Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's Alive!

Not only have I made a miraculous recovery, but it seems that finally coming down with the awful cold I've been fighting off for the last month has cleared up the perpetually runny nose and blocked sinuses I've had since Christmas. I slept a solid 7 hours last night until you know who licked me awake around 9:45 this morning. I knew right away that I had recovered as my head no longer felt like it was a basketball. I still have a little chest congestion but no more sore throat and the achy joints are just your regularly scheduled old age creaks and pops.

I am in infinitely better shape than this poor man, found frozen in a 2-3 foot pool of ice in an abandoned building in Detroit.

While you might be shocked to learn that this grisly scene was stumbled upon and ignored for at least a week before it was first reported, even more outrageous is the response from the authorities in Detroit. As you will see from the time line copied from the Detroit News article, an entire day went by before the Fire Department and finally the Police could be bothered to send out responders.

Contacts with authorities
When reporter Charlie LeDuff got a call about a body lying frozen in an abandoned building, he told police officers, who referred him to 911.


About 5 p.m.: Reporter calls 911 and describes the body's whereabouts.
20 minutes later: Operator calls back asking for more specific directions.


4:43 p.m.: Reporter calls 911, waits and is disconnected.

4:46 p.m.: Calls again and explains that he called yesterday but body is still there.

4:55 p.m.: Fire Department calls back for specific directions and reporter offers to meet at the site.

5 p.m.: Fire Department arrives and the homicide department is called; recovery begins.

I mean, I realize that he was already a dead-sicle, so hurrying wouldn't matter, but you would think they could get there faster than an entire day.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Headache, fever, chills, joint pain, chest congestion, sore throat and cough. It actually hurt this morning when I brushed my hair. In short, I'm dying. About to down a mug of Theraflu and curl up on the couch and whimper until tomorrow.

In the meantime, please enjoy another installment of Renaissance porn actor Johnny Hazzard in the kitchen. This time, it's posted on VEOH so hopefully you won't be disappointed like when the prudes at YOU TUBE take it down.

If you need me I'll be asleep until I feel better.

Watch Hazzardous Life Episode 2 in Sexy Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


In just about 6 minutes I am going to take the Jeopardy contestant exam.

I have wanted to do this for years. I used to tend bar at a little restaurant/sports bar in Greenwich Village called The Riviera Cafe. Neighborhood peeps and all the employees just called it The Riv. I worked all nights, except for Sunday during the day when I would tend bar down in the sports bar half of the restaurant during Sunday football. We had a NFL Sunday Ticket package and showed all the games at 1:00 and at 4:00 on about 15 TV's all over the room.

Hang on, one minute until the test ...



So in case you're wondering, the Jeopardy on-line contestant exam goes like this:

You register with your e-mail address and a password prior to the test. I had registered last week and then marked it down on my calendar. They administer the test on three different days in three different time zones, and while they encourage you to take it in your zone, you are free to take it on any one of the days. You can't take it more than once, and you do have to remember to allow for the time zone difference. Of course, if you can't figure that out, I assume you don't have much of a chance on the actual show.

You can log in up to 1/2 hour before the test begins, and you get a countdown clock. About 30 seconds before the test begins, the Jeopardy theme song starts to play, I assume to get you back if you've been distracted by porn.

The actual test is 50 questions in various categories (it helps if you read the category for clues) and you have 15 seconds to answer the question, submit your response or let time run out. 15 seconds goes by really really fast by the way, particularly if you are struggling to pull an answer out that you know but can't quite bring out to your frontal lobe. In my most frustrating example, it was a literary question about Upton Sinclair and US Food and Drug laws, the answer being "The Jungle". Although in retrospect, while I knew the subject matter I doubt I would have pulled "The Jungle" out of the bottom brain drawer if I had 30 whole seconds.

