stage 2 sobriety
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” ― Gabriel García Márquez
i was born in 1958. the world was quite different then. my world was different and the larger world i traveled in as well. and yet so many things seem quite similar. as i approach the middle point of my 5 decade walking through this life, i am swirling in an understanding that i enjoy my life on a completely different plateau than i did in the prior decades.
my 50’s have afforded me an ease and a laissez-faire which i had not touched prior. i would imagine that without this shift of perspective i would still be lost in the land of high. but my years caused me to become weary, weary of judgement, weary of worry, weary of pretending. of course i still engage with all these things, but maturity has allowed me an exit strategy from caring about the unimportant. in other words- priorities in life have changed drastically.
i tip my hat to the relief i feel because of age. all the while i cringe just a little when i see the extra jowls, the enlarged pores, or the gray hairs. or when i am pushing twice as hard to drop an extra 20 lbs i have managed to acquire during a 9 month dark period from which i am gratefully emerging, there is a tranquility that replaces the panic and fear that used to pervade the background of my mind. instead, i drift towards letting go of worry about the inane and move in the direction of “i’ll do what suits me” in direct opposition to the prior decades motto of “do i look good doing this?”
no doubt the crossing of the 55 line will be without pomp and circumstance. my celebrations have become quieter and rather introspective. the journey has at once slowed and sped up. the years go by more rapidly as i experience the nuances in life’s revolving chapters-not merely the basics. the older i become, the more i understand how limited my knowledge really is. all this is quite fine as the real gift and the bonus for me is the peace of mind and the ability to rest that has appeared with ripening.
the workplace continues to undergo metamorphosis. my previous supervisor was laid off- i believe his team lead position has been dissolved and there will simply be one team. he hadn’t seemed happy since new management moved in at the beginning of this year. i spoke with him briefly after he learned of this decision and tried to assure him that better days would be coming for him. sometimes my life has moved ahead of me and removed me from situations to make room for learning, growth, and fulfillment. i venture to guess that my entire workplace is in one of those patterns now.
i worked 2-16 hour days thursday and friday (between full-time and part time gigs) and have been pooped this weekend, really pooped. but i have caught up on sleep, had my house cleaned, finished laundry, shopped at sprouts, finished the criminal minds marathon, taken naps, and feel rested. it rained most of last night and there is a soft grey blanket of quiet tossed on top of our town. i love days like this- it reminds me of chicago.
also reminding me of chicago is a band of musicians known as durutti column- they weren’t from chicago, but i loved them when i lived there. here’s a brief paragraph or two from wikipedia..
i went to the 1st of 2 trainings on the DSM V which has just been released. it is such a controversial document. in medical circles the dsm is known as the source of order in the crazy crazy world of mental health and substance use. yet from the eyes of many persons living with medical issues in these areas, the dsm represents the pigeon-holing of their individuality and reduction of a whole person into a diagnosis. the book and its implications are the source of many a controversy. for today’s sake, since i work in a hospital environment it is necessary to use the content of the dsm to communicate with other providers, funders, overseers in a systematic and consistent manner. the dsm offers this type of solution.
although there is much to say about the dsm v versus the previous edition and about the dsm’s in general, i won’t go into that today. suffice it to say that i found the training enlightening and inclusive, as it allowed me some insight into the elusive mental health provider creature which was a rare treat. and honestly (and hopefully) the manner with which i write my notes will be changed as a result of these trainings.
i caught wind of the reality that change is sweeping our institution. every department is to be effected and it is said to be swift and succinct. i am unsettled by the information. not because it is unexpected, but because it is has moved closer to truth. it is a source of continued surprise that i live and work in a culture of change and yet i am just as affected by it in my own life as anyone else might be.
i went to dinner with friends a couple of months ago and saw a picture of myself posted on fb, this sighting caused a shudder to resonate within me as i was forced to wrestle with the largeness of my girth. i knew i had become big, but here was indisputable proof that the growth might be nuclear. i have been doing cardio again 3-4x week for about 5 weeks. there have been some improvements. i have set a goal of 20 lbs- i’m 8 down but have a ways to go. i haven’t been at 240 or lower for a couple of years. the weird thing is that i have been depressed since last year and i didn’t realize it. my sponsor of 7 years passed from stage 4 liver cancer in just a few months after his diagnosis. this loss led me directly to feelings of disenchantment after volunteering for an organization last year as well as frustrated with working with a team that felt toxic and stagnant, (i.e. one was on the internet for hours in the afternoon, one worked the nyt crossword puzzle daily-shouting out the clues hoping for an answer, and a third on personal calls for 1/2 hours on end) that i numbed myself further. this was such an invisible and silent action that i didn’t notice until my work shifted and i once again became truly engaged with what i was doing on a daily basis. so very relieved to be on the upside and very happy to be getting some endorphins flowing again, too.
i was thanked today at work for some efforts and for some changes i have been implementing. i was informed that thanking was the only way it was possible to show gratitude right now, but that it was hoped that this would change soon. gotta say that this felt really really good. especially when hearing the other information about changes.
about 3 years ago i found myself (as is par for the course for someone with bi-polar disorder) having spent my way into 22K debt over a summer. it was a good summer, but certainly not outstanding and more thank likely not worth several thousand and 3 years of way too high payments. but i am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. i have about 8 months left. i will be able to buy new clothes again, shop till i plop, travel a little, and maybe upgrade the kitchen and bath.
i am currently on the 2010 series of criminal minds. i am engaged, enthralled, and affected by the creepiness and the sadistic tales. and it’s interesting how my favorite character shifts from year to year. right now i am loving dr. reid- the geek. i have always admired smart guys.
We had all see Malone, yet going home on the subway no one spoke of him, even though each of us was thinking of that handsome man — and he had seen us. What must he have thought of us at that time. What queens we were! We had been crazed for several years already when we danced at the Bearded Lady that winter. We lived only to dance. What was the true characteristic of a queen, I wondered later on; and you could argue that forever. “What do we all have in common in this group?” I once asked a friend seriously, when it occurred to me how slender, how immaterial, how ephemeral the bond was that joined us; and he responded, “We all have lips.” Perhaps that is what we all had in common: No one was allowed to be serious, except about the importance of music, the glory of faces seen in the crowd. We had our songs, we had our faces! We had our web belts and painter’s jeans, our dyed tank tops and haircuts, the plaid shirts, bomber jackets, jungle fatigues, the all-important shoes….Andrew Holleran
it’s a saturday and i find myself reminiscing a bit about my 1970’s. it was a decadent and tumultuous decade to say the least. i left home at 16 in 1974 and moved to chicago from the burbs. i worked as a rent boy and a gogo boy until i landed a job as a bartender at 18. i shared an apartment with a puerto rican drag queen early on and learned how to speak with a spanich(ha) accent. i also developed an emotional rhythm sequence that embedded itself deeply into my psyche.
i assimilated to 1970’s gay culture through osmosis. music, fashion, attitudes, tastes, and beliefs all were shaped by our mysterious cultural norm. it was urban, it was rogue, it was survivalist, it was guerilla, and it was inventive. i don’t remember making conscious and thoughtful choices about these things as much as i can recall intense peer pressure and a need to belong- after all this urban landscape accepted my twisted ternderness much more thoughtfully than my family of origin had.
i was able to hide even further from my nature as i immersed and lost myself in the choreography of that decade. there were parties, drugs, laughter, theater, short romances, and galaxies of anonymous sex. it was the decade which allowed me to say “yes” to pleasure- which i did to excess. platform shoes, low-rise hip-huggers, afros (well.. perms), disco, acid, mdma, sid vicious, the sex pistols, vivienne westwood, radical faeries, harvey milk, the bus stop, the bump, the introduction of middle class cocaine, my only live-in relationship, sparks. and on and on.
the 80’s rang in a whole new act in this dance of our culture. but those 1970’s were specific and boutique. there may never be the same intersection of indulgence and ingenue on our cultural landscape- mostly because those was the first years after stonewall. maybe my introduction to lgbt culture during that time has allowed me the grace of believing beyond what i know. i am not clear that the generations behind me have that same capacity. i may be in the last of our kind to undestand suppression and to understand freedom from the outer edges of the pendulum.
- 1970 – The first Gay Liberation Day March is held in New York City; The first LGBT Pride Parade is held in Los Angeles; The first “Gay-in” held in San Francisco; Carl Wittman writes A Gay Manifesto; CAMP (Campaign Against Moral Persecution) is formed in Australia.
- 1971 – Society Five (a homosexual rights organization) is formed in Melbourne, Australia; Homosexuality is decriminalized in Austria, Costa Rica and Finland; Colorado and Oregon repeal sodomy laws; Idaho repeals the sodomy law — Then re-instates the repealed sodomy law because of outrage among Mormons and Catholics. The Netherlands changes the homosexual age of consent to 16, the same as the straight age of consent; The U.S. Libertarian Party calls for the repeal of all victimless crime laws, including the sodomy laws; Dr. Frank Kamenybecomes the first openly gay candidate for the United States Congress; The University of Michigan establishes the first collegiate LGBT programs office, then known as the “Gay Advocate’s Office.” The UK Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was recognized as a political movement in the national press and was holding weekly meetings of 200 to 300 people.
- 1972 – Sweden becomes first country in the world to allow transsexuals to legally change their sex, and provides free hormone therapy; Hawaii legalizes homosexuality; In Australia, the Dunstan Labor government introduces a consenting adults in private type defence in South Australia. This defence was initiated as a bill by Murray Hill, father of former Defence Minister Robert Hill, and later repealed the state’s sodomy law in 1975; Norway decriminalizes homosexuality; East Lansing, Michigan and Ann Arbor, Michigan and San Francisco, California become the first cities in United States to pass a homosexual rights ordinance. Jim Foster, San Francisco and Madeline Davis, Buffalo, New York, first gay and lesbian delegates to the Democratic Convention, Miami, McGovern; give the first speeches advocating a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party Platform. “Stonewall Nation” first gay anthem is written and recorded by Madeline Davis and is produced on 45 rpm record by the Mattachine Society of the Niagara Frontier. Lesbianism 101, first lesbianism course in the U.S. taught at the University of Buffalo by Margaret Small and Madeline Davis.
- 1973 – The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II), based largely on the research and advocacy of Evelyn Hooker; Malta legalizes homosexuality; In West Germany, the age of consent is reduced for homosexuals to 18 (though it is 14 for heterosexuals).
- 1974 – Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly gay American elected to public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan city council; In New York City Dr. Fritz Kleinfounds the Bisexual Forum, the first support group for the Bisexual Community; Ohio repeals sodomy laws. Robert Grant founds American Christian Cause to oppose the “gay agenda“, the beginning of modern Christian politics in the United States. In London, the first openly LGBT telephone help line opens, followed one year later by the Brighton Lesbian and Gay Switchboard; the Brunswick Four are arrested on January 5, 1974, in Toronto, Ontario. This incident of Lesbophobia galvanizes the Toronto Lesbian and Gay community; theNational Socialist League (The Gay Nazi Party) is founded in Los Angeles, California.
- 1975 – Homosexuality is legalized in South Australia; homosexuality is legalized in California due to bill authored by and successfully lobbied for in the state legislature by State Assemblyman from San Francisco Willie Brown; Elaine Noble becomes the second openly gay American elected to public office when she wins a seat in the Massachusetts State House; the first National Homosxual Conference is held in Melbourne, Australia; Panama is the second country in the world to allow transsexuals who have gone through gender reassignment surgery to get their personal documents reflecting their new sex.
- 1976 – Robert Grant founds the Christian Voice to take his anti-homosexual-rights crusade national in United States; the Homosexual Law Reform Coalition and the Gay Teachers Group are started in Australia; the Australian Capital Territory decriminalizes homosexuality between consenting adults in private and equalizes the age of consent; and Denmark equalizes the age of consent.
- 1977 – Harvey Milk is elected city-county supervisor in San Francisco, becoming the third out American elected to public office. Dade County, Florida enacts a Human Rights Ordinance; it is repealed the same year after a militant anti-homosexual-rights campaign led by Anita Bryant.Quebec becomes the first jurisdiction larger than a city or county in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the public and private sectors; Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Vojvodina legalise homosexuality. Publication of the first issue of Gaysweek, NYC’s first mainstream gay weekly.
- 1978 – San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone are assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White; a protest commemorating the Stonewall Riots leads to many arrests, with commemorative protests the following year known as the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras, later Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras; The rainbow flag is first used as a symbol of homosexual pride; Sweden establishes a uniform age of consent. Samois the earliest known lesbian-feminist BDSM organization is founded in San Francisco; well-known members of the group includePatrick Califia and Gayle Rubin; the group is among the very earliest advocates of what came to be known as sex-positive feminism; The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) is established. Theatrical release and television broadcast of the feature documentaryWord Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives, and publication of the book transcribed from it.
