Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pretty As A Picture

I printed an 8X10 of this photo I took last year in Stuyvesant Park. It's hanging in my bedroom, as I get closer to having all the photography in the house be mine. I love the colors in this shot and I love the fountain on the right and the ripples on the water. Eventually, I'll have the full size (click picture for bigger version) 27X36 print made and custom framed for the living room. I found a paisley slipcover that has pink and purple in it that I'm planning on buying for the couch. In case you can't tell, I'm coming up with a new decor scheme for the living room. The colors will be purple and pink and off white and black lacquer. It's gonna be the shit and it shouldn't cost much at all. I'll try to remember to make some before and after pix.
Today I am 21 days sober. Yay for me.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Of Interest

The Oscars get Fug'ed.

Michael Lucas will now officially be more insufferable than ever.

POZ magazine runs a pretty balanced article regarding serosorting.

Three words: Lesbian koala orgy.

What else?

We've been having a bit of controversy in my building of late. As I may have mentioned, since I went ahead and got a dog without checking with my landlord or "super", I set off an explosion in the dog population here. I think there's at least one dog on every floor. There are three on mine. Last week a notice went up from the "super" complaining that of late, some dog or dog(s) haven't been making it outside, and dog pee and poop have been found (and stepped in) in the hall. I understand the point, but it's pretty laughable, considering the hallways are swept and mopped at best once a month. They're filthy, and many of the tenants leave open bags of garbage outside their doors overnight, if not longer. It frequently looks and smells like a Third World slum. And that's not even mentioning how one of the lower floors frequently reeks of weed, or the last weekend, when I took Jet down for a walk and the lower floors and halls were littered with drunkenly tossed about popcorn.

In any case, I smugly noted to myself that my dog hasn't relieved himself in the building since I first got him. He's totally housebroken. Then Saturday night, one of my downstairs neighbors had a party. People were in and out, up and down the stairs, talking on cells. Jet had to go for his end of night walk, and we headed downstairs. He was ahead of me by three floors, and he usually just waits at the bottom. Unfortunately, there were three drunk girls in the vestibule, smoking and talking about four drinks too loud. Jet started to bark and charge the door. At which point he stood still and let loose a lake of dog piss.

"Sorry, I guess we scared him!" they hollered through the door.

"It's OK," I answered through clenched teeth.

So of course being the responsible neighbor and not wanting to give the "super" any ammunition (because I kind of hate him), I put Jet's leash on him and led him back up the 5 flights. He protested all the way, wanting to still go out. I grabbed a hand full of paper towels and trudged back down to clean up the mess. The girls were still outside, buzzing the party apartment and shaking the door to try to get in. Of course, this made Jet bark and lunge for the door some more. Finally. someone from the party heard the buzzer over the noise and let them in.


"Be quiet Julie, you're drunk!"

"I wanna go back up stairs."

"Just don't drink anything for a while."

"I'm fine!"

"Julie, just don't."

Of course, they were too lit to be afraid of a riled up dog, and he just wanted to get away from the noisy drunks and get outside. In the morning, there was a watery drink in the bottom floor hallway, drinks spilled on the stairs, cigarette butts on the landings and some fresh dog poop that had been stepped in and tracked down a couple of stairs. I swear, Jet didn't do it. And in spite of the temptation, neither did I.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Yeah, I'll Have A Bucket Extra Crispy, Mashed Potato And Rat, Please ...

This story deserves the rare double post. Here's the raw video footage of The Greenwich Village KFC/Taco Bell franchise that has been over-run with big fat well fed rats. Neighborhood residents called the local news and CNN. They each shot hours of footage of the Rat conga line that ensued. You have to listen to the people in the background for maximum hilarity. Oooooo Lawd! Tasty, innit?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Aw, Crap!

I've always had a love/hate feeling towards her. But now that Suze Orman has officially come out as a card carrying lezbeen, I guess I'll have to stop the hate. It was never really hate anyway, more like fear. What with those unnaturally white and curiously razor sharp looking teeth as well as the oddly orange and leathery looking skin tone, I was always afraid that a bad financial decision would cause her to leap from the TV screen and rend me limb from limb.

