Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good Medicine .. Pema Chodron

The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months! ~Edward Payson Powell

Thursday, December 29, 2011

on the ten- winter 2011

publishing this issue really has me thinking..
we are winding up our 4th year of putting this little periodical together. i remember when i started it..
i was just taking on the facilitator role for a social networking organization in denver. i had come to realize that living in colorado meant living alongside hiv stigma. it was very real and often painful for many of my neighbors. i wanted to visibly assure others that indeed there were hiv positive individuals, living in colorado, who were doing well, were not ashamed, and were finding success and happiness.
and here is the current incarnation- colorful and hiv very much in your face...

peace and happy new year.

TEN Newsletter Winter 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 holiday letter.... with humility

image credit..... david slijper

Calling All Angels-

As another December rushes by and 2011 folds itself up, I find it appropriate to send holiday greetings and wishes for you and your loved ones. It seems to have been a very hurried year- I don’t remember one rushing by quite so quickly.

Denver remains my current home, and continues to grow with me and around me  with leaps and bounds. I don’t mean just by population, but also the growing up it is doing as a metropolis. Rail services, high rises, museums, toll-ways, and many other markers of city living continue to pop up at almost every turn.
I started my 3rd year at the public hospital and have transferred to a 3rd clinic within that system. There are new challenges that tug at my heart and test my resolve almost every day. I had no clue, upon taking this position, that I would enjoy working and learning at a campus environment quite so thoroughly. It seems with so many wonderful hearts and minds pushing in the same direction, that an entire different level of energy gets tapped somehow. It continues to be energizing and invigorating. I will be playing Santa Claus at the Women and Family Services Party this year. I’ll post a pic on Facebook. I think this’ll be the highlight of this Christmas.

I managed to celebrate 7 years clean in September. The most notable difference for me is a renewed belief that a different process – emotional sobriety- needs to be the focus. I avoided growing up for so long, that it had become almost second nature for me to walk through life with blinders. For many of you, I am certain that this sounds absurd. But I know that many beliefs and habits need to be sorted through like the storage boxes in my grandparents’ basement after they passed- only with a handful of true keepsakes and much of something else.

I had the good fortune to act as chairperson for the 2011 Rally For Recovery for Advocates For Recovery in September. It was the 10th annual celebration to celebrate and make more visible the benefits of recovery- not only to the individuals directly involved, but also to the families, the workplaces, and the communities of the recovered individuals.  No doubt it is hopeful for people struggling with sobriety to see many individuals with long term clean time. It has become important to me that a concept of something wholesome and positive can exist beyond the image of addiction. So often- jails, institutions, and death are what follow in our collective minds. Thus, a more visible reminder that wonderful things happen with recovery is an imperative . I have agreed to act as chair for the 2012 Rally and join the Board of Directors for this organization as well.

My mom is doing well. She seems settled in her retirement and happy with her DVR and her tiny garden. We have spent several holiday weekends with the Baileys in Idaho Springs and done some great day trips from there- the most memorable for me being Maroon Bells just outside Aspen. It is truly one of the loveliest places I have been in years. I remember the profound quiet that came upon us as we approached the peaks and their reflection in the lakes. I can only hopet that you may you find that profound sense of peace in your life. 

Kiss Kiss and Beautiful Holidays To You From Colorado
******* Rod Rushing*******

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


image credit... alex ibsen

i arrived in philadelphia this afternoon with no real objectives other than to get outta dodge and attend the philadelphia roundup this weekend.  additionally i am touching  base with a dear friend who relocated here in october, it is remarkable to witness the resilience in someone who continues to pursue something he loves with someone he loves. it definitely gives me hope. 

one thing of which i am acutely aware is the fear i have of people and new situations. i don't remember being like this before, but i probably self-medicated through it and paid little mind. (double entendre :). i have developed fear and avoidance when faced with strangers. it makes some sense, as i work as a counselor and have that platform to meet clients with. i am confident and sure-footed most of the time. i also work with personal chefs at small dinner parties at private homes and have the run of the kitchens and dining rooms when i am there. 

but here, in philadelphia, without a "job", i find myself flailing and sputtering. it is awkward, clumsy, and uncomfortable. and i need to lean into the awkwardness somehow. 

this city holds history and it is a wonder to walk about. its majesty and grandeur are visible and present in a way that is also understated. there are old buildings that have been refurbed everywhere, and there are restoration projects all over the downtown area. there are plenty of buildings in decay as well.  as i was shooting the above photograph yesterday, some woman came up to me and asked "are you going to fix it"?  i laughed.
no- i had no intention of fixing this building. 

but it also reminded me that not too long ago, i was very much like this abandoned decaying structure. i was just there and not even remotely aware that i was in disrepair and needed fixing. but that has changed. 

