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Friday: Special Essay … Growing Up

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The week is over. The Friday meeting was sparse. But I did see the people I really needed to see, and have conversations. While there is massive snow on the ground in Up State New York, and here in Quebec, my friends who have skiing and snowboarding passions, they are all out on the slopes this weekend, enjoying, what might be the last snow of the season.

I subscribe to several “thoughtful” pages on Face Book and I’ve been seeing thoughts being shared on my timeline that I happen to think, can apply to me.

One thought is: “BE who you needed when you were a kid” (insert age appropriate word here) …

When I was in school, that would be Junior and High school, I attempted to be sporty.

A fact of life, that came as a tidal wave, came on the first day of Junior High School. I stepped into the locker room, and I knew, right then and there, that there was something different about me. I knew what it was, I just did not say anything to anyone about it.

Knowing what Gay was, by that term, and knowing how homophobic my parents were and still are, never allowed me to identify myself as gay until I moved away from home.

I engaged in gym for a while, while sports was something I was engaged in and was good at because my friends were sporty, and I wanted friends and to participate. I wrestled in junior high, I played soccer as well. I was a pretty good soccer player, until I attempted to go heads up for a center position, which meant you had to go head to head with the boy who held that position. Sadly, I got pretty beat up. That was the end of that run.

In high school I was on the swim team for a couple of years and I even Lettered in my senior year.

My parents were not big on my competing or participating. They would not allow me to have the tools of the trade I needed. Even if I was spending my own money to buy shoes, cleats and gear. They were funny that way …

When I got to Montreal and began to settle down and build a home, growing into a man was front and center. And all along these years now, I have allowed myself things that I really did not have when I was a kid, like nice shoes, sneakers, boots, clothing, etc …

I am different from hubby, in that he does not see the need to have “things.” He will wear one pair of shoes until they fall off his feet before he buys another pair. And I am like, we have the money in the bank, why don’t you buy some shoes and some sneakers …

He usually just shakes his head. I am prepared for any seasonal weather that Mother Nature may throw at us.

Like a good Boy Scout, I am always prepared.

Growing up in the Rooms, I have a certain idea of who I am today, and what I want from my life, and what I believe is important for my emotional, mental and personal well-being.

I keep up with trends. I try to have some style. Lately my friends have commented on my wardrobe an awful lot. This was not a point of discussion in the past. In the rooms, there is a certain amount of decorum, style and dress. Getting clean and sober, in time, means getting clean and sober in all areas of life.

Once you begin to “Clean Up” you clean up inside and out.

I watch my friends, my Gay friends. They seem to be resigned to a certain “way” they style themselves, as they all age. I don’t have any gay friends in my age bracket. The gay friends I have are all ten to twenty years my senior.

Over the past decade or so, as my body changes, my appearance changed with it. And as my doctors took me off certain drugs, that caused me to balloon, the drugs I am on now, are allowing me to lose some significant weight.

They say that the first ten pounds are a bitch. A few weeks ago, while at the doctors, I saw that fact when I stepped onto the scale for the first time in a long time, and was pleasantly surprised to see just how much weight I had lost in the past year.

Feeling Sexy, and Feeling Good inside and out are very important to me. You might find that odd. But I just don’t want to sink into some deep funk going into fifty.

I am not some old man, who has to accept that he is ageing.

Fifty is the new thirty they say. I missed out on my thirties and did not begin to grow up emotionally until I hit the ripe age of forty.

If you want to feel good, I believe one has to look good doing it too. As long as I can pull off sporty and sexy, all in moderation, then why the hell not ?

For many years, well, the last twenty-two years or so, I was subject to side effects and drug interactions when it came to my body. And for a long time, I sat in my head, thinking, well, this is how I am going to look and feel, so I better get used to it.

Because that is what most people with AIDS/HIV say to themselves. Today, there are only a few, a very little few other men who are survivors, in my immediate community, or are living with what they call the new HIV, they don’t say the word AIDS ever anymore.

But I remember who I was, then. Nobody can take that away from me.

I’m not sure when the shift began, but I felt that I needed to pick myself up and make a change. I went back on my going grey look, and dyed my hair. I’m just not ready to be defeated by grey hair like some of my friends. I moved from my special haircut to growing my hair out, until I get sick of it. Not there yet.

When I realized that I had lost significant weight, I went on a clothes haul, and bought a few new pieces of clothing.

My friends noticed.

I saw some clothing I really liked on the web. And I thought, I could rock that look too and look good doing it too. So I spent a little money, and damn, I look good.

My friends noticed.

People pay close attention to what we look like in meetings. I remember a while back, when I started experimenting with hair styles. I made a huge mistake sitting in the chair one day, and I paid for that haircut mistake until all my hair grew out again.

Lesson Learned.

I don’t want to go bald, not yet at least.

I want to feel good in my skin. I want to feel sexy, even if hubby really does not pay attention to that, he really doesn’t. He thinks about style, because I know he shops at specific shops in the city and has a certain look, he just does not notice me.

I notice Me.

I may be getting Older. And Fifty is just around the corner. But I am not going to grow old, looking old. There are men out there in my age bracket who are more sporty and stylish than I could ever be, but I will damned well try at least.

As long as I can look good – I feel good.

Living life on the edge is cool. Living on Borrowed time used to mean, acceptance of a fate of dying or waiting to die.

I don’t live, waiting to die.

Mame Dennis Said it well …

Live, Live, Live, Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving …

I am going to look good when fifty comes, and I will die trying …

I love my friends, gay and straight, some of them are just old Fuddy Duddies …

I am NOT a fuddy duddy …

 

Friday: Sacred, is the Room I find in Myself

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There are but two sins … The Lesser, is to get in the way of our own spiritual path. The Greater, is to get in the way of someone else’s spiritual path.

I see humility for today as a safe and secure stance midway between violent emotional extremes. It is a quiet place where I can keep enough perspective and enough balance to take my next small step up the clearly marked road that points toward eternal values.

The reading tonight touches on Arrogance, Attitude and Humility.

Which leads back to yesterdays quote:

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

The Fellowship, early on, was a sordid affair. And thinking about it logically, the Big Book was written towards a certain segment of the population. And in the early years, the Fellowship grew out of trials and errors.

They really did not have a leg to stand on, when it came to knowledge or certainty.

This reading talks about some, early on, who believed they had the “Real A.A.” And that they had a definitive answer to the problem of the drink, and only they could impart this message and that, from the reading, “You better get it…”

A very arrogant approach, don’t you think ?

This reading is dates 1961. The Fellowship came together in 1939. That is only 22 years from inception, to the point Bill wrote this passage for the Grapevine. I imagine that Bill probably mulled over what he was either hearing himself, or from others, who came in contact with the men, whom this reading, refers to.

I don’t know, in my life today, WHO has the definitive answer to recovery. Because I know, for myself, that there are old timers with TIME, but they surely are not sober. There are men and women I respect, who have some time.

All I know is this … Every so often I am introduced to someone who has a method, or a practice, or a way, they work their program. Over the past four or so years, I’ve employed several practices and methods that I know worked for the men and women, I have adopted these practices from.

None of them, we could say are the End All Be All. They are merely, additions to practice and method, to incorporate, along with the Book.

Working with others, is a great way to find out for ones self, that:

No, I don’t know, but I am trying to find out. OK !

I don’t have all the answers, which is why I go to meetings and talk with people I respect, who have a little more experience than I do. We are all souls walking in the same direction, trying to figure it out ourselves.

There is no ultimate authority, except the God of our understanding as He speaks in our Group Conscience.

I know what size my pants are. And I know how big, my head can get if I am not careful.

Keeping it simple and staying out of my head is a daily task.

If either my pants or my head swell to greatly, then I know:

I must decrease so that He may increase.

Thursday: I Don’t know but I am trying to find out, OK !

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Last night, I heard from my Spiritual director, who lives in another province, tell me that his doctors have told him that he was terminally ill, and that he has an illness that will eventually take his life, as it had taken the lives of his grandfather and father alike.

God is really the most important vital sign. If he wants you to stay, there is not way you can go, and if you are meant to go, there is no way to keep you here.

I am a very lucky man, to have a young man in my life, who has this kind of Wisdom.

I have walked many people through this minefield, that is the most unknown of places. That place of One day, being alive and fearless, to the next day, when a doctor tells you that your days are numbered, and that eventually, your body will not be able to do what is had been doing for over fifty years, and death is imminent.

How do you tell someone you care about, that they need to remember to breathe, and as long as there is air in their lungs, they should live ??? That was the exact advice I gave my friend, along with those wise words from my Elder.

If your heart, knowing it is, at some point, going to give out on you, turns towards the finality of death, and you forget that living is still on the table, that usually hastens death quicker.

