Monday, July 22, 2013

One more year, one more adventure, celebrating 25 years of my becoming HIV+.

Monday, February 20, 2012


One of the reasons I started to write again is to crystalize future plans.
About a year ago, a friend approached me about going to Nepal and doing the Annapurna Trek.   After visiting Nepal twice in my life, I had still considered it a magical place from my youth.   But I had no strong yearning to return, especially given the pollution and degradation that has happened in Kathmandu since my last visit.  I figured it would be too much of a disappointment.
But I thought about it, and it seems more tangible in my mind, especially the aspect of doing a 2-3 week Trek around the Annapurnas.   My friend eventually decided she couldn't do it, but the dream had already solidified in my own mind.     I've encouraged other friends to consider the possibility of going, and found my close friend, Liz, from San Francisco was game, especially when she found out that there would probably be internet access on parts of the trip  (which blows my mind in itself!).
Nepal 1983
She's turning 50 next April, and I will be turning 55.  It will be also the 25th "anniversary" of my HIV results.
It's probably still crazy for me to think of such an adventure.   I know all the drugs I will have to carry along with me, the huge package of Fuzeon with its vials, needles, and syringes for the twice daily injections.   Also the huge potential for water born illnesses and well as other diseases and injuries.   I think back to the article that Gus wrote on peak experiences, and unfortunately (or fortunately?), that is the things that keep me alive and embracing life.   I wish it was easier, that a Sunday afternoon stroll was enough to do that.    That I did not need to go to the edge, again and again.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Next Steps

Snowshoeing on Mt. Hood 2012
(photo by Scott Withers)
I was called back to the doctors office yesterday for an emergency MRI.   My inflammatory markers were so high that I was warned of the possibility of having a blood clot on my lungs or embolism or other potentially fatal occurrence. 
I thought about driving my truck, but opted to ride my bike instead even though it was raining outside.   And the rain made it more poignant.  If I was to hear bad news from the doctor, (or even accept the risk of endangering myself further by riding my bike),  I still wanted to feel alive.   Feeling the rain against my face, drenching my clothes would still give me the sense of being and existing, that I was still here aware and alive.

A month ago my friend Scott and I headed up to do some snowshoeing in the Mt. Hood area.   It was nice as we headed up one a small mountain peak across of Mt. Hood.     It was fresh fallen snow, and ours were the first steps except rabbit and rodent tracks which occasionally crisscrossed the trail.    The wind was light, and the going easy, but I was inexplicably tired as we trudged up the mountain.   It was a tiredness given as much by the unchallenging nature of the trail as by anything else.    It was only when nearing the summit, and finally peaking out on the rocky crest that I felt alive again.   The wind would blast us with 50mph gust, with the snow sand blasting our face, sneaking through tiny opening in our clothing, numbing fingers.    But it was awakening and exilerating.    It wasn't the easiness of the earlier trail that gave meaning to me, but life on the edge.

A friend from Britain wrote an article about peak experiences, and those of blessed or cursed with the need to live through them.  He also asked me to share some of my experiences.  It's given me a lot to think about -- concerning the driving forces for me.

It's been a bit since I've written in this blog.  Maybe life had gotten too uneventful, or the mountains too easy.    But things have happened, and some of the health challenges I've faced this past winter has opened up new questions about my continued ability to do what I love.    Over the next week I hope to catch up, re-focus, and maybe decide on the next few steps.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

After the past 7 years, and several failed attempts, managed to climb Mt. Hood again.
This time, achieving my dream of climbing it solo.
Luckily, I was helped by the weather, and great climbing conditions.
Good to be on the Summit again.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Finishing up a hectic week in San Francisco -- covering the big annual scientific and research conference. Always amazed by how much work is being done out there. No cure, but at least this year, you heard rumbles by some of the scientist about that now being the target.

We did over 50 interviews and panels. Again, I feel privileged to meet some of these top doctors and researchers.

Our blog and interviews from there:

Monday, February 01, 2010

Some things to think about during the church service yesterday. (My choir sang, so I got to sit in the choir loft hearing much of the service twice.)
Before our choir went out, our choir director, Mark, had us hold hands as usual, and gave a prayer. (Well, as Unitarians pray). The thing he said that stuck with me was that when we sang, to sing with "Acuity".

I think that is a good model for life. Another way of saying to be present. The Now is all we have, and everything else is just an illusion. Too often we miss this moment because we are living in this illusion. And we miss the people in our lives, because we are never really "with" them. I remember something that Mark had said in choir practice last week, that the greatest gift we can give to someone is our presence.

The other thing that got me thinking was during the minister's sermon. Why should we live as if our paradoxes always need a resolution? Trying to force solutions onto our lives, into the mystery of our being; it only forces situations and people into circumstances where they do not belong. I've often argued against fundamentalism for that reason. That compelling need that some people have to see things in black and white, the dogma of their truth, the inability to live in the in-between, in that mystery of the unknown.

"Morning Poem"

Every morning the world is created.

Under the orange sticks of the sun
the heaped ashes of the night turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches –
and the ponds appear like black cloth
on which are painted islands
of summer lilies.

If it is your nature to be happy
you will swim away along
the soft trails for hours,
your imagination alighting everywhere.

And if your spirit carries within it
the thorn that is heavier than lead –
if it’s all you can do to keep on trudging –
there is still somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted –

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered lavishly every morning,
whether or not you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not you have ever dared to pray.

-Mary Oliver

to end this church inspired blog, we're singing this song by Holly Near, the words, and emotion of which touch me deeply:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

On a rainy Oregon morning,
I go back to the video I did last spring: