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Sunday Sundries … Shuttered

tumblr_lx332xnuMf1qajbwho1_500 justathoughtfulmindCourtesy: Justathoughtfulmind

We are sitting at a Zero degrees this evening. A bit cool. Slowly, ever so slowly, the snow is melting and bits a pieces of grass have been uncovered in the neighborhood.

On my way out, I passed through the mall, and it is with great sadness that I report tonight that our little Target that couldn’t has been shuttered. What was once a store brimming with possibility, is now an empty shell of its former self. Gone too soon.

Now Target Canada has to make something of all of the branded items that are now useless, like scooters, bags, and shopping carts that bear the Target name. Destroying them is useless, they will have to go back to the U.S. in its closure settlement.

All the Target stores are set to be fully shuttered over the next two weeks. The mall proper will now remove all the signage that hangs inside/outside the mall.

**** **** ****

It is the last Sunday of the month, we sat a fair crowd tonight. And we read Tradition Three:

“The Only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

The story I am about to repeat, I have never heard come from another human being I know, who is in the room today.

“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling, and unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners,queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely out.

Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics.”

Twelve and Twelve pg. 140

The first time I got sober, was in the fall of 1994. I then relocated from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. I was two years sober at the time of this story taking place. I was attending meetings at a Club Room called “The Coral Room,” in South Miami. A club room hosts meetings all day and night seven days a week.

I was attending an evening meeting, that counted a few hundred in attendance at that particular meeting. Around my two year anniversary, the chair asked me to speak at that meeting. I accepted the invitation. Mind you, I had a lot going on during this period of time.

I was one, trying to stay sober amid still learning how to survive my AIDS diagnosis, just two years earlier. I had about reached my death date, and I was still alive, I did not die, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do now. Nobody knew what to do when they were supposed to die, and were still living.

So that was a thing …

Imagine. a room full of people. I got up there and began my share. Partway through my share, I hit that rough patch, when I disclosed … Hindsight tells me that I should have not disclosed

One by one, men began getting up from their seats, and left the building. In the end, about 100 men had gotten up and left. I finished my share, some clapped, I don’t remember the rest. What I do remember was walking outside after the meeting and was greeted by one of the men, who seemed to want to speak for the rest of them saying:

“We do not accept people like you, we don’t respect people like you, we would like you to leave this meeting and do not come back in the future…”

What the Fuck ???

There were other meetings to go to in this room at other times. I never went to this earlier meeting ever again. But the damage was done. I did not have a sponsor. I did not touch the book, however I was going to meetings, I just wasn’t present for myself to do any good.

I no longer trusted anyone in the program from that point on. I hung on barely.

Two years would pass, and I took my leave of meetings. I went back out and drank again, much to the dismay of the people I counted as friends.

Upon my return a few years later, my friend Troy took me to my next First Meeting. It was a gay meeting at SOBE. (Sober on South Beach) Nobody noticed me, so I hung outside until the 10 p.m. meeting, where I met the people who would welcome me and help me stay sober.

I was sober four months when I moved to Montreal. I was new in the city, and new to the meetings here. One Friday night I went to a meeting on the West end of the city. There was a group of folks at this particular meeting, and they plied me with twenty questions about myself.

You know, the who, what, where and why of it all …

Upon considering my answers, the Patriarch of the meeting stepped up to me and said:

“We think that it would be better if you got sober somewhere else, don’t come back to our meeting.”

This would be the second time in sobriety that someone told me to leave a meeting and go somewhere else to get sober…

Thirteen years later, I’ve never set foot in that hall on the West end. It is a good thing that people usually stay in their general vicinity for their meetings, because I never crossed paths with some of those ignorant fucks ever again.

There are some sick people in the rooms.

When push comes to shove, we are all suffering alcoholics and addicts. Stats today confirm that the presence of dually addicted people are high across the board. Today, we turn no one away, no matter who you are, or where you come from.

We are ALL afforded the chance at recovery and a full share in the Solution that awaits every man, woman and teen ager who walks in the room on any given night.

Hearing “Go Away,” twice in recovery could have ended very badly the second time.

But I did not have a drinking history here. I never drank here and I wasn’t going to try, at any rate. I found meetings to go to where I would not be judged based on my sexual orientation, or my medical situation either. For a while I went to gay meetings and meeting where nobody judged me.

Over the last decade, the dedicated LGBT meetings have fallen apart, and LGBT people assimilated into mainstream meetings across town.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol, there IS a Solution.

Tradition Three guarantees you a seat in any meeting world wide.

It was a good meeting. Next month we begin reading Experience, Strength and Hope. Stories from the First, Second and Third editions of the Big Book.

More to come, stay tuned …

Wednesday … The Move is On … And Other Assorted News of the Day !!!

muhcThis is the Brand New, Not quite open yet, But coming soon, M.U.H.C.

The McGill University Health Center…

This build project began years ago. And is in the final stages of prep for opening next month.

It is ONE MASSIVE MONSTER of a Hospital building.

You might not know that Montreal has hospitals scattered all over the city. They serve both the French and Anglo populations. There are two concurrent builds going on, One for the French sector and one for the Anglo sector.

This project is going to consolidate the major hospitals into one location. The Children’s hospital which is located right up the street from home, is being moved as we speak. Many departments that were situated on other sites are being moved here as well.

Things did not go to plan, as some departments that I need to visit were moved to a secondary site, for 9 months, prior to coming to the Glenn site. It was good that my main HIV doctor has an office off site that I get to go to instead of having to do the trek to the Glenn.

The trek would involve either a one train solution, Orange from Home all the way to Vendome, or the two train solution, which is Green to Orange and over to Vendome. It all matters because there is a tunnel involved in the trek which I hate walking at any time of day or night.

On the way out, I jacked my card with tickets for the days travel.

I knew many months ago that the I.D.T.C. (Immuno-dificiency Clinic) was being moved. And the dentistry office was closed as well. We’ve been to the new dentist office recently. I decided to NOT go to the satellite site where the I.D.T.C. is now, rather go to see my doctor directly at his private office.

That is where I want to go for now. But all that changed this morning. After being sick for a week, I never drop labs when my system is down. I waited for the first day I was feeling normal again to go do that, which was this morning. Common sense said, “oh, go early, you’ll be in and out in twenty minutes …” WRONG !!!

I got there before 8:30 in the morning. The place was packed. I looked on the wall counter to see what number they were at, (that would have been # 8) I took my number. I was holding #40 !!!

Thank God I brought a book to read. Because I was there a long time.

After my labs, I was told to go to the Diabetes clinic, to see what their status was, because my next appointment is in May. Today they found out this morning, that they too were being moved to the Glenn site next month. A massive number of departments from the General are being moved to the Glenn site.

Over the past nine months, I have seen three doctors. Two brothers, and a Son. Each of them have given me things to do, pills to take, and other assorted information. It’s complicated.

Sometime soon, I need to take a field trip over to the Glenn to scope out the new hospital. I’ve seen it up close, but I haven’t been inside, and have no idea where to start. Which is the same deal for every other Montrealer, who didn’t get to the Sneak Peek some time ago.

So that is a thing…

I had several things I wanted to do today. And having taken my time dropping labs, that ran me up to almost lunch time. All my other stores would be open now, all I had to do was get there. I waited for a bus down the hill, and got on the train to the village.

Yes, the worlds Sexiest man was working when I got there. And yes, I bought what ever he showed me – sometimes you just can’t say no !!! We spoke about my last purchase and the refund that was given in stead. Rubber and Latex are not my friend.

I shopped and got back on the train and headed for Indigo Book Sellers for some light reading.

I am on a Kathy Reichs run as of late. Having read two books over the last couple of weeks, I needed the next two from the series, as they are listed. I had time to kill and wasn’t in a hurry to go home yet, so I browsed a bit. A friend gave me a couple of titles to look up and that was fun.

You have book shelves with books on them. Then along side those book shelves are what I like to call IMPULSE book tables. Stacks and Stacks of books just waiting to be picked up. And if it was up to me, I’d never have a bored moment ever again…

Books cost money – they do !!!

I was walking around that end of the store and I happened upon a book. It was just lying there on the table. There was only one of them. All by itself. There were no other books written by the author of said book, on said table. Someone must have just dropped it there, having pulled it off a shelf, considered it a moment or two, then just put it down where ever it landed.

It is called “EYRIE…” A novel, written by Tim Winton. “The internationally best selling and twice Booker Prize shortlisted author of Breath, The Turning, and Dirt Music.”

The blurb on the front of the book reads: “A superb novel of disillusionment and redemption, loss and beauty, the taking of responsibility and the overcoming of disappointment.” The Guardian.

