Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Disappearing Stories

I recently noticed that readers of my blog on my website Stephen Mosher Com were not able to see the blog entries that had been archived.  I don't know why, but for a reason I don't understand, when a person clicks to go to pages 2, 3 or so on, at my blog, they are returned to the page of current entries.  I wrote to my website designer, asking for help, and was told (politely) to fuck off and figure it out myself.

So, until I have done so, I'ma hafta make use of my good old Blogger account and post my stories, for archival purposes.  If you want to cut and paste the links below, while I refresh myself with blogger and re enter the html's so they will click for you, you can see the missing stories from StephenMosherCom.

Here is the link to the blog I wrote when I started my blog on my website - it's short and simple, saying Welcome:

Here is the link to a blog I wrote about my experience with a local New York City spa:

Here is the link to a story I did on celebrity crushes!

This link goes to a story I did about the power that the internet gives people to be creative:

This link takes you to a story about the IT GETS BETTER video my husband and I made.

This story is about the nature of friendships and conflict:

Here is a tribute to the great Helen Reddy, including photos I took at her concert!

This story is about my trip to see Deborah Cox in Jekyl and Hyde, where I fell for Constantine Maroulis:

This one is a little heavy - it gets right inside my head, otherwise known as Mordor.

Here is a story I wrote for Gay Pride:

Regarding The Great Gatsby:

A little piece about alcoholism... mine:

For Thanksgiving:

That's it for now.  Clearly, I don't blog that often anymore - that's why, when I do, I try to make it good.

I hope someone out there is reading.  If not, oh well.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Blog Location

Hi dear readers.

My blog can now be found at my website. Please visit me there! You can click on the title of this entry or simply type in



Monday, February 13, 2012

My Weekend with Raquel Welch

The people in the row behind me talked. Loudly. It didn't matter because the movie wouldn't be starting for awhile; but I hoped they wouldn't talk during the film. It's an epidemic these days of ill mannered people who think that talking and texting during a movie is acceptable and, so help me, if any of them made noise during the film, I fully intended to turn around and belt 'em one. The lady in the row in front of me turned to them and asked "how was the q & a with Dick Cavett?" and the conversation grew extremely heated as one of the men behind me talked about how bad Cavett was and how he was past his prime. It was true - the interview was embarrassing. I piped in, saying just those words. The man behind me said "Raquel handled it very well. She was very gracious and she kept the interview moving, in spite of Cavett's agenda to flirt and just talk about his book."

"She's a lady," I said.

And that, she is.

We were all there to see the movie THE WILD PARTY. It was part of the Raquel Welch retrospective at the Lincoln Center Film Society. I had discovered the event the day before it started and simply sprinted to the box office to buy tickets to as many of the films as possible, especially the ones at which the great star was to appear. I call Raquel Welch a great star because she IS a STAR. She is also, though, an actress, a business woman, an author, a health and fitness expert, not to mention the things we are in life, like a friend, a mother.. a person.

And I wish more people recognized that.

I've been a fan of Raquel Welch since I was a teenage boy and went to see THE THREE MUSKETEERS at the picture show. I loved buckle and swash and I, especially, loved the Dumas novel; so I was destined to love the Richard Lester film - and I did. I loved it so much that, at least once a month, I say to myself --I think I'll watch The Three Musketeers. Sometimes I have the time to do that, others I do not; but it is a part of who I am, just like Raquel Welch is.

Since that first Raquel Welch film, I've been watching the lady work. As a teen I would go see her movies in the cinema, if they were age appropriate. That was the 70's. When I entered college in the 80s, my exposure to Raquel Welch was on television and vhs. The vcr had been invented and, through the miracle of modern technology, the late night movie and HBO, I was given the chance to see films that had been made before my movie-going days, as well as the television movies and special appearances that Raquel made in that era. It was there that I developed an appreciation for the actress - an appreciation that never waned and that made me so insistent on seeing the films at Lincoln Center this last weekend.

I met Joshua Strauss, who created the Raquel Welch retrospective and mentioned to him how much I admired his choice of films. Obviously, they couldn't show every one of the lady's movies; and he did a wise thing by picking (not only) movies that were important in the history of Raquel Welch's career but (also) movies that showcase her versatility as an actress. By watching, in one weekend, THE THREE MUSKETEERS, MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, THE WILD PARTY, HANNIE CAULDER, KANSAS CITY BOMBER, 100 RIFLES, THE LAST OF SHEILA and (the film that really put Raquel at the forefront of the public eye) ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., the audience has a chance to see her in a variety of time periods, playing a variety of types. It really was an effective way to remind people that Raquel Welch was not just a "sex symbol" (the label that was given her at the start of her career and that has followed her, even into her 70s) - she was (and is) so much more, particularly a very good actress.

Raquel Welch did a lot of tv movies in the 80s that showcase her acting, tv specials in the 70s that showcase her singing and dancing skills; she appeared in Las Vegas and she has played Broadway twice (I was lucky enough to see her in WOMAN OF THE YEAR and she was simply marvelous - my signed poster from the show hangs in my office; it has, in fact, never NOT hung on some wall in my home). Raquel was, though, so much more. She is, obviously, super smart. She blazed trails in many ways, during her life. She was a single mother (she mentioned this during her q & a) who acted to support her children. She changed the role of women in film. She became an entrepeneur in a time when men were the business practitioners of the world. She brought yoga to the public consciousness at a time when the world was doing Jack LaLane, Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda workouts. She created jewelry and skincare lines, as well as the extremely successful wig company HairUWear. She has authored 2 books and done an exercise video (yoga, that is).

During the q&a sessions at Lincoln Center this weekend, Raquel Welch spoke openly about the struggle of coming along in Hollywood at a time when the studio system was dying off and stars had to make their own way. She touched on how stars had personas -- the Bette Davis persona, the Marilyn Monroe persona, the Clint Eastwood or Mae West persona; but there was no Raquel Welch persona. She was an actress. She wondered, aloud, if (had there been a 'Raquel Welch persona') her career might have been different, maybe a little easier. I was interested to hear that she had this question about her career because I feel like it (the lack of a Raquel Welch persona) has allowed her to give us a legacy of work that reflects a true actor. She had to make her way, playing these different parts and being chameleon-like. Yesterday I watched her Queenie in THE WILD PARTY, immediately followed by K.C. Carr in KANSAS CITY BOMBER, immediately followed by the titular HANNIE CAULDER and, dudes, the variety was extremely visible. This is an actress. Had there been a Raquel Welch persona, that may not have been as apparent. I think the Raquel Welch persona came out in her personal appearances, in interviews, in those entertainments where she sang and danced, not as a character, but as Raquel Welch. In the films, though, it's not Raquel - it is the character.

I was saddened by the q&a interviews this last weekend. Not all of them. It was certainly thrilling to see Raquel Welch and to hear her talk about her career; but, really, I want to know, where are the great interviewers? The oh-so charming Simon Doonan had the pleasure of interviewing Miss Welch before the screening of MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and he had the sense to ask a question and then let the lady talk. He had a good set of questions about the movie and they had a good rapport; but most of the time it was a successful talk because he shut up and let the lady talk -- and we were all the happier. Miss Welch was frank and funny and even treated us to a spot on imitation of Miss Mae West. The Dick Cavett interview bordered on awful because he insisted on filling up the time with sexual innuendo and references to her breasts and her life as a sex symbol. The lady mentioned that she is in her 70s (please note that my photos, shot from the audience, are unretouched) -- why couldn't the famed interviewer treat her with more dignity and respect? She has earned the right to NOT be treated this way. It was embarrassing for the lady and humiliating for the man. She tried, valiantly, to get him to talk about the film THE THREE MUSKETEERS, which we were all there to see; but that was not to be. He spent more time mentioning his book and talking about his old interviews in the past than he did talking about the guest of honour's artwork. Following KANSAS CITY BOMBER, though, was a very respectful q&a with the creator of the retrospective, Josh Strauss. He was informed, he was respectful, he was to the point. That was a good interview which treated the audience to some real information, some trivia and some laughs. This cannot be said of Miss Welch's final interview of the weekend. A man I never heard of did a q & a in which he hemmed and hawed and told some pointless, lengthy, inane story about his days as a publicist doing a photo shoot with Denise Richards, much to Miss Welch's confusion and the audiences' discomfort. Then he argued with her about points in her own career, a topic about which (I am certain) Miss Welch has more knowledge than he. It became VERY uncomfortable but thank God, thank God, Thank God, Raquel Welch is a lady and a professional and she managed to bring the interview back to a place where the audience was laughing and comfortable and enjoying themselves. Raquel even got to talk about the fact that she would like to work more, that she would be open to doing an Indie (if the director were someone who, clearly, knew what they were doing); she talked about how actors NEED a director, someone to talk to and help them make the journey. She is a craftswoman, with talent and skill. I almost wanted to stand up on the spot and ask if she would do a voiceover for a documentary about marriage equality (I think it would be GREAT to have Raquel Welch be the narrator of our movie!) because an actor who wants to work should be allowed to work. They shouldn't have to NOT work just because of stupid things like perceptions based on age or celebrity. Give the actors jobs, people!

