chicago

hang the moon

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image credit… ddmag.tumblr

If our lives were a movie
Then you’d be the star
‘Cause know I know the role I should play
To applaud all you do
All the things that you are
And just be there on opening day
I know in the past
That the lines were all wrong
And the music was never in tune
But the wish that I make
Is for just one more take
Because then, darling, I’ll hang the moon

i just got off the phone with one of my oldest friends-blue- who lives in chicago. earlier this year, i had plans to be there this weekend- seeing the book of mormon tomorrow evening and big fish on saturday night. having dinner all over town, pitching a book idea to a friend who has published a beautiful book about her grandfather and  fire island in the 20’s, and just generally feeding my soul in both old and new ways. we talked today, because he had arranged a psychic reading for me on saturday with sharyl noday which i will still receive via skype.

we chatted for a while using the online tool and i really have to say how much more i enjoyed the conversation while looking at his face. there are so many many memories for me in that face. i realized as we spoke that i love him as madly as i did when we first met that early morning in chicago in 1979 at that afterhours club named “columns”. if i remember things correctly, we strolled from lower downtown along the lake to boys town as the moon descended sharing stories about life and our perceptions of fashion, music, fate and hope. we became fast friends and later roommates, work mates, frenemies (during my oh-so-desperate drug daze). but we have remained connected these 32 years.

these days seem some of the closer since he lost his mother last year. he is struggling with physical changes that accompany the aging human experience and the combination seems to have opened his emotional world and be offering it to the sun. he mentioned that he spoke to another friend of ours, now living in phoenix, who asked him to tell me how touched he is by the arc my life  taken. blue continued to say that bill must have done some online research because he seemed to be much more intimate with some details and he cried as he spoke with blue. blue cried as he relayed this information to me, including details like blue had always felt that i was special, but i was never able to see that- how it was painful for him to watch me struggle through all the challenging lessons i have had in my life. i cried as i heard all this and was swept up in the idea that someone has been able to care about me all this time while i was unable to do so.

i sign off today in humility. i am gobsmacked by the fact that i am cared for by someone who knows me so well (definitely an old tape playing).  i quietly received a most unexpected and completely personal gift that came wrapped in a plain wrapper, but has stirred the deepest part of my soul. i must remember to give these kind of gifts as it is something so life affirming to receive.

room for happiness

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image credit…domenico cennamo
I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed………..Michael Jordan
2012 has been a series of big crazy issues. death, loss, grief, frustration seem to have over-seasoned my life’s buffet. in the few short weeks that have passed thus far,  i have found myself feeling plucked and pooped most of the time. and i have also realized that i have been overeating, watching too much tv, and toggling to porn mindlessly while online. it’s  certainly embarrassing and not the direction i would like my life to be headed.
please don’t panic…. change is in the works. with the onset of sobriety and a spiritual program, the behaviors and reactions to life that used to hurl me into chaos and darkness don’t land me out of bounds any longer. i find i still  drift to numbing out, but it’s manageable and detectable and i can work with it. 
this perspective is indeed a shift in perception for my life. a miracle. it’s not about hating myself because i have ruined my life and made a fool of myself. instead, a sober mind and a spiritual connection has offered me a time out with the skills of acceptance and forgiveness. 
image credit…. domenico cennamo
i deliberated quite awhile for a song to play with this short post. i came to rest on the idea of 1973 by james blunt. that was a tumultuous year for me. it was my 1st and 2nd year in high school. i had already moved twice and changed schools twice. my home life was rife with a very unhappy parent who was medicating heavily with sex and alcohol. i had become accustomed to feeling responsible for their unhappiness and so it came naturally that i blamed myself. i had engaged in sexual activity with an 18 year old from the 1st school who made it his business to tell as many people about it. the shame of being queer ate me inside like cancer. leaving home seemed the only relief giving solution. i left in august of 74, but began my search for a landing pad in 1973. i used some fake id’s and frequented a bath house in chicago called man’s country. it was rich with distraction  and acceptance for me.  i wasn’t the only queer. i wasn’t the only freak.  i just learned a different type of shame being around older gay men.
anyway- that was when the drug use started to climb. and the ability to face life got put on the back shelf. i ran from my life. and kept going for almost 30 years. 1973 was a pivotal period. my emotional life got put on hold for decades. here i am 40 years later- still learning new skills to help me stay in the game. 

and as an addendum, i am adding another tune. this one hails from clubland and which brings the post to the present. kaskade collaborates with skylar grey and the lyrics are a bit frothy and both music and words strike a chord with me. the add is to represent the daily reminder that i must give myself that i need to make room for happiness in my life and my heart.

