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Archive for August, 2012

1st Gold for Canada … London Paralympic Games …

Courtesy: Oh Canada

Congrats to Montreal’s Benoit Huot, who nabbed Canada’s first medal of the Paralympic games in swimming – and a gold no less!

Medal Count: 1


Slow and Steady Wins the Race …

Courtesy:RThompson80

It has been a long day. It started around 6:15 this morning and I left to walk to Wood around 6:30. Today was their business meeting and I joined the group and got my key for the door so that I could open on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and I also chair on Tuesday’s. Since the meeting is based on the Daily Reflections, there is no need to prepare readings for the meeting.

I came home after the meeting, after running errands with Grasshopper and I farted around on the box until I decided that I was hungry so I went to Subway at 10 in the morning for a sub.

We had a mini melt down this afternoon, it wasn’t pretty at all.

I just get resentful when people tell me that they are going to do something and then nothing happens. And that’s when I have to remember God’s will be done.

I napped during the afternoon and was up early to get to St. Matthias really early to reserve my seat because it was a PACKED house tonight. Our speaker flew in From New York City today to celebrate a 15 year anniversary for (her sponsee) who is the vivacious woman who is chairing the these two weeks, last and next.

But she is going to take her chip next Tuesday night because it is her home group.

I heard a lot of good things and instead of transcription I am going to just give you some bullet points.

  • Our minds will tell us things that may not be right, but our feet will get us to a meeting
  • Better make those feet look good (i.e. get that pedicure) because your feet take you to a meeting, and you want them to look good
  • Daily phone calls to your sponsor makes the deal
  • There are three components to good sobriety: Big Book Studies, Step workshops and Twelve and Twelves.
  • Get there early get your seat, shake some hands, thank the speaker and stay for the meeting after the meeting
  • This is a disease of mind and body, heart and soul
  • Read the Big Book from the first page to the last page
  • Nothing like comprehensive work with another alcoholic will guarantee us sobriety
  • Home Groups are Non-Negotiable Nights
  • Slow and Steady wins the race
  • One foot in and One foot out is a recipe for disaster
  • Resentments Kill
  • Complete Forgiveness happens after that psychic change comes and that only comes when you comprehensively work the steps
  • And sooner or later you will have to completely forgive
  • If you don’t rectify the past, you will drink again
  • Gratitude works …

Like I said, it was a packed house. There was a function going on across the street at the Westmount Synagogue so parking was at a minimum and everybody was warned to get there early to get a spot close.

The “family sober group” came in like a swarm. 25 ladies in all. On top of all the people we called to come and hear the speaker.Generations of sober family women. Sponsors, sponsees, grand sponsees on and on as the connections are made.

My sponsor even came out tonight so we got to chat before and after the meeting. There was double the normal attendance tonight which was really good. Nothing like a good hearty welcome for our guest speaker.

On the way home my sponsor mentioned what I had mentioned to him over the past few weeks, “that the girls have something that the men don’t,” but I couldn’t put my finger on just what that”something” was. And tonight the answer came,”Comprehensive work with your sponsor” and he suggested that we start having daily contact, because I don’t really call him during the week, so maybe there is something there for us to do together.

I joined a new home group now I will get to spend time with grasshopper and maybe when he reads this he will begin or return to calling every day, but I will see him at the morning meeting, nonetheless.

Tomorrow we get a financial reset and life should begin to change. Pray for us, or more importantly, pray for hubby, that the stars start aligning for him, sooner than later.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Wood …

Courtesy: Homedesigning

Such a pretty space. The home conversion of a holy space. I’ve seen a few of these and they have been done up to high spec.

You know what they say about prayer … “Be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it.”

I wrote a post about what has been going on here at the hacienda and my worries. It is the end of the month, hence, we run out of everything all at the same time, it is just a gradual – well, we run out of food. We run out of pills. We run out of stuff to drink.

And most importantly, you know you’ve hit rock bottom when you run out of toilet paper. And have no money to buy more. Thankfully there is 1 roll left which means money will come. I believe as long as there is one roll of toilet paper ready to go, that’s money in the bank.

I was up late last night. Much later than usual. I was scanning through several books to occupy my mind because I was out of my meds and I wasn’t really tired, because my mind tends to wander and I begin to ruminate. So I picked up Harry Potter and read a scene from the Order of the Phoenix, and put it down. I picked up Many Lives and Many Masters and read a paragraph, and was like Oh God !!!

Then I picked up meditations by the Dalai Lama, and was like, too deep for 4 am. Then I picked up The Tao of Pooh, and read a couple of chapters. But it wasn’t sinking in, so I gave up the ghost, turned off the light and tried to sleep. 45 minutes later I was wide awake laying in bed. It was close to 6 a.m.

I fired up the box and rifled off my opinion about the looming election on September the 4th. If the Liberals loose we may find ourselves under the gun of a separatist party who’s main goal is to push through a referendum “tomorrow”

As the Parti Quebecois Pauline Marois has said in interviews as of late,

about separating Quebec from Canada. Like they can afford to do this, and have a new currency ready to go, and a majority government to push through this referendum, because it will be harder to do with just a minority, which if we believe the reports as of last night, a minority is within reach, if the Liberals cant eek out another win, which is unlikely, but we all haven’t voted yet and until the last vote is counted, we don’t know who will win.

Fuck these separatists. They can all go to hell.

When I came to Canada I became a citizen of Canada. Not a citizen of Quebec. Quebec didn’t send me a nice signed “Welcome to Canada proclamation.” And the first time I shopped in a Quebecer staffed grocery store and a francophone woman spit at me I was finished with anything French… They can all go fuck themselves.

And if the separatists win and they fuck with my living in Anglo Montreal, I will sure as fuck consider leaving the province because I don’t need that kind of shit to worry about.

Sorry for that rant .

Moving right along … back to my story:

So it was closing in on 6:15 and I was ruminating so I got dressed and I actually broke out a sweatshirt to wear out because it was that cool this morning. I walked the few blocks there jamming some good tunes, and I arrived around 6:30. The meeting is only a few blocks away.

