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Archive for August, 2011

No More French !!!

Courtesy: Everythingsmagic

The province of Quebec can kiss my right butt cheek today. I felt a change coming and it has begun. No more pandering to the Quebec language law. I don’t give a shit any more. Today I am making choices for what’s good for me in the long run.

I did not get much sleep last night, and I am wired. Hubby did not sleep well last night either, and the Seville construction site was pounding piles at 7:30 this morning along with deliveries next door to the hotel and those fucking BEEP BEEP BEEP reverse alarms were just out of hand. There was much slamming of windows and the spilling of drinks and a lot of huffing and puffing …

I finally got to sleep around 10 I’d say and woke up to a dream that was taking place in my dream and in my bed at the same time around 1:15. I am off medication so I am having to try and work around it till money comes and so sleeping is a chore.

I got to sleep and I guess I progressed into a dream, and in that dream I was at some gay fair and we were covered in paint and riding a merry go round and for some reason I was peeing in the dream at that stage of the dream, and as I was dreaming – I was doing it in my sleep. I woke up to a warm sensation in my undies and once again, a dream crossed over into my sleeping self.

That’s not the first time that has happened.

So I got up around 2 and showered and shaved and got dressed and headed out for school. I got there around 3/3:15. I got to student services and got a drop/change slip and got in line. I was close to the front. They later came and dropped purple sheets off to us with the proviso that a $20.00 fee was due for changing the schedule and fees had to be paid in full at the time of change. Well, I didn’t have $20.00 on me nor in the bank. So I was essentially


I called hubby and he was in transit and luckily he had some cash on him which he brought to me at school to pay the fees due.


The line opened up and it was a short wait to get to the change operator and they DROPPED my French class (Thank Fucking Christ!!!) and then told me that Western Civ. was full but I could wait list.


So I got in the wait list line and handed my sheet to a kind young lady who punched in my info on the computer then she checked her wait list sheets and signed my slip with OK. I was like, the class was full, and she said that she fit me in anyways. So now I am taking Sociology on Monday nights and Western Civilization on Thursday nights.


I then had to pay my fees. They punched me into the system and got my account up and told me that I was due a credit of $30.00. The new course must have cost less in fees or shorter hours, so they credited my account the $30.00.

WIN !!!

I had $20.00 in my pocket and $30.00 in refunds which put us up $50.00 for the day. Not a bad haul.

So I let go and got there early. The stars aligned for me today. Grateful for little mercies. Let’s hope that Quebec opens up the coffers sooner than later, but I am not expecting. Friday is coming and all will be well in any case.

It was a WIN/WIN day today …

I am keeping it GREEN !!!

Blessings on your heads …

Courtesy: Wrestlingisbest

It has been an eventful past few days. I’ve been sitting on this post to let my mind percolate and write something substantial and meaningful.

Thursday came and went. It was all very anticlimactic. I don’t care for French any more and come tomorrow I will “crosses fingers” have the opportunity to drop said course in opt for a little Western Civilization. I told a friend of mine earlier tonight that I needed tomorrow to go as planned, or I am screwed. And you know what they say about the “best laid plans” right … Never expect …

I got out to Friday West End early for the business meeting, since I am a member there now it was my first business meeting and it is a good group of people, lots of long time sobriety. They run on biweekly service commitments so I am on set up on the 30th of September and the 7th of October. You know from the get go that when you join a group you start at the beginning by doing service. That means chairs, coffee and greeting. And you do that from the beginning.

I have been going to this meeting for a number of months continually since the beginning of summer and that is how you work your way into a group by getting to know people, learning names and lengths of sobriety. Many of the members there had once been members of  Tuesday Beginners.

I’ve been focused on my double digits coming soon. And it has been, for the last month or so, a journey of change and transformation for me. I don’t know why at this point, but I know not to try to figure out why things happen the way they do but just go with it and find out where the journey is leading me.

Which leads me to tonight’s meeting, which I will talk about in a little bit, but before that we need to talk about the weekend and Irene. It was wall to wall coverage of hurricane Irene over the weekend. It was billed as the storm of a century to rock the East coast in a hundred years. And they warned us here in Canada that we would get something from Irene. So we watched a lot of tv, and we waited.

Saturday the skies were clear and it did not rain. But come Sunday everything changed. The skies grew dark and dismal. And the rain began early in the morning on Sunday and it rained all day long. Sitting as high as we do, the winds were gusty and the windows buckled in their sills. In many parts of the city there was destruction and devastation. Trees falling on houses and cars, power lines down and electricity cut for millions of home owners. Flooding in areas east of us that have been devastated earlier by the spring floods got even more water on top of what was still lying around. Points further East of us in Maine, and Vermont got slammed. Roads, bridges and homes were devastated.

With the night the storm rolled out of Quebec and the skies cleared by nightfall and the weather cleared up. We saw little damage in the downtown core. But other areas in the city did not fare as well.

Monday I had my first Sociology class. The prof is a PHD and has a good head on her shoulders. I think I will find this topic intriguing we had a good first discussion about the “lifeline.” We looked at the events that changed the world from the years 1961 to 2011. There were many points on the timeline that impacted many of us in class. We need to buy the textbook or find ways to download the E Book. The book costs $103.00 and I don’t want to E Book it.

I need the physical book in my hands and I have two weeks to get it and read the first chapter for class on the 12th.

Today has come and gone. We are waiting to see when Quebec City is going to pay out our next money dump – they fucked up my file again and I had to email the financial aide office to re-update my file confirming my full time status on file which dropped me back a day because Quebec doesn’t reup their files till late on the day we file changes here. So the file is reupped but they haven’t issued out the next deposit. And I really need that money today actually knowing Quebec they are going to screw us left and right this month because of the Labor day Holiday. I really hope that they don’t wait till after the holiday to make the deposits because I will be pissed.

