gay

THE MOST BORING PERSON IN THE HUDSON VALLEY

Let me get this straight. You want me to wake up at 5AM without a hangover, pack up a rental car with suitcases responsibly packed a day or more in advance, then drive 3 hours through the beautiful terrain of the Hudson Valley until I reach a cozy bed and breakfast in a house built in the 1870’s? Fine. I can do all that.

I suppose you also want me to stroll lightheartedly through the quaint vacation town, browsing antiques and old bookstores for hours on end, and I also suppose you’d like me to do all of that without spending a moment plotting, scheming, or obsessing over how I can convince the boyfriend that 10AM isn’t at all too early for a celebratory glass of something.

You’d like me to luxuriate luxuriously on cafe terraces while sipping espresso and eating a delicious, flaky pastry filled with tangy, tart lemon curd, chewing slowly, not wanting the mouth orgasm to end, watching the peaceful wanderers wander by in pursuit of the same contented Sunday afternoon.

And finally, you’d like me to end the day with a delectable meal at a lovely restaurant, all without having chugged a tallboy before leaving the house. You’d like me to decline the wine list, only order stupid food, and leave completely satisfied with what was one of the best meals I’ve ever had? Then you’d like me to cuddle up with the boys, watch movies, and drift off to sleep by 10PM, waking up by 6AM the next morning fully rested and hangover free, ready to start another day of peace and tranquility without the constant chaotic chase of that next sip, that next dip into a dive for a whisky/beer combo to propel me forward miserably.

You want me to have a sober vacation, but more importantly, you want me to LIKE IT?

That’s exactly what I did over Memorial Day Weekend.

It was marvelous. 

I took this very same trip in the fall of 2013. It was a disgusting mess. I packed the very morning we left because I was too drunk the night before to get anything productive done. I drove with a pounding headache, not feeling normal until we made it to our destination and were able to grab lunch (a beer with a side of sandwich). I stumbled through the day, counting down the hours until dinner would arrive and heavier drinking could begin. Fuck antiques. Fuck strolling. Fuck serenity. Me want vodka. ME WANT DEATH AND DESTRUCTION.

In 2013, we made stops at liquor stores all weekend long, him sitting in the car while I ran in to buy large bottles of things for us both to drink, as well as mini-bottles he didn’t know about that were just for me. The minis would be stashed in my suitcase so I could stealthily sneak away, downing a few here and there, hoping to keep the levels in the “public” alcohol bottles located in the kitchen from dropping down too quickly, thus concealing the true quantities I was actually consuming. Side note: These empty minis would be found one year later in the same suitcase as I packed for another trip. I would sneak them out of the house to the trash, the shame flooding back as fresh as ever. 

That trip in 2013 was total misery. I was in a constant state of sloppy, painful drunkenness peppered with extended periods of sloppy, painful hangover. The drunks and the hangovers blended seamlessly with one another until I was never able to tell if I was okay or not okay. Nothing was enjoyable.

When we returned home that year I felt as if I had been through hell. I needed another vacation to recover. And drink more.

I DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT EVER AGAIN.

I can live. I can stare at the sky and smile. I can savor time, tastes, smells. I can become consciously aware of sun on my face, of the antiquity and inevitable history built into old objects that I hold in my hand. I can feel the goosebumps running down my spine as my boyfriend grabs my fingers and squeezes while we wander down cobblestone streets, stopping for extended moments to admire the architecture and manicured gardens.

Before I got sober, and even for some time after I put down the drink, this all seemed impossible. During early sobriety I could hardly comprehend watching a movie on Friday night without a cocktail. I’m supposed to SIT? Stare? Watch? That’s IT? You must be out of your goddamned mind.

But I made myself sit there and watch the movie. It sucked. It still sucked the next time I did it, too, but less so. The only way anything started to make sense again was by LIVING. Experiencing. Trying. Being uncomfortable without grabbing for my medicine. When they tell you not to give up before the miracle happens, that actually MEANS something. Actively choosing to endure the discomfort when every cell in your body is screaming for a drink? That makes you stronger. That is lifting weights with your sobriety muscles. It hurts. You’ll be sore the next day. But you’ll never get stronger without it.

