I believe we live a guided life and yet, I’m not sure exactly what that means. If it’s God. Or guardians. Just our inner voice. Jiminy Cricket. But if you take a silent and still moment with any decision (big or small), you can honestly and truly know when you’re doing what’s right for you. And when you’re not. Getting out of bed in the morning to go to the gym sometimes feels like a god fucking CHORE. It’s too damn cold. I’d rather have another five minutes of sleep. Or maybe ten. Twenty? But on the days I actually do get out of bed, trudge to my car, and take in a cold fresh breath of air atop the Hollywood Hills, I realize - yeah, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is the right path.
When you start listening, that inner voice is loud as fuck and yet hidden by other things: narrow minded desires, short term pleasures (just one more bite), and years and years of failure. All of us. Every single one of us have failures. And we think of these “failures” as just that — F.A.I.L.U.R.E.S. Woe is me, I didn’t become a feature filmmaker. Woe is me, I can’t find love, despite him needing to check 44 boxes. And yet, when I look around at what I have done. What I have in my life. Friends. Family. Memories. At what I’ve been able to accomplish when I actually do LISTEN. Fuck, life is amazing.
This year I published a novel. One that I’m incredible proud to have written. Not only because I’m in love with the world and its creatures, the story and its characters, but because I fucking did it. I didn’t think about doing it. I didn’t talk about doing it. I just… did it. Even if it was the worst piece of shit ever (it’s not), I still did something many only dream about.
Did I write the next Harry Potter? Na. Is it going to win any awards? Probably not. But then again, who fucking cares. Long after I’m dead, my work will be around for someone to pick up. My legacy. My life has been extended. I can take a victory lap and then sit down, because I’ve promised myself 6 more. Eep.
This year I lost a college friend. I won’t try to compete with others and say that we were the best of friends. In fact, I was a real asshole back in college. I blame most of it on my closeted and sexual repression, but it can’t dismiss how I treated people. Or the ego I slung around attempting to hide my true identity. Erin, who died this past August from complications after beating breast cancer, was one of those I treated unfairly. I told her once, drunkenly at a party, that her work wasn’t honest. What a fucking asshole I was. Who the fuck was I to say something so… hurtful?
You weren’t living YOUR true self and it manifested in terrible ways.
In the past years, as she went through her journey with breast cancer, she shared her most honest, intimate and fucking BEAUTIFUL spirit. It’s a shame the universe had other plans for her. And in her last months, she took time during her fucking life, a life she didn’t know she’d have much more of, to read this little book of mine. What a selfless beautiful creature she was. I miss her spirit. And regret much of how I treated her.
I also lost my cousin this year. Who, frankly, I knew only from family gatherings and the occasional trips home to Florida. She was also full of life. And, in hindsight, was a beacon of kindness. A bright smile lived permanently on her face. And I took it as, once again, feeling false. I never trusted she was authentic. As her Dad preached at a church and has repeatedly made me feel inferior and unworthy before God, I made her compliance with her Dad’s distain as part of who she was. Instead of learning that everyone’s on their own path. And everyone has their own lessons to learn. I took as a fault. A part of me protecting my ego.
At times this year, especially in the past few months, I’ve gone through a really dark emotional state. Part of my own transformation. Part of my own reconciliation with all the bad moves, bad decisions, dumb fucking luck I’ve had in my life. And at those times is when I’ve felt God. Whether that’s through a random text from friends. A silly and spastic dog (thanks, Shelby). Or just the way the universe opens up. A bright and warm day when it should be cold. Electronics that don’t work when I need to step aside and take a moment to breathe. Things happens not because the universe is against us, but because it’s working with us, as we are part of the grand machine.
The universe is always arranging things.
And once we stop thinking we’re grander than the other,
we see that everything is in its right place.
This year I’ve learned we’re trapped by our own ego. We’re souls and bundles of energy trapped inside this limited and limiting human form. And from the very beginning of life (hello, Milo!) we slowly realize how little control we have over our own desires. As we grow into young adults, we rebel against what everyone says. We evolve into something new, something that allows us to FINALLY be our own being. But then, there comes a point at which we need to step back and breathe and realize we’re only causing more heart ache, more stress, more anxiety when we fight the universe. When we fight what was always true.
Many of my friends this year had physically transforming years. New houses. New apartments. New pets. New babies. New jobs. New relationships. For me, physically, I’m pretty much the same. I’ve lost a little weight. But not where I’d like to be. I live alone now, but still in the same space as I’ve been for the past 12 years. Both something I’m happy about and perhaps, ready to move on from… new place in 2019?
But the biggest part of my transformation this year was truly letting go of this death grip I’ve had on my life. I have found myself making so many decisions in the past for short term hits of happiness. I’ve denied who I was sexually. I’ve made myself almost crazy trying to be two different people. Being what I desire others to see me as. I’ve taken people’s opinions and feelings about me as a measure of my own worth.
