Way back memories..

…turned on the tv tonight and saw k.d. lang was on Maine Public…the Ingenue re-do concert from San Antonio, along with an interview with her…

Here’s the video trailer

And this is her and Melissa Etheridge in 1994…now THIS is the stuff I remember; going to these concerts, raising holy hell…fuck yeah. Of course, when they did this duet I was only 32…damn, to look that young again…My hair was about the same as k.d.’s back then too.  80’s and 90’s memories are pretty intense, and lots of fun for the most part.

This time of year brings up lots of old memories. I see various commercials that remind me of things gone by; of people and the historical events of my past. Some nostalgic moments and some that I’d rather not have in the old memory banks, yet there they linger.

My favorite childhood Christmas memory is from the year my parents gave me and my sister, Deb, a fully set up aquarium with fish and all the fixing! They got it and set it up under the kitchen sink to get it ready for fish, then they got the fish and kept it running under there without us two ever finding out before Christmas morning when they surprised us with the beautiful fish tank. It was like 1967 and we lived in an upstairs apartment of a duplex in Poughkeepsie New York, not far from Vassar Brothers Hospital, where my siblings, the twins, were born in June of ’68.

Memories make up the history of who we were; where we came from and what we experienced in life that led us to be who we are today. Good and bad, they all intertwine to compose each of us as individuals.

What is your favorite childhood Christmas memory?

Peace ~ MB

Christmas Kit

This is great advice for those of us attending demanding Christmas festivities. You can’t pick your blood family…but you can demand their respect!

Queer Talk

Christmas is a time of year that can be difficult for queer folks. Big family events are often tumultuous times of a queer person’s calendar and it can be scary facing family members who may not be so accepting of your sexuality or gender. We’ve put together a Christmas kit to help you through the holiday season so that you can enjoy a mince pie or two without worrying what your conservative Uncle will say about your rainbow socks.

Patience

Chances are, you’re going to have to put up with at least one family member who has views so outdated Moses thought they were chic. A simple subject like pride marches or how many genders there are can go from polite dinner conversation to all-out screaming match while your Aunt Sue tells you she doesn’t hate you, just your ‘lifestyle’.

The best way to deal with these kinds of family…

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The War on Women…Be Aware.

I just read an article in the Atlantic titled “The Authoritarians Are Waging War on Women.”

Keeping up with world affairs is daunting to say the least. I am one who strives to know as much about what’s going on in America and around the world. I particularly research political corruption, hate crimes/groups, humanitarian crisis, political murder (such as Jamal Khashoggi’s) and women’s oppression. So much is happening all around the world and it’s very hard to keep up and to distinguish what is most important.

Right now, I personally feel that we are in the midst of worldwide political upheaval, power grabs, and the installation of corrupt leaders in many countries -often by whatever means necessary, skewing the vote, voter fraud, coups, etc. Trump may be the USA’s biggest issue at the moment, but in reality, he is only copy-catting those leaders that he sees and admires who act in brutal, authoritarian ways to enact the harshest conditions and expectations on their constituencies.

So many fractions are happening. This is intentional by these authoritarian heads of state, such as Trump, Bolsanaro, Duarte, Putin, and Mohammed Bin Salmon (MBS) to name just a few of the obviously more prominent. They work to pit one group against another, like blacks against whites, gays against straights, Christians against Jews/Muslims until they have fractured the population into the smallest in-cohesive groups possible. There is no chance of a cohesive movement to rise up against an authoritarian leader if he fractures his constituency into the smallest possible groups who hate one another. Hilter did it very successfully and we all know how that turned out for 6 million Jews and hundreds of thousands of soldiers and innocent other civilians.

Trump is very anti-woman. And if you will take 10 minutes to read the article highlighted above about the authoritarian war on women globally you will possibly understand just a bit more of why. He has NO respect for ANY woman. He views women as 2nd class citizens, as “stupid”, and as objects only good for pleasure when he so desires it. He does NOT believe in women as leaders of anything. He fears all powerful women especially and works diligently to undercut their authority and disgrace them, degrade them and slander them. His treatment of women is disgusting to say the least. Just remember his visit to England and how rude he was to the Queen, cutting in front of her, speaking nonsense and belittling Her position. He believes that women should NOT be in any position of power and should always obey men in every instance. 