I always wished I could do a photo of Raquel Welch. I never did; but I am so thrilled that I got to do the ones I did this weekend. I know - they don't have my lighting (called, by some, the best in the business, to my great pride) but... they are enough. I will treasure these photos, always - and you won't catch me selling them on Ebay. These were done to nurture the photographer who still lives inside of me, dreaming of doing photos with the subjects he admires. See there? Even now, almost 40 years after I first saw her onscreen, Raquel Welch still brings gifts into my life.

I was happy to see how many people turned out for these movies. I hope it gives Raquel Welch a sense of how greatly her work is valued. People need to know.. artists need to know that they, that their work, is valued. I certainly value her contributions to the world of acting, to the world of health and fitness, to society at large as a trailblazer who redefined many aspects of our lives, just because she had to - because there was no precedent. She came along at a nebulous time and had to invent who she would be and what she would stand for. I was bummed that some of the people who were there were those creepy autograph and photo hounds who bother celebrities so that they can get an autograph to sell on Ebay. I hear celebrities can be on the defensive because of that kind of garbage -- and after the creeps I saw there this weekend, I can certainly understand that. I tried to not focus on them, though. I took note of the fans. I took note of the people who, like me, were there to hear the lady talk and to admire her artwork; the people who, like me, were there to learn something about the making of the movies and to watch the movies.

That's the artist's legacy: the people who WATCH the movies.

(For the record, they also showed FANTASTIC VOYAGE and MOTHER, JUGS AND SPEED but my schedule did not permit my seeing them). There are two days left of the Raquel Welch film festival. Today, Monday, February 13 they are showing THE THREE MUSKETEERS and MYRA BRECKINRIDGE. Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 14 they are showing THE LAST OF SHEILA and 100 RIFLES.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kvetch Kvetch Kvetch

Wow. Would you look at that .. the last time I wrote on my blog was a month ago. Tch. Right? Or how about: tsk. I feel like a loser for not writing every day like Marc Harshbarger at

or for not writing well thought out and researched stories of celebration like Richard Skipper at

I mean, everyone has a blog these days. There are blogs about show business, politics, marriage, knitting ... and I look at all of them (that I know about, that my friends write, that interest me) .. my friend Josh writes a special blog in tribute to Pitbulls

that is just lovely. So there they are, all of them, out there, waiting to be read. Blogs, blogs, blogs.

So who gives a shit if I don't keep up with my blog the way I think I should?

Besides, my blog doesn't really have any real focus. Some days it's about health and fitness, some - show business. Then there are the occasional extremely personal confessions about my alcoholism, manorexia, battles with depression and low self-esteem ... absolutely none of which are meant to solicit sympathy -- only to share experiences that might help light the way for other people dealing with similar issues. So. Why does it matter that I took a month off from writing?

Why did I take a month off from writing, anyway?

Well - I have a job. I have a family to support and I work. A lot. I also run our household (with a fair amount of help from my husband, I admit) and run an internet auction business in my spare time. And then there is the rather large family I have that, frequently, requires my attention and help. Finding time to write can be complicated. And all these reasons were factors in my non-blogging. But I am going to confess the real reasons I took a week off.

I read one of my stories.

God, it was SO boring!

Oh, yeah, that's it. I started a series of entries about my dangnab eating disorder and I was fucking blogging my workouts and daily eating!

How. Boring.

THAT had to GO.

A few years ago, a friend asked me "why don't you ever talk to me about your problems?" She went on to say that she noticed how often she came to me to talk about the woes of her life but that I NEVER told her about the woes in my life. I didn't have the heart to tell her: the reason I didn't talk about my problems was because I never wanted to be, to anyone, what she was to me. I believe we all know Moaning Myrtle. Or her cousin, Debbie Downer. For some of us, it's that Lillipution from the Gulliver cartoons of the 70's: "ooooh, noooo, we'll never make it... ooooh, how aaaaaawful...." Do you know that person? When you are with them, it's all doom and gloom. You ask how are you and they unload 10 minutes of medical, financial, personal, romantic, sexual, social and workplace woes on you ... and the next time you see them, you great them with a simple "You're looking well!" before scampering away.

No lie, I was that person. I was a teenage drama queen, sulking in the corner at parties; I was a college drama queen, coming to class drunk. I was a drama queen in my 20s - but a drama queen without focus, so instead of just being a gossip or a ho-bag or kvetch or a bitch, I did a sort of all-encompassing kind of drama queen-ship. Then, in my 30s, with the gorgeous situation of being a fat failure, I was the drama queen known as The Blob. Happily, though, by the time I turned 40, I had come to recognize and appreciate the beauty of stability, of peace and of quiet,and the strength of not boring people with your shit.

I know a woman who went through a divorce a few years ago. In the years since she left her husband, each and every (and I mean EACH and EVERY) time I have seen her the question 'how are you' has been met with a steady stream of oversharing that seemed to start with her bowel movements and conclude with the misery of her marriage. Conversely, each and every time I have seen her ex husband, the question 'how are you' has been answered with something along the lines of "fine!".

Discretion is the better part of valour is a phrase that comes to mind.

I read that boring entry about what I ate and the damage it did to my waistline and I went to the bathroom mirror and said to the man in the mirror " why, Stephen Sadsack, how awful to see you" and I flushed that motherfucker down the toilet.

Look, I thought I could help people by talking about my issues. Recently, though, I came to a kind of realization: people cannot be helped. They have to help themselves. Just like I had to help myself away from the buffet and back to the gym; just like I had to help myself away from the whiskey and to a glass of water; just like I had to help myself away from being a drama queen and make myself a productive member of society.

So I'ma try (TRY) to not use my blog to whine and piss and moan (the way those people on our Facebook friendlists use their status updates to heap their boring ass, overshared, miserable, malcontent grievances on an unsuspecting Facebook community) and I'ma try (TRY) to use my blog to entertain. Maybe I will write the stories of my family's associations with Mae West and Edith Head. Maybe I will write about how I almost went into the porn industry. Maybe I will write stories about the movies and theater I love. Maybe I will write about the relief I feel about dodging an addiction to crystal meth; or maybe I will write about the all male group grope I went to in the Empire State Building. Who knows?

But the one thing I do know is this:

I can't bring myself to write boring shit anymore. Nobody wants it and nobody needs it; and I can't be the guy responsible for bringing it.

Not anymore.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Earlier today I was reading the chatboard ALL THAT CHAT and one of the chatteratti asked what backphrasing was. Someone replied by posting a link and saying "this is a perfect example of backphrasing". The link was Dolores Gray singing the Stephen Sondheim classic I'M STILL HERE. I watched the performance. I've seen it many times and listened to her recording of it even more. I happen to be a Sondheim fan and a FOLLIES devotee; so I've heard I'm Still Here a lot and I always love it. I had never noticed, though, how MUCH Dolores Gray did, in fact, backphrase (unlike the original poster on All That Chat, I do know what backphrasing is) -- it didn't change my love of the performance because, as an actor, the person (usually a woman) singing I'm Still Here should be allowed to interpret the musical monologue in their own way. After watching the video ( there are a lot of links in this story .. follow them all - it's a treat!)

I fell into the Youtube pattern ... I clicked link after link, looking at numerous versions and performances of the song. What it left me with was a question for Facebook. I went to my status and updated it with the question "what is YOUR favourite version of I'm Still Here and why?" Many of my friends chimed in with their choices and their reasons -- with a promise from me that I would chime in, at the end of the day.

This is me, chiming in.

Brady and I have talked about this, often and we both always seem to come up with the same favourite (to be revealed later); but, while reading the comments on Facebook, I found myself nodding yes to a lot of them. My friend, Jamie, was the first person to weigh in and his choice was the great and glamourous Miss Gray (who, by the way, played Carlotta Campion in FOLLIES in London) - natch, he (like I) loves the glamourous divas of that era - such style and such gumption.. the ladies and Jamie and me. My friend, Gary, and my husband, Pat, both went with Carol Burnett, who sang the song in the FOLLIES concert, back in the 80s. This is actually one of my favourite performances of the song (and I tend to agree with Pat and my friends Dana and Richard when they say there is merit in every version of this song) because Carol Burnett sings the song and acts it - but she doesn't OVER sing it or OVER act it. It is a complete performance, right down to the laughs she gets on a handful of lines at the top of the performance. Some people say funny things and some people say things funny. Carol Burnett blends them so seamlessly, as to leave the audience wondering which is which?

