Sunday, June 24, 2012

let me go

image credit.. samuel hodge

“A star falls from the sky and into your hands. Then it seeps through your veins and swims inside your blood and becomes every part of you. And then you have to put it back into the sky. And it's the most painful thing you'll ever have to do and that you've ever done. But what's yours is yours. Whether it’s up in the sky or here in your hands. And one day, it'll fall from the sky and hit you in the head real hard and that time, you won't have to put it back in the sky again.” 

i am completely without words to describe just how helpless i feel. my good friend was diagnosed with 4th stage liver cancer recently. it has metastasized in 4 places on his liver and it is beyond treatment. i can't fix it and i can't make it go away.

at first he presented with a distinct sense of defeat. this had concerned me greatly. he resigned from his job and set up an at home hospice situation. it all seemed so fast and surreal. then he began to talk about things like healthy living, diet and nutrition, and chinese medicine. this gave me some sense of relief. and hope.

but recently, there has been a shift. i get the sense that he is avoiding my calls and isolating. i hope i am wrong, but i have been down a road similar to this on several occasions and it sucks. it is painful. it feels hopeless. i am not at all eager to do again.

on the other hand, i do love my friend. just as i loved my friends before. my experience taught me that when people get physically ill, they turn inward emotionally.. it's so much effort to communicate. and it's hard to see oneself (sick) in another persons eyes. it's as if they are saying "let me go" without any words.

today, at a meeting, after another person shared, i came to understand that i haven't wanted to deal with this situation. at all. so i have been making myself crazy trying to avoid it. i have been defensive. i have been boastful. i have instigated not-so-good things. i have worn a victim silhouette.

but as i grow towards what i hope is the light, i have to accept where i am at. and i have to understand it and i have to be willing to let it go. i posted a quote today that suggested opening one's heart means showing the scars that are there.  simple set of words with a much more significant process to make happen. but i'm gonna try. even if it makes me cry. and i know it is gonna.

mahogany sessions

i stumbled upon a vid with the name "mahogany session" and of course it caught my fancy. turns out it is a series of music that is posted on a blog by the name "mahogany blog". there are hundreds of vids posted over the last 3 years or so. all are high quality(that i have seen) and most of the music speaks to me. 

when i looked at the "about" section of the site, i found this:
Mark Murdoch

Mark founded Mahogany back in 2009 whilst working at a large digital music firm in London. Having started it as a small personal music blog, he’s since seen it grow into something extremely special.

Humbled everyday by the opportunity to do what he loves best; Mark is the Editor of Mahogany Blog, Head of Music for the Mahogany Sessions and oversees the entire project.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

vicious pink.... cccan't you see

How did it happen? If I have asked myself that question once, I have asked it a thousand times, and I still don’t have the answer. By now you are probably asking yourself, how did WHAT happen? How did a reasonably intelligent, hard working guy like myself get hooked on drugs? More specifically, that nasty bitch we lovingly, at first, call Mz. Tina….

Oh, it started innocently at first when I stop and think back on it. Out for the weekend at a club and a friend says, here try this, it’s great you’ll feel like a million dollars and we can party on ALL night!!! And the sex is going to just be Fabulous…with a recommendation like that, I thought, I’d be a fool to not try it. At least once, I said.

I tried it, just a small "line" at first I mean its not like I was one of those "druggies", or one of those low life homeless guys…I had a job and a car and a house. I wasn’t like them. That could never happen. Guess what? I DID feel like a million bucks and sex WAS fabulous…even sex with people I would not normally even speak to let alone have sex with!!! It just made me incredibly horny and sexual and I just felt like every one was my friend…there wasn’t always a cute guy around who was my type but with Mz. Tina around, I didn’t care…I’d just "snort" them pretty and go ahead and do the deed anyway…yes the standards definitely got lowered a bit…at first it was just once every couple of weeks or so…I was only partying on the weekends, Friday night and Saturday night. I had to work on Monday so I stopped partying Sunday so I was good to go on Monday morning. By this time Id been doing Mz. Tina for about 6 months, but only "recreationally", meaning on weekends. I told myself it was okay because it was only 2 days a week and I did have a job and a car and a house…and it WAS the weekend I deserved to have some fun…

I managed to always get to work on Monday and get thru the week in good shape…. I soon found myself daydreaming and wishing that Friday would hurry up and get here…hey I was ready to have some more fun again, as so often happens with Mz. Tina, the weekends began to start on Thursday and end on Sun night…I started to show up at work looking like the wrath of God has been thrown at me. BUT I was still at work on Monday so how bad good it be I told myself…and I did have fun, I think, hmmmmm parts of the weekend are awfully fuzzy. I just did not always remember the whole weekend…I knew that Id had fun and id made some new friends…now if I could just remember what his name was. Did he give me his phone number? Did I give him mine?

