A Post 4 Years in the Making

Today is really special and important and I hope you got me a gift. As of today, I’ve been blogging here at WordPress (with sporadic regularity) for four years! Woo-hoo! Let’s dance!

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Okay. Maybe it’s not that important but I’ll still take the gift. Blogging, for me, has been an amazing tool to journal my ongoing recovery, to get things off my mind and onto a page and a testing ground for other things I’m writing or working on. When I started blogging, I didn’t really know where it would go. As an obedient alcoholic, I did it all one post at time. At nearly 3 years of sobriety, my main goal was hanging onto what I had and this blog helped me do that. Through blogging, I met other people like me, some of which I even met in person and I was routinely greeted with a chorus “You Are Not Alone” in the comments section. This affirmation and the support of other bloggers helped me finish two full length plays, publish a short story and grow as a writer and human being. Thank you for that.

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Now, at almost 7 years my life, my writing and my recovery have changed. It’s gotten bigger and honestly, better. They told me when I was first getting sober that this would happen and they were right. I’ve got a few writing projects burning a hole in my brain for 2015 and I don’t know how much blogging I’ll do. But I hope to hang onto it and use it as an outlet to reach out to other peeps in recovery, to develop new ideas and to help ease my crazy brain– one post at a time.

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To celebrate four years at WordPress, here’s 4 of my favorite posts in no particular order. Thank you for giving a crap and Happy Holidays!

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time: Death defying acts! A good Jennifer Lopez Joke! Acid Wash! This post has it all.

Fear Itself: This post from earlier in the month was an exhale of the fear I was walking around with as well as my reflection on the times we’re living in. It was therapeutic to write so again, thank you.

That One Time At That One Meeting: My love letter to the program that saved my life and all the beautiful weirdos you meet there.

Am I Blue: This post from September 2014 makes this list because it was the first time I wrote about my ongoing relationship with depression and doing so was really helpful. Turns out, other people read it and identified too which is really fucking cool.

 

 

Run and Hide Sunday Girl

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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!

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hey.

you.

yes! you!

THANK YOU.

thanks for not forgetting about me.

thanks for letting me get my shit together.

thanks for making me laugh. and cry. and think.

thanks for being you.

thanks for reading for the last 2 years. now please enjoy the wonder that is Pilgrim Barbie.

Pilgrim-Barbie-Doll-1995-barbie-dolls-collection-31686815-640-950So yeah. I’ve been MIA for nearly a month. Moving, 10 days without internet and new gig will do that to a person. But they told me if I stopped being a drunken fool my life would get big. They were right. It’s all big and shit. If it was any bigger it could play William Taft in a movie. The multitude of changes that have happened over the last nearly 5 years have been incredible and the ones over the last few months have been equally miraculous. The point is I have a lot to be grateful for. (By the way, I hate when people in meetings bitch about gratitude meetings. They like to snark, “Well, Gratitude isn’t a step.” To which I’d like to reply, “Well, neither is being a bitter asshole but you seem to being practicing that one just fine.” But I don’t say such a thing because this is a spiritual program.)

Anyway, I am truly grateful. I’m grateful for completing changing.  I’m this guy who couldn’t finish a journal entry and since I’ve gotten sober I’ve finished two full length plays, had five original works performed on stage, been published and even gotten paid for writing silly stuff. More than that, all of my relationships are honest and authentic which alone is a miracle for someone who hung out in Los Angeles nightclubs for as long as I did. And I help people. I know. Me? Yes! Me. Granted, I’m no Mother Theresa or even Angelina Jolie but I try to help people whenever I can. I even helped my gassy, judgemental grandmother read her emails the other day and I actually enjoyed it! Don’t worry. She won’t read that I lovingly called her gassy and judgemental. She can’t see very well. Hence why I read her emails aloud to her in the first place. I’m also grateful that I don’t worry as much as I used to. Funny thing– when your day-to-day life stops being dramatic, you have very little to worry about. when times get tough, I find it’s the little things I’m grateful for like food in the fridge, a warm place to rest my head, regular employment, an incredible husband, siblings who speak to me that make me realize how good I have it.

The guys in my sobriety family and myself do a daily gratitude list which we share on a thread on Facebook. Sometimes it’s the little stuff like “I’m grateful for this day being over.” or “I’m grateful for the bagel I had for breakfast.” Sometimes, it’s more profound. What exactly makes the list doesn’t matter. It’s the simple act of making the list on a regular basis that seems to make a difference. And it’s not just us. Folks all over have long touted the benefits of gratitude and some studies say it might even be good for your health. 

So lovely readers, what are you grateful for?  Sound off in the comments section below! While you think about it, how about letting Alanis provide your gratitude soundtrack?

 

 

 

 

 

do they make a brita filter for your brain?

