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Worth the Wait

To the Editor:

I read with interest Jo Page’s column on patience [“Trying Patience,” Reckonings, March 17]. My own apprenticeship in this virtue took place over the course of my 17-year residence in a developing country, where I waited a year to receive my first paycheck at my teaching job. And that only after a day of tromping up and down stairs in a Kafkaesque government ministry to see multiple bureaucrats and beg for their signatures on my paperwork. I received a check that was considered an advance, pending finalization of my dossier.

That was the most extreme example of delay during my years there, but I grew to not expect much of anything to happen on time. In fact, I got used to arriving at meetings a half-hour late and being the first one there. Besides learning patience, I learned to slow down, look around me and become more aware. I learned to greet people with respect and ask about their families and lives before getting down to business. Later, when I got a job teaching at “the American School,” if I got to staff meetings five or 10 minutes late, I was late, and the meeting had already started.

Not all cultures share our fixation with punctuality, which they equate with our in-your-face “time is money” mentality, where punctuality is often more important than people. In some cultures, time is not money, but rather a rubber band that can stretch to accommodate a more genuine and caring attitude toward human beings and their social needs. It’s the difference between chronos (objective, count-the-minutes time) and kairos (elastic, subjective time).

It has been said that tribulation produces patience, patience produces character, and character produces hope. We could use a bit more hope in this day and age, so let’s all try being a bit more patient with each other.

Ellen Zunon


Maybe It Was the Drugs?

To the Editor:

John Rodat’s “Going, Going, Gonzo” [Myth America, March 10], on the passing of Hunter S. Thompson, resonated strongly. But Rodat’s recollection is way off on one important point: “. . . And my dad handed it over with a shrug, suggesting I might not get much out of it at that age.”

My recollection of the event is quite different. No shrug, but the strongest of recommendations driven by my own memory of first reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and laughter and shaking so out-of-control that it disturbed his mother’s sleep.

The handover may have included one of those boring parental stories. That I’m fuzzy on. Perhaps your columnist was using some poetic license. But a “shrug”? Never! Thompson was too insightful, too great a storyteller, and just too damn funny for that.

Oh, and how come I never heard about being sent to the principal’s office for reading Fear and Loathing in art class?

The other (much older) John Rodat


Check Yourself

To the Editor:

The Feb. 24 column by Dan Savage [Savage Love] has certainly raised the ire of many readers. As professionals who are working in the field of HIV prevention and treatment, we would like to add our comments to this very important dialog.

In particular, we take issue with Mr. Savage’s response to a letter in which a reader disclosed that she had a male friend who was HIV positive and that this friend had decided not to disclose his HIV status to sex partners. Further, he did not use safer-sex precautions, thereby placing his partners at very high risk for HIV infection.

Of course we are alarmed and disturbed, as would be most people, by this individual’s apparent cavalier attitude about infecting others. However, we must point out that one person’s irresponsibility does not excuse another’s. In fact, it is essential that each of us take responsibility for protecting ourselves when we have decided to engage in sexual activity.

As individuals and as representatives of our agencies, we strongly encourage HIV-positive individuals to disclose their status to their sexual partners and to their needle-sharing partners. Still, our experience teaches us that disclosure is both a complex and highly personal issue and not everyone will be direct and honest. Even if an individual is able to disclose their status, this does not automatically guarantee that they are willing to practice safer sexual or needle-use practices. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one-third of all HIV-infected individuals in the US have not been tested for HIV and therefore do not even know their status!

For all these reasons, it is absolutely crucial that all individuals be proactive in protecting their own health. Each of us must consider the level of risk posed by a potential sexual encounter or by drug use before we proceed. When we decide to proceed, we must know and practice effective prevention.

The AIDS Council and Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood both offer much information about effective ways of preventing HIV infection. We also offer HIV testing and counseling. For individuals who have engaged in risky behaviors, not knowing does not mean an uninfected status. It is imperative that anyone who has been at risk get tested. If the test results are HIV-negative, plans can be developed to stay that way. For people testing positive, plans can also be developed to prevent further infection and to obtain information concerning how to access necessary medical and support services. Honest communication with partners should be promoted and applauded.

Nancy Fisher

Director of Prevention Services, AIDS Council of Northeastern New York

Rob Curry

Vice President Education & Training, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood



In last week’s story about the growing overlap between comic-book, television and film writers [“Celluloid Superheroes,” March 17], National Periodical Publications was incorrectly identified as the publisher of Captain Marvel and Captain America. While NPP, now known as DC Comics, currently owns the rights to the Captain Marvel character, Fawcett Comics originally published the superhero’s exploits, not NPP. The adventures of Captain America were not published by NPP either, but by Timely Comics, the company now known as Marvel Comics.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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