Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Travel Is Dangerous

The other day I had a really weird dream.

Among the bizarre mish-mash of images, the one that grabbed me was of course when she held my hand. Of course it did. The night before, I spoke with Golden about my actually wanting to ask someone out. First time in nearly two years, second time in nearly five years.

Frankly, aside from Corey, I've not felt up for asking anyone out because I'm HIV-positive. And with Corey that was a non-issue because he is too. But, now, after that debacle, here I am.

Last time I asked someone out before Corey was a co-worker, and I'm using that as a reason not to this time. Partly. But mostly it's being sick.

The one thing I've not asked anyone I know about but really want to know is how to approach it. The asking someone out and eventually, if things go well, telling them. Corey once said to me he waited until the third date, something like that.

Anyway, there's a woman I'm interested in. We work together. And, as the game's played, she gave me an obvious opening to ask her out last week...and I didn't take it. It's who was in the dream, holding my hand, smiling when I told her about the song playing (Mogwai's TRAVEL IS DANGEROUS).

I'm reminded too of Shawn Decker's MY PET VIRUS: his trepidation of asking women out after he's grown up with the virus. Also, Frederik Peeters' BLUE PILLS. And as gorgeous as the stories are, as likely, I choose to be afraid. Afraid of the simple rejection because it will mean something more. It will prove me right. The thing I've thought about for way too damn long. I think if we go out, and things go well, and maybe something develops, and then she says she can't continue with me. This specter that's haunted me for nearly five years now is everywhere. And every time I speak with her, I get all funny inside and I really like her smile, and she's really funny.

So, how do you ask a woman out when you're HIV-positive? I really want to know.

* * *

Then there's this over at Lou O'Bedlam's blog.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


So, my Flickr account is all but dead and mostly because I'm killing it with my lack of posts. Whatever. Maybe my hipsterly camera kung-fu is finally over.

On the other hand, eleven days in and there are eleven little story bits over at 405 (click here!). Some are lazy, others less so...

...and today, writer Warren Ellis posts a link to this interview with writer William Gibson, and it's all the encouragement to continue.

354 to go, and it's all because of Henry Rollins and now William Gibson!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thirty-Five Januaries

I have these little wrinkles around my eyes and I'm twenty pounds lighter. I hate this time of year.

Won't be until - say - February that the weird "new year feeling" will sink in. And mostly because, well, there isn't going back, is there?

So, I've done very little for the last six months. Nothing more than working and sleeping, maybe some reading. Nothing else. The gross over-exaggeration notwithstanding, I want to do something. I always want to do something. I never know what that is, and it's why I'm not past the "amateur" phase at life. There you are, and I'm going to give myself a couple of things to do because sometimes I think my brain is rotting from misuse. Whatever.

Once the site is back to working today, over at 405, I'm going to write one thing a day for all of 2012. I haven't written anything substantial in too long a time. And I think I work well this way. And I say "work" and mostly I think it's fun. It makes me laugh, these writing bits I set down. Sometimes they make me sad. But hearing it from Henry Rollins while in Book Soup a couple months ago with Golden and Brittany, I realized I don't write daily. Rollins' recommendation. Of course, this is the recommendation from any writer, whether I like their work or not, to anyone who wants to write. I can't go back to being 19-20 years old when I did. But there is no creative output I feel proud of recently because there has been nothing worth mentioning (although a microstory I posted made me laugh!).

Over at Flickr and Instagram (same username: jchavezloeza), I'm going to take a picture and write a little blurb a day about 365 people, places, things I like. Because there must be, right? The reason behind this too is that it'll get me writing a bit more. Kind of like a warm up (hopefully!). And seeing as how I like to thrown things at people I think are awesome already, I might as well put a little effort into it, at least. I'm terrible as this type of thing. But, as mentioned, I need to write everyday, even if it is a little blurb about why I love David Fincher's movies.

A couple of days ago, Golden and I had lunch and I told her the story of how I wound up meeting up with her wearing designer jeans. She was on her break so I couldn't really get into the story how I wanted. And I want to tell you too, but that's for later. And this story, once I get there, will bring me back to where I was in 2009 and a year ago and last month and will rant and rave. Because it's what I do. So I can write daily, of course.

I suppose I can write here more often, in the way that I used to so many years ago. Not as a journal, the way this reads. But then, I remember when I first started writing, I wasn't working, I was in a new city, I read more, I did more things. Now, I don't.

But back to the writing: sometimes I read something that isn't a story and it makes me think people are terribly arrogant and simple because it's about money. Everyone talking about what it is their writing is worth. And I asked the question (and received no response), if no one ever read what you wrote, never paid you for it, would you still do it? The answer has to be yes. Always yes. I remember Corey and I having a conversation about how when you write something - article, tweet, post, novel, whatever - the writer should never write for the audience, whether it exists, regardless of size, or not. He disagreed with me. But that's where, at the beginning of 2012, I've arrived. The even imagined-moneytization of creativity is horrible. This coming from an amateur.

I have meetings in my calendar for months into the future. I need to take suits to be tailored. maybe I ought to be more on top of things about my health. Lose another twenty-pounds. Reach back to people I miss. Ask this woman out. Be nicer. Take care of my family more. Be more patient. I don't really know. But I like my brain better and I am taking a shot at making it work a bit this year. That's what it's about. Setting things down on paper. Or on the computer. You know what I mean.

Here's to day one.

Friday, December 2, 2011


This week two of my favorite internet people - journalists, writers, bloggers, bad-ass women, Susannah Breslin and Xeni Jardin - revealed they have breast cancer.

I don't know them personally but something...clicked in my brain and my heart when I heard this. They're not personal friends to me, but they know each other (sometimes their twitter conversations with photographer Clayton Cubitt are hilarious!), and within three days of Breslin's diagnosis, Jardin's comes and I want to hug them!

Susannah Breslin writes about her experience on
. Xeni Jardin tweeted her first mammogram, culminating in the diagnosis.

As I read Ms Breslin's post I'm reminded of how these things change you and your perception of the world. Something becomes askew and no matter how hard you try to express it, frankly, if you don't have cancer, you can't ever know. Your perception of yourself is two-fold: you begin to look at yourself, probably as damaged and fragile, and you begin to look at yourself physically, trying to find this thing inside you, as if you can see it crawling just beneath your skin, partly out of fascination and partly out of being scared.

I've never had cancer, but when I first discovered I was HIV-positive, it was the single thing that changed my life the most, not in an outward way, not even physically nor emotionally, but it fundamentally changed the way I see myself in the world. I mentioned to Ms Breslin how it reminded me of this, her post.

I have this idea that a few months, maybe a year or so down the line, once both Susannah and Xeni beat this, they'll be having a good ol' chat over coffee somewhere in New York (I'm not really sure why NYC), and laugh and talk about it. Maybe they'll commiserate. Maybe there'll be tears...

...I don't know, I'm sort of a little weird this way: sure, it's fucking cancer, but at least you're not alone. Is that terrible to think? I remember last year (man, time flies!) when Corey and I had that conversation about strangers reaching out to us about being HIV-positive.

No, I don't know Susannah Breslin and Xeni Jardin. But in a rather odd and a bit sad way, Ithink I do. And if you know them, give them a hug for me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


When I was a kid - what, something like around my late teens - I used to think to myself that if I hit thirty-five, that would be a long enough life. Everything afterward was just gravy, you know? And I used to go around believing television and comics and not real life as to what life would bring with it.

Adventure! Heartache! Travel! EXCITEMENT!!!

Of course, growing up, everything is a process and all of these things DO come along. It'd be dismissive to not acknowledge all of it: for one day I was in New York City, for instance, and lived all of it!

