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Archive for August, 2015

Sunday Sundries – The Silence

tumblr_lndtyet7pF1qhlja3o1_500The Fall Equinox is twenty four days away. Thanksgiving is only seven weeks away. Which then gives way to only 117 days until Christmas … September is going to start with a bang, with a stretch of warms days, and teen nights. Summer isn’t finished yet.

It was the last Sunday of the month, which means Tradition Eight tonight.

Money and spirituality do not mix.

You can’t charge for Twelfth Step Work.

You were freely given, so freely give.

I mused this topic as it went around the room, but in the end, said nothing.

While I was getting sober early on, I was in university earning several degrees that I though might become money spinners. That expectation never materialized. All that time and money spent educating myself – and what am I doing today? I work with others for free !

You can’t put a price on life experience. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay for what life teaches us on any given Sunday …

that is all …

Friday – Not of the Same Mind

tumblr_mny6xdcYk61qmbg8bo1_500It might have been the best day of the week, but in the end it was not the best night of the week.

For a while now, some of my friends have been at odds with each other, and lines are being drawn in the sand, and discussions have been ongoing as to “What side of the argument I would fall on,” and questions like, “what decision do I make, because I don’t want to vote against my friends?”

The Third Tradition reads: The Only Requirement for Membership is a Desire to Stop Drinking. If you read the tradition in full, it states: “You can declare yourself in; nobody can keep you out. No matter who you are, no matter how low you’ve gone, no matter how grave your emotional complications – even your crimes – we still can’t deny you A.A.

There are many people who come to our meetings. Most are solid alcoholics. Many of those people have abused drugs as well, but they primarily admit powerlessness over alcohol, some admit the others, but most do not.

Then there are those who come to meetings, with drug problems, and are clean, but they come through the A.A. system because meetings are plentiful. Most of my guys have primaries in other addictions other than alcohol, and they cover their primaries in those other meetings, but they also do A.A.

And to satisfy the requirement, they admit they are alcoholics as well.

Some are, Some are NOT.

There are some addicts, who come to meetings, who do not drink. They identify as addicts, who do not drink. Which falls into a grey area. They might not drink, but do they have a desire NOT to drink? My friends who identify as such, have a desire not to drink.

This contentious issue has divided groups for some time now. Some alcoholics want to take the battle to the group conscience, and deny access to A.A. for those people who are not alcoholics. In order to combat this problem, the Friday night meeting has rewritten its preamble to state the following …

“North End English is a closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous meant for open and honest sharing, is meant for alcoholics only. It goes on to state this note: We stress the Third tradition which states, “You can declare yourself in, nobody can keep you out.”

The first statement states that we are a closed meeting, for alcoholics only.

The second statement states that You can declare yourself in nobody can keep you out. For all intents and purposes, this opens the meeting to anyone who declares themselves in. Nobody can keep you out.

You can’t close the meeting to others – other than alcoholics, then contradict what you have said by quoting the third tradition.

Last weekend a good friend of mine walked into another meeting and stated his wish to see that we ban certain members from the Friday meeting, and that he was going to be the one who did that.

At the end of that meeting, another friend walked home with me and questioned me as to what side of the argument I was on for barring someone from a meeting. He wanted to know how I would vote, and to tell him how I think he should vote, because he was undecided because he did not want to vote against our mutual friend. He thinks that voting against a friend is akin to treason against a friend.

At home, I called the member who is the target of this issue. I told her what I was hearing, which led to conversation over a week about those people fighting about this issue. I’ve stated my opinion on this issue quite clearly.

I left for the meeting, got to my bus transfer, and there was no bus, so I walked it all the way to the meeting. As I walked up to the church, another friend (the room mate of the woman in question) was standing out front talking with the shit stirrer and another member. And I heard him say to him, “You cannot demonize someone and bar them from the meeting.”

I did not say anything but walked into the hall.

