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Sunday writings…

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I really don’t know what to write tonight, I really don’t feel like writing because I’ve not prepared anything really. The last holiday weekend before the grind begins with a bang this week. I’ve been banking on sleep as of late – trying to steal away hours here and there, I love to sleep.

I’ve been on these new medications now for 3 months.

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I have to say that throwing up is right up there on my most hated activities during my day. I have morning sickness once or twice a week. This morning it woke me up out of a sound sleep, as if I had spent the night prior drinking until I could not drink any more.

I didn’t even have a drinking dream to go with the morning sickness. I mean it would have meant so much more if I could put throwing up into context! Alas, I was exhausted afterwards and it took me an hour to calm down and get my breathing under control because my body was in that “post vomit” stage of recuperation… UGH!

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It was a beautiful day today. I sat out on the lanai enjoying the sunshine. The days are starting to get shorter and the sun will begin to set earlier and earlier. I can’t wait for the trees to start turning.

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

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I spent the past couple of nights reading Elie Wiesel’s  “Night.” I found the read to be as cathartic as Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz. Both men were boys when they were taken to the camps. I knew the story, even before I read the first page. Though the two stories are different, they share the common thread:

“You are in a concentration camp. In Auschwitz…” 

“Remember,” “Remember it always, let it be graven in your memories. You are in Auschwitz. And Auschwitz is not a convalescent home. It is a concentration camp. Here, you must work. If you don’t you will go straight to the chimney. To the crematorium. Work – or crematorium – the choice is yours.”

Reading Elie’s account as he moves from camp to camp, trying to stay with his father, to keep his father alive, through the worst of conditions was amazing. Where Elie tells us his story on a great scale, describing seasons and changes, his visions of babies being killed and burned in ditches was exceptionally brutal.

“Poor devils, you are heading for the crematorium.” Not far from us, flames, huge flames, were rising from a ditch. Something was being burned there. A truck drew close and unloaded its hold: small children. Babies! Yes, I did see this, with my own eyes…children thrown into the flames. (Is it any wonder that ever since then, sleep tends to elude me.)  

How was it possible that men, women and children were being burned and that the world kept silent? No. All this could not be real. A nightmare perhaps…

Night, ppgs. 32-33, 38-39…

Primo Levi tells another story of the same conditions but from a different point of view. Those reviews of that text are in my Holocaust files in Categories, you can read them there. Both writers are important to know, to read and to respect.

 

It is interesting that I was reading this text over the weekend, and during Saturday night’s Coast to Coast, with Ian Punnet, a caller called in – it was an off topic call – this man said that he had studied in Germany and knew people who were alive during WWII and he told the listeners that in Germany during that time, people were told and it was later understood that on certain days, one just did not go to the train stations at all…

To address the question about “the world not knowing what was going on, it is said that Germans learned not to explore outdoors or go to the train stations on certain days while the extermination of the Jews was being carried out.

Any read of the Horrific stories of the Holocaust are important so that these memories do not go unheeded, that the warnings are not passed on the future generations.  “That we should remember, so that we should never forget.” I highly recommend these two texts for those who are interested in Holocaust studies, ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel and ‘Survival in Auschwitz’ by Primo Levi. These stories must be passed on…

I’ve made some minor changes to the blog, and I’ve added and deleted some of my bookmarks on the side bar. People are returning from hiatus and from vacations over the summer, so go read them, each blogger on my blog list is worth the time.

I hope all of you are well and thanks again for your readership.

 


AIDS virus is a “double hit” to the brain: study

Red Ribbon

God, I have a headache now !! 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The AIDS virus damages the brain in two ways, by not only killing brain cells but by preventing the birth of new cells, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

The study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, helps shed light on a condition known as HIV-associated dementia, which can cause confusion, sleep disturbances and memory loss in people infected with the virus.

It is less common in people taking drug cocktails to suppress the virus, and why HIV damages brain function is not clearly understood.

The virus kills brain cells but it also appears to stop progenitor cells, known as stem cells, from dividing, the team at Burnham Institute for Medical Research and the University of California at San Diego found.

“It’s a double hit to the brain,” researcher Marcus Kaul said in a statement. “The HIV protein both causes brain injury and prevents its repair.”

The cocktail of drugs known as highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART that treats HIV does not infiltrate the brain well, allowing for a “secret reservoir” of virus, said Stuart Lipton, who worked on the study.

HIV-associated dementia is becoming more common, as patients survive into their older years.

Working in mice, the researchers found that the virus directly interferes with the birth of new brain cells from stem cells.

“The breakthrough here is that the AIDS virus prevents stem cells in the brain from dividing; it hangs them up,” Lipton said. “It’s the first time that the virus has ever been shown to affect stem cells.”

The culprit is gp120 — a protein found on the outside of the AIDS virus, the researchers found.

“Knowing the mechanism, we can start to approach this therapeutically,” Lipton said.

“This indicates that we might eventually treat this form of dementia by either ramping up brain repair or protecting the repair mechanism,” Kaul added.