I wrote it on a scrap of paper somewhere. Ill find it later. He liked me, I could tell…but what the hell did he look like? Did we have sex? Was it fun? Better yet, was it safe…?

No time to worry about it now Id tell myself…I'll be better next weekend…..

quoted and reposted from

i was scrolling through an fb page for the club i used to manage back in the 80's and savoring many of the songs that the dj/vj's posted. bands like skinny puppy, nitzer ebb, front 242, and even rights of the accused. but then all the way at the bottom was a band i had nearly forgotten about- vicious pink.

ccccan't you see was such a complete anthem in my eyes. it had so much of that quintessential crossover sound of that decade. and it opened up a floodgate of feelings and memories when i heard it.

at the same time i noticed that a friend was celebrating his birthday at the same time, so i posted it to him with a short and sweet (hopefully) note of good wishes.

i got back a quiet message which was a bit of a surprise. it was about his new relationship and how they have been slamming T a coupla times a week. Also detailed was how that part felt like it was getting outa hand and going south quickly. he wrote about shaking so much he doesn't get a good hit, and maybe it's a good day to say "done with it".  the note was finished with a tender bit about me being a safe place to drop a random note like this because i could understand after having been through what i've been through.

quite a birthday note eh? and it does lead me to consider where my life has led. he is correct- i do understand. i have honed my understanding to include never going back. it's odd that i have about 3 or 4 really close friends (from those days) who all continue to engage in serious dance moves with getting high. for  this one it's iv crystal, for one it's iv crystal and crack, for the 3rd its crack. they maintain (something i could never do) but i wonder if they grow. i know i feel my life has really opened up since throwing down the sword and walking away from the battle. and i also know i cannot live my friends lives.

there are not so many people left who hold my history in their hearts. it's important for me to love them, albeit from a distance. too close would be toxic. perhaps for each of us.

when i was in a gala chorus in the 90's here in colorado, i remember an introduction by one of the gala organizers describing lgbt people as those who said "yes" to pleasure in ways that others were afraid to do. that has resonated with me all these years and still does. there is a lot to be found in the idea that denied inclusion, acceptance, and visible demonstration for so long might just lead to a determination of having pleasure after the coming out process.

that day held some quiet and remarkable reminders about my life, my friends, my culture, and my journey. i numbed out for a minute after the note, but felt empathy almost immediately. i felt allegiance for the trust that was given me. i cannot help really other than hold good thoughts for my friend and the situation. it continues to be a twisted web we weave and it's remarkable the challenges we traverse in the name of love.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why Does The Wind

image credit.. sawako beerens at pinterest

And don't leave the back door open
And look for a way out and then say maybe you love me but theres no way of knowing

Why does the wind blow through my house at night?
Why does the wind blow through my heart each time I look into your eyes?

Dont look for reasons
Dont tear your heart wondering why the light starts fading when the day is ending
Embrace the seasons and get to believing that it's only something broken that seems worthwhile mending

Why does the wind blow through my house at night?
Why does the wind blow through my heart each time i look into your eyes?

Your heart is sore like mine was before
You look to the sky and no one cares why
Not even the wind so where to begin

And since we exist
And why not just
Why not just
And why not just kiss?

i recently realized (duh) that i am really involved with projects in my life that i believe in and that i care about. the very frustrating part of all these things is that they all seem to struggle with finances. the clinic that i work with full time has traditionally taken care of people with no resources and funding is always a struggle. additionally it's a medical facility and medical pricing seems to be over the top to me.

i took a second job at a small counseling agency in englewood. they actually have two locations (one in westminster) and currently do mostly dui counseling. the dui arrests have increased in numbers, however the revenue stream for dui seems to be in a drought. the englewood office is in dire need of a facelift and there is but 1 dollar to get it done. and it has to be done. i will be kind and not post pics here.

i have taken the position of chair on the board for advocates for recovery in colorado. part of their charge has been to host a rally for recovery every september (national recovery month). i am also co-chairing the rally this year. i met with the other co-chair about the budget. it's not an easy picture. there will be funds, but i am not sure where or when. their website has been reconstructed recently after the original webmaster had a meltdown. the site was back up in days (whew) but also really needs a directional overhaul. someone mentioned at a board retreat last year that they were looking at the afr website and they couldn't discern what we do. i have to say  i whole-heartedly agree. and having a clear message may just be more important than buying 300 baseball game tickets to give to sponsors of the rally- this year's cost has gone up dramatically.

it seems masochistic for me to be involved in all these projects that don't have enough. i am not sure at all that i can solve all their issues. i hope they want me to continue to try. i hope even more that i can bring some lightness and laughter with me. that is what feels to be drained the most when i consider all this lack. it's almost as if the lack is contagious. maybe i won't have enough wisdom or stamina to be of help. maybe i am not the right person for this job. maybe i will. maybe i will might be the most frightening of all these. maybe i am just used to being afraid.

