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The Lesson about Approval – Let us revisit shall we

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The past is but a memory and all those memories I want to remember today must be written down. Trying to recall certain memories take more strength and brain power. There are periods of time that have faded from my memory, looking at pictures from my past is difficult because in many of them I am young, before I began to suffer from drugs and alcohol and those snap shots of life tell me about a time before the suffering began.

But the time that stands out in my head most importantly was all the years I spent learning to live and learning about life under the sharp eyes of my Master Todd. Those years at the Stud were very instructive and some of them were downright painful. But I had to learn these lessons or else I would fail at life.

This is where you suspend your morals and think outside the box because the rest of this story falls under the “leather Speak” portion of my story telling. You can stop here or keep reading. but be warned … i move from one space to another quite easily….

For every action and chore ended with a lesson about why I had to do that specific action or chore. It all had to do with some aspect of my life and how I would cope with that specific issue had it arisen later on in my life. If that lesson had to do directly with myself or how I would get along with others and also how possibly others could and probably would treat me. You never knew if you had good people or bad people in your life until it was too late. Sometimes you had to take what you got, and then other times you could pick and choose who would be in your life.

Where we worked – we were hand picked. The entire staff was built from the ground up and we all became family over the fourteen day “build” when we were building the bar from the ground up. We all worked day and night, sometimes without sleep. I paid my dues and proved myself worthy to be part of the team by picking up glasses and bottles and cleaning up after people, through blood sweat and tears I earned my place.

But it was all joy in the beginning. I would hold off on my own tragedy for a while those first few months working at the Stud. I faced my own demons and issues with others in my life. And I was a crash and burn alcoholic by the time that ended. I was drinking myself sick night after night because of what was going on in my life, I tried to drink away the pain.

I had to face my diagnosis with courage. I had my Master who listened to me speak, who cradled my head on his chest as I cried. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for him. But I was still a drunk, I had to complete my journey to death with the drink. And that is what happened.

Then one day I was told a piece of information that I had to take to heart and use every day from that point on. You have a life outside the bar, and you have a life inside this building. What you carry to the door stays at the door when you cross the threshold. Do not bring it in here with you. Leave it outside.

You come to work and you do what you are told without question. Do you understand?

Yes, Sir.

Every night there was something new to be learned. Every week I battled with my demons getting sober and dealing with the cascade of emotions coming from inside of myself. I just did not know what to do with them.

With every shift I worked hand over fist. It was some of the hardest times of my life. I would work happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m. by myself. At eight I would go into the kitchen to change up for the night shift. I was expected to prepare all the wells with beer, ice, liquor, fruit and cups. Then at 8 the bells would ring and the music would begin in the dance hall and the bar would open.

I worked like a dog. Throwing trash, filling buckets of ice, cases of beer and truck a shitload of trash out to the bin every night. And every time I completed a task I went looking for approval. I keep hitting lower case (i’s) i’m in bottom space.

You got to know what that means to understand the speak.

i would seek the approval from my Master to make sure i did something right. And it went on like that for a long time. Todd had them blue eyes like Jesus, that could bore into you from across the room. All i had to do was look at him and i would know what he was saying without a single word. But that was not the end of that. If he got angry his eyes would turn a stormy grey. You knew whether or not to speak to him by the shade of his eyes.

All it took was one look.

At some point, Todd caught on to what i was seeking. and he decided to teach me one of the hardest lessons i ever had to endure, which comes up as the one day that i would return to if i had the chance. i would come on shift and enter the office, kneel and i would get my marching orders for the night. i knew everything that had to be done for a particular shift. i was under Todd’s protection and guidance.

So the work began and the shift would come and go, and Todd and i had a special relationship of love and commitment. i needed him and he knew that i needed him in ways that no mere man would ever need another human being. And i worked for every word of praise and support that i could get. i thrived on that instant gratification. but that would end very quickly.

At one point, Todd took a tack, and did not tell me what was coming next. So i would get to work and work through my shift and the night would come and go, we had the best bar service team that ever was between Kevin, Tom and myself.

At the end of the night i would gather with the rest of the folks in the bar and the first night came as a shock, Todd would not look at me nor would he say a word to me. And that broke my heart. i would go home and sob. If you knew where i was in my head at that time of life, being ignored was detrimental.

The second night i would get to shift and Roy would give me my orders for the night, it was strange that Todd would not give me a word and that went on for days and nights. i knew he was watching me from the sidelines and i was not going to fail at my tasks, i would rather die than be told i did something wrong.

The third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh nights would come in succession and i would work through my tears and the pain that i was living through. This period of time came to pass not long after i was diagnosed.

i was working through all the things that had to be done. And nobody knew what was going on with Todd and myself except Roy. i don’t know if you know what it feels like to work day and night and know that the man you love is ignoring you and you don’t know why, but to complain was not my place. i had to take it like a man and do what i was told to do, no matter what came up. unless i was going to die or something i was never to complain, and i did a lot of complaining until i was back slapped into submission.

Finally the twelfth night came up. I don’t remember what day it was or what date it was, all i know is that i was wearing thin on being ignored by the man who meant everything to me. i would catch him watching me from across the room on several occasions but as soon as he noticed i was watching him watch me he would change tacks.

The shift came to an end and i was besides myself. i had gone twelve nights in a row working like a dog doing everything that i was told to do by any of the bar staff at any hour of the night. To disrespect someone in the bar was to disrespect my Master. That community saved my life and every drop of sweat and tears that i shed were worth every minute of it.

Todd called me into the office and i knelt before him, my head was hanging and i was sobbing. Whenever i would go into the office for shift start my role was boy and i knew my place so on my knees was where i would start.

He knew that i was in pain. He watched me struggle for those twelve nights. It was the harshest lesson he ever taught me. He got up and came round the desk and grabbed my chin with his big hand and raised my eyes to his, i was still sobbing…

“Well Done Little One …”

Those four words were gold.

i broke down and cried like a baby. He hugged me and held me while i cried. i don’t remember how long that lasted but the next thing he said was this …

“do you know why you were taught this lesson? no Sir. Sometimes we seek approval for things that we do and sometime later on in your life you might go to work for someone else who may treat you like shit.”

They may not appreciate the work you do and they may ignore you or treat you less than.

After that teaching, i never sought another word of praise from Todd ever again. i did my work and was proud to have work and a place to call home. The bar remained open for another sweep of seasons and we were all still alive. But people were dying left and right. i worked every night with pride in my heart and love on my lips. You’d have to know something about Leather Pride to understand this aspect of my life and why it was so important to my life.

Just reading this brings tears to my eyes …


Mourning Death and Dying – Let’s revisit shall we

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Mourning, Death and Dying

One of the areas that set us apart from the healthy man or woman on the street is that when we are diagnosed, we are faced with the fact that this disease just might kill us, Which brings me to the following point, death and dying.

After I had been diagnosed in 1994, the doctors told me that I had 18 months, tops to live, so I better take care of what I needed to and enjoy the time I had left, then I was dismissed to do that. What did I know about death and dying? Not a thing.