philadelphia won't fix me. but it is presenting me with a new perspective on where i am and where i am going. the concept of roundups is, i believe, to support lgbt persons in recovery to normalize their experiences and feelings. the very concept intimates that our culture has specific needs and commonalities. as i move forward in my program, i understand that i continue to have work to do. 

thank you universe for reminding me that even though i have some time, i am not finished.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

the gift

image credit.... kristofj and sean

I need to go outside
I need to leave the smoke
'cause I can't go on living in this same sick joke
It seems our lives have taken on a different kind of twist
Now that you have given me the perfect gift
You have given me the gift

today someone told me a secret about their life. they clearly didn't want to talk about it, but at the same time they really really did want to talk about it, too. i let them make up their own mind without asking. and i didn't press for details.

it was painful for me to watch and listen. it wasn't my pain, but it was full of pain none-the-less.  it wasn't a pretty story. nor was it happy. it didn't have a happy ending and it's doubtful it ever will.  there is much shame and guilt around it. there were first pleasures and lost boundaries. and  left on the floor are broken thoughts and jagged memories.

i watched tears roll softly and pointedly as the details unfurled. the teller kept reminding me how okay they were with everything- which couldn't be further from how it seems. what seems more likely is that the teller has become accustomed to the twisted feelings and somehow thinks (as survivors do) that this is how it always is.

i inquired about whether this wounded one had ever considered self-forgiveness. i was answered with a seesaw response of "i have forgiven myself" followed quickly and painfully by"i don't know how". from what i could surmise, both are true, with the latter overshadowing the former in accuracy.

today, i am reminded once more that the bullshit i ran away from in my childhood, used anything and everything i could heavily to drown out reminders, and then uncovered very clumsily in early sobriety has been transformed. i no longer lead with shame and self-degradation as my calling card. though they are definitely still there, they have been recessed to a back shelf where they provide backbone for empathy and and echo chamber to help me listen when working with others.

i understood today's fractured fairy tale quite well. i felt blessed that i could be with someone as they allowed themselves to remove some of their armor and feel.

i am not the man i had mostly planned to be. thank god. i am just the guy i have become. it truly seems a gift.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

reflecting the lights

To dispel darkness and usher in new day,
To light up the path leading towards glow;
There is celebration marked along the way
Of perfumed oils, lamps and delicacy stow.
The Festival of Lights brightens the East,
To reflect in jocund spirit Occident love;
It symbolizes time for triumph and feast,
Day by night that is blessed from above.
Call it what you may or celebrate whenever,
Give it form of will or meaning filled a-new,
It epitomizes the victory of peace over sever,
And regenerates space for all that is ever true.
Spelling the onset of winter, frost and cold,
Bringing on the warmth of glow and light,
All festivities center on creating fresh mold,
Awaiting with discrimination, end of night.
Harkening the forces of prosperity and joy,
Calling upon the auspiciousness of deed,
Festivities strengthen deep faith to destroy,
Forces of evil and hate, to harmony cede.
Designed around the need to retrace intent,
To question and analyze with mental rites,
May the universe unfold in genuine assent,
To spread felicity during the Festival of Lights.

after the tryptophan of the few days off in november wanes, the swing of the winter axis takes place. it is the celebration of lights that is my north american holiday. it coincides with the winter solstice which is the shortest day of the year and accordingly the longest night. the lights that symbolize this may very well be an attempt to light that darkest part of our year with the sunlight of spirit.

"...and the time came
when the risk it took to remain
in a tightly closed bud
became infinitely more painful
than the risk it took to blossom." (Anais Nin)

it occurred to me today in a meeting that the emotions that stir in me around the holidays are very much paralleled  to the decorations that i unpack each year to adorn my mantle, windows, and doors.  my memories are nudged from slumber as i dust off mementos from previous winters and i connect to a deeper part of self. the very fact that i have my own symbols of light and sparkle speak volumes to the idea that the energy that swirls at this time of year is very close to my center. and my culture has taught me to collect sparkle during the longest dark to remind me that there is light in the world.

"Shall we liken Christmas to the web in a loom? There are many weavers, who work into the pattern the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped. The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew. At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something
very beautiful, something which compels our understanding."
- Earl W. Count, 4,000 Years of Christmas

Monday, November 21, 2011

j edgar- a meandering stream

i have been mulling over what i might write about the film j. edgar. i saw it on sunday afternoon and was fairly gobsmacked for some reason. it has taken a day or so for me to ascertain what that might be about. the film is like a mountain stream in late august. it flows gently from here to there and back again. there are no visible rapids and what surprises exist are due more to the invisible depths than what is evident to the eye. that makes sense because john edgar hoover was much more than met the eye. he lived a dual-storyline his entire career. eastwood seems to mirror this with the tale that he spins rolling back and forth between the decades and the insanity( or do i mean drive?)that became hoover at the last years of his life. leonardo is sublimely eloquent. his expression of this historic character is loving and studied, directing me to both understand and empathize with j edgar's duality. as he dons the makeup that is the elder g i man, it is seamlessly natural to forget who is the actor. perhaps i gush a little too much here, but i honestly can't remember a performance that took my breath away quite like dicaprio's hoover. it was really like my first slice of rhubarb pie- both sweet and tangy with both of those seeming dominant.

