Sunday, September 13, 2009

Full Circle

Today & My Life:

I woke up feeling nasty. Like a hangover without any booze the night before. Puffy eyes and nausea. I can do this!

When Scott came home from the doctor's and told me that they had found cancer in his chest, I was stunned. I listened to him and took it all in and asked questions like what's the first thing we have to do to get rid of it. I would go with him to his next doctor's appoiintment to discuss treatment.

The rest is history. We have come Full Circle. It has been about a year and a half ago that I started this story. Scott and I are as healthy as we can be, considering out history. We still love each other and I know I will always love him. Between the ups and downs, the laughter and the tears, we have fought a big battle and won. Cancer, HIV, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse, deaths and surgeries. Family, friends, and pets. Live each day the best you can for you may not see tomorrow.

Someone, somewhere was just diagnosed with a deadly disease. They are about to embark on their own journey. If it turns out that you know them, ask yourself - What if it were me?

Today we are going to lunch with a friend who found out she has breast cancer. She is going to have her breasts removed this week. Yesterday she was going through the anger stage and we hope to help her through it and give her the encouragement she needs to fight. Today it is all about her.

Who will it be about tomorrow?

Love & Peace

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Self Confidence


Going to John & Elizabeth's for a little cookout! Two of my favorite people. I'm starting to get hungry already. Happy Labor day.

My life:

I made the callbacks!!!! I was so excited. When I got there to do my second reading there were only 3 of us going for the same role. One guy was really bad and I knew he had gotten a courtesy call back. Must have been a friend of the director. The second guy looked the part and only did a fair reading. I did a great reading but I had not shaved my mustache and I didn't look the part.

I was told by Scott that you should not dress up as the role when auditioning because the director may have a different outlook on the character. Maybe I should have shaved because the role was given to the other guy. I was devastated. I told Scott I would do the costumes for "Steel Magnolias" which was what he was directing.

While looking for another role to audition for my side started to act up again. I was having more pains where they had operated and it was bulging. Another doctor's visit and I was told my mesh holding the hernia had torn and needed to be replaced or something. I can't remember exactly what it was but I was pissed. I needed another operation and on the same thing! The doctor told me it would be an overnight procedure and it would heal quickly. I wondered why they couldn't get it right the first time. I set the operation up for a couple of weeks in advance.

I was having a fun time with the cast of Steel Magnolias and we were shopping at the thrift shop for costumes when I got a call on my cell phone. It was the director of Biloxi Blues. It seems the guy that he cast as Toomey was a real diva and was not getting along with him or the cast. They called me in to see if I could have a private audition/interview. I agreed to meet him and he offered me the role even after I told him about the operation I was to have a few nights before opening night. I only had 3 weeks to learn all the extensive monologues and actions.

I spent every available minute going over my lines. Scott would come home from work and I would be outside doing lines. I did lines while in the shower. I did lines everywhere. I would rehearse them without emotion just so I could get them down. It was a big role to take on with so little time.

During the last week of rehearsals I actually cried and thought I would never be able to pull it off. The director gave me encouragement and told me I was doing a great job. I was scared.

I had the operation without any complications and went home the next day. My whole stomach was wrapped up and I would bleed if I strained the area. Opening night was only a couple days away and I could barely move. Now I was even more frightened but I held on and persisted.

The last dress rehearsal was horrible. I had stopped in the middle of monologues and forgotten where I was. I really sucked. I had the lines down but I was overwhelmed with fear of screwing up that I did screw up. I had to do this and prove I was worthy of this role!

The night we opened I was bleeding a little and had to re wrap myself over and over again. I stormed the stage with all the confidence I could muster and by the end of the night people were screaming and ranting about how awesome I was. I barely remembered being on stage. I had done it. The biggest challenge of my life. I pulled it off and the run for Biloxi was to be very successful.

The reviews were all excellent. I was nominated for a WATCH (Washington Area Theater Community Honor) award for best supporting actor. There were almost 200 men that year who had done a supporting role and I was chosen as one of the top five or six. The year prior I hadn't even know what a WATCH award was.

When the ceremony was held and they started reading the nominations all I could think in my mind was...please don't say my name, I can't go on stage and talk. When they announced me as the winner, I thought I would faint! I was still a nobody in the theater community and they had recognized me as a talent. I was thrilled.

Scott encouraged me the whole time and supported everything I had to go through. He was my rock during all of this and I was so thankful to have him in my life. He had given me more confidence since I could remember. With that I began to audition for more plays and land more roles. Thus I have met some of the best people I could ever wish to meet. Scott and I would work on plays and enjoy life until he got the call...

Love & Peace


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Meeting Scott

Before I continue I have to say that I am overwhelmed with bills and issues. It seems that Scott's Tooth cost $800.00 after insurance, My car insurance went up for no apparent reason, Sears is deciding to up it's interest rates, My virus protection plan had to be renewed for the computer and two dogs are due to go to the vet.

eBay has been really bad. My business has dropped off immensely and the stress has gotten to me a bit. I keep saying to myself that it will all pass and maybe next year I can go on a vacation. That said...

My Life: Scott led the meeting that night and I remember him calling on me to talk. I didn't want to but I did. He smiled when I shared and I thought he was adorable. I knew I would meet him after the meeting.

Meeting adjourned and I met Mr. Olson. We talked a little about this and that and he invited me to go see a play with him. Ah, theater was something I had missed for the past 20 or so years. I told him I would see a show with him and we exchanged numbers.

We talked on the phone a couple of times and we learned even more about each other. When Thanksgiving came around, Scott was sick so I took an entire dinner to his home and fed him. Then I did the dishes and bid him adu.

We went on dates and introduced our dogs to each other. Went to the movies ("Calendar Girls" was our first together), watched TV, did puzzles and just enjoyed each others company. Once we even had Meningitis together. The doctor said it was from some food contamination - Taco Bell!

He invited me to audition for a play he was directing called "Killing Dante". I tried out for the flaming queen role - something I had never done before on stage. Scott was reluctant to cast me because we were so close. he didn't want it to interfere with our relationship. Even though I knew it wouldn't, I told him it was ok to cast someone else. In the end he cast me - because he said I was the best at the audition. From there my theater career kicked off again.

It was inevitable that we move in together. We packed our separate houses and moved in to another one. It was to be the house from hell but we didn't know that since we were in love.

After Killing Dante I wanted to do more. I auditioned for shows and I really sucked. Then came the audition for "Biloxi Blues" at The Little Theater of Alexandria. It is one of the best theaters to work for and I knew I was perfect for the role of Sgt Toomey. I made the callbacks...

Peace and Love,


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ken Goes to Vegas

Yesterday Scott and I went to the Prince William County Fair along with out neighbors Cathy, Brian and their little girl Emily. Emily is 4, and we rode all the rides together. We all spent too much money, ate too much food that's wasn't good for us, walked way too much and had a great time. My legs are feeling the burn this morning.

There is just so much I can do without being in unbearable pain but I refuse to lay down and die over it all. I've lost a lot of friends over the years and I plan on having much more fun before it's my time to go.

My Life: September 11 was a tragic day in America and it should never be forgotten. I know that all around the world people were touched in many different ways. That day gave me a freedom that I had not known for a long time.

Our lives were changing and Ken didn't know what he was going to do for a job. He asked me what I thought about moving to Las Vegas. Although I wanted to move there too, I told him that he should do it. I gave him encouragement to start a new life and not to have regrets for anything he didn't at least try. I explained that he could do it on his own and that I could find a nice little studio apartment and start over myself. He agreed and took a flight out to Vegas to look into where he would live.

I was so excited to be living by myself. My sister told me that her Yorkshire Terrier had puppies and as soon as they were old enough I could have one. It was going to be me and the new baby. Me and AA. Me and my sponsor Bob. Me and my therapist. Me, me, me, me, me!

Ken came back from Vegas and told me he had found a place to live. He said he would be moving on Oct 1st (my birthday). What a wonderful present for me. The first thing we had to do was sell everything. We had hired a couple of old ladies called Four Sales to run the estate sale. I would have preferred to do it myself but Ken insisted. Since it was his stuff, I gave in. The ladies overpriced everything and when the sale was over Ken had to rent a storage unit to put all that was left in it. I felt the sale was a flop. Hell, he even charged me to buy some things from him that I needed for my new place. Things likes pots and pans and a bed! He could be such a dick sometimes! What ever was left, I would sell for him and we would split the profits.