If you’re struggling, just know that with some time and effort, you too can be the most boring person in the Hudson Valley. You’ll love it.

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GOING TO THE CHAPEL AND WE’RE GONNA’ GET DRUNK?

I’ve been having a lot of anxiety lately about my wedding day and how I’m possibly going to get through that whole day/night and honeymoon without having a single drop of alcohol. It seems impossible. It’s really freaking me the fuck out. What makes this whole thing especially bizarre is the fact that I’m not even engaged and there is no wedding scheduled. I look at the boyfriend and think, “Hm. We’re probably, most likely, going to get married eventually.” That thought alone makes me anxious but then I start playing through our wedding in my head. Surely I will need a drink as I’m getting dressed and prepared to be delivered to the church. I don’t know who would deliver me to the church and I say church but I honestly don’t know where gay people go to get married so church is just a placeholder here. Maybe we get married at Disneyland. That’s pretty gay. I don’t know. The point is, I’ll need to be pretty smashed to be able to stand up in a penguin costume and waddle down the aisle with hundreds of people staring at me like I’m the bearded lady. Well, maybe not hundreds. Maybe like 40-50 because mama ain’t rich. I’m referring to myself as mama here, BTW. And let’s say I can make it through the ceremony without being shittyfaced. Fine. But what about the reception?? What about when all of those assholes raise a glass and say something awful and embarrassing about me while pretending it comes from a place of love? “I remember when you used to put on mom’s dress and pretend you were Maude. You were such a little freak. NOW DRINK, FREAK. DRINK!!!” Surely such an uncomfortable situation requires a bit of lubrication, right? And what about when the boyfriend turns into a monster and violently smashes a piece of wedding cake in my face as cameras flash and people laugh and the cake goes up my nostril and makes me choke? That’s supposed to be funny and cute but how in the world am I not going to get pissed off at him for acting so fucking childish if I’m not drunk? Obviously a bottle or two of champagne would turn such a weirdo tradition into FUN FUN FUN. And if I’m sober, I guarantee you I’m going to have choice words for the douchebags that decide it’s totes adorable to throw rice at my face as I run to the car. And I really am not going to be happy with the person who chooses to tie aluminum cans to the back of my vehicle. Feeling like you’re being chased by a maniacal tin man is OH SO ROMANTIC, right??

Although I’m not tying the knot anytime soon, these are the things my mind does when not focused on today. The present. I remind myself that this is all about incremental progress. Get through today without drinking. Then eventually get through a few dinners with friends without drinking. And so on and so forth until life without alcohol is just as enjoyable. Even more enjoyable, maybe. So I’ve heard. So I hope.

I was looking at the boyfriend and I thought to myself, “Oh my God. I told you I’m an alcoholic. I can never drink in front of you again.” Whoa. As if there was a possibility that I could drink again as long as it wasn’t in front of him? Big problem there. I corrected my thinking. “I can never drink again. I mean, I can. But I won’t. Because it will kill me. And I want to be alive.” The idea that I momentarily viewed my boyfriend as a roadblock to being able to drink again really freaked me out. Then I started thinking weird things like, “Ok. But what if I decided I AM going to drink again. What will I tell him? How will I convince him that I’m not an alcoholic after all so he won’t get mad at me??” Oh boy. NO. STOP. And the really crazy thing about all of these thoughts is that I DON’T WANT TO DRINK. I really, truly don’t. I have no desire to go back. But the moment I stop living in the present and start living in the future, my entire groove gets FUCKED. Like royally fucked. And I start seeing the future as miserable and void of fun and enjoyment. And that makes my present go from bright to dismal in the blink of an eye.

And so the goal is and has always been.. TODAY. That’s it. TODAY. NOW. THIS MOMENT.

Easier said than done, I know.