Anyway, I think I did all right. I'm no genius, but I have a surprising cross section of useless information floating around in my brain. I'm actually kind of happy that they don't ever give you any kind of score or a way to compare yourself to others. That would drive me crazy or make me really really sad. It seems the scores are tallied and you go in to a random file if you qualify. You then get randomly pulled from the random file to come out and audition live when they come to your city or a city nearest you, sometime in the next year.

So don't be looking for me to appear on Jeopardy any time soon, because the odds are not in my favor.

Oh, the rest of that Riv story was about how on the weeknights I would put Jeopardy on all the bar TV's and play against the show or whatever local drunks happened to arrive early for a Yankees game. Not at all interesting but I was just stalling for time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No News Is Not Good News

I had another appointment for a brief get-aquainted shift at the restaurant I thought was interested in hiring me. As far as I know it went fine. It was really much too short for me to create any impression, much less a bad one. So I was hoping that I would hear something by this weekend. I e-mailed the owner right after the shift and said I enjoyed meeting everyone blah blah, blah. I followed up with a phone call the next afternoon and ... nothing.

She never called me back, and three days have gone by. It's possible that they are seeing more than one person but the total lack of communication does not bode well. I will give it another afternoon and then send one more e-mail leaving the ball in their court. I spent all of Saturday feeling sorry for myself, until I got over it and decided to suck it up and get on with things.

Saturday night I went out bowling with the guys from SIN. I'm not a great bowler but I'm never the worst either. It was a fun night out that didn't involve getting liquored up.

NEW SUBJECT> I downloaded the Windows 7 Beta that was available last month and installed it on my laptop. To say that it fucked up my system would be a major understatement. My laptop now has no sound as there doesn't seem to be any driver support for my sound hardware. None of the games I like to play are supported in a 64-bit environment, so all my games are not working. I tried to install Partition Magic so I could partition the drive and re-install my old OS (something I should have done in the first place), but that software won't install in the new OS either.

So I can't install new software, I can't play games on my laptop, I can't watch video or especially PORN!!! Also, the cursor now jumps around like my system has epilepsy and it took me almost 1/2 hour to compose this little blog post. I've spent the last couple of days trying to figure out how to wipe the drive clean and start over. FAIL!!!

UPDATE (About an hour after posting)
Hello Tom,
I apologize for my delay in returning your call. I am sorry but I am putting the hiring of a new manager on hold, because I've been contacted by a prior manager who's been out on maternity leave to request her return back to work as of mid February. This was unexpected. I've been trying to mesh out the details of her availability to determine if we will be able to accomodate (sp.) her schedule restrictions. At this point we're pretty much at an agreement and she'll be returning to work. I very much appreciate your time in coming to Aquagrill both to interview and to observe, and will be certain to contact you if the situation changes.
Thank you again, and best wishes,

Blow me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Does Anyone Still Wear ... A Hat?

Ms. Aretha fo sho does! I burst out laughing when I saw this and not in a bad way. In a "go on girl!" way. It is all about that hat.

Cross Your Fingers

And your toes, toss some chicken bones in a circle, turn your head and cough, sacrifice a bunny if it will help. It seems, I think, I hope I've found a job. Really cute restaurant/bar down in ultra cool Soho neighborhood (great shopping!). Spent almost an hour with the owner this afternoon and I absolutely loved her, I think she liked me mighty fine too.

I really need this job, please god I need this job. (Which show?)

I don't want Barack to have to worry about me, he has enough on his plate.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not Quite What I Have In Mind, But ...

Canadian couple creates instant family, adopts twin boys and their brother.

Yo Mustafa and Paul Groulx went from zero to three children in a matter of six months.

The adoptive parents’ days are now filled with the stuff of most attentive, loving parents: meals, laundry, chauffeuring, overseeing homework and chores amid feelings of worry, joy, frustration and laughter. And all of this is followed by a general weariness that comes from a full day of activity.

Their three boys, Adam, 13, and 11-year-old twins James and Matthew (not their real names) Groulx-Mustafa are absorbed in sports, arts, playing with friends and a myriad of other interests typical for their age.

