Indexed

I just found a site called Indexed, which I guess I’m a little slow on, since it’s been around since last August, and the author, Jessica Hagy, has a book coming out based on the site.

Those of you who know me and/or my site know I’d especially appreciate this one in particular:

Card845.Jpg

They also have an assortment of widgets (including Mac OS X Dashboard Widget!) for easier viewing.

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Homophobia: A Threat to National Security and National Health - McCain’s Health Insurance

Nothing more needs to be said about this one: Military Discharges Gay Arabic Linguists

This one is just plain stupid: Ban Kept for Gay Men Donating Blood. When all was mystery, back in 1983, when there was no test for HIV, it made sense to be super-conservative (in the medical, epidemiological sense) regarding blood donations from gay men. But now? Rapid testing for HIV exists, and conclusive (the estimated chance of false negatives is 1 per 2 million) testing for HIV in 10 to 21 days exists. Safer sex is a cultural phenomenon. Gay men can get officially married (in MA, at least). The Red Cross and two other blood collection groups have dismissed the FDA’s policy as “medically and scientifically unwarranted”. Yet the FDA leaves the ban in place. Do most today even remember the wording of the question which permanently bans a gay man from donating blood? “Have you had sex, even once, with a man since 1977?”

It’s not only archaic, but reprehensible. It’s not only offensive, it’s illogical: closeted gay men, especially those who are married (to women) and get gay sex on the “down low” are more likely to lie in answering the question, making it more likely that HIV+ donators slip through.

No one wants other people infected, even if it’s through carelessness or even disregard. That’s a given. Only the inhuman would want that.

But this is a policy which relies on the openness of gay men to be effective, which oddly also eliminates the truthful ones who live in the light and not on the down low.

McCain says that he’s going to give every family $5000 so they can “choose their own doctor”. The $5000 he’s giving each family is in the form of a tax credit.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

Except that this is $5000 that can be used solely for the purpose of transferring it to health insurance corporations.

Not so awesome, huh? If  you currently with the plan and want to change to a new one, then consider checking out this health insurance company as one of your alternative options, for example most insurance companies doesn’t cover nerve surgery or treatments, for chronic back pain I suggest treating it with nerve shield plus thomas carswell.

From the US Census, there are

Let’s do some research. (“What is this research of which you speak?” ask the dogmatic out there) There are 308 million people.

The US Census Data says that there are 111,617,402 households in the U.S. Of those, 66.8% are family households.

That gives about 75M households. The remainder of households, about 37M, have at least one person in each which gets $2500 in “health insurance tax credits”.

Given that there are an average of 2.61 people per family, that accounts for 196M people. From 308M that leaves 112M individuals

Each family, about 75M gets $5000. That’s $375B (yes, BILLION). 117M people gets $2500 each. That’s $35B (yes, BILLION)

For a total of $410,000,000,000.

The cost of the “war” in Iraq? $555,000,000,000

For all the staggering going on about how we’re going to pay for all that death and destruction, up comes McCain’s plan. Added together, these things will cost us nearly one TRILLION dollars.

But back to McCain’s attempt to improve our lives.

McCain and his small-government ethics adds that $410,000,000 to our debt.

But he’s giving money to us to help us!

Is he? Really? What are the restrictions on that money he’s giving us? Oh yeah, ALL OF THAT 410 BILLION DOLLARS CAN ONLY GO TO GIANT HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES, WHICH ARE FOR-PROFIT.

Isn’t that nice? He’s going to spend $410,000,000 so that he can give us our own money back. But wait! He’s not giving us our money back, he’s going to take our money (more on that in a bit), ride it through the bureaucratic morass and give it back to us—after months riding on a float—and demands we give it to health insurance corporations.

Fun!

But about taking our money: yes, he’s taking our money and not the money of corporations, because…wait for it…he’s planning on tax cuts for corporations!

If he were really serious about health care, he’d regulate health insurance. Everyone deserves health care, which makes it more like a utility than anything else. Why do they regulate utilities? Oh yeah, so they can’t rape us with high prices, like Texas raped California back when we had an energy crisis.

Why doesn’t he simply force the health insurance companies to subtract a percentage of that “tax cut” directly from their price scheduling?

And why the hell are insurance companies making profits anyway?

Technorati Tags: blood donation, don’t ask don’t tell, FDA, gay, god of biscuits, military

Commercials Are Flowers

Chemistry.com rocks!

