Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sometimes I Feel Numb

I don't know if its because I have been through so many life changing events in the past two years or if I'm on some super strong prescription drugs (or maybe both)   I seem to not be affected by things the same way people around me are, at times I feel like I have a big ol cold heart.

Recently a close friend died and while most everyone was overcome with emotion standing beside his bed as he was slowly fading away, I only cried a little bit.  There are certain things I think about from that day and I get a little choked up.   When my mother died I never cried in front of her during the time I was caring for her, but even afterwards I only "lost it" once privately at home.  Of course on the inside I was on an emotional roller coaster after mom died, ending with a suicide attempt about 3 months later.  But even that wasn't emotional, it was something I had been planning for months.  It was calculated carefully.  I was out with friends and had such a fun night I decided that night was as good of night as any to pass "peacefully in my sleep"

Last night I went to a friends house to watch The Normal Heart and I was prepared to be an emotional mess.  So many people that had seen it prior to me warned me how much they cried and how sad it was.  I didn't feel the emotional part at all.  It made me a little angry at times, but to me it was a story we have known about for years.  Maybe I was expecting something different, or then again maybe I've become desensitized to tragedy?  Even though I didn't come out until the early 90s I had plenty of friends die from AIDS so I know the pain.

On the flip side there are certain things I see on television and I bawl mt eyes out.  You show me a video of a military father coming home and surprising his children and i fall out.  I tend to get more emotional over happy things, Ill shed tears of joy way before tears of  sadness.

Have I built up a wall?  I came from the generation that "boys don't cry" is that part of my sometimes cold exterior?   I have helped countless people and dozens of charities over the years so I know I am both sympathetic and empathetic.  So whats the deal?

Well, I guess I know the topic for this weeks therapy session.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Friend Dave Died Today

David Zabludowski

I started writing this blog around March 11th, the day Dave first went into the hospital.  I didn't have a title for it, because I didn't know what the end of the story would be.   Now I know.

We've known each other about 20 years.  His best friend was a friend of a friend I knew when I lived  in Orange County.  Dave, his partner Kris and our mutual friend Phil moved in the apartment below me when we lived in Golden Hill.  It took a while for our friendship to grow, Dave eventually became a client of mine as well.  Sometimes days, weeks would pass without us talking or seeing each other but we always picked right up where we left off.  We shared a love of anything Andy Warhol, most everything about Divine and anything kitschy.   He was always giving me funky little presents like a Magic Earring Ken doll, Andy Warhol Tomato soup cans, tons of rainbow antenna balls, Warhol Perrier bottles,  a Kardashian key chain, just silly things that he knew I would find amusing.  I still use one of my $2 wallets he bought me at a gas station in Arkansas when I asked for a fake Louis or Gucci from one of his trips to New York.  Oh and this ugly rhinestone encrusted box that looks like a rat.   I have that box on my dresser right where I can see it.  It’s the thought that he always had me somewhere in his mind that really summed up how Dave felt about his friends.   

Many of us were at the hospital in Coronado everyday for hours just to be nearby in case something good, or bad happened.  Of course his boyfriend Nava never left his side, even sleeping at the hospital overnight.  His father Dan and his wife flew in from Arkansas, his friend since high school Paul came from Wisconsin, another long time friend Len came from San Francisco. Heather, being a mother herself kind of became all of our mommy just with her presence.  Even Dave's former boyfriend of 18 1/2 years Kris was there. Kat who used to live in Coronado (Miss Coronado 2000) knew the hospital inside and out.  We were all prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.

Dave seemed to be getting better, so the hospital sent him home but the trips to dialysis and other Dr appointments seemed to put an extra strain on Dave then things got really bad again and he was re admitted to the hospital.  They finally transferred him to a skilled nursing facility or some may know as a rehabilitation hospital.  So he could gain the strength to go home again.  Unfortunately things continued to get worse and worse by the week, then by the day,

Dave and I spent an Easter together a couple of years ago watching old movies and eating cooked ham from Albertson's right of the platter with our fingers…oh and don’t forget the drinking.   Usually a lot of drinking when we were together.  That was a great day, just doing nothing but hanging out together.  Tomorrow is Easter and today Dave went back into the ER.   No ham and silly movies for us this year.

We all have our faults and some of you may know Dave as “that asshole friend” of mine, or that jerk or many other labels friends have given him over the years mostly on Facebook and occasionally after meeting him in person.  Dave could be all of those things at times however he was ALWAYS a friend to me, and that’s truly what mattered.  He really was a thoughtful  man that would go out of his way to do anything for a friend.  His French Bulldog named Rocky may even be more popular with my Facebook friends than Dave was.

Dave wasn't great at showing his emotions but I remember one late night teary eyed phone call after I was hospitalized.   He said he already lost one best friend he wouldn't be able to lose another (or something to that effect)   He made me promise him I wouldn't die, and he wouldn't let me off the phone until I made him that promise.  I think it was the first time Dave said I love you, without some other silly tagline to follow.

It gives me great comfort to know that Dave had someone special in his life at the end, that cared for him very deeply.

Its just so sad to think you will never hear from or see someone ever again.

Love you Dave, love your hair, hope you win.

I think we were out celebrating Dave's birthday 
in this photo at Urban Mo's

Dave's beloved Rocky

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

The title of this blog comes from an 18th century prayer for children that has many different versions.   I have a pillowcase with this prayer on it done in needlepoint.

But this blog isn't about prayers, its about sleeping, and lack of sleep.

I spent a great amount of time, even years avoiding sleep.  When I was addicted to drugs I did everything I could NOT to sleep, and that took a huge toll on my body, both physically and mentally.  I could always tell when my body and mind were taxed, I became bitchier, I had a shorter temper and just not enough energy to do my job or day to day activities without the aid of stimulants.  Think about it, even the average person feels like we look like hell when we don't get ONE good nights sleep.