After the meeting, I get fists in my face, and my friend screaming at me that I should never speak for him again. Yet, he began the argument, I just wasn’t going to sit by and let him demean a woman I highly respect and bar her from a meeting.

I’m not sure who said what to whom, and/or how my name came up in the discussion, unless one of my friends, told him, I was the one who spoke out.

My lady friend did not show for the second week in a row, so I called her on my walk home, and we discussed what had happened tonight. She told me not to worry that she would take care of it this weekend.

No two alcoholics think the same. We are not saints.

I would never vote to bar anyone from a meeting, especially the Friday meeting, of all meetings in the city. We are the most welcoming meeting, and as a whole, I’m not sure there would be consensus on barring people from attending.

Oh, the drama…

Tomorrow is The Family Day Picnic.

More to come.

Thursday – The Blank Page Syndrome

sidneysheldonThe weather has been stellar these past few days. It was breezy cool this evening when we left for the meeting. Lows will be steady in the teens for the next week. It will be a full weekend, with the best night of the week tomorrow and the walk home, which I look forward to.

Saturday is going to be warm and sunny, which will be good, because the area is hosting a Sober Family Day on the west end of the city at the Loyola Campus of Concordia University. I got a free ticket tonight from a friend, so I will be going with Baby Mama and Baby LuLu.

For the past two weeks, I have made some significant progress with the baby. For a long time she would not let me hold her, and she would always want to be with mama, but as of late, she is coming around to me, little by slowly. She is happy when I visit and she is engaged and when I visit she goes nuts with her books and stuffed animals, passing them back and forth between me and mama. Wednesday nights, I carry over and cook dinner, this tradition was to make sure that they eat a good meal during the week, and to allow the baby to get to know me.

On Tuesday I was over for a bit before the meeting, and when it was time to leave, I put on my backpack and started for the door, LuLu took both mama and I’s hands and she walked us both to the elevator. That was the first time that she was comfortable holding my hand. And the last week, baby LuLu even lets me hold her, and she stays … that is big !!!

It’s all good.

I’ve begin writing this week. It is sometimes intimidating when you are looking at a blank page, because you need to write something, and sometimes I need to think about how I am going to write and about what. I have my outline, and there are stories that are on the surface, that I can write about. They are not necessarily in outline order. So I am collecting word documents on my desktop of the stories I can comfortably write about.

I still need to talk to my aunt about some things about the family portion of the story. I don’t want to end up telling a story about speculation, but of facts. I need to take care of this sooner than later.

Tonight we heard a friend speak.

They say, that if you stick around long enough, you will eventually hear someone tell your story. I think we hit that marker tonight. This lady friend, has been sober a while, and I had never heard her share, but she hit many familiar topics, and had several similar experiences in her life that I had in mine. She has had her process growing from a drunk into a woman who has emotional sobriety.

I did not get to speak to her after, but I will chat with her when I see her over the weekend.

How do children who grow up in negative homes grow up into mature, emotionally sober adults when we carry around negative baggage from our parents? She seemed to have conquered that dragon, as I have my own.

Like our thanker said tonight, our parents, who told us we were mistakes when we were kids, we are all grown up now, and we should thank those adults because we are beautiful people. And if it were not for them, we would not be here.

It was a good night.

More to come, tomorrow night.

Tuesday – A Mish Mash of Many Things …

tumblr_m5c3yfETXv1rv6vzdo2_1280The last assignment that Rafa had for me prior to begin writing was to read The Odyssey of Homer. He had a translation which he said was probably the best translation he had ever read, and I have to agree, this book was translated by Richmond Lattimore.

The photo above, is from the 1997 production of The Odyssey, starring Armand Assante, as Odysseus. I read the book, then downloaded the movie. I had once seen it, and I think I even had a copy on film. But my VHS player has long since gone to its grave…

We had discussed the idea of Nostos, or The Homecoming.

Odysseus goes to Troy to fight in a war, and ends up on an Odyssey that takes him many places, from one island to another, from Circe to Calypso, the Cyclops and a trip down to Hades, after which he finds respite and is conveyed home to Ithaka.

