Showing posts with label Londell Jackson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Londell Jackson. Show all posts

Monday, December 2, 2013

Reflections on World AIDS Day

By Londell Jackson

Yesterday was World AIDS Day 2013. Yesterday was also the first day of Advent.  As such, I sit and reflect upon what that means for me.  When I think about World AIDS day, I stop to reflect upon HIV and AIDS and how this virus has affected my life.  While note a regularly practicing Catholic -- I don’t go to church often -- Advent is one of the many celebrations of the Church I bring into our home.  Advent is a season of preparation, specifically for the birth of Jesus.  Moreover, Advent is a season of reconciliation, forgiveness, and self-renewal; very similar to the Lenten season.

I have lived with HIV for just over 13 years.  I am among those fortunate enough to state my seroconversion has not affected my life in any large scale. For the majority of my infection I did take any sorts of meds simply because my body was keeping the virus in check.  That was until 2006 when I was diagnosed with Poly Arteritis Nodosa (PAN), an autoimmune disease of the vascular system.  It seemed that while my immune system was dealing with the HIV, it got a little overzealous and decided to attack the blood vessels in my legs, ankles, and feet.  While my T-Cell and viral load counts were normal, the only treatment to bring this affliction into remission was to start an antiretroviral.  I won’t share with you any stories of dealing with multi-pill dosages, or horrific side effects, simply because I had neither.  By the time I started treatment, it consisted of one pill, once per day.  Besides waking up groggy and some bizarre dreams at times, my life continued uninterrupted and the PAN went into remission.  Over the years, I have developed resistance to two drugs, and am now on my third.  Still no side effects (knock on wood).

My HIV does not dictate my life as it has millions of others.  Much of that is due to my middle class standing.  Nope, I’m not wealthy by any means, but I have always had health insurance, specifically prescription coverage.  If it wasn’t for insurance, I would have been dead a long time ago (well, that is a hyperbolic assumption) simply because I could have never afforded the medication, which costs $2,300 per month.  That’s $23,600 per year for those who would like to know.  Now I understand HIV infections are on the rise for several populations in our country.  I have assumptions as to the reasons for this, but regardless of what they might be, look at the basic economic reason to take precautions around potential infection.  Enough said about that.

As a believer in Christ, and as a follower of his teachings and wishes, I honor the season of Advent in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, the Christ child.  What does this mean in layperson’s terms: I am cleaning up the house before the guest arrives.  I’m looking back at the commitments I’ve made to myself over the years, commitments I’ve made privately between myself and my god about how I can be a better community member, a better spouse, and a better individual for myself.  

What does better mean, well, that’s a book for another day, but in this particular case, living a healthier life, a life that will make my remaining years enjoyable, and how can I encourage others to do similarly.

I acknowledge I have slacked in the areas of self care and preservation as of late.  I’ve packed on all the weight I had lost, I’m not taking artist’s dates as needed and promised, and I am not tending to my spiritual needs.  These things have once been very important to me and in my life, but lately they have seemed to wane as I slowly turn into a couch meatloaf.  So, it is time again to commit myself to becoming a healthier me.  While science has developed medicines to help sustain my life, and while my choices with and without spiritual direction have led me to where I am today, I can do better.  I can do better not just for me, but for my family as well.  I can also look to identify additional ways I can encourage others in my communities to make similar commitments for themselves, however possible.

This Advent, this World AIDS Day, I recommit myself to good health and to positive stewardship.  I honor the blessings in my life, and in doing so I commit to give my family a healthier me, and I live my life as a small example for others.  It’s the least I can do to say thank you and honor all those who have gone before me, and to ensure their lives were not taken in vain.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Personal Reflection

By Londell Jackson

I'm currently in my second year of my doctoral studies, and I have to say this process is unlike any other educational journey upon which I have embarked. Our professors warned us during our "orientation" of sorts, but at that time it really just seemed like some sort of propaganda. "This process will change your life," or something very similar, is what my cohort and I remember the most as we look back on this past year: all 15 of us. As we move forward and examine what this first year has meant to and for us all, I am reflect again on the class I took this summer, which became the catalyst for my disorientating dilemma.