Speaking of finance, I had to apply for food stamps yesterday afternoon. I thought I might be eligible, and it seemed silly to pass up some free groceries. It was a tad humiliating nonetheless. The last time I applied for assistance I was a 22 year old struggling performer that was estranged from my family. As I said in a meeting yesterday, I felt kind of like I was starting over. Until I realised that's exactly what's happening. I'm starting over. It's almost like the last 30 years belonged to someone else. At any rate, I qualified for emergency assistance, which means I'll be getting an unknown amount of grocery money sometime in the next few days. I have to go back with more financial information by next week in order to qualify for monthly benefits, and they're sending me to another agency to see if there's any housing money I qualify for. At this point, I have no pride left. My main focus is to attend Gay-A meetings every day and get a good support system in place. I'm looking for work, but I'm not going to be stupid and not make sure that I can keep a roof over my head and food on the table until I get something. Splitting the rent with my roommate helps, I only have to scramble for half what I've been paying the last few months.

I had to call in to the office at my last job today. I need some confirmation that I was let go and have no job. They sent me one a day or two after I got myself fired. Typically of me, I tore it up and threw it out along with all my work shirts, building ID and employee manuals. I just wanted to obliterate the memory and move on. I hadn't counted on needing that piece of paper. I spent all day today trying to reach the correct voicemail to leave a message. I absolutely didn't want to talk to a live person. I just couldn't handle the embarrassment. If I can't spare myself, who will? But I was feeling anxious and trapped. So I bought myself a sweatshirt at a 75% discount and a cute red scarf for Jet. And for the record, I'm far from the only alcoholic that has a shopping disorder as well. I finally managed to wait until after I was sure the admin office was closed. Then I called the main number and had them patch me through to voicemail. Mission accomplished. My anxiety instantly dispersed, and I stopped thinking about how a glass of wine would make me feel better.

On a side note, my welfare ID picture looks a hundred times better than my recent NY State ID picture.

Friday, February 23, 2007

My Dinner With Alkies

Tonight and last weekend I was invited to an after Gay-A dinner with 8 or so other guys. That's about double the dinners out I've had in the last ten months. One of the common threads that seems to be shared by a lot of people in the program is that as the condition progresses, many of us start to drink at home, alone, more and more often. Maybe it's feelings of shame. Maybe it's a last attempt to exert a measure of control over something that ultimately controls you. Whatever the reasons, many fellow drunks had long past moved past the social component of drinking, and indeed, I'm far from the only one who found his social skills had atrophied from lack of use. Veterans from the program are acutely aware of this, and many make it a point to invite newbies like me out along with some groups. Before the events of the last two weeks, I would have been a nervous wreck. Worried about what to say and whether or not I was witty or interesting enough. Curiously, although mildly apprehensive, I jumped at the chance to join them, and found myself chattering away on a variety of subjects.

Continuing on Tom's Over-Indulgent Self Help Tour '07, earlier tonight I attended a support group for HIV+ men at the Community Center. Along with the usual suspects that show up almost every week, we had two new guys show up. One man, mid 40's and quite handsome, had tested positive only two weeks ago. The fact that he had already reached out to speak with a support group this quickly was quite remarkable. The other man was in his late 50's, and several months ago tested positive, only to find himself hospitalized two weeks later, whereupon he was given an AIDS diagnosis based on the fact that he had pneumonia and less than 70 T-Cells. A lively discussion ensued. Unfortunately, some of the HIV veterans with over 10+ years of dealing with HIV/AIDS behind them were occasionally less than sensitive in my book. They were a tad dismissive about HIV being no big deal, what with the new medicines available. Far different from when AZT was the only toxic poison as an option. And while that's true, there are still many issues surrounding a new HIV diagnosis for most, if not all, new infections that a certain amount of sympathy and sensitivity still should be used.

Some people are completely unprepared for the task of taking charge of their treatment. Making and then keeping doctor appointments. Having regular blood work done and then making sure you understand the results. Getting informed about treatment options and current recommendations, and then deciding what the right treatment for you will be and when. That of course leads to adherence issues. Some people, including one of the new men to the group, get completely focused on how they will likely have to stay on medication every day forever. They find that so distressing and "unfair" that they throw up their hands and stop taking meds. And of course, this can alter their treatment options.