AIDS virus is a "double hit" to the brain: study

Red Ribbon

God, I have a headache now !! 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The AIDS virus damages the brain in two ways, by not only killing brain cells but by preventing the birth of new cells, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

The study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, helps shed light on a condition known as HIV-associated dementia, which can cause confusion, sleep disturbances and memory loss in people infected with the virus.

It is less common in people taking drug cocktails to suppress the virus, and why HIV damages brain function is not clearly understood.

The virus kills brain cells but it also appears to stop progenitor cells, known as stem cells, from dividing, the team at Burnham Institute for Medical Research and the University of California at San Diego found.

“It’s a double hit to the brain,” researcher Marcus Kaul said in a statement. “The HIV protein both causes brain injury and prevents its repair.”

The cocktail of drugs known as highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART that treats HIV does not infiltrate the brain well, allowing for a “secret reservoir” of virus, said Stuart Lipton, who worked on the study.

HIV-associated dementia is becoming more common, as patients survive into their older years.

Working in mice, the researchers found that the virus directly interferes with the birth of new brain cells from stem cells.

“The breakthrough here is that the AIDS virus prevents stem cells in the brain from dividing; it hangs them up,” Lipton said. “It’s the first time that the virus has ever been shown to affect stem cells.”

The culprit is gp120 — a protein found on the outside of the AIDS virus, the researchers found.

“Knowing the mechanism, we can start to approach this therapeutically,” Lipton said.

“This indicates that we might eventually treat this form of dementia by either ramping up brain repair or protecting the repair mechanism,” Kaul added.


Just beneath the Surface …

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Do you see it?
Can you feel it?
Do you ever think about it?

M O R T A L I T Y !!!!

I started my day in a church. Do you know why I did that? Why it was important for me to receive the sacraments today? To have a minister pray with me and for me, to bless me and absolve me,

Almighty God,
to you all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hidden,
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The older I get, the more serious is my thought about Mortality. We all will face it one day, but I can’t help but ponder this subject in greater detail, because unlike many of you, life could take a turn very quickly and I could die, the last time this happened was in 2006 when I was testing new medications, and I got severely ill and I remember saying to myself one particular night that “I thought I would die.”

On my birthday I was sitting in the room at the meeting, the church above us I spoke about the fact that none of us know when that appointed day will come, but for me I have been waiting on it for some time. I fancy God sitting up in his heaven, with a sly look on his face, holding strong to one corner of the carpet that I am standing on and he yanks it up and I fall, the end comes crashing down around me.

Nobody wants to say the words, but I know that many of my friends are wary of mentioning the word “death” so they speak in hushed tones using words like “I’m so proud of you”, and “that I am a miracle” and “that God has blessed me with long life,” to date. The best line is this one “He looks so good, that unless you knew or asked – you’d never know he had AIDS!”

I work very hard at avoiding or talking about the obvious strain on my mental health, yet I do not dwell on death, but I have a healthy fear of it for sure. You’d never know I was even gay, from the outside. You’d never know that there was an ember burning quietly and strongly beneath the surface. That person sitting in the same place as you had a date with death several times in his life, and he avoided the reaper.

I remarked to a friend that I was afraid of what was ahead of me after the meeting, and for some they cannot fathom this fact, but my friends did. Some of the men told me that I should go on with my life and not think about it, but how can I Not think about it?

I just wanted to remind you that Mortality is an issue that I deal with every day now. Each day that passes – I thank God for life – which is why I went to mass and I think in retrospect, that is why the Reverend Canon laid hands on me and asked God to bless me and keep me healthy. I heard the urgency in her voice – the necessity that God grant that prayer – right then and there. To guarantee me a place “in community” for as long as God would permit.

I do not know how long my body will continue to take the pills I push upon it daily, or how long these new medications will continue to work – we are only a few months in and things look very good on paper, my body seems to like these mew medications and I haven’t had any great bodily changes. The look of death has not come over me – that gaunt AIDS look that most men get at some point in their journey, those you know are marked for death.

I remember my spirit and I pray daily and I attend mass when I can, and I spend time helping others because as long as I keep the focus off of me and on someone else, I can avoid having to look at the cold hard truth for very long. But I must tell you that I have had that “conversation with God” this week, and I made a deal. I think he agreed on the deal, as long as I served Him – and did my best every day – and I stayed in my day and not expected to die – that I would live a long life.

Religion, what is it? Is it a comfort to help us on the way to our graves? To give us something to focus on in death? A loving God, a forgiving Christ and a Spirit that loves us to fill the soul of man with hope that on that appointed day we would stand with our maker and be granted eternal life!

Is religion a cop out? The easy path?

I don’t know what to think – but I do believe – and for me that simple kernel of faith saves me. I know that nobody wants to think about it, so I write and remind you of the ever present fact that we all will face our mortality, some sooner than others. I’ve studied death and dying in my undergraduate career.

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For many years I held on to the visual of Monica, the Angel from “Touched by an Angel” who said those simple words “I’m an angel sent by God, to tell you that God Loves You.”

I have seen every episode and I have a collection of hundreds of episodes here at home. During those years that I was so sick and I needed something to hold onto this little television show was my salvation, a second helping of God every Sunday after returning home from an evening mass. I kind of fancy that Andrew would stand here with me on that final moment to carry me to God in heaven.

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It was easy to let go and let God, because of my faith in God and this little show that confirmed to me in visual form that there were angels and that I wasn’t alone, sitting in my apartment, sick as a dog. They even touched on the “aids” stories and the fact that even people with AIDS had angels. I believed that and I still do. Now in syndication, on Vision TV I can watch TBAA at night here in Montreal. And at Christmas I can watch the special shows that were created over the years while the show was running.

I find it funny the lengths I went to to maintain my spiritual beliefs when everyone around me was worrying that I was going to die, I was worried about that and the fact that I had no idea how I was going to survive another year. These memories are found back in 1998 and 1999.

When Christians were condemning us, my family included there, the angels were there to tell us that God loved us and still loves us today. That faith worked, because I lived another ten years and now we start another decade with stronger faith and a few angels here and there…

I’m fully aware of my mortality and that scares me.


Medical Update 7-24-07

Red Ribbon

I have been on this drug regimen for a month now. Today I saw the doctor for the first time since I started them. My T-Cells are sitting at 1186 and my Percentages are at 34% which is phenomenal. My bad cholesterol dropped from 9.8 to 3.4 in trends over the last 4 lab draws.

I feel good. Aside from a little gas, and a little morning sickness here and there, I am in fine shape. My “doc” was out, so I saw a doctor who was in the clinic and he was pleased with my labs. He told me that 40 was no big deal for him. And I am way past my expiration date. So I am keeping my impending birthday next Tuesday in perspective. He told me that for him, 50 was a big deal. So if we follow The Aging Model:

  • In our Twenties – we are exploring life and ourselves
  • In our Thirties – we are finding the rhythm and we are supposed to find the way
  • In our Forties – we are ready to put all that knowledge into action for certain
  • In our Fifties – we are ready to live out our calling, having done all that self study
  • I hope that I am aging gracefully and the way I am supposed to…

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HIV patients build normal immune strength in study

Red Ribbon

By Will Dunham 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – AIDS drug cocktails may be able to restore the ravaged immune systems of some people infected with HIV, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Immune cells known as CD4 T-cells returned to normal levels in an ideal group of patients, picked because they responded optimally to a combination of at least three AIDS drugs, the researchers reported in the Lancet medical journal.

The human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, plunders the immune system, leaving people vulnerable to a range of infections that may prove fatal.

AIDS is incurable, but doctors try to prop up the immune system with life-extending drug therapy aimed at reducing the amount of virus in the body.

The study involved 1,835 HIV-infected people drawn from a larger study involving more than 14,000 patients from across Europe, Israel and Argentina.

“I think it’s very encouraging that if people can respond to treatment well enough and can suppress the virus for long enough, we have sufficient evidence to say their CD4 counts can return to normal,” Dr. Amanda Mocroft of Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, one of the researchers, said in a telephone interview.

“Our previous understanding was that there was a plateau in CD4 counts so that CD4 counts would stop increasing after a sufficiently long time taking combination therapy,” she added.

Mocroft said not all HIV patients respond as well to these drugs, and many, particularly in the hardest hit regions like sub-Saharan Africa, do not have access to them.

“This is sort of the best-case scenario, if you like, that we can identify a group of patients who we would expect to have a normal CD4 count with sufficient treatment,” Mocroft said.

These patients were chosen because they responded well to the treatment, with the drugs suppressing the virus to very low levels. They were tracked for about five years.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said doctors who care for HIV-infected patients have noticed this restoration of normal levels of CD4 cells in some of them. Fauci credited Mocroft’s team for documenting this phenomenon in a systematic way.

CD4 cells, a type of white blood cell, help protect the body

from infection. But HIV targets CD4 cells, using them to create

more copies of the virus, thus undermining the immune system.

After initial infection, a person can produce more CD4 cells to take the place of those attacked by HIV. But in time, the body cannot make enough, increasingly weakening the immune system.

Although it is impossible to eradicate the virus with existing drugs, it is possible to keep it at extremely low levels in some people with the right combination of drugs.

The AIDS virus infects close to 40 million people globally, most of them in Africa. It has killed more than 25 million.


Friday the 13th …

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Photo courtesy of: The Ministry of Pleasure

Last night I got to bed wayyy to late to function this morning. After watching some Hilary Duff last night. Anyways, I got to bed around 2:30 in the morning and sat down with some veggies and French baguette while reading Anne Rice’s “Pandora.”

This morning the alarm clock went off at 9:00 a.m. and my body wasn’t having any of that, so I went back to bed until 3 p.m. My medications are making me a little sick to my stomach, I’ve got potty issues, and I feel like I am pregnant because now I am getting “morning sickness!!”

It is a comfy 22c here in Montreal – with clear skies at the moment although the possibility of thunder storms are in the forecast tonight. Where everyone else around North America and Canada are sweltering in the heat – it was 38.8 in some areas of B.C. yesterday!! Yikes!! The breeze is blowing and the sun is on its way down down and evening is about to start.

