Last month I received an email from regarding this photo on my Flickr account.  They were interested in featuring it in an upcoming tongue-in-cheek article on their site titled “What Not to Wear to Work”.

What Not to Wear to Work???

I was mildly offended since I’m wearing a navy blue Emanuel Ungaro suit with a respectable red silk tie.   OK, So my hair was a little messy but really…

The photo was taken at my nephew’s graduation from West Point in 2006.  (George W. Bush delivered the commencement speech!  That was interesting.)

Since I am somewhat of an attention whore, I gave them permission.   I figured that perhaps this would be the “after” photo.  The example of what to wear to work.

After checking the site over and over for days, the article finally posted.  Sadly, I did not make the cut.  Perhaps they came to their senses.  I think I have a pretty good idea of what to wear to work.

Here is the article.

I’ve been rather static over the past few months, as if I’ve been locked in a state of suspended animation.  I feel like I’m just…hanging around.  The experience has been similar to being frozen in a block of ice waiting for summer to come thaw me out (hence the lack of blogging).

Over the past two days, it got up into the high 70’s.  Ray and I went running both evenings after work.  Been hitting the weight training with full force again as well.  It feels good to move!

I think I’m finally thawing out.   My whole mood changes when the days get longer and the temperature rises.  It’s as if my cumbersome emotional overcoat comes off and I can move about freely.  I have been taking a vitamin D supplement as well.  It seems to be helping.

After my father died in December, I took on the responsibility of a leading role in a play with our local theater company. I figured, I needed something to distract me from the grieving process we all go through when we lose a loved one.  The play is entitled, “Here Today” and is written/directed by a lovely woman named Pearl Watkins. Our local paper wrote a favorable article on it.

I play Alan, a man with a highly active libido and an inabilty to decide if he likes women, men or both.  It’s a big role and requires that I speak with a British accent.  The first performances went well last weekend but I have to admit, I’m ready for this to end.  It’s been taking up a lot of my free time.  THe last performance is Sunday afternoon.  In two weeks, my family is going to have my dad interred.  There is something symbolic about the play ending and my father finally being put to rest.  He was cremated so there’s no real rush.  I’m just ready for this chapter to end.

Ray’s 93 year old mother has been failing.  She’s in end-of-life hospice care at home now.  He’s been going out to see her a lot.  He’s going out again next weekend.

Here we go again…

Just about two years ago, I made a very strong effort to get my home recording studio reconfigured so that I could start to compose/record my own music. I had played keyboards in a band for a few years in the 90’s and used all Apple Macintosh products to write and record my own stuff.

I had the whole home studio thing going on with a Power PC 8600, Digital Performer software, Mackie SR24 – 4 Mixing board, Korg X2 keyboard/workstation and numerous rack-mount synths and effects.  It was impressive.  One day, my Mac just stopped working. Justlikethat. Poof! One minute it’s on, the next it’s off.  Dead.  I considered buying a new Mac but since I had spent about 10K for the original one (Yes folks — more than ten thousand dollars for a computer), I was kinda peeved at the fact that it just died only four years later.

My desire to write got the best of me so I looked into another Mac. The technology had improved so there was no longer a need to spend tons of money for extra RAM, sound cards, etc. but guess what?? Mac changed all of their plugs! Even my old monitor would not plug into a new Mac!  A new Mac meant a new audio interface and a new MIDI interface and a new this and a new that…

This happened after Ray and I had relocated to Bisbee and scaled way back on our expenses. I simply could not afford to revamp my whole studio with Mac products so I did the unthinkable, I switched to a PC — a Dell to be exact.  Monitor and CPU for just about $500.  Add another $500 and you’ve got software to record your music.  Fuck you Mac. I’ll do it on a PC.

In my opinion, if you spend that much money for something, it should fucking work for more than five years.  After, I got all my equipment configured to the PC environment, I happily blogged about it. There was just one little problem…

It never worked.

Never, ever, ever worked.  I had one messed up problem after another — most notably, latency.  I would strike a key on the keyboard and the sound would be delayed by about a half second.  If I had more than three or four audio tracks, the sound would pop and click.  Basically the shitty cheap PC could not muster up the processing power to do what I wanted — what I needed.

Around the time that I was trying to get my studio set up again, my good friend and fellow bandmate Mark Alan and I were both talking about how we wanted to get back into writing music.  He really took it to heart (and had a Mac) and, well, recorded a full-length album.  In anticipation of a release date, Mark asked me to remix a song of his. I was thrilled and got to work.  I did everything I could do to remix the song but my computer just couldn’t handle it.  I felt terrible telling him that I could not make a contribution.  This made me very upset.

And now, here we are a few years down the road.  Mark just released his fantastic album under the name Alphanaut and I’m sitting here with all this dusty equipment that doesn’t work and at the same time, my father who had been ill for years, died.

But shit makes things grow…right?

