Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Please don't let it be a train

So there's a light at the end of the tunnel. It's been a long couple of weeks, with lots of meetings, events, and legwork. But AIDS Walk is done! Well, all but the details. The money's counted and handed off to people who own safes and large bank accounts. We raised over $13,000 - setting a new record for fundraising. The drag queens have come and gone, and despite an overly crowded after party, it too was a ragin success. We may have to find a new venue for next year, because if it keeps growing in size we won't be able to fit everyone in the Ramada. Did I mention it's done? Woowoo. Now we just have to have a celebratory dinner and send out thank you notes. Simple right? I figure that's close enough to done to do the happy dance...though very slowly.

And work is starting to slow down too. Scheduling for the summer should be simple and be done quickly. Then it's on to summer in Laramie. For those who've never experienced that, it's a blissful time. Most of the students are gone, so it's quiet and the town feels almost deserted. It's not too hot, not too cold. The town is more...relaxed. And that makes it easier to be relaxed in general. I look forward to summers in Laramie. There's camping with friends. This year there should be a lot of boating, assuming we get something resembling water in the reservoirs for a while. And with Georgina, there will be road trips. Adventures into the back country and off the beaten path. Exploring. Communing. Picnicking. Breathing.

So I keep heading toward the light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it's the other side of the tunnel I'm seeing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Big Hairy Homo Who Went Up a Mountain and Came Down a Hill

[Brace yourselves, gentle readers - it's gonna be a long one!] What a weekend. So where was I, you ask? I went to Colorado for a shamanic workshop (look at me come out to some of you as a shaman in training - woohoo!) near Boulder. It was an intense and intensive 3 days. I won't tell you about much of it, but there is one thing I wanted to share. Have you ever been to Boulder? If not, picture a town at the foothills of some serious peaks. This means there are lots of hills and such in the area. They even have a park nestled into a valley and connected to a mondo butte there. So 25 of my closest friends and I went up to Boulder for a ceremony, the details of which aren't important to the story.

As we stood at the start of the trail, I looked up. And gasped. And my heart sank. A lot. It was steep. Bigtime steep. My brain told me there was no way in hell I could make this journey. It was sunny outside, and therefore very hot. I had my Nalgene with me, which was about half full of water, as I'd consumed the first half in the car ride to Boulder. But it was time, and we started walking in a single file line. We'd been instructed to walk in silence, so there was no talking as we began up what I like to refer to as Mount Olympus.

It didn't take long for problems to set in. I'm not great with stairs or inclines to begin with because my athsma kicks in. Having a cold in my chest and lungs didn't help much either, and soon I was breathing with great difficulty. I used rythmic breathing to stay in control and prevent panting or gasping for air which helped. I was sweating profusely and my legs were aching - my calves were on fire! I had brought only my Birks for the weekend (which are not great climbing shoes) and they tried to slip off my feet with every step; I had to curl my toes slightly to keep from losing them altogether. Rocks, pebbles, dust, and weeds flowed in and out of my shoes as well.

With each step, I thought "This is too much for me. I can't do this. I'm not as fit as the others. I probably won't add any value to the ceremony anyway, and they can do it without me." A hundred different excuses kept filtering into my mind. Each time we would come to a bend or the top of a rise, a new path, other more steep than the last, awaited us, and my despair grew. But I kept walking, halting step by step, thinking "the top of that ridge would be a good place to stop and rest. Just a little further and I'll collapse - the middle of a hill is not a good place to stop. There's nowhere to sit!" *One more step*

I could feel those around me watching me closely for signs of heat stroke, cardiac arrest, an aneurism, or spontaneous human combustion. They were aware I was struggling, and would smile meekly at me now and then, offering their silent compassion and support. It seemed like absolutely everything was working against me, trying to keep me off the mountain, and I was all too ready to let it. But still I kept walking. Someone pulled back and told me "Don't waste energy by doing this" and "draw strength from the earth beneath your feet." *One more step*

At some point the messages in my head changed somewhat. I wanted to make it just a little further before I stopped. Be that much closer. *One more step* The end wasn't in sight, and I didn't even really know how far we had to go before we got there, or what the end would look like. I started remembering some of the things we'd learned and talked about over the weekend, and things I've told my friends (and some of my gentle readers) over time.

- The easy path is not always the best one. *One more step*
- I am not doing this alone. *One more step*
- I have support. *One more step*
- It wouldn't be hard if it wasn't necessary for it to be. *One more step*

I was suddenly drawing strength from within...and from those around me. From the very world around me. It wasn't easy. It was very painful. But the next thing I knew, we were at the top. I looked at my step counter, and we'd traveled almost 2 miles up a VERY steep trail. And I realized...I didn't even stop once to rest. I realized I had tapped into a strength I had already known once. You see, I ran cross country during my freshman year of high school. I did it to prove to myself and to all the assholes that I could go out for a sport and keep up. So I went out for the most grueling, demanding sport we had at Wright High School. We ran around 5 miles a day in practice. I finished every race, though was last at all but one meet (someone dropped out in Hardin, MT) - but I finished them. And I still remember the moment I finished my first race without stopping to walk and rest a moment. But at some point, I doubted myself enough that I lost that strength. I let the world and those around me convince myself that I was weak and incapable.

