Please Don’t Let This Feeling End (part 2)

Two years ago today I started writing this blog. The point of the whole exercise was to sort of track my progress thus far in recovery. I was nearly 3 years sober at the time and things I thought I could never look at or write about suddenly seemed like they would be interesting to put down . Some of it was still hard to write about but a lot of it was enlightening or informative and even more of it was really funny. What wound up happening was this crazy journey of blogging, connecting to other writers and a practice of writing truthfully about my life. Please enjoy this foul-mouthed gingerbread man found on a dish towel at Ross and then I’ll continue my navel gazing and self-congratulation.

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2 years later a lot has changed. I’ve had 2 full-length shows professionally produced, tons of stuff published, health issues, losses, triumphs and the regular flow of life that happens to everyone even non narcissists who don’t feel the need to track their own every move on social media. In short, I’m not the blogger that I used to be. Speaking of narcissism, let me quote myself to help me hurry up and get to the point. In the post entitled Please Don’t Let This Feeling End, I describe my purpose of writing this blog as follows:

“In a way, urtheinspiration is my greatest hits. Thoughts I’ve had, secrets I’ve kept, memories that have come back, memories that are still fuzzy and new theme songs. Also, You’re the inspiration refers to you, the people I know and don’t know who battle addiction and adversity who routinely tell me, “yes, you can get through this.””

While that is still true, this blog had changed since it was born two years ago. Like any two-year old, it’s wild, cranky, unpredictable and easily bored. So my interest in blogging and writing in general as of late has been passing at best. I whine that I’m not inspired. Or that I don’t have any time. Or ideas. Or motivation. In other words, I invent loads of horseshit in order to keep me from producing things and being creative. Sounds insane I know but let’s consider the source here for a minute, shall we? So going into our third year, I’m going to mix things up around this joint.  I’ll still write about recovery and all the crazy things inside my head. But I also want to publish more visual posts, original videos, short fiction and randomness to keep this little two-year old stimulated and entertained. And hopefully you all will be entertained too! Mainly I want to keep writing because  I love it and I still don’t want this to end. It may not come again and I want to remember.

Thanks again for reading and happy holidays!

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.

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.

Cat & Carly

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?”

Please Don’t Let This Feeling End

“You’re the inspiration” is not only the title of this blog but the title of an amazingly schmaltzy Chicago song from the 80s. I named this blog about addiction, disease and recovery after that musical masterpiece because it occurred to me years ago that whenever I was in my local Rite Aid buying alcohol, some corny love song like this one or this one or anything from the Celine Dion (more on her at another time) catalog was always playing. It was as if the musical director for the drug store chain had masterfully crafted a soft rock tapestry perfect for purchasing everything from cheap wine and cat litter to copies of  Soap Opera Digest and Fleet enemas. The humor and irony that songs of love and downright co-dependency (See: “Without You”, the Mariah Carey version for further proof) were blasting as I purchased the only thing that I loved at that time was not lost on me. My alcoholism had a soundtrack and much like my disease itself, it wasn’t pretty.

These songs are played at weddings and are the kinds of things that wind up on late night CD compilations that you secretly want to buy. And it’s funny that most of the lyrics of these heartwarming hits could be applied to the way I felt about drugs and alcohol. Take “Through the Eyes of Love”-please!- for example.The lyric “Please don’t let this feeling end, it might not come again and I want to remember” pretty much sums up my never-ending search to get high and hopes that I can recapture and hang onto the feeling. Not only is this a great song to summarize my addiction but it’s also the appropriate thing to play if you’re an ice skater who goes blind. Yet the romance of my drinking unlike these pop music cockroaches, didn’t last for long. It was ugly for the better part of a decade. In my mind though it still sounded cool like the real music I loved like PJ Harvey or Phoenix or Bjork (who’s Post was a favorite of mine to listen to high). In reality it was out of date, old and tired like the songs at Rite Aid.

In a way, urtheinspiration is my greatest hits. Thoughts I’ve had, secrets I’ve kept, memories that have come back, memories that are still fuzzy and new theme songs. Also, You’re the inspiration refers to you, the people I know and don’t know who battle addiction and adversity who routinely tell me, “yes, you can get through this.” So let the music play and no I don’t take requests. Okay, maybe I’ll take requests as long as it isn’t anything by Air Supply.