- 1979 – The first national homosexual rights march on Washington, DC is held; The White Night riots occur, Harry Hay issues the first call for aRadical Faerie gathering in Arizona, and Cuba and Spain decriminalize homosexuality; A number of people in Sweden called in sick with a case of being homosexual, in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. This was followed by an activist occupation of the main office of the National Board of Health and Welfare. Within a few months, Sweden became the first country in the world to remove homosexuality as an illness.….
Jetsyn greeting an old woman
Grandmother, you are an angry woman,
Question your own thoughts and examine your mind.
Practice [the best of] the Buddha’s teaching.When you were first sent here,
Did you dream you would become an old nanny-goat?
In the morning you get up from bed,
In the evening you go to sleep,
In between, you do the endless housework;
You are engrossed in these three things.
Grandmother, you are the unpaid maid.Question your own thought and examine your mind. Then things may be different for you.The head of the family is the most important one,
Income and earnings are the next most longed-for things,
Then sons and nephews are wanted most.
By these three you are bound.
Grandmother, for yourself you have no share.Question your own thought and examine your mind [if you can, so far as you can].
Grandmother, you are burned up with fury.Gossip about other women and their manners is what interests you;
To talk of widows and relatives is your delight.Grandmother, are you so gentle when you gossip?To lift you from a chair is like pulling out a peg;
With feeble legs you waddle like a thieving goose;
Earth and stone seem to shatter when you drop into a seat;
Senile and clumsy is your body, Grandmother, you have no choice but to obey.Question your own thought and examine your mind. From that you may find out how you have changed.Your skin is creased with wrinkles;
Your bones stand out sharply from your shrunken flesh;
You are deaf, dumb, imbecile, eccentric, and tottering;
You are thrice defonned.
Grandmother, your ugly face is wrapped in wrinkles.Your food and drink are cold and foul,
Grandmother, you are now a wretch,
half woman and half bitch!Now, with fear and grief at heart,
You watch the time of death draw nigh.
Grandmother, can you face death with confidence?
How did it happen? If I have asked myself that question once, I have asked it a thousand times, and I still don’t have the answer. By now you are probably asking yourself, how did WHAT happen? How did a reasonably intelligent, hard working guy like myself get hooked on drugs? More specifically, that nasty bitch we lovingly, at first, call Mz. Tina….
Oh, it started innocently at first when I stop and think back on it. Out for the weekend at a club and a friend says, here try this, it’s great you’ll feel like a million dollars and we can party on ALL night!!! And the sex is going to just be Fabulous…with a recommendation like that, I thought, I’d be a fool to not try it. At least once, I said.
I tried it, just a small “line” at first I mean its not like I was one of those “druggies”, or one of those low life homeless guys…I had a job and a car and a house. I wasn’t like them. That could never happen. Guess what? I DID feel like a million bucks and sex WAS fabulous…even sex with people I would not normally even speak to let alone have sex with!!! It just made me incredibly horny and sexual and I just felt like every one was my friend…there wasn’t always a cute guy around who was my type but with Mz. Tina around, I didn’t care…I’d just “snort” them pretty and go ahead and do the deed anyway…yes the standards definitely got lowered a bit…at first it was just once every couple of weeks or so…I was only partying on the weekends, Friday night and Saturday night. I had to work on Monday so I stopped partying Sunday so I was good to go on Monday morning. By this time Id been doing Mz. Tina for about 6 months, but only “recreationally”, meaning on weekends. I told myself it was okay because it was only 2 days a week and I did have a job and a car and a house…and it WAS the weekend I deserved to have some fun…
I managed to always get to work on Monday and get thru the week in good shape…. I soon found myself daydreaming and wishing that Friday would hurry up and get here…hey I was ready to have some more fun again, as so often happens with Mz. Tina, the weekends began to start on Thursday and end on Sun night…I started to show up at work looking like the wrath of God has been thrown at me. BUT I was still at work on Monday so how bad good it be I told myself…and I did have fun, I think, hmmmmm parts of the weekend are awfully fuzzy. I just did not always remember the whole weekend…I knew that Id had fun and id made some new friends…now if I could just remember what his name was. Did he give me his phone number? Did I give him mine?
I wrote it on a scrap of paper somewhere. Ill find it later. He liked me, I could tell…but what the hell did he look like? Did we have sex? Was it fun? Better yet, was it safe…?
No time to worry about it now Id tell myself…I’ll be better next weekend…..
quoted and reposted from tweaker.org
i was scrolling through an fb page for the club i used to manage back in the 80’s and savoring many of the songs that the dj/vj’s posted. bands like skinny puppy, nitzer ebb, front 242, and even rights of the accused. but then all the way at the bottom was a band i had nearly forgotten about- vicious pink.
ccccan’t you see was such a complete anthem in my eyes. it had so much of that quintessential crossover sound of that decade. and it opened up a floodgate of feelings and memories when i heard it.
at the same time i noticed that a friend was celebrating his birthday at the same time, so i posted it to him with a short and sweet (hopefully) note of good wishes.
i got back a quiet message which was a bit of a surprise. it was about his new relationship and how they have been slamming T a coupla times a week. Also detailed was how that part felt like it was getting outa hand and going south quickly. he wrote about shaking so much he doesn’t get a good hit, and maybe it’s a good day to say “done with it”. the note was finished with a tender bit about me being a safe place to drop a random note like this because i could understand after having been through what i’ve been through.
quite a birthday note eh? and it does lead me to consider where my life has led. he is correct- i do understand. i have honed my understanding to include never going back. it’s odd that i have about 3 or 4 really close friends (from those days) who all continue to engage in serious dance moves with getting high. for this one it’s iv crystal, for one it’s iv crystal and crack, for the 3rd its crack. they maintain (something i could never do) but i wonder if they grow. i know i feel my life has really opened up since throwing down the sword and walking away from the battle. and i also know i cannot live my friends lives.
there are not so many people left who hold my history in their hearts. it’s important for me to love them, albeit from a distance. too close would be toxic. perhaps for each of us.
when i was in a gala chorus in the 90’s here in colorado, i remember an introduction by one of the gala organizers describing lgbt people as those who said “yes” to pleasure in ways that others were afraid to do. that has resonated with me all these years and still does. there is a lot to be found in the idea that denied inclusion, acceptance, and visible demonstration for so long might just lead to a determination of having pleasure after the coming out process.
that day held some quiet and remarkable reminders about my life, my friends, my culture, and my journey. i numbed out for a minute after the note, but felt empathy almost immediately. i felt allegiance for the trust that was given me. i cannot help really other than hold good thoughts for my friend and the situation. it continues to be a twisted web we weave and it’s remarkable the challenges we traverse in the name of love.
i recently realized (duh) that i am really involved with projects in my life that i believe in and that i care about. the very frustrating part of all these things is that they all seem to struggle with finances. the clinic that i work with full time has traditionally taken care of people with no resources and funding is always a struggle. additionally it’s a medical facility and medical pricing seems to be over the top to me.
i took a second job at a small counseling agency in englewood. they actually have two locations (one in westminster) and currently do mostly dui counseling. the dui arrests have increased in numbers, however the revenue stream for dui seems to be in a drought. the englewood office is in dire need of a facelift and there is but 1 dollar to get it done. and it has to be done. i will be kind and not post pics here.
i have taken the position of chair on the board for advocates for recovery in colorado. part of their charge has been to host a rally for recovery every september (national recovery month). i am also co-chairing the rally this year. i met with the other co-chair about the budget. it’s not an easy picture. there will be funds, but i am not sure where or when. their website has been reconstructed recently after the original webmaster had a meltdown. the site was back up in days (whew) but also really needs a directional overhaul. someone mentioned at a board retreat last year that they were looking at the afr website and they couldn’t discern what we do. i have to say i whole-heartedly agree. and having a clear message may just be more important than buying 300 baseball game tickets to give to sponsors of the rally- this year’s cost has gone up dramatically.
it seems masochistic for me to be involved in all these projects that don’t have enough. i am not sure at all that i can solve all their issues. i hope they want me to continue to try. i hope even more that i can bring some lightness and laughter with me. that is what feels to be drained the most when i consider all this lack. it’s almost as if the lack is contagious. maybe i won’t have enough wisdom or stamina to be of help. maybe i am not the right person for this job. maybe i will. maybe i will might be the most frightening of all these. maybe i am just used to being afraid.
these are just questions on a sunday morning. the answers will come. i hope i can live up to my hopes with all these situations and organizations. i don’t wanna let anybody down. but just like these lyrics ask- “why does the wind blow through my house at night”, these worries and questions run through my head most times. “you look to the sky and no one cares” seems appropriate. why does it matter when we have no way of knowing. just do what you do and live your life. thoughtful advice.
in case you don’t remember tracey thorn she and her husband used to be everything but the girl. she still has that same hauntingly beautiful tone in her voice. this is from her 2010 album “love and its opposite”