Before Ken moved I had found a studio apartment, moved my stuff in and went to Williamsburg to pick up my new little girl. My sister had 4 available puppies and they were all the size of small hamsters. One of them came wobbling up to me and she was beautiful! I gave her the name Princess Xena Sierra and would call her Xena. In the car on the way home, she cried. She was missing her mommy and it felt so sad. I knew she would be happy once we got to our new home.

My birthday came and Ken moved. I was a happy bachelor with the cutest dam dog you had ever seen. I took her everywhere I could. She went to AA meetings with me, the post office, long walks, and visits to friends.

On my own I volunteered my services as a bingo caller at the Girls and Boys Club on the weekends. I started dating again too. I was learning what happiness was all over again. I was slowly completing the 12 steps in AA and going to the meetings on a regular schedule. I was becoming what I hated when I first gave up drinking - HAPPY.

Time passed without arguments, insecurities, hate and irritability's. I healed more and more the next couple of years than I thought was imaginable. Then at an AA meeting I met Scott...

Love & Peace,


Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Nephew

I found out yesterday that my brother's youngest son is going to be on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". I'll keep everyone posted. YAY!!!!!!

The Year of Living Madly

What a horrible night last night. My legs hurt so bad that it actually brought tears to my eyes. I don't think I have ever had that intensity of pain from neuropathy before. I had to take painkillers and lay in bed all night. Still a little pain this morning but at least I can bare it.

My brother-in-law Paul was in town this weekend and built a wall in the unfinished bathroom in the basement. He also installed a toilet. Now I don't have to go upstairs if I need to urinate.

Scott had a tooth break apart and just fall out of his mouth on Friday. He gets to see a dentist on Monday so he is in pain until then. When both of us are in pain at the same time it's not a fun household to be in.

My life: That first year of getting sober I was filled with anger. I called Bob Ball everyday and started to work for him once a week for a couple of hours cleaning his house. He and his partner never cleaned and the place was a mess. Random fact: Bob was the only son of Football coach Herman Ball. His dad worked with the Redskins for a while and a couple of other teams. Bob fast became my best friend.

I still went to therapy once a week and it was getting easier. I would talk about everything and get it off my chest. My anger was so bad at times my face would turn bright red. Everyday I would think about suicide.

My first day of sobriety was August 13, 2000. Each month at the AA meetings I would get a chip to celebrate another 30 days of clean living. There were people in the meetings that had years and years without a drink. I never thought I could be one of those individuals. I really disliked them too because I thought that no one could be that happy all the time.

About 6 months sober and I had to have another operation. It seems that after they removed my appendix I had a hernia. I spent another week in the hospital having that repaired. My scar was getting bigger.

Around eights months sober the one thing I knew was coming, happened. They say that it is the hardest thing to go through without slipping and taking a drink. Death. I took Stryker to the vet and was told he had cancer and he was in a lot of pain. I stayed with him as they gave him the shot. He died in my arms as I cried. I am crying now as I write this. It is still a very painful thing. He loved me unconditionally and never wavered. Ken tried to be supportive. It was a lonely house without Stryker but I did not drink or drug over the loss.

My one year anniversary was coming up soon. It was my nephew's birthday and he was going to have a big party. I was going to have breakfast with Bob at the Cowboy Cafe in Arlington. Just another ordinary day.

I was in the office when I heard Ken yell from downstairs to turn the TV on. I stood in shock at what I saw. One of the Twin Towers were on fire. Then a plane flew into the second tower. What the hell was going on? I heard a loud noise and went to look outside. There was a plane flying so low that I thought it was going to crash into our home. It passed us over and exploded. Smoke was everywhere. We lived only a few blocks away from the Pentagon and heard on the news that what I had just witnessed was that attack. It was the end of the world, I thought.

Within minutes, people were scrambling everywhere. They were climbing over fences and cutting through yards to get home and away from all the chaos. I kept calling Bob and there was no answer. I tried his cell, no answer. I had to make sure he was alright so I got in the car and drove to the cafe. Bob wasn't there. The place was packed with people who didn't know how they were going to get home. More chaos. Outside people were everywhere crying and looking like they were going to die. I realized Bob would not be coming and I would talk to him later. I had to do something now. I was overwhelmed by what I saw. I offered my driving services to anyone who needed them. One lady told me should was going to stay put until she could reach her husband. The next guy I asked was very grateful and said he needed a ride to Annandale.