I sat there and waited until 10 to 7 and then texted grasshopper because nobody had shown up to open and he sent me back an “I’m on my way.”

He has this new phone a Galaxy something or other. And he has an app that is a virtual personal assistant. All he has to do is speak into the phone and tell it what to do and he does it for you. Like instead of texting and driving all you need to do is speak to the assistant and he will do it for you … It’s not Siri…

So anyways, I said a prayer to God last night when I wrote that “trust me” post and God replied at 7:20 this morning. Just as my sponsor advised me to do.

You might pray to God to help you change this … or ask him to change it…

Once you become a member of the fellowship, ALWAYS bring your needs to a meeting, be they big or small. In 10+ years of sobriety, I’ve never had to go outside the room for anything. If there was something going on, I took it to a meeting and spoke about it and I shit you not, I got answers. Sometimes not immediate like today, but damn close.

I shared my concerns with a friend and he, without skipping a beat, took care of those problems as soon as the meeting was over with. I am truly grateful for friends in the program. Because they have done great things for me.

Attitude of Gratitude…

And I get word that tomorrow is our wonder woman chair from Tuesday Night’s meeting, anniversary on the 30th. Thursday night, and her sponsor is flying in from New York to speak at St. Matthias then. It will be a Big Huge Estrogen Party. It will be exciting for sure. 14 years is a long time.

Good things to look forwards to on Thursday night.

I think I may try to sleep now. Since I’ve been awake for umpteen hours now.

More to come, stay tuned …


“Trust Me …”

Courtesy: Ihaterenton

It has been a trying few days at the hacienda. How many times have we said this to someone in our lives? and how many times has this been said to us? And what has been our response to being told … “Trust me?”

It was a great day outside. I noticed when I left for the church that it was markedly cooler out than it was in the apartment. Almost like needing a light jacket cooler. The rain stayed away. It was a mixed bag at the hall, I was comfortable, but the girls were passing around a shawl from one to another during the meeting. Obviously someone was hit with a chill.

I missed the head count tonight, but the room was filled. All the overflow chairs were sat and there was folding money in the kitty at the end of the meeting. Tonight one of our most respected women was in the chair. All of our people are respectable, nonetheless. But our chair is such a great lady. She is vivacious and joyful and is an all around great person. But that could be said about any one of our members.

Tonight was our business meeting, and history tells us that a business meeting can be a very harrowing event held monthly to discuss house business and to set the stage for the next month. Lots of ideas were voiced, many votes were taken up and we now have a solid plan of action for the future of our group.

Being a beginner meeting, we all agreed that the three main texts we would focus on are the Big Book, The Twelve and Twelve and Living Sober. But that does not preclude using other conference approved literature, because some of our members don’t want to be locked into just three texts for the rest of the meetings. We are going to be building up our literature library as other meetings have so that we have ample books to share at any given meeting.

Numbers were up last month, which was a good thing, because it gave us a much needed bump in prudent reserve.

The chair decided that we would read from Chapter 7 of the Big Book, Working with Others. This topic coming from the women’s side of the meeting is serendipitous. Because the whole task in the women’s circle is comprehensive working with other women on a daily basis. It’s what they do and they do it very well.

“Life will take on a new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. We know that you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.” B.B. Pg. 89

It has been a long run for me at our group, I have been there the longest and have seen countless people come and go. Some got sober, and some didn’t. For every chair that I put down on set up, there is a story to go along with it. And when I set down chairs I think of someone who sat in that specific spot on any given night – the list is long and comprehensive. I also remember those who came but did not stay. There is also a story there.

Now we are up to 25 active members who are racking up time at our meeting and we are all learning about each other one night at a time. One week at a time. I am excited about the seasons changing because as they do, the meeting will change, and as the snows come, we get to see who is really serious about staying sober when it is (-20c) outside. Those will be good times indeed…

It was a good night. There is a lot of new blood in the meeting which means that it is our opportunity to work with others like never before. It has been many moons since we have had a bumper crop of newbies in the room. My sponsor spent the entire night ministering to a newcomer at his first meeting. And the meeting went on well after the doors were locked. Hopefully he will return.

On the way home I had an impromptu inventory with my sponsor. I’ve got a lot on my mind and I am at “dis-ease.” I don’t feel very secure at the moment and it is driving me crazy. I think I am not doing enough, so we talked about that and he gave me some pointers on what to do to ease my mind.

It doesn’t help that I had been working with a timeline here at home which has all but disappeared, meaning (Didn’t Happen). And now I am being asked to trust and rely on another because of the shift we are going through here at home financially, and I am fearing financial insecurity plain and simple. I had expectations that were not met. (I should know better than to have expectations).

Sponsor says that I need to keep my eyes on my daily inventory and keep doing what I am doing, making meetings and keeping myself busy where I can add more things to do to my list of things to do during my week.

I just have to buckle down and have faith that one day at a time, things will begin to work out. I want to want to say “But I want solutions now…” But I can’t. Because those solutions are being taken care of by hubby and being Bi-Polar does not help daily life progression. I am at the mercy of the swinging pendulum.

That’s my mini inventory for the moment. I am reminded that I should offer prayers for things to come together and also realize that that entails waiting on God to make them happen, because it isn’t up to me.  Maybe I need to work on waiting on God, and knowing just how much pressure I can put on him to “do it now!!!” God isn’t a “do it now” kind of Guy. It is more like, “I’d really like you to take care of this” knowing full well that God’s will is in full action here.

Got to have an Attitude of Gratitude … That is a start …

Ok, I’ve written enough for now.
More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries …

Courtesy: NiqBailey

They say it’s gonna rain … The Weather channel is focusing on Isaac and its possible landfall in the coming days. I am glad I am not living in the south any more.

I was up early today with not much to do, so I headed out early for the church. There were only a couple of people there when I got there so I helped to do set up. One of my friends came in and noticed that the tables we use were missing from the room, so I called the super to find out where they were because I need them on Tuesday, I was hoping that nobody was using them, in any case he told me that the tables would be returned tomorrow. So it’s all good.