Women that work for or follow Trumpy with enthusiasm are agreeing with his anti-women in power ideology. Sadly, for them, they are fine with allowing the men around them to lead the way and to do whatever those men direct them to do. Even lie for them like Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, Trumpy’s press secretary at the moment.

Of course, as a woman, I am quite concerned by these tactics and with the disregard we women are being treated with around the globe. Women are literally threatening men of power, and some will lose their lives over it in some countries. We must all stand together to fight this sexism and stop the hate. 

I wanted to post this tonight because of the article in the Atlantic. We get so riveted on the headlines of the day that we forget to watch for things we should also know and understand. By creating “big” headlines opposition directs us away from the important underlying issues and situations. We must keep our eyes and ears fully open; to know all we are up against in this fucked up world right now. My dream is to leave this world a little bit better than when I entered it…one word at a time if it takes that. 

What did you do to celebrate yourself today? 

Peace & Kindness ~ MB 

Modern day John the Baptist, where are you?

I really liked this blog, and it’s theme/idea. “The effect that a conscience-driven person has on society is immeasurable.”

Smart City Perth

Why, in such a modern technological world are we still riddled with political and religious fervour?

Mankind is bent on the few controlling the masses and no political or religious entity is immune to its intoxicating grip.

While religion likes to consider John the Baptist as their own and the militant atheist disregards the supposed mad man in the desert, John the Baptist walked to the beat of a different drum.

In a time where the political and religious power were carving up lands, holding on to positions of privilege and controlling the masses, John the Baptist starts a movement in the desert.

The politicians and the religious establishment dismissed him as a non threat, with no land or political sway, UNTIL?

You and I as world citizens are free to be open, to share what we believe, especially in the western culture which many consider to be the free…

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A Real President’s Last Flight

On November 30, 2018 at 10:10 George H.W. Bush, our 41st President, went to be with his beloved wife Barbara and the 3 yr old daughter they lost to leukemia, in his heaven. 

Bush 41 was one of only 2 Republican candidates that I ever voted for to be President of the United States of America; the first was Reagan.  Yes, in my youth I was more Republican leaning. I didn’t know any better and I was raised very strictly by a very Republican father, plus add my military bearings and viola! I voted Republican for those two presidents. Then I started to pay more attention to policy, economics, legislation and how government operated. My thoughts on these things changed with time, evolving always.

#41 got thrown a good amount of adversity during his 4 year tenure as President. He was a soft sort of man, kind and gentle, but quite determined to do what was right for our country. Unlike the current person who holds the office now (won’t even mention his name out of respect for #41). Bush conducted himself with the utmost of dignity and respect to our country.

He was a WWII naval fighter pilot who flew 58 combat missions and was shot down by the Japanese and rescued after 4 hours in the water. He served as VP to Reagan for 8 years, as a Congressman, as an ambassador, CIA chief, and diplomat, among other positions. He served the USA his whole life, from the age of 18, honorably and with the highest of dignity. He came from a privileged family, born into money, but he chose a life of service. I respect him for that and I thank him.  I may not have always agreed with his policies or his decisions, but I know he made them in the name of what was best for America at the time and not what was best for him or his family. He was a REAL president.

I remember when the Berlin Wall came down. I was fishing out in western Massachusetts with an old friend and had brought along my radio to listen to the event. I knew it was a HUGE thing that was happening; the end of the Cold War, during which I had served. The tearing down of that wall represented freedom from the cruel oppression and separation that it had come to symbolize for so long. I remember the shivers that went down my spine that day as the crowds yelled “Tear Down That Wall!!!” over and over and the sledge hammers pounded away until the wall fell in ruins. Germany was reunited. The Soviet Union was done. We won the Cold War, without firing a shot.

