Monday, April 29, 2013

future of the future

image credit....ddmag.tumblr,com

i just had to post this etbg song.. i came across it on the tube and it transported me. i was such a huge fan of that band and of the sorrow and the forgiveness in tracey thorn's voice. i frankly felt that they were brilliant. i spent so much of my 90's in obsessive mode. i worked at a wholesale travel company owned by my uncle and his best friend from college. my uncle worked for an airline and had gotten a couple of wholesale international contracts and decided to move them from denver with very little competition. i started working there in 1990 and knew absolutely nothing about travel, about computers, and about an office. in the 10 years there, we went from <1m annual="" nbsp="" revenue="" to="">17M. We became well known both on the west coast and in the mountain region as we had courted our competing retail travel agents as clients and sold both retail and wholesale for those 10 years and more. i had trysts and hangovers all over the globe with very very few of them being in the city where i lived. 

i got 2 dui's during that time period- one in 1992 and then another in 1996. i spent 8 days in jail for the 2nd one and still that wasn't enough to convince me to stop drinking. i stopped for the year i was on probation, but the very day i was free, my love for scotch returned and in the short span of a year, my immune system started giving out after 11 years of known diagnosis. my denial came to a screeching halt and i started on anti-retro viral therapy and began to experience the the arc of my life travel in two directions at the same time. my health became stronger my emotional body started circling the drain. i left the agency i had been managing and took an agent position at a corporate travel firm. i became increasingly angry about wasting 10 years of my life waiting to die and living in a small city like denver that lacked most of the amenities of a metropolis that i loved. in 1999, i transferred to san francisco with the company and took a job downtown for a large financial firm. i got a small place on the beach next door to film maker friends from chicago. rent was cheap, food was great, all seemed great.

my supervisor then transferred me to a suburb to work for a genetic engineering firm. i found myself working with perhaps the angriest closeted lesbian i have ever met along with a hispanic homophobe. suddenly my tales of the city became nightmares on great ocean highway. i began drinking more heavily and developed kidney stones from the hiv meds. i got stones 3 times, with the 3rd time being so painful that i had a break of some sort. i left my corporate job and began commuting to la weekly for work monday thru thursday, returning to the city to work at an italian restaurant on thursdays thru saturdays. both the dot com bust and 9/11 happened that year- 2001 and i found myself laid off both jobs on 9/14 of that year.

i struggled with my sanity most of the next 6 months. i scored a server job at a brand new omni hotel which opened in the city in march 0f 2002. i did well but got shingles- probably brought on by all the stress. the vicoden prescribed sent me into another tailspin and i tried crystal for the first time that year, by the end of the summer, i had burned through my 401k, had burnt my bridges with my neighbors and landlords, left my job, and drove my last drive across the bay bridge with tony bennet's lyrics on the tip of my mind.

resilience is something i have always had, but never really appreciated. and i had no real understanding that my journey downward was also a journey inward. i had to chop wood and carry water again in order to know freedom.  and i had to forgive myself for so many things and let go of so many things in order to grow strong. losing everything remains a gift beyond any value i have ever known. recovery - learning to not be impulsive- opened up an entirely new millenium of possibility for me.

The future of the future will still repeat today

Time goes fast and fades away

And you say think of the old days

We could have them back again
Well I thought about the old days
They'd go bad like they did then

Thursday, April 25, 2013

better days


It goes a little something like this

In my shoes my toes are busted,
My kitchen says my bread is molded,
Got a good job at the dollar store,
One foot in the hole, one foot gettin' deeper,
with a broken mirror and a blown out speaker
And I ain't got much else to lose.
I'm faded, flat busted; 
I've been jaded I've been dusted.
I know that I've seen better days.
One foot in the hole, one foot gettin' deeper,
Crank it to eleven, blow another speaker and
I ain't got, I ain't got much to loose 

I've seen better days I've been star of many plays
I've seen better days and the bottom drops out.
I've seen better days I've been star of many plays
I've seen better days and the bottom drops out.