No matter how dire the warning and the knowledge that all the cards are on the table, and death is going to come sooner than later, My friend, at least, HAS a game plan, a plan of action. I just thought that reminding him that he still had a life, a family that needs him, a wife who is living the journey with him, children flung all over God’s world, who still need a father, I needed to remind him, that right now,

LIFE is the most important thing in his life.

If we wake up, every morning, and we are alive … Then that IS a GOOD day.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

Every Thursday night, when I get home, I dial an Elder on my I Phone. And with the latest technology, I am in the presence of a young man I love, who is my friend, and spends some of his time, with me. Just like we did when he was here.

I learned this week, that my Elder friend is Pre-Med. I am totally in awe of him, knowing who he is, and how he sees the world, Folks, we are going to have one really great doctor some day, I’m just sayin ….

I am truly grateful.

NO, is not part of my vocabulary…

Last week, I was on the hunt for product. And Google had led me down many dead ends. But from those Google results, those results were coming from the Pacific rim. Australia and New Zealand.

I know someone who lives in Australia. So I tweeted him asking him for his help. I got a reply, and that reply said two things. NO, and I cannot help you.

Never say NO to me. Ever.

I mean that in the best of terms. I don’t ask my friends or people I know for many things. And after doing whatever homework I needed to do, and I get to the point that I need to ask someone for some help, and you tell me NO, from the get go … Before you even hear the WHY I asked you for help You can …

FUCK the right off …

In recovery, NO is not part of our vocabulary. Obviously, there are some people I know who are too self centered and selfish to want to even ponder the thought of being of some help to someone who asked for it.

Anyways, This week has been very good. I found product I wanted. One of my friends helped me as a mail drop, because I could not get delivery to Canada, and that package is on its way today. Two other packages are also on their way as well, another from the U.S. and one from the U.K.

I returned to major seller platforms and U.K. Websites that proved to be genuine.

I heard it said to me that if you get asked to speak at St. Matthias, then you have MADE IT.

This is what our young lady said first tonight.

Obviously, I have not MADE IT YET … And I’ve been sitting in that room for more than twelve years. And nobody has ever asked me to speak there.

We heard a newbie girl speak tonight, just over her first year. I thought to myself, I did not speak for a very long time, when I first got sober. There is some wisdom to putting a newbie in the hot seat, early on. Because they get to hear their story, at that specific point IN their journey, from their own mouths.

ONE, it gives them early perspective. And TWO, they get a baseline in where they are, because after the meeting, they are going to hear everyone in the room, thank that person for their share, and then offer them some wisdom from their own journey.

In the end, our young lady told her story, and then heard from the rest of us, what she might expect if she sticks around …

On Being a Man …

We are MEN, trying to figure out what it means to be a MAN, AND trying to figure out HOW to get there.

In our little group of friends, all of us at various ages, in the rooms, are trying to figure out what our manhood’s are going to look like, and what we want our lives to look like, and some buzz words that pop up are Humility, Integrity, My Elder also adds the words God and Spirituality to the mix, these, I think are crucial for a well rounded life as a man, in the rooms of recovery.

We all agree, among ourselves, that a Spiritual Foundation laid with care, can be one of the most important components in someone’s life.

Man or Woman.

And by extension, One of my guys has Million Dollar Millennial on his watch.

We are fathers to boys, who don’t really have fathers in their lives, trying to figure out what to do for the most people, to the best of our abilities.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

Wednesday: Tragedy, Sorrow, Prayers

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Today, in the world, these tragedies have taken place.

France was plunged into mourning and national outrage Monday by the terrorist-style killings of three young children and a rabbi as they gathered for classes at a Jewish school in a quiet residential neighborhood of Toulouse.The lone gunman rode up on a motor scooter and opened fire with two pistols, first shooting at a group of waiting children outside the school and then following some of them into a courtyard as they ran for safety toward the building, a local prosecutor, Michel Valet, told reporters. In addition to the four people killed, six students were wounded, including a 17-year-old boy reported to be in serious condition at a Toulouse hospital.

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Published Wednesday, March 22, 2017 10:55AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:14PM EDT
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LONDON — A knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage at the heart of Britain’s seat of power Wednesday, mowing down pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before stabbing an armed police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. Four people were killed, including the attacker, and about 20 others were injured.

Lawmakers, lords, staff and visitors were locked down as the man was shot by police within the perimeter of Parliament and just yards (meters) from entrances to the building itself. He died, as did two pedestrians on the bridge, and the police officer.

Our Thoughts and Prayers for those killed in these senseless Terror Attacks, and for those who are injured, their families and friends, citizens and faithful peoples.

O G‑d, full of compassion, Who dwells on high, grant true rest upon the wings of the Shechinah (Divine Presence), in the exalted spheres of the holy and pure, who shine as the resplendence of the firmament, to the soul of those who have gone to their [supernal] world, for charity has been donated in remembrance of their souls; may Their place of rest be in Gan Eden. Therefore, may the All-Merciful One shelter them with the cover of His wings forever, and bind their souls in the bond of life. The Lord is their heritage; may they rest in his resting-place in peace; and let us say: Amen.

 

 

 

Monday: Time Tracks and Do Over’s

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I have spoken about the Do Over’s when one comes into recovery. Today, I would like to expand that discussion to include time tracks.

Yesterday I sat with one of my guys and we spoke about our Million Dollar Millennium young man again. And as his story unfolds, more information has come to the fore.

Which leads into today’s discussion.

When we are born, we are born into a time track. A life that has not unfolded yet, and has yet to be experienced. One cannot choose their family. And what ever baggage comes with the parents, that baggage infects the lives of their children. There is no escaping what is about to unfold for the unsuspecting child.

We only have this one life to live. And the choices we get to make, don’t come until much later into their specific time track.

Our young man, recently shared that one thing he suffers from, Abandonment, by his parents. Divorces fuck up children, no matter what. No child escapes the pain of a divorce. This serious issue has clouded his judgment, and his life, and causes him serious grief.

Abandonment is a familiar issue, that I have heard countless times in my life. It is so serious that it can stunt, and for many, in this case, kill any life ambition or possible positive outcomes for that human being.

What ever happens to us throughout our childhoods, our teen years, then our young adult lives, all that energy, whether it is positive energy or negative energy travels with us into adulthood. And what ever that energy is, will either, infect our lives with pain and strife, or it will enhance our lives, and help us to live our best life.

Our your Millennial is saddled with negative energy that is negatively impacting his life, his life view, his upward mobility, and negatively impacts his daily life. His choices are warped, his wants and desires are skewed and the choices he is making right now, aren’t realistic, and clearly not optimistic.

Everybody has a life track. Everybody has the life we are living at the moment. And what ever baggage we are carrying around with us, either negatively or positively impacts the life we will live as the days go by.

Life Energy can either help us or harm us. Negative or Positive.

Life Energy … The Two Worlds Theory.

Our lives are a collection of family, life experiences, emotions, choices, people, places and things. What we are born into is the constant. Everything else on this list is a variable. Whatever befell us as we grew into our adult life, shapes the men and women we become.

That is either a good thing, or, a bad thing.

Adding another wrinkle to the mix, some skate through their lives, with minimal attraction to, or addiction to substance(s). But whatever factors exist that they are carrying with them, that energy is running at full speed.

Every man and woman who grows up, falls into one of two categories.

  • A – The Non-Addicted/One Life Time Track Crowd, or
  • B- The Addicted/Comes into Recovery/ Do Over/ Time Track Crowd

If you fall into Category A, then you are stuck in the life you are living, with whatever baggage and issues you are carrying, running at full speed. If you don’t hit the addiction speed bump, or fall into a life that your journey is NOT impeded by something critical, medical, addictive, or anything that might pause or stop, your forward momentum, like our Millennium young man, is living at the moment, our young man, has not had a moment where he was stopped, in order to (Re-Orient) his vision, You will suffer whatever ails you for the rest of your life, if Re-Orientation does not take place.

Track A – is the one life you were born into. Complete with all the energy you are carrying with you, either positive or negative, in full-bore, every day one after another.

There are no supposed speed bumps, warning signs, stop signs, or major life issues to warrant a Pause, a Stop, or a Re-Orientation.

In Track A – There is no do over possibility. You are in this One Life Passage.

If you fall into Category B, You were living a life, you fell into addictive behavior, you drank and used, and possibly, had a serious medical issue pop up. Or you experienced an episode that stopped you in your tracks.

If you find yourself in this Category B, and you were blessed to get that STOP sign, Congratulations. You get your Do-Over.

When we come into recovery, we have hit bottom, or we are on our way, to figuring out where our bottom is, or where it was. We are taken out of the normal circulation of life.

We either end up in rehab, or we find our way to the rooms. In either case, we spend some time beginning to (Re-Orient) our lives.

On the Medical front, a serious illness, either makes you stronger, or in many cases, where treatment varies, it will kill you. Sometimes you cannot escape the finality of a serious medical illness. That is just the plain truth. In my case, I survived, and got my Do Over.