Our body repairs and replenishes itself while we are sleeping. Hormones, the immune system, blood, muscles, the skin. Every tissue in the body is renewed faster during sleep than at any time when awake.   Eating late at night is a big no no I always do, but I'm just giving my body fuel to keep on working, when it should be resting.

In the brain there are 5 stages of sleep, in the beginning of the sleep stage the brain in fairly inactive, most of the blood flow to the brain is diverted to other parts of the body.  It isnt until the final stages of sleep (REM) when the brain is most active, blood flow rises linked to areas that dreams, memories, and emotions are all consolidated during this stage of sleep.

I started having sleep issues when I got off the drugs and my depression became prevalent.  I was self medicating my body for so long it had no idea what to do with a "normal" schedule or how to deal with real emotions.  I quickly learned that if I didn't get a good nights sleep I was would become increasingly depressed with each day.  My Dr, put me on Ambien and wow what an amazing nights of sleep I was getting. usually 7 hours exactly every night.  It took about 20 minutes to kick in and I was out for the night!
For the first time in many years I was actually enjoying sleep.

Unfortunately after a few years the Ambien has stopped working and the Dr has tried several different sleep aids that are compatible with my health issues and my other medications.  Right now I take enough pills to put a small horse to sleep for hours at a time (my Dr is aware of what I am taking) yet still I wake up several times during the night and rarely have I gotten more than 6 hours of sleep in one night.

I am scheduled for a sleep study at the end of June, the 1st appointment will be a consultation where they ask me 3,732 gazillion questions about my lifestyle, etc.  Then the fun part where I go get hooked up to wires and observed while I supposedly sleep.

At this point I don't care what I have to go through to figure out my sleep issues, I just LOVE to sleep.
But until those long full nights of sleep return to me, you I churn out these silly blog posts.

Maybe I can fit a quick nap in before my meeting today at noon!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tips for Safe Skin

Living in Southern California, our incidence of skin cancer and melanomas is dramatically increased due to our love of the outdoors combined with increased sun exposure. Here are some tips to keep skin safe from damage and disease

Sun avoidance is the best defense against skin cancer. Seek shade between 10 am and 4 pm when the ultraviolet rays (the main culprit of skin cancer) are the most intense. Another clue that you should seek shelter is if your shadow is shorter than you are tall. This means the sun's rays are at their most damaging. 
Yes, the sun's rays are strong enough to pierce through clothing, so be sure and wear light-colors, tightly woven clothing as well as wide-brimmed hats. 
Apply sunscreens with an SPF of at least 15. An SPF of 15 applied properly will allow a fair-skinned person who sunburns in 20 minutes to tolerate 15 times 20 minutes (300 minutes) without burning. However, using sunscreens does not give you license to spend extra time in the sun because other sun rays (UVA or infrared) can still sneak in through sunscreen. 
If any growth, mole, sore or skin discoloration appears suddenly or begins to change, see your dermatologist immediately. 


After having an initial mole check with your dermatologist, here are some things to keep close watch on:

This is when one half of a mole doesn't match the other half

This is when the edges of a mole are ragged, notched, or blurred.

A mole's pigmentation should be uniform.

If the width of a mole is greater than six millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser), have a dermatologist check it out.

If any moles look suspicious, get thee to a dermatologist quickly! Also, remember that you cannot see moles on your back, on the back of your legs, etc. Have your esthetician, a partner or good friend tell you if any moles need attention.

Sunburn Avoidance Tips

Hiding under an umbrella or hat brim is completely ineffective without proper sunscreen. The sun's rays reflect off concrete, sand and water.

Staying in the pool is no protection. It increases the hazard and water transmits the sun's rays and intensifies them.

Perfume and cologne increase susceptibility to ultraviolet rays. Fragrance in sun products is useless except for attracting insects.

Any medication you are taking has the potential of increasing your risk of burning. Check with your physician.

The sun is the most dangerous between 10 AM and 2 PM.

You can burn as easily on a cloudy day as a sunny day. Your use of sun protection products should be exactly the same when its cloudy.

Light clothes provide no protection whatsoever from the rays of the sun.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Apply a sun block with minimum SPF 15 everyday, and an SPF 30 when outdoors for extended periods of time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Most people don't want to think about their death, let alone plan their affairs for what happens after they're gone. I know this post is going to make some heads spin because there will be a lot of information here, but just based on my own personal experience with these situations it is very important information that most people don't know.  Family, friends, loved ones can go through a great amount of stress and red tape trying to figure out what your last wishes would have been. Unfortunately I have been in the middle of family members fighting over my grandmothers estate. It wasn't necessary or a respectful thing to go through at that time..  Luckily the internet is full of information and this what I have found and condensed to hopefully make it easier for you.(also sorry about the weird line spacing issues, that's what happens when you copy and paste from the web sometimes)

ALSO remember your favorite charity, church, community programs in your final wishes.  There is a small rose garden at my Grandmother's church in her name that I made possible even though it wasn't part of her final wishes, I knew it would make her very happy.  I know if I ever die The San Diego LGBT Center will be part of my final wishes.
 There are plenty of DIY resources online for these types of services but if you feel like its  beyond what you are able to do, check with friends, your community center or local papers for  legal services and attorneys that specialize in these areas. Some cities have free legal aid  resources as well.   Just PLEASE do something.   Im going to go get my 5 page will and  memorial instruction manual notarized this week.

Do I Need a Will or a Living Trust?

Most people need a will, but not everyone needs a living trust.  Whether or not you need a living trust depends on your age, how wealthy you are, and whether you’re married. 

Even if you decide that you need a living trust, you should also make a will to name an executor, name guardians for minor children, and take care of any property that doesn't end up in your trust.  

