Archive for HIV and AIDS

Cause for Celebration

// June 3rd, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Animals, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

Malibu Logoon State Beach 071If you read the blog, then you know that Thursday was a pretty hard day for me. There was just so much crap that I had to deal with and it really got to me. But thanks in part to my Canon Rebel, my friend Franklin and Kitchen 24 and of course the peace only God can give, I was able to end my day on a good note.

It’s now 11:22pm on Friday night, my friend Franklin is gone home, Dodger is perched in his favorite spot, the news is in the background and I am smiling and just being thankful…..oh I also have a glass of red wine.

The plan today was to take it easy, work on my website, do laundry and catch some awesome jazz at LACMA. Well I never had the chance to do my laundry because some people hog the three washers for the entire building and jazz took a back seat to some chill time with Franklin and doing my best to help him get his internet up and running. Even after calling my friend Darlyna, we were unable to get him all set up.

I knew he would be bummed out so I ask him if he wanted to go for a walk with Dodger and I and maybe get something to eat. he said yes and off we went. I am happy that once he left he was smiling and not letting the fact that he is not on the internet just yet get to him. Although I know how he might be feeling because when I order internet from AT&T it was two weeks after the install before it was working and even now I still dont have the speeds that I pay for and most times the internet does not always work.

So one of the people I do peer support for is now in a great spot. Thanks to my yelling, screaming and demanding that hos blood work get taken care of NOW instead of later and thanks to me not allowing people to push him aside any longer, he is now back on meds and has seen a Dr. for the many issues he has done all he could to get addressed.

What stands out the most for me is that the Dr. thanked me for being so “proactive” and “forceful” in making certain that he needs were addressed. He said most people would have just left defeated and not return. He laughed as he told us “I hope I never get on your bad side”

I can’t even begin to tell you how good I feel right now in knowing that someone is now in care, has meds, had his medical needs not just addressed, but take care of. Just knowing that he is sleeping well tonight is such a great feeling.

Frustration

// June 3rd, 2011 // 1 Comment » // friends, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

There are times when I have to take a step back and ask myself why I do what I do. There are times when I feel like what I do does not make a difference as far as the big picture is concerned. I say this because there is almost no change taking place in the way organizations handle and are for the people they claim to to doing so much for.

Yeah, I know there are those organizations who have testimonials from people they say they’ve helped, but having been one of those people I have to question just how much of that “testimonial” is truth and how much of it is “forced” I say this because I know plenty of people who have been homeless and tons more who are low income, living in low income housing who say things in order to get a gift card for food, referrals for service and all sorts of things. But when you get right down to it and are able to speak to them about what is really going on and how much these places truly help, without the pressure of having a representative  from the organization present, more times then not, the story will change.  Let’s just face it, just like AT&T will not place on their website or printed information how many times they screw customers over, neither will a homeless service organization or any other organization place it there either.

Yesterday afternoon I get a call from someone I do peer support for and right away from the tone of the persons voice I could tell they were upset. Just to confirm this, right away I asked and just as I thought, they were agitated by something that had just taken place.

After speaking with the person and trying to get them to relax and after they asked me to call to try to get a clear answer, I make a call to their case manager who does not answer their phone. So I call another line and get someone who is able to let the person know that I am calling. I was finally able to get the person on the line only to feel like I am being “stonewalled”

Skid Row is like the wild, wild west. Organizations play by their own set of rules and seem to have this “we you gonna tell” attitude about it. I would even say they have this “let’s just fake it until we get caught and they we’ll address it” This is where testimonials come in handy. If you get enough deprived, under cared for, neglected people to say things like “this place did wonders for me” then chances are complaints from people who say otherwise will go ignored.

Many times rules and regulations are set in place, not to help, but to discourage people. If you already have someone dealing with medical issues, housing issues, food and clothing issues or even transportation issues, then adding one more issue or as i like to call them “road blocks” will only cause them to give up and go away and in the end the organization has successfully achieved its unwritten mission.

I mean come on, if a doctor says their patient would greatly benefit from A, B or C, then why would someone stand in the way of the overall medical and mental welfare of someone they claim to be “helping” let me take this just a step further, how can you help someone when you have no clue of what the person is dealing with? How do you help someone when you have no respect, no compassion for the people you say you do so much for? In order words how can I be a heart surgeon and no nothing about the heart….I don’t even know where it is located or how it works.

