“And the human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it.” –Francis Bacon, “The Four Idols”
In many respects, this crime isn’t just about the horrific events perpetrated against this young boy who’s just around my imaginary age. It’s also about the 15-year-old boy and the millions, I mean billions, of humans across the globe who are ill-quipped and ill-informed about the beautiful reality of sexual desire and the fundamental need to protect one’s body even during the throes of compulsion and impulse. It’s not about the crime. It’s not about just arming our children and ourselves with condoms and shouting about the value of safe sex. It’s also about teaching our children and ourselves that sex is good, that sex is natural, that sex moves us and tugs at us in unexpectedly beautiful ways. But if we don’t know how to embrace our sexual desires then how can we embrace the tools needed to protect us from our all too human nature? It’s not just about safe sex. It’s about a radical, social restructuring of how we teach sex to our youth to end the taboos and no-nos we know we must face one day.
“A Sunrise, Florida man was arrested on an attempted murder charge Wednesday for having sex with a 15-year-old boy and infecting him with the HIV virus.
It’s true. Ma and I raised $957 for Florida AIDS Walk 2012. We didn’t win a certificate of authenticity though, but we don’t mind, because we are already as authentic as Barbie & Ken. When we were at the walk, the guy on stage said that for every $1,000 raised 10 people could be tested for HIV for free. Ma clapped her hands and jumped up and down like that crazy puppet in that Sia song: “Clap Your Hands”.
Ma clapped her hands until the woman next to us wearing a propeller hat told her to calm down.
That’s not a woman, I told ma. But she didn’t care. I don’t discriminate, ma said, so she took the propeller hat then propelled the woman about 7 feet before the police came and told ma to settle down. Ma did settle down and apologized for her instability. It’s a charity, the policeman said. No need to kick ass today.
After the incident with the cops, ma decided to join the South Florida Boys of Leather. Even though ma wore spandex to the walk, the Boys of Leather welcomed her with open arms. She got bored then decided to hang out with the rabbi from Temple Beth El of Hollywood. She kept asking the rabbi for Beth, but he didn’t understand what she was talking about so he suggested she seek psychotherapy and stay out of the sun. Beth must be popular, ma said. She is, I told her. She is.
I told ma to chill because we already kicked some ass by raising so much money in just a few days. Let’s go to Paris now, ma said. I had to explain to ma that the money we raised wasn’t for us. It was for the foundations that provide healthcare services, educational support, love and peace of mind for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS regardless of their ability to pay. Ma looked disappointed, but that’s just her funny face all screwed up and sideways.
Anyway, we walked 5 kilometers and ma couldn’t help but think of Johnnie Walker. I’m so thirsty, she said over and over again until someone gave her a Sprite.We ran into some friends, but no one got hurt. I thought ma’s makeup was a bit too much, however the bullhorn blended well with her big mouth and ruby red forehead gem. You look fantastic, ma, I told her just so she wouldn’t feel too self-unconscious.
After the walk, we got some beers and celebrated our victory over indifference. It’s been a long time since we’ve been fighting this battle with HIV/AIDS and it seems like a never ending battle, but just like the Never Ending Story everything comes to an end. In real life, that end is just something we have to work hard for because the solution to the problems that inhabit our lives won’t fix themselves. Ma and I helped a little toward that final fix. When it happens, who knows? But it will. So, we celebrated life and the love that each person at the walk represented. We celebrated Jesus and the way he inspires us to be more like him instead of the pope. We celebrated the weather and the meatball food truck. We even celebrated the Port-a-Potties which saved ma from wetting herself. Again.Just as we were about the cross the finish line.
What would Jesus do? No need to answer that question. What else would you expect from a man (or woman) who dedicated his (or her) life to healing and dispelling the myth that the sick are worthless. In fact, Jesus established the first system of universal healthcare dedicated to providing love, support, comfort and peace of mind to people living with and affected by any and every disease imaginable and unimaginable. (Source: the Bible.) So, join Jesus this Sunday on Fort Lauderdale Beach for Florida AIDS Walk 2012. He’ll be the One inside the heart of every man, woman, child and pet at the walk. Bring your heart and help us raise funds for local organizations on the front lines: Neil de la Flor’s donation page.