I’ve been watching the reflections on #41’s life and his legacy. Even though he was a 1 term president, he proved that even 1 man with 1 term can make a difference in the world. His body now is laying in-state in the Capital Rotunda in Washington DC where the public is invited to pay their respects. Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 has been declared a National Day of Mourning, and is the day of his funeral in DC.  Then he will be taken back to Houston, where his family and close friends will say good-bye before burying him next to his wife, Barbara. 

The precision and grace of the military ceremony has been great to see.  Quite the honor for him and his family, thanks to all of those military men and women involved for making this a fitting and dignified ceremony. 

Sully, his service dog, escorted his master’s body back to Washington. The photo of him guarding the flag-draped casket before they departed is so sad. The dog knows his master has gone ahead of him, and he’s dutifully taking the last watch. His mission with #41 is completed. Sully will move on back to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in DC and will become someone else’s dedicated companion and assistant. Whoever gets the honor of his service will be very blessed. 

So, good-bye George H.W. Bush, our 41st President, and one I respected and who showed millions how a real president carries himself and represents our great country. He was a damned good Commander in Chief. May others who come after him look to him as a shining example of modesty, honor, bravery and compassion for people. Rest in Peace President Bush, you deserve it now. CAVU, Mr. President. Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited….fly on.

Peace and Kindness.  ~ MB

World AIDS Day 2018…My Day of Reflection

Yesterday was December 1st, which is designated as “World AIDS Day”. This year was the 30 year marker for observance of this day. HIV and AIDS have been around long before this day was designated to bring the crisis to front-mind awareness.

I was diagnosed in August of 1993. I had been in a “no-risk” space at that point for approximately 3+ years…so, I was infected in the late 80’s. I actually am one of the rare few who know exactly when and where I was exposed to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It was a one-time share of a needle, which was very out of character for me, but it happened due to the situation at that moment. I don’t know if it’s “good” or “bad” that I actually know my infection route. I guess it’s good in the sense that I never wonder “how” I got the virus. Yet, it’s bad in the sense that it makes me “blame” someone else in some ways, when it actually was entirely my choice to share that night and thus my own fault. I have always worked to take responsibility for my own actions and I made a split second choice that night that was the wrong choice and thus changed my life – or at the very least altered the trajectory. We never know what’s going to be handed to us in our lives, we just never know. 

In the 1990’s I lost quite a few friends in the height of the AIDS epidemic. Prior to knowing my own positive status I was working with local organizations to spread prevention information.  In the summer of 1992 there was a March on Washington (I’m sure that many of you remember) and it was one of the very last times that the AIDS Quilt was displayed in it’s entirety on the Mall in Washington DC. I was there that day; I walked the quilt with my best friend, Nancy. I was moved to tears over and over that day. Each of those panel represented someone’s life. Each panel is 3 ‘x 6’ in size, representing the basic size of a coffin. Every panel was handmade by someone who loved that person or even a group of people would together make a memorial panel. There was something cathartic in the whole scene. 

I vividly remember sitting down on one of the benches on the edge of the Mall with Nancy, taking in the enormity of the display. It covered the whole Washington Mall. Quite the feat of volunteerism to get it displayed with huge amounts of care and dignity shown by all of them. The quilt idea was borne of Cleve Jone’s incredible mind. It’s called The Names Project and is still in operation today. The quilt now travels in smaller displays around the country. I’m not sure how big it would be to be once again displayed in it’s entirety. I highly recommend that you visit the Quilt’s page and take some time to look it all over, reflect, learn and NEVER FORGET. 

The display that day brought my mind very close to beginning to think about getting tested myself. Up to that point I had not sought out testing for myself. I naively figured that since I hadn’t been using illicit injection drugs for over 3 yrs. and I hadn’t been sexually promiscuous with anyone who I thought of at that time as a risk, that I couldn’t possibly have gotten infected. That was pretty standard thinking at that time. We have learned so much since! I recall having a physical reaction as I walked through the miles of panels and I shudder to think that now the Quilt has more than doubled in size. It still gets displayed, in partial displays, around the world.