The scary things that come with life aren't ever given a face when you're growing up, however, because no matter what you may imagine will come, you're an indestructible piece of flash machinery and unstoppable. Nothing is a monster when you're a kid!

Recently, as ridiculous as it sounds, as I'm reading some really smart, fun, and entertaining books (Richard Kadrey's ALOHA FROM HELL, Chuck Palahniuk's DAMNED, William Gibson's PATTERN RECOGNITION), I appreciate these little stories for what the truth they share...and still glance at them as bullshit. Paradoxically, as I'm reading, I want to scream into the pages that what they're selling isn't real life. Then I think of this quote from Grant Morrison.

I've not been very happy for a bit and what's getting me down aside from the typically mundane things like money woes, debt, work, friends, family, illness, is the lack of excitement I used to have for tomorrow. I used to be excited by the idea of tomorrow. Not in a conceptualized, futurist way (I think), but the very cliche that everything exciting is waiting tomorrow. How's that for cynical: thinking all the excitement's run out in my life.

Think I'm a terrible rut.

Recently, the best friend and I have spent hours talking boys and girls, and even that's lost some luster because it's become routine. It's become daily life. I feel weighed down by everything that's become my universe. Most folk, I think, can appreciate all of these daily trials because there are things to be learned from all of this. I know this too. But this isn't what I signed up for when I was born. Is that terrible?

I don't know.

Home life, work life, personal life, none of it is horrible and obnoxious and sad. Not really. Taking in the bigger picture as it is, I'm pretty damn fortunate. I don't think I appreciate it enough, frankly, and all of these things I think are perhaps a form of selfishness. At work this week, in talking with the boys there about marriage, one of them said that I had passed the point in life where that was something to want. And I wonder as we get older does that keep happening? Like a road trip, is life a long journey and the stops are places off the side of the road that you pass by after you consider stopping and then say to yourself, "There'll be something else up ahead," not considering that perhaps there won't be? Not that I'm regretting ever investing time with someone enough to want to make them my life partner. I don't feel that. But I wonder if all the excitement I used to feel about tomorrow's now an off-ramp that I passed years, weeks, days, hours ago.

Me, nattering like this, is what annoys me the most.

Yesterday, while looking through the company's intranet, I discovered openings at work that aren't necessarily interesting but look like might be fun. Puerto Rico, New York, California. Wishful thinking in a way. Because responsibility isn't easy to slough off, right? And I then make myself upset by conniving ways to make things happen where everyone is happy first and then myself. Which is NOT a way in which to do things in life. I've learned that much.

I think, the work thing notwithstanding, that I'm looking for the fun that I always believed would exist along with the idea of tomorrow. I'm not an old man, not yet, and I'm wondering where all the fun went. My idea of fun.

I turn thirty-five in two months.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I was twenty-one so it was 1998. I remember meeting a friend of a friend, but I'm not certain why I needed to meet him. Best friend at the time had started a new job and she really liked her co-workers, I remember that. So, I went with her to one of her co-worker's house to pick something up, or drop something off. He came out to meet us and they talked about whatever and I was introduced and he had dimples and a cleft chin. This was David.

This was maybe a year or two after I'd come to terms with my sexuality. This was when I was at my awkward best.

I remember talking about him non-stop. He was just so pretty. It was the first boy I'd met who'd made want to know more about him, to maybe kiss him. Maybe. When he gave me his phone number it was a pretty special day, let me just tell you. I remember using up the break in between classes to call him up and talk on the payphone in the student union. I remember he liked the Disney villain Malificient and thought Bruce Willis was hot. All it ever came to, as always, was my immaturity and a PULP FICTION viewing at his house, where his parents looked at me like an escaped felon, and a group date to see Grease. He held my hand the entire time.

I wrote about him a lot at the time. I used to write a lot then. And I wrote about how I wanted him and how he made me feel and how beautiful I thought he was. I remember all of it. I still have that notebook. I just remember him smiling at me atop that hill where his house was in San Pedro.

