This is a partial Plinky Prompt. I am going to amend the question.
The original question: Recall your very first day of school, how did you feel?
I am sitting here recalling my first day(s) of school. I have brief glimpses of places and people. I attended nursery school in a church hall in the town I was born in, New Britain Ct.
Kindergarten for me was at Smith School in New Britain, the school was a multipurpose school that housed many grades. The school had sections where particular grades were located. Kindergarten was two huge class rooms, separated by a great “mud room.” I remember that there was a kinder kitchen in our room where we used to play. With wooden pots and pans and those little wooden milk bottles that came in a set of six. All different colors of the types of milk of the times.
We attended music lessons in a hall close to where our classrooms were located. At some point we practiced the Wizard of Oz and I played the cowardly lion.
First Grade was Miss. Heslin. She was the mother of a friend of my father’s, who played on my then father’s softball team. He was quite the athlete when I was very young, while we still lived in the North East.
Then we moved to Florida and I attended school at Homestead elementary school. That is a bit of a blur. I have certain memories of that school, and the cafeteria. We lived just up the street from the school.
We moved a second time, a year later into a larger home, farther north in Miami proper and I attended Coral Terrace Elementary School. My brother being three years my junior he was in kindergarten when I entered elementary grades. This was the bulk of grade school for me, 2nd through 6th grade.
These were the years during the Cuban boat lift. And immigrants were coming to Florida from Cuba and that is also when we were afforded bi-lingual education that I enrolled in. I had a choice to stay in English only classes or go dual, and I went dual. And I think this is the best way to learn a second language, from an early age. Because you can do comprehensive learning every day for many years. I am of the mind that it takes a good ten years to comprehensively learn a second language.
There were many First days of school. The family shopping days that preceded the first day of school. Getting up early on the first day to take pictures and the new book bags and sundry school items. We used to be bussed to school and we would all gather in the cafeteria to wait for the teachers to arrive. The cafeteria also doubled for the assembly hall. The tables converted to seating when turned on their sides.
From this point, we moved a third time to the biggest house we had ever lived in, and the one my father employed family choice on. Meaning, that my brother and I got choice to pick the next house we would live in. The Power House.
I attended sixth grade at F.C. Martin Elementary. It was located in a black suburb. Back then neighborhoods were racially segregated. There were distinct lines of demarcation between white and black neighborhoods. At the same time, my brother attended school in the predominantly white neighborhood of Coral Reef elementary, on our side of town.
I was bused to 6th grade for the half year, after we moved to the Power house.
On the bridge between elementary school and middle school, what we called Junior High School, I was introduced to South wood Junior High School. This was my first visit to a school where we had 6 periods a day, meaning lockers, classes in different class rooms, and meals in the cafeteria. We would need to learn how to arrange our days and sort out getting between classes and going to lockers and having P.E. (that’s when I realized that I was different). They took us several times to “sit in” on classes and learn how that system worked.
I remember like crystal the first day I went to gym class and had to change from street clothes to gym clothes. It was very stark. I knew innately that I was different. But I would not engage my sexuality for many years, however, my father left reading material out for family consumption. I knew of his proclivities early on in my life. And I had made it a point to enlighten myself on available reading material. Nobody was none the wiser.
I learned a great deal during junior high. I worked a great deal with my teachers and I used to go in early, I was given a key to the science department teachers lounge to grade papers and to ready the classes by (dittoing papers and readying biology experiments). I eventually got the American Legion Award for Service to the school by the Legion group in my neighborhood.
Those were good years. I graduated from junior high to High School and I attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School. High School was a big blur. When I arrived at high school, I was a very small boy compared to the upper class men that I met that first year. There was a distinct difference from the older boys and myself. They seemed much older and bigger than I was. But I did well.
I played soccer, I wrestled and I was on the swim team for a while. That was also the time during tenth grade that I was introduced to church and contemporary Christian friends. I was invited to lunch at the Church Youth Hall just a short walk from the school. So that became the norm every day.
It was in my tenth year of school that I was introduced to Jesus. The youth group used to have retreats on a YMCA camp about four hours from home up on Lake Okeechobee in Central Florida that we were bused to for weekends away from home. I find it ironic that I lived a double life. I lived a life outside of home that was full of love, friends and fellows.