I'd like to share with you all the reflection paper I submitted for a class titled, Diversity & Educational Policy, which I took this past summer. Given the conversations which are flowing in popular society now, I felt this piece relevant to share.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Things to do in Denver When You're Gay: The Denver Burger Battle and Denver County Fair

By Londell Jackson

I have often been quite proud of my Colorado native status. The few years I spent away from my home state had me longing for our majestic Rocky Mountains, our brilliant sunsets, and everything else which can be found right in our own backyard. I've seen our state, and most importantly, my home city -- Denver -- grow and mature. Recently, there has been an explosion of awesomely fun activities for just about anyone. And the past four days have been a prime example of what Denver has to offer.

August 8th brought us the fourth year of the Denver Burger Battle (DBB). There are few things which I really look forward to as I grow into my middle aged-ness, but the DBB is sorta like my Christmas. 12 of Denver's top burger joints lay their meat on the table to be judged by some of Colorado's nationally recognized chefs. But the judges don't get to have the last word about who has the best burger: the 1,000+ participants cast their vote for the People's Choice award. For the past four years, the DBB has hosted sellout crowds for this competition, and the demand only increases each year.

This year, the event was held in Sculpture Park (you know, the park at the Performing Arts Complex where the giant dancing aliens are, I know, I didn't know it had a name either!), and was expected to host close to 1,200 burger munchers. And like years previous, the performances of the chefs from the various restaurants did not disappoint. If you've been, you know exactly what I'm talking about, if you haven't, well, what the heck have you been waiting for??! I know, $69 or $95 is a lot of change for some hamburgers, but it's worth it. For two hours, you have access to an unlimited stream of gourmet burgers, continuously flowing beer, (did you get that, UNLIMITED BEER), some sweet treats, and a nice little goodie bag to take home. This year we saw the addition of lawn games like Corn Hole and Lawn Jenga (I've gotta get me one of those).

The first year John and I attended the DBB, we purchased General Admission tickets and the event was held at Union Station. It took us about 90 minutes to make one complete round. This year as well as the previous year, we spent the extra money for the VIP pass, if only to get in an hour early, and boy, what a difference an hour makes. Within 45 minutes we had tried every burger entry, and had more than our share of the specialty cocktails, which were provided by Breckenridge Distillery: a kick ass bourbon cocktail, and a wickedly smooth vodka drink, and were only available to VIPs during the first hour of the DBB. In addition, this year's VIPs received a $50 credit for a car service: UBER, which allowed us to party without inhibition. I will say, UBER was awesome: much more convenient than a taxi, with the luxury of a private sedan (or SUV should you choose one), and you can call for a pickup through their app and watch the car as it travels to get you. I want to give a shout out to our drivers: DJ and Sean, you both, respectively, started and ended our evening in style! So, if you missed this year's battle, get yourself on the mailing list, 'cause tickets - especially VIP tickets - go fast!

August 9 - 11 brought us the third annual Denver County Fair. WHY DIDN'T WE HAVE THIS WHEN I WAS A KID!?!?!? Oh my gosh is this a good time! This event, which is held at the National Western Complex, caters to folks of all ages, and there is something for everyone. John and I found ourselves entertained by and enjoying the dog agility contests, the various farm share vendors like Door to Door Organics and MM Local, the familiar and not so familiar barnyard critters, a pie eating contest, and even a freak show. Yep, I said it, A FREAK SHOW! We caught the tail-end of this performance which entailed the audience stapling dollar bills to the "ring leader". Depending on the amount of the bill you could staple it to his chest, back, stomach, or head. I had to leave shortly after witnessing this stunt. I also participated in a tattoo contest, of which I did not win. At the risk of sounding like a poor loser, some dude with a tat of a tire tread won, … grrr. Those of us who had substantial artwork on our bodies for display ground our teeth to a fine powder as he accepted his blue ribbon. Next year, I'm bringing my own cheering session as that dude did. But I digress.