It is the last Sunday of the month. And traditionally, we read from the Twelve and Twelve. And since it is the eighth month, we read Tradition Eight. “AA should remain forever non-professional but our service centers may employ special workers.”

The discussion went around the room about professionalism and the fact that if money became involved in carrying the message, that things would quickly devolve into a mess. Back in the day, there weren’t many people doing the work that had to be done, and Bill used to delegate responses and 12 step work to members in far flung places and to get the message out and to help suffering alcoholics. There is a reason that GSO is there. And in its wisdom the program works, and for the most part alcoholics do the majority of the work. But there are non-alcoholic trustees that work at the New York Level to maintain integrity of the program and to help keep the program on its feet. Suffice to say … we should always maintain a non-professional attitude towards the program. We don’t get paid to carry the message, or earn a princely wage to give it away.

It was supermarket safari on the way home to pick up a few items for dinner and munchies for later on. It has been in the teens at night for the most part, but the last couple of days, it has been hotter than usual. We are on the doorstep of September and Fall is coming quickly, and hopefully soon …

That’s about it for excitement this weekend.

I’m sure I’ll have something more substantial coming up, so stay tuned…


Unbalanced …

This painting hangs in the Help Line Office here in Montreal. I am sure it hangs in other anonymous recovery locations world wide.

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It was an early start day because it was pay day and we really needed to get some groceries because we hit the bottom of our stores over the weekend.

We both did a fair amount of supermarket safari. We shop at different stores for certain food items and there are three supermarkets in the neighborhood IGA, P&A and Provigo. We shop IGA for meats and goodies, we shop IGA for fresh turkeys for the holidays and Provigo is for everyday items and fruits.

Grasshopper put me on the spot this afternoon for a dinner date tomorrow night and so not to squander my precious Metro Tickets on my card, I walked to St. Matthias instead of taking the bus. While the weather is good, one might as well make due with walking locally, because not too long in the future, the seasons are going to start swinging not too long from now. I would rather see cooler temperatures in the coming weeks. Fall is my favorite season, second only to Winter.

I left the house around 6:30 and walked over to the church and was there with plenty of time to hang out, outside. It was a full compliment of folks at the meeting.

Our speaker was a fellow of St. Matthias. He has an affinity with the church itself and what it stands for in his life. 63 years is a long time to participate in community. I never thought about this particular community in an attendance sort of way, but it is an Anglican church. Anyways, I digress …

Now we know what it feels like to become unbalanced when we hit the skids and get caught up in the vicious cycle of addiction and alcoholism. But balanced was returned to him in spades, learning to live life on life’s terms, and to understand and get the Third Step Prayer. And to live in ones day, one 24hours at a time.

We heard a great share about what happens when you detach from family and employment and sink into the pit of addiction and alcoholism. It seemed that at one point of his life, he had it all. Wealth, Stature, a Reputation, a burgeoning career and most importantly Accountability. But it all got too much and the only way out was to just walk away and take a twist at addiction to ease the pain.

It only took 2 1/2 years to reach the bitter bottom having walked away from a marriage, children, ones job and life itself, hoping to do ones self in with drugs. Not a very noble way to end ones life in any case, two stints in rehab and the second one sticking they helped him clean up his act and the rooms helped keep him cleaned up…

He quoted The Big Book, So I will offer you that quote as well:

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.”

We heard the message the other day from Doctor Silkworth about the necessity for us to read the book. And this message above is one of the most quoted sections of the book. It comes at the end of the book in several editions, One titled Doctor Alcoholic Addict, and in the fourth it is called Acceptance was the Answer.

There is a reason the book is written in the order that it has and why it is so important to read the book through to the end. Identification is the key here.

And we all identified with our speaker tonight. It was another night to get to know a friend a little bit better.

I walked home with a friend and got home to see Boogie get evicted from the Big Brother House …

A good night was had by all.


August 24 1992 … 20 years later … Hurricane Andrew

You can see in this photo SW 152 nd street shown on the map. This is the epicenter of the following story. There weren’t cell phones and round the clock live tv coverage. That would come later. But for Miami, Homestead and all points in between, this was a life changing storm that came and wrecked and also ended the lives of many people.

Let’s get started, shall we…

My parents were on vacation in Connecticut at this time, then. I went down to fortify the house not far from Cutler Ridge (Coral Reef Drive) 152nd street, and then retreated to Ft. Lauderdale to ride out the storm with friends.

After the storm passed, my boyfriend and I started the drive south. Where a 30 minute drive turned into 3 hours to get from where I was to where the house was.

After the storm and surveying the destruction, I had to call my parents and tell them not to come home because there was no home to come home to.

The further south one drove, the destruction got worse. I cut through coconut grove and up the southerly route off the highway, and there were boats in the middle of the streets.

BIG HUGE BOATS…

We finally reached the house. There were no trees standing. A 50 foot tree that grew outside my bedroom window was dropped on the house next door. The roof was peeled off from the front to the back of the house and into the pool along with the screen over the pool itself.

Trees all over the place, Big Huge Banyan Trees that must have been more than 50 years old were all upended and torn from the ground as far as the eye could see. It was all a big mess.

There was a 2 story apartment building directly behind our house and it looked as if someone took a saw and sawed off the 2nd floor into rubble. People who lived there were combing through concrete and shit to try and find what ever was left of their lives.

There were no electrical lines hanging, they were all down. There was no water. We were 7/10ths of a mile from the water. Those houses closest to the water were severely demolished.

Further south in Homestead looked like an atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Everything was match sticks. Countless people out in the sticks west of the city disappeared into the swamps.

Thousands of people went unaccounted for and were missing, and it seemed nobody went looking for them.

After the fact, many years later,  I took a class on natural disasters here in Canada at Concordia University. One night my professor started lecturing on this topic using slides and book statistics, and I read along and found that the book we used gave statistics of deaths and losses. They got it all very wrong. I was like, these numbers are wrong. You can’t use these tables and charts. So I interrupted her lecture and gave my own impromptu lecture on the storm to the entire class sitting there in the lecture hall.

