Two Years

Healing Garden

I’ve not blogged in quite awhile, but the two-year “anniversary” of what happened here in Vegas is coming up a few days from now. Whether or not it sounds cliche, what happened then–it’s still hard for me to even type the date–will always be referred to by me as “the incident.” It doesn’t help that a few weeks ago, it was announced that the site of “the incident” would be turned into an overflow parking lot for Raiders games and other events. I’ve spoken to a few people who lived through it, and though there’s a need to move forward for the sake of moving forward, a parking lot is not an acceptable memorial for 58 lives lost.

I often wonder how my life might’ve been different had October 1st, 2017 (there, *that’s* the date…I typed it before I caught myself) hadn’t unfolded as it did here in Las Vegas. Granted, it’s a moot point, but I can still wonder, “What if?” And I know I’m not alone in wondering that; part of my daily prayer list each day on my way to work when I pray is for those dealing with PTSD and praying for them to have the courage to seek help. I did not know PTSD was what I was dealing with in the months after “the incident” until it was a bit too late, and I had acted out in my personal and work life to an extreme while trying to cope with the feelings manifesting themselves inside of my head. Also, learning not to fault myself for *not knowing* that’s what I was dealing with in early 2018 when it hit me hard and I nearly cracked; it’s sometimes difficult to see the signs until you genuinely feel as though you’re losing your mind. For me, one of the things which manifested itself was a “tunnel-vision vision” of getting married, and ASAP. I met Gerard in late February of last year, and I had the suite at Caesars Palace booked for the wedding in late May. (Of course, that was cancelled after speaking to many people close to me, who counselled me to stop, breathe, and get to know him better.) Last summer Ariana Grande was following the same quick engagement pattern with Pete Davidson, and I immediately recognized the common PTSD coping mechanism…it’s hard to explain, but I related. (Ms. Grande also dealt with an “incident” before one of her concerts in Manchester.) They, too, called off the wedding and are now separated. Gerard and I are still together–and living together–but nowhere near marriage.

I sound like a broken record, but it’s hard to explain what happened in the aftermath of “the incident” two years ago. Perhaps the fear one is not going to be alive much longer, and/or that one escaped what seemed in the moment to be an imminent death? I’m still not sure, but these are things I think about each day. I work with a guy who was telling me a new co-worker of his two years ago had won a contest at work for tickets to the concert where “the incident” happened. His exact words when telling me the story were, “What the hell kind of prize was that? And we *all* wanted to win the tickets, but she won them.” Thankfully, she survived. And *I survived*, and *lots of other people* survived. But *58 people* didn’t survive, and that’s still an incredibly hard pill to swallow, even as I type this.

I don’t know when I will feel “normal” again, or when the date of “the incident” will come and go and it won’t bring up all these feelings again. Perhaps the answer is *never*, but I can share what I’ve learned, experienced, cried over, been ashamed about, and–in the end–learned to accept as part of my life experience with someone who might need to hear about it. To those families still mourning the loss of their loved one(s) this “anniversary,” I send my condolences. To those at the concert, I hope they’ve gotten the help they needed. And to those others like me–who were working on The Strip when “the incident” happened, I pray that we really, truly can move forward and put the harrowing memories behind us.




RIP, Lee

Lee books

My bedside table

“When I was young, I used to think that everyone should die at 70 . . . but my closest friends, like Rudolf and Andy [Warhol] and to an extent Capote, let alone most of my close family . . . didn’t even reach that age. There is something to be said for being older, and memories.”–Lee Radziwill, to the NYT, 2013

There’s really not much more I can say about Lee, though I felt the need to say something about her passing yesterday. The *blog entry* I wrote on her–also in 2013–has had over 1,100 page views today since the news broke of her death. (It’s by and far my most viewed blog, and probably always will be.) I’ve read a few obituaries today, and–while some are complimentary–several are scathing. (I’m looking at you, Washington Post…whatever clueless millenial intern wrote that should be ashamed).

Lee was a complicated creature who lived in a complicated world during complicated times; who of us hasn’t been in the same shoes, to an extent? Her shoes just happened to be couture. May she be remembered for her good taste, above all. RIP, Lee.


lee blue cape

Banning the Rays

Who knew one could be terminated for borrowing a pair of Ray Bans for a 3-day trip to Palm Springs, which were carelessly left in a shared cubicle at work? That’s exactly what happened to me last month, or at least that’s the main reason which was given after the investigation into my suspension. Of course nothing was mentioned about me being sexually harassed in December, or reporting other employees for not doing their jobs properly, and/or those same employees gossipping and taking 17-minute bathroom breaks 10x a day to text on their cell phones. No, the witch hunt came down to me and the fact I’d “misappropriated property” and was therefore fit for termination though I was a completely model employee in every other way.

The bottom line is that life-altering instances like this can either make one better or they make one bitter. I’ve made the choice to let this current life circumstance make me better, and I’m so glad/relieved/grateful/blessed/all-the-words that I did. I have Medicaid, food stamps, pending unemployment, and a wonderful little job at an antique store which has been an absolute delight to go to every day. (It’s more about trying on the fur coats and buying things for the loft than anything else, though I obviously enjoy helping the store customers just as much as I did the guests at the hotels where I’ve worked the last 19 years of my life.) Fun fact: I had a little retail job in an art gallery back home when I was 23; my only retail jobs have been in that little gallery and this 43,000 square foot antique store. Everything they say about retail is true…it’s tough work.

The other bottom line is that there are people in this life whom will do everything within their power to ban any ray of sunshine or light you yourself project. I’m currently working with a girl who’s cut precisely from this cloth. (She also dresses very goth, doesn’t wash her hair or wear makeup, and I believe she wears men’s deodorant.) The way I handle her is to ignore anything she has to say except what’s work-related, and even then I ignore everything snippy she throws at me and others. She’s on her way out and she knows it. I–of all people–would not want a hard worker to lose their job. But she’s so obviously not happy working there and perhaps needs a life change of her own. Who knows; time will tell. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my own life change and am also enjoying being with Gerard for three months now. Always one to restrain myself and exercise prudence, I proposed less than two months into our courtship (April 20th) in front of my friend Kiki and her husband Greg’s freshly painted pink front doors at their Casa Lido Luna estate in Palm Springs (the former home of Vegas showgirl impresario Donn Arden, creator of ‘Hallelujah Hollywood’, ‘Folies Bergere’, and the long-running ‘Jubilee’ at the original MGM Grand/current Bally’s Las Vegas).


I’ll end here. Take it from me and ban any rays of negativity. Life is so very fleeting. I have my own pair of Ray Bans arriving in the mail, scheduled for delivery today. $50 off eBay with the vintage case…what a steal! Anyway, a Happy Memorial Weekend to all, and remember to radiate positive energy, hope, peace, love, and joy to those you come in contact with. They’ll appreciate it more than you realize.


2017: My Own ‘La Cote Basque 1965’

truman sofa louch potato

It’s been my custom since I began this blog to do a year-end blog, sharing my favourite memories and favourite film/TV show/song of the year. Admittedly in years past, this is something I relished publishing to the point I believe one of them was published in mid-December and I found myself wanting to change my answer to one of the “faves.” (Who would’ve known–or even noticed–if I had edited it, except me?) This year I was going to do away with all of the niceties and write a blog no one would forget; my own “La Cote Basque 1965,” to borrow from Truman Capote’s slanderous, quasi-fiction short story which effectively signalled his descent into madness when it was excerpted in ‘Esquire’ magazine in November 1975. One would be warranted in wondering why I would do such a thing, and rightfully also question *my* sanity.