My father left behind some money for his children.  Yes, I put my share into savings and my retirement but I took some aside and bought a new Mac and some other little goodies.  I also did something I never thought I’d do — I got rid of equipment.  With the new computers and music authoring software, you don’t need a ginormous 24 channel mixing board. You don’t need a 76-key digital synthesizer workstation. You don’t need tons of hardware for synths and effects.  It’s all gone — and it all works! Perfectly.

So here I am two years later, trying again to take the music I hear in my head and commit it to some format that I can share with others.  For years, I have been wanting to do what Mark (Alphanaut) did. Compose, create, birth an album.  I finally have the right technical space to do what I want.  Thanks dad.

PS, Please check out Alphanaut. Mark’s stuff is awesome and it’s already going places.

Remember back in the early 80’s when Wham! went from leather-clad Bad Boys to feather-haired Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go boys in tight Dolfin shorts?  The video for WMUBYGG sparked a popular fashion trend with those Katharine Hamnett over-sized t-shirts with large block letter slogans.  George Michael wears one in the WMUBYGG video that stated, quite simply, “Choose Life”.

Everyone had one of those shirts.  They were so cool, so profound — especially to a young impressionable eighteen-year-old who was dealing with his homosexuality by doing a lot of drugs and trying to sleep with anyone who would pay attention.

But I digress…

Choose Life!  What a statement.  To me, that was a testament to safe sex.  The AIDS crisis was out of control (it was 1984 after all) and the notion that I could choose to live was powerful since, as a self-loathing faggott, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was just going to get AIDS and die like everyone around me.

I grew up in Southern California.  By the time I came out and was hitting the clubs in West Hollywood, people were kind of, well, dropping like flies.

I remember seeing my friend Brian at a club.  I had not seen him for a while and ran up to say hello.  As I got closer, it was clear that something was wrong.  He was very thin and the shimmer behind his eyes was that of a 7 watt night-light.  To make matters worse, it was clear he was trying hard to look and act normal.  His forced smile could not hide his sullen looks.  There is no real makeup trick to camouflage sunken eyeballs.  With as much dignity intact as possible Brian died a short time later.  He was twenty-two.

In the early 80’s at the onset of the AIDS crisis, people — a lot of people — died of HIV related complications.  We didn’t know what was going on.  It was scary.  Every time I sniffled or coughed, the first thing that ran through my head was, “Oh my God!! This is it!!”

For me, safe sex was the only way to have sex — period.  There was no question about it.  No glove, no love.  Over time, I began to relax about the fact that I was probably not going to contract HIV.  I got tested regularly and never engaged in risky behavior.  Actually, since I was a gangly, shy twink with a taste for the Castro Clone type, I never really had to worry about safe sex because, at least in Los Angeles, Castro Clone types went for other Castro Clones.  They sported that look to attract it.

In the early 90’s, I had this friend named Tony.  He was Italian and a few years older than me.  Aside from being gifted with incredible looks, Tony was one of the most intelligent, funny, musically talented people I have ever known in my life. I was crazy about him.

Tony was like an older brother to me.  He constantly encouraged me to sing and took me with him everywhere. He knew everyone!  All of his friends were smoking hot and suddenly, they were my friends too.

One day I was returning from a very long trip.  Tony came to pick me up from the airport.  He put the top down for the ride home (naturally, he had a convertible).

“I have full-blown AIDS” he said.

Talk about a verbal bullet to the brain.  I knew several people who died and I’d seen people who looked really sick but this was way too close to home.  This was one of my best friends.  Over the next two years, my beautiful friend transformed from a rugged Italian stud to a little 80 year old man and then he died.

People seem to forget that HIV doesn’t necessarily kill you, it just destroys your ability to fight off everything.  So basically anything kills you.  Tony died from not being able to live anymore.  I saw it with my own eyes. It’s something that I will never, ever forget.  It was the most long drawn out death scene I have ever witnessed.

He died in 94.  I still miss him to this day.

Fast forward to today.  Not only are a lot of young gay kids are engaging in unsafe sex, older men who have been safe all this time are doing it too.  There’s this bizarre mentality that HIV is now just a “thing” you live with — like diabetes.  You just take a pill.  Have you ever seen the long-term effects of antiretroviral therapy??

I’ll never forget the day I was talking to some young gay guys in Chicago and one of them brought up barebacking and bugchasing/giftgiving.  I was in shock.  There are people out there who actually want to have unprotected sex with people they know are infected!! Not to mention the fact that there are infected people “giftgiving” their disease knowing full-well that this date is going to be dining, dancing and disease.  It’s like the new rite (not right) of passage.  Some sort of honor badge.

Stupidity has now become a choice!

People are choosing to be stupid.  Not only with sex but politics, denying climate change, following Sarah Palin, believing whatever the media tells them — that goes for all media but yes, FOX is on the top of that list.  It’s one thing to watch it, it’s another to believe it.  Even science is taking a beating!

