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“Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.”― Charles Bukowski
it’s been a sad couple of weeks for me. i somehow got turned around in my life and lost touch with the direction in which i was heading. it was confusing, it was humbling, and it was maddening. i interviewed for new jobs and have considered going rogue and once again living as a bohemian might-pursuing truth and joy with a devil-may-care attitude (emphasis right now on considered). in the midst of my melt-down came the news that sweetness bryan mckay had passed-prolly from an overdose of pain medication.
it seems bryan has been part of my world for many years now. so enmeshed is he that i struggle to remember when our paths first crossed. i am sure it was just after i started the strength in numbers gig. i do remember going on an impromptu hike just outside boulder with a few poz guys of whom bryan was included. 5 minutes into the hike, his seizure disorder kicked in, he collapsed on the trail and was chucking up liquid and trying to catch his breath. it was both frightening and frustrating as we all turned back to head home to make sure that bryan was safe.
this contrast of emotion i describe would become my emotional soundtrack when it came to bryan. he was the sweetest soul and so easy to be around. he volunteered at about 10 different community organizations around town and was always oozing with positivity and good will. he was likeable, thoughtful, and mostly uncomplicated. he watched soaps, award shows, and professional sports on tv. his taste in music was uber-ultra gay with the obligatory colorado country twist thrown in. there was not so much outwardly remarkable about him- other than his good looks- he was very much like a favorite pashmina. 
as i considered my life that was with bryan, i thought of james dean and montgomery clift for some reason.  i see both of those souls in very much the same way. they were extraordinarily charming and talented- completely memorable. they were well-loved, engaged, and all the while very fucked up deep down. this was my sense with bryan. 
i think he may have grown up with an overbearing parent. underneath he was very very anxiety ridden and was taking strong meds to address this. as is the case with so many, he overtook those meds with alarming frequency. i had met with him privately for several mandated sessions to discuss addiction and impulsive behavior and how it affects prescription medication. this was at the beginning of a time when the reins were being pulled in on his use. 
about this same time, his visits to emergency rooms seemed to escalate. he was visiting er’s with alarming frequency with vague symptoms and illnesses. it is assumed that there was drug seeking going on. he was appearing very often in clinics with symptoms that could not be verified or documented. and there had been talk of munchhausen syndrome which may have been an offshoot of his upbringing. my impression was that upon the passing of bryan’s mother he received a small inheritance. with this came several trips to cities like dallas and las vegas where i would notice posts on facebook which had him checking in from the emergency rooms in those cities as well. frankly, i felt quietly helpless and sad when i would read those.
i assume that friends of ours may read this post and get angry as i might seem to be airing bryan’s dirty laundry. i hope this is not my intention. i am saddened by bryan’s early passing. i was so very grateful for all the volunteering he did for our hiv organization as well as the lgbt community at large. i wish i could be as philanthropic as he. i genuinely liked bryan. 
at the same time, it was just as authentically heartbreaking to be so very aware of his internal and closted writhing that seemingly could only be quelled with meds (and sometimes not even then)- as often as they were procured by proxy. bryan certainly had physical complications in his life. they were accompanied by emotional pain that rarely saw the light of day. i mourn openly for bryan and all the wonderful attributes he shared with our world. and i mourn silently for the unrequited discomfort that he wore like an invisible undergarment. 
the yin-yang aspect of my feelings for bryan are intoxicating. it is like sitting on the edge of a canyon knowing i have to go in some direction, but too amazed at the view to find the where-with-all to make a move. there is some quality in this uncertainty which compels me to love my life. the not-knowing all of this gives me grist for the mill. 
thank you bryan for breezing through my world and clearing out some cobwebs on your way. i will always be grateful, i will always be smiling, and i will always wonder. 

viva la online vida

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I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own
I used to roll the dice

Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing”
Now the old king is dead!
 Long live the king!”

