For those of you living in the LA/Long Beach area, I am sure that at some time or another you have either seen the Vincent Thomas Bridge or have driven over it. For some odd reason, I really enjoy driving over it, with the windows rolled down and the breeze blowing though the car. I don't know, its just something I like to do.
Now for those of you who don't have a clue what the Vincent Thomas Bridge is, it is a 1500 ft suspension bridge that crosses over the LA Harbor and connects San Pedro to Terminal Island in the LA Harbor. Over the years I have driven over it many times. But this past Labor Day a friend of mine was in a marathon than ran over the bridge, that is something I just couldn't imagine.
When I found out my friend Mike was going to be apart of a marathon this past Labor Day called, you guessed it..."Conquering the Bridge", I told him I would be there to root him on and experience the whole thing for myself. As I was driving over to San Pedro EARLY that morning, I got to thinking that I had never actually attended a marathon. I had been to and participated in many walks over the year, but never a marathon, so I was a little excited about this myself.
I met Mike a couple of years ago through his girl friend, Cynthia, who is a very close friend of mine and Patrick's. He is a really great guy and I knew that he had run marathons and such before. I guess the thing that really surprised me about this one was that he was going to run the marathon and then go home (the starting line was just a couple of blocks from his apartment), get cleaned up and then go on to work like it was no big deal!! Now let me tell you, there is NO WAY I would be able to get up, run a 5 mile marathon and then go to work like it was no big deal. I am sure I would be spending the rest of the day just trying to catch my breath and work on getting the feeling to come back into my legs!
So that morning when I got to his apartment, Mike was already down at the event getting registered and such. Cynthia met me and we walked on down to meet up with Mike. When we got there there was already a pretty good crowd gathered and more people were coming in. You could actually feel the excitement as you walked though the crowd. There were people of all ages taking part in this, guys who were probably no more than 12-13 years old to men and woman who were in their 60s. I noticed a couple of people were going to run barefoot. Now I had read about people running barefoot from my blog buddy Jonah (jonahskye.blogspot.com) and from another blog I keep up with(larunner.blogspot.com). The very concept is nothing new to me because when I was growing up back in East Texas,my brother and cousins and me were always ran around barefoot, that included running through the woods around our house. But seeing people actually going to run a marathon barefoot did come as a big surprise to me.
So the time came and they took off and Cynthia and I sat back an waited for their return. I was actually surprised that in about 35 mins some of the runners were crossing back over the finish line!! Now I guess I had not given much thought to how long it would take then to do the run, but here were in a little over 35 mins cheering for those already cross the line. It was really an awesome thing to experience. There was such a show of comradery, no one was out to "beat" anyone, everyone was there to finish the marathon. Cynthia and I started looking for Mike and in what seemed like no time, there he was crossing over the finish line.(you won't see a pic of his crossing the finish line because my camera jammed just as he was getting close to it!!) The first thing that I noticed about Mike was that even though he had just ran a 5 mile marathon over the Vincent Thomas Bridge, he looked like he had never run at all!! Me, I know just about how haggered I would have looked!, it just would not have been pretty!
So after he was finished, we walked back to his apartment,he got ready and took off for work and Cynthia and I headed to lunch! I was a great morning and I was really glad I was able to be there to be apart of it!!
p.s. Running is something that has always fascinated me but it is something I just did not think I could do myself. Like I said, running was just a part of my life as I was growing up but as I got older and got a car, it just ceased being apart of my life anymore. But over the last few months it is something that has been on my mind a great deal. I know Jonah really loves his running and Billy over at LA Runner does too. They really inspire me that even at my advanced age, LOL, it is not too late to take it up again, it will just take some patience on my part to ease back into it. You just never know, one day I could be telling you about a marathon I was in on here.
I can promise you I would never look that good after a 5 mile marathon!!
I am sure for all of us, there are certain days of the year that stand out because something happened on that particular day that touched our lives, and in some way, changed it forever. For me personally I have two such days this week. Two days that each year make stop and remember right were I was on that day when the event happened.
