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Sunday Sundries … On a Monday Morning Early

tumblr_ndwhz7VmHB1qzx74yo1_1280It overnight, Sunday into Monday morning. I wasn’t going to post, but thought otherwise.

It was a beautiful Sunday, they are telling us that this week, will be more of the same. We will see the warmest temps yet this summer, this week.

Thank God for Air Conditioning.

I spent some time reviewing my outline and did some additions, and thought about the writing process and how it was going to go. I guess I won’t figure that out, until I actually sit down and start writing.

I spoke to my writing coach this evening on the way home, and I told him that I had finished the theme section and my graph was complete. And he suggested I start writing. I would rather sit on my outline for a few days to think about it and let thoughts foment and let things fall where they may. And on Saturday, we can do another read through, to see what comes out of our discussion of the new material. He agreed with me.

I find it better to have two minds on the process because he is well versed in literature and language and he sees things that I don’t. I tell him stories about the stories and I get his feedback and also his vision as he sees the project roll out.

I need to talk to my aunt to get some info from her about the opening chapter. I know what that chapter is, but I need to fill in some detail that I don’t yet have, and she might be able to fill in some of my blanks so that I can explain locations and setting a bit better, than just writing,

“it started here and we were in this building, so forth and so on.”

That is just too general of a description.

We sat a full house at the meeting, and we read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Tradition Seven. Every group should be self supporting declining outside contributions.

Several topics came up in discussion.

  • Financial Freedom
  • Emotional Freedom
  • Putting something in the basket, because we are accountable and want to fell part of
  • Meetings don’t run themselves, someone has to do the shopping and pay the rent
  • With no supplies, we could not feed and coffee the crowds that come

I think about ALL the money I spent on alcohol in 34 years of drinking. A mid size fortune, to be honest. I could probably have fed a third world country with it.

Now I toss a loonie or a toonie in the basket, across my meetings, because I can, and because what I get back in grace and love, pales in comparison to what I give on a nightly basis.

I also set up, make coffee and buy supplies for several meetings across town.

Everybody is well tonight.

One of our women could really use your prayers. She is in hospital and the light at the end of the tunnel is too far away to see, and she needs all the love and support we can throw at her.

Monday starts another busy week. But I would not have it any other way. I have time to spend with others, and I do that. And I better make the best of my time, because you know, we aren’t getting any younger.

T – Minus 5 days … Friday is my birthday, 48 years, another year closer to fifty.

That book needs to be written soon. I promised hubby retirement money for the bank.

And that exactly what I am going to do.

Goodnight from Montreal

Saturday – The Writing Process – Round 2

joy2AThis evening I met with my writing coach and I brought with me my first draft outline. Over the evening we talked through my points, and we built a larger frame to work with. In discussion, he came up with six themes that he became aware of.

The Themes are:

  • God
  • Canada
  • Family
  • Alcohol
  • AIDS
  • Homosexuality

We decided on the first chapter and the last chapter. I know what those two chapters are going to look like and what will go into them. I took copious notes on the draft and brought it home. From my notes, I composed a new outline, incorporating the new points and stories that were fleshed out. Running on the themes that arose, the story is much more complete.

The Outline went from two pages to a total of five pages.

I typed out each story point down the page, completing all the pages, I drew a graph table on the far margin with six columns. One for each theme on each page. Then drew horizontal lines between each story point. Then for each story point, I ticked the box that was theme appropriate for that section.

The story as a whole is my story. But through discussion my coach determined that I also had a Canadian story, which turns the book into a wider audience. God begins the book and ends the book, as one of the main themes that runs throughout the entire story.

Canada begins the book and also ends the book as well. My originally being an American child with Canadian and Italian family. I am introduced to Canada through family, I am raised in the states, but eventually find my way here to Montreal, because of my maternal family.

I have to find my way into assimilation and into Canadian Society, during the run ups to war, seeing the world from above the Northern Border, and how everyday Canadians react to world events, was a shocking show. I am told to sew Canadian flags on my back pack, and my academic adviser begins to orient me towards choosing who I will align myself with.

That process took more than two years to navigate. There was no going back for me, only forwards motion. I came to Canada to become a Canadian citizen which took place in February of 2003. So this is definitely a Canadian Story.

Family, Alcohol, AIDS and Homosexuality are parts of the story and they have a certain beginning and play their part in the fuller story.

I have added some major people to the story, at the points where they impact the timeline as it happened. I can now tie the entire story together and see a fuller picture.

Inside the story are integral paranormal additions. Over my lifetime, family members who have died, at some point, return to me one way or another, those would be my Grammy, Grampy, Memere, my mother’s mother and finally Sister Georgette. Their appearances play a part in the story telling, and take place at certain points in the story.

Now I have a complete road map of what I am going to write and how that is going to flesh out.

I have the stories in chronological order with their themes.

I need to work out how to weave the stories together, within the themes provided, and write a cohesive story, start to finish.

I have completed the table for my next session next Saturday.

There is yet to be a title, but I am told, that will come eventually.

He spoke about Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, and how I did not need a chapter on “the whiteness of the whale.” And he also mentioned Earnest Hemingway and how grand a writer he was, which then I said, I don’t know if I have those kinds of voices to write with, because I am literate up to a certain level. I don’t use lofty words that are beyond my comprehension, just to get an idea across. But I do have a voice.

I find, usually in my Pastoral Ministry work, that if I need to write someone or talk about a certain topic in that field, I can sit down and think about what I need to say, and I find that words come to me on specific occasions based on specific needs. The words are there, I just may not have them but on a need to have basis.

My coach likes my voice and my story telling ability.

He is sure there is a hit on the way for you all to look forward to.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday … Offensive People

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21Courtesy: Minhos21 – Because sometimes you need a happy dog photograph

It is late, as this entry is being written. Another successful week in the books.

I am always amazed at just how things turn out when I just go with it.

I sorted out my outline yesterday, and restructured my program a bit. Speaking to my writing coach this evening on the way to the meeting, I explained what I had done, in anticipation of our discussion over that outline tomorrow.

We talked about Change tonight, and as that was the topic of last night’s post, I need not go over those thoughts again.

The only thing we have to change in sobriety is everything.

The sooner one lets go and lets God, the easier it gets.

Funny, how folks desire to hang on to old ideas and old perceptions of themselves, deciding that if they let go and really allowed themselves to “change” they would not know who they would become, and that’s kinda the whole mystery of sobriety.

You never know what you are going to get on the other side.

I had breakfast with my sponsor this morning and I finally completed my Step 6.

After more than a year working on it.

Some people in the rooms have no class or tact whatsoever. A woman (read: militant, shaved her head, lesbian)  made comments to me in passing at the meeting that really rubbed me the wrong way. Some people don’t understand the power of the written word or what some words mean, when strung together in a certain order.

I can speak perfect CUNT too …

If you are going to comment on something I wrote, at least have read the piece correctly and understand what was written instead of giving me your judgment of the most important story in my life that I have to tell. Some people have no fucking class.

You might have more time than I do, but you sure aren’t sober.

Tomorrow is another day. We will have Portuguese pastry and coffee.

Oh and I got a copy of

Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho

With English subtitles.

Finally we get to watch it from beginning to end,and actually understand the whole story.

More to come, stay tuned …

Is there “Joy” in Your Life ?

joy2AIn sobriety, it has been said, that we are some sick people, who need to get well. However, not many choose this path, because it is not the easier softer way. Honesty is something, that it has also been said, is lacking in our community.

I sat and listened to one of my long time friends speak tonight, and she reminded me, (read:us) about a few things.

One, that when shit happens, we can’t run. Two, that usually before we go to God with it, we try everything else, and we visit, one, or two villages along the way, when all we really need to do is to go to the source And that source is God. We might stop at the village but we don’t necessarily have to take anything with us when we leave.

I heard my friend speak to truth. And I heard her say, “I want to speak truth” and she did.

At some point in sobriety, we hit a place that things change, shit happens, and if we are wise, we step up our game, and we evolve. Sobriety is about moving forwards, not backwards. But there are times, when we slip back, but the idea is to see the slip coming, and be able to stop ourselves before the backslide. if just a little bit.

She mentioned the word: JOY …

Again, at some point in the journey, we find Joy. Or at least see it for what it is.

Is there joy, Is it present in your life, and if it is, do you use joy?

And that made me think a little bit about this next phase in my life. There is plenty of joy in my life, I just haven’t attributed it to joy, but it is there.

On the way home, I spoke to my writing coach about the evening. And I realized that writing a book is not about me, even though the story is mine. And the direction I began in days ago, is not the direction I want to go in. I want to tell the truth but not give negativism a spotlight.

I can choose what kind of story I want to write. My coach tells me that I have a message, and finding the right direction to speak that message is a good point. People don’t want to read war stories or an indictment. This is not the time to point fingers or blame anyone. This is also not the time to seek vengeance or mete out retribution.

So that changes the game plan. That changes everything. I remember joy and If I want to share joy, I need to write from a joyful place and not a resentful place. This project is a story of conquering adversities and becoming more than I thought I’d be.

