Friday, August 30, 2013

dancing by myself

the advent of recovery (or growing up)  brings the imposition of seeing one's reflection without the rose colored lenses. and this coming solstice seems it may find me reflecting on my nature and its relationship to my world. 

my good friend alex cast my horoscope for me about a year before he left for philadelphia in 2012. he defined a period of time in which my career aspects would bloom- about 7 years i believe. i have remembered his words intermittently since then- partially because i would love for it to be true- but also because my work is caught in a maverick swell like laird hamilton taking teahupo'o.  

just as a hungry homeless man, it seems i have wandered into a novella which provides me with nourishment for both my heart and my soul. i am often dumbstruck by the audacity of wonder and joy in my life. i am stretching, troubleshooting, problem solving, counseling, coaching, mentoring, advocating, networking, teaching and learning on a daily basis. some of the seeds i have helped plant have germinated and are growing and blossoming around us daily.

in concert with the growth of new ideas exists an oppositional side of change- the dying and the letting go of now antique ideas and processes. some of the latter variety don't let easily. their roots are deep and might require torching in order to recede. i have been singed and scratched and gotten somewhat dirty in this process. it is both exhilarating and dizzying at once. and once again i find myself in the line dance of company drama moving left and moving right without having time to look where i am going. 

the factions that disapprove are tenaciously biting and clawing at this new structure of change. and for me it is off putting, challenging, and contradictory. it is as if i am being serenaded (or called out)  by a caucaphonous siren sounding an alarm and warning others about these changes on an almost daily basis- just as piercing and betraying as was depicted  by donald sutherland in the original "invasion of the body snatchers" - see immediately below

needless to say, at times my days at work are memorable and creepy and very very campy. i catch myself changing reactions as quickly as i sometimes change shirts when deciding on dinner attire. the  drama and the screeching are pretty exhausing. kinda like a jackhammer outside the window day after day. it becomes an effort to remember what i am thinking sometimes. it never ceases to amaze me how it is that different people in the very same surroundings at the very same time can have such very different experiences. 

but i digress. the recovery directed part of all this is to examine my role here. what do i continue to engage in which creates an environment for these adverserial situations to keep re-appearing in my life. i concede that i am prideful, boastful, gregarious, entrepreneuiral. i act as a free agent often- even when i am on a team. i act first and collaborate later. i am most comfortable when i am delegating- even when it is not my charge. this ignites others at times, yet i continue to pamper my nature. 

wearing rose colored lenses has always allowed me to see myself as a sort of bambi in this dance. like bambi, i run through the forest trying to save myself from the heat and the guns. it's a role i have played since i was a boy and i do it often just from memory. without those lenses however, i see another choreographer's work at hand. the soundtrack has shifted and the company with whom i dance have all changed too. but there i am, dancing (almost all by myself) to a tune that is estranged from the pack in a worn out costume and with lighting now harsh and garish... oh what fun.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

here comes the sun

But I wouldn't be happy anywhere else
Nobody to tell us what to do, all by ourselves
Isn't this a fine hello, I wish I hadn't seen you go
It's always been a bitter pill, the broken mirror's broken still
The letters never made the post, a thousand more I never wrote
And here on dark unfriendly streets
I find the comfort that I seek
And I'm happy, and I've been happy,...shaun escoffery

today, the marketing rep who has been working with our department for the last few months came by today with a photographer to secure images for a brochure and some in house promotions.  the brochure will depict the peer support network that has ignited at our campus. 

the day was full, hectic, and lit by a very positive buzz. there are 4 individual peers chosen for tiny recovery bios, all of whom have been in relationship with methadone for over a decade.  we all took lunch together after the flashbulbs and the labyrinth of portraits. these conquerors that were heralded today let their inner lights shine as they spun tales of old which were braided with the changes upon the clinic and this new network. i am proudest most of the glee and incredulity involved when they talk about the changes they perceive. 

their joy was so big it filled my cup today. and i took a long cool drink. i love days like this. the  particular song posted  i first heard at an early morning jaunt at the endup in san francisco. the]morning light was bright, the sky a perfect blue, and the sense of peace that  encircled me like glenda the goodwitch. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

tad late but still hot

2 things stood out for me at this years vma's.  justin seems pretty damn real and the same love performance flipped my switch. miley's faux pas was awfully forgettable as was the rest of that number she was in. and taylor swift has a good time in spite of all the shit that gets said about her. i love her for that. 