Can you remember where you were and what you were doing on this day 11 years ago? I certainly can. I was sitting at my desk in the Desert Aids Project in Palm Springs, California getting ready for the Health Center to open and our first patients to arrive for the day. One of my co-workers came by desk to let me know that the news had just announced that Matthew Shepherd had died. At that moment I felt my heart break and my eyes tear up. For everyone at work that day, including the patients who came in, it was a quiet somber day It like one of our best friends had passed away, and not a one of us ever met him.
Matthew Shepard was by no means a Saint, although at the time of his death the media certainly tried to make it seem like he was. He was an ordinary 21 year old University student. He had always had his share of problems, just like we all do. Matthew was only 5'2" and weighed somewhere around 110 lbs, and Matthew was Gay.
I am sure most of you remember the media blitz when Matthew was murdered, but I would like to refresh your memory just a little in case you don't remember and for some of my younger readers who don't know about Matthew.
Matthew was a student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. One night after he and the members of the Lesbian,Gay,Bisexual, Transgendered Alliance had finished up a meeting to finalize plans for Gay Awareness Week on campus, Matthew decided to go over to the Fireside Lounge and have a beer before calling it a night. That was on October 6. It was at the Fireside that he met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. Matthew was known not to meet a stranger and talked with anyone who wanted to have a conversation. It was around 11:45 that Matthew was seen leaving the Lounge with McKinney and Henderson. It was later revealed the two had figured out that Matt was Gay and they had told him they too were Gay. They left the Lounge in Henderson's truck with Matt sitting in the middle. Once they got away from the bar they told Matt they had lied to him and they were not Gay and he had been jacked. McKinney demanded Matt's wallet and became enraged when he only had $20. He began beating Matt in the face,neck and chest with his fists and the butt of a Smith and Wesson .357 pistol. While all this was happening, Henderson just kept on driving and drove them about 4 miles out into the prairie. McKinney then pulled Matt out of the truck and continued to punch him and kick him and hit him with the butt of the pistol, while Henderson just stood there and laughed. They later told the authorities that Matthew had screamed for mercy and begged them stop even telling them he had more money they could have back at his apartment if they would just let him go. But instead of believing him, McKinney ordered Henderson to tie Matt to a near by split rail fence. So Henderson got a piece of close line out of his truck and tied Matt's hands behind him, with the backs of his hand facing each other and then tied him to the fence. The media said that Matt was tied to the fence spread eagle like he was on a cross, but in reality he was sitting down and tied to the bottom of the fence. Matt was still very much aware of what was going on and when McKinney realized that Matt would be able to tell the authorities who had done this to them, he became so enraged that he hit Matt 3 times with the butt of the pistol , crushing Matt's skull, caving it in behind his right ear and rendering him unconscious. It was this act, the family later found out, that ended Matt's life and put him into a coma. It was later calculated that the whole ordeal, from the time they left the lounge until McKinney dealt the fatal blows, only took about 45 mins.
Eighteen hours would pass before Matt was found. And it was totally by accident. Aaron Kreifels, he himself a student at the University, came flying by on his mountain bike just about sunset. He hit a rock and took a tumble. As he was getting up he noticed what he thought was a scare crow tied to the fence and went over to investigate and found Matthew. He ran to the nearest house which was about 250 yards away to get help. He was taken to the hospital in Laramie but it was determined the hospital was not equipped to handle Matt's head injuries, so he was flown to the hospital in Fort Collins, where he died 5 days later, never regaining consciousness. The only reason Matthew was the target that night was because he was Gay.
Judy Shepard, Matthew's Mom, is a truly remarkable woman. Since Matt's death she and her husband have created the Matthew Shepard Foundation, to try and educate people and stop the hate toward the LGBT community. She recently published a book entitled "The Meaning of Matthew" and I can't urge you enough to read it. It is an outstanding account of the person Matthew really was and the details they have learned of what actually happened to him that night and in the days, weeks and months that followed. It gives an eye witness view of the two trials of McKinney and Henderson and how their lives and the life of their younger son Logan, have been changed forever.