To fulfill the traditional formula, my faves for the year are ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (film), ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (TV show), and “Something Just Like This” (song). Now back to the regularly scheduled losing-my-mind part: I won’t be doing that. I’ve had enough therapy this year to tame the dragon, so to speak. Nine months of sobriety doesn’t hurt, either. Where the urge to publish a knowingly socially disastrous tell-all blog came from hearkens back to what happened here in Vegas on October 1st. Fun fact: For those of you tired of hearing about it or who might say, “Get over it,” I genuinely hope and pray you never live/work/drive home from work through something like the events of that night. (The following month was perhaps the longest October of my life; just to be able to start a new month was psychologically freeing.) A good example of the slight PTSD that comes with it is me arriving home tonight–Christmas Eve–to an empty house (two roommates have moved out and one is at work), and I was fully convinced that someone is either hiding in the house with a gun, or will be breaking in with a gun. These are things I never would’ve been prone to think of before, but now they are nearly a daily thought pattern. Most of the time it’s not hard to put the thoughts aside, pray, and move on about my day or night. A quiet Christmas Eve in an empty five-bedroom, two-story house is a bit different, hence I’m blogging to keep myself company.

The need to write the tell-all of tell-alls comes from a place of fear, a place of being afraid I won’t be remembered for anything but a glorified book report of a blog on a Lee Radziwill biography I blogged about four years ago. It comes from the need to shock, to appall, to perhaps self-sabotage. (Note to self: Consider going back to therapy twice a week!) It also bizarrely comes from a place of being quite happy and content at the moment, and wanting to flip over the apple cart on myself to create some chaos and drama, which I’m admittedly addicted to in surging doses. The drama is not so fun without the alcohol, though. This theory has been put to the test several times in the last month; I’d write about the instances, but I’m not going that route. My point is, I was setting myself up. The people who know me best know what I would’ve written in the blog, so it’s not quite the “La Cote Basque 1965” confessional that I made it out to be. It would just be documented for anyone to see, as opposed to hearsay or private Instagram pics/Facebook posts/group texts. As someone close to me is fond of saying, I’ve successfully talked myself off the branch and down the tree.

In closing, I have a lot to be grateful for this year. I was afforded the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend Sundance in January, I sobered up in March, stayed at The Madonna Inn in May (that was on my bucket list), went to what’s left of Heritage USA in June (also on my bucket list), stepped on glass in July (definitely not on my bucket list, but I’m grateful to be walking again even with the glass still in my foot), soaked up a plethora of sun out at the pool the rest of the summer, went to the Biltmore with my family over Thanksgiving, and am enjoying Christmas with my work family today at a job I’m still amazed I ever got (three years later and counting). Speaking of which, one of the girls at work jokingly told me I was middle-aged a couple of weeks ago. According to the latest statistics on the lifespan of Americans, she’s not far off. All that to say there’s still plenty of time for my lecherous tell-all…if I can remember it by 2054. Life is so very, very fleeting that I’ll probably have forgotten all about it by next week. There’s so many more positive ways to funnel my energy and soak up good vibes.

Nourish yourself, forgive yourself, and joyfully move forward.–brt

This Time Last Week

My father had a turn of phrase–I’m sure he still does–when we were growing up that he loved to use. “This time last week,” he’d say at the appropriate hour, “we were riding rides at Six Flags.” Or maybe it was something one of us kids had done, like gone on a church trip and called home from a pay phone somewhere to give our parents an update on the trip. Whatever it was, my father could uncannily remember exactly the time it had happened and remind us of it the next week around the same time. To preface my “This time last week” story, this is the blog I didn’t want to write. I’ve resisted and resisted, but it’s haunted me to write it and so here it begins…

This time last week I was still sitting in the office at work, as the hotel was still on lockdown after the unfortunate event that unfolded last weekend here in Vegas. (Disclaimer: I work at the opposite end of the Strip from where the event happened, about 1.5 miles away.) As I texted my family and friends and wrote on Facebook so that they could know I was okay when they woke up the following morning, the last hour of my shift at work felt more like working at a 911 crisis hotline than a five-star resort. The calls quickly went from vague inquiries to calls bordering on hysteria, including explicit calls from across the globe from incoming guests who knew more about what was going on than we did. (A catty British gentleman comes to mind who asked me, “Is this just another one of your American snipers or a deranged country music fan?”) The last call I took was from an in-house guest who had run all the way back from the concert, had gotten back up to his room right before the hotel went on lockdown, and was begging me to tell him where he could rent a car to drive back to Texas. When I told him unfortunately both the hotel and the airport were on lockdown and that no rental car agencies would be open, he asked me if any car lots would be open 24 hours so that he might pay cash for a used car to drive back home. The fear and trembling in his voice was of someone who–as he calmly told me–had just seen people shot to death right before his eyes.

Ninety minutes after I clocked out at midnight, we were told the lockdown was over and that we could come and go, “if you feel safe to do so” (big quotes). My manager at the time had been in an active shooter situation before and was both stoic and nonchalant about the current scenario. Even when we (falsely, as it thankfully turned out) got word around 12:30 AM that there was another shooter at Bellagio and that this was potentially a terrorist situation moving north up the Strip towards up, he was very calm and reassured us that we were in the safest casino on the Strip. While statistically true due to our top-notch Security and Special Investigations teams, it was not calming to think about being trapped in the building. As I walked out to the parking garage at 1:30 AM, sirens blared from all directions in an otherwise somber atmosphere. I turned on my truck radio to hear the start of the sheriff’s news conference, at which point only 20 people were confirmed dead. Once I got home I made sure all the doors were locked, but I once again felt like a caged animal. I decided to take my nightly walk to calm my mind and release some of the built-up pressure. As I finally went to bed around 5 AM, word was coming in about the accurate death toll of 58 confirmed dead. Having already taken twice my nightly herbal sleeping pill dosage to no avail, I popped an Ativan to calm my mind.

In the week since, I’ve heard and read many harrowing and heartwarming stories. (I’ve not watched any videos of footage after the event.) One of the college girls I’m close to at work has a sorority sister who was shot in the back at the concert and has a collapsed lung. She’s finally up and walking after being in critical condition. One of my friends normally catches a ride home from her friend who works at the casino where the event happened. My friend told me a couple of days ago that her friend witnessed bike cops riding through the casino as the event unfolded and that the tire marks are still on the casino carpet there. (I can neither confirm nor deny this.) Positive stories I’ve heard are about the Vegas community coming together for such events as blood drives, floral deliveries to the victims and families, and even a remembrance park being built downtown in a mere four days (a link to that *here* ).

The overwhelming numbness I initially felt has worn off a bit, but for whatever reason it’s still very hard for me to pray for my community and the people hurt by what happened. I make myself pray, of course, but who knows why it’s so hard and why I nearly have to force myself to make the words come out. Work has been very good about offering trauma counselling, both in person and via phone. There’s been a couple of times when I’ve gone to the library and the grocery store on my days off that I’ve wondered out of nowhere what I’d do if a shooter was in the building once I walked in. Or what we’d do if someone came in with a gun; I wondered this especially as I was enjoying the art gallery in the library near my house on Friday afternoon. The interactive sculpture exhibit was child-friendly and several mothers were in the gallery with their children, snapping photos of them crawling in and out of the tunnels made of tiny rubber snakes. (I couldn’t make this up…the artist is some acclaimed guy from Burning Man.) We would’ve been completely powerless to defend ourselves, just as these concert attendees were last Sunday night. The overshadowing takeaway I’ve had from all of this is that events like this will continue to happen across this country as long as mentally unstable people have such free access to weapons of any kind, which can even include vehicles these days. (Google any of the examples of unstable people running their cars into crowds.) And as long as mental health and the discussion of mental health is still such a taboo, we’ll continue to have people neglecting their own mental health. I’m not sure what the solution is, but surely by the grace of God there is one. As I also typed in the text I sent out early last Monday morning, “This is not the America I grew up in.”

“This time last week,” even more of my innocence was lost forever.


