Thursday, June 28, 2001

The day that I have my first voice lesson

Well as the title suggests, I had my first lesson with Melinda McDonaldtoday and it was wonderful. She was saying that I really needed to work on my breathing, because when I inhale to sing, I already am stressed, and there were a million other things that she and I talked about, but breathing was the major topic. I have a lesson each week on Thursday mornings, which is totally fabulous. There's not much going on otherwise, I got the review for the Chicago "Midwest Pride" show, and I'll put that on here when I update. The bed guys came in today and replaced the siderails on our bed, because somehow we broke them. I won't even start to talk about that :-) I have been thinking a lot about David, and how our lives are so similar, I don't know, I think about him a lot, and he seems not to be talking to me at this point (either that, or he never checks his email.) There's really not too much going on these days, I sent in that disposable camera to OFOTO because they have free developing for your first roll, so I'm waiting on that. It was the roll of film that I took up at the Shook building, on the 31st floor or whatever it was, and then Follies! the HMC show, and I'm sure there's some various other pictures as well. That's all for now.

Saturday, June 16, 2001

Growing Your Dream

So I've been wanting to write this for a while, actually ever since I got back from Florida, so I'm just going to bite the bullet and do it. I was reading Mary Mainn Morrissey's "Building Your Field Of Dreams" while I was in Florida, and I thought it was a brilliant idea to put the synopsis of the end of the chapters in my journal so I can refer back to them again and again.

Growing Your Dream

1.) Set your intention. What is the life you want to be living? Your focused intention will move through the energy field of all possibilities and draw it to the substance that will produce that crop of your life. Thoughts held in mind reproduce after their kind. That's the nature of the universe. Practice telling yourself "Where I place my attention, I place my intention." Buy a "dream journal" and comit to paper the deepest longings of your heart.
2.) Test your dream with five essential questions: Do you feel passion for your dream? Does the dream align with your values? Do you need God for your dream because the dream is bigger than something that you can accomplish on your own? Will the dream bring good to you by moving you closer to your true self? And finally Will your dream bring good to others?
3.) Commit to your dream mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We find ourselves breaking commitments all the time, disappointing others as well as ourselves. For your dream to come true, you've got to stick with it, pledging yourself to a particular course of action. As you commit, you willingly take steps toward your dream, proceeding even as doubts arise, even when you do not have all the answers.

Deserving:
Building a Deeper Belief in You

1.) Focus on the good to enhance your sense of worthiness. Circumstances are bad only if you perceive them as such. Instead of panicking when life appears to throw you a curve, wait and invite God to reveal the good. Then give yourself the same benefit of the doubt. Believe in your "orignial innocence." You make mistance out of ignorance, not fom a core of evil. You are inherently good because God created you. Beginning now, stop being a victim. Decide to become a co-creator - an architect of your own life-who benefits from each step of the process.
2.) Stop dragging your own baggage. It's hard to move confidently into the life you have imagined if you're lugging deadweight. When you persist in carrying the baggage of your childhood, your shame, or your belief that you are unloveable, you have no room for greater possibilities. Let go of uncumbrances by indentifying and releasing your baggage.
3.)Practice gratitude to increase your sense of deserving. An "attitude of gratitud" enables you to construct your dream on a sold foundation of deserving. Being by spending a day giving thanks to those you've criticized. From there, build a pattern of daily gratitude. When we begin to appreciate those we once condemned or took for granted, the field around the object of our appreciation broadens, attracting to itself even greater good.

Intrusion:

A Companion Called Fear

1.) Recognize and master your own Delilahs. Fear can doll itself up in some pretty alluring disguises, and if you're not careful, you can waste all your precious dream-building energy on losing proposition. What is distracting you from your dream? So long as we allow our fear to busy our fingers or numb our minds, we don't have the energy available for building the reality of our deeper desiers. When you shut down your senses, you're less alive. By the same token, when you sharpen those sensations that let you know you're alive, you begin to master your own Delilahs.
2.) Feed your faith and starve your fear. Help your dreams grow by serving them with several helpings of loving attention each day. Should your fears shove their way to the table, refuse to serve them. At the very least, say no to a second helping. If nourished, fears tend to develop gluttonous appetities that can swallow your dreams whole.
3.)Be willing to wrong on your way to being right. The trail leading to the mountaintop is full of switchbacks. It may seem that you're covering three times the ground as you slowly ascend the mountain, but imagine how difficult your climb would be if you had to hike straight up. We are guided first in one direction and then the other for good reason. As you move vigorin the direction of your dream, remain pliable so that God may help you to your true destination.

Abundance


The Gift of Constant Circulation

1) Take the good you have and bless it. To build a greater life dream, turn your attention from "only" thinking - "I only have this or that" - and replace it with blessing. If you hold your breath too long, you become unconscious. The life-giving act of breating requires you to exhale as much as you inhale. So fill the world around you with a portion of your worth and you yourself with become replenished.
2.) Recognize that there is one source but many channels. Your source has infinte ways to bless you. If your bank account is high, you might feel prosperous. If an emergency wipes you out the next day, you may label yourself poor. Yet you have not changed. By aligning ourselves with our source, from which all channels flow, we remain prosperous, regardless of our circumstances.
3.) Circulate to accelerate. Put yourself in the practive of giving without without worrying what you'll recieve in return. Give your time, talent, and treasure. Think of tithing as training wheels. Begin with 5 or ten percent of your income, and once you establish a balanced flow, you'll be able to take off those wheels and live freely in a spirit of giving that feels as natural as riding a bike.

