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Archive for April, 2012

The People’s Princesses … Catherine and Diana …

April 29, 2012 … One Year On …


More Sober than the Blog !!!

They say that “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas …” So I’ve been told. And I surely did not sign confidentiality agreements when I joined a group.

Who you see here, what you say here, when you leave here, let it stay here.

Is the quote you raise. I respect the anonymity statement. I mention few names in my posts. Or I use monickers for them. When it comes to my personal interactions, they are fair game. I try not to air other people’s laundry.

But this is my blog. It is my space.

As for the blog, once it hits the blog I am done with it. Whether I am sober a year or ten years, I reserve the right to print whatever I wish to print here. I tell stories about life. My life. My sobriety. And the people I meet along the way. Because no meeting is perfect however hard we want them to be.

I have responsibilities to two groups. And there is a marked difference to both communities I serve. At T.B’s nobody competes for place of honor or having to hear their name called after a meeting. We dispense with ego and the drama that ensues from such ego drama. I come, do my service and everybody is grateful that I work so hard to make that meeting happen. Like in New York, everybody has a job and we are grateful to have that job and we all work together for a united community in sobriety.

I take that very same enthusiasm to F.W.E and I do what is asked of me and I never complained about that job. However, there are those who treat me like a second class citizen, ignoring me, talking behind my back and to the side of my face like I wasn’t there.

I would have let this go and chalk it up to someone having a bug up his ass. But he took it a step further by demeaning me IN MY PRESENCE !!! That is an unforgivable sin in my book. Hey, you may not like me, but I did not come here to hate or dislike anyone. But that dislike has been growing for some time.

I did not invite it. It just came to me for some strange reason.

People who come to F.W.E have made several comments about the way they are treated when they enter the hall, and it isn’t all good, yet I keep my mouth shut and don’t say a word. But you stick around long enough and you get to know people, and they begin to trust you and then they start talking …

I do not ascribe to any Clique. I am just a servant of the group. And I guess I sit on the periphery and I just sit back and listen. And I observe. I can tell you how many weeks I sat in my chair before the first person said hello to me when I first started going to the meeting.

Other people observe as well. We just don’t come to a meeting and shut off our brains and our feelings. People have been bent out of shape though some choose to return to the meeting because we have asked them to be patient and to come for the messenger and the message, and try to ignore the personalities that rub them the wrong way. But some, would rather not come to the meeting because they have already made up their minds about people and personalities and that is a shame.

You’re not going to – or have to – like everyone in a meeting.

People who are 50 + years sober speak the same message.

  • Go to Meetings
  • Do Service
  • Stay out of Politics
  • Be Kind to Others
  • Work with Others
  • Do your Steps

I try to do this, and it seems to backfire in my face. I took on coffee when the man doing coffee had an ego breakdown and shot his mouth off and walked out. And I’ve done my best to rise to the occasion and do my job.

Then he shows up out of the blue, using a newcomer excuse to come and usurp my job right out from under me when people go out of their way to get me there on time, so I don’t have to BMW to the meeting. What the Fuck?

Then he pushes it further by noting in the book that he, not I, did coffee, like to slap me in the face. Childish. He sure doesn’t think about his actions does he?

Thirdly, he steps outside right in front of me and demeans me and the group while I am standing there. No, No, No …

So I share these things with my readers because even with time, you may not be as sober as you think you are. Just by the way you act and treat others. I think that’s one reason my sponsor doesn’t come to that meeting very often, because at 20 years sober he is wise in saying “You may be (insert time here) sober but you may not be very sober.

If you don’t like that I write about people and places, maybe you should stop reading. Because this isn’t Vegas, and I did not sign confidentiality agreements when I joined the group.

Like I said before, never get on the bad side of an HIV+ Queer … I work too hard at cultivating relationships and taking care of me and when people treat me like shit, YOU are open season. and not just in a meeting either.

And yes I am sober. Thank you for asking …

Joyful Discoveries …

Courtesy: Sean Klein

“Fear of people and of economic insecurities will leave us…”

We read these promises at every meeting, well, not all meetings, but I hear them at least once a week in a meeting. It goes without saying that not all the promises come true right away, and for some, they might not come at all at first. But if you stick to the rooms and honestly put yourself into the steps, promises start to materialize, sooner or later.

This is my next INK project. I like it, but my artist has altered it a bit so that they are not the same. This is part of my summer project. It is a 4 hour job and at $100.00 an hour, may take a few sittings. I am in no rush.

Today’s Daily Reflection is Joyful Discoveries …

Great events for this recovering alcoholic are the normal everyday joys found in being able to live another day in God’s Grace.

Grasshopper would have read this reading this morning at the Wood meeting, so reiterating it is pointless. But I wanted to write my take on the reading for you.

This week has officially begun the next stage in hubby and I’s life. And he said to me that now we are in our forties we should be able to live comfortably and without stress. We’ve spent the better part of ten years in school collectively.

We both have several degrees under our belts. I saw a video last week by Philly D, who spoke about the top ten looser degrees you can attain in college.

Religion, Theology, English and Sociology were all in the top ten looser degrees.

Was it all a waste of time and money, I guess you answer that question by what the degree has done for you since graduation. None of my degrees have done one iota thing for me since spending all those years in school, spending countless amounts of money to attain them.

For Hubby, he is an English Major, a Sociology Major and a MA in Sociology that is coming over the summer. They say if you get an MA you have a better chance at a real paying job, than without one. And as we being this next stage of our lives getting a good job over the summer is going to be the big payoff.

When I wrote The State of Our Union some time ago I set forth the plan of action that was going to take place this summer.

I have been pondering what life is going to look like as I count down the last days of my educational career. And if you watch enough Canadian television and see all those commercials for Newfoundland and Labrador, it speaks of making sure that one chapter of your life is exciting…

That’s the plan.

I’ve learned a lot of things over the last ten years. I am still vulnerable. And I still feel. And tonight I felt angry and stepped on. And almost resentful. The resentment from tonight flitted through my brain on the way to the bus stop and I dismissed it after it settled in my brain, because he is not worth my time…

I have heard friends talk about learning to love themselves. To grow past hurt feelings from family and friends. Learning how to break free of that which brings us down and to break from that and move on into a life one would be proud of.

I think I have attained a modicum of pride for what I have achieved in the last ten years. And I have poured all that knowledge out here for you to read. There is, I think, a healthy dose of pride one can have without getting a big head.

Hubby has attained such high high’s in the last seven years that I just can’t begin to explain to you how hard he worked to get here. He has truly trodden to road of happy destiny, and with my father in laws donation to his education yesterday, it just made the uphill climb that much sweeter.

A few of my friends have had the opportunity to travel to far flung destinations around the world in the past few months. And their stories have inspired me to dream big for myself. I have an outstanding invitation to go to Cape Town South Africa when I can get there. And come hell or high water, I will get there one way or another. Kilimanjaro is also on my Africa to do list. As well as a gorilla trek. I don’t know if that will ever happen, one destination at a time.

I finished reading 1000 Years Of Sobriety last night. 20 stories of folks who are 50 plus years sober. It is quite an amazing read, to hear the stories of people who have been sober longer than I have been alive. Where they came from, what happened and what they are like now. I know that I never want to drink again, because if I do, I may not make it back and from hearing the stories about drunks, slips, jails, institutions and insanity, I don’t ever want to go back there.

Grasshopper is making his own way into the world today. He has come upon one of the greatest mysteries of his life in learning some things about himself, and I must be here to help him along the spiritual path. We are all moving forwards in one way or another. I forsee life changing events coming over the next few months for us and for him.

And what a joy it is to be on this journey sober and joyous and free.

Discoveries are just over the horizon. I hope you will all stay tuned for the next chapter of the journey.

I always hoped that at ten years sober that something exciting would happen, I’ve been praying for it, and waiting patiently for it. Waiting for God to “HIT ME!”

One day at a time.

We’ve turned the corner and the world is our oyster. I can’t wait to share the future with all of you. Let’s see what we can do together.

Time for bed.


Your Word Matters …

Courtesy: Deeeccc

The week is coming to an end. If it is Spring, it sure does not feel like it. We had flurries earlier today and now we are sitting at 0c, with a frost warning in effect.