We, in the rooms, don’t know how lucky we are to have the people who are in our lives. If our friends are wise, they will speak truth, even if that’s not what we want. Usually, though, it is exactly what we need to hear.

God, in his infinite wisdom, is in control, we are not in control. God just seems to have a funny sense of humor in the choices He makes in message carriers. You never know where the message is going to come from, or from whom.

We just need to do the next right thing, and show up. Which turns to STAY.

If you don’t STAY long enough, you might miss the joy coming at you.

I want to tell a joyful story, and that is what I am going to do. Even if the truth involves telling the truth one way or another. What happened happened. It is the way I deliver that truth that matters.

Everybody is alright tonight. God is doing for them, what they could not do for themselves.

Joy Resize

You Were A Mistake … Notes and Explanations

The post below is the first post that went up, with my daily writing exercise that begins the process of writing towards my outline which I will list below. I began with writing about childhood and family and posted that exercise earlier tonight.

After talking it through with a friend, I realized that I had left out portions of the story which should be added. I will be editing that first post later this evening.

The title of the book came almost too easily. I had thought of another working title, but after a thought about it, “You Were a Mistake” was just perfect. It will be the story that explains where that phrase came from, who said it, and to whom it was meant. That is the first episode that comes on the first page of the book. That thread extends for thirty years into my life, when I finally excised it from my life, in the first of two Self Preservation Decisions I made as an adult man.

I would appreciate feedback as I upload these exercises. You might see things that I don’t as I write these entries. So please, leave a comment or two or three.

You Were a Mistake …

Dedication

Prologue – Introduction

  1. Seasons – Family, Friends, School, Travels, Naked and Sacred
  2. The Elementary Years
  3. The Junior High Years
  4. The High School Years
  5. Seminary
  6. Managing a Travel Agency in my twenties
  7. Travels as a young person and as a drunk
  8. Jobs, getting them, loosing them, geographics all over Florida
  9. Coming Out – The Parliament House Stories
  10. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made … getting tossed onto the street
  11. The next move
  12. Gloria, and the spinning tornado story
  13. Another Move
  14. James
  15. Meeting Todd at the Stud – Love at first Tap
  16. Building the Stud
  17. The death of James … We had just opened the new Stud it as a few days into opening when I got the call that would begin to change my life
  18. Suicide
  19. The diagnosis of AIDS …
  • Crazy SOTB,
  • One night in Heaven,
  • The story teller,
  • Marie Wansiki, Health Link,
  • What we did to survive,
  • death across the land
  • Patti Labelle and Dennis
  • Getting sober the first time
  1. Larry and Kevin – the two greatest friends I ever had
  2. The greatest Goodbye I ever had to say
  3. Relocation,
  • sobriety, Go somewhere else, third tradition Broken
  • The First Self Preservation decision
  • geographic
  • the loss of sobriety – drug addiction
  1. The great return – survival after trauma
  2. Harry Potter Therapy
  3. Getting sober again –
  • The Second Self Preservation Decision
  • The last geographic

Meeting my husband – the angel story

  1. University
  2. The great gay wedding
  3. Life after university
  4. The story so far

So this is the working outline point by point as it covers a great deal of territory. I have a mentor who is walking me through the writing process and we meet again on Saturday.

You Were A Mistake … Draft #1 … Seasons & Naked and Sacred

do you believe in love

“Quick, Run. Find someplace to hide … Yeah, up the stairs, Go, Quickly, He’s coming. I run up the stairs and dive underneath Grammy’s bed. She is following and stands in the doorway; protective, resolute … You will not hurt that boy !!!

Dad is screaming and shouting, swinging a bat in his hands … You Were a Mistake and Should Never have been Born.”

This scene is repeated many times during my childhood.

Seasons

Human beings transit many seasons in life, and for every season there is a birth, life, growth and in the end death brings up the rear. This story, my story, is a story about seasons, and how I came to be, who I was, and who I am becoming right now. I am a child who was born in Generation X.

In 2011 “The Generation X Report” (based on annual surveys used in the Longitudinal Study of today’s adults) found Gen Xers, defined in the report as people born between 1961 and 1981, to be highly educated, active, balanced, happy and family oriented. Citation, Wikipedia

The city of my birth, New Britain, Connecticut, was a small town with pleasant neighborhoods, multi-ethnic families, a local school, parks and stately family residences. It was a time of plenty for us. I was born to a working class family. My father was in the machine industry, my mother worked in the medical field, and my grandparents worked for the best industry in town, “The Stanley Works.” One of the biggest tool manufacturers in the North East.

My father, war torn, returned from fighting in the Viet Nam war, imported a wife from Canada, and impregnated her. My mother, being a Quebecois Catholic girl, from a very Quebecois Catholic family, one did not impregnate a woman and leave her destitute. I believe that my grandparents were not very happy about this, in the end, my father married her in 1967, which is subsequently also the year I was born.

We lived on Kennedy Drive … Did that mean anything? I think not. Our home was a split ranch with three bedrooms. We had an outfitted basement with the required record player where we played Sonny and Cher, The Mama’s and the Papa’s and the Jackson Five. We had a large kitchen which led off to an outside deck, raised above the back yard, which gave us ample space for a sand pit below. It was a great home. Our neighbors represented many different countries from around the world. My best friends, Jimmy and Steven were from Poland. Theirs was a very kind and warm family, they lived across the street. I had several other friends who lived on the street. We all went to school together. We were quite the melting pot of America way back in the 1960’s.

I have few memories of this place, a Christmas full of snow, an aluminum Christmas tree back lit with a color wheel, dad putting lights on the house, the holidays at Grammy’s house. I do remember walking to and from school. And I have specific memories of classrooms and a teacher, I see places, but not faces.

I am told a story by my mother once … It was my father’s birthday and I had climbed into the kitchen sink, taking with me the flour pot, the sugar, coffee and I had even gone to the trouble of emptying all the tea bags into the sink, attempting to make a cake for daddy … There is also the day I learned about fire … Mom holding my hand over a hot fire on the stove.

If Gen X’ers are said to be family oriented, that indeed would be true. Because I had family in spades. Those first years of my life were managed by all the women my family could throw at me. During this time, all of my family lived no more than twenty minutes away in any direction. While my parents worked, I was shuttled between grandparents and aunts and uncles.

I would not be lying if I said that this was the best time of my life. Being the first born son, I was spoiled and the women did their best to give me everything they thought I would need, when I became an adult.I had three years on my brother, who in turn was created, specifically to be my rival, my challenger, the son who was meant to be born, never to see eye to eye with me, for the whole of my life.

I learned how to take care of a home, I learned how to garden and grow food for the table, I learned numbers by “The Price is Right,” and my ABC’s by “Sesame Street. It was a time of plenty. Family was all we had in those days. And it was a good family, if I do say so myself.

My first memories, nursery school in the basement of a church, Kindergarten in a two classroom building with a large “mud room” between them. Music lessons and the production of The Wizard of Oz, where I played the cowardly Lion. First grade with Miss, Hesslin. Her son, played on my father’s softball team.

Neighborhoods were safe, in those days. Parents did not think twice about allowing their kids to walk to school, because we lived not far away and we did not have a bus to take us. There was a covered bus stop halfway between home and school, where we would gather on the way home to share what we did not eat during lunch that day. I remember the smell of paint, in art class. The library, and the smell of books. I remember playing out in the yard at school, the field trip to the farm, the bull fighting ring, the animals. And sharing milk out of cardboard containers.

My paternal grandparents lived in a split ranch house, with a huge yard around the periphery, gardens located alongside the house. In the backyard, were two gardens. In one corner, a vegetable garden where Grammy grew tomatoes, peppers and all kinds of other things. In the other corner was a rock garden, with brightly painted rocks painted rocks bordering a tiered flower garden. There were century old willow trees in the front yard, maple trees and pines.

The lot next door, held the remnant of a century old building that a family once lived in, but now were ruins. The empty lot was strewn with the refuse of cuttings that Grammy threw over the fence, which took root and raspberries, blackberries and flowers grew aplenty.

The house had two bedrooms, one for Grammy and the other for Grandpa. They had taken to sleeping in separate bedrooms because grandpa was a drunk. (more on that later) There was a full bath upstairs and a laundry drop chute that fell into the basement for washing. There was a laundry line out the bathroom window, connected to another century old tree in the backyard to hang the washing to dry.

My grandparent had lived in this house for decades when I came along. In the living room was an old 78 record player with thick vinyl records, and a grand fireplace, where the Christmas tree was always set up. The den, was a small squat room, with a sofa, a chair for grandpa and the television. Many a night were spent in that room.

In the kitchen, the heart of the home, was an aluminum table seating for eight, and a plush chair that sat besides the door. We never used the front door, unless we were going outside to sit after dinner to enjoy the scenery. The entrance door was in a mud room, sitting between the garage and the main house. My grandmother’s green thumb was present everywhere in the house.

