Buy my book: undetectable VISIONARY

Friday, November 20, 2009

Undetectable not Invincible

Maybe scheduling doctor appointments, in which one's blood is drawn for tests, should not occur on Friday the 13th, if you're superstitious. Just a thought.

I saw my doctor today for a follow-up to my labs I did last week and the results are not what I was expecting, but then again, I am not surprised.

Everything that should be normal has dropped lower or climbed higher; the only good thing that remains is that I am undetectable. I suppose a part of me began to believe that I was almost invincible, but clearly I am not.

Since May I have been dealing with more stress than I know what to do with. Starting a new job and going back to school certainly have not eased my troubles substantially. In fact, it could be the cause of my increased fatigue, loss of energy, loss of short-term memory and loss of appetite.

Often I have reflected or discussed with my roommate that I feel like I have gotten worse since May; there are some nights that I felt like I was falling apart and dying a slow death. Everyday hasn't been like this, but there are some days I just don't know what to do, so I just sit and endure the physical and emotional pain of what's coming at me because it's my only option I know of.

After some discussion with my doctor, she suggests that an MRI may be needed in the future and that there is a possibility of having a type of lymphoma; not uncommon to those living with HIV/AIDS. Lymphoma is a cancer that starts out in the immune system and spreads. Those with immuno-deficiencies of any kind are often subject to such a disease.

Almost everyone I know in my family that has passed away has had some type of cancer, even my "twin" cousin (born on the same date) died at 22 of an inoperable brain stem tumor. As cancer runs in my family, I am not surprised to hear such news, nevertheless, it is rather scary. I really thought that being HIV positive was enough for me. The tests haven't been done yet, so there's no real immediate need to worry, but I will anyway.

I know I have done this the last couple years, but I am asking again for my family and friends to pray and fast for me in remembrance of World AIDS Day, which is on December 1st every year. I will be holding a special fast on November 29th for myself. I ask that as many as possible people fast with me between November 29th and December 6th; whenever you can manage to do it. If nothing else, please keep me in your prayers.

I told my roommate this morning, "You be the strong one for me; if you worry, I'll worry even more."

I know Christ is the ultimate healer of all things and has the power to heal broken hearts, lost dreams, sorrow and sicknesses of all kind. I rely on the power of your thoughts, prayers, fasts and His power to overcome all I am given to endure.

I love you all.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

opposites attract

Null Hypothesis: Negative forces and Positive forces are independent.

(Research Hypothesis: There is statistically significant evidence showing there is a relationship between negative and positive forces; they are not independent.)

Two-tailed t-test, 95% confidence level, alpha=0.05, mean=unknown, degrees of freedom=1, t-critical=12.706 and N=2.

I am currently taking Quantitative Methods (Graduate level Statistics), so I felt I could start out my post with my null and research hypothesis, but after that nothing else really made sense. My apologies go to those to whom have by now stopped reading because of their hatred for stats...oh wait, that's me. (Thanks to my friend Adrienne for helping to form the above.)

Moving along...

Yes, even I began singing the familiar tune by Paula Abdul when I named this post, but I am not here to review her song or to critique it for that matter.

I came to some realizations about myself for the first time, again. Join me in my exploration of my reality.

I have taken a look at people I know now, as well as a look back at all the people I have become or drew close to and realized that the one quality that is the same, for the most part, is that they are or were positive, optimistic and upbeat in nature.

My realization is what few people have touched upon throughout my life and others have failed to say clear enough: I am a negative force; I am a negative person. I attract or am attracted to positive forces and my relationships with positive people help me to be positive, but it is my nature to be negative. That's my conclusion anyway, for now.

I don't mean negative necessarily in a bad, dark or pessimistic sense, though it does apply to parts of my life. I mean negative in the way that I see most things in life as the glass being half empty; which is not in and of itself negative in nature but a negative perspective or rather of the negative spectrum (-1 {0} +1).

Life is all about balance, negativity, its forces and all opposition must exist; there's such evidence in scripture and academic journals alike. For this, I don't mind being apart of God's plan and representing the negative spectrum or opposition to others' expressed opinions or my loved ones' lives. I enjoy being what most call the 'devil's advocate' though I should make it clear I try my best never to successfully advocate for such a being.

I guess my feelings or desires behind expressing all of this is to understand what my purpose is in this life. Maybe I am here to challenge positive forces. When one says the cup is half full, I feel the need to show evidence that, in fact, the glass is half empty. Now, neither of one is exactly correct or incorrect; it's really all about how convincing one's argument is to another. Is this my purpose, to be more convincing? I doubt it.

The huge reason behind this post is about relationships, especially between negative and positive forces. If I am negative; that's my nature and I tend only to be positive when around positive forces, how can I ever be positive? Or in other words, how can I ever see the glass half full if I was presumably made to see it half empty.