I am empty of all my medication and I need to pick up this months draw from the pharmacy but that’s gonna run me over $100.00 and I need the cash today not tomorrow. I hate the end of the month and add to that Quebec dragging its feet doesn’t help the situation.

Hubby got his teaching gig for the semester and his friend and sidekick did as well so they will both be teaching this semester and the universities go back next week. It is all very exciting.

I got out to the church early for set up because we had our business meeting tonight before the main meeting. It was a good meeting. Lots of good ideas floated for the future, lots of new topic discussion. We are working to come up with some fresh ideas to keep the newcomer engaged and present, to keep them “coming back for more.”

We talked about “The Doctors Opinion” from the beginning chapters of the Big Book. And I was on the end of the table as the discussion went counter clockwise from the chair which put me at the end of the line tonight. So I had some time to ponder what I wanted to share about the chapter. And this is what I came up with.

Coming to the end of my drinking career the first time I was drinking to get drunk, drinking for the effect. Drinking to get to the bottom of the bottle intentionally without a second thought. I craved the drink. I remember what that felt like. The first time around. It took a while, but once I quit drinking the craving went away. I stayed sober for some time.

But when I went on my slip, I don’t remember ever craving the drink like I had the first time. And this is the scary thought in hindsight, I don’t remember the feeling or sensation of craving. I had refined my drinking. I knew all the particulars of the how, where, when, how much and to what extent…

And after I had those coordinates I went to it. All I remember about that time is that I had skipped over the craving and went into the downward spiral binge. Once I began to binge the craving stopped. I had moved past that point of no return. I lost the ability to know that I was craving because all I did was drink.

And I think that is what is driving my recent reflection on “keeping it green.” I’ve been doing a lot of reading from old grapevines and writings from Bill W. I don’t know why I am so focused on ten years. This is the longest period of sobriety I have ever had in my life. And it is too easy to get complacent and sit on my heels and do nothing but that is not the case.

The longer period of time that elapses from the last drink to today is an opportunity to pick up a drink, again … The farther we move away from our last drink we tend to forget what it was like, and the defenses go down and we ponder the thought, “well, maybe I can, again…” Nope not for me.

Old timers with double digit sobriety, we’re talking 20, 30, 40+ years of sobriety warn us not to forget. To keep it green. To always remain connected to service and meetings. To work with newcomers. To read and re-read the book. To remember what it was like, because if we forget, we are closer to the drink than ever.

That is my meditation for tonight. May I never forget…

Tomorrow is Wednesday. I need the day to go as planned. I need a real break. I don’t want to be fucked for the semester. I need to get up and out to be at the school by 3:30. And hopefully the early bird will get the worm and I will succeed in the end. Let us pray …

Hence our photo above of prayer and blessings on your heads…

I need things to happen that I am powerless over to make happen or change.

God’s will be done …

More to come, stay tuned …

Out of the Frying Pan …

Courtesy: Tumblr

And into the Fire …

I should have made this decision weeks ago. I should have gotten to this point already, but I didn’t. The first day that registration opened Aug 2nd I put my choice into the system. BUT the problem with CGEP is this, Once you make your selection and confirm that choice you can’t change your choice later.

Or so I thought.

I had decided a few days ago that change was necessary and my desire to study French any further went out the window. I just don’t care for it and I am not taking to it like I would like, and fuck this province and its language laws. You can all kiss my royal white ass.

So it was the first day of class. And so I went to class. There were no tables just little chairs with these faux desks attached to them, the kind of things you see in cheap college lecture halls – its not so much a desk, but something to write on.

The prof was there. He had a table covered in xerox sheets and packets of study materials. He handed out the syllabus and then he started in. There was no introduction – no nothing. He jumped in with both feet and assumed that we were ready to jump into the deep end of the pool with him. I wasn’t that prepared.

If I was supposed to remember every word that I learned last semester and every theme, definition and translation, I didn’t. We got three pages into some classwork and I knew I was foundering under the water and that I would not come up for air either. I was looking for a way out of class. And thankfully the prof gave us one. At 7:30 he broke for 15 minutes. I took my bag and my things and headed out the door.

I had just enough time to set off for St. Matthias and the 8 p.m. meeting. I made it with time to spare. It was a great speaker with 20+ years time. The take away “You just missed a great opportunity to keep your mouth shut.” He didn’t know how it worked at ten years and now at 20 he is a little more understanding of how it works. Something like that…

I walked home with Dave and we chatted about life events and hopefully all will go well with him tomorrow. We send lots of good thoughts his way.

So back to changes: I called the Continuing Education office this morning at 9 o’clock and asked how I could change my schedule and if the opportunity is good and I get in on time, on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 I need to line up in front of Oliver’s and see if I can’t change out the French for something else. And that something else would be Western Civilization to go with my Monday Sociology class. If I can’t change the class and that options gets taken away – I will probably drop French and stick with one course this term if all else fails. I am hoping that being early gets the job done. We shall see…

Tomorrow is going to be great.

There is a hurricane churning up the coast and the weather even here will get dicey any way you cut the cake, it’s gonna get nasty, just how nasty remains to be seen. The East coast, North Carolina and on up the East Coast will see a once in a hundred years storm. This could get bad … Let us pray !!!

Food for Thought …

Courtesy: Revive

This is the next topic that I will discuss very soon, so watch this space.

Changes …

Courtesy: J. Thiessen photography

As they say, all things change, it is the only constant. This is the last few days of summer vacation. As classes begin in earnest on Thursday night. And I am not very excited either. I could take French or leave it, I am only going by the motion at this point. I could care less about my French abilities. In fact, I don’t really care one way or another. Like I am ever going to find a position in this city that will require me bilingualism.

Getting out early I set off for the church and with tunes on tap set up went quickly and furiously. I was done by 5:58 and was out front for the Angelus Bells to ring.

We have been seeing people come early to meet with sponsors and to read for a bit before the main meeting starts. It is good to see people showing up early once again. The old spirit is coming back to the room.

Tonight we shared on the First Tradition. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.

