I can’t believe the warehouse used to be so empty.


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Note: remnants of the class assignment formatting are left over (“meeting essence” and “personal essence”) and some blanks have been filled in. Names are different. Parts may have been fabricated. I don’t know. NA meetingEA meetingCA meetingAA meetingAlAnon meeting.

        This meeting took place at noon on a weekday in a church rec room. The group Secretary, Aron, passed out papers to be read by different members, including “What Is Sex Addiction?”, “Abstinence In SAA”, and their Twelve Steps.  The meeting leader Eli then shared for six minutes and then the group read the Sixth Step from their “Green Book”.
        After that, everyone who wanted to share could speak for a timed three minutes.  When the clock read 12:50PM, they observed the Seventh Tradition and handed out chips for varying lengths of abstinence.  Then several announcements of other SAA meetings were made and the one hour meeting was closed out a moment of silence followed by the Serenity Prayer.

Meeting Essence:
        Meeting leader Eli shared for the greatest amount of time.  It answered some of my questions as to what a sex addict is, or more specifically, how a sex addict defines themself.  He spoke of being abstinent from his problem behaviors of looking at pornography, drawing child pornography, masturbation, “Thai massages”, prostitution, phone sex, and in general – just cheating on his wife.  He was abstinent from all of those behaviors for nearly two years, but relapsed recently by having phone sex with someone he met via an iPod app (all his words, not mine).  He also mentioned being in other programs and being sober for two years.

        Side note: before anyone else shared, Elliot said we could raise our hands if anyone’s share became too graphic.

        The next man to share was named Tomas shared how upset he was about his (attempted) relapse on Monday.  He spent the day hitting on various women, obsessed for the day with sexual release.  He didn’t follow through because the woman he was with admitted to being a prostitute after she wouldn’t offer any money for a hotel room.  That brought him back to reality and allowed him to look at himself and how bizarrely he was behaving.

        There were several shares that related directly our reading of the Sixth Step and how it made them feel.  These people talked about coming to the program and not thinking they had defects.  Maybe they had never had any introspection in their life, but through the program combined with therapy they now know.

        Jay was last to share, and appeared to be the youngest person.  He didn’t define what his problems were but was happy to be one hundred twenty days abstinent.  This was his first time at this particular SAA meeting in quite some time.  He mentioned being very bored, and needing something to consume his time other than marijuana and video games.  If anything was going to fill that time and be worthwhile, it would be step work and meetings.

Personal Essence:
        The definition of abstinence in this program is open to interpretation.  Each individual describes their own personal “inner circle” of what they view as unhealthy sexual behaviors.  I don’t know how I feel about that, or how I feel about sex as an addiction at all.  I noticed how a few speakers mentioned being in other programs, and that makes sense to me.

        It’s very difficult to find an open SA, SAA, or SLA meeting so I had no option but to attend a closed meeting.  When I arrived I was one of four people.  Thankfully, the numbers grew, but I had to identify myself as an addict, and read the Abstinence In SAA information paper, and even had to operate the timer and accept a welcome chip.  I was given lots of information on my way out the door, too.  Although that experience made me uncomfortable personally, I can see how the person seeking help would feel very welcomed by this group.  This wasn’t listed in the directory as a men’s stag meeting, but there was definitely no women.  That might make me feel unwelcome if I were a woman.


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Note: remnants of the class assignment formatting are left over (“meeting essence” and “personal essence”) and some blanks have been filled in. Names are different. Parts may have been fabricated. I don’t know. EA meetingCA meetingAA meetingAlAnon meeting.

This meeting took place on a warm late June Sunday evening; in a trailer at one of the farther ends of a horse racing track parking lot. The Secretary of the group, Steve, announced that a man named Gary would lead the meeting.  The Narcotics Anonymous modified versions (from Alcoholics Anonymous) of the Preamble, More About, and How It Works were handed out for various people to read.  I read How It Works aloud to the group.  Chips were handed out for the various periods of being clean.  Then the topic of “Change” was announced.

Gary then spoke for ten timed minutes on topic, and then the Seventh Tradition was observed and a collections basket was passed around the room.  Then there was a ten minute break, and then sharing on topic was resumed for another hour.  There were no formal announcements for anything program-related, so the “moment of silence for those in and out of the rooms still suffering” was observed, and the group recited the Serenity Prayer to close out the evening.

Meeting Essence:
Everyone who shared stayed on topic, which I feel was a first for any meeting I’ve ever been to.  A common thread that ran through the shares was Anger with a capital A.  Everyone is so angry, or was so angry before they found the program.

