Sunday, November 17, 2013

How I Know I Love Someone

So here's how I know I love someone.  Initially I'll feel that nervous flutter that first made itself known back in first grade when I had a crush on the girl who sat next to me in class.  But then that feeling turns into something more complex: I want to take that person to the remotest desert and stand there looking at the horizon: the sand, the rocky formations, the endless sky.  I want to feel the blazing sun, and take his hand in mine.  In the background I hear a piece of music like Jesse Cook's Cafe Mocha.  We stand there until we know to look at each other.  Then we walk down that desert highway, going confidently in an unknown direction, not caring about the destination.  S. is that person in my life right now.

Loving someone who does not love you back makes for an interesting experience.  I feel like I am split in two.  Tonight I walked with him for ten minutes, and never once looked him in the eye.  I couldn't manage it.  I felt the moment I did, I would be betraying the understanding that we have: we are just friends.  And once I cross that line, the friendship is over.  I would lose him, and betray myself.  Love can overpower anyone at any time.  In the past I would have withered under its relentless attack.  Tonight I felt like I could fight back.            

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Imagine a Room...

Imagine a room that you might inhabit.  Imagine a box in this room.  Where is this box in the room and how large is it?  Imagine a ladder in the room.  Where is this ladder and how large is it?  Imagine flowers in the room.  How many flowers are there and where are they in the room?  Imagine a horse of your very own.  What would this horse be like?  Where is this horse in relation to the room?  Out the window is an approaching storm.  Describe this storm.  How does it make you feel?

These were the questions posed to me earlier this evening by a friend, and this is how I answered:

1.  How large is your box and where is it?  My box is the size of a small night stand and in the corner.
2.  Where is the ladder and how large is it?  It's a fairly large ladder, and it's hanging on the wall like a work of art.
3.  How many flowers are there and where are they?  There's a bouquet of flowers and they're in a vase on the box.
4.  What is your horse like?  It's golden brown, and it's roaming the farm just outside my window.
5.  What is the storm like?  It's an ominous thunderstorm with heavy rains, but I'm not afraid of it. In fact, the winds cool my room.

Have you answered these questions honestly?  Here are the interpretations:

1.  The box is your ego.  How large and where it is in the room speak to its place in your life.  I was told that I have a moderately sized ego, that it's under control, and that I know not to let it dominate my life.
2.  The ladder speaks to ambition.  I have ambition, but don't always act on it.  Right now, I seem to be contemplating it.
3.  The flowers are your friends.  I have a good mix of people close to me, and I hold them dear (as they are sitting on top of my box, my ego.)
4.  The horse is your partner.  The more you describe the horse, the pickier you are about what you seek in your partner.  I let my horse roam freely outside, but I take comfort in knowing I can see it at all times.
5.  The storm is your coping mechanism.  I don't let my troubles overwhelm me.  In fact, I try to turn them to my advantage.

I was blown away by how accurate this little psychological puzzle was.  I found it to be all essentially true.  How about you?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Much to be Thankful For

     Life has been so good these past few years that I seem to have lost track of this blog. The truth is I have been putting all my energy into writing screenplays, and have been seeing some interest from producers and managers. Nothing has been optioned as of yet, but I vow to write on. I use the word 'vow' purposefully because I've married my writing.
     After 10 years of dates, 10 years of sitting at restaurant tables that did more to alienate than anything else, I realized I wasn't going to find that someone to settle down with. A lot of the guys couldn't get past my HIV. But there were also a few who were all right with it. I even dated a few guys who were also HIV+. Chemistry can be so elusive.  But it was this one final dinner that made me understand what a colossal joke life could be. I had met him online, and we took to each other right away. After 2 dates, I decided to tell him. We were sitting in a Chinese restaurant when he suddenly, inexplicably, went off into a tirade against HIV+ guys and how they all needed to die. Part of me was mortified. But another part of me was laughing uncontrollably, thinking: it's a good thing I didn't tell him about my status before he decided to lose it completely. The dinner ended. He said he was looking forward to seeing me again after his business trip to Asia. Shortly thereafter I e-mailed him and told him I was HIV+, and that we probably wouldn't be seeing each other any time soon. To his credit, he apologized and cried over the phone to me. I told him not to worry about anything. Earlier this summer, after about 2 years, I saw him on the street in Hell's Kitchen. He was with some other guy. They looked happy. I was happy.
     As miserable as that last date was, sitting at that small table in that Chinese restaurant, it was infinitely better than all those times I'd be sitting and waiting to be seen by the doctor. For the last decade I've had to see my doctors 9 times a year. 4 times for blood work, 4 times for discussing results and once for a psychological exam. Waiting rooms are like isolation chambers. Even the one at the clinic I go to for all my medical work. It's pretty obvious that everyone sitting there is also HIV+, but no one ever wants to make eye contact. Making eye contact would be to expose the truth. Anyway, it's my yearly psych exam that ironically keeps me going in life--it forces me to be positive and happy. I never got so much as a C in school, so there's no way I'm ever going to fail a psych exam!
     Truthfully, I'd be lying if I didn't say that HIV hasn't turned me a little cuckoo. A writer is nothing if not someone who talks to himself. Constantly. Perhaps that's why I've come back to this blog again. I've gotten a little too comfortable sitting at my desk, talking to my characters, getting inside their heads, forgetting that there's a world just outside my window. I've turned into a homebody! Me, the guy who used to love to travel the world, and learn foreign languages and meet people at parties. I smile as I write this: I've discovered TV. I'm watching American Horror Story this season and loving it. I watched every episode of Korea's Next Top Model, Cycle 4. (It puts Tyra's show to shame.) I've discovered YouTube! Who knew there was so much interesting stuff to be seen? And of course I have my subscriptions to The New Yorker and Wired. I rediscovered my love for Somerset Maugham. On my nightstand is David Byrne's How Music Works. 
     Where do I go from here? When you're in your head, and in your room so much of the time, floating in an ocean of words, where is it that you drift off to next? I wonder.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dating Myself