...The two men had no preference for age or gender prior to their search, which is another way their story smashes the myths surrounding adoption in so many ways. Older children do need and want adoptive families and all types of people are eligible to adopt, from single adults to families with children, to same-sex couples.

Mustafa and Groulx’s only stipulations were to adopt within Canada.

“International adoption was wrong for us,” said Yo. And while each could adopt as a single dad, neither Paul nor Yo were keen on going that route either. They preferred to adopt as a duo.

When confronted with the breadth of the need at that information evening, “I was an emotional mess,” said Yo. Currently, there are more than 2,500 children legally available for adoption in Ontario.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Have Anger Issues

While perusing the help wanted section of Craigslist, in what has become a daily and fruitless search for gainful employment, I came across an ad for a bartender/bar manager position that made me hopelessly, illogically angry. It was for a job in a place in Brooklyn called the Galapagos Art Space that refers to itself alternately as a "cultural venue" and an "arts facility". Rather than try to describe it, I'll just reprint the post:

Galapagos Art Space is rapidly expanding, and – unlike other cultural venues in our city – unaffected by the funding severe crisis in the arts. Why? We don’t seek grants or public monies of any kind and succeed only by the strength of our programming, our ideas and our excellent, efficient, responsible service. You will work in an extremely active venue full of ideas and execution. You own extraordinary, and we mean extraordinary organizational skills.

You’ve done this job before, you’re a bar manager extraordinaire – you have a minimum of five years experience being one. You ‘get’ infrastructure and can create it independently and with enthusiasm. You know what fast means because you’re a faster bartender than any of our current staff. You’re a comfortable leader, an excellent trainer, you write manuals and get people to follow them, assured that if they do they’re happier and perform better. You know that a good system made once empowers a staff to excel. You know excel, you know the Mac platform, you know the office suite, you’re proficient in using it, and you’re unafraid. You have five years detailed experience doing this job and you’re ready to join a team that depends on you, and you’re ready to offer as your contribution the extensive, detailed lessons and solutions you’ve learned in the past.

Importantly - you love the arts and culture. You consider it a service and a privilege to work in them, as we do.

You'll be depended upon to manage and staff a busy bar with very high standards. You'll be expected to think on your toes and step up to new responsibilities as they come and then template them, manual them, and train them so the solution can be maintained and improved. You're a high energy, happy person who can catch ideas and run with them.

Please only respond if you have the experience we’re looking for. If you’ve been an assistant manager please know that we’re not looking for assistants right now. We are indeed looking for a very experienced manager who has five years experience.

You should have a NYC Dept of Health Food Handlers Permit.

When responding, and yes - this is a test - put in the subject line; your name, the words "bar manager" and the date you're responding on.

Optional task; describe in a few sentences a previous experience where you created and implemented a system to solve a problem, and explain the results.

It's nice if you include a photo in your reply, we'll be gong through a lot of resumes and it's hard to keep track of only words on paper.

Do keep in mind that this is for a job that seems to amount to a head bartender position, although it reads like you will be going in to the Sudan and building schools and digging out aquifers. And what the hell does it mean when I'm supposed to "template, manual and train" my responsibilities? And again, where behind a bar pouring relatively cheap, possibly donated, insufficiently chilled white wine will this be taking place?

To top it all off after insisting that this person have five years experience, be the fastest bartender in the place, know how to use the Office Suite, Excel and a Mac, be in posession of a Health Department Food Permit and have experience as a trainer and be able to write training manuals, they only offer an hourly pay rate and the opportunity to work shifts for (I presume) tips! Oh, and I dearly love the implied insult to the intelligence of the reader by the snarky (and meaningless) "test" line they slip in at the end. ASSHOLES!

I know it was immature, but I couldn't resist responding to the post by email:

Good afternoon.

