Yesterday, professional photographers, stylists and others from around the world gathered to provide portraits to people otherwise haven't had the opportunity to have their portraits taken.
CHC participated in Help Portrait for a second year and we had some great photographers and stylists help ou.
When I got home from my various events of the day, I checked on Facebook and saw a couple great posts about this.
It appears, for whatever reason, photography was on a lot of people's minds yesterday. Several people shared different links to collections of photographs, Initially, I was going to reshare them on Facebook, but there were too many, so I decided to share them as part of this blog posts.
So, from the sublime pictures of Help Portrait, I move to the humorous if not ridiculous.
Recently, as we remember the 50th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy, I got into discussions about those moments in history that we always remember.
People talk about the day JFK was shot, the day John Lennon was shot, September 11th. It seems it is often the sad days we remember. Today is another sad day. Nelson Mandela has died.
Yet I remember the day Nelson Mandela was released. It was February 11, 1990. It was a Sunday morning when we heard the news. I was living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was twelve days before my first daughter was born.
We headed off to Grace Episcopal Church at Tenth and Broadway and the jubilation filled the church.
Tuesday, December 3. It is evening and I’m finally getting to write. In the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook, a challenge of writing one thousand words a day was offered. Normally, I like to write shorter blog posts, but there have been long periods of time that I’ve written a blog post a day. If I add in the status updates I write on Facebook, the comments I share, the emails I write, and other writing, one thousand words a day doesn’t seem like that much.
Yet there are some days that are quieter and I don’t write as much. I don’t want to burden the readers of this blog with all the writing I do just for working on my writing, but I haven’t determined a good alternative place, so on days like today, for the time being, I may end up having some long rambling posts about nothing in particular.
I’m still run down after November, not only the writing, but fighting sniffles, spending time socializing, and trying to figure out my agenda for December, which is likely to be quite busy.
As the days get colder and shorter, it becomes harder for me to get out of bed in the morning, and this morning was no exception. I haven’t been sleeping as soundly as I’d like recently, which also probably makes it harder to get out of bed.
My morning rituals were pretty much the usual. Before setting off to work, I needed to scrape the windshield. I haven’t had to do that much yet this year, but I suspect there will be many more mornings like this.
It was also foggy today. Traffic was heavy in both directions on the parkway. As I looked at the constant streams of traffic emerging from and disappearing into the fog, the call of the raod came back to me. I feel it every now and then, a harkening back to the days of my youth when I hitched around the States and Europe, a desire to just go, and keep going, with no destination in particular.
I made it through the day, writing a fair amount of emails, Played a little Ingress and headed home. All in all a quiet day. Soon I’ll head off to sleep, knowing that for the third day of December, I’ve written a total of over one thousand words, but just barely.
We shall see if what sort of writing I get done tomorrow.
Over the past week, there have been several stories that I’ve been following that all fit together in an unexpected larger theme. The first was the release of John Jorge’s Music Video, Lovin’. For those who don’t recognized the name yet, I think the first time I was him perform was in the Amity High School’s production of Rent.
I believe this was the day before Thanksgiving, which is the second story to pay some attention. Every year, we stop to give thanks for all that has been given us. As a New Englander who can trace his genealogy back to the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, this is an important day for me. Part of what I’m thankful for is the freedoms my ancestors came to this country in search of.
Another big story for me of the past few days is my completion of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I finished the first 50,000 word draft of my second novel on Saturday. There is something very empowering to set out to create something challenging and complete it. I will see if I will go through the editing and revisions necessary to get it to be presentable for publication, either through traditional channels or through self publication.
Then, there was the story in the Washington Post of a teacher resigning because of what is happening in education.
All of this leads up to World AIDS Day and an incredible article in the New Yorker, What Young Gay Men Don’t Know About Aids. I work at a Federally Qualified Health Center that treats people with AIDS. I am a Health Leadership Fellow of the Connecticut Health Foundation working with others to address health disparities in our state.
AIDS is a very important topic we need to have open and honest discussions about, which leads me to the final story I want to focus on.
An article in the Hartford Courant put it this way.
Student representatives from Trumbull High's theater department were told last Monday that the show they planned to perform next spring covered topics too "sensitive" or "controversial" for a high school.
Originally, I was planning to write an open letter to the Trumbull High School administration, pointing out how not allowing the production of Rent was incredibly short sighted. I would talk about depriving students of opportunities for prepare for their careers, as the Amity production of Rent helped John Jorge on his career. How not allowing the production went against the freedoms that our forefathers came to this country for. How not allowing the production was an affront to all people seeking to improve the lot of mankind through creativity. How not allowing the production would damage the school district by showing a heavy handed administration that doesn’t allow educators to challenge their students. How not allowing the production was an insult to the people of Trumbull by saying that students at Amity and in Greenwich where Rent has been produced are more capable of handling “sensitive” or “controversial” subjects.
But the most important topic to me was the health topic. According to The Connecticut Department of Health there were nearly 700 case of HIV infection reported in Bridgeport, the city next to Trumbull during the years 2002-2011. Yes, the rate of new infections has been going down, but every new infection with HIV is one infection too many.
HIV/AIDS is not too “sensitive” or “controversial”. HIV/AIDS is an infection which we can stop the spread of. We can do this by talking openly and honestly about the infection, about the stigma. If we care about the children in our schools, we need to have these discussions.
I am tempted to wax polemic adopting the voice of preachers I know that would point out that by preventing these discussions, there is blood on our hands. Yet I’m not sure that is effective. It isn’t really my style.
But, this evening, I went to a World AIDS Day event where another section of the quilt was unveiled. It commemorated people in Connecticut how had died as a result of AIDS. It was attended by people who were living successful lives knowing that they were HIV positive. These were people who have confronted the stigma, found out their status and were getting the treatment so that an HIV infection for them was a chronic disease, not a death sentence. These were people who knew their status and because of their knowledge, were not spreading the infection.
I wept with them as we mourned the death of loved ones.
In my heart, I prayed for those who indirectly contribute to the ongoing spread of HIV by thwarting opportunities for discussion. I wished they could have stood with me at the unveiling of this latest section of the quilt and I pray that these words might cause some to stop and think about what their decisions mean for freedom, for education, and most importantly, for health.