Despite what you may have read or think you know, the social stigma associated with HIV is still alive and well, both within and outside of the gay community. HIV+ men often feel like the dirty little secret nobody wants to talk about any more. As if the guys who are (or think they are) negative would prefer us to just disappear. And of course there's that big elephant in the middle of the room called disclosure. Negative gay men (or those that believe they are) are not in the least bit prepared for how they are going to conduct themselves or address their status with other men, right up until the time they test positive. And then they spend months after diagnosis trying to figure out when to disclose, what to say, to whom and when. They have to prepare themselves for rejection, based solely on their HIV status. And they have to come to some moral, ethical and legal conclusion of what is sex, safe sex, risk and acceptable risk both for themselves and their sexual partners. It's a minefield we get to negotiate and no body's giving up a map.

So when there was an undercurrent, mostly directed at the woefully uninformed 57 yr. old, of "where you been?" and "Did you miss the last 20 years?" I found it insensitive at best. I also took exception to people telling the newly diagnosed 40's man how he should feel and what he should be focused on. You can't tell people how to run their disease or their treatment. All you can do is make sure they get good information to make the best informed decision for themselves. And then support them in that. You can listen, you can sympathize and you can try to keep them from falling in to despair or getting swamped with information and options they don't really need to consider right away.

So I managed to get the last word in at the end of the meeting (shocking, I know). I told the older members that I thought maybe they were forgetting that no matter what year it is and no matter what age you are, an HIV diagnosis, while unlikely to be a death sentence (in America), can still really rock your world. And it opens up a whole host of decisions and questions that take months if not a year or longer to answer. The point, as always, isn't what you did or didn't do to turn up HIV+. The point is you're one of us now. And I remember how, despite my excellent care and support from friends and co-workers, that first year was scary and exhausting. And I reminded the vets of that fact. And I turned to the newly diagnosed men and said I was sorry this had happened to them. That they would be fine, but that I acknowledge that testing positive sucks. And I offered to help with information and guidance and to provide expertize in whatever I can contribute. I got some grumbling agreement from the vets and a grateful thank you from the men.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


So I've been spending a lot of time at the gym. While I do pay a monthly membership, it's been helpful because it doesn't cost me anything on a daily basis to go and spend an hour or two working out. With money being tight, it's a part of the day where I'm not spending and it helps distract me from things between Gay-A meetings and my worries about finding a job. Besides, I've been working out on a pretty regular basis for so many years, I just feel good when I work up a good sweat. I get a chance to read, zone out, listen to music. My gym time is therapeutic. I don't see it as a chore or punishment. Today I'm 15 days sober. I've been at the gym for 14 of those days. I don't always lift weights. Sometimes I do cardio and an ab routine and skip weights entirely. And I'm not really looking to get bigger. At my age, I have no aspirations to add bodybuilder to my profile. Mostly I'm hoping to not get fat and to keep my ass from hitting the back of my thighs a while longer.

My birthday was decidedly low-key. My niece called to wish me a happy day. It wasn't a particularly big struggle to not drink that day. I've long since past feeling like I had to "celebrate" my birthday by going out and getting fucked up. Same goes for New Years. I eventually began to hate marking those "reflective" holidays by waking up feeling like shit with a vicious hangover. I just feel like you're setting the stage for more of the same. So I went to a meeting, and had a nice phone call with one of the guys I've met through Gay-A. I did some window shopping, easy because I really don't need anything right now. Then I hit the Virgin Megastore in Union Square. They are having one of their $10 sales. Hundreds of CD's and DVD's all for a sawbuck. I walked around and picked up an armload of stuff, anything that caught my eye. I probably had $100 worth of music/movies. Then I went through each one and decided what I absolutely wanted. I managed to get out spending only $30. I got a Black Eyed Peas CD, and a Motown #1's compilation that I've been playing all day. I also picked up a copy of the movie Camp. I've never seen it and I've heard it's fun.

I've been a little discouraged lately because I haven't got any responses to resumés I've been sending. That's unusual, as my bar/restaurant resumé is pretty impressive. I sent myself a copy of the cover letter and resumé that I've been copy/pasting. It turns out, the Word copy I've been sending displays completely different than my layout. I look like an amateur. Even worse, I put in my cover letter that I'm fairly proficient in Word. No wonder nobody responded. I have an interview today for a job bartending on a day cruise around Manhattan. Believe it or not, I've decided to go back to bartending for a while. Drinking while working was never really an issue with me. In fact, I prefer to stay sober. It was always after work that was the issue. When everybody hangs out and rehashes all the horror stories of the day. I won't be able to do that anymore. But bartending will provide me with an immediate cash flow, and it's a great way to get out of debt quickly. And I'm sick of worrying about how I'm going to pay my bills. With a strong objective in mind, I'm pretty confident I can get behind a bar and not have issues.