Later that afternoon I get another call from someone else totally lost with the HIV maze and has no one to turn to. For 45 minutes I listen to this person break down and cry, tell me how they feel like giving up and ask me things like “what have I done wrong” or “why can’t this be fixed”

It frustrates the fuck out of me, because all I can really do is listen and do my best to comfort each person and encourage them to remain engaged. All I can do is allow them to be heard, vent, yell, scream and yes break down and cry, because case managers do not have time to do any of this…they don’t even have time to care.

It frustrates the fuck out of me because after they are calm, after they have been heard, after tears have dried, I then have to encourage them to go right back into the lions den, right back into harms way, right back to the very person, place or things that have caused this in the first place.

I wish that I could wave a stick in the air and tables could be reversed and the people who don’t seem to get the clear fact that there is a HUMAN LIFE at the other end…….let me take that back, I would I could wave a stick in the air and give them a full taste of the bullshit, red tape, office politics, games and drama that they play every single day, calling it work.

I wish I could wave a stick and give each and everyone one of you assholes what it is like to be ignored when you’re in need. Wave that stick and see to it that you eat from a trash can simply because I failed to do my fucking job and then act like it is your fault. Wave a stick and hold you hostage to pain and suffering simply because I do not give a flying fuck about you. Wave a stick and watch you suffer while I go home and forget you even exist.

It is bad enough in this country to be homeless and be fully engaged in doing all you can to change things and the people in line to help you only cause you more hardship, force you to be more broken.

God knows that people with HIV or AIDS deal with enough stigma and ignorance, but to then have the stigma and ignorance come from the very place in line to help you. The very place that you must turn to for help is a breeding ground for HIV and AIDS stigma and ignorance. PLEASE tell me how this is going to help anyone?

After my last phone call I sat on the sofa for one minute and then I smiled because I was thinking of people like Ms. Lopez who treated me with respect and kindness and I now sit in this apartment because she cared. I think of the clinic and amazing Dr. I now have and how HIV is no longer something that causes me such heartache and pain….because they care. I think of my friends who suit up and show up when I can’t even get my ends to look at each other let alone meet. When after 96 job interviews I am still unemployed and $220 per month does not cover even the most below living expense. I think of the people I know who do outstanding jobs for the people they serve and do so because they CARE.

I jumped on my bike and went for a ride. I had hoped to find Judy, but no luck and just as I was heading back home to Hollywood someone stopped me to say “HELLO”

My friend Sells who I met in the West Los Angeles cold weather shelter was smiling at me, looking like a new person, riding a bike with no back pack and many layers of clothes. He was smiling and happy. After over three years of homelessness and three years of begging for help, he found a place on his own. He is now in school and the cell phone I gave him through my cell phone outreach has now been replaced by an iphone that he purchased.

It is very sad that I, like many thousands of people have nothing nice to say about the old guard that has long been in charge of helping homeless people and people with disabilities. This is not to say that these places do not employ some outstanding people who do great work and truly care about the people they serve, but those people are too far and few in between. Those people end of leaving the field and what’s left is the garbage that hold seats of authority, making up silly pointless ass rules so they don’t have to lift a finger to help as many people as they could.

But it’s people like Sells and all the other amazing people whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, people who do care and go far and above what is required to help those in need where I gain my a portion of my strength and courage to “keep it pushing” and then there is my FAITH in God.

With God I am the majority and with God I can do all things.

In my prayers I do not ask God to give me the strength to claim the mountain of mess, I pray that he moves it out of the way.

Productive Day

// May 31st, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, beach, Canon, Exercise, health, Health and Fitness, HIV and AIDS

Malibu Logoon State Beach 059Today was the first day that I put myself to the test of being certain to stay focused, stick to my schedule and get things completed and I did awesome. The only area where I slacked was getting up to get things moving along. I missed that window by almost three hours…..I’ll do better tomorrow. Even with missing the window by almost three hours I still got lots done for my organization and even got my exercise time in as well.

I was able to schedule a Dr. for my Unplugging HIV outreach on Skid Row next week, designed a flier and sent out three emails seeking support, advice and guidance from some people who have been in the field of HIV a long time and have told me on many occasions to “reach out” if I ever have questions or need some support with my work. Only time will tell if this was sincere or just more people talking.

