Dame Elizabeth Taylor – A truly one-of-a-kind woman

The divinely lovely Elizabeth Taylor died today at age 79.

She was lovely in more ways than just the physical, however.  She was a fierce advocate for numerous charitable organizations for HIV/AIDS research, the LGBT community, animal rights, and creative freedoms.

As notorious for her seven marriages as she was for her beauty, Liz never let the tabloids get the best of her.  She was quick to rebuke a story that wasn’t true, and did so with fierce voracity.  She played the spitfire in many a movie– and it was pretty obvious that she didn’t have to act all that much to play those roles.  She was a force to be reckoned with.

She was truly remarkable —generous in spirit and heart, especially through her work in helping to create amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation when others couldn’t even be bothered to utter the acronyms HIV or AIDS.  For these and all of her other talents, she will never be forgotten.

As further proof that Elizabeth Taylor was one-of-a-kind, the Grand Dame had a Twitter account (which was verified) that she used from March 31, 2009 until her last Tweet on February 9, 2011.  And in true Liz form, she didn’t just use it to share her day-to-day events—she used it to share her innermost thoughts on topics such as the death of Michael Jackson, refuting stories about her in the tabloids, and, probably most frequently, living life to its fullest.

In one of the last series of Tweets to this account (@DameElizabeth) on July 22, 2010, Liz shares her philosophy on living life, and giving generously to others.  Reading this now, it’s almost as if she was saying farewell to her fans, and giving a last bit of advice.

Hold your horses world. I’ve been hearing all kinds of rumours about someone being cast to play me in a film about Richard and myself.

No one is going to play Elizabeth Taylor, but Elizabeth Taylor herself.

Not at least until I’m dead, and at the moment I’m having too much fun being alive…and I plan on staying that way. Happiness to all.

I would like to add something to my earlier tweet. Always keep love and humility in your heart.

Never let yourself think beyond your means…mental, emotional or any otherwise.

You are who you are. All you can do in this world is help others to be who they are and better themselves and those around them.

Give. Remember always to give. That is the thing that will make you grow.

That is the thing that will give back to you all the rewards that there are. Don’t do it for yourself, because then it becomes selfish.

Because then it becomes about yourself…which is wrong. Giving is to give to God. Helping is to help others.

Every breath you take today should be with someone else in mind. I love you.

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I Try (A Lyrical Parody)

Cover of "I Try Pt. 2"
Cover of I Try Pt. 2

I was just going through some old papers and found this parody lyric that I wrote while I was working at Crate & Barrel (it’s on Crate stationery) in probably 2000 or 2001. Pretty funny. It wasn’t finished so I added some more lyrics. Of course, given my current weight loss/diet status, this is not exactly true. I’m doing quite well, thank you!

(To the tune of Macy Gray’s “I Try”)

Weight gainin’ again
Can’t seem to lose it now
When will it stop?
I believe that fate
Chose me to be
Bigger than an elephant… elephant!

I burn it off but I gain it all back
I lose my cool ’cause I’m dreamin’

I try to drink Slim Fast but I choke
I try to walk a mile but I stumble
My clothes may try to hide it, but it’s clear
I’m too weak for a diet, I fear

I tried out Jenny Craig but I quit
I tried Seattle Sutton but I’m broke
Weight Watchers wouldn’t take me, it’s clear
I’m much better off fatter my dear.

I may appear to be sane
But I’m just a prisoner of my glut
I may seem alright, and smile when I eat
But my smiles are just a front
Just a front

I eat it all while I’m dreaming of you
My pants are so tight that I’m dizzy

I try to drink Slim Fast but I choke
I try to walk a mile but I stumble
My clothes may try to hide but, but it’s clear
I’m too weak for a diet, I fear

I tried out Jenny Craig but I quit
I tried Seattle Sutton but I’m broke
Weight Watchers wouldn’t take me, it’s clear
I’m much better off fatter my dear.

Food is my obsession
When I’m in possesion
I love it so much
Candies, cakes and such
With all my might I try
But I just can’t deny
Deny….

I burn it off but I gain it all back
I lose my cool ’cause I’m dreamin’

I try to drink Slim Fast but I choke
I try to walk a mile but I stumble
My clothes may try to hide but, but it’s clear
I’m too weak for a diet, I fear

I tried out Jenny Craig but I quit
I tried Seattle Sutton but I’m broke
Weight Watchers wouldn’t take me, it’s clear
I’m much better off fatter my dear.

Just Say NO!

Just Say No

I’m just a boy who can’t say no.

OK, stop looking at me like that.  I don’t mean it that way.  Really, I don’t.

What I mean is, if someone says they need help with something, or asks for assistance, I have a hard time saying “No, I really can’t commit to that right now.”

I’m the type of person who likes being involved in things, and get to the heart of how things work.  I’m not one of those people who sits idly by and lets other people do everything.  I dig in, hands-first, and help out.

That’s an admirable trait, isn’t it?  Sure.  But it has to have its limits.  I can’t allow myself to get so over-extended that I have no time to do things that I really enjoy.  I have enough trouble over-extending myself financially.  I can’t afford to do the same with my time.