I look back now and I can see why this point is so important to stress. When you are diagnosed with a terminal disease, well now, HIV and AIDS has moved from the position of a death sentence to a possible long term management project for living. That does not mean that this is any less important.

Death and dying is not dinner or coffee table discussion, until it directly affects someone or a family member by any degree of separation. I had an opportunity to study death and dying in a university class setting my first year at Concordia University, and my HIV was one of the topics raised in class because I was the token HIV positive student.

One thing that sets the normal human apart from those of us who have been diagnosed with a terminal disease is this, they do not have to think about their mortality until the end of their lives, we have to deal with it from the day we are diagnosed. Once the words are passed to you that you have HIV or AIDS, your life has just changed forever. Nothing will ever be the same. The mantle of responsibility for living has just been laid on your shoulders. Our normal notion of living a rich and full life has eternally changed. What you do with that knowledge is incredibly important.

When we experience a death in our family, or when friends pass on, we either stuff the experience or deny the feelings of grief, or we deal with grief in the ways that so many writers over time have talked about. Unlike the death of someone we know or love, mourning them is different than mourning your own life and death. This idea of the mourning process became important to me “after the fact” because I did not have this tool in the beginning. I could not articulate what I was going through, because I did not have proper education to do so.

Here is the idea, in order to process where you are going, you must first look at where you came from. Looking back at the path you are walking is important because it illustrates two very important ideas, one, that you have traveled so far already and that there are miles to go before you finish your journey. And you do know they say that “It is not about the destination that we should be concerned with, but it is ALL about the journey.”

Each stage of the “journey” is not something you rush through to complete in one weeks time, but I encourage you to give it some thought. Mourning ones own mortality is a totally different experience, as I said from mourning the loss of someone we knew or loved.

There are 5 stages in the grieving process, and they are:

  1. Anger
  2. Denial
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. and Acceptance

We have this list of stages, but these emotions come in various different orders when one is faced with the words “you are going to die!” I know for myself that I did not get angry at first. It was more like utter fear. I froze for a long time, I had no idea how to feel or how to express it, and there were not many wise men or women to teach me about mourning, and so what did I do? I drank, and drank and drank so that there would not be any “feeling.” I was depressed for months in the beginning, then I got angry, and I stayed angry for a long time, but in hindsight that negative anger did me no good, until I learned how to take that anger and point it in a positive direction to help me deal with what I was facing.

Holding on to negative anger about ourselves or the past or where we are or other people is only destructive and serves no purpose but to bring us down and to make us miserable. This was an incredibly helpful tool which I use even to this day.

We all have issues to deal with in our lives, and right now I am concerned with giving you some necessary tools to help you cope with things from here on out. Had someone told me these things in the first few weeks after my diagnosis, I would not have wasted so much time spinning my wheels, “staying crazy in my head.” Into my head is not a place I like to visit very often and not alone or without a hardhat. The only thing negative anger did was to keep me focused in my head, and I could not see what was in front of me, I was blinded by my anger. And that anger directed negatively almost killed me.

There was no denying the very real fact that I was going to die. I had a daily reminder of that for months. I thought I had been prepared for this, I was wrong. The stampede of emotions came on so fast, all at once, that it seemed like a tidal wave hit my beach and I was floundering in water that was too deep for me to hold my head above the water.

I did not shed a single tear in the beginning, because as a young person in my family, we were taught that “feeling” was not something we did at all. Those emotions never leave us, eh? They follow us, through the rest of our lives. It is your job to learn how to manage them properly.

 

You see, all the issues that we had with self and family prior to our diagnosis are only magnified and the past will directly affect how we deal with our own personal and medical issues in the present and if you don’t get a handle on these truths now, they will affect how you deal with your medical diagnosis and life in the future.

Time is linear and everything that happened to us earlier on in our lives stays with us, no matter how hard we work to either stuff or forget those memories. I have learned in as many years that if you don’t deal with your baggage and if you let it pile up you will be sitting in a therapist’s office until you die.

That’s why it is important to learn that one should not create memories for yourself that you are going to spend the rest of your life trying to forget. Issues from childhood are a major theme in the writings of many people I know today. So let me say this to you, whatever choices your parents made when we were children, we NOT our choices, were they? Everyone has choices, so issues of the past will follow you forward, and if you had not dealt with them before, they will still exist after a diagnosis.

It took me years to figure this out and work on what needed to be worked through. Nobody escapes their childhood, or the sins our parents committed. I know very few adults in my life these days who did not escape having issues with their pasts. It is what you do with those memories and how you choose to let them affect your future that is the key to successful living.

I guess you could say that my addiction to drugs and alcohol was the first sign that I was and had been in denial for a long time, because there was not going to be anyone or anything that would stand in between me and my using. If there was something going on in my life, in order to deal with it, I had to drink and drug that was a very key problem from much earlier in my life.

For that first eighteen months of that portion of my life, I bargained with God to let me live, even though at the same time I was trying to kill myself with drugs and alcohol. I was walking a very fine line between life and the abyss. I didn’t want to die, I was still so young, and I had not even begun to live yet. For the last 5 years I had been on the razors edge. I got involved in relationships that ended terribly, I was broke, James was dead and I was trying to find myself. The one good point to remember here, I had a safe job, in a safe space, with all the safety I needed to help me live.

I was in self destruct mode in those days. A few of my friends had gotten clean and sober before I did in August of 1994. The dominoes were falling in a specific order, my boss had to step in and order me to help myself, and he forced me to deal with what I was going through after James’ death. Now a year later he knew that I was in trouble and he did not want me to die. I got help, I got sober and I started to climb uphill, and I must tell you that it was the most painful and in the same vein, the most wonderful period of my life.

If I could have one thing before I died, it would be a second run through this two year period of my life, not for the bad parts but to relive the good ones.

I have battled depression since well before I was diagnosed, and it is a manageable condition that is part of my daily life. There were times that I felt like I was drowning in misery and negative thought. I began to see a shrink just after my move back to Miami in 1995, and I have been on a few depression medical regimens. They ploughed me with all kinds of pills in those first few years, it was insane.

I had to come to a point that I wanted to deal with my personal issues and not just take a pill and “voila” those issues that were in the front of my brain would magically disappear! wrong!

There is not a pill or treatment on earth that will remove issues or memories from our hearts and minds. And I do not condone nor believe in electro shock therapy. For so many years all I did to escape the present and run from the past was to drink and drug. So long as I stayed in the fog, those issues would be masked and kept in the dark. But what I had to do was a three fold decision.

I had to decide that I wanted to live

  1. I had to stop using and drinking and
  2. I had to build up the courage to look at the past and deal with it

Those decisions did not come immediately and it took a long time to build up my self esteem and courage to look at what was bothering me in the present and what issues were dogging me from the past. I have to tell you that many of my problems in my life stemmed from the abuse that was heaped on me as a child and young adult. From the age of 26 through my present age of 38, I have worked on dealing with my past like an adult. And that is no small feat, growing up for me has been a trial and error journey of faith, prayer and hope.