Gary talked about how lost and confused he was before he started following the program.  He brought up the concept of working your own program in addition to working the recovery program.  There will come a day when there’s no meeting to attend, there’s no family around, and your friends or sponsor won’t answer your calls.  That’s why it’s important to speak to your Higher Power every day.

The next addict to share was Jason, and he amused me.  The “Mr. Personality” of any given group is an enjoyable part of every meeting.  Jason spoke about his general confusion and anger and running with “sick, twisted people” before he worked the program.  He used to believe that “Empathy is a character defect” and that his demons kept him busier than “a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest”.

I’m recalling out of order and skipping less-than-memorable folks, but this young lady Erin stuck out.  She was only six days sober, and fresh from a court appearance for a probation violation of the terms of Prop 36.  So she’ll have to do more jail time, attend classes, attend meetings, etc.  She very much believed in working the steps and the program, yet can’t stop herself from going out and using.  She also mentioned having to attend a hearing for child custody, so of all the people in that room on that particular evening – she had the most to lose.  She wasn’t there for sympathy either.

Steve was the last person to speak.  He didn’t have the most time clean and sober in the room, but he had the most time spent at the meeting.  This was his home group and he’s been attending for nine years and seen the meeting through several incarnations.  Steve was the first person to greet me with open arms and a smile at this meeting.

Personal Essence:
I spied not one court card at this meeting. I wasn’t aware that I had attended a Closed meeting, but maybe I did?  Either way, it was a very positive experience.  Everyone appeared to care for one another and there were smiles and laughter at appropriate times.  I didn’t feel unwelcome, and at some points I was filled with a sense of hope.

The only gripe I had wasn’t a program or meeting gripe, it was a personal gripe.  I don’t care much for couples who sit together at meetings, because I feel it makes them unapproachable by the newcomer.  There was a couple who not only sat next to each other and rubbed each other’s backs/head/faces to declare their love, but also shared about their relationship during the meeting. This probably speaks volumes about me.

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These Things Take Time

I helped Chuck McCarthy adapt this original short story by Tom Oatmeal into a short sketch / film. I’m credited as an “associate producer” and you’d think I would post something that I’m proud of sooner than a year after the fact. It’s even named after a Smiths song.

This was Mr. Oatmeal and Mr. McCarthy’s baby, and it’s very cool to see it receive much-deserved exposure. From about 300 notes on tumblr to approximately 33,000 views on Funny or Die.

The original tumblr post can be found by clicking here.

If you’re more of a “YouTube guy / gal” then click here.

The blind man is played by Michael London, who had a bit part in “Cool Runnings.” It was cool to meet him.


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Do it for the Vine?

Here’s an excerpt from a private email written on January 31st, 2013:

“The limitation is intriguing and encourages creative thinking and spontaneity. I did not attach any links to Vine posts because I have seen none that are intriguing or creative. Some bro showed his White Castle at various stages of consumption, another was LEGOs being constructed. Food posts. I see the potential for the format, though. Imagine twitter parody accounts translated to Vine? Or a concept account like @everyword? A fully realized @TasteTestTuesday account? A @BeefBandNames account where I rattle off names? It wants to be separate from twitter, though. They want 6 seconds to be 140 characters. I want to translate what twitter has become to Vine.

Everything about Vine is why I will not become vinewillow. It requires me to further fork over my anonymity. There doesn’t seem to be a reason for it to be news and information-friendly. It’s entirely a ‘creative’ community for all of the @boringpeople. I work hard enough to craft a silly YouTube video that tens of people see, why should I start to obsess over what unique way I could capture 6 seconds of my life? Could you imagine?

What do all of these tweens do with their videos? Is anyone saving these, journaling them, putting them on a DVD? Twitter has already inspired disposable thoughts, now disposable memories?”

So now I present to you a compilation of every vine I have participated in, conveniently compiled into a chronologically ordered YouTube video. Less than two minutes of my sheer stupidity and hypocrisy.

I never said “never.”

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“I only agreed to come to this karaoke bar because you’re cute. Otherwise this is a first date no-no,” she said while setting her drink up on the table and purse onto a hook.

He pushed the song book her way. “Protocol at this bar is to write your name and the song which you’ve selected to serenade the bar on this slip of paper and give it to the bartender.”

“Do they have any Spice Girls? Should I sing a crowd pleaser like ‘Before He Cheats?'”

“The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get.”