Kaskade – Room For Happiness Lyrics (Feat. Skylar Grey)
Sometimes I wish I never felt the influence of you
‘Cuz now I feel a disconnect, like an open wound
Where you once were, there’s now a space that runs as deep as hell
But every morning when I wake I tell myself
Don’t be fooled by your emptiness, there’s so much more room for happiness
Don’t be fooled by your emptiness, there’s so much more room for happiness

i can understand it

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image credit… adler.edu

oh what a time the 70’s were. bell bottoms, qiana shirts, platform shoes, the gold chain, the nik-nik shirt, double belted high waisted baggie trousers, afros, r&b, the evolution of disco, the emergence of punk, the gentrification of shabby chic…..

this is one of the 1st songs i remember hearing in a gay bar. there was a small little disco called pq’s on the near north side of chicago. i was 15 when i first folded in with the crowd there. sometimes that tiny dance floor would be packed. a person couldn’t move really, so there was a lot of repeating moves and shifting weight.
the original version was by the song’s author bobby womack. much later in my life, i realized just why this particular song had been so popular with my gay comrades. it speaks of tolerance. and a different kind of love. a lover that is only part time, a love that requires understanding. you do yours.. i’ll do mine… i can understand it…

i can understand it… lyrics by bobby womack..

I know everybody realizes that a man works
Better when he works out of his own band
Can you understand that? I can understand that

Woah, yeah, yeah
Something sweet as a candy bar
My girl in need
Thats what you are
Oh, I, I can understand it

Jack and Jill going up the hill
Storybooks and fairytales
I, I can understand it

And if our love gets to be anything but this
If someone gets to feel your warm and tender kiss
Oh, tell me, baby, how will I ever understand it, baby?

Get on down, baby
Gonna do it on the good foot, yeah
Gonna do it on the right foot, baby
Gonna do it on the left foot, baby

Look here, yall
Something cool but not too cold
Girl, you got to give to get, you know?
I, I can understand it

Try my best to make you happy
Woke up early one morning, find you packing
Lord, Lord, Lord, you cant make me understand it

I know sometimes that you wanna get away from home
But I get upset when you stay too long
Oh, your love, baby, your love
— How will I ever understand it?

Get on down
Gonna do it on the good foot
Gonna do it on the right foot, baby
Gonna do it on the left foot
Ooh baby

I can understand it
Baby, I can understand it
Oh, I have no choice about the situation

But Im trying my best to make you happy
Wake up early one morning and I find you packing
Lord, you cant make me understand it

I get a job and I work all the time
When I get home you better lay it on the line
Your love, baby, your love
— How will I ever understand it?

Get on down
Gonna do it on the good foot
Gonna do it on the right foot
I can understand it
You do yours
Ill do mine
Can you understand it?
Can you understand it?
Can you understand it, baby?
I can understand it
Can you understand it?
I can understand it, baby
Can you understand it?
I can understand it, baby

Break it down
God Almighty
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Yeah

Im going to find out can we keep the groove
Is yall ready for this?
Look here
Ooh, yeah, baby
I can understand it, oh
Can you understand it?

Baby, baby, baby
Get on, get on, get on, get on down
Do in on the good foot, there it is
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Look here yall
Dont put down a man with a better hand
Old Les trying to do the very best he can
You wear your hair long, baby
I wear my hair short
Come on, baby, talk that talk
I can understand it
Can you understand it?

Baby, Baby, Baby
Get on down
Look here
Gotta say it one more time
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Look here
Dont put down a man with the better hand
Old Les trying to do the very best he can
You wear your hair long, baby
I wear my hair short
Come on, baby
Talk that talk
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
Hey, Baby

Yeah, look here
Can I say it?
Can I say it now, yall?
Can I say it?
Can I say it
Look here yall
I can understand it

move this

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It was unbearable. He had lost himself so often that  last year in chicago that he felt spun.  Disconnected, suicidal, and wretched were the accessories he pinned over his heart. There had so many lost hours, so many broken promises, to himself and his friends. And his table was set with so much sadness that empty would have seemed a banquet in comparison.

He was packing up a U-Haul full of his belongings in the middle of the night. He was at his wits end and felt like he was running out of options. He had been slipping further and further beyond the lines he swore he would never cross. He had been running in quicksand for a couple of years that seemed like lifetimes.

The death of a mentor and friend, the loss of innocence, the confrontation with morbidity and with his own moral frailty pummeled him with the power of a tsunami and what remained as the tide receded was stuffed into that 12 foot moving van headed for the West Coast. Even though he didn’t know what lie ahead, it had to be better than the hell-hole he had fallen into. He had been having an ongoing midnight ménage-a-trois with cocaine and vodka so often that it had become almost impossible to tell the three of them apart.

There had been so many nightmares that swam past him during that storm in his life. Ghouls and goblins and shadows and monsters were all very integral pieces to this shattered puzzle he had become.  He was headed west with no plan other than get the hell away. He had remembered a conversation with his friend Freddie about the onslaught of the virus. As their friends and neighbors slipped into oblivion around them, Freddie had said that the only people he knew that were surviving were the ones that left the city.  Freddie’s words might have germinated this escape plan that was hatching.

