Sunday, January 30, 2011

re-edit loving you (film version)

image credit andy houghton
"Everyone is always going through tough things, the irony in it is that everyone thinks what they're going through is just as hard as what you are. Life isn't about surviving this, it's about understanding this. " 
 Nicholas Sparks

at my age, it seems frivolous to be clumsy when it comes to love. i only wish that i had more field experience. but as is the case with trauma, i dug myself into a dark hole when it came to matters of my heart and i just remained there about 30 years.

at a certain juncture in this life, i was free-spirited, open, experimental, inclusive, and curious. or at least i think i was. maybe i had already begun to travel down a dark path looking for something i didn't believe i was worthy of, and landing myself in situations that would confirm just that. i made friends easily. i had a circle of acquaintances and confidants that both satisfied me and engaged me in growing in new directions. i had relationships aplenty until about 1996.

somewhere along the way, this grimm fairytale ended. the disney-like qualities and the naivete of my late teens and early twenties collided with a tsunami of fear and death and my personal story slipped into step with something that seemed otherworldly. the self-judgement and lack of grounding that can subterfuge a child that has been molested is not just a temporary thing. it can affect a lifetime. add to this, the double punch that society can add to a homosexuals life, and there you will find a recipe for substance abuse, sexual addiction,  and self-sabotage. and i wore these garments as if the next decades were catwalks.

Louise L Hay

” I find it hard to believe that the vast, incredible Intelligence that created this entire Universe is only and old man sitting on a cloud above the Planet Earth….watching my genitals! Yet so many of us were taught this concept as a child. It is vital that we release foolish, outmoded ideas that do not support us and nourish us. I feel strongly that even our concept of God needs to be one that is for us, not against us. There are so many different religions to choose from. If you have one now that tells you, you are a sinner and a lowly worm, get another one.”

“When we remove sexual guilt from people and teach them to love and respect themselves, then they will automatically treat themselves and others in ways that are for their highest good and greatest joy.”

of course, these are internal struggles and issues. the visible side of my life didn't take such a dark turn always. it was, however, interacting with the interior goings-on at many many turns. and luckily, i have been able to rebound professionally somewhat, even though my emotional life is still rather stunted. but this inner life is where most of my focus goes now.

i find that i now examine my relationships with a more critical eye. i don't feel natural in my reactions to life. it feels protracted often. i love my friends- dearly. i am grateful that they have seen me at my worst and my best and have decided i am worth continuing to know. there is no amount of forgiveness that i haven't been given and it is the test for me to give the same in return.

being my age and afraid to feel hurt seems whacked. understanding that the hurt that comes along in my life will fade takes perspective. i still want to go back into that dark hole where i don't have to encounter anything when hurt comes my way. and sometimes i still do but remembering that dark doesn't contain light, and light is needed in my life- as often as possible.

so for today, i am remembering that being angry and afraid is not how i have to live my life. i have options. i have choices. i can take a chance and let go of this anger and fear. i can realize that maybe you don't know how i feel. maybe you don't connect your stance with where i am at. i have seen the movie from this seat before and i didn't like the view. but instead of getting angry, i can just find a new seat in the theatre.

Friday, January 28, 2011

a ride...

It's rather splendid to think of all those great men and women who appear to have presented symptoms that allow us to describe them as bipolar. Whether it's Hemingway, Van Gogh... Robert Schumann has been mentioned... Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath... some of them with rather grim ends... Stephen Fry
today i found myself trudging as i always do, but with a strange and renewed skip in my step. i'm not sure how long it will last, or if it will wane as quickly as it appeared. either way, it feels pretty damn good. there is a fresh inovigorated zest with regard to some changes at one of my workplaces. i have been looking at assisting with editing, enhancing, and modifying services. this process of creation has become like a drug for me. it definitely stimulates my brain and stirs my soul.

if there were a thing i could categorize as "what i do", i think that the process of creation and re-creation would be at the top of the list. i have been involved in this process in almost all of the jobs that created spiritual growth in my life- starting at the age of 25. so here i find myself once again, contemplating getting on the rollercoaster that is this my work and experiencing the ride.