So why should what happened to Matthew make such a difference to me. Well you see, what happened to Matt, well that could certainly happen to me too, just because I am Gay. There have been times in my life I have been harassed and their have been times in my life I have even feared for my life, just because I am Gay. It happens every day. Matthew suddenly became every Gay person's friend because we all knew, no matter where we lived in this world, that it can happen to any of us. At the time I am writing this, for the past 10 years, we have been trying to get a Federal Hate crimes Bill passed that would include sexual orientation. Just like it is against the law to discriminate against someone who is Black or someone because she is woman. We do not have a Federal Law that protects those who are Gay, Lesbian or Transgendered. BUT, right now there is a bill before Congress that looks like it could finally pass, and you know what it is called?, The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill"
So that is why on this day, October 12, each year, I remember Matthew Shepard. Matthew was just your ordinary run of the mill college student, who happened to be Gay. But because of what happened to Matt, hate crimes again the Gay community was brought to the fore front of the whole world, and this time, they was going to have to be dealt with.
And what happened to Matt....can surely happen to me, or any other GLBT person you know, so pleae never forget Matthew.
p.s. It was by accident that I read Judy Shephard's book this past week. I got it in the mail and since I have had to stay in bed with this cold I have been battling, I started reading it. I realized while I was reading the book that I lived in Casper, Wyoming and attended St Mark's Episcopal Church in Casper, the same time the Shepards were there also. Changes are I had seen Matt helping attend during the Church Services and could have very possible met his parents in passing. Sometimes in looking back, the world certainly is a small place.
Today is National Coming Out Day in my Community!! Actually it has grown into an International celebration in the LGBT Community. Last year I posted my own Coming Out story so if you missed it last year, or just want to read it again (like I just did!), just go to the blog archive on the right and click on "2008" and hit "October", and there it is!
And for any of you that just may be wondering....Yep, I'm still Gay!! and proud of it!!
I do want to share one little thing with you here. Thankfully I am close to my nephews, I love all three of them with all my heart. My brother's oldest son, lets call him John (well that is his name), and I were talking on the phone last week, and he was telling me about a night out he had with his Dad that week. He told me they had talked a lot about me (well of course they would!!) and my brother had told him that when he first found out that I was Gay, it was really hard on him. But my nephew told me he just looked at his Dad and "You know Dad, I wouldn't have Uncle Jaymes any other way". That that really choked me up.
This past Thursday evening I got to do something I have wanted to do for several years now...attend a concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra!!!! But mind you, it was not just ANY concert, it was the Inaugural Concert of It's new Musical Director......Gustavo Dudamel!!!!!!!! Yep, and I got to go....FOR FREE!!! which just made the whole thing a little sweeter!
I have loved what my little brother always called "long haired music" ever since I was in grade school. Actually I can not remember a time when I did not like listening to Mozart and all his buddies. My Mother thought this was wonderful and bought me several records (yes then we had records)and I would play them for hours. If this was not a sign to them they had a little Queen in the making I don't know would have given them a clue. (Well maybe one Christmas when I had asked for a certain doll, and got a set of cap guys instead, and I looked up at my Mom after I had opened up the guns and said,"WHY?", that might have also been a clue for them) Last week as I was listening to NPR as I was driving to work, they made the announcement that the LA Phil was having a special drawing for tickets to the outside showing of the Inaugural Concert of Gustovo. All you needed to do was go the the LA Phil website and give them your email address and name,and on Tuesday their computer was going to select 2000 names at random and those people would win 2 ticket to the event on Thursday. So I made a note of myself ( as my brother says, "Note to self") and when I got to work I signed up, and forgot about it, sorta.
If you live anywhere close to Los Angeles you have known for several weeks now that Gustavo was coming.You may not have had a clue who he was, but you knew he was coming. He is on all the sides and rears of every bus in town. He face is smiling down from many, many, many bill boards all over town. Thankfully, he is a nice looking man and we don't have to look at a hideous face plastered all over the place!!
So on Tuesday I was at work and something made me remember that was the day they were selecting the names for the concert so I logged on and check and of course there was nothing in my mail box from the LA Phil. And the little voice in the back of my head said, "You really did not expect to win now did you??" So I just went back work and really did not think anything about it. The last hour of our day that day was really slow (you do not say dead in a Doctor's office) so I was killing time before we could leave and I checked my email again and there it was...."Congratulation, you have been selected to attend the LA Phil concert this Thursday evening!". I promise you I read it 3 times before it stuck in my mind. I was so excited. I have always wanted to hear the LA Phil in concert but the tickets have always been a little pricey for me so I just did not sweat it. But now I have another task I had to do.....find someone who would go with me, because I knew Patrick would say, "That's great Baby, who are you going to take with you?" because I knew he wouldn't go. Not that he doesn't like "Long Haired Music", he's Gay, he has to, its a requirement for us. But I knew his work hours would interfer with him being able to get there when we had to check in. So I texted our friend,Timmy, and in no time he texted back that he would LOVE to, and we were set.
