Ask

Fantasy vs. Reality: Where do you live?

I live in two worlds. Most of the time when I’m not working, I marinate in fantasy. Denial and self-sabotage rule the roost, but the excitement and chaos serve as a fair trade.

Fantasy Land is fun. Until it isn’t. But the pain of realty is short lived because I find a way to slip back in to the land of make believe as quickly as possible.

FIR

Reality? BO-RING. Why anyone would want to spend their time being responsible and accountable is a mystery to me.

Welcome to the textbook addict hard wiring in my brain. I’m convinced that having a “normal” life with a “normal” man (one who isn’t a fellow addict, narcissist – and has their shit together) would be the beginning of the end of happiness.

And don’t get me started on sex. I keep hearing that falling in love with a nice guy won’t equate to a vanilla sex life, but it’s so hard to imagine swinging from the chandeliers with a man who pays his bills on time and actually digs monogamy.

The problem with fantasy living is – shocker – it’s not real. Those of us who spend most of our time living in denial and chaos know this all too well when we get the shit kicked out of us from reality.

RDThe person we love reveals themself to be anyone but the person we pretended (or tried to change) them to be. The calories we pretend don’t exist find their way to our waistline. Money we pretend to have transforms into credit card bills we can’t believe can reach that high.

The golden rule for the fantasy-loving part of my brain is simple: If I have to ask, the answer is no.

Can I afford it? Will this serve my health goal? Is he going to be different from the others? If I keep living in my fantasy – No. No. And Hell-to-the no.

Here’s the thing about “no.” It’s actually a “yes” to something else. Something better.

Having just turned 46 recently and exhausted with dusting myself off from fallout I’ve essentially created on my own – I’ve decided to make a change. I’m choosing to say yes to the flip side of chaos. Yes to a healthy body, relationship and bank account. Yes to having break-the-furniture sex with a good guy who digs monogamy, pays his bills on time, inspires me, makes me laugh and laughs with me at myself.

I’m going to spend more time in realty and see what she has to offer. There’s nothing I love more than a challenge; and when I’m proven wrong? Bring it.

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21

The water was choppy and colder than I was used to, but on this triple-digit day there was no debate.

“It’s too hot”

“Right!?” He was faced-down on his towel, but the beads of sweat on his back agreed.

“I’m going in.”

I stood up, brushed the sand from my palms and pranced my completely naked, out-of-shape ass in front of everyone on the nude beach and walked.

As my body floated with the current, my belly and me had a moment. I laced my fingertips across my navel and exhaled with determination to get back into stripper shape. Fine – as close to stripper shape as a middle-aged broad can get.

“You just have to get all the way in, then it’s awesome!” I was thirteen, bragging about how I had the balls to brave the cold (it only took the afternoon to submerge myself completely).

Once I was swimming, my eyes surveyed the people along the shore. It didn’t matter that my body wasn’t perfect. That a crowd of strangers saw my cellulite and buddha belly in motion. I was comfortable in my skin. I wasn’t happy with my body at the moment – but holy fuck – I was happy.

A swell lifted my body – and the water mirrored my breath – sighing with me in the realization of just how far I’ve come. Continue reading

KikiBeachStretch

Soon

When your lashes unlace to greet the light. Your body uncoils, unwrapping your flesh from her thread-count comfort. You discover reassurance. It’s close to normal, this sacred breadth you’ve reclaimed as your own. You stretch, allowing your lungs to expand and release within the space of familiar. What’s old is slowly new again.

You are singular but not small.

When brushing past a stranger in a crowded room, their fragrance leaves a familiar trace – something happens. You inhale detailed Technicolor memories – setting the dragon free from slaughter. There’s no use in sleighing the visions of who you were with them. You unleash the reality, welcoming their face, their hands on your body, their taste on your tongue. Falling among the trace of tears that struggle to emerge are fragments of your smile.

You are longing, but embrace living.

When driving home isn’t met with worry. Anxiety falls into the lap of acceptance. There is no one on the other side of the door. Your phone is silent. You curl up to the empty space, making peace with alone.

And a song is just a song.

Soon.

Soon you will find the familiar reflection. Your smile, unorchestrated without agenda. Free-falling within the space of your heart, you find yourself. Your laugh laces her fingers with acceptance and time.

When you slip under the covers. Your eyes slowly drift. Your thoughts aren’t far behind. They whisper. Soon. Soon. Soon.

LetoArtifact

Artifact: a music lover’s review

ar·ti·fact

      noun \ˈär-ti-ˌfakt\

     : a simple object (such as a tool or weapon) that was made by people in the past

     : an accidental effect that causes incorrect results

 

It’s a crisp December morning in southern California and instead of working on my own manuscript (about my ten-year drug-induced stripping career in Waikiki twenty years ago), I’m tooling away on my laptop, finally getting around to sharing my take on ARTIFACT, the award-winning documentary about the making of the Thirty Seconds to Mars album This Is War and their 30 million dollar battle against EMI.

This article isn’t coming from some corporate office downtown, or anywhere near the type of building where you’d find “journalism”, “magazine” or “.com” etched on its conference room walls.

There are no suits to edit my brain, and the only payment I’ll receive from this piece is personal satisfaction that because I’m putting it out in the universe, my voice is being heard. 

But here I sit. In my 700 square-foot apartment in Costa Mesa, worlds away from the rock and roll underbelly of Los Angeles, curled up with my coffee and determination. I’m eager to pour my thoughts on the page for no other reason than palpable inspiration, born on the heels of watching such an epic documentary, driving me to do so.

My introduction to Bartholomew Cubbins (30 Second’s front man, Jared Leto’s directorial alias) was delivered via ARTIFACT – his sweat and tears, pumped through his veins with an infectious passion, far beyond the comprehension of the corporate dudes behind their lawsuit.

Just minutes into watching Leto’s self-directed documentary, I pressed pause, as if to blow steam from the lip of each scene. I hit the back arrow to take a second taste, this time satiating on the flavor of exactly what was going down: artists talking about their passion, what music means to them, and how we, as human beings cannot live without it.

I connected with each industry insider interviewed (including one with neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music), but it was musician Kenna’s piece that induced a familiar tickle in my nose, coupled with watery eyes, which were quickly wiped from the curve of my smile.

“A song has a story in it, there’s a heart behind it, there’s a frequency within it and you as a person delivered it, and that’s why people care. Music is the most powerful vehicle in the world. Period.”

I’m not a musician. And before ARTIFACT, I didn’t know the first thing about the industry’s convoluted relationship between artists and labels. Who I am, is simply a [music] fan. I’m a singular drop in a vast ocean of music lovers who marvel at the magic; how an artist delivers (within the space of only a certain amount of notes) continual creations of infinite melodies weaved throughout original lyrics, which solidifies our passion and moves us beyond compare. Again. And again. And again.

If you’re expecting a narcissistic, self-indulgent, “look at us, we’re rock stars, here’s how we roll” type of film, ARTIFACT ‘aint it.

This documentary views like a cinematic dream – or rather – dream come true – for the three men who make up 30 Seconds to Mars (Jared Leto (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Shannon Leto (drums, percussion) and Tomo Miličević (lead guitar, bass, strings, keyboards, other instruments). Leto is the first to admit, their band’s record-breaking success wasn’t expected in their wildest dreams, and we believe him. Not because his breathtaking looks and disarming prose lure us in; but because we learn early on in the film that Leto and his band mates are simply asking for what is fair. We learn that like most things in life – even when our dreams are realized, there’s always shit hitting the proverbial fan. And in the case of EMI versus 30 Seconds to Mars, that’s a thirty million dollar clean up.

Adding to the meat of this 100-minute ride is a visual feast I didn’t see coming. Leto’s directorial eye is born for cinematic artistry. We’ve seen his signature talent several times in his self-directed music videos (my faves are Up in the Air and his most recent, City of Angels), and ARTIFACT is no exception.  

