High Resolutions

New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day. New Year’s Resolutions. Barf and double barf to the whole lot. Especially New Years Resolutions. What sick, self-hating soul came up with New Year’s Resolutions? What kind of sadistic freak would set themselves up for an entire year of guilt for not following through on the unrealistic, pie in the sky promises they made to themselves? Surely it had to be someone Catholic.

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Now, I make no bones about my general distaste for New Years. In fact, if this was one of those claymation specials from the 1960s, I would definitely be the evil character who twirls his mustache and bursts into a catchy tune which would outline my diabolical plan to cancel New Years– forever! Cue the evil laughter, sobbing children and sad animals.

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It’s a drunk persons holiday and maybe I’m just a bitter ex-drunk person so that’s why I’m anti-New years . Maybe it’s because the holiday falls right on the joyous time of year wherein I hit rock bottom and it brings up awful memories  Maybe I’m simply a cranky old queen who needs something to dislike and since I now understand the appeal of both Carly Rae Jepsen and American Horror Story, New Years is my new favorite thing to hate. Whatever the case may be, I’m not a fan. As a failed “This time for sure!” relapser who promised himself that 1990-fill in the blank and 2000-whatever would be the year(s) that he finally stopped smoking, doing drugs, drinking and lying and generally being a delusional dipshit, resolutions really churn my stomach.

For years, I thought I needed to go hiking more or do more yoga or journal more to fix myself. Yeah. The only problem with those plans is that hiking, yoga and journaling are really hard to do when you wake up 7 days a week with a hangover hand-delivered from Satan himself. I learned over and over again that having the resolve or the good intention or even seeing the right “Live Your Best Life” segment on Oprah were not enough. It was going to take something major if I wanted my life to really change and get better. So on January 2nd, 2009 I made a promise to myself. But a different one. I promised I’d actually try and do whatever it took to stay sober. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I thought I wouldn’t make it. Never drinking after work? Never drinking at lunch? Never drinking period? These were hard promises to keep especially for a guy who couldn’t even finish the Alchemist or never watched all of The Secret. Against the not-so-great odds, I kept this promise. Not because I’m remarkable or some kind of will power ninja. All I did was ask for help and change everything.

Incredibly, this is my fourth New Year’s without a hangover. I sit here on my couch after an early morning shift volunteering helping other drunken disasters. My cat and I watched the sun come up. I’ve even changed my mind about New Year’s Eve a little too. I spent mine with my husband watching a Face Off marathon and eating German Chocolate cake as the fireworks from downtown exploded outside our window.  I even make tiny one-day at a time type of resolutions too. But they’re not about depriving myself or beating myself up. I like to resolve to do more of what I already love. Like more reading. More long walks. More learning. More  trying of things I’ve always been afraid to try. More love and less fear. More recovery. More writing. More change. More art and theatre. More happiness. More of you guys and your brilliant thoughts.

So in that spirit, what good stuff do want to cultivate more of in 2013? Inspire me in the comments section below. And I mean this when I say it, Happy New Year!

12 Days of Blogmas: Top 3 Blog Posts of 2012

Merry Almost Whatever Holiday You Celebrate!

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Blogmas started as my way to celebrate, look back on and dissect my year in blogging here at UrTheInspiration. Therefore it is fitting that we wrap up our 12 days of Blogmas with my 3 favorite posts of 2012!  Maybe not the most popular and perhaps not the easiest to read and probably not featuring the best writing but these three posts represent those rare moments in blogging where I shut my laptop and think, “Nailed it!” Writing sometimes is more about sitting down with a goal and reaching it and these 3 blog posts did that quite nicely.

3.) Can’t Hurt Me Now: I never wanted to sit down and write about my own history with bullying. Our attitude towards the topic often feels misguided, in my opinion and I didn’t really think I had much to add to the conversation. Nevertheless, after a lunch with a pal from high school, this blog poured out of me and I’m glad it did. It turned out to be a healing writing experience and provided some long overdue perspective. Plus there’s Madonna references so how can you go wrong?