I feel very tempted to change the name of my blog to Dating Myself. Which is what I've been doing the past 7 years in my search for love. And Carrie Bradshaw and friends thought they had it hard. I suppose I have no one to blame but myself for the predicament I now find myself in--HIV- men are not lining up to date someone who is positive. They just aren't. In the past 7 years, I've had a number of first dates. Fewer second dates. Which is when I usually tell the guy about my status. I can honestly say that I have not had a single third date. Zero. Without exception, they have all fled. Can I blame them? I don't know. I never had a positive man say they wanted to date me when I was negative. Would I have also stopped returning phone calls and e-mails? Would I also have not wanted to deal with it?

Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself I just get out of the house and go on a date. With myself. It sounds kind of pathetic, but otherwise it would just get too damn lonely. So today I went down to the East Village to watch a movie. But not before stopping at Subway where I ordered my favorite steak and cheese on wheat. (I must have been feeling extra sorry today because I also got a bag of salt and vinegar chips.) Then I went to the Sunshine theater to watch Love Crime, a French movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas speaking impeccable(!) French. She's such a bewitching actress. I must say I couldn't understand all the negative reviews. I was captivated from start to finish by the performances of the lead actresses.

Part of the craziness of dating yourself is that you've got to talk to yourself while you're on the date. Otherwise, it's not really much of a date, is it? I think this must be how people start to go crazy. Insanity or loneliness? I think it's a no-brainer.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It Has Been a While...

It has certainly been a long time since I've posted here. I'm not sure why I disappeared. I think mostly the problem was that I felt I didn't have much to share anymore. I also think that the vast improvement in my health also played a part--I wasn't identifying myself primarily in terms of my HIV. I think I have much to be grateful for.

For starters, my last checkup showed that my numbers are in excellent order. For an HIV+ person, two are important: the viral load and the t-cell count. When I was first diagnosed, my viral load was around 500,000 copies per milliliter of blood. A sick number. For the past several years now, the virus has been undetectable. It doesn't mean the HIV has been wiped out, just that the tests that are used cannot detect it. HIV has been shown to hide in reservoirs of the human body, but an undetectable test means the virus is being kept at bay. The t-cells are the cells that fight off infection. In the average healthy human, this number should be anywhere from 500 - 1500. My t-cell count at the outset was 185, which is technically AIDS. I am happy to say that this number was at 1590 a few weeks ago. I love it when my doctor tells me how she is always impressed by the recovery I've made.

This summer I've been playing tons of tennis. I joined the gay tennis group here in NYC and even played in two tournaments. I NEVER thought I'd be fit enough to do that, but never say never. I've had decent results, but more importantly, have made some of the best friends I've ever had.

Gosh, it feels nice to be typing away in blogger again. I think I'll come back soon and share some more happiness.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sermon for May 30 - What is Compassion?

In a nutshell, the willingness to feel someone else's pain. Yeah, OK, how many of us are willing to do that? Hell, I don't want to feel my own pain much less someone else's. This of course bodes ill for the world. With so much pain to go around, how do we go about alleviating it through means that are not chemical or iPhonic related? With so much pain to go around, is it any wonder that most of us are addicted to something like alcohol or nicotine or just about anything that allows us to escape that pain?


Does the willingness to feel someone else's pain actually help that person? And here the good reverend insisted on a hard and resounding YES! On the condition that said willingness go beyond mere words. "Oh, I feel your pain!" and "You must be going through hell!" just aren't going to cut it. Words are cheap. The only real words are actions. Compassion has to be able to transform suffering. At the same time, we have to take responsibility for our own lives, respecting the lives we've been given.

How are you going to be an agent of life and love to someone this week?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tonight's Sermon - What is Essential?

Tonight I went to the evening service, which I actually prefer because the night air seems to calm everyone down and there's a sing-along before the service starts. No one has to rush off to some afternoon dim sum thingy and most everyone stays for coffee and chit chat upstairs.

What is essential to life? What do we need? What do we need to make us happy? I guess someone has to ask these questions because they're certainly not being asked in school and work and the political spheres which only take up nearly 100% of our living lives. Why is it that these questions aren't being asked in the places where we spend most of our waking hours? That in itself is a telling state of our society. What the good Reverend was saying tonight is that the answer changes based on our situation. True, that. I remember 6 years ago when I first found out that I was HIV+ that all I needed was to know that I wasn't going to be dead in 2 years time. Once I got that answer, then I needed a job. Then I needed a job that would actually not drive me crazy. Then I needed my Dad to not be sick. Then I needed my friend to get better. With our "needs" changing all the time, it's no wonder we're all kind of a little cuckoo and so hard for others to read.

All we need is the grace of God, knowing that we're loved and that we're forgiven for being less than the perfect creatures we are. The problem is that most of us couldn't care less about some distant God and simply want to be loved and forgiven by the people we're surrounded by. Loved by our friends. Family. Boss. Colleagues. Forgiven by these very same people for all the silly and serious mistakes we make. So the challenge tonight was to be an individual who can love and forgive. And if we could all do that, then maybe earth could be a kind of heaven. What we really need is the capacity to be this kind of person. This is what we should pray for. This is what we should try to achieve. To have a godly spirit that knows how to love and forgive.