This is a feel-good movie – after it pisses you off – but in the end, you’re left with a fire inside your belly that will inspire you to kick ass and draw your sword with whatever shit comes your way. And with This is War in your corner, you’ve got a killer soundtrack for the fight.

 

Official Trailer:

WestJest

Good News Tuesday: ‘Tis the season

Ah. GOOD NEWS. It’s out there. Harder to find than the heartbreaking stories that seem to blanket our media streams? Yes. But don’t give up. There is a lot of GOOD NEWS in this world. Even if we do have to dig a little deeper to find it.

Every once in a while, I’ll highlight an article I find that focuses on GOOD NEWS. This column is called Good News Tuesday.

Please spread the word.

Today’s entry comes to us from the viral interwebs - particularly Ralphie Aversa of Yahoo News.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, prepare to get all goose-bumpy and teary-eyed.

Ralphie reports:

The Canadian company WestJet has many believing in Christmas miracles after a video showcasing the airline’s generosity (and marketing savvy) went viral. In the five-and-a-half-minute piece, “Virtual Santa” asked unsuspecting Calgary-bound passengers what they would like for Christmas. The customers then boarded their flights from Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario

According to WestJet’s blog, a group of 175 volunteers helped grant more than 250 guests their Christmas wishes. “Santa’s helpers” scrambled to Best Buy, local malls, and department stores to purchase everything from socks and underwear to a flat-screen TV.

.

  

Nice going, Canada. This totally makes up for The Beibs.  

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Kickstarter campaigns: logical or unethical?

You’re really no one until someone rejects you. And if you get an email saying “have a nice life, and don’t contact me until you live an ethical one” – well that’s just gold.

Let me back up.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the immense pleasure of learning I was accepted to a very exclusive writer’s workshop outside the US. It took a TRUCK LOAD of balls to send in my writing sample, and even after I did, there was a part of me that really didn’t believe I’d ever be selected. The instructor is a literary rock star; there are only 10 slots open, and well… I’m just this chick with some blog.

After receiving the call that I was in, I cried so many happy tears, I couldn’t speak. I called my mom. I sat there in my living room and allowed myself to dream bigger than I ever have.

Then a day passed. Reality set in. And I needed to think about how the hell I was gonna afford this (I don’t know anyone who has extra cash floating around, do you?).

Then I remembered a few months back, donating to a friend’s Kickstarter Campaign. She’s a Continue reading

DaydreamingKid

Never underestimate the power of dreams

Originally published in Six Word Memoirs

When your childhood foundation is built on quicksand, there’s an emotional deficit that’s hard to measure. Even as adults, after we somehow climb our way out from the murky depths of feeling less than, there’s residual damage – a poisonous venom coursing through our insides, sloshing around our psyche – whispering “don’t even try”, “you’re not good enough”, and “you don’t matter.”

The amount of therapy one needs to overcome childhood abuse (in any form) varies, but for me, ever since I got clean from a fifteen-year drug habit, it’s on-going. Weekly visits to my mental-health guru are what save me from the darkest parts of myself; when re-wiring my brain seems impossible and those venomous words seep in.

Recognizing achievements, forgiving my failures – allowing the ebb and flow of life without Continue reading

nom

And the winners are…

If you ever have a chance to pimp yourself for a contest, do so immediately. Sure, it’s annoying. And the whole “vote for me!” vibe can be awkward. But think about it - if we aren’t our biggest cheerleaders, how do we expect anyone else to be?

A few days ago, I learned the good people at Forbes Magazine were throwing their fourth annual “Best Websites/Blogs for Women” contest. After nominating my friend and incomparable Aussie transplant Kirsty Spraggon of KirstyTv, I thought I’d throw myself in the ring.

I know the demographic ‘aint up my alley, but c’mon - the exposure of just being nominated, having the opportunity for editors and bigwigs at Forbes to check me out? I’m all in.

I had a feeling a small group of pals and loyal readers would nominate me, but what blew my socks off was the massive amount of shout-outs and praise I received from people throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and even as far away as India (side note: not one family member took the time to sign up and nominate, which is no surprise, and after my initial disappointment, I’m really ok with it). 