The Steps are written in a certain order.

After a little while, we sink into our chairs, and we begin the hard work of digging ourselves out of the pit we had sunk ourselves into. As it will go, if and when we are able, we begin to look at the past: People, Places, Things, Family, Emotions, Family, Life Experiences, Emotions, and Choices we either made or did not make.

The forward momentum of the Category A life, has been stopped.

Now the Category B life begins. And this is where my theory comes to the fore.

If our Millennium young man, does not get his Stop Sign, or his Do Over, he will end up in a place, where he will make certain decisions, however good he thinks they are, with what information we have about him right now, based on his life experiences, won’t be good at all.

We know his decision-making skills are skewed, so the positive future he believes he wants, is still clouded by all the negative UNIMPEDED energy he is carrying around with him.

That Category A train has left the station, it is in full motion, and if he does not Re-Orient, that train will run right off the tracks, if he is not careful.

In the Category B train, The first train left the station. We screwed up our lives with the drink and the drugs, forcing our train to leave the tracks, and park in a station, for some undetermined amount of time, until we are ready to get back on the train with a new heading and direction, and to allow the train to get back into motion.

The difference between Track A and Track B, is, whatever forward momentum and energy we were carrying with us, (like on Track A – Unimpeded) on Track B, that momentum is stopped. The energy flow is interrupted.

In Category B – We get our Do Over. We get our Re-Orientation.

People in recovery get to stop, and review the past. We write it down, we inventory the wreckage of the past, we find out who hurt us, and who we hurt as well. We figure out our character defects and our shortcomings.

We get to make amends, and live a spiritual life, if everything works out that way. Those odds are slim at best, because not everybody makes it.

I know many people stuck in Category A. They are living the life they are living. Some are modestly happy, some are very happy, but many of them are downright miserable.

Most people in Category A, never get the chance to Re-Orient. They don’t get their Do Over. They are stuck in the cookie cutter, this is YOUR life, LIFE.

That train just keeps on chugging away. It never stops, never reaches their destination, because all they see, for some, is the inside of a cubicle, eight hours a day.

They are carrying all the energy from their entire lives, and all that energy either helps or harms that human being.

Like our Million Dollar Millennium young man, we know what all that negative energy is doing to him, by the conversations we have with him.

This is not going to end well. And if we don’t find a way to get him to Re-Orient, He may fuck up his life indefinitely, in horrible ways.

We need to move him from Category A to Category B. And Soon, without the trauma of something serious happening to him to force him into Category B.

The odds of something serious be falling him are very high right now.

The challenge we face now is, what do we Do ? What do we Say ? And How do we help him ?

People in recovery have the benefit of hindsight, of our experiences, of our Do Over capability.

How we impart that knowledge to others is critical.

The World is running in Category A.

A good number of us have been blessed to find ourselves in Category B.

It only took me this long to figure this out.

Finding may help doctors target dormant HIV

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This is big and important news. If this works, it will change the ball game in our favor. Dormant HIV has been a long and unsolved mystery. Now, the mystery begins to unravel.
CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Monday, March 20, 2017 10:13AM EDT

European researchers say they have identified a key protein that can help them identify immune cells that are harbouring dormant HIV, opening up a new way to target these cells and pave the way for a cure.

Although HIV medications can greatly reduce levels of the virus in patients, there is still no cure. The drugs can’t kill all the retrovirus because HIV has a way of infecting immune cells called T-cells and then going dormant. The virus can remain inside the cell for years or decades, hidden from the drugs designed to kill it.

But if an HIV patient stops taking her antiretroviral drugs, the dormant retrovirus will “awaken” and rapidly begin reproducing.

AIDS researchers have long sought a way to find these T-cells infected with dormant HIV so that they can target them with therapies. But it’s remained a mystery how to identify them.

Now virologists at the University of Montpellier in France think they may have found a way to recognize these “sleeper cells.” They have identified a protein called CD32a that sits on the surface of HIV-infected T-cells.

Their experiments showed that healthy T-cells do not express the protein, and neither do cells carrying active HIV. Only T-cells hiding dormant HIV make the protein.

The team made their finding after placing T-cells in lab dishes and then exposing them to fluorescently tagged HIV. They watched cells become infected and searched for differences in the gene expressions between the infected and non-infected cells. That’s when they noticed the CD32a protein marker.

The researchers then tested their theory by taking blood samples from 12 HIV-infected people who were on antiretrovirus medication. Using an antibody that sticks to CD32a, the researchers were able to extract all the cells expressing the protein. As expected, all the cells were T-cells harbouring dormant HIV.

The research team says their finding paves the way to a better understanding of viral reservoirs. It’s also possible that CD32a could one day become a reliable marker of cells that are infected with dormant HIV, which could help in the creation of drugs to target these latent cells.

The findings are published in the journal Nature. France’s CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) has now filed for a patent for the diagnostic and therapeutic use of the biomarker.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Insitute of Allergies and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, Maryland, told Nature that the next step will be to replicate the findings by screening blood from patients of different ethnicities, ages and stages of the disease.

Fauci said he is excited about the potential of CD23a but remains cautious about the finding given the decades of research that have gone into HIV without the discovery of a cure.

The Web is Not Your Friend

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Back in the day, before the web blew up into the mess that it is today, making an honest purchase was much easier. If you stayed within the boundaries of web based purchase tools/sites, you could, with some certainty, buy an item from someone, who would then send that exact item to you, pain free…Honestly.

I know, from the past, that if I cannot find an item I am looking for on the web, then I can go to my certainty sellers like EBAY or AMAZON, and for the most part come away with whatever it was I was looking for, because sellers from all over the world congregate on these massive selling platforms.

I have strayed from my certainty sellers over the past year, expanding my hunts to web sellers, not connected to trusted selling platforms.

I know how to find clothing and shoes online. I might see something worn by an athlete, or in a photo on a photo sharing website like Tumblr or Pintrest. If you see something “in community” one can usually find it somewhere for sale. But that task takes a little more time and work than a one click or a two click process, going to a large selling platform.

It seems, as of late, that knockoff, counterfeit, and fraudulent practices have become a dime a dozen business. Last fall, I saw a pair of sneakers on Mario Gotze, when he was in Marbella. It took me some time to find those particular sneakers. And after a exhaustive Google search, I came across two websites.

Both websites were slick, pretty, dealt in foreign currency, and had the particular sneaker I wanted, in my size, in stock.

What I thought would be a straight forward honest purchase later became a nightmare. I shelled out over a hundred dollars on the first purchase to a site which was located under a CO.UK Website. Ok, CO.UK … I figured they were in the UK. Every purchase I have made within the Euro and UK zone had been, up to that point, great.

WRONG !!!

I made my purchase and I waited for the shoes to come. Three weeks later, I get a Bag in the mail, not a Box. That was the first sign of trouble. I was on my way out for the evening, so I did not open the bag until I got home later that night. Come to find out that what was sent to me was an entirely different pair of shoes, in the wrong style and in the wrong colorway.

The sender’s address was located in Shanghai China. NOT the UK.

I got screwed once.

I clicked the other website, a “different” website. It was also slick, pretty, dealt in foreign currency, and also had the same particular sneakers I really wanted.This other website also fell under the CO.UK web ID. I placed the order and then waited another three weeks for delivery.

Three weeks came and went. And the BAG not a BOX arrived again. In that bag were the exact same pair of shoes that came in the first package. The same make, the same style and the same color.

I looked at the senders address. It was the SAME address as the first package that came.

SHANGHAI CHINA …

This Shanghai group was operating under several websites, selling counterfeit goods, under the auspices of honest product placement and sales. Posing websites FULL of stock, across all manners of shoe sales.

Now out over $200.00 CAD, I had called my bank, and they directed me to the RCMP, that would be the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, fraudulent item recovery center.

THE RCMP is tasked with finding and identifying fraudulent, and counterfeit operators around the world.

Now we know that Shanghai gangsters are running a multi-platform web based counterfeit operations, utilizing web portals around the world, under many location based websites. Be they CO.UK, AU and NZ locations. CO.UK (The UK), AU (Australia), and NZ (New Zealand).

The bank refunded all the cash I had paid out back to my Virtual Visa Debit account.

The above photo – The Nike Pro Combat Woodland Tights in Dark Emerald – Total Orange has been my latest hunt online. It took a few days of work, but I covered every single seller listed in Googles search parameters.

Nobody in the U.S. or Europe has these particular tights in stock, anywhere, even in the NIKE database, as they tell me they are not available any longer.

Then I began to search worldwide, via Google. And began to come cross a handful of websites with the CO.UK, AU, and NZ, suffixes. All these sites I bookmarked in a list.

All of these sites tell me that they have, in stock, what I am looking to purchase.