To me the big indicator of this new willingness to be stupid are these tea party rallies with signs that are misspelled.

So, is dumb the new black?  Not for me.

Ray prepared a fantastic dinner this evening.  Seared tuna fillets with mashed garlic sweet potatoes and a medley of sautéed carrots, yellow peppers and onions topped off with bread dipped in olive oil & balsamic vinegar. After setting the table, I put on Pat Metheny’s “One Quiet Night” and poured some more wine.

As we ate dinner, I, for some reason, started reminiscing about how miserable I was being single throughout my twenties. I remembered yearning for someone who was real. Someone who would take care of me simply by being present. Someone handsome, confident and smart who would love me unconditionally. Someone I could love back…  I was drifting away on these thoughts when my gaze fixed on the man sitting in front of me. There he was. Someone.

Ray and I hit the sixteen year mark last Saturday.  I am more in love with him now than I ever was.  After all these years there is one thing that he and I have that no person in the world can deny — we’re married!  Sure the whole legal benefits are missing from the package but for all intents and purposes Ray and I are married and no one can stop it.

We are so married.

I love my man and mark my words, there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t look up in the sky and whisper, “thank you” not only for Ray but for my health, my life…my everything. In the spirit of thanks, I’d like to take a moment to broadcast this message to the universe:

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!

The last year was really difficult for me.  I would have gone crazy if it weren’t for my Ray.

Sixteen years…shit!

Mr. Depression showed up at my door a couple of months ago.  I hate him.  He hangs on like that dinner guest who doesn’t seem to realize that a dwindling fireplace, empty bottle of wine and frequent yawns from the host is very good indication that it’s time to leave.

Mr. Depression has overstayed his visit.

As a young adult, I was told that I suffered from clinical depression.  Over the next decade and a half, I had bouts of depression that was treated with medication.  I hated medication.  Zoloft ruined my sex life (can’t have that).  Remeron made me instantly fat and Wellbutrin had me in such a state of paranoia that I became prone to panic attacks.  Ever have a panic attack?  It’s really freaky.

When I was in my late thirties, I realized that *my depression was mostly caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, cigarettes and my overall outlook on life.  To touch on the latter part of that statement; Happiness is a state of being.  It doesn’t just…happen. You have to be happy.  You have to wake up and say to yourself, “Wow! Look at the sunrise.  What a great day.”

However, that’s easier said than done.  Pollyanna I’m not.  You see, you can’t just say it, you have to mean it too.  The past couple of months, I’ve been saying it but without much meaning.

The funny thing about my relationship with depression is that I tend to be unaware of it.  I find myself wondering “Why am I so tired?  Why do I feel like a stupid piece of shit? That’s so unlike me. ”  I’d spill my coffee — a thing we all do occasionally — and it feels like the whole world was out to get me.  “Why do I always spill my coffee??”

I was ruminating over all these feelings the other day when suddenly it hit me…my father died!  I’m still grieving!  My father is gone, it’s cold and gray outside, we still have all of February to get through for crying out loud!  It’s no wonder I’m depressed.  Rainy days and winter always get me down…and — my dad died!  My father! The guy who was always there from the beginning of my life is gone.  Forever.  It’s natural to feel sad for a really long time.

So, I know what’s causing my depression.  You’d think that would alleviate some of the symptoms.  It doesn’t.  I’m aware of what’s bothering me and yet I’m left feeling like a big stinky pile of dog poo.  Nonetheless, I’m trying to move on with my life especially my workout regimen.  It’s really hard when you’re trying to muster up the energy to run an extra mile and a voice in your head keeps reminding you to give up . . .

“So you lost weight, you gained it back while vacationing in Florida.”
“You’re always going to have a flabby belly.”
“Face it, you’ll never get any better at this.”
“Why do you even bother with weight training? You’re a joke.”
“Must be nice to be Ray, he just looks at a barbell and bulks up.”
“You should give up.  You’ll always look the same.  Always.”

Imagine that kind of negativity layered onto everything.  On second thought — don’t.

Most of the time, that little voice is muffled to the point of inaudibility.  I have learned to ignore it.  It’s only at times of fatigue and genuine sadness (like now) that the little voice gets a chance to pull free and start shouting in my ear.

Under normal everyday circumstances I’m standing tall and oozing with confidence which is the worst thing about depression.  One moment, I’m the King of the World and the next…someone is cursing the fact that they stepped in a big warm smelly pile of MePoo.  I’m the shit mashed into the bottom of someone’s shoe.

So, yeah, I’m depressed but it’s OK.  The key thing for me in handling my depression is recognition.  I know that after seeing there’s no more wine left, the fire has gone out and I’ve fallen asleep, Mr. Depression will realize he’s overstayed his visit, get bored and leave.

*My depression. I am not speaking for anyone who has had to deal with their own depression.