That got my attention.

The turn the book over and it says: “Tackles myths of prosperity and success in a way that is not always comfortable but that stirs deep thought. It is rich in compassion and affectionate toward the unlovely. It has a strong belief that no journey ends at the halfway mark. Eyrie is a novel for which our culture has been in urgent need.” The Age …

I wondered why someone would put this book down, after reading blurbs like these?

I am a fussy reader, the book has to jump off the shelf or I was looking for a particular book.

For a moment, I considered putting the book down where I found it, but I held on to it. And now I had three books to read. I was heading for a fourth, but decided against that.

Sometimes a book says … READ ME !!! I got that feeling when I picked it up off the table.

I then headed to Micky D’s for some lunch. When was the last time I took me out to lunch?

I headed for home after eating and did some supermarket safari on the way home so that I did not have to go out this evening. I had other plans.

It was a very productive day today.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … The Flu Edition

tumblr_libzh0GjqF1qeohomo1_500If a photo can speak a thousand words … Then this one needs no explanation…

Exactly how I feel right about now.

I have managed to keep myself above water, with regards to my daily/nightly schedule these past few days, while fighting a bad case of the flu. Early last week, I could actually feel it coming on, as a frontal assault on my system. It took a couple of days, but by Friday night I was down for the count.

The Friday meeting was a success. When I got home and retired, I was finished for the week. Saturday was a total write off. Besides having to eat, which we did, I slept that balance of Saturday right up until I had to get ready to go this evening.

The Mall is going through another transformation. The other day, I noticed that the vacant space on the ground floor, which has yet to be rented, is slated for an Omer de Seres art store, opening in July. They once had a store right up the block from home for a long time. That vacated building has been torn down recently, and a condo tower is going up in its place.

We had wondered if they would move back into the neighborhood, we can say yes to that question now.

It is T-Minus 5 days and counting for the Target final closing sale. I’m sure what ever is left on store shelves is going for rock bottom pricing. The store was empty the last time I was in there so I am not sure just what they are selling off now?

We don’t know yet, if anyone, will be taking over that lease space. There are rumors coming from several sources that tell us that certain sellers are lining up to buy the Target leases when they finally depart their spaces. I am sure that it will take a few months to tear down, restyle and reopen a new space.

I would not be surprised if I tell you that Target Red might become Walmart Blue in the coming months. But that would be an educated guess based on rumors to their purchase ability in Montreal.

We could use another Walmart on this end of the city. We could use any of the Big Box stores in the downtown core. With the building of several condos ongoing right now, this end of downtown is prime real estate for good anchor stores.

We could speculate for a long time, as to who is up next …

Over the last three days, temps fell more than twenty degrees from where they were to where they are tonight. It was a cold and windy day for the parade this morning. We are sitting at (-10c/-18c w.c.) at this hour.

There were two competing events this morning. One that was sanctioned by the city, the Patty’s Day Parade. The other was an Anti-Police brutality demonstration, that, in the recent past, devolved into violence and arrests. With that threat looming over the parade, several schools pulled their marchers, bands, and so did the Boys Scouts. Better to be safe than sorry was the thought.

The police did their job. The parade was a success. And there was no violence. So far as my research proved tonight. It might have been the cold, but by the time I departed for the meeting, the streets were clean. No garbage anywhere, and no vomit on the sidewalks.

We sat a good group. Our chair did not show. So I was voted in again. Our return rate of young people coming back in, rose again tonight. Over all the losses we suffered through the winter has been proving itself resilient. We spoke about the relapse rate the other night, as being high, but the return rate is high as well.

The Step Twelve read is over twenty pages long. And I did not account for that this evening. We read all the way around and then some, and almost made it around for shares. The read tells us about all those things that will come, if we practice these principles in all of our affairs …

The list is exhaustive and goes over many details that can come, if we stick to the steps and we work them diligently. The theme in the second portion of the read is “relationships.”

A long long time ago, I watched my best friend meet, connect and stay with the man he is still with today. That was over twenty years ago. I wanted that for myself. But I wasn’t really prepared for it, nor did that come to pass for me either.

God needed to strip the tree bare.

I decided that I wanted to grow up, and I did that slowly.

Eleven months in, the miracle happened. It was a do or die situation. I acted.

The rest they say, is history.

There are several scenarios for sober people. They get together, and they (1) grow together and thrive or (2) they get together and grow apart and crumble. It takes a special breed of sober people to make it work and for them to thrive. Individual programs are important. We can’t get sober, or maintain someone else’s sobriety. It just does not work that way.

One either finds the tremulous balance or they don’t.

My marriage is a direct product of more than a decade of sobriety and work.

There is a difference between people who are in it to win it, and those who are not.

Everybody is sober tonight. There is HOPE in the air.

And Hope is what is going to keep them in the nest we hope.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday … Happiness Report

tumblr_lul7maiY1R1qb2g1po1_500 thetruemeaningoflifeCourtesy: The True Meaning of Life

Another week in the books. It is cold, and we are sitting at (-1c/-2c w.c.) with snow coming over night and into tomorrow. Sunday it will be chilly for this years St. Patty’s Day Parade, (or as some of us call it The drunken, Garbage all over the place and Vomit on the sidewalks day).

**** **** ****

The END of TARGET

On my way out through the mall to the Metro, I passed by our local Target outlet. On very large signs were countdown days until the store officially closes. I went in the other day, looking for a jack for the sound system. What I found was an empty store, void of any departments or displays. It was all very sad.

As of tonight, there are only SEVEN shopping days left, for what ever is left on store shelves, and Target will take its leave of Alexis Nihon Plaza.

**** **** ****

We muddled through the week, hacking and sniffling. That was mitigated by flu pills that have come in very handy. I kept my commitments this week, because I had to. My guys come first, the rest is second.

It was a great day today. I connected with my lady friends who have been MIA for the last couple of months today. They all are still sober, and one of them took her year last week, which is always a good thing. The longevity advice did its job well.

Tonight’s meeting was also stellar. The one last missing sheep, has returned to the fold. So all of my friends are accounted for tonight, and all of them are sober. I have chosen to act, instead of sitting back and hoping for progress. That was a good decision.

Tomorrow will be a rest and recuperate day for both of us. I just don’t think I have another day to trudge the road of happy destiny. I am plum pooped !

Tonight we read about sacrifice.

Our young people are suffering, several of them have returned after another disastrous slip experience. And I think about it, those young people were hanging around the periphery for a while now. I’ve been watching them. But there are some who don’t take to conversation very well, and so we leave them alone. Sadly that decision was a bad one. Because all of them went back out, tonight they are back.

I had lost out a great deal during my slip. When the end came, and the cops showed up and said that I was leaving and that I could only take what I could carry, I sacrificed my entire life and all of my belongings. There was no going back.

So as my slip came to an end, I had very little. God took everything, hoping that I would get back on the proverbial horse and ride again. And I did that. I could not remain where I was for very much longer, and one by one, miracles began to happen for me.

Now I am here. Thirteen years later. It took a long time. I had to learn some serious lessons about life and growing up. It was not easy. And NO not every day was sunshine and puppy dogs.

Like everybody else, I had to trudge that road, until it became Happy Destiny for me.

I am what this program gave me. And today all I have is all I give back.

Gratefully and without Complaint.

If not me, then who?

We bring the message of hope to our friends and fellows. The iron is hot, and the time is now to get into it with as many folks as we can.

The WE got a bit bigger tonight.

Hopefully, now, they will stay. It’s all we can pray for.

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … Bring Hope … Stepping up the Game

tumblr_ma62hlMxSo1rdkscno1_500 rthompson80Courtesy: R Thompson 80

It has been cold. Manageable cold. We are sitting at (-6c/-11c w.c.) Someone at our local news station tweeted that tonight it would be (-20c) overnight … She was wrong again !!!

The flu is going around. People are dropping like flies. Hubby came down with it late last week, and it was only a matter of time before my body gave in. It has been a slow grind this week, trying to fight the flu, yesterday I got up early and went to the pharmacy to get some flu medication, which I have tried not using, hoping my system would prevail.

That has not been the case.

I traveled to the meeting solo tonight, as my friend I usually travel with came down with the flu himself. They have been shifting all of our buses, and they have updated the schedules for Spring which came into effect yesterday. Our local 104,and 138 buses come and go on their own schedules, so I left early to make sure I would hit a bus, on schedule. I won …

It was a good showing. We got to hear someone who is not from our grouping. I’ve not seen him at any of my meetings around town, and it was the first time I’ve seen him around. Getting to hear folks who are not from the routine grouping is a treat.

