(From the two weeks January 30 - February 13, 1998)
IN THIS EXCITING EPISODE...
- TWO WEEKS leading to life changes
- I decide on LIFE CHANGES such as
- More on "THOSE DARN TOES!"
- Bloodwork results
- A friend visits
- Lance, our hunky relationship counselor...
- "Erotic electricity"
- Save a life
- Tuff Jobs
TWO WEEKS LEADING TO LIFE CHANGES
It's been an incredibly rich and beautiful time around here. So many things have been going on. Tom started graduate school. Our leather boy was in town. I went off my last nicotine patch after smoking most of the last 19 years. We memorialized a friend. The coldness in my toes keeps coming and going. We've had computer traumas and computer excitement.
I've been laughing, loving and crying.
It's been glorious.
MY E-MAIL GETS CLOGGED
First off, for friends who sent me e-mail in the last week+ and therefore didn't get the following Autoresponder note that I set up on Friday, January 30th:
My e-mail is not getting to my computer for the moment. The resolution for this glitch will go into next week. (I've covered the basic points with Technical Support at our Web-hosting provider. The next troubleshooting procedures are written for Netscape Mail. I want to install my new tape backup drive and do a full backup before I install Netscape.)
Technical Support can see the mail sitting on their server. They assure me that when this is resolved I _will_ get the message you sent me.
As I write this [that was on the 30th], there are 78 messages waiting for me. It _will_ take a while to write back, but things are fine.
In the meantime, cyber-hugs!
OUR DRAIN GETS CLOGGED
Tom has been the fix-it man around the house since we moved in a little over four years ago. He's talented at it. But with his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) classes starting on January 21st, I needed to take over the fix-it role.
Well, the following Saturday the kitchen sink backed up, providing me with the opportunity to be Stud Man.
david and I "snaked" the line. We got out tiny bits of egg shells that weren't pulverized enough to get all the way through the line. So david helped me install a new disposal to help prevent this in the future.
I must say, we all handled the transfer of home-repair duties rather gracefully.
COMMUNICATION GETS UN-CLOGGED
Tom, david and I were all three trying very hard to keep lines of communication wide open during david's visit. All three of us knew it was an inherently stressful time: Tom had just started graduate school and david was in for his first visit as my leather boy. People grow accustomed to certain life rhythms, and here we had role changes in action.
Things went pretty darn well overall, but I did make some missteps that -- when combined with the stress of the week -- resulted in Tom needing reassurance.
(Here's but one small example from the week: One day I did not write down an incoming phone call confirming a doctor's visit that I knew was on Tom's calendar. But because I hadn't written it down or mentioned it, Tom later called the doctor's office and felt stupid afterward when they told him they had already confirmed.)
Normally, reassuring a friend (let alone my life partner) would remain private. But I write about this particular instance because the issues it raises are so universal and so very, very important:
It was 4 a.m. Thursday morning when I realized Tom was awake next to me. It turns out he'd been having a hard time sleeping since 10 p.m. He hadn't wanted to study earlier, so had gone to bed early. I had joined him shortly thereafter.
It turned out that after a week of david being in town and much of my attention being focussed toward him, Tom was needing reassurance: Fear of being unloved was messing with his sleep.
I didn't care that it was 4 a.m. I was wide awake in a moment.
I held him as we started to talk. We visited for hours, but the essence is repeatable in just a few words:
I believe that there is no richer gift one can give than to truly convey to someone that they are loved.
(For people brought up with a Christian background, Jesus' example in the Bible to me is really about that process: Conveying love, and by doing so healing other people's wounds.)
Everyday people have the capability to help heal other people's emotional wounds. Tom and I have been doing it for 6 years by loving each other. But I seem to have a particular gift in conveying love that seems rare. I don't know if it's that some people (1)can't do it, (2)just don't know how to do it, or (3)don't bother doing it. (And of course there are the permutations of the combinations of those.) Regardless, when someone is important to me, I try to take the time to make sure they know I love them.
Tom heard the honesty in my heart as I reminded him that I love him and that he is my life partner.
The tiny glitches in the week melted away.
And things were fine in the kingdom.
PRESENTING OUR NEW FAMILY
Here are the three of us (left-to-right: Tom, Wes, david) at dinner the night of January 28. Do I look like a happy man?!!! Isn't Tom's fresh flat-top haircut hot?!!!
