Well hello there New Life…..
You’ve been teasing me for so long and even visited several times in 2014, warming up to me and letting me get to know you and then letting a few things slip back in so that I would truly learn the lessons I needed to, and I’m actually grateful. The last round was very important and I have to write about it here, for everything this site is intended….well, at least part of what this is intended.
2014, what a fantastic year you were. Personally I can’t remember ever having ONE YEAR that encapsulated SO much change, in so many varying forms and reaches into my life as this one did. Seriously, I think every fiber of my life was touched in one way or another during 2014 and I am very thankful for that. I know that the years previous built me up through therapy and experience to be ready for the changes that 2014 brought, because frankly I don’t think I could have survived some of the more stressful things without the previous years. Each year since 2009 has been a building experience, an improvement of sorts as I’ve slowly gotten stronger from the meltdown of 2008, regained pieces of “me” that I’d thought long gone, and along the way found that not only did I despise certain things about who I WAS (both present and past tense) but who I even THOUGHT I was, and that was a shocker in itself Fighting through any form of mental illness is tricky because you learn to doubt yourself nearly at every move. With Bipolar Disorder, you get in a good mood and well, if that goes for an extended period of time, you have to suddenly question if you’re having a manic episode, and how long has it been going on? Then you frantically panic and wonder if everyone around you has been wondering the same thing, and for how long.. Its a terrible way of living your life. Some people are never able to get past it. Some people either never find a medication balance that “corrects” the problem or a healthy enough state to function appropriately for seamless interactions. It’s very sad.
In the year of 2014, I lost over 120 pounds. In 10 months. While I still have about 25 pounds to go and hit my full goal, I’ve stopped paying attention necessarily to the number and have started with weight training, and putting on muscle, shaping my body and am actually enjoying that quite a bit. I started eating better, and with a different combination that I’ll talk about separately began paying attention to the Omega 6/Omega 3 fatty acid ratio in my daily intake, and within 2 weeks starting noticing a dramatic increase in cognizant ability. After that 2nd week, I began remarking on it to my partner. After the 3rd week, I was ABSOLUTELY sure there was something to the effects and benefits to the brain, as I was thinking “clearer” and with more decisiveness than I had felt in YEARS. Ideas began forming with more fluidity and rapidity than before, and I just felt sharper than I had. Something was definitely UP. I decided to research the effects of Omega 6/Omega 3 benefits and bipolar disorder and was SHOCKED to find that as much as 18 years ago there were no less than FIVE studies done – at Harvard, no less – showing the positive benefits of Omega 6/Omega 3 administration (Fish Oil Supplementation with EHA/DHA) up to 650 mg on patients with Bipolar Disorder…..yet that has NEVER been discussed with me by ANY of my psychiatrists or doctors, and in fact it seemed to be news even to my counselor, the ONE healthcare professional who has been the MOST help to me in dealing with Bipolar.
With my already better feeling from the weight loss and the changes with the mental stimulation and “fine tuning” ala DHA/EHA I am in the most mental unique position – and definitely the most positive and creative – frame of mind I have been in for most of my adult life, But it’s not without its sacrifices,. But sometimes sacrifices have to be a good thing, and it has to be time to walk away from something,. And I just did that. And I’ll tell you why.
Getting “here” – to today – has been a struggle. I’m not talking about the struggles of getting through the learning steps of just managing Bipolar even, although that was definitely part of it. No, I’m now talking about the residual fine-tuning that had to be done to personal areas of life, such as places I’d chosen to work and perform in, be seen in, and even act out parts of my life in. I’ve let myself start to “experience” things in life again, testing waters, seeing just how far I could push my boundaries, testing myself on how far I could be trusted, how far I could trust myself, just exactly what I could and/or would do should certain instances arise, how I would react to situations being out in the “real world” again and while most of the time I was fine, I found that I definitely don’t have all the answers to a perfect life. I let myself down many times and found myself disappointed in my ability to “control” my reactions. In these experiences I found a lot of my reactions in the past were also based on how I personally felt about myself, how I perceived others to be thinking about me, and what I noticed was as time went on, as I got better control of myself, my emotional state, and my mental health – and especially my physical health – as these gears started working together better, I felt better and became more grounded. The opinions of others mattered less about me personally and more the music I was picking, the artistry I was attempting in class, the craft I was trying to learn and perfect, the efforts I was making in making others aware of health benefits of exercise, and the fact that I making these changes physically purely and solely for myself and my physical benefit and not for anyone else or any other reason.
