Brought Before the Blogging Committee

-All right, let’s go through this one more time. You claim to have been “out dancing” on the evening of April 5th, 1971, but we have eyewitness accounts that place you in a hospital in Stillwater, OK, plainly being born.

-I have never set foot in Oklahoma, ever.

-Apparently you were carried. You left before you could walk.

-I did?

-Yes.

-I did. Wait, it’s all coming back now…

-Let’s see here (scanning notes)…various residences in Missouri, Wisconsin, and then finally Minnesota.

-Oh God it was cold.

-Your parents split up.

-I had nothing to do with it.

-Apparently they then both came out of the closet.

-I may have had something to do with that.

-Let’s see…one heterosexual younger brother…

-The Black Sheep.

-And some “step-brothers and sisters”, once your homosexual parents found new, previously-married lovers?

-They were such brats.

-You have resentments?

-They went to private school. Does that count?

-We’ll get to that later. So, good grades…

-Thank you.

-…possibly masking an inferiority complex and a crippling desire to please…

-Well, that’s presumptuous.

-…and a blossoming little booze and drug habit?

-I was 14. We were a little crazy.

-Drunk on wine coolers?

-It was the 80’s.

-You wrote…poetry.

-I was sensitive. Still am. Look, am I gonna get locked up or what? If I end up as someone’s bitch I’m gonna…

-Let’s see…graduated in the top…eleventh percentile of your class?

-Fucking Physics.

-Accepted with scholarship to a little school in Florida no one’s ever heard of?

-It wasn’t Minnesota. Look at my finger…that’s frostbite!

-Lots of personal drama ensued.

-Greatest time of your life, my ass.

-Majored in sociology.

-My third choice.

-Had your heart broken a couple of times, didn’t ya?

-How many damn blue index cards do you have there, anyway?

-Let’s see…undergraduate thesis, a return to Minneapolis…

-I’m a secret masochist. Is that in there?

-Poetry slam champion?

-It was the 90’s.

-Big fish in a little pond.

-Wait, was that a question?

-…hmm, fell in love again…

-Yes…I feel more…deeply than others.

-I won’t touch that one…moved together to San Francisco?

-With nothing but a dance belt and a tube of chapstick.

-Let’s see…rejection from acting school…

-Goddamn primadonnas.

-Leading to a crytal methamphetamine problem?

-I was a little tired.

-Your basic recovery story…

-It seemed to be the thing to do.

-The dissolution of your relationship…

-…

-…hmm, more writing and acting

-Nothing pornographic. Well, maybe once...

-Which brings us to blogging.

-It does?

-There are several issues with your, er…application to blog.

-Nobody ever said I needed a license.

-New restrictions. Inappropriate linkage, navel-gazing, lawsuits; that kind of thing.

-Naturally. When can I expect an answer?

I Wanna Be Sedated

Had my first appointment today at the dental clinic. It’s part of a school, actually, which could make one a little nervous when you’re facing as much work as I am, however everyone treated me well and no one told me that I would go to hell for avoiding the dentist for the last couple of years. Ahem. However, I have to have oral surgery next Tuesday to remove some impacted molars that are causing me the pain. The broken tooth seems to be lower on the totem pole at this point. I think, too, that the grants that fund the clinic will help cover some of the expenses, although I must confess I feel like a bit of an imposter since my numbers are so good, HIV or not. I wish I could have had the surgery today and just gotten it over with. I’ll have a local anesthetic and nitrous oxide, so I’ll have to find someone to drive me home then. I was kind of hoping they’d just sedate me so I could sleep through the whole thing. Oh well. Did I say the dental student told me I had some nice teeth, all things considered?

Enough about me. Aren’t you sorry you asked?

No urgent news on the home front. Mom just gets a little weaker each day, and she’s had some morphine a couple of times today. So she is not uncomfortable, and they are working closely with hospice to make her final days be at home and comfortable. I told Lee about my surgery. Life will not wait for things to get convenient. I must admit, with her getting weaker each day, I wonder if I will even be in town on Tuesday. I guess we’ll just have to see. It seems appropriate that everything has to happen all at once.