When he finally hit the wall, and conceded defeat in a rehab here in the city, the first attempts at sobriety were marred by less than stellar people who really could not help him, nor understand how far down into hell he really got. (read: they were not alcoholics or drug addicts)

I don’t know how a psychologist or therapist who is neither, can offer experience, strength and hope to someone who is looking for just that … HOPE !!!

He made it eventually. And in April will have eight years.

I heard the words …”I was looking for hope”

I hope that for my friends, and my guys, that I offer them hope.

I saw my lady friend from the Sunday meeting, and I had a chance to talk to her tonight about how she was doing and how I could help her, we discussed how she was going to Step Up Her Game.

Everybody knows what to do. Well, at least most of us do.

Taking those most important steps, on one’s own, or even with a sponsor can be daunting.

I can’t sit back and hope that the local women will step up and do their jobs. Today I employ all my faculties and I take the time to talk to my lady friends, to help them stay sober, and to offer what I can to them, as often as I can.

I’m not a woman, but I do have the time banked.

I think it is better to be able to offer experience, strength and hope and DO IT, rather than watch folks slip through the cracks, and then out the door. If I can prevent that from happening, man or woman, I will do that today.

There is another lady friend who has gone MIA for more than two months, and I don’t have her number, but tonight I was able to find where she left it. I need to call her tomorrow, and see what’s up.

We see it all the time. Folks come in, they get the cloud, they start getting things back, and life picks up for them, and then all of a sudden they DISAPPEAR …

And I warned her and several other women who were in her shoes that I was concerned for their longevity, that all this early excitement and happiness would not last and that they needed to know the facts, and how to prevent falling off the cloud and going out the door, warning.

Some listened, others did not.

If I don’t step up who will ? My friends matter. All of them. Today I know the price too many pay and I would rather step up and do something first, because I can and I am able.

I have a message.

And that message matters to me and my life.

Our Madonna tickets came in the mail today. Something long term to be excited about.

Tonight, all of my friends are sober another night. Tomorrow we will gather at the Friday meeting.

The best day / night of the week, Friday North End English.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … The Last Step, Music, and Everything Else

bs bees 2The B’s Bees … Live Concert Friday Night

Watching your friends grow up and become who they are meant to be, and having played a part in that upbringing, makes me a little proud. It takes a village, and on Friday night, the village showed up to celebrate one of our own, in his Album Release Party.

The little club called “Upstairs” not far from home, was a great experience. It probably seats no more than maybe a seventy five people at once, with the tables and bar area filled to capacity. We dined on good food, we had great conversation among friends, and we marveled in the brilliance that is the group of musicians who played new music for us.

My friends are not only smart, they are brilliant in their own ways. I am really proud to call them my friends. A good time was had by all.

This weekend marked another first for us. I haven’t been to a live concert since before moving to Montreal. On Saturday we scored tickets to Madonna’s next concert, “Rebel Heart,” which plays in September. Madonna is one of those artists that every gay man must see in their lifetime. Cher, Bette Midler, Barbra, and a few others are required attendance. I got to see Bette back in the late 90’s.

So that is a thing …

We are really enjoying our new HD experience. Our tv habits have changed slightly, seeing we have channels we did not have before the switch. But we need to amend our package to enable more channels that are closed at this time.

Mother Nature is not finished with the snow as of late. We got a brief taste of Spring last week with positive temps, over the weekend, temps dropped, and that’s not the only thing that dropped, we got about five inches of snow last night. Temps are going to dance above and below freezing this week. UGH … when will it finally end ???

I departed as usual, and had to stop for milk on the way out. Our groupies showed up for read and discussion prior to the meeting. We were missing a number of folks on the night. Some of my friends came out to the meeting, and I took notice of them when they showed up, because I had not seen some of them in some time. Once again, the adage proved true, that if people stop showing up, it is a foregone conclusion that they might drink again …

Tonight, that was definitely true.

It doesn’t take much. One momentary lapse, one moment of indecision, and a drink is close at hand, and that little voice says to us …”Aw, you’ve got this drinking thing licked … You don’t need those meetings any more …” How about another one for good measure ?

The whole idea of the Twelfth Step, from one of my friends, is to become a better person.

I was in the chair tonight, as our gal who usually fills that position was out, and I was elected chair for the evening. One must be graceful under pressure, as friends get up and take chips again, after a long period of sobriety.

We are finishing up the steps this week and next. Step Twelve is a twenty page read, so we did half tonight, and the rest next week. We did not quite get around the room.

When I think of Step Twelve, the first thought that came to mind as I was reading this portion of the read was the line from A Vision for You, that

“Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !”

There was a good reason that for a long time, I went to meetings, and did service. But that’s all I was doing at that time. I needed someone to tell me what I needed to do to get into the game in a new way. I had to return to the basics. Read the Book, Say my Prayers, and Work Hard at the game of sobriety. Well it isn’t a game, it is a solution for living.

I did all those things that I was told to do, God took care of the rest.

I finally had ears to hear and eyes to see and words to share. That didn’t come over night. Working with others, in twelve step fashion, did not come overnight either. I needed a message within me in order to share the message with another human being.

It is one thing to hit a meeting and share inside of a discussion. This, yes, is also a form of twelve step work. This work is on a different scale than working one on one with one person at a time.

When God saw fit that I was ready to give it away, my guys began to show up in my life, in one way or another. For the first time I was confident in my words, and in what I knew, but that was just a start. Over the last year, I have worked on my words, and the way I relate to my guys.

Working with others is a twenty four hour a day job. When ever Where ever for however long.

When the phone rings, I answer it.

This Winter has again proved it’s not the BIG things that take us out, it is those LITTLE things that sneak up on us from underneath. This is called the broken shoelace syndrome.

It’s not the bitching partner, but the broken shoelace that takes us out …

The words … Constant Vigilance are so important.

I do what ever I can. But sometimes, even that isn’t enough.

So it falls to the words I use and how I use them that will either help or hinder.

I have to know how much of me to put forwards, and how little as well. I feel like, to explain it better, I must find that “tremulous balance of just enough and not too much.”

That perfect amount is not always possible. Which is why I must practice daily.

The more I work, and the better my practice, the easier the balance comes.

It isn’t all about me, and never usually is. I must decrease so that He may increase.

I’m a little grateful, a little proud. A little sad, but a bit relieved.

All of our folks are sober tonight. And that is a start for the week.

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … “It … Won’t … Come … OUT !!!! “

dentist-chair

Mother nature is fucking with us again… We went from PLUS 6c yesterday and last night, to a bitter – 6C today, with an 8c wind chill. She isn’t wanting to go quietly it seems…

You know, right away, that this might not go so well, if you are sitting in this chair yourself !

Yesterday, my day began with a trip to the dentist. A place, I know I must go to occasionally, and in the same breath, a place I loath with all of my being. Not knowing where the new office was, I had scouted it out on Google Maps the night prior. I was happy to know that the Metro, went right there, and it was a short walk down a hill, which meant, I didn’t have to ride a bus across town with all those people, pushing and shoving. Give me a Metro Any day…

I left with plenty of time to make my transit across three Metro lines, And I even got there early, that was a plus, since I was really hungry and there was a Micky D’s right up the block.

I ate …

I returned to the office, my dentist is a bright and cheery British woman, with great Chair Side Manner. I need that, because when I sit in the chair my anxiety level jumps about 300%.

Anytime a doctor has to stick a metal pick in my mouth, I get jumpy…

We started with a discussion about my teeth, and I needed to get some thing off my chest about them and what I thought was a serious problem, was not all that serious in reality.

But like we heard tonight at the meeting, “An alcoholics mind is someplace we should not go into alone…”

She was working with an assistant. And protocol for a patient like me is “Moon Suits, Masks and Double Gloves …”  You get used to that over time.

She gave me some topical and we waited, then she stuck that inordinately LARGE needle in my mouth, which sent me skyward at one point. Right out of the chair …

A little while later, probably laughing to herself, she grabbed a pick and started tugging at my broken tooth. She said …”You’ll feel a little PRESSURE !!!”

NO SHIT Sherlock !!!

It wasn’t going without a fight. A little tugging, turned into a LOT of tugging, she moved from the pick to a pair of pliers, and the tooth was firmly in my jaw, she would later tell me that I have great bones in my head …

Now she is tugging away, and it ain’t coming out. She gets to her feet and is tugging back and forth, imagine my head going to and fro and from side to side, as she wrestled the tooth out of my mouth.

It did not go quietly.

My gums and my mouth hurt like a bitch a day later …

She sewed the hole left by the missing tooth, closed and she briefed me as where she wanted to go next, in my toothy adventure.

