The cast of characters

Let me start with an apology to anyone who is not on this list. I have tried to include those of you who have been helping directly as well as those who have reached out with gifts and messages. I think I have the various players covered, but each time I think I have completed the list, someone else pops into my head. Please do send me a reminder message if somehow I missed you and I am more than happy to add you, but for now I will stop trying to rack my repairing brain. Any oversight is by no means intentional!

Here, I am merely introducing the people who have been there. Details about what they did is in the daily blog entries.

The leading cast – people who have just been giving non-stop!

Antonio Pascual Palma is my wonderful, loving partner. We met 4 years ago on Fire Island, and have been really together for a year and a half. He moved to NY both for work and to be with me and we now live together. He has been my rock – emotionally and making sure that I do what I need to do over the entire course of this ordeal. I adore this man!

Miguel Moscoso – My dear friend originally from Ecuador who is now a US citizen. Miguel has been there for me every day before, during and after the surgery! He has taken on so much to help me make it and be there for me! I love Miguel and his entire family has held me in their prayers!

Susan Locke and I met in 1972 when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal. She was the psychologist who accompanied our group to make sure we were adjusting well. She is a professor at Baruch University in NYC and we have stayed fast friends since 1972. She has been so helpful in identifying the right doctors and being by my side along with Antonio throughout this ordeal.

Xavier Orellana and I met in the Dominican Republic in the early 2000s when I was training people on the UN Cares initiative. He was representing Ecuador and we bonded then. I went to visit him and his family in Quito for Christmas and we have been close since then. Xavier joined UNAIDS to focus full time on UN Cares and whenever I am in Geneva, I stay with him and his husband, Glenn. And they stay with me in NY and on Fire Island. I met Miguel through Xavier.

Carlos Motta and I met many years ago on Fire Island when I was admiring his yoga skills on the beach. He has been a good friend ever since. He is also a super smart, conceptual and talented artist who exhibits around the world. He took the lead to make sure the Fire Island house was opened this year and has checked in on me almost every day since.

Miraj (Raj) Patel is a dear friend originally from Philadelphia who livied in NY for many years, but is now back in Philly. We always had lots of fun when he was in NY and on Fire Island, going out dancing and to enjoy “the scene.” He also has always been there for me and really stepped up to the plate to help with communications to everyone for a while. Raj is super funny and can make me laugh in seconds!

Don Alden and I met about 7 years ago and dated for quite a while – almost until Antonio came into my life. He has always been a fantastic presence and support to me. And has helped in many ways – including opening the house in Fire Island for a number of years. He is a talented songwriter, singer and dancer, too! Don’s boyfriend, Andrew, also helped at exactly the right time –when we were moving a load to Manhattan Mini-Storage, Andrew, who is a professional organizer, came to help and he – in the best possible way – took over to make sure that we got things into that tight space in the most efficient way.

Ellen Saad and I met in 1967. You can read more about Ellen in my blog entry of April 21. Let me just add that we see one another at least every few months, including her visits to Fire Island and for walks in NYC. She is in all but biology, my sister!

Katia Fisch is a retired UNICEF friend who goes back to the 70s in my life. She and I have traveled together to India, Israel and, in the 80s, to Equatorial Guinea where my symptoms really started to show for the brain tumors. Katia calls all the time to see how I am doing and we met just before my surgery, offering Buddhas. She knows my entire family and continues to be a major supporter in my life’s journey, even if she can be a “pain” sometimes. When I speak to her, I do so with a French accent – I don’t even do it consciously, it just happens!

Aalap Shah and I met about 5 years ago at a club in Brooklyn. He is super cool and we always have fun together. He has been a big moral support during this process and helped in the move to Manhattan Mini-Storage – I love his “Brooklyn” energy!

Family

Chester Silverman, my Dad, and I talk everyday. He continues to astonish me with his energy even at 96 years old. Yes, he has slowed down, but still plays cards twice a week (poker and bridge), goes to meetings of the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training which he helped to found and goes to Jewish War Veterans meetings, attends Saturday services at synagogue – plus he and Florence go dancing almost every week. He has offered prayers to me for my brain since he found out about my condition and in spite of officially saying he could not travel to NY again, offered to do so for my surgery.

Florence Rogow has become my second mom. After Gloria’s passing, Dad met Florence through my cousin, Carol Mahr. Florence keeps my dad alive with love, vitamins, company and making sure he eats right and that he gets to his doctors appointments. She is a gem!