It was a tall order 75 years ago when AA was born of a few drunks who grew into a 100 drunks that mushroomed into thousands over the years. During those first years the Steps, the Traditions and the Concepts were written, debated, voted on and eventually made it into the literature we now read as the backbone for the program.

Like concentric circles you have the inner most circle – The Steps for the group level, the middle circle – The Traditions for AA as a whole and the outer circle the 12 Concepts for AA World Services. It was a true group effort to get these steps, traditions and concepts into codification. It took months of conversations about the steps and traditions. Bill wanted to make sure that the people had their say and at some point the group conscience made itself known and what we have today to work with came by way of those many group consciences so many decades ago.

Bill did not want the glory or to be president – AA was for the people and Bill turned the operations of the organization over to the people. I am reading a very interesting book called “The Language of the Heart.”

This book is the total collection of all of Bill W’s writings in the Grapevine from the very beginning of AA until Bill’s death, it is a wealth of reading about how and why things happened the way they did and how the organization of AA came to be and Bill’s thoughts on how things should run. There are a number of really good books you could read that cover the beginnings of AA.

As I am talking about change … Like I said in an earlier post, I decided to join a second group on Friday night, Friday West End. The reason I joined the group is because there is where I feel I need to be for the next segment in my sobriety. And tonight on the way home I told Rick that I had joined them he was happy to hear that news. I said that my anny would fall on a Friday night this year and that I would probably take my cake on a Friday night, and he said that I could take a second cake the following Tuesday. I don’t know where I sit on multiple cakes, I will decide on that later.

I don’t know where this change is leading me, I am just following where the spirit is leading me.

Late addition: Last week I got a call from the Saturday DLP asking me to take the Saturday afternoon shift from 1 to 6. I said yes, of course. I rode all the way out there and made good time. I learned that our frequent caller had called 15 times during the last shift and that was the bulk of the business of the day. I took over for my shift and the phone rang off the hook. One call after another, the same “caller” that I have in the past mentioned. It was severely getting on my nerves. There were several “several” callers other than the main “caller.”

It’s not like I can tell someone not to call the number. You can’t tell someone stuck in sickness not to do something, not that they are going to pay one iota percent of attention to what you are saying. So I grinned and bore it. Yess’in and No’in. Yeah I get it and so forth and so on.

I got two calls for real help. And I spoke to a friend of mine who was really great to hear from while on shift. In the end our frequent “caller” had called 30 times over two shifts. I warned the following worker of the “problem.” This has been a long term sick issue for the office. And has been going on for months and months. And I just got to the end of my rope with it.

I came home and didn’t think about the day much. And I knew that my DLP for the Thursday shift would be calling me for my regular shift on Monday. And he did. I had nightmares about this the night before … I came to the end of my rope with the phone lines, and in the end, I decided to quit working the phones because I wasn’t doing anyone any good. You can’t help the sick and the ratio of sick calls outweighed the sober calls. And so I told my DLP that I was quitting.

He wasn’t happy. He shared with me his advice with working with troubling callers and that he would just have told them to stop calling and that he had done so in the past. But I was beyond finished. Several old timers who worked the phones in the past shared with me that they quit the phones for the very same reasons in the past. I just did not see any reason to stay on a job I wasn’t enjoying. So that was that … With school starting this week my shift would have ended short so that I could get back in town for class on time, and that was that.

Times are changing … And so am I.

So not much else to talk about. School starting on Thursday Boo …

More to come, stay tuned …

Jack Layton to have state funeral

Courtesy: CBC.ca

NDP Leader Jack Layton will be honoured with a state funeral Saturday in Toronto, senior NDP officials have told CBC News.

The government protocol office is working with the NDP and family of the NDP leader on exactly what the funeral will be.

Condolence books will be set up in Ottawa on Parliament Hill and in Toronto at city hall. Others will be located in NDP constituency offices across the country.

Friends and political foes alike praised Jack Layton on Monday for his warmth, optimism and respect for opponents.

People who squared off across the House of Commons from Layton, including former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae, all spoke warmly about Layton’s commitment to Canadians.

Layton, who led Canada’s Official Opposition, died early Monday morning at his Toronto home after a battle with cancer. He was 61.

Layton’s wife, Olivia Chow, and his children, Sarah and Michael Layton, issued a statement announcing his death.

“We deeply regret to inform you that the Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones,” the statement read.

Details about funeral arrangements will be forthcoming, it said. The family released a letter from Layton to Canadians just after noon.

Layton’s death comes less than a month after he announced to the country that he was fighting a new form of cancer and was taking time off for treatment. Layton had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2009 and underwent treatment for it. He continued working throughout that time and also battled a broken hip earlier this year. Layton used a cane for much of his time on the campaign trail this spring as he led the NDP to a historic victory on May 2.

His party claimed 103 seats, and was propelled to official Opposition status. Layton and Chow, a fellow NDP MP from Toronto, moved into Stornoway, the residence of the Leader of the Official Opposition.

Layton and his party were getting used to their new roles in Parliament but he did not appear to be in good health near the end of June. He said he felt pain and stiffness, he underwent tests and they confirmed he had a new form of cancer. He did not disclose what kind of cancer.

Layton’s chief of staff, Anne McGrath, said Monday that Layton’s condition took a quick turn for the worse Sunday night.

She spent a few hours with him Saturday and had a sense that he was losing a battle, but says his campaign slogan – don’t let them tell you it can’t be done – was also a personal slogan.

“It is a huge loss. It is a huge loss for me personally, but it’s a huge loss also for our party and our country,” she said.

McGrath worked with Layton for nearly a decade.

“There’s no question that my heart is broken,” she said.

McGrath said Layton was thinking about what it would mean for the party if he died. When they spoke on Saturday, they talked about upcoming events like the party’s annual caucus retreat in September and what Parliament would be like if he weren’t there.

Layton always liked to be presented with options, McGrath told Evan Solomon on CBC’s Power & Politics, including a plan for what would happen if he died.