On the way home from work last night, I was totally in the present. I was mentally fantastic, inspired, and calm. Then I got a text that one of my friends had swung by the house to talk with one of my roommates. They would most likely be there when I got home. I went from being in the moment to living in the very near future. Just being fast forwarded TEN MINUTES INTO THE FUTURE totally disrupted my thought process. I started playing it through in my head. I’m going to get home and he’s going to be there and we’ll have to talk. I haven’t talked to this friend since I got sober. I’m worried I don’t know what to say. I’m worried that I’ll seem awkward. That I’ll be uncomfortable. He’s going to be able to tell that something about me is different. He’ll wonder what’s wrong. He might have beers with him. He has on occasion brought beers with him as a friendly gesture and we would all crack one open while chatting and I would sneak away sometimes to down a shot or two because I always have to make sure I have had more alcohol than everyone else. Oh, God. Please don’t let him have beers with him. There is a bar on the way home. If I just stop and have a beer really quick, I’ll seem normal. I won’t be uncomfortable. That’s all it will take.

STOP. What. The. Fuck? How did I mentally and emotionally digress so drastically over the past six years that the thought of mere small talk and chit chat with a friend became a horrifying thing that made me want to drink? But I didn’t drink, obviously. I got home and the friend already had left. And I think I would have been fine and after a few moments I would have realized that my fears were irrational and everything would be okay. But it’s absolutely astounding that something so mundane can suddenly wreak havoc on my brain.

Sometimes you’re forced to think about the future. A friend’s birthday party is coming up. The holidays are about to arrive. There are circumstances that bring us out of the now and into the tomorrow. We can either panic… or we can plan. We can either recoil in fear… or reassess. But there is absolutely no sense in imagining situations that have not and may not even happen.

I really need to stop trying on wedding dresses before I’ve been proposed to. It’s absolutely no good for anyone.

HOW TO DANCE TO LADY GAGA AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN SOBER

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Last night was brilliantly fantastic. AND I REMEMBER IT.

As mentioned, I celebrated 30 days of sobriety by doing something that would normally have been an incredibly boozy affair for me. About two weeks ago and only a few weeks into recovery, I impulsively traded my right eye and part of my damaged liver for a pair of Lady Gaga tickets at Madison Square Garden. I immediately began to regret the purchase and worried that I was taking on something excessively massive entirely too soon. But that’s me. I’m always going big or going home and I recognize that this is something I need to keep in check as it could land me into a tough spot if I’m not careful.

I spent the past few weeks preparing, panicking, and planning out the evening with my boyfriend who happily agreed to stay sober with me. He’s been pretty great. I scheduled a late start today at work because I knew I’d be getting home at an obscene hour and didn’t want lack of sleep to jeopardize my wellbeing and state of mind. I find it pretty funny that I purposefully arranged to come in late because of sleep concerns. The old drunk me wouldn’t have bothered. I would have drank my ass off all night and called in sick the next day, completely disregarding consequences. I love that I’m actively protecting my mental and physical health now.

The show was to start at 8PM so I left work around 6PM and began to walk to the arena area. It took about 25 minutes and I could have taken the train but this was all part of my plan. I listened to some calming music and took my time. I did some breathing and took in the sights and sounds of the city and really went inside of myself. As soon as I was at an optimal place mentally and everything seemed perfectly peaceful, the smell of dog shit and soggy garbage flooded my nose. Ahhh, New York City. My peacefulness dropped from an 8 to a 5 and my face contorted and I started breathing out of my mouth and walked faster to get to a cleaner patch of air. The smell melted away and I got back to my happy place fairly quickly. It’s going to take more than poo and decomposition to ruin my night.

I arrived at the Thai restaurant that we had decided on. Once seated, the waitress excitedly told us about their Happy Hour. You guys. All of their cocktails were FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS. That’s UNHEARD of in this city. Why didn’t I know about this place back when I was being a stupid drunk asshole? The boyfriend asked for a Thai Iced Tea and I asked for the same. As the waitress walked away, I got her attention and she returned to the table.