Finally, we look at Acceptance. They say, in the program that “Acceptance is the key to all of my problems.” It has taken me a very long time to work on acceptance, because this key step has been a constant companion in my life. Accepting that I was going to die was an extremely bitter pill to swallow, seeing that I had no family to walk with me to the gates of hell. I mean, that’s where they would have walked me, not to heavens gates.

Getting sober in August of 1994 helped me greatly. The drawback of getting sober brought with it its own pressures. Have you ever tried to get sober in a “gay room” of alcoholics anonymous? Holy shit, queens are vicious when it comes to competition. I had to manage my sobriety, keep up a positive outlook on my life, I had to work to make a living and I had to deal with all the emotional issues that were looking me in the face, and I have to tell you that it was NOT easy by any stretch of the imagination.

My job was secure and my coworkers, my boss and his partner became the family I needed to help me begin to start rebuilding my life, because I had lost a lot in the preceding years physically and emotionally. We were all part of a very tight bar staff at a Levi Leather Bar called the Stud, in Ft. Lauderdale circa 1992-1995. It was the most awesome place to work, and I had the best time.

One day at a time, I walked, I reached the eighteen month mark and I was still breathing on the 560th day. Ok, I lived past my first “death date.” What the hell was I supposed to do now? I had no contingency plan set up in case I lived. I was totally prepared to die. I had accepted my fate and I was going to walk off the living plane with my head held high. From that day forward I have not looked back.

The happy bar existence was coming to a close as 1995, was passing us by, and by that summer it was apparent that things were not working out. The bar owner had, by then, lost his partner, many of our customers and patrons were dead, people and personalities were starting to clash. It had been decided by some that Todd and his partner were to be forced out of the bar, against all of our wishes and hopes. It was a very trying time for me, because if Todd and Roy had left, I was no longer safe and neither was my job. Alas, finally that day came, where Todd and Roy were forced out the door as I watched his friend Ray take control of the bar, and get rid of the one man who helped me and many other successfully fight this disease and live hopeful and prosperous lives.

Soon after Todd and Roy’s departure, we dismantled his house and they packed up the U Haul and left for the bright lights and big city of San Francisco, where they currently live. Many of the bar staff who worked at the stud made the westward journey. I was the one who stayed in the city. I was too young to make a leap that far away from the only place and life I had ever known. The other reason that I stayed in Florida was because I had hoped my father would drop dead sometime soon, I had spent many a night praying for him to drop dead, so that I could reclaim my mother and have her to myself for a few years before I died. I hated my father for many years, but like they say, “things change” and they did for me, I worked through that hatred, and now all I feel is indifference.

Here I had lost my mentor, father and guide. That broke my heart, and I became a holy terror at the bar, my anger knew no bounds, and I was out for total revenge and annihilation of the man who caused this rift in my life. This was a personal affront, and was going to stop at nothing to make him pay. I played the game for a few months, until I got a referral for a job in Miami come Labour Day 1995. I went down for a weekend to interview for a job at another bar, “playing lights.” By that time I was multitasking at the Stud. I was a really great light man. My knowledge of music from an earlier stage in my life helped me along in the profession that I had chosen for that period of my life.

Acceptance! I hated acceptance.

I had lost the stability and structure that I so badly needed during those first years. Now I was on my own. I had to make things work. I was literally “on my own.” I was sober now a little more than a year, I was moving to another city, I was starting a new job, and I had to find medical assistance to stay alive. Miami had begun to build infrastructure to help those who were sick with HIV and AIDS.

I made a few inquiries and visited the Mercy Hospital Immune Deficiency Assistance office. This interview was my saving grace. Every need that I had from that point on was taken care of through this office. I was forced to accept where I was in my life, and I had to make it work for me. I was forced to grow up again. Living with HIV is continual growth process. As you mature you learn and as you learn you evolve. Living with HIV / AIDS is not in any sense a “cake walk.”

It was not easy, but I had an excellent team of people and doctors who helped me along the way.

Acceptance is a daily practice. It comes over time and will make sense the more you work on it, choosing to live, is the first step in the art of acceptance.


The Diagnosis of AIDS – Let’s revisit shall we

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Here is the story of that week from my journal. If we are to start anywhere, here is the best place.

July 4th 1994

it was a nice day. Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft. Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy. The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft. Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?

Imitate art that week?

I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.

The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.

Anyway, that was that.

Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.

The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went

Hello…

Hello…

Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!

I have some news for you.

Yes, what would that be?

I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…

Silence.

I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!

They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.

Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.

After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Provincetown on holiday. But I would eventually call Todd.

 

Tuesday July 5th, 1994

I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building. The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”

I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.

You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft. Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.

This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.

Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.

It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm. You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.

He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…

And he tried to leave it at that.

I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,

“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”

He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.

I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.

Friday July 8th 1994

the week passed by without incident. Thursday I waited impatiently for the phone to ring, and every time it did, I would jump through the roof. Alas, Thursday night I went to bed, knowing that tomorrow it would come.

I got up in the morning and drove Josh to work and returned to the house. It was around 11 am that the phone finally did ring. It was Ken. His voice was shaky on the phone, and all he said was “Jeremy, you need to come to the office, and you need to come now!” Then the line went dead. I got dressed and headed over to the clinic. I already knew the answer, but you never know, right? I parked the car, and said my prayers, and I rested for a moment.

I went up stairs and logged in at the reception desk. Ken was nowhere to be found. After a little while they escorted me into an examination room; it was blue in color, very sterile and cold. I sat down on the table and I waited. A few minutes later the doctor came in, file in hand. I guess he wanted to make sure I was prepared for this.

“Well, no better time than the present,” he said.

Let’s get this over with. “Jeremy, you have AIDS and that’s the bottom line. “

“You are going to die.”

The words rolled off his tongue with the flair and style of a practiced doctor. He sat with me for a few moments while I considered my fate. I think he was hoping that I would say something.

“Thank you for that information,” I replied.

He said that we would need to do a few tests to get started; those labs would show just how compromised my immune system was, and what the next course of action would be.

I did not know how bad things were, but I would soon find out. Back then, who knew from death or life? Drugs were hard to come by, and there surely was no system of treatment in place for me to go to.

He dismissed himself and said that when I was ready, I could leave.

So I gave him a five-minute lead on me, then I gathered up my soul and I walked out the exam room door and out to the car. I looked down from the second floor and Ken was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me. When I got down to my car, Ken stood up opened his arms and embraced me; he was sobbing. I stood there; I guess I was in shock. I stood there and held him, while the wave ran over both of us.

I guess I was not prepared to show my cards just yet. We talked for a little while and we set out a plan of action for the next week. I would return to this lab and get some baseline labs drawn to get a more total picture of my immune system and figure out how I was going to proceed. (That’s what eventually happened in the coming days.)