2.) It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: The balance of humor and honesty is a tough one for me when writing about my addictions and past disasters. I don’t feel like I usually get it right. Yet this post, rich in A-Spray references and acid wash denim, felt like I got pretty damn close. It made me laugh re-reading and that’s always a good sign.

1.) I Haven’t Got Time for the Pain: Processing pain and tragedy sucks, if we’re speaking bluntly. This post was born of me trying to wrap my head around the tragic Aurora shootings that happened over the summer. I cried when I wrote it. I cried with fellow bloggers who reached out to me afterwards. Writing this blog helped me and reading it today I know that it comes from a honest place which is all I ever really want.

There ya have it! I hope all of you have a great holiday! Thanks for reading over the last year. I’ll be back right after Christmas– I’ve got a laundry list of ridiculous crap we need to talk about.

Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Blogmas: Happy Holigays

Oh readers. Just when I think I couldn’t possibly love you more than I do, you surprise me by being totally amazing. Only you guys would make a post about a baseball star our most read of the year but have our second most popular post be about gay pride. Like I said, you guys are pretty special.

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The Last Time I Saw L.A. Gay Pride is our entry here on the 6th day of blogmas. And honestly I love that so many people read that post. “The first time I” or “the last time I” are great writing exercises I’ve picked up from different gurus and fabulous ways to start memoir-type of posts. So it being June at the time, I thought it was fitting to talk about my last time at Los Angeles Gay Pride. Over the years, the particular celebration in the super gayborhood of  West Hollywood served as the playground of a lot of drunken debauchery for this writer. What had escaped me for years about “gay pride” was the second word of that phrase. Feeling proud of myself, liking myself, loving myself were things I couldn’t wrap my mind around regardless of how many parades I sat through. Maybe others could identify with that sentiment and that’s why this post was popular or maybe it had more to do with the fuzzy pink booty shorts. silly-gay-men

Whatever the case, I’m thrilled people read and comment on anything thing I write and I’m proud of this funny post and yeah, today I’m even proud of myself too. Talk about a holiday miracle. Let’s journey back to the magical month of June together, shall we?  And celebrate the 6th day of Blogmas with The Last Time I Saw Gay Pride. 

And if you are still looking for a festive –and cheap- gift for readers on your list, my holiday story A Tough Cookie Christmas is available now at SmashWords!

12 Days of Blogmas: Unmemories

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Hello! The above photo of moi features a typical expression of “huh?’ although the mouse lady and Santa were not the typical companions. Anyway we’re back with the 12 Days of Blogmas and truth be told I don’t remember the above brunch with Santa and his rodent gal pal. Truth is there is a lot I don’t remember. And that’s what today’s trip down blog lane is all about.

I wrote Unmemories, Like the Corners of My Mind last February. It started out to be sort of a humorous tribute to all the things I didn’t remember due to blackouts caused by drinking. I had an idea of writing an un-memoir. I explained the contents of my unmemoir like this:

” My unmemoir would have lots of half stories. Beginnings or just endings. Rarely would the middle of the story show up,” I wrote. “Mainly because in the middle of the action is where I would totally blackout. It became normal, for years at a time, for people to say to me matter of fact, ‘You probably don’t remember. You were really drunk.’ Like it was some kind of acceptable handicap. Like being a blackout drunk excused me from acting like a human being. But really being a blackout drunk doesn’t get you a special parking space and doesn’t entitle you to a telethon. The only perk is that people will let you off the hook for  not remembering things and quietly pity you.”

The post turned out to be heavier than I had intended. Really looking at what drinking did to me and then writing about it was personally a game-changing experience for doing this blog. This post stared back at me in black and white with the truth. Not a pretty truth but one just the same. It became a goal of mine to hit that mark whenever I could. And I’m thrilled to say, as a writer, I feel like I have, a couple of times over the last year.