I did not commit to a next appointment.

Dinner last night was a fiasco. I’ve never had a problem eating before. I had a problem.

I have four days of antibiotics to take and Advil for the pain. You never imagine that trying to tug a tooth out of a mouth can cause all kinds of ancillary problems, at the rate she was tugging and pulling she was totally killing my mouth.

**** **** ****

Today was an exciting day. I started out for the grocery store, and the mail came really early today, and I walked into the office to ask the manager to look out for a delivery, and as I crossed the doorway, there was a HUGE box waiting for me.

I took it upstairs and returned to my shopping trip before I took care of the delivery.

I had an HD box, in a box, I had an HD TV in a box, and a monstrosity of a tv to get out of the way in order to set up said HD goodness. Thank God the old tv is on a table top with legs, because I was able to carefully walk it out of its spot to another spot in the living room, out of the way.

It weighs more than a handful of small children !!!

Very carefully, I unpacked everything, had my tools ready, “some assembly required!!!”

The HD box runs off of a computer link from the box to the tv. And cable comes from the wall to the tv, and the hd cable from the box to the tv. I am very glad that a kind man at Videotron was able to walk me through installation and programming the system remotely.

They had to turn on the box and then reprogram it when I could not get the damned remote to do what I wanted it to do which needed a box reboot.

But the nice man got me up and running.

The living room is two thirds complete. New furniture, New TV, all that is missing are some window treatments, and the build will be complete.

I wish the provincial tax man would do his job, sooner than later.

There are two tax men. The Government tax man and the Provincial tax man. We get hit twice every year, but at the same time, as of this year, we actually get something back.

**** **** ****

This evening we hit a meeting. And one of my friends, who is 32 years sober spoke.

I’ve known her all my sober life. She comes to my meeting on Tuesday. She is crazy as a loon, like my sponsor is, (he’s got 31 years now) but they are both good people.

“A.A. is in the business of communication she said.”

“A.A. is also in the business of perspective”

She sticks to basic teachings. Home Group, Sponsors, Meetings.

I forgot one MAJOR component … PRAY like MAD !!!

She lamented that some people with LONG time sobriety stop coming, because they believe they have learned all they need to learn and they are reaping their rewards now…

She also reminds me why she, at more than thirty years, keeps coming back, is to remember why she comes, to know what happens to people who stop coming all together…

They go back out and drink, well, some of them do.

Just because you take the alcohol away, doesn’t cure us of what the problem is. We move from having a drinking problem, to having a thinking problem.

An alcoholics mind is not a place we should ever go into alone.

Even long sober people get into the funk. As has happened to our woman. She was married to a sainted A.A. member who had panache and class. He adored her and doted on her and they had a long life together, until his death three years ago.

Sober people mourn, and sometimes that can get very difficult. Especially when you are in the middle of the darkness. But she did what she learned to do, all those years prior. She called her sponsor, she went to meetings, she worked with other women.

They kept her sober and she stayed sober.

i want to be like her, and for that matter, be like my sponsor, one day, when I get to the BIG double digits. Not that I might live that long, because I am on serious borrowed time already.

That’s the story …

Tomorrow we are skipping the Friday meeting to go to a concert, where one of my guys is playing in his band. Very exciting…

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday – Change – In Many Forms

maybeThe temperature right now, is holding steady at PLUS 6c. Change is happening.

The week began with positives yesterday, and continued through tonight. It will be an up/down mix hovering above and below zero for the rest of the week.

I can say that the snow pack that has been covering everything that stands still, is melting. It will be some time, yet, before all the snow has melted away. But I think that sub zero cold is finished.

Last night, we had dinner as usual, and after dinner I went into the bathroom to brush, and one of my teeth snapped in half. It was a good thing that it snapped where it did, because I haven’t had any problems with nerves or pain. This morning, I called my trusty dentist, who was dismissed from the clinic at the General, at her office across town. I see her tomorrow afternoon to extract what is left of the broken tooth.

I HATE the dentist. With a Passion …

Sunday, we were supposed to install new blinds in the living room. That did not happen, because we were not pleased with what Home Depot was selling. We have West facing windows that span the entire west wall of the living room and the bedroom. Currently there are no blinds in the living room, so we are getting sun, all day, well into evening.

The new HD tv is on its way. We had to rearrange our schedule to make sure someone was here if it came, alas, it did not. I did get a pick up slip in the mail, someone sent something that needs a signature. Something to do on the way home tomorrow after the dentist.

I departed on time and made my transit without any problems. My new Skets came in the mail yesterday. They were a big hit at the meeting. Well, after the meeting, because we can’t wear shoes upstairs in the bell tower, we have to wear cozy knitted booties, because of wet/snow/water.

Joe and Charlie took us through the second part of There is a Solution. In that reading, there are several asterisks at the bottom of several pages. They do not appear in the first editions, but they do, in subsequent editions. The asterisk calls ones attention to Appendix II – page 567 in the back of the Big Book … Spiritual Experience.

Twice during the read of There is a solution, you are asked to see, Appendix II, and a third time, you are asked … “Please, see Appendix II.”

The reading at the back of the book talks about change. It is known that Bill talked a lot. And when he talks, he likes to use analogies and stories that we will identify with. If Bill really wanted to make a point, he often repeated himself, over and over. Not only does he repeat himself, each time he does repeat himself, he uses a word, similar to the one he originally used, or the same type of word, to get a point across.

Most of what we heard tonight, centered upon the Spiritual Experience reading. Several times Bill speaks about change … you find “personality change, spectacular upheavals, sudden revolutionary changes, immediate and overwhelming God consciousness, transformations …”

He continually repeats the theme of change over several words. That is what is supposed to happen when we begin to get and continue to stay sober. Change.

In the back of the book, there are stories. In some of those stories, the spectacular upheavals and immediate changes take place for some, the so-called, “Lightening Strike” changes. The folks who came, came to, then came to believe, they changed and their lives changed in ways they could not imagine.

Other of us, took the more gradual, garden variety path. Many of us have been on this path in the long haul. Learning, listening, reading and working, change comes gradually over time. I am all for the long haul method. You often hear some of the old timers say:

Stick around until the miracle happens.

I heard that often, the first time I was getting sober. I did stick around for that period of time, and yes, miracles did happen. I stayed sober, but more importantly, I lived …

And I continue living …

Most of my friends, who are sober today, carry with them memories of spiritual experiences that have changed their lives, and for some, was the impetus to come back again. Some of my friends who did not stay, went back out and returned, were great teachers for me.

I also want to see God move for my friends, which is why I keep coming back. I decided that right now, this is where I should be. And spending inordinate amounts of time with my friends, will guarantee that if I stick around long enough, we will change. I want to watch my friends get sober. Because I see them change and I see God move for them, and they have spiritual experiences, which proves, that God does exist. For me at least. That may not be the same for you.

I’ve got plenty of time to be able to say quite confidently, God does move in our halls.

The other notable thought that came from the tape tonight was that when Joe got sober, he met Charlie. And being no so happy with himself, thought that he wanted to be someone else when he got sober, so he endeavored to be like and to become, Charlie …

How many of us are not happy with who we are and we want to be someone else?

When I got sober this last time, I was an empty shell. What I saw, and what I heard began to make sense to me, and from many people, I took things that I thought would be good for me. so you could say that in the last thirteen years, I’ve met many people, and today I am an amalgamation of all those people, in one way or another.

I got to create the man I am today, based on the example of the many I have come to know, over the years. I carried forwards, values from my family that I honor today, they have become my values, like love, family, honor, respect, dignity and so on. I’ve collected thoughts, sayings and practices from my friends that I practice myself today.

I’m not comfortable just sitting in a room collecting dust. I want to be In It to Win It.

Thankfully, all my guys are also In It to Win It. My sponsor makes that possible.

Change is possible, if only you give it a chance …

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … “Thy Will Not Mine Be Done”

indian thought

It is getting warmer. This week we will see positive temps all week long. We are hopeful, that we’ve seen the last of snowfall, and sub zero temps, for the season.

After last night’s adventure in building furniture, I am mentally exhausted. But we must get on with the things we need to do, because that is what we do. Last night, before I went to bed, I set the clocks forward, so in a matter of minutes, I lost an hour, and went to bed at 3 a.m.

I had obligations to my guys today, and I could not just, “take a day off.” I got to the church on time, having taken my sweet time to transit the tunnel. We sat a large group tonight. We were reading Step Eleven, and it is quite a long read, that went all the way around the room.