Weathering the non-stop, roaring rapids of information can really wear me out.There are only so many tweets about Kate Middleton’s baby, only so many Facebook posts about some politician I’ve never heard of and only so many unimportant emails I can handle before my brain feels like it’s about to collapse. I’ve come to believe that perhaps its better that I don’t know all the details of a divorce currently being shared by someone from middle school whom I barely remember? Maybe its okay if I never see pictures from your spleen removal surgery? I just think I liked people better when I knew less about them. Says the guy who routinely talks about his drug use and once sent a tweet about his anal pap. But what I do is art, so it’s different.

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Recently, I’ve discovered in lieu of forcing the entire internet to change (I mean, I asked. But I haven’t heard back), I had to change myself. Wait. That sounds like I’m wearing adult diapers. You know what I mean. My endless bitching about the Internet and adding crap to a conversation online or otherwise is something I can change. Maybe it wasn’t the planet’s never-ending onslaught of negative communication that was the problem but my own. Duh. My problems, much like a Scooby-Doo episode, always end up the same way. The person behind the mask causing all of the haunted shenanigans isn’t a ghost or a demon but me. And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.

Anyway, over the last week I’ve been trying to practice filtering my conversations, emails and thoughts before I vomit them out. I’ve been trying to write about resentments and get my thoughts clear before going to others and wreaking havoc. I’ve been trying to pause before I indulge in the critical buffet and trying to say, “No, thank you” when they pass around the tray of invites to the shit-talkers VIP lounge. This a communication revolution to be sure. But I use the words “trying” and “practice” because this is some difficult stuff. immediately, the narcissist in me says, “I don’t NEED to filter myself! I speak the truth!” This is usually said with a lot of finger waving, by the way.

20obquWhat I’m discovering especially when it comes to my writing and my relationships I don’t have to share everything in order to be myself.  This doesn’t mean I have to repress my sparkle, however. In fact, filtering out the inner-crazy or negativity has let my actual personality come out. And there are Non-Ninja things I can do to make communication more positive like turn off my instant chat or listening instead of talking. Or not answering emails from lunatics.Or not commenting on every thread that annoys me. Or simply thinking of others and reconsidering my wording before I hit send.

It sounds ridiculous but it feels like a genuine start. Staying true to my personality while running it through the filter takes some considerable faith and skill.These are not easy habits to shatter. But I’m going to keep practicing it. Otherwise, I’ll be back to haunting old amusement parks and tweeting about the toenail that’s about to fall off.

What Made Me Wild

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“Oh, please don’t go—we’ll eat you up—we love you so!” might be the best line in a children’s book ever. But Maurice Sendak created so many great lines and images and moments, it would be impossible to pick just one. Sendak would have been 85-years-old today (if you haven’t checked out the Google Doodle in honor of Sendak, please do so now) and his legacy is a profound one on me. I remember reading and rereading Where the Wild Things Are over and over again as a kid. It scared me. It sadden me. It made me laugh. Where the Wild Things Are was passed through our family with its ripped pages, torn cover and scribbled on backside. Books like this one along with Where the Sidewalk Ends and everything Jim Henson touched on television were the things that made me want to tell stories of my own. My appreciation for Sendak certainly grew as I got older. When I worked at my parent’s bookstore in high school, I saw firsthand how kids were still in love with his books. It’s a special artist whose works endures and touches so many generations and Sendak was certainly that.

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Last year, I watched the incredible Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak and again my love for the guy exploded. So brilliant, honest and open Sendak isn’t shy about who he is and what he believes. As a gay man, Sendak had to hide his 50-year relationship in fear that it would ruin his career as a children’s book author. Also incredibly moving are Sendak’s stories of his much loved siblings. Being a person who loves their brothers and sister, I related big time. And he was also very, very funny. For proof, please watch his hysterical, no-holds-barred interview on The Colbert Report. 

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So Happy Birthday, Maurice Sendak! Thanks for teaching me how to be a wild thing.

everyday I write the blog

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As I professional writer, ghostwriter, playwrite, copywriter and all-around monkey behind the keyboard, I pretty much write and blog everyday. Sadly, I don’t get to write over here as much as I would like. So when I recived the challegne to blog everyday in the month of June, I hopped at it. And as a person in recovery, consistency is kind of a big deal. “They”, that nefarious they who like to boss you around when you first come into 12 step programs, bang this into your head in the early days of recovery. “You need to go to 90 meetings in 90 days,” they say. “You need to pray everyday”, they tell you. “You need to call another drunk or junkie several times a week”, they order. The only thing I every did with regularity for over 20 years was get wasted and totally fuck up my life so I was skeptical that discipline and routinely doing anything other than that would even be possible. Nevertheless, I was kind of out of ideas seeing as though my own programs of fixing my life which consisted of everything from snorting Benadryl, half-assed studying of the Kabbalah, hiking away my hangovers, even less than half-assed attending of guided Shambala meditations, drinking non-alcoholic beer and smoking weed and beyond failed miserably. Maybe just shutting up and showing up everyday to meetings could work.Maybe little but revolutionary changes in habits every single day could save my life.  And one day at a time for the last over four years, it totally has.