Sorry this post wasn't particularly entertaining. In case you can't tell, I'm trying to use this space to help me sort some things out, and remind myself what's really at stake. I will try to mix things up this week and find some humor or dirty gay sex to tell you about. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Did You Get Your Hair Did?

Hmmm. I'm not sure I like it. What say you my peeps? Is it hard to read? Is that floating hand cool or annoying? You need to scroll down a bit, and the hand stays in place while the text moves up. Not that I give a shit ...

Anyway, I tried to find an interim sponsor in Gay-A over the weekend. The guy who facilitates such things introduced me to someone "really great". Really Great proceeded to use the phrase "Right On" three times in under three minutes. No. Just ...no. I think I'll be finding my own sponsor. More tomorrow. It's late.

Update: If you missed it, I tried a new blog design. I decided it's not working for me. Consider yourselves spared. It all started because I was trying to update the header pic. I can't seem to get it to upload at the correct size, despite making size adjustments in photoshop. Suggestions?

Monday, February 19, 2007

45 Years Ago Today ... Oh Dear God!

Yes, it's inevitable. Well, it's not inevitable, I could be dead. Not sure what the appropriate celebration should be, considering the circumstances.

I decided on my 40th birthday I would start celebrating the day again but in a new way. I tried to see my birthday as an opportunity to do some good for myself. So on Feb. 19th 2002, I quit smoking. I went from two packs a day complete with a hacking smoker's cough, to no cigarettes at all. I never looked back, I never cheated. Not once. A year went by, and in 2003 I was feeling so much better I decided to use the next year to attend to my health. I hadn't seen a Dr. in years. I didn't even have a Dr., let alone health insurance. I made an appointment for a general check-up, and followed that up with my very first HIV test. Being the over-achiever I am, I got it right on the first try and tested positive. I can't say I was too stunned by it. At least not at first. So 2003 found me awash in a sea of blood tests and vitamin supplements and short term group therapy sessions. It's all in the archives if you feel like referring back. I don't remember giving myself a gift for my birthday in 2004. Perhaps I was gun-shy from the year before. But in 2005, I resolved to address my emotional health. It took me the better part of '05 into '06, but I made great strides. I conquered or tamed most of the triggers for my panic attacks. I spent half a year in therapy. I lost my shit for a while when I started on my HIV meds, but with help from a great counselor and a friend, we managed to see me through the shitstorm and out the other end. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was actually laying the groundwork for what's been happening lately.

So even though my sober date is actually Feb. 7, we'll just think of it as my early birthday present for 2007. The beauty of it is, I may be unwrapping this particular gift for a year if not much longer. In that way, sobriety is a lot like HIV. It's the gift that keeps on giving. So if you belly up to the bar sometime today, be sure to hoist one in my name and wish me a Happy Birthday. And be happy for me that I won't be joining you. Believe it or not, I am.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Yo, Comic Geeks

Check it out. Up for sale on EBay:

My entire collection. 38 issues of DC Comics Deathstroke The Terminator.

1990 Todd McFarlane. 10 issues of Spider-Man.

1987 Dr. Fate #1-4 complete mini-series.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Baby Steps

Tonight is the first night I didn't have a late snack before bed. I've been scarfing down peanut butter and crackers, salted pistachios, cheese and the occasional cookie before bedtime. Anything except a drink. Also lots of water. I've been working out every day (except today) to try and make up for the extra food. I've also added an extra cup of coffee (or the occasional hot chocolate) to the middle of my day to keep my energy up. I figure three cups all day isn't bad for you.

About 6 years ago, I think, is when I began having panic attacks. People talk about mistaking their panic attacks for heart attacks or god knows what. I knew right away what it was. Of course, that did little to alleviate or stop them. One of the first took place during a haircut. I had popped in to a chop shop on 23rd/3rd. It was a warm afternoon, but part way through the cut I began to sweat profusely. My heart began racing and I began to shake. I tried to will it away but the jig was up when the stylist asked if I was OK. I tried to answer, not sure what exactly I said, but I remember I was disjointed and largely incoherent. I wanted to bolt out of the chair and get some air on the sidewalk. I think I started to freak out the stylist, and I remember he seemed to be rushing to finish. I was mortified. I shakily paid for my cut and ran home to sleep.