life has distinctly taken a turn. april 2013 seems to have raced by as it excruciatingly revealed that i am only a passenger on this ride-not at all the conductor (my illusion). so many changes since the spring equinox, i have new time to spare and have once again made friends with my kitchen.  my heart smiles now and again for no reason. i am content to spend time quietly alone while napping, munching, and futzing around. 

i have learned to let go of some ongoing worry. as is commonly known, worry changes nothing tangible so the letting go is a spiritual exercise in which i am hopeful when engaging. the meditative quality of letting go and returning to center has the value of basket weaving to my manic brain. the result is not a straw vessel for fruit and correspondence, but an invitation to serenity, even in the midst of a sci-fi. 

i sometimes forget that every action there is a inevitably a reaction.  and rarely are the reactions as clock able as a light turning on when a switch is flicked. connecting the reactions to my actions can often seem like a jengo game- especially when meandering in a maze of day mares. 

i sat today and chatted with someone who completely lied to me. it was glaringly evident that the truth hadn't arrived, but the absence of truth seems to have become their prosthetic which supports everyday balance and movement. and as i sat with them today, i realized that this prosthetic was not unlike the emperor's new clothes- completely see through- and i couldn't find a good enough reason to share my epiphany. 

faces and voices of recovery released the results of a survey that they conducted earlier this year. i am going to share the basic results which are not at all surprising, but remarkable none-the-less.
recovery, recovery, recovery
advocate, advocate, advocate

  • Involvement in illegal acts and involvement with the criminal justice system (e.g., arrests, incarceration, DWIs) decreases by about ten-fold
  • Steady employment in addiction recovery increases by over 50% greater relative to active addiction
  • Frequent use of costly Emergency Room departments decreases ten-fold
  • Paying bills on time and paying back personal debt doubles
  • Planning for the future (e.g., saving for retirement) increases nearly three-fold
  • Involvement in domestic violence (as victim or perpetrator) decreases dramatically
  • Participation in family activities increases by 50%
  • Volunteering in the community increases nearly three-fold compared to in active addiction
  • Voting increases significantly
  • Reports of untreated emotional/mental health problems decrease over four-fold
  • Twice as many participants further their education or training than in active addiction
  • The percentage of people owing back taxes decreases as recovery gets longer while a greater number of people in longer recovery report paying taxes, having good credit, making financial plans for the future and paying back debts
  • Civic involvement increases dramatically as recovery progresses in such areas as voting and volunteering in the community
  • People increasingly engage in healthy behaviors such as taking care of their health, having a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and dental checkups, as recovery progresses
  • As recovery duration increases, a greater number of people go back to school or get additional job training
  • Rates of steady employment increase gradually as recovery duration increases
  • More and more people start their own business as recovery duration increases
  • Participation in family activities increases from 68% to 95%
The complete survey results are available in pdf format here.

i am really happy to post this citizen king ditty. it seems so 90's pop classic to me.. makes me smile...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

gardening as metaphor

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.

there is a young acquaintance who has been recently battling with overwhelming anxiety. i have never had that specific issue, but of course i have had my share of others. she is quite young and i think it is my opportunity here to be of some help.

she has agreed to assist me with a project this saturday at my home. we will pick up a ginko tree from the park people and plant it along the right of way. we planted an english oak in that very spot 2 years ago, however it failed to thrive and needs to be replaced. the park people has a program intended to make the city greener. Our little enclave was xeriscaped years ago and resembled the surface of the moon. slowly and season by season i have been replacing the low evergreen shrubs with flowering plants. we have 5 really lovely korean lilacs, 5 hydrangeas bushes - mostly pink, and 5 white oakleaf hydrangeas. i have added shocking pink spirea to already evenly spaced white spirea, and there are a couple of carol mackie daphnes peppered with some tall grasses that wave in the winds of late summer. this last year, along the right of way, we added russian sage, and some golden colored perennials that resemble alium. i have to admit here, just how very regal the variegated purple and gold blowers look along the sidewalk that frames our property.

