Things Don’t Always Turn Out Like You Plan


Let’s face it, things often don’t turn out like we plan. Almost never do they turn out exactly like we plan and by now, I have really learned to roll with the punches. This is going to be a short blog. I still have hours of work to do before I’m done today. I’m making the final pass on Lilac and Liquor, my new straight play (that means non-musical for you non-theatre types)– although as I typed that, it made me realize for the first time how silly it would be to call anything I write “non-musical.” Everything I write has a sort of music to it, don’t you think? You can hear the calliope can’t you? Can’t you? You thought I meant something else didn’t you? That’s something nice that someone says about someone’s writing, that it’s musical, it’s almost never as nice for one to say it about one’s own writing. If this writing were to ever be considered “musical,” it would most definitely be the music most commonly associated with Noh drama. Please tell me at least one of you gets that joke. It’s very funny. Here. Give it a listen: See? Funny.

Guess what I just did? I just did Morning Pages, the thirty minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing I typically do first thing in the morning. Why at 19:11 today? Well, I’ll tell you. Spud spent the night last night so we got up early so I could take him to Birmingham in time for him to get to work. He has a car but he rode out to Walker County with me last night because, well for one to save gas but also so that it would get me back to Birmingham early today and I could (hopefully) repeat the productivity of yesterday. I wanted to work out first and then get in four hours of writing.

So we got to Birmingham and I dropped Spud off and then I got a text from Chad. “Do you still have my license and debit card?” Yesterday, I had returned a very expensive pair of shoes for Chad (after he had reconsidered the purchase) and I’d taken his card and ID so they could credit him. I am normally very organized and fastidious about these sort of things but somehow I had misplaced his cards. I pulled over on the side of the Interstate to sift through my truck and (hopefully) find his cards. They weren’t there. I called him back at our house and told him every single where I thought they could be, especially in my blue jeans pockets from yesterday. It’s odd that I wasn’t actually wearing the jeans because I wear them most everyday. They are this one pair of Civilianaire jeans that I’ve worn most of the days sense I got them a year ago. Maybe that’s in part to justify their $240 price tag, maybe it’s because I fucking love them and look great in them. I can still rock a pair of jeans at 49. Anyway, Chad looked in the pockets and said, “There ain’t nothin’ in here but three rubbers.” (Only a little bit of judgement in his voice. Fuck. You’d think that he’d be glad that if his brother was sexually active that he was sometimes actually using rubbers. I guess I’m supposed to be celibate now is dead— I mean gone! I didn’t push the issue with Chad. I just pretended not to notice.) So he couldn’t find the ID and the debit card so I said, “Well hang on, I’ll come home and help you look which I did– forty miles’ drive back from Birmingham– but to no avail. I, also, looked everywhere I possibly could thing of in the house trying to find the fucking things and they were no where to be found. He called and cancelled the card and now he has to get a new driver’s license. Dammit, I hate when my fuck-ups affect other people. I was only trying to be helpful! What’s that expression about “no good deed?” Nevermind. I hate that expression. (You know, “nevermind” really should be one fucking word.)

So I sat here with Chad, apologizing for my fuck-up and he, of course was very cool about it. Staying in Walker County and working out at CrossFit today (I did lift at Gold’s in Birmingham yesterday after all) and then coming home to write of course would have been the wiser choice but I just had it in my craw that I wanted to lift at Gold’s again today! I have enjoyed making my muscles bigger again. CrossFit has gotten me in the second best shape of my life (after Marine Corps boot camp) but I decided  a couple months back to go to a CrossFit/Weightlifting split– 6 days, 3 each, because I like being bigger. It helps me to feel safe. Even though I’m 6’5″, 255 lbs., still, deep inside me is the 6’7″ 165 lb. (yep, that’s what my first driver’s license said— carrying 90 more pounds shrank me 2 inches) skinny effeminate teenager who spent his time trying to avoid the bullies who were always threatening me with violence. Goddamn, those were hard times. When people say, “Wouldn’t you love to go back to the carefree days of youth?” I want to punch them in the face– but I don’t– because then that would make me the bully and that would surely make the Dalai Lama cry.

Where was I? I’m lost. Oh yeah! So I wanted to lift weights today instead of going to CrossFit and I really wanted to go back to the same coffee shop where I wrote yesterday so to hopefully recapture some of that good juju, so it was off to Birmingham for the second time before it was even noon. 80 miles all told (is that the way you spell that? yes, it is, I looked it up) counting both trips. But if I got a great workout in, and got four hours of writing done, it would totally be worth it. I can’t really afford to be wasting all that fucking gas, even at these 1930s prices (which is one thing they sure as shit won’t blame on Obama)—nope, can’t waste any money especially since I’m getting ready to go back to New York in– how many days is it? Look at the pic on this blog– oh right, 26 days and I’m up to my eyeballs in debt and I’m heading up there without a job or a place to stay, with just this old suitcase and one pair of stockings with runs in them and– well, I’ve got this midget, and an old anvil that someone once said might be worth a lot of money– of course it will be hard to lug that anvil around The City– maybe the midget can help.  Jesus! My brian!

So anyway I head back to Birmingham to work out and then go write and– OH! I’m forgetting the most important part of the story.

Y’all know I’ve got these ten goals, right? And even though I haven’t made y’all read them in a few days– hey wait a minute! We  should be reading those every day and praying over them and visualizing them and doing the action items underneath each one! Okay, here they are:

1.I have a residence that I love in NYC.

