Monthly Archives: March 2015

Moment of Zen: Spring 



The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!
~ Robert Browning

“The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” ~ Ernest Hemingway


Thank You 



Thank you for your kind words.  I want all of you to know that I do have a great doctor; in fact, he is probably one of the best in this part of Alabama. My mother, who is a nurse and used to work with him, has always said that he is the best diagnostician she’s ever known.  He will not rest until he is sure of what’s wrong, and can fix it.  He also has one of the greatest memories I’ve ever seen.  Though he uses a patient’s chart, he can always remember everything there is to know about a patient simply by seeing their face or hearing their name.  He also reads every medical journal he can get his hands on. He stays abreast of the latest studies, and if something that has him perplexed, he’s not afraid to admit it and will immediately research the issue.  Needless to say, I feel completely confident in his care.

I want to thank all of you for your love and support.  It is extremely heartwarming to hear and receive such support.  I started the new antidepressant yesterday, and it will take at least a week to get fully in my system.  I begin the new headache treatment today. My doctor has me on a 12 day prednisone treatment and a calcium blocker, which is designed to prevent the cluster headaches.  He also prescribed Imitrex to help when I have one of these headaches.  He’d prescribed the nasal spray, but even as a generic the copay is outrageous and the pharmacy has to special order it.  Therefore, I’m going to give the pills a try even though the relief isn’t immediate with the pill.  Currently, it’s a matter of giving these treatments a chance to work and having the patience to know this may only be the beginning but it’s a start and not a last resort.     

Sometimes…



Sometimes, I think, “What am I going to write for today’s post?”  Sometimes I get a good idea, sometimes I totally blank, and sometimes I find inspiration somewhere.  As I was thinking about this last night, I decided I’d just update you on my headaches and health.  If you’ve read this blog long, you probably know two things about my health: 1) I suffer from headaches; and 2) I suffer from depression.  I decided it was time for me to go see my doctor and discuss these issues with him more thoroughly.  I hate going to the doctor, so I’ve put it off for quite a while, but a few things have changed recently.

First, I wrote a month or so ago about how I think my headaches are more than just migraines and how they may be cluster headaches because of the symptoms.  When I discussed my symptoms with my doctor, he agreed.  He started me on a treatment for cluster headaches and wants me to get a CT scan, which I dread because my copay for that is $300, but it is necessary for a true diagnosis.  (If anyone would like to help with that cost, [even a small amount would help], the donate button is to the right toward the top.  It may not sound like a lot to some people, but with my current salary, the extra expense will mean less for other bills and expenses and will take some time to catch up, especially when I’m finally starting to feel like I am almost caught up financially.) My doctor did start me on some preventive medications and a new medication for when I have a cluster headache.  I’m interested to see if it will work.  I’m hopeful that it will.

Second, I’ve noticed in the last few months that my antidepressant hasn’t seem to be doing its job, and its side effects are affecting me in a way that I hadn’t noticed before.  When I had the flu, I discussed how I didn’t feel that my antidepressant was working as I was having some depressive episodes.  Initially, he double the dosage of my medicine to see if it would help.  It has not.  In the past six months and even longer than that, I’ve been very lethargic.  I haven’t had the energy to do much of anything, and so often, I just get discouraged with things piling up.  I’ve also had more and more moments of feeling completely hopeless.  Never to the point of harming myself, but often to the point of thinking that if I were to die, my suffering would end. (Maybe that’s the passive aggressive southerner in me.) I’m glad I have wonderful friends and family who remind me the importance of being here on earth.  However, there are days when a great sadness washes over me.  I feel despondent, and I wonder if life will ever get any better.  My boyfriend makes me realize that it is worth it, and it does get better.  I love the way he makes me feel, and that brings me to the second major reason I wanted to change antidepressants.

