Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production

Archive for May, 2013

Business … It Ain’t that Bad …



The week is coming to an end. And overall, I am pleased with the way things panned out, in the end.

Tuesday I had my mini blow up. And on Wednesday I had an appointment with my doctor to “clear the air” and try to find new ground to move forwards.

It was good that I was reading “The Camel knows the Way” and Lorna’s storytelling about Mother Teresa. After reading the book, I actually finished it sitting in the exam room, waiting for my doc to show up, I was reminded about humanity, that I should see Jesus in every person I meet, and that compassion and understanding should be applied to all things.

That tempered my attitude and my responses.

We had a discussion, contrition was made. Peace was offered and in the end, it was all good. So it was a happy ending. I don’t need a new doctor. I just need to stay alive and drop some weight and take my pills. I see the cardiac doctor next Wednesday morning for another stress test … UGH !

I have until September to make headway into the goal of shrinking my body mass to something more manageable.

Today is Thursday. And it was the last Thursday of the month, hence our first business meeting of the new group. We survived our first month, there is money in the kitty and rent is paid for June. All the jobs were assigned and it went very well. All of our guys are amenable.

Tonight we read from the Big Book and Chapter 5 How It Works, and page 62. About selfishness and self -centeredness.

“And it goes on to say that our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible…

… This is the how and why of it. First of all we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our director. He is the principle; we are his agents. He is the Father, we are his children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”

As a child my troubles were not of my own making. Because I lived in a house with a Jekyl and Hyde alcoholic. In our world, alcoholism existed, nobody talked about it, and this was our lot in life so suck it up.

I can’t say that I drank because of anybody. Was there fear? I suppose so. But drinking was just something I was raised to do. It was part of regular existence. But I know when I reached my twenties, I was a drunk who was stuck in true self will run riot. I knew not from responsibility. I was that tornado they talk about running rough shod through people’s lives without impunity.

And by the time I took my second “Last Drink” I was delusional. I was deluded by the thinking that I needed the drink, that it would magically make me part of, pretty, buff, and one of Many, instead of just one of one.

And by the time I took that last drink, I had accomplished steps One, Two and Three. I had spiritually turned it over to God, before I set foot back in a room when I got sober this last time. I prayed for God to move in my life, and He did. And I got sober. Nuff said.

I am amid an experience that I cannot explain. And I am in search of someone to help me through it. That is in process. So we shall see what happens.

More to come, stay tuned…

I Don’t Think He Said what you THOUGHT He Said !!!


It has been a day …

Early this morning I was awoken by a phone call from the hospital. The previous conversation that I had with the woman in the ombudsman office, did not stay between us. And it went further.

The medical coroner (read:Examiner) wanted to see me today. And as soon as possible. I arrived at the hospital by 2 pm for a special meeting. I waited for a bit until he arrived. And we sat down and he opened the foray with:

“I don’t think he said what you thought you heard him say !!!”

So much for the customer is always right!!!

He had talked to both my doctors. This is how he opened the conversation.

We talked and as we talked my voiced began to crack, and I began to loose my patience with him, as he lauded my doctors good manner and his humanity and all that shit … By the end I was screaming at him.

I was livid.

He said I must have perceived something incorrectly. I was besides myself. I was like you don’t get it. And I went into great detail what was going on in my mind. i was still wrong after all my talking.

We ended with me going to the clinic and making an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow morning. Because he is going on vacation for four weeks.

During our discussion, he let loose some information that came from his inquiries of me from both my doctors. One of those is that my diabetes is not being controlled very well, and that more medication may be added to the mix.

And that I have fivefold threats to possible heart disease. Little things here and there that might indicate that I am in big trouble. Not to mention my retarded family medical tree. Thank you dad for that …

According to my diabetes doctor, the last time I saw him in clinic, he doubled some of my meds and left it at that. Two weeks later I called the clinic and asked if he wanted to see me since he upped my medication. They opted to give me an appointment six months from that point, which is next fall.

No discussion of medication or levels or anything.

Tomorrow morning I am going to the diabetes clinic to see what he wants to do since I am not “responding to medication” like some would like and instead of waiting six months for new labs and by then things could be much worse, see if indeed he wants to change up my mixture.

Since this medical examiner is all up in my business and said several diagnosy statements, as if he could talk to me like he was MY doctor.

I screamed and yelled very loudly. I am sure the secretary got an earful of my anger and disappointment in the way these proceedings were heading.

I picked up my bag, I said Fine … I will make an appointment for tomorrow and I carried my ass to the clinic.

Meanwhile. I’ve been waiting for two weeks for someone to call me back about my upcoming appointment to cardio for the tests that mu doctor was so sure I needed because in his words last, I was going to DIE !

The sheet was still sitting on the desk. No answers, No appointment, hurry up and wait…

I started freaking out on the secretary and once again I raised my voice. Obviously I was not amused by the lack of response that I was told I would get quickly because of the severity of the call.

Obviously I am not dying enough to get immediate action.

Hence, my impending threat of imminent death was totally overblown.

And perhaps I did not hear what I think he said, and that he didn’t say what I thought he said, because my doctor is so virtuous.

FUCK ME !!!!