more details will follow, certainly, but i wanted to affirm that a new phase in being ushered in. i know that when my brain is tickled,  i am happier and more productive. it feels as if i am doing what i am supposed to be doing. and i am very happy and grateful that i may be going for a ride...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

country strong: a tango of double partners

well you can call it fate
or destiny
sometimes it really
seems like
it’s a mystery
cause you can be hurt by love
or healed by the same
timing is everything
and it can happen so fast
or a little bit late
timing is everything
Garrett Hedlund – Timing Is Everything Lyrics

as i watched the tangos being played out in the latest country music release "country strong", i found myself wrestling frustration. not because the story was lame (which i didn't find), nor because the performances were lacklustre (not my impression), but because the editing became the primary focus of this film. as each pastiche which was to color in a character or a relationship came on, it muddies the picture for me instead of adding another dimension and it was done abruptly. at one point, i whispered to my friend that i wanted to leave the theatre because the tim mcgraw character was being hued to be so narcissistic. that piece was definitely needed for the storyline, but the haphazard way it was thrown at us definitely lacked finesse.

my belief is that the editing was a mammoth task. the very courageous film had four complex characters literally doing a tango as double partners throughout the film. all the characters had depth. at times i found each of them distasteful and shallow, then at other times, i found myself rooting for each one individually. this single fact made the film enchanting for me.

add the fact that there is a person struggling with alcoholism, the enablers around her, and some people just struggling to make their own lives better than they were, and some quiet and tender singing along the journey and i was hooked.  i am very glad i saw it on a big screen. the projector broke at the theatre and we missed about 10 minutes in the middle of the final 30.  i got free follow up tickets, which made the film free.

sadly, i feel as if the editing team ran out of steam. i know there are times when i have so much work in front of me i get lost in what i am doing. this is how the film reads to me. secretly i am hoping for a director's cut, after he has some time and distance from the project. i so wanted to like it more. and i so wanted to hate it while i was watching it, but i couldn't. the stories seem real. the people seem fragile AND hardened. i guess just see for yourself.

i loved gwyneth paltrow, tim mcgraw, and leighton meester.  but my favorite had to have been the pretty pretty face of garrett hedlund. and the song he sings at the end of the film created a global  warming for me. i totally believe that timing is everything.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the disease of our time

i googled the phrase "the disease of our time" after having heard dr. drew refer to narcotics addiction as such.  click here for the result.
disease of our time

this concept has definitely activated my imagination. firstly, on a personal note, i would think of AIDS as being of our time. but upon further inspection, cancer would easily fit this bill. ignorance, denial, technology, pollution, science, as well as many others make great arguments in their own way. but for me, apathy seems to be the winner. i think addiction and AIDS are the personal diseases, but apathy is what leads us to the road where this question lies....your thoughts ?????

on an alternate disease note, here is a quote from a conversation with alan downs ph.d. who wrote the book i love "the velvet rage"
"We’re all wired to seek emotional validation. For those who’ve experienced shame-based trauma (and I believe this applies to many of us, not just gay men), the emotional invalidation can lead us to develop unhealthy methods for obtaining the validation we crave.

At the core, it’s the pain of not knowing who you are; I call it “the diminished self.” It’s about not knowing what your passion is in life, not knowing what brings you joy, ultimately not knowing the real you. If you’re living life only to please the people around you, that pain ultimately makes life painfully unlivable. You have to retreat into an addiction to compensate for the pain.

Though substance abuse is a major problem among survivors of shame-based trauma, many other behaviors aimed at alleviating the pain of shame can also become addictions. In clinical terms we call them process addictions. These are destructive behavior patterns linked to sex, gambling, shopping or pornography that people use to experience relief from their suffering. In my book, I talk about how gay men acutely struggle with these issues, but this is not unique to gay men—shame-based trauma impacts every part of our culture and its effects are far-reaching."
i have spent the new year struggling with being average, imperfect, and even over-reactive- especially at work. sometimes i find validation in questioning the status quo and playing devil's advocate. not always desirable traits when working in a larger entity.