So Thursday evening I met Timmy at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown LA and we went through our security check, I had been sent a special email with a number on it that I had to bring with me and I had to have a picture ID. Once we went through security we were ushered into the outdoor Plaza were Timmy and I and 1500 of our closest friends were going to watch a simulcast of the Concert that was taking place inside beautiful Walt Disney Concert Hall, right across the street. We got to our place around 6, the concert started at 7. So we settled in and ate dinner (Timmy brought some things from a Chinese bakery and I bought what was probably one of the best hot dogs I have ever had from the vendor that was set up by us)and as more people started coming in and sitting around us, we started talking with them also. EVERYONE was excited. You could honestly feel the excitement in the air.
The darkness started falling around us and the magical time was approaching. Then, right on time at 7pm, the large screen came alive and we were inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall right along with the 2000 people decked out in their tuxes and evening gowns ( and I was getting to wear a comfortable shirt and slacks and in my sock feet!). When Gustavo came on to the stage everyone went crazy. Shouting and clapping and whistling. The energy was amazing.
Now the concert was in two parts. The first half was a world premiere of a new work called "City Noir" by a man named Adams. Well to sum it up quickly for you....I did not like it. It was a modern piece and I am not a fan of most modern classical music. For about 45 mins I listened to music that I could not get into or make head or tails of. And from what I heard around me at intermission I was not alone.
BUT, then came the second half and it was "Symphony No 1 in D major" by Mahler and it was simply beautiful. As I looked around during the performance everyone looked as if they were in a trance. It was awesome. I really did not want it to end. After each movement, the crowd would go crazy with applause and in the end, Gustavo Dudamel received a standing ovation both in and outside of the Disney Hall. To sum it up, it was a truly amazing evening. Wonderful music under a clear, starry night in downtown Los Angeles, truly amazing.
p.s. I would like to thank our friend Timmy for coming with me to exeperience this amazing evening. He and I and Patrick have had many adventures in the 9+ years we have been tegether, but it is a very rare thing that I get to spend some quality alone time with Timmy. The hour we got to share before the concert started just added to the greatness of the evening for me. thanks my friend!
(to see any of the pictures in a large format,simpley double click on the pic)
All of my life I have had to be careful when it comes to the medication I take. I have a "delicate" system so I have been told and when most meds says to take two of something I can only take one. When I first started taking blood pressure medications several years ago, the first day I took it I fainted at work because the dosage I was prescribe lowered my blood pressure too fast! (Now mind you I was at work when I fainted but I have been told I fainted in a very lady like manner!!) So the Doctor cut the dosage in half for me and it has always worked fine.
I have never been a fan of sleep medication and have actually only used them twice in my life. Once I was having an episode of insomnia that happens to me very once in awhile so a friend recommended I take a Tylenol PM, sounded good to me, so I did. It made a Zombie out of me all the next day, I got 2 good nights sleep off of 1 pill!! And then a couple of years ago when I lost my job a dear friend of mind gave me 2 Ambien and told me to only use half whenever I could not sleep because of the stress of losing my job, that was over 2 years ago and I still have one pill left!!
But last week, I came across something that really floored me. Most of you know I work in an Doctor's office and one of the things I do is deal with the Drug Reps. Thankfully the ones who call on our office are all really nice and some I know from the last office I worked in. When they leave the medication samples they also leave he product info sheets that tells all about the medications. It was the end of the day and I was clearing stuff off my desk getting ready to go home when I found one of the product sheets a Rep left that day, it was for a sleep medication. I just glanced over it and could not believe what I was reading. You can actually take this medication (one of my Docs said it applies to any of them) and get up and do things and not remember you did it when you wake up. Now I want you to take a look at the list...some of the things listed I really don't mind not remembering but a couple I sure as hell want to remember if I get the chance to do them them !!! So now I have another reason not to take sleep medications.....