My friend, Lindsey, is partial to Ann Miller's performance from the Papermill Playhouse production in the 90s. Pat and I saw this show and we LOOOOOVED it and Ann Miller (who was really too old for the role) because she was the very living end. My own memories of Ann Miller singing this song are the personal ones I have from photographing her as she recorded the song for the cast album. Pat remembers: "...Ann Miller - I saw her do it and the triumphant feel she brought to it and the standing ovation she got from teh audience that night and the tears in her eyes as I saw her say "thank you! I Love you!" is a memory I will keep with me forever." What I love about the performance is that Ann Miller earned the right to sing this song because she was one tough surviving dame. And she sings it with spot on rhythms without sacrificing the individuality of her performance ( a bit of trivia - when she recorded this song for the cd, she did it in ONE TAKE ... almost.. I'm not kidding. She sand the entire song one time and Mr Sondheim told her, after, that she has sung "God knows at least I was there" and that the lyric is really "God knows at least I've been there" - she did a pick up on that line and it was a cut.)

Vince loves Polly Bergen from the Roundabout revival in the 90s. I was one of the few people who loved that revival, in spite of inherent flaws that I needn't discuss here .. not one of them being the performances of the Follies ladies. I was incredibly moved by the work of Judith Ivey, Blythe Danner, Carol Wood, Jane White, Betty Garrett and Polly Bergen. Polly was a Tony nominee that year and here is her tough as nails, down to earth, elegant and sophisticated, determined performance in some bootleg footage shot during performance (not by me - I don't bootleg shows).

Bob and Mitchell chose, in the Facebook thread, this performance (preserved, only, in audio format) by Nancy Walker. This was an event titled An Evening With Sondheim (I think that's what it was called) performed and recorded, live, at the Shubert Theater in the 70s. It's a popular and well loved version of the tune - if you haven't heard it, check it out.

And, again - in the Facebook thread that started all this, Ryan, Ricky, Lindsey all mention the deliciously over the top Shirley MacLaine version from the film Postcards from the Edge. Now... who couldn't love this? She effing means every G-D word - right? I worship this woman. And it was pointed out that Sondheim re wrote some wonderful new lyrics for this.

There are a lot of worthwhile performances of I'm Still Here, all these years. Some that I would love to share with you, in case you haven't seen them:

Julie Wilson is at her very best here:

My favourite chick singer, Miss Marilyn Maye:

Eartha Kitt replaced Dolores Gray and made it all her own:

This may be a tough watch because of the generational loss of this bootleg dvd - but to hear the one and only Karen Morrow sing this song is worth the effort. Amazing. She played Carlotta at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1990.

And, of course, here is the famed birthday concert performance by one of Sondheim's foremost interpreters, a lady who (truly) can sing this song and know what it means. Elaine Stritch. A LOT of people love this version. Pat and I are among them.


After all you've seen, do you know what you haven't seen? Do you know what my favourite(s) are? Well, I'ma tell you.

This is a performance that many people reviled. I am NOT one of those people. I watch this and I GET it. Note the presence of the drink. Note the commitment to character and emotion without sacrifice of song. This performance by Christine Baranski, who played Carlotta Campion for the famous ENCORES! series production in New York City touches me in a very personal way (and, ps, doesn't Lisa-Gabrielle Greene own this same dress?). Watch it. Just hit play and watch.

It irritates me SO much that the sound sync is off on this. Here is the great Millicent Martin giving what is my PERSONAL favourite performance of this song. It is a complete performance.

Well, it is (not quite) my favourite. It is tied for first place; it is tied for first place with the performance I have seen the genius Elaine Paige give three times. I saw her in FOLLIES four times - the first time, Carlotta hadn't arrived. The second time, she had. The third and fourth times, she had gotten even better. I wonder, if I find the time and money to see it a fifth time, what will I get?

So where does that leave us? I love them all, for different reasons. I have a special attachment to the Carol Burnett version. I really GET the Christine Baranski version. My personal favourites are Millicent Martin and Elaine Paige.

But wait...

NO mention? NO MENTION? Not one word for Yvonne de Carlo?

No. Because she does not belong in this little competition.

I'm Still Here was written for Yvonne de Carlo. She lived that life. She lived the creation of that song. She performed it over and over, remembering the words, forgetting the words -- it doesn't matter. What matters is that she WAS and she IS Carlotta Campion. She is untouchable. The song is and always will be hers. She doesn't have to overact it or telegraph it or backphrase it or work hard to make it hers. All she has to do is sing it - because it WAS hers.

SHE is still here.

The Actor's Husband

I got a beautiful email from someone - a stranger, someone I have never met in person but who has been a loyal follower of my Youtube channel, ever since Pat started it ( confession: I can take no credit for the Youtube channel - Pat is the savvy genius who keeps it going.. I'm not educated in such areas of expertise and he is ). Still, over the time that I have been posting 30 second videos of healthier cooking tips and recipes, this lovely person has been a follower of both the Youtube channel and this blog. Now and then, will come a day where Pat says "there is an email in the Youtube in box from your fan" and it makes me feel happy and validated. One fan is all we need. One person to tell us that what we are doing matters to them. I really do believe that.

On a different (but similar) topic - a few months ago Brady asked me "what do you want to accomplish with your movie, MARRIED AND COUNTING?" and I replied "to change the world." Well, yes, he concurred; but (really) what do you want? (Really) what I want is to change things, even if it is just for one person. If that movie changes one young (or not so young) gay person's perspective on life, love, acceptance, relationships and self worth; if it changes one parent's feelings about their gay child, about gay marriage, about prejudice, I will feel that the entire film making process was worth while. It is, after all, how we change the world - one person at a time.

So every time someone says to me "I read your blog" or sends me an email in response to something I wrote or videotaped, I know that what I am doing is right and that I shouldn't stop.

So this latest email, the one from my Youtube fan, was one of the most beautiful emails I ever got. It was an email in support, due to the recent stories I've been writing about my struggles with diet and exercise, specifically, with an eating disorder and recovering from a busted back. It was a long email that, clearly, took a lot of time to write and a lot of feeling to send and it moved me - it got me thinking. It reminded me of a dear friend of mine who, were I living in an episode of Star Trek, I might call an empath. Each time things aren't absolutely perfect in my world, my friend sighs and says "I'm sorry." I love my friend's empathy. I love being the recipient of that sympathy. It would not be a lie, though, to say that I worry about misspent emotion directed my way. Why? Because it's ok. I'M ok. If I answer the question 'How are you?' with any of these truths "I have a little cold", "I blew my back out", "I'm worried about money", "I woke up cranky", "I'm SO irritated with my husband!" -- none of these comments, not one, is meant to solicit sympathy. No other honest comment or story that I tell is designed to obtain sympathy or attention. It is just me being honest. I love honesty. I try to always be honest when I write; sometimes it is difficult and I will either tell an outright lie to protect my dignity or I will commit a lie by omission. It doesn't happen often; but I am human and it happens. This is me being honest, again- to a fault. I have to.

I wasn't always this way. I went through a period of lie telling and attention grabbing. I was young and a drama queen. Also, it was the early 80s and I was a closeted gay man living in the Dallas Fort Worth golden triangle of Texas. I and the other like me, we wrote the book on lying so that we could stay in the closet, hidden away from the harsh realities, the derision, the bigotry and the physical violence that threatened gays of that era (I can only imagine how awful it was for the gay men and women who came before us, God bless them). So during my college days, this was me - liar, drama queen, attention seeker. I am blessed that the people I knew in those days have grown into adulthood, recognized what a mess I was, seen the man I have become, forgiven me and offered me their ongoing friendship. Their kindness has made it possible for me to do the same to others who have traversed my life and young people that I meet now, noticing the same tendencies within them and forgiving them, hoping to set an example by leading with dignity, integrity, honesty and a sense of whimsy and magic (it's a damned difficult combination to embody, let me tell you!).

I guess what I am trying to say is don't cry for me, argentina. Not the way Evita meant it. You can scream my name as much as you like; but don't feel sorry for me, dear readers. Don't feel the need to sigh and say "I'm sorry" and worry about me. Don't get me wrong - I love the empathy, I love the love, I love the validation; but I would never want anyone to use up valuable time or emotion worrying about me, simply because I told the truth in a story I wrote. I'm not hurt. I'm not in pain. I'm living. And I write these stories to share my experiences with people who might benefit from them. I don't keep a blog for attention. I don't keep a blog for a tiny degree of fame. I don't keep a blog to complain. I keep a blog because I love words, I love being a story teller (with words, a camera or a verbose story at a party). I keep a blog because I believe, I really do believe, that we can all help each other and learn from each other; and I have made some mistakes and learned some lessons and hope that, maybe, someone can learn or grow or feel from some experience that I've shared.

