Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Hey, pals.

Another November post. I know. What's next, lakes of fire?

Don't worry. The world isn't ending - despite how jacked up things are right now, which is putting it lightly - and this is just going to be a short one.

But first, a note: aside from my passing reference above, I'm not going to be discussing the attacks in Paris or anywhere else - at least not in digital space. On a practical level, I have nothing to add to the already exhaustive and largely irresponsible news cycle. On a personal level, that news cycle is damaging to me. Self-care right now means keeping myself at a distance, keeping the world in my heart and mind, and holding the people in my life a little closer. Please don't mistake my silence for apathy.

I will just say this: there's a difference between acting in self-defense and reacting out of fear.


The other thing pulling media attention at the moment is Charlie Sheen's disclosure that he is HIV positive. We're not going to talk about Charlie Sheen - I don't know him. But his announcement has put HIV back in the news and has exposed the fact that there is still a stunning lack of education about and understanding of the virus. And again, I never know who's reading this and who isn't, but because this is something that matters to me - and because I hate that it's so easy to spread misinformation via clickbait and sensationalism - I wanted to do something.

So here are some quick bullets to get you started on a larger journey.

1) HIV is not AIDS.

HIV and AIDS are often mentioned in the same breath, but they are not the same thing. You'd be surprised at how many people - reporters included - do not know this. One can be HIV positive without contracting AIDS (not vice versa, though). They are two different things and should be discussed as such.

2) Both HIV and AIDS are incurable.

This is where language can be the most confusing/misleading for laypeople. Treatment for HIV and AIDS has come a long, long way since the 80's and 90's when infection was essentially an instant death sentence. HIV regimens and antiretroviral therapies have increased lifespans and reduced the possibility of transmitting infection so, so dramatically. However, do not mistake the term, "undetectable viral load," for, "cure." As of right now, there is no cure. That's why knowing your status, getting treated, and staying on that treatment is so important.

3) Many people do not know their HIV status.

This bullet point (this whole post, really) is not meant to scare or shame anyone. If anything, it's meant to highlight one of the worst side effects of a lack of education about HIV. Once the most immediate threat passed, getting tested stopped being a priority for a lot of people. Knowing the status of a partner stopped being as much of a priority.

Here's the thing: if you're going to have sex with someone, you should know their status and yours. Have that conversation. Even more so if you're having unprotected sex. Get tested. Get tested again if and when you have sex with a new partner. Get tested again if and when your partner has sex with a new partner. Tons of places provide free access to quick tests now, and early detection could 100% save your life and possibly someone else's.

4) There is no way to 100% guarantee you will not transmit HIV.

This sort of goes hand-in-hand with, "undetectable viral load," not being the same thing as, "cure." The terms, "virtually impossible," and, "impossible," are also very, very different.

Now, you may be thinking, "Duh," and wanting to punch me in the face, but I'm not trying to condescend. I'm trying to remind.

I'm also not trying to say don't have sex. Just have communicative sex - the chance, however minuscule, that you could transmit infection means that it is always your responsibility to disclose your status to any partner if you are positive. I don't mean to suggest that this is an inherently easy thing to do when there's an actual cargo ship of absolutely unfair stigma still attached, but not doing so robs your partner of informed consent.

5) HIV doesn't discriminate. Don't be an ass about it.

Some subgroups of society have higher infection rates than others. Great stat.

Here's the thing: to say that somebody, "asked for," infection or, "deserves it," because they're LGBT or promiscuous or used drugs or had unprotected sex or felt too uncomfortable to ask about a partner's status or just straight up didn't think is a 100% dick move. Shit happens to the careless. Shit happens to the careful. We're all people, and thus we're all deserving of compassion, love, respect, and a recognition of dignity. Nothing changes that.

Continue to get yourself informed by people way more pro-status than I am. I recommend the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, but no matter what, just make sure you're engaging with a reputable source.

See ya in December (for real this time)!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

On Journeys (Or; Go, Guy, Go...)

It's November.

That means it's National Novel Writing Month, and due to the glorious torture that is committing to NaNoWriMo, I don't usually blog much/at all during November. Because if I'm going to spend my time putting words together in a way that makes sense, I'm going to make sure they count toward that 50,000, damn it.

But I'm having a moment. Naturally, that means all planning and logic have gone out the proverbial window, and here we are.

See, this also happens to be my last evening as a 28 year-old.

Full disclosure, I'm 100% obsessed with my birthday. Not in a gross everybody-pay-attention-to-me-and-shower-me-with-gifts-all-day-yes-thnx way. I just really, really dig being alive. It's pretty much my favorite. I love having a reason to get friends together in one place and just celebrate being, and I'm going to stand by that forever, no matter how much of an internet hippie it makes me.

I also love the ritual - the bowing out of the year that was and the ushering in of the year that will be. I try to go out with a few new things and adventures. Ditto for kicking things off.

As it happens, I'm kicking 29 off in Disneyland, where I'll be spending the weekend running two races. On purpose. For fun?

Take a minute for that. I still am, and I signed up for this months ago. I'm not sure when I decided birthday meant, "Physical Challenge!" (bummed already that there are probably those amongst you too young for the reference), but there it is. A friend of mine sent a message of encouragement this morning that was simply, "Go, guy, go!" What else is there to say, besides, "Don't destroy your bod, crazy!"

I've been saying, "I really don't do things like this," except I guess I do now. With increasing regularity, actually.

If you've lurked around this digital space of mine even a little bit over the past three years or so, then you know that I've been on a journey of sorts. There have been major highs, crushing lows, and a lot of little victories and setbacks that haven't necessarily warranted documentation. Not here, anyway.

And, I hate the word journey. Really, I do. It feels so lofty. This, let's say, "ongoing whatever," of's changed me. In every way possible. I'm stronger and braver and smarter. I don't spray anger everywhere they way that I did for a while - which is not to say that I have the perfect temper, but I'm doing my best while striving for better. I'm not owned by fear - not all the time, anyway. Not in the same way. I'm still working on that too.

That's the thing of it, you know. I don't think I realized it when I started, not really, but the ongoing's always going to be ongoing. I'll always be working. And it is bitter work sometimes - soulless, joyless, painful, and so very far from fair.

But the idea of stopping now that I've got's not an option. If I'm being honest, the idea of giving up and holding still again is actually more frightening than any unknown challenge that most assuredly lies ahead. Because now I know how much better things can get. That's not to say that I can't be present and happy with what is. Far from it - but, "what is," has to be looked after, then built upon as it becomes, "what was." We are the sum of our parts and experiences, right? Puzzle pieces.

Last day of 28, and when I look in the mirror, I see a version of myself that is puzzle pieces finally come together: the love of family and friends, the support and advice of teachers and mentors, the foundation of self-care, the messy bits - failures and frustrations and heartbreaks. The process - the assembly - makes more and more sense all the time. All of made a thing. A me.

And she never wants to stop going, to stop working, to stop moving.

Guess that's growing up.

Go, guy.