I took a look at a website someone suggested to me about this idea I have and I spent some time uploading photos from the weekend. WOW, over 300 photos.  Thank God for the people at Flickr, because there would be no way for me to store over 30,000 pictures on my laptop. Thanks again to my good friend Eric for the Seagate Free Agent external drive. That too is such a huge help.

I had a case management appointment today to turn in my service logs to show where I have gone to the Dr. and doneMalibu Logoon State Beach 150 other things like my community work and other things I do to help me deal with being HIV positive. This meeting is always a breeze and never takes more then 10 minutes because she knows what she is doing and does not want to take up too much of our time. She really gets that she is there to support us, not police or make us. Something that is greatly lacking from other organizations who claim to be doing the same work she does.

Dodger and I went on three walks today which allowed me to get some much needed exercise and even clear my space so I could come back and finish the job at hand. The breaks during the day seem to give me the energy to get back and get things completed. My mind is sharp and my energy level was even all day long.

The big score for me today was getting a Dr. to speak at the very last minute to my Unplugging HIV outreach down on Skid Row. I called her to talk about dates for a workshop in July and as we spoke she offered to come speak next week and even provide the meal for the group.  AWESOME!!!!!

I’ve seen her present before and each time I am so blown away by how she is able to make things basic and clear. She also takes her time, being very careful not to leave anyone behind. She is also someone who is very sensitive to the needs of the people she presents information to. This is key for my outreach on Skid Row. My outreach is mainly minorities which are populations greatly affected by HIV and AIDS, so it if very important to have someone who can present information in a manner that is not judgmental or condescending. They have to feel like they can trust what the presenter is telling them and have been known to test each presenter just to make sure they know what they are talking about.

Malibu Logoon State Beach 160It is going to be such a huge blessing for me to have her present to my residents  through my Unplugging HIV outreach on Skid Row and I am very certain that they will be thankful and appreciative of her effort to supply them with the tools to live a long happy life.

So it’s now 8:59 in 51 seconds on Tuesday night. The goal is to be in bed by 9:30 no later then 10:00 and up at 6:00am for my bike ride and morning news, walk with Dodger, morning calls and then back to the grind to move my organization forward.

The pictures with this blog are from the photos I took on Monday (Memorial Day) You can view them all by clicking on myphotos to the right of this blog entry.

I hope you’ve had a great day

Growth and Change

// May 30th, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, beach, Canon, diet, Exercise, friends, health, Health and Fitness, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach, Me Time, Pictures

JAZZ & ART @LACMA 046This long holiday weekend  has been awesome. It started with jazz at LACMA and today it ended with an awesome day of picture taking with my friend Franklin, who was just one of my friends who helped me kick my weekend off. All I can say is that I’ve had an amazing, fun filled weekend.

Franklin and I have been spending lots of time together and I must say that it has been simply awesome getting to know him better and spend so time with him. I already blogged about how I met Franklin and already talked about some of the things he deals with in his daily life. It has been so cool to watch him open up and grow, so cool to watch him move from someone who barley spoke a word to someone who talks and smiles, so cool to watch him go from someone who stayed in his dark apartment, to someone who now calls me about going on picture safaris.

It is simply so amazing to watch how the gift of friendship can help to change things for someone. How simply showing up and refusing to allow someone to waste away can mean the world to the life path that someone is on. This is why the word “friendship” means so much to me and why I never just throw the word “friend’ around.

My friends are all straight and all couples,  newly weds with a baby, while another has been married a few years with aJAZZ & ART @LACMA 089baby on the way, another couple planning a wedding and the last couple has been together for a very long time. They are all great people and to be very honest they are great friends, not just supportive of me, but of my community work as well.  At times I feel like a third wheel, even though I know when they ask to hang out they truly want to see me and have some hang time with me.

Until Franklin I had no single friend and with him I get a friend who is not only single, but we also share the common interest of photography, jazz, classical music and so much more. Like me, Franklin is HIV positive, so there is just one more thing we have in common and one more thing we can help to support each other through.

For the past two months, maybe three I’ve been thinking of how I am going to grow and change, not just my organization, but in my personal life too. Just last month I had a great HIV check up and in order for that to continue I need to make certain I am doing everything I can to keep my body healthy and stay off HIV medications.

Purpose 118To address this I have been back on my bike and taking longer walks with Dodger, I am also doing all that I can to address more healthy eating habits, however doing this is a huge challenge on government assistance, but I am doing all that I can. The main thing is that i am making certain in get rest and plenty of exercise.

In addition I am also removing people, places and things from my life that only serve as distractions and yes, even problems or drama. This is going to be key in my overall health and well being. It’s funny to me how once you make your mind to be a better person all the way around, people, places and things start to work against you. All of the sudden people you never hear from are now calling, people, places and things start to do more to show up and be distractions and this is where I need to make certain I am clear in where I am going and what I want to accomplish.

The cool thing is this, with getting rest and more exercise I have seen major changes in my mood, my energy and my Sickle Cell is not given me that much of a problem. My days seem to be more full of energy and my stress level is very low. I seem to be smiling more, if that is possible for someone who smiles all the time.

Now let’s talk about my outreaches because they too are changing and I am adding an addition to my HIV outreach.

Do Something Saturday~that empowers people

This is my oldest and most visible outreach and for the past four years I have run this outreach out of my own pocket orMalibu Logoon State Beach 122 efforts combined with the backing and support of my friends and supporters. It’s been awesome and the people I have been able to reach has been great, but it is time to step it up and take this outreach to the next level.

I dont mind sharing my ideas or even talking with friends about what I want to do or how I can help them. But I must say that my feeling get hurt when I my ideas at work in organizations that do not even respect people like me. My feelings get hurt when I see people collect awards for an idea that was mine, but simply because they have the backing of some non-profit or people with deep pockets.

These past three months I’ve had to really swallow my pride and set my feelings aside and know that my ideas are at work making things better for people battling HIV and AIDS as well as people who are homeless or transitioning from homelessness into having their own place.

I’ve always said I do not so this for someone to call my name or to get some award, however it does not feel good to see other people take credit for my idea or something I’ve worked damn hard at. I simply does not feel good.

So no more will I allow organizations who wont even allow me to volunteer for them, take my ideas and use them for their good only to line their pockets and flip me or even people like me the middle finger.

I will say this as I have said all along, you cant help people if you do not speak with them and seeing what I have seen and reading what I have read from 4 very different mega funded organizations really makes me angry, but not in a bad way, i that makes sense. It makes me angry enough to do more, push harder and raise my voice that much more, so that people who are seen but not heard have their concerns addressed.

Malibu Logoon State Beach 193I am adding a support group for people battling HIV or AIDS to my Skid Row outreach. I am just so sick and tired and hearing the same old tired line from the “community” and even people at “ASO’s” when it comes to addressing the needs of people who are greatly affected by HIV and AIDS.

No longer will I wait for people to return emails after I’v sent several and even had face to face conversations with such people. I will no longer accept “they are out of my SPA area” I will no longer wait while HIV and AIDS continues the path it has always been on unchanged since the start of the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

After reading this you will understand why I need to remove some people, places and things in my life that only take up space and offer up nothing. I can not allow my health to fail me because I am not doing all I can to remain in good health.

Tomorrow is day 1 in the journey of positive growth and change for both me and my organization.

Today I ended my awesome weekend at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. I am uploading the 344 pictures I took and the video of the day is already live on my youtube channel. I will share the other surprise later this week in either a blog or vlog.

I hope you all have had a great holiday weekend.

Changing

// May 27th, 2011 // No Comments » // Animals, diet, Exercise, friends, health, Health and Fitness, HIV and AIDS, Me Time, photos

Purpose 146There has been so much taking place in my life. Like some of my friends I am experiencing a shift in life which requires me to “be still” It is also requiring that I look at people, places and things in my life that no longer serve a purpose….to be honest some of these things never served a purpose, but I just wanted to hold on to them. That is no longer going to happen.

It’s always so funny to me that right as I am about to experience a breakthrough in my life, people, places and things will come around or reappear in my life to only serve as distractions to take my eyes and attention away from where they should be. Now these people, places and things come in many forms, but none the less they are distractions and I can not allow them to trick me off my center.

One thing I know for sure about God is that he does not need to announce himself to me. He does not need anyone to tell me that he has sent them. You see I am his child and I will know if God has sent something for me. It’s always funny to me how people invoke God into their mess and then act as if you are not supposed to know it.