Illumination
Lighting the Path to Forgiveness

1,) Learn to seperate the being from the behavior. You may never forgive some terrible act perpetrated upon you, but you can learn to forgive the perpetrator. When you move beyond your outrage, you can begin to heal. Practice seeing the other person as a child of God who has forgotten his true self. You can forgive someone who has amnesia and acts out of gross confusion. As you practice forgiving the being, not necessarily the behavior, you find yourself able to direct your creative energies toward rebuilding your dream.
2.) Recognize that you don't know the whole story. The next time someone cuts you off on the freeway or cancels and dinner date, create a plausible life story for the individual. This is not to say that you excuse rude, offensive behavior. What you're doing is empowering yourself. You can see, from your greater perspective, that the petty acts of an unhappy individual do not have to damage you.
3.) Ask for help in removing the poison of resentment. Experiment with different techniques: meditation, visualization, or even an unorthodox prayer. Resentment taints our dreams' you cannhot hope to grow a healthy dram in toxic soil. Even when we tell ourselves we've forgiven, we frequently have done so halfheartedly. Forgiving is done with your entire heart. Begin each day by asking God "What should I forgive?"

Guidance
Recognizing the Voice of Inspired Though

1.) Acknowledge the inner nudge towards outer motion. The know voice of God persistently nudges us in the direction of our highest good by way of a path that often confounds the logical mind. This voice will do whatever is necessary to get your attention. It may provide you with a message as seemingly mundane as "go to the singles potluck" or it may call upon you to bungee-jump out of your current exisistence
2.) Build a relationship with the still, small voice of inspired insight. The voice for God can become as familiar and resonant as that of your best friend. You develop a friendship by spending time with your friend, and you develop a relationship with God by listening to that still, small voice. Even so, it's not always easy to distinguish the voice amid the cacophony that plays in our minds. We can quiet our minds through prayer. And we are provided clues to the voice in the form of what seems to be coincidence. Listen for the harmony in order to decipher the higher meaning.
3.) Go to the edge of the light you see. Until you take a step you remain in the dark, where nothing but th emost dire solution to any problem is visible. The light you carry may illuminate only one step at a time, but as you move forward the next step will be revealed.

Ingenuity
Building a Bigger Believing

1.) Create a partners in believing group of like-minded individuals and meet weekly to build the blueprint for your dream. Choose people who will keep the believing in you even when you cannot. Your partners will ask" Suppose the dream weren't impossible. What would be the first thing you'd do?" This will help expand your believing and keep you moving forward.
2.) Lift your thinking into the genius mind. The genius of the universe dreamed you up and carved a genius inside all of our beings. But many of us cannot identity our inner genius through all the slashes of dissapointment. Once you discover that inner genius, you move past perveiced limits into outrageous thinking, where brilliant ideas move you into your dream.
3.) Practice five steps to renew your faith. If you're trapped in a phone booth, it's hard to see further than your immediate problem. When you possess a mountaintop view, however, everything that troubles you looks so much smaller. From this higher perspective, your faith can be renewed. Jot down the five steps for renewal on a peice of paper to elevate your thinking to a higher level: God Is. I am. The truth is. Let go. Thank you, God.

Failure
Finding Meaning in the Defeated Dream

1.) Before you declare defeat, take inventory. There is a time to give up and a time to persist. When you reach a oint where you do not know the proper direction, pause and ask God for a sign. Pray, "This, or something better." Pay attention, and you will be either granted renewed vigor for your dream or redirected to an even grander vision. Check your perspective. Often, how you look at your experience determines the difference between success and failure. Retest your dream to see if it sill enlivens you with a passion and purpose that will help you grow and benefit others.
2.) Make a stand for better over bitter. Great dream-builders refuse to become embittered even in the face of tremendous loss. If you refuse bitterness and choose to become better, you will find an inner resevoir from which to draw renewed strength, and the inspiration and courage to keep going or to begin again.
3.) Use your failure to move through the levels of awareness. In the initial phase, you feel like a victim who frequently is wondering, WHY ME? As you cast off blame, you feel a new control: You are responsible for your own experience. You realize the great power you wield through your thinking and can direct that power toward a desired end. You expeirnece life from personal power, life BY ME. Deeper and more meaningful dreams are built as your release personal control and engage in co-creation with God. Here you align your will with God's and allow a higher power to work THROUGH ME.

Impact
Harvesting Your Dream

The field is ready.
The seed is good.
Your life is willing.
Plant, my friend.
Your harvest is assured


WHOOP THERE IT IS!!