In the musical AVENUE Q, Princeton wonders what his purpose in life is. I imagine a lot of people do that (some lucky people never do that). During my lifetime, I have wondered what my purpose in life is. I do not wonder any more. I can say that I wish my purpose was to cure cancer or HIV (but I am not a scientist, so this is not going to happen). I can say that I wish my purpose was to shoot a photo that becomes as iconic as The Kiss (I happen to believe - in that place where you know things - that I am a talented photographer and that my time as an artist will never end, so that might still happen). I can say that I wish my purpose was to write something like The Great Gatsby (my favourite book, how cliche .. but I have lots of favourites that show how eclectic is my literary tastes - I feel a blog coming on!) that touches people and lasts forever (but that kind of luck doesn't happen every day and it doesn't happen to everyone). I can say that I wish my purpose was to help rid America, indeed the world, of bigotry and hatred toward gay people (I actually believe that is one of my purposes and you may tune in, from time to time, to see how THAT fight is going). Here, though, lies the truths in the question of my purpose on this planet.

A few years ago, when asked what my dream job was, I said "I wish I could be like Dudley in the film THE BISHOP'S WIFE and just go around helping people." Some time later, I was in the Westerly health food store and an elegant older lady asked me to help her find something (she sought pumpkin seeds), which I did. She asked "do you work here?" "No" said I. What did I do, she wanted to know. Unable to think of a proper answer, I said "I help people". This confused her. She said so. I told her "Every day, I encounter people who need help, of some sort; if they know they need help and have the wisdom to ask for it - if the person they ask for help happens to be me, I will give it to them. I figure if somebody has the strength to ask for help; I have the strength to give it to them." Her reply was concise and knowing: "Oh, I see. You're an angel."

In my life, I have shared stories about the suicide attempts of my youth - and people who heard those stories reached out to me for help when they were on their own ledge. I have shared stories of my troubles with addiction - and people have come to me for help during their own crises with their addictions. I have shared stories of my battle with depression - and people have come to me with their own sadness and unhappiness (I always tell my best friend: "the tighter you squeeze me, the more of my strength that pours into you; take all of it - take all my strength for yourself". I can and will do this for any of my loved ones because my strength comes from God and my mother, which makes it perpetually self-sustaining). I have shared stories of the unusual nature of my relationship with my husband - and people have come to me for relationship advice. The straight up is that, I have learned, through the sharing of my experiences, others can be helped.

Helping others. That is my purpose.

I don't want anyone to get a wrong impression of me or of what I think of myself. I'm not some puffed up egomaniac with a God complex. Quite the contrary. Much of the time, I don't want credit for what I do and I (shockingly) prefer to stay in the background, a little shy and self effacing. Just as much as I do not want people to worry about me, needlessly, over a story where I sound hurt (I'm not that hurt), I do not want people to consider me a Dr Phil type. I'm not. Please. Trust me. I'm not. I'm a guy. I'm incredibly flawed, I'm damaged and I'm fallible. But I'm trying to make me better; and as long as there is a chance of helping others with the stories of that journey, I'ma keep sharing the stories. I'ma keep writing and keep bloggin.


Keep reading.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Journey Back - Days Four through Eight

Anyone who had followed my writings knows that there will come occasions when I disappear for a bit... maybe days, maybe years ... I wish I could be the kind of blogger who can sit down and write every day but sometimes the day gets away from me and, as I fall asleep, I think "oh I didn't write today." That is the last few days. Out of town guest. Starting back to work. Housework. All that jazz. But I kept notes on the process! So here's what has been up:

The fourth day was last Friday and I was completely cashed by the three days of training I had just done. Knowing that Hunter and/or Pat would want to train on the weekend, I chose to take Friday off from the gym. Knowing I wasn't going to the gym, I dieted hard - all proteins and vegetables. The thing is, these are not the most ideal proteins and vegetables for me -- turkey meatloaf (carbs from the oats, sodium from the spices, and a general heavy feeling) and root vegetables. These are the foods I had, though, and there is no such thing as wasted food at our house. So I ate those heavy proteins and vegetables over the next few days - and now they are gone. Yay!

The fifth day was Saturday and it was a work day - completely taken away from me and I didn't make it to the gym. The same thing happened to me on Day Six, Sunday. And then, on Day Seven, Monday, I found myself entertaining my out of towner again - and, bam, just like that, I had missed four days at the gym. This only goes to remind me of something that I had, already, known: don't take it for granted that you will get there. Instead, take it as a rule that if you DON'T (that is, if I don't) wake up and go to the gym, something will happen and I won't make it. That's why I have always tended toward at 6 am workout time - the rest of the world is asleep and less likely to stop me in my natural process of getting to the gym. If I wake up and go, it will be done and I will be happy. If I don't go, it will get taken away from me and I will be sad. It is a simple equation -- one I will focus on not forgetting again. It has, honestly, been a pattern with me over the years and you would think that, by now, I had learned my lesson - but I haven't. I actually love working out around 10 am or 2 pm or even 9pm; so I hope, against hope, that I might get to. The pure fact of the matter is, though, that the only way for me to make sure, MAKE sure, I get to the gym is to wake up, brush my teeth, dress and go.

The diet during those four days off wasn't that bad. It was mostly me polishing off turkey meatloaf, chicken meatballs, yams, rutabagas and other winter foods, to make room for the eggwhites, tilapia, broccoli and heirloom tomatoes I bought. Now, the winter food is gone!

Let the games begin.

Today is the eighth day. I went to the gym with both of my guys and we did chest, back and abs -- not super heavy weight for all three of us, due to shoulder issues; but lots of reps and hard focus on form. That took an hour; then I did 40 minutes of cardio on the cross trainer, stopping at 600 calories burned because that seems to be the place that I absolutely HAVE to get to. Once I am there, I feel like I have done some work. Were it 7am, I might have done 60 minutes; but, by now, it was close to 11am and there is a lot of work to do - so when it his 600 clories, I called it done. The music I used to get through it was the new cast recording of ANYTHING GOES (I'm a little taken by that cd right now).

I'm tired. I have to go to work in 2 hours. And I'm tired. But I can't complain or be sad or depressed because, whatever else happens to me today - I know I did it. I made it to the gym. I did something, just for me.

It is important to do at least one thing, every day, just for you.

That's what my workout is.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Diva Debbie Gravitte

I am going to take a break from the ongoing diet and eating disorder stories to write about one of my favourite things .. well, two of my favourite things -- musical theater and divas. They do, after all, go hand in hand, don't they?

Yesterday I wrote a fan letter. I rarely write fan letters. Yesterday, I just had to write to Debbie Gravitte. I was listening to my cast album of ZORBA and it took me into one of those days where I just listened to every Debbie Gravitte song in my Ipod. There are a lot of Debbie Gravitte songs.

I've been a fan of Debbie Gravitte since 1982 when I saw the PBS special Broadway plays Washington and she came out and sang the song JUNKMAN from the musical PERFECTLY FRANK. I've never been able to post a Youtube video in any of my stories - my friend Marc Harshbarger writes the blog Deep Dish and he does it all the time; in spite of his telling me how, it has never worked for me. If you click here, though, you can see the performance of which I speak:

In those days, Debbie Gravitte was Debbie Shapiro. I saw that performance and fell in love and have been thrilling to her work, ever since. You can google Debbie or visit her website to learn all about her work, her career, her Tony win for Jerome Robbins' Broadway. What I want to write about is how she has moved me...

I don't know what it is about Debbie (who I have never met) that, so, thrills me, except for her beauty, her sass, her commitment to be exactly who she is (which has been a theme in my life) and that blazing, blaring, blasting belt of hers. I think her voice is unique and beautiful and emotional and thrilling. I am always made happy by listening to her sing.

Now, there is this musical called ZORBA. It is, of course, based on the book by Nikos Kazantzakis (I never read it and have always intended to), which was turned into a movie (which I have seen and enjoyed, greatly) and then turned into a musical (which, natch, I have great passion for). Certain circumstances in each version are different but the themes remain the same; one of those themes is Zorba's zest for life and Nikos' lessons from Zorba on how to (better) embrace life.

The musical ZORBA was written by Kander and Ebb, a musical theater team for which I have a particular fondness and affinity; and one of the songs from ZORBA is LIFE IS, which was sung, originally, by Debbie Shapiro. In her blaring and beautiful voice, she tells the audience "Life is what you do from the moment you die. This is how the time goes by." This is a song that my husband and I have loved, listened to and sung together for 25 years. It is a theme for our life together and Debbie Gravitte (nee Shapiro) has been singing it on our stereo speakers, Ipod speakers, computer speakers and television speakers, all that time.

I've nearly died more than once in my life. I understand the importance of living. LIFE IS is an important song and philosophy to me and to my husband. Nobody embodies them the way Debbie Gravitte does. Yesterday I was working around the house and listening to ZORBA (once again) and I had to stop what I was doing, go to the computer, log on to Facebook and type in the name Debbie Gravitte. It turned out we had something like 54 friends in common - but I am never comfortable sending a friend request to a celebrity whom I have never known. I wasn't about to start now. So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and I clicked on 'send message' and I wrote:

Hi Debbie Gravitte:

I'm not sure if I have ever written to you before; it isn't something I usually do - but every now and then, I just have to write to someone, even though we have never met.