I cam  home for an hour. I departed close to 4 pm hoping that the church secretary would still be there so I could pay Thursday Night’s rent for June, but I was late. The office was closed.

I went downstairs it was almost 4:30 and I cranked out tables and chairs. Because I needed something to do with my anger, and to spend some time quietly reading in a space that I usually commune with God in.

My sponsor showed up around 5:30 and he sputtered and told me that they had changed up set up and that I set up the wrong way and that it wasn’t my job to set up and on and on …

Fuck me Twice …

We re-arranged the room a bit. I signed on to the group again. So I now have memberships at three groups that meet in that space. After spending so much time with Tuesday girls at the roundup I was reminded how much I missed them and that I needed to go back. And so did a friend, who used to come to Vendome Beginners instead.

The talk was Step Three …

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

My sponsor could not bring himself to the roundup because of his past. And I am amidst a spiritual experience. And he could not be further from me. And I told this to one of the women tonight that since the roundup I feel like I am one up on my sponsor.

He doesn’t give me what I feel I need. I need more of something I know exists and things need to change. So I am hoping to get with a woman friend of mine in the coming day to talk to her.

Now I am home, my anger is abated.

Tomorrow I see my doc. Let Us Pray.

However I did get the option that if I want a new doctor, I can have one if that’s what I decide. I chose to wait and talk to my doc tomorrow before I make that decision.

More to come. stay tuned…

The Hands of the Mother


Grace …

For many years now Mother Teresa has been a staple in my prayers and meditation. When I turned ten years, my two year medallion was gold dipped and engraved with the words: “I Thirst.”

From her Memoirs – Come Be My Light where she talks about Thirsting for Jesus as he thirsted from the cross.

That same week I got my first tattoo. Those same words, “I Thirst” translated into Hebrew. And is now on my arm.

This weekend we heard a woman speak at the Dorval Round Up.

And this woman, walked, talked, worked and lived with Mother Teresa. And in the end she was asked to testify for the Beatification of Mother Teresa.

At the end of her share on Saturday night, I stood in line and I grasped her hands and thanked her graciously. We all did.

And tonight it is a Pivotal Moment in my sobriety. After all my prayers, adoration and love Mother came to me, and to us.

We touched the hands of the woman who touched the hands of Mother Teresa.

She has come full circle.

I will never be the same man from here on out.

Sunday Sundries … Traditions and Round up Wrap Up …

tumblr_m92o047WHu1qbrivdo1_r2_500 wrestlingisbest

Courtesy: Wrestlingisbest

It rained all day long …

Meanwhile, at the roundup, we hosted speakers up from New York, and the weather was just not cooperating !!! That was the only damper for the weekend.

Otherwise, it was a grand success. Did you know that this year, the 39th annual West Island Roundup attracted more than 400 people to the weekend sober fest.

Last year they had less than 50 people come. So it was a rousing success, the Dorval community really stepped it up and came through with stars across the board.

We were up bright and early for a 9:30 a.m. pick up time to make the morning circuit. We had three speakers lined up for today. The first speaker of the program today, I heard her share at St. Matthias a few months ago, she came up from New York to see her sponsee ( the first lady of sobriety – of the Tuesday meeting).

I worked the registration table across the afternoon hour, so I missed the Al-Anon speaker. Then they provided a whopping chicken dinner for more than 400 folks. It was quite amazing.

The afternoon program there were 2 speakers and the closing remarks. I got to hear the first of the two, who happened to be gay. And he tells the story about the fact he is in his 50’s now and got sober in the 80’s, and when he speaks to newcomers, and asks them if they have ever heard of Judy Garland, they respond “WHO???”

Kids today, if it ain’t on I-Tunes, they don’t listen to it …

Anyways, we laughed and commiserated with our man. Not to mention that there were a contingent of LGBT folks at the roundup. We were well represented.

I got a ride home after the first speaker because I had to be home to get to the church on time for set up, because if you build it, they will come. I cranked out set up with my tunes on. I was alone. And I sat for a while reading the first of two books I bought written by Lorna Kelly.

You Tube her … Lorna Kelly

If you You Tube her you will see videos of her in Calcutta and other great things she does.

Published books:

The Camel Knows The Way

In the Footsteps of the Camel

Like I said in last night’s post, she not only knew Mother Teresa, she went to Calcutta to work with the poor and to learn about her. I am encouraged to read her books because we now share a commonality.

It is the last Sunday of the month, and so it was Tradition Sunday. And it being the fifth month, we read the Fifth Tradition.

“Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers…”

And what was the take away from this weekends Round Up ???

You can’t keep it, you have to give it away. The most important person in the room is the newcomer, because our sobriety hinges on us sharing the message of recovery with them, as they are able, to come to know what we know, and recover a hopeless state of mind, body and spirit.

I heard these speakers talk about meetings in other places like New York, where you can find meetings with 600 people in attendance. And In Los Angeles where you can find meetings with upwards of 1600, yes that sixteen HUNDRED people show up for a meeting.

Imagine those numbers here.

I’ve seen a hundred here or there when I was newly sober. When Tuesday Beginners was in its infancy, back in the day, you could count on one to two hundred people in that basement hall that we use on a weekly basis.