what is there to say about armie hammer. he again has cashed in on his blue blood demeanor to present a 1920's poof, who only needs a green carnation to complete the stereotype. the tension between the two actors seems real, as does the overly cautious and entangled relationship that they boarded to ride together as j edgar shaped a federal bureau of investigation for america. typically i don't like blondes, but somehow he stirs something in me that finds his silver spoon aesthetic not only endearing but attractive.

and when these two characters reach a tipping point in their relationship, i was achingly reminded what it was like to be closeted. there is such a struggle between fear and desire.  i don't know how true to history this story is. i should care, but frankly i don't. i do understand that here is another tortured gay couple's story being played out on the big screen as directed by a heterosexual man. to pretend that lgbt love was without strife seems ignorant. to pretend that our predecessors were flawless is childlike and denialist. gay lives were taut and tenuous most of the time.  clint's position is one of not assuming too much. he believes they loved each other. he believes they feared detection. he implies others knew about them. he insists the viewers find empathy or not. he insists we think about it.

i wish there were more gay directors who could be as deft with telling our stories as mr. eastwood and mr. lee. lgbt culture is indebted to these men. they respect without much embellishment. and they let viewers make their own opinions. i felt pride in seeing gay men love- even if it wasn't wholesome, because i know we love. and i know we have tasted tragedy. i also know we have lost and we have won. both sides of this truth are evident in this storytelling. it gently rolls to and fro and a love seems to whisper in the breeze

as a post script- judy dench again shines here. she is understated, yet supports much of the first hour of the film. her most powerful line for me- "no son of mine will be a daffodil" embodies the stigma the stigma that homosexuals endured for the 1st 3/4 of the 20th century.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

evolution of recovery.. beyond the status quo

˜The concept of recovery capital reflects a shift in focus from the pathology of addiction to a focus on the internal and external assets required to initiate and sustain long-term recovery from alcohol and other drug problems.... 
Steve Gumbley

i spent yesterday at a training presented by afr and attc. its focus was a concept named (rosc) recovery oriented systems of care. its focus is that of the changing face of addiction treatment coinciding with the seismic shift called healthcare reform.

the presentation seemed validating in many ways with a shift in focus from treatment to recovery. and modifying my approach to my work to fit into this model should not require decades of reconstruction. and that is a major issue, really. the industry of drug and alcohol treatment will need to make drastic changes to stay afloat with this federally mandated tsunami called reform.

the beauty of the concept is that the patient/client gets the benefit. there is a longer view of the support that a person seeking recovery will have access. the time involved in recovery shifts from the classic (without evidence) 28 days and 90 days to 3 years for a stronger possibility of long-term recovery.

steve gumbley (the current board president of favor) presented in the afternoon segment. he shared some of his story of 25 years with recovery and discussed the idea of public responsibility with such a personal journey. this was a concept i had not considered thus far, although it is not too far from my own philosophy.
i am sharing the slides here. a couple of things that i take from this day are 1) in 3 months of treatment we may very well see a client only about 10 hours. this seems like a cruel joke with regard to the change that is expected from the client. 2) that treatment might really only be a triage, and that recovery support pathways are where the real work is done. 3) that mental health, physical health, emotional health are all involved in a person's recovery and need to be tended if they are to grow. 4) providers, counselors, nurses, physicians might be more effective if they were to expand a client's recovery capital as much as possible before releasing them from care.

as a person living in recovery, i am acutely aware that my recovery involves three levels of sobriety- physical sobriety, emotional sobriety, and spiritual sobriety. it makes sense that that treatment providers generally take this concept to a higher (pun intended) level. we need to address all these areas to assure our clients a better chance at a healthier recovery.

if you work in treatment, you definitely need to know about these concepts as this is the direction that samhsa has the money going. if you are in recovery, or seeking recovery, please consider these concepts. they are completely designed with people in recovery at the table. the language of recovery is changing and the business of treatment is evolving. no doubt it is way overdue... a million thanks to the obama administration for moving beyond the status quo.