“In my Thai Iced Tea, please don’t put any liquor. No alcohol in it. I have a drinking problem,” I blurted a little too loudly catching the attention of the patrons next to us. Probably could have handled this a little smoother. I’ve been to Thai restaurants where they have a Thai Iced Tea that’s akin to a Long Island Iced Tea and I didn’t want to take any chances.

“No alcohol in Thai Iced Tea anyway so no worry,” the waitress stuttered awkwardly while seeming VERY uncomfortable.

The teas came and I went on and on about how delicious they were. AND THEY WERE! I don’t think I’ve ever been so over the moon for a beverage without alcohol and was amazed at how happy something so simple was making me. We had a delicious meal and talked about the past month and how much things have started to change already. I expressed some apprehension and fear about the concert and that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to have a good time without being stupid in the head. He reassured me that it would be fantastic and that there was nothing to worry about.

We walked around the corner to The Garden and went through security where they searched my bag and scanned me with a metal detector. This always makes me really nervous and I start to panic. WHAT IF THEY FIND MY HAND GUN AND 40 BAGS OF HEROIN?! I’ve never owned a hand gun and have never been in possession of heroin but I still worry that they might find it. It’s totally irrational and something that I can laugh about after the fact but I have such a deep rooted fear about getting in trouble with the law that it manifests itself in really ridiculous ways. I was on the train a few weeks ago and cops occasionally board a train car with a bomb/drug sniffing dog. The dog was standing right next to me and I clutched my bag tight. WHAT IF I ACCIDENTALLY RUBBED UP AGAINST SOME MARIJUANA WITH MY BAG AND THE DOG WILL SMELL IT AND THEN BITE MY FACE?!?

The array of people at the concert was so varied and diverse. Old, young, gay, straight, etc. It was so beautiful. Parents with their kids. Older women in their golden years with neon glow in the dark necklaces. Say what you want about Miss Gaga but she really brings people together to celebrate. We started walking towards the entrance to our section and stopped to purchase some Diet Coke’s and after seeing the price of said Cokes, I was pretty disappointed they didn’t come with a magic pony. There were drunk people wandering about being bombastic as expected. There were others that seemed to be altered by something else. But you won’t believe what I’m about to tell you next: THERE WERE SOBER PEOPLE, TOO! Now, I can’t 100% confirm that they were sober but they were certainly drinking sodas and water and eating hot dogs and acting normal and not falling down.

We got to our seats and sat there for about an hour and half before Gaga finally went on. During this time I would have normally been making trips to the “bathroom” where I would certainly stop at the bar to take whiskey shots. I might return with a beer for him and one for me but would never mention the sneaks I was making to get myself where I wanted to be. Instead, I got to sit comfortably and enjoy the opening act. Well, maybe not enjoy. The opener was a cartoon Japanese girl. Literally. Japan created a pop star that is digital and performs on screens. Not exactly my thing but whatever. I was just having fun being there and people watching and soaking in the energy.

Gaga rose from the floor like a goddess and rocked the house as expected. I found dancing to be a little strange at first but soon settled in and had a wonderful time. There were moments where I thought about alcohol and wondered if I’d be enjoying myself more if I were to have had some drinks. The truth is, I probably would have THOUGHT I was enjoying it more but the reality of the situation would be much different. I would have been disconnected and consumed with the stresses of figuring out how to get back to the bar to get more to drink without missing the show. I would have been watching it hazily and would be hard pressed to recall details about her performance or how it made me feel. I would have felt like shit this morning instead of peacefully treating myself to a few hours of extra sleep and self-care. And I would have had to come here and tell all of you that I fucked up and had to start over. NONE of that seems appealing. So give me sober and slightly awkward over relapse any day.  

I feel inspired and victorious. I feel like celebrating. And because a flute of sparkling wine is the first thing that popped into my head when I just typed the word ‘celebrating’, I know that there is more work to be done.  

 

30 DAYS: THIS IS SO HARD. THIS IS SO GOOD.

I went to bed last night after learning that People Magazine had just named me the world’s most gloomy and self-deprecating asshole.

“What’s wrong?” the boyfriend asked.

“Nothing,” I snapped as Hell’s bells chimed and echoed in my imagined version of reality.

I was now in the third awful day of severe PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) symptoms and I was beginning to worry that the feelings of doom, hopelessness, anxiety, and worthlessness, would never lift. Nothing I did seemed to work. I drank the fuck out of my nighttime tea, emptying the mug to the very last drop, and then proceeded to wring out the teabag into my mouth like some cracked out version of Judi Dench. I took a hot shower and had a stern talk with myself and exfoliated the shit out of my face rubbing way harder than I was supposed to. I drew smiley faces in the steamed mirrors when I was done and then erased them violently because SMILES ARE STUPID and EVERYTHING SUCKS and FUCKSHITGODDAMNITCOCKSUCKER. I did NOT get sober for this, you guys! I got sober so I could ride unicorns through fields of diamonds and puppies. I got sober to become one of those weirdos who likes to put on chunky shoes, climb giant mountains, and eat a KIND bar at the summit as I weep tears of joy and take in the view of a vast sober playground that is planet Earth. I got sober to be so outwardly happy that just glancing at me would make people throw up and slap their mother. But obviously that wasn’t going to happen so, fuck it, I’m going to bed. And I did.

Fast forward to 7AM this morning.

I opened my eyes and the sun was shining through the blinds that I had left open the night before. The beams of light seemed joyous and excited just to be beams of light. The birds outside were chirping per the usual but their song sounded cheerful today. Usually I’m ready to kill the birds because they are so annoying but today their music was perfectly soothing and not overly obnoxious or repetitive. My puppy stared up at me from his bed, eager to join me on mine for our morning cuddle. I sat him on my chest and he licked my face and everything felt perfect. So very perfect. Then my closet doors swung open revealing a 30 person gospel choir and they began to sing This Little Light of Mine as five very fit spandex clad interpretive dancers flew through my bedroom door and proceeded to dance with such happiness that I just had to get up and join them. They guided me down the hallway and I climbed into the shower as they tended to my every need and washed my hair, clipped my nails, brushed my teeth, plucked my eyebrows, and pampered me like a king. While still singing, they dressed me, handed me a cup of coffee, and ushered me out the door to face my lovely day. I skipped down the street whistling as animated blue birds pursued me and flew around my head chirping happily. Today was going to be a good day.

While on the train, I checked my sober app even though I knew what it was going to say.

30 DAYS SOBER!

Putting 30 days together seemed impossible a month ago. Putting 30 days together seemed impossible LAST NIGHT when I was already on day 29 and feeling miserable. But it is possible and it does happen and eventually the sun begins to shine again and the pain begins to lessen a bit and all of your efforts become worth it. I went from despair to celebration in a span of 15 hours because I held on. I waited. I went THROUGH it. And even though it seemed like I would never emerge out the other side, I did. There will still be additional dark patches to travel through (this is life) but if I don’t drink, everything gets better.

I’ve been getting a lot of traffic on this blog and it’s not something I expected. People I don’t even know have commented and sent me messages about their own struggles and they are seemingly seeking advice. I feel for every single one of them and know how awful this process is. And I also have gotten a glimpse at how wonderful it can be. While I obviously don’t know enough to tell you how this all works, I’ll tell you what I’ve found to be true for me thus far:

  • Each time I get through something difficult without taking a drink, the resistance I face seems to lessen in intensity. I liken it to lifting weights? The pain and fear I feel when I refuse to feed the beast makes the sober muscle stronger and it DOES become less difficult to not pick up the bottle. That pain and fear is “the burn” and my muscles do recover and become stronger.
  • Surrounding myself with recovery makes me feel less alone and more equipped. I listen to The Bubble Hour and other podcasts on the way to work, on the way home from work, while laying in bed, etc. When I’m not listening to those and I have free time at work or after work, I am connecting with actual human people through The Booze Free Brigade (info can be found on thebubblehour.com) and other sources. I am reaching out and building community. Slowly. But I’m taking the steps.
  • When I want to drink, I walk myself through the process in my mind. I go to the liquor store, I go home, I drink all night and imagine the stupid things I will do. I imagine the middle of the night wake up and panic. I imagine the 3-4 hours of fitful anxiety and not being able to sleep. I imagine the misery I will face all day as a result. THEN I think about a day like this morning when I woke up feeling amazing. And I choose the amazing day over the miserable day. Easier said than done. But you can choose the better day if you want to.
  • LAUGH. You need to laugh. Listen to your favorite comedian, watch funny films, come read my blog if you think it’s funny. Find a way to smile and have fun and laugh. It makes everything so much easier.