After reading the book, I have some further insight as to how I am going to write. I’ve come to the realization that there are people I just want to write out of the story, or at the least, give them minimal attention, because they are merely players in a narrative that is all about me, and not them.

I had at one time, thought that writing about people, based on a story that could be construed as merely conjecture, because I really don’t know the personal details to a degree that I should, and I could write that into my story, but the simple answer is, “I don’t know …”

I’ve constructed a narrative that I have built after a lifetime of study and still, I can’t say that my take on how this story began, is plausible? But if I take into consideration, sexual mores, and religious practice of the times, and the Catholic beliefs that were also a part of family practice, if I take all this into consideration, in building my story, there is a thread of knowledge, but only to a certain degree. I would need to have a conversation with my aunt and run my theory by her, before I decided to set that story line to paper.

It would not be good, to have a book published, and have someone read it and come back and say, “That’s not how it went down at all …” UGH …

The things we must do to tell a good story.

I’ve worked on chapter titles, but my title still eludes me.

The publishing house I contacted when I started this project has been on my case. I have an agent who calls frequently to see how I am coming along, and he wants me to sign a publishing agreement with them. But that is a $2000.00 plus contract. That’s $2000.00 out of my pocket, not theirs.

And I still need to discuss it with hubby first, before I sign on the dotted line.

2015 Fall Haul Episode One …

falcon three aThe theme of this summer has been sporty, chic, based on what everybody else has been wearing all season long. I spent a fair chunk of change on sporty t shirts, and pants in assorted colors to go with my baseball themed clothing line. I have not put on a pair of jeans in months. Because once it does get cold, it is back to the standard warm weather gear. My summer collection consisted of three pairs of sport pant in grey, black and white. All of the t shirts I bought all match and are interchangeable. I splurged on these Adidas, Falcon Three Trainers, all the way from Amsterdam, Netherlands. They are sleek, well fitted and have a certain flare to them.

sk82I don’t shop retail here, unless I have to. And for everyday tops, bottoms, and everything in between, I have a list of European sellers that I buy top quality clothing from. Most of their collections are distinct from Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands. You can’t get them anywhere else, because their clothes lines are one of a kind, and only produced and sold from point of purchase. Sk8erBoy has been a German site that I buy from. I’ve found that their sock line is the best line that I have ever worn. I have an entire collection of short and long socks that I wear from season to season. They are warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. Just this past week, they came out with their “soccer socks line.” The soccer socks trend is a Euro push.

Most sport gear is sold off continent (read: North America) You can’t get sport gear on any site here on the continent, that is just not their market. So in the end, if you want sport gear, you have to go to Europe (read: Germany and the Netherlands) or the U.K. But for the Europeans, sport gear is a serious money spinner. Soccer is not a North American commodity.

I also buy soccer gear from U.K. Soccer Shop. They are top dollar, top of the line, authentic soccer gear for every major team across the board. Their prices are really nominal, and they will personalize whatever gear you buy, for a small fee, then ship worldwide.

The sporty look has been very popular worldwide seeing how soccer has skyrocketed in popularity since the last World Cup. European teams are making a killing with multiple million dollar merchandise sales points across Europe. The brand new 2015-2016 kits have been released for the fall season, which makes last seasons jerseys, one of a kind and now collectors items, and I have several in my collection now. One day they may end up on Ebay and will fetch some serious cash.

Some of my friends have been shopping like mad men as of late, and doing show and tells on You Tube of the latest and greatest must have’s for Fall 2015. I don’t usually shop in fashion houses, like H&M or Top Man, or any of those great shops, however we do have them here.

We really just recycle jackets from year to year. Last year we splurged on new winter gear for both of us, and that seems to do the trick when it gets really cold, and then I just layer t shirts and shirts. I had bought several long sleeve t shirts to go along with my sporty pants sets. When I buy clothing, I have to take into consideration that it has to fit several seasons, meaning it can be worn year round, one way or another, and that they can also look good layered.