And just as there were lots of things to do, what is a fair without food!? While there were the standards available like corn dogs and hamburgers, there were quite a few novelties to from which to choose. A cart marketing Twizzler Space Foam caught my eye. Created by The Inventing Room, these frozen by liquid nitrogen treats were quite scrumptious. John indulged in the Exploding Root Beer Float which really did explode in his face (OK, more like pop).

Oh, there's one last thing, which I can't fail to mention: big wheels,...FOR ADULTS!!! In support of Craig Hospital, High Roller offered free big wheel rides for folks 18 years old and over. Each rider was allowed two laps around an inside track and you could choose to race someone or just take a fun little ride. I have never seen so many grown folks enjoy reliving their childhoods on giant tricycles. I chose to race John and lost! LOL!!! Alas, I was not a total loser, however, I did win this lovely beast of a plastic chicken, and I have to say, I've always wanted a plastic chicken. They are great stress relievers: you can choke it and slap it around with little regard to, well, anything! As for this fair, you will see us there next year.

So, it appears our fine city is coming of age. Once known as a cowtown, Denver continues to offer its residents and visitors opportunities to eat 'till your heart's content, and encourages us all to take some time to let our hair down to have a little fun. Regardless of your age and expectation, you're bound to find something in this wonderful city of ours!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Restaurant Review: Bocadillo: A Welcome Eatery in NW Denver

By Londell Jackson 
My husband and I have lived in the Sunnyside neighborhood since 2007. While only a mere six years, we have witnessed the surrounding areas change quite a bit, much of which has been south of W. 38th Ave, in the Highland and Lower Highland neighborhoods. That being said, we are quite happy to see the additions which have crept into Sunnyside, and today, I'd like to share with you our experiences at one of the newer, or reborn, eateries: Bocadillo. Living just a stone's throw away from this place, John and I decided to walk over to Bocadillo for dinner. We missed trying this place out when it was a sandwich shop (or something like that) and now that it's reopened, we were set on giving it a try.

For drinks, John ordered the Bing Bong Berry and I had the Agua de Sunnyside. His was berry fruity and "smooth." Mine was quite yummy, sort of like a mango screwdriver. No, I didn't do my due diligence to photo or write down the liquors, but you can see for yourself when you go.

The chef pleasured us with an amuse bouche which consisted of a bundle of goat cheese wrapped in a thinly sliced zucchini which sat in a schmear of tomato ragout (I think that's what the sauce was). Yes, very simple, but quite tasty. "YUMMMM!" was the consensus and now the bar had been set.
Our appetizers arrived and were presented on a lovely wood block plate: the Seafood Croquetas with Saffron aioli. If you don't know what a croqueta is (like myself), these little puppies were like fried spring rolls filled with rice, shrimp, clam, and chorizo (yes, I know we live in a landlocked state; I like to live dangerously). You dip them in a tasty aioli. They were pretty good. The flavor was delicate and you could taste each ingredient. But I really mostly enjoyed the aioli, mmmmm.

After we polished those off, the chef treated us to another appetizer: the Lamb Rissoles. Oh my goodness, were these things tasty! Seasoned ground lamb wrapped in a crispy puff pastry? Oh, yeah. Take that little nugget and dip it into the yogurt mint dip and ... boom goes the dynamite! Suffice it to say, they didn't last too long at the table.

By this time we were gettin' kinda full, but pressed on as our entrees arrived to the table. John ordered the House-made Espaguetis and I had the Salmon and Paella. The Espaguetis was a spaghetti with a red cream sauce. John really, really enjoyed it. It was filled with light, homemade spaghetti and beets. Yea, I know, but these were good beets!

The Salmon and Paella had its pluses and minuses. After getting past the presentation, I was surprised by the taste combinations of salmon, rice, and hollandaise sauce. Now, I have to be critical of a few things about this dish: 1) the presentation, well, look at it; 2) the rice was a bit mushy, and given the flakiness of the fish I would have loved a more firm rice which would have added a textural element; and 3) the presentation.