“Excuse me? What did you say, freak?”

“Let Me Kiss You.”

“Ew, what?” she rather reactively threw her cocktail, glass and all, at her date’s face. She was a piss poor shot and spritzed his chest with what amounted to a spray of vodka tonic cologne. The glass tumbler fell to the floor, intact.

“All You Need Is Me.”

She unhooked her purse and right-hooked it square into her ex-date’s gullet. She then stomped away, leaving her date to rub his wounds and lick the salt from the rim of his shot glass. 

“That’s How People Grow Up.”

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Loaded Grillers and Loaded Questions

When the depressive mood strikes I often feel a hunger that isn’t really there. It’s just the emptiness of my feelings crying out for the carbs and GMOs they crave. I know that I need to be strong and fight these binge-eating depressive episodes by meditating, calling a sponsor of sorts, reading, exercising, etc.

Welcome to Taco Bell, how are you this evening?” I make a point to reply to the voice in the speakerbox if they ask how I am that I am “well – and yourself?” both as a white lie to avoid confronting my self-sabotaging behavior and to perpetuate some of the politeness in society. The speakervoice replied, “oh I’m good, thank you.” I like to think they are taken aback by politeness. In reality, we are both good at acting.

Pulling up to the window to hand over my choice of payment, the cashier asked (and caught me off-guard) “why are you ordering food at this hour?” My mind raced to assess the situation. She had a slight accent and slightly slanted eyes and was very young appearance-wise, so perhaps she didn’t comprehend precisely how loaded of a question that could be. That isn’t racist I’m merely taking everything into account including the possibility that she’s foreign into account, and why someone would ask this question that could conceivably be misconstrued as rude. I know working in any type of service job there are “small talk” scripts you develop to run through to help make your interactions with customers enjoyable. I’m not a “small talk” person but she’s likely asked this question countless times before without anyone bursting into tears.

While my mind did that in the moments before I handed over my bank card which barely has the minimum funds required to keep itself open let alone afford a burrito combo expenditure – my soul searched itself. Was I supposed to bring my arm back into my car, put my wallet away, thank her, and drive away praying about how she saved me from shameful, empty calories and a bout of colitis? I stuttered and searched for bullshit to reply.

“Well… what do you mean?” I needed to buy myself time. She appeared genuinely interested. I was becoming genuinely concerned with myself and how badly my anxiety was. “I want to know the reasons people come here to eat so late.” Well, when she puts it that way! Maybe she’s conducting a survey. I told her that it had been a while since I ate last (semi-true) and then I inexplicably piled on a tiny layer of bullshit and said that I needed to “power on through the night” and then punched my fists at the air. The cashier laughed gave a small chuckle and said, “you’re funny.” Which would have been good enough for me if she hadn’t asked the follow-up question, “what do you do?”

“What do I do?” besides pull over in the Jack in the Box parking lot down the street where the lot is better-lit and shove this burrito supreme down my gullet while listening to Jen Kirkman’s podcast – and I had to give serious thought to what in the actual fuck I am after all this time spent farting around on earth. “I’m a writering” I think is what I said because she had to clarify by asking – “you are writing? You are a writer?” and I just mumbled “yeah” – and she felt obliged to keep talking – “you are an aspiring writer?” To that I had to say a definitive “yes” to end the interrogation. The food must be really fresh at 1:20AM judging by the length of our interaction.

I was surprised at what came out of my mouth. I am by no means a writer. I am a writer the same way that you are a reader. “What do you do?” I’m a box-packer? I could have said that. I studied to be a drug counselor for three years and abandoned my certification program with one remaining class and one thousand internship hours under my belt? I’m an uncle and a godfather? I don’t know what to say to that question. I feel most people are content with having one word answers to what I view as triggers to existential crisis.

To be polite, and out of curiosity, I swung her question right back at her. “What do you want to be?” which did not even come across as patronizing. You can’t ask a Taco Bell drive thru window operator if she wants to climb up their corporate ladder and if that is her life dream; but that’s basically what I did. I asked it by saying, “and you…?” and then looking her in the eyes for a beat too long until she understood what I was asking. She then pointed down at her cashier windowsill and said smiling to herself, “oh, not this. I want to be an RN. I applied for an internship at Kaiser and I’m waiting for it come through.” Like, oh silly, Taco Bell does not DEFINE HER. I maybe said “you go, gurl” and then asked for Fire sauce. Then we told each other “good luck.”

Then I promised myself that I would fucking write when I got home.

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