Thursday, June 14, 2001

The Day that Bette Middler came and visisted me

So I had a dream about Bette last night, and it was so hysterical, because it was at an awards ceremony, something like the grammy's or something, and she was presenting an award, I don't know the category, but she was nominated in the category that she was presenting in, and it was so hysterical, because she was also presenting via satellite from one of her concerts, and she was all dallied up in her mermaid costume, but the thing was that it wasn't the Bette Middler mermaid, it was the Cher mermaid from that film, I forget the name of it, it's the one where Cher sings "It's in His KIss" Anyway, then it turned out that I was in Bette's house, and she was making dinner, (it must have been a flashback before) and then during dinner she was saying that one of the women that was in the category with her was Juice Newton. She said "I hate that bitch Juice Newton, I'll throw a daquari in her hair if she wins!!" I just thought that was way to hysterical. I have to fix the

I have been reading this Dalai Lama book Ethics for a New Millenium; and it's just fascinating. Better yet, he's so fascinating. I love reading those types of books, because you get so much insight from it, I read when I was in Flordia Building Your Field of Dreams by Mary Mainn Morrissey, and it also was tremendous. Anyway, I'll try and fix that page when I get to it, I'm not going to cry over spilled milk. So Richard had his first seminar this week on Wednesday for his new business, and I thought it was a wonderful success. Kathleen and Elsa and I helped out with the tables and getting everything prepared for the people that came, and I do have to say that it was actually a positive experience in relation to Kathleen. We were both very nice and cordial, although it was a distant cordial, but then we all went out to dinner afterwards at Howard's Steak House on the plaza, and that too, was very nice and cordial, and a positive experience. It was nice. I was telling Richard that I thought it was because that Kathleen and I were there to help Richard, and we both could agree on that, and it had nothing to do with anyone but him. So anyway, I'll take whatever positive I can get out of that situation, and that certainly was positive. Now let's wait for the cohorting faction to report on this journal. The only thing is that it's totally positive, I refuse to start any drama, especially with everything that is going on in my life, and Richard's life right now. Speaking of busy lives, our show is coming up on Saturday June 16, and Sunday June 17, and then we take it on the road to Chicago the next weekend for the Chicago pride. Richard also decided to take the bus with all the boys for that weekend, so it'll be so much fun with the bus! That's it for today!

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Kansas City Star Covers the HMC

Men's chorus members identify with teased hero of new musical
By KAREN UHLENHUTH The Kansas City Star
Date: 06/13/01 22:15

Rick Fisher knows the anguish of Oliver, the belittled and humiliated protagonist of the children's book Oliver Button Is a Sissy. So does Randy Hite. Peter Northcott has been there, and ditto for Joe Nadeau.

"The situation the book describes is something many of us could identify with -- the feeling that we didn't fit, or were different from `normal' boys," Fisher said. He's the executive director of the Heartland Men's Chorus. The other three men sing in the choir.

The tale of the boy who was ostracized because he preferred singing and dancing to playing ball with the boys "has a powerful resonance for us," Fisher noted. That's why this weekend, the Heartland Men's Chorus will perform a musical adaptation of Tomie dePaola's story.

Heartland joined with three other gay men's choruses in commissioning a musical version of Oliver Button. A couple of years ago Nadeau, the choir's musical director, received a copy of the book from a friend with the men's chorus in the Twin Cities.

"By the time I was done (reading it), I was crying," Nadeau said. "I thought, `This is my story.' "

The musical, about 25 minutes long, features a soloist in the role of Oliver. The singers will be accompanied by a small instrumental ensemble. Children in the audience will be invited to sit onstage during the performance. Fisher is excited that the author, dePaola, will narrate the story.

"It's like having a star on your marquee," he said.

Several chorus members saw parts of themselves, and their early years, in the story of Oliver Button. For Nadeau, it was Oliver's passion for the stage and make-believe.

He and two younger brothers used to "present musicals and plays and dress up and make my mother laugh. My favorite pastime was to go in the attic, put on costumes and act out characters. The safety is that there's no one around to make fun of you."

Oliver Button was no good at sports. Neither was Nadeau.

"I remember kids would tease me. Kids were grabbing my lunch or my bookbag and tossing it around. I was called `sissy' a lot."
His thick, dark glasses and buck teeth -- the result of a tumble -- didn't help matters any.

That aspect of childhood hasn't changed much. As the music director at St. Agnes Church and school in Roeland Park, Nadeau said, "I see this stuff happen a lot. Kids want so desperately to be liked. There's a lot of teasing, whether it's `sissy' or `stupid.'... There are lots of ways to isolate kids. I try to stop it."

Randy Hite, another chorister, remembers that when he was a schoolboy, life was never more unpleasant than at the bus stop in the mornings. It was a sort of no man's land, between the safety of home and the controlled chaos of the schoolgrounds in Raytown. In the absence of any adults, Hite felt vulnerable to attack by bullies at any moment.

"I'd try to ignore 'em. I'd pretend I didn't hear them. I'd try not to look at them so I wouldn't attract their attention. I'd pray the bus would hurry and get there.

"The word I heard over and over and over was, I was a `fag.' I didn't know what the word meant. I wasn't tough. I didn't play rough and tumble."

Hite remembers struggling to fit in.

"I tried to pretend I liked this girl in the ninth grade. That's what everybody else was doing."