After every major panic attack, I was left with a phobic aversion to the place it happened or the circumstances behind it. Consequently, I couldn't get my haircut for several years. Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds. Now. I took to shaving my head with clippers for a while, or having someone I trusted do it. I couldn't let a stranger near my head or face, particularly with a pair of scissors. After I went on medication for anxiety, I started to face down some of my phobias, but the haircut was a sticking point. Until I found clonazepam. From that point on, not only could you cut my hair, you could light my pants on fire while you did it and I didn't care. The problem is that usually the clonazepam would lower my inhibitions so much that I wouldn't think twice about following it up with a night of drinking, and half the time an eventual drinking and drug induced blackout.

So I'm happy to report that this afternoon, having decided to get the ends trimmed on my current mop, I casually marched down to my hot Eastern European East Village barber, waited my turn and plopped my dainty butt in the chair. Medication free. He clipped my hair and razored my sideburns and shaved the back of my neck. Try as I might, he never rubbed his uncut Eastern European cock on my forearm. And without a twitch or a tremble or a hint of anxiety on my part. I may be on to something with this sobriety thing. Plus, as an added bonus, a cute Asian bodybuilder sucked me off today. It's the small victories that keep us going.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

She's Frigid

  • The storm blew in to town last night. Because it was a classic Nor'easter, the wind was blowing directly on the front of the apartment building. Turning the living room and my bedroom into an icebox. Three heavy blankets let me sleep through the night. This morning, while checking e-mail, I could see my breath. I turned on the oven to help heat the house. By the way, the correct temperature to warm a house is 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The wind finally shifted this afternoon, and the apartment steam heat took over fine. It's around 17 degrees outside as I write this, and the wind is gusting like mad, but because it's coming from the north directly, we're all toasty here.

  • Because I knew the storm was on the way, I decided to get my chores done beforehand, so I wouldn't be stuck having to do them while trapped inside. So I did the laundry and mopped the floors. Of course, after the snow I myself tracked salty dirty snow throughout the house, so the floors were clean for exactly one day. Ah well, at least I did it. Which meant today I could concentrate on other things. I printed some photos that I've been meaning to get to. I sepia toned a shot of the boardwalk in Atlantic City, so even though I took it in 2004, it looks like a vintage boardwalk shot. Until you notice the word TRUMP on one of the buildings in the background. I framed it anyway and added it to the kitchen collection. I scanned some comics that should go up for auction on Saturday. If you're a fan of DC's Deathstroke the Terminator watch for it, I'm selling off my entire series starting from the 1st collector's issue.

  • I had planned on going to two Gay-A meetings tonight, but the forecast said that the wind may gust to 50mph and it was going to be freakin' freezin'. The meetings were all the way across town on 9th Ave. So instead I managed to pop in to a meeting on E. 12 st. at 5:30, and got it done before the temp dropped off. Not that I'm not still getting into it. Regardless of what happens, I always feel better and a little more grounded after it's over. But I see no reason to freeze my nuts off while I'm at it.

  • From The Department of who cares: I finally decided to try buying and cooking some tilapia that was on sale at the market. I'd heard it was a very tasty if not common fish to try. I used this recipe but added a bed of angel hair pasta in garlic, butter, scallions and olive oil. Considering the fish cost $1.53, oh my goddess it was good. Took me all of 15 minutes to make. Try it yourself. But I can't for the life of me figure out how another market I go to is charging almost $7.00 for the same size fillet.

  • And finally, I edited a bunch of pictures from an impromptu photo shoot I did the other day using myself as the model. Luckily, it's HNT anyway, so here ya go ...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Me And My BF

-Christmas, 2006

Twelve Step Ball-Change

Damn, this not drinking shit ain't easy. I've been to six days of Gay-A meetings. Some unexpected side effects of not drinking: I'm so fucking hungry! All the time! Well, at least every few hours. I haven't missed a breakfast, lunch or dinner in days and I've taken to carrying extra granola bars, snacks, nuts and fruit around with me. I had to. The first couple of nights I ate an entire bag of chips both nights. The last thing I need is to be sober and fat. I've been sticking with mostly gay Gay-A meetings, although after I finish my 90 day immersion I may branch out. There are a lot of meetings within a few blocks of the apartment, so I'll probably go to some of them. I found a wonderful meeting place in the East Village that I think will be a regular place for me. I was surprised to find that while all meetings are open to all members, they kind of encourage you to find a home "house" or room or two. Not unlike ball culture. I'm thinking we could rename the church where we meet The House of Labeija. I wouldn't mind being the formerly drunken Duchess of Labeija. I kind of like that. "Work it! Work that repressed memory! Isolate yourself, bitch!"