I guess nobody came into the area to talk to those of us who were there right after the storm and could attest to thousands of people disappeared off the face of the earth never to be found.

All those people who worked in the fields and those who lived so far out on the other side of Krome avenue were never heard from again. How many of these people were there illegally and had no warning or got evacuated out? We will never know, but the fact is that many people were lost and never reported as such in statistics.

The state called in the troops to set up soup kitchens and do security. We were issued special I.D.’s to get into devastated areas inside the inclusion zones all points south of the airport where things were demolished. It took weeks to clean up the fallen trees. I was moving between three houses to take care of the people under my care in my neighborhood.

There were so many downed trees in the streets that driving was difficult. I watched people looting stores and robbing houses that had been destroyed. Nights afterwards we slept at the top of the streets in our cars with shotguns loaded to keep out looters.

We lived in a middle class white neighborhood. On the West side of the highway US1 was mostly a black neighborhood. And there were great racial tension between the two worlds.My father being the racist bigot he was slept with his gun in his arms every night just wanting someone to come and fuck with him.

Everybody had lost a home, but it was the white folks who got looted from the other side of the highway. It was dangerous.

People were lined up for bags of ice fighting with one another it was terrible. People became the hunted and going from a human being to an animal trying to survive for a day was really hard. We had to fend for ourselves because help did not come for almost a week. And by then, in the streets, it was anarchy and violent.

They looted Cutler ridge mall. All the stores were fair game when it came to theft and dishonesty and the cops were at a real loss to control the people who had lost every ounce of civility and responsibility.

There were no grocery stores, no electricity and no water and no money. The banks had been blown away, and with no electricity, how do you work an ATM machine??? Everything was destroyed so my parents brought cash home with them so I could go buy supplies so far North …

It took some time before any semblance of reality was rebuilt. Stores slowly came back online after a time. But still we had to travel great distances to get things we needed because let’s face it everyone else was doing that as well. Too much demand and not enough supplies.

When there is no electricity and night falls, it is very dark. And very bleak. It was totally unnerving night after night, not knowing who was out there and if you were going to get hit during the night. People were on guard for a long time until the troops came in to set up checkpoints and secure what they could.

Finally the government sent the people trailers, at that time my parents were still living in the ruined state of the house sheltered in one of the rooms that still had some semblance of a roof overhead but my parents moved into that little travel trailer to live in.

Having no water, toilets and electricity was not fun. It was a very long time until they began to restring the electrical wires and re-attach the homes back onto the electrical grid.

I was working at RCI at the time. And daily orders for food, ice and sundries were made and delivered to us to bring into the city. I did not last long at this job. But they did provide for their employees for a good period of time. A lot was going on in my life at this time, I was doing what I could and help out, even if my father did not really want my help, because my brother was the “straight capable son who would save them, not the gay son.” But if it weren’t for me, they would never have made it one day without the help I gave them. I was there on day one, even if my parents recollection may differ from my own.

Meanwhile we were cleaning up debris, my parents were shopping and collecting goods to bring home by plane. It took them a week to get it all done. Who knew how hard it was to procure gas generators and get them shipped by plane and then cart all that shit home with luggage.

A week later after the storm, my parents flew into Miami with generators, canned food and supplies bought 1500 miles away. I could not convey the destruction that they were about to see because it didn’t seem that bad at the airport. I remember my father falling to his knees upon arriving at the destroyed house. It was one of the saddest moments in my life.

Every day I would go to work at the port, and after work take orders from all my neighbors and drive to points North and shop for sundries and supplies and deliver them before work the next day. This went on for months on end.

It took months to find a contractor that was reputable, because we got ripped off a shit ton of money by a crook. But eventually the house was rebuilt. Most of our neighbors moved out of that neighborhood after the fact. My parents moved to Sarasota.

It was the worst destruction I had ever seen in my life – and I lived in Miami for 30 years. Andrew destroyed Billions of dollars worth of homes. We lived on Coral Reef Drive on the East side of US1.

The Metro Zoo was destroyed and many animals were running loose in the neighborhood after the storm. All those houses out West of the Zoo were demolished.

Driving south from the airport down the Palmetto Highway the gradient of destruction grew worse the further south you got. Homestead was at Ground Zero. It took more than 10 years for them to rebuild the city.

That event is seared into my memory like a bad nightmare. And very cathartic to write about it once again.


Conversation …

Courtesy: Wrestlingisbest

The week has started off on a good foot. I’ve been seeking answers to questions that I’ve been ruminating over for the past few weeks. I wrote some letters to friends, I’ve been listening to ministers preach, I met with my spiritual director yesterday and I hit a meeting tonight.

I get daily meditations from Neale Donald Walsch and those meditations have been spot on. It’s almost like having someone send you notes from yourself that you were thinking about yet you had not put voice to those thoughts, YET !!!

I’ve been seeking counsel because I am not sure where I am going and what I am supposed to be doing and need to find something to do to get me into some loop or community of people, and that starts with a conversation.

I got out of the house early this afternoon because the sky was leaden for the most part and it looked like rain was in the offing, yet I didn’t carry my umbrella on the way out, and when I got downstairs I decided to chance it. In any case, it did not rain.

Set up was breezy, and I spent a good amount of time sitting out front watching the construction workers do their work across the street. And I find myself wondering what these guys were doing.

The street is blocked off in the up direction, therefore only down traffic can pass, as Clarke is a two direction street. Now, there are piles of dirt haphazardly piled up here and there. And there are trucks, and big machines, dump trucks and accessories for those trucks piled here and there. And it seemed to me that these guys did not know what end of the street these things should go because they kept moving things from one end of the street to the other and back and forth. It was all very odd watching them work. Let’s move all the stuff here and put it down, No, let’s move it over there, No, let’s put things on a truck and then take them off, I don’t know whether I am coming or going…

I’ve been watching these guys work on this street for weeks now and there is no method to their madness. I find it amusing and confusing.

The gaggle of girls came in early to drop off a cake for later in the meeting before heading out for a bite of dinner before the meeting.

I finally got the FINAL WORD on the bells in the bell tower from the concierge. There are four stationary bells in the top of the tower that have clappers to ring the bells, they do not swing. (The group of drunks have been debating whether there were bells in the tower because they could not see them, and the thought was that there was just a big speaker to play bell ringing…) They were wrong.

There is actually a remote control that can be used to ring the bells when needed. Each night at 6 p.m. the Angelus Rings, the ring differs between the Sunday night song and the Tuesday night song. I get to set the record straight this weekend.

It was a packed house tonight, we sat 46 folks. And as usual it was a huge push ten minutes before the meeting started for people to jockey for a ringside seat.

We finished reading “The Doctors Opinion.” From the front of the book, written by Dr. William D. Silkworth. This professional letter written by this influential doctor to the very early readers of the Big Book with Bill and Bob, was an important endorsement for the movement.

He closes the letter with these words …” I earnestly advise every alcoholic to read this book through, and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.”

I’ve read, read and re-read this chapter in the book over the years and every time I make a pass through this story, something different rises up. And as we read and the shares went around the room, this thought came to mind:

As you read these opening pages of the book, there is an implied conversation going on for the writer of the book, the doctors and ministers who participated in vetting the text, and the drunks themselves. In this chapter Silkworth talks about the different types of alcoholics and the conversations they are having with themselves and others involved in their lives.

I can see this conversation going on as I read the text. I read it for myself.

And all I could think about for the moment was that when I was drinking, there was no conversation going on with anyone. Not even with myself. I lived alone, I had few friends who I used to drink with, but they had better recall of the events that took place the night before, than I did. There was nobody to tell me to STOP, or for me to talk to about my “problem.”

I was stuck in a vicious cycle that began on Sunday and I ruminated about the fact that I had to fit in to this group of people and to do that took lots of work, beach visits, tanning salon appointments and working out insanely. And this vicious cycle culminated with the Big Saturday Night Binge to the bitter end.

I was stuck in play. I prayed for God to make it all stop because I was no longer fit to run this vicious cycle any more. It was going to kill me. And it took another alcoholic to bring me to the STOP SIGN. I had to get off the cycle I was on and I needed a new cycle to bring me some sanity.

We all identify with one or the other as Silkworth writes, and if we don’t he encourages us to keep reading the book, because there is a solution for all of us who want it. This is a WANT IT program.

The writers of the book, encourage us to read it with others like us, which brings us to meetings of like minded people who all suffer from the same illness of mind, body and spirit. And in these meetings we begin the conversation, and this same conversation is what keeps us coming back for more. Each time we read from the book, the longer we stay stopped, the more meaning we can wring out of the text.

My home group is a community of like minded folks who come to read, think and share. This has been my touchstone for more than 10 years now. And I told my spiritual director yesterday that I was thirsting for something more. And his reply was this … “Maybe you need another community to bring you into where you want or think you want to go?”

I raised this longing with the group tonight and another of our members came up to me after the meeting saying that she was looking for the same thing, “community.” We spoke about Ignatian Spirituality and churches and hopefully in the coming weeks we can go seek community together. We shall see.

Meetings are a good place to find community, and we get fed at these meetings  week in and week out. But for me, I am longing for something more, I’ve been waiting for God to show me the way. And my spiritual director said that we may be waiting for God to show up, but sometimes it takes us getting off our asses and do something to step towards Him.

I will get up in the morning to hit a 7:30 meeting as long as grasshopper is driving, or I will get up at 8 am on a Sunday morning to hit the Dorval Sunday Breakfast meeting, but I don’t get up on a Sunday morning to go to church.

I need to start making the effort to get to service on Sunday morning because in the words of my director he tells me that by suiting up and showing up, community will open itself to us. But we have to make the effort to show up.

And it isn’t that I am averse to going to church, faith is very important to me and I pray and meditate, in church basements for the most part, I don’t usually walk upstairs to do it, but I should. So that is a new goal to work for, to complete the 5 pillars of Christian practice, I have been missing the last pillar which is a spiritual community (Church).

This god damned computer is going to be the death of me. Now I have to retype the last paragraph that got deleted when my browser crashed…

I am hopeful that in sharing this need with others, that I can get together with my fellows to seek community within a community of faith. That is a new goal to work towards in the coming weeks and months.

Never leave the meeting without talking to someone about what is on your heart and mind because you never know what kind of response you will get. And that happened tonight for me.

We had cake because one of our women celebrated two years this past weekend and she got her chip tonight. There were lots of people to help celebrate and a good night was had by all.

Where will you lead the conversation ???

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries …

Courtesy: Jack’sEmptyMind

It has been a pleasant weekend. The PRIDE parade was today. We could hear it here upstairs, but I didn’t get out of the apartment to partake in the Gayety again this year. Montreal is so late in the Pride Game based on the yearly calendar and the factions have to have things the way they want them, that I can’t be bothered to share. I have plenty of gay friends to make up for the lack of party people.

I was out on time for the meeting, in fact I was there as the chair was unlocking the church door so I did set up for her and we all hung out outside to chat with friends before the meeting.

We have been reading from Experience, Strength and Hope this month and as it was the last regular Sunday night of the month we are closing in on the end of the text. We read “The Belle of the Bar.” From the third edition of the Big Book.

It wasn’t a pretty story, about a woman who was a low bottom drunk and in her sober clarity she relives the way she looked and acted while in the midst of many a drunken stupors. She wasn’t only a “common drunk” in her words, she was also a pill hound and she turned to heroine to round out the trifecta of addictions.

As the story is told from her memory, she eventually finds to rooms along with her siblings. But the story lacks the back story to how she did that, who reached her, who told her to Stop? Who gave her the gift of getting sober?

In my family we were groomed to look good amid the consumption of alcohol. Nobody ever talked about alcoholism, or its problems. But it was there from the get go. I was groomed to drink. And drink I did.

The one story I do have to illustrate just how bad it got for me was when I was living with my friend Gloria in a huge mansion of a house. She had one side and I lived in the other. We worked in the same office where alcohol was a daily fixture like breakfast and lunch. (NOTE: Today all those people who drank are now sober).