How long these sites have been up, and running, is the question? It usually goes, that if you cannot find something in one region, there might be a chance that other regions in the world, might still have particular stock in house.

In the past, those odds had been high.

After several attempts to make a purchase, from several of these Pacific Rim locations, I get to the payment page, and my Virtual Visa Card is denied. On every single website.

Attached to each of these sites when you open an account to make a purchase, they give you a contact email. I emailed every site that I attempted to make a purchase from. I got ONE reply. That one website generated a payment confirmation email back to me.

Even though on the site my card was denied.

Neither of the other websites generated either a decline or a payment attempt receipt.

I emailed the site who responded with an email. I got a response back from someone on the other end. I had composed a specific email, with specific information in that email.

I gave my name, what I wanted to purchase, the Form of Payment I was using, and from where I was making my purchase, that would have been Canada.

I knew when I opened the email that came, that the human who wrote it, paid no attention to the details I had provided them. Because none of my identifying information was used to address my inquiry, back to me.

  • Like, Hello Jeremiah
  • I see you wanted a pair of Nike Woodland Tights Dark Emerald Total Orange
  • And you are shopping from Canada
  • Using a Visa Card

And most probably, English was not their first language, if they spoke English at all.

What floored me was what they then asked of me…

I was told that if I made a BANK TRANSFER to them, that they would sell me the item of clothing I wanted at a deep discount, than the price listed.

Their site was slick, had lots of supposed stock, but their site denied my purchase with a Visa card. Now they wanted, instead, a BANK TRANSFER.

RED FLAG for sure.

I called my bank and made an inquiry about why my card would not be accepted around the world, A Visa Card whether a credit card, and/or more secure, a Virtual Visa Debit Card, is accepted at any seller, who takes Visa or Master Card, world wide.

I then told the agent at my bank about the seller wanting a BANK TRANSFER, and she told me that that was something that she had not seen before.

I did NOT forward a bank transfer. I did email them back, to further inquire why their site listed credit cards as payment options, but would decline a proper credit card, opting for a closed sale, off site, via a bank transfer.

The possible Return on Investment is very slim.

Three days now, and I have not received a response from said website.

I am of the suspicion, that if a website is too good to be true, it probably is.

I emailed each and every website I bookmarked directly, through inter email contact forms with my purchase inquiries. None of them have responded.

I am discouraged in shopping the world wide web via Google, because of these experiences with counterfeit and fraudulent operators, located in China.

I don’t know who is sitting behind these websites I had bookmark and made inquiries to and since they did not accept my Visa Card, there is no money tied up in possible fraudulent online crooks.

Through my searches via Google, I returned to the honest selling platforms like Ebay and Amazon. Amazon is a pain in the ass, because I am located in Canada, and I have two Amazon Accounts. One in Canada and One in the United States.

Amazons don’t share stock together. And you cannot shop in the U.S. for the most part, because the U.S. platform will not ship to Canadian locations. And You cannot shop in Canada and get shipped across the border South.

Amazon U.S. had the one pair of tights I wanted, but they would not ship to Canada.

So I am shit out of luck.

EDIT: Friends are good to have especially if they live in the U.S. and will receive a package from Amazon U.S. I actually just bought the very last pair on Amazon U.S. and they are on their way to a friends place in Mass. And he will forward them to me.

Ebay has been less than stellar with product in recent months. I figure I am out of season, or have come to the point where stock has been depleted, as NIKE direct and UK Direct Sports websites have told me via email.

Stock has been depleted and nobody can say if this line will be repeated in the future.

I missed the boat on this item, as it had been in circulation for some time and now there is no stock, supposedly anywhere.

But if Google is to be believed when they generate positive results from a Google Search, then there are a handful of stocked shops online.

The odds that they are honest sale points are slim after the story I have just shared with you.

Face Book ADS

If you look in your Face Book feed, you might have realized that they are targeting ads to us. They are not vetting them, clearly.

Back in November, an ad came across my feed. An ad for a seller of Odd, One Off, Exclusive Harry Potter lines of creation. They were selling a One Off Exclusive Harry Potter Jacket, in several colors, with the tag line from the books … From the Specific Marauder’s Map …

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good…

Stenciled on the back of the jacket.

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Now, If you know me in real life, You Would Know that I love me some Harry Potter.

On November 30th, 2016, I ordered a jacket. I did not read the order and shipping information to begin with, because I imagined that an exclusive one off short sale, before the holidays, would have arrived “During the holidays.”

WRONG !!!

I placed the order and got a confirmation email of said order on November 30th, 2016.

Over the next few weeks, I would email said company, (Mugs and Beyond) inquiring about where my package was. Not one word came back to me.

On January 11th, 2017, I got a shipping email from Mugs and Beyond. Saying that my jacket had been shipped. I knew now that shipping would take 4 to 6 weeks from date of shipment. That shipment I realized, when they sent me the shipping confirmation, was an Asian Shipping Company.

One day after another, I checked the shipping site. The shipping number they provided me could not be located in their database. And never was located, which told me that no shipment was on its way to me.

Which was a sign that, this sale was not on the up and up.

On March the 12th, 2017, shipping fell into the 9th week out from shipping date.

No Joy, No Jacket, and I am out over another $100.00 CAD.

In total, I have been burned out of over $300.00 CAD now.

I called the bank, and reported the sale and the lack of delivery, only to be told that what I was waiting for was counterfeit goods. The seller was reported to the authorities, and a refund was initiated back to my Virtual Visa, again …

What is the moral of this story, boys and girls ???

The Web is Not Your Friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday: Snow … Warnings Ignored

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It is Thursday night. There is snow all over the place. It is piled upwards of ten feet on some streets. Cars are buried where they stood, when the plows went through earlier today.

Tonight, snow plows are working full-bore to clear streets after an EPIC snowstorm Tuesday night.

Because God Forbid, the St. Patty’s Day Parade on Sunday, gets cancelled because of snow piled ten feet high on the roadsides.

Preface … Over the weekend prior, Environment Canada and our own weather personalities were warning that BIG SNOW was coming, but that far out, they could not tell us how bad it would be. Updates were coming frequently through Tuesday night.

In the end, more than 40 cm of snow fell in blizzard conditions for more than eight hours. Overall, it snowed for more than 20 hours.

Snow began to fall around noon on Tuesday and as the night wore on, conditions got worse. Now I remind you, dear reader, that we were warned. At the midnight hour, Tuesday night, our local news radio station was live, ON AIR, calling the shots, over night.

When blizzard snow falls on a highway, all bets are off, for whomever is ON those highways, when conditions deteriorate quickly. Hundreds of cars, trucks, taxis, you name it, got stuck on highways that were NOT being plowed at all.

Absofuckinglutely cars buried in the snow. Stuck, as in Not Going Anywhere !!!

The Provincial Government in Quebec City is in charge of clearing highways. And the City government is in charge of local roads. They don’t share responsibilities.

Around midnight, the radio man was taking calls from people, live, On Air, who were stuck in their cars, as the snow piled up around them. Help did not come fast enough.

The radio people were trying to find solutions to getting people off the streets from people who had been on the streets but got home, hours later. Solutions were not coming, because help was not coming either.

People stuck in their cars stayed in those cars ALL NIGHT LONG, until daybreak on Wednesday morning. No Food, No Water, running out of gas, and some perished in their cars. Some left their cars, and tried to get out on foot, because, either they were out of gas, or they were freezing to death.

The radio men were asking residents, out and about, if anyone knew where the trucks and plows were, as it went, people were calling with only one response to that question…

The Trucks and Plows were sitting in Tim Horton’s Parking Lots, idle, while their drivers were drinking coffee as the city went to hell and people were stuck on roads they should have already been plowing, but weren’t.

Two Montrealers’ DIED in their car, snowbound on the highway. People were sitting in their cars for more than ten hours at some points along the timeline. Those two people were stuck as their car was snowed over, with the car running, trying to keep warm, carbon monoxide poisoning, coming from the car exhaust, stuck in snow killed them.

I listened to the radio all night long. And it wasn’t until around 4:30 a.m. that someone actually called the S.Q. (Provincial Police) and the S.Q. called the fire department to go save people on the highways.

The two branches of government dropped the ball, because neither could do anything properly to get people in from the cold.

ON TOP OF THAT … Adding Insult to Injury …

All the cars who got towed off the highways were slapped with a towing ticket of over $200.00 EACH. That did not go over very well. The Provincial Government coughed up the cash to pay every single ticket handed out to people who got stuck.

Let me tell you that people are pissed. And as of tonight, heads are rolling across the board because of the ineptitude of our local and provincial leaders.

All the warnings that came, were not heeded. People got in their cars, thinking that they would get from point A to point B.

Obviously, NOT …

This little blizzard of a snow storm caught everyone off guard.

The plows and trucks did not get out in time, and people are dead because of them.

There is blood on the hands of snow clearing folks tonight.