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We’re going OUT for dinner tonight and then a Movie, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.


AIDS Lab – Jewish General Hospital

June 28, 2007  –  New HIV/AIDS Bio-containment Laboratory opens at the Jewish General Hospital’s Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research

Testing and research into HIV/AIDS have taken a major step forward with today’s opening of a new $5 million HIV/AIDS Bio-containment Laboratory in the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research (LDI) at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH).

The laboratory, whose development was spearheaded by Dr. Mark A. Wainberg, Director of Research at the JGH, will be used to grow the HIV/AIDS virus and to test tissue samples to determine how patients respond to various types of medication.

This is the fourth and most sophisticated laboratory of its kind at the LDI since the hospital began its pioneering work in HIV/AIDS under Dr. Wainberg’s supervision in the early 1980s.

“The Jewish General Hospital and the Lady Davis Institute deserve a great deal of credit for having recognized the importance of HIV/AIDS research so soon after the outbreak of the epidemic 25 years ago, and for continuing to support major, ongoing initiatives to fight the disease,” Dr. Wainberg said.

Dr. Wainberg, an internationally recognized expert on HIV/AIDS, added that the new laboratory, which is affiliated with the McGill AIDS Centre, is among the few Level 3 facilities in a Canadian hospital. In such a facility, safety precautions are so strict that Health Canada has permitted the HIV/AIDS virus to be studied and stored there. It is also one of only two centres in Quebec that are authorized to perform clinical genotyping – i.e., checking the virus’ genetic sequences to determine whether it has mutated so as to become resistant to anti-viral drugs. This test is an essential component of HIV therapy.

A total of 82 people have been trained to work in the laboratory, which received $2 million from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation for construction and equipment. The rest of the funding was provided by the JGH Foundation and various donors.


High hopes for new AIDS lab

By Anna Bratulic, The Suburban

Renowned AIDS specialist Dr. Mark Wainberg says the opening of a new
HIV research lab at the Jewish General Hospital will help shed further light o
on the complicated workings of the HIV virus.

Staff and equipment moved into the $5 million facility housed
at the hospital’s Lady Davis Institute yesterday.

“We’re very proud to announce the opening of this new lab, which
is far larger and far better equipped [than the old one]—
something that I think represents a lab that is on a par with any
lab in the world with regard to growing HIV,” Wainberg,
who is the research director at the Lady Davis Institute,
told a press conference last week.

The lab is among a handful of similar labs in the country
where security precautions are so stringent that Health Canada
allows quantities of the virus to be stored there.

Wainberg says the old lab was running the risk of falling short
of Health Canada safety standards. In the new lab, entry is
strictly controlled with a series of mechanized doors.
Items that go into the lab can only come back out after
undergoing a high heat decontamination process.

“We really needed to have a new lab in order to meet all the
safety standards that we must comply with. I’m not saying we
didn’t meet those standards, but we were on the cusp,
let’s say a year from now, of being found in violation.”

Research will focus on understanding immune responses
to HIV and the development of new anti-retroviral drug treatments.

Wainberg doubts a cure or vaccine will be found in his lifetime
because the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, continually mutates
and ultimately renders treatments obsolete. As a result,
different subtypes of the virus exist and a vaccine that may
eradicate one version of the virus, may be useless in destroying a mutated version.

In Canada, where there are an estimated 65,000 people
infected with HIV, the prevalent strain of the virus is called subtype B.
However, in South Africa, where there are an estimated 11 million infected,
a particularly virulent strain known as subtype C is the most common.

While both are HIV viruses, they respond differently to treatment.

“It turns out that the way the virus becomes resistant to the drugs
we use in treatment in a subtype C virus is not the same as in a
subtype B virus. There are differences, and in order to understand
these differences, we need to have certain types of equipment that
we did not have before. And we didn’t have the equipment before
because we didn’t have the room. Now we do,” said Wainberg.

He added that some of the researchers at the new lab will be
scientists and graduate students from Africa, which has the
highest number of HIV infections. Wainberg says he hopes
they will eventually return to the continent to better help those
afflicted by the disease.

Research will also study ways to detect infection earlier than
the three month average it now takes.

Current screening methods can only detect antibodies that
form in the body about three months after infection.
A recent troubling study found that as many as half of all
new cases of HIV infection in the Montreal area are transmitted
by recently infected people who are not aware they carry the virus.

Wainberg added that the upgraded facilities will hopefully make
the seven research teams, comprising some 82 staff members
who will be working there, contenders for more research grants.
An application to the Bill Gates Foundation will likely be submitted
in August, he said.


Sermon on many topics…

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Totem Pole in Stanly Park, Vancouver B.C.

Why is there a totem pole on this writing? Because I need a guide to write something coherent and learned. I go there mentally sometimes when I want to write, to sit in Kingcome Village with Mark Brian, the vicar of St. George’s Church, in Margaret Craven’s,

“I heard the Owl Call my Name.”

There is a majesty in the totem, a story of a people, of their traditions and their ways of thought. I heard a man speaking about the totem at the meeting tonight, and he said,

“I remember the totem, and the fact that I am the man on the bottom of the totem and not the one at the top. That keeps me grounded and sober.”