I'm the proud lover of a hot man
the proud Daddy of a hot boy!
Now, there are some significant symbolic aspects to this picture that need explaining:
- Tom is on my right. (We have always operated that way and that did not change with the addition of david.) david is on my left. I could very well have sat where david is, but did not want any symbolism reflecting that he comes between Tom and I. (It operates slightly differently at home, where Tom and I have our favorite chairs at the dinner table, but you get the idea.)
- We have on matching T-shirts. Not just any T-shirts, but the "1992 L/SM [Leather/SM] Round-Up" T-shirts from the clean & sober leather event where the three of us first met. (Not only that, but david is wearing the T-shirt of our mutual friend Emerson Briney who died in 1994. Emerson won the Mr. Drummer contest later that week in 1992.)
- My collar is on david. (In the leather community, a collar on a boy functions much as a wedding band does in straight life: It's a silent message that this person is taken.) I formally collared david earlier that afternoon in a ceremony with Tom present.
- We're sitting in the non-smoking section. (Tom and I both stopped smoking late last year.) I've been going to this restaurant for 14 years and had never sat at this table. The patch on david's left arm is a nicotine patch: he stopped smoking January 4. I'm proud to say that Tom and I's example was one of the reasons david decided to quit.
Frankly, it was time for changes. My life is pretty darn interesting, but I have been spending more time writing about my life -- both in Cool Site! updates and in e-mail -- than I enjoy or even have time for. So, I am making changes to concentrate more on living my life.
These changes are both by necessity yet also by choice. I am doing more around the house now that Tom is back in school. But I also got such a sense of accomplishment from getting the November and December issues of RITA! online (Research Initiative/Treatment Action!, an AIDS treatment information newsletter) onto the Web, that I've decided to shift Internet gears a bit and concentrate on getting more back issues online at that Web site for a while. That will take some time.
Related, Tom and I bought a file server January 15 to refresh my technical skills should I ever need to re-enter the job market. It will take some time to learn Microsoft Windows NT Server. (Essentially this will be my version of going back to school, reading thick NT books.)
One side-effect of having MY MAIL GET CLOGGED was coming to accept that I was relieved to not have any incoming mail to answer. Now, for people who have written me before, please do not take that statement wrong: I have gotten some wonderful notes from people and formed some very rich virtual friendships. It's just that I needed to put a brake on where my e-mail load was headed.
So, I've taken my e-mail address off the site to reduce my e-mail volume. Primarily that has meant removing the "mailto" field on any of the pages belonging to a Webring:
- People Wes Knew Who Have Died of AIDS (part of the AIDS Memorial Ring)
- T-cells, viral loads & drug decisions (part of the People Living With AIDS Ring)
- Gay Links (part of the Queer Ring)
- AIDS Links (part of the HIV Awareness Ring)
Similarly, I took our last names off the USA Today article and CFA certificate to retake a little privacy.
Wes & Tom's Cool Site! was launched two years ago as a resource for battling homophobia. (Two years???!!! My, how time flies! But check it out for yourself in the online journals: 1996, 19971/4, 19972/4, 19973/4, 19974/4, and 1998.)
Over time, Wes & Tom's Cool Site! evolved to chronicle the weekly happenings in our lives. But now with a new life focus (see LIFE CHANGES), it is time to refocus the site to its original purpose to better utilize my time. Effective after the February 13 update, there will be no further scheduled updates of the site.
This does not mean the site is going away nor that I'll let it get stale:
We will be preserving the premier content The Letter Wars as a reference for others, and I will update other sections (such as Things From Wes' Nose and T-cells, viral loads & drug decisions) when something crops up.
We both appreciate your love and support for these last two years. May the next two be as exciting!
COMPUTERS REMAIN A MAJOR PART OF OUR LIVES
Way back last April when I started volunteering at The Center for AIDS (CFA) when I was able, I changed my home computer to run Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Microsoft Office 97 Professional Edition to learn some of the ins and outs I might encounter at CFA.
Ever since, we'd been backing up my NT Workstation computer on Tom's machine over our home LAN. But then we discovered that a software product called ARCserve 6 For Windows NT will create a bootable floppy to do a restore without reinstalling NT first.