There are meetings for men, mostly gay men, gay men and women, HIV+ Alkies, Latinos, women, people of color. There are some meetings that are signed for deafies and most are wheelchair accessible. Snacks and coffee seem to be a big part of the experience, and some of the better organized meetings have a veritable breakfast buffet available. I guess considering we're gay, that shouldn't be a surprise. An urn of coffee and some plastic cups just won't do. Just because we're a room full of drunks doesn't mean we can't have scones.

Also unexpected, after a couple of nights of insomnia, I've started sleeping almost through the night. And with the sleep has come dreams. Tons and tons of dreams. I guess now that my brain isn't soaked in vodka it's making up for lost time. The other night, I dreamed that a guy and a girl were using a urinal together (who knows), then I dreamed that while having that dream, I wet the bed. Then I woke up for real, relieved that the 2nd dream within a dream never happened.

Oh, and I get irritable periodically every day, but nobody has noticed that as a change.

After one of my first meetings, several people came right over and offered their phone numbers. I figured they were just being nice, but I've since found out they really encourage you to call these virtual strangers. Certainly if you feel like you might go drink, but also if you feel lonely or just want to talk or ask a question. This would be so out of character for me. I hate talking on the phone. And I always feel like I'm intruding. But all the literature points out that one of the foundations of the program is the support you get from other members. So that's my goal for myself this week. Call a member just to talk. I'll let you know. Also, sometime this week I'm going to have to tell my mom and dad I lost my job and I'm in Gay-A. Hopefully, they'll be happy I'm getting help, but you never know how the King and Queen of The House Of Secrets will react to this latest flaw in The Duchess.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

At My Gym

There's a guy I've seen around the neighborhood for years. He was actually a member of my old gym a few blocks away from my current (seriously overpriced) branch. I started seeing him at my new branch about 6 months ago. He's slightly taller than I am, around 5'11. He has long brown hair that he always wears in a pony tail and brown eyes. I don't think Puerto Rican, I think he's from Spain. I'm quite sure he can speak English, although in all these years I've never heard him do so. When he's with someone, they only speak Spanish. He speaks softly and with an air of confidence. He works out often, but he's not muscular like, Ka-pow! He's just got broad shoulders and a trim waist and he's curvy in his arms and legs. His skin is olive colored and flawless. He sometimes has a light beard or needs a shave, but it always looks perfect for him. I think he's so stunningly gorgeous that I have to look away when he's getting changed for fear I get caught staring. Just being near him makes my heart flutter. Two weeks ago, he was changing to work out while I was dressing to go home. The entire time he was in the locker room, he was softly singing. In Spanish. His singing voice was slightly higher than his speaking voice. Of course, I didn't understand a word. Until I finally heard some lyrics I recognized. It was Besame Mucho. It was all I could do to not bust a smile. It actually made me tear up a little. That man is why I'm gay.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Girrrl, I'm in Gay-A!

And I'm fine. Dr's appointment tomorrow. Will try to post after.

Update: OK. So I know I promised you an update. But I've had some ... things happen the last few days. If it wasn't clear, I did get fired. For being a drunk. Specifically, for getting drunk and blowing off work and then copping to it all. The truth? I was in a downward spiral and all I could think of was to throw myself a lifeline with the only hook that has never let me down. The unvarnished truth. The hard part has been turning that truth inward to places I thought I might never be ready to go. I've had three Gay-A meetings the last three days. I've set an ambitious goal of 90 meetings in 90 days. That wasn't my idea, it was a suggestion from another. But it appeals to the jump in with both feet nature of my personality(s). The bottom line is I was ready. I was totally unsatisfied with what I had made of myself, of my life. I was living in fear. I was living in shame. I got angry with myself. And so very, very tired of being unhappy.

Emotionally, I feel strong but completely raw and exposed. And not the good kind of exposed. The fear is sloughing off me like a dead layer I no longer need. It's all brand new, but I've been walking around feeling like somebody told me a secret that other people don't know. I've started down a long, long road. This may take years to complete. But I have a feeling, I took a huge first journey this week.