Recovery Frameworks Steve G Nov2011 Recovery Management Steve G Nov2011 Recovery and Treatment_Steve G_Nov2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

return to oz

image credit... jasper goodall

He said is this the return to Oz?
The grass is dead
The gold is brown
And the sky has claws
There's a wind-up man
Walking round and round
What once was Emerald City's
Now a crystal town

It's three o'clock in the morning
You get a phonecall
From the queen with a hundred heads
She says that they're all dead
She tried the last one on
Couldn't speak, fell off
And now she just a'wanders the halls
Thinking nothing
Thinking nothing at all
(lyrics.. scissor sisters)

today i talked with someone who is in the middle of the insanity of cravings. she has been substance free for about 2 months and has found herself adrift in her own emotions. the waves of feelings were visibly crashing upon her self-esteem. she seemed worn out from the pitching side to side that she must have been feeling.

i felt unequipped to console her in her process. one can't continue to pick a scab if one wants it to heal without scar. but this message may not have been heard. there is not much ease in sharing logic with someone who is wearing their "emotional" outfit.

i recognized the combination of frustration and fear that she wore. it didn't fit, but it looked familiar on her. she ended our chat abruptly and escaped as quickly as she could.

yet again, i understand that i am not the great and powerful oz.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

this isn't everything you are

image credit ... nicolas urquiza

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

this has been a week of uncomfortable situations. last week i reached out to an ailing acquaintance who has recently become homeless. i offered to give them a place to stay while they found housing. it turns out they heard me offer to let them move in with me. it's a subtle but crucial difference and i have to clarify.

another colleague is undergoing hep-c treatment. her emotions are in turmoil and she seems scattered and crazy. it could be that she is over-reacting and misreading all sorts of situations. it is very painful for me to be near her and i have decided to withdraw. i always struggle with the boundaries i set for myself, because having boundaries is a very new thing in my life.

i put together a thank-you dinner for the volunteers at the rally. i got 10 rsvp's and then only one of them showed up. i sat in the restaurant on friday evening with a couple of friends at a big empty table. it was a challenge not to personalize this. i believe there is something to be learned around this.

i am headed into a very busy time for me. i do catering work with private chefs and i have 13 functions scheduled in addition to my full time job. and i am to be in philadelphia for 5 days in december. i am supposed to stay with friends while i attend a 12 step conference. i am now having second thoughts and am considering getting a hotel. it's money i hadn't planned to spend.

i am still waiting to hear from the bank regarding my home loan. it's been several months. the state of not-knowing is very strange. it's unsettling and requires faith. faith is something i claim to channel, but sometimes it feels as if the breaker is short-circuiting.

these are all situations i would rather not be walking through. and i think i have felt really craggy because they are all happening together. each day has been me taking the time to gently talk myself off the ceiling as i keep  floating off the ground.

a friend i have known through my sobriety has gone back out now 2x in the last year. i heard he went out last weekend. i called him and offered to help in some way if he felt that were possible. he talks about his struggle with his sober life being enough. this resonates with me as i trudge through my own quest for emotional sobriety.

Keeping up all night
And the night before
And you've lost count of drinks and time
And your friends keep calling but we're sick
And there's strangers everywhere
Don't kill love now
Don't kill love
Don't kill love now
Don't kill love

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ed Sheeran - Wonderwall Acoustic - Oasis Cover

ed sheeren is so very "yes" in my world these days.. he's a wonderwall

and all the roads we have to walk are winding
and all the lights that lead the way are blinding.....

words and melody.. oasis

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Todd Rundgren Medley: I'm So Proud / Ooh Baby Baby / La La Means I Love ...

this version is approaching 39 years old. somehow, it seems to carry magic in its wake. todd rundgren was an amazing live performer and artist. although this cut is a medley, i think it draws you in..

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Friday, November 4, 2011

brotherly love

Reaching Out
I made it into this Program because someone else worked their Twelfth Step on me. Someone passed it on to me. Someone was out there after they got clean and sober, caring about others. I need to never, ever forget that. Had they simply gone on with their lives and forgotten about people like me who were still out there using and suffering, I wouldn't be here today. My gratitude begins with that fact. It is with that gratitude in mind that I reach out to others, especially the newcomers. I need to have them in my life. That is where my spirituality begins.
For me, spirituality comes from caring about others. I have found that the more I focus on improving the quality of the lives of others, the less I am into myself and my will. I feel a freedom and peace from within. The gifts I am beginning to receive in my life are greater than I could have ever imagined.
Something else I have done is that I have forgiven myself. I have forgiven myself for being an addict. I have forgiven myself for all the damage I did to my life, to my physical health, and to my career and finances. But most of all, I have forgiven myself for all of the horrible, negative and unloving things I have felt about myself. It was not until I offered and accepted my own forgiveness, that I was truly able to grow in my sobriety.. 
From CA's Faith, Hope, and Courage

i thought about the quote about forgiveness today. i met a young man who has been spinning out of control with meth and other things for a few years now. he appeared after he found out that he had tested negative for hiv yet again. he truly seemed disappointed- almost hurt- that he had not made the club. he was telling his story around several guys who are hiv positive and i think it really had them scratching their heads. i have learned that the concept of bug-chaser, or trying to get the virus is very real. and i would venture to say that much of it is in direct response to how these men feel about themselves. often it stems around their sexual preferences and the self judgement and societal judgement. men have enmeshed connection to their sexual prowess with their self worth. we often feel validation through sexual activity. so when we seek validation, but it is cancelled out by our judgement of the activity, it creates inner turmoil. confusion, drama, and self punishment. needless to say it was a rich afternoon. 