Follies was popular and well populated. And that meeting folded a few years into my sobriety. People just stopped coming. But we don’t see near those numbers anywhere in Montreal. That would be incredibly amazing.

The round up was cool because there were more than 400 people for the weekend. That is well attended.

We heard many good things about Tradition Five, and how the many people interpret and utilize FIVE.

Speakers this weekend stressed that:

It might be ODD or it might be GOD !!!

Sooner or later you will find a power greater than yourself and then we learn to pray. It is a proven fact that those folks who go to meetings, work with newbies, work their steps (over and over) again, pray and meditate have a much higher quality of life. Because they get on their knees and pray …


Three – God I offer myself to thee to build with me and to do with me as thou wilt. Relive me of the bondage of self, that I may better do they will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and They way of life. May I do thy will always.

Seven – My creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do Your bidding.

Eleven – God, I pray for forgiveness for the wrongs I have done today. I ask that I be shown with corrective measures should be taken.

They say: COPY – PASTE – and Place by your bedside so that every day you say the prayers that bring your life together. This is the ritual we are told changes lives and ever so slightly ratchets your will more to your creators will, and if you pray every day, your life WILL GET BETTER !!!

We had a number of newbies at the Sunday meeting. People reached out and it was a great meeting.

It has been a full weekend.

More to come, stay tuned…

A Whisper from Heaven


It is raining…

It was a dreary day today. And tonight was the first night of the 39th annual West Island Roundup in Dorval. Imagine a room full of drunks come together to hear speakers from New York City, what an amazing event.

Our primary ride is sick, which meant we had to hoof it all the way to Dorval via the Metro, and two buses. It took us about an hour to make the transit, in the rain, on packed buses, on the highway. It was dicey…

We arrived in one piece my friend and I. And all of our friends were there. The minions of our fearless pied piper, our first lady of sobriety from the Tuesday Night meeting.

Tomorrow I get to work hospitality.

For tonight I must say that I have been in a very maudlin mood. It all began not long ago, and now that the funk has been driven away, I am trying to move forwards.

Last night there was a documentary on television, late night, called “We Were Here.” I don’t think I can watch another AIDS documentary again. I am from a different time, and I lived through all that horror. And now I am on the other side of death.

One line that got me was that those of us who have seen such death, and survived it, if not careful, can get lost and become the wandering ghosts.

Those of us who do not necessarily re-engage life.

I re-engaged life. With all that I had within me, I fought to get back on track.

But like some, I had a problem.

The most important piece of literature in A.A. it was said tonight, was the preamble. Ancient Chinese wisdom speaks that

“Wisdom comes, when you can call something by its proper name.”

The preamble solves this problem for me, for us.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership, we are self supporting through our own contributions.

A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses or opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety.

My name is Jeremy and I am an alcoholic.

That is who I am. And this is the problem I have. This is my proper name.

Our speaker tonight said all this to us. In a round about sort of way. She told her story and we laughed and we shed a few tears, and most importantly, we identified with her.

This is our task. To stay sober. We have a mental, physical and spiritual disease. And she warned us, those of us with time, those with a lot of time, and for those of us with a little time, not to get stuck in any one area. Because we need to take care of all of us, not just part of us.

And it is not only in what we do in open company, but what we do ourselves. There might come a time when the drink rises up and tries to make us forget that we have a problem, and therefore, it would be ok, just for a little taste.

NO !

We go to meetings. Some get it right away, and for some, it takes a bit longer to coalesce. We laugh, because we alcoholics, come to meetings, to listen to people who have screwed up their lives, have reached rock bottom, and we long to listen to people share … They say that we “might have a problem!”

You never know when God is going to whisper in your ear, and if you’re not paying attention for the still small voice, you will miss it.

And God spoke, Well, maybe it wasn’t God, but more to the point, Mother Teresa made an appearance in the speakers story. And many ears perked up, after the fact, we were all on the same page in that room.

It was a sign. A whisper. And it spoke to me …

Mother Teresa was very interested in alcoholism, and the one thing she could not master, in serving the poorest of the poor, she just could not reach the alcoholic. And it is told that she placed the serenity prayer, steps and traditions at the foot of the statue of the Virgin Mary in a chapel in Calcutta.

Mention of Mother Teresa was not lost on me and I told this to our speaker after her share. That my ten year medallion, is engraved with the meditation “I Thirst,” and on my body is the same tattoo in Hebrew.

It was a brief wave from heaven.

Through all the suffering that I have seen in my life, two sober attempts and being successful at this point, not to have taken a drink in more than eleven years, is an achievement.

It is important that we get the opportunity to hear speakers who are not from here – to be fed from a different farm, so to speak.

The one thing we all have in common, our true names, and the ability to sit with you and say, I understand you, Let me tell you how I dealt with this or that. I can identify with you.

That’s all we have, is our experience. You never know the burden someone carries when you walk into a room of alcoholics. Or any room for that matter.

AIDS makes us humble. It makes us compassionate. It tempers us for the world about us. And it changes our lives forever, in ways that mere mortal men and women will never and can never know unless you have walked in our shoes.

I need to keep walking. Doing the next right thing.

I need to honor and listen to my spirit.

And we need fellowship … because we don’t do this on our own.

It was a beautiful night.

