Saturday, May 25, 2013

turn, turn, turn

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace....
Ecclesiasties III

my i have just come thru a bit of a dizzying week. certainly the pivotal phrase is come thru- and there's a glass full of grateful waiting for me to offer the sun goddess this weekend.

i had lunch with a gaggle of gay guys and i dropped my theory about addiction in gay men and the infestation of shame based trauma in our modern culture. we grow up feeling wrong, and dirty, and unlovable and struggle as adults shaking off those self-loathing ghosts. numbing out positions itself as our "man friday"  in oh so many cases. sadly though, as in my case, we place ourselves in positions (both physical and emotional) to become vulnerable to physical and emotional maladies- including personality disorders and hiv/hcv which often leads to more intense numbing... and on and on. as i soul mined for a deeper truth with these men in their myriad states of rebuild, sharing poached salmon with cucumber and dill and penne salad with veggies and pesto, i hoped that an appetite was being created too.

turns out that my acquaintance i had approached about collaboration has been less than honest about his relationship with bedbugs (my new nickname for meth). there was an arrest, a phone conversation with his mother followed by 2 voice messages same day upon release. neutrality may slowly becoming more second nature, but it has not yet become my super hero costume- although i have had a hankering for wearing a cape lately.  i am still affected by the people in my life. thankfully though, i am far more unflinching and take things less personally. on  the flipside, i hope i am becoming a more solid confidante.

there is an inference in the aa story that life can do for us what we couldn't do for ourselves. when i actually do take a moment to "zoom out", it is clear that this is a complete reflection of my truth. i have moments of contentment based solely on lack of want- which is not a lifetime experience. maybe i felt it before self-medication, but it was certainly overshadowed by the consistent and turbulent flooding of dopamine in my head.

will be headed to idaho springs tomorrow  for a family thing. a cousin and her family are in town from nebraska. am taking slow roasted cherry tomatoes w/cambozola and fresh basil to spread on italian bread. and i am gonna try to make fresh strawberry lemonade slushees w/mint. i am keenly aware that the cooking and serving aspect of this getaway are the real motivator. without them, i would stay home.

went to see the new "star trek" last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it (in 3d). it is uncanny how charming it is to watch alien creatures struggle with their human characteristics. and such a metaphor. and what fun to watch captain kirk with the same adulation (ahem) i had for the 1st screen version of the same character.  and i have come to have a renewed admiration for the color chartreuse-especially contrasted with cornflower blue and berry red.

and it is very near to the turn of yet another season. i have started cardio classes again- after a 9 month hiatus-in the hopes of dropping the kangaroo pouch. plus the adrenaline and endorphins have an affect.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

welcome to the weekend

i spoke with a friend yesterday about some ideas i have for developing a stronger sense of community among people in recovery. this guy is a networking nazi and very well known around town. he and i met after i had become a drug and alcohol counselor. he was a fairly high profile client. he had been instrumental in bringing crystal meth anonymous to denver and had been working as a peer navigator at denver's drug court. additionally, i was walking and talking with him when he hatched the idea of "surrounded by recovery" which evolved into 2 years of recovery celebration at the capital which lead to a hand holding event each year around the gold dome with the intention of raising awareness that recovery works. when i met him, i had been clean only 2 years- he had been struggling for 5. i told him that i didn't believe i could really be an effective counselor for him, but that it seemed he might need a good honest friend.

sadly all of his amazing and ground breaking efforts resulted in relapse for him. this humbled him and threw back each of the efforts he generated back several years. but this is life and this is how the brain operates. it likes dopamine. it bends and reshapes synapses to allow the dopamine release process to flourish and take over. if it were uncommon, our culture would not have many of the problems it does. he has again built time and has been dancing with humility which looks good on him.

as i spoke with him yesterday i ran down the basic concept of a recover resource and networking event in september and trying to market this. it includes using and developing a radio program- probably using blog talk radio. it's a big task, but i think i am ready for a new project. and it would be beneficial to be able to reach more pockets of individuals.

funny- i feel a familiar sense of excitement in my gut. fear, hope, wonder usually accompany my muse. definitely excited to see how this unfolds. came across some web-based recovery support programs yesterday which i am hoping we can beta with some younger patients at my workplace-exciting. i have 2 interns starting on tuesday - this is my first mentoring gig as a counselor. i work 2 parties this week and hope to catch up on a couple of outstanding bills.

 i am planning to restart cardio classes this weekend and see the star trek -in 3d-. i am ready for some fun.

with fun in mind, i remember a time in the late 70's that i could throw a b52's vinyl album on the turntable and let the whole thing play through- all the while dancing, bopping, and having a blast. today i find the same joy with nicolas jaar. he is a composer, dj, producer that creates a rhythm pattern that makes my heart and soul smile.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

thoughts about surfing and fashion

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Definition of OVERTURE
a : an initiative toward agreement or action : proposal
b : something introductory : prelude
a : the orchestral introduction to a musical dramatic work
b : an orchestral concert piece written especially as a single movement in sonata form

my head and heart are swimming in the waves of change that are flooding so many areas of my life. i found myself at the workplace defending my current exhilerating experience in contrast with the defended and threatened views held by some coworkers. this action and its wake illuminated a changed prism through which to view my experience.

it occurred to me that perhaps it wasn't always needed to apologize for things that feel good.. it also came into view that i might do well to keep all this good wave bizness in a healthy perspective. funny thing - it's still not my nature to just have one chocolate and enjoy it. it is more my style to finish the box. and many times think about getting more.

i would venture that recognizing my nature and sitting with it in lieu of letting it carve my path is really the lesson here- or certainly one of the lessons. there is a very strong yet obscured sense of fear of failure with this project. there have been so much synchronicity that my inner voice tells me that something's gotta give.

am i in fear of losing face? losing faith? appearing foolish? letting others down? succeeding? not having enough? honestly- prolly a little of all of them.

i took my mother to see "gatsby" last weekend.  mixed review- but overall i loved the texture of the film. baz luhrmann always does over the top and there was no disappointment with this picture. leonardo was fairly droll, but his costumes seriously made me swoon.  two in particular- the white linen suit with the orange tie he wore when he was being re-introduced to daisy and the pink pin stripe with the raspberry and orange necktie took me by complete surprise and triggered a memory of shopping on oak street in chicago at a boutique by the name of ultimo. the 1970's always include vintage art deco as there was definitely a resurgence. it was fascinating, elegant, sensory, and educational.

 i was 17 and was a dancer (go go boy) at a little hell hole. i met an older guy who took me to acapulco, ft lauderdale, and spent ridiculous amounts of money on me. it was like a game to me. sadly i was too young to understand that it was not at all a game for him. i believe he left our trysting with a sense of loss and a feeling of being wrung out. i walked away feeling just as empty as i had engaged in the affair. i had fun, but i really didn't care much for the sense of hindsight and stupidity that i hadn't seen or understood all that was involved in this affair. although i had collected a very sleek and sophisticated collection of french and italian ready-to-wear, it hadn't made my life look any better than it had before the fling. as a matter of fact, another layer of fantasy and hope may have been peeled away.

i am certain that drug and alcohol use shielded (or barricaded) any significant personal growth with this experience. it took at least 30 or 35 years to distill all the fractured images and impressions from those days and repackage them into a collage that makes sense. i still love great clothes. shopping, and dressing with some style. but i try very hard to not dive into situations, relationships, and situations without trying to zoom out once in awhile. i certainly try to walk away from things in my life now without those same underwhelmed feelings i used to know so well.

try is the optimum word here. i fall short as much (if not more) as i succeed. but the thrill of living (and surfing) is paddling out and waiting and catching another wave.

"I am not a good surfer. In fact, I used surfing as a metaphor well before I ever left the beaches of my childhood--the painted desert and the valley of the sun. For those of you who do not know Phoenix well, you should understand that although it may seem paradoxical for an Arizonan/Phoenician to think about surfing, surfing provides an important psychological and metaphoric role in desert life. Desert rats (something I definitely was) think about sand as a medium upon which one can perform feats with postmodern sprezzatura. I grew up skateboarding, wagoning, bicycling, and generally sliding down sand dunes to break the boredom and to show my balance prowess. The taller the dune, the better. I was also lucky enough to spend a summer fortnight in Carlsbad California at a music camp ("one time at band camp..."). Every afternoon, for two weeks, I had the opportunity to boogie board and bodysurf until I was sunburned and my ears rang with the gurgle of the surf bubbling in my ears. The only analogous feeling to catching a wave and riding it in for me was riding a horse at full gallop. The energy was terrifying, electrifying, and almost mystical."...from

Saturday, May 11, 2013

a knuckles sandwich

image credit...

i still remember the 1st time i heard him and saw him spin records at the warehouse chicago- it was 1979- i was 21 and so very naive and hanging with my friend medusa, nealina, and greg- frankie was using 3 turntables and inventingly reworking records as i had never heard them before. he was producing his own music in a live setting with thousands of witnesses and critics. in my mind (and being from chicago) he will always be the founding member of the house party- although larry levan was having a similar life experience in nyc. to this very day, i jump for joy when i find a new mix of his available, whether its a record or a recording of him spinning live. last week he played the boiler room gig in nyc. it's classic and pure frankie knucles all the way through- a little bit of jazz, a little bit of rock, a little bit of soul.

their pioneering and their genius has guided a few generations of turntable musicians with a hard working mindset and an invitation to look at music as an evolving moving thing. that nite in chicago changed my life and opened my imagination to the ways music can move me.

here's an excerpt from frankie's 2009 podcast at residential advisor.

if you've even got a passing interest in house music, there's very little chance that Frankie Knuckles' name has escaped you. Starting off as a clubber in the New York disco scene—his first job was to spike the punch at Nicky Siano's now legendary The Gallery gatherings—Frankie soaked up the knowledge passed down to him from his good friend Larry Levan, and managed to secure a residency alongside the Paradise Garage luminary at the city's Continental Baths. What with the Levan connection, it wasn't long before he was headhunted to become the resident DJ at Chicago's Warehouse, a predominately gay and black club where he became a local pin-up for his sets of sublime soulful disco. Playing records that even the hardened Chicagoan disco DJs had never heard of, his reputation shot skyward, but in 1983 he decided to leave the Warehouse and start his own club called Powerplant.

The venture was successful, but Frankie's mind was already on getting into music production, and just three years later, the club closed, and Frankie started putting records out. His first 12-inch was a cover of Teddy Pendergrass' "You Can't Hide," which he produced alongside Chip E and Joe Smooth and put out on Rocky Jones' DJ International imprint, but his biggest hit came the following year when he updated Jamie Principle's "Your Love" on Trax Records. Even though Jamie's track had been circulating on tape for years (and is disputed to be the first house music track ever recorded), many people attributed the record to Frankie (Larry Sherman's decision to capitalize on his popularity by labeling the record "Frankie Knuckles presents" and not mentioning Principle didn't exactly help matters), and from then on he was a name to be reckoned with on the international house music scene.

After moving back to New York, Frankie stepped in for Junior Vasquez at the Sound Factory for a couple of years, and has carried on producing and DJing internationally ever since. While other house legends have been happy to live off their former glory, Knuckles has been active throughout this decade, releasing two full artist albums and plenty of mix CDs, the latest being his forthcoming Motivation Too CD which hits the shops in October. He's also playing the Electric Zoo festival in his New York hometown next month, so we thought that now would be a good a time as ever to get the man to mix up an RA podcast for us. We caught up with Frankie by e-mail to ask him about the RA mix, his first Motivation mix and why he closed the Powerplant.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

bits and pieces

I wouldn`t have dared ask God for all that He`s given me. I couldn`t have done it on my own. I thank God every day for what I have....Loretta Lynn

i have been trying to downshift with more free time. i have enjoyed being at my house more. i have enjoyed cooking for myself. i have had fun nesting. i have been able to catch up with a couple of good friends, and i have made a couple of new friends as well. none of this has been perfect, but it's all been delicious and flavorful and fresh. 