Having a handful of long sleeve Henley’s or Under Armour shirts that will go well with an over shirt layered in the winter is a good buy. Two layers usually suffices, but when it really freezes up, adding an extra layer usually works well too.

Just a few notes i wanted to write about tonight.

Time for bed…

Sunday Sundries … Always in the Right Time

jimmy carter

Three things we learn, when we are diagnosed with a terminal illness, are humility, grace, and courage.

Well, for most of us that is …

Many people, take life for granted, until death happens in their lives, either to someone they love or someone they know. Most people don’t even pay heed to mortality because they are too busy working a job, paying the bills and trying to eek out a living, a marriage, a house, kids and cars.

Death, well, it hasn’t come for me yet, so why worry about it? I don’t have time to worry about it.

I think everybody should take a class I took a few years ago called “Death and Dying.”

Learning about death is as important as learning about life.

Because I tell you, with complete certainty, that nothing compares sitting in a non-nondescript doctors office and hearing your doctor tell you that “You are going to die, so go home, kiss your ass goodbye and prepare for the end.”

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

My friend Adam, when he got sick, fought like a bad ass for every day that he lived, and on the day he died, it was said that “He went down like a fighter.” Coming to the realization that our life sits in the hand of God and our time of coming and going is according to His plan, is something that took time for me to wrap my head around.

I’ve seen many people face adversity. And I’ve watched them make decisions that might not have been all that prudent or life affirming, but those were their decisions, what to do, knowing the end was coming. I did not have the luxury of throwing in the proverbial towel and to end up living fast and self abusing like many of my friends did in the end.

Todd would not give me that privilege. He knew better.

After doctors tell you that “you are going to die,” and you live to see that day come around and you are staring it back in the face, you go one of two ways. One, you get cocky and decide to take life into your hands and do something stupid, or Two, you remind yourself that now, you live on “Borrowed Time” and that fucking this up is not recommended …

I hit that death date several times. And I am still alive.

I can’t answer the question as to WHY I am still alive, but it seems God is not done with me yet.

I don’t live, like we have discussed, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or for someone to pull the rug out from under me. Amid my daily ritual, I am mindful of where I am, and why I am, (for me in the moment and in my day) and I go on with my life.

I acknowledge every day for what it is, a gift. It may seem, on the outside, that I am ungrateful most of the time, because I really don’t think about gratitude every moment of my life, and sometimes that bothers me, because it may seem prideful or egotistical, but it is not.

I am alive, and breathing and I don’t know why, But God does. So I trust Him.

We are all going to die one day. And some know for sure that they are going to die, because certain diseases are illness specific. Once the clock begins ticking, time is never on our side.

But, we are fighters. The ones who say that, “NO we will not go into that dark night miserably”

But it is we who say, “Win or Loose, I am going out on my own terms, in my own way.”

I know both sides of this acceptance and where it can lead.

But acceptance is the the key.

Former President Jimmy Carter, has cancer. We all know that this could end up very badly. Cancer is a no holds barred sickness. Truthfully spoken, once cancer hits one organ, and or has moved throughout the body, and if it gets to the brain, the odds are against you. It just goes that way. There isn’t enough chemo nor radiation that is going to make it all go away.

For some, I know, when cancer makes its last stand, medical assistance becomes useless.

In the end, for some of us, all we have is our faith in God. At some point, we will hit that point of no return, when the end is nigh, and God in His infinite wisdom is going to do what He is going to do. Regardless of what we want.

I can’t say that I am fearless, and that when that day comes, I will make my last stand and give it all I have got. I’m not sure what that will look like. But if my friends are my guides, I will try my damnedest to be courageous.

If there is a God, then why do people get sick?

I don’t have an answer for that question. Nobody does.

My faith tells me that God knows what God is doing. My sobriety encourages me to trust in that power greater than myself to give me what I need, as I need it, on a need to have basis.