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand…Coldplay

since about 1995, my life has consistently included computers. they have become integral with my daily living. since the early 2000’s, i traded the dating sites for information and networking sites and this propensity to live online has taken flight.  i am a complete facebook cling-on, i have a profile on linkedin, i have both a twitter account and manage one for TEN. We have a TEN facebook page, and i have 4 blogs including one for TEN  (oh and we are looking for additional bloggers for the TEN blog). in all this i have made friends, confidants, and supporters across the globe.

 mark olmsted

in 2007 a local gay men’s HIV networking organization names SIN (strength in numbers) came under my charge.  i called on a friend i had met online to help me throw the 1st big party. his name is mark olmsted and he is a quirky artist and an insightful writer with a blog (how we met) called “The Trash Whisperer”. mark was in some very similar circumstances as me and his friendship offered me support and guidance when i was struggling to find it at home. i actually went to a sober roundup in provincetown to meet mark face-to-face. later he flew to Denver from LA (along with Bryan Sutherland- SIN founder) and Denver’s HIV community had a giggle and kick at Lannie’s.

absolute willie

another gentleman i met online goes by the name “willie”. willie was in his late 20’s when our paths (blogs) crossed. i was writing a blog called “kickin tina” about my early journey of recovery from addiction (specifically crystal meth). willie had been out on a particular new years eve and had been drinking heavily. he crashed his car into a tree and to my recollection – totalled it. he woke up on new year’s day and decided it was time to do something different and so he quit drinking. he has remained sober since. willie has lived in south africa, in taiwan, in missouri, and again in south africa through the years. his blog “enjoy your life cafe” has kept me informed of his whereabouts and his progress over the years. he remains charming and good-hearted to this day.

chris mecham- last chance texaco
the very first comment i got on my 1st blog was from a man who was getting ready to go to residential treatment for a while. his tone was drastic and his tempo was tweaked. he shortly thereafter shared that he had used at the bus station while he was waiting so he could hit for the last time. he created a blog of his own  called “last chance texaco” and has been a bright light of recovery and personal insight since. we continue to share quips on fb, and i will always owe him a debt of gratitude. i remember being floored that someone was reading what i wrote. 

jim pickett

through a fellow blogger richard kearns (now passed) i was introduced to jim pickett of chicago. jim is an ambassador for the chicago aids foundation and has become the microbicide czar for the planet. jim is a gay man who loves and respects other gay men and has been advocating globally for gay men’s health issues through his work with irma and their blog “lifelube”. richard sent jim a copy of a blog post i wrote in 2008 and jim published it. i have been an ardent and faithful admirer of his since then.

brian finch

any hiv positive gay man with much online presence cannot miss the sensation that is brian finch from canada. he is a complete and total scream. he has been advocating for the rights of hiv positive folks in canada since at least the 90’s and has become an ambassador to other nations for his views and his savvy. he co-founded an hiv information and networking online magazine (“positive lite”) with several colleagues and  in recent years taken up comedy and keeps himself and the people around him amused. (very much so i would bet). bryan has graciously allowed this newsletter to reprint several of his articles over the years. and he always keeps my heart light and my perspective tilted.

mark s king

also through my kickin tina blog, i came to know a devilish actor/writer named mark s king of atlanta. mark is also in recovery from meth addiction and has an amazing ability to deliver his ideas and experiences to readers in a sort of down-home let-me-tell-you-a-story sort of way. mark penned a book, writes for several sites including, hosts his own blog-, and even does a drag queen in recovery act (quite smart actually) named anita mann. mark has also graced our newsletter with columns through the years of our publication and he has a small but really lovely set of vids on youtube. he remains one of the more entertaining online presences i can name.

tony radovich

finally, through facebook and a program called “strength over speed” i became acquainted with tony radovich . we don’t speak often, but we do share musical selections now and again on facebook. he has been actively involved in a 4 year samhsa grant for peer coaching for gay men (both poz and neg) who are looking to get their meth use under control. this still seems such an admirable venture, and tony is so very spiritual and full of kindness, that i am almost honored to have made his acquaintance.

these are a handful of individuals who have changed my life over the last 10 years. i needed support and i needed a change.  i hadn’t met any of them, yet became very connected and shared ideas and support. there are many others- like frontiers la (hiv site), hivster, towleroad, ed negron and the work-in blog, bilerico, white crane, nelson vergel,, and  lady bunny to name a few. the internet – and online living has been part of a metamorphosis for me. somehow i have grown my life, stretched my heart, and fed my brain. and i did it all without an m4m site or a profile which asked my favorite sexual position. in no way, do i compare my self to my heros. their talent far outweighs what i might have. and these guys don’t comprise my dinner partners, or my movie dates. but they do remind me i might not be that crazy and that i am not alone as i work towards bettering my life. and they help me believe that it is okay to want a “better” world. here’s to 2013 my friends. i hope it’s a better world for us all.

on the ten- winter 2011

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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.

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