Gloria was getting sober or she decided to get sober, unbeknownst to me. So I was a big huge drunk. And I was dating the man who would turn my life upside down later on in the timeline…

Needless to say that I was drinking away my rent money each week. I was the drunk in this relationship (that really was just a friendship). I was the tornado that was spinning out of control in her life as she was getting sober.

I came home one night, (well several night’s later) after a binge party and I went to open the door and the locks were changed. And her son was there to tell me that I could not come in until I paid my rent, which meant I was stuck wearing the dirty clothes on my back and I had to go back to Lauderdale and scrounge clothes for a week until I earned back that money to pay her rent.

I paid my rent and was asked to move out. That was a terrible end to a relationship I cherished. But it would not come to pass for many years later that I went to a meeting one night and there she was in that meeting. And I was like “Fuck me” I had no idea. That was a huge amends that I had to make.

Most of the people I used to drink with are now today sober decades and other periods of time.

We all have to walk our paths. Some are longer than others. But eventually we find our way in. When I was working at the bar, my future sponsor was getting sober a year before I got sober, the first time. And He kept his Big Book on his cash register. I used to ask him what that Big Book was, and his reply was always the same … “I will tell you what it means when you really want to know!”

I eventually hit my bottom and he became my sponsor the first time. It was good for a few years until they moved to the West Coast and I was left alone to fend for myself, and I guess I did not do very well. Being tossed back into the world from the insulated world I was living in was terribly detrimental to me.

It was the lack of support and the fact that I was spinning my wheels in a room, but not actively seeking advice or counsel that only made my slip (Sobriety Loosing its Priority) easier.

The second time around I was ready to quit. And once again, God stepped in and I found my way back.

I’ve come so far in sobriety. And I am nothing but grateful for the people and the meetings that have carried me this far. I would be nothing without them.

A good night was had by all …

More to come, stay tuned …


Participation …

Courtesy: Janne Flickr

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood today. My week has been full of little surprises here and there. My friend Dave called me yesterday afternoon, and asked me to speak at Verdun Fellowship last night. I only had a few hours to sort out what I was going to say. I don’t know if I knocked it out of the park, but I told a story and people were receptive top it.

Tonight I set out for St. Matthias early. I made all my buses this time around. I was there early and sat out front. And to my surprise Grasshopper showed up for the meeting. It has been a while since I have seen him being busy with his condo reno job starting and he moved into a hotel not far from here.

Our speaker for the night was good. She told a good hearty story about what happens when we get sober. We have good times and bad times in sobriety, but now we are sober we get to deal with both of these things in a sober manner.

One of the things she talked about that was important to her was “Participation.”

If you come and you only warm a seat and come and go without any interaction with anyone else you are missing the whole deal. And I agree with her on that.

We don’t get sober to sit on the sidelines and let life pass us by. But with time you know instinctively where to jump right in and where to be cautious.

At the meeting she says, we all drank … but now we are sober and life is so much better for that fact. Finding a home group, getting active, participating in the meeting.

My sponsor and a few of us use to travel from meeting to meeting on Friday nights, he never stays in one place very long which drove me crazy, because if you hit a certain meeting more than two or three weeks in a row, you begin to invest in the meeting, and in its people. I just don’t go to a particular meeting for no reason, I go because I like the people and I feel a part of when I am there.

I enjoy the meetings I go to on my weekly routine. And then there are those meetings I don’t often get to unless I am invited to speak or go with another member to that meeting. Visit a meeting and get involved, learn about the members and see how you can be a part of, whether that being reading something or sharing at a discussion or speaking when asked. It’s all a lot of fun, we are not a “glum lot.”

And tonight’s speaker was animated and happy with her life at 19 years in.

We took the bus home and tomorrow I will have lunch with grasshopper.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Obsession …

Courtesy: Golden Gate Bridge Advisory

Sometimes all you want to do is jump off a bridge !!!

The day has come and gone. The weather held up today, because we were warned about rain, that did not happen. On the way out I had to drop by the voters registration office to register to vote, since the province did not have me on the voter rolls.

I thought that the process would be quick and easy, I was wrong. When I got there just after 3, there were three people ahead of me in line. An hour later I was like “uh, I need to get out of here, I’m going to be late …” And the little man who was taking care of signers came out just after 4 to register me. They had to fill out this huge affidavit with my credentials, residential and medicare info. It takes 4 signatures on that affidavit to be legal. And all 4 of those people need to oversee the proceedings before signing. Now I can vote next month.

Our riding of Westmount /St. Louis is known for being a strong Liberal riding. What other choice is there, other than voting for a separatist group? Anglo’s don’t have much of a choice when it comes to government in a heavily Francophone province. If anyone other than the Liberals win next month, I would seriously contemplate moving somewhere else. We shall see …

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

The day was good. Working a little later than usual, I pounded out set up, I had my music cranked and I was finished a little after 5. And I’ve been obsessing over people and situations for the last week. What else does an alcoholic do better than obsess over something that they are totally powerless over ??? I’ve been playing a confrontation over and over in  my head all week long. Needless to say that I was on edge all afternoon, expecting a confrontation tonight.

Thank God for small miracles …

The reading came from the Big Book and the Doctor’s Opinion found in the opening pages of the book.

I had a good hour to ponder what I wanted to say. My memory is foggy when it comes to things farther than a decade out of mind. And that moment when the obsession to drink was lifted the first time. I had a bunch of stuff going on that I had to focus on, and I wasn’t really focused on the book, so much.

I mean I stayed sober, because I had things to do with my time. My friends kept me busy at noon meetings, taking me to lunch and doing chores afterwards.

The last year of my drinking was crazy. What do you do when you live in a city that is surrounded by water and alcohol? Drink … I had periods of dry time. And though they were long at some points, I returned to the bottle because I was chasing the “psychic change that was supposed to magically transform me into a beach blond, gym buff, tanned god of the beach.