Spoiler alert - that thinking is fucking awful.
This year was the 10th anniversary of finding out I am HIV positive. It truly was like being in a near-fatal car accident. From high school to Jan of 2008, I was on a forward trajectory. All the way to Sundance. Every choice I had made, every decision was falling into place. My path was manifested by my own decisions. And sheer fucking luck. Everything moving where I had hoped. I even found a partner. A boyfriend. A lover. Someone to rest my head upon at night.
And then February of 2008 it was all taken from me. Or at least, that’s how my brain took it. I regressed into sadness. I lost all faith in the universe. Trust in humans. Someone had lied to me. And being a promiscuous… slut (definitely the right word) who knows by who. Or how many had? I’ve spent the last ten years trying to understand why. Understand how this was part of my story. A twist in the 2nd act.
At first, I denied it. I tried to push forward. Making art in the same old ways. Taking my life and extrapolating it into a quite literal metaphor and then just seeing what happens. But that didn’t work. For anyone but myself. And then I just gave in. Decided to be lazy and happy. And got myself into a mild amount of debt. Nothing that wasn’t manageable, but nothing that helps me long term. I sought short term hits of happiness.
And over the past few years, there’s been a division within me. Of who I was and who I am becoming. What my desires are. What my hopes are. What I find success to look like. And if I can ever fail again. Because today, I look at failures as what was exactly supposed to happen. A best attempt with a lesson at the end. To grow and strengthen from it.
I say this, and I’m still attempting to truly master that philosophy, but life changes when you wake up to what is already an undeniable reality. Life is guided, my friends. And everything has a purpose. And all you have to do is get out of that warm and comfortable bed.
Goals for next year? Keep growing. Keep learning. Finish two drafts of Book Two and get a short into Sundance. Easy.
Okay, that shit aside, this year’s stuff wasn’t that interesting. I lost interest in so much shit this year, but did find a gem or two near the end. This year was however great for music. And surprisingly… Spider-Man.
MOVIES - CINEMA
Death of Stalin
Sorry to Bother You
Ballad of Buster Scruggs
MISSED & LIKELY TOP 10 - Let the Sunshine In, Cold War, Coda (documentary), Eighth Grade, Suspria, Mandy, Wildlife, Beale Street, Burning, The Tale (HBO), Madeline’s Madeline, Paddington 2, First Reformed
MOVIES - POPCORN
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (favorite movie)
Mission Impossible: Fallout
Avengers: Infinity War
Ant Man & the Wasp
A Quiet Place
The Good Fight
Great British Bake Off
Year of Magical Thinking
St. Lucy’s School for Girls Raised by Wolves
History of Love
Spider-Man (only game I played through)
Pandemic: Legacy Season 1
MUSIC - ALBUMS
Blood Orange’s NEGRO SWAN
The Blaze’s DANCEHALL
Sitcom’s BE THE ONE YOU LOVE
Bob Moses’ BATTLE LINES
Christine and the Queens’ CHRIS
Noname’s ROOM 25
Car Seat Headrest’s TWIN FANTASY
Jay Rock’s REDEMPTION
Young Father’s COCOA SUGAR
Chloe x Halle’s THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
The Internet’s HIVE MIND
A$AP Rocky’s TESTING
BLACK PANTHER ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s SOMETHING ELSE
Her’s HER (self titled)
The Pauses UNBUILDING
Vince Staples’ FM!
Two Feet’s A 20 SOMETHING FUCK
RJD2’s IN RARE FORM, Vol. 2
MUSIC - SONGS
Everybody Loves You by SOAK
Fast Talk by Houses
PLACES by The Blaze
Still Life by Sitcom
Back Down by Bob Moses
Waiting on the Warmth by MorMor
About You by G Flip
Positivland by Âme
Like an Animal by Alfie Templeman
Scream Whole by Methyl Ethel
Goya Soda by Christine and the Queens
Blaxploitation by Noname
poster love by In Love With A Ghost
you should see me in a crown by Billie Eilish
Drive (cover) by Aimee Mann
Roll (Burbank Funk) by The Internet
Love for Me by Empress Of
symbol by Adrianne Lenker
Nobody by Mitski
Hunnybee by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
STUFF THAT HAPPENED
The passing of Sara
Release of ADVENT OF THE ROAR
10 Year Anniversary of 2/28
Birth of Milo
Kyle Moves Out
That Stove & Dishwasher & Stairs Thing
Yosemite Part 2
Pigeon Forge with the Family
Christine & the new Short
Self Reflection & Soul Mates
Chained Children, couple with 13 “captive” children
Larry Nassar, gymnastics molester
Parkland Shooting, #NeverAgain, March for Our Lives
Mueller’s Investigation Heats Up
North Korea & US Summit
The Thai Soccer Team
Trump’s Rhetoric Escalates after Cohen/Manafort Trials
The Blue Wave