Thank you all for the positive responses to my story about spending time with the guy I found by the ocean who was having a bad experience on too many drugs.

Even my mother, fortunately, responded with “I’m so proud of you”… which, I think, is a pretty big deal. Most moms I know would be inclined to scream, “WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU DOING IN THAT DANGEROUS SITUATION?!”

I’ve gotten some responses, though, that put my actions up on some kind of superhuman pedestal, that’s a little weird to me.  (I got some of that after the
homicidal drunk on the airplane” story, too)   When people need us (you, me, anyone), we help the way we know how to help, and we don’t think twice about it.  There’s nothing magical about that.  It’s just showing up.

But people can only respond to what I give them, so it seems misleading at this point not to disclose another piece of my history: I’ve gotten help for substance abuse.

Several years ago, I went through a period where I was severely depressed.  I leaned heavily on alcohol to survive it. Pretty quickly, my reliance on alcohol become more destructive than my depression.

There’s a long story here, and I’m going to give you the really short version.  I scared myself, I realized I needed help, and I went into an alcohol abuse recovery program (the famous one — the one you’re not supposed to name). I also started seeing a therapist.  I spent eight months battling my compulsive actions and the depression that caused them, until I finally got to the root of the problem:

I was queer and not accepting it.

(Ain’t that one a stinker?)

I worked through the depression, and then worked with my therapist to experiment with letting alcohol back into my life.  I drank lightly, socially, and didn’t enjoy getting drunk.  I wasn’t, by the program’s definition, an alcoholic.

The recovery program and I had a very sad breakup, in which I couldn’t really explain my story because it didn’t fit their model for recovery.  I’m still a huge fan of their program, though. I’ve seen it help lots of people — people who sincerely want to be helped — and I think, hands-down, it’s one of the best paths out there.  I know it helped me immensely.

But back to why I’m telling you this: the moral of the story is that I’ve spent stretches of time in community with people who are struggling with self-destructive behavior and trying to help each other through it.  I learned strategies that allow me to be present for people without letting their pain and flailing get too close to me.  And after a few minutes of conversation, I can usually tell the difference between someone who’s really looking for help and someone who’s still trying to control the situation.

This complicated stretch of my life, by the way, is also where I learned that hanging out by the ocean is a good way to remember that I’m not in control, either.

Walking down to the beach last night after dinner, I noticed there was a young athletic-looking guy lying on his back on a platform, shirtless and in basketball shorts, staring at the sky.  It looked like a nice place to rest and look up. I walked past him.

Before I got to the water, I heard a loud yell.  Like an “AAH!”  Then a pause.  Then another one.  Then I realized it was coming from him.  No one else was close enough to notice it or respond.

For a minute, I rolled my eyes and shot an accusatory glance at the ocean. That’s nice, but I have to work tonight. Get someone else, okay?

Two more yells.

Okay, fine.

I walked up to him.  “Hey! Are you okay?”

He shook his head like he was trying to talk, and nothing came out.  I saw that he was shivering, and took a few steps closer.

“Hey.  Do you need me to call an ambulance?

He found my face and said, “No. No. No. Please.”

“Okay. No problem. What do you need?  Are you cold?  Do you need a blanket?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. I’ll see what I can do.  Did you take drugs?”

“Yes.”

“What kind of drugs?  Did you take LSD?”

“No.”

My brain ran out of other drug ideas.  “What did you take?”

No response.  I looked at his scattered stuff.  There was a backpack, a textbook, a book called Kama Sutra for Gay Men, a towel, and a jacket wrapped around his leg.  He couldn’t move.  I climbed onto the platform and wrapped the towel across his chest.  I pulled the jacket off his leg, lifted him up by the shoulders, and placed it underneath his back.

I ended up spending four hours with him.  The first two were just sitting there, in the cold, trying to get him to talk.  He passed out a few times and I shook him back awake.  His name was Joey. He was 31.  His parents were in Arizona.  He hadn’t seen them in a long time and they didn’t accept him. He was gay.  He was a massage therapist.  He wanted to join the military.  He loved to cook.  He was addicted to meth, and was in a harm reduction program. He was homeless.  He wouldn’t say whether this was a suicide attempt or not. Read the rest of this entry »

Sooo….. this week, we accidentally launched a startup.

boffery-logo.png

We were quietly going about our business, scheming and building and testing our hearts out, keeping things nicely under wraps… when all of a sudden we ended up on Valleywag. And then CNet News. Um, hai.

So… you want to know what we’re building. That’s a great question. Here’s a hint: it’s a lot less scary and outlandish than the press is making it out to be.  But hey — why take the fun out of things?  Go ahead and keep pretending that we’re out to ruin lives. We think it’s funny.

Oh, and by “we,” I mean there are four of us.

We’ll let you in on the action soon.  Until then, we recommend using your twitter, tumblr, and flickr vision.

Happy boffing!

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