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Dear Friends (and strangers who happen upon this page),
It has taken me a while to sit down to begin to compose this letter. Truthfully, the temptation was simply to post a note saying, "2002 sucked rocks. I don't want to talk about it." But I decided for whatever reason, either for my legions of readers (heh) or for the sake of having a current record of things, I should go ahead and write something. Will probably keep it relatively brief, though.
The thing that set the tone for the year for me was my father's critical illness in January and February. He was in CCU for almost two weeks, and for much of that time, they simply did not know if he was going to make it or not (by they, I mean the four separate doctors working on his case, as there were several different things apparently going on at once.) He ended up fooling everyone and pulling through and is healthy today (I mean as healthy as he can be with his various health conditions and after so many strokes.) While he was in the hospital, one day my mother had some minor elective surgery, and the very same day, my little brother had to have an emergency appendectomy. So you can just imagine the stress levels. I don't know if I actually recovered from going through all of this at all, and if I did, it was much later in the year. Like I said, it set the tone for the whole year for me. Yes, I am glad that the outcome was positive, but the experience itself just completely exhausted me. It was also just sort of surreal at times. The hospital was in the part of town where I grew up, and as such, I ran into a bunch of people from my childhood (and in a couple of cases, from more recent past.) They included multiple former neighbors, a teacher from my high school, my best high school friend and others. It was like some kind of mystical journey back to the past or something.
What I went through sapped my time and my motivation with regard to politics. Moreover, it was an impossible year to get anything done in the legislature anyway, as redistricting/downsizing threw everything into utter chaos. Our friend Nancy was cheated out of her district by dirty tricks and a Kafkaesque pretense of a process. We tried to fight it, but the decision had already been made. The things that were done and the lies that were told meant the end of a friendship for me and disgusted me so much that I wrote a new version of that 60's song "Denise, Denise" (lyrics available upon request.) In the meantime, the Providence Journal was party to a man's suicide as they hyped a sting at an adult theater, and the other local media mostly behaved almost as badly too. Thanks go to the several brave folks who fought back.
The best thing that happened in 2002 is that my friend David Cicilline was elected mayor of Providence. I'm giving the whole story very short shrift here, as there were many twists and turns and detours and stuff that I just don't want to get into in this space. (Life as a quasi-public figure is hard.) Suffice to say that it was a very long few months, but despite the worst efforts of some dishonest people, good prevailed. I wrote to a friend the other day that I was so happy that yet another barrier had been broken. Not so much a barrier for gay people, although that is true too. No, a barrier for straight people: that they did not let something as truly irrelevant as sexual orientation prevent them from electing someone who is so intelligent and gifted to this very important position. He has a tough job ahead of him, but I honestly cannot think of a single person in the world that I would rather have in that job. In the meantime, though, the state elected a new governor who is on record as opposing civil unions for same-gender couples. This is quite disheartening after eight years of a passively supportive governor. But a lot can happen in four years, so we just have to keep trying and seeking out new energy and creativity as we deal with the new reality. The new legislature is a decidedly mixed bag. We lost a lot of our friends in the downsizing although we did the best we could to minimize the losses and get some new friends elected as well. Leadership shakeups have also changed the landscape in interesting ways. I think someone must have cursed us with the famous, "May you live in interesting times."
Oddly, the year ended not dissimilarly to how it began. My best friend's mother is terminally ill as I write this. She could go at any time (tomorrow or a month from now--we just don't know.) What I went through with my father's illness prepared me somewhat for this although not completely. I'm doing the best I can to help from far away and am prepared to travel for the funeral when it is time. Wish I could do more. "Thwarted" is the word of the year for me, in this situation and others. The end of the year also brought a personal crisis which started in November which I am not about to detail here. Suffice to say that it was huge and had me using the anti-anxiety meds more than ever. (No, I'm not addicted. I used them less than I realistically needed to so as to make sure of that.) I am eternally grateful for the friends who have supported me during this time (you know who you are) and for the other offers of support that I did not take up.
Miscellaneous stuff: I've become reliant on Buzzflash.com, Mediawhoresonline.com and Bartcop.com for the news that I need and to maintain my sanity in this insane world. Got to see Great Big Sea live up in Boston. Great show, and their opening band, Carbon Leaf, has become an obsession of mine as well. Am still interested in the free donation websites and hope that you will take some time to click on some of them. The RILGBT-NEWS email list continues to grow and take up a lot of my time, but it's worth it.
There is other stuff I could write about, but I honestly just don't feel like it. Hope you don't mind. So far this new year is not off to such a great start either, but my hope is that it will get better. I wish all of you reading this a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.