I drove home. I was relatively calm. It’s funny that I was totally prepared to stand up straight and tall and accept my fate, but watching my friends and coworkers and family crack up was very disturbing. People with AIDS were pariahs! You did not touch them, you did not hug them, and you surely did not want your neighbours or family members to know that you socialized with or employed someone who had AIDS, God forbid we infected someone you knew or even transmitted our disease to you by touch or breathing in the same space!

I got home, and I sat in my space and I tried to make some decisions. Who do I tell and when? I don’t remember what I did that day, but I kept myself busy. I called Todd and Roy, and they were on vacation. When Todd got the news, he was sad, and immediately he stepped up to the plate and became the man who would save my life.

That evening, Friday, I went to pick Josh up at work; I forgot to clear the tape deck in the car. The soundtrack to “Philadelphia” was still in there. It was around 5 o’clock when I picked him up; the sun was setting in front of us as we drove east towards the house. I tapped the tape into the deck, and it started to play…

I watched Josh convulse in the front seat, and throw up out the car door. He was hysterical. I did not have to say a word to him, but he knew. When we got home, he went into the bedroom, he packed his duffle bag, without a word, he looked at me, said goodbye, and walked out the door, got into his car, and drove away. That was the last time I saw him.

Whoa, OK, one down … two more to go.

I had some dinner and proceeded to call my parents. You would have thought that an atomic bomb had been dropped on my parents’ house. My mother, having worked in the health field, said to me that I had gotten what I deserved. She and my father had had a week to consider this topic. We discussed my plan of action, and I called a family meeting that would take place in a week’s time. I wanted everyone to be informed and I wanted to know that I was not alone.

That visit did take place. And it did no good to ensure anything but the disdain and ignorance by my family to step up and get involved in taking care of the future. I had made my choice, by doing what I had done, and I got what was coming to me. My father had made that perfectly clear.

I still do not know, to this day, if James was the contact point of HIV. All I do know is that James was a diabetic and was suicidal. That he was sick those last few months that we were together, and I did his blood tests with his pen. I handled the strips several times a day. And that they tell me was the transmission point. I did not know he had AIDS until well after his death, when a friend of mine called me at work one day back in ’93 to tell me he was sick and had AIDS. I guess it took me a few months to “seroconvert.” This is the process the body goes through when it’s finally hit with viral replication and inception of a virus that the immune system cannot fight alone.

Over the next week, I chose my battles wisely, I told my inner circle of friends. The ones on the inside of the AIDS circle (that I was part of at work.) On the other hand there was the other circle of my “social friends” that had partied with us just a few days earlier. They would never set foot in my house ever again, in fact, and it was as if I had walked off the face of the earth, because I never heard from many of them ever again. The stigma of AIDS back then was deadlier then the virus itself.

Todd eventually returned to Ft. Lauderdale. My landlord and his lover were notified.

Interesting that many years later, I was at a Pride Celebration in Ft. Lauderdale, and my landlord’s partner was in a wheelchair and sick with AIDS. When we were friends at the time of my diagnosis, they were a happy couple, with all the promise in the world. I had no idea. I did not lose my apartment, my rent was frozen where it was, and they helped me pay bills and buy food. Within days Todd had returned and he came over and we talked. (God, we spent a lot of time talking!)

I was in self-destruct mode. And the stress of being sick with AIDS took its toll. I drank around the clock, I drank at work, I drank after work, and all I wanted to do was die. Todd did what he could at the beginning to keep me on the straight and narrow. He outlawed drinking while on shift, (I was working in a nightclub then) so that kept me sober while I worked.

I would then head out after we closed to the “after hours” club called the “Copa.” It was down the street from where our club was, and they served alcohol till 6am. So I had at least two to three hours to get inebriated nightly. That lasted until the end of August.

One night, I decided that the pain was too intense that dying was a viable option, seeing that I knew what all of the men I knew went through. I was at the Copa one night, and it was hot and I had drunk myself into a very nice BUZZ. The problem here was, I wanted more, and I got more. That night, I collapsed on the dance floor in an alcoholic overdose of gargantuan proportions.

I woke up in my friend Danny’s arms. The ambulance was there and oxygen was administered. I was still alive. That was the last night I drank. That morning, Danny brought me home and he stayed in my house for a week. I could not go anywhere except work. Todd was worried that I was going to try and kill myself again. So I had babysitters when I was not at work. I hit my first meeting on August the 23rd, 1994. By that time, most of the bar staff was all sober, and three-quarters of us were sick with AIDS.

Todd had a safe rule in effect. We had jobs, and we got paid. If we got sick, and could not come to work, our shifts were covered by someone on staff. We did not get fired for being sick. The bar secured for us medical treatment through the local clinic, where one of our friends named Marie ran a community clinic/drug farm.

Ken came to my house weekly to check on me. My world got A LOT smaller.

Everyone outside my work circle walked away. It took me a long time to get over that. They were punishing me for getting sick. Like I needed any more punishment!

The religious fundamentals were making their cases for eternal damnation for gays and people with AIDS, and speaking out whenever we went in public. Funeral homes stopped giving services to people with AIDS and their families because of religious and social pressure.

Life was difficult, But, I survived, because of the community I lived in and the grace of Almighty God.

In retrospect, “it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” and if God gave me a choice to go back and repeat any area of my life over again, it would be that exact period of time, and I would not change one single thing.

For years after my diagnosis, my friends died left and right, 162 people. The Names Project Quilt is a reminder of all the lives I touched and was a part of, and all the men whom I knew and loved.

All the men who were CRUCIAL to my survival (our survival) all the gay men who collected money for People with Aids, the drag queens we loved and admired and partied with over the year, the diehard supporters, are all dead now.

So many boys, so many men, cut down in the prime of life. We were foolish then, and uneducated. It was only after the storm hit that the reality start to sink in. When our friends started dying and we realized that “something serious is going on” did the community got smart.

We built infrastructure. We created homes and safe spaces. We cared for those on the streets, we collected money and food. We cooked and fed people, we washed clothes and in some cases we even changed diapers.

A year later, in 1995, I moved back to Miami, after Todd and Roy moved out west to San Francisco. I did not go with them, I was too young, and I had been banking on the fact that my S.O.B father would die and I would take back my mother. Well, he is still alive, all these years later, and I did not get my mother back. Do I have regrets? Sometimes I do. I sometimes think, “what if?” but that’s all they are, thoughts. You know what they say about living in “what ifs right?” So I don’t think about what ifs anymore, just what will be.

From my diagnosis date through the first eight years of my life with HIV/AIDS, I lived in the United States, and I speak about navigating a U.S. program of medical, social and government system. I immigrated to Canada in April of 2002.


One Night in Heaven – Let us revisit shall we

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Cue the music, fog the room… Time to write

M People, One night in heaven…

Shift change has started and I am off the happy hour shift that I used to work. Off to the kitchen to change for the night shift that is going to start soon. Farkle is in the booth and he fires up the first song of the night.

Jeans, t-shirt and chaps. The hot little stud is going to tempt the Temple of Earthly Desires once again tonight. A little tug here, and a zip there, I am ready for action. In the grand scheme of things I am a jack of all trades. Larry is in charge of liquor distribution, Kevin is in charge of incidentals, beer, ice, stock and supply. I am following up my fellows with the same.