Across the street lived a large family with three generations of them living under the same roof. Mom and pop, on the third floor, sons and daughters on the second, and grandma living in the attic, which was a fully appointed space just for her. She was an old woman and only spoke Italian with Grammy. Grammy was multilingual, and talented beyond her means, when it came to gardening, cooking and gabbing.

Grandpa was a solid man, but he had his problems. Alcohol being one of them. Grandpa was a bottle hider, and a drinker, at any time of the day. Larosas Tavern was fifty paces from the front door, and so was the liquor store. The men of the family spent a pretty penny in both those institutions. And to this day, circa 2015, Larosas is still there.The old house has since been knocked down and the side yard was appropriated to build a larger parking lot for the tavern.

Grandpa had bottle hidden all over the house, so he could get his nip, at arms length from where ever he stood or sat. Alcoholism would be the running theme throughout this story.

Grandpa had his endearing qualities as well. I remember him taking me to a particular ice cream/soda pop place, by a lakeside. You could have your pop and ice cream, then drive just up the road to a park where we would park the car and toss stones into the lake. I don’t remember either of those names, but the memory is clear for me.

My Maternal grandparents had split up and Grand Pere was already living in a home. Memere and my uncle Michael lived together for many years, for a time, they even shared a one bedroom apartment, where I would sleep on the sofa when I would visit. All of us lived a short walk away, meaning I could walk from our home to either house within minutes.

Memere was the woman who taught me about faith and family. Both my grandmothers did that, each in their own way. The Italian on one side and the Canadian on the other. The maternal side of the family boasted six children, Michael, the youngest son, followed by Paula my aunt, Leo, Pete and Guy, my other uncles, and my mother bringing up the rear. My father being an only child bemoaned the extended family and resented and hated them from the get go.

It was safe to say that as long as there was family present, my father’s death wish for me never happened.

My Aunt Paula and Uncle Roger lived a bit away in the mountains. The drive to their house was through cathedral century trees lining the road one traveled. There were apple orchards and  all type of family homes dotting the mountainside. The house was a multilevel home, with a rumpus room, converted from a two car garage, a stately living room with a King Edwardian dining table that sat the entire family. The kitchen was small, compared to the other homes I visited in my childhood. In the 1970’s they built a pool in the backyard, which was a large hillside that dropped into a pond, fed by a stream, that ran behind all the houses on that side of the mountain.

There were many family gatherings in that house, when the Quebecers all came to visit during the summer vacations.

– Naked and Sacred –

As a young child I have fond memories of old churches and polished pews and candles flickering in dark corners of the building, statues of saintly persons who looked out over the congregational spaces and the dark corner grottos making sure we knew that they were watching over us and praying in tandem with the many who came to find peace, solace and faith within those walls.

I remember that day that my Memere took me to that grand church all alone, just her and I and God. It was an afternoon event; she brought me here for mass on a regular basis. These were the days of the old missal books and rosaries, women wearing lace over their faces, it was an ethnic parish church attended by many from ethnic communities all around.

On that day she took me to the church, she had a purpose. I remember this as if it was yesterday because, in my minds eye, this was very important to her. We went to light some candles and leave our offering in that little tin box attached to the candle display, we sat in quiet supplication and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and we lingered to hear the voice of God speak to us. I am sure that Memere and God had brokered an agreement over me.

After a while she got up from her place and she gathered me to herself and we walked to the edge of the banister that protected the main altar from people walking up on the dais. The banister was open, as if to welcome us to step up there – so with great pride Memere walked me ahead of her until I was standing on the dais before God. I must admit there were no words that were spoken to me; this is where the agreement must have been made. Memere looked up that the altar, then at her favourite statue and then beckoned God to look down upon us and take us into His arms and protect us. In that moment I believe I had been “consecrated” to Christ and to God and the Blessed Mother, not to mention Marguerite D’ Youville. (This will be explained later in the timeline)

Memere had a “tight” relationship with God. Her homes were shrines to the family that had gone before us, to the saints who protected us, and the God who gave us life. I always felt naked before God in her house. As if God sat with us daily and saw us for whom we really were simple God fearing folk. I never for one moment feared God. There was nothing I could not say to Him nor ask of Him, but I also knew that there were things one just did not ask of God, because greed and excess were not part of Memere’s lexicon.

I learned to pray the rosary as a young boy, we went to mass frequently. I don’t know if my mother and father were aware that I had so much “sacred time” in my early life. I am sure she knew that if I was with Memere that I would go where she went and I would love her for taking me and I would love the adventure of going to see God all the time.

The church of old is not the church of now, unless of course you live in Montreal and have living “great” relatives who live in a convent not far from home.

Being the first of two children in a family firmly grounded in the late 1960’s brought a lot of opportunities to me as that first child. I had three years on my brother. Three years are a big deal. I had the adoration of the matriarch’s of the family; I had three years of unadulterated wisdom taught to me over time. My time was my own; there was no one to deflect that attention away from me, which endeared me to the hearts of the women of the family. But secrets existed, secrets that would one day turn my life upside down.

My father was an abusive man; he came back from Viet Nam with major issues. I was born out of the man who came back from war, damaged and lost. He took a wife of Canadian blood, gave her an ultimatum and got her pregnant. I was there at the wedding, my mother carrying me in her womb, walked down the aisle that day and agreed to bear his children and live by his rules and regulations. My father, the racist, bigot that he was wanted to force a continental divide to rise from the ground to separate that which made my mother who she was and force her to become the woman he required.

That divide never rose, and my father’s resentment of the maternal “nursery” that I entered as a child began. I guess this is why I am so maternal, because all the men in the family were war shaken and damaged. They worked all the time in business, in the fields and in factories. It was up to the women to rear the children into the people we were to become. My father’s resentment of my presence was well known.

Later in my life I would be told of the fact that my father wanted to kill me, that I was a mistake and should never have been born. He tried many times to snuff my light out as quick as he could. The one thing that he did not expect was the backlash that came in the form of vociferous rebukes by the matriarch’s of the family, hence my “consecration to God.” If I was consecrated to the Almighty, then my father’s plan for ending my life would never come to fruition.

I remember being chased through houses by drunk men in my life, I remember my grandmothers standing in doorways between me huddling beneath a bed, hiding for my life, and my drunk and angry father fighting with them to let him “do it already!” He wanted nothing more than to wipe me off the face of the earth. The women of my family tell me that he fought often with them to abuse me and to hurt me and eventually to kill me.

They were not going to let that happen, my mother was powerless to try and stop him, why, they had an agreement, and she was his bitch, and she did what he said without argument! That was his way unto this very day.

When I was born he gave me my name. I was given to the earth as the man he loved from the war, who died in the war, so every time he looked at me or said my name or heard my name called, the memory of “one dead soldier” would rise to the fore. What kind of man places that kind of sadistic torture on himself? Was he hoping to exorcise that memory from his brain by personal reprogramming? I think there was more to this story than met the eye. Yes, there was, it took me decades to divine the truth from those who knew, and in hindsight I was able to complete the puzzle.

At age 30 I changed that name and exorcised it from my life, it was the final conflict that separated me from my parents. Being gay – HIV Positive and changing my name was three strikes, I was now damned to live without parents. He made damn sure of that.

Needless to say, faith was a priority; God would protect and save me. My grandmothers agreement with God was non negotiable with any one else. Not that my father knew she had this deal on the table. Women are tricky characters you know! When Memere beckoned upon those she regarded as spiritually powerful, hell hath no fury like the wrath of an angry saint and my grandmother generating the turbine of retribution with her dedicated prayers.

Who was God? And why should I care? Because it was beaten into me that I was a mistake and should never have been born, for 18 years my father made it his life’s work to destroy me mentally and emotionally. Later on in my 30’s the revelation of my sexual abuse at my father’s hands would rise from my sobering mind. And you think HE had issues?

I went to church, as a young boy. I would complete all my sacraments in the order of succession. I would be in communion with the church I would pray my rosary and my novenas. God was present in my daily life. I was always naked when I was sacred. There was nothing I held back from God, because my relationship with God was between him and me. To stand before God is to be naked in his sight.

How much more sacred could it be?

Sunday Sundries … Writing a Book !

tumblr_m28ph86Q5E1qzj6szo1_500 TTG 1train New YorkCourtesy: TTG 1 Train NYC

The stellar weather finally turned on us. Skies are dark, the humidity is way up there, and showers have been coming and going all evening. We are being warned at this hour that we might get “Pounded” tonight.

I’ve been so busy with things to do, lately, my plate is full. Saturday I installed Baby Mama’s air conditioner in the baby’s room. However, as of late, the baby isn’t using her room, because she won’t sleep for long periods of time. And that is proving to be quite the problem for mama.

Saturday evening I went to visit with a friend. This, our regular Saturday night to sit outside on the patio and talk for hours. We had Portuguese pastries, Portuguese cheese bread, which is totally addictive, and the never ending coffee pot.

I go there to talk to my friend about life, this week it turned out that he was the one giving me advice.