It was written in tonight’s read that after many mishaps and failures and expectations that did not come to pass, we find that, in the end, we will get just what we need at the right moment.

It might not be what we want, when we want it,

But it is always what we need, when we need it.

That might not be the answer you were looking for, but it is the truth.

The point of sobriety, in the words of a good friend, is to become right, on the inside. And allow for that right energy, to transform the outside, so that we live in union with “right sizedness” then we become great people. To live with integrity.

We lead from the heart. We learn to live for others and not just ourselves. Instead of angry, resentful, taking and abusing alcoholics and addicts, we learn to be happy, giving and right sized men and women.

I think, this is what God wants of me. To accept my life on life’s terms. To know and trust in God, to be good to the ones I love, AND to be good to anyone whom I meet on any given day.

tumblr_md2lb5P8Ep1qenwdto1_1280 laurenmarekThis was the message I was trying to give to a friend earlier tonight. It is true.

I think God sits in his heaven and He watches us battle our demons, and He watches people live, learn, make mistakes, and then clean themselves up. At that point, if we accept that axiom, that perfect, spiritual assistance, is there and available to us, God grants us a little more time to perfect His grace and humility and courage.

Terminally Ill patents don’t usually get that privilege, because it becomes do or die, and it is the fight and how they fight that shows us what they are made of, to the last breath they take. Once that clock starts ticking, time is not on our side.

We pray for all the sick. That God will be merciful and hearing our prayers, grant us eternal life when that moment does come. And it will come, in God’s time.

That is all for tonight.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday … God – Ikea … Discuss

fifteen years ago aug212000Fifteen years ago TODAY the world was introduced to Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Where were you when The Philosopher’s Stone was released?

The week came to an end on the best day of the week, and the best night of the week. The weather has softened a great deal from what it had been for the last week or so. We hit a number of thirty degree days, with humidexes running from the mid thirties into the forties.

It was so hot and miserable that our little air conditioner that could was having a hard time trying to cool down the apartment. The last few nights, at midnight, the apartment was still stifling hot and my sweat was sweating …

I am reminded that if I complain about the heat, to remember what minus twenty with three feet of snow on the ground feels like ! I, like some of my friends, would rather it be cold outside, rather than steaming humid heat.

The nightly lows are dropping into the mid teens. I am banking on some TENS soon !

Ten is that magic number that we can crate the a.c. and open the windows for a few weeks, while it is still manageable, before it gets too cold, and we then have to shut the apartment down for another winter season.

We sat a full house and split the group up for discussion. Once again, the read was about that ever popular topic among our folks – God. The read speaks towards the clergy and how many an alcoholic turned their noses up at the mere thought of religion, when trying to get sober.

And how it really came down to one alcoholic talking to another, and showing the way.

We find this historical story about Bill.

Bill knew that he could not stay sober by himself. While in Towns Hospital, we’ve spoken about this location before, Bill had had a spiritual experience. And in his mind, it was apparent that he had to share this message with others, the only problem with that message was, that it was about God and his spiritual experience.

Nobody wanted to hear about God, so they rebuffed him.

Bill then heads to Akron to talk with Doctor Silkworth. Dr. Silkworth tells him that he needs to change up his game, and not talk so much about God, but of his own experience, strength and hope.

Enter Doctor Bob … and the Fellowship of A.A. began.

It has been a long time for our young folks to come around, and find that power greater than themselves. The stories vary as much as they are united in the same thought. Most of our men and women come, and at first, won’t hear about God, nor will they admit anything to Him either.

Many almost go insane … as DRY unbelievers until they hit the misery point of no return, and possibly concede that there might be something for them to connect to. One way or another, numbers of our folks have found that power. What they call it varies as the number of people sitting in the room on any given Friday night.

ikea3Every so often we get a visitor from another part of the world. And invariably, what that visitor has to say is compelling to say the least. Tonight, we heard a man from Northern Ireland, and the topic speaks about God, Clergy, and the Church. Our man, grew up amid “The Troubles” that fatal conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland.