More to come, for sure. Stay tuned …

Friday – Choices …

tumblr_mewhgyhxEe1qb8h9do1_500 untiltheacropolis

Courtesy: Untiltheacropolis

It is Friday. The end of the week. And one of wonder.

Yesterday I spoke to my 2nd doctor who alleviated my fear about dropping dead. And today, the ombudsman from the hospital called. She actually called me to talk about the situation. My faith in the healthcare system has been renewed. Since George stepped in, and is turfing out the situation, I saw no need to keep my complaint active. Better keep it in the family, then involve others, that could get messy.

It was a rainy grey day today. All the better to nap in.

We got out around 7 for North End English. We made good time out, and also on the return. The 51 – Laurier – Guy transit is faster than the 80 – Place des Arts – Guy transit.

We read from As Bill See’s It … Can We Choose ?

The reading is all about choices. As children we really don’t have a choice in life until we grow older. And for some, young people don’t always make the right choices. Myself included. It seemed that I was destined to live a life of really bad choices, with all the wrong people, for all the wrong reasons.

And that ended me up where I ended up. The rest they say is history. Why type it all up over again. Until I made the first of several choices that turned my life around. In the end I was responsible for those choices, and nobody else.

In making certain choices I alienated people out of my life, on purpose. How could I compete with carrying the moniker of ” The Mistake?”

And being stuck in a no win scenario was not healthy. So I chose to make a break and relocate, the stars aligned for me and the rest they say is history.

I chose to never drink again. I chose to never use again. I chose life instead of death. I chose life instead of suffering. Every choice I have made since then has proved to be good. I never have to be alone in making choices, I have my fellows and my friends to run things by, I don’t have to live alone in a bubble all by myself. The rooms provide – all things.

So it was a good meeting. It was Packed to the rafters. There must have been something in the water — Tee Hee !! But overflow was full. We need a bigger room, I think.

Tomorrow is Saturday and the beginning of the West Island Roundup.

All of the speakers are coming from New York City to share with us, experience, strength and hope. It should be a great time. And it comes at a great time as well, after receiving the best news, that there is life and life abundant.

More to come, stay tuned…

The Second Opinion …


Let’s visit the doctor shall we?

I got up this morning and decided to call the ombudsman office to see if there was any movement on my file. I left two messages. Both useless. I later found out that this office is useless when it comes to patient issues.

I sort of hoped that my diabetes doctor would be in his office at the clinic today, it being Thursday, I wasn’t sure. But I called anyways and was rewarded with a full conversation about what happened last week.

He was sure that I misunderstood Chris, when he said that I was gonna die. And I assured him that I did not misunderstood the words “You’re gonna die!” Hr then offered that he would speak to Chris about what he said and get back to me. In the meantime he said “NO, you’re not going to die…”

So that was a good start to the day.

The city has been under a boil water order for more than 24 hours now. That is more than a million people, on and off the island fighting over bottled water in the stores, and businesses trying to stay open with a biol water order on.

UGH !!!

Do you know how many coffee shoppes closed for the day today because they are on the water main to make coffee and other drinks? Millions …

It was a muggy muggy day. It poured here and there, and I carried an umbrella and it did not even rain on me while I was in transit.

This evening we used two tea pot water boilers and I bought instant coffee, hot chocolate and assorted teas for the meeting.

We sat 11 men. And the DCM for the area came to inspect the group so we can be added to the next meeting list coming out soon. We read from the 3rd edition of the Big Book, a story from the back.

It was all good. Lots of gratitude tonight.

That is all.

More to come stay tuned…

Introspection – A Day Later …

tumblr_l8yig0qgFp1qbsveko1_500 billypazionis

Courtesy: BillyPazionis Flickr

I would first like to thank all of you who responded to my post yesterday. All your advice was well taken. Since yesterday was a holiday I could not make any headway into information until today.

Last night I filed a grievance with the Administration of the hospital where I am being treated. And I also filed a complaint with the ombudsman who emailed me to say that they would be contacting me.

I am going on with my life because obsessing over dying is not fun.

I was up and around to get out early for the meeting and we took the 90 bus to Vendome. It wasn’t raining but the sky was dark.

The topic was Growing up from As Bill Sees It.

And this is what came to mind.

I was diagnosed about a month before I got sober in 1994. I had to fight tooth and nail to survive because there weren’t dedicated doctors to care for the sick and no social system to engage to get care.

I was forced to grow up quickly and without question because it was just me, save for my crack assistance team who cared for me. Everyone else had scattered.

I had to be hyper-vigilant with my health care providers and I held them up to severe scrutiny and high expectations because this was my life we are talking about. You did not lie to me and you sure as shit did not fuck with me in any way.

If you said something or said you were going to do something for me – you did it and if you didn’t I made life hell for you until you made your word. I had to do that because people are human and sometimes they talk shit.

When I moved here, I got into the clinic at the hospital where I have been. The top dog was my doctor and I released my stranglehold on people opting to trust blindly what I was told.

I laxed my grasp and my hyper vigilance.

I trusted a man without question. Now he has eroded that trust with the way he seems to be treating me. You don’t tell someone you are going to die without proof or FACT. End Point …

Now we wait to see what they administration will do with my case. I will be on top of this as the days progress.

