By any other name

 Posted by on July 16, 2016 at 1:45 pm
Jul 162016
Kansas City Times profile.

Profiled in Kansas City Times, May 8, 1989
as Jon D. Barnett.

A whole year?!

It’s hard to believe that it has been more than a year since I’ve written anything on my blog. I don’t even know how to begin to catch up.

I blame Facebook, mostly. I’ve been addicted to the lightning-fast pace of information exchange there, and I’ve written hundreds, maybe even thousands of posts and at least a few Facebook “Notes” (longer, blog-like articles), some of which might have been good candidates for blog posts.

But Facebook isn’t a blogging platform. It isn’t a good community forum platform. It is a horrible political organizing platform.

Despite all those liabilities Facebook has become the go-to place for these things. It’s become the primary source of information for a lot of people. I’m not leaving Facebook, but I do want to return to my own little personal piece of the Internet: my blog.

I get messages from readers with questions about my health, and what I’m doing about anti-retroviral drugs (I’m taking them). You will have to wait a bit longer, but I promise to get around to sharing more information about those matters soon.

Resistance Is Fruitful started out as a place for me to write about my experience of living with a positive HIV diagnosis since 1998 and the chronic health issues I have experienced; some of them long before that date. While I have written on other topics here, the blog hasn’t felt like the right place to write about miscreant public figures, for example or how to change our political system. I dabbled with writing at another site, but it was not very user-friendly for the kind of writing I want to do, especially long form.

Other interests

I’ve grown less and less fixated on the HIV=AIDS question the last couple of years. Not because I’ve discovered satisfactory answers, but because it has become obvious to me that many of the questions I have will not be answered anytime soon, and meanwhile, I have a life to live.

The latest health problem challenging me is chronic pain resulting from spinal damage caused by a fall. It’s taken too many weeks to get a diagnosis, thanks in part to a couple of bouts of kidney stones that confusticated things, and now a long wait of several weeks just to get  a “new patient” appointment with a specialist. I don’t expect a speedy resolution, but at least I should have more information later this week.

There is a group of men who spend ten days a year experimenting with intentional community that I want to be involved with. The Midwest Men’s Festival starts in just a couple of days, but before I go, I need to see the orthopedic surgeon and decide how much I can take part in that with my (hopefully temporary)  limited mobility.

I have a home that is slowly transforming into our castle for my partner and myself. I’d like to think that I’m a great “idea man,” and I have started projects from one end of this place to the other. Those who know me well know that completing tasks is not my strong suit. One of my favorites phrases is “substantially complete.”

My aging, 93-year-old mother has never been closer to her own end of life, but it’s not clear yet if that is weeks or months or years away. I feel a need to spend more time visiting her in Colorado, but again, pain and limitations in mobility thwart me.

I became a statewide delegate for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in April. That consumed a lot of my attention and energy, and has ignited a progressive political movement in Missouri. That’s what I’ve mostly been writing about elsewhere the summer.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Each of us is a multi-faceted person and I am no exception. I want a writing platform that better reflects those various aspects of who I am, so I will be moving to a new domain and website. What hasn’t changed is that I still want to tell stories—my own and those of others who are willing to share with me. Of all the things I’ve done in my lifetime, writing has been one of the most consistent and rewarding hobby I have.

The new name: Jon D Barnett

The new website isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, and it is not yet being indexed by search engines, but it is being built. I want a fresh start, without losing the value of what has gone before. All of the posts I’ve written to date will remain, but content will be organized a bit differently.

Yard sign from 1991 city council race.

Yard sign from 1991 city council race.

I am also changing my byline. For most of my life up until 1999 or so, I used the name Jon D Barnett. No one called me Jonathan when I was growing up. That name seemed needlessly long and awkward. My dad, Victor D Barnett, was known as Vic and he always included his middle initial in his signature. I mimicked that for myself. Jon D Barnett is the name I used to run for city council in 1991 and was my byline on articles I wrote for the News-Telegraph throughout the 1990s.

I started using Jonathan more consistently when I tested positive for HIV in 1998 and consummated that switch when I became eligible for disability in 2004. It is the name on my Social Security and Medicare cards, and I didn’t want medical clerks confusing the system by misspelling Jon as John. I was in a huge state of flux, so embracing a new moniker that was also my oldest name seemed appropriate. It served as the marker for a bifurcation point in my life. It was some sort of poorly understood, let alone defined, action on my part to claim a new identity following a dramatic—no, let’s be honest—a traumatic life change.

There are other Jonathan Barnetts out there, including a retired Arkansas state representative; a successful sports agent; the founder of Oxi Fresh carpet cleaning; an accomplished author and retired emeritus professor of urban planning and design; and perhaps most conspicuous, an architect and outspoken skeptic regarding the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.

That’s a lot of name competition!

A few weeks ago I turned 60, another significant life event for me, and I hope it will prove to be yet another significant pivoting point in my life. I loved how people I have met for the first time in the new circles I have found myself in intuited that those closest to me called me Jon. I have been pondering whether I wanted to go back to using that shortened version of my name for months now. As has been my experience so often in my life to date, serendipity stepped in and settled the question for me. Do you know how hard it is to find good domain names? Imagine my surprise to find that was not only available, but on sale for a few bucks.

Of course, there is another Jon D Barnett in Kansas City that I hope not to get confused with. He is 33-years-old and listed on the sexual offender list. That Barnett was charged with “indecent liberties” against a 14-year-old girl when he was…. get this…. 15-years-old! And that right there is another story of injustice that I really want to write about, but it will just have to wait.

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