Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Career Path

I've decided to change jobs.

In light of what happened over the Christmas holiday with the attempted underwear bombing of that plane in Detroit, I have decided, out of my longstanding desire to aid my fellow human beings and make a contribution to society, that I will join the TSA and become an underwear inspector for all flights heading in to the USA.

I have further decided that it would be best if I specialize a little more, so I will be relocating to a major air hub in South America, most likely Brazil, where I can hone my craft and become the best damn South American underwear searcher for possible bombs and ... er... stuff that I can possibly be.

I will not hesitate to sniff, pat, feel and, if the situation calls for it, lick as much South American underwear as I need to, for as long as I need to, until I am certain that the skies above the USA are safe for any and all travelers.

god bless America.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Upon Reflection

It was a bit of a whirlwind visit to my ancestral homeland but in spite of that, there were many interesting twists. I'm still digesting.

I'm happy to report that Cat is alive and well and thriving. Cat didn't fare very well as one of two cats at my niece's home, so he became a permanent resident at my parent's house. Surprising as my father has never shown an affinity for cats. But he's a fine looking fellow with a borderline dog-like personality. Best of all for a couple of older owners, cat doesn't need to be walked or have his poop picked up. And he wisely co-operated and allowed my parents to locate his litter box all the way down in the cellar near the furnace. Cat is fully grown and filling out, and the only danger that lies ahead for him is he may become Fat Cat some day. We tend to over-feed our animals.

The family is looking a little worse for wear. Everyone is in acceptable health, they just look a bit ragged. Pale and in desperate need of some moisturizer and a spa day. I honestly have been feeling very insecure about my own rapidly aging face, but next to these people, I'm gorgeous.

I didn't get to spend very much time with my niece this trip. We made plans to go see Avatar during the afternoon on Christmas Eve. There were only six people including us in the theater during our show time. Granted, it was 3:30pm on Dec 24th in suburban Buffalo, but I'm not seeing Titanic numbers here. I liked the film, but I don't think it's by any stretch a blockbuster. It tries to be too many things (War picture, Love story, Sci-Fi Action) and ends up diluting it's own impact. My niece simply said parts of it were silly and she didn't like the prolonged war and death sequences. If you don't appeal to teenage girls, can you do Titanic numbers? I don't think so.

On Christmas night, I got the strangest, most unexpected present of all. My brother ... hugged me. In the forty (mumble) years that I have been alive, that has never happened. I'm still trying to figure out what it means.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas ...

Back in NYC after a quick Christmas with the family in Buffalo. Happy to be back in my own apartment and reunited with Mr. Riley. He seems none the worse for wear. Unfortunately I returned to a rainy windy chilly city and the storm outside has made the apartment cold and uncomfortable. I intend to run out for some groceries and dog food and curl up on the couch with my boy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Day

Here's Riley and a Husky neighbor girl about to band up and double team another dog in "Operation Steal Squeaky Toy". This picture was taken around noon,and then later in the afternoon I went across the street to the school playground. It was covered in snow and the only playing going on was a father throwing snowballs to his little boy, and a couple of older teenagers and their Mom trying to build a good sledding run.

Granted, we were technically not supposed to be there. It's a playground with a sign on the fence that says "No dogs". But it was Sunday, so there was no school. And it had over 6 inches of snow if not more, completely covered. There is no equipment there or grass, just a giant paved lot with some basketball courts painted on. No chance with all that snow it could be used for basketball or baseball or even street hockey. So I was quite annoyed when the Park Ranger, who by all rights should be looking for Yogi, Boo Boo and a pic-a-nic basket, decided to ticket me for playing catch with my dog in the snow.

Mostly I was annoyed because the little dwarf decided to try and lecture me about how there was a sign posted etc ...

"Spare me the lecture and just write the stupid ticket."

At which point she wrote two of them. One for having the dog off his leash and one for playing in the playground. Of course, they will never be paid as I denied having ID and gave them a fake name and address. I threw them directly in the garbage after she handed them to me. Stupid Nazis.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


America's Best Dance Crew judge Shane (Y'awl) Sparks (Y'awl) was arrested Friday night and charged with felony molestation dating back to the mid-to-late 1990's.

It seems that Melvin (HaHaHaHaHa!) has been accused of multiple counts of committing lewd acts with a child (reportedly a girl under 14) as well as two counts of oral copulation with a person under the age of 16 by someone over 21.

In other words, he's a tiny, barely literate perv.

In Other News ...