i continue to find that empathy and caring are needed tools in my trade. and i am repeatedly reminded that i have much to learn when working with others. the pain and the distortion that encase people are complicated and separate from my personal experience. often, counseling is walking blindfolded and i am still learning to use all my senses as i move forward.

someone i had never met before told me they had heard of me- not just from the person who introduced us. he then said - "you're a rock star".... i am embarrassed to admit that i am amused at this... partially because i work with a computer program named ROCC. additionally, though, i know that my ego is delighted that someone talks about me- and maybe not in a negative way as i always imagine.

someone confided to me today that they were sexually abused at 3 and removed from the custody of their parents. they lived as a ward of the state for almost 10 years. i am still wrecked from the sheer terror of this tale- let alone surviving it.

in rereading this post, perhaps ADD is my disease of our time...

kiss kiss.

the first time i heard this song was at a house party in 1975 .... my first gay house party... platform shoes.... shoulder length hair... i think low-rise hip-huggers, too.

Friday, January 14, 2011


crazy is as crazy does. sounds simple, but it gets so much more complicated than a catch phrase. and i was once again reminded of this yet again as i watched and listened to the darkly fantastic "next to normal" playing at the elle caulkins theatre in denver last night. a musical about mental illness? the ironies only begin with that question.

not a perfect play by any means, i found it compelling and thought-provoking at worst and engaging and validating on the better part of the scale. mental health anomalies (ergo mental health issues) don't get cured. they are endured and remain. or not. this nugget of truth makes up the dark part of this story of a family doing their very best to limp through their own wounded situation. all are heroes, all falter, and all of them make sacrifices as well as compromises in order to keep going. and keeping going is the light at the end of the lightless tunnel they take us through. this family keeps going, as individuals, and as a unit, just not the unit we were introduced to at the start of the show.

the daughter's character held special interest to me. she has not bonded with her mother (who has the disorder) and yet she is so like her mother it's uncanny. she handles life and mishandles life in the very same ways she learned from her mother, yet seems so eager to get angry at her mother with every action. it reminded me that indeed most of us learn by example, not by direction and this truth may be hard to get around.

i remembered last night during the walk back to the car that how i deal with life was mostly learned by example. my chemical imbalance is hereditary and is active in most members of one side of my family, although it does manifest itself differently in many. but i did learn about self-medication, avoidance, and denial from my older family members. and later in life- my twenties, i started seeing what the repercussions of their techniques were, although i was already entrenched in my own blend of coping and a course was set.

i liked the magic show approach to psychiatry that was presented in the play. it stings with truth as well as exaggeration. there is not a formula or an exact prescription that fits all. it is an approach at best. and even with the best approach, the symptoms of an anomaly continue. they may be quelled to a point, however, an imbalance still exists. and always will.

learning to live with one's own mental health is a lifetime voyage. both for the bearer and for the people in their lives who love them. i love the lyric "this is the price we pay to feel".  this difficulty is illustrated in a most tender and beautiful fashion in "next to normal". and i believe that next to normal is probably the best anyone will ever get. "and still we pay... we love anyway"...

And you find some way to survive
And you find out you don't have to be happy at all,
To be happier alive.

Day after day,
Give me clouds, and rain and gray.
Give me pain, if that's what's real.

Henry and Natalie:
It's the price we pay to feel.

Dan and Diana:
The price of love is loss,

But still we pay.
Dan and Henry:
We love anyway.

And when the night has finally gone.
And when we see the new day dawn.
We'll wonder how we wandered for so long, so blind.
The wasted world we thought we knew,
The light will make it look brand new.... lyrics from "light" next to normal

Monday, January 10, 2011

the shangs

recently on youtube, i have stumbled across a band (trio) from canada who started recording in the mid-90's named "the shangs". i have begnn a sweet love affair with their music. ambient, moody, quiet, restless, and emo. they are definitely a step beside most musical efforts, and think i might be hooked. claiming lou reed as an early inspiration, they explore the underbelly of pop music in a slightly alien, slightly stalker, highly inspired fashion.

i have posted a couple of cuts inspired by the shangri-las and one for the feminine complex. here is a link to their site- the jayne room. for me, it has been like visiting a new city and finding an incredible boutique shop filled with things i have never found at home. the sites and sounds are different, the pace is strange and even the food tastes different.

i encourage you to visit their world and would love to hear your thoughts and experiences...

Saturday, January 8, 2011


sad news yesterday came my way. kenny-a friend who has been in the hospital for several months with multiple complications from lymphoma had passed over. not sad for him, as he had been in a coma for 3 of those months, his body riddled with shingles, he acquired a viral pneumonia that wasn't responding to treatment, and the multitude of meds he was taking were taking their own toll.

i met kenny about 6 years ago with his wife Susan at a 12 step meeting on a Saturday morning. His wife was a colorful and eccentric woman who wore leopard print and brightly colored eyeglasses with contrasting shoes and bags. he had just decided to get clean about  a year before i did. it turned out that we had the same person for a sponsor and would share breakfast together after meetings with sponsees or with each other. his soul was of the kindest ilk. he looked to the good things in people, where i could never say that is my first stop. he exuded caring and shared openly and honestly about the chasms he had traversed.

susan passed about 2 years ago, in february i think. she had contracted cancer as well, and had mental health issues that compounded with her illness and with chemo. he had contract lymphoma 2 years prior to that, but had aced a rocky venture with his chemo and seemed to be thriving. and he hunkered down and became caretaker for his ailing wife with more dignity and grace than hallmark can put in a month of programming. and he mourned openly and lovingly for several months after her passing.

kenny taught me about acceptance in a surprising way. he always greeted me with a positive tone and an air of inclusivity that astonished me. during several years of our friendship, i found myself riddled with ptsd and untreated mental health issues which encased me in standoffishness and aloofness bound by self judgement. he would always act as if none of that were visible, even though i had pushed so many others away. every encounter left me feeling as if i were one of the boys. boy did i need that, too.

i will miss him and i will miss the possibility of seeing him again. but i smile everytime i have thought of him these last few months. not for his pain, but for his life and what his spirit brought into mine.

Friday, January 7, 2011

good morning friend

Good morning, son

I am a bird

Wearing a brown polyester shirt

You want a Coke?

Maybe some fries?

The roast beef combo's only $9.95

It's okay, you don't have to pay

I've got all the change

Everybody knows

It hurts to grow up

And everybody does

It's so weird to be back here

Let me tell you what

The years go on and

We're still fighting it, we're still fighting it

And you're so much like me

I'm sorry
i title this good morning friend as i don't have a son. i do, however, mentor people fairly regularly. and the struggles wear different clothes and come in different packages, but don't seem to change that much. i have been listening to ben folds this morning and there is a melancholy to his words and music that is laced with light and frivolity. i hope this is what i share with you this morning my friends..

we published the Winter 2010 newsletter yesterday. you can read it at

again, good morning friend... and hello weekend!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

oracle authoritative or wise statement or prediction.

i am on the precipice of what is to come. i know that i am in the process of change in my life somehow. i have been holding on to some things too long and cannot find a graceful way to let go. there is fear that i won't matter, i suppose, if i am not involved, while being "involved" involves mostly prickly pain.

i am so blessed in my being. i have been able to tackle so many things in this life-both the deeply dark and the delightful. i have landed on my feet so many times when leaping was all i could do. i would like to think that people depend on me, but i don't believe this to actually be true. i think more that people expect more from me than i am willing to give most of the time and the result is internal conflict.

what is my nature? is it to stir things up and get out when things get tough? is it to push forward because i can, and run at the first sign of challenge? are compromise and collaboration things that will always elude me?
these questions among others have not been answered completely. but the portions that have been revealed leave me in a not-so-good-looking light. it's hard to take.

but it's necessary. i need to look. even when i don't care for what i see. and i need to learn to do something else besides running over my soul with a grinder. criticizing is so much a habit that i hardly feel it when it's happening. i go numb automatically. and then i have to thaw.

so if there is something i conjure for myself these coming days, it would be courage to look inside more. to look harder, to look mare deeply, and to look with more empathy.

and while i engage in this, i wish for you to find the very best in you. or at least to start that process. or continue it.