As a very serendipitously planned treat for my 30 days, I am attending a Lady Gaga concert tonight at Madison Square Garden! Us gay guys have to do a certain number of stereotypically gay things each year if we want to keep our homosexual card. I’m already getting a lot of flack from the gay mafia about my beard and masculine sounding voice so I felt the need to comply and go do some queer dancing tonight. I am scared shitless because I’ll be sober. But I’m going with someone else who is staying sober and I’m looking forward to having some stories to tell ya’ll tomorrow!

In the meantime, stay strong! We can totally do this!

NORMAL DRINKERS IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT

Oh, how I envy normal drinkers. You know which assholes I’m talking about. They stand at the bars channeling the Dowager Countess of Grantham and savor their drink like it’s made of diamonds and is the last one in the entire world. They look fabulously put together and laugh politely and with such sophistication making sure to never show too much teeth and certainly never lose their balance while doing so. They don’t tell the bartender all about their former boyfriend’s crooked penis and their terrible bout of constipation that just won’t let up no matter how much fiber they eat. They don’t take pictures in photo booths with someone they just met and flash their man boobs as the camera snaps, forever immortalizing their desperate need to stop eating Twinkies and bacon. Also, normal drinkers do really INCREDIBLE and MAGICAL things such as not throwing up on one another’s private parts after heading home to have sex like two slippery sea lions that just got bashed over the head with frying pans. They totally know how to work door handles and locks and never ever have to text their friend to get them out after accidentally getting locked in the bathroom. They don’t need to have strangers at the bar dial their cell phone in order to locate it and they certainly never find said ringing cellphone on the floor in a puddle of honey mustard, dust, and hair. 

Last night I had the opportunity to observe a bevy of majestic normies in their natural habitat and I wanted to scream at them several times but didn’t in fear of spooking them. Some things I wanted to say:

  • CHUG GOD DAMN IT! CHUG THAT FUCKING BEER! CHUG YOU ASSHOLE!
  • Um, excuse me ma’am. Sorry to bother you. Hi, I’m gay. Don’t worry. I’m not hitting on you. But do you know how low the alcohol content is in Bud Light? Might I suggest a lovely Six Point Resin? Or perhaps a gallon of whiskey? Hmm? I’ll pay.
  • Wait. What? He’s leaving? No. NO. He just closed his tab? Oh my God. I can’t believe this is happening right now. He’s putting on his jacket. BUT HE HAS HALF A BEER LEFT!!! HE’S LEAVING HALF A BEER WITHOUT DRINKING IT. SIR! Excuse me! Yes, you sir. I’m talking to you. Finish your beer. I SAID FINISH YOUR BEER!!! KIDS IN CHINA HAVE NO BEER!!!
  • Why is she drinking that water when there is still a nearly full and perfectly delicious cocktail sitting right next to her?
  • Oh my God, that lady at the bar ordered FOOD??? WTF?
  • Sorry to bother you but the bartender who just served your drink went really skimpy with his pour. You might want to start ordering doubles. YOU’RE WELCOME!
  • Hey, girl. How’s it going? You realize there is only three more minutes of Happy Hour, right? HURRRRRRRY THE FUCK UP!!!!!!!!!
  • Oh shit. She ordered the Malbec at 8 dollars a glass. So stupid. She could be at home with two bottles of Yellowtail for that price. 

Normal drinkers! Bless their hearts.