I’ve been cancelling plans and staying home all week due to the stress and the pain. My first line of defense is almost always to shut things down and retreat for a bit, gather some information and my thoughts, then deal. I haven’t been getting my usual stress-release at the gym, nor at any AA meetings.

Look, I made his link page!! (um, scroll way down..can you see it…in the fine print…yeah, there) I’d feel like the Prom Queen, except for the fact that there’s so damn many of us. Ah, little did I know, back in those AIM chatting days, that you’d become the linked-stud that you are today. Well, you certainly deserve it.

Backstory

This morning’s update is that Mom seems less perky today than yesterday, and that she can’t even raise her arm anymore. Lee seems to think she is fading, but slowly; slower than we might have expected. She’s so strong. Have I mentioned that before the ALS, she and Lee had run at least twelve marathons each over the years, had traveled to Indonesia, Alaska, Africa, had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro? Have I mentioned yet that it angers me that she somehow deserves it less than some couch potato? Nobody deserves this, I know. Still.

It’s uncomfortable being here and waiting for things to get worse. Two years ago, shortly after her diagnosis, I went home for six months, intending to help take care of her. This was before I got sober. It was a truly dark period in my life, drinking alone in my little studio apartment near their house, trying to pull it together enough when she needed me. As it turned out, they didn’t really need my assistance much. Between Lee’s training as a nurse, and their large circle of devoted friends, her care was more than covered. And eventually she told me, after I brought it up, that she wanted me to go back to San Francisco and live my life.

And that was only the beginning. Between then and now I got sober, ended the five+ year relationship, moved out, started a new job, and tested HIV-positive. Have I said here yet that I have not told anyone in my family about the last? In light of my mother’s struggle, and the fact that I am so healthy, it seems inappropriate to raise the issue. I talked to my brother last night, and he told me that he is splitting with his girlfriend who I met over Christmas. As he told me last night, the writing had been on the wall, but he didn’t want to bring it up for the same reasons I’ve kept my silence about the HIV.

The absolute hardest part of her deterioration has been the loss of a family confidante, the woman who I thought of immediately whenever I got good news or enjoyed some success. I lost that almost two years ago when the dementia began, and yet she is still here with us, alive yet profoundly different. In a selfish way, I have struggled so, trying to accept the loss of my mother while acknowledging that she is still alive. I haven’t been the best son all the time. I let weeks go by without calling, because the confidante is gone, and because her inability to communicate made one-sided phone calls painful.

However, in searching within, I know that by now I have told her everything I’ve wanted to. And all the words distill into an essence that spells out “I love you.” There isn’t much more to say beyond that.

Four References to Television, and other important matters…

Not much has changed since last night. Mom’s not worsening, just very very weak. I’m tired, slept poorly last night and spent much of the day full of dread. Work provided some distraction, but there’s some event planning that I can’t bring myself to do. Julie the Cruise Director, I’m not.

So I’m just checking in by phone occassionally to Lee or whichever friend is over at the house. I cancelled plans to stay home in case they need to reach me, which I’m happy I did since I’m pretty much good for nothing at the moment.

Have I said that I can’t cry on my own? I need the catharsis of television to do that for me; i.e. I cried tonight watching an old Annie Lennox performance on SNL, and then later when Jimmy Smitts character died at the hospital in NYPD Blue reruns. Thank God I’m not home when Oprah comes on, I’d lose any semblance of integrity then.

Needless to say, I haven’t composed any words for Mom’s expected service, nor have I come across the perfect poem to read. I just don’t want to.

Writing Assignments They Never Gave You in School

Shortly after my last post, Lee called me from Minneapolis to tell me that Mom is having another very hard day, like the one over Christmas. Her voice broke a bit when she was talking. I wasn’t sure what to say, the unspoken sentiment being, is it serious enough for me to fly home again? We agreed to talk in the morning. Apparently it’s not pnemonia, Lee says it seems like Mom’s just tired, and that, like her other muscles, her lungs are having a difficult time functioning. (See here if you are curious about ALS).