Men of different path’s populate the downtown core meetings and every once in a while you hear something that rings true to one’s soul. My heart stirred when he spoke and I remembered my spirit.

There is a lot going on in this sphere tonight, some of it good, and some of it is not so good. People are moving, leaving, breaking up and even some are moving forward in the coupling of relationships into one home and a together life. We have talked about depression as of late. And I have a particular view on that topic, because of my own depression battle and that of my husbands Bi-Polar issues.

There is NO pill that is going to make it all better. That magic pill does not exist. That’s why we have so many drug addicted people all over the world. When I got home Peter was watching a program on the Paxil fiasco. I was on Paxil once, what a nightmare. Doctors and drug companies want to ply us with all the pills we can pay for and for the most part, we can’t afford all the pills we must take on any given day.

You want to take pills and see therapists and doctors – yes do that. Sometimes depression and medical issues NEED a doctor’s or a psychiatrists fine vision. Peter’s shrink worked very hard to help us and he did. But aside from taking a pill and then finding Jesus, unless you want to get better and step out of the darkness, you have to take that first step into the light. So I offer you a candle to help light your way.

We cannot get by on medication alone. There has to come, in time, a desire to live, a desire to get better a desire to end the depression or illness. And I am one to speak about illness. I’ve been taking pills for the last 13 years to stay alive. Some sober people shun the medical necessity of some sober folks to stay alive. I’ve had all the fights I want to have about clean and sober and medical necessity.

I have been in and out of a therapists office on and off for the last 13 years. I find that another set of eyes and ears works to help me stay on track and having that guidance and therapy has, in short order saved my life. When I suffered from Agoraphobia some time ago, and I wouldn’t leave the house, I was on specific medication and seeing a specific therapist and we worked me out of the house over a six month period. It all started with wanting to sit on the front porch of my condo outside. Then I learned to walk around the block, and in turn I learned how to walk to the beach and feel safe, that my attacker wasn’t coming to get me. So I know what fear is.

And we find that “Fear is a Great Motivator for CHANGE.”

But fear can also cripple us. Do I need these pills forever, in my case, I need pills to help regulate my brain and my immune system and keeps my depression and anger in check. I know I need medication and that medication helps me stay sane, sober and alive. But I also take the steps every day to work on and with myself. Being good to myself, and doing something good for myself every day.

“Every day you should do something nice for yourself, Just Because!!

Fear must not cripple us into complacency and ignorance about the world around us. Depression is a hard fought battle for so many, I have a viable work – therapy solution I offer my directees and kids that I work with. When parent’s who know me ask me to help them with their children, I take that as a huge compliment and a very important charge. So I am not clueless when I talk about medical issues and pills and depression. I’ve been there and I am here. I survived debilitating depression, it can be done.

Letting Go…

All life functions on the principle of letting go. We are constantly changing physically, emotionally, mentally and sexually. Our lives move forward, as if on auto pilot, knowing that forward motion is the preferred direction and never backwards. How I wish, on that odd occasion, when I wax on nostalgia, that time could be reversed, just for a time.

Letting Go is a sober issue too. Recognizing the wreckage of our pasts, taking stock and making note, and 4th stepping the past away so that 5 – 6 and 7 can take root into 8 and 9 and then our checkup 10th step and continual spiritual connection in step 11 and then when we have done these to the best of our abilities for ourselves, then we can carry the message in the 12th step. Every one in this world is availed spiritual awakenings. it is possible for us to see, experience and share spiritual experiences. Letting Go is a spiritual experience. It is a spiritual action. That one is able to let go Absolutely!!

Sometimes we do not know when to let go, then again, many of us will not let go because that would mean that we would either be alone, live alone, or perish the thought, CHANGE!!! Sometimes I read blogs and I can see the “pain on the page.” I think that some people should let go of old habits and old people, those people who are not serving us in a spiritual capacity for goodness and light. But how do I move on and let go, well, that’s tricky. One step at a time. You make a decision. You set a date and you stick to that date.

Relationships come and go and boys are a dime a dozen and I can personally assure you that if you leave a function-less relationship that is painful, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I spent much of my HIV positive years ALONE. Because men are pigs, self serving and heartless and clueless. I have had (count them on one hand) very few relationships where I knew that the man who was in my bed – wanted to be in my bed, because he understood the reality of death and illness and I didn’t scare them. But most of them, eventually I had to let go because I was moving at a different speed as them. Life has its own rhythm. And its own speed. In fighting depression, I did it alone. Oh, I had friends, but I wasn’t in “relationship” with any one in particular – for a LONG TIME…

It wasn’t until I came back from my slip, worked on me, let go of the past and all that went with it, including everything that I owned, I am still working on that “Let DOWN” and got sober this last time, that I was ready to accept love and give love, I HAD to find love in myself for myself before I could give it to someone else and have that love reciprocated.

