start to ache and I’d need something to take the edge off. A bucket of blow and a kiddie pool full of tequila usually did the trick. If however, I let my emotions drive the bus, I was in for a wild and unpredictable ride and so were the poor folks I dragged onboard.  I felt like people were out to get me. I felt like I need to control the way people reacted. I felt like I needed to be happy so I concocted bullshit stories to help sell this lie. I felt, I felt, I felt and it all felt crazy and therefore a drink would help fix this way of living too.

When emotions take over in sobriety, that is when things get tricky. The drama of feeling depressed, angry, victimized or heartbroken is another drug entirely for me. Something in my addict mind tries to convince me that if my life is hard or bad than I have a reason to check out. “He hasn’t left his bed in days but can you blame him?” is what I hope people will say. In reality, people don’t care if I feel good or bad. People, just like me, are too wrapped in thinking about themselves to give two shits about my mental state. My emotions and what I feel have turned out to be what that friend said they were: not a big deal. In this no-big-dealness, I just get to feel whatever it is I’m going through. The good, the bad, the unfabulous. I feel it, I acknowledge it and I move on. And sometimes I feel crappy for a while and this is okay too.

As I talked about in the post below, my life hasn’t been easy lately. I had nine days solid of a lot of drama of the boring professional nature. While disheartening and annoying, it has proven to be just that. I’m lucky that my health is good, that I get paid to do what I love and that my husband has my back no matter what. Mainly, I don’t drink when shit is uncomfortable or when feelings do show up. Today, I get say when somebody asks, “I feel like shit.” And I get to say that with no remorse or drama attached. I say how I’m feeling now because it isn’t a big deal but ignoring it is.

 

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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!

Can’t Hurt Me Now

You can’t hurt me now
I got away from you, I never thought I would
You can’t make me cry, you once had the power
I never felt so good about myself

‘Oh Father’, Madonna 1989

For a super effeminate card-carrying Madonna fan who sparkled a little bit harder than the Golden, Colorado kids in the 4H program, high school was not always a walk in the park. Or if it was a walk in the park, it was a walk in a park where they yelled “Hey faggot!’ at you. I was routinely pushed and tormented and spent my senior year with charming slurs scratched into my locker door.  It sucked but armed with my smartassed sense of humor and a few tough girlfriends, I survived. Mainly, I just didn’t really show up that often. I mean, ditching class, smoking cigarettes and shoplifting were more fun and less traumatic. By senior year I had friends and wasn’t harassed as much and did my own share of bullying to keep afloat. Like any good Madonna fan, I learned how to strike a good ,”if you don’t like me, go fuck yourself” pose. I worked, I went to concerts and bad teen clubs and oh yeah- I did drugs and drank. But then again, you knew that about me. (Spoiler alert: this drinking and drug thing doesn’t turn out so good for your’s truly.)

As delightful as talking about high school is, there is a point here. Last week, I had lunch with a friend from that institution. She was always one of the good ones. We were laughing about high school and the ridiculous people we survived together. Our 20th reunion was last summer, which I did not attend. I was about to explain why when my brilliant friend interrupted and said, “Oh I don’t blame you. They were awful to you.” She then went on to recall a time when she was walking down the hall with me as the homophobic cretins yelled names at me. She was horrified and the memory has haunted her.. “Thank you”, is what I blurted out as she finished her story. It was a weird thing to say but I meant it from the bottom of my heart. In truth, I don’t know why the hell I said it. Maybe I was thanking her for having the courage to be my friend even though the people in the hallway clearly thought that was a bad idea. Or maybe I was thanking her for her honesty. At the center of my gratitude, as I figured out later on during the day, was her acknowledgement. It was so cathartic to hear someone else say notice that people were awful to me. When you’re in that kind of thing, you think it’s bad but it’s hard to know the truth. To have another person say, “that wasn’t okay” is incredibly healing. See, her younger brother was bullied too for being Jewish. So even though my friend was a popular girl with lots of friends, she understood. I wasn’t alone. It’s important for me to remember, it wasn’t just me.  The county I went to school in was not a bastion of love and tolerance. It had an epidemic of bullying, suicides and racially charged violence in the late 1980s and early 90s. Nine years later, this county’s problems would come to a boiling point and it would be put on the map, thanks to the massacre at Columbine High School.

