Ignoble Infirmity

I’ve been mostly bed-ridden for the last couple of days, wheezing my way through a nasty chest cold that’s thrown me for a loop. Miraculously, though, my giant-sized tonsils haven’t gotten in on the act they’re usually the first line of defense to crumble in the face of random germs. As a matter of fact, my tonsils enormous, oversensitive, and a lifelong problem aren’t the only part of my immune system that have been reinforced by modern medicine during the last few years.

Ironically, the last few years of having an incurable disease have been the healthiest of my life. I’ve always been on the sickly side, plagued by minor ailments and inconveniences as long as I can remember. The frequency and severity of those various bugs really skyrocketed during the years between my infection and my diagnosis. A few years of treatment, though, and I seem to be as hardy as anyone else. (Furiously knocking wood as I type that.) I’m also much less stoic about getting sick.

When you sniffle and shrug off sore throats and stuffy sinuses all the time, you get in the habit of ignoring it all. No big deal, just more of the same ol’-same ol’. When you feel alright most of the time, though, even a little wheezing and wooziness seem like a huge deal. I just hope that if the situation ever demands that old habit of stoicism that I still have it in me. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for me to worry about taking a turn for the worse, but who knows? (The not knowing is the best part, after all.)

I’ll just keep counting my blessings, and maybe I’ll lie down for a nap. I’m feeling a bit dizzy, I’m afraid. But that’s all.


Yesterday was a stunningly awful day that came hot on the heels of a week that wasn’t awful but has been remarkably stressful. Yesterday was a combination of nagging stomach issues, stupid AT&T problems (FIVE hours on hold!), the ceiling at work springing a leak over my computer, (ruining a really cute outfit), and on and on and on. Mentally, I’m finished for the week and just waiting to crawl back out of the snowstorm we’re expecting. It’s a real pain in the ass to deal with work when in my head I’ve already retreated into a ball huddled beneath a blanket.

Which, by the way, was how I spent most of the Thanksgiving weekend, thanks to the aforementioned nagging stomach issues. I was starting to suspect that the new medicine might be a big part of the problem, so I was really primed to be inundated by all the somber World AIDS Day programming that Tivo kept serving up. If I haven’t been cramping, writing essays, or working this week, there’s a good chance I was weepy and feeling sorry for myself.

And I can’t even eat ice cream to soothe the angst. Bleah.

You’re Allowed to Ask

For the first time in a while, the subject came up a couple of times this week once while discussing a project, again while chatting with Jessie and Chris during a much-needed caffeine break. I realized how much it’s become my open secret, the thing everyone knows but still never mentions, except with extremely obvious and awkward oversensitivity.

I, of course, still think about it all the time. I think about it every time I take medicine, when I wonder how I’ll feel when and if that one, easy-on-the-system pill isn’t enough to keep things under control. (I don’t try to hide the medicine when I take it anymore. Have you noticed?) I think about it every time there’s a drop of blood from a bad hangnail or a schaving scrape. (I usually wonder how I’d react if I ever had a more serious scrape that I couldn’t tend to all by myself, where someone else might want to help stop the bleeding or clean the wound.) I think about it when I remember what it was like to have sex, back before the antidepressants and the guilt and the fear and the mixed feelings. (I know I shouldn’t judge, but I do, and no one was more reluctant to admit it than me, especially when I realized I was my own jury.)

I don’t mind talking about it, you know. Seriously, it’s alright to be curious, to wonder how things are going. The answer might just be, “Fine. A little depressing from time to time, but still fine overall. The numbers are all holding steady, just like I hoped for.” Sometimes, I may not want to get into it then and there, but what topic (except the weather, maybe) isn’t like that now and then? It seems weird that it never comes up, since it was once such a big deal when we had to talk about it.

I don’t know if I expect a certain reaction or not. I don’t think I do, but the topic seems conspicuous by its absence. Maybe I just want to be a little less stoic I don’t want to fall back into those old habits of acting like I can handle it all by myself and smile all the way. That didn’t work out so well, after all.

And don’t rush in and act all concerned all at once, because then I’ll feel totally self-conscious. That would be awkward

I know, it’s a little unclear what the best approach would be. Sorry about that, but I don’t know what to advise, or if I’m even trying to give advice or just…you know, get it off my chest. that’s life, I guess fuzzy, unclear, something you figure out as you go along.