Sunday, August 25, 2013


we started a new process at the workplace for new methadone patients to provide support and education as they transition from a using lifestyle hopefully to one more geared towards recovery. it will last 3 months and the caveat for weekly contact is the promise of weekend take-outs at the end if attendance is stellar and tox screens are substance free. 

my perception of the most valuable aspect of this new approach is the more intensive support towards changing the lifestyle. becoming recovery focused is not a simple task when the majority of a person's life is the same as it was the years before they sought recovery. they still have family relationships that are strained or broken, friends that continue to use and more, and a sense of self that is disjointed and dark. this group experience can hopefully bring some light back into their lives.  it is magical  to witness self esteem as it returns to a person and a light begins to emanate from their eyes. who needs a vacation right now. i have the gift of new beginnings.

here is an outline of the curriculum which was gleaned from a study in the uk:

Introductory session: acquaintance, coordination of expectations, overview of the
sessions schedule 1
Clinic rules (with the clinic director) 2
Methadone: facts and myths (with a physician) 3
Addiction-related diseases (with a physician) 4
Addiction: damages and consequences 5
What is recovery? 6
Coping with craving and relapse prevention 7
Recovery Support 8
Anger management 9
The addict and his/her family 10
Maintaining Change 11
Summary and separation 12

i am very excited and hopeful about the prospects here. there is a very good chance that this type of introduction to medicated-assisted-treatment (mat) could directly influence the culture at the clinic. people who are new to recovery definitely need to learn to live within new boundaries, but they need hope and a hand in order to aim their sites higher for themselves.

the first of these groups took place yesterday. we are holding them on saturdays and i have changed my work schedule to accommodate. if you have been following my blogs at all, you are aware that i love to get new things started. it may have actually become my life's work. there are blessings and bloodletting that accompany life's work and i have had the privilege and the responsibility to walk through both- not always perfectly or even with ease.

i never did opiates- well i did heroin once in 1983- euphoria is what i remember the most. i was on a cloud for a long time and i met a young man i dated for a while as i drifted in that fog. i knew that the undertow of that buzz was too strong for my constitution. i never allowed it to become a drug of choice. ergo i cannot directly relate to the struggles of the souls i am working with. but i can relate to the challenges of change and recovery. especially self-care and self-respect. these are the building blocks of a better life which can help lead us to safe harbor.

Friday, August 23, 2013


“Dance is the hidden language of the soul” 

have been watching these segments of step up revolution and have really come to love them.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

taylor henderson

if you follow my blog at all, you certainly know that i am a singer competition reality show junkie. i love watching young people on this televised wild ride they take as they shoot for a chance to go big time. x factor australia has again this year given me a couple of unknown talent to savor. taylor henderson is one of them. i can't get enough of his rendition of the michael jackson classic.


Friday, August 16, 2013

the ride

i remember going to the carnival in the small town where i lived when i was a little boy. the main square of town had been transformed into a gallimaufry of contraptions and structures which consisted of rides, games, and food purveyors, all of it was strange and exciting and new. adrenalin filled my veins like a mountain stream after a downpour of rain. i always eagerly anticipated attending and would make my way to try as much as possible as soon as possible. i would gorge on roasted corn on the cob, cotton candy, and pork tenderloin sandwiches- usually double up on the sugar- and swirl with a buzz. i treated the rides just like the candy- i was a glutton-almost pacman like.

i don't remember those carnival days as the happiest in my youth by any means, but i remember them vividly.. they seem pagan and pre-radical faerie at best. what i also remember succinctly is the kind of vertigo that would follow this ritual and roll in like a fog after the convergence of sucrose and kinetics. i would get somewhat numbed, disoriented, a bit detached, just as i do at the end of the manic phase. the energy of those outdoor festivals felt just like mania to me. and for this bi-polar mania may just be like a broadway show overture, comprised of a whirlwind of curious and enticing soundbites strung together in an upbeat tapestry. this vertigo, or motion sickness, that i would feel has always felt intrinsically connected to me, just like the mania that preceded it.