You know, I watch a good amount of You Tube. I read books written by young people who also produce content on You Tube. I read a lot. I see young men from other places, who aren’t necessarily following the North American “This is how you do life” idea.

We of the latter generation, were bred from 1960’s stock. You know that stock. The birth to the age of eighteen growth pattern. Going to school, making the grades, if you can, go to university, get a degree in some far flung topic, that may or MAY NOT get you a job in the real world.

Then you meet a girl, get married, and pop out a couple of kids. Add to that the prospect of owning a house, with the two car garage,  the yard, “things” and get work in probably a dead end job that you only go to because it pays the bills and keeps a roof over ones head.

Your dreams going up in smoke, and quite literally we end up bored, sad, never fulfilling those desires or things we really would like to do but can’t, because we are locked in old ideas and ways of life.

We end up in that place where we have to make ends meet, in any way we can. And for most of us, we are not doing what we enjoy or love, we are doing what pays the bills. Because you know, it’s all about the almighty dollar.

In today’s social media driven world, an entire generation of boys and girls, men and women, have turned the normal grind of life and nine to five, into something quite different. They seem to have found their groove doing exactly what they want to do, in the way they want to do, and learning about life themselves, Doing things that the rest of us only dream about doing or putting them on a bucket list.

They have not necessarily followed the old tried and true model.

Most of these folks have been at this for a number of years, and after hours of work, and years of building a following, have lives that contribute to the greater good, in ways that the older generation had never done before.

I know of men, in my age bracket, and some a little older, who, like me, have accrued several pieces of paper, granting us degrees in our chosen fields, who for some, can’t find work in our fields because we chose fields that have fallen out of favor at the educational level, and jobs are scarce for some of us.

There are others who are at a certain juncture of their lives, where it is time to do something to produce content to guarantee us future income, and/or a retirement fund so that when we finally get there, there is money in the bank.

I watch these young people going into the world doing exactly what they want, and they are doing it well. They have built lives of substance and the give back to humanity in the ways they choose to use their fandom (read: stardom). Young people who produce content in video, they write books, the have charitable projects doing things for others, they have record ventures, they have merchandise to sell, and many of them, have done things, the rest of us, only dream about doing, like traveling the world, meeting all kinds of people, seeing places that many of us will never get to see ourselves, but through their content, we get to live vicariously through them.

So I wonder, at my age, with what I know, if the kids of this generation are doing what they love and they are giving back, and making a living at the same time, then why not me?

I’ve considered writing a book a long time ago. I wrote a single manuscript and gave it to my academic adviser when I was in university, but I never pursued it further. I started writing a blog more than ten years ago. I’ve been at this for a long time. I am not of the “Video content” circle. I have a face for writing and a voice for speaking, but I am too self conscious to see myself on film.

I look at myself in the mirror sometimes and say to myself, UGH, I am getting old, yet I have friends who love me just the same. So that’s an all about me concern.

I have over 101 stories located in my pages section. These stories and memories were written in a free thought form, as they happened, as they exist in my memory. I have over 3500 posts collected on the blog to draw from in addition to the stories section.

I was talking to one of my lady friends tonight at the meeting. She is a university professor of fine arts and she is also an academic writer. And I mentioned my discussion with my friend last night to her, and at the moment, she is working on a book herself.

We launched into a conversation about publishing, how to do it, where to find it, and who to talk to. I mentioned to her the amount of written word I have already compiled here, and she told me that unlike the young folks I am reading/watching/ and or listening to, who create content “in the moment” kind of thing, what I have going for me, is that I have content already produced and on file. All I really need to do is polish that manuscript up a bit, and put it into a presentable form to put out a prospectus and a preliminary manuscript.

There really is not much editing to be done with what is already written. I would not change any of the words I wrote, nor would I let an editor or agent, edit my stories or butcher them for the sake of a book, or my readership, in the name of money.

I’ve been reading my social media sites. I have solid life experience in areas of life that are historical. The gay, AIDS experience of the 1990’s is a story that is unique. It is my story as it happened in real time.

Young gay readers of today, have no idea what that was like. Today, HIV is still an issue. However it is not a “you’ve got AIDS kind of problem.” There is medication to be had by the masses. It isn’t what it was twenty years ago. Many of my friends believe that I have a story to be told. That my experiences over the last forty seven years are worthy of telling.

I spend a few hours a week writing here. And when a memory hits me, I sit here and record it on the blog, because I am not getting any younger, and the more time that goes by between a memory and today, my memory begins to get fuzzy.

When I worked my last Fourth Step, we used a particular method. And I was encouraged to work on a Lifetime – Timeline. It took me months to finish it, and it is written down in a journal I kept that is not on the blog. My Aunt Paula was a big help in connecting the dots between memories, and places and specific periods of time, or seasons in our lives as they were lived.

With that long form memory exercise, I compiled some stories that I have never told before, based on the emotions connected to certain memories as I grew up. It kind of goes like this: Write down your years of life, from birth until today. Now, I want you to plot, on that graph, your earliest emotions, as you remember them.

I have this list of emotions, that are connected to people, times and places. I can see them in my minds eye. And with each feeling there is an attached memory, that I can spin out and write about. Forty seven years is a long time.

Today, I have almost fourteen years of sober experience I have written about extensively here. The whole notion of growing up and finding a career that pays, is still a work in progress. Who I am, and what I know today, and how I live my life and care for my husband and my friends, is a direct result of all those people who have listened to me in meetings over the years.

My manhood, you could rightfully say, is an amalgamation of all the men I have in my life today. Not to mention all the women I know as well. They are both integral to who I am. Because if not for them, I would not be who I am today.

I just think that we can learn a great deal from the young people of today’s generation. And if you are not happy doing what you are doing, and you are unfulfilled, and need a specific focus in your life, all we need to do is spend some time watching young people do what they are doing right now, and ponder.

There are plenty of young LGBTQ folks out there, across the age spectrum. There are also a generations worth of people living with HIV because they don’t call it AIDS any more, they are in a specific metal and emotional state, that they bemoan the lives they have today as far as what they can do, who they can do it with, and they are saddled with having to take medication and what a drag that is. And my story is one that my friends think would be beneficial for them to hear, what it was like, what happened and what it is like today.

That’s the running theme in my life today …

What it was like, What happened, and what it is like today.

I have a lot to say, and my friend thinks I have a hit on my hands, in the bank, already written. I just need to get it out there. His final comment that if I self publish, I would probably make money hand over fist. I’d like to think that was possible, but lets stay in the moment and not get sucked into expectations and pie in the sky dreams.

I need a publisher. Somewhere.

Maybe a specific LGBT publisher who would think my story is specific enough and important enough to share with the masses.

So all you people who are subscribed, shoot me an email. Tell me something good.

I need you all to step up and help me as I continue this next phase.

More to come, stay tuned …

Walking In the Rain …

indian thought

They said it would rain. And it did. Just pissing rain. Enough to get wet, but not wet enough to carry an open umbrella, so we walked home in the rain tonight. However, the weather still has been stellar for a number of days.

Oh My God … I am so POOOOOOOPED !!!

Let’s back up a little bit and tell you about the week that was. Tuesday we talked about liquor and the fact that alcoholism is an incurable disease. Nuff Said about that !

Wednesday is my off night, which has become cook dinner for Baby Mama and Ms. LuLu. I started this little tradition when she first got here, one, to familiarize myself and the baby, and two, to cook her a meal that would last, which usually is a crock pot or casserole dish. But lately it has turned into “chicken” and doesn’t everything work out when it gets to chicken ???

We are still working to fill the apartment. We are still missing a sofa, for one reason only, there are no folks with trucks in the rooms it seems. We have all these resources but no truck owners. We got a quote for a mover who wanted to charge us $300.00 and mama was like fuck that !

So there is a single rocking chair in the living room.

Tomorrow, Saturday, I am installing an air conditioner for the baby’s room.

There are shitty things called by-laws that dictate just how you can install, where you can install using specific REQUIRED tools and wood and plexiglass shit ! UGH, they have to make this so damned complicated, I have an easy peasy, 10 minute hook up that I do here at home, but NOOOO that was just too easy and unacceptible to the apartment management.

God give me strength …

Well, you all know what happened last night.

The shit storm hack event of the century.

Today, Friday I worked my ass off.

There is no better work to do than be of service to someone that you can be present for.

A few hours of work changed two lives in the end.

Who needs Jiffy Maid, when you got me instead!

I came home for a couple of hours and headed off for the best night of the week.

Tonight’s topic … BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD …

Well, that was just one sentence of the reading, which came from a very early letter from Bill W.

it spoke about Bill’s consternation, early on that he could not convert the alcoholic to sobriety. In fact he failed several times over, trying to get men sober, and failed miserably, before going to talk to Doctor Silkworth, who told Bill that NO, Bill, you cannot convert the alcoholic. All you can do is share what you know, your experience, and that’s it.