So, that was the beginning of me thinking about getting tested. Finally in July of 93 I got pneumonia and my then therapist urged me to get tested; just so I would at least know if there was any chance I had been exposed during my drugging days. So, in mid-August I visited the Feminine Health Center. I was paired up with a great counselor, Assiah, who interviewed me in-depth about my history and possible risk factors. Then we drew blood and it was sent out to the lab for testing. The whole process I remember cost me $25. But in my mind I was going to come back negative and those who kept urging me to get tested would shut up. The tests at that time took 2 weeks to process and you had to go back in person to receive your results. On Aug. 31, 1993 I went back for my results.  

I was taken into the private discussion room by Assiah. She quickly closed the door, spun around and said “You’re positive.” then burst into tears. I stood there stunned. I didn’t know what the fuck to do at that point. She was obviously upset at having to tell me this news. Come to find out, as she told me later, she had never had to inform a woman of a positive outcome before, only men. And the fact that I was lesbian and was HIV+ was very unique. Lesbians are known to be in the least-risk group for infection and were usually on the front-lines of care and prevention.

I remember sitting down and putting my head in my hands. I was super confused. I felt like I had literally been gut punched and was gasping for air. There was now an expiration date stamped on my forehead. Fuck. I knew this was not going to be a good experience; nope, not good. I asked for a second test and had more blood drawn for it, but I knew the result would still be the same. I now had to figure all of this out. I had to first tell my family, and I knew that would be the hardest thing. And I had to get educated; to learn how I was going to beat this beast within.

I have lots of side stories of telling various people in my life about my infection and how it related – or not – to them and our relationships. My family all gathered at my home at the time, and I told them all together. They, of course, had lots of questions, were very upset and concerned for me, all while bursting with love and support for me. Thank my lucky stars for this, I don’t know what I would have done had my family shunned me, as happens in so many instances. Things would have definitely turned out very differently had that been my case. I am super grateful that it was not, but I feel deeply for those who do encounter that kind of response – especially from family and close friends.

My life changed on that day. It was a definitively distinct change. I could no longer be as casual as I had previously been about love, life and living. I quit drinking immediately. I also discovered on that same day that I am co-infected with hepatitis C, a common hepatitis for IV drug users to contract. I had been an on again off again kind of alcoholic. If I wasn’t shooting hard drugs I was drinking myself into comas. Yes, some serious self-destructive behavior, I know. I figured I wasn’t going to live long at that point. Back then the average time between diagnosis and death was 3-5 years, sometimes a little longer for women. I just concluded that my future was over; I had no future in my mind at that time. But I was determined to educate myself and those around me so I could live as long as possible, as healthy as possible. 

So much has gone on in my life since that hot August day in 1993. Life has a way of changing continuously. We grow. We learn. We lose. We win. And life just continues to go on. I had been handed a massive challenge and there’s nothing that I like more than a good fight! I put my whole being into becoming as educated and informed as humanly possible. I began living a cleaner, healthier life. I learned to love those who loved me with a renewed fierceness and determination. I stopped being a total asshole and adopted a kinder, gentler way of conducting myself. And I fought. 

Today, I am healthy and doing very well. My journey hasn’t been so smooth sometimes; I’ve struggled with addiction all of my adult life. It rears it’s ugly head occasionally and it’s a battle to the death for me. I’ve had many, many good years; fun years and years full of awesome memories and tons of love. I’ve travelled, farmed, built, raised, and let go of things when the time came. I’ve had a couple of spectacular relationships that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I discovered real love and basked in it like a snake in the sun. I’ve lived a pretty decent life; being lucky enough to have access to great medical care and the cutting edge in medication I remain healthy and happy.

So, yesterday is my annual day to reflect on these years of living with HIV and to remember those friends of mine who didn’t have the good outcome that I’ve been gifted. I remember their faces, their voices, the laughter and the crying; every one of them beautiful and a gift to earth in their own ways. May they be dancing wherever they are. 

Peace ~ MB