I spent a great amount of time living at other people’s homes because life at home was really not nice. It only got worse the older I got. Because my father’s alcoholism got worse exponentially.
That first year on retreat we got letters from home and from one side of my parents mouths they would say how much they loved me, and at home they spoke out of the other side of their mouths saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born and also my father’s physical abuse got worse …
We were introduced to having a personal relationship with Jesus by committing our lives to Jesus and going to church, praying and reading the bible. That was quite a culture shock, carrying around a bible and I took, eventually, a bible class in high school. There were two types of people, the Christian’s and the non- Christians. We even had a sect of satanists or witches. I remember those kids because they used to terrorize the teachers by threatening their children.
I eventually graduated High School, and barely, by the skin of my teeth, because my math grades were so bad. I was hired by Junior Achievement to work in their offices in the city they gave me a scholarship to the local junior college, because we (or more to the point) my parents could not afford university.
I did a year in junior college and a year following that in Catholic Seminary.
You never know where I would have ended up had I been accepted to stay in Seminary. I would have become a priest in the Arch-Diocese of Miami.
There are a lot of stories here, during this period of life that I have already written about in the Pages section of the blog. I just needed to spit something out tonight.
More to come, stay tuned …
Growing up as a young boy, and the first born of two, I had responsibilities. Very early on I had to be home and not in day care. I remember that day when I revolted on the bus ride home from school, the day I stood up and said “No more day care.” From that point on I was granted certain rights.
I was given a key to the house and after school I would come home and take care of my brother and myself while my parents worked. This was the progression that took place in our house. I learned how to clean, how to cook, mix drinks and take care of the yard.
Early on in my life, being the first born, I had three years on my brother. Three years to learn as much as I could from my grandmothers and my aunt. And they took full advantage of teaching me things. All those lessons were put to good use in my life today.
When I reached junior high school, I was in need of company. I volunteered for many things at that school. I was a teachers aide, I took classes, at one point I got the keys to the science office and I would go to school hours early to grade papers and ready classrooms for the day’s studies. I learned a lot from that experience.
What was good while I was there was a series of classes that were offered as part of our life education series. One section was to teach us how to cook not only for ourselves but for others.
The second section was crafts. We learned how to sew, use a sewing machine and to be able to mend things that needed to be mended.
The third section of the class was wood working. We learned how to use tools and to build things from lumber using all those big machine tools and little hand held tools as well.
The fourth section was business and typing. We learned how to type on electric typewriters, use adding machines and to keep records for ourselves.
All these classes were useful in the long run. Looking back on it, I use those skills today. I can be a seamstress, a cook, a builder and a typist. Most of my life is spent sitting here behind a screen and a keyboard. It seems our lives are now centered around a keyboard of some sort, whether that be a computer or a cell phone.
In today’s world, I don’t know if kids are getting to learn about things that they should. I’ve seen many young people struggle to find their way into life. With parents working and kids at school – they aren’t necessarily getting what they need from their school systems or their parents. I’ve been working with young people for many years.
I think that life skills is something that should be taught in schools. Young people need to learn about families, childbirth and raising children. It should be required teaching to learn about contraception and pregnancy. As we see the rising numbers of young mothers around the world. I think we do kids a disservice by not reaching them with this and a few other messages. When I was in junior high we were taught about life and conception and birth. It was one of the most interesting segments of our science studies.
Along those lines, kids should learn about keeping a home, learning how to shop for food and managing money. They need to learn about responsibility about money, paying bills and being responsible for cars, bank accounts and personal finances.
How many kids go into the world not knowing how to do all these things, because I sure didn’t know what it meant to be financially responsible. I had all these little bits and pieces of information, but I was lacking a great many things I so badly needed.
When I moved out of the house I had an apartment to be responsible for, a car payment, food to buy and a job to hold down, but at the same time I had an uncontrollable addiction to alcohol that was driving me down into the pit of irresponsibility.
I lost that car after not being able to make car payment regularly. They repo’d the car and my father had to bail me out, that resentment I am sure is still a thorn in his side. But he bailed me out nonetheless. I was addicted to the drink before I left the nest and had I known about sobriety then, who knows what might have happened to me.