What If I Don’t Have a Will or Living Trust?
If you don’t make a will or a living trust, your property will be distributed according to the laws of your state.  
The Differences between a Living Trust, a Last Will and a Living Will                         These legal documents are commonly confused because of their similar-sounding names. While all three are vital estate planning tools, each one serves a distinct purpose. Here are some of their key differences.
A Last Will is used to distribute property to beneficiaries, specify last wishes, and name guardians for minor children. It is an important part of any estate plan. Without one, the courts will make these critical decisions for you. 

A Living Trust is used to transfer property to beneficiaries. But unlike a last will, a living trust is not usually subject to probate court, which can take years and cost thousands in attorneys' and court fees. A Living Will lets you outline important healthcare decisions in advance, such as whether or not to remain on artificial life support. 

Name beneficiaries for property. The main function of both wills and trusts is to name beneficiaries for your property. In a will, you simply describe the property and list who should get it.  Using a trust, you must do that and also “transfer” the property into the trust. (See “Transfer of property into the trust,” below.)
Leave property to young children. Except for items of little value, children under 18 cannot legally own property.  When you leave property to a minor, that property must be managed by an adult – at least until the child turns 18.
When leaving property to a minor using a living trust, the trustee manages the property until the child reaches an age determined by you.
When leaving property to a minor using a will, you should name an adult to manage the property. Or,  use your will to set up a testamentary trust for young children or name a custodian under the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act.  For more about these,  If you do not name an adult to manage property left to a minor through your will, the court will name someone to do it after your death.
Revise your document.  With both revocable living trusts and wills allow you to revise your document when your circumstances or wishes change.  The decisions you make in these documents are not set in stone until you die. 
(On the other hand, irrevocable living trusts cannot be changed after they are finalized.  These are usually used by the wealthy to shelter money from taxes and are much more complicated than the revocable type. See a lawyer if you want to make an irrevocable living trust.)
Avoid probate. Property left through a living trust does not pass through probate. Property left through a will does go through probate.
Probate is the court system designed to wrap up a person’s affairs after their debts.  Probate takes a long time, can be very expensive, and for most estates, isn’t necessary.  .
Because all property passing through a living trust does not have to go through probate, it can be distributed to beneficiaries after the death of the grantor, without any fees or interference (or guidance) from the court  For this reason, many people chose to create a living trust. 
But not everyone needs to avoid probate.  If you don’t own much property, or if you have many debts, creating a trust may not be necessary.  See, “Do I Need a Will or a Living Trust,” below.
Privacy after death. After death, a will becomes a public document.  A living trust does not, so many people choose to use a living trust to keep their affairs private.  
Notary public. Unlike wills, living trusts must be signed and stamped by a notary public.  See “Witnesses,” below to learn the steps required to finalize a will.
Transfer of property into the trust. To leave property through a living trust, you must transfer the property into the trust. For many items, this is as easy as making a list of the property and attaching to the trust document. However, items with title documents, such as real estate, must be retitled so that the owner of the property is the trust.  This is not usually complicated or particularly difficult, but it is an extra step that you must take.  No transfer of property is required when using a will.
Protection from court challenges. Court challenges to wills and living trusts are rare. But if there is a lawsuit, it's generally considered more difficult to successfully attack a living trust than a will.  
Avoiding a conservatorship. In a living trust, you can name your spouse, partner, child, or other trusted person to have authority over trust property if you become incapacitated and unable to manage your own affairs.  You cannot do this with a will, however you can also make a durable power of attorney to appoint someone to manage your finances. 
Guardians for children. In a will, you can name guardians to care for minor children. You cannot do this in a living trust. 
Property managers for children’s property. In a will, you can name someone to manage any property left to or earned by your children. You cannot do this in a living trust. 
Naming an executor. You can use your will to name an executor who will be in charge of wrapping up your estate after you die.  That person will be responsible for communicating with the court, paying your bills, and, eventually, distributing any property that goes through probate. You can’t name an executor in a living trust.  In your living trust, you name a successor trustee who will manage just the property left through the trust. Because most estates will need an executor to some extent, it makes sense to make a will and name an executor, even when you leave most of your property through a trust. In most cases, it also makes sense to name the same person for both jobs.

What Living Trusts and Wills Cannot Do
Reduce estate taxes.  Neither wills nor can living trusts help you reduce estate tax, but most estates will not owe estate tax. 
Leave money to pets. Pets cannot own property, so you cannot leave money to your pets. You can use your will to leave your pets to a trusted caretaker, or you can create a pet trust. But if you try to leave your pet property, that property will end up in your residuary estate. 
Leave final wishes. Although it is permissible to leave funeral instructions and other final wishes in your will (never in a living trust), it’s better to leave them in a separate document. 
Leave passwords for online accounts.  After you die, your executor will appreciate being able to access your online accounts, computers and other devices.  However, do not leave this information in your will or living trust.  Instead, create a separate document and keep it in a secure place with your other estate planning documents.  

The above information was condensed and combined from both  

Monday, May 12, 2014

What Are Words For?

Ive been involved in numerous discussions with people regarding words.

There are people that make their living using words, such as authors, bloggers, writers for different types of media, politicians, marketing and public relations people, spiritual leaders.  Words are how everyone communicates, some by spoken word, some by written word, and of course some by Sign Language, but all of these people and situations rely on words.  The great thing about words and sentences is that they can be the most beautiful things that enrich our lives every day.   I cant imagine a world without words.  As a kid that spent so much time alone books were my best friend.  Marriage proposals, the announcement of Its a boy or Its a girl!, "I love you."  What would life be like without these words?  Just think about Hallmark Cards, you think they don't believe in the power of words?

Then there are those that say words mean have no meaning, or they mean nothing.  I THINK what these people are trying to say is that they wont let certain words have power over them.  But in some of the conversations I have had with people it really appears that words have no meaning to them at all.  "words are words"   Think for a minute of every derogatory word you have been called, or heard others called.  Those words can either roll off your back or make you feel exactly how they were intended to make you feel.  That is when the "words are words" term makes a little more sense to me.  But next you have to think about language.  Words themselves can more easily be dismissed, but when words are placed together in a sentence they definitely hold more power, whether its good or bad.  I can say one thing to a group of 100 people and offend only 1 person.  Does that make that word offensive?  I guess the answer would be yes.

When I was in elementary through high school words were my weapon when I was being bullied.  I had no way to physically defend myself other than find the bullies "weak spot" and pummel it with my words, it wasn't nice by any means but it was my defense to their physical or mental torment directed at me.  I find myself still using that defense at times today, especially since the advent of social media.  There are words that if directed at me turn me into a Incredible Hulk type creature.  If you're a stranger and you call me faggot, you better start running, because I will and HAVE come for you. Unfortunately this has happened more on public transportation than anywhere else.

I guess I should explain why I wanted to write this post.  Yesterday on Mother's Day I went to a Padres game.  When we went into the bar we had some casual chit chat with an employee about how sparse the crowd was and how most people must be celebrating mothers day elsewhere.  As we were walking away she said "awww see you should have brought your mom's to the game to celebrate."  It got to me a little bit, and it stuck with me through this morning.  She had no way of knowing I am still grieving the loss of my mother from over a year and a half ago.  It reminded me of when my friend Bruce Abrams (who is Jewish) and I would go shopping during the holidays and when we would check out cashiers would say "Merry Christmas" and he would reply with a cheerful "Happy Holidays"   By the way a mother and son sat next to us at the game and I wished her a Happy Mothers Day and told her son how lucky he was to be able to spend the day with her.

Most people have no intentions of offending anyone, but our world is becoming more and more sensitive to the use of words.  The acceptance of words have most definitely changed over the years, there are words that we used when I was a child that were completely acceptable but today they are taboo.  Heck even words I used in the 80's and early 90's are no longer acceptable.  You need to be ahead of the curve if you don't want to be labeled as offensive.  Just as people don't want others to use "newly" offensive words these same people can be just as offensive in their "reprimand" of you for using such words.

At times I try to be careful with my words, but out of 100 people Im sure to offend someone.  It happens.
For some reason this song got stuck in my head all morning.

Do you hear me?
Do you care?
Do you hear me?
Do you care?
My lips are moving and the sound's coming out
The words are audible but I have my doubts
That you realize what has been said
You look at me as if you're in a daze
It's like the feeling at the end of the page
When you realize you don't know what you just read
What are words for
When no one listens anymore
What are words for
When no one listens
What are words for
When no one listens
There's no use talking at all
I might as well go up and talk to a wall
'Cause all the words are having no effect at all
It's a funny thing, I say to myself
Something has to happen to change the direction
What little filters though is giving you the wrong impression
It's a sorry state, am I all alone?
What are words for
When no one listens anymore
What are words for
When no one listens
What are words for
When no one listens
There's no use talking at all
Do you hear me?
Do you care?
Do you hear me?
Do you care?
Let me get by over your dead body
Hope to see you soon, when will I know?
Doors three feet wide with no locks open
Walking always backwards in the faces of strangers
Time could be my friend
But it's less than nowhere now, it's less than nowhere now
It's less than nowhere now, nowhere now
Pursue it any further and another thing you'll find
Not only are they deaf and dumb they could be going blind
No one notices, I think I'll dye my hair blue
Media overload bombarding you with action
It's getting near impossible to cause distraction
Someone answer me before I pull the plug
What are words for
When no one listens anymore
What are words for
When no one listens
What are words for
When no one listens
There's no use talking at all
What are words for
When no one listens anymore
What are words for
When no one listens
What are words for
When no one listens
There's no use talking at all
Do you hear me?
Do you care?
Do you hear me?
Do you care?
(Tell me what are words for)
Do you hear me?
(Tell me what are words for)
Do you care?
(Tell me what are words for)
Do you hear me?
(Tell me what are words for)
Do you care?
(Tell me what are words for)
Do you hear me?
(Tell me what are words for)
Do you care?
(Tell me what are words for)
Do you hear me?
(Tell me what are words for)
Do you care?
(Tell me what are words for)

When no one listens there's no use in talking at all

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Random Thoughts Compiled

If you follow me on Facebook you know I just throw out some random thoughts out of no where at times.  As I've been out and about lately Ive been writing myself notes on things I may want to blog about.
Looking at these notes later I realize I may have been a little tipsy.  So lets go down the list.

Knowing bartenders for years
New crowds
People watching from corner cuz self esteem
Being poor
Someone that didnt choose me 

The above is the list I sent myself one evening while I was sitting in the corner at Urban Mo's
Some of my bartenders and bar owners that I've known over 20 years remember the days when my money was flowing and how well I tipped, so they are the first to offer up a free drink to me now that they know im on a very limited income.   I have a running joke with one friend in town.. I say hey do you remember my friend  (his name) that used to give me free shots/drinks?   Usually his answer is "nope I don't know him"  Then he pours me a drink.  I don't go out with the intention of mooching drinks.. Well unless I'm with Ophelia, but after 20+ years of friendship I figure she owes me 3,674 cocktails.  And I haven't been reduced to swiping drinks off the bars or tables when someone isn't looking like we did in our twenties.