That was the most pretentious, unrealistic, obnoxious and self-important help wanted posting I have ever read. I feel sorry for whatever bartender or manager is stupid enough to respond to such utter nonsense, and have the misfortune of working with the insufferable ass that composed that job description. Is this a bar manager job or will this person be expected to solve the conflict in Gaza?

Oh, and the pay you offer for the enormous commitment of time and energy you seem to require absolutely blows major donkey dick.

Have a nice day!

Now, this kind of goes against my "Live and Let Live" Gay-A credo, but sometimes you just have to call a foul on the field. And it made me feel a little better for most of the afternoon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fly The Fur-iendly Skies!

It seems the fine folks at JetBlue have decided that there's gold to be mined from the millions of dog and kitty owners that would love to travel as often as possible with their four-legged companions, if only you didn't have to ship your dog off as cargo. I would do it if I had to, as pet flights to Buffalo don't seem to be in the offering any time soon, but it's almost a guarantee I am going to plan a vacation to a city that will be served by the newly created, about to launch Pet Airways (PAWS). For prices that start at $150 (based on distance and pet carrier weight) you check your dog in at least two hours before his flight (which gives you ample time to check yourself in as well). From there your dog is driven to the airplane and instead of being loaded (and treated) as cargo, your pet is given a space in a climate-controlled, pressurized main cabin. They even promise in-flight attendants to check on your furry friend, as well as administer any medications and regularly scheduled poop-stops in transit. No plans as yet for in-flight screenings of episodes of the Dog Whisperer.

Initial service will begin this year in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Chicago, with service expanding to about 40 cities in the US after that. They are also offering a membership club for frequent fliers that includes travel and shopping discounts in a two-tier price system. LOVE IT!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Potions And Notions Every Day

Thought I would share a list of all the medications and supplements I take every day, just to keep this operation running. It should be noted that some of the vitamins and supplements I take are voluntary not mandatory, but I think it's pretty typical of someone that's HIV+. Maybe my readers will contradict that, we'll see.

Usually about an hour or so after I wake up:

Keletra - 4 pills
Epzicom - 1 pill (this is a combination of two meds)
About 1/2 hour after taking these meds I have an intense wave of nausea sometimes followed by stomach cramps. The nausea lasts about another 1/2 hour but will go away on it's own or immediately if I eat something.

Loperamide - 1 pill (The Kaletra causes chronic diarrhea, and this prescription Imodium lessens that problem considerably. Also my diet makes a big difference but without the Loperamide I would spend half my afternoon in the bathroom.)
Lexapro - 1/2 of 1 pill (This was prescribed for me to treat General Anxiety Disorder back when I was still an active alcoholic. I've considered cutting it out but because I take such a low dose and I suffer absolutely no side effects I figure why fix what ain't broken.)
Lipitor - 1 pill (high cholesterol)

I usually eat 1/2 hour to an hour after this and with my breakfast/lunch I take:

1 packet of K-Pax - 4 pills (vitamin mega-dose)
Ferrous Sulfate - 1 pill (iron supplement for anemia)
Fish Oil (Omega 3)- 2 pills
Aleve - 2 pills (arthritis pain in both knees and plantar fasciitis in both feet)

After I shower I apply a topical dose of Minoxidil to treat the (not so) bald spot on my head

Every day I apply a topical dose of Androgel -(testosterone supplement)

Before bed I take:

Fish Oil - 2 pills
Zinc tablet - 1 pill
Loperamide - 1 pill

Another topical dose of Minoxidil

All told that's 21 1/2 pills (I WIN!), plus three topical applications every day throughout the day. It sounds like a lot, but you sort of learn to incorporate them in to your routine. Plus, I'm not at all shy about taking whatever medication or supplement I need wherever I happen to be. No one has ever asked me about it, and if they did I would just answer truthfully. That's what you get for asking I figure. Still, it does sort of explain why I'm always reluctant to add yet another medication if at all possible.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

For Sale On EBay

I've put my entire comic book collection up for sale on EBay. All of it. Every mini-series, every graphic novel, everything from Aquaman to Zatanna. I need the money and I could use the space, but mostly I just need the money. Plus, I am and have been oddly disconnected from my comic books for a while now so this isn't as traumatic as I always thought it would be. If you were ever a comic collector you will understand that last sentence.