2.I weight 260 lbs and have 15% body fat.

3.I lift or do CrossFit six days per week.

4.I write for four hours every day.

5.I have written 25 movies, 10 TV shows, 25 plays, 5 novels, 5 non-fiction books, a book of poetry and a short story anthology.

6. I am the man of my dreams and I’m married to the right and perfect husband for me.

7.We have three sons.

8.I make $110K or more every month.

9.I live off 10% of my income and direct the rest to do good on the planet.

10.I head a very successful non-profit that helps Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. We teach Pure Peer Support techniques, host weekend retreats, sponsor creativity workshops, and offer paid internships in the entertainment industry to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans helping them to find work that fulfills them and sustains them financially. It has  big, beautiful workspaces and headquarters in New York City and LA.

(end of goals)

Y’all should remind me if you go a few days without having to read my goals. And you should ask me every once in a while if I’ve been reading, praying over, and visualizing them everyday— and if I’ve been doing the action items— and if I say no, you should– you should– you should threaten me with violence! Yeah! Like the bullies did. That seems to have a profound and longterm effect on me! (I hate “effect” and “affect!” Can’t we just start spelling them both uhffect and let the sentence determine the meaning?)

SO the most important part of the story: I have an accountability partner! He’s a published author who’s facing a similarly urgent deadline and he had– we’ve never met– and he had read my blog and reached out to me to offer his friendship and I accepted. “But wait a minute, Jeff! I thought you didn’t want people to talk to you about your blog! What about when you were such a dick to that–” Shut up. I don’t want to be challenged on my somewhat ambiguous and unfair policies about the blog or anything else for that matter. This one turned out well so I’m happy that he did– besides, he didn’t really say anything at all about the blog except that he felt like we had some things in common and offered no solutions or advice. I fucking love that!

(By the way, the man “Terry” who had written to me two days ago and who drew my ire in yesterday’s blog wrote me a very polite message asking if he could talk to me about it all. I thought that was very nice. And here’s the best part: I declined. That was very healthy for me. It was very, very hard for me to decline but I realized I would be doing it because of the way he was feeling– to make sure he felt like he’d said what he wanted to say. I didn’t really need to hear any of that. This may be hard for him (if he continues to read the blog, I probably wouldn’t) or you to understand but in the end, he did end up helping me a lot because he provided me an opportunity to advocate for myself and also to not act out of codependency when he wrote back again. Thanks Terry, for that. That helped more that all the anti-depressants or mood stabilizers in the world!)

So back to my accountability partner– We check in before and after each work day with a commitment about how much we want to accomplish during that work day and anything else we need to check in about. The checkin/checkouts look like this: We set the timer and each man talks for five minutes about anything that might be standing in the way of the writing with the special intention of “discharging” any fear, grief or rage that’s clogging the works. (ha! double entendre—“the works”) I first learned the technique from Vietnam veteran Jim Driscoll and I’ve gotten to really come to understand and see the benefit through many, many hours of doing this practice with Mary Daniels, a sweet lady from Oregon whom I met at a “Vets and Allies” retreat weekend. She has become my very good friend and has helped me so much with a lot of things, especially learning to live in a healthier relationship to my war experience. I’ve been able to share the technique with a lot of other Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and obviously, (witness my accountability partner who is not a veteran) with others too who are not veterans necessarily— although— we all have our wars I guess.

So I’d checked in with my accountability partner this morning on the first trip to Birmingham committing to write for four hours (not counting morning pages but yes, counting the blog) and also not to check in on any Social Media to include Facebook, Grndr or Scruff until the writing was done. Hmm. A lot of y’all don’t know about Grndr or Scruff, do you? And no, I didn’t misspell Grinder. That’s the way they spell it. I guess if “God hates fags” then fags can hate vowels. Or maybe they were just in a hurry. Most guys on Grndr seem to be in a big hurry. Okay here’s the deal with the two: they are both gay “hook-up” apps and take the possibility for compulsive sexual behavior to a whole new level. Actually Grndr seems to exist solely for sexual hookups. It shows (based on your GPS) the fifty or so homos closest to you in order of their geographical closeness. Grndr really has no business being on my phone. Hang on. (he leaves for a few seconds) (and then for five minutes– still using the Pomodoro technique. Thanks to the Chicago Jeff Key for suggesting that!) Okay, Grndr has now been removed from my phone.

Okay, a few minutes of this and that and now I’ve got to wrap up this blog. I still have another hour and a half of editing to do before I go to sleep because– oh! because of what all happened after I got back to Birmingham. And– are you sure you want to hear all this? No. I guess it’s best left unsaid. Suffice it to say that it’s a good thing that Grndr is now gone from my phone. Scruff can stay. There are actually guys on there who are looking to date and not all just looking to fuck. I have a handful of real dates with nice, interesting, (hot) guys when I get home to New York. (Hmmm. Very interesting. I’m just aware of my fear of your judgment around that. Very, very interesting.) Guess what? I’m going to date when I get back to New York. I have ten specific goals I’m working on. One of them’s a husband. Anonymous sex hook-ups ain’t gonna get me there. Dating will.

Got to get back to the script. Thanks for your patience with what had to be a very difficult blog to read. Letting you honestly see how my brain works is part of the overarching honesty of this blog. I’m grateful for the blog. And grateful to you for taking this journey with me.

See y’all tomorrow.

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