This is my 928th blog entry (more or less there have been a number of guest writers, and I’ve deleted a few irrelevant technical announcements from former sites), having now combined into this one place all the posts ever made from all the blogs I’ve maintained for the last three-and-a-half years.


I had to do a quite a bit of manual editing of all the stuff I wrote before I used Greymatter, which turned out to be more of a stroll down Memory Lane than a hassle. It was amazing to see how much has changed in my life over all that time. I started proper blogging a while after the dissolution of my last serious relationship and starting over again in my own place in East Williamsburg a time when I was still depressed, angry, tense, and eager to focus on something other than the difficulty of the previous few months. I wanted to sharpen my writing skills and put something in place that would make it easier for me to add new content to the website I’d been maintaining for a while. I wanted to tinker with some new tools that had just come out.

Since then, my weblogs have collected the records of my adventures, successes, my goofs, my failures, my insights, my cluelessness, and my changing attitudes. Crushes and boyfriends and friends have come and gone, some quite publicly and some with only the most obscure references. I’ve moved a few times, started and quit jobs a few times, gotten depressed and crawled back out of it, and grappled with the same damn insecurities over and over and over again. There have been a number of earth-shattering changes: finding out I was positive and finding the Rooster seem to be the biggest out of all of them.

For all that’s happened and all that I’ve changed, I don’t really think that I’ve grappled with any more or less than anyone else. Whose life doesn’t go topsy-turvy once or twice between the ages of 28 and 32? Or during any other four-yean span, for that matter? It’s just weird to go and sift through all of that, and think about how publicly it all transpired (and also ponder the various gaps in the story, events and people I chose never to expose for one reason or another).

I’ve been thinking about how much energy has gone into all this writing over the years, and it made me stop kicking myself quite so hard for feeling like I never accomplish that much. Granted, it might have been nicer if I’d been paying attention to the effort that was underway so that I could have focused it and written an actual book or something, but I guess all the material is still here in case anyone makes me an offer.

All that stuff was also a good reminder about how my energy and my ability to articulate things ebbs and flows. Lately I’ve felt like I’ve barely been able to string two coherent words together. I’ve been almost completely incapable writing decent, thoughtful posts or e-mails, which has led to an enormous pile-up of overdue letters to people who’ve probably been offended by my silence. (It’s not for any lack of care, I swear, and I’m trying to catch up, just so you know.) I’ll get back in the saddle agian at some point I always seem to eventually. Life is a journey, right?

And thanks to everyone who had read this site, written for this site, or left any of the 2200 or so comments that have been collected (there would be more, but the demise of BlogVoices taught me my lesson about third-party comment services). Y’all are a huge reason this has all been worthwhile, and will hopefully continue to be a big part of life for years to come.

The Basement Blog

Jessie tried to post this image of his first blog in the comments, but I don’t allow any HTML there. Check it out:

The Basement Blog

So what did your site look like when you first started out?

Linking, Thinking

World AIDS Day 2002

Today is World AIDS Day 2002, a day when we are all encouraged to take a moment to pause and consider HIV, AIDS, their impact on our society and others, and our own views about them.

Frankly, I wish I had the luxury of taking just a day to think about them. I wish I had the luxury of being able to consider those issues abstractions that only intrude on my consciousness now and then. I wish I had the luxury of forgetting the rest of the time.

I stop to think two times a day, minimum. Two times a day I wish I didn’t have the burden of taking medication, perhaps for the rest of my life, to make sure I didn’t do something stupid somewhere along the line. Two times a day I wish I didn’t have the responsibility to keep taking the medicine, maintaining an antiviral assault on my system so that I don’t develop a resistance to the drugs. During many other moments during the day, I wish I didn’t have to worry about the possibility of infecting the man I love, or I wish he didn’t have to worry about me. Every time I get a cold or some minor ailment, I wish I didn’t have to wonder if it could turn into something worse. Every three months, I wish I didn’t have blood drawn to check on my progress. Every time I hear people talk about their adventurous sex lives, I wish I didn’t have to hope they’re keeping their wits about them the whole time. Every time I read about some culture’s reluctance to fully acknowledge the magnitude of HIV infection and AIDS, and the efforts that could be made to reduce them, I wish I didn’t have to quake with rage.