“He was very, very practical and he was very much wanting to know that we were going to be able to continue and we were going to be strong,” she said.

After the news of Layton’s death emerged shortly after 8 a.m. ET, friends, colleagues and Canadians reacted quickly and with shock, sadness and tears. The flag on the Peace Tower was lowered to half-mast.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Layton will be remembered for the force of his personality and his dedication to public life.

Speaking from the foyer of the House of Commons, Harper said the two leaders had always talked about getting together to jam.

“I will always regret the jam session that never was. That is a reminder, I think, that we must always make time for friends, family and loved ones, while we still can,” he said.

In a statement earlier Monday, Harper saluted Layton’s contribution to public life and said it would be sorely missed.

“I know one thing: Jack gave his fight against cancer everything he had. Indeed, Jack never backed down from any fight,” he said.

Tributes to Layton poured in from across party lines. Rae said the news took his breath away and that Layton’s death is not just a loss for the NDP, but for all Canadians.

“It’s a loss for the country because he was a political guy who believed strongly in politics and who had a lot of resilience and a lot of guts,” Rae told CBC News.

Longtime NDP leader and MP Ed Broadbent told CBC News he sensed the end was coming, but was still shocked when he got the call Monday morning.

“In each and every election, he moved us forward … he wanted a reason in politics,” Broadbent said.

“Canada has lost a great politician. A man who believed in working for the public good. And I’ve lost a personal friend.”

Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel spoke of one of Layton’s favourite quotes from Tommy Douglas, the founder of the CCF, the NDP’s forerunner. Layton included the quote in every email he sent: “Courage my friends, ‘tis never too late to build a better world.”

“Jack was a courageous man. It was his leadership that inspired me, and so many others, to run for office,” Turmel said in her statement.

“We – members of Parliament, New Democrats and Canadians – need to pull together now and carry on his fight to make this country a better place.”

NDP deputy leader Libby Davies, fighting back tears, said Layton’s death is “an incredible loss.”

“Jack was not only a great leader of the NDP, he’s someone that Canadians across the country came to love. We feel a tremendous sense of loss and grief,” she said.

Davies said Layton brought a sense of humanity to Canadian politics and in his career and his life, especially his battle with cancer, “he gave it his all.”

“We have only love and respect for everything that he did and he leaves some really important legacies in Canadian politics,” she said.

Douglas’ daughter, Shirley, says Layton was the same whether he was in a crowded room or meeting people one-on-one.

“Everywhere I’ve gone, people said ‘You know, we’ve got a leader who cared’,” she told CBC News.

Douglas says she’s worried about Chow.

“That’s the one person I keep thinking about all morning,” she said. “They were so close and when a marriage that is as close as that one … it’s a terrible thing to see that marriage broken apart by this. I just couldn’t say enough to her. She’s a tremendous woman on her own.”

The leader of the Official Opposition announced on July 25 he was stepping away from the job to concentrate on his cancer treatment. He told Canadians he had recently been diagnosed with a new form of cancer, in addition to the prostate cancer he had earlier battled.

Mixing it up …

Courtesy: SCB

I am home alone this weekend. Hubby is at his parents celebrating his dad’s 70’th birthday. Happy Happy !!!

The week has come to an end. A very quiet week of not much going on. And since I have the house to myself this weekend, I can sleep as long as I like. It’s all good.

I’ve been stuck in a Grapevine book called “Voices of Long Term Sobriety.” Most of the writers in this particular book has 20, 30 or more years of sobriety. Many of them were around when AA came to be, when the steps and traditions were codified and voted on. A number of these writers had an opportunity to meet and talk with Bill W. It’s a really great read. I’m in my second pass through.

I’ve been feeling a bit of change is coming and I’ve been supplementing meetings with lots of reading and fellowship. I am of the mind that something exciting is coming, I am not quite sure what excitement it will be or in what form it will come, but I made a monumental decision this past week to change up sobriety a little bit.

I have been attending meetings at Friday West End religiously for the last few months. And tonight I took the plunge and actually joined the group. I feel like I am getting something there that I am not getting at other meetings so in order to capitalize on the positive energy I joined the group.

I will still do service at Tuesday Beginners because that is my original home group for almost ten years now. But I am feeling a lot that a change is coming and that it was necessary to make a move from the set and standard.

Sobriety is a progression and I am in the home stretch looming in on my first double digit anniversary in a few months. I’ve been seeking the advice of members who have double digit sobriety both in print and in person.

We’ll see where that brings me.

More to come, stay tuned …

Where did you come from??? How did we get here ???

Courtesy: Natsack

This question came up this evening during a conversation with a friend. Trying to piece together why we ended up at this point in time and how we ended up here.

Where are you in your life? And how did you get there. Can you say with certainty that everything that has happened in the past got you to this point, that there is a divine aspect to the reaching of this point in your life? Or could there be a number of factors that could have resulted in your getting to this point in your life?

I’ve been pondering my own timeline over the past few days trying to piece together the events on my personal timeline that may/or may not have/contributed to getting me to this point in my life. Looking at this topic further the question was posed to me that there may have been a number of events that could have gotten me here and not just one factor.

It is my belief that had one single event not happened on this journey that I have been walking for some time I may or may NOT have reached this point in my life.

I calculated the approximate date that I hit my slip. I didn’t talk to the one person who could tell me exactly when that was because she is going through a hard time at the moment and I didn’t think it appropriate to go back there. But I was in a pretty awful, dangerous and dead end place. I don’t think that had the friend who reached out to me when he did at that exact time in my life, I probably would not have escaped with what little I had left along with my dignity.

The fact that I am drawing complete blanks on entire periods in my life is troubling. I tend to think of it this way … it must not have been very exciting or worth remembering certain times in my life, those times when I was just going with the flow and doing what needed to be done to get by, or the fact that I plied my body and brain with so much alcohol and drugs that I have irreparably killed certain memories that should be in tact but aren’t.

