Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bring on the Rain 2017!

Wow, another year down. Sometimes life moves so quickly. Other times it just drags on. To say 2016 was interesting is an understatement. I've decided to highlight the year below with my New Years Resolution of constant and abundant gratitude. 2016 started for me in the Emergency Room on New Years Day. I had been sick since the day after Christmas, and finally after not being able to keep anything down and a high fever for 3 full days, Sabin and I headed to Urgent Care. The doctor quickly saw us and thought my appendix might have burst so he sent us to the ER. Being in the ER on New Years Day in a curtained room between a homeless person who was completely un-responsive and then suddenly screaming in pain in five minute intervals and a woman on the other side who was about six hours into Heroin withdrawal and fighting non-stop with her pimp boyfriend might not seem like the best chance for me to begin my gratitude journal, but it truly was. When the doctors finally confirmed that my appendix had not burst and that I had a really terrible flu, I was sitting alone while Sabin ran to the car to get something and was already thinking how much worse so many others have it. I felt like total and complete shit, but got to walk out of the hospital and return to my comfortable and loving home. January also ended quite tragically. As we were leaving our house, a giant tree fell and smashed Sabin's BMW, his second love right in front of our eyes. The car was totaled. Again, not the beginning of the year we were hoping for, but beyond grateful for GAP auto insurance and for the fact that about forty five seconds later we would have all been in the car as the tree fell onto it. February brought one of the most beautiful gifts from our dear friend, Ann. A homemade high top wood planked dining room table. Its one of my favorite pieces of furniture I've ever seen and been the centerpiece for countless laughs, card games, and family bonding time. In March, Sabin and I spent a long weekend celebrating his birthday in New York City. I got to meet his younger brother and we sat in the fourth row of Broadway's The Color Purple. Anyone who knows me well already knows that "I'm Here" is my soundtrack. But to watch Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Hudson so close and personally sing their hearts out was by far my most favorite memory with Sabin in the history of us. April brought the first official wedding at Last Stop Props, my new business venture with Ann that has really grown from a great idea into reality. On May 10th, my beautiful baby girl turned 5! She also completed her first soccer season where she did quite well, and we celebrated her and her sister at a VIP experience at Disneyland, where both girls got to meet all of the characters and we celebrated with the whole family. In June, we did a photo shoot at Last Stop Props to help build our online presence. Sabin played the groom and Tiffany the bride. We had catering and a bar and most of our friends were able to come and be models. It was a super fun day. July-Cabo San Lucas BABY! Sabin and I, along with our great friends Serafina and Andy got to spend a long weekend at an all-inclusive, adult only resort on the beach. It was SO. MUCH. FUN! When we got back, I began my health kick, which ultimately led to me losing 24 pounds and falling in love again with yoga and cardio, which I am hoping to keep on with into 2017. August- There were too many great parts to my birthday month! We started the month with a trip to Idaho to visit with my nieces and family. It had been awhile since we were all together and Katie and Sienna also came. We saw one of our favorite childhood Country Stars on the plane ride into town, and had a great time watching all of the girls play together (even with puke-ageddon striking all of us during the trip). Harper also started Kindergarten and was accepted off the wait list right in time for the most perfect little school for her. We have loved watching her grow and develop at Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts. Finally, my birthday. All of the friends came down and had a little party-complete with a video from my favorite SnapChatter SprinkleFreak! A few days later, Pierre, Christina, Whitney, Frank, and I all went to the Summer 90's R&B concert in Long Beach and had one of the best days of the whole year singing all of our favorite teenage songs together and dancing by the water! In September we lost my Grandpa Jack. I am beyond grateful that I was blessed with a grandfather like him. I miss him all of the time. We also visited Las Vegas for a really fun weekend celebrating Pierre's birthday. I acted like a 21 year old and consumed more alcohol that weekend than I normally do in an entire year (minus wine of course). Sabin and I also celebrated our FIRST wedding anniversary. There is never a dull day with this incredible man and I am the most thankful to have someone like him in my life. By October I realized our life is going to be jam packed every fall. We had a Halloween party at the studio, another at Harper's school, birthday parties for her school friends, and of course actual Halloween. It seemed like there was something every night the entire month, but all of it was extremely fun. Harper went as an astronaut, decked out in the coolest costume ever supplied by Auntie Arlene. She did a change into Barbie for actual Trick or Treating, and I went as a Skeleton while Sabin went as Scar from the Lion King. In November we found the perfect kitchen island that we've been searching for since last Thanksgiving. Not only does it complete our kitchen, its really become the centerpiece of our entire home. We also had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. I did the turkey again and it turned out pretty darn good. December brought the most magical Christmas of all. We all were together for a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner. I am thankful to be able to showcase the power of choosing love and family to Harper. I am wishing all of my friends and family, and those I don't know the most amazing 2017 ever. Here's to remaining grateful and showing gratitude!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Follow the theme

There is something about the smell of the ocean or the sound of the waves crashing into the beach that settles my soul and requires me to dig deep and reflect. Every half a year or so I enter a dark place of insecurity and uncertainty. Why am I here? What am I passionate about? What is my purpose. Usually I can kick myself out of this place quickly but this time I've been stuck. I want to leave a mark, contribute to something BIG, or figure out how to leave the world at least a little better than how I found it. Before I continue, let me state that I am not complaining. I lead a charmed, spectacular life. For God's sake, I am typing this from poolside on vacation in Mexico! However, even those that appear to have it all together truly don't have it together at all. Back to reflection, I often wonder what it is that is going to finally fill that void that seems to always rear its ugly head. I have to go back to childhood and really dig in for understanding. I played one season of soccer when I was about eight. It was the only organized sport or season I ever played. I've all but lost any concrete memories of anything before my Dad died when I was a few days from turning 14, however that one season of soccer sticks out (probably because my mother permed my hair before the team photo and I cringe every time I see it). For many kids they discovered what they were good at or passionate about through sports and team work. I learned that it got me a lot of attention. I spent the practices and games looking at my grandparents and parents on the sidelines watching me instead of watching the ball or game. I didn't learn about my passion and I was a really lousy soccer player but I did learn that I craved attention and approval from adults in my life. In my teenage years, I pursued any activity that put me in the spotlight, taking the lead in every theater production and serving as Editor-in-Chief of my high school yearbook. I loved the attention and pressure to perform. My closest and few remaining friends from high school was my teacher! I love and adore her, but are you starting to see a theme? I've always been responsible, probably overly responsible. My mother always jokes that I'm the parent and she's the child. My younger sister starts most difficult conversations with "I don't want a lecture on this, but..." I'm working on being more spontaneous. i have no idea what any of this means and I'm not going to guess, however I am starting to weave together a theme and one thing I've learned is to follow the theme. For now I'm going to settle into this mimosa and keep reflecting.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

We are Orlando

This has been a very emotional week. In the wake of the worst hate crime and mass murder committed upon gay people in US History, I've been numb all week. I know we've all been talking about it so much and this is likely just "another Orlando posting" but I feel compelled to write it anyway. If anything ever happens to me, I want my daughter and nieces and loved ones to have something written from me about how this week has felt to me. I joined the gay party much later in life than most of my friends. I was 27 when I got my first "boyfriend." This wasn't intentional and I never was hiding, it just took me longer to really figure out who and what I was. Even before I came out, I've been immersed in gay culture. At seventeen I showed up to the dorms at Webster University to meet my new room mate Cade with Powder Puff Girls bedding spewn about his bunk. He pulled me into the bathroom and immediately said, "I am gay. If that's a problem go see our dorm leadership and request a move now." I remember I hugged him and over that year shared some of my biggest secrets and created a friendship with one of the most incredible and honorable men I've ever known. Not only did I accept him, I immersed myself in it. The very first dance club I've ever went to was with him in East St. Louis and danced harder and freer than I ever had in my life. In our first year at Webster I helped coordinate the "Drag Ball" which was one of my University's biggest events. Cade hosted the event in drag as "Mariah Scary" that year. We laughed and cheered, and I remember celebrating that event just a few months after 9/11 and laughing so hard that I lost my voice for a few days. Over that time I met my other brothers-Russ, Stephen, Dave, and many others- and of course I can't forget my favorite first boss Nick who joined us from Tennessee as we all figured out life together. When I say brothers, I mean BROTHERS- men who go with you to pick up your sister on the side of the freeway on vacations to Florida. Men who put you in a NYC cab and carry you to your hotel room when you've had too much. Men who drop everything and fly to be with you in the midst of heartbreak and divorce. I literally don't think I'd have made it here without these guys. And I can't tell you how many times in the past 15 years I've been dancing the night away with them in a gay club at 2 am, JUST like Pulse. There have been "whispers" about me and my sexuality my entire life. The truth is, at least from my perspective, I've always been my true and authentic self. Even despite whispers or someone coming out and directly asking, what you see today is what you've always gotten with me. I was fortunate to grow up with a Mom that loves without boundaries. We've always had gay people around, and truthfully if you are reading this and don't have gay people around, YOU are really missing out! As a gay married man, I can tell you that despite living in and amongst a community that fully accepts and supports us (which so many gay people still don't have), My husband and I are still never freer or more like a real couple than when we go to a gay bar or club. When we are around our straight friends and family, almost out of habit we hold back. We don't openly show tons of affection as to not make people feel uncomfortable (even though most of our people wouldn't anyway). But when we go to WeHo and are surrounded by our gay brothers or sisters, we hold each other tighter, dance and kiss, love and laugh and connect on a deeper level. We are safe and we are home in places like Pulse, free from watching eyes or critical stares that we avoid in our regular daily life. THAT is why this week has been so difficult to bear. I can't comprehend what the 49 victims must've felt as they danced and held each other, but in a strange way I can also totally picture it too. I think it's why gay broadcasters like Don Lemmon and Anderson Cooper can't get through a broadcast because they too have been there. Gay bars and clubs are our safe place, and I for one will not let one person change that for me. Today and this weekend as 49 families bury their children, brothers, sisters, Moms and Dads I would encourage anyone reading this to slowly close your eyes and for one moment picture that this was me, because it very well could've been. I don't want this tragedy to at all be about me, but I know there are still so many people in "my circle" who may wince a little when they hear that this was a gay club. Or people who may sit back and hear Donald Trump say things on the news about "ask the gays." Or hear their preachers and religious leaders avoid the fact that this was a hate crime against gay people. Or worse come right out and show support for it. You can not ride the fence on this one. I can not ride the fence with this one. We are all in this together. Love will always win and I am Orlando.