back to the ginko- my new acquaintance will participate in this planting and hopefully it will be as a ritual. the intention here is for this process to act as a prayer or affirmation for her and for myself. there can be something very powerful in the act of planting a new intention in this world. she is 17 and has moved here from texas to attend school. she is on the brink of a huge change in her life and might benefit immensely from a deliberate and positively purposeful intention.  and i might do well to include this act "letting more love in my life" as a truth. this idea was born from some spiritually channeled information that came why way.

love is as layered as cloud atlas to me. letting love in seems as tender sandpaper. i certainly love others, but regulate the in and out of it like someone a diet might count calories. for me, love is measured and rationed so that is lasts. this ain't no proud post, but meant to be more of a frank and impartial glimpse inward intended to see just what might be some of my barriers to love. and if i can share this self-assessment process with this young person and help give her a new prism through which to view her life, then i am giving love- much more comfortable with the giving that receiving as giving is so much easier to control.

post script... another acquaintance is now in the hospital and being checked for bone infection where the abscess had eaten into it. he has demonstrated a lack of facility and the inability to care for himself. i am relieved he is in care.

Friday, April 12, 2013

don't jump over yourself

Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what’s going on, but that there’s something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.
Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. That’s the compassionate thing to do. That’s the brave thing to do. We can’t just jump over ourselves as if we were not there. It’s better to take a straight look at all our hopes and fears. Then some kind of confidence in our basic sanity arises.

what a hella week for me. how about you? we were on lock down cuz some ex devotee called in a bomb scare. we had swat teams on several corners with machine guns in tow. add to this the fact that we interface work with many people who have schizophrenia and are paranoid and restless without the presence of ammo. false alarm and no one hurt, however. 

i have been struggling with an acquaintance who probably has dementia and lives on their own. i believe it's dementia which is caused by their advancing liver disease. i am at once trying to get them to see a doctor or cease their drug use. neither plan is actualizing very easily. and they have now presented with an infection on their leg which encompasses the complete surface from ankle to knee and resembles the  terrain of a red clay volcano with a concave center revealing some bone. 

earlier this week, i helped someone who was struggling with walking, moving hunched over almost in half. they went to their doctor and then referred to another. the term "life-threatening" was strewn about. a coupla days later, they appeared in a too small wheelchair because they were still unable to walk. i gave them the name of an organization that provides free temporary wheelchairs- hoping a better fit could be had. i received a call yesterday from the hospital they had been admitted into. and today i received another more whimpering call today in fear of impending surgery.

a peer to peer recovery group we started last year had it's 1 year anniversary this week. there was a celebratory pot luck and over 35 persons participated. the participants shared about their success. the core participants in our effort have tripled or more within this year. and the discussion of problems is gently folding into a much more audible conversation about change and possibility. 

there is a sweeping wind of change that is moving through my daily life. it is bending me into an emotional posture resembling munsch's "screamer" with the skill of rodin. i am playing a part. a part in a much larger story. i don't know my exact role now, but these dry runs are exhausting. exhausting and exhilarating. there is a deeper dream that is being tapped in me. i am able to discuss some of this with my supervisor with candor. 

i really love this interview with patti smith... give it a listen

Patti Smith: Advice to the young from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

dancer from the dance

We had all see Malone, yet going home on the subway no one spoke of him, even though each of us was thinking of that handsome man -- and he had seen us. What must he have thought of us at that time. What queens we were! We had been crazed for several years already when we danced at the Bearded Lady that winter. We lived only to dance. What was the true characteristic of a queen, I wondered later on; and you could argue that forever. "What do we all have in common in this group?" I once asked a friend seriously, when it occurred to me how slender, how immaterial, how ephemeral the bond was that joined us; and he responded, "We all have lips." Perhaps that is what we all had in common: No one was allowed to be serious, except about the importance of music, the glory of faces seen in the crowd. We had our songs, we had our faces! We had our web belts and painter's jeans, our dyed tank tops and haircuts, the plaid shirts, bomber jackets, jungle fatigues, the all-important shoes....Andrew Holleran

it's a saturday and i find myself reminiscing a bit about my 1970's. it was a decadent and tumultuous decade to say the least. i left home at 16 in 1974 and moved to chicago from the burbs. i worked as a rent boy and a gogo boy until i landed a job as a bartender at 18. i shared an apartment with a puerto rican drag queen early on and learned how to speak with a spanich(ha) accent. i also developed an emotional rhythm sequence that embedded itself deeply into my psyche. 