In thinking about these questions further there were times during my slip period that I was sober. Drinking was not something I did every day. I just wasn’t a daily drinker. I didn’t have the group or a group of friends that I would have associated with where drinking on a daily basis would have happened.

I had long since graduated to the one night a week binge. I can remember those Saturday nights out with one of my friends. We would hit the club early for happy hour, me with my liquor he with his K, I would drink and he would bump, I would dance and he would be catatonic on the stairs unable to move. And then on Sunday morning he would recount what happened the night before.

2000 and 2001 was a complete blur. But it is strange that during those years I have certain memories that I can recall, mainly because I have recorded them here on the blog. This is becoming a practice of recollections, putting them down in writing, committing them to memory. Then I got sober …

I believe that everything that happened along the way had to happen. That every event that occurred had to occur to get me to this point in my life. Like when I was living on the beach side in my one room studio had one of my friends NOT given me a computer when he did, I would not have made certain connections with friends online that led me to Montreal.

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

On that same note, my grandmother gave me certain keys of the family. She gave me the keys to the family heritage. Taught me about our history. Over the entire time growing up when I did, I learned some very important things about my family.

I always believed that blood is thicker than water. One of the fatal flaws that killed my family was resentments. My parents, alcoholics that they were, and I can call them that because it was and is true were blinded by a series of family killing resentments. My mother had a love hate relationship with her siblings/sister. And my father had a hate hate relationship with the entire Quebec side of the family.

My father was an only child. He had no siblings. And he was the lone anglophone in the Quebecois family. Whilst I was growing up, he was hell bent on my destruction but the family had other plans for me and several times in my young life they had stood in the way of many of my father’s drunken violent rages.

Growing up I was taught that whatever my parents said or did, I had to obey, to be like them and to join them in whatever mental issue they were having. Which means, if they copped a major resentment against someone in the family, I had to cop that same resentment.

It was very apparent early on that my father’s family gospel was skewed and not in the right direction. Several times in my life my parents went into “silent mode.” If you pissed them off, they would in essence, flip a switch and you would go dark. Persona non grata. And this darkness could last 5 years, 10 years and for some of us, this darkness has been for most of our lives.

I never had beef with any members of my family. But by default, and I learned this the hard way, I could not escape the baleful looks from my mother’s siblings when I looked them up when I moved to Montreal. The simmering pain from the things my parents did to them was apparent, and I was quickly reminded of them yet I was not part of them. I was guilty by association.

But during all this time, my grandmother was communicating with sister Georgette here in Montreal. Writing her letters about me. Sister Georgette knew all about me when I finally went to look for her when I got here. My mother and I talked for a few months when I came to Montreal, but that did not last long, because what my father preached was gospel, and she was his wife so she had to OBEY! It was my mother who offered sister Georgette to me one day on the phone.

I hung up that phone call and immediately phoned the mother house and asked for an audience and I got one. That same day I met sister Georgette. With that the thread that my grandmother wove into my life was made complete.

It was a long time since I had spoken to my mother’s sister. I knew where she was living, not so far from my own parents. And I kept that line of communication open. And over the past number of years when Facebook came into my life, I had not spoken to her in a while. But now we have face book, we talk all the time.

I was talking to my friend tonight and I told him about the box of photos she sent me a number of months ago and I feasted upon the photos in the box. But, the one thing that bothers me is that many of the memories connected to those photos are complete blanks. Thankfully I have the photos today. Because they are reminders of what I was like as a younger me.

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

Living on beach side I was given this computer that I mentioned above. I was talking to friends on the net. I was networking. I was also searching for something because I was coming to the end of my drinking career. I had my family tree “leaf” in my hand. I needed the second piece of information that got me to come to Montreal. The lie my mother told that came out at the most opportune time. And I needed the final piece of the puzzle, someone on this end to host a visit.

Had any one of these events not happened in the order that they happened, I might not have arrived here to this day. As you see, there are a number of events going on in my life at the same time. Many of the threads in my life were being woven together.

Had I not escaped my slip – I would probably would have ended up a junkie or quite possibly dead. There are no two ways about it. Someone was watching out for me, God wanted me to live and the universe conspired at the right moments that enabled me to escape. I have very few regrets.

The Alchemist writes that “The universe conspires to help us.”

And I quite agree … There is a reason I am here at this moment, I don’t quite know what that reason is yet, and the other question I have yet to answer is “Why am I still alive and all of those people I knew are dead?”

Sometimes we get an answer, and sometimes the answer is Not yet …

Share the hardest “goodbye” you’ve ever had to say.

Courtesy: RTMH 1989
Question: Plinky

This is part of an ongoing  story that I have shared here on the blog at great length. I was working at the Stud for a long time. From 1993 to I think maybe 1996. The bar had had it’s day and the crowds used to pack the house night after night. Those were the good old days.

At some point in the timeline, the owner of the bar had lost his partner to AIDS and things began to head south. We worked day and night to keep the bar afloat, but like I have heard it said before, sometimes you get your day and then it is over, and you have to move on to bigger and better things.

Certain people were brought into the organization and I was not very happy about that in no uncertain terms. Ray was his name and he was bad news. He was a man who did nothing to gain my respect, but he muscled his way into the bar and into management – how that happened I can’t remember.

But i was living a parallel life while at the bar. You’d have to know something about living behind the veil of the leather lifestyle. Living in this place for me was safe and secure. i was protected and cared for. And this strange man made his way into the bar and attempted to take over the running of the bar.

And Todd was at a loss to stop this from happening. i did not like this man who came in and he did not like me because my alliances with my Master were absolute. And nobody was going to come between us, come hell or high water.

i went to work on shift one night and things had taken an ominous turn. Ray was sitting in the office and Todd and Roy were collecting their things and were escorted out the door by security. We had been overtaken by forces that we were powerless over.

i did not know what was going on or why? But i had my moment with Todd and he told me to behave and not make waves and to do my job. He walked out of the bar and that was the last time he and Roy set foot in the bar. For a number of days – i don’t think it was very much longer than that that i had had enough and i ended up quitting my job in opt for a new position at another club in Miami. One of the DJ’s that worked with us landed me a good paying job at Ozone.

