Ron Stempkowski

32 Flips | 1 Magazine | 38 Likes | 9 Following | 7 Followers | @thexanaxdiary | Chicago-based writer/blogger

#toRONto

<i>Am I gonna throw up?</i> I wondered. <i>How much extra will that cost?</i> I thought. And that was just on the cab ride to O’hare to begin my first solo trip to …

Toronto

Meeting an Old Friend…for the First Time

Terri Wingham is easily one of the most impressive people I have ever met. A cancer survivor, a lioness–both gentle and fierce, and a visionary, …

The Quiet Day

This June 1 isn’t particularly sad for me…the last few haven’t been, per se. They are thoughtful days. And they are quiet days–meaning, aside from …

Happiness

Widower No More

There was a time when I never thought I’d be doing what I was doing. Ever. But it was happening, and I didn’t have any emotional reaction to it. It …

Mind

That Time Gram had a Book Written about Me

The smudges on the lower right are from when this genius dropped the book in a mud puddle on the way home from “show and tell” day at school.<p>When I …

Giraffes

Writing Away…Since 1982

I remember discovering my love of writing when I was around thirteen. It’s galvanized in my memory, and when I think about it, I’m filled with the …

Dining Rooms

How WhirlyBall Triggered my Middle School Sports PTSD

As I’ve written before, sports has never been my thing. Team sports, especially. But as an adult, I did something to conquer that fear: I stopped …

Of New Beginnings

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.<p>Christmas approached, skulking around dubiously then receded like I’d never experienced …

Bandwidth

Home Is Where the Dead Hookers Are

My house never feels more like a home than when it’s brimming with people I love. Recently, my A-List (Retta, Kathy, Alan and Tina) had the …

Inspiration

The Birthday Tradition

I always approach the Creticos Cancer Center with great reverence. For all the caring work that is done there by the nurses and staff. And all the …

Cupcakes

The Camping Connection

Camping checklist: Lantern, Percolator, Puppy…In the quiet moments of the early morning while camping, I relish in the connection I feel with Ken. …

Wind Power

A Hoosier Boy’s State of Mind

As my knees buckled, and my body careened to the hard cement at the top of the steps, I could hear the kid next to me saying, “Don’t lock your …

The Special of Today

Today is my sister’s birthday. It always has been. As long as I’ve been on earth. It was the first thing I thought of today when I looked at the date …

Mind

The Ghost of Remington House

My parents bought a Baptist Church when I was one to rehab it into our family home in the early 1970s. Growing up–upon hearing we lived in a former …

Dear, Diary…

When I’m in the mood or just when I run across them on the shelf in my bedroom, I love to pull out one of my old diaries and read a few entries. It’s …

Creative Writing

Ten Years or a Blink?

As soon as the calendar turns to January, June 1 has traditionally been a magnet for my attention and emotion since it became the day Ken died in …

Traffic

The Sanctuary of Sameness

The first gay bar I ever went to in Chicago was a small but colorful neighborhood bar called Buddie’s. I’d found it wandering down Clark Street while …

Sitting

Safe Spaces & Being Your Authentic Self

While on the L heading to work last week, I received a tweet from a BBC reporter who wanted my input about why LGBT people view gay bars/clubs as …

My Past and Present with Pride

As I talked with my friends and enjoyed the community and fellowship of my first Pride event–on the Circle in Indianapolis–a man walked slowly and …

LGBTQI

There’s No Place Like It

There is no doubt how much I love living in Chicago; how much I love my home and my neighborhood. But when I have a little time off, there is …

Water

Connecting Purpose to Loss

Why was I crying as I walked down the street, carrying a salad I’d picked up for lunch? No, not because I’m a moosh bag who sobs to any decently …

Nonprofits

Incredible Feets of Astonishment

A gigantic part of Ken’s identity was his left leg…er…lack of one. After having it amputated below the knee when he was a teen was life-defining–and …

My Awkward Acquaintance

June 1 is crisp. Somehow compact and rigid. It sits right at the promise of summer. It can barely contain its toothy smile in light of all the bounty …

The Old Camping Percolator Rides Again!

Two years ago, I was saddened–bothered, even–when I found an old camping percolator and cups while trying to do some organizing in the old apartment. …

Dear Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers

TO: Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers<br>CC: Oscar Goldman, Director, Office of Scientific Intelligence, Dr. Rudy Wells<p>It’s been a while, hasn’t it?<p>You …

Grateful

I didn’t dread today. And that didn’t surprise me. It didn’t take me by surprise. And that didn’t surprise me either. I feel something very special. …

Happiness

The Rule of Three

I recall that Ronda wouldn’t keep her mits off me and i kept yanking my arm away from hers. And then the photographer told me to count to 3 or 5 and …

Parenting

On Ken's 50th Birthday

I’ve felt the pull of this day for a couple of weeks. Uneasiness and my social impotence returned, leaving me tired and usually in the desire of no …

Cupcakes

Exploring the 606

Welcome to the 606.Living in a city like Chicago leaves a constant opportunity to explore new places and parts of the city–something I don’t do often …

New York City

5 Years of “The Xanax Diary”

It seems like I’ve always had this blog; that it has always been here to engage me and calm me and focus me and distract me. But I haven’t. I’ve …

Writing