Another night and another student march in the city. Students have been on strike for more than 10 weeks crying foul that the government wants to raise tuition rates 75% over the next 5 years, and students are not happy at all. We have seen night after night, marches taking place all over the downtown core. And it hasn’t been peaceful. Smashed windows fires, fireworks, tier gas and smoke. The police are getting tired and the city is getting tired of the marchers.

The last time I saw marches like this was in the lead up to the Iraq War when I first moved to Montreal. Hundreds of thousands of students are marching nightly from one side of the city to the other hoping to force the government to back down on tuition.

Last night they marched on our end of town. The cops redirected traffic and closed streets off and helicopters were following over head. It isn’t good.

Grades are coming in for these last few assignments that were due, I have a final exam on the 14th in Psychology. A second final exam in geography on the 2nd and the final paper due on the 9th. It is all coming together nicely.

Lizzy has been making it her responsibility to get me to the church in time to set up and make coffee going out of her way to help me and tonight we left here earlier than usual because she wasn’t feeling all that well, and when we got to the church the urns were perking and country man was sitting on his fat ass. He ignored me while we set up even after I attempted to speak to him. He had a bug up his ass for some reason. Not sure what rock he crawled out from under.  But he should just crawl back there and stay there. He got to the chairs book and wrote in big letter DAVE made coffee NOT JEREMY !!!!

What the fuck was that, you fat prick !!!

He screwed up the urns using the old plugs and I had to fix them. Lizzy and I set up the room, while he sat and watched us from the sidelines. He hasn’t been seen in weeks, and tonight he showed up in his words … “To make coffee earlier than usual so that a newcomer would have coffee when they walked in the door!”


Thank God there was a business meeting tonight. Because I had a bone to pick with him and he wasn’t very happy about it, because they asked me if I still wanted to make coffee after he decided to fuck off and quit because no one was blowing smoke up his ass.And I said yes, that coffee was my job and I was keeping it. And they all told me not to apologize or let him get under my skin.

I was outside talking to my old timer friend from the West Island and he comes outside not three feet from me bitching and complaining about hating this group and this and that and talking about me through someone else standing there while I was standing there listening to him rant and rave.

Fuck You Fat Man … It’s my job not yours.

Things have gone missing from our cabinet. Money has been stolen, and cups were taken along with all of our medallions to give away to folks celebrating milestones. I don’t know who’s doing it, but someone is guilty. We will rectify that situation tomorrow.

We seem to have had less chairs than usual, we had to use spares instead but we didn’t sit the entire room, attendance was light tonight. Our speaker was a woman member of the group. 25 years of sobriety is a long time.

She got up there and told her story. It was all good. One of the things she spoke about is ones “word” and that in certain circles ones word is as good as gold. And I think in the program, when we speak words to each other and be supportive and guiding our words matter. We always try to give right advice at the right time about the right thought.

It was a good meeting. Lizzy went home early, Grasshopper and Rick were not there tonight so I had to hoof it bus and metro home. I was just praying that the late marchers were not going to be in the system while I made the transit. I got home and dinner was on the table. Pizza night.

Yesterday hubby spoke to his dad about our financial insecurities and after that talk – he stepped up and made a considerable donation to our lives to help hubby stay in school and finish his MA. All the bills got paid in full. I don’t remember the last time all the bills were all paid in full at the same time.

It was a gracious gift. As his dad said to him, “that’s what father’s are for.” We are truly grateful for kind in laws. So it was a successful week in many ways. We are now set to finish term on the up side. Hubby will defend sometime during the summer and get his MA finally. He will apply for a teaching position here in the city and we will truly be prepared to begin the next chapter of our lives.

Hubby is very happy and so am I.

That is all for tonight.
I am powerless over people, places and things.
It is better never to get on my bad side because I can be a cunt when I need to be. Hell hath no fury like a pissed off queen.

Good night from Montreal.

Loving Ourselves …

Courtesy: Hike Now Nyiragongo Volcano

The week has begun and you could cut the drama with a knife. Thank God I am sober and can take care of things with a sober mind. 10 years of bank time has come to bear and we are at a turning point in our lives. Let Us Pray !!!

This week will see me finishing up final assignments due in a two weeks time. I have my Introduction and Bibliography for my Colony Collapse Syndrome due tomorrow night, then my final exam a week later and the final draft due on the 9th.

We had our second exam in Psychology last night. It was slick and quick, I’m not sure how it went, but I think it was ok. I got 36.5 out of 40 on my last assignment which is good. I am just trudging down the path completing work as it comes.

The weather has been up and down. All those fears of some great snowmageddon never materialized here, however CTV painted a picture of snow falling all over the place, which wasn’t true. It rained, rained and rained some more, but that was it. Thankfully no snow …

I left the house earlier than usual because I was bored and I arrived at the church early, and I did not get my coat off before people started showing up “really early!” I had my tunes cranking and I usually have a method to my madness, set up wise. I usually take my time and the routine never changes.

But there were guests there who came early to read, and they were taking things out of the store room out of order and bringing stacks of chairs out of the closet so they could sit down and I was like ” YO LADY !!! I have a system to this set up!”

So you know, you can’t just crank tunes and ignore guests, so I turned off the tunes and did set up all backwards, which threw me off … But it all came out in the wash. They went off to their corner and I continued to do set up as usual. I am not complaining about people coming early, that’s why we set up early.

We had a business meeting and we have 19 members as of tonight’s meeting. We’ve got lots of things going on. So it’s all good.

The topic came from the chair … Learning to Love Ourselves.

As a younger man, early in sobriety, the men of the Stud took care of me. They saved my life. I stayed sober for four years that first attempt. I had moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami for care. So I was going to meetings with people I really did not know well. But I had friends. And at some point, I decided “myself” that I was missing something and that I needed to go find it.

I did not talk to my friends about that decision. And it was a shock to them when I decided to break the news that I was making a geographic. I wasn’t dependent on anyone for anything. It was all about me. I hurt a lot of people in leaving.

During these intervening 3 years I spent in Miami getting sober, there was a boy who was stuck in the revolving door and couldn’t get sober to save his life. And that really dismayed me that he could not “get it.” And at the same time I was just about to give it all away… Who knew …

So I made that geographic and it turned out very badly. I had no connections with home, I had cut all my ties and went off to the country to “sow my oats” so to speak. That was the worst mistake I made in sobriety.

After the return arc of my journey brought me back to Miami, I was still drinking and would for another year. In 2001, I got sober the second time. I had returned to the city I was sober in years before. And all those people I knew before were all still sober (years now) and I was coming back after a wretched slip.

Thank God I got sober on the beach and not in the city. But Miami is a huge city but in sober terms, is very small. People travel from point A to point B to go to meetings and eventually those people I was friends with so long ago, would find out that I was back and trying again.

I was pretty beat down. I had failed on my geographic to successfully attain what I went looking for, that was a huge failure. I had failed at reintegration into a gay community that didn’t even notice that I was trying to get it. I failed at growing up, I mean what was that anyways? So I was shot emotionally and mentally.

I hid on the beach for the first few weeks, getting my feet wet at Sober on South Beach. Had it not been for the group of people I fell into then, I don’t know that I would have stayed sober. They took care of me, the talked to me, they broke bread with me, they got me into meetings and steps and service. December is a really sticky month to get sober because of the holidays, but they made it worth my while. I was really ashamed that I failed at sobriety. I had to save face and I didn’t know what all my friends would think of me on my return. I was terribly concerned with what everybody else thought of me.

Near Christmas Eve, the group took me to The Poinciana Group, in town, over by the airport. It was a late night meeting that began at midnight and ran well into the morning. I was a couple of weeks sober at that point. And it was a dark, candle lit meeting and I thought I was safe in the dark. I was wrong.

All the people I knew when I was sober the first time, had come to that meeting to see me, and they had nothing but good words for me they were supportive and genuinely happy to see me. But, for a few of my closest friends, I never got back those relationships. People were very wary of me. And for good reason I suspect.