 

Monday – Shouts and Whispers

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My head SHOUTS, but my heart Whispers, So I stay out of my head …

This passage is written at the bottom of the story we read tonight; Me an Alcoholic ?

There are only certain people, whom, I know, were messengers from God.

Memere was the first. Todd was the second. Elder Christensen is the third.

I believe that when I pray to God, I don’t usually expect a direct answer, not in the past. And I know that if I pray, and that answer does not come, then I need to go sit with my friends, because answers usually come from someone close, between people.

I had a conversation with Elder Christensen the other day. On Friday I sat with my friends, who gave me sound advice, that I can trust. Over the weekend, I sat, for a long time, and I prayed, then I listened.

The conversation I was having with God, came in the form of a conversation that I was having with Elder Christensen, because his word is true, his faith and conviction are second to none. He is spiritually connected.

And he is connected to me.

Talking to him in real time the other night, was something I really needed, if only to hear him talk to me.

When I doubt myself, which is most of the time, I did not necessarily turn to prayer to confirm what it was I was hearing in response. In a moment of inspiration, I imagined the voice of the Elder in my minds eye.

All of a sudden, the words became true. I knew they were true. In that moment.

God is with me. And everything is going to be alright.

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Everything is alright in the end, if it is not alright,  it is not the end …

Big Snow is on the way. It is going to be miserable for the next few days.

Over the weekend, a Winter Hurricane Storm rolled over New Foundland. Many homes were destroyed. Mama’s roof has considerable damage and needs to be repaired. Her parent’s home roof was also destroyed in the storm, along with hundreds of other homes  across the island.

Street lights are down. Buildings have been trashed. Cars and trucks have been either damaged or destroyed due to falling trees or building material, or just that they were blow off their bottoms.

The “cities” don’t have surplus supplies of things that were destroyed in the storm, but they have some, until they run out of stock. Then they will have to ship supplies, food, building materials and the like from off island.

Say a little prayer for our people out on The Rock.

 

Saturday: Walking in my Shoes

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I spent the night wondering, thinking, praying … All those things we are supposed to do all the time, but for the most part, are not done all the time, and not until it is vitally necessary, to do them all the time.

I had a conversation in my head with Spencer, thinking about what he might say to me after writing what I did last night, seeing most of that post’s information came from him directly.

I spent the day with a lady friend, and I unloaded on her until I was spent.

The word that came to me, last night, we call it a “prompt” was this …

This is my journey and my experience. And there might not be anyone to give clear directions, as to where I should go or what I should do, since the sober factor among our peers is dreadfully poor.

I know what people around me are doing because it is plain, by their actions, that they have made their moves, as in, away from me.

Really, over the past few months, there really has not been a concerted effort by anyone long sober, speaking to this effect.

But like I heard last night, I need to stick to familiar meetings, with familiar people, and walk through the dark, the best way I know how, with my head held high and doing the right thing, as in, talking when talking is needed, listening when listening is needed, and being the man I am, and on the whole, keeping my mouth shut when it comes to other people in tight places.

Coming from the life I have come from, I know what it feels and looks like when people fuck off on you.

That rubs me like spiritual sandpaper.

There aren’t a whole lot of people, “in the game.” Because it seems like, most of my friends are just doing their own thing, showing up at certain meetings, and trying to figure out, on the fly, what we need to be doing, by ourselves, together.

We just have not connected outside the rooms, specifically.

Things of note:

  • Not everyone is going to like me
  • Not everyone is going to agree with me
  • Not everyone is at the same point in sobriety, so reactions will differ
  • How people react, is solely based on their abilities to cope with stimuli
  • I am Powerless over people, places and things
  • Yes, I may spend hours bitching and moaning, but life is a process
  • Experience, Reaction, Bitching, Moaning, Discussion, Resolution

The take away … I don’t fuck off on my friends. Period ! I don’t take kindly to be treated as less than, or invisible, or that people don’t respect my humanity. I don’t like what I am seeing and/or hearing from people I have known for years and years. it is like all the words I have spoken in all that time, went in one ear and out the other, and nothing I tried to do with my community made a hill of beans difference in the way my peers treat each other and myself.

I think I knew all of this information all along. But with all the noise coming in, listening to God or my intuition, went by the wayside.

I need to talk to Spencer soon. He will know what needs to be said right now.

 

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So that is a thing …

 

Friday: Honestly !!!

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Do we ever reach a point in our lives that we can trust that, we’ve done our best to be good, to be kind, to be giving and to be Honest, to be able to speak words that are honest as well?

I am told, by a long time friend tonight that “An alcoholic’s mind is a place we should never go alone.” Another friend also said that, it is not so important what people think about me, the important thing I need to remember is my relationship with God.

The Emotional Roller Coaster is running at full speed. And I am not enjoying the ride. For the whole of my sobriety, I’ve watched my friends and my fellows. I’ve listened to them and saw what kind of choices they have made over this long run.

Everything I learned to do, or decide to do, was always based on what others have either done or not done.

I know when I hit my forties, I found that I knew things, for sure. I had enough time and hindsight behind me to be able to, matter of factly, say with some clarity, what I really thought about whatever I was seeing.

Over the past 10 months, I’ve felt a myriad of emotions. Unlike anything I have felt in some time. I’ve talked about this before, so we are coming full circle again.

The other night I had a conversation with Elder Christensen. The young Mormon missionary I became friends with during my investigations. He is still in my life, because that was the choice he made when he went home.

My investigation came to an end, when I would not leave my marriage and OBEY the “one man, one woman, biblical concept of marriage.” All those young people who made all kinds of promises and encouraged me to continue, all fell off a cliff, so to speak.

Now I know why …

Elder Christensen, when faced with the reality that I was not going to leave my marriage, sat in on a discussion about my fate with the Missionary team. The team, as a whole, did not see me as acceptable. They did not see me as fully human, with rights to be able to decide who I was and what choices I would make.

They just stopped seeing me.

Elder Christensen told me that during that discussion, he was at odds with his team and the Mission President. He was headed home, so his view of me would not be considered because he was going home, being the odd man out.

The young elder could not understand why the others did not feel about me, the way he felt about me ? He told me that, the others failed to understand and respect my humanity and dignity. That they had problems with emotional connections.

The Sunday I was shopping and ran into the Sisters at the grocery store, they told me that I belonged and that there was always a place for me, so I sent them back to the group with one request. It is obvious to me now, that nobody cares, what I need.

If I wasn’t prepared to make an ultimate sacrifice to “become One with the Church” there was really no place for me, in that church.

The good that came out of that investigation was that Elder Christensen, is still my friend. He takes time out of his schedule to write and to spend time talking to me on Hang Out. He knows my humanity. He identified with it, and respects it.

That is a thing…

I heard tonight, that sometimes in sobriety, things can get dark. And people may not agree with me. And people may walk out of my life. The things I need to remember are  …

I have friends. I have a home group. And I have people to talk to.

Another friend reminded me of one simple axiom …

I am powerless over people, places and things.

For a while, I hoped that someone would point me in some certain direction, and tell me what I really need to know, because right now, I don’t really know what is going on.

So I wonder … Can we be honest ? And at what point in sobriety, do we get to speak up and call bullshit when we see bullshit ? I’ve spent so much time sitting on my hands, keeping my mouth shut, because people around me are so afraid of being honest, to certain degrees, that they would never say anything against the status quo …

It has just been months and months of emotion. I am just finished with people, places and things. For a very long time, after spending time with certain groups of sober people, listening to them and seeing how they treat me in open community, I just want nothing to do with them.

I imagined that when things began to change for me, with my emotions running at high speed, that someone would come along and have something to offer to help me.

No, instead, they told me to go away. That I was TOO emotional and angry and that I was scaring people away from their meetings. In essence, I needed to leave certain meetings.

So I left those meetings and all those people. Not in all these months, has anyone from the meetings I do go to, said anything to the effect that … This is what I needed to know, at this very moment.

I believe I’ve seen enough to be able to make my mind up, one way or the other. I know who I want in my life. And who I don’t.

There is a short list of people who see me and care about me, and who love me for who I am. I don’t have to hide or put on an act.

I’m just not using the phone like I should. On the way home, my friend told me that I can count on him, any time I needed him.

After the meeting, several people came up to me and said that I just needed to stick close to my home group and the people in it. Because some of my friends who go to the Friday night meeting, have known me since I came in, So They Know …

I’m just dumbfounded to realize and see how people treat each other. How people have treated my friends, and how they treat me.

I am also dumbfounded at just how insignificant I am to certain people. And that now approaching my fifties, Some people still find my presence, unacceptable.

And that for some, I will never be equal.

There must be a lesson in all these things I am seeing and experiencing. There’s got to be some cosmic God kind of truth to all of this ..