I’ve also noticed, and this has just been in the last year because I’ve been more sexually active and have been dating more, that I’ve had issues getting an erection, maintaining an erection, and/or reaching orgasm.  This isn’t always an occurance, but it’s far more often than I’d like. It’s been very frustrating for me, and I hate for my partner to think it is him, because it is most definitely not.  I just don’t have the sex drive I used to have.  Sexual dysfunction is a major side effect of most antidepressants, and definitely with this one.  Doubling the dosage seemed to only make it worse.  I’m only 37, and I’ve always had a very strong libido until recently.  So I asked him if he’d switch me to a new medication without these side effects, and he agreed to let me try it.  I really hope it works.

That was the good news yesterday, the bad news is that there was a screw up sending my new prescriptions to the pharmacy and after I’d driven all the way to the pharmacy, they didn’t have it.  When the pharmacy called the doctor’s office, my doctor had already left, and the nurse wouldn’t do anything to help the pharmacist.  I was quite upset, and trust me, they will hear about it first thing this morning.  Luckily, I have a family member that works not too far from my pharmacy, so she will be able to pick up my new medications, but I’m anxious to start my new medications and see how they will work.

I’m really hopeful that this is a major step,in the right direction for dealing with some of my problems.  It’s a new day.

Corey Kent White: Too Cute and Talented Not to Win



Corey Kent White is many things. He’s an artist. He’s a songwriter, and he’s a hard worker. So far, he’s also, hands down, my pick to win The Voice this season.  White has put in thousands of hours as a writer and performer. In fact, White’s performances and original songs have already captivated audiences of all sizes throughout the United States.

As part of Team Blake, White and Jacob Rummell  competed in the final night of The Voice battle rounds Tuesday, and White walked away with the win.  In what coach Blake Shelton declared a “dead even” battle, it was White who Shelton chose to advance to the knockout rounds, though I think White was clearly the best choice.  Rummell was stolen by Pharrell, so he remains on the show as well.

The knockout rounds are set to air March 23, 24 and 30 on NBC.  In the knockouts, the singers are again pitted against a fellow team member, but they choose which song they will perform individually while the other watches.

Over ten years ago, White started his music career on a lonely stage at the State Fair in Tulsa, OK. Although it was just him and his guitar, Corey’s talent and professionalism shone through and impressed the manager of a Western Swing band called Oklahoma Stomp. White’s first appearance quickly turned into a five-year gig touring with this group that opened for well-known acts like the Oak Ridge Boys and played famous stages like the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

One thing about the success that White has experienced is clear—it was earned not given. He has worked extraordinarily hard to achieve these extraordinary results.  What’s more, all of this clears up one thing about his future…He won’t stop working until he is at the top, and I hope he’s the top choice for America this season on The Voice.  I can’t help but be excited over White.  I usually choose a country singer to root for, because they are usually some of the best talent on the show, but White has a breathy, sexy voice, not to mention that he’s just adorable.

St. Patrick’s Day



Here are two poems for St. Patrick’s Day, both appropriately titled, “St. Patrick’s Day.”

St. Patrick’s Day
By Jean Blewett

There’s an Isle, a green Isle, set in the sea,
     Here’s to the Saint that blessed it!
And here’s to the billows wild and free
     That for centuries have caressed it!

Here’s to the day when the men that roam
     Send longing eyes o’er the water!
Here’s to the land that still spells home
     To each loyal son and daughter!

Here’s to old Ireland—fair, I ween,
     With the blue skies stretched above her!
Here’s to her shamrock warm and green,
     And here’s to the hearts that love her!

St. Patrick’s Day
BY Eliza Cook

St. Patrick’s Day! St. Patrick’s Day!
Oh! thou tormenting Irish lay—
I’ve got thee buzzing in my brain,
And cannot turn thee out again.
Oh, mercy! music may be bliss
But not in such a shape as this,
When all I do, and all I say,
Begins and ends in Patricks’s Day.