So what about the boy stuck in the revolving door you ask? While I was out, exploring the farm, he came in and got sober, and was sober a number of years upon my return. Funny those planets and how they turn. One goes out, another comes in, and it all comes out in the wash … I don’t know if he is still sober today, But I have hope he did …

When I moved to Montreal, and started going to meetings I was doing aftercare here in the city by day, so I wasn’t alone, and I was doing a few meetings that are still going today. I happened into Tuesday Beginners and liked it so much that I made it my home group. And those women in the group took care of me and helped me stay sober. Over the years there was always somebody there who made sure I had pots and pans, food in my fridge, money in my pocket so forth and so on. I never had to leave the security of the meeting for anything I needed.

I went from hiding behind a ball cap, scooting in and out of meetings quietly to being open and feeling good about myself. I stopped wearing the ball cap and I wasn’t hiding any longer. It took me a good year to get comfortable in my own skin, and it was the people in the meetings that helped me get there. I am still friends with those people today. They loved me until I could love myself.

The Church Of St. Leon’s is a very hallowed church. That is where I have been for more than 10 years, I got the first look at my now husband at that church, and that is where I have grown into the man I am today because of that group. Sobriety has not been easy by any stretch, but it has been beneficial. There are not too many people who have stuck around that group as long as I have to see how life has changed for me. All those old members are gone. And we have a fresh crop of newbies today that are all on the happy road to their own destinies.

This was the message I tried to share tonight, but it did not come out this way as I have written it. There is only so much you can share in two minutes, and this has taken me more than two minutes to write it all out in story form.

Tomorrow is a big day for hubby – say a prayer for him, he needs it.

That is all for tonight.
More to come, stay tuned …

We Were Here …

A Feature Length Documentary by David Weissman

“Of all the cinematic explorations of the AIDS crisis, not one is more heartbreaking and inspiring than WE WERE HERE…  The humility, wisdom and cumulative sorrow expressed lend the film a glow of spirituality and infuse it with grace… ONE OF THE TOP TEN FILMS OF THE YEAR.”        Stephen Holden, New York Times

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

Earlier tonight as I was writing “We are not meant to be alone” hubby had put on this documentary that was airing here in Canada tonight. And so I sat through this film reliving the past 20 years of my life in stark detail.

Listening to the story tellers just breaks my heart, because I was there through the worst time of our lives. You just cannot imagine what it was like. Thinking about it is one thing, listening to someone narrate that time period is heart wrenching.

You know, the further I get from the past, the less I tend to think about it today. But every once in a while, and this rings especially true during Pride Months these documentaries play as reminders to those we lost.

I want so badly to tell you that YES, we are not meant to be alone and that we are all loveable no matter what devastation or situation we find ourselves in. And I think somewhere deep down, hubby’s message in watching this film was to say, yes I remember for you and you are not alone here in this life.

Things in my neck of the woods were as frightful as they were in San Francisco and in many big cities in the very beginning. When AIDS came to Ft. Lauderdale, we were all taken aback by the horror of just what AIDS was doing to our community.

Thank God – T H A N K   G O D that what I saw did not happen to me. Because it was ugly. I have documented all these things in PAGES, but for the moment I am drawn to address this topic here and now because it weighs heavily on my heart and soul.

When I sero-converted I was so sick. I thought for sure that I was going to die at any moment. But my friends and keepers in the AIDS care circle had other plans for me.

The film speaks of finding a cure …

that there should be more than AZT…

Back in those days we were all taking AZT because there was nothing else to take. We even went the lengths to collect old drugs from people who had died, and those drugs were taken to drug farms and re-purposed for use for those who were still alive and fighting to stay alive.

God forbid you had to go to a hospital. They would break out the hazmat suits and moon goggles and scrubs. It was heartless the way that the medical community treated us, for a long time, until they got trained to be able to deal with us without all the fear that was running rampant through the cities.

There were no specialists, no real doctors at that point, it was hit and miss because there really was no social medical safety net to take care of all the sick. But there were enough people to begin with that took on the task of treating what they could with whatever they had on hand.

I know for myself. I took tons of pills to try and find something that worked. And in the beginning that was AZT. It made me sick, and we had little pocket timers that would go off every four hours to remind us to take our pills.

Eventually in Miami there was dedicated doctors who were in the loop of medical research that I got involved with and what these doctors did for me is nothing short of a miracle.

With Genotype and Phenotype testing, they figured out the strain and type of virus we were carrying, then from that they proceeded to attaining tables of drugs that we could take that had promising results in the lab. And as drug companies pushed out pills we took them.

We did not wait for test circles to form on others, we tested all those meds ourselves. So that every year we survived, we had data to share with the rest of the world as AIDS was a worldwide epidemic.

But medication was expensive especially if you could not afford your pills. There were no insurance plans designed for this – people were selling their life insurance policies and going on government disability to be able to afford treatment. I know it took me three attempts to finally get disability coverage in the U.S. I had to almost kill myself to get my social services person to sign off on my form.

Let me tell you what the government made us go through to get disability insurance. We had to be on deaths door step, sick unto death before they would finally clear you. I got so sick that on the day I finally got signed I walked into the office, not having bathed or shaven in a weeks time, hacking and coughing all over the place for someone to fear me enough to sign on the dotted line so that I could get assistance. It was heartless and cruel the things the government and the state did to those who were sick.

They made us little white boys go to places that white people don’t go to in broad daylight. Trekking from one side of the city to another taking bus after bus and train after train just to get social assistance. Needless to say that once a cast iron bitch always a cast iron bitch.

People were so afraid of the sick. God forbid you sat next to us on a bus, or a train. God forbid you had to deal with us directly.

  • I watched families throw their sons out into the streets.
  • I watched lovers toss their loved ones out into the streets as well.
  • I witnessed land lords toss sick people from their homes.
  • I witnessed employers fire and cut people off from insurance and livelihoods.
  • I witnessed so called Christians get on their hellfire and brimstone horses and watched them burn us all down to the ground with hatred and fear mongering.
  • My Own family turned against me when I got sick. They would rather condemn me rather than help me so fuck them …

It was Sick. Absolutely and Totally Sick !!!

And still today that hatred simmers in certain circles. And every year we go through these periods of time when we are raw with emotions that some fuck comes along and throws salt in the wound just because they feel righteous !!!

The One Good thing that did happen was it galvanized those who were left into care circles and care givers. AIDS separated the men from the boys and the girls from the women. You learned just how devoted your friends were to you and just how much they meant to you while they were still here.

And FUCK all you haters out there. Heartless Bastards…

So many of my friends died. All I have is a photo album of the last time I saw the Names Project Quilt show in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami I think it was. This blog is a testament and my memory for those years of my life when I thought that I too was going to die.

God in his infinite wisdom had other plans for me. There was a life to live. There were things I still needed to do, and people to meet and places to see. Today I have the best doctor in the world. He treated patient Zero, the French Flight Attendant back in the old days. I truly lucked out when I moved here to find him and get into his clinic.

It is sad that there is still no cure. But death is something of a second thought now. We are living longer. I had a doctor who told me that when I die that it won’t be AIDS that kills me. And that was a long time ago.

I’ve always said that if science ever gets to the point that time travel is possible, the time I would go back to is the period of time that I was first diagnosed, because it was the Best of Times and it was The Worst of Times. I knew then that I was loved and so cared for that I wanted for nothing. And I think that that is what saved me.

There wasn’t time to sit and wait to die. I was too busy being taught how to survive and in that time I did not sit in my shit and play with it. Time was of the essence and men nor horses were going to keep me from winning this fight.

Every day that I look in the mirror I thank God for Todd and Roy and all the others who took the time to teach me and to love me and to make sure that nothing took me down be that sickness or man.

Never Forget and Remember still that on your daily goings on, you never know who you are sitting next to on the bus or on the train, or walking down the sidewalk, you never know what battle someone else is engaged in.

It Gets Better. We are still alive. And our stories should never be forgotten.

We Were Here … I was there, and I am still here.

We are Not Meant to Be Alone …

Courtesy: Stuart Parmley TGKW Flickr

A little while ago, a follower left a comment on one of my entries and I wrote him back and talked about what he had said to us. Today I received a response to my note. And I thought that I would write to you and share some things with you from my life in the hopes that you might see things a little differently in yours.

The Neon Sign Theory:

Everybody has a neon sign that sits above our heads and displays the feeling or emotion of the moment to those of us around you, that is, if you have eyes to see it. This is a theory that I coined a few years ago watching people come to my home group to get sober. This is something that took years to perfect. I recall a few particular people who came in those days.