As some of you know I have had an issue with my teeth lately, another thing new to me, well I am happy to say that will be fixed in the beginning of June.  But for now I find myself sitting in a corner just people watching,  my self esteem isn't at its highest right now so I just enjoy watching.  There were days that I knew everyone in a bar or club.  Hell it would take 10 minutes to get to the bar from the front door just to stop and  say hello to friends.  Today of course there is an entire new crowd, I think to myself  wow I was that young when I started going out in San Diego and it just amazes me.  Sometimes I wish I could sit one of those youngsters down and give them some advice I wish someone had given me.   Before I \think to put some of them down or "dismiss" them I TRY to remember myself at their age, was I any different?  Well there are valid points for both sides of that argument.
Like the late, great Whitney Houston said in Sparkle "Was my life not enough of a cautionary tale for you?" 

Being on a very restricted income is still something relatively new to me, and instead of staying in the house all of the time I like many others like to get out.  Sometimes I go to Starbucks with a friend or with a book and spend a whopping $1.65 on coffee, saving 10 cents on a tall because I bring my own coffee tumbler and free refills because I have a rewards card.  So the rare times I am out at a club or bar... dont worry, I wont be offended if you buy me a drink!   

Of course when I drink I tend to get sentimental and maybe a little melancholy.  There are definitely some guys out there that I would "spend time with" on a very regular basis in the past, but when it came to dating, i wasn't on their list.  I have no idea why, it could be a gazillion reasons both positive and negative.  I often remind myself of my "wants" when dating someone and it isnt always based on just looks.  Today I look at the guys I spent time with that I was SOOOOOOOO very attracted to and i look at who they are with now, and sadly my first reaction is.  It Should Have Been Me!  Ya cant help to wonder if I was giving off the wrong signals, if I was getting too clingy too soon,  who knows.  The right one will come along someday...Maybe.   I've always known that when you stop looking for someone, they will find you.  Im just hoping I haven't already had my "special someone" and didn't realize it.  Oh well Not gonna get all mopey on this blog.

Just had to share those random thoughts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

One Sick Puppy

Recently I received 2 great recommendations for dentists to replace the tooth that is missing in the front of my mouth.  (Thanks again for the contributions)   I was able to get an appointment with one dentist in Tijuana that is super cheap but not until June.  The other recommendation was for a clinic in San Ysidro that will work with you on price via sliding pay scale, payments, etc,  So I decided to check them out as well to see what price they would come up with.  Well I went to San Ysidro today and the facility is beautiful, everyone was so nice and welcoming and helpful..I didnt have an appointment but they saw me anyway and I was in and out in less time than Hillcrest Dental Center made me wait past my appointment time.

Since the San Ysidro Dental Clinic is very thorough they found one of my other toofuses is in desperate need of work... like $,3,000 worth of work to bring it back to a "normal" appearance OR they can completely extract it, and that's covered my by insurance.  So you can imagine how bummed I was..and I still am.  I asked for a hand mirror, looked at my smile and saw that the tooth that needs to be removed might be far enough towards the back that it might not ever be noticed... MIGHT NOT.  I have very long tooth roots or something like that so I'll need to go to an oral surgeon.  The tooth is beginning to become infected so I was prescribed some penicillin and Ibuprofen for the pain.

So far this year has been full of medical surprises and surgery. I was able to get through March without any personal medical issues and what a great high I have been on.  So I'll have to have this tooth removed ASAP, and then in June or July I will have another rectal surgery.  Even though San Ysidro isnt right around the corner, I will continue to go to that clinic because I feel so much more comfortable, informed, and cared for than I do at Hillcrest Dental Center on 30th in North Park,

This week hasn't been the greatest emotionally, but I'll get through it.  This is nowhere near the lowest of the lows I have had, but Im still learning how to deal with the hits from out of the blue when everything seems to be going so well.  I can tell this is going to be a week that I eat through my feelings.  OK time for my second cupcake.

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Mother, Lisa Cunningham

I haven’t blogged about my mother since she died except mentioning her in a few posts about family, Christmas, posts on Facebook, etc. I didn’t know when I would be ready to do this.  I began writing this blog on March 23rd 2014.  I’m hoping to finish it by Mother’s Day.   

Mom began her adult life when she was still just a child herself.  If I remember right she got out of high school when she was 16 years old, married at 18, and had my brother by the time she was 19-20.  Im not real clear on those years (since I wasn't around) I know the age difference between my brother and I is 13 years.  I remember very vividly the night my mom explained to me that Bob was my half brother.  To me he had always just been my brother.  I was so upset, I was crying because he wasn't my "real" brother. I was inconsolable.  The fact he was graduating high school as I was entering kindergarten helps you understand how young I was when mom told me that news. There wasn't a day that went by that I wasn't screaming "MOM BOB'S TICKLING ME,  MOM BOB THREW ME IN THE POOL, MOM BOB AND HIS FRIENDS THREW ME AGAINST THE WALL!  (the wall was completely covered in shag carpeting patches it was the 70's after all.  I laughed so hard when they were doing it) BUT STILL!! I cant remember how soon after graduation he moved to Hawaii but I remember him moving back in and out of the house a couple of times,

Mom and I were inseparable; I was the classic definition of a mama’s boy.  It sounds cliché I know but she truly was my best friend.  There were years in my childhood that I had very few friends if any at all.  Mom was always the one I would talk to about everything, the things I didn't talk to her about she already knew anyway.   My childhood was very fortunate; mom and dad owned a successful interstate trucking company with multiple locations that afforded us many luxuries.  We took great vacations, extravagant Christmases, parties, and toys like multiple boats, motorcycles, a jet ski, etc (mom even surprised Dad with a new Corvette for Christmas one year)  I was wearing designer clothes as early as middle school.  I think that had a lot to do with the bullying.