But I have other responsibilities.

Open up your heart…

Aside from bar responsibilities, I am in charge of taking care of special guests and entertainers. I check them in at the door and escort them through the maze into the back stage area where all the real action is to take place. Nobody has access to the backstage area except employees and management. I am to make sure that they all have what they need, and that means, everything.

We are hosting the Leather man contests that are very common in the Leather community at that time. The schism of the Ft. Lauderdale leather men has not yet taken place, between the Old Guard and the New Guard. I am of the Old Guard group. I was born into this life by my Master Todd on that fateful night some time ago at the old location.

Someone to count on in a world ever changin’.
Here I am, stop where you standin’.
What you need is a lover, someone to take over.
Oh baby don’t look any further.
Strange when you think of the chances
that we’ve both been in a state of mind.
Too cool to be careless. Looking for the right thing.
Oh baby don’t look any further.
Tonight (tonight) we’re gonna taste a little paradise.
Rockin’ all night long. Rockin’ all night long.
Daylight (daylight) I’ll still be looking in your heavenly eyes.
Oh we rocked on and on and on.

I am in the position of leadership. Part of my education in those early days is obedience and respect. The hierarchy is set in stone and I know my place, I report to the Master, the guests report to me. I am in charge of taking care of their supplies and to make sure that they are treated with respect and the position that they hold in the greater community. This job, I take very seriously, because what the guests tell my boss later will reflect on my future as a man to be trusted and it will also either permit me further access or punishment. To be removed from community or silence is the greatest punishment in my world at that time. I learn that lesson the hard way at one point in the story…

Kevin has just walked in the door. He is young. He is a Leather man of the highest degree. I spent a night with him at the Caribbean Resort a few nights ago. I was caught in a moment of rapture. He is the finest specimen of a man I have ever seen and after the first introduction, I was taken. I was “Taken!” Sitting in the bar with him and his crowd was worshiping God. Kevin has my full attention and then some. There is nothing I would not do for him, and many things I would like to do for him.

He is competing tonight for the crowd, and I am going to make his competition the best of the night. In the grand scheme of things, he who is represented outstandingly is going to win this competition. But first they must prove themselves worthy of the award. A little conversation and a little performance that is going to knock to crowd off their high and mighty pedestals. This is where we separate the real men from the boys. That he is younger than most he is automatically at odds with them.

After all of my settling in work is done and everybody is checked in and I’ve seen to their comfort, I am off to take care of the rest of the bar. Everyone of our guests has a handler, and I am only to take care of Kevin. The lights are swinging at a fast pace, the music is pounding and I am dressed to the nines’ so to speak. I have rounded up all of the young leather men and we have discussed strategy for the night. As representatives for the young leather community, it is our job to look out for the interest of our club and the community at large.

As part of our education as a group, the bar has had weekly meetings of the Young Leather men. There are about 30 members and several Leather MEN to guide us and teach us about protocol, respect and personal safety. We have attended lectures and demonstrations and spent hours discussing situations and life experiences. When the bar is called on to host events, we are the first line of representation and service. I am the closest one to the center of the universe, by my position “to” my Master.

I am in charge of cleaning up the club all night. I am the one who is going to take up bottles and glasses and garbage on the main floor. It is my job to always keep the bar in a condition worthy of proper presentation. In addition to picking up refuse, I am the one who is going to keep the bathrooms up and running. Nasty pig men can be nothing but a head ache because while they are adults, they do not know how to clean up after themselves. They stop up toilets with glasses and mounds of toilet paper and this must be kept an eye on. Running toilets are detrimental to a proper nights business. This is one of the serious lessons that I must learn about because if I cannot clean up shit and dirty toilets, then I won’t be able to do it for myself.

I though about this last night after I wrote my last entry. I was dating a particular man at one time in this life. He was arrogant and yet I liked him. He did things for me that no one else had done. He made me feel things that I had never felt. He had room mates that were sick and could not go out in public without a diaper, because they were struck so hard by illness. It was very sad. They did not make it. but I digress…

The nights fly by one after the other and the job is the same. I am visible to everyone in the bar, because I have planned it that way. Part of my mystique is to get the right men to notice me. I have amassed quite a collection of gear to wear. I have collected it and some of it is custom made. This was the age of “High Leather” and I was at the center of the universe. I would troll the crowd as they came in looking at all the signs that were being flown. The hankies in the right or left pocket, what color they were, and what arm the armbands were being worn on. After a good hour of trolling I could go to my locker and replicate whatever “response” I was going to give back. It always worked. I could play the game just as well as the heaviest hitters.

Nothing pleased me more than to walk out of the kitchen in my chaps and usually by the late hours of the night, I wasn’t wearing a shirt. I could do that then and get away with it. I would be carrying a bucket of ice (they were small garbage cans) full of ice, over to a particular bar, where the heavy hitters would be gathered. I would bounce behind the bar, dancing to the music that was being played and I would fool around with a bar tender, we were all family.

What the ‘lookers’ were very cognizant of was that I knew that many of them were flying red or red brick HANKIES in their left pockets. I had responded with the same hankie in my right pocket. And we would stand there and I would watch them look at me and then they would make a fist and hold it up in front of their faces, pondering the thought, look at me, well, at my backside, and then back at their hands and then they would shake their heads, in disbelief. That was the most excellent feeling…

To know that they noticed me. I played the game and I usually won…

The music would change as mixes were played…

One night in heaven.

I’m on the dance floor, Farkle is in the booth, he is dancing as I look over to the booth from where I stand and I can see him pointing towards the speakers above the booth. He is in a good space tonight. He is playing “up” music and everybody has escaped into that place of utter bliss. It is all well tonight. We have done our jobs. The bodies are gyrating to the same beat, bodies move in unison. Sweat is falling down all around me, I fell arms around me. Hugs and pushes, tugs and tweaks. I set down my bag for a moment on the bass speakers lining the wall and I am engulfed in the arms of some of my friends, and we dance for all it is worth. I am watching the lights swing from one side to the other, and I am in heaven.

From my days at the Stud, I wrote this reflection many years later, at the end of the QAF series as it happened here in Montreal. (Mark) I refer to in this later piece is the same (Farkle) who DJ’d at the Stud during these years I have previously wrote about in the Temple of Sin.


Tweaked – New And Improved !!!

Courtesy: Jshstwrt – A little ink. Very cool !!!

Attention fair readers of the Blog …

I have spent the better part of an hour tweaking the blog. I’ve rearranged some things up and down the sidebar, I’ve updated the Blog List of reads that I read on a daily basis, (Go show them some love) You will find various reads that are compelling, cute, naughty, and just downright cool !!!

I have also Juggled the PAGES and dropped some from the header, but there are new PAGES up there to read. All of them pertinent to life and LGBTQ concerns.

This blog is a product of many of the folks that I read. I have adopted many of the topic styles and formats that many of my reads employ. They have their own method and I see (in the recent past) that you all enjoy what I am putting on the blog.

