An explanation and apology…as best I can via the web.

I’m grateful to be “on the other side” of a valley — but as is sometimes the case with my loud mouth and unfiltered comments, I have some damage control to do – “taking ownership for my sh**” as they say.

Or as one Christmas sign says, “Santa, I have some ‘splaining to do…”


It’s clear you’re upset about some things Todd, and I’m so sorry..however, you just managed to insult a whole lot of people in one fell swoop

I’ll lead off by saying that none of these words “justify” my actions or behavior over the last month, and in particular the last week.  There is damage that has been done to some relationships, which will possibly linger “under the surface” for quite some time.

For those who know me, and know my battle with addiction and mental illness (depression, mood swings, etc), some of this will be easier to understand. For some who don’t know me or my journey to “get here,” it may not even come close to explaining my actions and behavior. I understand that – I simply ask for as much compassion and tolerance as you’re able to offer.  And I’ll live with the consequences…because that’s part of taking responsibility and owning “my sh**.”

This year, life continues to happen – even with some of the grounding and framing I set out for 2015 in my “brand” and personal intentions for 2.015.

While I don’t want to go through all of what has been going on “behind the scenes” per se, suffice to say that continuing to look for part-time employment and considering a move to North Carolina in 2015 have brought me face-to-face with some of my demons and some of my past (many of which I’ve written about on my blog here before…)

Personal events in 2009 and 2010 have fundamentally changed my path in life, and either closed some doors permanently or is keeping them closed for several more years…  And while none of the information is new, facing the topics and roadblocks again is hard…and sparks off some grieving and a range of feelings from anger, to sadness, to resentment…  And, I sometimes let those flow over into comments and actions that have hurt others (as the quote above says!)

Of course, having our timelines for the move to NC change again (probably not until 2016!) set off another set of reactions and feelings – and grieving…

And, then last week, a friend that I used to run around with in my using days passed away from heart failure at the age of 23.  A couple people in my life knew about this, but not many…so that was working in the background, bringing about its own feelings, grieving, regrets, self-loathing and fear.  So young…

Lastly, an individual who robbed me last year and has been “AWOL” / missing for a year suddenly contacted me because he was “embarrassed” that I had posted about the burglary / house invasion.  That resurfaced some of the pain of that trauma…


As I’ve shared before, like most people, I’m trying my best, with good intentions – but am imperfect and will fall short sometimes.  So, if I’ve said or done something recently that hurt you – I’m truly sorry.  I’ve tried to “clean up” some of the damage that was posted to Facebook or the web – and as importantly, focused on personal apologies and conversations where the pain / damage was perhaps greatest.  And, I need to “regroup” and get back to better managing my issues and shit, such that they don’t “come out” in such ugly ways.  It’s a life-long process for me…so I’m doing my best, and try to patient and compassionate with myself (and others!) along the journey.

With some exceptions, I rarely intentionally hurt others – but when I do (intentionally or unintentionally!), where I’m aware, I do endeavor to go back and make amends.  So, if I’ve hurt you and we still need to clear the air, even after this post, please let me know.  Of course, as I aspire to as much as I can (and will still fail!), please express your unmet needs and valid feelings in an objective manner that allows me to hear and receive your feedback. Silence is by far the worst of all choices. Passive-aggressive behavior I can work through; silence robs us both of a growth experience and an ability to connect.

Perfectly imperfect,





AIDS or Alzheimer’s…remembrance with transparency

Celebrating a life as it should be…

This week, we lost a soul due to complications due to AIDS, as he was living with the HIV virus. He was in my men’s group where I receive care coordination for my own life care as someone living with the HIV virus. I only knew him from the group, but his passing touched me for many reasons. I’d like to share a little of his story to keep his memory alive.

We will call him Scott. The fact that I have to pick a false name “to protect his family” goes to show that even today, with all the progress we’ve made in the treatment of this nasty virus, there is still the need to protect people’s dignity because of the social stigma that is still out there in our society. His family chose to have contributions go to the Alzheimer’s Association, as opposed to where he received life care for this real disease. Sad, for me at least, because I really don’t think the Alzheimer’s Association did anything for Scott. Each week, he found support and camaraderie from a small circle of men who met in the basement of a non-profit organization, dedicated to those infected with HIV/AIDS.

So if you’re reading this and you’re willing, please make a contribution to your local HIV/AIDS organization in Scott’s memory.

And let me be clear – I don’t fault his family for making this choice. If we lived in a society where caring for someone with Alzheimer’s was equally respected as caring for someone with the HIV virus and/or complications from AIDS, then they could be transparent. But, we don’t…yet. So, they felt this was necessary.  I respect their decision.  I hate they had to make it…but I understand.

I’ll remember Scott for his love of music. For his love of food. For his sense of humor.

I’ll remember Scott because he was confined to a wheelchair, living in an assisted living home where we was often treated with disgust. Food would be taken from his fridge. Human excrement would be left in his bed sheets or on the floor, because the staff wasn’t willing to clean up after him. Granted, Scott was a cantankerous man who was probably difficult to live with. He sometimes made us uncomfortable in group – but he was human, alive and living with this painful, ugly disease. He felt trapped in the nursing home – a victim, perhaps by choice, but perhaps not. At least he had our support group, where he could vent and process and find support. How many people are out there who don’t have that?