Blending in was his mission.

"I didn't want any undue attention on me. I was a good student. Sometimes I thought that's what it was, I was smart like a girl."

When he enrolled in college, Hite finally found his niche and felt a great sense of relief. But for years there would still be awkward moments, reminders of his differentness.

"I used to hate going to the hardware store," he said. "I didn't know a screw from a nut. And going to get my car fixed, I had to pretend I knew what I was talking about.

"I had to work through that, feeling OK that I don't know this or that. I'm good at certain things."

Although Oliver Button hits home with many of the gay men in the Heartland Men's Chorus, Hite sees it as speaking to much more than the matter of sexuality.

"It's broader than that," he said. "It's gender stereotypes."

During his years in a Lutheran elementary school in a Detroit suburb, Peter Northcott, another chorus member, felt free to be himself -- to play dress-up with girls.

But then came time for him to transfer to a public high school. Northcott bought a wardrobe of "flashy fun stuff" that he couldn't wait to share with his new classmates. The first day of school, he recalls, he wore a pair of purple bellbottoms -- one leg lighter than the other -- and a matching purple top with a huge yellow smiley face on it, and a macrame belt.

"Really fashionable," he thought to himself.

Really big mistake, actually.

"The minute I walked in the door, it was like I had a bull's-eye on me," he remembers. "I was the target of every expletive imaginable. I had no idea what they were talking about. These people would chase me down the hall. I thought, `What is going on that you'd attack me?' I couldn't go anywhere without being called a nasty name."

Even students who'd been his friend when they were younger spurned him.

"All of a sudden they weren't my friends," he said. "They felt the peer pressure."

The minute the bell rang during his last class, Northcott was out of there. He didn't take shop ("I would have killed to take shop.") He avoided the theater crowd "like the plague," certain that associating with them would only make him a bigger target.

"There were things I would have liked to do, but I was scared I would be teased. The minute the bell rang, I made a beeline for home. I missed out on so many neat, enriching things."

In the past few years, Northcott said, he has learned new skills, pursued opportunities that he was "too intimidated to do in high school." And he has made some discoveries about himself that might have surprised his former schoolmates.

"I found out I'm athletic, and I'm even good at building things."

Rick Fisher, the chorus' executive director and a preacher's kid who heard about his "missionary barrel" wardrobe, hopes that this weekend's performances may lead to new understandings for those in the audience, both adults and children.

Although the choir is a collection of gay men, he said, "We are trying not to make this a gay story. It's an important message that our society needs: that each child needs respect. Because its impact on us is so great, we're the ones bringing it."

Northcott hopes that among those in the audience, "The light may go on, that diversity makes us good. If you have an Oliver or a Peter, they have something to give, even though you may not know what it is."