We actually DID speak on the phone a few times in the early 90s and you were always very nice to me. We had tried to schedule a photo shoot for my book The Sweater Book; but we were never able to make it happen, much to my sadness.

I just had to write today because I am listening to my ZORBA cast album. Yesterday I was watching a bootleg dvd I got for Christmas - one of the happiest things that I have ever gotten. I've been a huge admirer of the show since somewhere around 1984 or 85. My husband and I listen to it often and sing along with you - the song LIFE IS has become a kind of an anthem in our home. We have been listening to you sing this song for (just about) the entire 25 years we have been a couple. You have been a part of our lives for 25 years.

I've been such an admirer of your talent and artistry since 1982 when, in college, I saw the tv special Broadway Plays Washington and heard you sing Junkman. I did all I could to find all of your recordings and revel in your gifts. I am sure there are some that have slipped by me; but when I am in a bad mood and need cheering up, I can always count on you. Oh, Diogenes! Sing For Your Supper. Life Is. The Crow. Junkman. Miss What's Her Name. Miss Spectacular... I won't bore you by listing ALL the songs that you have recorded that reach inside my heart and hit the "on" switch. I just wanted you to know that, on 49th street in beautiful Hell's Kitchen, is a man who really appreciates you. You have moved me - you have made a difference in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

On Christmas day, watching my ZORBA bootleg, my grown son came in and asked me "what are you watching?" and I told him. He asked what it was about .. and I tried to be high-concept and get it in as few sentences as possible.

"It's about an uptight American (English in the movie) who comes to Greece for his job and an older, more adventurous, Zorba teaches him to loosen up and live."

My son replied: "You are my Zorba"

It was one of my great moments.

And you are one of my great inspirations. You inspire me to be happy and to live a happy life.

And I just thought you should know.


Stephen Mosher

Like I said, I don't write fan letters very often. I do, though, think that artists NEED to be told when they have touched someone's life. There has never been a moment that an honest and heartfelt compliment about my work hasn't left a mark on my heart and left me feeling validated. I really did think, did feel, that Debbie Gravitte deserved to know about the mark she has made on my heart. And if she is one of those celebrities who reads their own mail...

She does.

The Wikipedeia entry on Zorba the Greek:

The photos used in this story were pulled from the internet

The Journey Back - Day Three

When I awoke, I tasted mint.

This is a part of the sleep eating disorder: waking and trying to figure out what you ate last night. Sometimes there is a grit between your teeth that lets you know it was something nut based; others, there is a cotton moth that tells you it has been sugar. At times, there is no distinct taste or texture in your mouth to tell you, immediately, what you ate while you were sleep walking and eating; and that is the case, yesterday morning, when I awoke.

I don't really like mint. I don't hate it or anything - but it is, rarely, my first choice. I was actually surprised last month to find out that was making a mint brownie that I liked. I was at a party and ate them, one after another, shocked at how into them I was. Otherwise, my usual mint intake is limited to toothpaste. So what, I wondered, was I tasting? It didn't take me long to figure it out. A little bit of recon uncovered the mystery.

Next weekend I am throwing a 30th birthday party for a friend, so I have been stocking up on supplies. I have the red wine for the sangria, I have the white wine for the white wine drinkers, I have the popcorn for Pat to pop, I have the pasta for the pasta salad, I have the supplies for the pies and the ingredients for the cookies...

And I have m&ms.

I was at the grocery store and saw them: Christmas m&ms on sale. I love sales. And everyone loves m&ms. So I bought two bags of peanut m&ms and two bags of mint m&ms. Now there are two bags of peanut m&ms and one bag of mint m&ms. I ate one of the mint bags.

When I brought the candy home, I left it in the Food Emporium bag, tied it in a knot and put it under my kitchen desk, where I store things. In my sleep, I managed to untie the knot and cut the bag open and eat half of it. To my credit, I only cut the corner of the top of the bag - a habit I have gotten into, during my waking hours. You see, if I just cut the corner off the bag, I can really only get two, maybe three m&ms out at a time. The same is true of tollhouse morsels, peanut butter chips (for baking), peanuts, dried fruits .. anything that comes in a pouch or packet, I have learned to open the pouch or packet as little as possible, to keep myself from shoving whole handfuls into my mouth.

This is a strange behaviour of mine - one of which I am aware, even as I am committing it, but do not seem to be able to stop. I will fill my hand to the point where food is falling out of my palm, onto the floor, and shove the food in my mouth, chomping down on it and swallowing it, without actually biting into every morsel. It is impossible to bite, even once, into every chocolate chip from a handful shoved in your mouth, before swallowing the contents of your mouth. The same can be said of every handful of popcorn or every handful of peanuts. You cannot bite every single one before swallowing the bunch. So why shove all that food into your mouth? Why not eat them one at a time so that you can enjoy the process.. the texture of the food, the taste of the food, the sensation of becoming full? I don't know. I only know that this is a pattern I have been unable to break.

So I use scissors to cut the ends off of pouches and packets, in an effort to limit my intake... even when asleep.

I promised myself I would be completely honest in my documentation of this battle, a documentation I have chosen to share, publically, in spite of the embarrassment and humiliation I feel about this disorder and my inability to control it. I share this story and these habits, in my quest for honesty.

By eating that bag of m&ms, I consumed:
Total fat 63g
Cholesterol 35mg
Sodium 210mg
Carbohydrate 210 g
Sugar 182 g
Protein 14

I was, naturally, disappointed; but I made the choice to not let it get my down. It is impossible to fight from a depressed state. So I met Hunter at the gym and we did a leg workout that included extensions, curls, squats, leg presses, mule kicks and duck squats. We conferred beforehand and decided to not jump back in (after 3 months off) with (either) extreme weights or circus - act exercises (no Bosu balls on the first day back). I think we did the right thing because, today, I am sore -- but I can still walk. Sometimes I do cardio on the same day as legs. Hunter and Pat think this is crazy. Yesterday, I followed THEIR lead and opted out of it.

Unhappy about my diet downfall but fulfilled by my physical workout, I spent the rest of my day working and focusing HARD on my diet. One bowl of winter squash soup that I made last week, one plate of winter root salad (yams, rutabagas, beets, feta) and 6 pieces of Jennie-O turkey bacon was my food consumption for the rest of the day. I didn't even eat popcorn when we went to see THE ARTIST last night - slightly because I wasn't hungry but mostly because I have to something to prove .. to everyone reading; but mostly to myself.

I did, though, give those bags of m&ms to my friend to hold for me until the party next weekend.

You have to win the battles you can win. In any way that you can win.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Journey Back - Day Two

The bad news: I did, indeed, climb up on top of my kitchen desk (which I keep covered with stuff, just to make this difficult) and pull down a tin filled with food so I could eat in the middle of the night.
The good news: I didn't go for the chocolate or the peanut butter. I ate some peanuts and some dried cranberries. True, they have carbs and sodium and all that stuff - but it ain't candy, so I was thrilled to wake up and discover that all I had done, damage wise, was about a half a cup of each.
I was so happy about it that I had a few more handfuls before the gym. Then again, after the gym. By then Pat was awake and he helped me polish them off, so they would be gone and a problem no more.
Here's the super bad news...
I consumed:
Trader Joe's Dried Cranberries
Calories 384
Total Fat 1.3 g
Cholestrol 0mg
Sodium 32mg
Carbohydrate 92g
Sugar 88g
Protein 0g
Trader Joe's Old Fashioned Blister Peanuts Salted
Calories 1080
Total Fat 96g
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 720mg
Carbohydrate 35g
Sugar 6g
Protein 48g
NOT ideal, I must say. And the more awful thing is that this is, essentially, what I have eaten today. That is how busy the day has been for me. But, now, I have the chance to have a healthy dinner and not worry about these food items being in the house anymore.
AND I made it to the gym twice today! I did a 6:30am back and shoulder workout with Hunter and went back at noon to do more back and shoulders with Pat ( it helps him to push himself when I am with him but it also helps me to hit some spots I missed in my earlier training session ). I also did 40 minutes of cardio on the eliptical machine. The music I used to push me through was Stephen Sondheim's FOLLIES -- I did a side-by-side comparison of performances from the original production (I have an audio bootleg of that production with the entire performances preserved, unlike on the cast album) and the performances from the current Broadway revival. I didn't do all the songs, only selected ones .. then I decided to move on to something with a more driving beat. So I went to Whitney Houston's I Didn't Know My Own Strength (Rafael Lelis Club Mix), Million Dollar Bill, For The Lovers, Fine (Rob Girellini Radio Edit), Kylie Minogue's Get Outta My Way, Deborah Cox's Beautiful U R (Bryan Reyes Private Big Room Radio Edit) and (my obsession) Naya Rivera and Amber Riley doing Rumour Has it/Someone Like You. I wrapped up my training with a 15 minute stretch; it makes all the difference.
I have to admit I'm a little sad that I wasn't able to stay strong and keep away from the salty carby food; but I am also really proud of myself for getting to the gym and getting that training done.
I feel better with every passing day.
And sore.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Journey Back - Day One; Part 2

It's twilight in New York City. Well, actually twilight happened about an hour or so ago ... but the point is that darkness has fallen on the city; and we are entering my diet danger zone.