all in all though, it was a day of starts and stops. i guess they are all that way, but today did seem clunkier than usual somehow. i do believe that things are moving and that feels good. i haven't heard about my house loan, which is odd, but surrender is the sane choice here. i booked my flight to philadelphia in december for the roundup. my good friend alex moved there about a month ago and won 2 free registrations for the conference, so it gives me a reason to get outa town. i can certainly use some time away. i have been doing day or weekend jaunts in my lovely home state, but i haven't gotten on a plane in about a year, so it certainly is time. i have never been to philly either, so i am getting a bit stoked.

i could really do with an infusion of my own recovery, and so this will allow me the chance to not be a caregiver for few days. i'm not complaining here. i am just saying. i'm ready to experience a little different kind of brotherly love.

i heard this song on groove salad on somafm. i find it tickling and wonderful. i will be looking further into shantel.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


image credit... pieter heinket

"The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind." -- Kahlil Gibran

i have been working as a counselor for a few years now. it is not the samo samo thing at all, really. i mean, most of the people i encounter are stuck somewhere in their lives. many have been stuck for a very long time. what i am learning about my work is that it continues to be more about helping them see that there may be another way, and not necessarily about helping them find it.

in someways, it seems that if they can actually "see" that there is another way, or a way out, they will muster the where-with-all to journey forward and do things a little differently.

but as humans, we are definitely creatures of habit. this being true, we without fail love our own pain and discomfort. if stuck, we have probably been numb to our own pain for some time and have forgotten that it it even hurts. often, not hurting is more frightening than hurting.

it continues to be fascinating to me- this process of education and counsel. there are definitely successes as well as distinctive misses. there is a mosh pit of unclarity sometimes around boundaries, professionalism, and my own human-ness. this doesn't appear often, but it does appear. people who are in flux or stuck are often rife with drama. and drama is compelling for me. it makes life interesting. it makes the days go by. and i am comfortable with drama, because i grew up with so much near by.

i have let myself forget once or twice that i am on my own journey. those i work with are on a journey, too. part of the work is allowing these two arcs to play themselves out without trying to steer. oh this is without doubt part of the work. 

these days, it is my fashion to discuss the infusion of loving-kindness meditation when working with others. this concept resonates with me because it is frothy with empathy. we breathe in loving kindness for ourselves when we are struggling, and conversely we breathe out loving kindness for the others in the world who are also suffering  as we do. this exercise seems to have the power to remove fear and the "victim" mentality and replace it with inclusion and connected-ness. 

Loving-kindness is a meditation practice, which brings about positive attitudinal changes as it systematically develops the quality of 'loving-acceptance'. It acts, as it were, as a form of self-psychotherapy, a way of healing the troubled mind to free it from its pain and confusion. Of all Buddhist meditations, loving-kindness has the immediate benefit of sweetening and changing old habituated negative patterns of mind.... reprinted from

“The only reason we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else's eyes. ”
Pema Chödrön

Friday, October 28, 2011

i can understand it

image credit...

oh what a time the 70's were. bell bottoms, qiana shirts, platform shoes, the gold chain, the nik-nik shirt, double belted high waisted baggie trousers, afros, r&b, the evolution of disco, the emergence of punk, the gentrification of shabby chic.....

this is one of the 1st songs i remember hearing in a gay bar. there was a small little disco called pq's on the near north side of chicago. i was 15 when i first folded in with the crowd there. sometimes that tiny dance floor would be packed. a person couldn't move really, so there was a lot of repeating moves and shifting weight.

the original version was by the song's author bobby womack. much later in my life, i realized just why this particular song had been so popular with my gay comrades. it speaks of tolerance. and a different kind of love. a lover that is only part time, a love that requires understanding. you do yours.. i'll do mine... i can understand it...

i can understand it... lyrics by bobby womack..

I know everybody realizes that a man works
Better when he works out of his own band
Can you understand that? I can understand that

Woah, yeah, yeah
Something sweet as a candy bar
My girl in need
Thats what you are
Oh, I, I can understand it

Jack and Jill going up the hill
Storybooks and fairytales
I, I can understand it

And if our love gets to be anything but this
If someone gets to feel your warm and tender kiss
Oh, tell me, baby, how will I ever understand it, baby?