The snow has started this afternoon here in NYC and it's freakin' cold! Including inside the apartment. Since all the news outlets are calling for up to a foot of snow and near blizzard conditions, the event I was supposed to finish out the week with has been canceled. I guess I'll just stay in, play video games, clean out my email and inappropriately touch myself.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Countdown To Christmas Update

Mr. Riley's hotel accommodations are complete and paid in full. Instead of a kennel he will be staying in a private apartment only two blocks from our place. The owner is on the ground floor and the apartment opens out on to a fenced in back yard that has grass and dirt and even a bit of AstroTurf. There are already two dogs staying there and by Christmas time Riley will be one of six rambunctious pooches, most of them also pit bull mixes. I took him by to meet the owner and see the space and Riley took off through the apartment out to the yard and spent the next half hour tumbling around with the other dogs. When we left I had to get him out from under the bed where the two bigger boys had chased the girl. He is going to have a great time and I am completely relieved.

One more Christmas present to go, and I have no idea what to get my father. When we were little he used to answer the same way every time we asked what he wanted for Christmas. "I don't want anything be good."

Maybe I'll tell him this year I am being good for him. It would certainly be cheaper.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Only In New York, Kids

Left the house this morning around 11:30 for a therapy session followed by an early call (early afternoon) for work. In between I had 1/2 hour where I stopped in to a Century 21 for some holiday shopping. Then I hopped on the PATH to New Jersey. I was bundled up against the cold with a T-Shirt, thermal shirt, sweatshirt and a scarf under my winter leather coat. I had my tuxedo jacket for work in my hand and a backpack with the rest of my clothes and shoes. I actually had trouble navigating the department store because I was twice my normal size, and at one point I bumped a woman with my backpack which elicited a *tsk* and a heavy sigh. I was thisclose to telling her to get over herself, it's a week before Christmas and you're in New York City. People get bumped. I got bumped too. If you want to shop where there's room go to the fucking Mall of America.

As I arrived at the employee entrance of the hotel I realized suddenly that my tuxedo jacket was missing. I illogically checked myself, wondering if I had somehow put it on without realizing, but I was already far too overdressed. Then I assumed I had left it on the counter at the department store when I paid for my purchases, until I had a clear memory of going out the door with my jacket still folded over my arm. So where the hell was it?

At this point I remembered that while I was waiting for a PATH train I had decided to get out my newspaper and glasses. Since I needed to get them from my backpack I put down my shopping bag and draped the jacket over a metal barricade. And that's where my jacket most likely still was. In the PATH station of the World Trade Center back in NYC where I left it. I went up to the banquet office where they generously told me I could work anyway and then offered to lend me a jacket from someone who had a spare. Although part of me wanted to go back across the river and retrieve the jacket, it would have made it impossible for me to return in time to be helpful for the event.

I told everyone I intended to go back to the station after what turned out to be a fairly short shift. Mostly everyone seemed to think the jacket was gone, and while I didn't disagree, I thought maybe ...

As the shift only lasted a few hours, I was originally in the PATH station at 2:00 and by 8:20 or so I was back. I returned to the platform and unfortunately, the jacket was gone. As I turned up the stairs and headed towards the exit, I spotted "a" jacket, randomly hanging on a pole near the stairs I had come up. There was kind of no way it could be anything other than mine.

And it was.

I have no idea who picked it up from the railing and why. It is kind of dirty (I work around food) and not a designer label or anything. That may be the reason it was ultimately rejected. But I got the impression that whoever picked it up decided to hang it conspicuously in case the owner (me) returned to find it.

And I did.

The idea that it would be left on a platform where literally thousands of people pass by, and that someone would leave it on the chance that hours later, after thousands more people passed by, the owner would return and find it, is pretty amazing.

But I said the whole afternoon and evening that while I wouldn't be surprised to find the jacket gone, I would also not be at all surprised to find it still there.

Only in New York, Kids. Only in New York.

And no, I still haven't solved the problem of finding a place to board Riley next week, but I have been in touch by phone with a kennel downtown that has space still available, and before I head down there tomorrow I am meeting a man that lives less than two blocks away that boards dogs for a living, and he seems to think he will be able to take Riley. I know it sounds sketchy but he already has four other dogs staying at the same time and I think after talking to him on the phone that we may have met before at the dog run.

One way or the other it seems that Riley will have a roof over his head and two squares a day while I'm gone.

So that's good.

Shut. The Fuck. Up!

I wish I could describe how much I love this video.-via Dlisted

Oh, and I'm sorry you'll be hearing "AIDS is on the Rise" all day in your head.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

Only three more gifts to buy, plus whatever else I pick up for Riley. Speaking of which, the kennel I was planning on using for him is full already so as of today, I have no place to put him while I'm gone for Christmas. Hopefully tomorrow I will come up with something, as I plan on taking care of this first thing in the morning. Maybe I'll just leave him home with $50 and a can opener.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What's Doin?