Kids in today’s world should be taught about addictions and the cons of using drugs and the problems of substance abuse. I see many kids today who are smoking pot and drinking as soon as they can get their hands on liquor and alcohol. There was alcoholism in my family and it did not escape me either. I think if you send a kid out into the world with street smarts that they will stay away from these things. But you cannot expect them to stay away from the drink and the drug because that is part of any young persons lives.
Going away to college brings with it many experiences and chances to get involved with drugs and alcohol. I would want to teach kids that you don’t need these things – that they will only bring you down. Look at what addiction has done to so many young people and adults in general.
Coping skills is another area that I think kids need to know about before they go out into the world. You never know what kids have been through in their own lives and some of those things could lead to a life of addiction and self abuse.
There are so many things I would want my child to know about before they left the nest. In my life I have been beset with the disease of AIDS and the crippling problem of alcohol addiction. We need to teach our kids about sexually transmitted diseases and what it means if they catch one, and staying safe, practicing safe sex and proper health preventions and self caring. How do you take care of your life if you are sick? Being personally responsible is important as well. I have spent decades teaching young people how to live with HIV/AIDS. You have to learn your way into life or else you will perish. There is so much that you need to know from the get go… For some it is too much, but if you don’t learn these lessons, how will you survive???
Human sexuality should be required learning these days. The movement to teach our kids about all the many ways to live ones life, be that straight or gay. Gay is not what it was 25 or 30 years ago when I was a kid. It is not something we need to shy away from, kids are coming into the world and many of them are LGBTQ kids. And they need to know that they are normal. That they are loved and that they can grow up and be productive members of society.
The whole right wing agenda is critically hurting/killing the way we raise our children. That’s why I preach the message of learning about the world.
“Pack up your families and kids, leave your sofas and beers, and move out of the country for one calendar year. See the world from another point of view and perspective, I guarantee that you will never be the same again.”
Kids are being forced to grow up too fast in today’s day and age, and I don’t think many of them have all the skills to navigate into the world and it is only in retrospect that we see what they really need spoken about by the adults of today. We have a wealth of information to impart to our kids because I would rather they learn it from us than on the streets.
When I moved out of the house I was gay. I knew I was gay. I had been outed and rather than tell my parents that I was gay, I would move as far away as I could handle it to live my gay life, near some guys I had met earlier. They made it possible for me to find a place to live and a place to work, and to start integrating into the gay community in Orlando Florida in the early 90′s.
Kids know. With the way we consume information, kids learn about life in all the wrong places. I see kids in online communities sharing their struggles with addiction, their need to find love and their navigating the world of drugs and alcohol. Where do these kids turn when they need these answers so badly? Where are the teachers that are going to share with them all this life experience, and will they be willing to listen.
We all grow up, in one way or another. We all learn these lessons as they come. And we all walk a journey that takes a lifetime. We can’t force these things on our kids because they are going to do whatever it is they do because they want to be adults. It’s the ones who navigate into the world without having to deal with all the pitfalls in life that get away. Those are the ones who succeed.
But you know, every kid is going to do what he/she will. We can’t deny them the experiences that they want to have. We are born into the world, we have a finite time to learn what we can from our parents and families. Then we go off to college and everything changes. It may be our first time out of the nest for many. We go to school, we party and we achieve certain things like a degree and we find our way into the working world, where we can.
We learn about life and relationships – we may even fall in love, and there is a whole other can of worms that kids need to learn about. The importance of relationships with significant others be that a husband or a wife.
Marriage… There is another subject to teach about. This was the most defining moment of my life. To pledge my love and loyalty to another human being, till death us do part. To put the needs of another before my own.
And let me tell you, the adventure in that lesson started well before I said my vows on my wedding day. I learned what it meant to care for another human being early on in my life, because my grandparents were all struck down before I hit the age of fifteen. And I had to care for them along with my parents.
But for me, in my case, my husband suffers from Bi-Polar rapid cycling, meaning he suffers from manic depression that can be catastrophic if not caught, diagnosed and treated straight away. Learning how to care for another human being was one of the greatest lessons I could have learned in my life. I tackled it one day at a time. I did not walk away – I am in it for the long haul.
Marriage is for life. There are no two ways about it. If you don’t know if you are ready for marriage and you are in a relationship with your significant other, then take this test, it is very easy.
Write out your vows to your significant other. Tack them on the fridge. Look at them every day. Learn what they mean, and being to learn about them and learn to live them. And once you have learned how to live those wedding vows, then you may be ready to get married.
With so many divorces in the world it is a wonder that we don’t offer classes on marriage and how to have a healthy relationship. Kids need to learn about the broken home syndrome.
Gosh, I could go on and on with this list, but I think you get the picture. 44 years have given me some great learning and the ability to be a great teacher. I have enough time behind me to be able to offer some sound advice to our kids. There is so much you need to know, that it will take a lifetime for you to learn all of this.
Each of us learns according to our abilities.
One day at a time. One life at a time …
It is the eve of my tenth year of sobriety, So I am sticking this to the front page until I post my debrief at the end of tomorrow night’s festivities.
Milestones … Milestones are important. These little signposts that we stick in the ground as we walk the path we are on are useful. I walked through the gate into this land and have been traveling this path for almost ten years.
I could not have told you then, that I expected to be anywhere other than where I was in a dead end position scraping a life together trying to figure out how I was going to stay alive with all the money that was required to be paid out to fund this little life I was living.
Getting sober was the first step in making this life possible. And the group of people that I got sober with were instrumental in getting me to the point that I could look forwards. Last night I tried to pin down some dates to tell a particular story and my memory is too far gone to remember the finer details of the dates to plot on a map to say I was “here” and I went “there” and I did “this” and ended up “there.”
Suffice to say the beginning of this long journey into life began in 1994 when I first attempted to get sober. I held onto that for more than four years and a few months. That’s as close as I can get to the specific date of when I fell off the path.
There was the errant few years of uncertainty and my eventual re-arrival back at the starting point where I had been living to begin with. There are a series of memories that fall in this time period. When I arrived back in Miami – the summer of 2000. The last time I saw my parents – New Years Day 2001. Living in my studio and being called on the morning of 9-11 by Ricky to turn on the television because something was going down. But what I was doing from the summer 2000 until the summer of 2001 is missing.
I remember where I was, I think. All these points on the timeline can be confirmed. I’ve written about all of them before. I know what I was doing the months leading up to my return to the rooms. And then my final drink occurred and we reach the 9th of December 2001.
I was living. I was sober. I was hitting meetings every night with my friends. I made some connections online that ended in me coming to Montreal to visit over Easter of 2002. I came for a week, I stayed for two. Thus began the second chapter of my life in a new city, far from where I was.
If you told me then, that I would live – not just survive, I don’t think I would have believed you. But sobriety had its perks. There were a group of people in my life here in the city that were instrumental in me getting where I am today. And those people are still in my life today.
The meetings have changed. People have come and gone from my life. People are only meant to be in your life for a specific period of time. I know that some of those people were not meant to be with me longer than they had. But I had a good foundation in the program by people with some serious time in the program.
The first year and a half were spent learning to stay in my day, and live one day at a time. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. And as I remained sober and also stayed rooted in the series of meetings I was attending everything was coming as it would, in God’s time, and not my own.
Nobody tends to remark that I am still alive at this stage of the game. I think people take it for granted that I live on borrowed time. I don’t know who’s life I am living but someone has granted me this time for some strange reason. The god’s must be crazy. Why they took so many lives from me and at the same time allowed me to go on living is still that mystery I have yet to solve.
I am a medical anomaly. If you looked at my numbers you wouldn’t know that anything was wrong. These little med students I get to meet along the way are humorous. My doctor prides himself in telling the same story every time we get a student in the office. He grins and shakes his head as they look at me with skepticism. They don’t get it at all.
For the last ten years, as the years pass by, new abilities came to pass. New lessons to learn, new experiences to have. And all of it came by way of the rooms. Nothing I have today came from outside. All these years of gifts and lessons came by way of the program, because I did what I was told to do.
I had no idea when I got sober this time around that anything that has happened to me was foretold by anyone. The only exception to this story is the man I met on the beach so many years ago who gave me some sound advice. “Don’t wait to die to ask those questions in your head.” Ask them now. Find the answers now.