Since that time, I’ve done some amazing and previously impossible things for over 30 days. A month without a cigarette turned into nearly 3 years without one. 30 days without sugar turned into 60 until the dreams of donuts and giant plates of pasta became impossible to deny. A month without meat turned into nearly a year. 30 days of making gratitude lists over 3 years ago has now turned into a daily ritual that has truly transformed my health, life and spirit.  The point is I can do lots of stuff for 30 days and since writing is something I do anyway, why not blog for the next 30 days? Besides, its a nice outlet for me right now. Having just closed a show and working on two book projects in various stages, blogging here feels like a relief.  Will some great idea spring from this month’s worth of posts? By the end of the month will I have some big revelation? Who knows. But what I do know is that none of this will happen if I don’t blog. Besides, I’m a big dreamer and I’ve seen amazing stuff happen in my own life by just making little changes everyday. And you never know what could happen! As Elvis puts it, “Even in a perfect world, where everyone is equal, I’d still own the films rights and be working on the sequel.”

The Singing Room: A Playwright’s Thoughts

I’m taking a break today from my usual neurosis today to write about my new play, The Singing Room which opens here in Denver on April 27th and runs through May 18th. It occurred to me that even though I rewrote the show itself about 13 times, I’ve never actually written about the show itself. What was it about a story that revolves around a birthday party in karaoke bar that I was drawn to?  How did this play start out as one thing and morph into something else? And why was I obsessed with writing a show about karaoke?

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I guess should first explain what the play is about. The central plot revolves around April, a fashion writer celebrating her 25th birthday at Sunshine’s Singing Room with her friends- Dan her timid  co-worker, Leslie her controlling but out of control childhood friend and Ava, her actress neighbor with a surprise of her own. This birthday party mixes with the regular barflies at Sunshine’s Singing room including Leroy, a karaoke legend in his own mind, Ruby a former, would-be rock and roll goddess and the owner of the establishment as well as our salty emcee for the evening Sunshine, herself. My own tireless research in bars in Los Angeles helped inform these folks, naturally.On the dubious occasion of her birthday, April finds herself at a crossroads and before the night is over thanks to the help of some friends and some strangers, her life might just get turned upside down. I was compelled to write about April mainly because that moment in a person’s life when you start to see through the cracks of how you live and start to think “Hmm. Maybe this doesn’t work for me anymore” is one that interests me very much. In my own life, I needed a series of those moments to happen before I made a change but since we’re trying to make an entertaining little show here, April gets to experience it in two acts. Lucky girl. But leaving the people and things that don’t work or that are no longer good for you isn’t always a happy ending either. Therefore, the story since its inception has never been clear-cut and the ending in my mind has always been ambiguous. This decision gave the show from the first draft to the last what we in the production have been calling “funny-sad”. You know, that hilarious yet kind of real and heartbreaking quality. The first few versions were primarily focused around just the birthday crew and April’s conflict. While funny and entertaining, there were parts that  read like a bad episode of “90210”. Something else was needed to give the story an edge. After toying with even more rewrites, we figured out that the story really needed more of the bar folks to help express the themes of love, disappointment and transformation. Duh. They were sitting at the bar the whole time.

As far as karaoke goes, I’m a huge fan. I love that normal people  can get up on stage and rock out, whether they suck or not. Karaoke is less about vocal prowess and more about selling it to the crowd. It’s also huge to face your fears to just get up there and do it. I myself, suck at singing but it doesn’t stop me from having fun and being ridiculous although now that I’m sober it takes a little more coaxing than it used to. Go figure. But these themes of fearlessness and self-awareness were interesting things to infuse in the script too. We spent a lot of time at karaoke with our casts from previous shows and we both always thought that a karaoke bar would be a great setting for a play. Just the very nature of karaoke gives real life this musical/music video quality which is otherwise impossible to achieve. Also, karaoke is so random and sporadic and putting that energy on stage was an exciting and terrifying proposition. A little terror, I find, is a good thing and certainly keeps the work fresh.  Since karaoke is different every time so is The Singing Room. The characters all have a set of songs they’ll be performing throughout  the run and the show will have songs by the audience too.

My husband, Michael Emmitt, who is also directing this crazy show (bless his heart), talked me off ledges, reorganized the script and even wrote some of the shows best lines. Like April, we recently had to look at things that weren’t working and make huge scary, changes. This winter, we both finally left the theater company we built. It was painful but as April discovers, it was even more painful staying in something that we didn’t feel good about. Yet, The Singing Room has survived! From rehearsals in our living room to last-minute cast and script changes, the show, like most of them do, has gone on. We’ll be performing in an incredible theater space that we were blessed to find. Miraculously, it feels like the show we always wanted to make. And when it comes to life and art you really can’t ask for more than that.

12 Days of Blogmas: Write Christmas

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

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

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

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.