Recovery. It’s Not Just for the Addicted.

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I don’t know what drug causes people to just fall asleep standing up the way some subway junkies do (Is it heroin? Meth? All of the above?), but I saw one today that was as close to a walker in real life as I’ve seen. Stumbling around, drooling, and eyes occasionally showing nothing but white. And she was pregnant. Some people were pointing, laughing, recording. All I could think about is the child that’s gonna grow up with this and anyone in this woman’s life that’s tried to help her. She was just some woman on the train, but we’re losing people all the time to addiction or problems related to addiction that are more well known. Most recently Robin Williams and Phillip Seymore Hoffman lost their battle. I feel terrible for them, but I feel just as much for their loved ones whose lives were impacted by their addictions.

I’ve seen first hand the power that drugs can have over someone. My own mother and father were narcotics users. Their addictions ripped the family apart. Several times. After re-marrying and joining Narcotics Anonymous they both- we all- enjoyed drug free lives for a good while. My timeline might be off there, but at that age I wasn’t exactly paying attention to these things. They both attended regular meetings and made many new friends in the fellowship. Some people that I’m still in contact with occasionally myself. Then something happened and my dad started using again. To this day I still wonder what it might have been that pushed him off that edge. Some big event that made him reach for a bottle like in a lot of movies. I can’t think of any earth shaking news. No major death in the family at the time. No legal or work trouble that I know of. No zombie apocalypse. So I’m stuck with the feeling that the drugs just won the face off that day. One drink. One pill. Until its not just one. I guess any one day can have dozens of those face off moments.

My dad got back on the wagon and then he fell off. He got on and then he fell off. I used to work at a pizza shop. He’d show up there drunk, or the delivery guys would deliver something to the house and he’d be drunk. I remember watching him come home nights in his sky blue Chevrolet Monte Carlo- a car he might have loved as much as the drugs- and trying to park. Knowing that he drove that way was always one of the worst feelings to me. That he’d kill himself or someone else. It ripped the family apart one final time in about 1997. My mom moved and I went with her. My sisters followed after not too long. He was left at the house alone with our dogs until he couldn’t even keep the house. He moved back in with my grandma and the dogs came to live with me. I went to college that same year and I’d hear from my mom about how well he was doing or how bad he was doing and that he’d been in/out of the hospital. I was distanced from it all even though I was only about 50 actual miles away.

From 2002 – 2005 I was home from college and living in Philly. In that time there was a few incidents and of course some hope. Addicts are just as good at giving you hope as they are giving you despair. The last hope filled time I remember was when, after a hospital  stay and previous diagnosis of cirrhosis, he let us talk him into checking into Livengrin. A live-in rehab facility. He got out, did well for a while, but eventually relapsed. In 2005 my mom was offered a job in Indianapolis. I feel that, had he been successful in getting his shit together, she might not have taken it. That things would have just gotten better and better for him and all around him and there would be no move to Indy. That wasn’t the case. She took the job and me and my sisters moved with her. First he was left alone in the house. Now he’s being left alone in Philly. I moved to Chicago in August of 2005- the first time I’d been really off on my own. Just like college I’d be updated on the ups and downs of dad from my mom, sister and sometimes my grandmom. A couple scares, but he kept on going like Frank Gallagher in Shameless. We talked here and there, but not much at all.

My sisters visited Philly in 2008. I talked them about the trip and they told me how bad he was looking. I hadn’t seen him in years at this point, but on the urging of my mom I booked a flight back to Philly for August 29th to September 1st. Finally going back to see my dad. On August 14th, 2008 I was woken up to a phone call from my cousin. My grandmom had been in and out of the hospital at this point, so I was fully prepared for the news she had died. Only it wasn’t her. It was my dad. His body just had enough. He died about two weeks before I was to visit.

My sisters tell me that I’m lucky to not have seen him in the state he was in when they visited. I guess I’m thankful for that. Though in a way I’m thankful for all the things that I’m also sorry for. Things like being in college and not having to deal with it. Moving out of the house. Moving out of the state. Being generally distant with him in thoughts or actual distance. Though I’m sorry I didn’t talk to him as often as I could have, I’m thankful that each time I did I let him know that regardless of what he does or will do or where he is or I am- I love him. That was the only support I had left to give.

Though I feel sorry for some of those things, I don’t regret any of them. I had to get on with my life. There’s only so many last chance’s people can give out. Those chances are based on love and hope and unfortunately the chemical addictions can override all of it. You can only do so much to help people who can’t accept their situation and lack the courage and wisdom within to improve it. Addiction is hard wired into some people. It’s who they are. It’s a constant battle. So when I see someone like the walker I saw on the subway I don’t judge them. I just feel sorry for them. For their family. I don’t know what lead hear to that point. I just hope she finds her way back.

So many times I thought things were my fault or my sister’s or my mom’s or the job’s or the dog’s or this or that or the other thing. And it’s not. It’s in the DNA. Some people can experiment and move on. Some people get hooked and the will to use overpowers the will of others for it it to end. There’s a prayer called the serenity prayer that my mom taught me that got me through a lot and help me realize, even very young, that none of this was in my control nor was it my fault. You can only control what you can control and what you can’t control you need to accept.

As a result of this you might think that I would avoid any sort of drugs or alcohol. For a while I did. I didn’t have a beer until I was a sophomore in college, which for the record is still under aged. I drink a few times a month, but never alone. I’m constantly aware of how much and how often. I have not and will not try any illegal drugs. Not because they are illegal, but just because I know how my DNA is programmed and the coding extends far past my father and mother. That would not be a wise move. I like to think that I have a will power built up due to all this that could overcome anything, but having seen what I seen I know too well that’s a battle I don’t want to face. Plus… things are going pretty well for me right now and one easy way to screw that up is to start using. This is one thing I learned well from my mom. She’s the bravest woman I know. To have been an addict herself, lived with one, lived through one several times and has been able to come out clean on the other side. At some point she just had it and knew that she could take no more and had to focus on herself. I know she never stopped loving my dad, because she never stopped offering help when he was he showed he wanted to help himself. At this point she must have at least 25 years clean. Me, my sisters and now my nephews and niece are where we are because of her choice that enough was enough. She helped us all recover.

I’ve looked online but I’ve been unable to find one day that celebrates people that are 1) currently in recovery from some sort of addiction or 2) whose lives have been effected by the addiction of a loved one. Of course if they are in recovery it’s probably in an anonymous group, so who’d know? Though maybe people that feel comfortable sharing their stories that day can do so. Sometimes it’s not going to be as easy it was for me today to spot someone with addiction issues. It’s even harder to spot the loved ones of those people. So even just knowing that people you already know are going through the same thing, that you aren’t alone and that could maybe even reach out to this person to talk could go a long way. Maybe that is the step toward one of the more organized programs. September is apparently “Recovery Month”, so maybe next September you can share your story. Screw that… if you feel comfortable share it whenever you want. It could help someone.

I don’t know. This started as a quick blurb about a walker that I saw on the bus and how bad I felt for her, her family and her unborn child. I didn’t intend on sharing as much as I did. It’s not usually my style, but what the hell. If you’re reading this and can’t even relate to what I’ve talked about then I envy you. If you read this and are currently living through someone else’s addiction and need someone to talk to, just let me know. If you yourself have an addiction please get help, because it is not just you that you are hurting, but everyone that cares about you as well.

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Improv 201 and Improv 301 starting in January 2015!

Session 1 classes for 2015 are now online! Yes, we’ve done away with the season names and we’re strictly numerical now. Below are the two classes I have coming up. Sign up by December 26th and save $50 off the full enrollment cost!

And don’t forget, if you’re on an indie team and looking for an experienced eye- let me know.

IMPROV 201 WITH MIKE MARBACH
Dates: Thursdays, January 8th, 2015 through February 26th, 2015
Times: 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Class Location: Philly Improv Theater, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

IMPROV 301 WITH MIKE MARBACH
Dates: Sundays, January 4th, 2015 through February 22nd, 2015
Times: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Class Location: Philly Improv Theater, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Matt Nathanson VS. Too Many Cooks

Too Many CooksUnless you’ve been avoiding social media for fear of TV spoilers, the political postings of friends you don’t want to lose respect for, or because it’s just good to avoid it from time to time… then you’ve probably seen the video for Too Many Cooks. Too Many Cooks is a video created for Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. It parodies a bunch of tv show openings, but it goes beyond that. So far beyond that. It’s as genius as it is insane.

The theme song is sung repeatedly and gets in your brain quickly and it’s harder to get out than a ceti eel. This was my problem until recently. The song was stuck in my head for days. Then on Saturday someone sang “Laid” by Matt Nathanson at karaoke. Over the next day a battle played out in my head, but as of right now Laid has won out. A most unlikely hero. Thank you, Matt Nathanson.

To anyone else currently suffering from Cook’s Syndrome, I hope you find your Laid. Below are clips of both videos. Maybe Matt Nathanson can help you too. Good luck!

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Stay Dead! An Improvised Horror Comedy

Stay DeadTonight begins a mini-run for a show I’m directing called “Stay Dead! An Improvised Horror Comedy”. This will be the 4th year in a row I’ve directed something like this. The first three years were the Asteroid! Improvised B-Movie shows. We did a few of them in 2011, then we did full runs in 2012 and our ending run in 2013. That show won the 2012 WitOut Award for Best Short Run Show. They earned it too. It was such a fun show. A double-feature of two, 25-30 minute improvised “b-movies”.

Stay Dead! is sort of a successor to the B-Movie for me. Just like B-Movie, this show is completely improvised. No one knows who they are going into the show, if they will live, if they will die, where the show is set. Nothing. This can certainly lead to a plot that might not be the tightest horror tale, but it most definitely makes for a really fun show the audience can ride along with. Unlike the B-Movie which was two separate movies, Stay Dead! is just one set of about 40-45 minutes. Though the shows last weekend were both closer to 55 minutes. Two sets that involved time-traveling wombs, shit people, and lots of pizza.

I was hesitant to take this on when originally asked, but am glad that I did. They worked really hard and allowed me to bring in some really great people to help round out the already fun cast. They also allowed me to name the show and attach an exclamation point, which is more or less, a staple of shows I direct.  I’m really proud of how far this show has come in such a short time. Practices were a blast and even lead to some new improv games for me. Thanks to each of them, to PHIT for putting the show up, to Chris  Calletta for the awesome art, to anyone that’s come to the midnight shows last week and to anyone coming to shows ahead. There are four shows left and you should definitely check them out. Click the link below for tickets.

STAY DEAD! AN IMPROVISED HORROR COMEDY
Through the use of various horror film tropes the cast creates a frighteningly funny show never seen before and (like many of the characters) never to be seen again! Everyone will die. Not everyone will STAY DEAD!

October 30th 7:30 p.m.
October 31st at 7:30 p.m. and 12:00 a.m.
November 1st at 12:00 a.m.

Philly Improv Theater
2030 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Cast: Gab Bottoni, Andrew Coppola, Josh DePowell, Tom Hannigan, Derrick Hackett, Rick Helpa, Alyssa Jackson, Brendan Kingston, Nicole Labrecque,  and Kevin Ruth.

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Not for nothin’, but you should prolly check out Mike Rainey’s Terrible Dad Blog

Terrible DadIf you’re involved in Philly comedy then you prolly know who Mike Rainey is. I first met him when we were in the basement of the Shubin Theater before a Theme show. We were sitting in on a sketch for Specific Jawns. While down there him and his buddy Tim Butterly were talking in these thick delco accents and saying some of the funniest shit I’ve heard. Even funnier because I know those guys. I grew up with people like those characters they were playing. It was then I asked them if they could do that “act” in front of crowd. Then “Not For Nothin: The Official Podcast of the Deleware County Times” was born. We’ve done it a bunch of times and it’s never enough. It’s seriously one of the funniest things you’ll see and if you’re familiar with the Philly area and the creatures that live within it you’ll appreciate it even more. I’m hoping to get the guys to do something for the Sideshow’s Halloween show. If not then, maybe in November. Whenever it is- check it out.

Mike was on the Gettin’ Close podcast last year for the podcast festival and promoted his book “Terrible Advice“. If you haven’t read it you definitely should. It’s one of the funniest things you’ll read. Now Mike has a new follow-up to that book coming out called “Terrible Advice for Parents”. To help promote the book he started his a blog. The “Terrible Dad Blog“. That’s exactly what it sounds like. A blog detailing his journey through fatherhood and the challenges he meets, mistakes he makes and lessons he learns along the way. I asked him a few quick questions about the blog and the upcoming book:

What pushed you to start the terrible dad blog?
I was checking out mommy and daddy blogs that I would like to use promote my forthcoming book, Terrible Advice for Parents. Nothing wowed me and the advertising rates were more than I wanted to pay, so I just decided to write my own blog. I figured that if I gave readers entertaining content, they would be more inclined to check out my book, which I’m giving away for free on Nov. 15 for those that sign up for my blog notifications via email from terribledad.wordpress.com. (You can also like the Terrible Dad Blog facebook page).

Is there anything, other than a laugh, you want people to get out of these stories?
I think readers with kids will be able to connect through similar experiences. There’s a lot of sad or weird aspects of parenting that I don’t hear often discussed, like parenting while struggling with mental illness, the guilt of enjoying things without the kids, and giving up bad habits for the sake of being a role model to your kids. Plus, I’m trying to clean up on all that sweet MILF poon out there.

Do you worry someone from DHS without a sense of humor is going to read the blog and launch an investigation? I’m half joking.
I certainly hope they have senses of humor. Although I wouldn’t mind losing my kids to the state for a few weeks. I could use a guilt-free trip to Hedonism.

What can you say about the upcoming “Terrible Advice for Parents”?
I’m really excited for people to read it. It’s fucked up and funny. Also, if you leave me a negative review on Amazon, I’m going to file an erroneous child neglect report on you.

Anything else you want to say about the blog or anything at all?
I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read it. It’s a funny blog, but I also hope that it can help parents that struggle with some of the same things I struggle with, i.e. depression, maintaining sobriety, using condoms, etc.

In addition to being one of the funniest people you’ll meet, whether as himself or acting as one of the delco guys in Not For Nothin, he’s also a very generous guy. He frequently posts Facebook announcements that he has some free time and if you need anything to let him know. As he said above, just join his mailing list and you’ll get his new book for free. He also lends his time and talent to “Comedians for a Cause” which does occasional shows benefiting different charities or specific people in need.

You can see Mike fairly regularly at Helium Comedy Club in Philly where he performs stand-up and hosts the Dirty Dozen show. 12 Comics for $12 at 12am performing some of their nastiest material.  He’ll be appearing on the next Two Late at Philly Improv Theater on October 24th at 10:30pm. And prolly in an upcoming Sideshow as half of the Not For Nothin Podcast. See him live, read his blog, buy his book.

Billy Dogherty: Suckerpunch Attorney. Office is located on the first floor, second floor, third floor, basement and kitchen of PJ McShenniganhans.

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Bloody Sunday: S01E13 “The Disaster”

Bloody Sunday Graphic 2This episode of “Bloody Sunday” covers season one episode thirteen of the Strain on FX entitled “The Master”. This was the finale of a show that we had such high hopes for. I still managed to have some hope going into this finale, but that was thrown out the window and slightly burned just like the Master. Unlike the Master I’m not sure my hope will make it to a season two.

Apologies to Guillermo Del Toro, fans of The Strain, fans of Vampires, fans of zombies, Thomas Andrews, Amish people, Germans, location scouts, black twitter, and recovering addicts.

FREE AUDIOBOOK  DOWNLOAD FROM AUDIBLE.COM FOR LISTENING!
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