Tuesday, June 12, 2001

SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

This is an article about the Supreme Court I got off of ISCA

NY Times
June 12, 2001

SUPREME COURT ROUNDUP

Top Court Gives Religious Clubs Equal Footing in Grade Schools
By LINDA GREENHOUSE
WASHINGTON, June 11 Q The Supreme Court ruled today that public schools must open their doors to after-school religious activities, including those that involve young children, on the same basis as any other after-hours activity that school policy permits. The 6-to-3 decision extended to elementary school property the same constitutional principle the court has already applied to public high schools and colleges: that the expression of a religious viewpoint is speech, protected by the First Amendment against discrimination and entitled on a neutral basis to access to public facilities that are open to other speakers. Letting the Good News Club, an evangelical Christian organization, use a room in an upstate New York school building on the same basis as other groups "would ensure neutrality, not threaten it," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority. The decision overturned a ruling last year by the federal appeals court in Manhattan, which held that in excluding the club, the Milford, N.Y., school district was not discriminating against religious speech but was following a valid policy of not permitting "quintessentially religious" subjects to be taught on school property. Beyond reiterating the court's well-established neutrality principle, the significance of the opinion today lay in the court's rejection of the argument that young children are particularly vulnerable to mistaking equal access for official endorsement and that the rules should thus be different for elementary school. "We cannot say the danger that children would misperceive the endorsement of religion is any greater than the danger that they would perceive a hostility toward the religious viewpoint if the club were excluded from the public forum," Justice Thomas said. The others in the majority were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy andStephen G. Breyer, who provided the sixth vote with a rather equivocal concurring opinion. Justices John Paul Stevens and David H. Souter wrote dissenting opinions, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg signing Justice Souter's opinion. The dissenters offered a substantially different characterization than did the majority of the activity the Good News Club conducted as soon as the school day ended at the Milford Central School. While Justice Thomas described it as teaching character and values from a religious point of view, both dissenting opinions said the activity consisted of worship and evangelizing. "It is beyond question that Good News intends to use the public school premises not for the mere discussion of a subject from a particular, Christian point of view," Justice Souter said, "but for an evangelical service of worship calling children to commit themselves in an act of Christian conversion." The majority's description "ignores reality," he said. Good News Clubs are sponsored by a national organization, the Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc., which described itself in a brief to the court as seeking to "evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ." The fellowship, based in Warrenton, Mo., operates in 142 countriesand has 4,622 Good News Clubs in the United States, 527 of which meet on school property. Although Justice Thomas insisted that "the club's activities do not constitute mere religious worship, divorced from any teaching of moral values," it was not clear what difference, if any, that distinction made to the majority's analysis. "At least five justices see no distinction between talking about religion, worshipping and recruiting young children to the faith," the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said today. Mr. Lynn, a lawyer, predicted the decision would "create a battlefield out of America's elementary schools." In New York City, Karen Finney, a spokeswoman for the Board of Education, said, "my understanding is that as a general matter of policy it is not permitted to have religious meetings to avoid excessive entanglement issues." Religious groups, she said, can hold nonreligious meetings so long as they do not collect fees. For example, a church could hold a meeting national welfare policy, she said, but not a prayer service.and has 4,622 Good News Clubs in the United States, 527 of which meet on school property. Although Justice Thomas insisted that "the club's activities do not constitute mere religious worship, divorced from any teaching of moral values," it was not clear what difference, if any, that distinction made to the majority's analysis. "At least five justices see no distinction between talking about religion, worshipping and recruiting young children to the faith," the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said today. Mr. Lynn, a lawyer, predicted the decision would "create a battlefield out of America's elementary schools." In New York City, Karen Finney, a spokeswoman for the Board of Education, said, "my understanding is that as a general matter of policy it is not permitted to have religious meetings to avoid excessive entanglement issues." Religious groups, she said, can hold nonreligious meetings so long as they do not collect fees. For example, a church could hold a meeting national welfare policy, she said, but not a prayer service."In light of the ruling," she added, "we'll have to review the policy in order to ensure that the school system acts constitutionally." Edwin Darden, senior staff attorney for the National School Boards Association, said the decision placed local school boards in a difficult position, threatening local control and "setting up a competition between different religious groups trying to gain the religious fidelity of children." He said the option of closing elementary schools to all outside groups, while permissible under the ruling, would not often prove a practical or attractive one. The Good News Club drew support from a wide spectrum of religious organizations, including the National Council of Churches and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations. Other Jewish groups supported the school district, which is between Albany and Syracuse. The American Center for Law and Justice, a legal group affiliated with the Rev. Pat Robertson, said the decision "clearly shows there is no constitutional crisis created when a religious organization receives the same treatment afforded to other organizations," according to Jay Sekulow, its chief counsel. In 1993, Mr. Sekulow argued and won another religion case from New York,court held that school property must be open to outside groups with religious messages if other messages were permitted. The Lamb's Chapel case involved an adult activity during evening hours, the showing of a Christian film series. A major question in the case today, Good News Club v. Milford Central School, No. 99-2036, was whether the same analysis should apply to activities for young children, ranging in age from 6 to 12, that begin as soon as the school day ends. Another question was whether the school district could defend excluding the group as necessary to avoid violating the separation of church and state, as the First Amendment's Establishment Clause requires. But the court's precedents made clear that "the school has no valid Establishment Clause interest," Justice Thomas wrote. The court decided six cases today, leaving 14 to go before the justices bring the term to a close. A transition was marked in the courtroom this morning as Chief Justice Rehnquist welcomed Theodore B. Olson, newly confirmed as solicitor general. The chief justice expressed the court's appreciation to Barbara Dcourt held that school property must be open to outside groups with religious messages if other messages were permitted. The Lamb's Chapel case involved an adult activity during evening hours, the showing of a Christian film series. A major question in the case today, Good News Club v. Milford Central School, No. 99-2036, was whether the same analysis should apply to activities for young children, ranging in age from 6 to 12, that begin as soon as the school day ends. Another question was whether the school district could defend excluding the group as necessary to avoid violating the separation of church and state, as the First Amendment's Establishment Clause requires. But the court's precedents made clear that "the school has no valid Establishment Clause interest," Justice Thomas wrote. The court decided six cases today, leaving 14 to go before the justices bring the term to a close. A transition was marked in the courtroom this morning as Chief Justice Rehnquist welcomed Theodore B. Olson, newly confirmed as solicitor general. The chief justice expressed the court's appreciation to Barbara DUnderwood, a deputy solicitor general in the Clinton administration who served an unusually long time as acting solicitor general because of Mr. Olson's confirmation battle. These were among the day's other developments: Sex and Citizenship By a 5-to-4 vote, the court upheld the constitutionality of a provision of immigration law that treats differently the mothers and fathers of children born out of wedlock overseas when only one parent is a United States citizen. If the mother is the citizen, the child is deemed an American citizen at birth. But a citizen-father in the same circumstance must take affirmative steps to acknowledge paternity, like a sworn statement or court order, before the child turns 18. The provision was challenged as unconstitutional sex discrimination by the American father of a Vietnamese-born son, whom the father had brought to the United States at the age of 6 and raised in Texas. But the father, Joseph Boulais, did not take the required formal steps to acknowledge his son, Tuan Anh Nguyen, who at the age of 22 was ordered deported after pleading guilty to sexual assault. The Board of Immigration Appeals, in a decision upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, rejected the argument that the son was actually an American citizen and thus not subject to deportation. Writing for the court today, Justice Kennedy said the law's sex-based distinction was constitutional because "fathers and mothers are not similarly situated with regard to the proof of biological parenthood." He said the distinction was not based on an impermissible stereotype but on a valid interest in assuring not just genetic parenthood Q which could be established by a DNA test Q but on "facilitation of a relationship" between the child and the American citizen parent. The opinion, Nguyen v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, No. 99-2071, was joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and by Justices Stevens, Scalia and Thomas. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote a strongly worded dissenting opinion that Justices Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer joined. "No one should mistake the majority's analysis for a careful application of this court's equal-protection jurisprudence concerning sex-based classifications," she said, calling the decision an "aberration" and "deviation" from the court's scrupulous examination of sex discrimination. The majority opinion, she said, "may itself simply reflect the stereotype of male irresponsibility that is no more a basis for the validity of the classification than are stereotypes about the `traditional' behavior patterns of women." Death Sentence Acting on the basis of the decision last week in the case of a retarded death-row inmate, Johnny Paul Penry, the court overturned the death sentence of another Texas inmate whose sentencing jury had received the same deficient instruction on how to consider mitigating evidence. Justice O'Connor, writing for the majority in the Penry case, found that the instruction had not permitted the jurors "to make a reasoned moral response" to the mitigating evidence he offered of his retardation and his history of severe abuse as child. The inmate in this case, Mark Robertson, who was convicted in 1991 of three murders, is not retarded but sought to argue that the abuse he suffered in childhood led to his loss of self-control. His death sentence was upheld six months ago by the Fifth Circuit on the basis of the same analysis that the Supreme Court rejected last week. The court today did not issue an opinion, simply instructing the Fifth Circuit to reconsider the case, Robertson v. Johnson, No. 00-1479, in light of the Penry decision.