i bring this up because i am in the circuit that is described above in my daily life. there is so much newness going on that i have spied my reflection spinning in circles to keep up with all the changes. interwoven with this activity is that ancient sense of disambiguation which ebbs in and out like a marine layer and fills my soul with intoxicating feelings of engagement and disconnection that can be dizzying. the strangeness of it all is the topside and the underside is the familiarity of the dance.

moving through and living with a chemical imbalance is both the carnival i remember and at the same time it is like the funhouse there. it is an revolving and everhshifting maze that recites "the more things change, the more they remain the same" each time the labyrinth is walked. my life has traditionally felt tumultuous. it was before i began using substances, it continued in the 33 years of consistent self-medicating, and it remains in tact after 9 years of sobriety. it has become less of a star player in my drama and phased into the greek chorus. medication reels in the circumference, but the ride motion remains.

no matter how unflattering, now matter how inconvenient, how unsettling- this is part of the  truth of who i am. i often spout to those that i work with that emotional sobriety really involves looking at, understanding, and accepting how we really are in the world. omg- that is so much easier said than done. and it is definitely a ride.

Monday, August 12, 2013

to see

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where –"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.” 

the more i find out about the mind and talents of nico jaar, the more i find myself mesmerized by his scope. he somehow takes me places with his conjuring which i have not dared go in quite some time. in me, he wakes the soul of wonder and curiosity. 

thank you universe 
for this gift that is nico jaar.
there certainly has been rhythm long before you came along
and melody has soothed my soul almost from the day i was born
your song though 
mr jaar
has allowed me to remember that there is indeed a veil 
that is in front of  life
what an adventure to try and look beyond

Sunday, August 11, 2013

at seventeen


By Janis Ian

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth...

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say "come dance with me"
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen...

A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said: "Pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve"
The rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly...

So remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debitures of quality and dubious integrity
Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received at seventeen...

To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
the world was younger than today
when dreams were all they gave for free
to ugly duckling girls like me...

We all play the game, and when we dare
We cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
That call and say: "Come on, dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me, at seventeen...

i worked a coupla weekend parties in the foothills and came home pooped. it morphed into a melancholy saturday evening mostly due to time travel. i managed to be in 2 places almost at the same time. i was moving small platters of food through a milieu of gentiles, and all the while i was whisked forward to the past. i have an incidental connection with the family i worked the parties for. a now-deceased member of their tribe had a profound effect on my sanity and my sense of self and style.

her name was cat and she still seems as aloof and elusive as she did when we met. i was almost sixteen and really struggling in my life. i had become caught up in teenage self-loathing, hormones, and my homosexual proclivities like a fox in barbed wire outside the coop. i kept running from home because home was so very unhappy and somehow i landed in the very hot and very humid south with an uncle and his bride of 2 years. they were in their 30's so it wasn't about a honeymoon for them. i now believe it was about the distraction. but then that's another story.

i arrived in the late spring and had the whole summer ahead of me. there was a pool, 2 acres, a room of my own and about 8 chow chows that cat bred within the confines of her kennel. it was, it turns out, my own version of armisted maupin's "tales of the city". it was the 70's (spring boarded by the 60's) and all manner of roles and boundaries were being tested. cat was an extremely exotic person to this 16 year old mid western boy. she smoked pot, drank diet dr. pepper by the case, bred chows, and wore an almost inappropriately revealing 2 piece bikini daily as we sat by the pool and swapped stories about life, beliefs, growing up, and sex.

cat changed my life that summer. she seemed even more odd than i felt and that resonated somehow into my feeling better about myself. i fell in love with the dogs- especially blue and maya- 2 chows- i believe blue was a champion- and then there was sing-sing- an adorable and misfitted pekingese who ended up following me around like a vow had been taken. cat's life, her aura, and her presence fortified my sense of propriety in the world. her words and her attentions steered me towards believing that indeed i wasn't the most outrageous individual or foreign particle in the universe, which i had silently believed up until that point. it certainly didn't rid me of those thoughts internally, but it did provide me with a new direction in which to move my thinking.