This is Going to Be Difficult


The blog title is (are?) the exact words I heard my primary care doctor utter out in the foyer with his receptionist as I was waiting in one of his two exam rooms on Tuesday morning. (I’ve always known those rooms have no sound-proofing; now I know it for a fact.) The issue at hand was my old psychiatrist–an old school friend of my primary care doctor–abruptly retiring and referring his patients to a small list of other, allegedly comparable therapists.

Dr. Knowles walked into the exam room and asked me how I was doing. I jokingly repeated his exact words I’d just heard him say: “This is going to be difficult.” He brushed it off and laughed, but I wouldn’t let it go. “How so, is this going to be difficult? Am I that difficult?” I’d caught him; he was embarrassed and couldn’t respond in a witty manner. The rest of the appointment doesn’t matter much; I called three of the recommended therapists from the list provided by my retired psychiatrist’s receptionist and had gotten nowhere. It wasn’t until today–Thursday, 2/02, two days later–when I called my corporate health insurance and got transferred to the NV Dept of Public and Behavioural Health–that I got a clear answer on who might be a proper, new therapist for me. The first and only question the nice, empathetic-seeming, very young-sounding girl on the phone asked me was,

“Are you suicidal or thinking of taking someone else’s life?”

I should end with that; there’s no need for me to rant on why people seeking mental health assistance in this country (or any other one, for that matter) feel ostracized when seeking out help. Again I should’ve asked, “How so, is this going to be difficult?” How/why/”I-don’t-get-it” that asking for referrals for therapists who accept my health insurance is sufficient grounds for asking me if I’m going to kill myself or someone else? (I’m sure it’s state or national law to ask that, but still.) If I were still the scared, 20 year-old version of myself (the first time I sought out therapy, and it ended up being at no cost to me from a very qualified psychiatrist in my hometown), I wouldn’t have gotten past that question on the phone. Simple as that; I would’ve retreated back into my depressed and–yes–suicidal shell and probably wouldn’t still be here today. So there’s my take on that, politics, religion, etc. re: mental health at the wayside. Is is that bad to ask for someone’s impartial advice/guidance to speak to about life, love, work, vices, etc.? Apparently in this country it is, and that’s been made clear to me time and again during the last few days.

This blog was going to be about my experience at Sundance (it was amazing and I had a great time…we had the most snow they’ve had in 10 years during the film festival). Now that trip doesn’t seem to matter so much, nor does staying in the chalet with Parker Posey and a few friends of my friend Larry, who asked me to go. I’ve taken the last four days off as a mental health staycation, which again–I’m quite sure–means that *I’m losing it*. I don’t actually believe that, but millions of people in this country do. It’s, “cowardly” and, “out of character” to take a few days for one’s self. I certainly don’t agree, and I don’t care if that makes me, the situation, or my life difficult. Maybe it’s going to be difficult, or maybe it’s not. There will be lots of meditation, walking, and prayer in my near future.

Here’s to a (not-so-difficult) February,


2016: Hug Me Like You Mean (It)

I’m going to start this  year’s year-end blog with my favourite memories. The blog title is taken from a scenario just last week in Palm Springs. As I was leaving town, Chris asked me to give him a hug in his bed and–since we’ve had some issues with feeling close to one another over the last year–I gave him a very quick hug and gingerly pat him on the back. He quickly replied, “Hug me like you mean it.” Tears immediately streamed down my face involuntarily. I did indeed hug him like I meant it…and I did mean it. Other favourite memories are getting invited into the after-party for the Tab Hunter documentary in PS back in February. Larry, one of the producers who invited us back, is now one of my closest friends. He lives here in Vegas and I see him once every two months or so between all his jet-setting travels. I also had the privilege–and I mean that in the full sense of the word–to buy a table for my mum’s dramatic debut in a charity mystery dinner back home in August. It was ever-so-much fun, and I’m so glad I was there for it. Besides that, good memories entail having a good job, great friends, and a loving family. I also had the task of hiring Chris’s caregivers back in July, and neither of us could be happier with Melissa and Brent (who each take him out twice a week to the *Neuro Vitality Center*).


Tab Hunter doc DVD, and Mums’ mystery dinner poster (she’s the 3rd from the right)

Favourite Film: ‘Jackie’, starring Natalie Portman. I saw the advanced screening last night and–as I told several people–it’s just so gorgeously done. Obviously it’s not an uplifting film, as it’s set in the days after JFK’s assassination, but it’s so well done from start to finish. She’ll win the Oscar for Best Actress, and perhaps the film will win for Costuming, Cinematography, Art Direction, etc. It’s a dark film–people were sobbing in the advanced screening. But it’s a film that needs to be seen.


Favourite TV Show: This one is actually a tie this year, as each have their pros and cons. ‘American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson’ premiered on FX in February and is the first part of an anthology miniseries. The 10 eps were very strong, chock-full of a completely knock-’em-down cast, and the writing was spot on. My co-favourite this year would be ‘Divorce’ on HBO, starring Sarah Jessica Parker in her return to series TV, and the ridiculously talented Thomas Haden Church (who steals each scene). Also with a stellar cast–including Molly Shannon and Talia Balsam–it ended up stealing my heart even though I was skeptical of the concept. Besides which, everyone knows how the OJ trial ended; ‘Divorce’ was a bit up in the air and ended up getting a second season. Kudos to both productions on the writing, casting, soundtracks, etc.

Favourite Song: Speaking of soundtracks, and try as I might (have done?), I had no favourite song from 2016. Several came close, but my heart just wasn’t in them. That being said, the song that presented itself to me time and time again–mainly on the Muzak at work–was Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years,”  from 2011’s ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1′. I know, it nearly broke my fingers to type that out (especially after choosing a song from the ’50 Shades of Grey’ soundtrack last year). But I had absolutely no clue for the first few months of hearing the song at work that that’s where it originated from. Then I became defensive of the song, wondering why on earth it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar that year. All that being said, it’s a wonderful tune which has kept me company all year long. The YouTube link is *here*.

On that note, I’m done blogging for this year. In a way, I miss my lengthy, poignant, intensely heart-felt, year-end blogs. (But I was also blogging once a week back then, and now I’m lucky to get one posted every two months.) For all of you still reading, thanks. Actually living life has surprisingly taken precedence over formatting the perfect blog entries. No regrets on my part…life is too short to be living it online. Get out and live, love, and prosper.

Happy Holidays and an Even Happier 2017,


Things Gained in the Midst of Pettiness

Lately–actually, nearly daily for the last couple of weeks–I’ve walked into work, or back to work from my lunch break, or out the door after work and had the same, lingering thought: “There is more to life.” I’m grateful to have a great job, to make decent money, to have a nice place to live, to have a vehicle, etc. etc. That being said, the last 2.5 years dealing with Chris’ situation in Palm Springs have changed me. Things that used to bother me at work are now an afterthought once they even happen; much of the petty office drama rolls off me like water off a duck’s back; I’m grateful for a handful of good friends and I strive to keep them, instead of looking for ways to cut them off (which I used to be a pro at). Seeing Chris once a month and helping his cousin and parents deal with his ongoing care are much more fulfilling…and time- and energy-consuming. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I also used to be borderline obsessed with this blog. I’d look at my stats several times a day; the books I chose to read were based on which ones I could potentially write a blog on. Which–humble brag–I’ve written several pretty decent, glorified book reports on this blog. Things like that just don’t seem important anymore. (See the Tallulah Bankhead blog disclaimer a couple of blogs back; I’m also almost done reading Jerry Lee Lewis’ eloquently dictated memoir and I have no plans to write on it.)

Being back in AA–though I’m nowhere near sober–has also re-taught me about not trying to manipulate situations, feelings, or people. Let’s be honest, I was also pretty decent at that. I missed my lesbian sister’s wedding this past weekend for that very reason; I’d done my best to manipulate the situation re: who was attending from my immediate family, and ended up upsetting pretty much everyone involved in the process. At the time I thought–no, I knew–I was right, and I still have no regrets or apologies to offer. But it remains that I was doing my darndest to manipulate the situation. For why?!? To be right…plain and simple.