You are not the center of the universe and You are not God. Hence,

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

Still, to this day, our young people balked when the words Christ and God came within this reading. But they have come a long way in being open to discussions about God, over and over again.

Bill speaks a great deal about GOD in As Bill Sees It.

Continuously !!! Over and Over again …

I got the message I needed to hear.

It was a frenetic, exhilarating day. I worked my ass off with one of my guys. We had lunch and we hung out together all day long while we worked.

At the end of the day the only thing I wanted to know was, if for a few minutes tonight, sitting with his girlfriend that he felt, just a little bit, better about himself. And he did.

All I want is to be a vessel. All I want is for everybody to be well. We all want to be of maximum service to as many people as we can. And we do this in spades.

I am really grateful to have the friends I do.

I would not be the man I am without them.

Another week in the books.

We are all safe, sober, alive.

The computer is encrypted. I will eventually get all my money back.

It’s all good.

Be Still and Know that I am God…

More to come, stay tuned …

Hacked !!!

ios-hackI would like to begin with today’s events as they happened.

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday) I visited a particular site that I frequently use. And stupidly clicked a foreign link. What I did not know, played out all day, well into the night.

As soon as I clicked it, my computer went crazy. So I deleted the file. The damage had already begun. A hacker, located in Western Canada, (Alberta) to be exact, I know this because during the evening he tried to hack my Facebook account, thank god for suspicious detection software, they noted that the log in was suspicious and they froze my account, I later found this out, when I got home.

But they had mapped his whereabouts and who he was and what he tried to do.

Thank you Facebook… I owe you one.

Anyways, I tried to start a virus scan, across many tools I have on my computer. They would start, then abruptly shut down. It took hubby some serious sleuthing to figure out how to contain the virus and get it detected, because the virus mimics completely normal functions while it hacks your system (I learned this along the way). It would disable all virus detection software.

First he hacked my primary email account and changed the passwords. I also did not know until much later that Google had sent queries to a secondary email that I later checked and saw them there.

Then he hacked my Pay Pal account and shut me out there as well. He signed up for a GAMING ACCOUNT on STEAMPOWERED.COM.

I later went there and found out it was a gaming site.

He opened an account and siphoned $150.00 (CAD) from my Pay Pal account.

Pay Pay, when used, in my case, I have a business account, they automatically forward the funds to the receiver right from the first click. Then in 2 to 3 days, they pull the funds from your bank account to cover the transaction.

Ok, We settled the virus and got rid of it. (7 p.m.) That took over two hours.

I had departed for the Thursday night meeting. More on that later.

While I was gone, my phone began to send me messages about my email account being closed and the password I was using was invalid. I had no idea what was going on till I got home.

So in a few hours time, he hacked into all my accounts, changed all the passwords and locked me out. He stole $150.00 to game with.

When I got home, (9:30 -10:00 p.m.) Google sent me a suspicious email, and I was able to recover my account and change the passwords. When I logged into my email, I saw the transactions that were made, because the email trail was left behind.

I called Pay Pal and they helped me restore my account to get in, because I was locked out.

They had to reset everything and walk me through an account restore. Then I talked to another agent who took my fraud claim and she closed the account because it was set up for multiple billing. She shut down the hacker account and stopped the charges.

She put a hold on the funds, because they are going to come from my bank in a day or two. When the charges hit from my bank to Pay Pal, they are already reversed. So I can just re-deposit the funds back in the bank.

I then started to systematically go through all my banking accounts, email and other assorted accounts that were hacked and changed all the passwords and the security questions.

The last phase was Facebook. I logged in and there was a freeze on my account, because, like I said above, they detected a foreign log in. And I had to tell them if I knew who they were, and they provided a mapping of where the hacker was.

I restored my account and changed the passwords as well.

What a fucking nightmare …

I went back to the site I was on and reported the hacker to them and the trail that was left behind. I have yet to hear from a moderator.

It seems that Steampowered.com is known to host fraudulent hackers who siphon money from hacked accounts to pay for game play on their site. I was not the first to report this kind of hacking.

Lesson learned …

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

Tonight I heard a friend talk. I’ve known her for years and the take away was simple,

“Live and Let Live!”

UGH, like I needed a hole in my head when I got home.

I have much better stories to tell about this week, so more on that later tonight…

Sunday Sundries … Cold, Mechanical, Repetitive, Why ???

tumblr_n13s5xEYHg1st07y0o1_500 thebraingasmCourtesy: The Braingasm

“In sport, like life, in order to be good at something, one must practice …”

The Pan Am Games in Toronto started off with a BANG !! And from the start, Canadian Athletes showed the world just how good they are at what they do, with multiple GOLD medal wins.

Torontonians, are not very enthusiastic about the games, we are hearing. If it were The Olympic Games, you wonder, if they could get their heads out of their asses and stop worrying about traffic, and get on the bandwagon and support our men and women who are competing, the Pan Am’s are a dress rehearsal for something much bigger, but it seems the people, really don’t care one way or another.

They also say that these games, are being judged on Olympic Levels, hence, if Toronto pulls of a great games, they might be in the future running to bid for an Olympic Games.

Wouldn’t that be something.

Saturday evening I went to visit one of my guys for a few hours. And we continued the conversation that began the night prior on the way home.

From the foundation of a tenth step inventory, we come around to Step 11, the spiritual practice.

At 11 years sober, I was going to meetings, and doing everything right, but after hearing it said to me, I really needed to step up my spiritual practice, if I really wanted the pay out that sobriety promises, if we stick to the game plan.

Not knowing where to start, Bob suggested Steps Three, Seven and Eleven prayers, daily, nightly. Saying them for as long as it took for them to start making a difference in my life.

So that’s what I did, for months and months.

The principles explained in the book, are universal. We talked last night, about a man who got on the path to be better, and he eventually did get better, following a prescribed plan of action. His daughter spoke to my friend telling him what her father did, and in the listening, he recognized that the man had followed the steps, to betterment.

But he never came in contact with The Book.

People may never come in contact with The Book. But some do find “The/A” path to wellness, and those pathways usually involve some kind of adherence to certain principles and practices.

“In sport, like life, in order to be good at something, one must practice …”

My friend accepts that going to meetings is necessary to stay sober. Meetings are repetitive, we read the same readings, read the same books, say the same prayers, over and over and over again.

Rote, Cold, Mechanical and Repetitive…

He admits to not having a spiritual practice and the reason he doesn’t is because it is cold, mechanical and repetitive. I added that, why do we go to meetings, and do the same things over and over ?

To learn how to get and stay sober.

So I am suggesting to him that he find (Read: Build)  a practice of prayer and meditation. In fact, I tasked him with Prayer and Meditation, every day for the next month.

Just DO IT. Don’t ask me why, I just want you to do it.

I don’t want you to plan it or map it out, I want you to pray and meditate, organically.

Just let it flow.

So we opened the book, and we read the prayers, and we even highlighted them.

We read Step 11 in its entirety from The Book.

I explained it this way …

Usually, we are in our heads and that means a little insanity when it comes to dealing with situations and problems. Something happens and instead of first, thinking and pondering what we are going to say, we just blurt out the first words that come to us.

And usually, that ends up in an apology one way or another, because we shot our mouths off.

It’s not What you say, but How you say it …

If we want to be fully oriented in the spirit, be fully aware of the universe and the Power Greater than ourselves, we need to make that connection. Then we need to practice communicating on that channel. Then we need to be able to sit quietly and patiently, and wait for an answer.

That usually does not come directly from God.

No, it’s gonna come from someone close to us. In a voice we know.

Because that’s how God works, dontcha know !

If, in the morning, we are orienting our minds and spirits with God, then we enter our day, from the right direction and with the “right” side of our brains, instead of the impulsive, “wrong” side of our brains.

Does that make sense to you ?

If, during our day, we are a bit disconnected, we can STOP, and reorient ourselves, with a moment of thought, prayer, meditation.

Stop what you are doing, and if need be, go to the bathroom, and shut the door.

Sit on the throne of thought, and meditate …

If you don’t pray and meditate, then why not ?

I got the answer written above.

Which is why I suggested a months worth of practice.

You may not see a change right away, but if you give it time, and you practice, and you stop, wait and listen, I can assure you, God is going to show up. Be He in the guise of a word, or a feeling or the presence of another human being.

We get up, start our day, sometimes we are off and running as soon as we open our eyes, yet our feet haven’t even hit the floor.

I’ve heard it said, that Prayer and Meditation begins the moment we open our eyes.

You might not get that, or do that, but I do that. Because I was told that it works, and months and years later, I can report that it does work.

Dealing with Life on Life’s Terms, on a daily basis, can get rough, depending on what life throws us at any given moment. And I rather like having a framework to consult, when shit happens and I am not quite sure what the hell to do.

You know, they say, if you are on FIRE, to Stop, Drop and roll …

In life, before you start, Stop, Drop and Pray …

Get on your knees and pray. That is an act of humility.

How many of us humble ourselves before God ?

hmmmmmm ……

Life, for me, seems to run smoother, when I do what I am told to do, and if I can’t, I practice how to do it, until I start to enjoy it, and later, I find that it really does work.