The ceremony was beautiful and amazing. I would have missed out on so much! And as we returned down the hill, my mind started in again, processing the experience. The trip down seemed like nothing, and I knew that if I had to, I could come back up the hill again as well. I noticed the grandeur and sheer awe-inspiring beauty of the trail on the way down; I couldn't see it on the way up, as I was too focused on the task at hand and just getting through a rough patch. And so, without further ado, are the condensed lessons for this epistle from the mount:

Sometimes, we have to endure the impossible to experience joy - or growth. I feel now as if I can accomplish ANYTHING, and all it took to get there was a near-death experience. ;) Beauty is always around us, even if we can't see it readily. We are never alone; even if we're not hearing support or encouragement - it's there. Strength exists. I don't own the strength I tapped into; I share in it. It exists in me, in those around me, and in the world itself. It's something we can call on anytime we need it. And remember, when in doubt: *One more step*

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Did you miss me?

So it's been a while since I've posted. I've been busy. I know...we all say that, and it's usually true. It was a holiday weekend, so town was fairly dead and many friends were gone. Many were not, thankfully! Friday night was spent "partying like rock stars." Okay, so we're aging rockers, but we still had fun. There were martinis and Tuaca. There were boys and girls. There was my friend Joanna, who hasn't been home in almost 3 years. There was Joanna showing the 3 bi girls (kinda like Charlie's Angels, but more rainbowy) many bondage and toy sites on the net. There was T and Joanna swapping war stories from debate. There was T and me avoiding the naked girl pix on the computers, but keeping one eye out for interesting toys and bondage info. *innocent whistling* There was Bryski and I talking to Hope. All in all, it was a faboo night. "And it was good." I was reminded of how important friendship is, and how powerful it can be to simply sit and enjoy each other's company...even if you've just met. Thank you to all who were in attendance. To those who weren't: We'll catch you next time!

Saturday I got up early (for a Saturday) and went to Albertson's to staff a table for the SAFE Project. Getting up early and volunteering time must have done me some good. I went home and began the dreaded task of cleaning out the garage a bit. NerdyGirl came over and started working on the hot tub...cleaning was in order, though thanks to the snow the process is not yet complete. Rev. Furious came over to help, as he is moving into the spare room/office downstairs. His move forced my hand a bit on the garage (oh, shuddup, Rev. It was time to do it and was not an inconvenience!), but that's a good thing. I've been avoiding the garage purge for some time for several reasons. First was laziness. Second was fear of what I'd find! And probably the most motivating deterrent was not wanting to go through Mom's stuff. I was worried about what memories and pain it might bring up. That was foolish of me, I see now. Going through the boxes did bring up memories...but they were all happy. And I could feel Mom there with me, supporting me and smiling with me. Asking me why on earth did I keep THAT? Telling me I had two of something and that I should give one to someone in need (there will soon be a free shopping spree at GayMart).

Now I have a garage. I am very happy about this. VERY happy. And I'm glad my hand was forced, so to speak. A swift kick in the butt from the Universe was all it took, too. ;) So thanks to the Rev! You and the Powers That Be forced me to face a fear and grow/heal. Woohoo! And I can't tell you what a relief it is to walk past a clean garage. I've been opening the door just to look at it every time I go up or downstairs.

Sunday was a quiet day. I baked bread. Okay...I used the breadmachine to make bread, but it's still close enough! I had to wake up in the morning to do it! I went to a Very Ballard Easter with my friends/second family. Then I came home and vegged a bit. Watched some movies, wrestled the laptop unsuccessfully, and played with the pups. The laptop was, in fact, DOA. So I rebuilt it Monday morning when I got to work. No fun, I tell you. Oy what a Monday!

But again I survived it. And I get to go to a spirituality workshop this weekend! I'm excited about the changes in my life. A new prospect for employment. A new roomie. With a bird. A cleanish garage. Despite high stress levels, life is good.

Today's lesson: Hang in there. There is a reason for the shit in your life. If you just keep plodding through, rewards will appear. And usually before you expect them.

Thursday, April 08, 2004



I don't know whether to scream with rage or simply cry. More later when I can respond, rather than react.

Monday, April 05, 2004

I'm back(eth)

Good Morrow, Gentle Readers (and not-so-gentle readers too)! As the sun dawned lightly (and way too fucking early) over yon horizon, I thought (no, really!) to myself a touch of humour was needed this fine day. And behold! What should waiteth in mine Inbox but a bit of whit (and horror). I shall henceforth commence to share it, and there shall be much revelry!:

"The Washington Post Style Invitational contest asked readers to submit "instructions" for something (anything), written in the style of a famous person. The winning entry, by Jeff Brechlin of Potomac Falls, Maryland, was The Hokey Pokey as written by W. Shakespeare:"

O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heaven's yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the Poke --- banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.