Anyway, it's about 10 years or more of comics dating from around 1985-1997. A few are older and a couple of the series runs are newer. It's well over 4,000 comics in all. But they all need to go. Hopefully, some collector or store will see the auction and scoop these up.

Here's the link to the EBay auction page if you want to see a complete list of what's for sale. It's pretty extensive.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What It's All Been About

It started shortly after I found myself once again joining the ranks of the unemployed.

Unlike previous gaps in my work schedule, this time I found that I couldn't really distract myself, nor pass the time embarking on another mid-priced vodkas of the world tour, and along with that went my, see what kinds of pills I can order off the Internet without seeing an actual doctor, research project. Were I a decade younger, I suppose I could have filled up my downtime with random acts of unsafe sex, but we all know how well that worked out for me now don't we?

So it was that my mind turned towards, if not outright charitable endeavors, at least a desire to make good use of my time. One of the cornerstones of recovery in Gay-A is an encouragement to do service, and most people take that to mean in service to fellow alcoholics. That's all well and good, and I did volunteer to decorate one of the anniversary meetings and I cooked for one of the Holiday meetings, I also spoke at a detox ward in a hospital. But I saw this time as an opportunity to expand my reach in to other areas that have always held my attention. And I have been finding myself with an overwhelming desire to "make more" out of the recovery I've found. From The Ashes, indeed ...

That's pretty much how I ended up getting on the Community Advisory Board at the LGBT Health Center. I was in the building for some appointment and happened to spy a flier in the rack asking for volunteers. Obviously my own health is an ongoing concern for me, but so is health care for gay men and women in general. In a broader sense, available health care and increasing access to it is something I have always been very concerned about, way before I ever needed it. Getting on the CAB was a perfect match for me.

I also reached out with some emails to a group providing outreach and shelter to homeless LGBT youth. They are woefully underfunded and can use any attention be it volunteers or supplies or even money. I haven't had the chance to follow up with them as much as I intended, but I absolutely plan on making space for them as a volunteer at some point this year.

It was around this time when I received a mailing from the LGBT Community Center which is part newsletter and part monthly calendar of events. One of the events completely jumped out at me. It was an informational gathering and outreach meeting for groups that were trying to interest gay and lesbian adults to become foster parents. They didn't need to interest me. This was something I have been thinking about for over 20 years.

I was excited to attend the meeting, not knowing what exactly would transpire. Basically, 8 or so various agencies, working under contract with Children's Services sent recruiters and representatives to try to get you talking and thinking about becoming a foster parent. A panel of foster parents and kids were there to tell you about their experiences and answer questions. I would say maybe 30 people showed up for the presentation. The whole thing took about two hours, and I left with an armload of fliers and brochures as well as pens, magnets, mouse pads, stickers and anything you could stick a smiling kid's face on it would seem. And my mind was reeling at the possibilities.

By the next month I found myself attending an orientation meeting for one of the groups. Mostly because they also offered the 10 week certification classes you need to take before becoming a foster parent.

And by the end of this month, I will be finished with the 10 week course and I will be certified and eligible to be a foster parent in the state of New York. And as soon as I am gainfully employed again (a stipulation of the process) that is exactly what I plan to do. And hopefully, sometime by late spring, I will have a young person, possibly a gay young person, most definitely not a baby person, and in all likelihood a teen-aged 12-17 year old young person, placed in my home.