So friends, take a gander at Unmemories, Like the Corner of My Mind on this 7th Day of Blogmas if you feel so inclined. If,perhaps, you’re in the mood something more festive, my new short story A Tough Cookie Christmas is out now on SmashWords.com!

While we’re talking memories, how about you share some of your favorites from 2012 in the comments section below? 

 

12 Days of Blogmas: Tough Cookies

Jeeze. Talk about bad timing. On our 8th day of Blogmas, I should be happily tooting my own horn about the release of my new my Christmas essay A Tough Cookie Christmas on Smashwords while posting today’s offering Oh Cookie Where Art Thou?

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Instead, like the rest of the planet, I’m feeling kind of bad about the state of humanity. So in order to keep my shameless self-promotion on the more sensitive and compassionate side, I’ll simply say this. I’m proud of a Tough Cookie Christmas because it reminds me that goodness is still possible, change can happen and when in doubt have a cookie. Love is the only thing that gets us through times like these and hopefully my story carries that message too. I’m also proud of it because it’s my first self-published ebook, something I would NEVER have had the guts to do if I wasn’t sober and if I didn’t have the love from you people at this little ol’ blog.( By the way, UrTheInspiration readers get a shout out in the back of the book. It’s the least I could do since you save my life on a daily basis.) If you buy it at Smashwords, you can read it on your Nook, Kindle, iPad or on your computer’s desktop!

But that’s enough out of me.Read the story and the old blog post if you need a little fluffy diversion and I hope I can make you laugh for a minute. Tragedy forces me to be grateful and I’m grateful for all of you, wherever you are.

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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The 12 Days of Blogmas: You’re The Inspiration

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Happy Holidays! That disenchanted child with the bowl cut, groovy parka and look of “I gotta get the hell out of here” is me. The poor tortured young boy trying desperately to make an escape is my little brother. Ain’t Christmas grand? Mild trauma aside, I sincerely do love the holidays. I like flashing lights and glitter and candy. I’m a former raver so sue me. I love the holidays so much I’ve written a  brand new short story about Christmas which is being published this week. (more on that later)  Plus, I love using the holidays as a time to reflect and be grateful. Speaking of reflection, UrtheInspiration is taking the next twelve days to reflect back on some of my favorite blog posts of 2012. Sure, a greatest hits is a lazy way to post new content without having to actually write anything new and that’s part of it. But on the 12th day, December 23rd, this here little old blog will celebrate one year in BlogLand. Hooray!

So to get things started why not start at the beginning?  My first post, You’re the Inspiration, tells what I’m all about and what the blog hopes to accomplish. This inaugural post tells my story how I wound up blogging.  At the time I wrote:

“Oddly enough it was admitting that everything was supremely fucked up and having the courage to laugh about it,  that made everything okay.  So that in short, is why this blog exists. Sharing a laugh or talking about uncomfortable things makes me feel better.  And maybe I can do that for you too.  Hopefully others who are addicted or positive or heartbroken will read this and believe me from the bottom of my heart that everything, will in fact, be okay.”

Almost a year into this wonderful journey, this mission statement remains the same. But I now get inspired and laugh and love all of the people who read my stuff and whom I read too. We’ve created a little circle of support and I’m so grateful.  On December 23, 2011, writing all of this personal, emotional stuff down seemed like a terrifying thing to do and it still is. But now I know it was absolutely the right thing to do too. Without any further hubbub, please enjoy the first day of Blogmas with You’re the Inspiration.

 

Choking Mountain Memories

My insides were churning. My sinuses had a freshly sprayed with battery acid feeling. My head was raw and throbbing. As an added bonus, my gums became bloody,  tender and inflamed. Each noise I heard, every motion I felt, any aroma that wafted my way all made me want to do some insane spin-around 360, Kung Fu projectile vomiting  For the next two months, I would feel like this and daily I would make a note of how horrific it all was. I intentionally  ignored the “miracle of quitting smoking” and how I saved my own life and all of that crap. I wanted to remember how shitty it all was, every second.