Had it but been in opera shape,
Italian squall, or German scrape,
Fresh from the bow of Paganini,
Or caught from Weber of Rossini,
One would not care so much—but, oh!
The sad plebeian shame to know
An old blind fiddler bore away
My senses with St. Patrick’s Day.

I take up Burke in hopes to chase
The plaguing phantom from its place;
But all in vain—attention wavers
From classic lore to triplet quavers;
An “Essay” on the great “Sublime”
Sounds strangely set in six-eight time.
Down goes the book, read how I may,
The words will flow to Patrick’s Day.


St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every year on March 17th, honoring the Irish patron saint, St. Patrick. The celebrations are largely Irish culture themed and typically consist of wearing green, parades, and drinking. Some churches may hold religious services and many schools and offices close in Suffolk County, the area containing Boston and its suburbs.

St. Patrick, or the “Apostle of Ireland,” actually started out in the pagan religion. While not much is known about his early life, as many of his life’s details were lost to folklore, letters from St. Patrick reveal that he was captured in Wales, Scotland, or another close area outside of Ireland and taken to Ireland as a slave. Years later, he escaped and returned to his family, who were Romans living in Britain, going back to Ireland for mission work after finding a place as a cleric and then Bishop within the Christian faith. He was born around 460, and by the 600s, he was already known as the Patron Saint of Ireland.

There are many legends associated with St. Patrick. The symbol of the shamrock used for St. Patrick’s Day comes from the story of St. Patrick using the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity. The three-leafed plant coincided with the Pagan religion’s sanctity of the number three and is the root of the green color theme.  Another popular belief is that St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. The story says that while St. Patrick was fasting, snakes attacked him, so he chased all snakes into the ocean. However, there have never been snakes in Ireland during the post-glacial period. The absence of snakes and symbolism involved with snakes is believed to explain the story, although it could have been referring to type of worm rather than snakes. One legend has St. Patrick sticking a walking stick into the ground while evangelizing, which turned into a tree.

St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America in 1737, organized by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston, including a feast and religious service. This first celebration of the holiday in the colonies was largely to honor and celebrate the Irish culture that so many colonists had been separated from.  Early celebrations continued this modest tradition. In New York, the first celebration took place as a small gathering at the home of an Irish protestant. St. Patrick’s Day parades started in New York in 1762 by a group of Irish soldiers in the British military who marched down Broadway. This began the tradition of a military theme in the parade, as they often feature marching military unites. The holiday eventually evolved from the modest religious dinner into the raucous holiday we know today.


Jean McKishnie Blewett (4 November 1862 – 19 August 1934) was a Canadian journalist, author and poet.  Eliza Cook (24 December 1818 – 23 September 1889) was an English author, Chartist poet and writer born in London Road, Southwark.



Soul Mates



Plato’s Symposium uses the dialogue to expound various theories of love. Each participant by means of very personal contributions adds something towards an exposition of love that at the end receives its conclusion from Socrates. The comic playwright, Aristophanes’s speech is an explanation of why people in love say they feel “whole” when they have found their love partner. He begins by explaining that people must understand human nature before they can interpret the origins of love and how it affects their own times. 

 Aristophanes says that in the beginning there were three parents: Sun, Moon, and Earth. Each produced an offspring, round and otherwise like itself. From sun was produced the man; from earth, the woman; from moon, the androgyne. Each of these three was a double, one head with two faces looking out in opposite directions, four arms and legs, and two sets of genitalia. They moved about on the earth with a great deal more freedom and power than humans do now, for they rolled-ran hand over hand and foot over foot at double speed.  In other words, they did cartwheels to get around.

One day, these fast, powerful, but foolish creatures decided to scale Mt. Olympus to attack the gods.

What should the gods do to show the foolish humans the error of their ways? Should they shoot them down with thunderbolts? No, they decided, too boring. They’d done that before to the giants. Besides, who would pour out libations and offer sacrifices to them if they destroyed their worshipers? They had to devise a new punishment.