This placement might be temporary, but the organization I am working with advocates long term placement, in many cases leading to adoption. I haven't committed to adoption in any way, and even if I decide to go that route, it is at least a couple of years away. But the reality of foster care in New York City (as well as the rest of the country) is that teenagers in foster care rarely are reunited with their birth families. So if I'm any good at it, the kid I end up with could be, for all intents and purposes, mine until he/she turns 21. Forever if I decide to adopt.

Now I've sort of given you the condensed version of how I've arrived at this point. But you should know this is not something I've jumped in to, nor is it something I am taking lightly. I have no illusion that I'm going to end up with a precocious street urchin, that calls me Dad after the end of the two hour pilot. I am not Bill Cosby(except for the cool sweater thing) and I am certainly not Mike Brady (except for the gay thing). This is a life-changing decision that as I said, has actually been 20 years in the making. I know it will be hard. But I have always wanted to create my own family. I have always wanted to make a difference in the life of at least one young person who just needs help and safety. I have always wanted a houseful of people that needed me. As it turns out, none of that was in the bottom of a highball glass. Believe me, I looked.

Four years ago, I knew I was in desperate trouble when I could no longer even imagine a future for myself or my life. When I tried to picture the possibilities I always used to believe were limitless, all I saw was a black empty void. Two years ago, I finally found the courage and the hope borne out of sheer desperation to believe that maybe I could get that limitless future back. And in the next few months, it looks like that will come true.

I will go back when possible, to explain the process and what it entails. I will try to re-create my motivations. I will try to slip in some facts and stats, so you can see how vital it is that more people that are able to, take on the role of foster parent and adoptive parent to disenfranchised youth, unless you want these tragic stories to repeat, again and again. And I will take you with me every step of this new journey in my life on a road that will hopefully make me a mentor, and then a parent, and if I'm extremely lucky, will someday make me a Dad.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Did You Lose Weight?

So From The Ashes got a bit of an overhaul, partly in preparation for the new direction, partly in celebration of the new year, and partly because it's cheaper than botox for yours truly. If you haven't already noticed, there has been some functionality changes you may or may not care about. A few things were bothering me about the blog, and I found that an update in the Blogger template provided a whole host of fixes that were exactly what I was hoping to accomplish.

First, the list of blogs I'm currently following has been (in process as I write this) slightly updated. I took the opportunity to refine the list a little, and dropped a couple of sites that either published too infrequently or didn't pan out to be very interesting or entertaining. In my opinion. Even better, now the blogs are arranged in order of when they were last updated, so you can just go ahead and navigate, or not, to another site based on when they last published.

Second, I've added a "Labels" category, showing links back to all the posts on a variety of subjects. If you want to get a little edumacated and check out my "Health" and "HIV" posts, now they are all in one easy-peasy tab. Also, if you want to find out why the hell "I Hate PETA" so much or wonder (like I do) at what it says about me that my largest post subject is "work". Or, as so many of you discovered already, you can just go right to all the posts labeled "adult" "men" or "sex" and have at it. I swear, if I wasn't getting any traffic from people searching for "Robbie Williams Naked" or "Janet Jackson's Tit", I wouldn't get any hits at all. It took me weeks to label all the posts going back to the beginning (good thing I have no job), and it's hardly perfect, what with no label for all the postings I did about crystal meth addicts, but I will further refine it when I have time.

I also took the opportunity to upload a template that organized my archives by the year. Since I started publishing this here blog thingy way back in 2003, which practically makes me a blog grandpa or at least a daddy (ha!), I found that archives on a monthly basis going back 6 years made for quite the long list. This year's posts will still be archived monthly, and if you want to go back and read and see what I was like when I was still drinking you can go ahead and dig that up.

Finally, there's some sort of a rating system at the bottom of each post, which I didn't add and quite frankly I don't care about. I suppose I could get rid of it but it doesn't bother me either way, so I'll leave it. Comments are still being hosted by Haloscan, as I've been pretty happy and comfortable with the way they let me track, moderate and (occasionally) ban commenters.