But before i made that trek south we had to deal with Todd and Roy. There was a secret that my Master never told me about, and i was never invited inside of that secret for some reason. But if you were invited into the dungeon, you did not speak of it to outsiders or anybody else. But i knew one boy who was a friend who shared with me this secret.

Of all the fantasies i had harbored in my heart, none of them came to fruition. While working for Todd and living under the watchful eye of my Master, i was never taken into any man’s lurid world of S&M. Todd knew that i was a hard player and had i ever acted upon any of my fantasies with any chosen man in that club, i could have gotten lost and even hurt.

There were men who abused boys in their charge. And this went on for a long time, and that’s why Todd had his rules about me in regards to other men that came into the bar. If you wanted to get to me, you had to get through my Master first. And nobody i knew of ever asked his permission to claim me. And it was better that way. i could come to work and dress any way i like and even act out all those things going on in my head and what i witnessed on a nightly basis.

But the day came when i was called to my Master’s home for one final job that was entrusted to me alone. He gave me the job of dismantling this secret room. having heard about it in the past and finally setting foot inside of it was a watershed moment for me. Todd had taken me inside the Fidelius charm.

It took me two days to do all the work and it was then that i learned that Todd and Roy were leaving for San Francisco and there was no turning back. I was only 28 years old. i was still young and i had responsibilities that i thought were important. and Todd did not ask me to go with him. i think he thought it was better than i stay where i was. i was sick and i needed the care that was being provided for me by Health Link. i had not ventured south to look for a new doctor to treat me yet. That would come later on.

i lived inside my leather head for so long that i was so used to what was going on that the day that i had to say goodbye to Todd came so suddenly. they packed up the truck and the car and i was standing in the driveway at the house and i was sobbing. i wanted so badly to go with him, but i knew that i could not.

He hugged me and told me to remember all the lessons he taught me and that i knew where he would be. They got in the car and drove off and that was the last time i ever saw my Master as the dust settled behind the car.

i was saying goodbye to the man who saved my life, the man i loved more than anyone else in the entire world. This man took on this monumental task of taking care of me and by extension all the men who worked at the bar. i was his favorite. It was me he chose to save at that time in my life. i lived every day to serve him and by extension the men in the bar. And that life came to a screeching halt and that life i had lived for so long, was over. There was no turning back, i had to go on and find the way to survive without him. And i did that.

i cannot tell you how important a man Todd was to me … suffice to say, no other man has ever taken that spot. Not even my husband. He inhabits another part of my heart in other ways. But there will never be another Todd in my life. i had it for a season or two. And like they say all good things must come to an end.

i had to go back into the world. i packed up my home and headed south to Miami to break into the world there. i had a job at the time and i had found a doctor to treat me. Dr. Jose would be my savior. He had access to drugs and treatments that i could not get in Ft. Lauderdale.

i remember walking around the city by myself trying to figure out how i was going to reintegrate back into the normal world and leave the world that i had lived in for so long behind. Today all it takes is a flip of the switch in my head to travel between my normal life and bottom space. When i tell stories involving this part of my life i revert to lower case i instead of capitol I.

When they moved to the West coast, I knew that I could not follow them, however many of the men who worked at the bar did. Some of them are still alive but a good number of them have long since died. I harbored the fantasy that one day my father would die and I would go back and claim my mother back into my life and that I would remain at her side and take care of her as long as she needed.

But alas, my family never came together, my father did not die and the last time I saw my mother was on New Years Day 2001 for all of 25 minutes on their way back to Sarasota. This is one of those regrets that I have, that I stayed for family and that never came to fruition. Family was a wasted dream of mine.

i don’t know what would have happened had i gone to San Francisco.

We will never know. Because I am here and not there. i do call Todd on the odd occasion just to hear his voice. To keep that connection with the boy i was alive and in my minds eye.

Invent a course that every high school student should have to take.

Question: Plinky

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 …

Ten years ago, did you expect that your life would be anything like it is today?

Courtesy: Pasdechance
Question: Plinky


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 …

If you could go back in time and relive one day of your life, which would you choose?

Courtesy: Face your Fate

The past is but a memory and all those memories I want to remember today must be written down. Trying to recall certain memories take more strength and brain power. There are periods of time that have faded from my memory, looking at pictures from my past is difficult because in many of them I am young, before I began to suffer from drugs and alcohol and those snap shots of life tell me about a time before the suffering began.

But the time that stands out in my head most importantly was all the years I spent learning to live and learning about life under the sharp eyes of my Master Todd. Those years at the Stud were very instructive and some of them were downright painful. But I had to learn these lessons or else I would fail at life.

This is where you suspend your morals and think outside the box because the rest of this story falls under the “leather Speak” portion of my story telling. You can stop here or keep reading. but be warned … i move from one space to another quite easily….

For every action and chore ended with a lesson about why I had to do that specific action or chore. It all had to do with some aspect of my life and how I would cope with that specific issue had it arisen later on in my life. If that lesson had to do directly with myself or how I would get along with others and also how possibly others could and probably would treat me. You never knew if you had good people or bad people in your life until it was too late. Sometimes you had to take what you got, and then other times you could pick and choose who would be in your life.

Where we worked – we were hand picked. The entire staff was built from the ground up and we all became family over the fourteen day “build” when we were building the bar from the ground up. We all worked day and night, sometimes without sleep. I paid my dues and proved myself worthy to be part of the team by picking up glasses and bottles and cleaning up after people, through blood sweat and tears I earned my place.

But it was all joy in the beginning. I would hold off on my own tragedy for a while those first few months working at the Stud. I faced my own demons and issues with others in my life. And I was a crash and burn alcoholic by the time that ended. I was drinking myself sick night after night because of what was going on in my life, I tried to drink away the pain.