Zeus thought and thought. Finally he had a brainstorm. Humans were not a real threat, but they did need a dressing down. Their arrogance would be checked if they lost their speed, strength, and confidence. Zeus decided that if they were cut in half, they would be only half as fast and half as strong. Even better, it was a re-usable plan. Should they act up again, he would repeat the operation, leaving them with only one leg and one arm each.

After he revealed his plan to his fellow Olympians, he asked Apollo to join him in putting it into effect. The king of the gods cut the man-man, woman-woman, and man-woman creatures in half and Apollo made the necessary repairs. The face, previously facing out, Apollo turned inward. Then he gathered all the skin together (like a purse) with an opening in the middle as a reminder to mankind of his earlier state.

After the surgery, the half creatures ran around frantically looking for their other halves, seeking them out, embracing them, and trying to join together again. Unable to join, the creatures despaired and began to starve to death in their sorrow. Zeus, again mindful of his need for worship, decided something must be done to recharge the creatures’ spirits, so he instructed Apollo to create a means to rejoin temporarily. This Apollo did by turning the genitals to the belly side of the body.

Before, mankind had procreated by dropping seed on the ground. This new system created an interesting new means of producing offspring.

The creatures who had been double women before, naturally sought out women; those who had been androgynous, sought out members of the opposite gender; those who had been double men, sought out the company of men, and not simply for intercourse, but so they could become whole again by being rejoined with their soul mates.




True Friends




As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.
1 Samuel 18:1-4


Two boys collected a bucket of nuts underneath a great tree inside a cemetery on the outskirts of town. When the bucket was full, they sat down out of sight to divide the spoils.

“One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me,” said one boy, as the other watched intently. Their bucket was so full that some of the nuts had spilled out and rolled toward the fence.

It was dusk, and another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.”

The boy with the bike knew just what was happening, and his face went ghostly white. “Oh my,” he shuddered. “It’s Satan and the Lord dividing souls at the cemetery!”

He jumped back on his bike and rode off, desperately looking for a friend. Just around the bend he met an old, scowling man who hobbled along with a cane.

“Come with me, quick!” said the boy. “You won’t believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls!”

The man said, “Beat it, kid, can’t you see it’s hard for me to walk?” When the boy insisted, though, the man hobbled to the cemetery. When they arrived at the fence, they heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.”

Ready to have a little fun, the old man whispered, “Boy, you’ve been tellin’ the truth. Let’s go inside, and see if we can see the Devil himself!”

The child was horrified, but the old man was already taking his first step toward the gate. Then they heard, “Okay, that’s the last of them. That’s all. Now let’s go get those two nuts by the fence, and we’ll be done.” They say the old guy made it back to town five minutes ahead of the boy! More than likely, he was looking for a friend.

Most people are constantly looking for friends. Some people are desperately looking for friendship. At times we all stand frozen with fear by the cemetery fence, so to speak, when life shakes us to the core. At times the legs don’t support, and a healthy heart nearly breaks. At times we can barely muster a prayer, and when it comes out, it’s a plea for a friend.
                     
Friends can be a wonderful blessing. A source of comfort in times good and bad and a source of good counsel when we need advice or a sympathetic ear. It is not always easy to know who our true friends are.  Sometimes a true friend tells you what you don’t want to hear, and sometimes a false friend tells you what you do want to hear.  

A true friend will always tell you the truth, even when it might hurt, but they know that the truth is what is best because it is what you need to hear.  We need true friends, who when hearing the gospel of Christ will tell you the full gospel as preached by Christ and His apostles.  A true friend will not just tell you what is popularly believed, or what may appeal to your sensitivities.  We need true friends, who when we are growing in grace will tell us of the need to grow, and the danger of abandoning our beliefs.  As gay men and women, this is especially important.  We often find ourselves rejected from our church, but the true relationship we have with God is personal, and an organization of men cannot take that away.