I am confused about this because objects like batteries use negative and positive forces to operate. Or, like gravity and jumping in the air. It's hard to dispute that batteries only work when negative and positive are both present. However, some may measure the height one is able to reach when they jump, while I will measure the lack of height one is able to reach. Simply put, some people add to and I take away. Does that me a bad person or am I simply here to provide a different approach or perspective?

My other dilemma is that I feel better when I am positive, but unless nurtured and supported by all around me, I tend to choose what seems to me to be my negative nature.

What's even weirder is that a few people in my life see me as a positive influence in their life or a positive force. I find it hard to believe because I hardly focus on any good I do, but rather all the bad I've done, or the lack of good I've performed. In fact, that's what I am doing right now with this post; focusing on the negative instead of the positive.

When discussing this with a colleague we both came to the conclusion that our society desires that which is of a positive nature in word, but not necessarily in action. Simply put, we say we want peace, but we are always at war.

What if society embraced both positive and negative people for what they bring to the table? There could be positive pride and negative pride (is that an oxymoron?) parades and days of unity where nothing is equal, but everyone works together like a battery. Maybe that is what we are all saying when we say, "I want world peace." What we're really saying is that to gain world peace, we will first need to fight for it for ages and ages, then our posterity will enjoy it later on. The truth is that we enjoy opposites in life more than we know or want to admit. We love the drama of most modern-day relationships, reality shows and movies because they always involve opposing forces. Mary J. Blige sang "No More Drama", but I don't think one can exclude such a necessity from one's life - only minimize it.

My point is, I am often criticized for being negative, when I truly feel I am just being myself and realistic. My realization is that I don't need to feel like I have to be like everyone else, when in fact, everyone else needs a person like me to keep life balanced.

So, here's the question...

If I was made to be negative and I am successful at it, is that not considered a positive?

Oh Lord!

(comments welcome here)

You have been caught Jey Walking! (in two different directions)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

the perfect fit

As I was about to go to sleep tonight I was reminded of events a little over a year ago when I was looking for a place to live in New York. Finding the perfect place is everything in New York City. It decides where you will shop, eat, hang out and how long your commute will be to and from work, school and friends. I wanted to find somewhere that would be everything I needed all in one place.

At the time I was looking, I was living in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and despite being mugged there I figured Brooklyn, the better part of it, would be perfect for my new start in the city. It was mostly quiet compared to Manhattan, it was more family oriented and lined with small shops, museums, library, gardens and a zoo, among other delights. There were plenty of places to go shopping, hang out and young singles to mingle with, but was it enough?

I looked high and low in different communities of Brooklyn to find the place for me. After I tried several options on Craigslist I almost gave up. Was I acting like a privileged white kid away from home for the first time or was I truly just searching for a place to call home like everyone else? Finally, as time was running out, I found this ideal situation - yes, even on Craigslist.

I found a gay couple who own a beautiful 18th or 19th century four-story row home. The house was a two minute walk from all the major subway lines and a major shopping center that included restaurants, Target, Old Navy and grocery stores. The couple had owned the home for 30 years and seem like a wonderful pair of older men with no hidden agenda. The home was refurbished to it's original style and decked out with antique furniture, decoration and my personal favorite, pianos, yes plural. It seemed too surreal - I mean come on, three tuned pianos in one home??? So what's the catch? There seemed to be none - it was perfect.

The deal was that I would get the entire fourth floor equipped with my own bathroom and large furnished bedroom with access to the entire house that included laundry facilities, free utilities, state of the art kitchen and cable TV and internet for $700/ month!!! I was waiting for something to snap and pop the dream bubble.

Well, they had a few offers, but seemed to like me, especially because I play the piano. I looked at another apartment in Manhattan since that's where I'd be going to school and I was likely to be around more YSAs than in Brooklyn. The rent at the Manhattan apartment was about $100 more with considerable less amenities, not to mention I would have three strange roommates. I didn't want to give this opportunity to live in Manhattan up though, it was one block from Central Park and in between two subway lines - it wasn't so bad.

The Bishopric of the ward for that boundary was putting together the roommates and getting a good deal for the apartment that would be fully renovated. Before I signed on to live there I had told the counselor that I was HIV positive, ex-communicated and gay because I didn't want to be set up with some crazy, ignorant roommates. This whole dramatic thing came out of me be open about my status that is neither here or there now, but for the purpose of the story it made me think - gee, Brooklyn is probably a better choice.