The St. Francis Prayer is part of this read. I had the blessed opportunity, back in October, to visit Bill’s home, and also to visit his grave, along side Lois, his wife. While we were there we shared with a group of women doing the same visit. And we closed our visit, with the St. Francis prayer, holding hands, standing on the spot where Bill W. is buried.

This prayer has a very special meaning in my heart because of where it has appeared in my sober life, and who I was with and where I was at the time. I have that prayer card, I got from one of those visiting women, in my Big Book. It is one of my most treasured possessions.

With the read completed, the same thought ran through the room, that:

Prayer, is the action of asking from God, and Meditation, is waiting for the answer.

In our busy lives, how many of us, take the time to sit still and listen? I’ve said before that I don’t hear God’s voice directly, He hasn’t stepped out of heaven and addressed me personally. But there was a time, when I walked with God, together, on this earth. I truly believe that during that period of time, God manifested Himself in a human being, for my benefit, and also for the benefit of all the men who lived and worked under that umbrella.

If God is going to speak to us, that communication is going to come from someone very close to us. It will come from a voice we recognize, and when we least expect it. We might say a prayer, and then hit a meeting, and as usually happens, an answer will come, if we are listening for it.

Hindsight is very useful, as we read this step tonight. I can see ways I employed the practice of prayer and meditation. When I got sick, I must have prayed, because God then appeared, in the guise of a man who would save my life. Was I lucky, or was I just in the right place at the right time?

The practice of coming to work, and leaving my life outside the building, and only having to think about what I had to do on any given night, was difficult at first, but I grew into it. The whole, “turning ones mind off of him/her self, to something higher” is the whole idea behind meditation.

I got to practice turning off my head. And it worked.

Today, my brain, is not a place I like to go alone. Sometimes it takes a lot of work, to shut it off. When I want to get still and quiet, that is when my brain goes on overdrive, because I have either started my day in quiet, or I end the day with quiet, and my brain says,

“Oh, undivided attention … Let’s Get It On !!!”

Prayer and meditation comes when I need it most. I have prayers scattered about my apartment that remind me that I can pray at any time during the day or night. I get on my knees during my day. I have to consciously practice gratitude, because I don’t necessarily think about it. I take it as given, which I think is the wrong attitude to have.

I talked about luck with a friend of mine.

Does God direct luck or does luck exist independently of God?

I have been in the right place at the right time, but I have also been at the wrong place at the wrong time as well. Am I lucky to be alive and sober? Was that luck, or divine intervention? Can I attribute survival and sobriety to living well, taking my pills, doing the right thing?

When my eyes are on the Prize (read: God), I am the luckiest man in my life. I don’t necessarily call this luck, I call it having a connection with the God of my understanding. It is historical fact that, when I turn my eyes away from the prize (read: God) I fall into disaster, and really bad luck. Every Time.

Living well past my due date, has been practicing mindful survival. Every day I stand in front of my medicine cabinet, as I pop my pills, I am medicating my body, nourishing my soul, and at the same time, I am asking for another day. This is an entirely silent process. And sometimes I am not even aware of the three fold action. I kind of forget gratitude, and take being alive for granted.

In that I mean, Thank you rolls off my lips at the end of every day, and not when I am in the medicine cabinet. Since learning how to pray actively, and meditate daily, part of my brain is always connected to that higher power. And sometimes, it even acts in my best interest, when I need to stop and breathe.

That happened last night, as I was assembling our coffee table.

In the moment that I wanted to hurl the screw driver across the room, I had momentary blinks of the thought that I need to take a moment, and center. and breathe, before I shot off my mouth.

it was an automatic action that came from within, my brain on auto pilot.

I don’t know what God’s will is for me or my friends. I just do what I do every day, without fail, I follow the same ritual daily. I hit the same meetings, I call my sponsor every day, I speak to my guys, every day, and I do the right thing, as often as I can.

This is conscious active work – every day – without fail.

Sometimes I think about God, and last night, I said to my friend that I seem to have God’s favor, because my life is full, I have everything that I need, and I am satisfied with having enough, I don’t always think that I am worthy of God’s favor, what ever that favor is ?

I just do my days. like I have been doing my days, for the last twenty odd years now.

And it seems to work. Why is that ?

Many of us have to take medication for one reason or another. And I firmly believe that a drug is only as good, as the positive thought you put behind that pill you take. It is akin to prayer. I will take my pills and I will (WILL) those pills to do their job, every day, with all the positive energy I can throw at them from within.

Let me tell you that that took decades to learn about.

Let me tell you that there is IMMENSE POWER in Negative thinking. Negative thinking will kill you. It almost killed me. But I was taught how to turn negative thinking and negative thoughts, into Positive Power to change my life. So add all that shitty negative thought, and turn that into powerful positive thought, you have a double whammy, Total Positive thought Bomb.

It changed my life, and it can change your life as well.

Living life is a full time job, and needs all the help it can get, because of my certain disabilities and medical issues, and add to that recovery. If I sink into the morass of self pity, doubt or any of the plethora of negative self talk I can do, I am a dead man.

I still do not know, and I have asked God this question over the years, “Why did I live, and all of my friends died?” Why did you choose me, and not them? Why did they not get a fighting chance like I did? Was I in the right place at the right time, with someone to take care of me and give me a chance as I had?

At that time, everyone was begging for one more day. My friends didn’t get them, like I did. Why? Was God there? Why am I still here and they are not? These unanswerable questions haunt me, and I think about them often. But there are no answers. All I know is that I survived.

You can’t do without prayer and meditation, just like you can’t do without air, water or food.

I’ve learned how to pray, and I know how to listen. And I take the time to sit and listen.

That is grace.

I am so grateful that I am satisfied with having enough. And not having all the answers. If I had them, I would be God, and I am surely Not God.

More to come, stay tuned …

It’s Just Another MANIC Saturday …

tumblr_m28ph86Q5E1qzj6szo1_500 TTG 1train New YorkCourtesy: TTG One Train NYC

Today was the BIG day. The day we transformed our apartment into a home. Not that it wasn’t a home already, but today we invested in our biggest purchase as a couple to date.

We got up early and started the day. Got ready to go a little while later. Hubby was in manic mode for the most of the afternoon. He is always three steps ahead of me, I take it a little slower, which then elicits my “slow the fuck down …” comment.

We got on the Metro and headed North on the orange line, one stop from the end, located in the hind end of space and time. That end of the city is quite depressing. But that’s where IKEA built their super duper box store from HELL !

We made it with minutes to spare with our connecting bus that runs a very circuitous route around and around and around again, That end of town is Cris-crossed with cloverleaf highways and interchanges. The bus dropped us at a stop near Ikea, it was a hike, nonetheless.

I’ve never been to an IKEA before in my life. I’ve seen it on tv, I have friends who swear by it, and they shop there often. I have to say that, I love shopping. Today’s excursion to this HUGE big box store was a MANIC experience. I thought I was going to have an episode right there in the middle of crowds of people.

The store is all laid out and there are maps to show you where to go. Furniture is on the second floor, we headed there first. we knew ahead of time what we were buying, and we wanted to see it in a “room setting.” The place was swarming with people. We did a couple of circuits, and headed downstairs, what happened next was a nightmare.

We grabbed a very large shopping cart and started the MAZE that one has to travel to get to the warehouse/check out/delivery area. Imagine a hoard of people all with their own very large shopping carts, traveling through a maze with aisles about ten feet wide, and several people across trying to navigate this maze. With coats, carts, and small children in tow…

I was getting close to meltdown stage.

We did eventually get through the maze. We then ventured into the warehouse. Hubby had printed out all the pertinent numbers to go find them. We hit a kiosk that told us where to go. Now you transfer from a very large shopping cart, to a push buggy for large items. Then you have to find the item, and put it in/on your buggy, now I am pushing a shopping cart and a buggy at the same time.

There are families with small children all over the place.

Once you get a buggy filled with very large boxes that are heavy going, they are hard to stop. I came close to running over the same small child twice, running the shelves. We then had to get in a line to order the sofa and get a print out. We were pushing around a large arm chair, a coffee table, and an end table.

Then you get in line to pay.

Hurry up and wait …

We handed our printout to the girl at checkout and she scanned our boxes. Then you go over to the waiting area as your order is processed, they pull the items from the stock room, and send them out to you to either take home yourself, or get delivered. Once that was completed, we step about ten feet from the pick up desk to the delivery desk. They offered to deliver this evening.

We originally set Monday for delivery, but they were more than happy to do it today.

We took the evening delivery time.

We left the store, I was really crazy by that point. All I wanted to do was get the hell out of dodge.