We should always appreciate the value of true friends.  On the other hand,  false friends often tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear.  False friends tend to have ulterior motives and they may lead us in the wrong direction.   Many people have been led astray by the wrong kind of friends. Good habits can be corrupted by bad company and immature Christians have been tossed around by cunning and deceitful teachers.  And when we most need them, a false friend is nowhere to be found, but a true friend is by your side.  I often see this with homophobic people.  Instead of reading the bible for themselves, they allow others to tell them what it means.

The greatest true friend we will always have is Jesus, and if you are lucky (and I count myself as very lucky), I have a number of true friends who love and care for me.


Moment of Zen: Wink, Wink



I’ve always found that when a guy winks at me, I go a little weak in the knees.  Is it the same for you?

Solitudine

Solitudine non è essere soli, è amare gli altri inutilmente. 
Mario Stefani
(Loneliness is not being alone, it’s loving the of others in vain.)
 
Mario Stefani
(August 4, 1938 – March 4, 2001) Italy
Poet, art critic, journalist
 
The gay poet Mario Stefani, was born in Venice; a semi-local celebrity and good-hearted neighbor whose mysterious suicide shocked the Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio community in which he lived.
 
“Anyone who loves Venice, is a true Venetian… even a tourist, but only if the tourist stays long enough to appreciate the city.”  So used to say Mario Stefani.
 
Mario’s poetry is mostly in Italian; his only two collections of Venetian dialect poetry go back to the late sixties, written in the Venetian of those years in a simple style, without any type of linguistic experimentation.
 
He is quoted in John Berendt’s new book, The City of Falling Angels, which I am currently reading again, as saying “Telling the truth is the most anticonformist act I know.”
 
About three weeks before Stefani’s death, someone had wrote in red stay paint something on the wooden wall covering a small building site right next to the Rialto bridge: “Solitudine non è essere soli, è amare gli altri inutilmente. Mario Stefani” (Loneliness is not being alone, it’s loving the others in vain). Three weeks later, on a Sunday, when he’d least likely to have been missed, he hung himself in his kitchen.
 
Even when we are surrounded by people who love us, we can still feel lonely.  This is especially true when we are hiding a part of ourselves.  Stefani was an out and proud gay man; however, he was hiding a great sadness behind his ever present smile.  So, what I’d like for all of us to do, is tell our friends and loved ones how much we care and love them and that they are not alone.  Sometimes we just need to hear that.

Blurred Lines

In the early 1950s when the homophile movement (the early name for the gay rifts movement) began, the U.S. government didn’t differentiate between homosexual rights manifestos, gay erotica or dirty pictures. All were considered illegal, and using the postal service to distribute any of them could and did result in long prison sentences.
 
So perhaps it’s not surprising that pornographers, who had years of experience fighting those battles, were often prominent figures in the emerging homophile movement’s leadership. Jim Kepner, founder of the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, was a noted author of gay erotica. Hal Call, one of the first presidents of the Mattachine Society, the pioneering gay rights organization in San Francisco, was an adult film director and owner of the Adonis Bookstore.
 
Chuck Holmes made a fortune as the founder of the Falcon Studios, a wildly successful gay porn studio who was one of the first to switch from film to videocassette in the 1980s.  He later directed his fortune toward philanthropy, funding HIV/AIDS outreach programs, as well as San Francisco Community Center Project, Amnesty International, Global Green, Sierra Club, The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign. He was also active in supporting political campaigns both locally in San Francisco, and at the national level.
In 2002, Holmes’ name was installed over the San Francisco LGBT Center, and public outrage was swift. Detractors called the move, which was in recognition of the late gay mogul’s $1 million bequest to the beleaguered center, “insane.”  The detractors feared it would only fuel right-wing allegations about the gay community’s obsession with sex. What those critics missed, and what continues to missed over a decade later, is the role pornographers like Holmes played in building the gay rights movement we know today.
 