“The Pink Neon Sign”

I have learned over the last six years in Montreal sobriety, that every human being walks around with a PINK NEON SIGN flashing above their heads. Go to enough meetings and seek spiritual solutions and you will begin to see it all around you. Get on the Metro or a bus or walk down the street and read all the “Signs” coming at you…

  • Desperate
  • Lonely
  • Seeking
  • Drunk or High
  • Hysterical
  • PMS’ing…
  • Postal!!
  • Crazy
  • and eventually Sane and Happy

I have learned what sign all my “peoples” carry around above them and I love them any ways, even if some of them will never unplug or change the message flashing, for a few hours each week, I can reach them through ministry, and love them unconditionally. In the practice of “Letting Go” you stop and you unplug that sign for a while until you find an appropriate message to display. And that may take some time, and that’s ok, as long as you are working on yourself. You don’t have to be getting sober. These principles are universal and can be utilized by everyone – everywhere.

Sometimes the FEAR of Change or FEAR of being alone, makes us hang on to people and situations that baffle us, just because we don’t see the way out, or we are Un-Willing to see the solution, or we just FEAR…

“Fear is a great motivator for change…”

Everyone has the power to recognize when it is right to let go, when it is necessary to let go, and when it is crucial that we let go. Life will move forward and sometimes life asks of us to do things we may not necessarily like – but if the Gardner does not prune his rose bushes, how can they flower beautifully each season…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Attributed to King Solomon

To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and
a time to die;
a time to plant, and
a time to pluck up
that which is planted;

A time to kill, and
a time to heal;
a time to break down, and
a time to build up;

A time to weep, and
a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and
a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and
a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and
a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and
a time to lose;
a time to keep, and
a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and
a time to sow;
a time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;

A time to love, and
a time to hate;
a time of war; and
a time of peace.

With all humility we ask for God’s blessing tonight on those who come to visit and read, that they may find peace and wisdom in the many pages of writings we offer here and may I always remember that I inhabit the man at the foot of the totem and not the eagle of top. That I am who I am, in all my humanity, without ego or arrogance.

We thank the creator for all good things…


Come so Far – Live to Tell

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I have a tale to tell…

“I was three feet from the floor, gasping for air, trying to release my father’s hands from my throat, I looked into his eyes and wondered, if my feet would ever hit the floor again, have you ever been hit so hard that it sends your body flying across the room…

We all fall to the floor at some point, it’s how you pick yourself up that’s the real challenge. I’ve learned that there’s light even in the darkest places. I can’t blame my father for anything, you can’t rely on other people to make you happy, but I know deep inside he loved me…”

My father was that abusive too…

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Today is the 8th of July 2007. What can I say about today that I have not said already, what can I share with you that I haven’t repeated many times before? What words can I speak that would make you think about safe sex, monogamy and getting tested for disease!! I have shared with you all the history that there is to be said about the last 13 years. It is all over there in the “Pages” of this blog. Everything you need to know about what it was like, what happened and what it is like now. Both for HIV and my Addiction to drugs and alcohol. I’ve never kept anything from you my readers.

Yet, how many of my readers over the past years have indulged in behavior that would endanger them to disease, addiction and sickness? How many young men have I counseled into the next phase of their lives after getting their own diagnosis? I can count them all on two hands. I have spent a great deal of time over the last few years writing about my life, in a vain attempt to find some soul who would publish this work for the world to read, because really, how much traffic can one blog generate, without readers or being listed on other blog sites with world class traffic?

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It has been 13 years, since that fateful Friday afternoon, when I was called to that office in Ft. Lauderdale to be told that I had AIDS and that I was going to die. The doctors at that time gave me 18 months to live. it seems that I knew people who were HIV positive or had AIDS already. But the reality of just how widespread HIV was in 1994 became known to me in short order. It seemed once you were baptized in blood, the vision of sick people became a norm. You knew what to look for. The pallid faces, the stupor of sickness and the sick deathly look of people who were marked with the signs of death, those who were visibly ill and has Kaposi Sarcoma.

You don’t see that much any more. I guess I got out of that fate. I wasn’t infected with the same strain that so many had been. I didn’t have a lot of things that my friends had. You see, they are all dead. Only Mark and I survive today from the Stud crew of so many years ago. Mark is one of them, he has had the issues that I have not. His body is falling apart faster than mine. I guess you can blame my husband for the food I eat, and the fact that we both need to loose a little weight. My take on fat is simple, I could be a waif and look sick and skinny! I fought for a long time for a body, then I grew up and got older. And the pills did that for me. I’ve been testing medications for as long as I can remember. It began with the first drugs – AZT and those experimental drugs that were being tested in the beginning.

After reading the stories of many people who have tested the medications that I am taking now, the Integrase, Norvir, TMC 114, and TMC 125, that I might start to get my girlish figure back! OH GOD I hope so… I would love to loose 20 pounds. There’s a goal for you to observe over the next year. I am down about 10 pounds now since starting this new regimen. My appetite is not as HUGE as it used to be. So maybe the turn around has begun.

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I posted the pictures of the quilts here for you to see and to bear witness what I saw and what I lived. To tell you that all those men and boys were here once. They all had a location in my life time line. I knew all of them. Some of them were bar customers, some were employees and friends, and many of them were entertainers and singers and artists. They are all up there hoping that I stay down here longer than they did, many of those men were much older than I was when i was diagnosed, by ten years or more. But many people who died of AIDS back then were not much older than I was. I was 26 when I was diagnosed. And in twenty four days, I will be FORTY!!!