 

This tactic was simple. It was the “empty all of the litter boxes before you adopt another cat” technique. It was the “remembering your alimony payments before paying for another wedding” trick. Never in my life had I felt so bad and I needed to remember that cigarettes did this to me. The bastards. I mean, we used to be friends. But more than 20 years later, things between us were not cute. My gagging, hacking last days of smoking were downright disgusting. The mornings were spent spitting and choking followed by the mandatory wake-up, shame cigarette.  Each time I smoked, I knew without a doubt that I was buying my face a one-ticket to Keith Richards Town. And the smell, my smell, became unbearable. I had recently met my husband and reeking like the floor of a 1980’s bowling alley tavern didn’t really seem like the aroma of a man in love should be rocking.

My sudden doneness with smoking was surprising. We’d always gotten along and throughout early sobriety cigarettes were my closest confidantes.Quitting never crossed my mind during those days either. I honestly never thought I would stop but somehow knew that when the time was right, I would know. November 15, 2010 was the time in question. I just knew that I never wanted to be the sad old queen in a kimono with a Benson and Hedges Ultra Light 100 dangling from my creased pruny lip. My horrific detox have helped this become a reality, at least for the last years anyway. Exhuming slimy critters from my lungs, which begged to be pulverized by Sigourney Weaver and some heavy artillery was the first stage of my shiny smoke-free life. This was followed quickly by a compound nausea made worse by moving back to the dizzying altitude of the Mile High City . Baking my skin and sinuses to a golden brown perfection was the toxic smelling 300-year-old radiator in my grandmother’s basement where I was shacking up when I first came back. Just catching a whiff of cigarettes during the early days was hurlicious enough to send me into dry heaves on more than one occasion. Even writing about it now makes me feel a tad queasy. The worst part is that- and  I’m not exaggerating when I say this-  it went on for months. A friend who had also quit smoking recently put it into perspective for me when she said, “You’ve been filling your body with poison since you were 15. Did you think this would be a picnic?” Good point.

In short, my Yelp review of quitting smoking wouldn’t be a glowing one. Seriously I would not recommend it. Stopping drinking was easier and a lot less disgusting  But yes, I am glad I quit smoking and I was incredibly happy and proud last week when I celebrated two years without those nasty bitches. The best part about my gnarly cigarette detox is that I didn’t want to smoke. I just wanted to die. And I hope I always remember that.

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“It’s like you’re giving birth to a big sober baby!” a friend of mine told me when I was about to celebrate nine months of sobriety back in October 2009. I laughed at her metaphor but it was kind of true. Whatever was growing inside of me was not the same hopeless drugged-out, eternally hung over monster that I was before. The longest I had ever gone since the age of 20 was five months. At  age 36, 9 months seemed like an impossibility. You don’t see that chip handed out at meetings very much and based on my own hellish days in early sobriety, I understood why. At seven months, I received my HIV-positive diagnosis, had a cyst yanked out of my face by the thorough yet sadistic Dr. Wong, attempted to piece back together my life after leaving a long-term relationship and basically tried daily not to drink or kill myself. Just getting to 9 months was like winning a race. Even though I knew I hadn’t graduated, the fact I made to that moment, really meant something.

It is strange that the life of a drunk, so free of schedules and oblivious to the concept of timing, suddenly becomes sensitive to every second when they stop drinking. Personally, I clung to tiny  little glimpses of joy as proof perhaps this hell wasn’t going to last forever. I collected happy minutes and hours, reflecting on them, leaning on them when times got dark. Coloring with my nieces, devouring big slices of pizza on beach by myself, random laughter with friends in recovery-  kept the lights on and kept me going. In Southern California, recovery milestones are met with lots of clapping, sometimes singing and cake. In the beginning I rolled my eyes and snickered at this stuff. After a few months, I found myself singing, clapping and even crying like my life depended on it.

