Stuart McLean in a serious moment


I once met Stuart McLean, the legendary Canadian broadcaster who died yesterday.  It was both my brush with fame and utter modesty.

The occasion was the aftermath of a very tragic time, in the 1980s, in St. Catharines, Ontario where I worked in private radio. Several men had been arrested for sexual encounters in a local mall washroom, one of whom committing suicide when he set himself on fire in his car.

Stuart stopped by the radio station one evening, hoping to use our facilities to process some tape for the CBC.  I was pleased to let him do so.  I didn’t meet Stuart the comedian that night.  He seemed quite devastated by all that had transpired in town, including the public naming of all those who had been charged, the St. Catharines Standard newspaper the lone exception in the media storm.

It was an ugly story to be covering, which he did for Peter Gzowski’s “Morningside”. I can recall “driveway moments” of my own with Stuart, listening to him while idling the car in the radio station parking lot.

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It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day – let’s review


It is a measure of self-compassion on this Bell Let’s Talk Day when I can slow down and remind myself of where I am and where I’ve come from.

I have a long history of, and recovery from, substance abuse – chiefly, but not solely, alcohol – begun shortly after a period of sexual abuse in my adolescence – which followed an elementary school teacher experience with hell.

Since I was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1989 I have been treated for depression, and later bipolar II which is treated with medications and talk therapy.

I have been through a lot but I’m always gratified to hear of other people’s struggles on days like this.

Let’s Talk!

The ever-present question: Now what?


I describe myself, rightly so I think, as a long-term survivor of AIDS and HIV.  I offer as evidence my being diagnosed with HIV in 1989 and my long, slow recovery from AIDS-related Cryptosporidiosis in the early 90s – the effects of which shadow me to this day.

Over the years, due to a serious accident and other incidents, I have also been treated for major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II.

My mood has been mostly stable, arching towards a bit of depression after Christmas.

With the approach of Bell Let’s Talk I find myself taking stock of my mental state and wondering, what’s next?

While the good folks at the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry work on my smile in a major . long overdue way,  I feel optimistic, not having realized how isolating broken teeth have affected me.

But now what?

I sometimes still tie my survival, and my right to pull the plug, to my mother’s life (no pressure, Mom!), having made a commitment to myself to live as long as she does.

But if I get a nice set of teeth after all this oral surgery is over, I won’t want to squander all that with a shortened life – certainly not of my own doing.

Let’s Talk.

Thank you Rosemary Barton and MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes


Celina Caesar-Chavannes appeared tonight on CBC Power and Politics with host Rosemary Barton.  She was there to discuss her experiences with depression, before and since becoming MP for Whitby and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Parliamentary Secretary.

Rosemary’s thorough, careful questions brought out responses I could relate to in my own experience – and even in present circumstances.

Sitting around in my “lounge pants” and t-shirt, unwashed.

Recognizing the signs of depression in these and other ways.  Maybe I’ll do something about it, rather than wait for my scheduled psychiatric appointment.

It doesn’t seem like it’s enough to know what’s going on.

I do not feel like I am a danger to myself or anyone else. That’s probably important to note.

I really want to thank Rosemary and Celina.  In this approaching season of “Let’s Talk.”

December 6th


While we honour the memory of all victims of male violence against women everywhere, before and since, Canadians particularly recall today the names of the victims of the Montreal Massacre at l’École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989:

Geneviève Bergeron, 21, was a second year scholarship student in civil engineering.

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Hélène Colgan, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to take her master’s degree.

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Nathalie Croteau, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering.

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Barbara Daigneault, 22, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and was a teaching assistant.

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Anne-Marie Edward, 21, was a first year student in chemical engineering.

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Maud Haviernick, 29, was a second year student in engineering materials, a branch of metallurgy, and a graduate in environmental design.

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Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31, was a second year engineering student specializing in engineering materials.

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Maryse Laganière, 25, worked in the budget department of the Polytechnique.

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Maryse Leclair, 23, was a fourth year student in engineering materials.

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Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, was a fourth year student in mechanical engineering.

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Sonia Pelletier, 28, was to graduate the next day in mechanical engineering. She was awarded a degree posthumously.

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Michèle Richard, 21, was a second year student in engineering materials.

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Annie St-Arneault, 23, was a mechanical engineering student.

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Annie Turcotte, 21, was a first year student in engineering materials.

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Each died, in a deranged man’s gun rampage. because they were women.

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World AIDS Day 2016


The blank page stares up at me, “World AIDS Day 2016”. That will be Thursday.

It’s not like it used to be when life was much more urgent, desperate. I think of the dead. I still sorely miss my friends, friends from our twenties and thirties. Gone. It’s like Remembrance Day, but I don’t like the war analogies that go along with that. I wonder what they would have been like had they lived with me into my upper fifties. If only treatments could have saved them. It’s been twenty years since the 1996 World AIDS Conference in Vancouver which was bursting with excitement over the promise of new treatments, combination therapies nicknamed “the cocktail”. I was on three, and then four drug combinations as soon as they became available, eliminating ones with severe side effects only to find new side effects with the alternatives. Lipodystrophy – fatty humps – and lipoatrophy – loss of muscle mass in my face, limbs and butt. So I sit on a cushion a lot. It’s chronic but manageable, don’tchaknow? I remember World AIDS Day 1993 when I took a bouquet of wild flowers to the AIDS Memorial. CBC News followed me around as I placed single flowers by the names of individuals I knew until I tearfully ran out of flowers before I had finished. That was the year of Jim’s last Christmas and I went home and wrote the first of many annual holiday letters in hopes of cheering him up. There was the year I put a call out for writers to submit stories of how HIV/AIDS affected them – and was pleasantly surprised with the response.

HIV is still here and, despite some attempts to downplay it, so is AIDS. HIV, and expectations that I would not live long, have rotted my teeth. As a yes-to-life gesture I am endeavouring to get my teeth fixed which will probably be a wholesale replacement with dentures. This is not merely cosmetic, though it is that, too. I am not eating as well as I could were I to have a full mouth of comfortable teeth. So the good folks at the U of T School of Dentistry have begun to fix me up. I can no longer deny that I might live long enough to need these damn teeth. All that remains is to come up with the funds.

My friends didn’t live long enough to have dental problems. I didn’t think I would either. As crises go, I’ll take this one.