It seemed that the room went still and everybody listened to him speak.

He shared his experiences in his life as it pertained to the reading.

He went on the share this:

He had heard, on CBC radio one day, an interview of a Jewish man who wrote about his God of his understanding. He likened that God to an Ikea store. Everybody knows what IKEA is, and the fact that most of the world is built by Ikea, one way or another.

It is said, that if you are married or sober and walk into an Ikea and buy something complicated, bring that piece home and build it, if you survive that task and you are still married and or sober, you have succeeded.

He likens God to an Ikea Pack. We go to the store and we buy the item. Then we bring it home and in essence, we have to build whatever that piece is. Inside that mammoth store, there are lots of things to buy, in assorted styles, colors and shapes.

God is like all those colors, shapes and styles. One style usually does not fit all people.

Most people are cookie cutters or they are cafeteria style folks. One opting to copy the last in belief and practice, the other, tends to pick and choose just what they will take or not take over time, and they built what they can handle or stomach, until they either find something bigger or better, or remain where they are, until either growth or implosion takes place.

It went something like that. I would need to investigate further who this guy was talking about and what book he was referring to.

It was the God – Ikea reference that piqued my interest.

It was a great night. My Mount Royal buddy is in Brazil until October, so he is not here to sit with on weekend, nor walk home together. The weather was just right, so I decided to walk from the church all the way to the Mount Royal Metro station which is a walk from the meeting.

While the weather is still good, I enjoy the walk.

Everybody is good. It seems everyone is in a good place, which is the Good News.

More to come, stay tuned…

Thursday … Thou Shalt NOT …

title_ten_commandments_blu-rayThe Seventh Commandment – Thou shalt not commit adultery
The Tenth Commandment – Thou shalt not covet your neighbors wife

I must ask the question, “Where is the sanctity of marriage?”  And perish the little children in today’s world. The Christians stand up for the sanctity of marriage and they spend their time disparaging the LGBT community saying that we are going to upset the fine balance of sanctity and all that is good by getting married ourselves.

Then there are those who deny gay couples marriage licenses because of their beliefs, and add to that some providers who won’t serve a gay couple, once again because of beliefs.

I believe that if you need to go outside your marriage for anything, then you do not deserve to be in that marriage to begin with. But we know, across the board on both sides of the argument for adultery, or going “outside” ones marriage, are the some key non negotiables …

Sex, Self Esteem and Money or the lack of one or more of these.

These are those non negotiables that would push anyone to cross the line.

Cheating websites are a dime a dozen. And hookup sites are just as plentiful.

In today’s social media world the Gays and the Straights can have it all, just at the swipe of your phone.

You say your marriage is lacking, well, we’ll give you something else to play around with.

Cheat on your spouse. All in secret, nobody will ever find out …

Well, They got that one WRONG didn’t they?

What’s with these sanctimonious Christians who have problems in the bedroom, with their spouses, or the lack of enough of them, because for some Christian men, one woman isn’t enough and they need to have more …

Is this Odd or is this God ?

What do we know about the disease of MORE ???

One night, when I was in date mode, with hubby, there was a night that shit happened, and I saw a look on his face, that I knew, then and there, it would be the first and last time I saw it, because I then knew that if I ever caused that look to happen again, I would be in big trouble.

Over the years, I realized that I loved my husband. And that I would never want to be the one who broke his heart, in any way, shape of form.

The day we spoke our vows, we meant them. We spoke them in front of family and friends and before God. To this day, I’ve never needed anyone else, or anything else.

It is a sad statement looking at the number of star couples who have recently “called it quits.” Then there are those star couples who kept their private lives out of the media and they prospered, and some of them have new children.

I think the heterosexual community really needs to take a look at what they define as the Sanctity of Marriage. Because, right now, the sanctity of marriage is in the toilet. And all those secretly cheating husbands are all over the web.

The secret is out guys, you are all fucked !