Monday, June 11, 2001

The day that my skin recovers

Well I got back from Florida yesterday, and I had the most wonderful time hanging out with my two neices, Gabby and Juliana. Of course it was great to see my sister and her husband Joe, and my parents and Laurie and Ralph also. I have gotten a bunch of pictures scanned, so hopefully I can add those to this journal as well. The two girls are just so wonderful, they have such vastly different personalities and they are just both growing up so fast. Well, let me try and start from the beginning. I flew down and was picked up by my parents at the Tampa airport, and then we went on down to the Boardwalk where my parents have stayed for years and years. It was so great to be back there again. I think my Mom hit it right on the nose when she said that there is such a familiarity with our family and being down in Englewood because we've been going down there ever since I can remember, and my parents go every year at about the same time. So we jumped in the pool on Sunday afternoon, and it was just a luxury. The heat was tremendous though, it was so intense. It was so wonderful to see my sister and her two daughters Gabby and Juliana. Gabby is turning into such a big girl, and Juliana is such a stitch. Here's a picture of Cara and Jules at the resteraunt Barnacle Bill's that we have been going to for years and year and years

So we set off for a week of rest and relaxation, and that was what it was. I stayed with my parents in Unit #1, Cara and Joe and the girls were in #4, Laurie and Ralph were in #6. So we all hung out all week, and it was just wonderful. One of the most amazing experiences I had when I was there was watching an endangered sea turtle lay her eggs on the beach right in front of me. I was actually on the phone with Richard on the beach, and it was probably 11:30pm Florida time which meant it was 10:30 at home, I think it was Tuesday night, I'm not sure though. Anyway, I was walking out into the beach at night, when I stopped because there was this HUGE mass in front of me, at first I thought it was a peice of wood or something, but when my eyes adjusted, I saw the thing MOVE. It was so beautiful, it's hard to express in words. I could make out the outline of an immense turtle! It was one of those huge sea turtles laying her eggs! So the turtle was probably half-way done when I got there, and she was laying in the hole that she dug, and then pushing the sand over her eggs with her flippers. When she was done with that, she turned around in the hold she dug, and started to make her way back to the ocean. It was truly remarkable to see this happening right in front of me. She laid her eggs, and then returned to her home, the ocean. The next morning, I checked to see if her nest had been protected, and it had been. There are people that come around in the early, early morning that check all the beaches for turtle nests, and when they find them they barracade around them so that no one can disturb them. I was very happy to see that they had done that with the one right in front of the Boardwalk. What an amazing experience though, to see that all happening two or three feet away from me. I brought home some sharks teeth and some shells for the new townhome and for Richard. I thought that I would give some of the sharks teeth to Elsa, because she makes jewelry, and they would make great necklaces. It was bittersweet to think about coming home after one short week, but on the other hand I was glad to get home. I don't know if I could've handled the sun much longer than one week. I have much more to say, and now that I have access to a scanner, I'll try and update this page, and my other pages much more frequently. That's all for now.

This is an email that I got last night from David that had me in tears because I was laughing so hard!!

First of all I need to tell you that I was on AOL last night and was instant messaged by a guy: "Hello David. Do you know who this is?" I looked at his profile---the details were skimpy, just that he likes leather, poppers, and watersports. Seven inch penis. There was a Madonna quote at the bottom. I decided it couldn't have been anyone I actually *dated*. I went to his homepage, and the pieces all fell into place when, underneath a graphic of a little man running around peeing on everying, up came a picture of..... Steve Alsbury. He commented that he just got an invitation to his high school reunion and wanted to find a gorgeous guy to take with him and make out with on the dance floor. He wants to show everyone the new, thin, gay Steve. I wanted to bring up that girlfriend of his--the one he knocked up--but thought better of it. I mentioned that the last time I saw him was at Hunters, where he was clearly totally unimpressed by my presence. The chat ended when he found a guy named Luke with a 8x7 uncut cock to come over and play with him. Oh my god, but that's not the only blast from the past I've had this week. Do you remember a girl named Lindsey Frieders? You may remember her as the lone girl I attempted any kind of formal dating scene with as a freshman. I took her to some dance or other---a corsage, our parents taking pictures of us, creepy slow dancing, the whole deal. I walked into the White Hen by my house to get some cigarettes and who was my cashier? That would be Lindsey. "Daaaaaaave!" she squealed. "Lindseeey," I muttered in muted horror. Let me just take a moment to describe her fully awful appearance: whatever wieght Mr. Alsbury lost, SHE found; her hair was unwashed and greasy, hanging limply about her shoulders; she was wearing 1987-model acid-washed denim overalls, and one of those round holographic necklaces with a 3-D eyeball in the center. Oh, and she smelled. She said, "I was just looking at our pictures from the dance! I was thinking about you!" I didn't have the heart to say, "Oh yeah, the pictures. I shredded mine, then burned them." She continued, "I only live a couple of blocks down the road..." Of course, since I also live only a couple of blocks down the road, I told her I'm living in Andersonville and was just passing through to visit my parents! She informed me that she "just had [her] high school graduation ceremony last week." It seems she's just gotten around to getting her G.E.D. She said, "The next time you come in here, we'll have to exchange phone numbers!" I was just like, "yeah, let's do that." The good part is, after seeing her, I feel WAAAAY less bad about my life, because here's someone doing *even worse* wallowing in a far more pungent stench of their own, more constipated existence! On the negative side, I'll never be able to shop at that White Hen again. I also felt a mild twinge of satisfaction when Steven (who just returned from Puerto Vallarta with his true love, the vomit-inducing Odie), fell into a pothole and twisted his ankle. It's strange how adoration can take on a sinister edge of malice in certain circumstances. I would never wish harm on Steven, of course, but it did put a tiny grin on my face for a split second that his **vacation of loooove** would be capped by physical injury. Ken is having gastrointestinal surgery on October 16th. I'm absolutely beside myself with distress. I'm trying to be upbeat but I fear he will die in the hospital, and I just cannot--CANNOT--live in a Ken-less world.

David

This is a part of an email that I got from the owner of Buddies that is talking about the Chicago pride weekend.

this is a landmark event called Out at the Park. The date is June 23 whichis the Saturday of pride weekend...the day before the pride parade. This is the first time that the Cubs organization has reached out to the gay community and is even advertising in the gay papers. Unfortunately all of out tickets have already been sold but you could check with the Free Press as they are one of the corporate sponsors. They may still have some tickets left. George

Sunday, June 3, 2001

an email from Sue...)

this is an email from Sue...)
I am responding to you will not see it for a week because you are in FLORIDA...you lucky dog! Thom & I went about 2 years ago, and it was really fun. It will probably be a few years before we go again with the baby and all (thought Thom just said we are going in 2002, so who knows)! I do not remember if I told you but Thom and I start our LaMaze class Monday, which again will be last monday b/c you are in FLA!). It is 7:30 to 9:30 ...which is way passed both our bedtimes. Thom is doing Bulldog bootcamp which is basically a fitness class based on military drills. He has to be outside Lincoln Park zoo at 5AM sharp...Monday through Friday and if he is late, he will have to do 10 push ups! He really is enjoying it, but as I am sure you can imagine it is hard to rise before even a Starbuck's is open! And the 22nd sounds good for us. Can you get us tickets for that night or let us know how to get them up here. The new home sounds awesome...very serene. We would love to come visit and see you two...though again with the baby...it may be a while..next Spring or Summer? And yes, you spelled Accidentale correctly! Let us know how FLA was...especially any good stories about those adorable Novelli girls! Sue, Thom & Madi Say hi to Richard for us! See you in a few weeks.