By this time, we were bursting at the seams, but the server forced our hand (smiley face) and we opted to have some banana ice cream. I am not sure if they make their own, but it was really good, just like eating a frozen banana.

This was a pretty good dining experience, and we'd love to thank the chef for his hospitality and skill; John and I will be back. Our server was friendly and welcoming, as well as knowledgeable about the restaurant and the menu., which, by the way changes weekly, if not daily. If you don't want to dine-in, you can order take out (we witnessed two of such happen), but it's not a bad place to sit and stay awhile. They have a happy hour from 4-6pm and have a pretty nice beer list. Eating like we did, it was a bit pricey, but I suspect you could totally get your grub on with just the tapas and some beer.

So, since you didn't ask me, I say you give Bocadillo a try. Should you see me there, say "hi" and I'll buy you a beer!

Friday, June 28, 2013

MileHighGayGuys Discuss DOMA and Marriage Equality: Londell Jackson

"After all of the hubbub and fanfare leading up to the SCOTUS judgement about DOMA as well as their decision regarding Proposition 8, I must admit that this all somewhat feels anticlimactic.  Don't get me wrong, I am happy to hear our highest court identify the ways in which a 1990's legislative action has hurt countless U.S. citizens for bigoted and unnecessary reasons, and the same goes for Prop 8.

But, what bothers me most is that their actions, while significant to the LGBT movement for equality in the United States, were so narrow in focus and will now lead to dozens of additional lawsuits and struggles to overturn the many DOMAs or DOMA-like bills and amendments which exist in various states across the nation.  I know the case which brought this decision to the Supreme Court was particular focused on Section 3 of the national DOMA, but couldn't they have been a little more broad in their actions?

I realize my thoughts can be interpreted as ingratitude, and I can assure you that is not the case.  I'm just a little bewildered about why more didn't happen.  But I suppose this insatiable attitude is a product of my need for immediate gratification: I WANT MARRIAGE FOR ALL AND NOW!"

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Little Bit About Father's Day

By Londell Jackson

For 40 years, I've enjoyed the gift of two fathers: my pops and my dad.

To you, pops, I thank you for your role in giving me life. Whether or not your were able to share in my life's milestones, I'm glad my god has given me the opportunity to know you for myself. In you I can see parts of me, just as I am able to see mom in who I have become today.

To my dad, I thank you for caring for me as if I was your own. You have shown me what it means to be a strong man for family and for self. You have shown me that despite our many imperfections, we can still allow our stars to shine and find joy in life.

To my granddad and my Uncle David: you both have served as role models for me while growing up, and thank you for being there when I needed it most.

To all of you who have helped to nurture a child's life -- large or small -- thank you for your time and your talents. The minutes spent helping a child to learn about and understand the world around them: priceless. The ability to be goofy and serious, gentle and firm, enduring and even coalescing, these traits are some of those which define a father. Thank you for caring enough to help shepherd your family to greatness.

Happy Fathers Day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Meet the MileHighGayGuy Bloggers: Londell Jackson

A Denver native, Londell Jackson has worked for various organizations throughout the Metro area, including Gill Foundation, Denver Employment Alliance, National Endowment for Financial Education, and Center for Work Education and Employment.

Londell currently serves as Director of Education & Programs for Colorado Nonprofit Association. In addition, he is an Affiliate Faculty for Metropolitan State University of Denver, and an Adjunct Instructor for Colorado Community College System - Online. Londell holds a B.S. in Nonprofit Administration from Metro State, a M.Ed. with a specialization of Adult Learning, Training, and Development from Regis, and is currently working toward his doctorate in Adult and Occupational Education at North Dakota State University.

In his spare time, you will find Londell in the kitchen entertaining guests, playing with his Bloodhound and kitties, or enjoying a variety of leisure activities with his husband, John.