(Unfortunately, my memories of this boy are tied to the fact that my two brothers read everything I wrote about him and told my parents and then, well, everything turned out the way it did. This created a huge rift between my family and me that lingers to this day. That day, when talking with my father, was the worse moment of my young life. It was the last time he ever struck me.)

But every once in a while, I tell someone this story, all the details I remember, and it makes me happy because I remember this unassuming boy whom I adored to no end, and it was the first instance I felt I was normal. If you're straight or gay, you wouldn't understand.

It always makes me happy to think about him.

Earlier today, while online on my phone, talking with strangers on a hook-up site, a man sent me a message and we started talking for a bit and he was nice and playful and cute. He's attractive. And he reminded me of someone I used to work with. But that wasn't right. It lingered with me for the entire afternoon when I realized who this stranger online reminded me of David. The stranger's smile wasn't familiar but it wasn't a strange one either. A couple hours ago, as I'm making my way from Orange County, it hit me: was this David? Something clicked into place. While this man and I were flirting online in the way guys do online (read: being explicit), I needed to log off but I thought, fuck it, and gave him my number. On the freeway, I kept checking my phone for a text or call. I realized he never told me his name, and he didn't give me his number. Playing coy, my plans was that the next move would be his...


Isn't that crazy?

What if it is?

Most likely, it isn't. And like with certain strangers on the internet, I will probably never hear from him again. I latched on to a weird set of circumstances that have made my heart go all a-flutter, and when I never hear from this man, I will forget about him in the way we do sometimes. A stranger on the internet called me hot and I'm having fond memories about him already.

But that's okay.

I will still remember David. Not because he was the love of my life. But he was one of the very first.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Read: Damned

Madison Spencer is dead. DAMNED is the story of her time in Hell. Is all this obvious? Perhaps: there IS a devil on the cover.

But what follows is walk through a thirteen year old girl's life that ought to have been great, ought to have been the type of life contemporary thirteen year olds yearn for: super-rich and super-famous and, sadly, super-liberal movie star parents; houses in every possible continent, access to drugs, and Hello Kitty condoms. But Madison isn't happy. No, not until she meets her parents' new pet adoptee, Goran.

After she dies, Madison takes you through Chuck Palahniuk's version of Hell that's complete with the Swamp of Partial-birth Abortions, Shit Lake, and...well, you get the idea. Also, Hitler shows up because why shouldn't he?

This is Palahniuk at his nihilistic, most acerbic best. He's not reached this height of humor and cynicism and truth in a very long time (TELL-ALL read like a warm-up exercise, RANT was a bit too loose, SNUFF wasn't what it could've been, HAUNTED tried and failed at clever). What he does in having Madison guide us through Hell isn't to show how frightening that prospect is, but rather how easy it is to being damned. Through her monologues, Madison discovers along the way that we're all so close to eternal damnation, even taking all the vitamins and recycling everything isn't enough to save anyone. Surely, according to her, nearly everyone's already earned a trip to Hell by age five for peeing in pools - there's a limit, you see, to how many times you're allowed to pee in pools before you're damned and it's two.

But all through Madison's adventures through Hell, it isn't that we're learning along with her the rules of this place or why people wind up here, but more about what we tell others and ourselves to make us seem less likely to die as sinners. We want to win when it comes to our eternal afterlife, never realizing our afterlives are already decided. But this isn't a religious book. Not really.

DAMNED, similar to Palahniuk's other books, is about being happy with who and what you are. About not giving a whit about what anyone else says. About self-determination and self-reliance. DAMNED is about forgetting everything everyone else thinks about you and being the only you the world deserves. Madison can only be that once she dies. Even despite the fack her parents tried and tried to be better than any other parents, they failed in nurturing the person Madison needed to be in this world. But it was only by dying and going to Hell that she sees this, that we see this. When everything is demons and death for eternity, it's easy to see that who we are in Hell isn't who we are on Earth: who we are in the latter is not us.