Then the day came when I had to make a choice. Given the drama that had risen from the Manhattan choice I really, really didn't want to move there and I was way more comfortable staying in Brooklyn. In Brooklyn, I felt like I could be myself and not have to answer to anyone. It seemed like living in the other apartment there would be some problems. As I was saying, I had to make a choice and it was so hard. I was about to tell Manhattan to forget it and a voice as clear as ever said, NO, move to Manhattan. I was so confused. I would have had everything I could dream of at a lower price, why must I go to Manhattan. The voice didn't answer.

So, with tears welling up in my eyes and my heart pounding I picked up the phone and called the Brooklyn guys and said I was no longer interested in the apartment and hung up. I fell down in my bed and cried - for some reason it really hurt me that I couldn't have this dream of mine. I raised my voice to God and said, I don't know why you've asked me to do this, but this is my small sacrifice upon your altar, please accept it. I will never forget how I felt in that moment. I felt at peace, I felt comforted, I felt extremely loved. Most of all I felt the sacrifice was accepted and knew blessings would come my way in Manhattan.

A year has passed and it has not been an easy road. We've had several problems in the apartment: neighbors, noise, graffiti, drug use, weird smells to name a few. Then there's the whole adjusting to new people I don't know and their unacceptable habits. Take all of that away and I was still left with financial, physical, spiritual and emotional problems of my own. Somehow, some way, I have been able to overcome all the obstacles mostly unscathed. I still don't like some of my roommates and where I live isn't a dream come true - but compared to what, Brooklyn? I don't think Brooklyn could have helped me overcome these things - I would have had less friends and less access to what I really need. My place is not a dream but it's just right. I've met some great people in my ward, my Bishopric is understanding and helpful, I'm closer to more things than I know and even my rent has gone down to $700.

I guess we all do the could of, would of , should of game because frankly it's fun to think about what might have been. In this case, I am certain that had I not listened to that voice; had I not placed my small sacrifice upon the Lord's altar - the protection and the blessings may not have come. I may not have made the close friends I have now that have helped push me forward in ways I could not have done alone.

The trials and tribulations never cease, but perspectives change. This last year in New York; all of the adventures I've journeyed upon and mishaps I've endured have been the greatest gift and guiding lesson for the future. I've learned a lot about myself; who I am, how I treat myself, how I treat others, how I treat God and how I view the world. Times ain't easy but I sure am glad that when I wake up tomorrow that I'm waking up overlooking Central Park in a city that's always changing just like me- seems like a perfect fit.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Monday, November 2, 2009

disease vs. cure

I met with my program advisor recently to discuss my options for the spring semester in graduate school. After talking about the future he wanted to know more about the present. I have had some issues transitioning from one way of life to another. Atlanta is not New York City by any stretch of the imagination, so adjustments over the last year have been made. One issue we spoke about was my incomplete courses; these are courses of which I have not turned in remaining required assignments. This creates a problem as both the incomplete coursework and current course work need to be completed. Otherwise it becomes costly, both monetarily and GPA-wise.

I listed all the usual excuses and jibber-jabber, but clearly the look on my advisor's face said it all: WHO CARES! The world does not stop because you had a bad day, someone died or you don't understand something. One can choose to focus on the can nots, did nots, was not able tos of life; slowly sliding backwards or one can see the cans, dos, am able tos and move forward - or as my Branch President would always say, "Onward and Upward!"

After some discussion of what needed to change and what is expected of me if I plan to move forward we got on more of a personal discussion. My advisor knows about my HIV status so he knows that when I found out I was HIV-positive I felt like I was the disease. Everything became unmanageable or undo-able because I had a potentially terminal illness; I was a disease. He expressed to me that I was still in that defeatest mode while in school. When assignments felt too large to comprehend or tasks were too technical to handle; I took the defeatest path and slid backwards, but who has that helped?

Be the cure, live the cure, you are the cure! That's essentially the message my advisor presented me. Stop deciding you're going to fail because you're "damaged" and move forward becoming better than you were before the disease. After he said this he stopped and looked at me and said, "Swallow." I was puzzled. "Swallow that pill that is so difficult for you to get down; your ego, your defeatest mode, your feelings of inadequacy; just swallow, then breathe." I realized that my face must have read, "But I don't want to, I enjoy the conflict in my life" but I knew he was right. Like I have previously written, it is time to let go; now I know what I need to let go of. This disease is not my life; not even the end of my life, merely a small part of it. In fact it takes up a minute of my life each day when I have to, wait for it, swallow my medication and a few doctor visits here and there.

It reads in 2 Nephi 2:11, "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things." In this story there is the path and life of the disease or the path and life of the cure. I think that this can apply to all areas of my life that I am, as it reads in 2 Nephi 2:27, "free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself." Regardless of accident, God's will or disease, I choose how to deal what is given to me to deal with and accepted such terms before coming to this Earth and this life.

Simply put, I choose to live or die. After some discussion I think living life in all of its definition is the best choice.

You have caught me Jey Walking!