I guess it was fate that when I got sober, it must have been a sign from God, but the dance club I used to get drunk in closed its doors for good just after I got sober. It was a sign that I would never have to go back there and drink. But I walked by that building every day on the way to the meeting on South Beach.
All these achievement that I have been blessed with are gifts of the program. Canada has become the land of plenty. The passage of civil rights for LGBT people was a massive score for Canadian gay and lesbian men and women. We are a forwards thinking country. And many of the rights I have today came after I had moved here. Thank god for lies and people who told them. Because I have them to thank for this journey into life.
It’s amazing that so many years later, I haven’t spoken to my family at all. And in the end it was my family that made all of this possible. I know where they are and if I needed to I could go looking for them. Facebook is a useful tool, and I had my dalliance with family on facebook, that never materialized anything but silence.
But I have reconnected with family here in Montreal and the outlying areas. I had a relationship with my late great aunt Georgette before she died of cancer a number of years ago. That was a gift that came from my mother of all people. She was the one who told me that sister was still alive somewhere. And had I not visited the Mother House in Old Montreal on that fateful day, none of that would have happened.
My parents may not support me because I am gay. And they don’t, let’s not make bones about that. Their Catholic upbringing did nothing to assuage them into becoming friends with me at any point. There is error on both sides of this story. And one day Sometime maybe in the future I will get to make my amends, which has been long since overdue. but until then, all I can do is pray for that situation and hope one day it will resolve itself. But it is not on my radar of expectation.
I remained true to my heritage. I live the life I set out to find when I came here in the beginning. I followed that spiritual path that I was introduced to very early on in my life by my grandmother Camille. It was her faith and determination that fed this journey from the beginning. Had she not taught me all that I know about today, I would never have ventured into this without something to go on.
I’ve learned a lot over the last ten years. Probably so much that I could possibly fill a book, if I ever decided to sit down and write it. But all the stories that would go into it, are here on the blog. You can read all those stories here.
We are about to begin the Fall of 2011. Lots to do and life will progress. We live only for the day. We hope for the best and we strive for the truth. Hubby’s career in teaching will begin not too far down the road. And he is looking forwards to that. I have my studies and you know I do my best and hope for the best as well.
The seasons will change and the fall will come. And soon we will celebrate the coming of the silence. That is the most important day in my yearly observance of the seasons. That night always comes, but you never know it is there until it is upon you. So watch this space. It is one of the most blessed days in my spiritual observances. We welcome the mother maiden of the silence for her season. And it is always glorious. This time of year is truly magical.
Because we see the outwards changes in our surroundings like no other place. I love the seasons. The ending of Summer, the coming of Fall, the welcome of Winter. It is all magical and blessed. Life will move with the rhythm of the seasons. We shall get there – my 10 year anniversary.
I am having conversations with an old timer from the West Island at Friday West End. I may end up joining that group and quite possibly take my cake there in a few months time.
But we are not there yet. God willing and one day at a time. This has been a brief look at what ten years of sobriety has brought to my life.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Oriental Tiger
If stranded on a desert island, and could only bring one music album with you, which would it be? What is it about this music that never gets old for you?
When I saw this topic I posted to the feed a question. “Would there be a record player on the island to play it on?”
Somebody else posted another question about “electricity and batteries?”
When Gilligan and his friends were stranded on that island there wasn’t any electricity, but if memory serves the Howell’s had a record player, something funny like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a single episode of Gilligan’s island.
What good would an album on an island be if you couldn’t listen to it?
The album on my phone at the moment that I listen to constantly is Seal’s 1991 album. I can’t get enough of it.
Music never get’s old. It is timeless. I listen to music that I listened to when I was a boy. For instance Sonny and Cher’s music played in our house when I was really young.
We also had The Jackson 5 records. And lots of French 45′s. How long has it been since you have seen a 45 record?
My grandparents had an old 78 record player, that my parents have in storage at their house. With a stack of old bandstand music.
I love music. I have en entire cabinet here at home that is packed with CD’s that I have collected over the last 12 years. However new music comes on the scene, I tend to rely on standards that I have been listening to for years.
If you played me a song I could probably give you a distinct memory attached to that particular piece of music. When I heard it first, if I owned the album as a boy, what I was doing at the moment.
You could paint my life with the music I listen to. That’s why music never gets old. Instead of going to a record store downtown, I can within a few clicks find what I want online.