I just ended a near 3-year stint at a gay bar as a karaoke host. When I started there it was the absolute joy of my life; when I left it was the absolute thorn in my side, for a variety of reasons. Me & the gay community….it’s been a 35+ year love/hate relationship. Yes I’m gay but in that entire time I’ve been “out” I have many issues with finding an identity “within” the community as it’s seen on the surface. I have been an entertainer in the community that whole time, for I started singing in clubs right out of the bat; first ‘official” performance was in 1983 in Dallas. I have friends within the community who are very active and do plenty of work, and I myself have worked many benefit shows helping raise money for awareness, equality and AIDS-related charities. But the community as a whole….well….it doesn’t exist. There’s so much segmentation, so much in-fighting, so much indecisiveness….and so much anger, distrust & hatred….and trust me, I get it, I understand it – but it doesn’t make me want to try to want to be a part of it. I don’t know about you, and if you’re reading this and happen to be gay I’m certainly not trying to offend, but I for one am rather tired of the stereotypical pissy queen image that so many see to take so much pride in and work so hard at emanating over & over & over & over again….to be the life of the party….to be the center of attention….it’s old. It’s tired. It’s been done. FOREVER. That’s not original. And it’s not even funny anymore. You can only recycle those jokes so many times before you become your own caricature. I watched week after week after week as some of the same individuals filed in, ordering the same drink and shot and drink and shot and then personality changes and the “other you” takes over and they tell you their lies and how cute you suddenly are, and then they, and you, suddenly get caught up in this little (big) world that is created that inexplicably gets washed away when the morning sun rises with its too-common headache and the inescapable truth of the real world…
The thing is I know NONE Of these people – this “person” I’m talking about is in any one of any bar in any city….that persona is the lost soul who finds solace in the bar life and feels acceptance there either through the illusion of alcohol and/or the psuedo-relationships that are formed there. It’s a life I see people hurt intentionally and hurt irresponsibly, leading to scars that people sometimes don’t even know they have or that they’ve inflicted. Maybe that is an empath in me I’ve always suspected, but I know for myself, I can’t watch it, can’t participate in it, and can no longer stand to see it happen to people that I think are truly undeserving of such. I want to step in and stop them from hurting and or being hurt, and that’s simply not my place. I have other destinies right now and my spirit is just telling me to Move. On.
For someone who grew up around an alcoholic, and who suffered at the hands of an alcoholic, this became too much – especially when the long-term effects of the alcoholism all came to a head this year, and the effects of what that alcoholic had on me finally were able to be let go. But that’s a different post altogether.
Sadly, there are a great many youth in the gay community who do not understand the struggle the gay community has gone through in the last 4-5 decades to have the privileges they do today at such an early age. There are even some who do not know who Harvey Milk was. Some who are unaware of the origins of the Gay Rights Movement or the reasons that we have Gay Pride Parades – one 25 year old even told me that I should read up on my history because the main reason for the parade this year was to go “celebrate being gay”. No, that’s not the reason on the parade.
The bar scene itself is also just not fitting my mental state anymore. I don’t want to continue to worry that when I am going to the bathroom I have to listen to the sound of two men having sex in the stall – it’s happened on too many occasions to count and regardless of the type of bar, it’s just bad form. Have a little class. Go home. If any of my straight friends had come on those nights to see me, as they have in the past, and had gone to the bathroom at those moments and experienced that, I’d have been highly embarrassed. The hours were becoming obtrusive to audition schedules, and at least two auditions were flubbed because of not having adequate rehearsal time due to being out till after 3:00 AM the night before the audition. When hosting a show in that environment, it’s MUCH easier to do with a few cocktails over the course of the night, but because of the tendency of a select bartender or two to overpour, this particular establishment was fined by the TABC and now DJ/S (including KJ’s) are limited to ordering 2 drinks per evening. Even that rule isn’t followed which creates a messy situation all the way around, and a confusing situation for sure.