But you know what? At least two times a day I count my lucky stars. I’m grateful I have excellent health coverage and access to my medication. I’m grateful I have a doctor I trust and respect. I’m grateful I have a family, friends, and a partner who don’t consider me a pariah. I’m glad I’m able to stay in excellent health. And I’m glad I have the opportunity to use means like this to remind everyone else to count their blessings, and get up and do some damn thing to help someone else have some blessings to count. Because it’s never just someone else’s problem. As long as we live on this earth together, it’s yours, too.

100 Things About Sparky

A meme makes for easy content. I admit it, and I often find it’s a good way to babble on about some bit of nonsense when I’m not feeling particularly inspired. Plus, it also gives a nod toward community spirit. Yay team! And I really do like the ones that encourage the revelation of amusing or alluring trivia. So here are 100 Things About Sparky:


I actually like being in my thirties. I think they suit me.


I’m not so crazy about the thinning hair that’s slowly turning grey.


My brother Bob killed himself when he was 23 and I was 13. that’s why you may hear me refer to being the youngest of either 5 or 6 children. It depends on which time of my life I’m talking about.


All my brothers and sisters are (or were) married and have kids. I have 9 nieces and nephews altogether.


I really, really love my parents and get along with them very well. When I was seeing a shrink this summer he kept trying to dig up dirt about my folks, but I didn’t have anything bad to say.


I have a powerful sweet tooth.


I have had 8 teeth removed, all because of overcrowding in my mouth.


I’ve been tipsy a few times, but I’ve never once gotten drunk.


I tried smoking when I was about 14, always in private. I didn’t really care for it.


My mother once told me I was never to dye my hair, get anything pierced, or get a mohawk. I still haven’t gotten a mohawk, but I’d like to.


She never said anything about tattoos. I now have 5.


I went to the country’s only tuition-free private high school a Jesuit school in Manhattan for Catholic boys who were smarty-pants.


I had a full-tuition scholarship for all of college that required maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA. I never dipped below 3.7.


I have tried going to grad school twice for a Master’s in graphic design. I quit both times because I wasn’t being challenged, only overworked.


I still have to pay $9,000 for the one year of classes I took the last time I tried grad school.


I should have just kept teaching myself things by making zines.


Between an ex-boyfriend and an ex-roomate, I’ve paid $3,500 rent for other people who’ve lived with me.


I only have one testicle (the left one). The other had to be removed when I was 13 because it got twisted up and choked until the tissue died off. That hurt a lot. Having only one ball doesn’t make much of a difference, in case you’re wondering.


I am a native New Yorker. I was born and raised in Staten Island, left there at 18 for college and few years of work and grad school, and returned to New York over six years ago. I’ve lived in Brooklyn ever since.


I have lived in New York and Massachusetts, and travelled to Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, and Washington, D.C.


I have also travelled to Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, Iceland, England, France, Belgium, Italy, Japan, and China.


I’ve been on every subway line in New York City at least once. I’ve also been on the Staten Island Rapid Transit, the Staten Island Ferry, a horse carriage in Central Park, and the Roosevelt Island Tram.


I’ve never had a driver’s license. I’ve only driven a car a handful of times.


I visited the roof of the Word Trade Center four times. It was really cool.


Getting caught in a snowstorm while walking along the Great Wall of China was still cooler.


I know a little bit of Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin, but not that well. I can read all of them much better than I can speak, understand, or write them. I can also read a little bit of Italian and French, through interpolation.


I don’t tie my shoelaces properly, nor do any of my brothers and sisters. My parents tie theirs the normal way, and have no idea how we all learned the wrong way.


I got 1380 on my SATs.


I’ll bet I have the biggest tonsils you’ve ever seen.


I don’t know who infected me with HIV, or exactly when it happened.


All the bold names on my links page are bloggers I’ve met at some point.


I’m 32. I’ve known one of my best friends for 30 years.


I’ve known my best friend for almost 8 months. I’m completely in love with him, which is occasionally awkward for the both of us.


Apparently I have a lot of artistic talent, but I’m usually too lazy and uninspired to prove that.


I make a living doing really nerdy computer stuff, but my skills aren’t very portable. I think I may be trapped in my current job for years and years to come. But it’s basically OK.


I’ve had a website for about 7 years, and I was basically blogging before they called it that.


I’ve never been mugged, although some guys pushed me down some stairs once and tried to grab my wallet. I screamed as loud as I could and they ran away before doing anything.


I’m not afraid of heights so much as I’m afraid of precipices.


I don’t eat pickles, olives, mustard, ketchup, or eyeballs.


I never ate a cheese I didn’t like.


I took ballet for two years in high school as an excuse to avoid going to gym. Believe it or not, this was considered a pretty clever idea, not a faggy one. All the punks and skinheads in the class below mine did the same thing.


I bite my fingernails.


I think god is a nice idea, but I just don’t buy it.


I find it much easier to believe in alien life and intelligence, although I don’t expect us to encounter any for a long, long time.


I’ve always wished I could live on a spaceship and have adventures with a kooky alien or robot sidekick.


Instead I live in the basement of an old factory and have adventures with a Texan math-teacher sidekick.


I’m a homo. Did you know that? Yes, I’m sure about it I’ve tried both.


I have engaged in naughtiness with six other people who have or have had blogs of their own. There may have been others, but I was never informed about their having web sites.


I’ve pretty much given up on sleeping around. I got it out of my system and discovered it wasn’t really my thing after all. I’m no prude, but I’d rather get naked with someone I really like.


I often pretended I was the Bionic Woman when I was a little kid. I thought she was about a thousand times cooler than the Six Million Dollar Man.


I knew the bride when she used to rock-n-roll.


I used to have two piercings in my left ear. I never thought about the piercings much, and I only noticed the rings had fallen out months after the fact. I never felt like replacing them.


I’ve seen “Hairspray” more often than any other movie.


Contrary to popular legend, I never developed hairy palms, and my face never froze like that.


This is a lot more boring than I’d guessed, so I’m going to skip this one.


And this one.


Even though I do technical work for a living, I haven’t taken a math or science class since my junior year of high school.


But I really do find that I use algebra and geometry in everyday life.


People with excellent penmanship fill me with envy.


I like Thanksgiving better than Christmas.


Leather really turns me on and I’ve cultivated a decent collection of it, but the whole scene doesn’t do much for me. I usually think those guys are kinda goofy.


When it comes to houseplants, I am the Angel of Death.


I was never really into computers or electronics until I got to college. I now own my sixth and seventh computers, my third printer, my third scanner, my second Palm Pilot, my fourth cell phone, and my first iPod and digital camera.


I splurged on my first computer by upgrading to an 80MB hard drive and 12MB of RAM.


I needed so much extra money for art supplies when I was in college that I felt I had to explain to my parents that I didn’t have a drug problem.


I’ve actually never taken any recreational drugs, except for smoking a little pot for the first time a couple of months ago. It was OK.


I take one antidepressant and two viral inhibitors each day.


I haven’t been to a gym since 1993. I was taking a weight-training and exercise class when I worked in Boston, but I quit because I got bronchitis.


This is the number that Bill and Ted were thinking.


I really want to go skydiving one of these days.


My friends Chris and Brin first started calling me Sparky around 1994. Chris introduced me to my co-workers at a part-time job as Sparky, and it stuck once and for all.


I know it’s a conversational cop-out to talk about the weather, but sometimes you have to do it in order to keep things moving along.


Although I spent a lot of time watching the World Trade Center burn, I was on the subway when both planes hit, and I was at my desk trying to calm down by writing about what was happening when each tower fell. I don’t feel bad that I missed seeing those actual moments, because the whole scene was bad enough already.


I don’t know anyone who died that day.


I like both boxers and briefs but I really hate wearing boxer briefs.


I only know two people who I really hate. They are from the same state.


I only wear white or black socks.


Reading the newspaper invariably makes me either furious or depressed. Watching the news on TV usually just makes me feel like my intelligence is being insulted.


I don’t think it’s our freedom they hate us for.


I don’t think we have nearly as much freedom as we like to think we have.


I really love New York City, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll need to live somewhere else eventually and expand my horizons, if only for a little while. I worry, though, that I’ll never afford to come back again.


I don’t own a single piece of furniture that wasn’t found, inherited, or purchased from a thrift store.


I am riddled with insecurities. If I seem to be accepting a compliment gracefully, I’m just being polite. I probably don’t believe you.


I’ve read the entire charter for the United Federation of Planets, but I’ve never gotten all the way through the Constitution of the United States. I know the Preamble, though, because of that song. Maybe they should set the Prime Directive to music someday.


I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist party.


I often get the feeling that the freedom to dissent and question our leaders is considered a luxury rather than a right.


I am pretty timid when it comes to making a fuss, so I’m just as guilty as anyone of not defending the right to dissent. that’s something I’m not very proud of.