God has not revealed that to me yet …

Maybe I am supposed to walk through this and see and feel what I am seeing and feeling. To be able to identify and be able to communicate these things to my fellows, for their benefit, but not necessarily my own, just yet.

I thought people with serious time in the program would be better at advice and counsel, it is now obvious to me that, People may have the time, they are just not sober…

Not sober in the way I really need them to be sober.

There aren’t a lot of double digit sober people, who will not make the time, nor the investment to point people near them, in any certain direction.

People, in many places, do not care to invest in others, beyond sitting in a meeting with you for that designated hour.

So Fuck Me …

International Women’s Day

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My Aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy.

What would the world be like with NO Women ???

How often are women treated as second class citizens, toughing it out, trying to climb the ladder in work, taking care of babies at home, shopping, cleaning, cooking and everything else that us men, don’t do ourselves.

I think men fail to realize that WOMEN make the world go round. Women are under appreciated, and mostly scorned for wanting better for themselves.

I am a man of the late 1960’s.

My life was filled with women. Across the board.

It fell to the women of our family to do all of the heavy lifting, when it came to family, because all of the men in our family were saddled with work and alcoholism. And the women bore their crosses well, and rarely complained about their lots in life.

If it were not for the women in my early life, I surely would have ended up dead, because that is what my father intended from the very start.

We lived in Connecticut. Most of the family were concentrated in New Britain, but aunts and uncles were scattered in other areas, one needed a car to get to.

My Grandmothers, Camille, and Jeannie, and my Aunt Paula, were my main caregivers. I could not have asked for better people in my life than them. They provided for everything that I might have needed.

Back in the day, we lived simple lives. We did not want for anything, because we had everything we needed. I don’t ever remember any of them going without. But back then, there really was not much else we needed to “get,” like I said, life was simple.

We had a large family that was extended from Canada. The Québécois faction of the family always gathered at Aunt Paula’s house during the summers. Aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone else in between.

I knew I was loved by everyone else, except my biological parents. The women in my life fought to keep me alive. In the words of Toxic Parents, my mother was the silent woman in the family. She did what she had to do to survive.

My father imported her from Montreal, and began to strip away every vestige of who she was, who she knew and he pried her apart of every family member that stood in the way of him making my mother, “In His Image.”

She would become an American Wife, if it killed him in the process.

For a long time, my mother gave us what we needed, and growing up, my brother and I, never wanted for anything. We climbed the social and economic ladder very quickly and very successfully. My mother was not perfect, but she provided. My mother, like my father, was a successful functional alcoholic.

As a young person, I listened very carefully to every word I heard come out of my parent’s mouths. And it was from those words, that I made my life decisions, because they openly shared what they abhorred, and sooner or later, I would become all of what they abhorred.

My mother suffered. And today she is a shell of who she once was, and is a miserable, insufferable, vindictive, bitter old woman. I don’t know who she is today.

I was the one who got out. Who broke the mold, and lived the life, in the end, today, that I was meant to live.

ALIVE.

As I grew up, illness began to creep into our lives. And little by slowly, the women in my life began to disappear. My brother and I would travel North to visit family on vacations and during the summer.

Memories of my brother are negligible. He is not a person who is heavily imprinted in my memory at all. My brother, taught to be my adversary, kept a fair distance from me, even if we were in the same house at the same time, and that included during family vacations.

Camille and Jeannie, and Paula, kept a good eye on me. They taught me about life, family, love and devotion. And I was devoted to them, and still am to this very day.

In the eighth grade, Jeannie suffered a tragic stroke, and the woman she was disappeared, and as hard as I tried, I could not bring her back from the abyss. She was gone. She lost her memories, most of her movement, and much of her speech.

She remained a tragic disabled woman, along with my later stroke ridden grandfather. They lived in rest home after rest home, in Miami, until their eventual deaths, when I was in High School.

Camille languished in a rest home in Connecticut, as I grew into my twenties. When I got sick with AIDS in 1994, my mother banned me from family gatherings, however, I did go home once for Christmas, where my parents humiliated me in front of a dinner table full of friends and family. I never returned…

In my twenty-ninth year, I was living in South Miami, I had been very sick at the time, and Camille died. For weeks after her death she visited me. I wrote letters to my mother, dictated to me by Camille, and I mailed them blindly, as they came to me. My mother must have thought I was crazy, because she never mentioned the letters to me ever.

When the funeral was arranged, in Connecticut, I was devastated. Now the only other woman I was connected to, who I knew loved me inside and out, was dead. My mother banned me from going to the funeral. I had a lump of cash, I was sitting on, and I thought to myself that I would go anyways, but that did not happen.

My mother did not want any other family to know I was sick. Because she was ashamed of my presence. I knew, from listening to her talk over the years, before I left home to “come out” I knew what she thought of homosexuals, and especially, men who had AIDS.

I was now, one of them. I had become abhorrent.

It was my experience, that my grandmothers, and my aunt loved me unconditionally. My mother, did not, in the end. Like all human beings, we fear and abhor what we do not know or understand. And it was my experience that normal human beings who loved their families and children, turned into raging animals, who did not know their asses from a hole in the ground when it came to AIDS.

I’m kind of glad that Camille and Jeannie never saw me, as sick as I had gotten. They had only seen the best of who I was, as a young child, into my early teens. AIDS came after they began to depart my life.

All of my family, Alexander, Jeannie, Camille, Carol … Each one of these people, came back to me after they died, in one form or another. I knew them. I saw them. I experienced them in the spirit world.

Jeannie came back to me and used to stand at the foot of my bed for years. When I got sick, living in Fort Lauderdale, Jeannie, had come back and she watched over me for a year. I know this because a friend of mine, who was a medium, at that time, visited me, and confirmed she was there in my apartment.

Alexander came back, when I was in high school. So did my uncle Paul, who returned to my uncle’s house in Connecticut. As the story went, in the end, Paul and Alexander, brothers in life, reunited in death at my uncles house, after they both appeared in two cities, for two families at the same time.

My Aunt Paula was a dignified woman, along with my cousin Sandy. My mother had a love/hate relationship with them. Resentments ruled our family dynamics. At one time or another my mother was pissed at one or the other, throughout my entire young life.

AIDS killed my family. It shattered the very foundation of all we had been.

I moved to Canada in 2002, to follow the maternal blood line of my mother, back into the historical past of our family, much to her consternation.

I then met my great-aunt Georgette, who was living just two blocks from the apartment I live in today. I had two years with her, before she died of cancer, I collected all the stories she had of herself and Camille, because sister Georgette’s family, took Camille in when the Spanish Flu killed thousands of people in the twenties and thirties. Camille had been orphaned by the flu.

My life, is a testament to the dignity and love that I received from the women who made me who I am today. I had but a few generous years of them in life. My life today, is a testament to their spirits that inhabit me.

You might not consider the strength of the human spirit, but it is a life force that can sustain human life. Because I am still alive.

Thank God.

My aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy are a part of my life today. They love me for who I am and both of them contribute to my life today and I am grateful for their presences.

Now, in sobriety, I know many women. In the beginning it was the women who helped me get sober. All the women who ran Tuesday Beginners, when I came in, taught me How it Works, and What to do to stay sober. Margo, my therapist, the first two years of sobriety, took care of me in every way possible. Margo set me on the road to my university education. It was she who afforded the decision to do “something for me” after reaching a year sober.

There are too many women to mention all of them in this post. All of those women who have been or are, presently, part of my present sober life.

Like I said, at the top, Where would we be without the women in our lives ???

Women make the world go round.

 

 

 

Tuesday: Winner Takes All

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The emotional roller coaster is still in motion. And I am working on staying above the water. I just had a conversation with my favorite Elder in the world who gave me wise counsel.

We may work with others, and sometimes that work is grueling and emotional, but we ourselves need to be grounded as well, and have someone in the wings, who is helping manage US. Which goes back to the adage that, if any area of my life is unwell, I can’t really give from that area, if it is lacking in some form or fashion.

My young Elder was that person today.

Last night we read from the book again, with Winner Takes All. A story told by a woman who is visually impaired, but in the end, finds her way into winning, against all the odds against her. She, many commented last night, had fortitude and grace and strength to never quit …

Ok, Never Quit … A sidebar to this post …

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A few days ago, Casey Neistat introduced a book from a soldier he met in Afghanistan during mission Bulldog Bite in the mountains of Afghanistan. Jimmy Settle tells his story about becoming an Alaska 212 Pararescueman, a P.J.

I read, all the time. And this book, was not wasted time.

I was engaged from the very beginning of Jimmy’s story. I found myself crying tears of joy at one point of the story, after reading the long and arduous journey Jimmy walked to become that P.J. he always wanted to be.

Then the last few chapters tells the story of his time working on Bulldog Bite in Afghanistan. It was riveting.

The whole idea of working towards a goal, no matter what, fighting tooth and nail, taking ones lumps and gets up and keeps going is familiar territory. I’m not a soldier, by any means, but I can tell you that the last twenty three years has not been a cakewalk for sure, but like the EverReady bunny …

You Just Keep Going .

You Don’t Admit Defeat.

You Don’t Quit.

For a P.J.; quit is not in your vocabulary. You trained long and hard to be a superhuman soldier who can do anything with very little when faced with that situation, when bullets start flying, you jump right in, and do what you came to do.

Anyways, back on the farm…

The first thing that triggered was in her opening statement in the story …

From the very beginning I felt different and unwanted. At a very young age, as children do, I had to make sense of my life, so I came to the conclusion that I was bad and God knew I was bad, so God made me handicapped to punish me. I thought that the undertow of sadness in my family was because of me. (it was not, it was the death of her younger brother)

Later I realized that a part of it might have been due to my handicap, but there was still a lot of grieving going on. My father turned to alcohol and was a very angry man. When we were growing up, he was very critical. I was told things on a daily basis, like I was dumb and lazy…

Right there, my mind stopped on this passage. And that is where I stayed for the entire meeting. It was the others who talked about fortitude, grace and the fact that she did not quit, she kept going, after all the odds against her.

Human beings, say things and react in ways, that are not entirely about us, but more all about them. Their fears, insecurities, problems or issues. A parent should NEVER negate or belittle or verbally abuse a child for any reason, NONE what So ever…

I know that angry alcoholic father. I know the angry critical words spoken. I may not be physically or visually handicapped, but I know disability.

I know how my father used to chase me around the house with a bat, trying to kill me screaming the words … YOU WERE A MISTAKE AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN.

To this day, my parents still think this thought and have said it to me not so long ago.

Everybody was moved to say that, what was said and done to our young woman, when she was a child was unconscionable. Those men with children in the room, reacted to this in their own way.

When I got sick, I crossed that invisible line from normal humanity, to defective sinner, who was suffering God’s revenge for my sins. AIDS, is a disability. You cannot imagine what I went through to survive. The things I was forced to do by those who provided for my care, and it was not easy at all.

Our woman goes on an odyssey and in year three of sobriety, leaves a marriage with two children and moved 100 miles away to start a new life. She finds a job, she goes back to school, while working and caring for children. In twelve years of sobriety, coming to the end of her story, she meets all the right people, at the right moments, and she gets it done. She Freaking WINS the story, hands down, against all her odds.

I know what “the fight” looks and feels like. I know what I had to do to make my life something that I could be proud of. A life built by sobriety and God, and by the people who directly guided me in every decision or action I have made thus far.

I, too, met all the right people, at the right moment, for all the right reasons. And I flourished. My life, like our writer, is a life beyond imagination.

I may not have all the right people in my life, but I do have a few. And that has to work for me, until the sober pool of wisdom is replenished in the coming weeks.

Saturday: Odds and Ends, and Everything In Between

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On my trip to see Alexander, we engaged in serious debate about the state of the world. I am not the best at politics, world issues, and everything in between. Our lives at home consist of one cable news channel, and at 11 p.m. we turn to CTV for our nightly news fix.

I cannot go to bed without the last word coming from Lisa LaFlamme.

I’ve never been totally political, as in, devoted to politics or politicians of any stripe. I’ve always known where I sit on issues of the day. But expanding my brain to other news outlets only began when I moved to Canada in 2002. And over the time I have lived here, I’ve explored other points of view.

Alexander encourages that I step out of my bubble and echo chamber to see the world from other points of view. And this is one reason I love my best friend, because he is from somewhere else, (read:Brazil) and he has world knowledge that I do not. He has a smarts about him that no one I know have themselves.

So I read, I watch, and I listen to other points of view. If you polled me online, I rank in the NDP sphere of thought. But I voted for Justin. And he is proving to be a challenge to me.

Alexander sits on the Conservative side of life. And that is NOT a bad thing at all. Because he forces me to see the world, like he sees the world. He challenges me to spread my vision and take in others words, and not just accept words by people I am accustomed to listening to.

Politics and world events are two different spheres for me. I care very little for U.S. politics. And I do not consume politics like I used to because I cannot be bothered on a daily basis to know or listen to repetitive redundant news about a mad man in the Oval Office.

Cannot Be Bothered.

I spend a good amount of my sober life, buried in books. I learned long ago, while in University, that reading “other literature” that situate itself “around” a topic I was studying, as it went along, was very useful.

Reading side literature around a specific topic whether that literature be fiction or non-fiction, built a world for me to engage with on a wider basis, rather than on a single note in time.

I read, Every night.

There are places in the world that interest me. There are social issues that I am passionate about as well. Issues in the world, and issues right here at home are on my dashboard, quite often. I worry about our less fortunate, our homeless, and our indigenous population.

Because I am in the rooms, I’ve seen so much suffering. Friends of mine, in the program have gone on to work in those specific areas of helping the less fortunate. So I am engaged in their work.

Studying Religion and Pastoral Ministry opened my eyes to World Religions, as well, taking care of those people I am engaged with on a daily basis. I have stayed away from posting anything incendiary on this blog, certain world issues, that I am not clearly well-rounded or well versed on, to write coherently or knowledgeably.

I’ve always been interested in Israel and Palestine. Our Jewish Community here in Montreal served my early sobriety solely. The Chabad organization does work all over the city for many people, I just happened to be one of those people.

During my studies I spent time at the Ghetto Shul at McGill during my Judaism studies. And I often said that if I would become anything other than a Christian, I would certainly be a Jew. Palestine is a new subject for me, since being introduced to that area by a friend who wrote a book on the subject, from a point of view we don’t hear about ever.

When I finished the book, all I could write about was what was in Ben’s book, by the words he wrote. Which began my reading slant into books that were written, on the ground, within the Palestinian community. There are not many in circulation, that don’t begin with a premise situated in Israel, and merely spits on Palestine.

I need to figure out what I know, what I need to know, and where I sit on the spectrum of politics and on the ground situations. I know where I would like to be, but that point needs to be plotted on a map so that I can see it clearly.

Israel and Palestine is such a deep topic with some serious history, people, and problems, that I am unable to touch because of the complexity of the state of that area of the world. But while in Ottawa, I picked up another tome that I am reading at the moment.

I just cannot read a handful of books and expect to be able to write anything that is worthy of print on this blog, because that would be stupid and green of me.

The entire Middle East is a quagmire of instability, political strife and religious intolerance. And we just cannot say, incendiary things about people we know little about or those points of views or lives that we don’t even care about informing ourselves about, because it is easier to hate outright, then find a point of agreement or understanding.

How many people do you know who really care about the Middle East beyond blanket hatred of those we don’t even know, or care to know ?

Because they are not “Christian?” or “Jewish?”

If we don’t read, or listen to other points of view and study areas of the world that interest us, and take the time to get informed, how can we relate what we are reading/studying?

That is a thing …

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Colorful Metaphors

Any Star Trek fan knows the line from Star Trek IV the Voyage Home, where Kirk and Spock are on a bus, and Spock relates his confusion of people’s use of “Colorful Metaphors.”

I don’t know if it is age, or my sensibilities to certain colorful metaphors and words, used by people I listen to, or something else, but I’ve grown weary of people using certain language.

Since the dawn of the Pod Cast, when I got my I Phone for Christmas, my nightly bed time schedule was shifted when I started listening to Pod Casts. They competed with my traditional book reading time before bed.

Over the past few months, I’ve listened to a number of Pod Cast presenters. And I’ve come to the point that the Ardent Screaming Host, or the host who litters his show with the word FUCK, every other word, I just delete their shows from my phone.

I love me some Bill Maher. But he is incessantly insane. And over the last month, I’ve also grown weary of him as well, because his devolution into insane screaming by the end of the hour podcast.

People who talk on the Pod Cast, are not bound by ethical language rules. Although many men and women, do take listeners into consideration when it comes to words. Others, not so much. I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to people swear and use foul language. It is just no longer appealing.

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Social Media

Over the last year, I have had to unfriend many people from my Face Book Profile. Certain friends litter my time line with shit I am not interested in, and they persist. Others, all they can do is post POST after POST of political bullshit, incessantly.

I went as far as to neuter my feed from showing me anything related to topics I have no interest in. That meant turning certain people off, for my own well being and sanity.

Aside from news online, that I do consume, Face Book and Twitter are two sources of news and current events that I utilize on a daily basis. But I don’t do either on my phone, so I deleted the apps from my phone.

  • I make phone calls on my phone.
  • I listen to music on my phone.
  • And I Pod Cast on my phone.

That’s it.

I am trying to set some news boundaries for myself. I have built a wall around me on social media that is useful, because I have a life, and I am not connected to social media 24/7. That is insane.

