Mark and Vinny Holiday Letter 2008







This last year has been a difficult one for our world, our country and us personally. As we write this, like so many others, we are looking to the new year as the start of an exciting future filled with new hope and new enthusiasm for fundamental change and renewed health — both for us and our world. For us this begins in just over a month with the inauguration of President Barack Obama. We take great comfort in reading and watching Obama’s YouTube videos.

As we wrote last year, in December 2007, Mark completed a very difficult yearlong successful treatment for hepatitis C. Thankfully, he became one of the lucky few to be effectively cured. Unfortunately, in the process it put a lot of stress on his various underlying medical conditions caused by living with (and treating) HIV for 25 years. The original plan was that Mark would be able to go back to work early in 2008. But now in addition to AIDS and polycythemia, Mark has cardiac hypertrophy, peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, orthostatic hypotension, and chronic extreme fatigue. His HIV is still well controlled. Bouncing back and being well enough to return to work is something of a moving goal still off in the future right now.

Vinny’s unstoppable spirit is as strong as ever, but his body too is showing the effects of many long years of toxic treatments that are needed to keep him alive. Considering that it’s now eight years since he was diagnosed with “weeks to live” we really can’t complain. Although Vinny’s end-stage liver disease and related conditions are still incurable, in February Vinny had his shoulder replaced with titanium and ceramic, so his medical team must believe that he will last long enough to amortize the cost and effort of this high tech wonder. Over the summer, our long-time friend, physician and AIDS expert Dr. Paul Chambliss left his private practice and with great upheaval, we moved our multi-volume medical history over to Dr. Stuart Haber whose office is two blocks from our home. We didn’t think our health care could get much better, but it has. We’ve continued our activism efforts in same-sex marriage equality.

We’ve both become even more active at The Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist, which has a long, proud history in social activism and has been intertwined with the ACLU, NAACP, UN, Mohandas Gandhi, and pro-peace work. The UU community not only celebrates our diversity, they are great at providing support for our special needs and limitations, so we’ve been able to do a lot this year:

Mark was elected Board of Trustees Chair of Community Church; we were both delegates at the weeklong Unitarian Universalist Association “General Assembly” in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in June (our first real trip since 2000); we both attended the weeklong Unitarian Universalist Team Institute in July/August at Juniata College, Huntingdon PA; after a fifteen-year hiatus, Vinny has been leading his “Seven Terrace Meditation” each month at Community Church with guided images through seven colorful gardens to help folks gain inner peace and healing for mind and body.

Please visit our website for updates, more details, and all our various writings, meditation stuff, blogs, photos, videos, and even some meditation podcasts.