I’m reminded of a song by Barbara McAfee, entitled “When I Die.” It’s given me much comfort in my living, and given me hope that I can die with grace and dignity, surrounded by friends and family.  The opening lines are:

“When I die, I know there’ll be singing
By my friends all gathered around.
As their sweet voices fade behind me,
I will join in the one great sound.
And I’ll stand on a sunset hillside
Just like I did in that dream
Join the multitude there that is singing
The song inside everything.

When I die I’ll fall into a hammock,
Woven of each song I’ve ever sung.
I have sent them a forward to catch me
On the day my life is done.”

When I die, I want this song played at my memorial service.

And, if I happen to die of complications due to AIDS, I want that listed in my obituary.  And I want donations made to the Damien Center, or IAIC, or Broadway UMC…or similar organizations, should I live somewhere other than Indianapolis.

I want people to know one can die with dignity from this disease, or from addiction, or from natural causes…or from a motorcycle accident.  I don’t know how I’ll go, but all of those are real possibilities, as I live life “in the grey” between the “!” and the “?”

The more we talk about it and tell our stories, the less shame and stigma there will be…

So Scott, I celebrate your life – your struggle – your smile.  May you find rest on a hammock that was prepared just for you…

Clean 2-8-14 #knowyourstatus REALLY?

20 years later…
What have we learned about science and hate?

Clean 2-8-14  #knowyourstatus

Want me to get scientific [on you]…and explain why having HIV is dirty?

I can fully explain it to you.  Chemistry and biology.

It’s a bacteria infection.  Which is not clean.

Your being mad at the world…is not gonna get rid of your HIV brother.  I promise that.

This is an online profile and part of a text conversation with a 21-year-old tonight in the early to mid 2010’s.

AIDS is God’s judgement on homosexuals.

This was from a phone conversation I had with my mother in the early 1990’s.  She had a master’s in microbiology.

I’m not sure which scares – or hurts – me the most.  Judgement and hate from my flesh and blood family, or judgement and hate from my family of choice.

At least my mother grew in her understanding and compassion over the years — along with the scientific understanding of this very manageable health condition.  When I eventually contracted the HIV virus in 2012, she no longer spoke in such an uneducated way.

I only wish this “SomeHotDude” from the millennial generation  learns some things about health, compassion and acceptance.

Anger, sadness and fear…oh my!

Am I mad “at the world?”  I’m mad at a choice I made to relapse in December 2011, which put me in a situation where I had unsafe sex in a careless way that showed little self-respect.  It’s a choice I made to use, and from there…my addiction wanted me dead.  So yes, I’m mad at myself and my addiction.

Am I mad and saddened and hurt by my dead grandfather, who 20+ years later I find out wrote me out of his will because I’m gay?  Yes, I’m mad at his narrow-minded bigotry that excluded me simply because of whom I love.

Am I mad at this cocky 21-year-old who verbalizes things I thought about people with HIV/AIDS for 20+ years, because of my own fear, prejudice and insecurity?  Yes, I’m mad and sad at seeing myself in him, mad at him for openly expressing his prejudice while I at least had the maturity along the way of keeping my fears and insecurities to myself.

Are the decisions or actions we’ve both made any different?  No.

Am I frustrated that our society continues to marginalize, label and push people who are different down into the gutter — whether it be based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, health condition, age or some other “class” we use to describe one another — rather than seeing one another as human beings?  Yes.

And let’s be clear – I’m part of that society, and have some of those same prejudices, so I hope this doesn’t come across as self-righteous.  I’m human, not perfect…just trying to learn and grow with what life experiences I have.

The question is: while we all may have these thoughts, do we let them influence our actions?  Or do we instead ignore the “pre-judement based on a stereotype, label or generalization” and choose acceptance, compassion, understanding?   Do we look past the societal labels, and seek to get to know the person in front of us?  In front of me…

Am I curious about that person, who they are and what they believe?   Do I think critically about the information I’m presented as I listen?  Do I show compassion, even in the face of fear, differences, insecurities?

It’s not always easy…believe me!  But that’s how I aspire to live, at the age of 45.  I only wish I knew at 21 what I now understand more fully…

Clean 2-8-14  #knowyourstatus

So yes, it scares and saddens me that this 21 year old is growing up comfortable about being gay, but judging people in our own community because he is afraid.

So my responses to his blindness were:

Clean 3-17-14, HIV+ March 2012

What does cleanliness have to do with status?  HIV status has nothing to do with being clean or dirty.

Do you like it when gay people are all labeled as perverts?  Then why would it be acceptable to label all HIV+ people as dirty [because people who are HIV- are instead clean]?

Perversion has nothing do with sexual orientation, just like cleanliness has nothing to do with viral status.

So yes, I’m clean and HIV+ — as if those two “labels” are really the antithesis of each other.  (I’ve been on medication since I was first diagnosed, and my viral load has been undetectable since January 2013)

One has to do with bathing habits, or language usage (for fuck’s sake…), or perhaps how tidy one keeps one’s house.  The other is a manageable health condition.  Two very different concepts.

This isn’t the 1980’s folks…get educated.  (Or for any millennials reading this, it’s not the 90’s. )

I hope this 21 year old never contracts the HIV virus and has to eat his own words…like I’ve had to re-evaluate my thoughts and beliefs…or like my mom had to re-evaluate her religion.