Secondly, a little fame, a little money and a lot of secrets, what does that get you ???

An hour of Power, a little Ego, and maybe a Sense of Control and Invulnerability.

Eat a particular sandwich and it will change your life. It will change your life so much and make you so much money that you won’t know what to do with all that money. Well, now we know what eating a particular sandwich does to some (read: ONE man/men). They get thin, they get rich, they get married and have children, then add insult to injury,

One man becomes a lock, stock, and barrel pedophile.

They not only cheat on their wives, they fuck around with children (read:Minors)

Oh, its a sickness. A moment of stupid. Because I’ve admitted I have a problem, I can seek help and with that admission, get absolution for my crimes at the same time.

This is where I draw the line on tolerance for those with different struggles.

Um, NO !

Oh, we the public feel so sorry for you because you have a problem with not only sexual behavior, but also because you fuck young people while you are married with children.

Um, NO !

You’ve admitted to a problem. Good for you. You’re a DOUCHE BAG all the same.

You give all of us men a bad name. And you leave a great big taste of shit in our mouths.

There is no excuse NO EXCUSE as a man, that you should commit these crimes on those who cannot defend themselves. Just throw a little hush money at them and they will keep quiet, right?

We live above the Northern Border, and a lot of this shit is N.I.M.B.Y.

Discrimination, whatever that discrimination, affects us all, no matter where we live. We are all interconnected. And if you fuck over one of us, you fuck over all of us.

You treat us with disdain, you mock us and you belittle us, and say to us that you know better and that you have the definitive answers, and that you are sanctified by God and we are not.

Well, Straight folks, who has egg on their faces tonight ?

I think we all know what many men think about the sanctity of marriage. And the value of another human life.

We also know how fame and fortune can fuck over a human life and cause him to do unspeakable evil to another human being.

I’m sick to my stomach. Some men are seriously pathetic excuses for human beings and we should not have to share air with many of them.

And God Wept …

Sunday – Pride and One Leads to More

tumblr_mpbpmk3oUO1rnykcvo1_500 scottmalfoyCourtesy: Scott Malfoy

Montreal’s week of PRIDE events culminated earlier today with the annual PRIDE parade which stepped off, just up the block from home, not that I was, in any way, inclined to go anyways.

The older I get, the less I am inclined to go out and parade myself in public, when at the parade all you see is buff beautiful people riding floats and marching. I just don’t get into objectification and all the pretty pretty people. Maybe I am just old and jaded, and maybe it is also the fact that I have bones with the Montreal Gay community that are old bones. I shop where I shop because of the people who work at those shops. And I have gay friends, inside and outside the rooms, but as a community as a whole, many of them turn me off.

But it was a party nonetheless.

I had people to see and things to do well before the meeting even opened, so it wasn’t like I had a block of hours to devote to going to the parade, standing around and people watching. I didn’t. And my people come first in any case.

Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening with some of my guys, since we haven’t been able to spend time together these past few weeks for one reason or another, but the stars aligned yesterday.

Today I had an appointment with a client who is a blog customer of mine. I do web customization and Word Press installs for some of my friends. People want to blog because of their profession and some for personal reasons. One of my clients is a film maker friend from the room, so I have been working with her for a while now, formatting and organizing a bilingual blog (read: French and English) as well as her films. Every Word Press theme is different and offers different perks, so I teach how they work and sit down with them to work out the kinks and the layout.

This site is an uber iteration of Modularity Light Theme. I have tweaked it and worked it out to work for me. Getting to know a theme and how it works, then making that theme work for you takes a while on intense, sit down and thrashing it out. Doing that on a laptop is not my preferred idea of fun, I’d rather work off my desktop. (read: Much Easier)

We cranked out set up between several folks. And our matriarch stood back watching happy, peppy people, smiling and laughing together and we all had a moment of gratitude.

