Flaming Red's Birthday Wish List 2012

As I begin this, only a few hours have passed since I was sitting at a table for two at Ristorante a Mano, with a margherita pizza with artichokes, and across from Edward -- who, quick refresher, I've known for nearly 15 years, meeting in grade 6 in the course of my very first AIDS project. Edward is a wonderful storyteller and for much of the time I was regaled with travel stories about a European city he travelled to last year, that I now feel I know so well, and is so intricately drawn in my mind, I could easily go and explore right now. Alas, I am still in li'l old Nova Scotia. One day, though!

This had been a long time coming. We had planned to get together earlier in the summer, but a variety of factors, including hours of certain establishments and not the least of which was my very own, old and much trusted Gmail account. But you know what they say about waiting, namely that all good things come to those who wait, right?

And I am, somewhat predictably, over the moon with happiness and gratitude that we finally found a date and a place that worked. Meeting people outside where you know them is challenging for a few reasons -- conversation topics just to name one, but it is truly rewarding to be able to just talk and listen about a variety of topics you may not otherwise have a chance to, and of course to see them. Admittedly I did a lot of talking (I told my amazing hairstylist that it was like a parrot on Ritalin) and then I shut up and I think I did that a bit too well too. But c'est la vie, I forgive myself.

Next time, I said, we'll have to get together to watch Emerald Cavoto's video, and it will be my treat -- it's even on my bucket list. Emerald and I both like the sound of that.

Who is Emerald Cavoto, you ask?

She is the mastermind behind the Awake and Alive Project, which tells the stories of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, including mine and Edward's, through theatre. It aims to raise awareness and funds to cure the virus. They are currently looking for stories of people are affected by, or living with, HIV. You can "like" their page here and contribute your own story.

In other news, my birthday is very soon, and of course I couldn't resist the idea of doing another world changing wish list, because I've already received an awesome gift in the form of lunch with Edward, and it's time to pay it forward. So please check it out, recommend it on Facebook, share it far and wide, tweet it, and, of course, pick something you can do off it! :-)

  1. The Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life is just over a month away, and my team, Flaming Red, has raised 43% of our goal. Once again, our goal is nothing less than $1,500, which is $100 for every year I have been an activist and known Edward, as of October 8, 2012. Please donate, your support is much need and greatly appreciated.
  2. Contribute a story to Emerald's project. I think it's pretty awesome, and definitely going places.
  3. Spend 15 minutes actually talking about HIV/AIDS. Bonus points if you do it between the 17th and 24th, during which I will be on vacation, and my birthday falls right in the middle of that, too. As a blogger, I am definitely guilty of not talking about HIV/AIDS enough. And while I do make up for it with writing, talking about it gets it out there in a way writing doesn't. As much as I would like to believe that everyone reads, the truth is, not everyone does, especially not blogs. So, talk about it.
Flaming Red's Birthday Wish List 2012
  • Wear your support. I'm not suggesting everyone get a tattoo, like I did, there are far less permanent ways to do it, but I am suggesting everyone get a red ribbon, or an Until There's a Cure bracelet, or a (red) t-shirt, or all three! Oh, and here's my tattoo to celebrate 15 years of activism, 15 years of friendship, and of course, life. The text reads "More Life", which is from Angels in America. Check out my 2010 World AIDS Day piece to learn more. Picture!

    The thing about leveraging our shopaholic tendencies to make real, tangible change, is to remember that while buying a t-shirt to support the Global Fund, or a bracelet to support UTC, is great, you should combine that with something else, like an AIDS Walk, or donating casual day funds to your local ASO, donating time to your ASO and/or one of their events, basically, something tangible and local. Additionally, for your more musically-inclined shopping, Red Hot Organization's albums are available in the US iTunes store, hopefully they'll come to the Canadian store soon! And there's always Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, as well. If I've missed out on highlighting any other charitable shopping opportunities, please let me know in the comments.

  • Make sure you are a safe place for your child's questions about safe sex, sexuality, gender identity, etc. There are lots of wonderful sites like Scarleteen, available to help you.

  • Finally, on a more personal note, reconnect with someone. Is there someone you've been e-mailing more than you've seen? I guarantee you it will be awkward, but it does get better, and once you've done it once, the impetus is there to do it again -- I hear the first time's the hardest.

Now, in case I haven't packed this one full of enough awesome, my friend Kenn's blog, My Journey With AIDS...and more!, was included in the final list of Healthline's favorite HIV & STD blogs. They wrote:

"Kenn Chaplin is no defeatist; he's brazen, energetic, gut-wrenchingly honest, and inspiring. This active blogger, political activist, traveler, and long-time AIDS veteran knows a thing or two about living with AIDS."

Awesome! Congratulations, Kenn!

They also included TheBody.com's own Blog Central in their list, so check out the entire list (in no particular order), here. And read blogs, you never know what you'll learn.