The outcome of practicing the art of Anything is particular to every person.

No two outcomes will be the same.

I can promise you that the end result will eventually blow your mind.

We sat a full house. A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday … Fathers and Their Babies …

rockyAnother busy week is in the books. Lots of people to see, things to do, Steps to be worked for some, and sharing meals with people I care about. That’s the kind of week it has been.

The weather has been stellar. Lots of Sun, Heat and a little humidity, but not like the heat they are getting over in Europe or down in the South. Thank God … For air conditioning…

This week I practiced being present to my friends, and breaking bread with them as well, two of the most important things we can do to create “Connections.”

Which leads quite nicely into the next paragraph.

The Opposite of Addiction is Not Recovery it is “CONNECTION.”

I heard this a while back, probably on another Ted Talk. Today a friend of mine who works in Colorado posted another similar talk to his feed. So I went and watched it.

One can never get enough of Ted Talks in my opinion.

When we were/are out there using, for most of us, we are isolated, and alone. And we engage in soul destroying activities like drinking and drug use. We become, “Disconnected” from ourselves, our families and our friends.

A well known psychologist in the U.S. studied this problem, also looking at how the U.S. and other countries punish, shame, incarcerate and disconnect addicts from their lives and others.

In Portugal, they decriminalized all drugs and began providing “connections” for them. They got them help, the state actually participates in rehabilitating addicts back into society, wherein they go to a business and say to them … “if you will employ this person, we will pay half their salary.”

They are building people up, instead of tearing them down.

Punishing, shaming and incarcerating addicts is the wrong approach, as said by those who have studied this problem, Worldwide.

Another scientist took lab rats and in one case, put a solitary rat in a cage, with two water bottles. One was regular water, the other water laced with heroin.

The lone rat, with no connection or activity, drank the heroin water until it was dead.

He placed another rat in a cage with the same two water bottles. But in this cage he added a rat run, with slides, caves and things to do. The second rat, ignored the heroin water, never drinking from that bottle and it stayed clean.

He never mentions ways to get sober in his talk. The entire talk was centered around making human connections, for addicts, and just how we can do that for our friends and families.

The Human Connection is the most important aspect of our lives, whether we are using drugs and alcohol or not. In today’s day and age, with the prevalence of social media in all its forms, humans are devolving into their smart phones and gaming consoles and music delivery systems and totally disengaging themselves from other human beings.

Everywhere you go, people are connected to some kind of electronic device.

On the bus, on the train, and even while driving a car, sadly …

When people in our groups come to us, they are broken, soulless, and alone. But for one reason or another, they have come to a meeting. The most important part of the meeting, for any meeting, is when we welcome the newcomer.

We invite them to connect. We invite them into the one act that might change their lives in ways they can’t imagine, at that very moment.

But it is the connection we try to make.

We offer our time, we offer our phone numbers, and we offer coffee and meals, to bring people into our lives, because we cannot keep it, unless we give it away.

And then you hear those words, maybe for the first time in a long time …

YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE …

For many, this is the first time they have heard those words in a long time.

Today, being present, available and accountable to my friends is what I do with much of my free time. And you would be pleased to hear someone tell you just how important that connection was and is to them, and how that connection sustained them during dark times.

“PRESENCE” IS THE GREATEST GIFT WE CAN GIVE FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

Over the last two to three years, I have worked very hard at “Connections.”

And that has been the huge difference in the lives of people I count as friends.

Every night we come together, to connect. And that is the God’s honest truth for our Friday Night Meeting. People come to this meeting to see their friends. It is the one night a week, where we are all in the same space at the same time, it is the best night of the week for us.

Tonight, we heard a reading from a very old Grapevine and the second portion of the reading was taken from Step Ten. The nightly inventory.

The reading warns us about the fact that we have no opinion about outside issues. And the reading centers around the models people use to get better. People, worldwide, use various tools to be better, to get better, and for some, to get clean and sober.

Be that Religion, Spirituality, Counseling, Therapy, and many other modes of help.

The Book tells us that we do not own the monopoly on sobriety. And we are also not the Be all End all solution to your problems.

However we offer “A” solution.

The step reading talks about restraint of tongue and pen, and how important that little phrase should have on what we think, what we say and how we say it.

The flip side of this notion comes like this, as was stated by one of our women.

“Yes, we should always practice restraint when we might keep our mouths shut, unless we have something to share, BASED on life experience, but also, to know when to say NO, you have stepped over a line, and you are wrong, and I need to stand up for myself.”

There is a fine line between argumentativeness and Self Preservation and Boundaries.

I’ve been in situations where I was attacked and I had to learn how to defend myself, whether that dealt with my personal being, my education, and my sober life. In the end, I just had to leave them alone, wait patiently, they would tire of attacking me, and finally go away.

This is true …

  • I earned a B.A. in Religious Studies
  • Certificates in Theology and Pastoral Ministry
  • I am unabashedly a Gay Christian
  • I’m sober almost fourteen years
  • And I am married

It took the attainment of these things for me to see the wisdom in the words that are contained in the Book and the Twelve and Twelve. That has taken many years of study and guidance of fellows and my sponsor.

It has been a beautiful week. I have beautiful friends.

On the way to the meeting and on the way home, I saw two fathers carrying their sons in those body hugging wraps. It was so sweet.

On the train ride home, a family was in my car, and dad was carrying his son, holding him close to his chest, hand on his head, and it just made me smile a big smile. And it warmed my heart to see love like that between father and son.

All kinds of warm fuzzies …

It was the BEST night of the week once again. As is usual.

More to come, stay tuned …

Crazy S.O.T.B. – More Memories 21 Years On …

b-down-gobo1

Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…

I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…

He wept.

Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…

So it began…

At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Dante would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.

The rule was set…

You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!

Yes Sir…

I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.

This is your life we are talking about…

The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.

Angry Larry…

When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.

People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.

For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.

I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.

Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoke, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men.

We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.

Let’s get it on…

Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.

One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.

So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.

Todd saw to it that I would never go there…

You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.

I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…

I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…

Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.

I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.

But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.

And forgiven by God…

Amen

Goodnight angels of men

In a church,by the face,
He talks about the people going under.

Only child know…

A man decides after seventy years,
That what he goes there for, is to unlock the door.
While those around him criticize and sleep…
And through a fractal on a breaking wall,
I see you my friend, and touch your face again.
Miracles will happen as we trip.

But we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We are a little…

Cray…cray…cray…

…Crazy yellow people walking through my head.
One of them’s got a gun, to shoot the other one.
And yet together they were friends at school
Ohh, get it, get it, get it, get it no no!

If all were there when we first took the pill,
Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe…
Miracles will happen as we speak.

But we’re never gonna survive unless…
We get a little crazy.
No we’re never gonna survive unless…
We are a little…
Crazy…
No no, never survive, unless we get a little… bit…

Oh, a little bit…
Oh, a little bit…

Oh…
Oh…

Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years…

Oh darlin…
In a sky full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
In a world full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Crazy…
In a heaven of people there’s only some want to fly,
Ain’t that crazy?
Oh babe… Oh darlin…
In a world full of people there’s only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy…

Ohh…
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless we are a little… crazy..
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless, we are a little.. crazy..
No no, never survive unless, we get a little bit…

And then you see things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

They’ll break it

Someday…

Only child know….

Them things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…

21 Years on My memories as they happened in real time.

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Here is the story of that week from my journal. If we are to start anywhere, here is the best place.

July 4th 1994

it was a nice day. Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft. Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy. The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft. Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?

Imitate art that week?

I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.

The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.

Anyway, that was that.

Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.

The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went

Hello…

Hello…

Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!

I have some news for you.

Yes, what would that be?

I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…

Silence.

I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!

They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.

Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.

After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Provincetown on holiday. But I would eventually call Todd.

Tuesday July 5th, 1994

I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building. The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”

I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.

You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft. Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.

This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.

Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.

It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm. You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.

He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…

And he tried to leave it at that.

I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,

“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”

He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.

I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.

Friday July 8th 1994

the week passed by without incident. Thursday I waited impatiently for the phone to ring, and every time it did, I would jump through the roof. Alas, Thursday night I went to bed, knowing that tomorrow it would come.

I got up in the morning and drove Josh to work and returned to the house. It was around 11 am that the phone finally did ring. It was Ken. His voice was shaky on the phone, and all he said was “Jeremy, you need to come to the office, and you need to come now!” Then the line went dead. I got dressed and headed over to the clinic. I already knew the answer, but you never know, right? I parked the car, and said my prayers, and I rested for a moment.

I went up stairs and logged in at the reception desk. Ken was nowhere to be found. After a little while they escorted me into an examination room; it was blue in color, very sterile and cold. I sat down on the table and I waited. A few minutes later the doctor came in, file in hand. I guess he wanted to make sure I was prepared for this.

“Well, no better time than the present,” he said.

Let’s get this over with. “Jeremy, you have AIDS and that’s the bottom line. ”

“You are going to die.”