Holy Shit!! I lived to see my 40th birthday !! And they said I was going to die! Not once, not twice, but three times ….

What has changed? I stopped the wanting to die. I stopped waiting to die. I stopped hanging around all those bitter queens who do nothing but gather together to rip each other apart like vultures. I stopped drinking (again) I stopped the drugging (once and for all!) I met a man I loved – and I got married !!! Monogamy looks harder than it really is, really, believe me. You can love one man forever. Even if sex isn’t what you want or how you want it, when shit happens, you can know that you stayed the course and that you did not walk. You commit and you stay! You want what I have, write down those vows and tack them on the fridge and every day you recite them to yourself and to your hunny! When you get to the point that you believe them and can maintain them, THEN you get married…

Don’t do stupid things. Don’t trick with dirty partners. Don’t share needles, don’t have unprotected sex, DO USE a condom. Love yourself enough to never have to ask the question…. “Are you positive?” Live with the certainty that every one else IS and protect yourself first, because if you don’t nobody else will. Do the right thing, and for the Love of God, don’t get sick or infected. You can prevent forest fires. I can tell you that changing drugs after 10 years of being on the same drugs is daunting. I am not 26 any more and I have to re-acclimate myself to new medications, and that is never an easy task. But this time hasn’t been bad at all, thank the creator…

Please take care of yourselves and be good to one another. Love each other and take care of each other. Be confident and strong gay men and women. Be confident and strong straight men and women.

  1. Wasted Time is Wasted Time
  2. Time is a precious commodity once wasted it can never be regained
  3. Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair, you are moving but getting no where.
  4. Expectations are pre-packaged resentments
  5. There are no justified resentments
  6. Drop the Rock!!
  7. Grudges and Bitterness is so 1980’s …
  8. Stop dragging around that Samsonite luggage, drop it where you stand and walk away from it and don’t pick it back up
  9. Live and Love
  10. The Past is just that, the Past. It only affects you if you allow it to!!!
  11. Stay in your day – all we have is 24 hours in each day so make those hours count
  12. Live – Easy – But – Think – First

End of sermon… I lived, today is the 13th time I will write an anniversary post.


The Wisdom of Star Wars …

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1. Episode IV: Star Wars – A New Hope, Were we all that young once, 1977? I was 10 years old when Star Wars opened. I was in New Britian Connecticut and we saw the movie at the Twin City Theatre, across the street from Twin City, a department store that my mother worked at when I was a young person. I have memories of that time, for some strange reason. A lot of them.

I loved movies and I went to the movies every chance that I got. Along with music and reading, I had free access to go anywhere I wanted at a moments notice. Over the last forty years, we see certain movies come and go – we collect them like wisdom manuals for future reference.

Did we think then, that Star Wars would have such an effect on young people as it did then? I know adults who were in my life at that time, who did not take to the archetypal themes and wisdom as the young people did over the years – as the following films made their debut’s.

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2. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, came out in (1980) I was 13 years old.

and it had a huge effect on me. I remember sitting in the back of the theatre at “The Falls” in Miami when it came out. I was in junior high school. The Star Wars movies repeated throughout my life. We watched them like time markers at certain life intervals. To see how we had changed and evolved since the first time we watched them.

I was at Movie Land today and I was looking for something to watch on DVD, and I had picked up a couple movies, but then after wandering around, I ended up in the Science Fiction section and I was thumbing through the Star Wars movies. And brought Episodes IV, V and VI home.

I find myself watching them again, and I posted the Yoda sayings and I mused on the fact that for me, I have followed most of that advice over the years. That Star Wars did play a factor at the way I see the world around me and live my life. It may have been slow and coming and sometimes seemed to stop all together, but in the end, we find our selves here, discussing the spiritual teachings of The Archetypal figures from Star Wars and the value of the Star Wars wisdom.

You imagine, or I imagine, what the world would be like, if the adults of that time, took to the figures in the movie, would life have changed much or very little? If the world was in a different ‘place’ spiritually, economically and socially? I think those of us who grew up in the light of Jedi Wisdom benefitted more from it than perhaps our parents.

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3. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, came out in (1983) I was a junior in High School at age 16.

That was a very impressionable time in my life. A lot of personal and emotional upheaval. I lost my grandparents, and my parents were in self destruct mode, and let’s fuck up the children mode. So any escape out of reality was fantastic.

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4. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, came out in (1999) I was 32 years old.

I was amid one of the most painful periods of my life. Being far away from anything in the middle of no where did not help me. I was in slip-self destruct mode. I was living with evil incarnate, and I had that battle with the Dark Side that almost cost me my life. But somewhere in the universe there was the force, because it saved me from imminent death.

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5. Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, came out in (2002) I was 35 years old.