Currently, I have people in my life counting days and collecting moments. Restarting sober lives, waiting for difficulties to pass, changing for the first time, learning to live without someone. Seems to be going around. And thank God.  Hope, for me, exists largely in the human capacity for change. Also, watching others hang onto moments and minutes forces me to be grateful for my own. Mainly, it gives me the strength to keep growing and changing too. Fears and difficult stuff didn’t vanish in a puff of glitter just because I stopped being a drunken dipshit. Quite the contrary. But if I try to love this moment and be thankful for the happy minutes, it’s amazing how much easier it all seems.

The Library

I remember the first real meeting I went to. For those of you just joining us, by “meeting” I mean for the things alcoholics and drug addicts go to, not  a meeting like the high-powered thing CEOs go to with catered lunches and glass top conference room tables. This not-as-glamorous but equally as powerful meeting took place on the 4 floor of a dilapidated senior living complex in downtown Los Angeles. My recovery plan was simple.  I figured I’d sail in there,  shed some crocodile tears and legions of good-looking and helpful people would rally around  me and fix my life. I would then leave a brand new person, never to return. This rinky-dink library was filled with vintage page-turners by Nelson DeMille and Jackie Collins and probably didn’t see a lot of reading going on. I suspected it was more of an alternative napping place for the residents. (That’s how I plan on spending my golden years, by the way: finding new and kind of inappropriate places to fall asleep.) It figures that my first meeting would be in a library. I’ve spent the better part of my life hiding in libraries and stumbling on life changing information and this encounter was no different.

On my way to sit down, a really, really happy smiling older man in a flannel shirt and tan pants accosted me with a small square of paper. After getting my name, he explained the paper was to ask anonymous questions about getting sober. “Can you please shoot me?” or “What the hell am I doing here?” didn’t seem like the kind of inquires they were looking for so I kept the paper blank. As the meeting started, I surveyed the room looking for the three categories of  I normally look for upon entering a new situation: ” Fashionable people I want to talk to”, “Guys I Want to Sleep With” and People I Can’t Wait to Judge. It was a Tuesday afternoon so it was slim pickings for all three. Having grown up with a dad who got sober I was familiar with the slogans and prayers and pomp and circumstance to be found at an AA meeting. Within in moments, like clockwork all of it was there. But just as fast, I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. Also, these people were really fucked up. I mean seriously. Relapses, depression, suicide attempts, jail time and that was all from people who’d been sober awhile! Where was the hugging and smiling and instant life-fixing? It sure the fuck wasn’t next to the Mary Higgins Clark books and burnt coffee in the senior center library. Still, I was desperate enough to stay and listen. I listened as a tough looking Latino guy (who would have comfortably fit into Category number 2 if times were rough and trust me, they were) read the questions and other alcoholics answered them. I listened to a hipster dude talk about how his world had improved. I listened to a girl cry who said drinking had made her life a mess. But mainly, I listened to people who kept coming to meetings. For years. And years. Older men, the smiling variety who didn’t fit into any of my categories, shared about how they kept coming to meetings and never drank, no matter what. Hearing this I started to cry. Suddenly my life flashed before my eyes. An eternity spent in dank smelly libraries listening to drunk people who tried to kill themselves. Somehow I don’t think I put this scenario on my vision board.

At the end of the meeting, my friend the smiling guy gave me a chip, he hugged me and told me to keep coming back. “Like Hell I will!”, I thought to myself. But I did come back. Because even though this seemed like the end of the world and the last fucking thing I wanted to do, my life was just beginning. Mainly, I came back because I wasn’t fixed yet and maybe it wouldn’t happen in one sitting but at least these people were laughing and weren’t drinking. No, I wouldn’t have imagined a new start happening in a shitty senior center in downtown LA but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.