My favorite trips were during Easter vacation when mom and I would drive up to Northern California stopping at different historical places and touristy locations, then we would take the coast back home.  We would laugh and sing and sometimes stop in on business clients, I guess that meant we were able to write the trip off as a business expense.  On occasion our musical tastes would mesh.  Mom liked Adam Ant, Culture Club and of course The Go-Go’s.  But that meant I had to listen to Jimmy Reed, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Dionne Warwick.  The deal was one night we would stay at a Motel 6 type of place, but the next night we could stay in a “luxury” hotel.  Of course when we finally got to San Francisco it was luxury every night.  It was our favorite city and always the highlight of the trip. One year we found a motel in Pismo Beach that only had the “penthouse” available.  It was a conversion of a 2 bedroom apartment that was right on the beach and it was $60 per night!  That was less than half the amount of what we would spend on rooms in San Francisco.  Mom loved that place; we stayed a couple of nights each year.

If you ask my neighbors and friends from high school I had the “cool mom” Mrs. C. as most people called her.   She let me get away with EVERYTHING, again I thought I was pulling something over on her but she always knew what we were up to.  One night we took her car out and I forgot to take the pot pipe out of her car when we got home.  She came into my room the next morning where 3 of us were sleeping and woke us up holding the pipe asking what this was.  I said I don’t know someone else must have left it there.  She said well I smoked some and I found out what it was.  That was the last I heard of that and I never saw the pipe again.

Mom spoiled me rotten. I usually got everything I wanted and asked for.  Animals, artwork, tons of books, designer clothes, skin care, cologne, even having a swimming pool built in our somewhat small back yard when we lived 1/2 a  mile from the beach.    We were constantly at the mall shopping.  When I was 16 she let me go to Europe with my photography class.  So she got me a Gold American Express card in my name for “emergencies” well a Swiss watch, the Gucci store and Bulgari seemed like emergencies to me.   Years later I asked mom why she let me spend so much money, why did she give me everything I asked for?  She said you always had such a hard time at school and seemed so lonely  (due to the bullying) I just wanted you to be happy.

After dad died when I was 16 things would never be the same.  Her heart wasn't into running a trucking company; it was just something she fell into when dad bought his first couple of semi trucks.  She kept things going for a couple of years but a woman in a trucking business wasn't taken very seriously back then, that with employees robbing her blind and taking advantage of her, but the final straw was when the building burned to the ground, after that the business was closed.  We eventually lost our beautiful home in Huntington Beach.  Mom was lost and went through a very rough patch so she moved to our property in Nevada on Lake Mojave, Cottonwood Cove.   It wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds; It was a double wide mobile home that was almost 2 hours away from Las Vegas.  She had a boyfriend back then and he worked at some factory nearby.

Mynde and I moved to Irvine and even then when mom had little herself she made sure that we had new furniture for our apartment.  I didn’t get to see mom as much then, I was in my early twenties and discovering myself and I just didn’t make enough time for her.  I was just coming out and of course mom always asked a lot of questions like what have you been doing?  Are you seeing anyone?   Mynde and I had split long before so mom was very inquisitive.

When Mynde got married Mom came for the wedding and I finally had to tell her I was gay, I was terrified.  She said she always had a feeling I was.  The next thing she said was so surprising to me.  She said “I don’t care what you do just don’t ever put on a dress” Odd at the time but it truly didn’t matter to her as you will read here later in the story.

 Mom finally moved back to San Diego and we were all together again. Our relationship continued to grow and we became even better friends than ever.  Mom loved going to the drag shows at the Brass Rail, I also dragged her to other bars including Rich’s, #1 Fifth Avenue, Hamburger Mary’s (now Urban Mo’s) and of course she loved Baja Betty’s almost as much as I did.  The shrimp Cesar salad was her favorite. I remember once I took her to the Flame which was a mostly lesbian bar.  She was both flattered and afraid when the women would try to talk to her. When I had to use the restroom I had Tootie, a local popular drag personality stand with Mom until I got back
Mom was still sort of “lost” when she moved back to San Diego living in Vista.  She still didn’t know what to do with her life.  She had a VCR she needed fixed and noticed there was only one place to go so of course she thought she should open an electronics repair shop.  Her boyfriend Greg knew enough about electronics, but basically she just put an ad in the Pennysaver looking for part time help.  She was a clever woman that Lisa Cunningham.  Her personality and her ability to charm people made them completely trust her.  She made the business somewhat of a success.  It was still very lean times for her, but she got by and had somewhere to go and something to do every day. 

Mom was in her 60s when she went to school at night while working during the day to get her real estate license.  That opened up an entire new life for her; she was VERY successful in North County real estate.  Mom was back on top earning money like she hadn’t done in a decade. Once again her generosity to her family and even to strangers began. She and her partner/significant other Jim bought a condo on the golf course in Fallbrook and completely renovated it.  We made a surprise trip to Cleveland for a family reunion and we went in style; we even rented a Jaguar when we got to the airport.  I think because mom had so little when she was growing up; getting all the hand me downs from her big sister and even some of her brothers clothes she enjoyed being able to afford luxuries she could only dream about as a child.  I remember a story of a dress that her older sister Faye had made just for my mom; it was her favorite dress because it was only hers, and she wanted to wear it every day. 

Mom made her mark in North County real estate.  She helped numerous individuals and families avoid being homeless or losing all they had. One client, dying of liver cancer, had given up and was being evicted by the bank.  Mom sold his house in four hours and with the aid of the broker and agents at Sunshine Properties, moved his belongings into a storage unit so that he was able to pass with dignity. Many first-time homeowners would not have been able to purchase a home without mom’s knowledge and huge heart.