Get on down, baby
Gonna do it on the good foot, yeah
Gonna do it on the right foot, baby
Gonna do it on the left foot, baby

Look here, yall
Something cool but not too cold
Girl, you got to give to get, you know?
I, I can understand it

Try my best to make you happy
Woke up early one morning, find you packing
Lord, Lord, Lord, you cant make me understand it

I know sometimes that you wanna get away from home
But I get upset when you stay too long
Oh, your love, baby, your love
-- How will I ever understand it?

Get on down
Gonna do it on the good foot
Gonna do it on the right foot, baby
Gonna do it on the left foot
Ooh baby

I can understand it
Baby, I can understand it
Oh, I have no choice about the situation

But Im trying my best to make you happy
Wake up early one morning and I find you packing
Lord, you cant make me understand it

I get a job and I work all the time
When I get home you better lay it on the line
Your love, baby, your love
-- How will I ever understand it?

Get on down
Gonna do it on the good foot
Gonna do it on the right foot
I can understand it
You do yours
Ill do mine
Can you understand it?
Can you understand it?
Can you understand it, baby?
I can understand it
Can you understand it?
I can understand it, baby
Can you understand it?
I can understand it, baby

Break it down
God Almighty
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy

Im going to find out can we keep the groove
Is yall ready for this?
Look here
Ooh, yeah, baby
I can understand it, oh
Can you understand it?

Baby, baby, baby
Get on, get on, get on, get on down
Do in on the good foot, there it is
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Look here yall
Dont put down a man with a better hand
Old Les trying to do the very best he can
You wear your hair long, baby
I wear my hair short
Come on, baby, talk that talk
I can understand it
Can you understand it?

Baby, Baby, Baby
Get on down
Look here
Gotta say it one more time
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Look here
Dont put down a man with the better hand
Old Les trying to do the very best he can
You wear your hair long, baby
I wear my hair short
Come on, baby
Talk that talk
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
Hey, Baby

Yeah, look here
Can I say it?
Can I say it now, yall?
Can I say it?
Can I say it
Look here yall
I can understand it

celery root salad... quiet delight

reprinted from

this weekend i am headed to the mountains and will be making dinner and breakfast. i have been looking forward to it especially because i will be cooking 2 meals. i plan on making pork tenderloin with pomegranate and apricot accompanied by celery root salad for tomorrow's dinner. i haven't had this salad for at least 5 years and it has always been one of my favorites. i decided to put the recipe here for any of you. for my money, this is regional cuisine at its best. happy halloween.