Shelley Poulos, my sister, does not write much but she sends good energy my way all the time. She sent me a beautiful good luck bamboo plant and a jade gem to hang from my Buddha. And she has stepped up in being there for my Dad during this time when I cannot do so.

Bruce Silverman, my brother, lives with his wife and 4 kids in Baguio in the Philippines. He has a web business and has built both my professional website (sflinternational.com) as well as this blog for free. He is a bit of a character, but in the end has a huge heart.

Andy Poulos and Stefanie Poulos-Hopkins are my wonderful nephew and niece from my sister Shelley. Andy has a beautiful daughter, Elizabeth and Stef has 4 remarkable girls: Kaelah, Marabel, Lucie and Neve. I am sometimes called UA (for Uncle Alan) and sometimes Purple Onion for a story I used to tell them when they were kids. According to Stef’s kids, I am also called the “coolest uncle ever!”

Major supporters

Eric Sawyer is a good friend with whom I used to work at UNAIDS and a neighbor on Fire Island. Eric is an activist who has given so much to the world on AIDS and LGBT issues. He is one of my heroes! He has helped me over and over again not just with the current situation, but whenever I have needed help.

David Schofield and I met in the early 90s – my second year on Fire Island. He had called the house where I was staying in May to ask to speak to another friend and we started talking weekly until I finally met him live in NY that September. We have been close since then. He is one of the most intelligent, articulate and talented men I know. He stays in my NY home when visiting from Key West and has gifted me with much wisdom and many beautiful objects. I own 2 original Schofield drawings. He is a gift that keeps on giving!

Nancy Raphael and I met in UNICEF Human Resources Division probably 2 decades ago. We worked on a few issues together especially focusing on setting up and training people for an informal ombudsperson program and travelled the world together to train the ombudspersons. It was during those trips that we bonded and got to know one another. After she moved to Geneva with UNICEF, I visited her and her family there and she then became head of HR for UNAIDS and my official supervisor. She always said that supervising me was like supervising cats – not an easy task – and she should know since she is such a cat person!

Suraj Bhatia and I met about 5 years ago and dated for a while. He has an amazing energy, even if he sometimes tries to pry into my “private life.” He is always fun to be with and adds story after story that builds good energy. He also is a very talented decorator/architect who has designed spaces for Google and Twitter. Beyoncé is jealous of his wardrobe and hair!

Michael Foley and I met while I was dancing at Morelli’s back in the 80s. We had lost contact for many years but reconnected about 5 years ago when I visited him in Paris where he was leading the dance program for the University of South Florida. Michael has been a wonderful advisor and friend since then.

Miriam Ellner and I go back to the mid-80s and although we recently had a long struggle, my tumors have reconnected us and helped us to find a path forward. She has reached out several times including 2 visits to me – one before and one after surgery.

Cyrus Copeland is a dear friend whom I met doing 2-step dancing at the Big Apple Ranch in NY – probably 10 years ago at this point! Cyrus is a writer and we have spent a lot of time together in NY and on Fire Island. He is a free spirit and my best Muslim friend from Iran!

Chandler Kensington and I met through Bryce. Chandler has been amazing in his outpouring of love and support. His offers to help flow and he made sure that my computer issues were resolved when I didn’t have the energy to deal with AppleCare . His BF, George Huraj gave me my pre-surgical haircut and both will spend time on Fire Island this summer in my house.

Susan Letteney and I met in the 80s at DanceSpace and have been good friends since that time. Susan has texted, called, sent flowers and come for lunch – always an amazing presence in my life!

Seth Doane and Andrea Andrea Pastorelli are married. I met Andrea first – he was working on HIV issues in UNDP NY and they moved to China when Seth was transferred there to head the news team for CBS. I stayed with them in China and visited Beijing with them both and went to Xian with Andrea. I was blessed to attend their wedding in Italy (Tuscany) where Andrea hails from. I was honored to be one of their “flower guys.” It was the most amazing wedding you can imagine – lasted 5 days! They recently moved to Rome where Seth heads CBS news there. Andrea is an amazing cook and Seth an amazing barman who makes margaritas to die for!

Chantal and Jules Feinberg are friends from my Temple U days. I have been blessed to have them as friends since the early 70s and have been to the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs of all of their kids as well as to the wedding of son, Gabe. Rachel, the only daughter, followed a bit in my footsteps, joining Peace Corps in neighboring Mauritania.

Stewart Schulman and I met when we were dancing in the early 80s at Morelli’s and then DanceSpace in NYC. We have been good friends since that time and he continues to add amazing energy to my life. He had his own health issues several years ago and offered me excellent advice in this time of crisis.

Mark Domann and I met through Eduardo who works for the UN. Eduardo is also my initial connection to Antonio those 4 plus years ago. Mark lived in NY and moved from here to San Francisco and then to San Diego before moving back to his hometown in Columbus, Ohio. We have stayed in touch for many years now and I visited him in San Diego 5 years ago for a week. He sends me good energy and is studying massage to help heal others.

Marc Martin is from Barcelona, but now lives in NYC. We met in Australia in 2013 and have stayed in touch. Since he has been in NY, we have gone to theater, dinner and brunch together. He is a wonderful man! He helped in our move to Manhattan Mini-Storage.

Yanis Ben-Amor and I met in Kenya in 2010 at a retreat examining how to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV in the 20 most affected countries in Africa. We bonded then and have maintained a friendship that really solidified about 2 years ago. He reaches out and offers his love and I feel it strongly!

 

UN (related) friends/colleagues

Hoda Hallab is from and lives in Lebanon. We have been working together for many years, mostly since my retirement from the UN. We have done work together in Nepal and Rwanda. Hoda has always been a big supporter and has helped me to land several consulting assignments. We visited gorillas together in Rwanda. She has been so encouraging of all that I do and that includes during this tough time. Her family owns the best sweets shop in Lebanon (https://www.hallab.com.lb) and she brings me amazing baklava and other treats whenever we meet. We met in the 80s in Abidjan when she and her husband, Saad, were posted there for UNICEF.

Maie Ayoub worked for UNICEF until she retired a year after me. We had the chance to work together several times and she has been a wonderful friend. Our last overseas assignment was in Central African Republic where we facilitated a retreat for UNICEF and lived in a guesthouse for a week together. She is an amazing woman!

Paulette Nichols is another UNICEF retiree and we have worked on a few things together, including in New York and Panama. She joined the Board of Development in Gardening and has been one of the best Board members you can imagine.

Laurie Newell and I worked together on UN Cares for many years starting in the early 2000s and more recently I worked with her on the UN for All project. She was someone I spoke with several times each day when I was still in UNAIDS and we have traveled the world together; most recently was last September in Senegal. She has always offered astonishing energy and words of wisdom.

Geoff Manthey is a friend from my UNAIDS days. He was posted in NY and we spent a lot of time together here before he moved to Bangkok. He left UNAIDS but continues to consult for the UN from his Thailand base. I would stay with Geoff in Bangkok when I was travelling there for work. He is an Aussie with energy to spare!

Michel Sidibe is the UNAIDS Executive Director. We met in the 70s in Mali when I was on a 3-month assignment and, at the time, Michel headed a French NGO there called Terre des Hommes. He joined UNICEF and quickly rose in the ranks before moving to UNAIDS where he leads that organization to achieve Zero new infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths! He has been a notable supporter of the LGBTQ community around the world, speaking out often.

Kathy Callahan of EnCompass and I worked together on a number of projects, first on UN Cares and the UN Learning Strategy on HIV when I was a UNAIDS staff member and then again last year on UN for All, with me consulting with EnCompass on the project to build a more inclusive UN system focusing on LGBTI people, people with disabilities, people with mental health issues and people who use/have used substances. She has helped me to grow as a facilitator and to better integrate appreciative methods in my work.

Peace Corps/Senegal friends

Buffy McDevitt, Mark Burr, Lee Brainerd, Joyce Neu, Malcolm Versel, Bob Fishbein, Chantal Milligan, Nafi Mbodj, Pape Gaye, Ed Sullivan, Carey Peck, Shelia Armstrong, Andrea Gibbard, Arnie Falvo, Jean Lucio, Norma Mwaura and George Scharffenberger are all Peace Corps Senegal friends. Drew Is Lee’s son. Malcolm and Bob are both from Maryland and when we were in Peace Corps, our parents became friends and even traveled together to meet us in Portugal and Spain.

Buffy, Mark and I have been especially close since PC days, even if we speak only on occasion. Buffy is a very talented artist/jeweler and I am lucky to own one of her lithographs, a jewelry box that she collaborated on with Miriam for my 50th birthday and a pin of a “car rapide” from Senegal that I ‘won’ at the last Peace Corps reunion in Malibu for having written a poem that was judged one of the best.

I saw Nafi in Senegal last September and she continues to astound me with her inner and outer beauty.

Yvonne Jones is another friend from Senegal days – we met while she was doing her doctoral research and have stayed in one another’s lives since the 70s. Her son, Josh is now in college.

Fire Island supporters

Tim Williams is my neighbor on the Island, always ready to offer help and sending good energy my way.

Lance Witt Ozier is a friend with whom I hang out on Fire Island and in the city as well.

Mark Leydorf and I met through Eric Sawyer. Mark is a talented writer and big beach person. We hang out in the summer and I have regularly beat his ass at petanque!

Partidarios españoles (Spanish supporters – all “Friends of Antonio” and now mine as well!)

Lorena Berdún is a media personality and sexologist/psychologist based in Madrid. She came to Ruber Hospital every day I was there and brought her son, Pablo to visit as well. She led me through a meditation to offer me healing blue light to deal with the tumors. She opened her home to Antonio and me while we were in Madrid and took us to the airport to return to NY.

Montse Nieto works in media in Spain and we have spent time on the beach in Alicante as well as in Madrid. She also opened her home to Antonio and me before we went to Alicante for a healing week.

Alex Sanchez works in fashion in Alicante with a major company that designs and sells sunglasses. Alex is often in LA and his energy and that of his girlfriend, Fatima, has been powerful in supporting me with my situation.

Francesca Prisca Capellini (originally from Italy) and Cesar Gomez Aguilera – both now living in New York. Both have been great in sending good energy this way and have also helped to open the house on Fire Island.

The Board of Development in Gardening

Sarah Koch, Noah Derman, Mark Colvin, Beth Pann, Papa Salif Sow, Paulette Nichols, Brad Carlson, David Touster have all reached out individually and collectively to support me. This has been astounding! Sarah also put me in touch with Beth Dannhauser who is on DIG’s advisory board and she came to do a healing session in the hospital that really did smooth a positive path forward for me.

Other fans who send me lots of love

Leslie Grollman is my “oldest” friend – we met in kindergarten! Her mother and my mom’s sister were good friends. When I first came to NY, Leslie introduced me to the world of dance. She now lives in Portland and has been (in the best possible way) nagging me to add Body Talk to my healing. She posts to my Facebook page almost daily the most wonderful of hugging and loving messages!

Rae Mintz is also an old friend from Temple U days, now living in Boston. We used to hang out a lot back in Philly and when she comes to NY, we meet up and I have visited her in Beantown, too. She is one of the few people I know who still uses snail mail to send handcrafted cards for birthdays and other occasions.

Michelle (and Jim) Dannemiller and Steve Cadwell are friends from my University of Texas at Austin days. Steve is a psychotherapist and also a wonderful poet, performer and artist. Michelle and husband Jim live in Houston and I was honored many years ago to have been asked to be the godfather of one of her twins, Rachel.

Morrie Schulman used to be married to my cousin, Hillary. I met Morrie in Austin where he still lives with his wife, Rachel. We lived together for a year when I was in grad school and have stayed friends since the late 80s.

Sam Young and I met about 10 years ago, also on Fire Island. Sam lives in LA and we were close for a long time, but drew apart when he and Miguel had complications. He is back in my life through this crisis and I am glad to have him back. His energy is Zen.

Gib McCurdy and I met in the 80s when I was with my ex: Phill. They were friends and colleagues and Gib and I nurtured an independent friendship after Phill and I broke up many years ago. GIb has always been helpful in offering advice and making referrals as well as sending good energy in my direction.

David Gittleman and I met when I was a dancer through our mutual friend, Lenny. We have continued to see one another over many years, usually with Gib when we go for dinner. My Dad’s girlfriend, Florence loves David! He is a great guy!

Ronny is Miguel’s boyfriend from Israel. He always adds amazing energy to the room and has offered me his help, prayers and good wine from the start of this ordeal.

Shoshanna Cogan I met through Bryce – they have been friends for many years. Shoshanna is in the same business as me – facilitating retreats and meetings and building capacity. She reached out when she heard what had happened and has sent wonderful energy my way.

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