Your prayers and advice are always appreciated. Please keep in touch and I will be in touch.

More to come, stay tuned.

In Need of Counsel …

I am in need of counsel. I am troubled and afraid. You know that I am HIV+ for almost 20 years now. And I’ve been seeing a specialist here in Montreal at the MUHC, McGill University Health Center. Which is in the process of firing hundreds of employees because of budget cuts. I don’t think this is here or there but it is part of my story.
My doc (Chris) has been my doc since 2003. And for the past few months he has been dire in his warnings. They say if you get a message once, and you don’t heed that message, that God speaks again, and you should take heed. A few months ago, I went to see my doc for my fall checkup, (I go every 4 months). He told me that I was going to die. And he left it at that. He did not give me counsel or explain. And left me to go home with this news.
That afternoon I went upstairs to see his brother, (George) who is my diabetes doctor and I told him what Chris has said to me. He rushed me up to cardio to get a cardiogram. Done. I took the results to both clinics and went home. We are of the understanding that if there is a problem, that they would call. No call came.
That test sat in my file for four months. No word. No call. so I guess no problem ???
On Wednesday I went for my spring check up and my blood work, and all my labs across the board. All my labs are above board. Not one thing out of place. The norm for me. Once again, my doctor came in looked me dead in the eye and said that I was going to die. He also said that there was an abnormality on the cardio test, which he failed to contact me when the test was done. That was clearly an error on his part.
No explanation. no words of comfort. Not One Word.
He said that he would call Cardio and get me booked in and call me on Wednesday afternoon. Because he is sure that it is imminent that I am going to drop dead without notice. But he did not say that to me. But I imply that is what he means. They did not book me. They did not call, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
I’ve been sitting on this secret for almost a week, Because I cannot contact the clinic till tuesday because of the holiday tomorrow. And I haven’t told my husband what my doctor told me because I don’t want to scare him or upset him, until I know what the hell is going on.
How do you go about firing a doctor? Everybody I am talking to in my meetings say the same thing, that I need a new pair of eyes on my file. and that I need a second opinion because my doc has been on an emotional down for a while, he is moody and obsess about nothing.
I just can’t see how I have fucked up my life right now to hear that I am going to die and soon? All I have done this past year is tighten up the ship, eat right, take my pills and go on with my life.
I am stuck in between disbelief and incredulity. If I sink into the truth and accept the end is near, I will go crazy without someone to explain how this is coming to be because my doctor has failed to properly inform me as a patient.
So I’ve been working on the assumption that he is full of shit and that my numbers are good and nominal and that he is just fucking with me in the worst way. I am not ready to die or accept that he is telling me the truth without further discussion about my mortality or why he is so hung up on  me dying !
I don’t know what to do …
So that’s my story right now. I could use some help.

Church must help the poorest, not dissect theology, pope says


By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis shared personal moments with 200,000 people on Saturday, telling them he sometimes nods off while praying at the end of a long day and that it “breaks my heart” that the death of a homeless person is not news.

Francis, who has made straight talk and simplicity a hallmark of his papacy, made his unscripted comments in answers to questions by four people at a huge international gathering of Catholic associations in St. Peter’s Square.

But he outdid himself in passionately discussing everything from the memory of his grandmother to his decision to become a priest, from political corruption to his worries about a Church that too often closes in on itself instead of looking outward.

“If we step outside of ourselves, we will find poverty,” he said, repeating his call for Catholics to do more to seek out those on the fringes of society who need help the most,” he said from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica

“Today, and it breaks my heart to say it, finding a homeless person who has died of cold, is not news. Today, the news is scandals, that is news, but the many children who don’t have food – that’s not news. This is grave. We can’t rest easy while things are this way.”

The crowd, most of whom are already involved in charity work, interrupted him often with applause.

“We cannot become starched Christians, too polite, who speak of theology calmly over tea. We have to become courageous Christians and seek out those (who need help most),” he said.

To laughter from the crowd, he described how he prays each day before an altar before going to bed.

“Sometimes I doze off, the fatigue of the day makes you fall asleep, but he (God) understands,” he said.


Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, said the world was going through not just an economic crisis but a crisis of values.

“This is happening today. If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say ‘what are we going to do?’ but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that’s nothing. This is our crisis today. A Church that is poor and for the poor has to fight this mentality,” he said.

Many in the crowd planned to stay in the square overnight to pray and prepare for Francis’ Mass on Sunday, when the Catholic Church marks Pentecost, the day it teaches that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles.

On Saturday morning, Francis met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed Europe’s economic crisis.

Apparently responding to his criticism of a heartless “dictatorship of the economy” earlier in the week, Merkel, who is up for re-election in September, later called for stronger regulation of financial markets.

On Thursday, Francis appealed in a speech for world financial reform, saying the global economic crisis had made life worse for millions in rich and poor countries.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Solution Oriented Sunday – To Wives …

tumblr_ma62hlMxSo1rdkscno1_500 rthompson80


It was a gloomy day out as I prepped to leave for the evening. And loathed to carry my umbrella, I wore a hoodie and had my tuque in my bag, just in case.