Music will never get old. Even if I do. I worked in Nightclubs for many years and as a light man I was tasked with painting rooms with light, it was the best job I ever had in my life. I can listen to a piece of music and close my eyes and see my lights flashing in my minds eye, panning and spinning, flashing and pulsing. It was the most magical time in my life.
So that’s my take on music for tonight.
What is your favorite sound?
That is a good question. Can I have more than one? There are several sounds that I like to hear.
Seasonally, I love the sound of Winter. Standing outside on a cold night, waiting for it to snow, there is a particular ring in the air – the sound of the breeze just prior to a snowfall.
I also love the sound of silence. That peaceful moment lying in bed at night it is a quiet of quiets. The world is shut out and it is just peaceful.
I love the sound of Fall, the wind blowing through the trees, leaves falling, branches being buffeted by the breeze.
I love the sound of my sleeping husband lying next to me in bed. He sleeps in a state of listening, because just at the sound of my voice I can move him from here to there. He doesn’t snore very much, it’s more the breath moving in and out of him at rest.
I love the sound of music. My phone is literally connected to me whenever I am out of the house, going places, setting up for a meeting, walking to and from school.
I love the sound of a choir singing in service on a Sunday morning, the voices are heavenly and I find myself soaring into the rafters listening to the choir sing.
I love the rush of the sea on the beach at midnight. When I lived down south and would actually get to the beach at night, the sound of breakers breaking on the beach is the sound of the ocean, it breathes and moves across wide spaces and oceans.
I guess that’s a lot of sounds …
A new project has begun on WordPress called Post a day, Post a week on WordPress, so I thought I’d join the bandwagon.Just tag your posts with (postaday2011)…
List three countries you’d like to visit, and why you want to go?
This is an easy answer. Since it was so long ago, and I was a raging alcoholic during that trip, I made a serious fool of myself in public and when I got home, it wasn’t pretty, I almost didn’t make it home because my traveling companion tried to loose me on the German leg of our tour. Now many years sober I would love to revisit some of the places I’ve been to.
1. Kitzbuhel, Austria – a small chalet town in Austria. I stayed in this exact hotel. It was quite beautiful. And quite possibly the most beautiful locations in the world. I met some incredible people there, oh if I only knew things then, that I know today…
The Hotel Zur Tenne is situated in the heart of Kitzbühel. In its 3 restaurants which are individually design, as well as the big terrace from where you can look at the downtown of Kitzbühel, and you get spoiled by our friendly and responsible staff members. You can enjoy a selection of typical Tyrolean and vegetarian dishes up to an assortment of international cuisine.
The Tenne provides 51 rooms consist of 13 studios – with open fire place – and 11 suites – partly with own Jacuzzi and steam bath. We are specialized in arranging functions! Our elegant event and ball room is equipped in a rustical country style and offers enough room for different functions. Starting from small board meetings up to a big congress for about 140 persons, Gala dinner for 230 persons, welcome cocktail for about 320 persons as well as weddings, we can offer you everything!
Individuality for guest is the most important thing for us!
2. London, England …
This was the first stop on my European Gala trip. It was a great starting point to get your feet wet in Europe. I don’t remember much of that portion of the trip, but I do remember record shopping en masse while I was there. It would be nice to go back and visit.
3. Munich, Germany …
Never bring an alcoholic to a European town that celebrates the drink as much as Munich. The things I did while in Germany were reprehensible. I truly missed out on some serious sight seeing because I was either drunk or gravely hung over. It was a very messy time for me. I pissed a lot of people off and lost several friendships while I was there.
4. Rome, Italy … I know we were supposed to stop at three. But while I am at it planning I might as well add the capstone to any grand European Visit. That to the sainted halls of Vatican City.
We stayed in the Ciga Grand Hotel in Rome. I got to see the Vatican and tour the grounds. We even got to climb the cuppola. I don’t know if they allow visitors to still climb that staircase to the pinnacle of the dome at the Vatican. We did not get to see the Sistine Chapel.
So that’s a great trip there itself. Maybe one day I will get back there to these cities. 2011 has only begun. I wonder ….
My hubby and I never wear street clothes at home. We have what we call “cozies” that we wear around the house all the time.