Some things are so classic, so perfectly right as they are that it seems like a total disgrace to “reinvent” them. There is a reason some dishes have been around for a long time, on and off restaurant menu’s, but always there. There is a tricky knife edge here though. You can fall one way in to classic stardom of a recipe - something so good, so simple that it should never be changed. A quick shake on the edge however and things can fall drastically apart. The dish can be flat, boring, dated.
Celery root (or celariac as it is often called) remoulade when done with care falls head first into the first category of classic stardom. But like all things simple, the devil is hiding in the details. If you coarsely chop a celery root, mix it with store bought mayo, season with table salt you are going to think I am a grade A idiot for even suggesting this dish was a classic never to be changed. If, however, care is taken to create perfect little matchsticks of clean tasting celery root, and mixed with just the right amount of characterful homemade Dijon mayonnaise, spruced up with fresh lemon and herbs the you are on to a winner.
I first got thinking about celariac remoulade towards the end of last year when we had a family vacation to southern California. We rode bikes along the strand, all the way to god knows where (well at a guess close to LAX, given the fact I nearly fell off my bike being buzzed by a 747). We stopped and were hungry. There was a dicey looking “Italian” joint, a dive bar (we had our son with us..) or this crusty old French place that looked like you could blow the thing down.
Everyone knows how much the English love the crusty French, so we obviously headed straight there. Locking the bikes up next to the outside toilet one thought was going through my mind - “this place is either going to be fucking good, or I am going to be hoping to god that I can cycle back to out apartment in time before the lunch really hits home..” No fast cycling was required that afternoon I am happy to say, quite the contrary in fact.
The place was genius. I don’t think the decor or menu had changed since the 30s. Nor had the server (most likely the owner too), who must have been well in to her 80s, walked with a huge stoop, and berating the other younger waiter for not doing things right. The whole place just oozed old French. Sitting down I still had the same thought I did when we locked the bikes up. We ordered. Danika had some salmon, I had a roast lamb open sandwich, and a salad.
This was seriously one of the most perfectly prepared meals I have ever eaten. The salmon was ridiculously perfect. The lamb sandwich was fantastically balanced - rich, a little sweet, then a pop of cornichons. Nice. The highlight however was the side salads. A perfectly simple green salad, with just the right amount of fines herbs, dressing and salt. It was so fresh, clean and perfect. Just like the little heap of Céleri Rémoulade that sat unassumingly next to the roast lamb. You know they had been making these for decades, could do them in their sleep and them down right perfect.
A couple of hours over lunch (80 year old hunched over servers aren’t fast), a glass of wine, and a tired 4 year old meant that we rather reluctantly had to leave the place and cycle back past the noisy airplanes, and in to the rush of city (well, OK.. vacation) life again.
So back to the celery root. Whilst you might think it is the root of the celery stalks we all hate to eat raw(seriously, who enjoys chewing on a stringy celery stick?) it is different. It is a kind of celery, but harvested for the root, not stalk. Often I end up either roasting them in a bit of duck fat, or making a puree from them, with a little potato for body. Celeriac soup is lovely too, especially with a tiny dice of fresh tart apple and pancetta.
The French would absolutely argue that the classic of chopped celery root and mayonnaise cannot be improved upon, and I pretty much agree (as per my first statement in this blog post - keep it simple, don’t muck it up). I do however like to add just enough chopped fresh parsley and tarragon to make it even fresher. This time I finished the plateful with a sprinkling of Piment d’Espelette really just because I had bought a new jar and wanted an excuse to try it out.
Turns out it is great on this remoulade.
So there you have it really. A very simple clean French winter raw vegetable salad.
Raw celery root salad recipe
NOTE: this salad uses a lovely pungent homemade mayo based on a recipe from Anne Willian’s lovely “Country Cooking of France” book. It uses raw eggs. People get squiffy about raw eggs, mainly thanks to poor quality eggs from chickens on an incredibly cruel battery farm. Use good quality farm fresh eggs. The taste difference is incredible, and they are safer too.
Be sure to use a good quality Dijon mustard, and clean olive oil. Personally I like the Dijon from Trader Joes very much.
2 medium celery roots
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil (scant)
small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, hard stems removed
a few stalks of fresh taragon, leaves picked
Piment d’Espelette to taste (optionalish)
salt and pepper
Start by making the mustard mayo. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. Whisk together the egg yolks, mustard and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Whisk until this thickens a bit. Slowly start adding in the lemon juice, pretty much a drop at a time, whisking constantly. After you have added about a tablespoon of oil this way, it can be added a little faster - in a slow stream - but whisk that arm of yours off. If at any point it looks like you have oil to whisk in, then slow down adding the oil, and whisk like mad. Now whisk in the remaining lemon juice. Season well with salt and pepper.
Trim the skin off the celery root. A wash to remove any excess dirt. Slice the celery root into 3mm slices. This is best done on a mandolin or deli slicer. Stack some of these slices up and now slice them in to thin matchsticks.
Cover the unused pieces of celery root with a damp towel, to stop them from going brown.
Once sliced put in a large bowl. Add the mayo a tablespoon or so at a time, mixing the celery root in well. Add just enough to liberally coat the celery root.  Finely chop the fresh herbs and toss enough in to make things interesting. Season well with good sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Let this stand, covered in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the celery root soften a bit. When it comes time to serve, dish it up, and sprinkle each plate with a little Espelette if you like.

and so a friend on facebook (who actually posts more music than i do) shared this link. i hadn't heard of her before. but i know i like the retro sound and i like the quality of her vocals. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

pretty strange and pretty damn cool

This review is about: The Sluts (Paperback)

Joey Comeau (Toronto) -Dennis Cooper's  novel, The Sluts, opens with an online review of a hustler named "Brad" who has mental problems. A second review follows, and then a third. The novel is told through these reviews and through emails and posts on a website devoted to reviewing hustlers. The posts by these reviewers mix the empty, repeated, imitative language of pornography with a series of straightforward, honest sounding voices. And they lie.

They lie, and they admit to lying when they think it will help you believe their next lie. The saga of "Brad" on this website gets stranger and stranger and it becomes clear that the reviewers are obsessed. They are writing themselves into the story. We only rarely hear from Brad himself, who might have a brain tumor, who might be fourteen or eighteen or something in between, who might be real. The story that you piece together conflicts with itself and sprawls. He's in prison. His boyfriend has hired him out for violent sex and a man pays to break his legs during the act. Another man pays to cut his face and murder him. Only, maybe not.