So it may be a long night ahead. Nothing like being thousands of miles away to intensify those feelings of powerlesness. I am feeling rather stoic, though. Life seems so, complicated, I guess. For lack of a better word. I wish I could be more descriptive, but the words are failing me. I love my mother, fiercly, but I want her suffering to end.

Just got a message from her minister now, suggesting that if I want to say something or read something at her service, to start thinking of what I’d like to say. (i.e. sum up your mother’s life and what she meant to you in a few words, starting….now.)

Time to do a little soul-searching.

Good Night.

Free+pics+of+gay+boys+crying+in+pain

Someone reached my site by typing the keywords above on Yahoo.

Hmmm. And what would have made them cry, I wonder? Rumors of a Buffy cancellation? I just can’t imagine.

The Tattooed Monk is seriously considering returning to being a monk. And I do mean a real monk. He was in a Benedictine community before, and told me he’s pretty sure he’s going to find another one, or maybe even start his own. He’s done a good job of sublimating his sexual desires, he said, so isn’t too concerned about that aspect. Ah, I’d miss him. He’s certainly been the most helpful to me in dealing with my mother’s illness, considering he’s got so much experience around dying. Maybe he could start a monastary in the Castro.

We went and saw Gosford Park with this young co-worker of his yesterday. The boy (he was like, 25 or something) was very quiet and seemed less than thrilled that I was there. I got the impression he wanted the Monk all to himself, so he ignored me in that 20-something way. (I get to say this because I am 30 now, and so much wiser). It was nice to see Helen Mirren in the movie, though. Her work in Prime Suspect is so amazing, I miss that series.

Bearbait loved the movie if only because he noticed that every object in every shot was relevant to the period. He’s like that, that’s his industry. I imagine all these art directors in Hollywood saying to themselves, “I got to get the right silverware, or else some fag is going to notice.”

Yes, Virginia

Ugh I have shin splints now. According to Runner’s World, “shin splints most often can be captured in just four words: too much, too soon.” Well, you don’t have to get all snotty about it. And I like the treadmill. Guess I’m gonna have to ease down, or find another way to sweat.

A friend of mine told me he’s had some work accepted by Poetry. If you know anything about prestigious lit mags, you know how hard it is to get in there. He knew I understood that, and so was therefore thrilled to be able to tell me. I think I did a good job of congratulating him, with my heart. It’s too easy to let the bitter competetive unsucceessful writer take over. Still. I do believe it’s been six years or so since I wrote a good poem.

Saw Under the Sand today, a beautiful and damning English/French movie about a woman whose husband disappears while she naps on a beach during their vacation. She (Charlotte Rampling) engages in some rather unhealthy denial after the months pass and it’s clear he’s not returning. I actually kept thinking of Krzysztof Kiesloski’s Blue when I saw it, which has to be one of my most favorite movies ever. Seeing Juliette Binoche transform through that movie was a vision I won’t forget. One of the reviews of Under the Sand compared it favorably to Blue, saying the latter had “art house pretensions” but I don’t care, I loved it.

Rampling’s character recites Virginia Woolf’s suicide note in the film, and it struck me. I need to read more of her. I can’t pretend that writer suicides aren’t intriguing to me, and so many authors that I admire (like Michael Cunningham) admire her. Her note to her husband read:

‘Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.

V.”

Knowing at least a sliver of that pain, I am struck at how things have changed, and yet how they haven’t. There are treatments for depression now, and yet the popular image of depression is so inaccurate, so harmful, that we are still so far from saving the people we could. And what I identify most with her is that part that wants to spare others any pain or suffering. How to explain that when in the depression, death can seem the easier solution, even for the loved ones. That desire to spare others the sight of such ongoing suffering. It’s an incredibly selfish act, yes, but that misses the point. It’s only selfish to those untouched by depression.

This must all sound a little too scary. I’ll just say I’m not going anywhere. But there have been times when it’s been the simple fact of my mother’s slow dying that has kept me here, for leaving life in the face of her pain would be the ultimate in selfishness. There continue to be days where I question the value of everything, and come up short. There are many days where I just hope that some pure moments of joy return. I guess you could say that I have faith they will, but I cannot imagine the form.

Ah, it’s good to at least write these words.

Endolphin

I can’t get an appointment until next Thursday a.m. In the meantime, my molar will have to wait. I was gripped with such irrational fear over the whole thing that I could barely get out of bed this morning. Fortunately this place seems to have its own HIV-related dental clinic, so I can only hope the care will be good. Be gentle with me. Please.

To burn off nervous energy I spent my lunch hour at Gym #2, the hetero one (well, mostly). It’s like a wet dream in there, machismo hovering in a thick cloud over the weight room. Walking distance from the UPS hub, and count ‘em, three Airborne Express and two Fed-ex trucks in the parking lot. Hence, delivery men. Mucho delivery men. Watching a hoochie mama in a thong walk into the free weight area is like seeing a lamb dropped in a wolf den. Us gay boys are like a secret shameful society in there, “Yeah, I know you’re one. But don’t be obvious about it.”

Such a refreshing change from Gym #1, which is so gay ghetto it’s more obnoxious than the machismo.

After my half hour on the treadmill my endorphins came back and I’m a little more ready for life again. And I do believe I’ve replaced five pounds of fat with five pounds of muscle. Good boy.

Television for Women

How tragic is it to find yourself crying as Loni Anderson recounts the story of her father dying of cancer on a Biography special on the Lifetime Channel?

Anyway, my doc gave me a referral for a dentist that I’ll call tomorrow a.m. I’m still freaked, I hate going to the dentist. I’m worried I won’t be able to afford even the most rudimentary work, despite my insurance. Kids, don’t try crystal at home.

My “date” stood me up, too. Not that this is an ideal time to be starting relationships. Hi, yeah, nice to meet you, my mother’s dying, I’m HIV-positive, my anti-depressants are killing my libido, I’m about to have oral surgery and I’m a recovering addict and alcoholic, so can we have coffee instead of a drink? No, not even poppers, sorry.

Now that I got the whining out of the way. What’s your excuse?

Grin and Bear It

Saw Ski last night at the big ‘ol Wednesday meeting (aka Show of Shows, aka the New Wednesday Night Lesbian Meeting). I’ve been a little reluctant to call him since I got back. Partly it’s because I haven’t called anyone much since the New Year and partly it’s because I know I’m still infatuated. I hugged him outside and he smelled good and I wanted the embrace to last longer than it did. Later we smiled at each other across the room a few times. Darnit. No matter how much time elapses, that one still gets me. I asked him about his Dad after the meeting as he, the Tattooed Monk, and I walk into the Castro and he said that the tumor came back and grew twice as large in only 6 weeks or so, and that they’ve pretty much given him 1 to 6 months left to live.

I don’t exactly know what two grieving people can do for each other. Grief seems to be something you just ride out, alone. You can have companions on the ride, but the grief itself is your own, nobody carries it for you. Yeah, I’d like to take care of him, and yeah I’d love to be cared for in return, but the kind of affection I feel for him may not be mutual, and of that I’m simply scared. So I do nothing, hoping that if I somehow make it through these endless days of anticipatory grief, I’ll somehow be rewarded for my trouble. But I know that’s not how it works.

Appropriately enough, I have tenative plans with Michael tonight, but I haven’t heard from him since Sunday. I called him last, so… (so JUNIOR HIGH, dork)

I’m full of fear today because I need some dental work (actually, I need thousands of dollars worth of dental work) and due to bad childhood teeth and my years as a practicing speed addict, I am paying now for the past. Anyway, I need a dentist ASAP, so I’m looking into it. Maybe I can find someone through my doc who specializes in treating people with HIV. Wish me luck.