i enrolled in the local high school in the fall, but the insular quality of the summer faded like grapes on the vine. within a couple of months cat and my uncle's relationship had become more volatile. they were avoiding and whisper-arguing and i knew that my time there had come to a close. i headed back up north to chicago and tried once more to sow the seeds of a less manic life. lord knows it was quite some time until things settled a little.

i have come to explain to people my belief- that living with bi-polar disorder is what it must be like living on a ship or boat for most of one's life. the motion that emanates from the ocean is normal. the strangeness in life comes when the ship docks and one walks on dry land. the lack of motion seems out of balance-abnormal, trippy. instinct tells us to get back to the sea. even though the ground is quiet and less chaotic, it doesn't feel right. it doesn't feel natural. the constant motion feels like home. mental health treatment- especially therapy provided me with some tools to understand this. but sobriety is the plow that tilled the way.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

lean into it

the continuous flow of changes permeate most of my days. new procedures, new processes,  exiting colleagues, new caseload, new hours, new activities, and altered expectations are just a handful among the growing mind boggling amount of "one more things" that drape my days. it is both exhilarating and perplexing to walk-through.

i don't know if i have what it takes to move through this all with success, but i am committed to seeing the development of a recovery support process in a health care setting as far as i am allowed. i encounter so many individuals who are drifting through their lives because they lack healthy connections and they have lost a sense of real purpose a long while ago. the drifting seems to have created a chasm in so many that almost impossible to traverse.

thus far, the recovery support efforts we have initiated seem to have offered some addressment to this situation. there is a connection that is created with peer support that can act as a triage for some of these drifters. in opposition to the overflow of listlessness that accompanies early recovery, a sense of connectedness and purpose can move in. in other words- people connect to other people living a similar path- it is definitely not pharmaceutical. it is a holistic treatment protocol that has worked for many persons in recovery at least since 1939.

it has begun to rain again which is quite unusual for colorado in august. it is a downpour and not just a drizzle.the light from the sky is gray- almost yellow. there is memory with this rain. it is not clear memory, more of a sensory deja-vu.

much of my usual routine on weekends involves movies. i have seen many many films and continue to do so. this weekend it is "chasing mavericks" and "trance". i am in the middle of the former as i type and i just finished the latter. trance has a lovely soundtrack. it also presents a curious reminder about memory and behavior. what i remember and how i remember it have an immediate and distinct effect on how i live.

memory seems to be nothing more than stored information. repeatedly the knowledge is reinforced in me that this information is not always chronological, convenient, or complete. very often the images and sensory effects of memory are fragmented and pastiched like a burroughs and gyson cut-up. if language is a virus as laurie anderson reflected then perhaps memory is where it incubates.

needless to say this particular revelation has given me a fresh optic with which to replay the tracks of my life. getting sober gave me a very similar gift. when memory moves in like a wave, i have learned to sit with emotion till it rolls back out with the tide. now i am hoping that plucking memory from the depths will be an option and not a mandate. there were so many occurrences in my first 10 years that have shaped my emotional and relationship life.i used to use dopamine to distract the memory channel from broadcasting in my head. since the entrance of recovery,  a good portion of the over traumas have moved into view like an answer on an 8-ball and i have chosen to let the tracks play all the way through. there are samples of memory and experience that have yet to see light again. some odd  bits have surfaced, but i believe they may have been fractured by something. perhaps it is my emotions, my feelings, or my need to bury them.

the 6 rules posted here are ripped from "people like us". it was my favorite film of 2012.

 “The six rules of life.
1. Don't like something just because you think other people will like it, because they won't. 
2. What you think is important isnt. What you think is unimportant is. 
3. Lean into it. 
4. Don't shit where you eat. 
5. Most doors are closed so if you want them to open you need a cool knock. 
6. Don't sleep with people who have more problems than you do.”