There have been discussions about my sharing my thoughts on death and the fact that my doctor is adamant that I am to drop dead soon. The consensus is that I should definitely get a second opinion – a new fresh set of eyes to look at my file and give me some constructive truth.

All of my labs are fine. There was no discussion of them directly or in passing. My HIV numbers are all nominal – like they have been for more than a year. Tomorrow I will call the clinic and make my request. And if they can accommodate me then I will take my business elsewhere. I am not going to sit here and ruminate over dying. That is the farthest thing from my heart and mind and I don’t appreciate someone taking that tack with me and give me no further information. based on his appraisal.

It rained …

I made my transit across the square with a stop at Pharmaprix both on the way out and on the way back. The mall is still in remodeling phase. Lots of empty space and walls up all over the main floor.

I noticed last night, that the Seville crane was being taken down. They completed that mission over the weekend. I guess that means no more heavy lifting for phase three any more. There are a few stacks of bricks on the property still waiting to be used. In the main large space underneath phase three is Adonis, a small chain grocery store. That should be a welcome change.

There are lots of plans going on for this end of town. We’ve not heard anything since the proposal to raze the Provigo and build a high rise building in its place, and move Provigo further up the block in the old Omer de Seres space, but there is a condo sign out front of that space, so it may not be taken up by Provigo unless they build up – out of the main building into a high rise condo.

We sat a modest number of folks. Die hard Sunday night attendees. We are at Chapter 8 – to Wives. When the book was published long ago, it was geared to men. Not many women were represented in the room just yet, but this chapter was written to the few who began women’s recovery in the rooms.

We read the first few pages of what the lay of the land was for the woman with an alcoholic in their lives, and just what happens to relationships and businesses and work lives.

And I wonder… What would have happened if this solution based answer to the problem of alcoholism was introduced to my family? Because back then, in the 40’s for my grandparents, the 50’s and 60’s for my parents, women married for better or for worse. They were in it good or bad. My mother’s sister was smart, she did not marry into the problem of alcoholism. She stayed clear of what she was witness to through the eyes of her siblings, family and friends.

I ran roughshod through my family life. Dad was a Jekyl and Hide drinker. And he could flip the switch on his personalities with ease. When it was good it was good, but when it was bad it was worse.

My parent’s were not solution oriented people. Alcoholism existed. Deal with it, but never speak of it or go to find a solution for it. What happens at home stays at home, no one need know about this blight on our family.

Thank God I am sober today. I am grateful for all good things.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…

Two-fer Thursday


It has been an interesting past couple of days. And I chose not to write yesterday because I was waiting on a medical call from my doctor after our short but terse visit together.

Obviously, he says one thing, then does another.

Because of what he said at my appointment was of such import and dire warnings that he should have followed up on what he wanted to do next.

Alas, I am still waiting…

By the Numbers …

16 April 2013   VL 39 copies  CD4% 45  CD4Abs 1080

02 Jan 2013   VL 39 copies  CD4% 45  CD4Abs 1440

07 Aug 2012  VL 39 copies CD4% 44 CD4Abs 1276

My t-cells seem to fluctuate around that thousand mark. But as long as my percentages remain at 45% there is no worry from my doctor. I got copies from my file/chart that has a more explicit history of my treatment.

Two appointments ago, my doctor mentioned that a change is coming for my treatment plan. The new regimen is not online yet here in Canada. So I remain on what I am taking until then. Probably six months to a year out.

Secondly, my doctor has been fixated on my heart. A fixation that has only grown in earnest this appointment yesterday. He tells me one thing, then I go to see his brother for my diabetes issues and George sends me for a cardiogram.

I dropped two copies off to both clinics. Now, it is understood that if a problem arises that they would call me immediately because something needs attention right away.

I’ve been working on that assumption for all these years. So I dropped that lab off and got no response.

Yesterday at my appointment my doctor mentioned in passing that there was some abnormality on the scan. He did not elaborate. He then went on this tirade that I was going to drop dead.

Or have a heart attack soon, as in IMMINENT !!!

He has been about this warning for some time. However he does not elaborate on the warning. Frustrating.

He wanted to order a battery of tests. A stress test and all that goes along with it, and he left it at that. He said nothing encouraging to me yesterday. He was very grim. However good my labs were, he seems fixated on my mortality.

More than usual. Is this about him or me I wonder !!!

Since cardiac issues run in my family, not to mention strokes, I am on God’s good graces, seeing my father has had several heart attacks, and both his parents were knocked down by terrible debilitating strokes. I should be right in line for some catastrophic heart related issue … Let Us Pray !!!

I left that appointment shaking my head. Not knowing what to feel or whether I should really be worrying. The secretary at the clinic was supposed to make arrangements, check with my doc and call me back.

Now, had this been an immense emergency, like needing these tests right away, they would have already contacted me into the cardiac clinic.

They haven’t … No call at all, two days later. Should I worry or not? Do I give in to serious ruminating and worry that my mortality is in jeopardy? I have no clue, so until such time I get a call or further warning, I am going to go on with my life.

An issue has arisen with the Quebec government and my financial aide file. They say I owe them almost $3000.00 in back loans. AIDS and HIV are disability issues and that loan should have been converted to bursaries long ago but weren’t. When I applied for financial aide, I submitted a disability form in late 2003. They are fixated on this date as my diagnosis date. They are wrong.