However it came to be, here he was, standing in the driveway, piling the last of his belongings into the truck when his landlord slipped up behind him and asked if he was going somewhere. When the driver and his bestie rented the place, they had planned on living in that spectacular wicker park brownstone for as long as they could. It had never occurred to them, or their landlords, that one of these young men would fade so early and the other would be so tragically torn between following his friend and changing the odds.  He certainly hadn’t wanted to talk with the landlord, but here he was, with terror in his eyes, relaying his plans and assuring that the new tenant would make things good. And the new tenant did.

Our hero remembered standing in almost the spot a year prior when he and his friend were moving into this gem of a place. Paul had been feeling oogie and looked beat.   At one point he sat on the rear gate of that U-Haul and tried to catch his breath. He actually never did catch it that day. He went into the hospital and didn’t leave for 34 days. That was how. PCP, thrush, AIDS, Kaposi’s, and candida all became members of their family.  Unspoken terror and uncertainty unpacked their suitcases and took up residence, too.

Once Paul died, he unraveled fairly quickly. He struggled with having dreams when his friend could not. He felt survivor guilt even though he hadn’t a clue as to its meaning. Sometimes the only option is to run. It may not make any sense. It may not even work out, but it is the only breaker in the box that hasn’t been pulled. The power is out and something drastic is required.  The only glimmer of hope for his scratched up viewfinder was this U-Haul and the change it was meant to create.

how does it feel

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 Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you ?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?

my friends pictured above have known me since 1978 or so. they represent what is good about our generation as well as my youth- smart, funny, hardworking, talented, and with huge and kind hearts. i am sincerely humbled when i consider all the distances they have traveled in this life while still living in one big-shouldered city. we had dinner last sunday and  my life took an unforseen turn.

i am smack dab in the middle of a change of heart. not sure how i know this, or how i actually mean this, but i still know this is the truth. i have been seeing so many people from previous times in my life. they are all sweet, wonderful people who have been living life on its own terms and are doing the best they can. i love them for this probably more than i loved them before. mostly because i am able to love them now in ways i never knew how previously.

here i am walking an ancient labyrinth and retracing the cave drawings i encounter. there is joy and freedom in this for me. i am actually connecting with the power to grow up and the desire to do so. no matter my age. no matter the lack of grace, it is the desire and the ability- not to mention the need- that prods me onward.  i am not sure where i am headed next, but i know i am going and with anticipation.

this time away from my daily routine has done something i wasn’t sure i needed. it has confirmed for me that i okay. i measure myself next to my past and i feel engaged and empowered. this feeling may last a week or a decade, but it feels so freeing that it is not of consequence today.

i love my friends. they hold my history in their hearts and minds. they remind me who i was and who i am. i need to be reminded of all this as i sometimes forget who i have been and only see who i am.

i am posting a version of this song from one of my favorite current bands- anberlin. this cut is happy-go-lucky, easy and breezy and helps me wanna bop my head back and forth. it mirrors how i am feeling today.

will you still love me tomorrow

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finished packing this morning and will be heading to chicago after work. i go there every couple of years just to clear some of the cobwebs out of my head. i lived there until 1986 and met the individuals who really shaped much of my adult brain (what little i had then). i moved there in 1974 and spent the next 12 years immersed in a culture and a city that still stirs memories.

the fact that i have been living in denver 20 years seems quite unbelievable. this city has been very good to me. it has helped me find grounding and stability – both emotionally and financially. my health has really thrived. but for as long as i can remember, i have always missed the array of “communities” and diversity that Chicago boasts- culinary, the arts, jazz, classical music, theatre- and i have especially missed the matter-of-fact honesty and up-front friendliness of midwesterners.

so i will immerse myself into an updated version of this city once again. i have plans for 6 of the 9 nights i am there. dinner, 2 plays, 2 parties, etc.. much, much more than i normally do in a week. plus i am attending a conference for work and have 4 full days of activities with that. i will be learning much more about opiate replacement therapy- i.e. methadone, suboxone- and the parameters and pitfalls of that therapy. this is the godfather of all harm reduction models as hiv and hep c are understandably spread through the sharing of needles. reducing that particular practice by individuals indeed cuts back on the chances of infection as well as the wear and tear that iv drug use takes on a persons body, mind, and soul.

iwill be staying at my best friend’s condo on north lake shore drive. i am still considering a last minute cancel of my hotel downtown for the 3 nights of the conference and just commuting from lakeview. it could save about 1k and be less transient for me. i need to make a decision today. but i know i am going to have some really big moments that my heart opens a bit more this week. my friends there have really stuck by me during the darkest and most difficult times i have had. of course, they did not have to be around me either, which i am sure has an influence. 

no doubt i will post once or twice from there. there are many giggles and ghosts that still swirl around me there. and i hope i will remind myself and my hometown friends that some things really get better with time.