There are 12 steps from the main church door to the hall where we hold our meeting. Through two sets of double doors and into the room, which is lit by halogen lights in the ceiling. It is a very appealing space. Not too bright, not too dim. It is a very hallowed room. Because God has moved in the room over the years.

So people come down the stairs and I see the neon sign. Some say lonely, some say angry, some say depressed, some say looking for love… In any case, these are just ideas. Watching people come week in and week out, over time, they change, some fight it tooth and nail, and some really sink into it looking to be reborn in what ever way they can, because let’s face it – coming from hell – is a long journey.

The best experience I can tell you about is Miss Nancy. Miss Nancy was a quiet and humble woman who used to come to the meeting and she was so down on herself about her problems, and it took a long time for her to get comfortable in the room. But little by slowly she got better. And one day low and behold, she was sharing in the group and I saw the light go on above her head and God moved in the room, and in that moment she got it. Witnessing someone “Getting It” is one of the most powerful experiences. And I’ve seen it happen many times over.

Sometimes people are so troubled when they come that the sign is dark and scary. And I think that by just being present and supportive is one of the best tactics to use when you don’t know someone very well. It takes time to get to know someone. And that goes for any relationship you might have with someone.

And if they stick around long enough and they are open to the stirring of the spirit, transformation happens, despite ourselves.

The train of thought is that we are not meant to be alone in this world. I mean what kind of God would there be if he put us here to spend eternity alone or forever searching for the one we are supposed to be with. I don’t think that we are meant to be alone.

And sooner or later that neon sign will change and say “OK I AM READY!!!”

Sooner or later, we spend some time getting better. Now this is universal and can be applied to everyone in life. Not just the sick and addicted. We spend our lives learning about ourselves. Some spend hours upon hours reading self help books, watching Oprah talk about becoming the person we are meant to be, and that the Best of Times is Now …

No matter where you live or in what ever social circle you run in, eventually we will run into someone that may complete the other half of our life.

If I look at my life, when I turned 21 – I wasn’t ready for a real relationship, because I was too busy trying to drink and party at the bar night after night. And that took up many years of my life. I had no idea what it meant to be responsible. I had no idea what it meant to be in “relationship.”

I was still looking for myself, in other people. Sex was something that was there. We were all young, and nobody really cared about things Long Term. It was get it now, get it quick and live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse.

We weren’t afraid of anything during those years. The scourge of AIDS had not hit our community yet …

But it was coming …

AIDS hit us when I turned 25. The first time I heard that word came soon after I lost a boyfriend to suicide. They told me after the fact that he had AIDS. And it would hit me less than a year later. The boy I was dating took off the hour he heard my diagnosis. The friends I had all took off and never spoke to me or came to visit me for any reason. It was harsh. It was terrible.

I watched people turn from Humans into Animals over night. I’ve never seen so much hatred and condemnation in all my life. What the straight and religious community did to those of us who were sick and dying was reprehensible.

In the gay world, you have to be young, pretty, wealthy and buff. And that is the way that most gay men in their 20’s live like. And then the older you get, the harder you try to hold onto your twenties. But as we all know, eventually we grow up. Sooner or later time marches on and eventually you realize that it is marching across your face … (Movie – Anyone ???)

I had survived AIDS. I lived past my death date three times. I was still alive, but so many friends I knew were dead. Hundreds upon hundreds of people were dead, and I was still alive …

What the hell was I going to do?

I lived In South Beach for a number of years post diagnosis. South Beach is still a nightclub – live fast – drink copious amounts of liquor and look devastatingly beautiful. Hit the beach, then the gym, and at night you hit the club to find Mr. Right now.

By now I am in my thirties. And I am changing. People who live by the beach, never go to the beach, because they have work and lives. So that’s what tanning salons are for. It is a dog eat dog world. The whole focus of existence is to look devastating. No matter the cost.

I thought that I should do things like this. Tan, Gym, looking buff and trying to fit into a world that I knew I no longer fit it. AIDS had morphed my body into a pear shape. I’ve got a belly, that I couldn’t get rid of to save my life. I am not as agile as I once was. And I surely don’t look like I did when I was 21. But for the life of me, I thought that that’s what I needed to do to attract Mr. Right Now.

I was wrong.

I’ve told this story before countless times. I had had my last drink. Nobody noticed me. Nobody cared that I was there. Fags are ruthless. Especially when it comes to social groupings. Nobody wants to love a sick person…

That would terribly inconvenience a healthy persons pursuit of life having to care for a sick boyfriend, God Forbid …

I knew I was beat. I was 34 when I got sober again. The gay group I hit the first meeting didn’t even notice I was there. They all ignored me. So I waited for the next meeting and that’s when I met Fonda and the rest of the Sober on South Beach Group of AA. She hugged me and welcomed me and she was the face of recovery. She was the proper transmission of the program.

In Just Being Present.

I was no longer alone. For many months I toiled and fussed. I got sober and I worked on my life, getting better, despite living in a city of fags who had no concern that I was there. It didn’t matter. I was no longer vying for a spot on the “chosen” list. That just wasn’t me. Any more.

I stuck and stayed. And I stayed stopped. I never took a drink again. And so my quest to “fit in” ended. I knew that I would never find myself there again. I had to make the decision that I was either going to pine the past and try to hang on to something that wasn’t me and fail, OR I was going to grow up.

I had hit that Twenty going on Thirty wall.

I grew over that wall. Ever so slowly.

I decided that I needed more than I was getting. It cost too much to live. I had to choose between buying food and paying rent / and or / buying medicine. I couldn’t do all three at the same time. That’s healthcare in the United States.

People with AIDS paid a hefty price for being sick. And drug companies made a mint off the backs of sick and dying people. And they still do today.

I came here and found a place to live. And found a meeting I liked. I had found a doctor who would treat me, who treated patient Zero, the first AIDS patient, the French Flight Attendant. He’s a big wig in the AIDS treatment game.

Here I am in my mid thirties and I have been sober for almost a year, I am rooted, doing aftercare and going to meetings. I wasn’t looking for love, I really wasn’t looking for anything.

But love came looking for me.

A chance passing in a doorway, a brief look at his face, And I knew, He was the one. And It came to pass that he was sober as well. I’ve been living with AIDS for now 9 years. I survived.

You never know when love is going to approach. And I think the thing we need to be aware of is Love is out there, and sometimes it comes to us, and we might not be present to the experience to notice it.  You just have to learn to see it when it comes at you.

I knew from that very first moment that hubby was the man I would spend the rest of my life with. I guess I grew up enough and I had done enough work on me that the universe conspired to help me.

Because you know that when we give something to the universe if the universe thinks we are ready for it, that it responds in kind.

I don’t remember ever giving that thought up to the universe. That I was looking for love, but I think the universe decided that I was no longer supposed to be alone anymore.

I was ready for responsibility. I was ready to fall in love. I was still alive and when time came for me to disclose, hubby did not blink, he did not shy away, he did not turn away. And I will be forever grateful for that.

There is learning to be had at every generation decade. From our 20’s into our 30’s. Well into our 40’s. I got sober, met my now husband. I went back to school and got an education twice over. And now in a matter of weeks I will end my long education career. I’ve spent the better part of 10 years working on my education. And in the next decade of my life, I will figure out what I am going to do with that education.

I don’t know what I am supposed to do in my forties. Or what lessons I still need to learn. So I will continue doing what it is that I do… I am a husband, a friend, a sponsor, and member, and a participant in my community.

I will continue to write here and respond to you and write for you to tell you what I have learned, and what you can learn about yourself.

There is a whole world out there waiting for each and every one of you. Be the person you are. And if you don’t fit the gay mold of your community, then so be it. Gay communities are fickle and harsh to many. Those who are just out to party, have sex and make whoopie never once stopping to see the damage they are doing to others, You Have My Permission to Be Who You Are.

At some point we all grow up, No matter how hard gays think they can beat the clock, they really can’t because eventually, the beach bunny will become an old hasband.The party boy will realize that partying is not a way of life any more. Eventually we all grow up, despite ourselves.

Ten more years have passed. It is 2012. I was diagnosed in 1994. You can do the math. Coming here was the best decision that I ever made in my life.

There is someone out there waiting for you to find them.

I was Here. I survived. I have a story to tell you. Don’t forget me. And remember that I took time to write to you and to encourage you to never give up on your dreams. Never settle. Never say Never. Get out there and Live.

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

We are not meant to be alone. Believe me. It is true.

The Miracle Is …

Courtesy: EErodaniell

The weather has been nippy for the last couple of days. We are sitting at 7c at this hour. Days have been nice and sunny with a breeze, but nights are still on the cool side, and they say rain is on tap for the next few days. The trees and grass really need a good watering. I’ve been noticing that the trees in the neighborhood have been slowly greening up. As the trees are coming back to life, so the seasons are slowly changing.

We are in the final three weeks of class. I have an exam on Monday night, my introduction and bibliography for my Colony Collapse Syndrome paper is due on Wednesday, and our final exam on Wednesday is on the 2nd of May, and the final paper is due on the ninth. The last Monday class is on the 14th and that is the final exam for Psychology.

I am working on a daily schedule to get all the work done and studying for exams and doing what I need to do everyday, so it’s all good.

There is an International HIV Conference here this weekend at the Queen Elizabeth that grasshopper is volunteering at. He came to the meeting tonight. It was good to see him. He’s been so busy with life lately that I haven’t seen much of him in the last couple of weeks.

Lizzy was up and around this evening to bring me for set up. It seems that someone has been pilfering things from our cupboard, first it was a box of coffee cups and tonight we realized that our medallions were missing from where they should have been, somebody is stealing from us…

It was a packed house. We drained two urns of coffee and tea tonight. And I filled both of them full upon set up.

Our speaker tonight came from the Lachine area. Almost 9 years sober. Tonight our speaker took us down a short road of qualification. If it weren’t for cocaine, he probably wouldn’t have reached his bottom as hard as he did.

Denial of the problem is so prevalent in the rooms. But eventually we/he got to the point that yes, we are addicts and alcoholics and our lives have become unmanageable. Lucky to be old schooled from Beaver (treatment house), his minder drilled into him that

“NO, you can NEVER drink again.

And SLIPPING is not an option…”

That is a good thought to remember, that NO we can NEVER drink again… not maybe, or someday or one day, but NEVER. He came into recovery via Beaver, but graduated into the rooms. And suffice to say, when he got here, he really did not want to be here, because surely he wasn’t “one of us!”

Like a good newbie, he did what he was told. He went to meetings, sorted out his life, cleared away the wreckage of his past, and began to work with others. This is the recipe for success.

It has not been an easy road for our man. Yes, when we get clean and sober, life begins to get better, but that is no guarantee that everything in our lives will magically change. Life happens. People get sick and they die. That is one fact that we really are not prepared for early in sobriety. Loss, of any kind.

But today, our man is caring for a mother who is in the last stages of a battle with Cancer and today he can be there for her. And along with his family, they care for her and will care for her until she takes her last breath. And that is a gift of sobriety.

Because we know where things could have gone … thankfully they didn’t.

The take away from tonight’s share … PAY IT FORWARD.

If you’ve never seen the film, then put it on your Netflicks Queue.

Today our man does his meetings several times a week. He works his steps along with his sponsor and now his three sponsees. He does the work, so he can pay it forward to the men in his circle. You can’t reap the rewards of sobriety until you are ready to give it away.

It was good to hear someone get up there and talk about true gratitude in action. To see just how the program works in the lives of so many each week we come together there.

And he commented about an Old Timer Tommy M, who grew up and got sober here in Montreal in the 1950’s, today Tommy M is in his 80’s and in the book I am reading “1ooo Years of Sobriety” He asks the question:

“Does A.A. work ???”

Yes, it does work. If you do the work. Suit up, show up, work your steps, clear away the wreckage of your past and give freely of what you have …

It pays off in spades when you do something kind for someone else, just because.

At the end of the meeting one of our group members took a 5 year cake.

A good time was had by all. We had food, and conversation and we all went home fulfilled again.

What kindness have you done today?

More to come, stay tuned …

Love and Fear …

Courtesy: Charliebreechgrove

“Fear knocked at the door; Faith answered, no one was there.”

It is not known who this quote should be attributed. But this was the topic for the evening …

But before I get there, a little update on things going on here.

Yesterday we had a heat wave. It was 28c all day and got cooler overnight. It got progressively cooler today, and we are sitting at 7c at this hour. Cool enough for a jacket.

Last night I handed in my Psychology project in class after both hubby and I worked on it. I did the writing and he did the editing and finer points added. It would have been an easier assignment had the directions been a little clearer. It took hubby a couple of read through’s for him to get the idea of how I should write the paper so as not to incur needless marks for wrong work.

Funny, that on nights when work is due, more than half the class is a no-show for class. Which means late assignments and all of those people missed the test review portion of class for next weeks test. As we are in the final push to the end of term, it doesn’t do well to miss important class dates.

Today was beautiful out. We had lots of sunshine and it was cooler and breezy, like I said, and I was up early today waiting on mail that hasn’t come yet, because someone somewhere got access to my U.S. debit card. Me thinks that that hack into the U.S. pay systems got my number. So they shut down my card and issued a new one, after I had to fill out claim forms for the missing cash.

I have yet to receive the new card and I can’t access cash on the account until it gets here. I was bored all afternoon. Too much time on my hands left me to decide to leave early for the church and I was done with setup by 5:30. My girls came shortly after that.

It was a packed house, with more than 40 people in attendance. The chair decided on the Daily Reflection for today. Love and Fear as opposites.

Most everybody in the room spoke about fear. It seems that as a group, everybody has faced considerable fear coming into the rooms. Two of the base feelings as alcoholics is fear and insecurity.

And I was no different. The first time when I came in I was facing some hefty fears about life and death. I was facing a near death sentence and I was drinking myself into the ground slowly until I hit that bottom and got sober.

I wasn’t really afraid of God, but I was afraid about dying, alone …

My care team had other plans for me. And I spoke about that tonight. Yes, I had my fears and I had a life that I was living, but as long as I was under the safe roof of my employer at the time, I had work that needed to be done, and there was not a lot of time to sit and worry. And I believe that had I not been kept busy, on a short leash and working my sobriety daily, I surely would have died.

Fear is a good motivator to change. And most alcoholics fear change. But I had no other choice but to change. And I learned to trust my keepers. And learn to love them and myself.

Overwhelming fear is not good. Allowing fear to rule your life is also not good. They say that F.E.A.R. translates into several things:

  • False Evidence Appearing Real: and in sobriety you either
  • Face Everything And Recover, or you
  • Fuck Everything And Run … it’s your choice.

I have a healthy appreciation of fear. I don’t usually sit in my fears. And living this long with death hanging over me, once you face your own mortality and you win, you learn just what to do with fear on a daily basis.

Another member spoke about fearing being with themselves. Which brought on a panic attack, when for a moment, that member was alone with her thoughts and self, and for several minutes she did not know what to do. So she panicked.

People fear lots of things. The list is long and distinguished:

  • The fear of Love and Rejection
  • The fear of being Alone
  • The fear of Not being good enough
  • The fear of Not having enough
  • The fear of The drink or drug

Add your own fears to this list and recognize that you are not unique nor are you alone in these things.

Since we are in the 4th month of the year, we are steeped in the Fourth Step. Hence all the readings for the month center around working the Fourth Step completely and honestly.

This is the first “Working Step.” when we begin to put fears and resentments down on paper. And we look at both, what has been done to us, and really, what we did to other people. This is the make or break step for many, because the fear of looking at ones self is so scary that many people go back out and drink over it. We have seen this happen countless times in step series.

That has been a look at the day as it happened. I hope you all had a great day where ever you are. Thanks for stopping by and taking a read.

More to come, stay tuned …

100 Years Ago Tonight …

Courtesy: ChristopherJordan

This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ocean liner Titanic. The following is a brief overview of the famous ship’s brief and tragic life.

The story of RMS Titanic begins at a London dinner party in 1907 attended by White Star Line Chairman, J. Bruce Ismay and Lord Pirrie, a partner at shipbuilder Harland and Wolff. Following a discussion of how they might work together to respond to the increasing competition on the North Atlantic sea route, Ismay and Lord Pirrie agreed that Harland and Wolff would build three super liners, Olympic, Titanic and Gigantic (her name was later changed to Britannic).