Palahniuk brings us back to self-destruction as self-realization. Realizing that people who're still alive and their terrible superiority complex over the dead is only transitory and only death is certain.

The imagery in the book reminded me of Chris Weston's Hell in LUCIFER and his work in THE FILTH, how I imagined it as I read: I'd love to see his version of the Sea of Insects. Palahniuk doesn't go into lots of detail with his Hell, but when you read his topography, it's hard not see a certain...aesthetic. What do you imagine when you read the Great Ocean of Wasted Sperm?

And, finally, as Madison confronts Satan himself, Palahniuk manages a pretty nasty trick on her that I want to spoil so badly but wont. Because in that exchange, when I wanted a suave manipulator akin to Neil Gaiman's and Mike Carey's LUCIFER, I got a more "real" Satan: a Satan for the post-Hollywood world.

I laughed along with this book not because of its outlandish scenery but because it's more honest about what life is on Earth than I was taught in Catechism. It's honest when Madison says that we all think we're better off than the dead because we're simply alive. It's honest when she says that everyone, like her parents, obsessed with remaining youthful will end up as worm fodder. But unlike FIGHT CLUB, DAMNED doesn't say there's worse things than death. Madison is our avatar through our own stories, regardless of age, full of ridiculous experiences that we allow to define ourselves in the bigger picture, the bigger picture being life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Free Life

Went to the movies today. I shouldn't have because payday's next week and there's insurance to still pay. But I went and had a big ol' cry there due to the movie not necessarily because I was/am terribly sad or anything like that. Still, right? Anyway, afterward, I spent another $5 on a coffee and a shortbread raspberry cookie thing because I left a voicemail for my best friend and was still a little shaken. So strange how things affect me. Or not. I think I'm made of metal and then I'm melted.

Honest: for a long time - almost two years now - I've had a terrible idea not everyone I know and don't know would like to hear and that is going of the meds for the extra cash.

Just right now I was thinking, suppose I'd never had to go to the doctor four years ago and I never discovered I'd HIV, where would I be now? I don't know and neither does anyone else because that never happened. But, what if, you know?

I wonder how we got to this point where this is even worth considering. Years ago, if someone mentioned this to me, I'd tell them they were insane, and here I am thinking this. But is it that bad? No, not really. I could use five grand right now and I know lots of us could as well but that isn't going to happen. or, if I did indeed stop the the meds for the money, I think it would be easier to just spend it on something wholly necessary.

The family is in really bad form right now. Not only financially. Not a lot of us are happy. I'd go even a little further into it: I don't think a lot of us are content or satisfied with what's happening, any of it. Who is, really?

So, I'm at the movies and guy in the movie says he just wants it to stop, the disease he has. And that's where I am and I think using the family trials as the reason for it to stop is kind of a cop-out. Isn't it? Is it?

What if I decided to stop treatment, would you hate me, shun me, support me, or say nothing? Is this one of those cry for help things? Do I mean a slow-speed suicide? What is it?

As I've written many times over the last few years, I want it to stop, all these pills every week; the way in which everything my family says around me is tinged with sadness and fear; the way in which whenever I mention being sick all I get is silence; thinking the pretty girl I want to ask out from work will just walk away when I tell her; the way my mother looks at me sometimes. And the way I see myself daily. I just want it all to stop so I can be normal again.

Haven't had a fit like this in a while. I don't really know what normal means.

But, as I said, there's lots of things to take care of for the family. I hate my living situation but without me they can't keep the house nor put food on the table nor even enjoy a smoke every now and then. Silly to even type all that. But it's true. And me, without them, I don't know really where I'd be. So the family must come first. And I'd be no use to them dying in a hospital or dead in the ground.

Way the world works is my life is the only thing I've a say over. That's it.