I've been working quite a bit, trying to get some money put away as I'm afeerd that right after Christmas will be a little lean. I have all the household bills paid in full (unfortunately not the credit cards) and I am working on trying to get a little ahead so January's bills won't be quite so daunting and I can relax if the work does indeed dry up for a bit. I do have one or two other projects on the back burner so if there is no work and money isn't a big issue, I can just happily live like a church mouse and work through the month on other things.

I do have to hunker down and finish Christmas shopping. Almost every year around Christmas I at some point will have a dream where I end up at home with the family on Christmas morning having forgotten what day it was and without any presents for anyone. Last week I headed out to try to get some shopping done and returned with a case of dog food and a new seat for my bicycle. Both of which I needed but not appropriate gifts.

Something unpleasant that I was hoping to avoid came up last week during my second therapy session. Not unexpectedly, I am finding that some significant issues from my childhood are front and center. I am finding myself a little torn about whether or not I should share these things here. I have been aware for a long time that family members have found their way here. Whether or not anyone is a regular reader or not, I have no idea. If the issues in question only had to do with me or my behavior, I would vomit them up as readily as I have everything else. But that's not the case. And I worry about putting down a record of my stream of consciousness musings that could impact other people. A person's memory can be a tricky thing. Particularly mine, as it is full of holes. And 40 years has made some things abundantly clearer, while rendering other parts decidedly open to interpretation.

As I read that last paragraph back, I have to laugh at myself. Something "unpleasant" is it? Ever the lady, even in the face of adversity.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You're Not Sick Enough

What is the world coming to? I ended up having to come to the "defense" of my arch-nemesis Jack Mackenroth last week. I say "defense" as he wasn't attacked per se, but in a roundabout way the promo video he made for the web site was.

MOC blog, a site that I LOVE LOVE LOVE (for obvious reasons, and also for the fact that he frequently has a fresh take or an unexplored perspective on a variety of subjects) posted the video along with this paragraph:

"This promotional piece for (paid for by the drug company MERCK) features competitive swimmer Jack Mackenroth who is clearly in terrific shape. And I'm genuinely happy for the guy. But are we doing a disservice to young people by featuring men in prime physical condition instead of those less fortunate, physically attenuated souls who haven't been quite that lucky? Many young people (what I'll none-too-lightly call the "Post-AIDS" generation, for not having participated in the carnage) fail to grasp that being HIV-positive is neither desirous nor chic. And they need that constant reminder. Where and how is that message getting out?"

My response is re-printed below:

I can't help but feel after reading this that there's a none too subtle desire on your part to see and portray HIV+ men as sick and frail and therefore "other". It is this kind of hidden stigma that keeps gay men that are already frightened of HIV from getting tested and, if need be, treated. This ignorance and fear is what perpetuates the spread of HIV more than anything else. The facts are that most men that are diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion will remain healthy for decades and those receiving more advanced treatment today may not ever outwardly "carry a sign" of being HIV+. Nobody is advocating that young gay men today seek out HIV, but your expressed desire to have it portrayed as a debilitating sickness is kind of offensive. Sorry if we're not suffering enough for you to feel better about yourself.

I was a little annoyed at MOC's writer and a little bit sad. While the sentiment was genuine, and I have no doubt as to the truthfulness of wanting to make sure that a message like "Having HIV Can Suck" gets out to young people unaware or uninformed of what the consequences are, I think it's unfortunate that there's some obvious stigma and prejudice buried amongst the good intentions.

Of course, left untreated, HIV will still ravage and kill you. And there are the unlucky people who do not respond well to standard treatments, as well as those who are "treatment experienced" that are now suffering some difiicult side effects from more experimental drugs.

But by and large, if you do find that you become HIV+, and you are tested early and get treated when it becomes required, chances are that you will have to deal with managing your health the foreseeable future, taking better care of yourself, taking medication every day- every. day, and the very real possibility of some long-term side effects of unknown consequence. You will also more than likely experience a disastrously negative impact on your sex life, and you will be faced with the ongoing pressure of whether or not to disclose this information to your friends, your family and your co-workers. You will face a certain amount of discrimination.

But you can also lead a relatively peaceful and normal life, hold down a job, pay your bills and still hope that someday, somewhere you meet a nice guy.

And that is what needs to be reflected in the ads.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Worst. Video. Ever.

I was at the gym a couple of weeks ago, and this video came up in the rotation. I was laughing so hard that people were checking my video screen to see what was so funny. From the faux-ghetto-fabulousness to the tacky clothes and hideous jewelry (check out the giant hair berets) it is so bad, so epically tragic, that I actually have grown to love it.

Prima J "Corazon (You're Not Alone)

Prima J | MySpace Music Videos

Saturday, December 05, 2009

It's Always Darkest ...

I ended up heading across town for my therapy appointment with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Anticipation because I will be glad to have someone to talk with and it is long overdue that I get to work on some of my "issues". Dread because I hate meeting new people. I constantly worry about what I'm saying, how they might react to what I'm about to say, what they actually meant by the things they said. I frequently have several conversations going besides the one I'm actually having.

As it turns out, I found my therapist to be a little odd. And that's a good thing. I like odd. Odd makes me more comfortable. And by odd I mean kind of nerdy. With a whiff of freaky. Like I wouldn't find it the least bit unexpected to discover him some night at a bondage club, tied up with jump ropes and having his completely hairless body flogged and pinched with clothespins. Which is cool. So I was remarkably comfortable pretty quickly. As it turns out, my insurance covers 24 weeks of sessions, so we can look forward to over half a year of ME talking about ME which, as a gay man is pretty much MY favorite subject.

As the weekend unfolded I got a series of phone calls adding days to my work schedule, and while the first two were profitable from an hourly wage standpoint, last nights shift was a holiday party for a financial firm, and they were appropriately generous with their tipping. I made some much needed extra cash, and I have another two days of work ahead of me. I should get a paycheck next Friday that will cover the cost of Riley's kennel stay while I am away for Christmas. There's another looming worry solved. I also had two job interviews on Thursday, and while nothing has come of either of them right away, they were encouraging in that both of the managers I spoke to were suitably enthusiastic about my qualifications.

And well they should be. With the exception of some experience with cost analysis and P&L projections, which I have never done but I have no doubt I could, there's really nothing I haven't done at one time or another when it comes to running a restaurant and nightclub. Scheduling, inventory, payroll, cash management, ordering, event management, interviews, human resources, press releases, menu creation, bar management, POS (point of sale) maintenance. The list goes on and on. In other words, the first person who is smart enough to snap me up and put me back to work full time will be one lucky fucker. I have another interview this afternoon before going in to work, and while I don't necessarily think it is the right job for me, you never know. I am also kind of surprised that I'm getting such a big response all of the sudden from sending out resumes. My phone hasn't rung for a couple of months now and suddenly I'm getting quite a few calls. Maybe the economy is improving after all.

Yesterday I reported to the Health Academy at the NYC Dept. of Health. After reflexively getting in to the line for syphilis testing, I quickly righted myself and lined up for what I actually was there for. I have spent the last couple of weeks taking a Food Protection Course. Yesterday I took the live test, which I passed with a respectable 84%, and I am now a Certified Food Protection supervisor. Not too exciting I will grant you, but a Certified Supervisor is supposed to be on the premises of any restaurant or bar serving food, whenever the business is open. Usually this would be the chef, as well as at least one sous chef, and more than likely the receiving supervisor. But many businesses in NYC also insist that at least the general manager and assistants are certified as well. This lessens the chances that a Health Inspector would show up and find no one on the premises with a certification. It's a Health Department violation and the fine can be hundreds of dollars. Many restaurant owners will ask you if you have your certification during the interview process, and a few of the on-line ads won't even see you unless you are certified. It's a leg up, and quite frankly, at my advanced age anything that helps me get even one leg over my head is a blessing.

I also took some steps to alleviate my financial crisis, and while it was akin to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, I did manage to shore up the operation at least until the new year. Which means Christmas will come to Whoville after all, and I can take things down from Defcon 2: Panic to Defcon 3: Mild Anxiety.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Shrink My Head

Up early as my calendar is rapidly filling up for December. I frequently have multiple appointments that end with me having to work a shift at my low-wage part-time job.

Today I am starting with a lunchtime appointment to start a new round of therapy. You get a certain amount of counseling paid for (thanks ADAP!) as part of all the great stuff you get for free after you become HIV+. I did tell you about the big screen TV and the 200 free Netflix rentals didn't I? It's true, you get them both delivered to your house right after your T-Cell count drops below 300.

This round of therapy will be (I think) 16 weeks. I'm not going because I have fallen in to some kind of crisis. Far from it. Things are much improved since the last time I saw a therapist over three years ago.