These three sisters would provide unmatched luxury and safety for transatlantic passengers. While the ships would be fast, they were never intended to challenge for the record Atlantic crossing. At over 45,000 tons, they would be the largest passenger liners ever built. Titanic would be over 883 feet long and could carry over 2,600 passengers.

Passenger accommodations consisted of the following:
First class – 416 rooms, 928 berths, 106 sofas and 554 seats in the saloon
Second class – 162 rooms, 510 berths and sofas and 402 seats in the saloon
Third class – 982 in rooms, 40 open berths and 473 seats in the saloon

Construction on the first of the three sisters, Olympic, began in late 1908. Work on her sister, Titanic began a year later in March of 1909. Because of the ships size, both the facilities in Belfast, where the ships were built and New York, their North American destination, had to be expanded. Titanic was launched in May of 1911 and spent the next 11 months fitting out at the Harland and Wolf shipyards. A total of three million rivets were used on her hull, and each of her anchors weighed approximately 8 tons.

Titanic’s maiden voyage was originally scheduled for March 20, 1912, but in February of that year, her sister Olympic lost a propeller blade and had to return to the shipyard for emergency repair. As a consequence, resources were temporarily pulled from the Titanic project, and the ship’s maiden voyage was delayed until April 10, 1912. Titanic did not sail at full capacity on her maiden voyage. A total of 337 passengers sailed in first class, 271 in second class and 712 in third class, or steerage. Most third class passengers were emigrants from Ireland, England, France, Poland, Scandinavia, Italy and the Middle and Far East.

While many writers (and web sites) claim that the builders dubbed her “unsinkable”, there is no record that White Star or her captain Edward J. Smith ever using those words to describe Titanic. It is more likely that this unfortunate, and inaccurate, label was applied by the popular press at the time and over the years it became attributed to both the captain and White Star.

The reality was that Titanic offered her passengers the latest in shipbuilding technology with a double hull and a total of 16 water-tight compartments that were designed to keep her afloat even if up to 4 of them became flooded. While she carried more than the required number of lifeboats for the time, the regulations in effect in 1912 had not been updated to deal with ships of Titanic’s size and as a result, her 20 lifeboats only had space for approximately 1,200 of the 2,600 passengers she was expected to carry.

In addition to the latest technology, she also provided her passengers some of most luxurious services and accommodations available. To keep passengers occupied during the crossings she had an indoor swimming pool, a squash court, a gymnasium and even a Turkish Bath. To help passengers stay in contact with business or friends at home, she was equipped with a Marconi radio transmitter and receiver which was staffed 24 hours a day. The facilities in the first class staterooms were unmatched at sea and even rivaled many of the finest shore side accommodations. The quality and variety of food on board was exquisite and the level of service was superb. vIn addition to the formal dining room, Titanic also offered her first class passengers more personal service in the Verandah restaurant where they could order from a special a-la-carte menu. Much like transatlantic crossings today, during days at sea Titanic passengers could enjoy music, stroll along an enclosed promenade, or relax in a deck chair with a book selected from an extensive ship’s library.

Accommodations for second class and steerage passengers, while nowhere near the luxury of first class, were nonetheless superior to many of the top accommodations found on other ships.

This new level of luxury and service attracted the elite of British and American society and as a result, Titanic sailed on her maiden voyage with a passenger list that included an unmatched list of celebrities. She also attracted a large number of steerage passengers who were drawn by her size and reputation as a safe ship. While Titanic sported 4 funnels, only three of them were functional – the fourth funnel was added for cosmetic and marketing purposes.

She left Southampton at noon on Wednesday April 10th and proceeded across the English channel to Cherbourg, France where she stopped briefly to pick up additional passengers. Her departure from Southampton was not without incident as Titanic nearly collided with a steamer after the suction of her four propellers snapped the steamer New York’s lines and drew her toward Titanic. Captain Smith avoided the collision by cutting Titanic’s engines and using the port propeller’s wash to keep the ships apart.

In Cherbourg, events went more smoothly and after picking up passengers from tenders, Titanic proceeded northwest to Queenstown, Ireland to pick up her final group of New York-bound passengers. She also dropped off a few very lucky Queenstown-bound passengers. On the evening of April 11th, she left Queenstown and headed out into the Atlantic.

As she headed east, she took the southern track which followed the arc of a great circle from Fastnet rock to the Nantucket Shoals Lightship. This was considered the safest route to avoid the dangers of thick pack ice and large icebergs typically found in more northerly waters at that time of year.

As Captain Smith gradually increased her speed to 22 knots, the experienced passengers on board began to settle into the normal routines of a crossing – getting to know their fellow passengers, exploring the ship, and dressing for diner. Weather was clear and relatively warm, since the winter of 1912 had been uncharacteristically mild. Unfortunately for Titanic, this mild winter had caused an unusually large amount of ice to break away and drift south into the shipping lanes.

With nice weather and smooth seas, passengers in all classes enjoyed four pleasant days at sea. On Sunday, April 14th, the weather began to change and the temperature began to fall. Titanic received at lest five different warnings of ice ahead, but since they had not spotted any ice yet, Captain Smith saw little reason to reduce Titanic’s speed.

Later that evening, the wireless operator received a sixth ice warning, but since he was an employee of Marconi – not White Star – and his primary job was to send passenger’s messages to shore rather than relay messages to the bridge, this final warning was put aside until thing settled down in the wireless room.

Outside the temperature continued to drop but the moonless, star-filled sky remained clear. At 11:40, lookout Fredrick Fleet spotted an iceberg dead ahead. He rang the bridge and First Officer Murdoch responded by ordering Titanic turned hard to port and the engines full astern. As a result, Titanic began a slow turn away from the iceberg. Unfortunately, she was too close and moving too fast, and her starboard side brushed against the berg.

Surprisingly the impact against the iceberg was barely felt by most passengers with many sleeping through the entire incident. A number of the passengers awake at the time thought Titanic had just barely touched the iceberg or missed it completely. Very few believed the ship had been seriously damaged and some even played football with pieces of ice that had fallen from the berg to the ships foredeck.

Contrary to most reports at the time (and for the next 72 years), Titanic did not suffer a “huge gash” but rather an extended separation of her hull plates. The result was a very small, but very long opening to the sea that doomed the ship.

Soon after the collision, Captain Smith summoned the Titanic’s builder, Thomas Andrews to accompany him on a tour of the damage. After visiting the forward section of the ship, Andrews informed Captain Smith that the damage was fatal and that the ship would probably sink within two hours. Ironically, had the lookouts not seen the iceberg and Titanic rammed the berg head-on, the damage would have been limited to her bow compartments and she likely would have made it safely to land.

Just after midnight the crew was instructed to begin waking passengers and advised them to dress warmly, put on their life jackets and report to their lifeboat stations. Since the lifeboats could only accommodate about 1,100 passengers, it was decided that women and children would be put into the boats first.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons including, language, location and social class, passengers in second class and steerage did not arrive at their boat stations until much later, after many of the lifeboats had already left. As a consequence, a greater percentage of these passengers perished.

All of the boats were launched by 2:00 am. and the remaining passengers began moving toward the gradually rising stern. As the bow dropped deeper into the cold water the ship’s band continued to play a variety of popular music – although contrary to popular perception it is unlikely they ever played the hymn “Nearer my God to thee”

By 2:10 am, the angle of the deck was so steep that the band could no longer stand to play and they probably joined the growing crowd struggling to climb up the deck. Finally, at 2:15 the weight of the bow section became so heavy that the hull actually fractured and the stern section of the ship separated.

As the water-filled bow plunged toward the bottom, the mostly empty stern, righted itself temporarily and then quickly filled with water and joined the bow on a two and a half mile plunge to the cold Atlantic floor. Of the 2,400 passengers that left for New York on Titanic, only 705 had made it into lifeboats. The remaining 1,502 passengers perished – with many left struggling in the near freezing water.