Have you ever thought about the shit people will say about you after you’re gone? Seriously. Am I the only sick ticket in town who wonders about the verbal buzz hovering around the cheese and cracker table, while my favorite 80s alternative tunes whisper through the speakers? How’s that whole ‘recovering narcissism’ thing working out fur’ya, girl?

Self-centered thinking aside, reading those nomination comments about this little one-woman-show-blog – how these posts are inspiring, entertaining, thought-provoking, and funny – well, it’s beyond surreal. Like being alive at your own funeral – getting to hear all the cool things people think and say about you.

After perusing through the 100 Website winners over at Forbes, it makes sense that my blog didn’t make the cut (lots of great sites giving financial and career advice, not one “Recovering Hot Mess 80s Coke Whore Finding Self-Worth” page in the bunch). It also makes sense that I’d even think about pimping myself out to keep such company. Because really, why not? Exposure and opportunity for a writer is much like how it goes down on the stripper pole; you gotta make yourself be seen.

Self-worth is a tricky thing when you’re recovering from a lifetime of not having any. When faced with certain challenges (contests, in this case), our brains automatically go to “Yea, right! Dream on! You’ll never win! You’re not good enough!” But when we recognize that those thoughts are mere side-effects of circumstance (how we were raised, living through trauma, etc.), another part of us stands up and says, “Why NOT me?!” – and we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

From the bottom of my dysfunctional heart - I can’t thank you enough for reading and if you were one of the many people who nominated my blog to make the list over at Forbes – please know that you’ve given me an even better prize. You’ve reminded me why I’m doing this.

Everything worth having is worth fighting for, and the things we want most, give us the most fear. Love, security, comfort, strength – they’re all born from struggle within ourselves believing we’re worthy of them.

Each time we enter a contest, go on a job interview, audition for a part, ask someone out, enter a writing piece, raise our hand – we are exercising our inherent belief in the wholehearted human beings we were born to be.

Sounds like winning to me.

 

Here’s the part where you tell me: what would you say about yourself on a nomination form?

khk

Good News Tuesday: Tiny Superheroes

Ah. GOOD NEWS. It’s out there. Harder to find than the heartbreaking stories that seem to blanket our media streams? Yes. But don’t give up, peeps. There is a lot of GOOD NEWS in this world. Even if we do have to dig a little deeper to find it.

Every once in a while, I’ll highlight an article I find that focuses on GOOD NEWS. This column is called Good News Tuesday.

Please spread the word.

Today’s entry comes to us from a groovy little site called Karma Tube, a phenomenal website dedicated to bringing inspirational stories to light, using the power of video and the internet Continue reading

DayOfHappy

Good News Tuesday: Nottingham Day of Kindness

It’s always refreshing to read GOOD NEWS. And it’s out there, even if we do have to dig a little deeper than turning on the television or logging on-line.  I’d like to help make it a little easier.

Every now and again, I’ll highlight an article I find that focuses on GOOD NEWS. This column is called Good News Tuesday.

Please spread the word.

Today’s entry comes to us from one of my favorite organizations, Charter for Compassion. If you haven’t heard of it, The Charter is a global movement to create communities of compassion (and worth checking out, trust me).

Through Charter for Compassion’s site, I found this little gem:

Nottingham’s In Kind Celebrates Day of Kindness

Nottingham group In Kind has declared Saturday July 27 2013 as Nottingham’s Day of Kindness to tie in with the UN International Day of Friendship on July 30.

In Kind was set up two years ago to promote more compassion and kindness in the daily lives Continue reading

Unexpected street sign

Not quite what you expected

Music is a killer time machine. Everyone has stories that certain tunes from back in the day re-ignite the soul. We subconsciously turn up the volume in our car and share a smile with our younger self, as memory seeps through our minds. We sing. We sigh. And after the song is over, we down-shift back to reality. And to quote one of my fave tunes (Set Adrift On Memory Bliss) from my days on the pole; “Reality used to be a friend of mine”.

PM Dawn. Remember those dudes? They had that one-hit-wonder which sampled another song from yet another one-hit-wonder group, Spandau Ballet, called “True”.  

If you don’t remember vinyl records, untangling tape cassettes or waiting an entire week after dropping off your camera film (only to toss half of them because you didn’t like your double chin/smile/eyes/hair/lighting), just trust me on this. Those songs were dope.

Having grabbed my spiky six-inch stilettos (“clear heels” weren’t around back then) on stage for the better part of a decade, whenever I hear an old tune, I am instantly transported back to a time when reality fused with expectations of what my life was to become.

Fuck it, I got time. I’ll do this for a bit,  get my shit together, fall in love, get married, squeeze out a pair of bambinos and live off my stripper-savings while traveling the world and writing about my adventures.

Naiveté is adorable when your 22. And Expectations, no matter how unintentional, always Continue reading

Deflated

I’ll see your “no”, and raise you…

The phone rings. The letter arrives. You get that text you’ve been waiting for. You finally receive the news. But wait a second – it’s not what you wanted to hear. BAM. Your spirit is deflated in the same amount of time it takes you to realize – that not only is life full of struggle and unwavering shit that seems to only hit your fan – well, it’s just plain unfair.

If only there were a courtesy warning light to flash on our emotional dashboard, alerting us to bad news. But let’s face it – we’d ignore it – even if it did exist. There’s so much power in wanting to succeed, that even when we know it’s not the right time, or the elements of our vision just aren’t quite aligned, we close our eyes and get lost in the beautiful tapestry of our dreams. And why wouldn’t we (it’s much more pleasant there; not a shit-covered fan in sight, and the lighting is fabulous).

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming. It’s free. It’s fun. And for those of us who were born without a financial horseshoe in our crib, it propels our motivation to strive for a more stable, monetarily-stress-free life (not that wealthy peeps don’t have their share of issues). But we get into trouble when our dreams trump reality – believing that once we create our imaginary vision board (or a real one, if that’s your thing), it’s enough. We figured out what we want and where we want to go, and that’s it. If this were remotely true, I’d tell you to look for my toned and flawless ass on the cover of Fit Magazine – I mean, I pay the monthly gym membership (you saying I actually have to go?).

There’s nothing that satisfies our sustainability of following our passions like doing everything possible to avoid doing the actual work. Or maybe that’s just me.

I’m no stranger to bad news, but there was something so intrinsic about the longing for this game-changing answer I’ve been waiting to hear (I sent sample chapters to a publisher who expressed interest).

I read the email. My heart sank. But then something cool went down. I read the email again, and instead of bitching about being deflated, I shook myself out from the clouds and realized – it’s just not the right time, place, person, whatever. There was as much positive as there was buzz-kill in that email. So, I’ll keep working – dreaming – and working even harder. But not before doing what every self-respecting ex-stripper, drug addict, narcissist would do: I Googled myself. In a much-needed stroke of my overly sensitive ego, I read my reviews, watched my videos (essay reading, not stripping, there was no You Tube back in my day, pervs), and settled into moving forward.

Then I came across this gem of a video and was reminded of one helluva valuable lesson: one “no”, does not define who we are, but rather, makes for a way cooler story when we finally get our “yes.”

Enjoy.

woman

Bring. It. On.

Although hard to miss, every year, we instinctively resist her. We remember the afternoon skies which came before, the autumn clouds running free, ignited with the fiery brushstrokes of fall. As the leaves whisper their final good-bye, the weight of darkness falls, and suddenly we’re hit – and we know –winter has arrived.

Every year, it seems – winter comes too soon.  As if overnight, she cloaks the sky with a deeper hue, staring boldly into our eyes, while batting her trademark holiday twinkling lights, offering a small consolation for the darkness. The longer she’s here, the faster we realize – time waits for no one. So we bundle up alongside her, lace our fingers with her breath, and walk with the reality of her presence.

As a hopeful romantic, I find myself thinking about relationships this time of year. Something about the holidays carries a deep sentiment to my soul. And wanting to curl up with a warm body, agree when to bust out the flannel sheets (I’m a huge proponent), and exchange post-orgasmic pillow talk, all seems mystical and out-of reach.

Enter, Patrick. You may recall the story I shared about this gem of a dude, back in May. He’s been in my life for ages, but because we live worlds apart, we don’t get to hang often, which totally blows. But then again, it really doesn’t matter, because if not in the flesh, or through a phone line, text or email – he’s always nestled within the beatings of my heart. Seriously. The man is a constant presence, holding close in memory, his voice when we laugh, certain catch-phrases he doesn’t realize he says, even the smell of his skin when we embrace a long-awaited hello.

The last time I saw Patrick, I learned a valuable lesson (he’s good at teaching those – little fucker). I learned about personal expectations, and putting myself first, before the dreamer in me has a chance to let loose, carrying me on a cloud of denial and fantasy.  I learned that wanting validation from anyone is not only unhealthy; it’s a losing battle if you don’t value yourself.

Then life happened. Time passed.

Months went by, and Patrick and I shared zero communication. But that was remedied recently and we were able to catch up. It was perfect.

This isn’t to say our friendship doesn’t have its moments. I can’t even tell you how we differ on certain opinions and beliefs, but with us it doesn’t seem to matter. The light we bring to the surface with each other radiates within our spirit – propelled by the mere fact we can be totally honest, not just saying what we think the other person wants to hear. Freedom and comfort have a way of allowing us to stand with faith in our convictions, while respecting certain things we wholeheartedly disagree on. Isn’t it awesome – when love and respect are in the mix  – shit doesn’t need to get ugly.

Being alone isn’t new for me. And to be honest, sometimes it blows. But for the most part, I’m genuinely fulfilled and happy. Riding the wave of “Alone” is not only freeing, it’s a welcome opportunity for me to wrap my world around my dreams, without anything taking from my focus.

A HAPPY middle-aged singleton? What would the neighbors think!? Funny thing about not giving a shit what others think – it makes giving a shit about what I think that much easier.

I have no idea when Patrick and I will connect again, but I’m absolutely certain we will in the months ahead.

Following my dreams, embracing independence, owning my shit, and reunions with people like Patrick? It’s gonna be a great year.

Here’s the part where you tell me: What are your plans this new year?

frustrated-computer-user

Why writing this memoir is a pain in the ass

Original post on Kathy Pooler’s website: A Memoir Writer’s Journey.

Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes. – Jack Gilbert

Stretching my body to the morning, my eyes, they start to focus. The corners of my mouth curve up when I realize the seconds that linger today are allowed. Minutes pass. My smile becomes a sigh; I turn over, breathe in the quiet space, and celebrate by drifting off again.

Weekends are good to me. They don’t judge when I sleep past 10:00, never require hair and make-up, and the dress code is always casual. Being single and without children, these days are my own, allowing simple pleasures that I cherish. A fresh mug of coffee. A cozy bed. The safety in my solitude. They breathe a tender silence, allowing my mind to dream – and dream, it does – once I am fully awake.

After turning on my laptop (and my brain is finally up), I’m quickly reminded that dreams take work, and that writing this memoir is kind of a pain in the ass. I can hear you now, “why bother writing one, if you’re just going to bitch about it?” If I were the brilliant, literary genius-type, I’d throw you a clever reply. But let’s be real. I’m a drug addict, ex-stripper, recovering narcissist writer, wrapped in a riddle of self-deprecation and vanity. I’m a hot mess who’s been through some shit – from abuse to overdosing. I bother because I’m compelled. And the deeper I plow, the more crystallized my reason: I’m giving purpose to my past, through words I long to say, about a time I can’t forget.

If you told me twenty years ago, I’d be writing a memoir in my 40s, I’d have shot vodka out of my nose, unsuccessfully trying to reign in the laughter. There’s no way I’ll make it to 40. Then I’d read through my Continue reading