I’m still recuperating from the Springsteen concert at Giant’s stadium a couple of weeks ago. I swear to you, there’s nothing like a Springsteen concert, especially in New Jersey - his home State and mine. I regress into adolescence every time Springsteen comes to town. It feels really, really good. And I haven’t felt really, really good in a long time. I play a good game and put on my “happy face” most of the time. I do have a wicked sense of humor which gets me through the day. But underneath that, I’m in prison. I want something more. I want to work, but can’t. My doc doesn’t want me to work, period. I want to break free of the "ties that are binding" me. I’m pissed off at the pharmaceutical industry. They’ve got a real racket going on. Keep tweaking drugs and merging companies to extend patents. Why should they want a cure for AIDS? The money is too good. These companies are protected by this administration and most of the Republican politicians whose main goal is to keep their stock options high, protecting their own profits. I’m pissed off at this administration and their shameful HIV policies that have fueled this disease for far too long. I want a new government and a new President who sets the policy for the next four years. I want a President and a congress that puts healthcare at the top of the agenda. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!

Living with AIDS for 23 years has taken its toll on me. But let me tell you, when I do feel good, I enjoy every moment of it. I love Springsteen’s music for many reasons. First of all, his performances are phenomenal. He gives his entire self to the audience. And I mean ALL of it... heart, body and soul. You can feel the electricity of his guitar piercing your heart, feel pain when he moans and feel joy when he jokes and plays around. Sometimes, he explains the meaning of his songs and how they pertain to current times. I forget all my troubles for those three and a half hours. (no breaks - he just rams right through the show and never stops) I’m living in the moment and not “Living in The Future” (another great song!)

There’s always a message hidden in his lyrics. His songs are metaphors of life. A recurring theme is the “struggle” that his “characters” must go through in life and the self-reflection that must take place in order to conquer their fears. “Fear’s a powerful thing, baby. It’ll turn your heart black you can trust. It’ll take your God filled soul. Fill it with devils and dust.”

His message is also very political. He doesn’t like what’s happened to our country in the past eight years and he uses his music to express his rage and shame of our government. Protest is not “unpatriotic”, as we are led to believe. It’s protected in our “Constitution”. Sometimes he comes right out and says how disgusted he is with the “policies” of this administration and what’s happened to our common sense. Sometimes, you have to “read between the lines”. And I like that very much. The fact is, I’m mad as hell, too. Except I can’t carry a tune, so I try to express myself by writing. And, by going back to school for a degree in Political Science. I need to channel my anger to make things better. I don’t want to hurt anyone, or hurt myself. I want to make this world a better place for the next generation.

A friend came with me to the concert. He’s really more than a friend. I like him very much, but I was so scared to open my heart. I did and I’m OK. It’s good to finally feel “something” than “nothing at all”. I don’t want heartache in my life anymore, but I guess that’s inevitable. I realized that I’ve been “Walking tough, but walking blind” I want to break free of these “ties” that are binding me to my past. But I can’t. There is no cure for AIDS - and I (and you) have to live with this disease for the rest of our lives.

The message I get from most of Bruce’s music is that you can stay where you are, live in fear and take no chances. You can remain stagnant, walk down the same path, and live a lie. Of course, the sad fact is that we’re all going to eventually die. But if you take a chance, live your life truthfully and with dignity, you might be able to escape the darkness of your own despair. All of us with HIV/AIDS (and without it) should live truthfully, face our demons head on and be ready for the inevitable consequences. It’s not easy and we all have “ties that bind” us to our past.

I’ve come to believe that confronting my demons is the only way to get rid of them. Demons only exist in our minds. Once they are exposed, they dissipate. This is a constant theme in philosophy. (I’m still traumatized by that philosophy class I took last semester! It was so painful, but definitely enlightening) Demons are weak and cannot have any power over us unless we allow them to.

“Fear” creates the “Ties That Bind Us”. In order to break free, we’ve got to face our fears and acknowledge our faults. Then, do what it takes to change. It takes courage. It takes honesty. It takes an open heart and good friend to help you get through each day.