Mom eventually came around with the whole issue of me doing drag.  She said, well at least you look good. She would come to shows and watch me perform wave to the crowd like a proud mother when she was introduced.  I was so proud to show off my mom to friends and even strangers that she was supporting me.  When I was running for Empress Mom called and asked for my gown makers phone number, they had met several times before so I thought nothing of it.  What she did blew me away, she told him she wanted him to make something for her to wear to coronation, something slimming yet elegant.  Well needless to say I think she looked better than me that night.  The proudest moment was when I was being crowned I asked for her to come on stage to witness the crowning.  SHE got a standing ovation and I was doing everything I could to hold back the tears.  She even went to the long drawn out victory brunch the next morning where she was given the obvious title of Queen Mother to the Empress.  She didn’t quite understand that but I told her when we went to Las Vegas Coronation that’s how she will be introduced.  I think she got a kick out of that.  But I truly knew she accepted it when she saw me on the news one day in drag.  I had just finished riding a bicycle down the Pride parade route and it was a little warm that day as a local news station caught me to interview me.  When I got home there was a message on the answering machine from mom saying. “Well I saw you on the news today; couldn't you have done something with that hair?”  Yup, it was official she was comfortable with the whole thing.

When Mom first realized something was very wrong with her health I was right there at her bedside when the doctor came in to tell her she had some tumors on/in her lungs.  It took me a few moments to truly realize what he was saying, but still we didn't know the options available yet, so no one was giving up hope.  I wasn't working so I was able to drive her back and forth to Dr Appointments, grocery shopping, etc. 

 When we finally went to the oncologist the news wasn't good at all.  He told her with treatment she could live an additional 6 months.  She asked some questions then asked him to clarify that no treatment would cure her but just prolong what she was currently going through. Pain, no energy, shortness of breath etc.  When he reaffirmed that there was nothing to save her life she looked at me and asked “what should I do?” I told her to do what she wanted to do, no one could make the choice for her and no one would judge her for her decision.  She decided to forgo treatment and hospice was brought in right away,  She was “ok” for a awhile but of course her disease progressed and she became less lucid and not the very strong, intelligent, independent woman I have always known her to be.  There would be days that she would just sit in bed looking out the window crying.  I asked what was wrong and she just said she was so scared to get any sicker.  Seeing her in moments like that was extremely difficult, but I never cried in front of her.  If she saw me get upset, Mom would worry more about me than herself and I just didn't want to add to her already huge burden

I basically moved into the house bringing Mr Kitty along, she loved feeding him treats from her bed, it was one of the few things that brought her joy.  After I got settled in I tried different things to keep her mind sharp.   I tried playing her some of her favorite music from the past, but her attention span wasn't that great.  We would wake up early and I would crawl into bed with her and watch Matlock every morning.   She also really wanted to watch Whitney Houston’s funeral, but as many of you know it was very long and she just couldn't handle sitting there to watch the entire thing.  She was mostly confined to her bedroom upstairs although there were a few occasions we successfully got her downstairs to just sit for a change of scenery, where she could look out over the golf course.  One evening she did feel up to going out on a “date” with Jim.  They were going to the Greek place where she liked their Greek chicken and milkshakes.  She started getting ready over an hour before they left.  She put on her best tracksuit, and she tried putting on some makeup so I helped her with that.  Then she started curling her hair, she was frustrated it wasn't working.  When I went to help her I saw the iron wasn't plugged in.  She knew what she wanted to do; she just wasn't always able connect the dots to get it done. 

She would see something she wanted across the room so she decided to get out of bed and get it herself, that didn't always end well.  She was starting to fall frequently.  One time I could hear her fall at the bottom of the stairs when l when I was in the kitchen making her breakfast.  I would always get so scared when she‘d fall I would run to her yelling MOMMY.  I felt like a helpless child.  One early morning she somehow got downstairs and past me while sleeping  on the couch,  The little neighbor kid came frantically knocking on the door saying Miss Lisa was down on the corner.  I found her in her pajamas hugging onto the street sign completely confused as to where she was.  All of these incidents took a huge toll on all of us.

I thought that knowing more about her ancestry might be a nice gift to her in her final days, knowing a little more about where she came from.  With so many siblings and she being one of the youngest she didn’t have a very close relationship with most of her brothers.  What I did learn is that mom’s birth name was not Lisa, but Lula Belle, or Lulabelle or some other form of that.  Thinking back now I can remember some of her oldest friends and brothers calling her “Lou.”  I’m quite sure she was named for her grandmother, Lula Ball.  Years previously we learned that mom’s birthday, January 23rd, 1938 was in fact NOT her birthday but instead it was February 4th 1937.  We learned this via the Social Security office.  My personal thoughts are that she was born in January but there was a mistake made when recording her birth.  Most of her siblings were born at home and I’m assuming she was too.  The Dr most likely confused the dates when he went to the recorder’s office.  It was a different time back then and things were done much differently than they are now.  Although in my research I have still not been able to find any records of her from her childhood however, I did learn that mom and dad were actually married 1 ½ years after I was born!   GASP!!   LOL again it was a different time back then.  Mom was 31 years old when she was pregnant with me and at that time people considered that “too old” to have a child.

I was only able to get so far on the family tree, because mom’s ancestors  were Cherokee and those records just didn't matter back then I guess.  So my trail sort of ended.  Mom didn't seem very interested by this time.  She was getting much more despondent and too sick to pay attention to most anything.

I wish I had some great story about words of wisdom or magical moments that happened between us while she was sick. But the truth is, she was just very sick and rapidly declining.  I did everything I could to make her comfortable.  She liked most of the food I cooked her, she liked the new pajamas I would pick out for her, and the occasional treat I would remember her always enjoying like Nutter Butter’s or Teddy Grahams.

I realize the greatest gift that Mom and I received was being able to spend so much time together before she died. When my Father died I hadn't seen him in a couple of days and he died in an accident late at night.  Mom left me a note saying he had an accident but I should go to school.  They pulled me out of school early to send me home.  I never got to see him, and from what I heard he was in pretty bad shape in the hospital, so its probably for the best I didn't go see him.  Sadly I couldn't bring myself to go to the viewing.