I turn on my computer when I wake up, I run my set. All those sites I look at and participate in and when I am done, I just shut off the computer until I need it again, and I go read, or better yet, I nap …

All the time…

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Sober Realizations

I wrote to a friend of mine recently …

I no longer have the desire to engage most people who believe so strongly what they do, contrary to any evidence of acceptance and respect of humanity in others. Religion, like politics, are two areas I intentionally stay away from, because I know who I am, and what I know, and that is good for me. Sobriety teaches me that I don’t always have to argue when it is not necessary to do so.

He replied that this portion of my comment is a post in itself.

I spend my days working with others. I spend a few nights a week in meetings. Only three meetings a week now, instead of my prior, six meetings a week, spread over two fellowships.

I love what I do. Because the men and women I work with are accountable. We are all moving forwards. And that is a really good thing. Because I am not a born leader, however I think I “could” lead. I’ve had time in the past where what I did and what I said meant something to those I spent time with.

You never know WHO you are going to meet or what conversation you are going to have with them, until the meeting happens, and conversations take place either before or after.

I want a clean break going into my fifties.

God has made that something that I work on daily. Recently, certain friends have gone dark, for one reason or another, that I am not understanding at the moment, but it is what it is.

I have a routine that works. I have a life that is fulfilling. I have friends whom I love and adore. And a best friend, second to none.

Discussion was brought up the other night, by someone I trust, when he asked me why I just did not adopt the baby, and give her a father, who wants to be in her life, and someone she can rely on, because I am reliable and accountable to her and Mama.

And my reply was this … I want the biological father to pay his dues like the law states. Because he is a dead beat and a looser. And I want him to pay up.

I don’t want to step in and absolve him of any responsibility towards the baby.

I need to research this before I head to New Foundland in April.

I think I know what I want of life and of myself. But that is subject to change because sobriety is not a one trick pony.

Shit happens. Life happens. And you never know what to expect when you walk into a room full of your friends and fellows.

You might just learn something you did not know, or realize something you had not before, and it wasn’t until that particular moment that God opened up your eyes and spirit. And you heard something you realized you really needed.

But did not realize you needed it until right then.

This is the filler that happened between the lines over the last little while.

Sobriety is Magic. Sobriety is Miracles. Sobriety is God, it is Us and it is We.

I love the “We” that I am part of today.

Friday: I’m Not Afraid Any More

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Fears, are the termites that ceaselessly devour the foundations of whatever sort of life we try to build. As faith grows, so does inner security. The vast underlying fear of nothingness commences to subside. We of A.A. find that our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening. A.B.S.I. 196

Tonight’s read talks all about fear(s). One of my friends asked whether the reading was addressing who we were while we were drinking, or who we were when we quit ? It can go both ways.

Another friend of mine, who is back around again, after a spectacular crash and burn over the summer, spoke about the house he is building now, this time around. That house, he had lived in had to look pretty, because he was consumed with what people thought of him, while he was suffering the terrible disease of excessive people pleasing.

He is currently Fumigating the house he lives in now. Trying to find where all the termites are, that destroyed the foundation he once had. And he says that, now, the house may not be so pretty on the outside, as it once was. The paint may be peeling, and there are serious cracks in the walls, which he is not covering up this time with pretty pictures.

He sees the value in being who he is, today, and working diligently, on himself, and who he is today. Admitting that the man he is becoming is in a constant state of flux and change. And we may not like what we get this time, save for the honest attempt at humility and self-awareness.

We were all afraid for my friend, because we did not think he would get it all back because the fall was so steep and the pit all but swallowed him whole. And it has been a serious uphill battle for every day of sobriety. But he made it out of the pit and is rebuilding again.

The front group was small, but the conversation was deep.

A young man, who is in for the first time, wonders if he will ever achieve anything in his life that he can be proud of. Having something he can call his own, because right now, he is where many of us are, when we first come in.

Devoid of any money, possessions, or anything resembling what he is seeing from his peers and more importantly, his brothers and sisters in his family. He sees them with lives, marriages, children, homes. His sister is pregnant right now, and he sees them, “having it all, so it seems, on the outside,” Himself, he has very little to speak of beyond the home he lives in right now, (read: Rehab).

I started talking and went on and on. Relating how fear was always present for me, in my life, one way or another. When you introduced alcohol (and drugs) into my equation, the fears subsided, because I was told that alcohol would make it all better, the more I drank.

The first time around, when I got sick, and Todd said the word STOP, I was going to die, because I was very sick. I had literally, the clothes on my back. Todd provided the home I would live in for that period of time, along with everything in it.

I started sobriety with some serious FEARS. And one day at a time, those fears were mitigated, by what Todd taught me and how he directed that stage of my life. I survived, because he provided me a solution and salvation.

Because I trusted him as he asked me to do.

The fears were still there, and returned with a vengeance when he departed my life. And those fears ruled my life until I got sober, the second time around.

When I moved here to Montreal, I had two suitcases and four boxes. The first thing I bought when I got here, was a clock radio, that kept me company overnight.

Sadly, just the other day, 15 years later, that clock radio died a spectacular death.

When I got sober this time around, I had moved here for a better life. It had to be anything because what I had, was not much at all. I was living in famine, and poverty. So it HAD to get better.

Like I have said, time and time again, I did everything right. In hindsight, over the past fifteen years and a few months, listening to my friends talk about themselves, and knowing the choices I did make, and the life I lived because of those choices, I did everything RIGHT. Because I know how many of my friends are still cracked.

I heard our resident Old Timer say tonight that he did not have much when HE came in, but the rooms and the program looked really good to him, so he stuck around. And in his life, the miracle happened for him.

Miracles happen for all of us, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. There is a MAGIC in the rooms that comes to us, being with our friends, night after night. Just knowing where many of my friends were, when they came in, and seeing how their lives filled out and how the miracle happened for them, it is Magic. It is God. It is Us. It is We.

One of my friends, was down and out like I was. He was living in a hovel, washing clothes in his tub, delivering pizzas for cash. All he wanted was to kill himself, but he stuck around, today fifteen years later, he lives in a big house. He is married with children, and he works for a company that affords him travel around the world.

Because, like me, when he came in, we did everything we were told to do. We boded our time. We went to meetings, we did direct acts against our wills. (read: we did what we were told, and decided NOT to take matters into our own hands).

Magic happened. Only a handful of us, who got sober, WHEN we got sober, made it all the way to this point with us. Many of our friends did not make it, in one swing. Many of them Sputtered. Skipped. Stopped. Went back out, came back in, some right away, many though, took months and years to get back.

A good handful of them are dead.

After the meeting I was in the kitchen talking to a friend and we both agreed that

“We were not afraid anymore.”

Many of us have put in The Time. The Effort. And THE WORK.

And over the years, all that hard work, paid off in SPADES.

Many of us rebuilt our lives, filled with worth and meaning. We earned everything that we have through hard work and perseverance. And nobody can take that away from us, because we earned what we have through Hard, Honest, WORK.

I think about having a terminal illness myself. And how that played out for me. For a very long time, I was living with one foot in today, and one foot in the grave. I had lived, in the space “Waiting for that other shoe to drop.” or “The pills to stop working.” or “Waiting to die.”

I am still alive. I’m not afraid of dying. I stand in front of my medicine cabinet every night, grateful and thankful for what is in my medicine cabinet. Because I know, today, that:

I am Not going to Die Today … One day at a time.

I spoke last night about how all of us have crossed a very important threshold in our lives, all at the same time. The period of living in ambiguity is over. We made it to the other side.

God opened the doors across the board for all of us. And I think, as I was talking to my friend in the kitchen that, I can finally breathe again.

It was as if, I had been holding my breath, as I walked my guys through ambiguity, and I did not know where the “other side” was, or how long it was going to take to get HERE today. But we arrived HERE today.

And I can breathe again. Because I am no longer AFRAID. For Them or Myself.

The magic happened. The miracle happened. It took years of hard, blood, sweat and tears to get here. But with perseverance, one day at a time, we all made it safely over the water.

I can’t tell you where you are going, but I can show you where I walked, and how this all works, and tell you that, you just have to start with one step. Or step one.

I’m an alcoholic and I am powerless over alcohol, and my life is unmanageable.

I find great strength in saying that turning my life over, having constant direction, as I needed it, when I needed it, on a daily basis, helped me build the life I inhabit today.

By the grace of God and the fellowship, I have everything I ever needed, and not a drop more. My cup is full and I am grateful for small mercies. And miracles.

I have a life beyond my wildest dreams.

I never imagined that this was possible, because, all those years ago, I was at day one, with nothing to call my own. Today I have a home and love and good friends, and the love of a child in my life.

My heart overflows.

Fear has no room to live when our lives are full of love and goodness to overflowing.

When we are not plying our bodies and minds with drugs and alcohol, anything is possible, if we just Re-Orient, and begin to build that life we were meant to live.

I have a life, because I am no longer afraid …

God has done for me, what I could not do for myself.

Gratitude overflows …