Things I’ve gained lately:

-Humility. This entails learning to listen more and talk less, especially during prayer.

-The ability to budget. This one has not come easy after the fiasco of paying no taxes last year. Even whilst cleaning my closet the other day, I found several items with the tags still on them. Cutting down on the retail therapy is a work in progress.

-Weight! That being said, I’ve lost about 5 pounds since starting my current, full-time day shift. Getting older and weighing more isn’t fun, but it’s made me get out and walk more and also rediscover my fondness for salads. (Which sounds lame, but I do love a good salad.)

-Empathy. During my last AA round three years ago, I was the smug, skinny, pilled-up (thanks, Topamax!) dry drunk who pretty much thought I was better than everyone else in the room. My sponsor had a beer gut, everyone seemed to have chips on their shoulders, and I thought I had all the answers even though I couldn’t stay sober enough to get a 90-day chip. Quite frankly, going to AA *not* sober has taught me more than I ever learned whilst sober. Or maybe I’m just a bit more mature and open-minded this time around.

-Less Pettiness. Though I’m still good for running a joke into the ground and beating a dead horse until it’s six feet under, I don’t have the time, energy, nor inclination to hold on to grudges. A kid at work made an incredibly disparaging remark about Southerners a couple of months back. (I won’t repeat it, as that would be the definition of petty.) The old me would’ve never spoken to him again; the “new me” lashed out at him with a taste of his own medicine (essentially by repeating verbatim what he said to me in front of everyone in the office) and slowly but surely, we’re on speaking terms. We actually had a conversation today and he reminds me of myself when I was 19 and thought/knew/was fairly certain that I knew everything.

I’ll end with this passage from Natalie Cole’s 2010 short memoir entitled ‘Love Brought Me Back’. In the book, Natalie talks about beating herself up for her Hep C diagnosis brought about from years of heroin use 30 years prior to her diagnosis. The book is half about her emotional/psychological/spiritual struggle, and the other half is the story of the girl whom she received a kidney transplant from. I don’t want to tell much more about the book except that I had to quit reading it at work yesterday because hot tears were streaming down my face. Natalie passed away this past NYE, five years after getting her kidney transplant. I grew up listening to her cassette ‘Unforgettable’, and she truly is.


Natalie ended the book with four principles her older sister (and essentially surrogate parent) Cooke taught her, before her sister passed away on the same day Natalie received her kidney transplant. These are adapted from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book ‘The Four Agreements’.

-Be impeccable with your words.

-Don’t take anything personally.

-Don’t make assumptions.

-Always do your best.

I can’t top that. Happy Fall to everyone–brt

Things We Lost in the Implosion

riv hotel lobby '55

Original Riviera Las Vegas lobby when it opened in 1955

I will keep this brief (perhaps that should be my sarcastic epitaph)…the Riviera is scheduled to implode its last 1.5 towers in about 30 minutes. (The hired demo company is doing it, of course; the casino closed last year right after its 60th anniversary and is scheduled to turn into overflow parking/outdoor convention exhibition space for the Las Vegas Convention Center.) All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes. In this case, the hotel was run-down and hadn’t had a substantial renovation since the mid-80s, when the casino floor was expanded and the Las Vegas Strip’s very first fast-food restaurant (Burger King) was built into the casino. Couple that expansion with a new showrooms “tower” (only three stories, but encased with a mirrored skin several stories higher to create a wow-effect), and the place was “hot” again. Many films were shot here, including one of my personal favourites, ‘Go’ (1999). Here’s a link to the nice montage that the Nevada Film Office put together:

riv blue

I never stepped foot in the Riviera until I was a local. My friend Joel and I were out and he wanted to show me something at the Riv. He was big into Vegas history, so I followed his lead. We walked in and the place had that stench of stale smoke that gets on your clothes, in your hair, and obviously goes right up one’s nose. (Here’s to second-hand smoke!) Alas, he took me up the showroom tower escalators, and there before us was a whole wall of framed photos of celebrities who’d appeared there over the years. The list is long and I won’t go into it in this blog, but it included Ann-Margret, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Dean Martin, Joan Rivers, Liberace, Debbie Reynolds, etc. etc. But that wasn’t what he wanted to show me; we walked a bit further down a random hall, and it led out to the “Designated Showroom Smoking Area.” An understated name for what was built on the roof of the massive casino expansion in the mid-80s and was to be the fancy new rooftop pool deck. The putting green was still in tact, as well as the pool and locker rooms. The pool was allegedly filled with water *one time*, promptly leaked into the casino right below, and was then immediately drained and never opened to the public. Except as a smoking area…go figure. No wonder the Riv went bankrupt after the expansion. (Fun fact: The original 1955 pool was in use until the closing day last May. Another fun fact: This was my favourite place to de-compress, and to also take visitors. My parents will attest to this.)

me riv 9.12

Me at the Riv rooftop pool in September, 2012

I wanted to end the blog on a happy note. My friend Chris in Palm Springs–the one who had a stroke two years ago–has been making great progress. Here’s a pic of us last week; his CNA has had him standing up with the use of a cane. (He still has no sense of balance and he is fully aware of this…his CNA uses what I horrendously, anti-PC refer to as “the lasso” to make sure he doesn’t fall over.) But he can stand up from the bed, stay standing about 10 seconds, and then sit back down. This in and of itself is a miracle.

chris and me 8.10.16

This is amazingly epic progress for someone who was bedridden for months and who’s just started back to once-a-week, non-profit therapy at the Neuro Vitality Center in Palm Springs about a month ago. Re: the title of this blog, I think I can safely say that both Chris and myself have learned more in the last two years when the stroke imploded both our mundane night auditor lives (we had the exact same work schedule and nights off) than we probably both learned in the 34 years before. (We’re the same age…he was born in January, ’80 before I was born in April ’80.) I’m not sure anything that either of us had experienced in life before he had the stroke could’ve prepared us for the long and winding journey we’ve both been on since then. We had casually dated a couple of years before the stroke, but realized we were better off as friends. I was scheduled to visit him the Monday after he had the stroke late Saturday night (the day before Mother’s Day 2014). He was a very good friend to me in a pretty difficult time the summer before, and I’d like to think I’m returning the favour now. I’ve lucked out/been quite blessed and have been able to hire a very competent caregiver couple for him, and he seems to be thriving as of late.

chris 7.20 nvc

Chris with one of his caregivers Brent on July 19th

So to wind up this not-so-short-at-all blog, things Chris and I gained–not lost–in the “implosion” of the supposedly carefree, single, mid-30s track we were both on, which was disrupted in May 2014. And I think these are valuable life lessons for anyone who happens to be reading:

-Learning that we’re not invincible. Also that money and things don’t matter nearly as much as family and friends. I still re-learn this lesson every day, as does Chris.

-Learning that sometimes friends are better than lovers. I consider him my best friend, and I woudn’t have it any other way.

-Learning that appearances can be deceiving; Chris is wheelchair-bound for the most part and also slobbers involuntarily due to the stroke. He’s always afraid of outsiders thinking he’s “retarded” (his word). I beg to differ; getting invited into the after-party of a Palm Springs documentary begs to differ; being treated like family at the rehab he lives at and the Neuro Vitality Center where he goes once a week begs to differ.

-Learning how important ADA requirements are. This is in the same vein of not knowing what it’s like until you’re walking in those shoes, but in this case the shoes are a wheelchair. We’re very fortunate that the high majority of Palm Springs is wheelchair accessible…that’s not the case in many places. Thresholds are the enemy, as I’ve figured out.