I have emailed eHarmony a few times. Not because I think that matching/dating services are worthwhile (I kinda don’t—you end up with someone too matchy-matchy), but because they had no options for men seeking men or women seeking women and I wanted to annoy them, or at least flush some quail and see if they’d give up anything interesting to shoot at. They kept claiming that all their “scientific data” was based on hetersexual relationship observation. I fired back with asking why they didn’t also collect data for homosexuals, and if there was none, why weren’t they taking the opportunity to collect it?

The ad above is too nice. “Who knows why eHarmony has rejected over a million non-heterosexuals?” Well, it didn’t take me too long to find out that Neil Clark Warren, the big cheese at eHarmony, is an evangelical Christian with former ties to James Dobson—remember Focus on the Family, the whack-job radical right wing political machine? There’s the real reason. Sure, it’s inferential, but hey, that’s just me. Of course the guy isn’t going to validate same-sex relationships. In fact, eHarmony’s own ads use carefully chosen words to shove same-sex relationships out of existence.

My email conversation with them was in 2004. They still haven’t changed their tune nearly four years since.

It gets better, though. Turns out that eHarmony rejects people who are depressed, or who have already been married twice. I smell an agendaaaaaaaaaah!

I never expected the Right Wingers, who were so very crafty way back when, could end up being insuperably stupid. They keep thinking that the hubris and bluster that worked when they owned the entire government can still work. I have yet to see any humility from any of them, even with Bush as their leader…still no humility. Just humiliation.

Anyway, if you buy into these matching services, I highly recommend you try out Chemistry.com. I know nothing about them, but their commercials having me doing a little bumblebee zig-zag dance.

For more ads from them, click here.

By the way, it’s been my experience that gay men pretty much react to Playboy-type magazines with irony, humor and mostly ennui. But straight men looking at pictorials of nude males? There’s where the big sissy reaction shows up.

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Comments are Borked

I should know better than to try something like upgrading the Movable Type software that drives this blog in my current mental state. But yesterday alone, nearly 200 comment spams got past my junk filter and I had to keep chasing them down and deleting them.

Hopefully they’ll be back up shortly.

I’m thinking of switching to WordPress. And advice? Oh wait, you can’t comment. Click here to send me an email if you have an opinion on any blogging software, and thanks in advance.

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Kindness

I cried. A lot.

I expected it: That was the plan. Not merely to cry, but to understand. And to measure.

I’ve been spending what occurred to me might be an inordinate amount of mindshare (whatever’s left of it) on my time with Allen. To place it in context, that time together, as a couple, began on 1 May 1993. It ended with his death on 13 July 1995.

In the intervening time I have not been a monk in body, soul or love. I have too much respect for the human spirit—especially my own—to shut it all down forever. Tragedy is a word that is bandied about, overused and now bereft of real meaning, but for those of us for whom real tragedy has befallen, the original gravitas of the word is never forgotten.

There have been other relationships since Allen: Jerry, rob, Sam. All very important to me in different ways, all now ended. Endings are difficult as beginnings, perhaps even moreso because they’re harder to spot. In all my revisiting of my time with Allen of late, I had no intention to minimize these others, much less establish a pecking order or even keep a list (I’m as wary of lists as I am of balance sheets when it comes to people I care about).

Time is continuous, but not always. But it’s the continuity I’m thinking about right now.

I had a chat with the Possum today and it was one that was typical for us, which is to say, atypical in many dimensions and metrics compared to most IM sessions that occur in the world at any given time.

Today it started off with him asking about my mood, my new sense of Hope about my pain and disability, and I finally could honestly answer more than just “the same. y’know.”

I’ve had good days since Thursday morning when the pain specialist discovered what looks promisingly to be the cause for my neck issues and consequent head pain, a thing with an objective medical aspect, a physical concreteness that had up to that point not happened. Hope.

Only it didn’t stop there, riding this newly re-found optimism to exhaustion. A man I’d been in contact with via email, etc., was in town for a friend’s birthday, and had hoped to find some time for us to meet in person. What started out on Saturday as a plan for a couple of hours set aside for lunch turned into an all-afternoon tour of things in and around San Francisco. And that continued to dinner at my favorite restaurant in all the Universe (well, the parts I’ve seen), Caffe Sport, followed by a brief stop at the Tosca Cafe in North Beach.

I loved that a minimal plan turned into an entire day (nearly 10 hours) of enjoying the company of someone new. I loved the ease of the conversation. I loved that the “old me” was back. I loved that the timing of my newfound Hope allowed for such a day. I enjoyed myself immensely and was thrilled to be able to turn what may be just temporary or ultimately unproductive Hope into something real and productive and memorable.

Time is continous, mostly, as I said. Things like tragedy or other events of significance can stop time and accelerate it, sometimes at the same….time. A paradox, for sure, but we live with a lot of those, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Anyhoo, the Possum and I have little need for segues….our chats are often multi-threaded, with topics entering and leaving of their own accord and with appropriate life-spans, with plenty of overlapping. We also talked about Comparative GoB Literature, meaning—he said pompously—that I’d been reading entries of mine from nearly a year ago and in comparison, for the most part, to what I’ve been writing of late, the of-late stuff has been lacking something. I was more effervescent last June, dare I say, wittier with wordplay and, to me, more inventive. Lately it’s been colder, blunter, more guarded. The candor far more brutal.

I’m wasn’t pleased at all with the change, but I accept that my current day to day conditions obviously play a role in my change in demeanor. I was pleased that instead of being circumspect about the damaged and damaging goods in my more recent past out of some notion of a universal respect for basic humanity, I more recently chucked aside what were just rationalizations for being wimpy and effete and, in an odd way, cuckolded, and instead chose the guns a-blazin’, naming names, take no prisoners approach.

We talked about my mood and my meds, too. And if any of the mood stabilizers were the kind that sometimes produced suicidal thoughts. I’m on only the one, wellbutrin, and that’s not a worry—though my dreams are rather vivid and lucid, heavy on detail and irrational plot, but nothing frightening or traumatizing. Somehow, through a chain of other topics, we ended up talking about the general notion that people have (and accept or actively reject) of a “higher power”. I blamed capital-A Atheists for having as much faith and as much misguided proselytizing going on as the Theists do and preferred instead to offer that the Unknowable didn’t deserve the effort.

It could have been that word, Unknowable, which brought Angels in America to mind, but I don’t think so.

There was also talk of the triumvirate J-C god and I made a joke about Multiple Personality Disorder, which led then to a discussion of the notion of a god more like the gods of polytheistic religions of the past. Flawed and entertaining, if also occasionally annoying and menacing. I’m pretty sure it was this—dare I say—humanizing of god that ultimately led me to think about Angels in America. This thought quickly annealed to my worrisome suspicion that there have been so many mentions and recollections of Allen because I might be retreating from a painful present into a painful (but safely painful—and well-known) past as a way to cope.

And it occurred to me that watching Angels in America, with all the talk of the mystery of the pathology of AIDS, the imagery of thrush at the corners of Prior Walter’s mouth, the days before protease inhibitors—hell, the days before AZT!—the Reagan Years where patriotism was a blatant tool of public manipulation and turned political idolatry into a kind of madness which cast a long Victorian shadow over those dying of AIDS.

In other words, the times that Allen was a PWA and “miracle” drugs were too far in the future to be of help to him.

So watch it I did, in the interest of finding out if it was just anomalous that I have been speaking so much about Allen, or whether there was an unhealthy dissociative thing going on with me. I watched all 5+ hours of it. I cried. A lot, as I said.

And what did I cry about? Kindness. I’ll explain that in a second.

Of course I was spooked by some of it—words like candidiasis (thrush), Kaposi’s Sarcoma, toxoplasmosis and especially MAI/MAC (which is what ultimately killed Allen)—but for the most part, it felt historical and yet not. Kushner’s true talent, in my opinion, resides in his ability to retrograde-learn: he goes from the abstract and stuffs his wording full of specifics. I know this is done all the time, the whole idea of film and plays and the like is to tell a specific story and let people generalize (learn) from it and then be able to apply it to themselves in order to understand it (empathy), but Kushner is brazen and fearless and charges ahead with densely-packed dialog and “big words” with such flair that you never see the soapboxes the characters occasionally step onto and off of. This play/teleplay is insidious and I love that about it.

So, Kindness. I cried when Mother Pitt, fresh from Salt Lake and as Mormon and conservative as can be, saves Prior’s life by personally helping him get to the hospital. And where she stays with him simply because he asked her to. And because he asked her to because he allowed himself to be vulnerable enough to admit that she made him feel better, stronger, kept his spine straighter. I cried when Belize took pity on Roy Cohn and gave him some inside information to help extend his life. I cried when Belize insisted on someone performing the Kaddish for him after he died and Belize stole Cohn’s ill-gotten and then-precious AZT. I cried when the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg took pity on Cohn and let him believe she was his mother, only to have Cohn slap her in the face by faking the dementia. I cried when, even after Cohn’s abhorrent act Ethel managed to assist Louis with the words of the Kaddish that he’d never really memorized and helped him get through it.

I was furious to the point of crying when Louis left Prior because he “couldn’t handle” that Prior was getting sick, basically abandoning Prior to be alone in his apparent rapid march toward death.

I did not cry when I saw the thrush on Prior’s lips. Nor did I cry for the night sweats, the fevers and the immediate dread whenever some small malady presented itself.

I did not cry for any of Prior’s symptoms out of a too-comfortable habitation in any past of mine. I cried for the beauty in the humanity of kindness to a stranger. I cried not for the political impotence of the gay community at the time, but I cried for a drag queen’s funeral celebration and for blessings given from one person to another for no other reason than that immediate suffering of another took precedence over theocratic, dogmatic insensitivities.

The only open admission of Allen’s impending death I ever made to anyone—including Allen—was to my mother and even that was a while after Allen died. I told her that there was a song called “Jubilee” by Mary Chapin Carpenter, a song whose words I took special care in memorizing, as if they were a prayer brought back to me from the future, carrying wisdom I would require, y’know, “after”. The words germane to my “test” tonight:

And I can tell by the way you’re standing<br/> With your eyes filling with tears<br/> That it’s habit alone keeps you turning for home<br/> Even though your home is right here<br/> <br/> Where the people who love you are gathered<br/> Under the wise wishing tree<br/> May we all be considered then straight on delivered<br/> Down to the jubilee<br/> <br/> ‘Cause the people who love you are waiting<br/> And they’ll wait just as long as need be<br/> When we look back and say those were halcyon days<br/> We’re talking ‘bout jubilee<br/>

So I can only conclude from what I put myself through tonight that the past is not where I am nor wish to be, but the past remains within me, as it should for everyone. It’s a source of comfort, especially the worst parts of it, because it reminds me that pain is not a single nor simple nor knowable (really) thing, but a vast and ponderous reality that permeates us eternally that occasionally—more often for some than others—rises to the surface to dominate our lives.

We can palliate, anesthetize, visualize or otherwise find escape from our pain, but as we accumulate more past, more experiences, we finally realize we can’t exorcise or eliminate pain.

I speak of Allen not to escape to the past where I could hold fast in that long distance away from my current pain. I speak of Allen not to keep him with me—I have no choice in the matter: he’ll always be with me—but rather to keep reminding myself that there exist far worse pains than I have now, and that “it’s the fear of what comes after the doing that makes the doing hard to do…and you can almost always live with the consequences”.

I did all the doing that needed doing for Allen back then. And the consequences were abidable, if difficult. Today, all these years distant from that part of my past, I’m again doing all the doing I can in order to be well. I’ve lived “past hope” until hope came and though I fear that hope will leave again, I won’t stop the doing even if it does: there is no zion save where you are.

And I’m right here.

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Couldn’t Call It Unexpected #π

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these web quizzy things, but I feel all spliny and affined. Plus? I like the Tarot. It makes porous the membrane between our world and world of Magic. So I figured, why the netherworld not?

And this is what spookily and duality-y came up:

You are The Fool

The Fool is the card of infinite possibilities. The bag on the staff indicates that he has all he need to do or be anything he wants, he has only to stop and unpack. He is on his way to a brand new beginning. But the card carries a little bark of warning as well. Stop daydreaming and fantasising and watch your step, lest you fall and end up looking the fool.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
<br/>

And it called to mind immediately an Elvis Costello song:

Couldn’t Call It Unexpected #4<br/> by Elvis Costello<br/> <br/> I saw a girl who’d found her consolation<br/> She said “One day my Prince of Peace will come”<br/> Above her head a portrait of her father<br/> The wilted favour that he gave her still fastened to the frame<br/> “They’ve got his bones and everything he owns<br/> I’ve got his name”<br/> <br/> Well you can laugh at this sentimental story<br/> But in time you’ll have to make amends<br/> The sudden chill where lovers doubt their immortality<br/> As the clouds cover the sky the evening ends<br/> Describing a picture of eyes finally closing<br/> As you sometimes glimpse terrible faces in the fire<br/> We’ll I’m the lucky goon<br/> Who composed this tune<br/> from birds arranged on the high wire<br/> <br/> Who on earth is tapping at the window?<br/> Does that face still linger at the pane?<br/> I saw you shiver though the room was like a furnace<br/> A shadow of regret across a young mother’s face<br/> So toll the bell or rock the cradle<br/> Please don’t let me fear anything I cannot explain<br/> I can’t believe, I’ll never believe in anything again

I’m a little spooked out right now. Or my brain is sputteringly restarting.

And awoooodn’t that be loverly?

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Hope

I have news. Well, I have something I haven’t had in a while: hope.

