Saturday, September 7, 2013


My name is Hal...and I am an addict.

It's been nearly four years since I've worked on this blog. I'm not even really sure why I'm writing now. That may seem like a long time--and it probably is--but I'm not one to judge time anymore. After all, people like me have to live one day at a time. We have to take things slower than normal people ("normies," as we like to call the rest of you).

Until three years ago, Doing The Right Thing or even The Next Right Thing was never easy for me. Maybe it's because I was always so good at being Bad.

The truth is, before Aug. 30, 2010, on any given day, I was more than likely trying to hurt myself. If that wasn't good enough, I'd try to hurt you, too. But hurting myself was always Number One. I was--am--addicted to a myriad of substances--none of which are candy. Though, to be fair, I'm sure I could have managed to turn that against myself if I really cared to try. (Lord knows, Pixie Sticks were what led me to my final downfall with a certain White Lady. Seriously.)

So, what is being an addict like? That depends on where my brain is. In active addiction, I will lie to you, steal from you, do whatever it takes to get what I want. If that doesn't work, I will hurt you; not physically, mind you. No, I can be a pretty gynormous bastard without even lifting a single finger or fist, when I want to be manipulative. I'm probably not as good at it as others, but then again, I've never really been all that competitive about it. In the end, I've done some pretty awful things to a lot of good (or not-so-good) people that have had the misfortune of being in my destructive orbit.

To be honest, I'm not even sure what to write. Yet, I feel somewhat inspired, right now. I'm here, by myself, in my apartment. The wife is in The Cities for Rosh Hashanah and, meanwhile, I guess I just need to get out of my own head for a little while. So, in other words, like so much of my life, I'm winging it, one word at a time.

So, besides having my life implode in front of my very eyes after a hearty downward spiral with substance abuse, what's new? Well, as you may have guessed, I'm a married man of three years and a clean and sober addict--also of three years (and boy, wasn't that certainly an interesting and busy first year of holy matrimony!)

In most of the 12-stepper meetings I regularly attend, they will ask you, after hitting a milestone such as mine, "how did you do that" My answer would consist of two words: Not alone.

I have so many people to thank, but I'll single out just a few. My wife, Amanda, is my rock. Pure and simple. Could I have accomplished all that I have--and all that I still continue to work on, on a daily basis--without her? Perhaps? Maybe? I don't know. That's a tough call. However, I doubt if I could have ever rooted my feet as firmly to the ground as I did after that first night, as I was sitting on the couch, alone, hugging myself, sobbing quietly to myself, dumbfounded as to how I could have let such pure, unadulterated chaos consume myself and so many others I loved. If Amanda hadn't wandered out of the bedroom, planted herself next to her sorry husband, taking his hands in hers' and telling him to come to bed, as opposed to sleeping on the couch (where, quite frankly, he deserved to sleep, what with his bed having been made in more ways than one), giving him the slightest measure of hope, we might be having a very different conversation, right now.

I'd like to thank, too, my original knight in shining armor, my first sponsor Dave. My journey toward this amazing life began with coffee and a blueberry scone. I am eternally indebted to him for glowing as he did, making me want what he had, that Thursday morning, and showing me how to put one foot in front of the other, on the road of recovery. Dan, too, my second and current sponsor, has pointed me in a fine direction where growth continues.

And I'd like to thank Marty, a fellow drunk. Wherever you are, you were right. I needed that hug. It was the first of many. More importantly, it helped me realize that I was worth being touched. My current friends have helped to further ingrain that once-unclear notion

Above all, I thank H.P., or to the uninformed, my Higher Power--sometimes named God, other times going by the handle of M.O.E. (My Only Everything), or yes, even "Uncle Stevie" (yes, Stephen King, or a Voice just like his has been a huge part of my recovery--whether he knows it or not).