The hated roommates have been replaced by two messy straight boys that don't give me a lick of trouble.
I no longer suffer from panic attacks, and the anxiety disorder I was taking medication for? I stopped the pills for that last month.
I got a dog and he died. I got another dog and he ate my bed, but was nice enough to continue living.
I got (and stayed) sober, attended regular AA meetings but so far have failed to find a sponsor.
I got a job and then lost it when one of my employees murdered a customer.
I entered a photography contest and got serious about art.
I sold 4000 comic books for pennies on the dollar as I slowly went broke. Again.
I joined a community advisory board at the local health center, and am now heading up the committee that publishes our newsletter.
I became a licensed foster parent, but still have no kid to show for it (that's another post).
And I am generally and overall a much happier, profoundly more peaceful person.

So why go in to therapy? Well, first of all, why not? I am a firm believer in taking the time to pick up the box and give it a good shake now and then. You need to find out what's inside. And as good as things have become, I am still feeling like a lot of things from my past, and a lot of the choices I made as an adult, are unresolved and unexplained. While I have no trouble (now) making conversation and casual connections, I still can't seem to figure out how to make and keep some real friends. And I have pretty much given up on ever having a boyfriend or babydaddy. I'm still a pretty solitary figure. Don't get me wrong, I'm not walking around all tortured by that. I'm not bemoaning the fact that I buy a half-carton of eggs and prefer to sit in the single (handicap) seats at the movies. But if I am the type of person who feels better, or at least more comfortable as a party of one, I would at least like to know how that happened.

There's more, and the therapy will most likely dredge some stuff up I may or may not enjoy dealing with, but I am confident the outcome will be positive. My last round of therapy pretty much got me sober.

On another note, I am BROKE BROKE BROKE!! The plane ticket home is paid for and I will have enough money and available credit to get a few Christmas presents to bring with me, but beyond that, we will be starting the New Year with maxed out credit cards and a woefully depleted checking account. I absolutely need to find a better (better paying) job, either part time as a bartender where I can make real tips, or as a manager where they need someone who is pretty good with numbers and computers, and can be trusted not to get drunk on duty and always balance the safe.

That's it. Gotta go. Busy busy!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

And So It Goes ... Happy AIDS Day Everyone!

By SETH MYDANS - via The New York Times
Published: October 13, 2009

AN NHON TAY, Vietnam — The first day of school was a special one last month for the 15 children from the Mai Hoa orphanage here. They are infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, and for the first time they would be allowed to attend the local primary school. “The children were so excited,” said Sister Nguyen Thi Bao, who runs the orphanage and had been lobbying for three years to enroll them in the government school. “They had been wishing for this day to come.”

But when they arrived, they found an uprising by the parents of the other students, who refused to let their children enter the school together with the infected orphans. Some of the parents hastily backed away when the orphans walked past.

After a short standoff, the principal, who had agreed to accept the orphans, told Sister Bao that their papers were not in order and that they could not stay.

The children returned to the orphanage, just a short walk down a country road, where they continue to study in small classrooms, still exiled from the uninfected world.

... About 290,000 people in Vietnam, a country of 86 million, carry H.I.V. today, and Mr. Murphy said that although the rate of increase was slowing, the infection was spreading outside high-risk groups.

Among those infected, the government estimates that 5,100 are children. Although the law requires equal treatment, almost none of them have been accepted in schools because of the fears of other children’s parents, Nguyen Vinh Hien, the deputy minister of education, said last month.

read the story here.

By Todd A. Heywood 11/10/09 -via The Michigan Messenger

An HIV-positive Macomb County (Michigan) man is facing charges created under Michigan’s 2004 terrorism laws for biting another man in a neighborhood scuffle. That, HIV advocates, state lawmakers and legal experts say is “cowardly” and “nonsense” and increases ignorance and stigma surrounding the virus.

...“Is this a dangerous instrumentality? It’s like saying that because I breathed on you and I have tuberculosis and we are fighting, that somehow because I have this disease it suddenly becomes more than just that I have this disease,” said Meadows, a former assistant attorney general. “The other charges are more than sufficient to deal with the issues involved.”

HIV experts say it is a near impossibility to spread HIV through a human bite.

“Even if you accepted that as a transmission case,” said Catherine Hanssens, executive director of the New York City-based Center for HIV Law and Policy. The charges against Allen, she said, simply aren’t warranted. “It’s just nonsense. It’s cowardly. It’s the kind of thing that keeps kids [with HIV] out of day care and camps and allows kids [with HIV] to be kicked out of karate case.”

She said cases like Allen’s are proof that the nation is failing to address the epidemic with common sense. “It’s continuing the boogey-man characterization of people with HIV,” she said.

read the story here.