This week I’ve spent more time being present and listening to things around me. I spent time making sure that where IPurpose 210spend my time and energy is something that is fruitful. There is no point in me toiling in a field that will never bear any good fruit. Now I know this will go far over the heads of many, but for those of you who fully walk in love and light you know full well what I am talking about.

I’ve also been making certain I take more time out for me and not spending my time worrying about things I have no control over. I’ve been making certain that I am getting proper rest, doing my best to eat better and get far my exercise in so that I am able to move forward with the work I am doing.

It has been awesome to simply go to bed and get some rest. I can’t even begin to tell you just how much this has changed my mood, my spirit and this I can carry with me throughout my day. I realize that not everyone is going to understand and even care about what I have to say or what it is I am doing and that is ok. As long as God understands then I have nothing else to concern myself with. See with God I can do all things and with God I am the majority. I do not need to seek any other permissions or ask anyone else but God.

I’ve been enjoying the rich friendships I have in my life, I am taking the time to smile a bit longer, hug a bit stronger and live my life a bit better.

I am making no time for confluma (confusion and drama), I am not entertaining people, places or things that do not set well with my soul and I am not apologizing for it. I am not making time for people, places or things that only seek to distract me and I know what distractions look like, how they sound and yes I even know they will come bearing gifts and even say they are from God.

Purpose 401I am staying on my center and my center is God and I will not be shaken off, rocked off, pushed off, shoved off or tricked off my center.

Each day I pray from a hedge of protection around me and I know that there are people who pray the very same prayer as well. I ask God to bless me when I am in the city and while I am in the field. I ask him to be a fence all around. I ask him to protect me and guide my foot steps.

As I move to embark on my new journey in the outreach work I do for people battling HIV and AIDS, I know I will need to be rested, I know I will need to be on top of my game, but I also know I must ask God to bless the work and me.

If you are watching my Flickr page then you see I am spending more time with my camera in hand. I also working on creating a photography book and hoping to put together a photography show of my work as well.

Blessings

Peer Support

// May 27th, 2011 // No Comments » // HIV and AIDS

Purpose 001I was homeless when I was diagnosed HIV positive, I had much going on, I was also battling cancer and my never ending battle with Sickle Cell. There were days when I had to decide if I was going to try to get to my HIV appointments, chemotherapy or line up and wait for hours to see if I would have a place to sleep for the night.

HIV support groups are the last thing on your mind when you’re homeless. To be frank, the only thing on your mind is getting through the day and not getting what little you still own stolen from you and taken away by the police.

HIV is hard enough all by itself, imagine being homeless and battling cancer, being told “you’re not sick enough” to qualify for government programs that would provide medical care and even housing assistance.

By the Grace of God, my T-cell were not low enough to start meds and today they are through the roof and my viral load is very, very low. Praise God for great parents from whom I inherited great genetics, but most all parents who instilled, drilled and forced into me the strength, courage and wisdom to keep moving forward, against all odds, come hell or high.

Purpose 004Throughout homelessness I would hear things like “you dont live in our service area” or “were not sure we can help you” Even after starting my HIV outreach to low income or homeless people battling HIV or AIDS I still hear the very same things.

It is so hard to get someone to come speak to people who are greatly affected by HIV or AIDS, even harder to get information. One of the reasons I created the HIV outreach was to address many of the problems facing low income individuals battling HIV and AIDS pretty much alone.

Today I got sick and tired of hearing this b*******, sick and tired of people who have access to information and services that could greatly help the very people I serve, but refuse to share it. I’d grown tired and begging and pleading with people only to not get anything.

So what do you do when you’ve asked, begged, pleaded? Who do you turn to? Well I prayed on it and the answer I received was “I SEND YOU”

Today while attending the resident meeting down on Skid Row for the 40 residents I do peer support for, I asked if thisPurpose 007was something they would want and they all said “YES”

I already have a name for the group, kind of funny because it use to be the name of my catering business and even the name of my BBQ joint. The name really fits the support group because it is inclusive of everyone battling HIV or AIDS and also breaks down the walls of community and embraces humanity.

I’ve never done anything like this before, but then again I had never been homeless before and look what I’ve created as a result.

As I embark on my new journey to offer some comfort, peace, support, education and humanity for people who often times got without these basic things in life, who often times are frowned upon, look down upon and even pushed aside by “community”, I am prayerful that is will serve to bridge the huge gap that many people fall into only to be left there.

————

Today because of the kind heart of someone who simply wanted to help, I was able to supply coffee, cream, sugar, dunkers and art supplies to complete the HIV board to these residents. THANK YOU DONNA!!!!!!!

Being Alive supplied the condoms.

Relaxing

// May 14th, 2011 // No Comments » // Canon, friends, health, Health and Fitness, HIV and AIDS, Me Time

Friday Photo Safari 004Since my last trip to the hospital I have followed the instructions of my doctors to the letter. I was told to rest, take it easy and try to reduce stress and also to find a way to relax. I have done just that.

I dont recall if I blogged out my last HIV check up or not, I’m pretty sure I did, the results were awesome and I was so pleased to hear this. Everything that was of some concern when my blood was taken for the labs was laid to rest with the results. So the past two weeks I have done my best to continue this trend of great health.

It’s funny how certain people who say they are close to me have not even picked up the phone to call or check on me, while others have gone far and above to visit, hang out and all else. However I did not allow myself to get worked up or even worry about it. It is what it is or as Ma use to tell me “sometimes people don’t want to be bothered with all that may be going on with you.”

I recall getting a message from someone who hinted at me needing depression meds, this person happens to be on them as well. Now this is not the first time someone has said something like this, but each time this has come from someone who takes such meds and after making such a statement they vanish into thin air never to be heard from again.

However this time I did have a heart to heart with a good very good friend of mine and after that conversation I didFriday Photo Safari 020speak with my doctor about the possibility of me being so depressed that I need meds for it. In defense of my dear friend, she did not hint or imply this at all, however the other person did because she felt I was crying far too much. Apparently crying is a sign that someone is depressed and in needs of drugs to control them.

Just as I told the people who have made this suggestion in the past, my doctor once again confirmed the fact that I do not need any signs of depression that requires me to seek out meds. However just as I have always said I do get depressed from situations, but this always passes once the situation works itself out. Anyone who has gone through anything and certainly anyone who has been through what I have is bound to have some situational depression. This is not cause to go sounding the trumpet or alarm that the person needs meds to help them deal with things in there life.

My great grandmother “Nana” as we called her use to say that misery not only loves company, it also demands it. I have to say that each time I have had someone already on meds to control them suggest that I need them as well, they also tell me which meds to ask for. As if this is some sort of recruitment or celebration that someone else is taking meds just like them. Which brings me to my final point on this topic. There are certainly people who have a chemical imbalance in their brain that would require them to take such meds, but there are also those who simply just need to learn some basic life skills instead of depending on a pill or several pills to correct something they can correct themselves.

Friday Photo Safari 035It’s been awesome hanging out with friends, going to lunch, dinner and even on picture safaris. This week alone I have already gone on three and tomorrow I am planning to go on one alone. I must say that several people have asked me to hang out tomorrow, but none of them have confirmed if in fact they truly want to do this. The old me would check in and make sure, but this new me is no longer begging people to come hang out or follow through on things they set into motion.

It is always so funny to me how people say things only to not mean a damn word of what they have said. They simply wanted to say something and they could care less if what they say will be taken to heart by the person they have said it to. For example; “please call me if you need anything” or “I will be there for you when you need me most” and then the one I really hate, “please let me help”

So today was yet another day filled with pictures and the company of a friend. I’ve truly embraced and enjoyed theDowntown Los Angeles 218peace in my life and the coolness of the real people in my life. From my awesome friends I’ve made through YOUTUBE, this blog to the crazy, sexy, cool friends in my daily life. My life is rich and truly blessed.

Praise God

HIV Update

// May 10th, 2011 // 2 Comments » // diet, Exercise, health, HIV and AIDS

METRO 011So today was the day I made the trek to the valley to get my HIV lab results. I was really looking forward to these results because there were a few things that were some concern to my Dr. The first being my blood sugar and the next being my liver and kidney functions. I was pretty sure that all would be ok, but one can never tell.

I call this a trek to the valley because it is a long distance from where I live in Hollywood. Normally it takes me about an hour and half to get the my medical appointments. That is as long as there is no problems with METRO buses or trains, but if you live here in Los Angeles and depend on METRO to get from point A to point B, then you know full well that there is never a day where METRO runs without no problems, delays or trouble.

Now I was born and raised here in Los Angeles County, but as a kid I grew up in Santa Monica and never had to ride RTD as it was called then because Santa Monica has its own bus line and it does a great job taking care of travel for people who live on the Westside. But METRO is the nations number one bus line according to METRO, but there have been times  where I have called to get directions and three different operators using the very same system come up with very different ways to get to where I need to go. All of which are dead wrong.

I never look forward to riding METRO to places where I need to depend on their agents for directions. Also I feel thatMETRO 012METRO is very unsafe when it comes to overall passenger safety. I have been in the Blue Line Train when fights have broken out and nothing is ever done. I have been on the Red Line Train where the same thing has taken place. Furthermore there are no station agents at any of the stops along the METRO train stops.

METRO is how I get around and no matter how bad things are with METRO or how high the prices get and no matter how many fare hikes METRO issues, I have no choice but to use this system. Walking to my medical appointments is simply not an option.

With all that said, lets move on with my HIV appointment. In a word “GREAT” Everything was awesome. My T-cells are still very high and my viral load remains low and in check. My liver and kidney functions are normal, my cholesterol is perfect…in fact my Dr said it is better then hers. I’ve lost 18lbs, my heart is fine and lungs are strong. Overall this was an awesome HIV appointment and I was very happy with it.

METRO 015However I have been having a hard time sleeping at night. Once I am able to get to sleep I wake up and am unable to get back to sleep for a few hours or more. This has made me very tired and restless during the day. So I have been given a prescription for a sleep aide that has a small anti-depressant to help me sleep and also deal with the very minor amount.

I can take this pill until my sleeping patterns return to normal and then stop taking it. There are no side effects and no chance of me becoming dependent on it. My Dr. knows how I feel about taking meds to address a problem that I should be able to address myself. Even though I know there are some people who truly need meds to help them be balanced I also know that I am not one of those people.

I walked out of my medical appointment with a huge smile on my face and a huge feeling of knowing that should anything come up, I have a great Dr. backed by an awesome medical staff that will help me get through any challenge that is before me.

Even though the bus ride home was long and filled with lots of people, I was relaxed and at peace.METRO 008

Keep Good Moving Forward

// April 15th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

If I have learned anything from my blog and my vlog on YOUTUBE is that people are always going to have something to say. No matter how well you do something or how much you do it, someone is always going to do all they can to come against any good that comes out of the work that I do.

Nana use to call people like this “ass licks” She said they were so unhappy with the way things are in their own life that they will go out of their way to try to make people feel just as lousy and lost as they feel. She said just ignore them and they will find someone or something else to bother or come against. She always said it has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with them. It’s just who they are.

The other day I posted a video on my youtube channel about a BlackBerry I gave away to someone who is homeless and battling HIV. Now this person works part time and his phone was stolen. Since I have a program called “Keep-n-Touch” I was able to simply replace the phone that was stolen from him. He already has a cell phone plan so all he had to do was simply call his cell phone company and have his service placed on the new phone.

The phones that I give away are pre-paid and come loaded with minutes and it’s own number. This takes away the hardship of up front costs of paying for a prepaid phone. Most people are able to keep up with a prepaid phone. I am not sure how many phones I’ve been able to give away, but I know it is over 300 phones and I have also seen people who still have the phones that were given to them over 4 years ago.

However there are always those people who say “how does this help?” or “how will they pay for the service” People like this will never reach out to help anyone because they are always going to looking for something wrong or a reason that the person in need would fail. They truly cant see how simply reaching out to offer help to someone could some how, some where down the line help the person in need.

I have lots of people who visit my blog and even visit my youtube channel who make all these huge claims about how much they understand and how much they care, but they will never lift one finger to help me do what I do nor will they help anyone right where they live. People like this are a huge waste of time and energy and not worth one second.

I would rather spend the rest of my life doing all I can to help someone in need, then sitting around coming up with reasons why I should do nothing. Some people will always look at things and find reasons why they shouldn’t do anything to help make things better, but at the same time will sit and complain about things until they are blue in the face.

I will say that sometimes it is very hard to take on some many comments from so many people and there are times when I feel like not posting a video or posting another blog, however I will never stop doing all that I can to help people and I will never allow someone who is so unhappy with their own life and how things are in their own world deter me from reaching out to help as many people as I can.

I know I can’t help everyone and there is no way I will ever be able to make homelessness, poverty or the stigma of being HIV positive go away, but I can do all I can to try to make people feel better.

So for all you people who try to get me not to care and wish I would stop trying to help, you should really find something else to do, someone else to bother. I will never stop caring and I will never stop trying to help.

Greater Than AIDS

// March 3rd, 2011 // 1 Comment » // health, HIV and AIDS

As many of you know I was diagnosed HIV positive on April 3, 2008. This April will mark 3 years since that rainy cold night I walked to Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance California.

I simply went in to get some help with getting the bandage changed on my back. I had this staph infection or so I thought it was a simple staph infection. As it turns out, it was an MRSA and this would later lead to me being told I was HIV positive.

The 11 days at Harbor UCLA are days I try hard not to think about, not because of the diagnoses, but because of how I was treated. The lack of care the provided and how I had to threaten to hurt myself before any paid any attention to me.

One thing is certainly clear for me and that is what I expressed when I received final confirmation from Dr. Daar that I was in fact HIV positive. I said I wanted to do all I could to be a role model and raise awareness for HIV and AIDS. Since that day I have done just that.

However my first face to face encounter with AIDS was when I was 19 years old and my first outreach to someone living with HIV was when I was 21 year old. I have always tried to do my part to educate others as well as myself about HIV and AIDS. But even with the best intentions things can still go wrong and people can still become infected with HIV.

Condoms are not 100%, I am living proof of this, however they should never be simply discarded as a great way of preventing transmission of HIV or AIDS. They are key to preventing new infections and each time someone has sex they should make sure there is a wall of protection between them and the person they are having sex with.

It’s funny how the first things that comes into the mind of someone who finds out someone is HIV positive or has AIDS is thoughts of someone who sleeps around, drug user, whore, low life and so many other things. The next thing they think is that they will some how get it from the person by simply standing next to them or talking to them. I cant even begin to tell you how many people wont even drink from the same glass or eat from the same plate as me……IGNORANCE is disgusting.

Without fail, no matter when I speak in public, blog or vlog about being HIV positive or simply stand up to share some knowledge, there is always someone who stands up to make me wrong or ask me questions about how I became infected with HIV and if I was active about HIV prior to being diagnosed. It is sad no matter where this comes from, but especially sad for me when this type of sheer stupidity and ignorance comes from Blacks.

A few days ago I did a vlog called “If We Sent More Time” where I talked about people spending so much time on things that dont matter or making other people wrong, instead of spending time on things like matter, things like education on HIV and AIDS. I deleted and blocked any further comments from 18 Black people, who wanted to make HIV about not going to church, about debating about if HIV or AIDS is the leading cause of death for women of color. People wanted to talk about everything but the fact that HIV and AIDS are real and is wiping out Black people.

It’s as if Blacks simply don’t want to see this sad fact. As if we as so lost inside the segregated walls of “community” that we refuse to believe that this is taking place in our own backyard. We refuse to see the fact that even people inside the cold, racist, hatred and stigma filled walls of the places we call churches or better yet houses of prayer that people sit in pew right next to us who are in fact HIV positive or have full blown AIDS. They forget these people lead our choirs, are on the usher board, collect and count the money we so blindly give to the Bishop we molests young Black men right in plain sight possibly spreading HIV or even AIDS to young Black men and even to the first lady of the church.

Until Blacks wake up and stop acting like HIV and AIDS is not something that can happen to them or their families or even in their damn church and until we learn to love and respect each other as much as we demand that non-Blacks love and respect us, then and only then can we address the dirty secret that everyone else knows but us…….HIV and AIDS.

Maybe one day, I pray in my lifetime Blacks will return to the greatness, strong, brave and vibrant people we once were. For right now we must settle for talking shit about each other, putting on fake hair, degrading our Black women and attacking our Black men. If we only took a hard look we would see that only people out to get us is in fact us and no one else.

Ignorance is not a crown Black people and we need to get off the throne of IGNORANCE.

I will continue to do all I can to educate people, especially Black people about HIV and AIDS, because I am greater than AIDS……are you?

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