Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday, Sweet Sunday

"Militarize our Children & Nation" Copyright © Austin Cline.

The Queen of England is coming to visit us this week. She's a pretty classy old broad. How she manages to keep a "stiff upper lip" in the face of all the shenanigans of her offspring, and their various significant others over the years, is beyond me.

I would've shouted "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS", like the demented cartoon Queen from the Disney version of "Alice in Wonderland", a hundred times by now. It's a good thing I'm only a make-believe queen, instead of a real one.

Okay, no comments from the peanut gallery, please.

I had the opportunity, Friday night, to tell my story in front of a bunch of recovering, gay, alcoholic men, at a 12-Step meeting in Doylestown, PA. I had never told my story in such a completely unbridled fashion as I did that night. Oh, don't get me wrong, I didn't put in all the gory details about my past sexual exploits, but not once in the half hour that I spoke did I find myself thinking, "hmmm, I should edit this slightly before I share it". It was liberating to just let it all hang out. I was surprised about what DID come out. I found myself thinking, "gee, I wasn't nearly as 'nice' towards my old boyfriends as I used to kid myself that I'd been."

Having those sorts of revelations is good. It'll make my 9th Step amends a lot easier to make when, and if, the time comes.

After the meeting there were those who thanked me for sharing my story and, interestingly enough, there were those who didn't. In fact there were some who went out of their way to avoid me altogether. I can understand why. I no longer think it's my business to "entertain" people with my story. My job, to the best of my ability, is to put out the unvarnished truth. MY unvarnished truth. Or, as we say in 12-Step society, to share my "experience, strength and hope with others" because a) it keeps me honest about who I am now and, more importantly, who I used to be and b) because there's going to be somebody out there who is going to totally relate, after a lifetime of thinking they were the "only one" to ever feel and think the way they did.

Anyway, deep thoughts for a Sunday morning, I suppose. I've already called the UK and left a voice-mail for one of my old friends there, and spent an hour on the phone with another friend from my college days, who lives in Baltimore.

And I've finished my blog for the day (unlike Friday, when I was busier than a one-armed paperhanger and yesterday when... I was too lazy to write)!

Despite the crappy, overcast weather here in the east, it's going to be a beautiful day! But first, there'll be a meeting, then some time with a sponsee, followed by an afternoon with the papers and then a nice homecooked meal this evening.

Sound boring? It is. Thank God. I've already had all the drama and excitement I need in my life.

I hope you have a serene Sunday.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Duplicity in the Press

"Scrap the Constitution" Copyright © Austin Cline.

Bill Moyers, whose babies I would have, was back on PBS last night, doing what PBS and Bill Moyers do best, telling people the truth.

I didn't get to watch all of it because of the time constraints, but I did see the first 45 minutes and believe me, it was pretty devastating.

Basically, he showed how the American press, led by the New York Times (and especially Judith Miller, who actually did time for failing to name her sources about the Valerie Plame thingie, which she never did an article about anyway), CBS, ABC, NBC, Dan Rather, the Washington Post, CNN and a host of other mainstream media (it goes without saying that Fox was in on it, too) rolled over, played dead, got in bed with, lubricated themselves freely and took it straight up the ass from the Bush Administration in terms of buying into and, worse, convincing the American public to buy into, the war in Iraq.

He was unrelenting, merciless and didn't gloss over anything. He followed the trails. The only "heroes" he could dig up were

Bob Simon of 60 minutes


Knight Ridder News

Apparently nobody at Knight Ridder was buying all the "WMDs" and "aluminum tubes" crap from the get-go and Bob Simon was able to easily find and call up CIA colonels to find out that Hamabi, who led the so-called Iraqi National Front, was basically a high-paid CIA fraud, telling lies to anybody who would listen, in order to get a check from the US government in the amount of $350,000 a MONTH.

The neocons got raked over the coals.

According to a piece by Greg Mitchell, dated April 21st, on the website, at the close of the show Moyers mentioned some of the chief proponents of the war who refused to speak to him for the program, including Thomas Friedman, Bill Kristol, Roger Ailes, Charles Krauthammer, Judith Miller, and William Safire.

That same piece went on to say:

"Of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC and CBS nightly news in the six months before the war, almost all could be traced back to sources solely in the White House, Pentagon or State Dept., Moyers tells Russert, who offers no coherent reply.

The program closes on a sad note, with Moyers pointing out that 'so many of the advocates and apologists for the war are still flourishing in the media.' He then runs a pre-war clip of President Bush declaring, 'We cannot wait for the final proof: the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.'

Then he explains: 'The man who came up with it was Michael Gerson, President Bush's top speechwriter.' He has left the White House and has been hired by the Washington Post as a columnist."

God help the United States of America.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


"Quiet" Copyright © Austin Cline.
I knew it was going to be a bad day when I got to the office and there was a pile on my chair marked "Urgent."

I don't know how I got to be the "go-to-guy" for "Urgent" stuff, but I know from bitter, first-hand experience that we actually "train" people to how to treat us, so it must be my fault (hint to all my readers... YOU are responsible for your shitty lives, nobody else is).