About the new banner picture. It's a cropped photo I took of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. I intended to go with a gray and maroon-ish color scheme originally but when I found this template it had the black/orange/yellow thing that I ended up thinking is pretty easy on the eyes for reading and makes the photos pop a bit better. I still think the picture kind of works and I feel like it evokes a mixture of melancholy and hope for the future, which is how I've been feeling lately and what prompted the design changes.

I will finish the list of blog links today or tomorrow, and I may tweak some of the settings and add some extra functionality if the mood strikes, but the bulk of the work is done. Hope you enjoy reading my not so crazy ramblings and stick with me for some exciting developments. Soon.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Arkansas Ban On Gay Parents

-via Gay News Blog

LITTLE ROCK– The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down a new law that bans any unmarried person who lives with a partner from serving as an adoptive or foster parent in the state of Arkansas.

At a press conference at the Arkansas State Capitol this morning, several of the plaintiffs described how Act 1, which is set to go into effect on January 1, impacts their families and why they decided to be part of the case.

Stephanie Huffman, who already adopted one child from the state in 2004, was one of the plaintiffs who spoke at today's press conference. Huffman and her partner of 10 years, Wendy Rickman, want to adopt another child or a pair of siblings through the Department of Children and Family Services, but now can't because of Act 1. "The state already knows we're good enough parents that they placed one child with us before Act 1 passed," said Huffman. "Who knows how many children are now cut off by this law from loving homes?"

Among the plaintiffs and their families are:

Sheila Cole: Sheila lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with Jennifer, her partner of nine years. Sheila's adult daughter from an earlier relationship had a baby girl in May of 2008 who was placed in the Arkansas foster care system when she was two months old. Sheila wants to adopt her granddaughter and is the relative best able to take in the baby. Every week she makes a four-hour round trip to Bentonville for two hours of visitation with her granddaughter. Sheila has taken foster parenting classes with Oklahoma's DHS and has passed a home study. She is now waiting for approval from Arkansas, but she's worried she might not be approved to adopt her own granddaughter because of Act 1.
Frank Pennisi and Matt Harrison; Meredith and Benny Scroggin: Frank and Matt have been together for eight years and live together in Little Rock and would like to become foster or adoptive parents. Matt's cousin, Meredith Scroggin, and her husband Benny want Frank and Matt to be able to adopt their two daughters in the event of their death.

Cary and Trina Kelley: Cary and his wife, Trina, have two young daughters and live across the road in Fayetteville from Cary's mother Vickie Kelley and her partner Sophia Estes. Sophia and Vickie have been together 16 years, and cumulatively have three children and six grandchildren. If anything were to happen to Cary and Trina, who held their wedding in Vickie and Sophia's backyard, they want Vickie and Sophia to be able to adopt their children. Trina, Cary's wife, spent many years of her childhood in state care and she feels very strongly that children who need homes shouldn't be cut off from loving relatives like Sophia and Vickie.

Kaytee Wright: Kaytee Wright lives on a farm in Cabot with her partner of five years, Alan Leveritt. Kaytee helps Alan raise his eight-year-old daughter from his previous marriage, of whom he has joint custody. Together she and Alan are also providing a home and financial assistance to a mother and her two young children through a Little Rock shelter for the working homeless. Kaytee was adopted from state care when she was just four weeks old, and she feels very strongly that good homes should be provided to children in the state system. Kaytee would like to adopt a child but cannot because she and Alan aren't married.

Friday, January 02, 2009

2008 Wrap-Up

And only a day late!

I can't say I'm sorry to say good bye to this year. Even though it brings me one more year closer as I rocket inexorably faster on the bullet train towards the great dirt nap. This year was a challenge on many levels.

On the plus side, I did manage to stay sober for another year. Not that I ever felt my sobriety was in danger per se, but I did at least go to enough meetings and do enough service and engage in enough navel gazing to keep my head on straight well enough to stay away from a drink. And that's an accomplishment.

