august 26 2012 i will have my 54th birthday. it seems very surreal to even be walking in this truth. i am living well today and manage to find contentment most of time. i am happy and at peace. i went to the wedding of a friend (alone) and was reminded that deep in the recesses, there are some things i believe will never be part of my journey. for some reason i have found myself a little weepy this week.
in 1984 i was at the precipice of something remarkable in my life. i lived in chicago and held court at an after hours dance club in chicago. the party had been going for a decade, but some unexpected turns had begun. boys were disappearing like cattle in the darkness being abducted by aliens. in my world, it started with john bennet. i remember him talking with my friend blue in the loading dock recounting his fears of this virus thing. john was gone within a few months. and soon it was almost like he was never there. then there was hot rod- a dj friend of my friend mark stephens. hot rod left earth early on. i will never forget the night that mark spread his ashes on the dance floor at medusa’s per hot rod’s request. it was at once pagan, macabre, as well as celebratory..
a year or so later my best friend, paul pfohl, who was living in nyc and going to columbia was unexpectedly returning home to chicago. when he arrived back in town he had lost so much weight it was shocking. for so long we had spent so much time trying new restaurants and basking in conviviality, but upon his return and a gnarly case of thrush, food made him cry in discomfort as his tongue was unable to take the stimulation.
he continued to deteriorate over the next 13 months or so. he died on thanksgiving in 1985. but one month before he did, after nearly fainting in an aerobics class, i was diagnosed with that new virus and dr. bernie blau put a check mark in a column next to my name just in case quarantine might somehow become reality. i went numb that year. not until these last few years did i realize that some old trauma was reignited and new trauma was unleashed. but paul’s death that next month really sealed the deal.
i had been dating a young man named todd thennes from mchenry through about 6 months of this 1985 drama. he was sweet and definitely a welcome distraction. my drug use had already begun to morph from fun to frightening. todd was sweet and a rascal- which was kinda perfect for me. but of course with the diagnosis and the terror that came with it, i cut that relationship out just like a benign mole at the dermatologist. it sealed the deal as he informed that he had tested positive as well. he had befriended my entire social circle by that time though and he became part of the family of choice that was ours at medusa’s.
1985 signaled the onslaught of the tsunami that was the holocaust of our time. hot rod, mark stephens, todd thennes(who did a lot of the holiday decor at the club and for david), neil adams (nealina), bruce bliss and rick(who did much of the styling for the club the first couple of years), paul pfohl, sugar(medusa doorman), michael hamburger, jc, chicky are only a handful of the medusa boys who went to carousel. there’s a scene in the beginning of “hereafter” where a tsunami hits a beach town in thailand and washed over people and takes them with it. some are gone and some miraculously are not touched. this is precisely how it felt. once we were all there, but in what seemed an instant they were gone. and there i stood in a holding pattern.
it took awhile for the fear to recede – about 12 years actually. research, science, and advocacy changed the course of that story. after i started meds, i found myself really angry. angry because i didn’t have a plan, i had spent 1/3 of my life waiting for that tsunami to take me. and it fucking didn’t. out of that anger came a decision to move to san francisco. albeit an incredible city without compare, it took me on a darker path than i had traveled. and it left me like wicked witch of the east, crumpled up silently by the weight of a dark empty house.
in my recovery- which started in september 2004, i have made a conscious decision to not be like some men i know in my long-term position. i don’t want to be bitter, burnt out, sarcastic and cranky queen. it wouldn’t seem respectful to all those boys that got swept away. what would it say if i was a complete asshole when i had been granted an opportunity that they were denied? no better to embrace joy and work for happiness and to give care and love to others. besides, with all my experience in the darkness i can understand fear, denial, and drug abuse in a real and connected way. so that is what i do.
i was 27 years old in 1985. that was exactly 1/2 my life ago. i have traveled the world, laughed out loud, cried in silence, made messes and cleaned them up, engaged in 2 careers, gone broke, started over more than once, and still i am here.
i have been weepy this week, mostly thinking about those boys i loved that went missing 1/2 my life ago. i don’t ever want to forget them. it is by grace that i am still here. that is the only explanation that makes sense. and believe me boys- i haven’t at all forgotten about you. this much i know is true.
there is a weekend festival in denver known as “people’s fair” which has traditionally been the kick-off for summer. i went one of the 1st years i lived here. i found then that my aversion to turkey legs was reality. i have since realized that although many outdoor festivals can be fun and innocent, there are many that seem to be a reason to over-indulge for some. and i can’t think of any more reasons not to attend.
i certainly do believe that summer is worth heralding in. i have planted some geraniums in pots outside my door as well as some supertunias on my little patio. i have splashes of bright color acting as sentry at both my front and back doors. and those little beefeaters (as it were) bring a smile to my face every day.
speaking of making me smile, this vintage modern romance tune does the trick. check out the hairstyles and the joie de vivre that oozes out of the totp performance. all those “new romantics” getups. and then the 2nd vid really illustrates the power of a remix. from that goofy outdoor festival sound of the 1st version to the slick, hip, and underground 2nd version. thank heaven for the remix
strangely enough, i stumbled upon this blog by perusing soundcloud. i didn’t even know i had such a thing for old R&B, soul, funk, disco, blues, (well – maybe that’s not quite accurate), but i find myself scouring the previous blog entries looking for gems as a miner used to pan for gold in the hills. and come across them i do.
marlena shaw, tata vega, pointer sisters, nancy wilson, angela bofill, trammps- a plethora of artists i haven’t heard in ages or didn’t even know about. if you have a thing for music, then i encourage you to visit this 70’s music blog. have fun, visit often, stay awhile.
From the 1975 RCA rarest LP of this east cost blues/soul artist, a precious hard-to-dig funky gemm that I love from A to Z, intro, clavinet, chorus, horns…
Rory Block – Lovin’of your life (RCA 1975)
it’s interesting to mark the progression of my own life as well as the bloggers i have met since i started this journey 3 years ago. i don’t know if i have progressed at all stylistically, but i know that professionally, i have morphed into a counselor, (and hopefully a caregiver). this is not what i had intended, but it is where my journey has taken me.
i started writing about recovery, and just experimenting with examining my thoughts and feelings during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of my sobriety. i remember the 1st commenter on my blog kickintina. he was a man in utah struggling with his own meth use and had sent me a comment on his way to rehab- which didn’t take that time. but i think his next attempt worked, and he has been sober and directed towards sanity since. he’s working, he has put all his legal troubles behind him (that i know of). there are a few similar stories to these. one man in san francisco, a very talented writer from la, an activist from toronto, a very sweet schoolteacher from south africa who now lives in taiwan( he didn’t do meth, he drank), and i have befriended a recovering meth addict/blogger from atlanta-now residing in ft. lauderdale.
with all this, it’s hard not to believe that there is something more similar in our journeys than just recovery and blogging. i think we might be part of a larger trend or movement within our culture. i haven’t gotten it all figured out yet, but i secretly hope that we may be helping light the way to sanity and self-acceptance for gay men that has been without light for so long. but i don’t talk much with any of them anymore. we have done our collective dances together and have moved on to our next performances. still i loved them all.
this week had me feeling wrung. i only worked 4 days, but realized that i needed to change some things to remain sane. the wheels have been put into motion for this change, and i hope to know something before the end of the month. i thought i might have to change my career direction too, because the price of working in the field i do- hiv and substance counseling- is proving to be much more costly emotionally than i had ever considered. i seem to ignite the ire of a select few around me consistently. i am not sure if this is because they have their own agendas-as do i- and i somehow interfere with theirs. i am thinking this is part of it. and i also think that i have developed connections and confidence on my own dime, and this is unsettling for some.
what i have to work on is spontaneity in my dealing with blips. when confrontation arises, which it does, i need to address it in a timely fashion. perhaps this will help to prevent some situations that have been painful from reoccurring. but that’s gonna be a hike.
i have a quiet weekend ahead. on tuesday i am doing a presentation on meth and its effects to a mostly hispanic agency and am looking forward to it. this is a kind of outreach that i have begun that i enjoy. at least i know i like to talk.
i went to see a small film called touching home. it was tasty. written and directed by twin brothers, it is their story growing up with an alcoholic father. the were at the screening and had a q&a afterward. funny- they finish each others sentences. almost like 2 parts of a bigger whole..
i am feeling nostalgic- probably most of the time- but i thought i’d share some ancient stuff from my dance hall days that weren’t the most commercial.. but i still love them…here’s omd – orchestral maneuvers in the dark- with “talking loud and clear”