March 28, 2008

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Hey gang! It's my birthday today! WOO HOO! I celebrated my 46th birthday today. I started off my day my working out after Gary left for work. Today I did legs and butt. After three months of serious workouts, I can finally feel my old body starting to take shape. I'm still having a lot of trouble with the tendon in my right arm so I'm having to do very light weights. But at least I'm still getting my workouts in on most days.

I received about 20 birthday emails from friends across the country and several from my foreign friends. I also received emails from a few of you that read this blog. You guys certainly know how to make a man feel special.

Then I went to the NFAN monthly HIV community luncheon at Christ Church of Peace. This month's food was provided by Brandon Cardwell, who is one of our past Dab's Angels, and the pharmacy at Aids Healthcare Foundation. Unfortunately Brandon was unable to attend because he is at a convention in Orlando. The food was bbq this month from Bono's with chicken and pork choices, baked beans, cole slaw, bread, banana pudding and choice of tea or lemonade. Several close friends attended the luncheon which always makes them fun. The staff of NFAN gave me a beautiful tear provoking birthday day that all of the employees had signed. They're a great group of loving caring individuals.

Nathaniel gave me a ride home from the luncheon after we stopped by NFAN's office. Nate's still very busy doing his focus groups for MSM that were sponsored by Pzier. We just added a co-chair to his part of the Dab's Project: HIV/AIDS awareness, education and prevention. Alice Heard has joined on as our new co-chair. Alice is another caring individual that works tirelessly in the HIV/AIDS field. She also sponsors the Rose women's group that I also sponsor. We looking forward to great things from Alice and I'm sure I'll be talking more about her in future blog entries.

When I returned home from the luncheon, I had three packages waiting on my steps for me. One was from my second in command at this project, Heather, with a great card, beautiful picture frame titled tribal beads and a gratitude book and writing pens. Another was from a women's group with a very soft brown teddy bear and funny birthday card. Lastly, I received candy and a card from some friends.

After Gary got home from work, we grilled some fillets while enjoying our tranquil courtyard, the bright sun and all the fragrant flower blossoms. Our grape vines are in full bloom along with the bright pink and white azalea bushes. Even the impatients left over from last year are trying to come back but they are looking very scraggly and will probably end up getting tossed out. We dined on pepper-crusted fillets, loaded baked potatoes, buttered fresh sweet corn and fresh Italian bread from the bakery with tons of butter. (A meal that Paul Dean would be proud of serving.) Gary also surprised me with a cherry topped chocolate on chocolate cake for my birthday and a big gift certificate to GNC (General Nurtition Center) where I get most of my bodybuilding and protein supplies and supplements.

I have also just emailed another wonderful individual about being our fund raising chairperson. She does a fantastic job with another group in town and we're hoping to add her to our group also. I will let you know more after we hear back from her.

I'll be leaving for DC again for meetings and for clinical trials studies. It's still chilly to cold up there so it's a nice change for a couple of days... but then I'm ready to get back to Florida with the sun and warmer temperatures. I just wish when it's over 100 in August or September that I could get away to DC and it be around 70... not that would make for a great weekend away from the heat. I also enjoy all the great architecture and the Metro up in the DC area. I wish it was as easy to get around Jacksonville as it is up there... but that reality is decades away I'm afraid.

Next week depending on the final scheduling, I should be in Tallahassee, Florida for most of next week with AARP and Divided We Fail. We going to be meet with our politicians and Governor concerning health care and financial issues. It still amazes me how this organization can just call people and get meetings with them. But I guess when you have over 20 million members nationwide... I'm so glad that I'm able to make these contacts and start a dialogue with them. It is rough being away from home so much... but I hope that by making these contacts it can in some way help my community depending on future Ryan White funding. I'm also constantly telling people about our Teddy Bear Touchdown for kids with HIV and AIDS and seeing if anyone would like to start the event in their city.

I spoke with Diane in Pensacola and everything is going well over in my home town. The family is gearing up for Sylvia's 90th birthday. I just got my card sent off with my memory of her inside. Diane is building a memory book of cards and pictures that people close to Sylvia are all sending in as a special surprise. I wish I could make it for the event but with my schedule there was just no way for me to be there. It's been a couple of years since I've been able to make it home for any length of time. I miss seeing my family and friend that live there.

I also spoke with several other friends today and it was great speaking to all of you but especially the ones that our schedules are so hectic that we're constantly playing phone tag with each other... one day we'll all be able to get together again. That's the only bad thing about having lived on both sides of the country. It's almost impossible to get all of my friends in one place at the same time.

Now I'm curled up on the couch surrounded by all of my four legged kids reflecting on my day and typing this blog entry. It's been a great day and I know how lucky I am to have made it to age 46 after finding out so many many years ago that I had GRID (now known as HIV/AIDS). I never thought I'd see 21 much less 40 or 45. Who knows... I may just even make 50! And if I do you can bet I'll be throwing a huge bash for that milestone and everyone will be invited. I just wish all the friends I've lost over the years could be at that party... sort of like the end of the movie "Longtime Companion"... I just don't know where I could put that many people at one time unfortunately... I guess on a huge open beach some where.

I hope that all of you have as special of a birthday as I did today. Remember to do something special for yourself... you deserve it.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab