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.


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.


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.


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.

That’s What ATMs are For

Last night at the gym I head into the locker room to change back into my street clothes and there’s this young blonde guy on his cell phone in my row of lockers. Being young and blonde, he didn’t exactly grab my attention, but since he’s only a few feet away I am priveleged enough to overhear his half of the conversation, or at least some of it. He’s talking to someone when he gets another call, and it takes some verbal maneuvering to clue the present caller in to the fact that he’s got another call. Then he clicks over.


-(long pause)

“Who’s this?”

“Hi, Steve, this is Brian”

“Oh, just chillin’. ” He turns away from me and starts to lower his voice.

“Where are you?”

“something something in the Castro. Yeah.”

“um, blonde. something and Dutch.”


-(long pause)

“Well, we could do that, but you’d have to wire me the money.”

“I know, but I’ve done that so many times and ended up getting screwed so…”

At this point I leave. I take a backward glance, only to see his back, all huddled over the phone. He might not have been 21, but he was young. On my long walk home I picture him at work, kind of. I imagine all the potential clients, horny and broke, wishing for free love.


My entries are growing sparse, reflecting a somewhat empty interior space the past few days. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.

Lots of time playing Tomb Raider this weekend. I’ve played TR2 and 3 so many times that they’ve become habitual. Anyone want to buy me TR4 or 5? My birthday’s in April (5th).

Talked to Michael last night when I forced myself to get on the phone and return some calls. I was in the mood to roll around some more, but he was sore from going to the gym and running all over SOMA all weekend. Imagine that. I was a little bummed. But it made me wonder again what I think I’m looking for.

I used to be a rather depressive romantic, back in my early twenties when unrequited love was a great poetic issue. Hence the depression, and my reservation at returning to that territory. But romance, love it or spite it, can keep one tethered more tightly to each day. We all know it. Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. And what’s wrong with that, I’d like to know?

I tell myself to accept life’s harsh realities, and not to gild the lily. But where’s the poetry in that?

I can picture a monastic life for myself. And then I hear a song, Springsteen singing “Valentine’s Day”:

“I’m driving a big lazy car

rushin’ up the highway in the dark

I got one hand steady on the wheel

and one hand’s tremblin over my heart

It’s pounding baby

like it’s gonna bust right on through

And it ain’t gonna stop

till I’m alone again with you”

The Make-Out Room

It went well, I’d say.

He came over to the house (nice face, a few pounds heavier than in his pic, but that doesn’t bug me much in the short term) and we walked over to the Valencia corridor, and wandered into a tapas restaurant. The food was good, but the portions were small and the brownie cake at the end needed a small pick axe to consume (it blew, he said, later)

Anyway, he’s a nice guy, in his forties, from Rhode Island (sexy East Coast accent). His name is also Michael. He’s got a good sense of humor and picked up on the fact that I’m in recovery pretty quickly. Has his own apartment in SOMA but is looking for both a different job and a different apartment.

I realize that I am writing a bit dispassionately about this.

We came back to my place, where all three roommates and the various animals were up and about. Edie spooky-barked at him as he came in the house, and J pulled her back into his room. So I show him my room, introduce him to Louie and Bryant the cat, and pretty soon we are making out on the bed while the cat climbs all over us and the other dogs are barking and people are walking up and down the hallway. It was pretty funny, actually, and we laughed. I have to admit, it was very very nice making out with him. We got pretty riled up but left our pants on. He’s pretty hugely endowed, and I was not quite ready to go there, shall we say. He told me he was respecting the line that was unofficially drawn, although I hadn’t said anything about it. But it seemed to be a good rule, and we made out some more, leaving the rest for later. He left by ten. I think we’ll see each other again this weekend.

I don’t really want to be one of those men other guys always complain about, which is another way of saying I don’t forsee a committment to this guy, although I could be proven wrong. In the light of day I don’t know what I want, but in the heat of the moment I do. The challenge then is to live in a way that honors both, if possible. And not to be an asshole about it, either.