In 2013, Equality Florida’s Tampa Steering Committee presented Jason Gibson, CEO and founder of Corbin Fisher, a leading “amateur” gay porn website, with its Service and Leadership Award.  The award honors an individual whose tremendous support has directly contributed to Equality Florida’s ability to break through to a new level of outreach and effectiveness in the effort to secure full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
 
Corbin Fisher and Gibson gave more than $120,000 to Equality Florida in recent years, and employees have also contributed video editing and production skills to public service announcements. During the 2008 campaign seasons, Corbin Fisher assisted Equality Florida in developing a mobile voting website and provided legal services to the organization. These contributions continued even after Corbin Fisher moved its base of operations from Florida to Nevada in 2010.  Since arriving in Nevada, Corbin Fisher and Gibson have contributed more than $25,000 to local and national LGBT advocacy organizations, Las Vegas’ arts and culture community, and the city’s new gay and lesbian center. Beyond financial contributions to LGBT groups and non-profits, the company said it encourages activism and philanthropy among staff — all employees of the company are given paid time off to volunteer for charitable organizations, continuing its policy where charitable donations made by individual employees to non-profit groups are matched by the company.
Rather than be a liability, pornographers can provide a strategic advantage to the movement. They not only know the legal restrictions and how to get around them both then and now,  but the early gay pornographers had the money to fight the obscenity battles that cleared the way for greater discussions of sexuality. Pornographers were the advance troops of our sexual revolution.
 
Homophile organizations like Mattachine and Daughters of Bilitis had publications, of course, but their reach was miniscule compared to that of “posing strap” magazines like Physique Pictorial and Tomorrow’s Man. It wasn’t political tracts, but pornography that provided most gay men with their first connection to — and awareness of — a larger gay culture.  The same exists today with the internet, though the GLBT community is presented more in the mainstream media as well.
 
From the early days of gay liberation, porn has been embraced as a vital part of our cultural fabric. The very first issue of The Advocate celebrated a court victory won by two pornographers, Conrad Germain and Lloyd Spinar, who had faced 145 years in prison for sending nudes through the mail, on its front page. Gay sexuality was dangerous and subversive, and any chance to speak it, explicitly or otherwise, was a strike for freedom and visibility.
 
And at a time when mainstream media portrayed homosexuals as pathological, depressive and criminal, porn offered a sunny alternative. We might scoff at porn theaters now, but looking up at that screen, a closeted man could see a promise of gay life that was open and positive, with larger-than-life men who were bold and unashamed in ways he might only aspire to be.
For those who lived outside city centers, that same promise came in the form of mail-order magazines and 8mm loops, which was Chuck Holmes’ business. As the owner of the legendary Falcon Studios, Holmes had the widest reach of the early pornographers, and he was vocal about creating imagery that would make gay men feel proud of their sexuality. For tens of thousands of closeted customers in small towns across the country, those Falcon films were the “It Gets Better” videos of their day.
 
Pornographers contributed in thousands of other ways, of course — by funding the movement directly, by lending resources and distribution, by educating audiences about safer sex during the AIDS crisis, and by lending their mailing lists to fledgling organizations like the Human Rights Campaign Fund. Holmes served on the HRC’s Board of Directors.
 
But as the movement moved more into the mainstream, adult filmmakers were less and less welcome; their contributions pushed back into the closet. Checks, literally and metaphorically, were returned. Despite his tireless work on behalf of gay and progressive causes, only in recent years have pornographers been welcomed with open arms as Jason Gibson has been.
 
Some of you may see this history as a black eye on the movement, something that will hurt us in political fights over issues like marriage. I believe detractors and anti-gay politicians will always find something to hurt us until attitudes across America change enough that homophobic comments will only hurt those who say them.  If we allow our sexuality to be a source of shame, and hide our history to appease our critics, we’re not nearly as out or proud as we think we are.