I was clearly well passed the point of the desire to drink. I was obsessed with the drink. Obsessed to the point of insanity. I just knew sooner or later it would do for me what I could not do for myself. Wrong …

I was soon to realize that my obsession was all wrong. I could not keep up the appearances of a responsible drunk. Experience enough black outs and not knowing how one gets home after a night of obsession drinking and you get scared because you don’t know who poured you into a taxi and got you into the house.

I stopped … One day at a time.

It was a good omen when the club I used to drink at shut down for good just after I got sober. Thank you, I don’t ever have to go back there and drink again. But I did have to walk by the building every day that I went to meetings. The room and the bar were very near each other. So each day I did not drink, the psychic change they talk about in the book about finding the power greater than myself began to work in my life.

Today I don’t obsess over drinking, and I try not to ponder what it would be like to drink. There are plenty of opportunities to drink in our neighborhood. Thankfully I never drank here. I have been sober every day that I have lived here. I can’t recall when that psychic change occurred, but it did.

It was shortly midway through my first year of sobriety, On the day of St. Jean Baptiste, I was sitting on the keys at the old port and the crowds were all over the place double fisting beer and alcohol and I was stuck in the middle of it, and I think that was one of those moments that I really did not want to drink, however accessible it was for me. I didn’t drink …

The desire and the obsession to drink left me …

There are many lessons to take from the Book.

It was a good night. We had a 1 year cake tonight, one of our young members took his year. And there are a few more coming up over the next few weeks. Many of our members and guests all got sober during the same season.

That is always exciting.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Join the Tribe …

Courtesy: Wrestlingisbest

Well, it’s over. And Canada came in 13th place with 18 medals. 1 Gold, 5 Silver and 12 bronze. I guess you could say that the Olympic Theme this year was the 3rd Place Games. There were plenty of mistakes on many fronts. Disqualifications, losses, cheaters and a few fuck ups.

Canada does not excel at Summer Games. Our forte lies in our Winter capabilities. Own the Podium will have to work real hard for Sochi in 2014. We just could not get out of that 3rd place funk. We fell seriously short on Own the Podium. At least one athlete won Gold.

You learn a lot about other countries and how they groom their athletes. You also see how countries differ in their treatment of male and female athletes. It is quite shameful how some Middle Eastern Countries scorned their competing women. Just shameful.

Great Britain came in 4th place with 29 Gold, 17 Silver, and 19 Bronze for a total of 65 medals for the Host Country. As the host country, there were many flaws in the games when it came to refs, timers, rules and infractions. Some teams really got screwed over rules enforced and rules that were overlooked for others. Canada got screwed several times over. You live and you learn.

So that’s my take on the Olympics …

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

It was an uneventful weekend. It rained here and there. They say that rain is in the forecast for the next few days so I packed an umbrella in my bag tonight before leaving the house for the meeting. It rained during the meeting and then the skies cleared for the walk home.

We continued reading from Experience, Strength and Hope and the story called “Join the Tribe” about an Indian who is lost in the thick of alcoholism and how he finds his way into the rooms. This story is written in simple lay man’s terms quite a departure from how we read English.

“Miracles happen all time in A.A. Two years later, my brother take Tall Man to first A.A. Meeting. Tall Man was blind, but soon he see. He stay sober. Start group on reservation and carry message, help start groups all over Maritimes and New England. He was old, but now he grow young with new life in A.A. and travel all the time.

When he speak from heart, big men cry. Words of truth and love are strong medicine. Tall man die five years ago, a sober, peaceful, happy man…

To find work, I have travel much. At every place, I find A.A. group first. I keep it simple; go to many meetings; carry message to those who listen. To me, program is spiritual. I feel Great Spirit at all meetings and when talk to A.A. friends. I know peace. “How?” they ask me

I say, “Just let it happen.” This sober Indian say to sick, red eyed alcoholic who want good medicine: “Put cork in bottle. No drunk hopeless if he want to follow guide along right trail. Go to A.A. meetings. Listen, not just hear noise. Get sponsor and phone numbers. Call friends in A.A. when bad thoughts come. Let group spirit of love and understanding protect you. Take my hand. Walk with me up Twelve Steps of A.A. to peace.

To Indians, I say: “Don’t be afraid to join A.A. I once hear people say only Indians crazy when drunk. If so, A.A. full of Indians. Join the tribe!”

I’ve been in this mode of just letting things happen. I don’t know, I just feel like I am supposed to be somewhere other than where I am at the moment, and I have asked some friends to weigh in on this dilemma that I find myself in.

But keep it simple stupid. Let it happen. And life will take its course as it always does.

More to come, stay tuned…


Stand up and be PROUD of who you are…

Courtesy: Thiswillnotdefineus

It rained …

Not a hard rain, but sparse big drops of rain falling haphazardly from the skies. I spent the day resting after yesterdays events and goings on. I was up and ready to go early and isn’t it always the case that when you leave early to make a certain bus that as you approach the stop, the bus is already sitting there, having made the pickup and you don’t have time to run and catch it, so you have to wait, IN THE RAIN, for the next one.

Such is life …

I am always early and I frequently miss the mark. UGH !!!

It was a good night for a meeting. The house was packed. Lots of friends in attendance. And our speaker got up there and knocked it out of the park.

I’ve been seeking answers to life as of late. I’ve been trying to figure out where I should be and what I should be doing. And tonight the message came to me, needless to say, from another member.

What do you do when you know it all, and are defiant and stubborn? When you have everything a person should ever want and you get warned that if you keep up doing what you are doing, you are going to loose all those things you have…

Our girl had it all. A home, husband, a car, and kids but she was a drunk. Who knew better than the rest of us and decidedly had all the answers.

Sometimes we hit the long hard spiral downwards and it takes us down the pitch into a hard crash and burn and at that point the losses can be great, or they can be small. In our woman’s case, it was a great loss.

Eventually she found her way into the rooms. Our room to be exact. All she had, as she tells the story, were only the clothes on her back.

She thought she had all the answers and could recite the book line and verse. After several stabs at rehab which all failed because she thought she knew it all.  And loath she was to other members, she did whatever she wanted, ignoring all the advice and suggestions.