I had to face my diagnosis with courage. I had my Master who listened to me speak, who cradled my head on his chest as I cried. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for him. But I was still a drunk, I had to complete my journey to death with the drink. And that is what happened.

Then one day I was told a piece of information that I had to take to heart and use every day from that point on. You have a life outside the bar, and you have a life inside this building. What you carry to the door stays at the door when you cross the threshold. Do not bring it in here with you. Leave it outside.

You come to work and you do what you are told without question. Do you understand?

Yes, Sir.

Every night there was something new to be learned. Every week I battled with my demons getting sober and dealing with the cascade of emotions coming from inside of myself. I just did not know what to do with them.

With every shift I worked hand over fist. It was some of the hardest times of my life. I would work happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m. by myself. At eight I would go into the kitchen to change up for the night shift. I was expected to prepare all the wells with beer, ice, liquor, fruit and cups. Then at 8 the bells would ring and the music would begin in the dance hall and the bar would open.

I worked like a dog. Throwing trash, filling buckets of ice, cases of beer and truck a shitload of trash out to the bin every night. And every time I completed a task I went looking for approval. I keep hitting lower case (i’s) i’m in bottom space.

You got to know what that means to understand the speak.

i would seek the approval from my Master to make sure i did something right. And it went on like that for a long time. Todd had them blue eyes like Jesus, that could bore into you from across the room. All i had to do was look at him and i would know what he was saying without a single word. But that was not the end of that. If he got angry his eyes would turn a stormy grey. You knew whether or not to speak to him by the shade of his eyes.

All it took was one look.

At some point, Todd caught on to what i was seeking. and he decided to teach me one of the hardest lessons i ever had to endure, which comes up as the one day that i would return to if i had the chance. i would come on shift and enter the office, kneel and i would get my marching orders for the night. i knew everything that had to be done for a particular shift. i was under Todd’s protection and guidance.

So the work began and the shift would come and go, and Todd and i had a special relationship of love and commitment. i needed him and he knew that i needed him in ways that no mere man would ever need another human being. And i worked for every word of praise and support that i could get. i thrived on that instant gratification. but that would end very quickly.

At one point, Todd took a tack, and did not tell me what was coming next. So i would get to work and work through my shift and the night would come and go, we had the best bar service team that ever was between Kevin, Tom and myself.

At the end of the night i would gather with the rest of the folks in the bar and the first night came as a shock, Todd would not look at me nor would he say a word to me. And that broke my heart. i would go home and sob. If you knew where i was in my head at that time of life, being ignored was detrimental.

The second night i would get to shift and Roy would give me my orders for the night, it was strange that Todd would not give me a word and that went on for days and nights. i knew he was watching me from the sidelines and i was not going to fail at my tasks, i would rather die than be told i did something wrong.

The third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh nights would come in succession and i would work through my tears and the pain that i was living through. This period of time came to pass not long after i was diagnosed.

i was working through all the things that had to be done. And nobody knew what was going on with Todd and myself except Roy. i don’t know if you know what it feels like to work day and night and know that the man you love is ignoring you and you don’t know why, but to complain was not my place. i had to take it like a man and do what i was told to do, no matter what came up. unless i was going to die or something i was never to complain, and i did a lot of complaining until i was back slapped into submission.

Finally the twelfth night came up. I don’t remember what day it was or what date it was, all i know is that i was wearing thin on being ignored by the man who meant everything to me. i would catch him watching me from across the room on several occasions but as soon as he noticed i was watching him watch me he would change tacks.

The shift came to an end and i was besides myself. i had gone twelve nights in a row working like a dog doing everything that i was told to do by any of the bar staff at any hour of the night. To disrespect someone in the bar was to disrespect my Master. That community saved my life and every drop of sweat and tears that i shed were worth every minute of it.

Todd called me into the office and i knelt before him, my head was hanging and i was sobbing. Whenever i would go into the office for shift start my role was boy and i knew my place so on my knees was where i would start.

He knew that i was in pain. He watched me struggle for those twelve nights. It was the harshest lesson he ever taught me. He got up and came round the desk and grabbed my chin with his big hand and raised my eyes to his, i was still sobbing…

“Well Done Little One …”

Those four words were gold.

i broke down and cried like a baby. He hugged me and held me while i cried. i don’t remember how long that lasted but the next thing he said was this …

“do you know why you were taught this lesson? no Sir. Sometimes we seek approval for things that we do and sometime later on in your life you might go to work for someone else who may treat you like shit.”

They may not appreciate the work you do and they may ignore you or treat you less than.

After that teaching, i never sought another word of praise from Todd ever again. i did my work and was proud to have work and a place to call home. The bar remained open for another sweep of seasons and we were all still alive. But people were dying left and right. i worked every night with pride in my heart and love on my lips. You’d have to know something about Leather Pride to understand this aspect of my life and why it was so important to my life.

Just reading this brings tears to my eyes …

High Dunk …

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. We had some rain and some clouds and it is a little cool and breezy. Cool and Breezy is good. August is going to bring on the beginning of the seasons changing. Looks like evening temps will be in the teens for the next few days.

I’ve been tracking my latest purchase via the USPS website and today my High Dunks, pictured above came in the mail. Our mailman/person/woman is hit and miss when it comes to package delivery to the door. When they are lazy and don’t feel like coming upstairs they leave a note in the mailbox and make you go to the local drop zone to pick up packages. Sometimes they leave them with the office downstairs but today he came up and dropped off my package. I was happy !!!

My hunt for these odd looking shoe laces was a complete failure. I could not find them here in the city nor online. But I did find some funky plaid shoe laces on Ebay, I was waiting to see what color laces came with the shoes, and they are black. I might change it up and get some other laces, because I am not sold on the black laces, I think a lighter color and not white would work with the red and white shoe.