I guess I could ramble on, but I'm growing tired and weary of this late hour. I'd like to say that I'm rebooting this blog and going to continue working on it on a regular basis, but as I said, I'm really not even sure why I'm writing now. I can't tell you what will happen tomorrow. I have no answers to your questions or even my own. I'm just taking things easy. If there's anything I've learned, in the last three years, it's that I don't make up the rules. I just follow them.

One day at a time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Look No Further...

On December 31, 2008, my life changed.

That was the night I met someone that I am truly crazy about, someone that I am now proud and elated to call my girlfriend. Her name is Mandy...and I adore her. We've been talking since the beginning of September and, yeah, she's amazing.

But I wasn't so sure I wanted to take the plunge, at first.
I wasn't sure if I wanted to be in a relationship with her.

For one thing, she's all the way in Minnesota. And as many of you know, for the longest time, I had totally planned on moving there, but things have changed and I think I'm gonna be staying in Omaha indefinitely. It's so weird. All this time, I've been trying to escape O-Town, but--it's taken me a long time to realize this--this place? This is my home. I don't want to leave my friends, my family. I love them way too much. It's no longer because of fear that I'm staying...or money for that matter. I'm staying because I want to stay. I'm staying on my own terms. And that feels good. I like being in control of my own destiny.

The other reason--and, let's face it, the biggest one--is that I've been burned. I've been hurt by a few different girls; heartbroken. Devastated, really. I was scared that I'd get hurt again. And one night, we were lying together, and she just told me that she's in this 200% if I am. She also told me that she shouldn't have to convince me to want to be with her. I either do or I don't.

Turns out, I did. And I'm mad about her.

No, it's not this perfect thing where we agree on everything. I don't even know if I'd even want something like that. In fact, sometimes, we have little disagreements, debates, or what-have-you. I like that. I like that we can be completely upfront with one another about what we think about something. I appreciate the way she challenges me.

But that's not to say that there isn't romance and smiles and kisses and all of that sappy stuff. We're crazy about each other. And we tell each other that all the time. We miss each other when we're not "together" (read: on the phone or online). We make each other laugh and, yes, sometimes sing. It's wonderful and I truly feel blessed.

I won't lie, though, I still have my insecurities, my doubts, my fears. The events of the past--recent and not-so-recent--have made it so that my "Spidey sense" is always tingling. It's like I'm constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, constantly waiting for all of this amazing happiness and warmth I've been feeling lately to be taken away from me. Again.

But then--thank you, once again, Zoloft!! How I love thee? Let me count the ways!--I begin to breathe again. I lay my head on my pillow and I smile to myself. Yes, I rest easy knowing that, as we've both come out and admitted to one another, we're falling for each other.

That, and the best has yet to come...

Friday, December 26, 2008


Lately, as my ten-year high school reunion quickly approaches in 2009 ('s not 'til September, but'll be there before you know it!), I find myself very nostalgic.

I find myself thinking about the Good Ol' Days. More specifically, the years of--wait for it!!--1993 to 1999. In other words, middle school through high school. I mean, I've always been a nostalgic person anyways, trying to stay in touch with old school chums from the past. But in the last month or so, it's become sort of an obsession [BLOGGER'S NOTE: Really?!?! You obsessed?! NO!!]

Thank you, Facebook.

Seriously, it's gotten really bad!! I find myself searching for old friends all. The. Time. And when I can't find them, I "friend" other people that I may have had just the slightest tangential relationship with (if only to sort
of leap frog to see who they know). You know, the kind of person whose name and face you recognized in a school setting--passing by them in the hall or whatnot--but if they ever approached you on a dark and deserted street to say "hi" or try to shake your hand, you'd probably mace them first, ask questions later? Yeah, those are the people I've been friending. Fuck, even the teachers will do.

Thinking about it now, I'd be a damn good private detective. I've turned into a one-man

It's gotten bad. Like, I went scavenging through my old yearbooks, the other day. I went on a quest to find those too!! I actually went through Dimension X...The Abyss of Nothingness...The Bermuda Triangle...The Eighth Circle of Hell known as--DUM!! DUM!! DUMMMM!!--My Closet. Once that was accomplished with much bloodshed, I went on a hypomanic joyride down Memory Lane.

It was fun. Wish you were there. Though, all I brought back was this lousy T-shirt.

The thing is, looking back through those yearbooks, I saw all of the crushes and the school bullies and the popular people that seemed so important to me then and the only thing that goes through my mind now is this: What the fuck was I thinking???

All of the "popular" girls I thought were hot at the time, look something akin to mountain goats or worse. The "popular," hunky guys that the girls swooned over look like pimply boobs who should have been riding on the Short Bus. As for the now decidedly gawky-looking, malnourished school bullies, well, I just have images from "Bad Santa" or "Step Brothers" playing in my head. Ya know, there's just something completely invigorating about seeing grown men beating the living shit out of their tormentors, no matter what age they are.

It's so funny how 10-16 years puts things in perspective.

* sigh *

I've grown so much.

What makes me kind of blanch, too, is how I was so completely convinced that the friends I had at the time would be my "friends forever." You think I'm joking and kidding around, but going through those yearbooks, I was in shock and horrified by how I creepily scrawled in red pen "friends forever" on the actual photos of my friends.

Yeesh!! Maybe some Zoloft might have been in order for me then as well.

But yes, those were the good ol' days. In my opinion anyway. But I can say that now. The truth is, I try to remember the person I was then and I wonder to myself, was that person me at my best? Was that person happy? Who knows? I don't think a person so incomplete as who I was then could truly answer that question. I think I had to go through more experiences. There were more obstacles that needed to be hurtled over. As the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone, once sang...You've Got to Learn.

We all have to get from point A to point B and,
let's face it, I'm still not there yet.

Though, every step closer is something to smile about.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Running To Stand Still

It's been two weeks since I wrote my last entry.

but it's felt like Forever.

It's time to come clean a little bit here. I've been seeing a shrink again. Two, in fact (because one's never enough, right?). It's been since about September, actually...something like that. I see a psychiatrist--an MD who has been in the biz for 30 years or so to prescribe medication--and a therapist to talk through whatever issues I'm having/going through. In other words, she's trying to help me figure my shit out.

I decided to go back for many reasons,
a few of which I'm no longer at liberty to discuss on this blog. Mainly, I'm just not a happy camper. Sure, I have days where I'm content with The Way Things Are, but the space between Being Content and Being Happy is a wide one indeed. I have high highs and low lows. It's the way it has always been.

But then, that's just one of the many symptoms of my diagnosis: Bipolar II.

I'm not going into details about Bipolar Disorder II or what it feels to be diagnosed with it (relief, to be honest--it's something that I can put my finger on, something that can finally be dealt with!). What I am going to talk about here is the medication I'm on: Sertraline.

It's taken a while for it to kick in and on the way there, some of the side-effects have been downright nasty. They would include increased sweating (at first, anyway) sexual side-effects (adios orgasms! You are sorely missed) and, worst of all, Writers Block.

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why, every time I started writing, I'd completely draw a blank and/or get drowsy. And then I's the medication.


It has taken me two days to write this. I began on Saturday night. This is how it goes: I start and I begin writing...and then I start to get drowsy. Like, really drowsy [BLOGGER'S NOTE: God, Hal!! That's usually what happens to the people who read your shit, not the other way around, man!!!!]. And then I kind of just...blank. And then I give up. I close the window and lay down or read my book.

On the plus side, it's been a while since I've actually been able to concentrate long enough to read a whole book. I've already read one ("Watchmen") and now I'm 100 pages into a new one: "Case Histories" by Kate Atkinson. Great stuff. Pick it up, but only once because, after that, you won't be able to put it down.

Needless to say, it's been a mixed bag of emotions, conflicting feelings. I'm happy that I've been able to Ya know? I just feel really mellow, chill. I'm not quite as jittery, tense. I like not worrying about everything. It's nice. But I'm frustrated and scared, too, because what if I my ability to write wasn't a talent...but a symptom? What if it was just a more subtle, functional biproduct of a hypomanic state, an inbalance?

In other words, have I lost my mojo? Did I ever really have it? Is it worth giving up in order to be at peace...or do I give up the meds and continue doing the one thing I know I'm good at, my one "discernible talent" as I've said, regardless of the the Quality of Life that I'm living? Is it ever possible to have anything both ways? Why does everything have to be so black and white? Why does everything in this goddamned life have to be a fucking tradeoff?

It's starting again.

I can feel the drowsiness washing over me. I'll have to lie down soon. But this isn't over. I won't let it win. Being a writer--good or bad, depending on your own tastes--isn't just something I do anymore. It's who I am. And I've had many different identities over the years. I've been many different variations of Hal to get to where I am, to get to this point.

This is the one I want.

And like so much that has come before, it won't come easily. I'm going to do what I've always done whenever there's conflict, whenever there are obsticles in my way that I need to overcome, whenever I'm on the verge of losing something I love.

I fight.

Tooth and nail, I fight.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Digital Neurotica

So, I finally joined the digital world a couple of weeks ago.

That's right! I now have a nifty digital camera!! And lemme tell ya, I'm going nuts with it!! I mean, seriously, if there any opportunity for a photo op, I'll take it.

In other words, I've turned into the Caucasian version of Justin. Whether that's an image anyone wants in their head is a matter of personal taste. Hey, at least I don't wear clothing rejected by Heath ("Let's put a smile on that FACE!!") Ledger on the set of "The Dark Knight."

Yeah, yeah...I'm an ass. He knows it. It's ok.

And why not, right? These are the times to be taking photos. We're young, life is exciting!! I love that I can just snap a photo and just plug it onto my computer. I mean, for the longest time, I was known for being Justin's "photo bitch." And as awesome as it was--and still is, when I haven't already beaten him to the punch--to be given his extra copies, it's really fucking cool not having to wait.

I love taking photos of all of my friends and family. If I've learned anything these last two years, it's that a.) life is short and b.) happy times can be even shorter. For better or worse, photos can make them last forever. This may have been the best purchase I've made since my iPod.

Yeah, this is kind of a short entry, but like last year, it's getting to that point where I'm running out of creative steam and I just really don't have much else to say, at this point. In other words, be expecting a mid-season finale until January. You should see my script. I'm stuck on page 130. Fuck.

On a personal note regarding the camera, better late than never, right?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


A show of hands, please, from all of the people who read this blog that don't already know I'm a total geek. a lot of you know this already. Great!!

Yes, I have and will always embrace the geeky side of life. It's in my nature. As far back as I can remember, I've been a superhero fiend. Growing up, my dad and I collected comic books together. Friday night would be our night to head over to the Cosmic Comics and Science Fiction in Harvey Oaks Plaza and pick up the latest Marvel, Darkhorse, DC and Image books [BLOGGER'S NOTE: On a personal note regarding Image Comics: FUCK YOU, ROB LIEFELD, YOU LITTLE TWERP!! Your art sucked and your professionalism in the comic book industry was a smear in the annals of the medium!! No man should wait 9 months between comic books!! Douchebag!! That is all.]

The comic book store was like my own little retreat, my fortress of solitude. Of course, since I couldn't drive at the time, it was a fortress of solitude for two. I used to love hunting through the boxed jungles of plastic bags and boards, each containing a binded, nail-biting story of heroes, villains and vigilantes. I wanted to be a superhero. Okay, I didn't even really care if I had superpowers. I just wanted to fight crime in a costume.

Is that weird? Yeah. It kind of is.

I mean, let's think about it for a second. It's pretty ridiculous, the whole concept of putting on some goofy-as-fuck costume and saying to yourself, "Tonight, I'm gonna go out and fight the forces of evil." It is. I mean, in the real world, if someone pulled that shit, we'd probably have them committed. I mean, what a wacko, right? I mean, tights? Really? Hello?!