All that being said, I’ll end the blog with this wedding photo of Ann-Margret. (Pardon the Getty watermark.) I’m reading her memoirs, and not only did she get married at the Riviera in 1967, but she performed her first one-woman review there soon after. (She was discovered by George Burns and opened for him at the Sands several years prior to becoming a movie star.) Happy times and fond–or even bittersweet–memories cannot be imploded…only buildings filled with asbestos and stale smoke can go up in smoke, dust, and asbestos-laced dust. (Seriously, it’s an issue for those attending implosions here in Vegas.) On that note, I’ll for sure end here. And here’s to alleged “progress” and paved convention centre parking lots.–brt

riv ann-margret wedding '67

Tallulah Dahhhhling

tallulah lion

Tallulah with her pet lion, Winston Churchill

Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.“–Tallulah Bankhead

Hope everyone’s having a splendid summer. I’m using this photo series of Tallulah with her pet lion as a placeholder for the blog I’m working on re: her ridiculously amazing life. (I knew when I read in Tab Hunter’s memoirs back in February that she had a black maid she called “Cuntie” that she was worth a read about.) As with the Lee Radziwill blog, it’ll take time, and even more time since I don’t have the luxury of writing at work any longer. I’m about halfway thru Tallulah’s 1952 autobiography, and made it about halfway thru a biography on her before I decided I’d rather hear about her from the horse’s mouth. Having seen ‘Looped’ in NYC on my 30th birthday six years ago, I knew she was quite a character. (‘Looped’ is a play based on an actual account of a heavily self-medicated Tallulah taking up 8 hours of studio time to “loop” one line of dialogue for her final film, ‘Die! Die! My Darling!’ Valerie Harper played her and was brilliant.) But there’s always more to one than meets the eye, and Tallulah was not only larger than life, but also very eloquent in her speech and written word.

So yes, this is just a placeholder. Hopefully not one that turns out like Lee Radziwill’s unfinished memoir, or Truman Capote’s disastrously unfinished ‘Answered Prayers’. It’ll be a nice little comeback blog if I can ever find the time and energy to write it. In the meantime, here’s a pic of Lee at her “Opening Chapter” book party at the Four Seasons restaurant in NYC. Sadly, the Four Seasons just closed its doors on Friday, July 16th. Definitely a part of NYC history we’ll never have back, but I digress. Moral of the story: Don’t have a book party for only your first chapter. (Seriously, who thought that was a good idea? Probably Truman.)

lee four seasons book party

Stay cool this summah, dahhhhlings!


Batti Zook

just live sarah text nvc

This will be an extremely short–and hopefully, an equally therapeutic–blog (for me, at least). I’ve had well over a thousand blog hits the last few days due to my Lee Radziwill blog being linked on Facebook, via ‘Town and Country’ and ‘Vanity Fair’ both publishing a new interview with Ms. Radziwill. I won’t link said blog again because I feel guilty for not blogging more here lately; or for that matter, even blogging on Lee’s “new” Assouline book I bought back before Christmas. (If you’ve not read or bought it, don’t waste the time or money; it’s a cheap–albeit, incredibly, nicely bound–rehash of ‘Happy Times’ and there’s not much else I can say nice about it, hence I didn’t blog about it. Indeed, I’ll keep my comments confined to that.)

So–as a lame excuse for not blogging–I’ve been crazy busy with work and busy working with/for my friend Chris in Palm Springs. It’s May 1st today and he had his stroke around Mother’s Day in 2014. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the last two years I’ve spent visiting him and trying to make his day-to-day life better, as best as I’m able to with my limited finances and time at this point. All this coming from a very selfish person who never wanted to have children…and now I feel like–in many ways–that I have one, at least once a month. God only gives us what we can handle, and He’s given me this situation. I’m glad to take it on as much as I can, but one can only do so much from four hours away. That being said, I love Chris and am glad to see him and help him once a month. It gives me joy to try to help him, though I’m not sure I’m helping much at all in the scheme of things. Chris helped me thru a few horrendous times, so I’d like to think I’m returning the favour.

I’ll end with this…a good friend of mine and a colleague of Chris’s from the Neuro Vitality Center sent me the above text the other day. (Thank you, Sarah…you’re a godsend for my sanity, and for Chris’s as well.) I sat on it for a few days before I realized I needed to share it, especially coming up on the 2nd anniversary of his stroke (he’s my same age…we’re both 36). The seemingly awkward title of this blog comes from an ever-so-slight name change of a wretched Algebra II teacher (it was a gifted class, if it matters at this point) whom I dealt with/suffered under when I was age 14/15. Needless to say, this teacher put me and a few other classmates thru hell and back, to the point my mum enrolled me in after-school psychological therapy when I was 15 and failing the class. (I ended up failing the class after not being allowed to transfer to another math teacher…I’d also not had the proper graphing calculator, which seems so incredibly trivial/downright ridiculous bullshit as I type this confession as a 36 year-old adult.) As the text above states, I’ve been trying to,

“Just live (balloon emoji [and as an English major I despise emojis, just for the record!]).”

This also entails letting go of the weekly nightmare I’ve had of failing/re-failing Gifted Algebra II, again and again and again (every week or two for the last 21 years…not an exaggeration). Mainly because I didn’t have the proper calculator, nor even the slightest inclination to learn/care about Gifted Algebra II after my mum confronted me in the kitchen one night and admitted I’d never need it in real life, anyway. That’s the truth, kids…don’t do Algebra II. #justsayno

Thanks, Mums, for the killer advice…and thanks for a hard life lesson, Batti Zook. (And I hope she reads this and knows I’m speaking of her…she’s a great person, just not a good math teacher. I understand she’s semi-retired now, but still teaching at the college level.)


*Also, thanks again to T&C and VF for the FB plug. It’s both flattering and incredibly humbling, especially for a glorified book report I wrote on a whim a few years ago.

blog related article facebook 4.27.16




An Uplifting 2015

As I did last year, I’ll keep my “Favourites” list short and to the point once again. It’s something I look forward to as my annual year-end blog, and I’m proud to’ve stuck with it for several years now. Here goes once again…

ellie love me

Favourite song: As much as I didn’t want to name a ’50 Shades of Grey’ song as my fave, this song is amazing and encapsulates everything a pop song should strive to be. The movie producers actually did a good job of picking several catchy tunes for the soundtrack, and this is one of them.

fargo s2

Favourite TV show: Series 2 of ‘Fargo’. I started watching for Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson, and Jean Smart, and was smitten with the entire cast by the end. Great writing, superb acting, and the period perfect setting of small town 1979 made for a compelling 10 episode miniseries.

carol movie poster

Favourite movie: ‘Carol’ was my pick for my favourite film of the year based on *the trailer* alone. Adapted from a Patricia Highsmith book called ‘The Price of Salt’–which was published in 1953 under the pseudonym Claire Morgan–the story seems tame in 2015. Granted, Highsmith’s ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ was still considered a bit taboo when it was released in 1999 (and Cate Blanchett co-starred in that film). Either Rooney Mara or Blanchett will win the Oscar unless they both get a nom and cancel one another out. The film is gorgeously shot and should also be recognized for its cinematography, costuming, and hair. It being a Weinstein film, it has a built-in chance of taking home several awards (as it already has at Cannes).

Most Remarkable Memories: I started the year with a bang by quitting my job on New Year’s Day. I’ve never regretted leaving that way and I never looked back. Cashing out my 401K and taking some time for myself to regroup paid off in spades when I was hired on the Strip, somewhere I felt too old and too set in my ways to ever be considered for a job. 10 months after being hired, I think working with 12,000 other employees at the same resort has put a lot of things in perspective for me. We’re all replaceable, but we also work very well together as a team. Outside of work, I’ve learned the hard way more than once this year not to be so trusting of other people. There are plenty of people who seem to be friends, lovers, etc. who are worlds away from having one’s best interests at heart. Money does strange things to people, and I’m relieved to say I wake up every day grateful for a better job, a nicer place to live, a truck which is paid off in full, and many other material things which I realize could all be taken away in an instant. I’ve had a couple of health scares this year due to my drinking and that has also changed me for the better. In summation, I’m glad to still be here, working hard and enjoying the fruits of my labour.

Here’s to a splendid 2016,


The Great Debate

Debate photo Wynn 11.13.15

We were sitting right in front of the CNN control booth, AKA several feet from Anderson Cooper & Co. as they ran the debate. Not that I’m bragging since that also means we were in the very last row.

I was fortunate enough to get to attend the first Democratic debate of the season, which was held last month at my place of employment in Las Vegas (the Wynn, since it’s no secret). While I still consider myself a Republican, it was interesting to hear what the candidates had to say. Having never watched a political debate before in my life–I’d rather watch something more pop culture-centric–I found it interesting how the candidates could simultaneously agree and disagree on crucial issues by just tweaking the details of the matter being discussed to fit their platform/political agenda. Then I realized we all do that in conversations every single day to drive home the point we’re trying to make. Or to simply get what we want.

The debate I’ve been having with myself lately is to how to better take care of myself; how to nourish myself without feeling selfish. I read a quote on Facebook a couple of months ago which said something to the effect of, “You can’t help others if you’re running on empty yourself.” It hit me like a ton of bricks; this new job requires me to work a vastly varying schedule with no set hours or set days off, which leaves me exhausted in and of itself. I travel out to Palm Springs once a month to visit my friend Chris (who is doing remarkably better now that he’s attending the Neuro Vitality Center to help him recover from his stroke). I have possession of most of his personal effects, as I also do for one of my friends who’s been on a downward spiral due to meth and some other substances. The point being that I got so wrapped up in helping, helping, helping and moving, moving, moving other people and their stuff that I was forgetting about myself. Days off were spent moving stuff and storing stuff and driving here and there. Once I finished moving my friend’s stuff out of his apartment he was being evicted from–he was somewhere strung out and couldn’t have cared less about his stuff at the moment–I remembered the Facebook quote and immediately went into overdrive searching for a new, nicer place to live. A new sanctuary to come home to after a long day or night at work, to be exact. To my surprise, I was moving into my said new, nicer place in just a few days. Needless to say my own move was painless because I was already in the “moving mode.” Rather, it was painless until I pulled my back out about a week after the move was complete, but I digress. #whitewhine

Marble floors in the new place–even in my bedroom–make for lots of Cinderella-esque scrubbing.

I am off work today and plan to do several errands I’ve been putting off since the move…getting a flu shot, picking up prescriptions, getting my emissions test on my truck, renewing my library card, hanging pictures, etc. I’m grateful for a great job to pay for all this. I’m also grateful for the simple things and for time to decompress, de-stress, and just breathe. There’s no debating that…I am literally about to jump in a tub full of green tea and chamomile epsom salts and just relax and heal my back. Life is good, and again I’m grateful for everything I’ve been blessed with.

Hope everyone is having a nice, crisp fall. (We’re actually enjoying an authentic fall here in Vegas, which is a nice change of scenery for this time of year.)


Back With a Very Slight Vengeance

It’s surprisingly hard to start writing again after a five-month-long hiatus. Even just writing that first sentence was challenging, though I know in my head what I’d like to express.

Most apparent to me is the main difference that I no longer see myself as a victim, and I also don’t try to insert myself in situations where that might ever be the case. I have a good job–making more money than I’ve ever made in my life–and it’s nice to have my truck paid off and not be counting every penny when I choose to indulge myself. I was dating a guy the last few months whom I finally discovered last week had essentially been milking me for this “newfound money.” He himself had not gotten a paycheque from his employer for a couple of months; indeed, I know how to pick ’em. He was also blacking out during binges and being verbally abusive. I would not wish this on anyone, mainly because the person blacking out claims no responsibility for what they said to you the night/day/week before. (That would be incredibly convenient if we could all go thru life claiming that, right?)

This scenario was interesting to me because he kept accusing me of never returning his drunken, “I love you” proclamations (which I mistakenly did several times, whilst he was blacked out and abusive). Funny story: There’s a metal heart sculpture in downtown Vegas in which you can attach “love locks,” essentially padlocks with names, declarations of love, etc. scrawled on them. I took said boyfriend to dinner downtown and since we arrived early, I showed him the “love lock” sculpture. He gave me no response, and since he didn’t know I had an unlocked padlock in my pocket (to which I didn’t have the key, and had also written our names and the date on), we continued walking. A few minutes later I showed him the lock, and his response was, “I didn’t react to the sculpture because there were too many straight people standing around it.” This coming from an–in my biased opinion–a queeny, whiney, many times bitchy hairdresser who has confronted numerous straight people when they saw us holding hands around town. We arrived to our dinner reservation, which I was paying for, and then I called him out for being a hypocritical coward. It was then and only then that he wanted to walk back a couple of blocks and put the “love lock” on the heart sculpture. I told him it was too late, I paid the dinner bill, and dropped him off at his house. On my way home, I threw the padlock–which I impulsively locked–out on a frontage road (Dean Martin Road, specifically). It has been a long time since I’d felt that liberated…no joke.

There’s many more details to the story and the drawn-out break-up, but I won’t go into them since I’ve already gotten myself surprisingly worked up typing all this out. Needless to say, I ended the relationship a week ago after we got back from a trip to Palm Springs which–surprise, surprise–I footed all the expenses for. Following are pics of the bungalow we shared and a pic of when he threw my friend Chris’s stuff in the back of my truck, after finding my truck on the 5th floor of the employee parking garage while I was at work. (Chris is the one who had a stroke over a year ago and whom my boyfriend seemed fond enough to store his stuff in his spare bedroom after we cleaned out Chris’s storage unit in Palm Springs together. Again, funny how all that went out the window–and into the back of my truck–when we broke up.)

Am I vengeful? Not really. Am I upset that I trusted a person who put me out nearly $2K between car repair loans, nice dinners, and his dog chewing up my retainer on the morning I ended things last week (whilst he sat laughing on the floor about it with the demon dog, telling me “You can still wear the retainer, even with the dog bites on it”)? Sure…abso-fucking-lutely I’m upset, but laughing at my follies of character judgement in the process. What I learned from all this, however, was to trust my instincts more. I knew he was trouble, I knew he blacked out once a week, and I knew he cared about himself more than me. Nothing–in my opinion–is a better break-up line than texting: “You’re white trash with no money and you took advantage of a kind soul.” Vengeful? Slightly. Playing the victim? Not hardly. Here’s to a carefree, amazing summer for all of my readers…and me.


Miranda Was Right

Quick life update: I quit my job on New Year’s Day morning and have been dealing with some health issues, as well as my aforementioned sobriety struggle. I’ve dealt with prejudice from many avenues in my life–being gay, being an alcoholic, explaining to partners when I was involved in the HIV vaccine study through Vanderbilt (participants had to be HIV- and could only get tested through the programme for 10 years). I must say that being unemployed ranks towards the top of the list, which is funny to me since I very consciously made the decision to resign. I have learned the hard way in the last 22 days to keep my mouth shut rather than actually be honest; it turns out most people–whether they be interviewers, family, friends, etc.–quite frankly can’t handle the truth. Never in my life have I had as many blank expressions and awkward, “quasi-comforting” comebacks directed my way as I have in the last month. It’s a foreign concept to most people for someone to be so blatantly honest and unapologetic about taking some time for oneself to regroup, especially whilst simultaneously admitting one’s faults. We’re all conditioned to hide those–say, behind the closed doors of an AA meeting–and put on some fake mask showing our “best selves” to the majority of the world. I can’t help but laugh; the key word here is “fake.” I’m kinda done with faking it. Actually, I’m totally done.

“If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more.”

–Taylor Swift

So I deleted my Facebook, and I’m not sure how often I’ll blog, but it does actually feel good to vent a bit. It feels good to be me, warts and all; to be honest with my struggles and where I am at this juncture in my life. If it makes anyone else uncomfortable, that’s their own issue, not mine. Hope everyone’s having a blissful, cozy winter.


Morphine in 2014

LDR shades of cool

My annual “Best Of” List will be rather short and concise this year. So yeah, here goes…

Favourite song: “Shades of Cool” by Lizzy Grant, AKA Lana del Rey. It’s timeless and the video link is *here*.

Favourite TV show AND favourite comeback: ‘The Comeback’ starring Lisa Kudrow. Thankfully we still have a couple of eps left as I write this. Not to beat around the bush: This show is comic gold. Check it out if you’ve not done so already. This second series was worth the nine-year wait.

comeback red curtain advert

Favourite movie: I brought this category back this year because I’ve seen one movie which I’ve literally been waiting 12 years to see. That’s how long it took the illustrious IFC to film it. I actually just watched it yesterday for the first time and it lived up to all my expectations. *Boyhood*, welcome to your awards season.

Favourite memories: I’m actually going to rename this category right now: Most Remarkable Memories: I could gripe and bitch about quite a lot, but I’m too Tucker’d out to do so. So I won’t even give examples, nor go into details; see previous blogs for all that. I’m grateful to still be here and to have the chance to work on my sobriety, which has been sorely lacking lately. To say I’ve been numbing myself from all the pain and stress–a la morphine–would be an understatement.

Happy Holidays to everyone!


mariah festive

Still No Title But a Dame in Progress

JC then and now

JC then and now

“Living is learning, and as I look back at the many layers of experience I collected, I feel ready to share some of the lessons I learned along the way. Living also means aging. The good thing about aging is that you have a past, a history. If you like your past and stand by it, then you know you have lived fully and learned from your life. […] Life is not always a smooth ride. Landscapes change, people come in and out, obstacles appear and disrupt the planned itinerary, but one thing you know for sure is that you will always have yourself.”–DVF, ‘The Woman I Wanted to Be’

So I am the proud procurer of a “temporary moving permit” taped in the windshield of my “new” truck since I have yet to have the title in hand, a month after the sale. I’m done ranting about it, but it’s certainly made it difficult to get a vehicle loan without the title. In fact, I couldn’t get one. That’s what credit cards are for, right? And balance transfers…zero percent interest for a year? Count me in. Hindsight is 20-20, but I have a running truck. #endsemirant

Enough of that, though. I saw Joan Collins a week ago here in Las Vegas and while I was extremely sick (and nearly missed the show because I didn’t feel up to going), I made it. And she put on quite a one-woman, tell-all, no-holds-barred, Hollywood gossip, muy escalando extravaganza. Her younger husband Percy produces the show, and I was actually standing behind him at the small box office of the venue when I was picking up my tickets. Celebrities of any caliber make me nervous, so I didn’t have the guts to say hello, even though he was incredibly nice to the ticket ladies and even nodded a quick hello to me. He was picking up comp tix for some of their (I assume fancy schmancy) British friends, and I could’ve even spoken to him again in the casino outside the showroom. I just hate to impose, and I get so flustered and say things I shouldn’t. Plus, I was sick…yes, that’s my go-to excuse.

I have to admit the juxtaposition between the “real” JC I thought I knew and the “stage/TV/overly camp persona” JC left me bewildered after the show. I left hearing a lot of stories I’d already read in her memoirs, many of which seemed exaggerated (pot calling the kettle black much?). Of course, all the stories she told flattered her, and she was never made out to be the villain…but isn’t that the case with all of us when we tell “our side” of the story? We all wear masks and show people what we think they want to see, when they want to see them. I dunno, I had a much more difficult time than I thought I would differentiating between her and Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan on ‘Dynasty’. Though I admittedly then remembered a few of her fellow cast members said in interviews that over the course of the show, Joan *became* Alexis. So maybe it all makes sense now.

Without further ado, I learned last night that JC is rumoured to be *up for being made a Dame* by Queenie on New Year’s. This is all still hearsay, most especially since it’s just the British tabloids reporting it at this point. But Joan would be very deserving and is already a titled OBE. It doesn’t hurt that she falls in favour with and supports the British political party which Queenie gravitates towards, so I guess we’ll just wait and see. All I can say is if Liz Taylor was made a Dame years ago, and Angelina Jolie was made an “honourary Dame” earlier this year, it’s high time JC got a proper title. Even if I still don’t have one (for my 10 year-old truck).


Nope. You got drunk.

nashville you got drunk

[I wrote this on 4.4.14, four days before turning 34. I never published it until now, my first day of sobriety in quite awhile. Happy Thanksgiving.–brt]

God has a funny way of meeting us where we are. I’ve been slipping again lately, taking nips here and there, all the while knowing I was playing with fire as I’d done in the past. I told one of my friends I’d be sobered up “for good” again by my birthday next week. The closer that date gets, the more I realize the rinse-and-repeat cycle will quite literally keep repeating itself ad infinitum until I’m somehow serious enough to finally stop for good. At this point I’ve stopped and started too many times to mention, and no one who’s started again mentions it except maybe when they break down in their doctor’s office like I did a couple of weeks ago. He said he knew I’d been drinking and he knew I’d been lying to him when he questioned me; I felt like a child caught red-handed. I told him it had only been red wine for a couple of weeks, as if that made it better or somehow healthier. (“I hate wine,” I said. “I’m glad to hear it,” he responded.) Except the fact of the matter is I have an arsenal of pills to help keep me from drinking, if I’ll only not skip doses. It’s all been said before and while I certainly don’t feel like a hopeless cause, I feel like–shocker–I’m powerless over alcohol. If I knew I could have just a few drinks with friends on my nights off, that would be one thing. But sneaking it back into work in water bottles, showing up late to church drunk, all the old signs that enough is enough…it’s just not fun anymore.

Back to God meeting me…He meets me every single time I pray, of course, but He met me where I am in this liquid jungle on Wednesday night when I was watching ‘Nashville’. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the writers handle the topic of alcoholism so well. Chip Esten has not gotten the credit he deserves up to this point for playing recovering alcoholic Deacon on the show. He had a pivotal role in Wednesday’s episode, and though Deacon wanted very much to drink again, he chose to stay sober. I already knew this from my time in AA and therapy, but it was a good reminder that he chose not to drink this time. Deacon was under a great deal of pressure and had every excuse to hit the bottle, but he didn’t…he consciously uncoupled himself from the booze, if you will.

I don’t blame my drinking on any of my circumstances anymore; I quit doing that some time last year. But the better question is, what do I have to blame my sobriety on? It’s certainly not me and my OCD tendency to overanalyze everything. When I’m sober, I thank God every single night on my way to work, and I also thank Him for all the people whom I have praying for me on that journey. When I’m not sober, I leave that sentence out of my prayers. How convenient, right? I’ve lost sight of where the journey to wellness begins and ends. The whole reason I became discouraged with AA was because I couldn’t seem to make it passed the 90-day chip. (There were a couple of other reasons, but that’s the main one.) Picking and choosing…it sounds very familiar to the strategy many use with scriptures. The fact of the matter is that I don’t need to drink. Not even a little bit, because there’s no such thing as “a little bit” with me. Even if I meet a friend for drinks, I “pre-game.” If I pour myself a drink at home, I pour a bit extra into the Solo cup, even the wine I loathed. It never fails.

The truth is, I’m not very happy with myself on the cusp of turning 34. I’m lonely because I’ve alienated myself, and I’ve missed ample opportunities to move on with my life because staying where I am seems like more of a “sure bet,” financially or otherwise. That’s just not good enough at the end of the day. I have enough self-awareness to know all of this, and also to know that drinking won’t fix any of it. It’s my choice how I carry out what I know in my heart to be true. That little oddly worded sentence says it all…I know in my heart what’s right, and it’s my choice to carry it out. Not by my own power, but with God’s help.


Shock Treatment

I’ve been having one of my manic spells this week…not sleeping much, thoughts whirring through my head, cleaning more than I have in the last nine months. I suppose I should give myself credit for recognizing all the signs and being proactive to cycle it down, but it’s almost like a trainwreck in that it’s hard to stop once it starts. I counted money at church on Monday after work and couldn’t get to sleep after that, which carried over to my phone crashing due to an AT&T software upgrade on Tuesday, which then in turn carried over to my truck nearly dying on Wednesday…at which point I had already taken several deep breaths and also thankfully have an intuitive father who had been looking at “new” trucks online for me (how’s that for a run-on sentence?). So once I got my phone fixed got a new phone at AT&T because the Mega I bought off eBay was faulty to begin with, I called my friend who was kind enough to take me to look at this truck my father had found online. Being in such a predicament and short on sleep, I was pretty much sold when I saw it and test drove it. Thus I put the whole truck on my AmEx and thought I was done with the whole deal. Hah, but I still needed to deal with my “dead” truck–not actually dead, but it needs an awful lot of work–so I spent about an hour sitting in another friend’s garage on Wed. before I had to come into work while he worked on *his* car, which was also having issues. He finally conceded that he was probably too busy to look at my truck, so I got a couple of hours of sleep before work and then cleaned out my old truck in the fast food parking lot where it had stalled out. There’s not many things more humbling than doing that at 7:30AM, esp. when dozens of people see you and don’t offer any help…clearly I was cleaning out an abandoned vehicle in my mind only. I did get home that morning and finally got some sleep, just out of desperation. I prayed about whether or not I should keep the truck or sell it…I kept thinking if I had a farm it would make a good “farm truck.” Taylor–that was my truck’s name (Taylor 2.0 is the new Tacoma)–was my baby these last 9 years. I babied it, I petted the dashboard all the time, I talked to it…I did everything but wash him regularly. Good Southern guys don’t ever wash their trucks regularly, do they? (TBH, I hadn’t washed him in 17 months…perhaps that was taking the theory a bit far.)

Fast forward to Fri. morning when I “sold” Taylor to my co-worker and then couldn’t find the title to save my life. Long story short, I was honestly just glad he (my old truck) wasn’t still sitting in the fast food parking lot abandoned, and that I knew he was going to someone who would give him a little TLC. Also fast forward to Sat. afternoon when I finally found my title in a copy paper box under a plethora of greeting cards, casino memorabilia, and these:

I believe I bought these for 25-cents each at a thrift store/drift store which was relocating right after I moved to Vegas, but I’m honestly not even sure. Have I watched any of them? Of course not…and I also have a Jane Fonda one and a Debbie Reynolds one (I actually have watched the Debbie one and it’s amazing). Speaking of which, I’m seeing Debbie tonight (Sun.) here in Las Vegas. It’s her last show before she “retires,” which I don’t believe for a millisecond, but my friend insisted we go after obsessively attending her casino auction for a month and me re-reading her autobiography, so I’m looking forward to it. (Her daughter Carrie Fisher, her son Todd, and her granddaughter Billie are performing with her…it should be sweet. Debbie is 82 going on 83.) Here’s a pic of them from their first show of the 3-night run on Fri. night, at the South Point Casino here in town. And yes, I’m wearing my vintage Debbie Reynolds Casino shirt I won off eBay…

deb carrie billie todd

I wanted to end with how much I’ve noticed this week that I’ve purely said/written/texted/e-mailed things with the intention of getting a reaction outta people. Like, several/too many times to count. It definitely goes with the mania, but I’ve also realized I enjoy doing that in general…shock treatment, if you will. I never mean to be hurtful, but it’s fun not taking things too seriously. And sometimes just saying whatever’s on one’s mind–when bottling it in would drive one to the brink of insanity–is good therapy in a way. Small world: Carrie Fisher has been doing shock treatments for years and raves about them. On that note, I’ll close with a wonderfully campy, quite shockingly ridiculous, 60s Scopitone performance from her mum Debbie Reynolds…here’s the *YouTube link* since WordPress won’t let me embed on here. Hope everyone’s enjoying their fall and getting more rest than I am. I intend to take some extra melatonin on my nights off and catch up on my sleep.



So apparently I’m pretty/very terrible at staying away from my blog, even when I’m not blogging. The FL-GA Line song “Dirt” *video link here* got me to thinking about the poem I wrote in my Poetry class five years ago about the dirt road I grew up on. The digital link to that poem is *here*, but I also have it printed out in a binder from the original Microsoft Word file we were required to distribute and copy (X 25) for critique purposes for my Poetry class…thank goodness I worked somewhere with a Xerox machine. I’ll try to scan it (i.e., take a pic of it) some time and add it into the blog, but this song and this poem have been on my heart lately, so here goes…

I’ve never considered myself a poet and even as an English major I steered away from poetry because I never fully understood (appreciated?) it. I only took the above Poetry class in 2009 because it fit in my schedule and I’d heard good things about the professor. Truth be told–and I believe I’ve mentioned this before in my blog–this is the class that changed my writing style and my outlook on writing the most of all the classes I signed up for in college. Because this was an upper level course, by this point in 2009–due in large part to the economy–we all knew (“we”=English majors) that the job market wasn’t in our favour, but we were still majoring in something we loved studying. This same Poetry professor also taught a Master’s course in Poetry and he finally told us towards the end of the semester not to waste our time or money on a Master’s in English, unless we wanted to teach. (I was in the traditional English track and most of my colleagues and myself didn’t plan on teaching.)

I can remember like yesterday, no joke, sitting in this Poetry class and having my poems critiqued week after week. Sometimes we’d go around the tables (we all sat in a rectangle of tables), or sometimes we’d pick randomly whom we’d want to read next. I had some of the most brutal criticism thrown at me that I’ve ever heard to my face…my poem re: Joan Kennedy at the funeral of her ex-husband Ted drew the most criticism, culminating with the professor jokingly calling me, “the voice of a crazed Palm Beach society stalker.” (I defended the poem to the hilt and ended up winning over the class and the professor once I explained watching Ted’s entire funeral and detailing the ways in which he treated Joan during their marriage.) As the semester went on, cliques developed and we became more outspoken with one another. I remember the “kid” in the class–he was probably six or seven years younger than me–who was clearly the darling of the professor and most of the class. As I’m prone to do, I spoke to a couple of my equally-disgruntled colleagues one afternoon following class and we conspired to trip him up on his next reading (the kid was actually a very good poet and very charismatic…also very handsome, which didn’t hurt his case). The next week he read a pretty decent poem, and I was the first to offer “constructive criticism.” He resented it, but barely before he could finish retaliating–which we were allowed to do–the guy sitting next to me offered some more “criticism.” Then our female friend across the room chimed in…we could all tell by his facial expressions that he got the point (and, oh, how we laughed about it on Facebook, OMG!). Poetry is very subjective, just like any sort of art. I’ve never considered myself an artist, but rather merely an appreciator of art. It’s not to be insulted as much as critiqued and appreciated, whether or not you yourself understand/know how to appreciate it fully. I wonder sometimes what that “kid” is doing now.

“You know you came from it…and someday you’ll return to it.”

–FL/GA Line, “Dirt”

Thanks for reading, thanks for the e-mails, and thanks for the comments. I can honestly say I’ve missed blogging, and realizing my Granny would’ve turned 100 years old in eight days has renewed my will to–for lack of a better expression–“keep on keepin’ on.” I must note that I cropped out my Daddy and my middle sister in the photo at the top of the blog…my trust is lost as far as people stealing photos on public forums goes, but I did want to include that one because to my knowledge it’s the only one I’ve got of me on my parents’ dirt road. Perhaps I should take an updated one when I’m home for Thanksgiving? I cannot wait to step foot on that familiar dirt road again soon.

Happy November,


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