See, it appears the night of Christmas Eve, while in the holiday spirit and having a GREAT time, and after even having a large meal before going in to work at 9:00 PM, at some point in the night someone slipped a “Ruffie” or a “Mickey” into my drink in the later part of the evening, I’m guessing somewhere around 1:00 a.m. Everything from 2:00 A.M. forward is a complete mystery…..and I apparently went off the deep end. I was overly beligerent to the staff, danced in the street with my phone, argued with a sign and was talking to a non-existent person in my car. None of these activities are like me even at my, “drunkest” state. I remember absolutely nothing until about 7:30 a.m. when I was pulling my car into a Exxon parking lot for cigarettes and realized that the sun was coming up…and started ‘coming to’, so to speak and feeling very, very confused and disoriented. I sat there for 10 minutes, not knowing where I’d been, how I got there, or what the hell was going on. I got home, just around the corner, to also realize my phone was gone. Fortunately, my laptop, wallet, cash, and credit cards were all there and it appeared my person was all intact and untouched. But it didn’t take the fear away of “what had possibly happened”. I called the police and was advised to go to the ER.
I went to the ER for a urinalysis and blood test; they suggested the former stating that the blood test that they’d take would show the same thing as a urinalysis and that those date rape drugs usually were gone in a relatively short amount of time. I still couldn’t believe this had happened to me. I couldn’t figure out WHY or even WHO would have done this to me. I spent the rest of Christmas Day in a GPS search for my phone and fortunately was able to locate it and retrieve it.
Returning to work Christmas night, I was shocked to find myself being chastised and yelled at for my actions the night before – not in a private room, but right there in the DJ booth -in front of about 30 people in the bar – with a finger being shaken in my face. I have no problem being reprimanded for when I have broken a rule, or have done something wrong. I own up to each and every mistake I make in this arena and every area of my life. It’s one thing I have learned from many years of making mistakes, and from previous years of blaming others for my problems and errors. However, to do it publicly, in front of customers and friends of mine? No, I don’t think so – some of these friends of mine I have known for 12 years and that is something that is completely unacceptable and any respect I had for either of the people who did this was lost permanently at those moments, and solidified my decision.
To add, there was zero inquiry as to my well-being in regards to being drugged. And for being told that I was “one of the family”, after investing nearly 3 years of time and dedication to a place, promoting a show for that period of time and putting in extra efforts to make it succeed whenever I could, and then to realize that there truly was no real care for me as a human….well, the solidification became concrete. I had to leave. I was no longer safe physically or emotionally. Seeing as I left the bar the night before in my car and completely under the influence of some unknown substance, and I DROVE, I could have done anything from driving off a bridge, injuring or killing MYSELF or SOMEONE ELSE, and there was not a word mentioned about this, but for the continued well-being of the bar itself. When it comes to my life, I could give a rats ass about the continued income of the bar. And unfortunately that decision to publicly embarrass me, twice, and not being concerned about the drugging incident cost the luxury of a two week notice.
Other factors persuaded me; less than one month prior a gunman had taken to the streets and fired over 200 rounds into the police station just a very few blocks away as well as 3 other buildings close to this bar. It could have been this building. There have been numerous people “banned” from the bar for behavior that is suspect, whether they have been too intoxicated at the moment or under some other influence. One individual got kicked out – again – and picked up a chair and flung it onto a car, which happened to be a friends car, causing damage that had to be fixed in a body shop. I know individuals that have sold and continue to sell drugs in the bar. Too many variables for me to feel like it’s any longer a “safe” place to be in, And even though it helped get my voice into a great working shape, that single factor is not enough to weigh against these negatives. I can sing at home to keep that vocal prowess and perform at my choice of clubs.
Additionally, there is a problem with one bartender who continually would tell patrons of his distinct displeasure and hatred of karaoke itself. This went on nearly the entire time I worked there. Customers do talk. It wasn’t once or twice. It was all the time. He’d go so far as to stick napkins in his ears, or clap his hands over his ears. Right in front of customers. I have had singers come up and remove their names from the rotation when they’ve seen that because it makes them feel terrible when they see that. It’s rude, it’s degrading and for it to come from the staff of a place where the customer is buying drinks from – while they’re there supporting the bar to do karaoke – is just unacceptable. A change was finally made one night a week out of the three and it was a noticeable difference, but it still left two nights a week to contend with.