Like the vampires, I eat at night.

I can go all day with a nibble of this or a swallow of that - usually it is an eggwhite based food item (when I am on my real-life food plan) or maybe a piece of chicken breast or a baked sweet potato. A protein shake. At night, though, I crave bread. And sugar. And dairy. If I had my way, I would eat muffins with milk and hit all the bases. That is exactly what got me into the trouble I am in these days. Christmas pastries and milk.

Of course, all those foods have been banished from two-a. Except for two bags of baking chocolate chips, a jar of JIF peanut butter and some white flour and white sugar that is on reserve for some cookies I have to bake for a birthday party on January 14th. In order to keep myself from consuming them, I have put them in one of our Christmas cookie tins and put it on top of the pantry, at the highest possible location (and hardest to reach location) in the house. To get to it, I would have to move shit around, maybe even get a ladder. And since I sleep eat, I want these things to be really hard to get to.

Yes, I said sleep eat.

Some people walk in their sleep. I walk in my sleep and eat while en route to wherever I am going.

On a famous occasion, Pat was entertaining a visiting Laura Wells in our apartment in Texas, during the holiday season. I had already gone to bed; but I burst into the living room, interrupting their conversation and began shoving chocolate chip cookies into my mouth, right out of the Christmas cookie tin. Miss Laura tried to talk to me but Pat pointed out that I was asleep. She was confused but, true enough, I was asleep. The next day Pat told me this story; it has been told and retold many times, often in front of Miss Laura, who backs the story up. I do not remember it at all.

This is why we stopped buying things like ice cream sandwiches and easily accessible food items - because we would awaken to find the wrappers on the floor in front of the fridge.

In recent years, all food in the house must be healthy and popable, so that if I sleep walk/eat, I won't do damage. If it is not healthy/popable, it is best that the food require preparation - that way I am safe.

Having chocolate chips and peanut butter in the house is a danger.

This morning, after posting my entry about my first workout back, I had an offer to go lift weight with Pat and Hunter. I took the invitation and, at 11:30, I was training the old way, for the first time in 3 months.


I didn't think I could do it; but I did. The weights weren't as heavy as they used to be - but they weren't that light either! I made it through 3 exercise circuits/3 sets/25 reps (for example - a chest exercise, a bicep exercise, an ab exercise - 25 reps of each, 3 sets). Together, we did some hard work, encouraging each other and working hard. It was just like the old days. And when I looked in the mirror as I did straight bar bicep curls, I noticed that they were still there: the Mosher arms. Thank God.

I admit that during our last circuit, in the 55 minute zone, I started to lose strength and form - so I lowered the weight. Do anything to get to the end. Whatever you do, just keep moving.

I was glowing, as we walked home.

And the afternoon consumption of food consisted of a slice of turkey meatloaf at noon, another at 2pm and a rutabaga sweet potato beet salad at 4:30. I don't know what the nutritional values are but I can say that the meatloaf was made with oats instead of breadcrumbs and eggwhites instead of eggs... and the butter for baking the root vegetables was all replaced of EV Olive Oil. And, of course, gallons of ice water, all day long.

I really do feel like something that used to be me.

Now. I JUST have to make it through the night without climbing.

( I found a story online about SRED - Sleep Related Eating Disorder):

The Journey Back - Day One

I read in a Face Book status message that all of the gyms are packed with people. The reason? It is because everybody has begun their New Year's Resolutions. I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions, so I don't make them. I did, though, decide to head back to the gym - not because it was a new year, but because my back is doing well enough for me to return to the land of the living. I would have been there on January 1st or even the 2nd but I caught a cold and, like most men, I turn into a big baby when I am sick. So I've been in bed, pouting and letting Pat take care of me. It made me sad, being sick; but not going to the gym made the sadness worse. So today I was determined to get there - and I was going to do it at my preferred time: 6am.

I set my alarm for 5am. I woke up at 4:30. I did some housework, some desk work and I soaked in epsom salt for awhile - not for soreness but to get warm (I don't handle the cold well) and to get these muscles, who haven't worked out in three months (except for one day, about a week ago, when I went to the gym to test my ability to train), ready to get back to training.

At 6am, I walked in the door of the New York Sports Club.

I used to keep a workout journal on Facebook. I programmed it so that the only people who could see it were me, Pat, Hunter, Lisa-Gabrielle and Kelly. These were facts and thoughts that I really didn't feel the general populace should be privvy to. Since I recently went public with a story about my eating disorder, I figure, why not stay public? After all, your story cannot help anyone if the only person who reads it is you.

So, what I admitted in my haphazard, stream of conscious, story about my battle with compulsive eating, manorexia, dysmorphia and obsessive training is that I kept a strict diet and exercise program for 7ish years and that for about 2 years I have eaten whatever I wanted and that for 3 months I have lifted not one weight. I am, essentially, starting from square one. I refuse to weigh myself, out of humiliation. I refuse to do a 'before' picture, out of vanity. The rest, though, is open season.

December 3rd:
45 minutes cardio; cross-trainer.
650 calories burned.

I sweated a lot and got extremely puffed; but the good news is that my back and all my joints got through without incident! The music that helped me push through: selections from the new GODSPELL cast album, Laura Benanti's recording of CHICAGO, Naya Rivera and Amber Riley's recording of RUMOR HAS IT/SOMEONE LIKE YOU, selections from Mary J. Blige's EACH TEAR, Mike Reim's remix of Katy Perry's THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, The Wanted's ALL TIME LOW, the Rafael Lelis Club Mix of Whitney Houston's I DIDN'T KNOW MY OWN STRENGTH and Dave Aude's Radio Edit of Beyonce's HALO (which I could listen to on a loop all day).

Confession: I don't always stretch.
New Rule: I will stretch for at least 10 minutes after every workout. At least 10 minutes. I will also hang upside down for as long as I can, to help my spine re-align itself, daily.

Now. About food. In the past couple of days, I've begun to eat the way I used to. I am determined to get back to being Bulldozer. It's going to take baby steps, though. I can't eat like a regular person for 2 years and then go eggwhite, cold turkey.

Having read that a person should eat before working out, I usually have a bit of something to give me strength. Today I went for some yogurt; preferred brand: THE GREEK GODS TRADITIONAL GREEEK YOGURT. Preferred flavour: Honey. This food item is a real bugaboo for me. I can knock off a 24 oz. container in less than five minutes, flat, and follow it up with another 24 oz. container. I can also not start one of these containers without finishing it. It's a bizarre head fuck thing. I told Pat about it and he told me I was, truly, bizarre. I have to have a brand new, pristine, container - when the lid is taken off, the top of the yogurt has to be completely flat and smooth, like ice on a winter pond in Vermont. I have to break the skin on top - I cannot eat one of these yogurts if it is not smooth and flat or if someone else has broken the skin or if it has been stirred up. Once broken, the top must be eaten along the perimeter until there is no yogurt touching the plastic of the container. I continue to eat around the perimeter, in a circle until there is an expanse of emptiness from the plastic, inward, and there is a tower of yogurt in the middle of the tub. Then, I eat downward, where I have been eating already, until the tower threatens to fall; so I eat the tower. By then, there is nothing left but a shallow pool of yogurt from 3/4's of the way into the container, to the bottom - and this bit of yogurt always seems to be really, really cold; so it has to go. Not content to waste one drop, I get a butter knife and scrape the edges and get the bottom of the container with the spoon.

Did I mention that I have an eating disorder? And, ps, this is not the only food that has to be eaten a certain way. You should hear how I used to eat a box of Entenman's donuts.

Pat had some tummy trouble yesterday, so he went to the store for some yogurt. I could have told him to just buy for himself; but I didn't. I had him get me one, too.

That yogurt that I ate before the gym had:
960 calories
60 grams fat
150 mg cholesterol
390 mg sodium
90 grams carbohydrate
90 grams sugar
24 grams protein.

Now. Let's all put on our common sense cap, shall we? When I compulsively sucked back that yogurt, in all its' delicious glory and creamy goodness, was I doing myself a favour or a disservice?

I think it is time to put the kibosh on the yogurt. It's going to hurt and it's going to be hard. But there is a slogan that was used on the movie poster for COCO BEFORE CHANEL that is a philosophy in which I believe, firmly. I have to focus on those words, to get where I want to be.