According to the formal British inquiry, the breakdown of survivors was as follows: First class: 203 (62%) saved, 122 (38%) lost
Second class 118 (41%) saved, 167 (59%) lost
Steerage class 178 (25%) saved, 528 (75%) lost
Crew 212 (24%) saved, 673 (76%) lost

Just before 4:00 am on the morning of April 15th, the survivors saw a faint light on the horizon. Soon thereafter, they saw rockets in the sky fired by the Cunard liner Carpathia. She was the first of the rescue vessels to reach Titanic’s last reported position and she had raced heroically through the night dodging icebergs and the surrounding ice fields in a desperate attempt to reach the stricken liner.

Carpathia began picking up survivors as dawn broke and by mid morning it was over. By 8:30 am all of the surviving passengers and the Titanic’s lifeboats, all that remained of the largest ship afloat, were aboard and she headed for New York. She arrived there on the evening April 18th and was mobbed by hopeful families and a waiting press.

Today Titanic rests on the bottom of the North Atlantic 2 1/2 miles down at approximately – latitude 41o 46’N, longitude 50o 14’W. The wreck was located 73 years after she went down, by Dr. Robert Ballard of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. It was Dr. Ballard who was able to confirm the previous reports that the ship had broken in two before she sank.

He hit bottom and kept digging …

Courtesy: Alexander

What would Friday the 13th be without insanity and mayhem …

It was a glorious day, with lots of sun and it was breezy. Lots of things going on this weekend preparing for the next round of assignments due next week. It was a quiet day today. Hubby was up early to take care of things on his side. Last night I did a bought of house cleaning. Our bottle returns had piled up into three carry bags full that had to go back to the store (soda bottles – not beer ).

Hubby’s collection of tin cans had piled up and they needed to go to the recycle bin in the basement. I vacuumed and took out all the trash.

Today was laundry and school work for hubby. I went to bed later than I wanted to last night and paid for it today because I slept longer than I usually do, and that isn’t always a bad thing. I was up and ready to go early today.

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

Lizzy was all bright and bushy tailed tonight as we went to do set up and make coffee. She is bouncing back, albeit slowly, one day at a time.

Friday the 13th would not be complete without something going wrong …

The chair had asked a speaker to come and speak tonight and two hours after he made the commitment, called to cancel. Which meant he had no speaker for tonight, which also meant that he had to farm from the guests coming in the door for the meeting tonight. But he got lucky, he asked a fellow to speak and he said yes, whenever you are asked to do something you say yes and do it gladly.

Grasshopper got the car and showed up at the meeting tonight, it was good to see him. I haven’t seen him in a few days but we talk on the phone every day. He brought me gifts today which was a nice surprise.

The crowd was a little light tonight. We set out 60 chairs usually, in 5 rows of 6 chairs each with an aisle in the middle … Most of the people sat on the left side of the room, which left the right side with a lot of empty chairs.

The meeting started and they did not use the mic, and I was like, for god’s sake turn the damn mic on. The readings got all screwed up, usually we read from “How it works” with the steps read in the middle by a second person.

Tonight we started with the steps in the middle and How it Works at the end …

It all came out in the wash…

The speaker got up there and said, ” You all know about the misery of alcoholism, so I am not going to talk about the misery … A sigh of relief …

And where did he go? Well, he started at the beginning and talked about the misery of alcoholism. For almost an hour. Every speaker is different, but the stories are always the same.

  • I just couldn’t have one
  • I had to drink every day
  • I drank because I became someone different
  • It was all about me
  • I took several hostages
  • I saw the world – he had done Europe on a grand scale over 20 years
  • and drank all over Europe – I did that too …
  • Misery was definitely company

As the story went on, the litany got worse. The suffering, the losses, the deaths in the family. I’ve found that depending on where you grew up here in Montreal, kids were taught different skills, not all of them good. Where kids were raised in alcoholic homes – trouble usually followed. As it was for our man.

A lifetime of suffering, tons of loss, pain and more pain, and still the message wasn’t sinking in. The admission of powerlessness or weakness was not something we, in the beginning, would ever admit to. We get stuck in the “it’s all about me” phase.

When we start drinking – we lock into – the age we are at that point of our drinking career. And we stay that way until we either kill ourselves with the drink, or we sober up.

Needless to say, our man remained 18 for the whole of his life, because as he told the story, all the antics he got up to wreaked of being a teenager forever.

Geographic here and there. A short lived military career, 20 years in Europe and bouncing from one side of the Atlantic to the other. I identified with a lot of his story, because as a young man, I did that bounce myself. From the U.S. to Europe for a month. I drank my weight in alcohol several times over on that journey. It was regrettable because I have sparse memories of that once in a lifetime trip.

Fast forward to 2003 … He entered university. I was at the same university taking courses, but I was sober, and our man was still drinking well into his 40’s, doing the deed in Reggie’s Bar on campus. A place I avoided at all costs while I was there.

But the journey wasn’t over with, not by a stretch. The story kept going on, and on, and on … at one point he looked at his watch … “Oh Shit!”  he says, I am going on and on … and yes he was … I thought to myself, will this misery ever come to an end? Is there the light at the end of the tunnel ???

I am sitting in my chair, people are shifting in their seats. Miss Margaret is hemming and hawing behind me, her husband trying to keep her in her seat until the end of the meeting … It was going long, and there wasn’t a sign that things were going to get better any time soon !!!

Then the watershed moment came in June of 2009…

“I am an alcoholic.”

The final admission that had to happen for grace to come into his life. After the loss of family, parents, wives, kids, money and so on and so forth …He realized that, in hindsight, that he had hit his bottom, but kept on digging. You’d of thought that he was on his way to opening a gold mind, because of the depth of digging he kept doing.

Our man had to make this journey, to get to our meeting tonight.

Can you imagine the amount of money he spent over a lifetime of drinking that ended well into his forties, drinking copious amounts of liquor every day …

How much money did you squander in your using days?

In my drinking days, I drank every day, in the beginning, but that got to be too much for me. I started spacing my drinking until I graduated to the all powerful binge drinking once a week, I had to keep a job and a home and pay for my meds so I couldn’t continue drinking every day.

I got sober the second time at 34. Our man was in his late 40’s coming in the first time. After a lifetime of drinking.

All that misery came at a cost of a lifetime of should of, would of, could of … If only I had … All those resentments and all that anger had to find their way out and into the open. Our man got sober and is still sober today. He has a long way to go to become whole, but isn’t that the promise ?

Sobriety is a journey of one day at a time, one meeting at a time, reading the books, committing to a meeting, getting active, working with others and just living the best we can with what we have today.

I was so happy when the train came into the station … Finally resolution !!!

What a night …

My Old Timer friend gave me a book to read called ” 1000 Years of Sobriety,”
20 people x 50 years. By William G. Borchert and Michael Fitzpatrick.

It looks like a good read.

We went long, but that was ok. We needed to hear what our man had to say, because we asked him to speak …

We had sandwiches and coffee, a good time was had by all.

That is all for tonight. More to come, stay tuned …

Growing Up …

Courtesy: Cameronjohn

The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails.

As Bill Sees It P. 115

Sometimes when I’ve become willing to do what I should have been doing all along, I want praise and recognition. I don’t realize that the more I’m willing to act differently, the more exciting my life is.

The more I am willing to help others, the more rewards I receive. That’s what practicing the principles mean to me. Fun and benefits for me are innate results. Being a little kinder, a little slower to anger, a little more loving makes my life better – day by day.

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

Were you forced to grow up before your time? And how did that impact your life then, and how has that shaped the man/woman you are today?

There is truth in the statement that sick kids are forced to grow up much faster than their more healthier counterparts. I know that AIDS forced me to grow up very quickly when I was diagnosed, because I was facing my own death in short order. Thank God for good teachers.

But before I talk about that topic first the bullet notes for the day.

  • It is (5c) outside. A little nippy and it was cold in the hall tonight as well.
  • I left extra early for set up – and nobody showed up until 6 ugh !!!
  • My Geography Prof. lives in Westmount. He came upon me sitting outside the church on his way home from school. (busted !!!)
  • We will get another week extension on the mapping assignment (WIN!)
  • We sat 40 folks around the circle. Everybody got to share.

The shares went around the circle, and one of my friends spoke about being thrust into adulthood as a child and that experienced scarred him for life.