Some people have to learn the hard way. And our woman did just that.

The woman who helped her get sober, is no longer sober. Such is the case for many people, when the one who helps us get sober, departs the rooms and for some, never get back.

With almost 20 years in the program, all those things our woman lost began to return to her. Little by slowly. But they did.

I was riveted by her message. I ate up every word she spoke. It was like eating ripe fruit. What is she working on today? Discipline.

Eating right, exercise, running, she does Bikram Yoga and she is running in the 1/2 marathon that I wanted to run in September, with her 80 year old father.

She has her man, and teen age kids, and sobriety that is rich and rewarding. She does what ever she is told. She gives it away. This is a selfish program they say.

And at the end she said this, That when she speaks she stands, and doesn’t sit, because she says we need to Stand up and be proud of who we are because of who we are, sober people.

I got the message and many others got the message as well. It was a great share.

We had a 12 year cake and lots of celebration going on. I didn’t stay for cake, I made my way to the bus stop where, as I approached the stop, the bus was coming, and I was on the opposite side of the street and not enough time to cross and make the bus, so I had to wait for the next one which was a 104.

Janelle got voted off Big Brother. Oh well …

All in all, all is well.

More to come, stay tuned …


The Modern Nomad …

The Modern Nomad

Meet Gustav, the Modern Nomad. I was introduced to him by Dan at Dan Nation some time ago after Dan interviewed him for his blog. Gustav is from Sweden.

Do you ever get the feeling that your life as it is lived is boring, pointless or dead ended? Do you long to travel around the world in an Eco-challenging way? Do you want to know what it is like to pull up stakes, close up your home and set off on the adventure of a lifetime? Living simply while you travel, experiencing all that the world has to offer.

I’ve followed a number of bloggers that tired of living in the same place, doing the same things, and working at jobs that weren’t really fulfilling, so they pulled up stakes, traveled the world and found out what was their passions and also where they found their hearts and beings.

My One friend who writes at Travel Pash Love once called Sydney, Australia home, and he had a great job jet setting all over the world. But the routine got mundane and he longed for a change. So he shut his apartment, packed a couple of suitcases and spent a year traveling around the world looking for his next port of entry.

He found his life in South Africa, Cape Town to be exact. He met a man and fell in love and now they have a beautiful three bedroom home in Cape Town. His blog was turned into a book and he is doing what he loves doing, “Destination Australia.”

Gustav, our Swedish friend has traveled extensively around the world, going to places I could only dream about visiting myself. I have my life, and it’s happy. Gustav’s last address was in Buenos Aires. He has written extensively about his travels on his blog pictured above.

Now in New York, his next stop is California and the Burning Man festival. If you ever get the chance to go to Burning Man, you shouldn’t miss it. From what I have learned about it from Dan and others, it is quite the adventure.

Let’s show Gustav some love. Go read his blog and join the adventure.

If you’ve ever considered packing it all in and getting out of dodge, this is the way to do it.

I made my life change some 10 plus years ago leaving the U.S. for greener pastures here in Canada. And my piece of advice to you arm chair or sofa surfers is to put down your beers and chips and pack your bags and leave your comfort zone for a calendar year, it will change your life and the way you see the world.

Everyone should get the opportunity to travel some and see the world.

Join the adventure blog system.


Nemesis …

Courtesy: SATC Alexander

It was a very productive day today. And it seemed that stars aligned to allow the day to go as smoothly as it did. It even surprised me.

And I remarked “How lucky am I?”

I had to drop labs for tomorrows doctors appointment. There is a separate line up for diabetes patients to get labs done stat and there is general population, take a number and wait line. I opted for the take a number and wait line because I was filling two lab requests at the same time. So I got to the clicker, and looked up to see what number they were at on the wall counter. 21 … I was about to pull 22, and as I pulled the number they called my number and I got right in, no waiting at all.

I got all my labs done inside of twenty minutes. That was a first.

Grasshopper had dropped me off at 8:45 and I was finished before 9:30. So he picked me up and dropped me at Guy so that I could run an errand into the village, the trains were running fast so it was a quick ride out to Beaudry and the shop opened at 10, so I had to wait for a little while, but I was rewarded with a same swap and did not have to pay for another item. And I saw my humpy sexy friend who works at the shop I was shopping at, I hadn’t seen him in a long time, so we caught up. That was fun …

I got back on the train and was back home by 10:45 and I got a nap in before going to set up this evening. I’ve been having strange dreams as of late. They never repeat and it seems that they last a really long time and by the end of the dream I am fully aware that I am inside a dream as it is happening.

I was out and about at 4 and set up went by quickly, thanks to the new playlist that I created for my phone. Lots of new DJ music that I have collected, and some really great pieces of music that have great meaning. Jimmy Somerfiled’s rendition of “Never Can Say Goodbye” is my coming out song. It was the first song I danced to the first night I ever went to the Parliament House on the night I came out with my friend Patrick, and he kissed me that night, which was a real bonus.

Anyways, I digress …

It was a packed meeting. We sat 40 folks and the discussion went all the way around the room, we read from “Came to Believe.” And a story about evil. I really had nothing to say about the topic so I passed. I really did not want to say anything in front of my nemesis who showed up with his girl, for the first time since they created such a ruckus at T.B.’s some time ago.

I did not say anything about it … and thankfully my sponsor breached the subject on the way home. We are of the same mind on many things. Where nemesis goes, trouble and disruption always follows. And that judgment has not tempered since that blow up when I went ballistic and threw my keys across the room and walked out … suffice to say we survived them, and they never returned until tonight.

“Tolerance for those with different struggles…”

Other than the knot in my stomach from the meeting, and the anticipation of
a confrontation coming, I did my close up and hauled my ass outside to wait for sponsor to lock up inside and drive us back home.

Confrontation avoided !!!

Tomorrow I get my A1C numbers and we shall see what my doc decides to do over medication, it has been over a year since I have been on treatment. hopefully I get a good bill of health.

More to come, stay tuned …