i assimilated to 1970's gay culture through osmosis. music, fashion, attitudes, tastes, and beliefs all were shaped by our mysterious cultural norm. it was urban, it was rogue, it was survivalist, it was guerilla, and it was inventive. i don't remember making conscious and thoughtful choices about these things as much as i can recall intense peer pressure and a need to belong- after all this urban landscape accepted my twisted  ternderness much more thoughtfully than my family of origin had. 

i was able to hide even further from my nature as i immersed and lost myself in the choreography of that decade. there were parties, drugs, laughter, theater, short romances, and galaxies of anonymous sex. it was the decade which allowed me to say "yes" to pleasure- which i did to excess. platform shoes, low-rise hip-huggers, afros (well.. perms), disco, acid, mdma, sid vicious, the sex pistols, vivienne westwood, radical faeries, harvey milk, the bus stop, the bump, the introduction of middle class cocaine, my only live-in relationship, sparks. and on and on.

the 80's rang in a whole new act in this dance of our culture. but those 1970's were specific and boutique. there may never be the same intersection of indulgence and ingenue on our cultural landscape- mostly because those was the first years after stonewall. maybe my introduction to lgbt culture during that time has allowed me the grace of believing beyond what i know. i am not clear that the generations behind me have that same capacity. i may be in the last of our kind to undestand suppression and to understand freedom  from the outer edges of the pendulum. 

By year

  • 1972 – Sweden becomes first country in the world to allow transsexuals to legally change their sex, and provides free hormone therapy;[8] Hawaii legalizes homosexuality; In Australia, the Dunstan Labor government introduces a consenting adults in private type defence in South Australia. This defence was initiated as a bill by Murray Hill, father of former Defence Minister Robert Hill, and later repealed the state's sodomy law in 1975; Norway decriminalizes homosexuality; East Lansing, Michigan and Ann Arbor, Michigan and San Francisco, California become the first cities in United States to pass a homosexual rights ordinance. Jim Foster, San Francisco and Madeline DavisBuffalo, New York, first gay and lesbian delegates to the Democratic Convention, Miami, McGovern; give the first speeches advocating a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party Platform. "Stonewall Nation" first gay anthem is written and recorded by Madeline Davis and is produced on 45 rpm record by the Mattachine Society of the Niagara Frontier. Lesbianism 101, first lesbianism course in the U.S. taught at the University of Buffalo by Margaret Small and Madeline Davis.[citation needed]

Gay rights protesters in New York City, protesting at the United States' 1976 Democratic National Convention

Original eight-color version of the LGBT pride flag
  • 1979 – The first national homosexual rights march on Washington, DC is held; The White Night riots occur, Harry Hay issues the first call for aRadical Faerie gathering in Arizona, and Cuba and Spain decriminalize homosexuality;[citation needed] A number of people in Sweden called in sick with a case of being homosexual, in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. This was followed by an activist occupation of the main office of the National Board of Health and Welfare. Within a few months, Sweden became the first country in the world to remove homosexuality as an illness.[8].... 
timeline reposted from wikipedia...

Friday, April 5, 2013

marilyn in the moon

I went off with my hands in my torn coat pockets; 
Becoming My overcoat too was ideal, 
I Travelled beneath the sky, Muse! and I was your vassal; 
Oh dear me! what marvelous loves I dreamed of!

My only pair of breeches had a big whole in 'em. 
- Stargazing Tom Thumb, I sowed rhymes along my way. 
was at the tavern My Sign of the Great Bear. 
- My stars in the sky rustled softly.