Problem is, I really do love being involved in things– especially things that matter to me and to the community as a whole.  The sad– some would say crazy– thing about all that is, I wish I could do more.

I don’t do these things for glory or for kudos– although that’s nice, if you get it.  I do them because I can’t help but think that if I don’t do them, I’m not sure who will.  The important thing is to not let myself get burned out– or for that matter, burned.  Because if that happens, you can be sure I won’t lend my hand anymore.

In the meantime, I enjoy keeping myself busy and my plate full.  But I’m looking very much forward to an emptier plate.  Just so I can fill it up with something else, I’m sure.

Progress Report #1 – One Month

This Friday marks one month since I started my return to the gym.

And so far, it’s been going pretty well.

I think I could be doing better, though.  I’m only going about 3-4 times a week, and that’s good for now.  And I only started weights in the third week, after meeting with the trainer.

However, last week was a complete washout.  I fell ill with a mild case of bronchitis, and that put the kibosh on any gym activity.

But today I’m ready to get back on the horse, so to speak.

I’m not noticing any physical changes yet– although the second time I did my upper body routine, I did like the way my arms looked. 🙂  Let’s hope that continues to improve.  I’m tired of having needles for arms.

AND– the last time I weighed myself, I noticed I had dropped about 7-8 pounds.  THAT felt great!

But– it’s all relative.  I just have to keep it up.  And I will.

Today will be cardio.  Tomorrow will be lower body and cardio.  Thursday I’m going to attempt getting up early, and will do upper body.  Friday will be cardio and whatever else I need to do… or am able to do.

Thanks for all the words of encouragement… it means a lot!!

The Parade-less Pride

This past weekend was Pride Weekend in Chicago.

I was really looking forward to the weekend’s festivities.  In addition to the parade itself on Sunday, there was the CGMC concert on Saturday night, and my friend Tracy in Sweeney Todd at Loyola University on Friday night.  It was definitely looking to be an action-packed week and I was ready for it.

The show on Friday was wonderful.  Tracy was awesome and I hung out with her afterward and met some of the cast.  Later I joined the Feast of Fools boys at Big Chicks and we did a bar crawl through Uptown, Andersonville and Edgewater that ended with me getting home late and a bit drunk, but still happy that I had a great time.

Saturday was recovery day (thanks to Friday!) but I was still able to get out and do a little shopping.  Then of course, Saturday night was the CGMC show, which was absolutely wonderful.  The chorus changed its Pride concert venue from the Athenaeum Theatre to Lakeview Presbyterian Church for this show, and it allowed the chorus to perform “Naked” – without any audio enhancement.  The result was a rich, wonderful show that the audience (and chorus) enjoyed immensely.  I wished I could be up there singing with them.

I joined a group of the chorus members out for a drink or two after the show and we were all psyched for the Pride Parade.  I was planning on joining them as we marched our annual march from Belmont Street to Diversey Parkway.  The Chorus was teaming up with the Illinois Lottery this year and we were planning on bringing 100 people to not only show our support but to sing out, loud and proud.  It was to be very exciting.

But for me, this was not to be.

When I awoke on Sunday morning, I felt my chest burning and my lungs heavy.  It was difficult to breathe.  I started coughing continuously. And the more I did to try to get ready, the worse it got.  I knew this feeling, and I knew it well.  I was having an asthma attack.

Foolishly, I thought maybe I was just hungry, so I started making breakfast.  I drank some orange juice and things seemed to settle a bit, but as I kept working and preparing my food, it got worse again.  I had another attack.

Defeated, I grabbed my Albuterol inhaler and took a couple of puffs.  The attack subsided but my heart was racing.  I knew this was a bad sign.  I ate my breakfast and tried to calm myself down, but it was too little, too late.  I had another attack.  So I puffed again and sat down.

By now I was running late for the parade, but I also knew there was no way I could do it in my current condition.  I sent messages to our chorus General Manager and another fellow member, letting them know I couldn’t make it, and got back into bed.  I slept for about four hours.

This was the first time since I attended my first Pride parade in about 1993 that I didn’t attend Chicago’s Pride parade.  If I had a different excuse I suppose I would feel better about it, but I guess my health is as good an excuse as any.  One thing  I knew for sure- my asthma is no longer just something I “might” have to worry about in the future.  It’s something I definitely need to worry about — NOW.

My mom had asthma throughout most of her life but let it go untreated and unchecked until it was almost too late.  Granted, she smoked throughout most of her life, too– but chances are she would be in the same boat she’s in today — with COPD/Emphysema— whether she smoked or not, simply because she let her asthma go for so long.  I don’t want to end up like that, and I know she doesn’t want me to end up that way, either.  So I’m doing something about it today.  I’m calling my doctor and we’re going to get me scheduled for a pulmonary exam.  I can’t deny the obvious any longer.  Asthma is a hereditary disease.  I have it.  I have to live with it.

I just want to live with it — and not die because of it!

So my pride weekend was a bit marred; but it wasn’t without its good moments.  And if I had to take something away from the weekend that was positive, it’s that I learned something important about myself and I will do something about it.  I guess that’s part of taking pride in living your best life.