My diagnosis date was July 8th 1994. Not November 2003.

I have to contact my primary care physician in Miami to get him to send some notes up here to verify that I was treated in their clinic prior to my arriving here in Canada. Ugh !!!

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

Today is Thursday. I usually don’t sit here and stare at my monitor all day long. so instead I sleep until I need to get up and go. Which is what I did today.

I was up early and out by twenty to six for the meeting. It has been on the cool side the past few nights. And on the way home I was chilled.

We sat a fair number and hit kitty goal again tonight.

Our chair read from the Big Book, and Chapter Five … How it Works.

“If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.”

One line. Lots of words. People all over the place on the topic of steps.

There is a note in my Big Book on Step Twelve …

Having HAD a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps, we tried to carry the message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

In my book I have this notation at Step 12 … There is no other result if you work the steps…

We talked long and hard about steps, where we all are at the moment, what he did, how we did it and what happened afterwards.

Suffice to say that at ten years, I had a spiritual awakening. I have worked my steps again since then. I live in my steps today, to the best of my ability.

I am not perfect. I still have issues, with myself and a few others. Not many others. But still. I do what I can every day to help someone else.

It was a good night.

More to come, stay tuned…

Tuesday – Getting Active

tumblr_lo5pesClvA1qcv34vo1_500 splitminded


The weather has been up, and it has been down. It rained a little and I heard tonight, from some, that we had hail overnight. Go Figure. The temperature has dropped to freezing levels overnight, and I actually turned off the a/c and opted for Heat to sleep last night. I had to further retrofit my a/c dock because the wind was blowing so hard and cold that the apartment was chilled, and so I added a second layer of plastic around the enclosure, that seemed to have worked.

It was a beautiful sunny day, albeit cooler than usual, which meant a hoodie layer when out and about. We ventured out to Trinity Memorial for the meeting, but we took a new route. Instead of tracking all the way through the metro system we hopped on the 90 bus just up the block to Vendome. It was quicker and I would consider using this route instead of two metros and lots of time in between.

We sat a full compliment of folks, with varying amounts of time. The topic came from Living Sober and “Getting active.”

What do you do with yourself when you quit the drinking and the drugs? All that time you spent procuring them, arranging them, consuming them and in the end recovering from them as well? How do we fill that time with constructive “things to do?”

First you need to find your bearings … hence the compass …

In the beginning, going to as many meetings as is possible is recommended. Suggestions are 90 in 90. And for some, they do twice as much. Once the drink and the drugs are removed, we need to dry out and clear our heads. I am one for sinking into your chair and listening for a while, until you begin to feel your footing.

Many of our young people still struggle with themselves and the voices in their heads that crops up daily and encourages them into chaos and calamity. But once we begin to sober journey, it takes time to turn that tape off and start listening to the voice of calm and serenity.

When I got sober, last, I went to meetings when possible. Because I had things going on in my life at the time and my actions were needed in other places, other than meetings. Until I came to Montreal. And time was on my side.

I spent a few weeks scoping out meetings. Meeting people, and finding someone to work with me. That first year was amazing. I did so many cool things and went many places, and hit hundreds and thousands of meetings. I traveled sober. And I stayed sober.

I rooted in a meeting, in several actually, but I had one home group five months in. I started with service, because that is what our group required from new members. In order to be part of you had to work as part of for a period of time, before you earned privileges like secretary and chairing. And I did that.

There are still groups that I know of today that require a period of service before you get put into service rotation. In order to be part of you have to become part of. And you do that in service.

Over time, we learn how to engage in life soberly. We take on responsibility and we begin to engage the world and our emotions through sobriety. And it ain’t easy. It takes work. And our young people all seem to be of the same mind when it comes to sobriety. “Give me something to do, help me occupy myself with constructive things to do, please.”

For me, I took it as it came. I did not overburden myself with too much to do. But I had something to do every day. I had meetings, I had aftercare, I had service to be done at aftercare, which is where we spent hours a day working and chatting and being counseled by our therapy team. And that lasted a year.

The next layer I added to life was a university education, which took up the next seven years of my life. A few years in I got involved and into a relationship which turned into a marriage in sobriety. After university, I had more time to burn and two years of Cgep that I took on and returned to the classroom for two more years. Which makes education almost 10 years. 

Aside from my school and family time, I had to make meetings. And I learned to build my life around my meetings. And that method of sobriety served me well to this day.

Once you root in the rooms, opportunity presents itself. I did not have too far to go looking for it. Everything I have today came directly from the rooms. I learned how to fill that “using time” with good things. It takes some practice, and time is on our side.

All we have is time, it is what you do with that time that matters.

Do what you enjoy doing. Find your passion – DO IT – Money will follow.

We had a 27 year cake and lots of good conversation.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned.

Sunday Sundries – That’s What She Said Edition …

tumblr_l7taerA6SZ1qany6lo1_500 altxy

Courtesy: Altxy

All the rain they promised us – did not materialize. However hard it tried to spit rain over night. Enough fell to wet the streets and douse the trees with a little moisture, but significant rain did not fall.

It has been chilly on the side of cold, cold enough to warrant a hoodie on top of a shirt, because I was cold wearing only a sweatshirt this evening. We stuck to the tunnel to transit from here to the church and back.