So I looked at the pile and dispensed with my usual morning trip to the a) men's room and b) coffee maker and plowed right into the project which needed immediate attention. An hour or so later, after several other people had made me the solution to THEIR problems, too, I was up to my eyeballs in work.

I don’t mind being busy. I don’t mind being crazy, either. I just object to it when everybody else is equally crazy at the same time. It helps if we can “spread it around a little.” But today there was no place to spread it to. Everybody at the office was as bat-shit-crazy as me, including my boss.

There was a time in my life when I had to be all and end all to everybody. I had this deep-seated need to please. In my 12-Step program we call this “people-pleasing.” In fact I’m what’s known in the business as a “people-pleasing ass-kisser.” This goes hand in hand with another odd quirk of us drunks, that being that we’re all “egomaniacs with inferiority complexes.”

Don’t ask. Just accept the fact that we’re all slightly nuts, no matter how much time in recovery we have. It’s part of our endearing charm.

So I’m feeling kind of swamped, and therefore feeling put-upon and therefore nobody has ever endured the sort of Trials of Job that I’ve had to put up with (today)!

Except for everybody else on the face of the Earth, of course. Sometimes I forget that. Like today.

So the next time you’re feeling swamped, remember this:

At least you’re not drunk. And neither am I!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sleeping Like a Baby

"Thank You, God..." Copyright © Austin Cline.

Somebody, I forget who, made a good point today about Dubya's refusal to "be funny" at the White House Correspondent's Dinner last Saturday night "out of respect for the dead at VT" ... that respect for the dead never stopped him before. I thought that was definitely worth noting.

And speaking of dead heroes, David Halberstam died yesterday. That's a real blow to the nation and to democracy. There was somebody who wasn't afraid to speak truth to power.

My friend Bev asked me recently what we old radicals should do now that we're finally getting pissed off enough to actually do something other than whine. I've given it a lot of thought.

Bitch. Loudly. Often. To anybody who'll listen and even to those who won't. One person DOES matter. One person can become thousands. I'm not that old that I don't remember how the "May Day" demonstrations grew in the early 70's until, by 1972, there were millions of people participating in mass demonstrations against the war in Viet Nam.

And bitch to the Supreme Court, too. Fat lot of good it'll do, but bitch anyway.

And get on the horn to your CongressCritter, too. There's a big vote coming up, maybe as soon as next Monday, on legislation to add the LGBT and Disabled communities to existing Hate Crimes legislation. Get on the horn now and nag the hell out of your representative to do the right thing and vote for passage. This is not the "Anti-Christian Act" that so many hatemongers are purporting it to be, unless the average Christian you know is a God-Fearing Fag Basher.

It's the little things that matter. Find some little thing to do. Change one incadescent light bulb in the house to one of those new-fangled mini-fluorescent bulbs. Anything.

And maybe, if you do just one little thing, when you go to bed tonight you'll wind up...

Sleeping like a baby.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rove Gets Touchy!

Today's poster is not from my usual source. Rather it's from a series of billboards being put up around the country by the Metropolitan Community Church. I loved it. I hope you do, too.

Karl Rove got cornered Saturday night at the annual Correspondent's Dinner in DC. He didn't like being touched by Sheryl Crow. I guess he is gay, after all. That's too bad because we already have enough bad press. And he ain't much to look at, either. Kind of like the Pillsbury Dough-Boy... or a maggot.

Anyway, my friend Bev mentions Lee Iacocca's new book in her blog today, here, and how fed up he is with the unrepentant Bozo who is currently in charge of the Ship of State. I perused the same tome at Barnes & Noble yesterday and even by hot-blooded Mediterranean standards, Lee is pretty het-up in his latest screed and doesn't hold back on pretty much calling the President a pea-brained shithead.

This is on the heels of the Constitution-Suspending Attorney General's rather poor showing before the Senate committee earlier in the week, Neo-Con Iraq-War-Architect Paul Wolfowitz's getting caught with his finger stuck up his girlfriend over at the World Bank, not to mention the Banner Week the Second Amendment was having, thanks to yet another self-pitying, self-important gun-wielder (aren't they all?).

It all added up to a Really Rotten Week for the Right! No wonder Karl was edgy by Saturday night!

And the good news is, there's no sign of it getting any better for them any time soon!!!!

There is a God.

And it ain't Karl Rove.

Or Shithead.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


"Godless Sodomites" Copyright Austin Cline.

I take a ton of meds. I wish one of them would give me a buzz, but none of them do.

I take a bunch of pills to keep my cholesterol down which have very unpleasant side effects because I can't take the standard ones anymore (statins) because the standard ones (statins) wreak havoc with my muscles.

I have another bunch of pills I take for diabetes (Type II - non-insulin), including one that puts weight on (Actos) and another one that isn't really for the diabetes but rather for one of the side effects of diabetes, neuropathy (painful nerve damage), called Lyrica. The Lyrica REALLY packs the weight on. I've taken it for about six months and gained nearly 40 pounds. Between the Actos and the Lyrica I've gone up nearly two waist sizes in one year.

And this won't do.

I have an appointment with yet another doctor in June. This one's an endocrinologist (basically a diabetes person), and they're scarcer than hen's teeth. I've waited nearly a year for this appointment. He can take me off the Actos. He can probably take me off the Lyrica too.

But, naturally, Doctor Ron wants to start experimenting NOW so I can tell the good doctor what my diagnosis (and treatment) should be.

Sigh. It ain't easy being a recovering drunk and always wanting to "be in charge."

Anyway, it's a beautiful day here in central New Jersey. Way too beautiful to be inside banging away at a keyboard, so I'm going to bail now and go enjoy the rest of the day and evening.

I hope it's beautiful where you are! Without the aid of self-medication!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Trudging the Road of Happy Destiny

"High & Hard" Copyright © Austin Cline.

Today's poster is another fagulous creation of Austin Cline. Now THAT'S the Navy the way I wished it had been!

And speaking of wishful thinking, Spring has FINALLY sprung here in the Northeast (check out today's weather forecast for where I live and work, over there on the left). And it is WONDERFUL!

I have to share this little tidbit of wonderfulness. I wake at 4:45 a.m. and hit the shower by 5:10 (yeah, I'm that organized). There's a big window next to my bathtub/shower. And the birdies were in full song by the time I got in the shower this morning. It was glorious. I could hear the babies chirping out their insistence to be fed along with the parents singing loudly, trying to teach their youngsters their particular brand of birdsong. I revelled in it.

This is a far cry from 10 years ago, when I still lived on East 78th Street in Manhattan, and was skidding along near my alcoholic bottom. In those days, when I heard the "chirpers", I knew that I had blown through yet another night of alcoholic hell. That's when I'd think, "oh god... i've done it again" and I'd feel like shit. Monumental shit. The biggest piece of shit that ever walked the face of the earth. In fact, I was the ultimate piece of shit... at the center of the universe because, even at my bottom, it was still

all about me.

I hated the birds. I hated looking out the windows, overlooking 78th Street, and seeing all the "bright, shiny, people" on their way to wherever normal people went at that hour of the morning in Manhattan... probably to their jobs on the Today Show, or Good Morning America, or to their desks in the foreign exchange departments of Wall Street, to see what the European markets had done overnight.

And I'd take another pull off the bottle of scotch and pray that God would take pity on me and not let me wake up the next time I blacked out.

But of course God did take pity on me, much to my chagrin, and kept me alive.

And this morning, when the birds sang, I no longer wished I was dead. In fact I was very happy and grateful to be alive.

Alive enough to spend a glorious Spring Day just trudging the road of happy destiny.

Ain't it great to be alive?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Supreme Court Declares that Women are Property!!!!

"My husband controls my uterus." Copyright © Austin Cline.

Regarding today's title, they didn't really, but they might as well have.

It doesn't matter where you stand on the issue of abortion, what does matter are the words. And these are the words:

"the government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman."

I'm not making these words up. I know about words. I know about their power and impact and their nuances, too. There is nothing nuanced in the words of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, quoted above.

These words clearly mean that all pregnant women are the carriers of state property and that the state may dictate and police policy regarding the care and feeding of that state-owned property, come hell or high water. It also flat out states that what the woman is carrying is "life" which I've always defined as something that actually lives on the face of the earth, not something that's still sub-dividing in a flesh-lined Petrie dish.

I know this one sure thing ... I am NOT privy to the circumstances surrounding every pregnant woman's decision regarding the life FORMS she carries within her, nor am I privy to GOD'S DIVINE PLAN which, presumably, includes the exact moment at which a life FORM gets a soul.

But apparently Co-Gods and Supreme Court Justices Kennedy, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Chief Justice Roberts, are privy to both.

May They Bless Themselves!

Oh, wait, that's right. They already have.

(p.s. I still believe that it's a woman's right to choose.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Do Unto Others

"Folterkameraden" Copyright © Austin Cline.

I've already said everything that I need to say about the events at Virginia Tech. No need to add anything to it.

Today I want to talk about my favorite subject, me (of course). Specifically, I want to talk about how sometimes I "talk" a better game than I actually "play."

As you know, I belong to a 12-Step program. Like most 12-Step programs we have a tradition of sponsorship, wherein an old-timer (such as me) will attempt to guide a newcomer through the 12 Steps of recovery.

There's an awful lot of misconception about the role of a sponsor, especially amongst newcomers. I have to admit that when I was new, I was still looking for "daddy", much as I had been in all male/male relationships (friends and lovers) over the years. I didn't know any better. Now I do.

Now I have sponsees who are much the same as I was when I was new. They're needy. They're looking for Good Orderly Direction ... from me. They think that I'm daddy, Dear Abby, Bank America, Advice to the Lovelorn, Pope Benedict and their financial consultant, all rolled up into one.

My job, though, is to take them through the 12 Steps, not to "co-sign" their bullshit, or to waste hours of my time listening to them pour out all their "drama" to me in the hopes that I'll have magical words of wisdom which will instantly "cure" all their self-imposed chaos.

In short, they just don't get it and I ... in my high and mighty 9 years of recovery, forget that I didn't get it either, and that it took tremendous patience on the parts of MY sponsors, who DID take the time to listen to my drama, who DID act as daddy, who WERE there when I was needy, in order to get me to this point of high and mightiness.

I forget.

So, what was I saying about "je me souviens" last week? That I remember? HAH! What a joke. My remembrance seems to extend itself only to the limits of my patience. Limits which obviously need some work.

So, I must not only remember, today, but I must also strive to do unto others, as was done unto me.

If I want to stay sober, I'd better remember that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Killing Fields of Virginia

"Killing Innocent Civilians" copyright © Austin Cline.

Todays poster seems particularly apt.

It could’ve happened anywhere, so don’t blame Virginia. Hell, don’t even blame the stupid school administration for failing to lock down the campus when they discovered the first two victims. Why would they have assumed anything other than what they did, that it was a horrific lovers quarrel?

And I don’t think that the immediate fix is more gun control laws either (although I’m the first to rally behind strict gun control laws that would keep weapons out of the hands of felons AND crazy people in general – and that would include Chuck Heston in his bat-shit-crazy latter years, not to mention quite a few members of the NRA).

The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.

We, and by that I mean the collective National Corpus, left, right & center, crazy or sane, capitalist or socialist, fans of John Birch or Emma Goldman, Southern Baptist or Scientologist, drunk or sober, Park Avenue or park bench… every single one of us… have perpetrated a national failure, somehow, on the youth of America.


a. We have failed to inculcate in our youth:

a respect for life (including, importantly, their own!)


b. We have further failed our youth by neglecting to beat out of them, if necessary:

self-centeredness and a sense of entitlement

Because I believe that only someone with an ego as wide as the Mississippi could’ve perpetrated the horrors of yesterday.

All mass killers had this in common, they absolutely believed they were entitled to do what they did.

So whether it’s a crazy kid whose love life has suddenly gone awry, or a President of the United States with unresolved Daddy-Approval issues, they both need to learn that it’s “not okay” to be pissed off and to kill people over it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I'm schvitzing, already!

"She May Look Clean - BUT" copyright © Austin Cline.

I picked up a book at Barnes & Noble Saturday (I needed a treat after sitting through "Disturbia") entitled, "When I Knew." It's a compilation of sometimes funny, sometimes sad, stories of gay people (not all famous) and the magic moments when something clicked inside and they just "knew."

My favorite amongst the men was by Andrew Freedman. It happened in 1969.

"My father was watching the evening news. The announcer said that Judy Garland had died. I fainted. I was nine."

A close second was this "ah-ha" moment by Howard Bragman of Flint Michigan, again in 1969.

"I knew I was gay when the most exciting part of my Bar Mitzvah was meeting with the party planner."

Steve Kmetko (formerly of E-TV and E-Online), who actually got married before he realized what was going on with him, said these three thoughts popped into his head as soon as the nuptuals had been completed:

"1. I've made a terrible mistake. 2. Wasn't the wedding fabulous! 3. How am I going to get it up?"

The women's stories were no less touching and hilarious...

Sometimes we need more, ahem, concrete evidence of our gayness. Such as Jenny Allard (baseball coach at Harvard), who said,

"I knew in my twenties... when I kept waking up with women."

This one is from Tammy Lynn Michaels (no problem guessing what part of the country Tammy Lynn hails from):

"When I was six I loved my first-grade teacher so much I knew I would have to grow up to be a boy so I could come back and ask her to marry me."

How pragmatic is that for a six year old?

Then there's Elvira Kurt, who sure knew what she wanted:

"I was twelve. [,,,] 'The Trouble With Angels' was on again and I had to watch it!... and I suddenly knew who I was and what I wanted out of life: to be a bad girl who gets punished by a very angry Rosalind Russell."

Anyway, it's an expensive book (twenty-five bucks, I think), but funny and heartwarming. It was edited by Robert Trachtenberg and published by ReganBooks, a HarperCollins imprint. I recommend it simply for the joy of it.

I knew.... hell, I've always known. My earliest infatuation was with the school bus driver when I was six. I knew I wanted to be alone and naked with him. I just didn't know why. Yet. Then, over the years, there were lots of men I wanted to be alone and naked with. By then, though, I knew why.

Today's subject line, "I'm schvitzing, already" refers to the weather and not to me sitting around in a steam bath with a bunch of old Jewish guys, doing shots of vodka and kvetching about life in general.

Man, did it ever rain here. I have never, in my entire life, seen as much rain as I've seen in the last 24 hours (over 7" in NYC's Central Park). When I posted my blog yesterday morning, it was just raining badly. I went to that 12-Step meeting I mentioned and then quickly stopped by the the local Target ("Tar-Zhay", in NJ) to pick up a couple of cases of their flavored, bottled water, which I'm hopelessly addicted to, and then to head home. By the time I got to Target it was pouring. It was even worse when I came back out, 10 minutes later. I got home and the heavens really opened.

By 10:00 p.m. last night, the creek next to the house had risen at least five feet and was threatening to overflow it's banks. The phone rang and I thought, "Oh, great. Who wants to yak now?" But it was an automated message from the township asking me to not use the sewer system, if I could avoid it -- that the water treatment plant was being overwhelmed by the runoff from the storm drains.