I’m trying to get over my own apathy.


I always thought that the Silver-Age Green Lantern and Aquaman were really hot. I also know I’m not the only one who’s had the same thought.


I have never actually fantasized about a comic-book character, however.


I fantasize more about people I’ve already slept with than I do about people I’ve never met. That still gives me plenty of material to work with.


I would rather fall asleep nuzzling against someone I care about than have sex.


I just thought of a good one, but now I’ve forgotten it.


I’ve wasted so much time on this today.


I don’t want to go to Chelsea. (Elvis said it first, but he said it best. I just mean something slightly different.)


This is all trivia. It only tells you little details, but gives you no substantial information about who I am am or what I’m like.


I am a crackerjack copy editor, but usually too lazy to proofread my own writing. Your punctuation mistakes, however, will drive me crazy.


There was a time when I bore an uncanny resemblance to Andy Rourke, the bass player for the Smiths. I don’t think I need to tell you that was about 1985.


To be perfectly honest, the only reason I ever owned a skateboard was because I thought skaters were so hot. I could have saved so much time if I had just realized that then instead of years later. Hell, I might have even managed to kiss a skater.


I love all the love in you.

Stick ‘Em Up

Ever since I was diagnosed, I get really tense whenever someone I’ve slept with goes for an HIV test. No matter how careful we’ve been, there’s always that outside chance that something could happen, just the way something happened to me once. It was bad enough when I first found out, and I had to worry about all the times I’d slept with people many of whom became good friends when we’d both assumed we were both in the clear. It’s actually much worse for me when I wait now for the results about someone who knew what he was getting into with me. Just as he may be waiting for good news, I’ll be doing the same. It’s a burden that really upsets me: maybe it was a mutual and lucid decision for two people to have sex when one is positive and the other isn’t, but I can’t help thinking that if the other guy gets the short end of the statistical stick, then he got it because of me.

I really hate feeling like a loaded gun. I hate wondering if this is the way it will have to be for the rest of my life. I hate knowing that I could be responsible for someone else’s life getting that much harder. I hate wondering if someone who likes me really understands the risk he may be taking. And I hate that I can’t yet accept that the burden isn’t all mine to carry.

But what can I do? I carry on, I proceed carefully, I fret, and I keep trying to make peace with myself. Just like everyone ought to do anyway. Still, though, it’s pretty sucky to know I’m not a hypothetical threat to someone’s well-being.


Working in a huge office sucks. There’s nowhere to go and really hide when you can’t stop bawling your eyes out. If this is how I’m starting the day, it’s gonna be really ugly when I go for my inconvenient midday shrink appointment and have to start talking about my goddamned feelings.

I don’t want to be lonely. I’m fucking sick of being lonely! I don’t want all that loneliness further complicated by the very real danger I now present. I want a little positive reinforcement from the men in this world once in a while. I want to be something other than the nice guy, everyone’s best friend. I want my effort and the depth of my feelings for someone to make a difference once in a while. I wanna someone to let me give the same satisfaction I keep seeking. I’ve always wanted that, but now I also wanna feel like I can pursue people I have crushes on without worrying about how I might be the loaded gun that could accidentally fuck up somebody’s life forever. I wanna believe that I wouldn’t deserve the blame for something like that if it ever happened. I wanna know how it happened to me.

It was always hard enough to have my feelings reciprocated so rarely. It was always hard enough to get so little attention in the first place. It was always hard enough to worry that I had to be better than everyone so I wouldn’t be a disappointment. Yes, I can keep changing my attitude all that, but it’s fucking hard to peel my way past all that junk, get a breath of fresh air and a shot of good will about myself, then remember that there are still disappointments and hardships to deal with that are real, that have nothing to do with my self-confidence.

I get all the reassurance in the world, but I still never get more than a glimpse at the reality that makes the difference.


Glenn and I are sitting around watching The Castro, the documentary about the history of the neighborhood and its gay culture, and they’ve just gotten to the part about the first wave of the AIDS epidemic in the eighties. And here I am feeling my chest tighten up in a minor anxiety attack all over again, for the first time in weeks, as I watch the story unfold. The medical reality of my situation is completely different from what it would have been then, but it’s hard seeing the seeds of the fear and misunderstanding and the stigma that I never thought I held on any level until I had to face what it all made me think about myself. Ouch. Ouch, I mean it. I feel like I’m being kicked in the sternum by a mule.