Physically, everything went fine at the Dr. I had what I thought was a big drop in my T-Cells and almost shit myself. But when she booted up all my results, it seems that what I had was an unexpected (and probably) false spike in my count, and that it has actually just come back down to my normal range. My percentages remain unchanged, and I'm still undetectable. One thing, she mentioned that one of my liver tests was abnormal, but the other was fine.

"But that could just be because you were out drinking the night before the test."

Ya think?

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Truth Shall Set Me Free

February 5, 2007

To whom it may concern,

As you may know, I missed a regularly scheduled shift this past Sunday, Feb 4. And I failed to call out for the time lost as well.

Recently, it has become increasingly obvious to me that I have an alcohol abuse problem. Coupled with an ongoing battle with panic disorder and other medical issues have made it tough. But I believed that I could take charge of the situation alone and that everything would be fine.

On Saturday night, Feb 3, my intent was to enjoy a couple of drinks and go to bed early. Instead, I proceeded to have far more than I intended or was advisable or healthy. While I did get some sleep, I came to the realization that I was in no condition the next day to leave the house, much less deal with the public or possibly climb up and down ladders. I understand I had the option to call out. But I’m not a very good liar, and I wouldn’t know what to say. So I opted to just return to bed and sleep it off.

It should be noted, I have never had anything to drink on the clock or on the premises. I have never come to work directly from a bar or a party, etc. But I have never had my alcohol use directly interfere with my ability to work, until now. In addition, I feel that it’s caused some of my interpersonal skills to suffer and my ability to communicate effectively has been damaged. This is unacceptable to me, and I am embarrassed by my behavior and loss of control.

It seems apparent to me now that I’m going to have to take stronger actions and get some assistance to address the underlying panic disorder and my alcohol abuse problem. It’s actually a welcome decision, as I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to compartmentalize the issues rather than deal with them. So, beginning tomorrow I will be attending an outpatient program for people with alcohol abuse problems. I will continue with that for as long as it takes, until I have the skills to cope with my life and my issues in a healthy productive manner. In addition, I have a regularly scheduled appointment with my Healthcare Provider on Friday Feb. 9, at which point I intend to inform her of my difficulties, and work with her to adjust the medication I currently take for panic disorder.

As to my future at the ########## #####. If it’s possible, I’d like it to continue. Work is important to me, and I find this work challenging and rewarding. On the good days, I left the store with a feeling of accomplishment and pride. I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of my co-workers. I’ve learned a lot and I’m eager to learn more. I feel that, healthy and 100% present on any given day, I have much to contribute in the way of astonishing the customer. And I hope I still have that opportunity.

Thank you for your attention in this matter.



Sunday, February 04, 2007

Letter To Bhudda

Bhudda, babe ...

What's up bro? Looking good, all zen-like and stuff. Hey did you just have your eyebrows done? They look fabulous! The ear piercings? With that hair? Mmmm... I'd re-think it. But listen, I don't judge. You're Bhudda.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know I did about 45 minutes of cardio today at the gym. I know! It was totally sweaty! So I'm thinking that evens things out with the loaf of garlic bread I ate with dinner. I said loaf. C'mere B, I want to lay a big, garlic breath toungue-kiss on ya. I know... totally hot, right?

So I was on my way home, about a block from the apartment, and I hear a clatter. I look ahead on the sidewalk and see someone fall to the ground. I'm too far away but because I see a small light blue coat I'm thinking a kid fell off a bike. Aww, so sad. Whoever it is is moving but not getting up. As I get closer now I see that it's not a kid and there's no bike. Closer still, and whoever it is is trying to get up. I'm finally close enough to realize it's an elderly woman. The clatter was the sound of her metal shopping cart falling to the sidewalk. As she struggles to get up she begins to look in either direction. She finally spots me as I've sped up to get to her. This being New York, notice I don't run. Like she's going anywhere.

I'm close enough to see her face.

"Stay there, I'll help you get up."

I'm at her side by now, and put down my gym bag and groceries.

"They should keep these streets in better condition," she says.

"I know. And right in front of the hospital too."

"I'm trying to get up but I need someone to hold on to."

I hear ya, sister.

But there wasn't a thing wrong with the sidewalk. No gravel or cracks or patch of ice. I looked. But she seemed to need for there to be, so I agreed with her, it was the sidewalk.

"Are you hurt?"

"No, I'm not hurt I just need help getting up."

By now a hispanic couple had walked up from the other direction.

"Help him," the young lady instructed her man.

"O.K." I said, "We're gonna get you up."