I finally got my appointment with a pain specialist, who generously spent a solid 2.5 hours with me, explaining the different kinds of pain; the pain pathways; the classes of drugs (systemic and local) that operate on those pathways; the dynamics & equilibrium aspects of blood serotonin; and various pharmacokinetics and interactions of the meds that are typically used to treat pain.

He also did some mechanical tests (walking on toes, on heels, the “police test” walk) and some musculoskeletal observations.

Bottom line, I showed up to the appointment with the expectation of “more of the same”, because it’s all been the same, it seems, and a script for some sort of pain killer to provide palliative benefits, but nothing more.

What I left with was a lilt in my step and in my head, and the idea that I may be fixable and my pain and my neck problems may diminish enough for me to do the one thing I desperately want to do: be that brainy guy I used to be so I can get my ass back to the work I love.

There are no promises, nor decided-upon treatments just yet, but Hope is Magic, and that makes this feel like an emotional “old home week”.

True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings;<br/> Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings.

William Shakespeare<br/> KING RICHARD III, Act 5, Scene 2

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14

Today, 1 May 2007, would have been Allen’s and my 14th anniversary. Denied the trappings of “polite” society by the fearful and fear-mongering Christians, rightwingers and other demonspawn, we had to choose our own Anniversary Date: the date we first met in person.

It also happened to be the day—abetted by three and a half years of interacting with someone online (back in the CompuServe days)—that we, each and together, realized that we were Together.

It was in St. Louis, a meeting-in-person confab for folks who were regulars on CompuServe’s chat rooms (back when they were largely social and not sexual). I was living in Chicagoland at the time, and decided to drive a rented car (didn’t trust my old 1985 VW Golf) to St. Louis. I was to share a room with Allen Howland, but the only reasons were my lack of planning for the event and my general lack of funds. For the record, it was a room with two separate beds.

I’d arrived at the hotel coincidentally when Allen was out with a few others being shameless tourists. A room key was there for me at the front desk. I let myself into the room, and while waiting for Allen to return to the hotel, laid down to continue reading one of the Tales of the City books, consciously, conspicuously choosing the bed which had gone unused: my bed for the weekend.

I fell asleep while reading, a light, nap-time kind of sleep I’ve never been able to achieve since then, and dreamed a dream about Anna Madrigal and Michael Mouse and where Jon’s ashes were buried in the yard at 28 Barbary Lane. Allen entered the dream and Mrs. Madrigal no only registered no surprise, but was expecting him.

Just as she was sending me off with Allen to St. Louis (still in the dream here), I was awakened by the multi-click of the early electronic card-key hotelroom doors.

A tall, lean man entered the room, his very long legs being thrown one in front of the other in a kind of gait that I would still recognize today.

He smiled and said, “Hello, finally.”

I knew exactly then where my heart belonged. I suspect he was feeling the same thing.

We spent that night in the same bed. He’d asked me if this was my first time and I laughed. He followed, “I mean with someone who’s HIV+.” I admitted it was, but also admitted that I’d been hurt enough in my year of Midwest Gay Pretense Tricking and “would it be ok if we just lay here together?” I also admitted that I felt there was something between the two of us and simply being close was the right way to honor that.

I think that was the closest I’d ever felt to anyone up to that point in my life.

At one of the planned events—some banquet of sorts that felt more like an age-unrestricted prom than anything else—Allen’s 6’4“ and my 5’6”, and the obvious connection between the two of us had one (straight) man across the table commenting: you guys look like Yogi Bear and Boo Boo!

“Yog” is what I called Allen for the rest of our days together; it suited him such that he warmed up when I first started calling him that and simply responded to the name out of habit after that.

I know I have talked quite a bit about Allen in these pages, but that’s because the experiences of a truly wonderful and real and honest relationship—no matter how time-limited its run—is a metric by which I measure my successes in forming friendships and other relationships, and even dealing with meeting new people. I try to lead with openness and honesty, and sometimes I persist overlong in it, open only to being used and only losing honesty in confusing optimism with naiveté.

In any regard, there are things I have written, details of our life together that have visited me unexpectedly but are never unwelcome. Links to some are posted below.

My Favorite Marsupial recently told me that Forever and For Life are a kind of naiveté, but I’ve never been able to accept that.

I was a very lonely man after Allen died, but I never questioned that it was a temporary condition: I was still alive! It just never occurred to me that I might be as lonely again, not because of Allen’s absence, but just because.

I am a very lonely man these days. Some kinds of naiveté evaporate with age and I’m asking the questions now…the questions that never occurred to me nearly twelve years ago. But I sitll hope there are no concrete answers, but only better questions.

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