In the end, what's real is unimportant. This is a novel about the reviewers themselves. It's about their obsessions and about their ability to live inside their own heads. The sex described is brutal and graphic and unreal and maybe none of it ever happens and maybe some of it does. In any case, The Sluts is good. It's interesting and perverted and boring and relentless and numbing and I felt like throwing the book across the room a dozen times in anger. This is a frustrating and worthwhile book about voyeurism and fantasy and you are a pervert for even reading a review about it.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

breakfast of champions

life seems to be suddenly picking up the pace. i got a call from the bank yesterday which informed me that the underwriters were going to make a decision on my loan modification. they requested that i take the place off the market - which i did. this doesn't erase the flux my life is in, but it does create a sense of finish.

i had lunch with a colleague at parallel 17 yesterday as well. it was great to see her and we caught up quite a bit. i asked her to consider joining the board of afr for a year to collaborate on refocusing the mission and agenda for the organization. they have received several grants within the last month and they will need to do some fine-tuning on their efforts. i absolutely love the idea of making recovery a more visible option for everyone and so i have decided to work more closely with their efforts. i was surprised i asked her. and i am certain she was just as surprised.

my heater has not been working so i am waiting for a tech to come out and give it a checkup. it has dipped below freezing a couple of times this week and this morning my nips are a bit turgid.

i begin work on the dually-diagnosed treatment groups starting this week. there are a couple of training sessions and a couple of coordination meetings as well. this is a new adventure for me and a new direction for my work. it's titillating, to be sure.

i have become enamored with the "occupy" movement. things have been broken in our country for some time and the apathy surrounding that seems to be shifting. this is something to celebrate in my eyes. i am not naive enough to believe that this will change policies immediately, but i am genuinely relieved that citizens are exercising their right to participate. this seems to be what a democracy requires to remain. for my money (ha), there seems to have been a shift of financial and political power that took place when the twin towers were taken out in 2011. i have never felt secure that the ragtag al queda were capable of pulling that event off so deliciously on their own accord.

i got an email from a colleague who is a counselor with the mile high meth project. he wrote that he had heard good things about the stonewall huddle and was requesting that he come by and talk to my group about his group. i invited him and he came. there were 3 guys there who are currently dealing with meth issues and so hopefully it gave them a sense of options and hope. for me, it signaled a 360 degree revolution since i worked on getting mhmp going. and the resultant triggering of ptsd changed my life forever. i have grown enormously since then, and the visit by the program's current (there have been several) counselor added an underline to this fact for me. it honestly felt good.

Monday, October 17, 2011

remain in light

image credit ... pascal meunier

Week 4: Smart Things 10 12 and A vision for you 
  • When you are hurt or upset, what do you do to comfort yourself?
  • How has your recovery helped you develop a personal compass in your life?
  • The Ninth Step promises in Alcoholics Anonymous, page 84, indicate that "we will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us." How has this manifested itself in your life?
  • How do you respond to conflict or tension in your relationship?
  • What perspective would you need to take in order to see the tension in your relationship as an opportunity for you to work on your emotional sobriety?
  • What would it mean to you if you started to look at the real problem as how you cope with a situation rather than the problem being the problem?
  • Emotional sobriety creates emotional resilience. This means that we can stay clean and sober regardless of a difficult situation or circumstance, regardless of health or illness, regardless of success or failure. Is your recovery this stable? Do you have this kind of faith in yourself? What idea would you need to give up to have this kind of faith in your recovery?
from "12 smart things to do when the booze and drugs are gone" by allen berger

with the continuing change going on in my daily work life, i find myself perpetually moving or shifting or adjusting or waiting for any or all of those. the clients i work with have expanded to well beyond hiv. i am working with opioid replacement clients, with hep-c positive patients, and with dually diagnosed patients- all of which i certainly worked before, however the challenges and the life experiences are more diverse.

adding to this, i have been asked to chair a board for a recovery advocacy organization. this is a request which i am not quite ready to provide an answer at this time. i am waiting to hear a response from the lender who holds the note on my townhouse, because that transition will affect my life the most primarily. and to add to the shake-ups, i have applied for an additional counseling position to replace the 12K that i dropped this last year- which set some of this current richter scale action in motion and i continue to wait to discover if this is a good fit.

i am in awe of the confidence i have rendered in all this chaos. and i feel comforted by the lack of panic. i don't know what is next, but i am moving forward with faith and trust in my relationship with the world. wow- did i even write that? but it's true. i feel connected and i welcome tomorrow.

i don't always satisfy the expectations of those around me. i still often judge my actions very harshly at first. i stumble in new situations and misspeak and misstep as often as i get it right. but what really keeps me going is my fairly newly acquired sense that i am okay. nothing great certainly, but nothing broken. for all my life, i felt-no believed- that i was flawed- twisted and warped. this is a belief that has had a metamorphosis into something else and been carried away with the winds. this is definitely an easier way to live.

image credit- bob jagendorf

i have recently heard some sets played by this dj named nick warren. i like him very much. it sounds so contemporary to me. i hope you like it, too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Autumn Newsletter 2011

the human aspect of hiv matters very much to me..

TEN Newsletter Autumn 2011