Today is Thursday and St. Matthias meeting night. I gussied myself up and laced on my new sneaks and set out for the meeting around 7, I had to make a few stops on the way out for sundries and I walked through the tunnel to Greene and up to Church Street. It takes about 25 minutes by either the inner or outer route.

The meeting was great. It was a nice surprise to hear one of my friends speaking tonight. I’d never heard him share before. I think he did a fine job. “Thinking the drink… it’s just insanity.” “I can only drink!” There has to be a better way.

Just Don’t Drink…

After the meeting I walked home. I didn’t see a bus pass on my way back. I think I just missed them by a few minutes. It was a good walk. Have tunes, will travel.

When I got home Big Brother was on. So I did some email and some farming. I just happened to take a look at my “suggested friends” list. I don’t often troll that list, because it never produces any connections I am looking for. But tonight my wait has been rewarded.

I happened upon a friend I had many moons ago. He and his two brothers and I were best friends for a long time, through high school and the year I was in seminary. The last time I saw him was just after I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. So it has been more than 17 years. I sent him a message hopefully he will remember me.

That will be a great catch up when that happens. So we’ll see.

That’s about it for tonight. More to come, stay tuned…

Imagine Just for a Moment …

If scientists can take T-cells from someone who is sick, be it from Cancer, AIDS or any other such disease and are able to genetically modify T-cells to turn them into super fighting cells that when reintroduced into the body find, attach, attack and eradicate tumors, infected cells, etc …The possibilities are endless.

If doctors can harvest T-cells from patients and make this work, we could see the really first scientific progress in medical history. A very long time ago I was sitting in a news conference and was told in no uncertain terms that medical science would never get its cure for AIDS before the sciences learned how to fight and eradicate Cancer first. It would have seemed then that people with AIDS were placed on the back burner so to speak.

I was looking at a medication poster at the clinic in my exam room and on that tablet it listed all the AIDS drugs that have been produced in the last 15 years. And I noticed as well that I think I have at least at one time or another taken every drug that came down the pike even before they started publishing these information posters.

Medical reports such as these give us hope that genetic modified solutions could be brought to bear to fight disease is promising. T-cells, I wonder if you could manipulate them like Stem Cells? I have to ask my doc the next time I see him. Which won’t be until December.

Imagine, just for a moment we are on the precipice of medical history…

Could it be???

We need to get the drug companies to fund more studies. Because this report that I posted earlier tonight aired on Canadian News this evening and the scientists who made this discovery got their funds from a charity, not the drug companies who wouldn’t fund this kind of research.

I hope that once these studies are published in their respective journals, that the medical and drug companies will take notice and get on board. It is time to get the pharmaceutical companies to start funding new studies and stop monopolizing the data and availability of drugs and medical studies.

Remarkable method wipes out leukemia in 2 patients, improves a third

By Stephanie Nano, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Scientists are reporting the first clear success with a new approach for treating leukemia — turning the patients’ own blood cells into assassins that hunt and destroy their cancer cells.

They’ve only done it in three patients so far, but the results were striking: Two appear cancer-free up to a year after treatment, and the third patient is improved but still has some cancer. Scientists are already preparing to try the same gene therapy technique for other kinds of cancer.

“It worked great. We were surprised it worked as well as it did,” said Dr. Carl June, a gene therapy expert at the University of Pennsylvania. “We’re just a year out now. We need to find out how long these remissions last.”

He led the study, published Wednesday by two journals, New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine.

It involved three men with very advanced cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL. The only hope for a cure now is bone marrow or stem cell transplants, which don’t always work and carry a high risk of death.

Scientists have been working for years to find ways to boost the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Earlier attempts at genetically modifying bloodstream soldiers called T-cells have had limited success; the modified cells didn’t reproduce well and quickly disappeared.

June and his colleagues made changes to the technique, using a novel carrier to deliver the new genes into the T-cells and a signalling mechanism telling the cells to kill and multiply.

That resulted in armies of “serial killer” cells that targeted cancer cells, destroyed them, and went on to kill new cancer as it emerged. It was known that T-cells attack viruses that way, but this is the first time it’s been done against cancer, June said.

For the experiment, blood was taken from each patient and T-cells removed. After they were altered in a lab, millions of the cells were returned to the patient in three infusions.

The researchers described the experience of one 64-year-old patient in detail. There was no change for two weeks, but then he became ill with chills, nausea and fever. He and the other two patients were hit with a condition that occurs when a large number of cancer cells die at the same time — a sign that the gene therapy is working.

“It was like the worse flu of their life,” June said. “But after that, it’s over. They’re well.”

The main complication seems to be that this technique also destroys some other infection-fighting blood cells; so far the patients have been getting monthly treatments for that.

Penn researchers want to test the gene therapy technique in leukemia-related cancers, as well as pancreatic and ovarian cancer, he said. Other institutions are looking at prostate and brain cancer.

Dr. Walter J. Urba of the Providence Cancer Center in Portland, Oregon, called the findings “pretty remarkable” but added a note of caution because of the size of the study.

“It’s still just three patients. Three’s better than one, but it’s not 100,” said Urba, one of the authors of an editorial on the research that appears in the New England Journal.

What happens long-term is key, he said: “What’s it like a year from now, two years from now, for these patients.”

But Dr. Kanti Rai, a blood cancer expert at New York’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center, could hardly contain his enthusiasm, saying he usually is more reserved in his comments on such reports.

“It’s an amazing, amazing kind of achievement,” said Rai, who had no role in the research.

None of the three patients wanted to be identified, but one wrote about his illness, and his statement was provided by the university. The man, himself a scientist, called himself “very lucky,” although he wrote that he didn’t feel that way when he was first diagnosed 15 years ago at age 50.

He was successfully treated over the years with chemotherapy until standard drugs no longer worked.

Now, almost a year since he entered the study, “I’m healthy and still in remission. I know this may not be a permanent condition, but I decided to declare victory and assume that I had won.”



New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org

Science journal: http://stm.sciencemag.org