When Jesus existed, no one had heard of HIV/AIDS. Now, somewhere between 33 – 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS across the globe and Jesus can’t heal the world by himself. He needs us. That’s what he said. Even though there’s no cure for HIV yet, there are clinical trials on the way and existing treatments that help people live ‘normal’ lives, thrive, prosper and just BE. However, this is the problem: many who live with HIV/AIDS do not have access to basic care and are often stigmatized because of the disease. Florida AIDS Walk 2012 will raise funds for organizations that provide some basic healthcare services, counseling, education, support and peace of mind for people living with and/or are affected by HIV/AIDS. Support Florida AIDS Walk 2012 by making a contribution to my team: Neil de la Flor’s donation page.
Note: According to the CDC, only 9.6% of adult Americans have been tested for HIV. Furthermore, only 1 in 4 HIV infected Americans receive adequate medical care to control the disease.CNN.com reports that South Florida has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the nation. Although Florida AIDS Walk can’t fix these numbers, we are part of a long-term, multidimensional solution that will diminish the impact of HIV/AIDS on those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
When this photograph was taken in the early 80s, almost no one had heard of HIV/AIDS. Thirty years later and between 33 – 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS across the globe. There’s no cure for HIV, but there are effective treatments that help people thrive, prosper and just BE. However, this is the problem: many who live with HIV/AIDS do not have access to basic care and are often stigmatized because of the disease. Florida AIDS Walk 2012 will raise funds for organizations that provide some basic healthcare services, counseling, education, support and peace of mind for people living with and/or are affected by HIV/AIDS. Support Florida AIDS Walk 2012 by making a contribution to my team: Neil de la Flor’s donation page.
Neil de la Flor
Interesting stuff: “HIV is a lentivirus, and like all viruses of this type, it attacks the immune system. Lentiviruses are in turn part of a larger group of viruses known as retroviruses. The name ‘lentivirus’ literally means ‘slow virus’ because they take such a long time to produce any adverse effects in the body. They have been found in a number of different animals, including cats, sheep, horses and cattle. However, the most interesting lentivirus in terms of the investigation into the origins of HIV is the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) that affects monkeys, which is believed to be at least 32,000 years old.” Source.
Ma took me to Shark Valley. Ma is not the bird. She is the woman taking a photograph of the bird. I took the photo of ma photographing the bird. When I grow up, I want to be a bird. The kind that swims underwater like a snake. Ma was pissed cause there are no sharks in shark valley. Only gators and snakes, birds and fish, bikes and plastic bottles.
Gay-tor | Photo by Neil de la Flor
This is not a shark, ma said. I know, I said. Stupid gator, ma said, sleeping like it’s 1999.
This Is A Bird | Photo by Neil de la Flor
This is a bird. 10 seconds after I photographed “This Is A Bird”, the bird pooped. It had the runs. Ma and I ran cause it stank. I swear.
Road To Know Where | Photo by Neil de la Flor
The “Road To Know Where” led us to a tower of babel. In other words, we ran into a family from Germany who spoke German. We made fun of them in English. They made fun of us in German. After that, we hugged. It was Sunday. The day of the Lord.
Sun Cloud | Photo by Neil de la Flor
This is what happens when the sun and a cloud have sex. God is born, ma said.
Bird Water | Photo by Neil de la Flor
Bird Squatter | Photo by Neil de la Flor
Another thing: Birds are not afraid of anything. Not even ma.
Another thing: In the end, Shark Valley was like heaven. Even God spoke through the sawgrass.
Another thing: The cloud on the left, the wisp of a thing that looks like an exploded Pringle, its name is Marvin. He was starving for love, so ma and I blew him a kiss. He didn’t catch it, but we know that in our hearts he is thankful. Just like we were thankful for him.
Yesterday, just as I finish my post on Ma’s rough night working the suicide prevention hotline at the Switchboard, a tiny grey bird commits suicide against us. In the middle of winter in Florida, she slams into the house just outside our dining room window. At full speed and full of life until the end, she flies as if she were taken by the sky or love and blinded by the promise of heaven.
Like a freaking bullet, ma says. Then she finds the light. At least she tried, I say. Tries to find her path to heaven.It is such a beautiful day. We are listening to Stevie Nicks sing “Rhiannon” on YouTube.