Now, wasn't that worth the pain and suffering of me over-inflating my language above? I knew you'd see it my way. So...another interesting weekend to deconstruct. Oh sit down and relax. Yes, I know it's hard to contain your glee. So let the destruction...er...deCONstruction commence.

As most of you know, I was in Pocatello, ID this weekend, helping them establish a SafeZone program at Idaho State University. First there was the trip into ID. The flight into Salt Lake was interesting. I'd never been to SLC before, and landing there in the dark was a bit sad to me, as I wanted to see the center of the LDS universe. I'd been told it was a very beautiful place, but sunset meant I wouldn't know yet. The flight was rough and short. We had 10 minute beverage service after the captain finally decided the air was smooth enough for the flight attendants to push a cart down the aisle without killing someone. The irony: they were about 5 minutes into the 10 minute process when the co-pilot came over the speakers to announce we were beginning our initial descent. I've never seen flight attendants move so quickly and efficiently. It was impressive and comical all at once.

As I walked from one concourse to another in SLC, I was feeling very out of place. LOTS of frumpy women. LOTS of missionaries. And LOTS of children running around harried parents. Now I have a number of LDS friends, many of whom don't fit the traditional "Mormon mold." This was spooky. Children-of-the-corn, Stepford-wife, We-are-the-borg-You-will-be-assimilated, they're-coming-to-take-me-away spooky. The upside? Lots of cute, clean-cut, strapping young lads running about. Yum. I wanted to find my gate before eating, and ended up not having time to actually find food, though I did text a few friends "I'm having Missionary for dinner...all you can eat buffet." What?! They looked tasty! And it reminded me of an episode of the Simpsons. "Mmm.....sacrilicious." Heh. Then they called my flight, and I made my way to the puddle jumper.

Let me say that I've flown in and out of Laramie once or twice in my day, and I no longer fear the often-turbulent, ever-noisy joy of small planes. I'm used to it and somewhat desensitized, I supposed. We took off almost on time, as a maintenance guy was repairing a few arm rests (after we were all boarded and seated, mind you) and delayed us about 5 minutes. We were in the air about 3 minutes when the pilot came on over the speakers and announced we had to return to SLC for a few "routine maintenance checks." The take off had been pretty bumpy, even by my standards, but it was night and we were flying out over the Great Salt Lake, so I figured weird thermals were possible and responsible. Ah, but no. We landed. We landed fast and hard. And there was a fire truck not too far off. When we pulled up to the gate and they shut the engines off (rather hastily, I might add), they confessed they'd been getting abnormal readings from the engines and that they turned us around because they were concerned. They quickly decided the problem wasn't a simple one, and that the plane would NOT be in the air that night. Bear in mind that we were supposed to land in ID at 10pm. So at 10:30 they finally decided they would pull a plane out of a hanger, fuel it, and run the maintenance checks. A happy thing, considering the alternative was for Scott to drive to SLC from Poicatello (2 hrs), pick me up, and drive me back. Getting in at 2am and then setting up for a training at 8am didn't sound happy. Midnight was bad enough, which is when I finally landed. The verdict on the plane: had we stayed in the air, we would have crashed. Nice, huh?

The session went very well. They had about 25 people show up to be trained as SZ facilitators, which is an impressive number. Most of them were straight, though there were a few gay guys and their lesbian (singular). Yes...they have one active, out lesbian student involved with any gay groups on campus. One. Yikes! From our conversations I gathered things at ISU are tense, especially where any form of diversity is concerned. I truly hope a SZ program will help create some dialogue. We had a great group of people there, and they were from all over the campus...and from a satellite campus 45 miles away too!

So now it's time for your favorite part: Lessons learned. 1) More songs should be written by William Shakespeare. 2) NO MORE songs should be written by Billy Boy. 3) Life is fragile and precious and we need to make the most of every single day. I know...duh. But once in a while the universe reaches out and gives you a gentle reminder (read: bitch slap) of such things. The trick is listening for the reminders and remember them after the lesson is done. School never lets out, we just change subjects. 4) As much as I sometimes grumble about the things we don't have here or the support I wish we had, it could be much worse. We do have a lot. Pocatello had some things I was truly jealous of. In the end, I was glad I am where I am, comparatively speaking. 5) I'm starting to feel like Doogie Howser, writing down what happened in my computer-based journal and then finishing with the moral of the story, closing out an episode neatly. The difference is that in life, there are episodes, and little is ever truly closed. It's more about balancing things out and finding truth and harmony in the darndest of places.

So there. Oh yeah...I'm waiting to hear more from a friend of mine. There could be a HUGE change in my life in the very near future. It developed over the weekend, and has my mind buzzing with hope, fear, and uncertainty. So if I'm a bit flaky in the immediate future, you'll know why. Well, sort of. I can't say more now, but suffice it to say that things are jumping and that I will blog about it exponentially when I can. "So tune back in later on the same 'mo-channel, same 'mo-time to see the exciting conclusion of today's episode!" (I love co-opting old TV shows!)