We walked away from the store, in another direction from where we came from, to a bus stop located across a six lane highway. We got there and noticed that that bus stop was only good Monday through Friday. So we crossed back over that six lane highway, and headed in the direction we had originally come from, where the bus dropped us off.

That particular bus stop is also on a six lane highway. We got to our drop stop and noticed a corresponding stop across the highway, thinking it was the return stop. But the highway was split by a fence, and traffic was much to high to cross, and there was no bridge or crossing area.

We walked all the way back to the store and went back in to delivery, and asked for them to call us a taxi. We were told that there was a taxi stand right there in the parking lot, we had walked past it three times, but didn’t notice it.

We took a $15.00 dollar taxi ride back to the metro we arrived at.

Singing “Over the river and through the woods, more like over the highway and around and around!”

A train was pulling into the station, in the direction we needed to go, which pushed us to run through the turnstile and across the station and down to the platform, UGH … We made the train.

We got back home and hubby headed to the Tire to pick up a drill and some odds and ends, and I walked home. I had to find out where to put the old furniture out on the street, making sure I was on our property and not others.

I had begun to throw everything we didn’t need away yesterday, so today I only had a single leaf bag stuffed with trash, and I had to vacuum. Hubby got back home and we dismantled the living room, and in one trip took everything down to trash. A sofa, a loveseat, two tables and all the cushions.

The old furniture was falling apart. It was forty years old. My mother in law sewed all the cushions and they gave the furniture to hubby when he moved to Montreal almost twenty years ago.

We waited for the delivery, meanwhile we were sorting through what we decided to keep. Around five, they showed up. I worried that we had not measured the couch in the store, because it might not have fit through our front door. they got it in with inches to spare.

Some Assembly Required !!!

I’ve put the occasional book case together in the past. But I’ve never had to build a sofa or a table before. First you have to unpack it from the plastic wrap and cardboard. Then you have to locate the booty, the bag of feet, screws, bolts and tools to do the job. We unpacked the pieces of the couch, there were four pieces. The back, the bottom, and the two arms.

We missed the tools and screws.

Thinking we had forgotten something in the store, we panicked. Alas, they were stuck inside the sofa in a plastic bag, stapled inside the carcass. Like I said, I’ve never built a sofa.

There are so many pieces, where do they all go ???

This was turning out to be a very insane operation. I was not very sober…

We got it together and put it in place. The sofa is much bigger in our space, than it was in the store space. We then un-boxed the arm chair. That was a one step process. We moved around the furniture that was already there, and found a way to get it all to work together.

We then attacked the coffee table. I didn’t know that you needed all those nuts, bolts, screws, dowels, pins and brackets. I’ve seen tables in a store, but I was surprised by all the shit it took to put it together.

The How to put this item together is a “build it for the dummy” guide, lots of pictures and diagrams of the items in the box and the items in the screw bag.

Pictures but NO words to go with them.

I nearly killed hubby about halfway through this build.

Our home looks so very different than it did mere hours ago.

Hubby ordered a new HD tv online, new blinds for the living room, which we pick up tomorrow, and I have to install, hence, the drill will be useful.

My Pay Pal account got a good work out. They are probably wondering what I am doing. I never make more than one purchase at a time. I added a sweet Ebay buy to the deal of my own.

I don’t think I will be returning to Ikea any time soon. It was all very sensory overload.

Too Much overload.

That was our Saturday.

More to come, stay tuned…

Friday … The BIG Reno and Three Letter Words for $1000 Alex !

tumblr_lxerkgWVPI1r556eno1_500 followeedCourtesy: Followeed – Another vertigo inducing photo to end the week.

It was chilly tonight, but not as frigid as it was last night. Temps are on the way up and will peak, “hopefully” Wednesday with a Plus (6c) day. They keep changing that number.

They say, when you get sober, that the only thing you have to change is everything.

There is a rhyme and reason to the Big Book. Things are presented and come in a certain order.

Coming in, as I did then, with expectations on my lips was a bad idea, that had to be quashed.

Some think they can pick and choose which steps they are going to work, based on how they read the words on the page, which brings us to the Three Letter Word Category. But we soon learn that the steps are written in a specific order, for maximum effect.

If you don’t start with the foundation, how can you build a solid building?

We start with One and work our way through. And around Step five, the reading mentions “The Arch” we are supposed to walk through as free men and women, if we have properly completed the first five proposals.

Today’s reading mentions a gateway, through which everyone can walk through. We just need to find our way around, through, over and under, backwards and forwards, the biggest troublesome three letter word in the world …

That word is (drum roll please !!!) GOD.

I am getting a bit ahead of myself, so let’s back up.

You might be familiar with the reading of The Promises. Which are taken from the Book concerning the Ninth Step. I’ve / We’ve been listening to them for more than thirteen years now. They say that when we get sober, that eventually, the promises will begin to manifest and come true.

Hurry up and wait …

They don’t all come at once. And I have a little wisdom on the topic now. Many of the promises are long term proposals. All those things we get rid of, and all those things we get in return, if we are diligent and patient, are tantalizing.

Time gives one perspective. At least, that’s my take on them, as I speak to the old timers.

The one promise that has been outstanding and yet to manifest, after thirteen years is:

“Fear of People and of Economic Insecurity will leave us.”

This promise is the Ninth Promise of the Ninth Step Promises passage.

I don’t really have a problem of fearing people. The rest of this promise needs a back story.

I was eleven months sober, and I met my now husband. It was the holiday season, and he was going home to visit his family, he offered me to stay in our now HOME while he was away.

Actually, I never left … I am still here thirteen years later !

We had very little. The apartment was a mess. We had not begun to clean up the wreckage of hubby’s past, but that would begin in earnest very soon. We had ratty furniture, (which is the main subject of this actual post) we had a small black and white tv, with rabbit ears and foil. The walls were stark, medicinal white. And that was it.

We learned how to shop for two. We learned how to cook for two. And we began to clean up that wreckage, (read: Return all the empty beer bottles that were stacked 20 deep on the balcony).

We did not have very much money. And in the beginning, we dreaded the last week of the month, because we would have to choose what to do with regards to food and paying bills and buying much needed medicinals. We could not do all of them, at the same time, and that lasted for many years.

Money makes the world go round … It also is man’s greatest evil.

Not having enough of it, Needing more of it, relying on financial aide to get it, and having enough of it at the end of the month to buy food, pay bills and pay for an education all at the same time. Not to mention all those other things we “needed to buy” to survive. (read:Medication).

This journey of learning how to respect the almighty dollar is long and arduous.

We learned how to do it, starting with nothing and working our way up the economic ladder, one year at a time. We judged our upwards success, by our ability to get rid of all the shitty appliances we had, for new ones. That took many years.

This past Fall 2014, we jumped an entire economic bracket, for the first time since the day we met. We have risen from poor student status, to mid-range manageable status, to today’s, there is money in the bank, we can buy food all month, pay bills, buy necessities, AND have surplus money that for the first time since we met …

BE ABLE TO BUY BRAND NEW FURNITURE AND GET RID OF THE RATTY 40 YEAR OLD FURNITURE THAT IS HELD TOGETHER WITH DUCT TAPE, FURNITURE !!!

We have completed or finally achieved, the list of promises.

We have four items of old furniture. The living room, the dining table, our bed, and my desk.

Over the past thirteen years we have recycled all of our electronics. We painted the apartment, the kitchen and bathroom have been remodeled by our management.

Tomorrow we get to hit IKEA for the first time. Hubby picked out the new furniture, and I get executive veto so tomorrow we will finalize the deal and be able to afford the grand prize.

Sunday night, the ratty furniture goes on the trash heap. Monday the new duds come.

Hubby has cashed in all of our bargaining chips and saved up educational credits that come from the government, which gives us bankable cash. (read:Taxes)

We have rebuilt our home from the ground up. One item at a time.

So that is a thing … a really BIG thing !!!

Now we return to regularly scheduled programming …

“I’ll take Three Letter Words for $1000 Alex.”

We came full circle tonight, with the reading about Spiritual Kindergarten. We talked about God.

You cannot avoid it, The words is in the book.

Remember the other day when we spoke about Ebby and Bill. On that fateful day when the two friends met over drinks in the kitchen. Ebby with sober drink, Bill with his bottle. Here Bill thought that it would be frivolous and exciting, drinking with his old friend. That did not happen.

Ebby tells his story and concludes with “I’ve found religion!” (Read:The Oxford’s Religion)

Bill wasn’t having any of that religion shit. He read the first three proposals. But it did not connect with him at all, UNTIL, Ebby told him that maybe “He should find a power greater than himself of his own choosing.” (read: Squiggly writing in the book).

This is the blessed sentence in the book.

God, “As we Understood Him.”

But we come around to the contradiction in As Bill Sees It that says,

“You can find your own concept of a higher power and if that works for you fine, BUT in the end it always comes back around to God.”

When the book was written, Bill had counsel from a Jesuit priest, who spoke to him at great length, but to make God more palatable, we get the spiritual angle.

This is a tough subject for many.

When I got sick, and was waiting to die, I read every book I could get my hands on that spoke about the afterlife, God, spirits, angels, and i even consulted a medium to have a chat with my newly departed Grandmother, because I could not go to her funeral, and I needed to speak to her.

I was sober the first time – during this quest.

I got to my medium and his reply was curt and short: “She is happy where she is” and he left.

The second time I got sober, it was meant to be.

I had the God of my father, the traditions of my family, I added the intellectual university education about God and Religion, with degrees in Religion and Theology. Meanwhile I was getting sober.

i watched people get sober, because my mainstay was meetings.

If you STAY in the same meeting for YEARS at a time, you will witness people getting sober and eventually having their own spiritual experiences, IN a meeting.

That is where I saw God.

I believed in God my whole life, and I was still alive, I did not die as was told to me several times over.

There was something that was keeping me alive, I knew that.

I met God once, in human form. He made manifest to me when I most needed Him.

This time around i witnessed God move among my friends. In ways I had never imagined.

I’ve learned how to read the book. I learned how to read the book, when I read it with my guys.

We’ve all learned how to unpack the word GOD. It may take some time, and a little effort and elbow grease. Add water, and stir …

Every voice plays its appointed part.

The only thing we need to learn how to do is Learn, Serve and Love.

The book gives us direction, as one of my friends said tonight. It does not give us an end point.

That is up to us.

What ever you call that Power Greater than Yourself, is up to you.

All the voices and all the souls we encounter in the rooms, widens that arch we all walk through.

i want to live happy, joyous and free.

We might be there now.

More to come, stay tuned …

Mob Cheers as ISIS Militants Throw Another ‘Gay’ Man to His Death

ISIS-Raqqa-2-x400

ISIS militants called their latest victim a ‘child of Lot,’ claiming he committed the ‘crime’ of sodomy.

BY  Thom Senzee Advocate.com

A man reportedly in his early 20s was thrown from the rooftop of a tall building in Raqqa, Syria, for the alleged “crime” of being gay, according to The Daily Mail.

Raqqa, the de facto capital of the terrorist group which calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is the latest setting in a series of grisly executions recently carried out by ISIS militants against men accused of being gay.

The most recent atrocity seems to have drawn an especially large and enthusiastic crowd, according to accounts the Daily Mail reported from an activist group calling itself Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. The Mail identified a banner that can be seen in photos and video of the murder as that of militant group’s propaganda unit, Al Hayat Media Centre.

As with other antigay executions carried out by ISIS, several photos and videos of the horrifying event have emerged. All are disturbing, perhaps most especially a photo showing the blindfolded young man, so far unidentified, tumbling face first toward the ground and flailing in mid-air.

The Mail also reports that there is video showing two unmasked executioners escorting their victim to the rooftop, while also capturing the entire travesty with cameras on their cell phones.

The first reported execution of men who militants claimed were “gay” took place last November, though family and friends of the victims reported that the men were targeted because they opposed the ISIS occupation, not because they were actually gay. Since that time, there have been credible reports of public crucifixions of people convicted of other “morals” and religious crimes.

Just last month, an older man was thrown from a roof in Tal Abyad, Syria, for the “crime” of “having a homosexual affair.” When the still-unidentified victim survived the seven-story fall, militants and bystanders stoned the man to death.

Thursday … It Is COLD !!! … If You are Breathing, You have a Chance …

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclearCourtesy: James Clear Flickr

Boy, is it FRIGID outside tonight. We are sitting at (-15c/-21c w.c.). We got a little snow, and city workers, are tonight, hurriedly trying to clear snow from the streets. There is good news coming in the way of positive numbers beginning on Sunday with a trend moving from Zero to plus (+7c) by Wednesday next week.

That warmth cannot come sooner, as February was the coldest month on record here in the city.

Yesterday I welcomed a friend back from the U.S., the long nightmare that was Pittsburgh is over.

We had lunch, did some shopping, and sorted out various things that he needed to do so that he can reconnect with the community here. I had not been to the core malls in some time, so while we were there yesterday, we happened into Indigo Book sellers. and I invested in the next two books by Kathy Reichs, in the Temperance Brennan series, and last night, I could not get to bed early enough to start reading them.

Today was quiet. I was sleeping, and at one point, the same dream scene kept repeating itself over and over again, so I knew it was time to get out of bed, to try and reset the cycle. As I can only sit so long in front of this box, I spent some time surfing and stuff like that, and when I completed my circuit, I had two hours before I needed to get ready to go… I went back to bed for a short run.

Winter has not been kind to our folks. They are choosing to stay home, instead of venturing out in this frigid weather. I’ve been noting as well, some of our old timers have been MIA for a while. Which is out of character for some of them.

One of those men, returned to the fold this evening. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and I was starting to worry about him. Weren’t we all surprised when he got up there and spoke.

My friend has a number of years in, twenty seven to be exact.

For a while now, having listened to old timers talk and share at meetings, I know some things about them. Each of them approach the program differently. No two of them do it the same way, and I’ve written here, recently about folks who are just comfortable to warm a chair and occupy space.

If you hit enough meetings, and listen well, you sometimes get nuggets of wisdom, here and there.

I’ve talked to my friend who spoke tonight, in great depth over the months that have passed, and asked him why some folks, have put down their roots and roost where they are, and others keep to the notion that there is always something new to learn, and if you have the time to invest, they why not do that ?

While we were out there, most people have experiences of certain individuals who step in and stop us in our tracks which begins the slow grind out of hell, into life. As was the case for my friend.

He was working in a hospital, barely hanging on to life, trying to dry out after another ritual alcohol infused dance with massive amounts of cocaine trip. He was ordered to get a medical check up by his boss. So he goes to this office and sits down, as the doctor has his back to him. He, “the doctor” turns around and looks at my friend squarely and without skipping a beat says quite bluntly …

“Alcohol and Cocaine huh !!! ” Exclamation point …

He had not set eyes on my friend, nor knew his state. But he pegged him substance for substance.

That doctor knew him and began to sort him out and get him help.

The doctor tells him emphatically …

“You go and talk to this guy, do it now, Do it now, DO IT NOW !!!”

In a few months time, and after a few ins and outs, the miracle happened.

  • The admission of powerlessness over his chosen substances
  • The realization that there was a kernel of faith inside of him from his childhood
  • And that that Power Greater than himself could actually help him

This was another example that most of us are either born into – or are educated in, some kind of faith background. And for some of us, when we come in, are provided the grace to be able to appreciate it for what it was and is, and allow that grace to save us.

I am very keen to know and to learn perspective from my long sober friends.

That kind of dictates or allows me to see where I am in the grand scheme of things. I’m not just walking around aimlessly not doing anything with my time. That I am, in fact, using my time properly, I’m invested in my own sobriety, and I am invested in the lives of my friends at large, and then, on a daily basis, I am invested in the lives of the guys I work with.

Constant. Daily, By The Book.

My friend tells us that “If we are alive, and breathing, we have a chance to live a life of our wildest dreams, in the program.” Simply, “if you are breathing, YOU have a chance !!!” Exclamation point !

You never know when God is going to step in and sort you out. Be mindful.

In my life, God, or angels, or particular people, stepped in when I most needed it and gave me a chance to get out of hell and get sorted out and clean up my life. When that happened in my life, it was not by my own steam, or by my choice, in those cases, it was divinely ordained. There are no two ways about that.

My friend tonight, had that same experience, when he most needed help.

God stepped in and rescued him from hell.

One day at a time, this past January, he celebrated twenty seven years sober. And in April, he will turn sixty six years young, Some old timers, with oodles of time, have aged very gracefully.

Others, not so much.

I remember the words spoken by another long sober member here …

CONSTANT VIGILANCE !!!

Alcohol and drugs are pernicious, patient and deadly.

If you go back out, it is a foregone conclusion that you will return to where ever you left off, when you quit, and will wind up in a much bigger jackpot that you could have imagined.

Meetings, Prayer, Meditation, Working with Others …

When you come to us, you get the recipe for life. My friend lives in that recipe.

i want men like him in my life, because they challenge me to cook.

What are you cooking ???

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … Rambling About Many Things … Insight About Others

tumblr_lbphrtqohD1qbs0f7o1_500 noneedtoaskmynameCourtesy: The Gargoyle – Nothing like a little vertigo !!!