I also kept regular doctor appointments and finally, FINALLY conquered my overwhelming phobia concerning the dentist. I wish I could tell you exactly what the magic formula is, and I suspect it has more to do with being restored to sanity and other promises that Gay-A fulfilled than anything I actually did, but I do know I can schedule a dental visit as easily as I make a dinner reservation and not worry about keeping it or taking medication to get through it or the days and days of dread that used to precede it. That's if I actually ended up showing up for the appointment at all.

My overall health is great although I do have an ongoing high cholesterol battle raging and somehow in all of that not drinking I managed to put on about 25 pounds. I have made a mental and verbal pledge to lose 10 in the beginning of the new year.

I started out the year gainfully employed and had no reason to think that would change. Unfortunately, I couldn't anticipate that one of my employees would end up murdering a customer on the roof of the building. I also didn't know that the owners I was working for had neglected to ever secure the correct paperwork and permits to make the venue a legally operating restaurant and night club. Therefore when we received (unusually heavy-handed) police attention as a result of the bad publicity, I and all of my fellow employees were suddenly and unexpectedly thrown out of work. I will probably speak more about the murder in the future, and if the case goes to trial this year (I think it will) I want to go to court and observe the proceedings. I wonder if I will ever understand what made this young man do something so awful.

The summer brought a very hard time as my dog and buddy Jet died unexpectedly. Now that I have some distance, I know that not only did I love Jet as my pet, but that he also took on a lot of extra significance in my life. I got Jet before I got sober, but it seems that I was already swimming for the surface from a very dark hole, and adopting Jet was an outward expression of that sliver of recovery. An ability to care for and focus on more than just myself and my needs. He was also, appropriately enough, wildly imperfect and dinged up by life. Jet was a kindred spirit that I wanted to protect and take care of. He was a part of me, and it really broke my heart when I lost him. I had to reconcile the feelings that I failed him, and realize that I made his last years on Earth infinitely better than they had been, or would have been, without me.

Which of course led me to adopt Riley in the fall. Don't get me wrong. I love love love Mr. Riley. And of course it helps that he is a completely different dog than Jet, both in looks and temperament. But it's a different love, less desperate and needy on my part. Which I assume is better. Riley is a pet and a pal. Jet was a lifeline. But as I now have come to realize, life with a dog in the house is infinitely better.

I devoted a lot of time and writing to the repeal of the HIV+ travel ban. And while I have said that marriage equality is not an issue that I necessarily believe in for me, I was able to support the issue in terms of general equal rights, as well as parental rights, and I lent my voice and feet as well as my sign and T-Shirt making skills to the cause. I joined the Community Advisory Board for the LGBT community heath center, and make monthly meetings to pitch in however I am able. This year I marched for the first time in the NYC Pride parade, and I did it as a proud member of SIN NYC. I also used my involvement with SIN to make tiny (albeit important) strides in the improvement of my social skills. Who knows, I may actually date and/or have sex in 2009.

I took some pretty pictures, and while I wouldn't categorize myself as a photographer or an artist, it has definitely become a hobby and a passion I enjoy. I had some of my Pride photos published in an on-line article. At the end of 2008, I entered a neighborhood photo contest. I will find out if anything comes of that at the end of January.

Oh, and I also had my picture taken with Bill Clinton. And Mario Lopez. And I brought food to Glenn Close. And I chatted with Ice-T. And Alicia Keys.

My home life was pretty quiet compared to years past. The roommate and Mr. Tails moved out in December, and after what felt like an exhausting search (that really wasn't) I replaced her with two new people that have just moved in. I have brought a whole different energy to these brand new relationships, as so many things have changed in terms of my head and heart and what's really important to me. While the alcoholic in me quietly whimpered in the background, horrified at having to deal with changes, the recovered me was firmly in charge and forged onward. I have no idea what these new changes will bring to my life, but after years of stagnation and soul-crushing inertia, change is a welcome ... change.