Wednesday, December 25, 2013

[The Life of Shaun #492] Merry Christmas

In all honesty, it doesn't really feel like Christmas.  Perhaps that's willful, or maybe I just don't understand what Christmas without a Mom is yet.

When I think where I was a year ago - freezing in Chicagoland, with Mom, Dad, the rest of the family - it seems so impossibly distant.  And when I think about the weeks that followed Christmas, it drains me in a way that living through it never did.

But I'm also not sad.  I miss Mom, but I'm not sad.  Natasha has been staying with me while Marco's been home in Germany, so I am not alone.  My calendar has been full of travel, dinners, drinks and TV nights in.  I am living in a city I love, and a flat I love coming home to.

Maybe that's why it doesn't quite feel like Christmas.  I expected it to be harder, but mostly there is good in my life.  Mom's outlook on life was "live, laugh, love", and that's exactly what I'm doing.

Merry Christmas, Mama.  I love you.






__________________________________________________________________________
Shaun H. Coley | Shadwell | Tower Hamlets | London E1 | UK | shaunism.blogspot.com

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

[The Life of Shaun #491] London Fog

Despite London's reputation, it is rarely foggy here.  Today was an exception; when I woke up, the first thing I noticed was the blanket of whiteness outside my window, eight stories up.  Winter is here, and I love it.  After an exceptionally hot Summer, there's something comforting about the heavy Winter air.  It feels nearer, closer in around you.  While the short days can be a drag, the acute angle of the sun this time of year creates lingering dawns and dusks, with sunrises and sunsets whose colours slowly roll across the sky.

Soon the days will start lengthening towards our glorious 10:30pm Summer sunsets, but for now I am loving Winter in my city.

Cheers,
Shaun




Surnise over Canary Wharf from my balcony last week.




23 dazzling photos of the fog enveloping London



Posted at 6:05 pm, December 11, 2013 in Photos of London

mpsinthesky thing

You probably noticed it was a bit foggy today. So did lots of other people. Some of them with cameras! So on that note, here are some great shots of London shrouded in fog, bathed in a golden winter light, and looking pretty banging.

The invisible Shard reflecting sunshine through the mist:

shard fog photo

 [Photo:@BillyBeefeater]

 The Millenium Bridge disappearing into nothingness:

dave pearce

[Photo: Dave Pearce]

The Shard appearing over a bank of mist:

kjalee shard fog

 [Photo: @kjalee]

The low winter sun over Kenwood Park:

kenwood house sally_mckay

[Photo: @sally_mckay]

The tops of Canary Wharf's buildings above the clouds:

canary wharf - lovetofunk

[Photo: @lovetofunk]

Waves of mist seen from Galvin at Windows:

view from galvin

[Photo: @fredsirieix1]

Sunlight beaming through Tower Bridge:

recborg tower bridge

The Metropolitan Police helicopter got a fantastic view:

london mpsinthesky

You can just about see the O2 arena:
dome mpsinthesky

And Canary Wharf, of course:
fog over canary wharf mpsinthesky

Jamesdolphin1 was passing overhead too:

jamesdolphin1 canaryfog

 Close to the ground, things took on a more dystopian edge:

pseudoboy

[Photo: @pseudoboy]

Though it made for a nice sunset in places:

wiljc

[Photo: @wiljc]

lilian_tsui

[photo: @lilian_tsui]

At Stratford station:

sheastevie

 [Photo: @sheastevie]

And at the Tate Modern:

sophiastvillier ig

[photo: sophiastvillier]

From an elevated office:

auketts ig

 [Photo: auketts]

In the park:

londonaperture

[Photo: londonaperture]

By the river:

therealmikeyboy london fobg

 [Photo: therealmikeyboy]

Looking towards Westminster:

mattpike ig

[Photo: mattpike]

Kristijonas Dirse

[Photo: Kristijonas Dirse]

And finally in Barnet:

barnet vale


[Photo: Phillip Rocker]





__________________________________________________________________________
Shaun H. Coley | Shadwell | Tower Hamlets | London E1 | UK | shaunism.blogspot.com

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Monday, December 09, 2013

[The Life of Shaun #490] psquared to the nth: 50 in 50

In my time in New York, I knew several people who "fell off the cliff" of addiction and into the inevitable downward spiral that results.  As far as I know, most never came back.  One that did is my friend Petr.  A bit over six years ago, he checked himself into rehab (for the final time) and has clawed his way, bit by bit, up those cliffs back to us, and is happy and warm in Southern California, preparing to get his Master's Degree from USC.  I find his story, and particularly the post below, very inspirational.

So, today I will step aside and instead give you a day in "The Life of Petr".

Cheers,
Shaun

__________________________________________________________________________
Shaun H. Coley | Shadwell | Tower Hamlets | London E1 | UK | shaunism.blogspot.com




psquared to the nth
Follow the adventures of p²'s trip to the dark side, with breaks along the way to talk about American Idol, tennis and many other random topics. 

thumbnail 50 in 50
Dec 8th 2013, 16:57, by noreply@blogger.com (p²)

Improbably, considering the way I lived for several years in my 30s and early 40s, I'm going to be 50 in 50 days. Even though I've been sober for more than six years now – therefore less likely to do something that would lead to an early demise – I'm a little surprised that I've gotten so close. I never expected to live to be 50. Well, at least not from the time I was about 23.

Ask just about anyone who was gay and in his 20s in 1987 and you won't find a ton of who expected to live this long. And you will find a lot of us who didn't. More than 25,000 people died of AIDS in the US in the 80s. I couldn't find stats on how many of them were gay, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was a lot. The original name for the disease was GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). I remember reading an article in the paper about it in 1982 or 1983. I wasn't even 20 years old and hadn't even acknowledged to myself that I was gay, and already I was terrified of dying.

I only mention all that to explain why I, and so many other gay men my age, had no expectation of a life past 30, let alone 50. The irony, at least with regard to me, is that it wasn't until I was a few years into my 30s that I started to go off the rails. It started pretty slowly, which led to an overlapping period where my life was veering off course, but no one would have noticed. At 35, I was the development director for a non-profit organization in Philly. It was a good job and had I stayed that course, I might have ended up making a pretty decent living. But at 35 I was also just getting introduced to club drugs like ecstasy and ketamine (K).

The problem, I think, was that while I did a really good job of making sure I lived past 30 I never changed my thinking about how unlikely that was. So by the time I was 35, I really had this mentality that I living in the bonus round. I had accomplished the biggest goal I had when I was 25.

I had a lot of fun from 35 to 38. We ran up and down the east coast to celebrate gay pride events, NYE, Tuesdays. And when we weren't traveling we just turned the spotlight on the disco ball hanging in my living room, smoked pot and watched the room spin. We came up with so many brilliant ideas in that apartment in South Philly. I wish any of us could have remembered even one of them a day later.

Of course, the more fun we had the more fun I wanted. The answer to the question of how much do I want (of anything) is always more. I always want another piece of cake. Another day off. Another bump of K.

That pursuit of more led to a string of bad decisions. For about five years it seemed like there was no problem so bad that I couldn't find an even worse solution. I know by the time I was 40 I was very keenly aware that I never expected to live that long. What I'm not sure about is whether I thought death was chasing me at that point or if I started chasing death.

Whichever the case, it only took a few more years before it was apparent that death and long prison term were waaaaaaay higher on the list of probability than good job and house with a picket fence.

So now I'm closing in on 50 and somehow death seems farther away than it has at any point in my life. I live in an awesome city, with a wonderful man and I'm about ten days away from having a master's degree from USC. I never wanted to be this old. But only because I had no idea it could be so much fun.

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