The words rolled off his tongue with the flair and style of a practiced doctor. He sat with me for a few moments while I considered my fate. I think he was hoping that I would say something.

“Thank you for that information,” I replied.

He said that we would need to do a few tests to get started; those labs would show just how compromised my immune system was, and what the next course of action would be.

I did not know how bad things were, but I would soon find out. Back then, who knew from death or life? Drugs were hard to come by, and there surely was no system of treatment in place for me to go to.

He dismissed himself and said that when I was ready, I could leave.

So I gave him a five-minute lead on me, then I gathered up my soul and I walked out the exam room door and out to the car. I looked down from the second floor and Ken was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me. When I got down to my car, Ken stood up opened his arms and embraced me; he was sobbing. I stood there; I guess I was in shock. I stood there and held him, while the wave ran over both of us.

I guess I was not prepared to show my cards just yet. We talked for a little while and we set out a plan of action for the next week. I would return to this lab and get some baseline labs drawn to get a more total picture of my immune system and figure out how I was going to proceed. (That’s what eventually happened in the coming days.)

I drove home. I was relatively calm. It’s funny that I was totally prepared to stand up straight and tall and accept my fate, but watching my friends and coworkers and family crack up was very disturbing. People with AIDS were pariahs! You did not touch them, you did not hug them, and you surely did not want your neighbours or family members to know that you socialized with or employed someone who had AIDS, God forbid we infected someone you knew or even transmitted our disease to you by touch or breathing in the same space!

I got home, and I sat in my space and I tried to make some decisions. Who do I tell and when? I don’t remember what I did that day, but I kept myself busy. I called Todd and Roy, and they were on vacation. When Todd got the news, he was sad, and immediately he stepped up to the plate and became the man who would save my life.

That evening, Friday, I went to pick Josh up at work; I forgot to clear the tape deck in the car. The soundtrack to “Philadelphia” was still in there. It was around 5 o’clock when I picked him up; the sun was setting in front of us as we drove east towards the house. I tapped the tape into the deck, and it started to play…

I watched Josh convulse in the front seat, and throw up out the car door. He was hysterical. I did not have to say a word to him, but he knew. When we got home, he went into the bedroom, he packed his duffle bag, without a word, he looked at me, said goodbye, and walked out the door, got into his car, and drove away. That was the last time I saw him.

Whoa, OK, one down … two more to go.

I had some dinner and proceeded to call my parents. You would have thought that an atomic bomb had been dropped on my parents’ house. My mother, having worked in the health field, said to me that I had gotten what I deserved. She and my father had had a week to consider this topic. We discussed my plan of action, and I called a family meeting that would take place in a week’s time. I wanted everyone to be informed and I wanted to know that I was not alone.

That visit did take place. And it did no good to ensure anything but the disdain and ignorance by my family to step up and get involved in taking care of the future. I had made my choice, by doing what I had done, and I got what was coming to me. My father had made that perfectly clear.

I still do not know, to this day, if James was the contact point of HIV. All I do know is that James was a diabetic and was suicidal. That he was sick those last few months that we were together, and I did his blood tests with his pen. I handled the strips several times a day. And that they tell me was the transmission point. I did not know he had AIDS until well after his death, when a friend of mine called me at work one day back in ’93 to tell me he was sick and had AIDS. I guess it took me a few months to “seroconvert.” This is the process the body goes through when it’s finally hit with viral replication and inception of a virus that the immune system cannot fight alone.

Over the next week, I chose my battles wisely, I told my inner circle of friends. The ones on the inside of the AIDS circle (that I was part of at work.) On the other hand there was the other circle of my “social friends” that had partied with us just a few days earlier. They would never set foot in my house ever again, in fact, and it was as if I had walked off the face of the earth, because I never heard from many of them ever again. The stigma of AIDS back then was deadlier then the virus itself.

Todd eventually returned to Ft. Lauderdale. My landlord and his lover were notified.

Interesting that many years later, I was at a Pride Celebration in Ft. Lauderdale, and my landlord’s partner was in a wheelchair and sick with AIDS. When we were friends at the time of my diagnosis, they were a happy couple, with all the promise in the world. I had no idea. I did not lose my apartment, my rent was frozen where it was, and they helped me pay bills and buy food. Within days Todd had returned and he came over and we talked. (God, we spent a lot of time talking!)

I was in self-destruct mode. And the stress of being sick with AIDS took its toll. I drank around the clock, I drank at work, I drank after work, and all I wanted to do was die. Todd did what he could at the beginning to keep me on the straight and narrow. He outlawed drinking while on shift, (I was working in a nightclub then) so that kept me sober while I worked.

I would then head out after we closed to the “after hours” club called the “Copa.” It was down the street from where our club was, and they served alcohol till 6am. So I had at least two to three hours to get inebriated nightly. That lasted until the end of August.

One night, I decided that the pain was too intense that dying was a viable option, seeing that I knew what all of the men I knew went through. I was at the Copa one night, and it was hot and I had drunk myself into a very nice BUZZ. The problem here was, I wanted more, and I got more. That night, I collapsed on the dance floor in an alcoholic overdose of gargantuan proportions.

I woke up in my friend Danny’s arms. The ambulance was there and oxygen was administered. I was still alive. That was the last night I drank. That morning, Danny brought me home and he stayed in my house for a week. I could not go anywhere except work. Todd was worried that I was going to try and kill myself again. So I had babysitters when I was not at work. I hit my first meeting on August the 23rd, 1994. By that time, most of the bar staff was all sober, and three-quarters of us were sick with AIDS.

Todd had a safe rule in effect. We had jobs, and we got paid. If we got sick, and could not come to work, our shifts were covered by someone on staff. We did not get fired for being sick. The bar secured for us medical treatment through the local clinic, where one of our friends named Marie ran a community clinic/drug farm.

Ken came to my house weekly to check on me. My world got A LOT smaller.

Everyone outside my work circle walked away. It took me a long time to get over that. They were punishing me for getting sick. Like I needed any more punishment!

The religious fundamentals were making their cases for eternal damnation for gays and people with AIDS, and speaking out whenever we went in public. Funeral homes stopped giving services to people with AIDS and their families because of religious and social pressure.

Life was difficult, But, I survived, because of the community I lived in and the grace of Almighty God.

In retrospect, “it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” and if God gave me a choice to go back and repeat any area of my life over again, it would be that exact period of time, and I would not change one single thing.

For years after my diagnosis, my friends died left and right, 162 people. The Names Project Quilt is a reminder of all the lives I touched and was a part of, and all the men whom I knew and loved.

All the men who were CRUCIAL to my survival (our survival) all the gay men who collected money for People with Aids, the drag queens we loved and admired and partied with over the year, the diehard supporters, are all dead now.

So many boys, so many men, cut down in the prime of life. We were foolish then, and uneducated. It was only after the storm hit that the reality start to sink in. When our friends started dying and we realized that “something serious is going on” did the community got smart.

We built infrastructure. We created homes and safe spaces. We cared for those on the streets, we collected money and food. We cooked and fed people, we washed clothes and in some cases we even changed diapers.

A year later, in 1995, I moved back to Miami, after Todd and Roy moved out west to San Francisco. I did not go with them, I was too young, and I had been banking on the fact that my S.O.B father would die and I would take back my mother. Well, he is still alive, all these years later, and I did not get my mother back. Do I have regrets? Sometimes I do. I sometimes think, “what if?” but that’s all they are, thoughts. You know what they say about living in “what ifs right?” So I don’t think about what ifs anymore, just what will be.

From my diagnosis date through the first eight years of my life with HIV/AIDS, I lived in the United States, and I speak about navigating a U.S. program of medical, social and government system. I immigrated to Canada in April of 2002.

Sunday Sundries … TRUTH set me FREE !!!

tumblr_nc9hsq2i2A1syuvebo1_500 jd2canadaCourtesy: JD2Canada

It’s beginning to feel like Summer, Finally !!! This week will see temps rise into the (30’s,c) and no rain in sight for a few days. However, there are many places out West on the Prairies, and in B.C. as well, who could use some serious rain. Wildfires are burning out of control in many places, and families have been displaced or have lost everything to the flames.

Yesterday was another banner day. Spending time with friends is something we all enjoy together. We hit the mall shopping like mad women, we had a meal, and then ice cream at Place Ville Marie, where we watched the Carifiesta Parade go by. Lots of Caribbean folks, with floats playing obnoxiously bad music, very loudly, as if to add insult to injury.

We hosted another full room once again. And we seem to be on a roll with one topic the past few days. It seems the readings from all the books, as we are reading them, all have mentioned or are based around the topic of money. Again…

I get to tell you another story about money.

The title of tonight’s read is, “Truth, set me free.”

Our writer, from the later 1930’s find himself in a pickle, and then attempts to get sober, with a small “beer experiment” that did not last very long. But one day, without the ability to pay his bills finds himself financially strapped. He walks into a bank and tells the officer that he needs funds, BUT that he is an alcoholic, and he is on his way, sober. The bank officer listens to him tell the truth, (even breaking his anonymity to do so) and she turns around and speaks to him about GOD, the “Divine Comforter.”

She does not know him from Adam, yet here she is telling him about trust, doing what is right, and talking about God.

She goes on to help him, even in his truth.

He walks away from this experience with what he needs.

A friend told a similar story that happened to him. Walking into a bank, breaking his anonymity, and walking out of a bank with a credit card, being broke at the time. The woman in the bank heard his truth, and she stepped up to help him anyways.

The next night he goes to an N.A. meeting. And who is the speaker that very night ?

But the very same woman he saw in the bank the day before.

IS THAT ODD OR IS THAT GOD ???

In early sobriety, I needed many things. Pots and pans, food for my fridge and some much needed cash. In the beginning they kept telling me to go to more meetings. I did that.

My experience thus far tells me that If I have a need, that I should always bring that need to a meeting. If you have something that is on your mind, or a need you really NEED, then take it to a meeting, and SPEAK your Truth.

God seems to like us addicts and alcoholics, because you would be very surprised to hear me tell you that, in the last almost fourteen years, I’ve never had to go outside the circle of A.A. for ANYTHING.

Take it to a meeting.

That is sane, sound, advice I tell all of my friends and fellows.

I share this at meetings.

Because you would be surprised to hear someone share something they need, and inside that very hour, get positive responses and almost always, a solution.

I can’t tell you how many times that happened for me over the years.

When I was in the hole, and I needed help, I always asked for it.

And every single time I did that, HELP appeared.

God did for me what I could not do for myself, and to this day, he continues to do so for me and countless others.

I don’t know what it is about God, to do things like that, but every single time I needed help, the right alcoholic was there at the right moment.

Example …

We were in the middle of classes one term, a number of years ago, and my desktop computer crashed and burned, and was in dire need of repair. We did not have the $200.00 to pay that kind of bill. I went to a meeting and spoke that truth. At the end of the meeting a member walked up to me and handed me $200.00 in cash. We were totally floored.

Over and Over again, sober members helped me out in ways that I could not imagine.

IS THAT ODD OR IS THAT GOD ???

The book talks about rigorous honesty in all our affairs. And it also talks about having HAD a spiritual awakening as a result of THESE steps we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in ALL our affairs.

Half measures availed us nothing.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

If we are honest from the start, I can attest that God will do for you what you could not do for yourself. In EVERY area of your life. But you gotta get honest and tell the TRUTH.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday – “Complete Security?”

pope_francis_quote_graphic_1024x512-1-1024x512“Fear of People and of Economic Insecurity will leave us.”

It was another stellar day today. And it was a Go, Go, Go kind of day.

I had some shopping that I needed to do early on, then I was set to have a meal with Baby Mama, while baby LuLu was napping.

I spent some cash on some new summer clothes, that I was in great need of. One of my friends, is a huge inspiration and has great sense in clothing. And as I was shopping, I was thinking about him. I found a few items that were on sale, and I had never seen the shirts before, so that was a deal.

I returned home and went to buy a meal for our lunch date. Single Motherhood is no walk in the park. And trying to build a home by ones self is a daunting task. Thankfully, she is not alone. We have an entire team of folks on twenty four hour duty for her.

While the baby was sleeping, (thankfully we had two hours of peace and quiet) we ate and spoke of many things. People have been coming and going for the past few days. A crib was delivered last night. Today, another woman brought curtains and more pillows for her bed. She also donated an entire bedroom suite for her bed style. So far, the bedrooms are complete with bedding, curtains and furniture. The last room to be furnished will be the living room. We are seeking a driver to ferry them over without having to pay a small fortune for a mover.

I brought new clothes with me to change into because I needed to hit the Shadows meeting at five, where on of my guys picked up his two month chip. Now he is two months clean and sober from all substances. Next month, on his third month, we will assign him a single date for both, so that he is tracking one timeline instead of two.

We went for pastries after the meeting, then hiked back to his house up the mountain, where we found his fiance home from a day of bridal dress shopping. We invited her to come for the Friday Night meeting. I was very pleased to see a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on her bedside table, which started one serious discussion of all things “Potter.”

YAY for Harry !!

A few minutes later, we made a fifty one bus to the Friday meeting. I usually take that bus, but coming from the East, traveling West. This bus was an Eastbound route. I quite enjoyed the bus ride because the route is a remarkably touristy ride, past beautiful neighborhoods that I had never seen, with million dollar houses, and tall stone churches with pristine yards. It also goes past Saint Joseph’s Oratory, the most important of churches here on the island.

We all decided, in the near future to spend a day trekking this route together as a day event.

We made it to the meeting with about thirty minutes to spare. And we scored the ever important Front Row sobriety seats at the table. And the topic tonight talked about “money,” which in turn lead to the mention of the PROMISE, noted above…

It was good to hear shares from across the spectrum concerning this topic.

After I had said my piece about how we learned to respect money and how to properly use it, pay bills, buy food and still have ample, if only just enough, I thought of a particular story that I wanted to write about here.

Do you remember back in the day, father’s went to work and made the money, and mom was in charge of spending it, properly. Back in those days, we did not have credit cards, (we’re talking about the seventies) we either had cash, or when necessary, a check.

I remember my mother using the checkbook, with the ledger.

We would go to the grocery store, and wait in line for the manager of the store to sign off on a check, affording my mother the ability to spend a certain amount of money. Over time that amount would rise. In the eighties, when big box grocery stores appeared, the all important check approval routine was still alive.

Alcoholism was alive and well in my family. My father provided everything we ever thought we needed, but we were not spoiled with riches and spoils. When we moved for the last time as a family, my father climbed the financial ladder so well, it afforded us a three bedroom house, with two car garage, a one acre yard, with many fruit bearing trees, and the biggest ticket item, a screened in, in ground pool.

We had arrived.

Among the families we grew up with two were middle class white, and the third, was the richest family we had ever come to know. They had the same lot, same size, same acreage, and pool, but they were “better off” than my father had ever known. My father could not compete, but he damned well tried. One Ups man ship was the call of the day.

By the time I moved out of the house, I knew how to take care of a house. I had had several part time jobs, so I knew the value of the dollar and the ethic of work. But with stars in my eyes, and alcoholism on my back, I set off to find “gay” in the gayest city of Florida, Orlando, the home of the Tragic Queendom and the ever popular “Parliament House, hotel, pool bar and show lounge.”

Sadly, Alcoholism was rampant. I was powerless and my ethic of work for money fell apart.

The money I spent on alcohol over the decade of my twenties, would probably have bought me a home. And the cash my father paid out to get my car back from repossession, took a direct hit on their retirement for sure. One fact my parents never forgot.

Where they managed money and drank, well on both accounts, I failed at miserably.

After I was diagnosed with AIDS, I was shit house poor. Thankfully the money Todd paid me, more than compensated for my financial situation. What I did not know in the beginning, was the price I would later pay for survival. Back then, twenty one years ago, we got second hand medication from dead people to start with because there was nothing new on the horizon.

Two years later, in 1996, I fell, quite unexpectedly, into a treatment program in Miami, where I began to pay the ultimate price. Imagine how much life saving drugs cost, when you have no insurance. And you are living on social assistance, (that’s welfare speak).

Medication ran thousands of dollars a month. THOUSANDS !!!

Thousands that I did not have, even working under the table, until I got so sick, I almost died to get on disability. I literally stopped taking my pills, did not shower for weeks, and ended up in that social assistance office, where I literally coughed on my social worker, and fearing for her own life, she finally signed off on my application, after four rounds at trying.

That was a sub human existence.

I would not wish that ordeal on my worst enemy.

I am sure, had I stayed in the states, I would be long since dead already.

I think about the things we did to stay high and drunk boggles the mind.

And the amount of money we poured into our addictions.

I don’t know how I survived. Maybe my will to live, was alive and just waiting for me to finally stop and get straight. Or something greater than myself had my survival on His mind.

After getting sober this time around, all those years ago, we had a bare apartment, with shoddy furniture, broken appliances but a roof nonetheless.

It only took thirteen years for us to learn about money and how to use it properly. We learned what it was like to have nothing, together, to having a little, and sometimes barely enough. But over time, we learned how to respect money and we learned about what “enough” was.

Today we have enough.

I’ve never been so grateful in my life for health, life and love.

Instead of spending THOUSANDS of dollars a month for medication in the U.S.A. For all of my medication, ALL OF IT, I pay no more than Eighty dollars a month.

You think the decision to move North was wise ???

I do. Certainly.

More to come, stay tuned …

Brewed Awakening

Once the fog lifts, this is what's left.

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Portraits of Recovery from Alcoholism + Addiction. The Rooms Project is a sober photographer's photo and audio story series on recovering addicts and alcoholics who consider themselves in long-term recovery. The site features portraits of addicts and portraits of alcoholics, along with their clean and sobriety dates, who have all found long-term addiction and alcoholism recovery.

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