If there is something that YOU would like to see or read, please do let me know.

Welcome to my new followers. It is good to hear from you.


Just One Spark …

Courtesy: RawrDaniel

“Imagination, Imagination a dream can be a dream come true with just that spark in me and you …”

I have found the most amazing website just clicking through links for the old E.P.C.O.T. Center audio/visual clips. Click THIS EPCOT LINK for some fun.

There is a collection of audio clips from the rides of E.P.C.O.T. old that many no longer exist and along with that videos of several of the rides themselves. This post was going in one direction and quickly morphed into what I am writing now. I don’t have the space upgrade with enough space to put the links here myself. I started with the thought of “one little spark” and that led me to Imagination and then I kept clicking links and came by this website where I have been stuck for the last almost two hours watching video and downloading audio clips.

*** *** *** ***

It was a regular Tuesday today. It was much cooler than it has been in a long time, it actually felt like a cool fall day in September. Last night I was reading through my blogs and I came across ROD’S BLOG HERE and he had a clip from D.J. Tiesto and Tom Hang’s Blessed featuring Shermanology.Which I liked a lot.

That took me on a second journey to find more music to put on my phone and a few hours later I had downloaded 3 D.J. Tiesto Cd’s Kaliedoscope, Magikal Journey and Club Life Volume 1 Las Vegas. Hours of music which is always good fun.

I have a very eclectic assortment of music on my phone now, and it is hours and hours of music that I will never run out of good music to listen to.

*** *** *** ***

So I plugged into the tunes on my way out and stopped by the grocery store to get milk and cookies and I walked down the cookie aisle and stopped dead the store was having a run on cookies. A whole bunch of selected tasty goodness was on sale. As I stood there looking at the choice another man walked up behind me and stopped dead as well. We were both looking at the Ultimate Crunch cookies and he sighed and said to me … “Wow, these could be dangerous.”

And you know, one does not normally converse with other shoppers in the store, and it was almost furtive the way he came across, it almost felt like a pick up line moved from the vegetable section to cookies. So I said “yeah, they do…”

And then as quick as I could I walked away from the cookies, with two packages in my cart I set off for the checkout.

You never know what is going to happen in the grocery store.

I got to the church and began my prep. Have tunes, will travel. It took me less than an hour to get finished and my set up usually takes me right up to the 6 o’clock hour and the ringing of the bells.

I came out of the bathroom and people were already arriving. Since we picked up several new members over the last 2 months, their sponsees followed. And now, once again, the lifeblood of the meeting has returned. I love that people are coming in early to chat and to read. Our space lends itself to entertaining.

The room was packed. Numbers were good. We had 30 people and a great kitty haul for the night. With numbers like this we will be sitting pretty for a while. Hopefully they will stay that way. There is a big New York contingent in the room now and everybody knows each other from NYC. And over the past few weeks we have had out of towners from NYC and so our New Yorkers know of the meetings in the city there  and who is on the speaker circuit, lots of good conversation.

We read from the Big Big Book Dictionary. And since it is the ninth month our chair brought up the word Amend, which led us to the Big Book and the Ninth Step. It’s a long step in written form, we stopped just short of the Promises in the book, because we read them at the end of the meeting.

The discussion was lively. It was also very emotional for some. “Made direct amends to such people where ever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.”

For me, Facebook was a great vehicle of connection and many of the people I grew up with are in my facebook friends list. Many of them are sober and over the past few years I imagine that we are all making living amends to one another where ever possible. Many of those friends are sober too. Some much longer than I have been sober.

Family – the dirty subject nobody talks about. This is the one area that I have failed at miserably. And it isn’t just my problem. I have been trying to make amends to family for years to no avail. I can’t sit here and beg someone to hear me out or even listen to what I have to say. You’d think that at this stage of the game, we are all adults and we all grow up, shouldn’t those adults see the err in the way they live and think and allow for a little two way communication?

When my brother popped up on Face Book I tried to contact him and he ignored me and so I tried to go through common friends to make contact and that failed. And it came to pass that my mom’s sister and I are still on the family black list. I can’t be bothered with this issue any more. It is a big waste of time and emotional effort.

We’ve played this tit for tat game for years. And this story goes back over a decade. I am guilty for my share of the issues but it isn’t all my fault for the silent treatment I get today. What can you do with being told by your mother that if they died, no one would call me or better yet tell me where they are buried!!!

My move above the northern border pissed my parent off so much that it was tantamount to family desecration. How dare I leave the U.S. and spit on the life my parents gave me! I made some serious decision earlier in my life, those decisions which I made for my own health, well being and safety are the very same decisions that I am paying for today in silence.

So Fuck me for living … And I wonder if they really care one way or another?

I don’t care one way or another. Nobody has gone out of their way to contact me or send a holiday card or gift or acknowledgement in any form or fashion. oh well, you win some – and you loose some.

So that is my mini rant on step nine…

A little drama, a little fun, and a lotta memories …

I hope you enjoy the links. I did …

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday the 8th of July 2011 …

Courtesy: Walking on Scorpions

Monday was the 4th of July. And back in 1994, July 4th fell on that Monday as well. That was the night that I called my family and told them I was sick and that I was going to a clinic the following day for an AIDS test.

An excerpt from Crazy SOTB:

Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…

I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…

He wept.

Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…

*** *** *** ***

Friday July 8th 2011 … 17 years

I have been ruminating over this post for the past few days. Not so much waxing nostalgia, but a long since memory that reaches across to me every time I stand in front of my medicine cabinet to either shave or do my pill count.

I’ve crossed the threshold of another anniversary. 17 years.

I sure have written my fair share on the topic of AIDS and living with AIDS over the many years that this blog has been up and running. All those men and boys who went before me still exist in my minds eye. All we have today is a photo album of quilt sections and the memories we remember to write down before they are all forgotten.

I think a change is coming. I can feel it. I am not quite sure what that change will be but, nonetheless, the summer will come to a close as it always does and it will come down to, I think, a decision.

What am I doing with my life ? Where am I going?

I am thinking that I need to make sure I go to pride this year and bear witness to my friends and myself that I am still here so many years after I should have died.

*** *** *** ***

So let’s continue with the memory of Crazy SOTB:

So it began…

At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Dante would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.

The rule was set…

You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!

Yes Sir…

I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.

This is your life we are talking about…

The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.

Angry Larry…

When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.

People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.

For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.

I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.

Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoke, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men.

We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.

Let’s get it on…

Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.

One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.

So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.

Todd saw to it that I would never go there…

You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.

I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…

I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…

Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.

I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.

But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.

And forgiven by God…

Amen

Goodnight angels of men

In a church,by the face,
He talks about the people going under.

Only child know…

A man decides after seventy years,
That what he goes there for, is to unlock the door.
While those around him criticize and sleep…
And through a fractal on a breaking wall,
I see you my friend, and touch your face again.
Miracles will happen as we trip.

But we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We are a little…

Cray…cray…cray…

…Crazy yellow people walking through my head.
One of them’s got a gun, to shoot the other one.
And yet together they were friends at school
Ohh, get it, get it, get it, get it no no!

If all were there when we first took the pill,
Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe…
Miracles will happen as we speak.

But we’re never gonna survive unless…
We get a little crazy.
No we’re never gonna survive unless…
We are a little…
Crazy…
No no, never survive, unless we get a little… bit…

Oh, a little bit…
Oh, a little bit…

Oh…
Oh…

Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years…

Oh darlin…
In a sky full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
In a world full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Crazy…
In a heaven of people there’s only some want to fly,
Ain’t that crazy?
Oh babe… Oh darlin…
In a world full of people there’s only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy…

Ohh…
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless we are a little… crazy..
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless, we are a little.. crazy..
No no, never survive unless, we get a little bit…

And then you see things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

They’ll break it

Someday…

Only child know….

Them things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…


H.A.L.T.

Courtesy: Danny Alexander

One of the helpful hints we talk about at our home group is this phrase. H.A.L.T. It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. These four things, are trigger points for someone in recovery. We are warned to avoid these things, and if we sense them looming in front of us, then we need to take action immediately. Watching out for these things helps in maintaining sobriety.

Tuesday has come and gone. It was a good day. As usual the day always progresses the same way, week in and week out. I went by the store on the way out to get milk and jumbo coffee cups, because our guests like the jumbo cups so we try our best to accommodate all the requests we get.

The meetings held their own tonight. We had a large group of mainly women at the early meeting, which is unique. Men usually outnumber women when it comes to the early meeting. Most of the faces were new to us this week. Most of those new faces were sober less than  a year. I mused aloud to Rick after wards that I wondered where these gals came from, as we have never seen most of them before. Freshies are good, they keep the old timers young and sober.

We packed the house for the 8 o’clock meeting, and Rick hooked a rock star speaker whom I knew from early sobriety. He used to come to our meeting religiously when I was first getting sober, then life happened, he got married and had a couple of kids, and tonight we got to hear his experience, strength and hope. All I could say (I was in the chair tonight) was WOW… I was speechless …

My personal assessment after the meeting was this … I am missing something. I want what he has, less the wife and children. H.A.L.T is looming ahead of me. I have, as of late, been feeling a little lonely and it is starting to grade on my nerves.

As of the last few months, my number of friends have all but disappeared. People that I was friends with for a number of years, decided that they no longer wanted to be friends with me, because of my honest assessment of the way our relationships were progressing. It’s hard being sober sometimes, because sometimes you have to share things that might upset the fine balance of relationships to the point where they end up on the line. One of those friends, has lost his father in the last two weeks, and by second hand notice, I learned of his passing from another blogger who happens to be friends with him.

I broke my silence and sent him my condolences, knowing fairly well that whatever I said to him did not guarantee a response because of what has already transpired. So be it … I am powerless over people, places and things.

With the end of school for me, my association to people ended as well, not that I called any of my peers “friends” by any stretch of the imagination. The only contact I have now with people on a regular basis is at my home group.

I don’t know who to trust any more. I don’t have anyone to talk to about what’s going on in my head. I am spinning on auto pilot. Louise is on her own reconstructive journey with cancer, so she is out of my loop. With enough of her own shit on her plate, that takes her off the list of people I used to talk to on a regular basis.

I hit more meetings in the last week, and in talking to Rick tonight, I realized why I did not go to other meetings, because people never change and even Rick has noticed the same things that I have problems with some people in Montreal sobriety.

I need something more than what I am getting right now. And I feel like if I don’t do something about this now, it is going to come around and bite me in the ass sooner or later.

July is always a bad month for me. It is remembrance month for me, it is anniversary month for my issues with AIDS, and it is my birthday at the end of the month. I am not getting any younger.

I don’t think any of my friends on Face Book pay one bit of attention to anything I write here – it cross posts there as well. But it keeps people connected and this week I hit the 4,000,000 coins in Farmville. I am at level 41 and halfway to 42.

It was a good night. I am ok right now. I just see a change coming, and I don’t know what that change is, but I think it is going to be necessary, I think sobriety is about to take a right turn somewhere up around the bend. I know it’s coming and I am going to work on avoiding the ill effects of an upheaval in sobriety.

Usually signs like these foretell the need to ramp up on meetings and stay in contact with other people in sobriety. That’s what I need to do right now.

“Constant Vigilance is what is necessary …”

More to come, stay tuned …


Monday Photography …

Found on: The Curve of the Earth


Late Night Musings …

I bought a puppy in Farmville and his feeding time is 3:35 a.m. every morning. I have read through the Farmville forums and found that you can’t change a feeding time. So I am stuck having to sit and wait for 3:35 to come every morning to feed him (Bonkers).

I got a good portion of reading done tonight. I went to the library earlier on Wednesday to photocopy some chapters from a couple of books. I mean, really, what else can you say about Sophia from the Apocryphon of John. Everyone says the same thing. She was, she wanted to create like God, she didn’t get approval, so she did it anyway, it was an abortion, and was pushed out of the pleroma, she repented and was reinstated. that’s about it.

I am working on my 10 page paper for Hermeneutics, that should be coming along nicely in the next couple of days. I need to go back over some of the reading. She taught us the fine art of academic reading, so that will help.

That old song, “Should I stay or should I go” is playing in my head. I’ve been pondering a lot of thought these past few weeks. I haven’t made a decision yet on this front yet. People read this blog, so I can’t give it away just yet.

I’m getting comments from old friends lately and I am grateful to them for stopping by. I updated my links on the blog so they are all active links.

I think I am going to go to bed now.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Shopping…

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I’ve been very tired over the weekend. I slept a lot Friday and Saturday night which is nice because I am on break until the beginning of January. Yesterday I got most of my Christmas dinner together from the store. Turkeys were on sale so I now all I need are some odds and ends.

amy-poehler-sgy-000048

Last night was Amy Poehler’s last SNL appearance. Sad to see her go, she was so talented. Now I wonder who is going to be doing Hillary in her absence. And who will replace her on the Update Desk???

Today we set off for the core to do some shopping for the family. I think we are finished now. Hubby needed to get a few things, and also get the gift cards for the kids.

I went by Indigo, like I always do. And as usual I cannot walk into that store without buying something. I picked up a copy of “The Only Necessary Thing” Living a prayerful life by Henri J.M. Nouwen. Henri is one of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th century. If you’ve never read him, I suggest you find some of his works, they are beautiful…

We had a nice lunch at the Eaton Centre and set off for the Apple Store. What a huge shop with these massive computers and bits and bobs for the Mac user. Hubby commented that with buying two gift cards for the girls that this was the first time ever we had given money to the Apple Organization, since we are avowed PC users.

With the introduction of the New WordPress 2.7, I went ahead and purged the blog list of all the dead links. If your blog doesn’t appear on the list let me know, I may have missed one or two. But I did add my entire read list to the blog list. So you can see at a glance, what I am reading on a daily basis.

That’s about it from here.