We thought that the weather was going to get better, tonight, it snowed. It was cloudy when we started the meeting, and there was inches of snow on the ground when we left. Tomorrow’s hopeful positive digit temp, has been brought down to a solid zero (0c) tonight.

As of late, children have been in the news, and not for good reasons.

In What the Fuck News …

The first case, a mother was convicted because she poisoned her son with salt, that eventually killed him, all the while she was blogging about his illness, prior to his death …

A second case involves a Muslim mother, (we know this because proceedings are having to be translated into Arabic) she beat and starved her two twin daughters to death. A gruesome story, and the other day the judge stopped proceedings to ask the mother Why did you do that ???

I mean, WHAT THE FUCK OF IT ALL ???

A third story involves “Free Range” parenting … Two small children, were allowed to walk to the neighborhood park by themselves. Because the parents practice “free range parenting.”

The police were called and the children returned home and six police cars followed, with C.P.S service workers to indict the parents for child neglect… Meanwhile, the kids are playing outside in the yard, unsupervised, and the neighbors are going MADDDDDDD ….

I’ll tell you a secret story about children …

When I was in grade school, we used to be bused to daycare after school, my brother and I. We did that for a long time, but at one point, I was like, NO MORE DAYCARE … In those days we had private bus service with door to door transport for our neighborhood.

I forced the driver, to take us home, instead of day care. I was probably not more than ten. This was in the 1970’s in Miami. After that day, my parents gave me a copy of the house key, and from that point on, both my brother and myself went home after school, forever more. Nobody noticed. Well, the spinster lesbian couple across the street knew we were there alone, and minded us if need be.

Nobody blinked an eye, there was no C.P.S issues. Who would you call (back then) to report two small kinds home alone for a few hours, until their parents got home from work? I learned responsibility, I took care of the house, I cleaned, I cooked, (we got our first microwave oven) that was a bit of excitement.

I understand the safety issues of allowing children to navigate neighborhood streets alone, in today’s day and age. There are too many perverts, and sickos on the street and you never know who is going to harass, or kidnap and kill your children if you don’t have eyes/hands on them 24 – 7 …

Let’s just leash them and let them wander around the yard aimlessly, or keep them locked in the house or at some day care center where someone can watch them while the parents can’t !

It is not the same world I grew up in … sadly !!!

I just had to get that off my chest …

I’m better now

So it snowed. We sat a good group. We finished Bill’s Story, via Joe and Charlie.

This is important, why?

I’ve spent thirteen years reading the Big Book, over and over and over. I worked my steps several times and I am in them right now. Last year, our Sunday night group, finished a cover to cover read through the book as well. That took more than a year of Sundays.

There are meetings all over the world, and I know that many meetings use the book as source.

You could go from reading the book, to reading a chapter, to reading a page, reading a paragraph, and finally, reading a sentence. Each chapter/paragraph/word leads into the next in a specific way. Each chapter has its job, to tell you something certain, factual. Which leads into the next chapter, which tells you something certain and factual, so forth and so on.

You could parse down to sentences and words.

For the last year, I have had the honor of working with sponsees. Each of them see me weekly, for a chat/read/discussion. Over the past year, I’m reading the book four times, at the same time, with four guys. Separately.

Like I said I’ve read the book. But it wasn’t until I read it with a sponsee, that words began to jump off the page at me as we read together. I saw things, and realized things, that I had not, in the past. I’m fairly certain, that after spending years reading the book myself, with others (in a group setting), I learned something. So that wisdom was in my brain,

The first section of the book hasn’t changed in over seventy five years, so after so many years, we should have been able to memorize the front of the book. I do know certain sections by rote. And I know the rest of the read, because I’ve read it so many times now.

Nothing will guarantee us sobriety, like working with another alcoholic.

I mean, that’s how it works, doesn’t it?

I am working with a new guy and he is concerned that I should be getting paid for what I am doing in the meeting, and in working with him. I don’t think I explained how that works very well. Someone has to get paid for working with others, he asked ? I gave him his Big Book, and stuff to read, on the side, (we give books to newbies) better they go home with someone, rather than sit in the box collecting dust.

Tonight we heard Joe and Charlie talk about these insights from the book, in the chapter called, “Bill’s Story.” The steps hadn’t been written yet, as the book had not been thought of when Bill got sober in the beginning. But in writing Bill’s Story, the steps are written out. He tells us the steps he took to get sober. Those steps originated in Ebbie’s witness of the Oxford Group, Ebbie told Bill about getting sober himself, and they worked through the One, Two, Three Shuffle.

Bill wasn’t having any of that Religion Shit.

But he came around when ( in squiggly writing ) the book says, “Well why don’t you find a concept of your own ?” With that statement, Bill got on board. He then tells us how he saw, and understood the rest of Oxford’s Steps and how he turned their short list of proposals, into the twelve steps as we have them today.

Funny how Bill negated all that religious shit, when he got sober, but as he sat writing the book, he had religious men, who were advising him on spiritual matters.

And that’s the God’s Honest Truth.

There are those issues that split many people along fracture lines.

  • Religion
  • God
  • Spirituality
  • Faith
  • Practice

The concept of God is problematic. God is problematic. So find your own, but there lies the contradiction between the Big Book, and As Bill Sees It.

It reads: “You can find a concept of your own, whatever works for you is good, then the reading goes on to say, all that is well and good, but in the end it always comes back around to God.”

Well, fuck me sideways on Tuesday !!!

When we get sober, we get new hearts, new eyes, new livers, and new lives. The longer you stick around you get to polish the temple of God we inhabit and so on. The longer you stick around, the more we learn, and that knowledge comes to bear when we sit down with another alcoholic, and do The Work together.

It can be that good !!!

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … It Can Be That Good

tumblr_lw1xczBKEE1qfbc2to1_500 weheartitCourtesy: We Heart It – Four is the magic number !!!

February is behind us, Thank God and hallelujah !!!

It is not so bad tonight, (-6c/-9c w.c.) with light snow falling. Wednesday is still pegged to be the best day of the week coming. A positive temp, in the middle of negatives. That is a start.

This week, is sitting in the minuses, but next week, we will flirt with just above and just below zero. This comes from the weather channel 14 day outlook. Hopefully March will be the transitional month there is snow on the map, into March, so we will see how that plays out.

It has been a fabulous weekend. And this week will see all my guys reunited here in Montreal.

Last night there was lots of cake, cards, and candles, and medallions.

Nothing can compare with seeing your folks achieve milestones.

The First Year is the hardest. But he came, he saw, and he conquered. It doesn’t get any easier from this point but Two Years is the Silver Oval Chip, that once you get it, you keep it, and hopefully, when you reach ten years, that chip gets engraved and dipped in Gold for Ten Years. That’s a tradition here in the city, if you know who to go to to get that done.

Today I left early because I had to meet with one of my guys and set up for the meeting. We had our meeting before the meeting, and new folks in new jobs, and we sat a good group. In keeping with the series, we read Step Ten …

“Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”

Once again, a few of us, when all was said and done tonight, scratched our heads, over things that were spoken. No two people work the program the same way. So you have to give them that.

When I realized that I wanted MORE, I had to find a sponsor that was MORE.

I had things I needed and he had some requirements for me as well.

  • Sponsees call every day
  • We meet once a week to chat
  • We read the book together weekly
  • We make one meeting a week together
  • And they do daily inventories from the beginning

I can’t ask another human to do something that I am not doing myself. If I am going to talk the talk, I better walk the walk. I do that.

There are several types of 10 step inventories. From the small, to the exhaustive. From up to the minute, to the seasonal house cleaning. A daily inventory, only if brief and simple, in the beginning, is useful for everyone. It gives one a chance to look at ones day, in simple terms, and gives us something to talk about daily. So by the time we hit step ten, eventually, in the series, they are used to writing, and have it down as rote.

It has been proven that this model of recovery works, at least for my guys it does.

I learned this from women I respect and love, and if they can do it, I can do it too. It was just that, not many men, that I know, are committed to recovery as hard as I am or as the women are. It’s a stepped up game that is proactive, engaging, and workable.

Each of my guys are unique. Each has their own needs, so I have to work with each of them and set them up for their strengths, and to help their weaknesses into strengths. In turn, I can tell you that they push me to be a better man every day. They challenge me to grow.

Working with others, is the best job you can do in your sobriety.

Sobriety is a full time job, and working with others, just makes that job much better.

It is Transformational. It will change your life in ways, you could not even imagine.

It is going to be an exciting week ahead. And I am SOOOO ready for it.

More to come, stay tuned …

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