People don’t like it when you point out flaws. Me, well, I don’t mind so much anymore. My flaws are my flaws. I either agree or not, but when it is something I’m experienced in, as in the case of running a karaoke show, I can tell you what works and what doesn’t. So, with that, my show’s done. I quit December 30th with no notice, no warning, except the signs and hints had been given for over two weeks. It just shows I had not been listened to at all. And yes, my “regulars”? They all knew it was happening. Final insult to injury was I had been asked to move my normal Wednesday night show from the 31st to the 30th because Wednesday night was New Year’s Eve, and since “no one likes karaoke”, as had been repeatedly told me, “there’s not going any poker Tuesday night so you can do it that night”.I made the plans, posters, organized the night, all the regulars oriented their schedules around it to start at 9:30 PM and lo & behold, I get there, all dressed up at 9:00 to set up, and boom! There’s a full fledged poker game going on. All the way up until midnight, when I could truly get started and we could actually hear the music.
I left when and the way I did because one of the long term bar backs at this bar has been hounding for the new Sunday host – who stepped in immediately (I knew they would) since the day I started; I still have the texts he sent to me threatening me should anyone ever want to try and “call me out” on that one,
And I am not bitter in the least. I have walked away from the single most negative experience in my life for the last year. I’ve spent the last few months listening to an insider fill my head with what “management” really thinks of me, even if it’s third party, I couldn’t care a less, because that picture couldn’t be further from the truth of who I really am, and further evidence that the time spent in this establishment did nothing to show that you have not got a clue as to exactly who you’re dealing with here, nor do I. At least the person I presented is real; real emotions, real happiness, and yes, .even real sadness when it’s time for that. There’s no guesswork – and as I’ve gotten better, real honesty when it is time to hear it. And I’ve left some of it out here.
Do I have any regrets about leaving? I can’t say the word regrets, really. I do have some things I’ll miss. Those things will be, in no particular order: The music, the singing, DJ’ing, KJ”ing, the laughter, the smiles, the sound when it was good & loud and people were having fun, the times when a song was just right and everyone was listening, the couple of times when whatever I was wearing was just right and I’d lost a bunch of weight and people were noticing for the first time, summer nights and shorts, and again, music. Good times when everyone was getting along and the times when there was no tension. Those times I’ll miss. And a handful of the customers I got to know. Initials here: CB, RL, RO, MT, MR, JH, RG, JM, LM,AP, R, K…..getting to know you guys over the last few years has been a true highlight and it’s always a pleasure to see you. Don’t get trapped in the bar life – you’re all far too special for that, and you know what I mean by that. I know you all strive for a life higher than for what that can provide.
2015 has already found me in better places emotionally than I’ve ever been, and I intend on keeping it that way. In conversation with my counselor two weeks ago – a major point clicked into place for me as to why I don’t “fit in” with the bulk of the gay community, and never have. This will probably be a very unpopular statement with the gay community, and it’s not meant to incite a riot or be accusatory, however, it is meant as a true one. I have handled a lot of stress and major decisions in the last two months very well; usually with the Bipolar swings, these things would previously set me off into an episode. Not so, as of late. It’s an indicator that I have a good handle on the fluctuations of emotional variance. She told me “I have always been hoping to see the moment when your Bipolar would just become something that was ‘there’, something that was part of you but that didn’t ‘define’ you.” All of a sudden those words snapped out of that sentence and attached themselves to another segment of my life. Something else, something I already knew, snapped into focus.
I haven’t clicked or felt comfortable with a large portion of the gay community because for me, being gay is simply a TINY portion of WHO I AM. It’s as insignificant as being bald, as unimportant as how much I weigh, as miniscule as what size of shirt I wear……simply a PART of the whole person and THAT is where my disconnect happens. In short, my sexuality does not DEFINE me. It does not make me WHO I am nor is it the most interesting thing about me. I seriously don’t think that the other individuals I run into in the outside world really CARES about who I’m sexually attracted or active with, nor do I feel it necessary to tell or show them as part of initial conversations or interactions. Not only does this help me advance myself further in every day mainstream life – which we ALL have to do in order to survive – it also helps those in mainstream society relax and not feel “on edge” when approaching me in conversations and situations. It is part of the reason I can and usually DO have in depth conversations with many people about many things, and sex is not usually one of them! It is why my sales figures have always been high when I am in a sales position, because I can communicate in the every day world without wearing my sexuality on my sleeve and making it a mission in my every day life. I’m not saying that one should not be proud of who you are – but it’s not something that MUST be broadcast. Sure, be proud of getting through the emotional turmoil of realizing you’re gay and the “coming out” process; absolutely – it’s a different process for everyone. But you deal with it, accept it, and move on to the rest of your life, and trust me, there SHOULD be so much more to it. If you’re so hung up on the fact that you learned how to enjoy sex, then I’m sorry, there’s a problem if you can’t get on to other things. There is MORE TO LIFE than that! Sure, sex is great, but it is not the end all be of a life, and trust me, you’ll find that one day – just don’t hit 60 years of age before you do. Being gay is a personal celebration of life and victory of one’s self, but in my opinion, wearing it like a badge in every single aspect of your life does not further your cause as a person; it makes you begin to look like you can do nothing else and bring nothing else to the proverbial table but that . Well bully for you. You’ve achieved mediocrity with 50% of the world who are the same sex as you. Now what’s your next trick? The promiscuity that continues to exist in the gay community is just as rampant today as it was 30 years ago with the outbreak of the AIDS crisis and that is disturbing too, but again, another post and I cannot say it doesn’t exist in the straight community as well.
I am not totally without blame in any of this time. Even with the positive growth, I found that in the times when I would drink too much, I found my inhibitions dropping, flirtations being easier to happen, intentions being mistaken for more than stated, and doubts being implied about my relationship of 16 years that means the world to me. Toward the last few months I also found that my frustrations with the situation, combined with a few shots, were not always the best combinations and I snapped a few times at a few people – never intentional, but it did happen, and I felt like complete trash every time. I reached out in apologies and that’s all I can do with that. I know my place in this world, and I also feel my strengths tested and found to be solid in the end through not only amazing growth, but now readied to take on the next step of forward motion, momentum and movement. I had to take a step away from negativity and toward great new opportunities that are starting now; new skills that I’m sharpening and acquiring and am about to put into excellent business ideas, and I’m going to push for every goal and dream I want, because now – I. Can. I will make more mistakes along the way, and I will continue to accept ownership of them along the way, But controlling variables or at least removing situations which I can no longer accept around me are clearly avenues which benefit me now, at this age and this stage of my life and career path, and this decision is clearly the best I could have made.
I’ve been asked by several friends “What happened?” and already seen evidence of a few inaccuracies being told, so I decided to write this blog post as the only response I’ll have about why I left the bar for a reply. Now, if asked in person, I might discuss it, but as far as written word, this will probably be it. Again, Moving. On.
I am entering 2015 feeling so very strong, the mental improvements that the diet changes have brought along with the physical changes are astounding. Right at the present moment I feel better than I think I ever have. It’s hard to believe that I’ll turn 50 in 9 months. I feel very good right now. I feel very smart. I feel almost impervious. It’s almost scary because it’s honestly the longest period of time I’ve gone and felt good without swinging into full blown mania and screwing everything up, possibly ever in my life. I’m truly loving every day and my life right now and feel very excited and encouraged, like I can do ANYTHING. I think my biggest fear is something happening to me and taking my life away right now. How funny – 7 years ago that’s the only thing in the world I wanted…,,
My, how a life can change.
My plan for the year:
An album in production – “Worth The Wait” (9/2015)
Just got sent a pilot script called “Out Damned Spot”
Continuing my education & company developmental work with “The Actors Arena”
Get demo reel together, now with footage from 2 features and a documentary, plus music footage
Looking at personal management opportunities
Developing headshot photography business
Developing web development business
Driving for Uber part time, weekly
Developing wedding planning business
Continuing Heaven’s Leash business
Offering DJ services
Life is good, very very good