When I awoke at 4:45 a.m. the rain was still coming down, although it didn't seem to be quite the deluge it had been at 10:00 p.m. That changed the minute I hit the roads to get to the Park and Ride where I catch my commuter bus. There were several "washouts" on the back roads and highways en route to the Park and Ride. Thank God I drive an Element. I felt sorry for the folks out there in regular autos.

What really surprised me, though, were the washouts on the NJTurnpike. I'd never seen that before. There were two spots, not far from Newark Liberty Airport, just past Exit 14 (the Airport / Holland Tunnel Exits), where the truck and car lanes re-merge, that were pretty much underwater. There were several Turnpike trucks and frontloaders standing by, I guess to try to scoop up the water that wasn't running off fast enough.

Despite all that, we were only about 10 minutes later than usual coming into Manhattan and, once again, the rains had abated somewhat by the time I hoped off the bus, at the corner of 53rd Street and Madison Avenue.

I understand that acting governor Codey has declared an emergency in NJ, which isn't very surprising. The Garden State has LOTS of wetlands and it doesn't take much to overwhelm the eco-system there.

If there's one thing 9 years of sobriety has taught me, it's to try to find something good even in the worst situations. This is a good time for me to practice that.

So, even though I may be schvitzing...

if this had been February we'd be looking at 70" of snow now.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rainy Days and Sundays

"From God’s lips to His ears" Copyright © Austin Cline

Doesn't it seem like Dubya has always been President? I know it sure seems that way to me. Just like it seemed like Ronnie Rayguns had been President forever, too!

I'm sure it seems highly disrespective of me to refer to Ronnie that way but he was, after all, just an unemployed actor when he got the best gig of his career. I should know. I'm a card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild, too.

Just like the Governator.

And speaking of governors, I'd like to ask everyone out there who believes in such things, to put in a good word with the Deity of their choice on behalf of our New Jersey governor, Jon Corzine, who wasn't wearing his seat belt. I hope he's okay. And I hope they give his ass a ticket for $76.00 for not wearing his seat belt. Seventy-six bucks is nothing to Jon Corzine. When he got ousted as the Chairman of Goldman Sachs, he was a jillionaire. He still is.

On a totally different subject, I hope you all noticed a new design element in my website today. It's just over there on the left. I've added a feed from Accu-Weather. You can add one to your websites too. It's easy. Drop by the Accuweather website and check it out.

Weather has, obviously, been on my mind. Yesterday (Saturday) was beautiful here in New Jersey. So, naturally, I went to the movies, because I really like sitting alone in the dark for hours on end, stuffing my face with junk-food and mentally checking out of life. Particularly on a beautiful Spring day! I can't help it. It's the alcoholic in me.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today we're in the midst of a monsoon here in glorious New Jersey, the Garden State. They're predicting that half the beaches will be gone by Monday. Not to worry! The Army Corps will be around to suck up half the ocean bed and redeposit it on the shore in plenty of time for the big Memorial Day kickoff to the summer season!

But it is pretty icky out and I'm seriously considering not going to my usual Sunday morning 12-Step meeting. Not that bad weather ever kept me indoors when I was drinking. Hell, I would've roller-skated over five miles of broken glass in the midst of a hurricane in order to have gotten a cocktail, way back when.

So I guess I'll go, after all. I suppose that going to the meeting, even if I don't feel like it, is kind of like putting on my "sober seatbelt." Sure, I might not need it, but why risk it?

Have a beautiful day, no matter what the weather is like wherever you are!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Unconditional Love

"Would You Shower?" Copyright © Austin Cline

Isn't today's poster great? It's obviously some WWII magazine ad for saving scrap metal or something which PhotoShop artiste Austin Cline has warped into every Sodomite's dream come true. This is not "South Pacific" as envisioned by Rogers & Hammerstein, but it sure is South Pacific as envisioned by ME!

Except, of course, that it wasn't quite like that in real life. I should know. I spent four years showering with shiploads of guys and believe me, there wasn't any sodomitical hanky-panky going on that I was ever aware of.

Which isn't to say that there wasn't any, merely that I was thick enough to have not seen it.

That's called "denial" and if you'd like to hear more about that subject be sure to check out my friend, Bev's, weblog today, here.

Bev's a good friend. She even plugs my blog there today. God love her. And speaking of God loving people, that brings me to today's subject, "Unconditional Love."

I've mentioned here before that I grew up in an alcoholic family, that alcoholism figuratively ate my childhood and that I pretty much wound up raising myself, for lack of any worthwhile adult role models as a child. It took me some time in recovery to realize how that lack of attention as a child colored my relationships as an adult. I was always on the lookout for someone to take care of me. I had this aching void in the center of my soul that nothing could fill. It was an unfillable lack of love, AS A CHILD. It's hard to describe, but many addicts are seeking to numb the pain of some unfulfilled need that, as a practical matter, simply can't be filled.

Here's an example. I'd always wanted a good relationship with my father. I'd yearned for it my entire life. But it was only in sobriety that I realized, I don't want a good relationship with him NOW, I want a good relationship with him WHEN I WAS SEVEN!!!

Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous, but that's what's going on.

Anyway, I'd spent my whole life looking for that unconditional, parental, love that I never got as a kid. And every poor soul I met who showed me the least attention was almost nearly immediately cast into the role of the missing father/mother from my childhood. Without consciously thinking it, I expected them to fulfill all those previously unfulfilled needs in my life.

In short, nobody ever stood a chance with me. I expected too much.

Until I got sober. And found the rooms of 12-Step Programs. For the last year or so I've been suffused with an overwhelming sense of well-being that's difficult to describe. I somehow sense or know that everything is "okay" and that all is well and that no matter what happens, well, that's life. No longer do I feel that there are nefarious forces at work in the universe, out to get me, to ruin my life. Every time I come away from a 12-Step meeting, I feel renewed, refreshed.... Taken Care Of.

And I've started to realize something. I have found what it is that I've spent my whole life looking for in recovery.

I have finally gotten Unconditional Love from a bunch of Adults whom I Trust Completely.

And isn't that what every 9 year old really needs and wants?

Love.... JoyZeeBoy

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Je me souviens

"God is a Republican" © Austin Cline.

The title today means "I remember". It's the motto of the Canadian province of Quebec and you see it on license plates all over the east coast, usually at beach resorts up north in the summer and all over Florida in the winter.

It's alleged to be a truncated version of this, "Je me souviens que né sous le lys, je croîs sous la rose" ("I remember that born under the lily, I grew under the rose"), and it refers to the foundation of Quebec (and French Canada) under the French Kings, but how it actually flourished under the British Crown.

Some people think there's seperationist sentiment in it, which is actually not the case. In fact, it's a backhanded compliment to the English for introducing parliamentary democracy to Canada.

So much for the history lesson, but the real reason I introduced the topic today is because I've been thinking so much lately about how I was born one way, but have flourished in another.

I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming... well, more like bawling and shellshocked... into recovery. And as much as I might like to romanticize the past, the fact of the matter is, my life didn't really begin until I started getting sober. In that respect you could probably say I'm about 9 years old, in terms of my emotional and spiritual development.

Je me souviens. I remember. Another fact of my recovery is that I actually AM starting "to remember." Remember a lot of stuff that I totally ignored along the way. Looking back now, I can see, ever more clearly, just how far back into my past my alcoholism extends. Not the actual drinking (it turns out that drinking was the least of it), but in terms of my behaviors, attitudes and actions.

Look, all youth is wasted on the young, whether they're drunk or not. That's true. But not "all youths" ensure that they live "in the party house" so that they won't have to drive to the party house, do they? Nor do they "arrange" things so that they never have to bother with automobiles ever again. I did that. I always wondered why I wanted to live in big cities. I know now so that it was so I wouldn't have to drive while drunk. Oh, yeah, I kidded myself that it was because of the glamorous lifestyle or fabulous job opportunities (none of which I ever took advantage of, unless somebody kicked my ass into doing it, I might add), but those were never the "real" reasons.

I lived in big cities because a) the bars are open later and b) you don't have to drive to them.

I used to kid myself that I would go out on Saturday nights "looking for Mr. Right." Hell, Mr. Right could've been standing at the bar wearing a neon sign saying "HI RON, I'M IT!" and I would've knocked him over to get to the bartender!

Je me souviens. I remember. NOW. How it "really was" and not how I imagined it was.

And now that I finally start to really remember, my new mantra is:

"J'espère que je n'oublie jamais !"

I hope I never forget.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Art of Compromise

"Take 'em out!" © Austin Cline.

I have an uncompromising view of life, and that's a real problem.

Life, like politics, is mostly the "art of the possible" meaning that we need the ability to adapt, bend and mold our attitudes, opinions and selves to suit current circumstances. We needn't be happy about it. In fact, we may even strive to change whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. But we do need the ability to, at least temporarily, "go with the flow."

I've always had a problem with this. I thought (and God only knows where I picked this up from!) that I was supposed to form ideas and opinions and, God help me and come what may, dammit, I was to hang onto them, right to the bitter end.

I used to refer to these thoughts and attitudes as "Ron's Rigid Rules." I guess I thought that because Holy Mother Church had rigid rules, it was okay for me to have them, too!

I can't begin to tell you the untold pain having all these "rigid rules" caused me over the decades. For example, Rigid Rule Number One was: "Never let anyone get too close to you because THEY'LL ONLY WIND UP HURTING YOU!" That was a good one. It prevented me, time and again, from telling people I genuinely had feelings for that I cared for them. I wonder, now, just how much happiness I let slip through my fingers over the decades because I was constitutionally incapable of bending the rules a little and taking a chance, by simply telling someone "I love you." GASP! What can of horrors would that have opened???!!! I can only imagine!!!

Rigid Rule Number Two was "Never Forgive, never Get Over." Or, as I've sometimes heard it called in 12-Step meetings, "Irish Alztheimer's - Forget Everything Except Your Resentments!" I carried grudges around since childhood and took them out and nursed them and showed them off to anybody who was stupid enough to sit still and listen to my self-pitying crap. "Oh, let me tell you about my horrible [childhood / 5th Grade Nun / botched dentistry in the Navy] / whatever..." Moving on was not a concept I'd learned at mommy's knee.