I’ve been thinking about the past for the past few days and nights. I’ve been dreaming about my grandmother and the house and events that took place in that house when I was a child. It is almost a physical place I can go in my head when I want a change of scenery. Hence my story …

Both my father’s parents were felled by strokes. A year to the day apart. My grandmother was struck down first. I was in 8th grade. It was 1981. My father took me out of school and flew me 1500 miles back to Connecticut to work on bringing my grandmother out of her stupor. Since I was the first born child and it was thought that my affinity with her would prove invaluable to them in rehabilitating her back to health.

It was a night flight North from Miami. The next morning they suited me up and took me to the hospital. I was not properly prepared. At All !!!

I walked in the hospital room, and there in a bed was a lump of a body. What was lying there was not my grandmother. (If I only knew then, what I know today, I would have known what to do) I did not recognize her, but upon seeing her in that moment, I collapsed to the floor and they had to take me to be examined because my head hit the floor none too gently.

It was believed that familiar faces could rouse stroke victims out of stupors. That affinity with certain people can do great things for someone so sick. Well, I must tell you, that is not true. At least it wasn’t true for my grammy. She had terrible brain damage. He entire right side was paralyzed. Her face was misshapen and she could not talk. The only words she remembered were shit, god dammit, and things of that nature. Grammy was not a swearer but it was all she had going for her.

Days went by, then weeks went by and nothing changed. What can you say for occupational therapy in the 80’s? Doctors did not know shit and there surely weren’t staff to do the job like they can today.

So you know, When things did not pan out, they sent her to a sanitarium and flew me home to complete my year at school. I was scarred for life. Over the next decade that she survived, she regained the ability to walk with a cane/brace. We eventually moved them both to Florida to live close to the family. Where I got to work with them as I was able. I was just a kid. What did I know about rehabilitation?

It was scenes like this that are scattered about my childhood all the way into my teens. Taking care of the home. My brother. My parents. Myself.

I grew to become an all or nothing alcoholic.

When doctors told me that I was going to die, everything changed. I learned a lot of lessons from my teacher Todd. As I grew up, and learned lessons and did certain chores I expected praise and recognition. One of the hardest lessons he taught me was about expecting recognition. I’ve written about that lesson in the Pages.

I had to grow up. I had to learn how to take care of myself and in that vein, take care of others like me. Because I was learning from others as well. I had to change and accept whatever responsibility that entailed. It was do or die. And dying was not an option available to me. At least my handlers made sure I never went there mentally, or physically.

I got sober the first time during this period of time and I racked up 4 years of sobriety before I went out. Life had changed several times over during those four years, and I was not as connected to people as I was in the very beginning, and that lack of connection only exacerbated my slip.

When I returned from my slip, I went back to doing what I should have been doing all along. I reconnected. With old sober friends, and new sober friends. I was in my mid thirties and I had to make a choice, I could either remain static where I was and become stagnant, or I would grow up. When I realized that growing up was the only viable choice, I grabbed hold of that decision and went to town with it.

I made decisions in sobriety that brought me to this place I am in today. It has come to pass for me that growing up came in stages. I read the book, worked the steps, went to meetings and did things by the book.

After a period of study, I was given time to work out practically, what I had learned over the past couple of months or few months. And over the last ten years of sobriety, you read the book, go to meetings, work your steps, you get time to work them out in real time in life. And that process has led me to this point in my life.

I have tons of memories in my head. I also have a list of lessons that I have accrued in my time bank to apply to my life today. And I am willing to do whatever it takes to grow. Because growth is eternal. You can either choose to be stagnant and get complacent, or you can choose to learn and grow and evolve.

I don’t expect big things. But I have gained grace and peace. I do what I can every day to do the right thing. I pray and I work. I work with others, and I do service twice a week on Tuesday and Friday nights. I sponsor people near and far. And I work with my sponsor when I can.

I am still alive almost 18 years later, I guess I learned something.

The most important growth I can speak of is my marriage. Because I learned how this boy that I was grew into the man I am today. By learning how to love another, and to put another’s needs before my own.

That’s the whole focus of Stage Two Recovery. How to have a real, loving, sober relationship with another. That’s what was in the book I spoke about a couple of weeks ago here on the blog.

I am kind today. I am gentle with others and myself. I am slow to anger, I don’t get angry usually, even at the grocery store when the fast cash is backed up ten deep and I really need to get out of there …

I went back to school in sobriety and racked up two degrees. I will finish my educational run this May. When Hubby and I will move into a new phase of our lives together. And it will be great.

I can’t say that there isn’t a little fear there. But I am promised that if I stay on course, and do the next right thing, then good things will come to pass.

What did you do today to grow ???

Welcome to all you new folks.

More to come, stay tuned …

Easter Rebirth …

Christ the Redeemer …

The less people tolerated us, the more we withdrew from society, from life itself. As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did — then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the Four Horsemen — Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand …

Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.

A Vision for You – Chapter 11 … pgs. 151-152

It is Easter Sunday and the proclamation of Mother Church is Jesus is Risen, He is risen indeed … The pews are packed with marry – bury Christians making their twice yearly pilgrimage to church to observe the sacred holiday.

But not for me this year. I had hoped to bring a friend with me last night to services but she decided instead to stay in, and so did I. I don’t know why I didn’t feel like going to church, but I just wasn’t feeling it for some reason.

I’ve fallen away from Mother Church. Too busy living my life to commit time to religion as of late. Making a commitment to church – the physical building and community is one of the 5 pillars to good Christian practice and living. But I just can’t get around to making it on Sunday mornings.

As of late, grasshopper and I have been enjoying Sunday Morning Breakfast in Dorval on Sunday mornings. They serve good food, followed by a great meeting and conversation.

Today’s meeting was special because everyone who attended this morning’s meeting was there because they felt it was necessary to be with family at a meeting, instead of sitting inside a church worshiping. In the past, as drinkers, family holidays were rife with drinking and excess. Going to these events for many were prescriptions for disaster. A family event usually led to a night of debauchery and insanity of trying to drown out the day in opt for drunken nights.

Holidays are big business for bar trade. Because we all know what the regulars are doing today. And we know where they will end up tonight after dinner.

The reading from today from the Big Book talks about the darkness we find ourselves in when we are stuck in the hole of alcoholism, but it does get better, there is a solution.

We come from hell and we find the rooms and we get to be reborn in sobriety.

When I was back out there drinking on the dark side, there was no one that took notice of my drinking. There was nobody to disappoint, nobody to answer to, it was just me. And maybe that contributed to why my slip lasted as long as it did because there was nobody to tell me or ask me to stop.

And you would have thought that if I got sober once, I could get sober again. But it didn’t work out that way. I wanted so badly to fit into a community that did not even notice I was trying to get in. All that work was for naught.

I knew the way back, but maybe it was shame or inferiority I was feeling. Knowing the sad looks I would get from friends who were now years sober and I was just a drunk coming back again …

A few well placed prayers later and a God moment, brought me a man who would take my hand and lead me back to where I needed to be. It was December, the BIG holiday period of the year. Where on the dark side there was nobody, now on the side of light were a group of people who really cared that I survived, cared about my life, and cared about my well being.

Which proves a big truth in sobriety: Everything I need I find in the rooms and with the people of the rooms. We arrive dejected, abused, broken and finished. And little by slowly, we live, one day at a time, and we find a Power Greater than Ourselves, GOD (Good Orderly Direction – Group of Drunks – GOD ).

And it is here in the room that we are reborn into a community of like minded believers. We all come from somewhere, however different our backgrounds and stories are. Once you cross the threshold, everyone is on equal footing, all of us on the similar journey, to become whole.

Jane Fonda says that “We are not to become perfect, but we are to become whole.”

And on this Easter Sunday, around the city of Montreal, and around the world in rooms just like ours, people gathered together to celebrate rebirth on this hallowed of sacred holidays. Jesus wasn’t all about death, he was all about rebirth. And on the day we proclaim the risen Christ, we share in his divinity.

We are all created by the One God, and we are all blessed by the One God.

And eventually, in sobriety, you find the One God.

“But there is one who has all the power, that one is God, may you find him now.”

Let us celebrate the risen Jesus and marvel in the story of the resurrection of Jesus and what that means to each of us, in our own special way. Let us carry the light of Christ into our family events today.

I am so grateful to be part of such a big family, who care for me just because.

He is Risen, Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

Courtesy: He Qi China …

John 20

The Empty Tomb

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.  Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)  Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.