Now she is the darkness, ma says. And she ruled her life like a fine skylark, I say. Now the sky is starless. The sky is insanely blue and the clouds are hiding.
Ma and I pick up Rhiannon–the cats lying in wait in the dark– and we prepare her final resting place beneath the palm trees in the backyard. The ants have already found her. We clean her off. Tuck her wings in. Close her eyes.
Interned | Photo by Neil de la Flor
Finally, ma says, I’ve seen a woman truly taken by the wind.
Ma kicks the shovel into the earth with her right foot. Then the left. Then turns the soil until there’s a six inch hole. The shovel is blue. Rhiannon is gray. The soil too.
Today, we will be her lover, ma says, and we will stay by her side forever. I believe ma, but I don’t believe in forever.
Ma lowers Rhiannon into the shallow grave and then covers Rhiannon’s body with soil. What were you thinking, ma asks Rhiannon. Love’s just a state of mind. Rhiannon doesn’t respond to ma from the depths of her final resting place. She can’t, anyway, even if she wants to. She just lays there beneath six-inches of earth. In peace. In solitude. And probably believes that she has finally won.
Sometimes when it’s really quiet in the house, I think ma is dead or locked out in the backyard. This morning when I wake up I find ma on the floor with a chocolate chip cookie in her panties. I swear, I’m not lying. Not even a little.
I check her pulse and she has a pulse, so I just left her there pulsing on the floor and I give her a pillow. I think ma had a rough night at the call center. A rough night saving lives for nothing cause she makes nothing because ma is a philanthropist. When she wakes up, she eats the chocolate chip cookie. Then she hands me this from the Switchboard:
“Every 43 seconds someone in the U.S. attempts suicide; Every 17 minutes someone in the U.S. dies by suicide. For every single completed suicide there are at least 25 attempts. More people die by suicide in Florida than by homicide. Florida has the 2nd highest rate of suicide in the nation.”
It only takes ma two-days to learn how to save lives, to minimize attempts, to keep people pulsing when they just want to quit. I saved 3 lives last night, ma says. But most of the night the phones were dead.
Ma’s cell phone is dead because she forgot to charge the battery. It’s not a sign. It’s nothing to worry about. We all die, ma says. Some of us just need a cookie till it’s time.
I’m not concerned about ma. Her new job makes her serious. Makes her consider the world as it is and not as she would like it to be. For lunch, ma makes chicken pot pie without the chicken and extra pot. She pours herself a glass of sake. She likes sake. Likes the way it tastes like burning rotten water.
We gotta move out of Florida, ma says. I nod in disarrangement.
We will never leave Florida. Never leave her to fend for herself. Florida needs us just like we need Florida. Swamp-like in summer. Heaven in winter. And just blah in between. In the end, ma says. It’s better not to go. Between you and me, it’s better to stay. Better to sleep on the floor. Just in case someone calls.
If you would like to join Switchboard Miami two-day “suicide first aid” workshop for communities created by LivingWorks,contact Demian Laudisio, Switchboard of Miami, Inc. email@example.com 305-358-1640 x 156. When: Tuesday January 10, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. For more information, click save a life.
Last night ma and I went to see Seraphic Fire at the All Saints Episcopal Church off Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. Ma wanted to go cause she thought there would be saints and fire. There was no fire, no smoke, and the only saint she recognized was the one that slides down chimneys like an old pervert. There are no chimneys in Florida, ma said. I’m not sure how this old perv breaks into houses without getting arrested. No response. Ma drank the holy water during intermission. There was no intermission.
We sat and watched a firebrand orchestra from the church balcony. Last row. Ma said she would jump. I encouraged her. No luck. Instead ma fidgeted and chewed gum. Then she stuck her gum beneath the seat and scrawled profanities on the podium next to her. God is a woman!, she wrote. And so am I, more or less! Meanwhile the orchestra played string instruments and fiddled away to lullabies composed by some foreign gay guys named Tchaikovsky (Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48), Mendelssohn (String Symphony No. 8 in D Major),and Mozart (Divertimento in D Major, K. 136). I asked ma which was her favorite part of the performance and ma said she loved the ending. You mean Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Srings in C Major, I asked. No, she said. When we left.