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Bestselling author and renowned presidential campaign adviser (Bill Clinton, Dick Gephardt, Jerry Brown, Gary Hart) David Mixner returns with his first book in 10 years. In At Home with Myself, Mixner writes from and about his country home in Turkey Hollow, an upstate New York town so small and remote that it has just 10 residents, there's no cable TV, the nearest airport is a three hour drive, and deer and bear are his closest neighbors. However, these bucolic surroundings provide an ideal setting for observation and reflection.
Drawing on his considerable talents as a storyteller in the tradition on Garrison Keillor and Will Rogers, Mixner chronicles his return to nature at the age of 60. No longer willing to do the things young people do and having lost most of his closet friends to AIDS, he felt out of place in the big cities and "gay mecccas" that had been his home all his adult life. So he chose a mountainside home as a retreat from the busy world, a place of meditation on the small, daily wonders of pastoral life, including the beauty of nature and its constant evolution. Observing the arrival of spring's new blossoms or the sudden appearance of new born animals (while speaking to life's daily events) Mixner writes as Thoreau might have had he been gay.
However, At Home with Myself is also a look back on an illustrious 40 year career of protest and politics, including his involvement and leadership in the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the gay and lesbian rights movement, and high-powered presidential politics. In looking at both his--and America's--past and present, Mixner bridges today's world of openly gay elected officials and an African American US president that he and countless other activists fought to build over the past half century and the difficult but exhilarating road traveled to get here.
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About the Author
Once named by Newsweek as the most powerful gay man in America, David Mixner has been a highly regarded leader in American politics and international human rights for over 40 years. He writes daily from Turkey Hollow, his mountain top home in upstate New York.
David wrote the critically acclaimed memoir Stranger Among Friends and co-wrote Brave Journeys with Dennis Bailey, which topped the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. His screenplay with Richard Burns, Dunes of Overveen, won the Outfest MTV Award for Best New Screenplay. In addition, David and Dennis Bailey co-wrote the screenplay Fire in the Soul, which is in pre-production, and a play, the historical drama Jacob’s Ladder.
Additionally, David has written for Time, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Advocate and other publications.
He was an Executive Producer of the award-winning documentary House on Fire, which highlighted the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African American community.
Most recently serving as National Chairperson for Representative Richard Gephardt’s campaign for President, David has participated in over 75 campaigns, serving as campaign manager, fundraiser or strategist. Other campaigns include Clinton for President, Hart for President, McGovern for President, Bradley for Mayor, and Brown for Governor and Senate.
He has raised over $30 million for candidates and charity organizations, including well over $1 million for openly gay and lesbian candidates across the country.
David has been an unofficial advisor to elected officials and business leaders on domestic and foreign policy for decades. Today, as a prominent international public affairs/strategic planning consultant with expertise in HIV/AIDS, David is working on access, prevention and treatment projects in Russia, Ukraine and a number of African nations. In addition, he continues his work fighting HIV/AIDS here in the United States.
He has lectured at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and the London School of Economics. Recently, Yale University’s Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies created the David B. Mixner Collection, a catalogue of David’s papers and correspondence from his work as a leading antiwar advocate during the Vietnam War to his participation in present day political campaigns.
Additionally, David is a past member of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Party National Commission on Delegate Selection and Party Reform, Congressional Fund, Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA), the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund (former National Co-Chair), AIDS Project Los Angeles, Ambassador to the Wilton Park International Conference, the Presidents Salt II Committee, Pro Peace and others.
Read an Excerpt
You ever have those times in life you felt like you were just hanging on. That no matter what you do to embrace your life journey, nothing seems to move in the right direction for you? You even wonder at times if this is all there is to life and if you will ever get to the other side of your stagnation.
We all have had those times in our life and the issue is not avoiding them but how to deal with them.
During the past couples of weeks, I have watched the deer emerge from winter. Fortunately, the first half of the season was mild but the last three months have been brutal. Some deer barely made it through. When they showed up in my back yard after the heavy snows and bitter cold, many were skin and bones. I wondered what they called upon inside themselves to survive these last dark weeks to make it to spring. But this week, their flesh is fuller, they are playing and dancing in my backyard, and they seem thrilled to bask in the spring sun.
Even the daffodils are an enigma. Every other blooming flower wilts in a frost or heavy snow. But the Daffodils are determined to be the flower that announces spring --pushing upward no matter if they are covered in snow or if they have to endure one more bitterly cold night. This week, with new blooms, they once again achieved the honor of declaring that spring had arrived. These yellow flowers standing beneath my yellow house bring lightness to my mountain woods, creating my own Walden Pond. It makes my heart sing.
They all hang on to give us their gifts and somehow they know that it will get better. That nature has a certain order and it will be alright.
Mahatma Gandhi always knew when he needed to pull back and hang on until it was clear how he was supposed to continue his journey. Often when talks between Muslims and Hindus were difficult and stalled, he would get up from the negotiating table and simply return to his Ashram. There, he would make the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl woven with a charkha. He called this time his wilderness years and he had the wisdom not to return to activism until he was certain what he had to say and if people were ready to listen.
I personally have had those times in life where I felt if I was just hanging on and it was sheer blind faith that enabled me to walk through fear to get to the other side. My younger years were actually a dark time for me, filled with fear, low self esteem and failure. Those demons seemed to rule my soul, but when the light finally returned to my life, I almost forgot they ever existed.
As I have grown older, I am still not particularly fond of my wilderness years. Now, I find that I am no longer afraid of them. Spring is just down the road and there is always a time and place for one of my gifts. Instead of depression and fear, I fill the time with the search for knowledge, listening to music, spending time with my teachers, and reading the books of others who had to struggle through difficult times. I usually emerge into my own personal spring rejuvenated and filled with strength.
“Hanging On” can be a place of real opportunity. A place for personal growth and, like the deer, a place to find one’s own courage to survive. It can be a time out to gain new knowledge and to deepen personal bonds between those you love and yourself.
I kept this line from Gandhi close to me during my own wilderness years:
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall think of it, always."