It is 8:18 am. I wonder what the rest of the day will hold. I shall check back in tonight.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Mouths of Babes

I've been cleaning house. It's been an on-off project for the last year. Streamlining, doncha know. I have a lot, a Lot, a LOT of stuff and I, sometimes, think to myself "Ste, you really don't need all this stuff. Why don't you sell it on Ebay?" And I DID. I sold a lot of stuff on Ebay during the last decade. Old theater programs, old books, old vhs tapes, etc. And it just made room for more stuff. To tell you the truth, I miss some of the stuff I sold. (Lesson: if you are going to sell your stuff, give your stuff away or throw it out, make sure you really don't want it anymore, ok? Cause I had to replace some things - which is a bore - and recognize that some things couldn't ever be replaced - which is painful.)

In my house cleaning project, I came across something I can never throw away. I don't know why. I suppose I could; but I bet you fifty bucks nobody would throw this away.

The yearbooks.

I didn't have (in my memory) what I would call a particularly good school career. There were happy moments. I liked my second grade teacher, Miss Kokle and my third grade teacher, Mrs. Bartle. I made a good friend in fifth grade, Teresa Mitchell, moved away for sixth and seventh grades, tried to kill myself in eighth grade, moved back to the same town and school for the second half of eighth grade and was still friends with Teresa Mitchell (thanks to the social network, we are still in touch and still dear friends). I was the school drama queen in grades 9 and 10 and pulled myself together enough to lower my status to drama lady-in-waiting for grades 11 and 12 and I actually made a few friends (again, thanks to the social network, I'm in touch with some of them and happy to see how lovely their lives turned out). It was those earlier school days that were the worst, though. Once I got it together and began to learn who I was and how to be that person, I could (reasonably) expect (or, at least hope) people would like and accept me for myself. They seemed to - in fact, my memories of High School seem to differ, greatly, from the way my social network alumni seem to remember me (I have learned through online chats and replies to my blog stories and status messages, etc.)

It was the middle school days and Jr High School that were most troubling.

I have managed to forget those days. Or block them out. Or something. I know they were rough on me and I know I was a pill to my classmates. So why do I keep the yearbooks? I should throw them out. Truly.

Discovering them, buried in the closet, behind the clothing was proof of that.

Please note the two scans of autographs that I found while reading the yearbook. Aren't they appalling? Please hear me when I say this: I feel nothing when I read them. These two comments have no power over me when I consider them. This was a long, a superlong time ago. I have no pain or personal thought about them, when I read these two autographs from my 8th grade yearbook.

What I do feel, or think, is something that I mentioned in my last story: it is amazing the things that people will say to you without considering your feelings. Isn't it? Now, it's one thing to be a grown up, an adult, and have somebody say something hurtful or disrespectful to you - you have the strength and eloquence to make an appropriate retort. Consider, though, being a 13 year old and asking a classmate to sign your yearbook and getting it back and reading:

--"I am glad that you like Grant school even though a lot of people don't especially like you."


--"I feel real sorry for you the way people talk about you." (I have corrected the spelling error in the original autograph).

There are messages of friendliness within these two samples, though, and I recognize that and appreciate them. At the age of 13, though, I would imagine the only thing I could see in these missives would have to be the two sentences above. It's difficult to be a child, a teenager, and want to express yourself and not be (mentally, emotionally, socially) mature enough to say to yourself "Helen/Shelly, don't write this - don't say this - it will hurt this person's feelings". The problem is that people grow up and NEVER learn to think this way; I know this because it was during this same era that my horrible Aunt would demean and humiliate me (verbally) in ways that an adult should never inflict upon a child. And let us never forget my college professor, Ed DeLatte, whose modus operandi was to condescend to and insult, publically, as many students as possible (I, being one of his favourite victims).

I don't remember myself at 13. I have seen photos. I know (inherently) that I was troubled and that I was a handful; but I do not remember my thought processes. I am, though, accutely aware of them now - and I am proud to say that, at least once a day, I stop myself from saying or doing something because I know "that will hurt this person's feelings." And I am proud of my evolution as a person. I am also, again - accutely, aware of each and every time that a person says or does something that tells me that they do not, perhaps cannot, think beyond the narrow limitations of their self-awareness.

In the film ORDINARY PEOPLE (one of my favourites, as far back as I CAN remember the person inside the shell) Donald Sutherland yells at Mary Tyler Moore "Can't you see things except in terms of how it affects you?!" and she yells right back "NO! And neither can you! And neither can anybody else! Only maybe I'm a little more honest about it!"

I was 13 when those girls scribbled their greetings to me in a yearbook that I cannot seem to throw away (but maybe, after today, I will be able to). In a few years it will be 40 years since the ink dried. I know that I see things in terms of how they affect other people BEFORE the terms of how they affect myself. And I am, personally, acquainted with some people who are (not only) the same way but who take it a step further. No names. That isn't necessary. What is necessary is pointing out that there are, indeed, people who think before they speak, who think before they act. I know it isn't ALWAYS me (YES, I can be self centered and, indeed, outright selfish) -- but sometimes it is.

Thank God I evolved. Thank God I left behind the childish mentality that opened itself up to me that day, recently, when I opened up that 8th grade annual and read those comments and said 'WHAT THE FUCK??!!! What kind of thing is THAT to write to a 13 year old??!" I would like to think that I didn't write anything like this in anyone's yearbook (was I asked to sign any yearbooks?) I would like to think that this mentality was one that I never had.

I just don't remember. I've blocked it out.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Disorderly Eating Habits

I have been asked to write about my struggles with an eating disorder, repeatedly, and by more than one or two people. I've been wanting to comply; but it is (natch) a hard subject about which to open oneself up. So I have been putting it off. And putting it off. And while I have been putting it off, I have been eating. A lot. Well, after all, it's Christmastime. All there is to do is eat. Eat and celebrate the holidays with cake, cookies, pie, candy - and when it isn't sweets, it's food like turkey with bread dressing and flour/salt based gravy ... root vegetables cooked in butter and sugar and loaded with nuts and fruits and little tiny marshmallows. One plate after another.

Today is December 31st. Tonight, the holiday season will end. And tomorrow, to quote the great Mo'Nique, is a new muthafuckin' day, baby.

My husband and I both did our commiserating over "feeling fat"; when the truth is that we aren't fat. Oh, we aren't in the best shape of our lives, that's fair to say; but it will only take a few weeks to get back to where we once belonged. It is just going to take some focus and some hard work. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions - not at all. I do believe in change, though, and it seems appropriate to make this change and to live a healthier, happier life. Since, though, I do not believe in New Year's resolutions, I will not start this change on the first day of 2012; I'm going to start it on the last day of 2011.

So it seems like a good time to talk, openly, about my life as an addict, as a man, as a gay man, with an eating disorder.

I don't know when or how my unhealthy relationship with food began. I think just about everyone in America does have an unhealthy relationship with food - whether it is based on overeating, anorexia or something somewhere in between. I don't know about other countries - I only know about America, land of the obese. I think it starts when we are children, when we are babies. A baby cries and we stick a bottle in the baby's mouth. A child disturbs us and we quiet the child with a popsickle (and a tv set - but that is another story for another day). A tween gets a good grade and we reward the tween with an ice cream sundae. A teenager goes out with friends and takes all the lessons we have taught them about eating and consumes an entire pizza and liter of soda, then, later, beer. Then, before you know it, the child is a grown up - a fat one.

This is a sweeping generalization.

I don't think my parents raised me the way I just described. Though I can say that my grandmother's house was always filled with Hostess fruit pies and that the holidays saw many containers of my mother's homemade holiday cookies, crying to be eaten. Nobody forced me to eat these things. I ate them of my own free will. At five, I ate an entire refrigerator crisper full of fruit and ended up in hospital. At thirteen, I would come home from school and eat slice after slice of mama's banana bread, slathered with butter. At seventeen, I would buy and consume, in one sitting, those enormous Toblerone candy bars - not the normal size ones, the really big ones. By the age of 25, I was on my way to being the funny, fat gay guy. By 30 I was an alcoholic, a smoker, an over eater and depressed. I could go to the grocery store and pick up a bag of Oreo Double Stufs and a gallon of milk, take them home, put in a vhs tape and consume all of it. Or maybe it was an Entenman's Ultimate Crumb Cake AND Donut Variety Pack AND the gallon of milk. And it would all be gone before the movie was over. I would order an entire large pizza, eat it and get rid of the box. I would call Fresco Tortilla and get a chicken/cheese quesadilla, a soft taco, a regular taco, a burrito, sour cream and guacamole and knock it off in 5 minutes, flat. These were my regular binge items. By the time I was 37, I weighed in at 205 pounds.

I hated everyone. I hated the people who were pretty, while I was not. I hated the gay men who were superficial and placed so much emphasis on good looks because they wouldn't look at fat, ugly me. I hated myself. I stopped trying to groom myself. I stopped trying to make new friends. I stopped having sex. I stopped going out in public, unless I really had to. I was in a lot of pain, emotionally, mentally and physically -- carrying the extra weight was taking a toll on my body, especially my back and knees.