i don't really know if i can stop right now to take a breath. i am clear that i have much to do this season. i am inspired by the arc my career has embarked upon. i also am very clear that i am in love with my life right now and truly feel safe. this last revelation is not at all common in my psychological make-up and very much noteworthy.

time for a tirade.
an colleague of mine took his life last week. it was quite sad. he had been working in the hiv field for over 10 years and had become an effective and powerful advocate for plwh. he had taken a job with the agency i once worked for and was faring better with the director than i had been able to muster. but sadly, i got an email from that director stating some beautiful facts about this colleague. if only he'd stopped there,  but no- he pissed all over the communication by stating that he had set up a fund for the agency programs in memory of our man. yuk! i am almost embarrassed to admit that i am completely mortified for the rest of the employees there that their leader is so self-involved as to demonstrate such self-interest over selflessness. our poor gone man's partner is struggling to pay his bills and this exec dick is too bottom-line focused  to offer funds to him. 
tirade's over

its raining in denver this week. we had a drought over the winter and the gardens are starved for the moisture. i think i can see the korean lilacs and the russian sage getting bigger and sprouting buds as i watch i planted a small ginkgo tree a couple of weeks ago and i hope it finally coming out of shock. the maples we planted last year are finally sprouting some tiny green leaves and i succinctly heard sighs of relief sprout from me. . i can easily say that the popping of arbitrary colors that happens in these months continues to be an inspiration for new ideas and new possibilities. 

i have continued to book small party gigs to supplement my income. it also supplements my world view. i get so very wrapped up in my "recovery land" with my plans, and my interventions, and the changes i hope to telescope in that i forget that life goes well beyond what i see. the catering gigs bring home the fact that the world revolves without me or my "recovery land" vantage point. this is a wonderful thing. 

i have been a "smash" fanatic since the show began. jeremy jordan has a voice that scratches my soul for some reason. i love the broadway backdrop, the ongoing aspect of putting on a show, and the crazy-daisy story lines. but this last show (which i had overlooked completely on saturday night) had me in tears and caught me completely by surprise. i love love love this performance.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

the world goes round

image credit...

Somebody loses and somebody wins
And one day it's kicks, then it's kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes 'round-
But the world goes 'round
But the world goes 'round

Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn't matter at all
Take it from me, there's still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a spring and a fall

And sometimes a friend starts treating you bad
But the world goes 'round....
And sometimes your heart breaks with a deafening sound...
Barry Manilow

life has been moving quite quickly as of late. i have more free time and i feel as if things are moving faster- no way to explain it and no way to see it without more distance. it's mostly changing the workplace that has me in a tizzy. i have volunteers working 3 hours every morning greeting and giving referrals and resources. it's a fairly easy intervention, but it required extra focus and answering a lot more questions. and then there is minimal push back from the other departments. it's gonna take awhile for these others to realize the value. 

i have been working in building a peer support network at our little clinic. it is kinda magnificent watching it unfold. the enthusiasm, the volunteerism, the waft of hope and optimism that is smudging our corridors. bit by bit idea becomes integrated and hopefully second nature. i have emailed out a 2nd invitation to roughly 15 community organizations to join an advisory council with our peers. i also included a letter of explanation, a rough 3 year plan we drafted for the peer support efforts, some marketing outlines for a "recovery walk" and a toolkit for a "recovery idol" event put together so lovingly by Derrick Ford and the Phildadelphia Recovery Community.

please understand that this seems a grand sweeping gesture on my part. it is an affirmation in a very big way.  i am completely working with faith to create reality here. i feel the entire scope of hope that all of these  schemes and dreams will make it to this dimension. at the same time, my lifetime's worth of less-than thoughts and not-worthy feelings which have pulled my proverbial wagon the majority of my life are rearing their heads, stomping their hooves, and whinnying and chortling syncopated in revolt to take the lead. 

in my recovery and in working with others, i have realized that my old beliefs and patterns will return. and return. and return again. the trick is to realize when this return happens, that i don't have to continue to think and do the way i did before- that i have new ways to think and do- and then i have to connect to those. and i started this journey doing affirmations and following the lead of grand dame louise hay. either way, i'm affirming, and fighting, and continuing to breathe. and the world goes round.