What’s funny is that I am no longer angry or resentful at my tormentors. Yes, I was thrilled when she told me most of them got fat and look horrible- hello, I’m a human being. But overall, I don’t care.I know was a little shit too and probably caused as much pain to someone else. The best revenge is being fabulous, growing up and moving on. And I think I’ve accomplished those things for the most part. But more than that I have compassion for myself and all of the kids I went to school with. These people can’t hurt me or piss me off today. The key is that I’m no longer hurting myself either. Like everything else fantastic in my life, my forgiveness around high school can be attributed to recovery from drugs and alcohol. Thanks to facing my demons, I don’t have to fake the tough Madonna attitude. I legitimately don’t give a shit and I do so with love. So I bristle whenever I hear about bullying and the well-meaning yet over simplified “It Gets Better” campaigns. Yes, it does get better but not if you don’t do the work. We owe it to ourselves to get better too. I’ll shut up now and  let Madonna explain it:

“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”

I haven’t got time for the pain

My rule of thumb when it comes to headline grabbing, locally based tragedies is this: when people I went to high school with are posting their thoughts on everything from Jesus Christ to gun control on Facebook, I officially have nothing to add to the conversation. Seriously, what can I say? I barely know how to ask vegans what they like to eat for breakfast much less have a genius diatribe about peace and understanding ready at the drop of the hat. Instead, I tend to go inward. I look for answers in music. I know it sounds crazy but hello- no crazier than the shit that has went down over the last week. Usually this musical introspection takes me to the 1970’s.

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Trust me, I wanted to sit down and write a blog about the tragic shooting in Aurora and perhaps even tie in some Greek Mythology all the while having the entire post really be about me and how sensitive I am. This magical blog post would not only explain the messed up events for readers everywhere but it would inspire them to follow me on Twitter or send me fan mail. No such luck. Instead, all I want to talk about is Carly Simon.

The other night I was making brownies (Baking relaxes me. It’s like Bikram yoga for junkies and drunks) I had the Linda Ronstadt Pandora station on. In addition to the ditties of La Ronstadt, the station features songs from “similar artists” who maybe aren’t so similar but were at least popular in the same era. Carly Simon was one of the artists chosen to accompany Linda and me on our musical baking adventure. In addition to learning that Carly was the daughter of Simon of famed publishing house Simon & Schuster (who knew?), I read that she was one of the era’s confessional singers like Carol King, James Taylor and Cat Stevens. The idea of Carly being confessional is one that appeals to me. I think that’s what always appealed to me about 1970s music and even film. The really good stuff (Daniel by Elton John, Woody Allen’s Manhattan, and You’re so Vain by Carly Simon) all felt like your were listening to someone’s diary or watching the real lives of people you knew. It told the truth and for a child of delusion and addiction, artists that could pull that off have always been my heroes. Anyway, Carly’s song “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain” came on as I poured my brownie batter into the pan. The words “Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive. Thought that’s just how much it cost to survive in this world” hit me like a ton of bricks. I can identify with mistaking living in calamity as actually living. I too needed pain or suffering to give me pulse or get me out of bed. That’s an intense realization to have, especially for an old soft rock song they now use on pain reliever commercials.  The power of being confessional, as Carly proved, is that sometimes your truth belongs to other people too.

When horrible fucked up shit like this used to happen, we would all meet at my favorite dive bar, play the jukebox and get really, really loaded. We’d do this when nothing fucked up happened too, by the way. Today, how do I deal? Well I have a cry. I bake something. I sing a long to songs from my childhood. But mainly, I have to stay out of the grudge match. I can’t battle with my opinion anymore or obsessively watch CNN in search of some answer when I know there isn’t an answer.

But maybe there is an answer. On a separate kitchen session in the same week with the same Pandora station, I heard Carly again. In her totally underrated song Coming Around Again from the film, Heartburn; Carly sings and almost chants, “I believe in love.” She sings it over and over again. I needed to hear this message on repeat. Because I do believe in it. I know that awful, hideous occurrences can only be healed with love. I know that it isn’t the easy path. I know that it frankly fucking sucks waiting for love to heal. But I know that it works. Yeah, I believe in love because, as Carly sings in the following line, “What else can I do?”