This is an email I got from Leila
Ok so I had that Nelson wedding. Well needless to say the drinking began at Tavern at about 3pm. And then we headed over to the reception at about 5pm for the open bar. Things were still very well maintained. Then the bar shut down during dinner I thought everyone was going to have a coniption. Then it opened back up and all hell broke loose. My Uncle Ed thought he was James Brown on the dance floor. Everyone managed to spill some sort of food on themselves. Brad walked around for about a half hour with BBQ sauce on his face. I made sure that nobody told him. Then my Uncle Ed had to go and lay down in his van for a while. He came back to the reception and his hair was all amiss. I did the chicken dance. Oh and I caught 1/2 of the bouquet. Then we all went back to Tavern after the reception. For God's sakes that was insane! My cousins Shannon's husband was letting everything out. All his problems and what have you. He mentioned what was supposed to be a well kept secret that evidently my cousin Shannon had gotten a DUI on Memorial Day. So she was mortified that everyone knew about that. And then my cousin's girlfriend told me that I could be in their wedding. They're not even engaged. Oh and Brad was kissing my ass that's for sure he was all apologetic and stuff. He paid me June's rent and SWEARS he'll have the rest for me this Thursday. I said if you don't you will experience my true wrath because I am no longer messing around with this. And so we'll see what happens Thursday. I told him I would for sure be hunting him down if I didn't get that money. And then I ran into Gary the guy that own Ach n Lou's and he had apparently heard a message that I had left for Brad over at their place and he was like Jesus Leila I was so scared by that message I was ready to give you some money. Hahaha!!! Ok so I was scary girl but whatever. And then I noticed that my Grandma had been at Tavern the whole time. Like why is my 78 year old Grandma hanging out at the bar. She was a bit sloshy. And then my cousin wanted to leave but her husband was adamant about staying so there was a bit of a struggle in getting him to leave. And then the rest of us went to Ach n Lou's for free beer. My cousins Josh was somehow my responsibility and he was absolutely cracking me up. And then Gary asked me why I didn't ask him to go to this wedding and I said you know I'm tired of it all. I just decided that I'm single so I'll go to this by myself!!! And then he said he needed a date for some upcoming wedding and I think he was about to ask me but then everyone else showed up and he stopped but Josh was like "Uh oooooooh Leila's getting asked out." So I think Gary got all embarrased about that. Well then that was that. And then I was no longer capable of driving so Josh and I crashed on Gary's couches. And then we left at about noon, they were all still in bed. So I came back to my apartment to shower and then drove Josh over to Plainfield. But I ended up staying out there myself hanging out on my aunt and uncle couch. I had napped for about an hour there. I just could not move. And then Uncle Bill cooked a roast so I stayed for that. I can't handle anymore crazy Nelson events. Its all literally way too insane for me. Ok just thought I would inform you of all of that.

Friday, June 1, 2001

in Florida from Jun 3 - 10

I am going to put some correspondence with various people here for the first part of June, as I was in Florida from Jun 3 - 10.

Friday - June 1, 2001
My friend Aaron sent me this alarming email about HIV.

CDC: Young Gay Men Spreading AIDS
By ERIN McCLAM, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP) - Gay men too young to remember the earliest reports of AIDS (news - web sites) are now spreading the disease at alarming rates that remind health officials of the explosive first years of the epidemic.

A government survey released Thursday shows 4.4 percent of gay and bisexual men ages 23 to 29 are newly infected each year with HIV (news - web sites), the virus that causes AIDS.

The survey, timed to mark the 20th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS, is the government's most sweeping evidence yet of a resurgence in the disease among young gay men.

It suggests even more staggering infection rates for blacks in that group: 14.7 percent - one in seven - become HIV-positive each year.

Left unchecked, the infection rates for gay and bisexual men threaten years of progress the country has made to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, analysts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) said.

``The numbers we're publishing right now are more like the findings you see in the '80s than the findings you see in the '90s,'' said CDC's Linda Valleroy, who led the survey.

The study included nearly 3,000 gay and bisexual men who were tested anonymously for HIV from 1998 to 2000 in Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Seattle.

Government analysts acknowledged the data could be flawed: The men were recruited only at dance clubs, bars, city shopping centers and gay-and-lesbian community centers, so the true rates for all young gay and bisexual men could be higher or lower.

The government's effort to contain HIV/AIDS may be cursed by its own success, CDC analysts said. New HIV infections have leveled off in America at about 40,000 a year, and improved medicine allows AIDS patients to live longer and healthier lives.

``People don't perceive that you get infected and you die in two months anymore,'' said Phill Wilson, executive director of the African-American AIDS Policy and Training Institute at the University of Southern California.

``There's all these posters around that say you can climb mountains and do whatever with HIV and AIDS. There's not enough messages about the price you have to pay,'' he said.

Health officials expressed extreme concern about the high new-infection rates among young black gays and bisexuals, saying the stigma in the black community of having HIV or AIDS may be keeping testing rates low.

There are no comparable historical data on infection rates for young black gays and bisexuals. The one-in-seven infection rate in that group is roughly the same as current infection rates in South Africa, Valleroy said.

The CDC wants to cut the number of new infections nationwide to below 20,000 in five years, chiefly by improving prevention programs, targeting them more narrowly to the communities most at risk, and urging more Americans to get tested for HIV.

A key part of that effort will be getting to young gays and bisexuals to remind them of the disease's devastation and the risk that continues even in the wake of improved medicine and safe-sex efforts.

``We have to stop and take a look at the devastation that potentially could occur among these young men,'' said Helene Gayle, the CDC's AIDS chief. ``These are precious and important lives.''

Since the discovery of AIDS - first reported in a 1981 government health bulletin as a strange form of pneumonia - there have been about 750,000 reported cases in America. Nearly 450,000 of those patients have died.

``We're not visiting as many dying bedsides, and we're not going to as many funerals,'' Wilson said. ``But we are tired of losing our friends, and it's not over