So I joined a gym. I hired a trainer. I lost 60 pounds and became a sort of an expert on health and fitness. I developed a public (ish) persona based on my transformation and my new found knowledge about health and fitness.

And I didn't eat for seven years.

When I say I didn't eat, I don't mean that I didn't eat; I mean I didn't eat off my diet. My diet was eggwhites, chicken breast, broccoli, asparagus, tuna, tilapia... healthy, non fattening food. I didn't have a slice of pizza or a bowl of pasta in all those years. I admit that, from time to time, I would have a cookie - my girlfriend has a cookie company and that's a perfectly good excuse to eat a cookie -- I was supporting her business. Otherwise, I was a complete and total food nazi, which my trainer loved.

Then one day, I ate a piece of cheesecake on a cruise ship. And I haven't stopped eating since.

A year ago, I asked a girlfriend of mine if I could go with her to her overeater's group and she said no. She told me that if I went to her group, looking the way I do, the other members would resent me, that some might laugh at me. That bothered me. It seems to me that the concern should be the compulsion; and that, when someone seeks help, someone else should extend their hand.

I tried hypnotherapy. A friend told me that they had had some luck with hypnotherapy, trying to get their anxiety in order. I spent hundreds of dollars with the hypnotherapist - and one week after our last session, I ate that piece of cheesecake.

I spent two years eating anything I wanted and justifying it any way I could. I made every excuse in the book, the most oft used one being "I've been dieting for 7 years, I deserve a break."

Before I started eating, I looked like this:

Today, I don't. I don't look bad; but I don't look like this. And people, when hearing me talk, frankly and openly, about my problems with compulsive eating, tend to sneer at me or even laugh at me. They judge me, at their will, and quite vocally; everyone from strangers to family (and please don't ask how I end up discussing this topic with strangers - just know that the topic DOES come up). People do feel quite comfortable being perfectly vocal with their judgments, their derision, their unsolicited advice. And what people don't seem to remember is that they are not inside my head. They don't feel the things I feel, like the abject disappointment I feel in myself for not being able to control myself as I eat my third quart size container of greek yogurt in a row. They don't hear the things I hear in my head, when I can't fasten my jeans; things like "you fool - you had a perfect body and now you've lost it all." They don't know the physical pain of trying to digest refined flour and sugar after 7 years of clean digestion.

It always amazes me, the things people will say to your face, without considering (for even a moment) if they have the right; or if it the words will sting.

My (extremely generous and loving) friend asked to take me to his Overeaters Anonymous group. I went. Once. I never went back.

I know I need help. I also know that I don't believe in the 12 step program. I quit drinking cold turkey. I quit smoking cold turkey. I quit eating (unhealthily) cold turkey and stayed that way for 7 years. I can do it again. In my own way, in my own time. What I have to remember is that I am an addict. I have been addicted to booze, cigarettes, depression, food, even television. I have beat all these addictions, even food; but it is so difficult to stay on the right track with food because it is so accessible. I mean, we don't need alcohol or cigarettes to live - we need food. And it's everywhere. And if you are financially strapped and have to eat what is available to you, a two dollar jar of processed, lard-ridden peanut butter is certainly going to be more attractive, fiscally, than an organic chicken. There are no fewer that 2 dozen excuses I can make for not eating the way I used to; and I've made them all. The thing is: I can no longer afford to make excuses. I'm not a 20 year old - my metabolism isn't what it once was. My body can't exercise the way it used to. I have issues with my back, with tendonitis, with certain joints... if I am going to stay healthy, I have to use a combination of diet and exercise. These are just more excuses, though. My friend Joe, broke his back and he bounced back, through yoga. Today, he is a yoga instructor. I have heard tell that one of my favourite broadway dancers had a bad injury doing a Kander & Ebb musical; but just a week ago I saw him tap dancing in a Cole Porter musical.

There is nothing that we cannot do, if we just have the focus and the fortitude.

I hurt my back three months ago. I say it was broken, even though it wasn't a spinal break. It was something that the doctors haven't been able to really pinpoint, though I have seen several different types of doctors and specialists. So during these last three months, while I have been unable to train and overly able to overeat, I've had a lot of time to reflect on the eating disorder, some of the things that have caused it and some of the ways it has manifested itself. Here are some realizations that have developed, in my mind and on paper:

--As a child, I always thought my mother the most beautiful woman who lived (still do). Often, people would say I looked just like my mother. So I began to believe that I was just as beautiful. As I grew into my teens, I became cocky, saying things like "I'm going to be young and beautiful forever" (my love of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray did not help curb my overdeveloped ego). This attitude was, truly, a mistake in my life; for it is a surefire reason for the universe to take your youth and beauty away, to spite your cockiness. (see the pic of my mom below..)

--When Delta Burke was a success on Designing Women, the world watched her go from fit to fat. In an interview, she said she was challenging life, Hollywood and her husband to "love her for who she was". At the time, I did not understand. Now I do. For, when you develop a public (on any level) persona for being beautiful, it becomes exhausting to live up to it. You want to be known for more than your looks. So you may self sabotage, if only to prove that there is more to you than this:

--I have heard it said that people numb themselves with food. In my life, I have been lead by my emotions - even if it is the emotion of indifference (which I have mastered). When I eat too much of anything, I fall asleep. You don't get more numb than that.

--Is it better to be beautiful? Or better to have MORE to offer than just your looks? What is it like for those people whose only talent is being pretty?

--I have been in situations where I am eating and eating and eating and even though I think to myself, 'you're getting sick', I continue to eat. I wouldn't do that with cigarettes, when I was smoking; if I got sick when I was drinking, I would vomit and go to bed. With food, it is harder to stop; yet I am aware (before I start) what effect it will have on me, (while I am eating) that it is making me sick and (after I am finished) that it has had a lasting effect on my body. If I could find some way to acknowledge that and remember it, full time, I could help myself to abstain.

--It isn't about being pretty - the pain of digesting toxic food and the strain the extra weight puts on my back and joints are all unbearable. What better reason than this, to stay on target? If your body is a temple, why pollute it?

--It is about being pretty. When I was young, I was shy. When I got older, I was fat. When I got in shape, men paid attention to me - and gay men are all about the physical. Being admired because you are attractive is a feeling, a desire, everyone can relate to. In the gay community, it is an essential. I'm sure gay men, everywhere, feel the pressure to be beautiful. I know I am not the only gay man with an eating disorder. My struggles with diet and exercise have certain patterns. I will diet and exercise myself into a frenzy, just for a specific goal (Pride, a party, a birthday, a photo shoot), even going to the point of starvation for the last 2 to 3 days, just to reach the goal. Once the goal is over, the eating is unparalleled and lasts for days, even weeks, until the next goal. This kind of yo-yo dieting is bad for the body AND the mind.

--I don’t actually have to worry about looking hot. After all, I have a husband who loves me the way I am. Perfect is not a necessity. However, we are not monogamous, so maybe I DO have to worry about looking hot. But at my age, haven’t I had enough sex? Or is it that: at my age, haven’t I eaten enough? This is the yo-yo in my head that goes with the yo-yo of dieting. Wouldn’t it be better for the body, the mind, the emotions, to just commit to being healthy all the time? After all, at the end of the day it is all about how you feel … and when I am overeating, none of me feels good. At all.

--Everyone is tired of people complaining. Just do it and stop talking about it.

That last one is the one that rings through my mind, over and over. While I was at that one O.A. meeting, I couldn’t help thinking horrible judgmental things – the same things I thought the few times I went to AA. Things about people and weakness… I know, it makes me an awful person. Wait. No it doesn’t. It makes me human. We all judge each other. I found myself judging people I didn’t know because they seemed too weak to get up off the sofa, put down the Cheetos and get on with their lives, change what was bothering them and stop whining about it. When I found myself doing that, though, I went inside my head and said “Stephen Mosher, don’t you DARE judge these people! They have the same problem you do! Don’t you DARE!” So I found myself able to change a habitual thought pattern and turn those feelings into feelings of compassion. Just like I say that all gay men are beautiful, I have to believe that all people with an eating disorder are to be offered empathy. So that is what I do – offer empathy.

Starting with myself.

I don’t know why I have this addiction. I don’t know if I will ever beat it, absolutely. I do know that I do not worship in a group; so I will not heal in a group. I am a solitary man – I insist on strength and the ability to do it (whatever it is) on my own. And even though I am a blogger, I am a private man. I may share the story of my problem with anyone who wishes to read about it; but I will not share the healing process. Everyone has their own process, their own battle, their own way of fighting and of healing – mine is to do it on my own. It’s gonna hurt like a whore but Ima do it. I did it with booze and tobacco and so many other things – even food. I can do it again, with food. Like Zorba said “Let’s do it quick, here and now; like men quit… smoking, drinking or a love affair.”

There are many questions to ask and answer. That will come in time. For this time, though, there are only statements, ringing affirmative and clear:

My name is Bulldozer Mosher; and my love affair with food is over.