When, by sheer accident, I did find myself in relationships, despite my best efforts to the contrary, setting boundaries, telling the other person what I needed (and what I didn't need) and, well, striving to be a PARTNER in a relationship as opposed to being a needy child and/or doormat, things got even worse. I don't know what I expected, but it was probably for somebody to intuitively understand my every need and want WITH NO EXPLANATION FROM ME (they should be a mindreader and fortuneteller) AND to fulfill my every expectation.

In other words, Mommy.

It's said that an alcoholic is somebody who wants to be cradled, cuddled and cooed over... while they isolate and give nothing in return, which also happens to be the description of an infant.

Today I'm working on trying to grow up by trying to tell people what I want and need.

Today, I want a paycheck (and the payroll lady is here now! HOW'S THAT FOR SERVICE??)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's a Long Way to Tipperary (and Sobriety)!

Poster: "Christian?" © Austin Cline

Somebody overturned an 18-wheel car carrier in the northbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike yesterday afternoon, thereby causing hours-long delays, northbound AND southbound for tens of thousands of motorists and commuters.

May whoever did it rot in Hell.

Okay, I don't really mean that. Look, I know that accidents happen. I even know that some nefarious, unseen, all-powerful force in the universe does not lie in wait for ME, does not pre-plan these catastrophes for the sole purpose of ruining MY evening and isn't deliberately trying to get ME drunk again.

Well, I know that intellectually. But deep down inside, on some gut level, I "feel" like all those things ARE true and that I am, magically, the only person being inconvenienced by something like that.

This is the alcoholic mind at work. Self-centered in the extreme. My default reaction to any situation is that it is "all about me!" Infantile pre-occupation with self. Something happens, early on, with us drunks. Maybe we get dropped on our heads. Maybe, at the age of six months, some well-meaning soul, just to shut us up, slips a couple of shots of whiskey into our bottles.

Or, maybe, we're just born this way.

I've worked pretty hard over the last nine years to delve into all these character defects of mine. I've looked at them "six-ways from Sunday." I think I have a real handle on a lot my "stuff" from why I seek out the sort of men I seek out, to why I distrust love in general.

But then something like this happens. Whether it's an accident on the turnpike, or pouring down rain, or the slow checkout line at the supermarket, I'll invariably think, "why do these things ALWAYS happen to ME??!!"

The honest answer is that these things happen... and I happen to be there at the time.

You should've seen me last night, at the back of my commuter bus. I would've looked "okay" on the outside, but inside I was a mess.

I wonder if any of the other 43,000 vehicles stuck in traffic had messes in them, too?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Too Pooped

Today's poster is copyright © Austin Cline. You can visit his website here.

Austin has done a terrific job of taking old "wartime" posters from both WWI and WWII and photoshopping the hell out of the copy in them. I fell in love with them when I first saw them.

Anyway, I'm really tired this morning. It's probably because I'm getting old. Or, it could be because of the dumb weather (zero one day, 80 the next). Or, it could have something to do with the amount of sleep I get (or don't).

I don't know why, but I seem to get more sleep on weeknights than I do on weekends.

Because I work in Manhattan and live in central New Jersey, I have to devote most of my Saturday's to doing the necessary things to maintain life, such as cooking and cleaning, laundry, doctor's appointments, auto maintenance stuff, etc. Believe me, none of that happens on weeknights. When I get home from the office, generally between 6:45 and 7:15 every evening, I'm too pooped to do anything except raid the fridge, flop into my favorite chair and channel surf until it's bed-time, somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

On top of that, I can't just hop into bed on Friday or Saturday night's at the same time I jump into bed the rest of the week! That would be shocking, scandalous, unthinkable!!! I must stay up and at least try to pretend that have a life! Don't I?!!!

Rhetoric aside, when the alarm went off this morning, at 4:45 a.m., I was definitely NOT ready for Prime Time. And even though I slept another 45 minutes or so on the bus ride in, I'm still ready to take a little nappy-poo for, oh, say, another 3-4 hours.

You'd think I'd make up for it during vacations. But, nah... not me. I'm way too excited to actually sleep on vacations. Besides, when I'm on vacation, usually with friends I haven't seen in months, I'm terrified I might "miss something" exciting that might happen while I'm passed out.


I guess too pooped is the price we pay for living exciting and glamourous lives!

I don't know about anyone else, but MY "gay agenda" definitely includes more rack-time, and not rack-time of the "recreational" variety, either.

I'm past the point of needing sleep. I need to be in a coma for awhile.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a White Easter

aka "Here Comes Peter Cotton Claus!"

We're freezing here in NJ. We had snow flurries earlier today. My only consolation for this "last blast" of winter is that, as bad as it is here in Jersey, it's even worse in Boston.

Actually, I'm having a hard time convincing myself that it's April 8th. The trees are still mostly barren, the skies gray and the grass is, well, still dead.

Nothing's peeking up out of the ground. No tulips, no nothing.

It could leave a boy feeling blue and blah on an Easter Sunday. I toyed with the idea of going to the movies to see something to cheer me up but the only choices are a little, well, disappointing to say the least.