these are just questions on a sunday morning. the answers will come. i hope i can live up to my hopes with all these situations and organizations. i don't wanna let anybody down. but just like these lyrics ask- "why does the wind blow through my house at night", these worries and questions run through my head most times. "you look to the sky and no one cares" seems appropriate. why does it matter when we have no way of knowing. just do what you do and live your life. thoughtful advice.

in case you don't remember tracey thorn she and her husband used to be everything but the girl. she still has that same hauntingly beautiful tone in her voice. this is from her 2010 album "love and its opposite"

Sunday, June 10, 2012

life reclaimed

Life Reclaimed- A Community Discussion

yesterday i had the opportunity to share some experience i have collected over the years around meth use and especially recovery at a community forum hosted by the mile high meth project at a local restaurant it was titled "life reclaimed" and that title seems to have held a specific meaning for me as my role in it unfurled. i was scheduled to speak with one of the doctors from my workplace, but he called in the last minute with illness. maybe he had fears speaking in a room full of gay men. i know i certainly did. i have felt challenges being around groups of gay men since the 70's and my coming out days. my experience was that we (gay men) are not the most supportive, leaning mostly towards judgmental, catty, and bitchy. yesterday morning met me with those same fears and eventually led me to the opportunity to walk through those fears.

i had no idea how i was going to speak for a full 1/2 hour or really how the words would come out. i have been quite busy (thankfully) and did not really write anything down. i did scribble some talking points as i sat in the restaurant waiting to go on. thank goodness i did.

turns out that i didn't need the notes but once. as is my norm, once i started talking i found some flow. i began talking about when i worked for mhmp and was in chicago doing research on creating that program. i stayed with one of my best friends that weekend and my heart was flooded with memories, some so vivid and powerful that i believe i have been changed forever. the trip certainly cemented my commitment to working with addiction and gay men. and what a ride it has been.

well, chatty cathy ended up talking for an entire hour (and a little more). the smokers were getting antsy and needed a break. i talked about some of my experience. i talked about soar- science of addiction and recovery- and how the brain changes with extensive drug and alcohol use. i touched on mat- medicated assisted therapy (which was the doctor's original bit). i talked about recovery, about being a part of the lgbt community and being in recovery, about pride and the perils of connecting with the debauchery. i talked about afr and my role with them including the recovery rally in september. and i talked about the peer mentoring project going on at my workplace now.

all this chatter led me to realize that i have changed over these last years. i have waded into the water and i have been baptised. and i have come away feeling filled with spirit. looking back- i don't think i'd change a thing. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

cross stitching

image credit... susan cohen-pinterest

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. (10)” 

there has been a definite shift in my psyche. the game board seems to have gotten suddenly larger and i feel as if i have a lot more room to play. my financial situation has cleared up- so maybe there's some pressure that has been lifted. i find i am tired of holding grudges and feeling afraid. i don't know that this will make me more forgiving or less fearful, but i know that my attachment to those things has shifted.

i needed a 3day weekend badly. i went to the mountains for a day and a half and had a weekend here. it feels glorious and i am basking in it. i have said "no" on several occasions which is truly a new development for me. i have faith in a future. i look forward to it, too. and i can now count on my fingers the number of people i think of as friends.

it may seem as if these are juvenile and simple things. maybe they really are. but i am not bothered. i have struggled so much with self-esteem issues that these basics are very important and a true sign of growth. i have needed to learn to stop going to "it's my fault" every time something stank. presumably, i still go there, but i try my best not to land there now.

i was asked on a date last weekend for the first time in i can't remember when. it didn't happen, but the fact that it was discussed caused a shift. it still does actually. i am to see this person later this week and am curious about it all. not hopeful really- but curious.

it has been a restorative 3 day weekend for me. i needed it more than i realized. i am co-chairing a rally this september and will spend most of the summer working out the details. as is my style, there will be overthinking upon overthinking. so a couple more  kickback getaways like this one to sustain my pace.

i shared in a meeting yesterday that i have realized that one of the hardest things for me in life has been to manage my feelings. for so many years, whenever i felt fear, anger, anxiety, doubt, embarrassment, shame, or any other somewhat challenging emotion, i would get high and change the way i felt. when i got clean, the coping skill i had used was missing and its absence was impactful. it has taken me all these years to feel comfortable with those feelings. i don't report finesse or expert abilities, just abilities. this alone has been life-changing and worth the effort.

spent the weekend finishing up training for peer coaches for afr and my workplace. the shift in the trainees from start to finish can be so dramatic. as these folks start to expand the concept of what is possible in their recovery and what it can look like, my own concepts shift. always a work in progress.