Listened to 'em and I, sitting on the road-sides 
On Those pleasant evenings while I felt September drops 
Of dew on my forehead like vigorous wine;

And while, rhyming Among the fantastical shadows, 
I plucked like the strings of a lyre the elastics 
Of my tattered boots, one foot close to my heart!
Arthur Rimbaud

i can remember writing with intention for the 1st time at 16. i was engulfed in melancholy about leaving home and making hard decisions although that is hindsight describing them. at the time- i was just puffed up like a blowfish reacting to a fearful situation and i penned a simile poem  about the vastness of the once-seen ocean as it reflected the enormous terra i had stumbled upon in my world.

i didn't write again for about 8 years. i did however, craft a number of drug inspired song lyrics sung to the tune of "i can't really sing" and performed on the front steps of brownstones along chicago's near-north side. these were seldom heard by anybody else but me. however there was a time i deciphered an image of marilyn monroe in the face of the moon. on many warmer weather nights, i crooned unabashedly to her image and bled some poison from my soul somehow feeling connected to the tragic quality her life represented. 

i journaled for awhile from 1983 until 1985- sporadically at best, and i got a taste of the relief that this activity could provide. life, however, hadn't provided me with the surety required to make syncopated entries. at best there were scribbles and partial cave drawings which upon revisit conjure up ghost fragments which are both chaotic and sublime. 

since my hiv diagnosis in 1985 until 2005 after finding recovery, i had mostly  hidden this specific part of me from the world and worked hard to deep it separate. this certainly fueled my addiction. the darkness that settled in those years left scars and pockmarks that still  have memory. but i picked up writing again in 2006 in the form of blogging and have been adding entries without fail since then. this is the 2nd generation blog and a style may have begun to emerge. i have found peace, distortion, friendship, inspiration, trauma, challenge, freedom, and fight through the tip-tapping of the keyboard as my musical instrument crafting my lyrics and music to my inspirational  marilyn in the moon. 

i am very clear that i write because i am able and because it pets my soul like i might caress a chinchilla collar. it keeps me warm and feels like a hug. there are many times when i can't feel my muse. this is overshadowed always by the times that there is clearly a constellation of the points of light in my world. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

hang the moon

image credit... ddmag.tumblr

If our lives were a movie
Then you'd be the star
'Cause know I know the role I should play
To applaud all you do
All the things that you are
And just be there on opening day

I know in the past
That the lines were all wrong
And the music was never in tune
But the wish that I make
Is for just one more take
Because then, darling, I'll hang the moon

i just got off the phone with one of my oldest friends-blue- who lives in chicago. earlier this year, i had plans to be there this weekend- seeing the book of mormon tomorrow evening and big fish on saturday night. having dinner all over town, pitching a book idea to a friend who has published a beautiful book about her grandfather and  fire island in the 20's, and just generally feeding my soul in both old and new ways. we talked today, because he had arranged a psychic reading for me on saturday with sharyl noday which i will still receive via skype.

we chatted for a while using the online tool and i really have to say how much more i enjoyed the conversation while looking at his face. there are so many many memories for me in that face. i realized as we spoke that i love him as madly as i did when we first met that early morning in chicago in 1979 at that afterhours club named "columns". if i remember things correctly, we strolled from lower downtown along the lake to boys town as the moon descended sharing stories about life and our perceptions of fashion, music, fate and hope. we became fast friends and later roommates, work mates, frenemies (during my oh-so-desperate drug daze). but we have remained connected these 32 years.

these days seem some of the closer since he lost his mother last year. he is struggling with physical changes that accompany the aging human experience and the combination seems to have opened his emotional world and be offering it to the sun. he mentioned that he spoke to another friend of ours, now living in phoenix, who asked him to tell me how touched he is by the arc my life  taken. blue continued to say that bill must have done some online research because he seemed to be much more intimate with some details and he cried as he spoke with blue. blue cried as he relayed this information to me, including details like blue had always felt that i was special, but i was never able to see that- how it was painful for him to watch me struggle through all the challenging lessons i have had in my life. i cried as i heard all this and was swept up in the idea that someone has been able to care about me all this time while i was unable to do so.

i sign off today in humility. i am gobsmacked by the fact that i am cared for by someone who knows me so well (definitely an old tape playing).  i quietly received a most unexpected and completely personal gift that came wrapped in a plain wrapper, but has stirred the deepest part of my soul. i must remember to give these kind of gifts as it is something so life affirming to receive.