So we bought the software and an HP Colorado 5GB tape backup, only to discover that neither of us could make the software and the tape drive work together. Very weird.
This led to hours and hours of Computer Trauma to determine the problem and the solution:
The problem: The ARCserve software is so picky that it won't work with just any tape backup drive.
The solution: We exchanged the HP drive for a drive officially supported by ARCserve, an Exabyte Eagle TR-4i Minicartridge Tape Drive. (We would of course have bought a supported drive if we'd known about such a weird caveat beforehand.)
Kudos to CDW - Computer Discount Warehouse for making this pain in the a$$ as easy as possible. (In particular, CDW not only let us exchange the tape drives themselves, but also allowed us to return our three opened/used HP tapes -- which were slightly proprietary and would not work in the Exabyte drive. That was something they really didn't have to do and was much appreciated.)
Anyway, on with the story...
With Windows NT Workstation and Office 97 under my belt, we decided to buy a file server so that I could learn Windows NT Server.
But in addition to all that computer stuff, Tom had also given me a Memorex ReWritable CD Recorder and Adaptec Easy CD Creator for Christmas, so that's another computer project on the horizon -- albeit a fun one!
MORE ON "THOSE DARN TOES!"
(For new visitors: My toes get cold due to medication-caused nerve damage called "neuropathy." I've been chronicling my efforts to deal with my neuropathy in the hope that my experience can help others. There's further background information in THE SAGA OF THE TOES and MORE ABOUT MY NEUROPATHY. Following is new stuff I've learned since those writings.)
First off, when my toes are sending a "cold" signal to my brain, sometimes my toes are actually cold to the touch, but sometimes they are warm to the touch and just sending a false cold temperature sensation from the nerve. Think of the latter as kind of like a mirage: It seems like it's one thing, but it's really not.
Sometimes I can help my toes feel warmer, and sometimes I can not. But, I've come to realize that, contrary to what I expected, a positive outcome (the sensation of warm toes) doesn't seem to depend on if I start my warm-them-up-work when my toes are externally warm or externally cold to the touch. (I can think of hypotheses for why either situation would or would not work consistently. But there is apparently some randomness to it as well.) The bottom line is this: I can help my toes some of the time. And at other times I have no control over how they feel.
My thanks to the Sock Man at our local Oshman's Sporting Goods store who explained that to keep feet warm, cotton is out and polyester is in. The reason: If your feet perspire, cotton socks will absorb the moisture. Then wearing the cotton socks will be like wearing a wet gym towel. But polyester (and wool) has a "wicking" effect, drawing moisture away from the skin.
Currently popular are socks with any of several brands of what appear to be variations on hollow-core (and therefore insulating) polyester:
- DuPont's ThermaStat™
- 3M's Thinsulate™ and
- Thermax® (I couldn't find the manufacturer, but Hawks Sporting Outfitters is one source.)
The common denominator in a pair of socks with the above polyesters: They're expensive.
I tried Thorlos® ski socks1. (They're an official supplier to the U.S. ski team. The socks are available online from Campmor.) They are definitely comfortable socks, and seemed to help. But at $15/pair I think they're overpriced. (I also found Thorlos® hiking socks online that might be better cushioned, but I have not personally tried them. Those socks are at Rocky Mountain Connection and REI.)
1NOTE: One major sucky thing about these socks, at least for how we do laundry, is that the directions include this statement: "LIQUID FABRIC SOFTENERS are critical to receive full benefit of the product design."
The $5.53/pair boot socks (shipping included) from Stompers Boots get my best-buy recommendation. The socks are not listed on their Web site, but if you call their toll-free number, 1-888-BOOTMAN, they'll ship 'em to you. (BUT, you will need to get at least one pair of larger shoes if you want to use these socks with regular shoes. Otherwise the socks' thickness will constrict blood flow to the toes. See SAS tips, below.) These socks are the "Wick-Dry® 7586 Outlander" from Fox River Mills. They are made of:
- 65% "turbo high-bulk acrylic"
- 20% worsted wool
- 15% stretch nylon(Having already fried one pair so that now it is too small, be aware of the care instructions: Tumble dry with no heat.)