Ah, the light at the end of the tunnel had come. I was on my way to a new life in another country, sober and cleaned up. I was going to finally make something of my little life, which up until then had not gotten very far. Gay boys with HIV did not get very far in the united States, some have succeeded, but I did not. It was either a life of substandard poverty or a move to greener pastures. I was in Montreal by Spring 2002, I was on my way.

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6. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, came out in (2005). I was 38 years old.

The watershed movie of the Summer, the final episode of the Star Wars Saga was coming. We would finally have the last installment of the six films – where we learn how Vader came to be and where Luke and Leia came from and where they grew up. The journey was coming to an end. I had lived 40 years to see the culmination of George Lucas’ dream come to fruition.

How did Star Wars affect you in your life? And what reflections do you have over the last 40 years, in regards to the way you live, and how certain films made an impact on you throughout your life!

We will discuss this topic in Comments:


Do or Do Not …

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NO!! Try Not …
DO, or DO NOT!! – There is no TRY!!

Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering. 

From The Jedi’s Apprentice 

If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.

A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.

The dark side is quicker, easier, more seductive.

Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.

Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Size matters not.

Your ally is the Force. A powerful ally it is.

Life creates it [the force], makes it grow. It’s energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we.

You must feel the Force around you.

Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future…the past. Old friends long gone.

You must learn control.

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.

Only a fully trained Jedi Knight with the Force as his ally will conquer Vader and his Emperor.

If you choose the quick and easy path, you will become an agent of evil.

Strong is Vader. Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.

When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not. Hmm?

Vader. You must confront Vader. Then, only then, a Jedi will you be. And confront him you will.

Do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor


Medication Journal Entry #1

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Day 1 – Saturday June 30th 2007 – Medication Journal Entry #1

Night Dose:

Norvir (100 mg ) 1 pill twice a day
Prezista – Darunavir TMC 114 (300 mg) 2 pills twice a day
TMC 125 (100 mg) 1 pill twice a day
Integrase (100 mg) 2 pills twice a day

Time: 10:28 p.m.


It’s All About Me !!! Episode 1

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This episode is brought to you by the Motion Picture: Trick

 

Thank God it’s Friday. The weather is beautiful outside, there is a light breeze and the temperature is sitting at a comfy 22c. It was a busy day today. I had to go to the clinic and drop labs, that is always fun. I had to fill out a questionnaire for the TMC 125 drug that I am taking now for the study. The common list of symptomatology and emotional status in the last four weeks.

 

I love those questionnaires because I leave little obnoxious comments on the page along with my answer like:

 

1. Do you feel good about yourself? Why of course, I am always slap dash happy!

2. Have you thought about killing anyone lately? No! But now that you mention it!!

3. Have you been depressed in the last four weeks? No, not really, but if you really want my sob story for the month I can tell you about it. And this one really made me laugh,

4. You are “Somewhat sick” — WTF? Are you kidding? This must be a trick question! I’ve got HIV, is that somewhat sick? Does that make me somewhat sick?
5. Have you thought about hurting yourself in the last four weeks? Um, Not really!!
6. Do you have any complaints (medically, sexually, emotionally)??? Well, now that you ask!!

 

I will have to fill out this questionnaire every time I go into the clinic to follow my progress with the new medications. They are serious questions, I was just in that kind of mood this morning to be catty! Someone at the other end will get a good laugh out of me at least.

 

After I finished at the hospital I headed over to the village to look see the goings ons, since I needed to get out of the house for a while. I went over to the new “North Bound Leather and Fetish shop, since I had not seen the renovated store. It is quite beautiful. With state of the art display cases with the trinkets and jewelry, and they painted the walls which brightened up the space a great deal.

Then it was off to Priape for a little impulse shopping. And to see the boys – Pride is gearing up quite nicely. Ste Catherine’s street is blocked off in the village and there are terraces in front of all the bars and restaurants for outdoor dining.

 

The village is hosting an art show right now. I did my shopping and headed home. The trains were PACKED because the Montreal Jazz Festival is in town until the 11th of July. So there are a bunch of festivals going on at the same time, really, you could leave home in the morning and be occupied all day and night. Here is the list as it goes:

  • The LotoQuebec Fireworks Festival
  • The Montreal Jazz Festival
  • The Village Art Show
  • Pride will be in a few weeks

I had to pick up the rest of my meds at the pharmacy on the way in. To give you an idea about the cost of HIV meds here – This was my bill today:

 

  1. Prezista  – Darunavir (300mg)  Insured: $23.65  Uninsured: $862.78
  2. Norvir  (1oomg)  Insured: $0.00  Uninsured: $93.42
  3. Incidental Medications Insured: $30.57  Uninsured: $75.79
  4. TMC 125-C214 (Clinic Distribution) I don’t have these costs yet.
  5. Integrase (Clinic Distribution) I don’t have these costs yet.

GrandTotals: Insured: $54.22  (What I pay p/month) — Uninsured: $1031.99

 

 

Thank God I live in Canada…

PODCASTING!!
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Would you like to see “All About Me on Video?” Since traffic here has spiked over the last few weeks, I thought about putting up some pod casts. So send us your questions, concerns and pecadillos and we will start posting those videos for you very soon.

 

This concludes All About Me Episode #1