So we each grabbed an arm and gently righted her. She was light as a feather and couldn't have been over 5 feet tall.

"Are you sure you're OK?"

"I'm fine, thank you ... the streets are in bad shape."

"You gonna be OK to walk home?"

"Yes, I'll be OK. Oh, thank you so much."

"It was my pleasure, you take care now."

Yo, Bhudda. How funny would it be if now I snatched her purse and ran? But no, I continued home. Felt pretty good, though.

So here's why I'm reaching out to ya, Bhudda bud. I know that there's probably some good Kharma coming to me in my next life, helping me along the spiritual plane and yadda yadda yadda... ensuring I don't come back as some single-celled, puss-oozing, asexual, gross being. But do you think I could cash some of that Kharma in now, in this here current life? In other words. Bhudda. My man. My cheese. Could I please catch a fucking break?

Yours in spirit and peace.
Your friend,

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Passion Of Mary Cheney- by Dan Savage

Ed Note: Dan Savage drops a house on Mary Cheney. I liked it so much, I've reprinted it here. Click here for the link and readers comments.

In today’s New York Times Mary Cheney defends her decision to get her lezbo self knocked the fuck up. Like her father, Mary Cheney believes she shouldn’t have to answer for her party’s attacks on same-sex parents.

“When Heather and I decided to have a baby, I knew it wasn’t going to be the most popular decision,” Ms. Cheney said, referring to her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe. She then gestured to her middle—any bulge disguised by a boxy jacket—and asserted: “This is a baby. This is a blessing from God. It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate, on either side of a political issue. It is my child.”
Nice try, Mary.

Yes, it’s a baby, not a prop. My kid isn’t a prop either, but that never stopped right-wingers from attacking me and my boyfriend over our decision to become parents. The fitness of same-sex couples to parent is very much part of the political debate thanks to the GOP and the Christian bigots that make up its lunatic “base.” You’re a Republican, Mary, you worked on both of your father’s campaigns, and you kept your mouth clamped shut while Karl Rove and George Bush ran around the country attacking gay people, gay parents, and our children in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. It’s a little late to declare the private choices of gays and lesbians unfit for public debate, Mary.

And so long as your party insists on making the fitness of homosexuals to marry or parent—or, hell, exist—a subject of public debate, Mary, your decision to become a parent is germane and very much fit for public discussion and debate. The GOP’s selective embrace of some pregnant dykes—only knocked-up lesbians with powerful connections will be treated with respect—is a disconnect that demands answers. From you, from your father, from your venomous mother, from the idiot president you helped elect. Is that fair? Maybe not. Want to blame someone? Go look in the mirror—and then come out swinging, Mary—for yourself, your partner, and your child.

This was a pretty good start:

Ms. Cheney noted Mr. Dobson’s distortions of the research he cited [in a piece attacking her in Time] and added: “Every piece of remotely responsible research that has been done in the last 20 years has shown there is no difference between children raised by same-sex parents and children raised by opposite-sex parents; what matters is being raised in a stable, loving environment.”
She said Mr. Dobson was entitled to his opinion, “but he’s not someone whose endorsement I have ever drastically sought.”

But what’s with the “drastically,” Mary?

Could it be this: You sought Dobson’s endorsement in the past—your father certainly has, and you worked on his campaigns—but now, to avoid tough questions, you want to qualify and minimize your past sucking up to the likes of Dobson by stating that you never sought his endorsement all that, you know, drastically or anything.

Again, Mary, nice try. You kept your mouth clamped shut when your father needed the political support of assholes like Dobson. And now that your dad is a despised lame-duck VP, dad’s gay-bashing political allies feel free to treat you with the same contempt with which they have long treated other gay and lesbians. And now you cry foul?

Sorry, Mary, and fuck you. You and your whole fucked-up family crawled into bed with bigots like Dobson when it suited you. And now you and your whole fucked-up family have some explaining to do. So welcome to the political debate, Mary, and remember…

Your side started it. It only serves you right that you’re going to have to finish it.

And you might want to have it all wrapped up before your kid is old enough to understand what’s being said about his family by your dad’s political allies. Take it from me, Mary: Explaining to your child, after he heard something hateful on the radio, that his family is very much “real,” that it’s not an attack on anyone else’s family, and that his parents are, in fact, fit to be his parents is as distressing and emotionally exhausting as it is unnecessary. And I blame you.