Also, for those who can't afford new socks right away: If you currently have cotton socks you can help your toes stay warm by changing them every 30 minutes or so, cycling through about 3 pair so that they dry out between wearings. It's a hassle, but it helps. (And yes, I had to break through the psychological wall of "My toes are freezing -- I can't take off my shoes and socks [which normally warm my feet]!" Trust me, sometimes just taking the socks off will make the toes feel warm. I know it's counter-intuitive.)
OTHER TOE TIPS
- I've noticed that when I'm walking and my feet are physically hitting the ground that I don't seem to notice the neuropathy as much.
- I'm going to try a TENS (transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation) unit to see if that helps. In addition to neuropathy, a TENS can be used for back pain and other therapeutic applications! >: )
- On a whim, I tried a $29.99 Conair Massaging Cushion with Heat, wondering if the combination of massage and heat would be more effective than heat alone. At least for me, the massage comes across in my neuropathy as more of a tickle than a relief. But that's kind of amusing in and of itself...
- Now some tips passed along from one of the coolest ladies around, who will remain unnamed for privacy:
Looked through my SAS Survival Guide1 book, written by those studly guys from the British Army. Also referred to my survival courses taken while in the wilds of Alberta.
1 (The SAS is the Special Air Service, an elite unit of the British Army, basically yer department of dirty tricks.)
The book is called The SAS Survival Handbook and covers all aspects of survival, from making an igloo to butchering the family dog, with gripping chapters on edible seaweed and trapping wild animals (4 techniques, mangle, dangle, tangle, and strangle - sounds like Saturday night chez moi).
All remedies deal with cold toes brought about by external circumstances, i.e. cold weather, but here they are:
- Put on a hat. 75% of the body's heat loss occurs through the head and neck.
- Make sure your shoes aren't too tight, or your socks aren't too fuzzy thereby making your shoes too tight.
- Find a friend and ask him to unbutton his shirt. Stick your toes on his tummy. [I tried this one February 4, 1998 and it works wonders, at least temporarily. Plus, it's fun!]
- Or as a last resort strip naked, get your friend to strip naked too, and get into a sleeping bag together (I'm not making this up - those studly SAS guys know a thing or two about staying warm).
My thanks & hugs to my wonderful friend for passing along the above tips! (I can't wait to try out #4...)
- My January 21 bloodwork is back. (This is the first bloodwork since my neuropathy mandated a MEDICATION CHANGE three weeks prior.) My viral load remains undetectible -- which is the important thing -- though my T-cells did take a drop. Frankly even if I only get this 50% improvement I feel in my neuropathy, it was worth the change.
- Our friend Jeff, who was my host at Folsom Street Fair this past year came to town for Mike Geinzer's memorial service January 31st.
- Lance, our hunky relationship counselor, had an interesting take on meeting david in the context of our Daddy/boy relationship: Lance said that while this was one of the most interesting sessions he'd had in a long time, he was not equipped to give advice for a relationship that has a power dynamic as a central part of it. In particular, he felt that his advice might destabilize the power dynamic since he is accustomed to treating each partner in an egalitarian (American Heritage Dictionary: an adherent of the doctrine of equal political, economic, and legal rights for all human beings) manner. He explained further that under his training, I'd been handling the session all wrong. (This is someone I have years of history with.) BUT, that he felt that how I was handling myself was probably appropriate for the dynamic. Pretty perceptive for a vanilla guy, eh?!
- Sunday January 18 I gave a presentation on "Erotic Electricity" for a local group called HEEL (Houston Encourages and Educates Leather). It was my fourth time in the last five years to give this hands-on demonstration. (The previous three symposiums were National Leather Association:Houston educational events during Gay Pride Week.)
- While david was in town, we took a nine hour Red Cross course in Community First Aid & Safety (primarily CPR training)
- This from a box presently in our playroom:
"For Tuff Jobs, Choose the Tuf-Tug® web-strap or cable hoist / puller."
(I chose the TT1-15C cable hoist -- well, actually four of them -- with 1,000 pounds of lift. Just $29.95 each...)Ohio Hoist & Puller
3300 Encote Lane
Moraine, OH 45439
- Hey, the Cool Site! passed its 24,000th unique visitor January 27th!
& Tom's Cool Site
The Letter Wars (aka The Homophobe Hellhole)
Things From Wes' Nose | Things From Wes' Mind
© 1998 by Wes