Way to return to the blog. I should not be allowed to go to the movies unescorted.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Milk

Since I lost my job over a year ago, every week seems to feel longer than it really is. Of course, when things are bad, I'm sure this changed perception of time is prevalent. How could it not be - we say, "Time flies when you're having fun," and all that. And what came along with that, and continues until just a few moments ago, sometimes just makes me so angry and sad and bitter and defeated.

Okay, so at my new job, I've medical insurance. It's one of those things that with losing the previous gig was a huge worry for me (nevermind, the rest of the family - they were a mess). Paying hundreds of dollars a month, even with not enough money coming in, for COBRA just so that I could continue to pay a couple hundred dollars on top of that for medication and more doctor's visits seemed so ridiculous. It's one of the reasons last year the president let me down by not pushing for Single-payer Healthcare. But anyway, so am covered now...

Late last week I called in to have my two prescriptions filled because it was time. And it was the first paycheck where the new gig was paying me decently, finally. Not great, but every dollar counts, after all. I went a couple of days ago to pick them up and was told that my COBRA insurance had lapsed. I figured, so what, I've a shiny new insurance card (the cost attached to my meds then I've talked about before). So, pharmacy guy does whatever it is they do and comes back and tells me it'll be $500 for both. Turns out I need to pay my deductible before the insurance covers what it used to. This was a rather unexpected thing to have happen.

Just got back from paying this and I am still a bit embittered and sad by the whole thing. I drove to the pharmacy crying.

Honest: one of the things that bothers me the most about this is the contrasting example of the ex and my situations beyond us both being HIV-positive: I've worked for years, paying my taxes and insurance costs and all that; he's claimed disability for a lot longer than I've been taking these fucking pills: I pay what I pay for doctor visits, emergency room visits, and medicine (the most total was in 2008 which came to roughly $4000); he pays nothing. The juxtaposition is glaring to me and shows me such an unfair disparity that it simply infuriates me, and has ever since I first discovered this. And it isn't so much because it's the ex, no. It's more due to the fact that it seems that when you play by the rules in this fucking country, well, who the fuck cares, even when it comes to staying alive. To be fair, I don't know and don't recall the details of the ex's then-situation when all this came to pass for him, nor much do I care now. What stays in my mind, and did as I drove to and back from the pharmacy just now, is that while we were together, the ex said he could get any medication he wanted and he'd get it for free (I was present first hand when he had some pills for some friend of his (hair-growth pills or some such) and I know first-hand he has easy access to boner pills (he took some when we were in San Diego last year). This is the disparity: all I want is what I need and am willing to pay for it; he's one of those people others complain about abusing the system while not paying into it.

(Okay, since am on a tear about the ex, this: I am not certain of what constitutes being disabled due to HIV-infection or AIDS - if I remember correctly, he'd said to me once that he was so sick before he couldn't work. And I'm sure this is how one does this which is fair and right, especially without access to healthcare any other way. However, in the intervening years, although I'd only known him personally for about three years, from my very biased and outsider point of view, he is not disabled any longer. This is a man who gets steroids from the public clinic he goes to because he doesn't want to loose muscle because...I think he said more muscle mass is necessary to fight off HIV cells? Something like that. I'm sure there is truth to this to a degree. But I believe it is primarily so that he doesn't become physically unattractive.)

God damn but am I angry today.

I paid my $500.

Hopefully, as it was explained to me earlier by the insurance rep, I won't be paying as much next month and so on.

Sure, I'm all "woe is me" right now, but that'll pass. This is initial shock. And it's due to having to, first, spend money that I need for other things, and, two, the fact that someone like me even has to spend money on HIV medication. This is a case, for me, where I see me as part of the working class in America and I am not catching a break: from one end of the spectrum (the ex and those like him) to another (those for whom medical care is an afterthought-expense), there is a gap wherein most of lie where we have to choose between everything that is necessary (meds, food, shelter, etc) or losing most of it. It isn't fair and it isn't right. This blog post is completely biased and written in anger and may be completely offensive and all that bullshit, but who cares? It's all of it spilled milk.