 I would take care of mom Monday through Saturday afternoon, and then one of the ladies from church would come by to sit with her for a few hours until Jim got home.  My brother Bob would cover Sundays.  One particular week I told my brother I wasn't going to leave for the weekend because I didn’t think she was going to make it through the weekend.  By this time we had a hospice nurse at the house 24/7.  I was downstairs and the nurse peeked over the railing to tell me I might want to come upstairs. A million thoughts filled my mind as I went up that flight of stairs.  When I got to her bed she was wheezing and having extremely hard time breathing.  She seemed to be staring right into my eyes as I took her hand in mine.  Her good friend (and mine) Di-Anne was in the room holding her other hand.  I just kept saying over and over, “it’s OK mom you don’t have to hold on anymore, you don’t have to hold on”  I told her everything is OK here, I’m fine, Bob is fine, you can go now.  Then she took her final breath at 9:34 on August 26th.

I didn’t know what to do, or how to react, was I going to lose it completely?  I kept trying to reach my brother via phone, but they were all asleep by then.  I went into her room to look at her a few more times, and then I realized what I needed to do.  Although Mom was being cremated, I knew she would never and had never left the house without her hair and makeup done.  So that’s what I did.   Di-Anne worked as a mortician so she knew the best way to get mom dressed, I picked out something comfortable for her, a blue colored blouse that she loved.  I had done her makeup so many times before it didn’t really seem that strange to me, however just like in the movies, I did have to shut her eyes, unfortunately her mouth was open a bit and it stayed that way.  She looked so peaceful and so beautiful; we hadn’t seen her look that great in months.  I was so glad we made her up; because that is the last vision I have of her in my mind. I took an old photo of my brother, me and mom, and I and put it in her blouse pocket, 

It was about 12:30 AM before the morticians came to pick her up, I stayed downstairs but I could  hear Di-Anne making sure they were respecting her and how she was handled.  She was giving them the bizness!  Mom was her best friend and she knew what she was doing so she made sure they handled mom and the situation with dignity.  I accidentally caught a glimpse of the gurney with mom zipped up in a blue plastic bag being brought down the stairs. I've tried to erase that out of my mind.  That night I slept in her bed, on the side she always slept.  It was comforting. 

This may sound weird to some, but perfectly normal to me.  She often comes to me in my dreams, again nothing profound or amazing she’s just there. After my dad died he never came to me in a dream until after mom died.  She was the glue that held our family together so I'm sure she made sure Dad came to check on me.  Her final wishes were to have her ashes and my dad’s ashes combined and scattered in the ocean in Huntington Beach where some of the best times of our lives were spent.

There is never a day that goes by that I don’t think of her, the times when I pick up the phone to tell her some good or bad news are fewer now.  I completely fell apart when she died; I’m finally starting to get myself back together now.  That’s what she would want.  She was a HUGE worrier and I just want her to be at peace.

Mom and Dad "pre" Kurt
A few weeks before I was born

on one of our many trips

We loved our photo booth pics

Family Portrait 1975
Mom rarely smiled for photos, so I love this one
Mine and Dad's
 my favorite photo of mom

Queen Mother to the Empress
 witnesses the crowning

At the Brass Rail for Dreamgirls

The last photo taken of us together.  December 24th 2011
At the time we didn't know she was ill, but now looking at this photo its very apparent to me.

They call him Mr Tiggs

Tiggs is about a year old in this picture.
He used to love wearing his tie on special occasions

I was "dating" a guy for awhile that was concerned because I spent so much time alone, one day he asked me if I liked cats, the next day he brought me a surprise!   It took awhile to choose a name for him, so I chose the name Tiggs, because he has so many stripes like a tiger.  But I usually only call him Tiggs when he is in trouble.  I always call him Mr Kitty, or Boo Boo Kitty, Itty Bitty, but mostly Mr Kitty.

I have had cats in the past when I was young, but I've also had almost every kind of animal you could think of.  I don't consider myself a cat or a dog person, i think of myself as an animal person. But for the living arrangements I have had over the last several years a cat is the best choice for now.

I know it must seem odd or even a bit "scary" for me to be writing a blog about my cat, but he gives me so much joy everyday.  He knows when Im feeling down so he cuddles up right next to me.  He also annoys the hell out of me when Im watching TV or playing on the computer he gets right in front of me, walking across the laptop keyboard.  He will be 6 years old on January 13th.  The day after my birthday.  I assigned him that day when the vet guesstimated how old he was.  He still loves to play with his kitty toys and of course the laser light. He has always been an indoor cat but when we would stay at Mom's house he was allowed outside on the golf course early in the AM with supervision.  Since we moved here to a house he has gotten out a few times, just cruising around in the back yard.  One late night he knocked down the screen door and another cat got in and they were fighting.  Tiggs kicked his ass!.

One of our trips to "grandmas"house

Mom  always felt so comforted by Tiggs (she always called him Tiggs)  She loved it when he would sleep at the foot of her bed during the day.  And of course she spoiled him by giving him so many treats.
When Mom died he jumped up on the bed and just looked at her for a couple of minutes.

My grandmother made this
 blanket, and its his favorite

I honestly cant imagine what my life would be like without him.  The truth is I am a very lonely person, but seeing him standing by the door when I come home, or just following me around the house makes me realize I am also very important to him.  My friend picked him out for me out of a litter of 6 I think, he said I just thought he had a good personality to match yours.  He was exactly right.  He's pretty mellow most of the time but he likes to run around and have fun every morning.

He "made" an opening in the blinds at our old place so he could sit in the window

He likes to lay in bed and contemplate life like his daddy.

Out of all the dozens of animals I have had 
over the years, I feel most connected to Tiggs.
I just wish he could learn to clean his own litter box.

We obviously have the sane taste in men.
Glow in the dark Kitty

My beautiful baby boy