We arrived at the church and the hall was a mess of people, tables and chairs all over the place and people were coming and going hastily. We learned soon after that the great St. Joseph’s Oratory Choir performed at the church this afternoon, hence all the people.

We sorted out tables and chairs, and stacked the piles of chairs and put the ones we did not need back in the store room. Clean up took a few minutes and then we sorted out the room for the meeting that followed.

We sat a fair number of folks, and finished our reading of Chapter Seven, Working with Others. The final passage we read deals with family and relationships and how to navigate sticky places in new found sobriety.

The best I can be when working with others, is just to be present. And usually God will direct the scene as He sees fit. That’s why we have the twenty minutes prior and twenty minutes after guide. Because that’s when we got to work with others. Presence, the greatest gift you can give to your fellows.

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

It is a parent day today. And navigating them is pretty artful. This is where I get to Debbie Downer a bit.

The last time I saw my mother was for twenty minutes on New Years Day 2001, when my parents arrived on my doorstep for an impromptu visit deigned by my father, but not long enough to create a “sticky memory” I don’t remember the substance of the visit or the words said, but I do remember the defiant “NO”  I got from my father as to hosting a lunch for the three of us before they headed back on the road to Sarasota.

End of that thread …

Honor thy Father and Mother … The bible says so. I don’t see the logic in honoring someone who does not deign to recognize or honor me.

Being Gay and HIV+ were always the kickers in our relationship.

But I thought that when children grow up and become adults, they should be able to make decisions for themselves hopefully good ones that will help them prosper and grow further.

I made two decisions in sobriety – the first and second time, that served me. I took my right to exist and to move on from dire straits and was punished for making  adult decisions. It was far better to be resentful and angry, rather than support a child in his decisions about his life. Fuck me …

My move to Montreal was fraught with anger. How dare I piss on my American heritage and dishonor my father by taking a birthright that was mine to take and leave all that I knew for a place that I would make my home.

Ohhh the anger …

My father spoke family gospel and what he said was the end all be all of any argument. And so it went. I spent a year, a calendar year, trying to salvage a relationship with my mother.

I wrote, called, sent packages, etc … to no avail.

My parents were so put out by my decision to move North that silence and punishment was their only recourse. But of course that was their modus opperandi.

The last conversation I had with my mother went this way … And I quote …

“If I or your father ever get sick or die, You will not be contacted, ever !!!”

That conversation took place more than 11 years ago. Fuck me …

Faggots do not get respect, nor dignity. AIDS ridden children get nothing but scorn and indignation. When the chips fell where they did people scattered, including my family. I had no choice or say in the matter.

I was fucked from the word Go !!!

So happy Mother’s day to you all.

How do you pray away the ache the rises in the heart about things you cannot change nor do anything to make better ???

I still don’t have the answer to that question.

It was a good day. Friends, fellows and a meeting. It can’t get better than that.

More to come, stay tuned…

Friday … Bring on the Rain

tumblr_lflwujACEy1qdslmho1_500 notgunnachangenuthin


Once again today they told us it was going to rain. As I was preparing to leave for the evening, it didn’t look like rain, and I hate carrying my big umbrella, so I left it here at home.

We arrived at Laurier and caught the bus, and on the way it began to spit rain. It did not last long. And after the meeting we hitched a ride to Sherbrooke Metro and still no rain fell. When we arrived at Guy to walk home the ground was wet, so it must have rained on our side of the mountain.

But you know, they have been spraying the skies for weeks. I watch these planes coming from the West, from the direction of the airport, way up high, they did not take off from our airport because the planes are up so high in the air. Most of the time there are a pair of planes spraying chemicals from west to east over the downtown core. I saw a plane spraying just the other day. Some say it is just air streaming from the planes – but if you listen to radio, chemical spraying is happening all over the place.

Why didn’t the rain come ???

We sat a full room, and then some. We are reading once again As Bill Sees It.

In God’s Hands …

” When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned.”

The consensus among my fellows tonight were “turning it over” “surrender” “letting go” so forth and so on.

Hindsight is 20/20 and if I am honest, my surrender began much earlier than when I made the conscious surrender of the drink.

A series of events lined up for me – that surely did not come from my hands. There was no other place to go, no other place to live and no other thing to be doing. I had surrendered myself to the grand scheme of things, so to speak.

When I finally met the end of my drinking, and I uttered the prayer for an alcoholic to come into my life, essentially, I was turning it over to God. He would either grant the prayer or He wouldn’t.

Within days an alcoholic appeared in my life and escorted me to my next first meeting. And within weeks, the stars began to align. Not by my hand, and not by my doing, the shortcomings of others played out into my hands. And the sign from God was to answer the call and follow.

And that is what I did.

One thing led to another and I ended up here. And the rest, they say, is history.

I never imagined in all my life, that life would have ended up where it has. But I suited up and I showed up and God did the rest.

This is why we read the books cover to cover, over and over again.

This is why we go to meetings every day, over and over again.

And this is how we stay sober. One day at a time, turning it over, and letting it go. It takes work, and the payoff can be fantastic. If you get out of the way and let God do the heavy lifting.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned.