Redefining Serene in 2013

“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.”—Søren Kierkegaard

As I sit here trying to type an introduction to this year-end blog, my thoughts are once again scattered. It’s hard to think back on the last 12 months without blocking many things out. Much happened that I’m not proud of; I nearly did lose myself a few times. And I don’t fool myself into thinking I’ve found myself yet, but I’ve made an awful lot of progress. My most favourite things this year are my sanity, my sobriety, the optimistic outlook, the realistic outlook, and–the one I’m still working to get a grasp on–the Christcentric outlook. Here are some of my other favourite things from 2013:

Favourite song: “Roar” by Katy Perry. Looking back at *last year’s blog*, I wrote these words: “…I just couldn’t name a Katy Perry song as my favourite song of the entire year.” Ouch, and what a difference a year makes! The lyrics, the beat, the chorus…all perfection thanks to Max Martin. Job well done, Katy.

Favourite TV Show: Ja’mie: Private School starring Chris Lilley. At only six episodes, this Australian sitcom knocked my socks off. Ja’mie appeared as a character in two of Lilley’s previous series and therefore already had a huge following. The one-liners in this series gave Veep a run for their money, which is probably one of the reasons HBO picked it up after it aired down under. Bawdy, ridiculous, hysterical…this one-off series brought it all and brought it hard.

Favourite New Website: Deadline.com, the current go-to website for all things entertainment news. Deadline has been around several years but has only just recently received a mainstream following. After an embarrassing falling out with founder Nikki Finke–which played out on Deadline in view of readers a few months ago–things are back to normal and the short-form blog format is one I enjoy catching up on every couple of days or so.

Favourite Obsession: Reading/the library. After months of not being able to focus enough to read more than a few pages at a time, I now consume at least two books a week and have learned how to put the Clark County ILL (inter-library loan) department to good use. Since reading all the celebrity bios at the library closest to my house which interested me, I can now use the library website to search for books from all the libraries in town and they’ll deliver them to my “home library” in a few business days and e-mail me when they’re ready to be picked up. All free of charge, and all space I’m not taking up buying more books!

Favourite Comeback: The Hills alternate ending. I blogged on this *right after* it streamed online, and it’s still as campy and amazing now as it was then.

Favourite Catchphrase: “Stop it.” You have to say it in a deadpan voice. I’m not sure which of my friends this originated with, and I actually don’t say it that much because I’m usually the one hearing it. And believe me, I heard it a lot this year.

Least Favourite Fall from Southern Aristocracy: Queen Paula Deen…need I say more? The Duck Dynasty guy tried to give her a run for her money, but Paula lost millions in 2013 with her snafu. I knew it didn’t look good for her when I snagged a jar of her marinade for $1.5o from the very bottom shelf of the clearance section in a Caesars Palace gift shoppe (she had buffets at several Caesars properties and therefore had merchandise in their casino stores). I follow Paula on the Facebook and she seems to be getting back to her roots and enjoying life. Everything happens for a reason, as the saying goes.

In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, Wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a "Today" show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past.  The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a "Today" interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News’ “Today” show, Wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a “Today” show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past. The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a “Today” interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

Favourite Memories: I should perhaps retitle this category, as these aren’t all my “favourite,” per se, but I do try not to dwell on the negative ones. After several months of boozing and hiding it and medicating and self-medicating, May 10th sticks out because I met some really cool people at a mid-century modern cocktail party that I wasn’t even supposed to attend. I spent most of the week sobering up in Palm Springs and drove back in time for the party, which was ironically attended by a group from Palm Springs. Bob was my date and that’s really the first time we’d hung out, as I’d never wanted him to see me drinking. (First date at a cocktail party newly sober=story of my life.) After the party, we hopped in his friend Brett’s Porche–with me sitting in Bob’s lap–and went to dinner. Thus began our whirlwind relationship, which consists of many, many memories, both wonderful and forgettable. I’ve shared most of those before, but this night sticks out for me because I met several great people whom I still consider friends.

One of the best things I did for myself this year was to get back into therapy. I owe a great deal of who I am today to those sessions–which I’m currently taking a break from–because my psychologist helped me to differentiate my opinion from that of others. I struggled a great deal reconciling my own thoughts to those of my AA sponsor and the organization as a whole; he helped me to realize I wasn’t a “bad person” for questioning these things. He also helped me to break down my obsession with my image and focus more on my self-image, something that has helped me every day. I no longer dwell nearly so much on what others think of me, or what I should do in certain situations; instead, I follow my own instincts, which are normally right. (This is a big step forward for someone so used to overanalyzing everything and second-guessing himself all the time.) I no longer insert myself in situations where there’s drama or where I’m put on the spot to explain my motives to someone for no apparent reason other than to gain their approval. That in and of itself has brought me much peace of mind.

Finally, I’ve grown an awful lot in the last two months since my Granny passed away. For about a month, I lost all interest in things which used to occupy much of my free time–antiquing, walking the casinos and the Strip, and dating. Perhaps I had to go through that time of mourning to process her absence, but I knew I had to snap out of it. Since I got my library card, I admittedly stay home much, much more. I’m just as content snuggled up with a book as I’d be driving around town, and that’s fine with me right now. I still miss her; it was tough going home at Thanksgiving and her not being there. And making my Christmas card list and not having her name on it. But I know she’s in a better place.

Last photo of me and Granny, June 2013

Last photo of me and Granny, June 2013

I’m grateful for my family. We were all together for the first time in quite awhile during my trip home in June, as well as in October for Granny’s funeral. I’ve also been blessed to get to go home at Thanksgiving, and Mama and Daddy came out earlier this month for a week and we took a road trip to Palm Springs and San Diego. Fun times…

Father’s Day 2013

Mums & Daddy in Bellagio, 12.8.13

Mums & Daddy in Bellagio, 12.8.13

Mums & me on the beach outside San Diego, 12.12.13

Mums & me on the beach outside San Diego, 12.12.13

Serene for me right now doesn’t mean blissful perfection; it doesn’t even mean striving for perfection. It means casting my cares on the Lord, knowing He’ll sustain me. If I did the calculations, I drank almost as much as I’ve been sober this year. The torn stomach muscle on my left side still reminds me daily of my last major relapse a few months ago. (I continue to tear it, or at least irritate it, doing the back stretches I have to do to keep my poor back in shape…what a catch-22.) My version of serenity is taking what I’ve learned in AA, in therapy, in church, from others, and in life and applying it the best I know how. Here’s to becoming more serene in 2014.

brt

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2 Comments

  1. This is wonderfully reflective, Brian. You’ve definitely had some major ups and downs this year, but it seems like you’ve come through to the other side stronger, which is a good thing. I am certainly grateful for the times we were able to hang out together in Vegas this year. Thank you very much, my friend, you always make my trips better. Wishing you much peace and happiness in 2014.

    PS That is a really good-looking family, by the way. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks, Gray! You’ve given me some great advice this year and I value you now more as a friend than my blogging mentor. All the best to you in 2014 as well.

      Reply

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