It seemed to boil down to either "Blades of Glory", "300" or "Grind House."

See what I mean?

So, I dragged my butt into the living room and started channel surfing. Until, voila!

AMC is having a Shirley Temple Film Festival.

Bright Eyes. Curly Top. The Little Colonel. Wee Willie Winkie, Heidi, Little Miss Broadway and Susannah of the Mounties!

My Easter is saved. What can be more appealing, more innocent, more purely entertaining than an afternoon spent watching the films of that bundle of joy, America's Sweetheart and the kid who single-handledly saved Twentieth Century Fox, Shirley Temple?

That kid's innocent face and adorable talents have certainly raised my spirits on this otherwise deplorable Spring afternoon!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fings Ain't What Dey Used Ta Be.

I'm back. More or less. I have a new C: drive that "mostly" has all my old software on it, and "most" of that is "mostly" running the way it used to do. Sort of.

I spent an inordinate amount of time downloading Codecs the other night in order to get Windows Media Player working (it won't play the video portion of AVI files unless you download and install something called "DIVX" first --- isn't this fascinating?)

ANYWAY, it's working now, only something's wrong with the MOVIETICKETS.COM website and I can't figure out if it's the website OR the fagulous new Internet Explorer web browser I agreed to install but am seriously thinking about shitcanning in favor of the old version.

Lesson Number One: Learn how to create "Restore Points" on your personal computer and REGULARLY schedule them (once every two weeks should do).

Lesson Number Two: Either spring a couple of hundred bucks for one of those external USB - multi-gigabyte hard drives that backs up your drive at the touch of a button OR spring for some backup software that will let you burn your most important files to a CD or DVD every week.

Lesson Number Three: Hard Drives fail. Not "if", but "when." I, of all people, should know this lesson by heart, having suffered through innumerous drive failures ever since I started working with personal computers in 1984.

I don't know where my head was at. Probably stuck up my butt, as usual. But I've learned. I remain teachable.

So, in keeping with today's Title, "Fings Aint..." etc., I am no longer the impervious, bulletproof geek I was a month ago. Today I remember that I, too, make mistakes and that I need to mend my careless ways.

However, some "Fings" still are the way they used to be, and that includes the 1956 Paramount Production of "The Ten Commandments," airing tonight on ABC-TV.

Every year ABC plays this sand and sandal extravaganza, and every year the New York Times has this to say about it:

"Heston and fog destroy Egypt's first-born. Ornate DeMille tonnage, saved primarily by the Red Sea and Yvonne DeCarlo."

Which is about as good a recap of the nearly 4 hour long butt-numbing Postcard from the Sinai as I've ever read!

Happy Easter, everybody! If that's your bag!!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

PC Update - SAG

I think I mentioned that my IT friend, Bob, gave me a magical CD that helped me while I was trying to install a new drive and salvage files from the old (dying) drive.

Well, so far it's all working, thankyewjeezis. Last night I salvaged my Outlook PST file from the dying drive and THANK GOD for that! It not only has a boatload of e-mails on it, and my contacts databases, but also it has my calendar, full of reminders of people's recovery anniversaries, pending Civil Unionizations, birthdays, recycling reminders, doctors appointments and, well, MY ENTIRE LIFE!

How do people live without Outlook?

Anyway it's saved (until I get it backed up someplace else, off-site, in a vault).

Tonight I've reserved an hour to get a newsreader called "Agent" working. It's a very old, pre-version 1.0, copy. I probably should just upgrade (it's up to version 4.something).

Then there's the matter of licenses. I haven't worried too much about my iTunes licenses, but I'm really concerned about my two year subscription to Norton and my full-blown version of Office, which I have on CD.

I'm probably worrying over nothing. Right now, though, I'm having a problem with the network interface (Internet Explorer) which tends to "head south" quickly, when I try to visit my favorite websites. There's nothing wrong with my internet connection, though. I can ping the Comcast servers with no problems, but it won't recognize CNN, or Yahoo. I may have to dig into my firewall settings to see what that's about.

Anyway, it's like watching paint dry and, unfortunately, it takes me back to my Wall Street days, with all the insecurities I lived with for over 12 years, when I worked there. I hate feeling incompetent. It's the alcoholic perfectionist in me. I know that now. Still, it's uncomfortable.

On a totally different topic, when I got home last night there was an envelope from the Screen Actor's Guild. I ripped it open first. It contained my brand-spanking-new membership card. They not only restored my membership, they back-dated me to my initial joining date. And I got my original member number back, too. I looked at it and was kind of shocked when I read this:

"Member since 1981." It's been 26 years since I did a commercial for New York Air (a now defunct air shuttle between NY and Boston), which we shot out at LaGuardia on a bitterly cold winter morning in February of that year. That was my entree into professional show business. SAG became my parent union. Later I joined Actor's Equity Association and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

I don't know why these things mean so much to me, but they do. It's kind of like I'm shutting one door and opening another. I don't know where it will lead, but it's my duty to do the leg work to get there.

Life involves a lot of "showing up and being prepared", doesn't it?