The plows came through last night and cleaned up all the snow piled here and there from the last snow event. Now all there is – is dirty slush and ice on the sidewalks. We walked from the Eaton Centre home today and it was messy going, I love the snow but I hate the dirty slush…


Curtis…

WE are Powerless over People, Places and Things…

It seems that many of us are very raw at the moment over the reality that Cooper’s Corridor was a fake. The misuse of trust and the duplicity of those involved. I left a comment over on Curtis’s blog on this issue and he wrote me and told me that he has issues with me because it seems to him that I have been avoiding him and that I may not be as Holy as I was once perceived. I have never had the need to lie to any of my readers, nor make myself out to be someone that I was not.

Let us be truthful here. I do have a life. I have kids that count on me every day. I have a husband that requires me to be present every day as well, not to mention my academic studies that take up a great deal of my free time. I have 90 blogs on my daily read list and I read them religiously every day. I may make a comment here or there, but for the most part I am a silent reader.

I opened a dialogue with Curtis and it went the route it was going to take. I don’t sit here day in and day out writing emails to my peers or to my reads, be they who they may. I’ve never SNUBBED anyone on my read list. I would tell you that if your name appears on my blog list and the name of your blog, then that means that I read your blog and I recommend that read to my readers.

If I have upset any of my readers by my silence then let me take this opportunity to openly apologize. Yes I may be Holy, but I am also a human being. It was never my intention ever, to offend anyone that I have written to or corresponded with. But I am not Cooper, and every word that is written on this blog is the God’s honest truth. I even set a picture of myself on the blog which is from my wedding day. There is no need to think or believe that I have gone to any length to MIS-REPRESENT myself to anyone. I have no desire to plagiarize any ones writing, because, let’s be honest, Plagiarism is not very scholarly is it???

I know, right now, that several blogs are shutting down over this whole Cooper scandal. And that saddens me that some sick fuck has emotionally devastated so many blog writers. I was one of those people. I got involved with this scandal because I was emotionally invested in this story. And I offered my tidbits of information that I had to the greater good. And I emailed certain writers that I knew had correspondences with Cooper to try and validate what it was that I knew. I am not a psychopath like those who perpetrated this huge farce.

I am not prone to lying. In fact I abhor lying. I don’t put up with it in my life, and I sure as shit don’t lie here on my blog. I am just a man who is studying Pastoral Ministry and I am who I am. If you believe that I have slighted you in any way, then that is YOUR problem, NOT MINE. I have no open issues with anyone I read, and I don’t know that I have offended anyone recently. So if you are offended then that lies directly in your own lap. Because I live my life every day and I try my best to communicate. It seems that I failed Curtis in that respect. That I was a Holy Man who let him down… I had no idea that I let you down, and if you don’t tell me that you are in distress I cannot sit here and divine from God that you are in distress.

I don’t sit here and daily take the emotional temperature of my readers like a parent to their sick child. I don’t have the time to do that. And once again, if you have a problem with me, it is Your problem with me not my problem with you. They say in recovery that if you have a PROBLEM with someone else that really you should look within and find the problem within yourself. I can’t be responsible for creating in you a state of dis-ease. Because I don’t make it my business to sit here and create dis-ease for my readers. You may not agree with something that I write or I might make you get angry and think about something that I have written, but I do not make it a point to compulsively start shit with my readers.

I am not a mind reader and If you have an issue and I am in the dark about that issue, is it really about me? or is it about you? You may not trust me as a writer after this breach of sacred trust. But I’ve never given anyone a false idea about who I am or what I write as my message. If you want to invest in me then fine. I invest in all of my reads by spending time EVERY DAY reading your blogs. I may not comment but I do read.

I wish all those people who will be shutting down their blogs peace and I hope they heal from this situation. We are powerless over people, places and things. And we also know from recovery that we are only as sick as our secrets. I have not kept secrets from anyone on this blog, in my life or in my ministry. What good would that do me?

It is your choice to Forgive, Invest and Trust. I don’t force myself upon anyone. I just write.

For all that is is worth, Cooper was my friend. At least I thought we were. He even wrote for this blog for my 40th birthday celebration. I am saddened that on that day I posted fake writing, from a fake writer. Someone who lied to me like they lied to you as well. May God have Mercy on them for what they did.

In the end only God can judge them.

If you have judged me for one reason or another, then that is on your conscience not mine. I’m not responsible for your state of emotional feeling. That is all I have to say tonight.

I hope that Curtis comes to read this, because I never meant to harm anyone. I did not know that I had harmed anyone, and maybe we are all just a bit frayed over Cooper’s lies. So I forgive you … I cannot live up to everyone’s expectations, if I don’t know for myself what those expectations are. you cannot fault me if your expectations were not met in some way, shape or form. I cannot be all people to everyone.

Let us return to the way it was. Or it now is. What happened wasn’t my fault. I was duped just like you were.


Chad Fox returns…

I have a great announcement:
MR. CHAD FOX at Stop Touching My Food is back. Go show him some love.


Spring…

gogo.jpg

The weather is starting to warm up, albeit, very slowly, and my dreams as of late have involved some type of personal changes. As soon as the snow melts a bit more and the sidewalks clear up further, I will begin a new ritual of exercise and walking.

I thought about this over the last few nights, because this winter has not been kind to any of us, being shut up inside has had its drawbacks. This was the image that always has been on my mind as to what I want my body to look like. I need to loose some weight and start working out again.

If you read from my list, Yani, is one of my Aussie reads and he has quite a system for his daily walks, he frequently blogs about the walk and his photography of said walks, which is a big part of his blog. So stay tuned. We shall see what the Spring brings to this blog in the coming months.

I must add that – upon completion of a new core body I will be getting another set of piercings, for my 8th sober anniversary…


What Your Remix Says about You…

deborah-cox-remixed.jpg

This is a reply post to one that I read the other day over on No Milk Please…

After the hellacious week we have had, it is finally Friday and the weekend is upon us. It is snowing outside once again. UGH!!  I have fired up my little player with some music from ‘Deborah Cox Remixed’ Cd.

I guess you can safely say that I am truly gay…

Ive been listening to a lot of radio out of Seattle Washington, on SEA 89.5, which is a really great radio station, that I pipe in on my virtual DJ player. You can go into the radio station selector and pick stations from an assortment of musical genres. They are listed under dance as [SEA 89.5 Worldwide ] Online, it streams very well. They play some really great tunes.

I have also found, on the dance dial, a station called Sanctuary Radio that plays some awesome music from all over the time line. You can find the [Virtual DJ] radio link over on my sidebar. It is a quick and painless, FREE download of the tool bar, that makes it very easy to stream whatever kind of music you like on your desktop.

There is nothing much else going on here tonight, it is quiet, hubby is asleep on the sofa and I am going to get back to my IMVU community. If you haven’t joined, it is quite addictive – build your avatar, buy some clothes and come join us.

Other than that, I don’t know what else to say at the moment. Oh, we are closing in on the 90,000 hit mark and very soon, I am hopeful of that BIG 100,000 hit mark in the coming months…


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