And yet, in the world of comic books, it's widely accepted. Truth be told, I always wanted to live in that world. I always felt safer when I read comic books. Maybe it was because--even for just a little while--I was able to believe in a world where, even though danger lurked around every corner, masked heroes could swoop in and save the day...a world where justice would always be served.

Which is why I'm actually fairly shocked and slightly embarrassed that I'm finally getting around to reading Alan Moore's groundbreaking, Hugo Award-winning 1985 masterpiece, "Watchmen." It's considered to be the Greatest Graphic Novel of All Time. I mean, this baby has it all: Costumed avengers, pirates, action, flashbacks, sex and brutal intensity. It was truly made with the comic book geek in mind.

What makes it so special is that it doesn't just portray all of the costume crusaders as earnest do-gooders. These masked avengers are all-too-human. While the main storyline (i.e. former superheros brought out of retirement to solve the murder of one of their own, even as the country is on the brink of a third World War) is brilliantly realized by Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, it's the characters that, for me, are paramount to the whole "Watchmen" enterprise.

These aren't cuddly people. Many of them are "damaged goods" with emotional and/or mental problems. Others are rotten to the core (one hero was actually a Nazi sympathizer--and you just know how I feel about that--while another shoots the pregnant Vietnamese mother of his child during the War in Vietnam).

And yet, they are compelled to do what they do. Because it's right. Not only is the story and the characters bad-ass to the gazillionth degree, it's also sexy as hell. It makes wearing a costume almost fetishistic--and not even in a "Batman and Robin," rubber nipples kind of way. There are some pretty steamy things that go on in this graphic novel--especially for a "funny book": there's nudity galore: butts, breasts and penises are all bared.

In other words, this is not your friendly neighborhood "Spiderman."

This is popular fiction at its most adult and gritty. And I love every frame of it. Each new chapter--hell, each new page--reveals a new layer to the story that you'll never predict.

I'm sure that most of you fellow geeks reading this are probably saying to yourselves, "WELL, DUHHHH!!" But you have to realize, it's been a really long time since I cracked open a comic book. In a way, I'm sort of like one of the Watchmen: coming out of retirement.

The movie comes out next March and I'm sure that Zach Snyder, the dude who directed last year's "300" (also based on a popular graphic novel), will do as much justice as can be done for such a dense, rich book. At the same time, how can it live up to the brilliance of its pulp namesake?

It won't. It's can't. It shouldn't. It will be what it is and if Snyder gets it even half as fucking fantastic as the graphic novel, we should all be thankful.

The trailers have been awesome. Like, I think I'm having a boner awesome.

Goddamn, I can't wait 'til March 9.

In fact, like Dr. Manhattan, I already am there.

Oh, and before I leave, a question for you, dear readers...

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Monday, November 3, 2008


Tomorrow, I will be heading out to vote for Barak Obama.

Yes, it will be the first time I'm voting Democrat. Yes, you can take as many swings at me as you wish after I say this: I voted for Dubya not once, but twice.

And the truth is, I still really don't know what Obama stands for besides "hope and change!" Does anyone? Really?

All I know is that Obama, to me, if elected, will be a game changer. And I think that's just what this country needs. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for McCain as a war hero. The guy is a class act in my book. But I just see this country and what Bush has done to it. I mean, really, since the Civil War, have we ever been more at odds with ourselves as a country? And for that matter, have we ever been more hated by other countries? Half the world thinks America is one giant, bloody tampon rag for Chrissakes!!

The idea that, if McCain wins the election, we could be in for four more years of the same shit, truly frightens the piss out of me.

And maybe Obama is an arrogant prick. Maybe he will turn out to be a horrible fucking president.
Who knows? Maybe this and maybe that. Either way, it's gotta be better than what we've got sitting in the Oval Office, right now.

Give peace a chance? Fuck that. Let's give it up for hope and change!!

Love him or hate him, I think we all need a fresh start.

Each and every one of us.