Here I was in my car with a complete stranger giving him a ride home. He was employed at the Pentagon and told me that everyone was evacuated from the building and that they could not get to their cars. It took an hour to get him home in all the traffic that day.

That day, I began to feel something other than anger. I had done what I could do. It wasn't a heroic act or anything extraoridinary but it made me feel good about myself. I was finally on the right path. The road to recovery.

Love & Peace,


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Goodbye Bette

I met Bette when Scott was going through his cancer treatments. Her and her daughter Michelle worked at the storage unit where I rented a small compartment. I also went to the auctions there monthly to get things to sell on eBay. Bette and Chele came over to the house in Arlington and helped me clean when Scott was sick and we had company coming to visit.

Last weekend she and her daughter along with the grand kids went to a water park for a family outing. All of them climbed the giant water slide in anticipation of a wild ride. Bette told Michele she wasn't feeling to great and so Michele went first. At the bottom, she saw her girls ride the water with glee. her mother was no where in site.

A group of paramedics were running up the stairs and Michele was scared. It seems her mother, Bette, had some kind of attack and died before she could ride the slide. Bette was only a couple of years older than me. She would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. We would talk on the computer sometimes daily and we loved Farm Town on Facebook. I sure am going to miss her.

I am going to make some food for the family and bring it to them this week sometime. I know what it's like to lose a mother. I only hope when I go, I go as quickly as she did. Goodbye Bette, you will always be in my heart,

My Life: Back to AA. My body was saying drink, my mind was saying go to the meetings or die. Without alcohol I shook so badly I couldn't write my name. I blushed bright red when I was scared or embarrassed. I had panic attacks for no reason. I thought of suicide at least once every five minutes. I didn't think I would ever like people again. Ken was at least supportive.

The next meeting I went to I sat with Irving and when they asked if anyone had anything to say,Irving grabbed my arm and raised it for me. I announced that I needed a sponsor and that was all I could get out of my mouth. During the meeting break, what looked to me like a giant of a man came walking towards me. I was sitting down and he looked 7 feet tall with a white beard and a big belly. No, he did not look like Santa, he looked like a mean biker in my eyes. He introduced himself to me as Bob Ball and told me he wanted to take me on as my sponsor. I sort of cried a little and said OK. He gave me his phone number and told me I had to call him everyday regardless if I had anything to say. This was going to be very hard for me.

I also started counseling at WWC. It was one of the most difficult things I had ever had to do. I sat In the room with Bob Kenney and he would ask me how my day went. The typical response from me would be: I hate people, they piss me off. No one cares about anyone else these days and they are all rude and self centered. I hate my life. I'm angry all day long and I want to die.

He would then ask me things like what would I do to change these things that were happening around me. What if I put myself in other peoples shoes and what about the people who do love you? To me it was all crap.

The people around me didn't know what I was going through. I didn't let anyone in on who I was except the 2 Bobs. They were my outlets. They were the strangers I confided in. They didn't judge me. They were understanding and supportive. When in public I avoided eye contact as much as possible with everyone else. I stewed in my head about how I wanted to kill certain people and myself. This was going to be a long road ahead of me.

The AA meetings would talk about GOD and prayer and a higher power. What a bunch of shit to me. I had no God. One guy told me his higher power was the barbie doll. Another said the ocean was his. They told me to just figure out something I could respect and make it my higher power. It didn't have to be the God I grew up with and never believed in. It didn't have to be Mohammad or Buddha or any other religious figure. It could be anything. It would take me a while to choose a higher power.

AA has 12 steps and I had done the first one quite easily. I admitted I had a problem and that I was an alcoholic. The second one is to believe in a higher power. ARGH! This isn't going to work for me. I hate AA and all the people except Bob and a couple of others. I want ice cream!

In the meantime at the home front I could see that Stryker dog wasn't up to his old self. He was moving slower and would sit outside on the balcony by himself and look at the sky. He was so beautiful when he did that. He was my best friend and I was afraid I was going to lose him. Ken was being his old self again and getting angry with everything. Maybe I rubbed off on him. I was feeling a pain in my side where my appendix was removed and knew something was wrong there too. Bingo was still on the weekends along with yard saleing. Life continued on...

Love & Peace,