We sat a full house. And we ran the read and the discussion all the way around the circle with not a moment to spare. Tonight’s read: The Car Crasher …

Themes included:

  • One leads to MORE
  • Having just one is impossible
  • Controlled Drinking is useless
  • We need to finally admit we have a problem
  • And we cannot do it alone
  • We need to come to the point where we realize Divine help
  • Then ask for it and accept it when it comes

The theme of drunk driving was popular for discussion. How many of us did it, those who got away with it, and also those who got caught.

I noted that watching my grandfathers, uncles and my father drink with impunity was something that I paid close attention to. Because when I started drinking, I drank with impunity myself as well. And that did not go so well, because there were consequences for my actions, and I paid a heavy price from my family, which made me pretty resentful because why should I be treated any differently, than the way the family treated every other alcoholic in the family?

It was a common belief among us that God does take care of drunks.

It is harrowing to think how many of us tempted disaster by getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, with just us in the car, and for many, with their children in the backseat to boot. These stories are numerous. And Not uncommon. Nary a drunk and their alcohol can be separated for very long.

But I remember one particular day when my mother took me aside and said to me:
“Don’t ever drink and drive, because if you get caught, you are finished.”

That stuck in my brain for all these years. I did pay attention to those words, because I never got caught. I am not proud to say that I drove while intoxicated many times in my early drinking career.

The bar I haunted was mid way between work and home, in those days. I would stop for happy hour and tie one on, then drive the rest of the way home, one eyeballing the white line all the way, get home, change my clothes, and drive back, the same way I had come, to go back to the bar and finish off the night very heavily.

The one time I did get stopped at a checkpoint, I had a roll of Rolaids in my door pocket, so I ate the whole pack, hoping to get the scent of alcohol off my breath long enough to answer coherently, the cop who was asking me if I had drunk that night, to which I said … NO !

That was the last time I took that route home after that.

But like every alcoholic, the party came to an end, when I became a story in the back of the book, when the woman I was living with was getting sober, and I was the alcoholic tornado running through her life, locked me out and asked me to leave. I was not very proud of that either.

All of those friends I used to drink with, including myself, eventually got sober, just not all at the same time, which was a pin in the ass for the early sober folks who had to deal with us drunk a few more years before we would eventually get sober.

In our story our man knows he’s in the mix. He actually figures out that he has a problem, because every time he drinks, he gets fallen down drunk. So he attempts to do some “controlled drinking” which does not end up really working for him.

He comes in and gets some time, but he then begins to think to himself that, alright, I’ve got this licked. Maybe I will go have one beer. Which leads to more beer, which leads him to the pit of despair. He is powerless from the first one. And that for him, like us, One leads to MORE.

Funny how we, many of us, that is, battle with the notion of powerlessness. How dare you ask us to admit we can’t handle our liquor. And then proceed to tell us that alone we are powerless and that we need to find a power greater than ourselves who will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves? That Admission is crucial to getting sober. To finally get to the point that we are willing to concede we may have a problem and that we need help, and that when we ask for help, HELP does appear, seeming out of no where.

Some forget the harrowing details of their last drunk debacle. They get some time and then get cocky and believe that finally they have licked it, and they go back out for some controlled drinking. And that may take a while, but for some, it only takes very little.

Usually they end up in worse state than when they began.

I know why I got sober and how the rooms worked for me.

And I know, also that there are those who hate the very notion of the program.

But I will say this again.

If you come and you get sober, and you work the program like we did it, and your life does NOT get better, we will gladly refund you your misery and you can go on your merry way.

More to come, stay tuned…

Friday – Meltdown at Midnight

Picture 8

Things have been getting strange all over the city. It it either the season, or there is something in the water, or simply, sober folks are just throwing in the towel, much to the surprise of the rest of us.

Last week, my sponsor was out and about and two long standing members approached him in a restaurant. They were visibly intoxicated, or on some heavy drugs, because they were incoherent and could hardly speak words.

Here at my building …

I know several of my neighbors, because we’ve spoken or for some, I know them from the rooms. There is the parting glance in the elevator, but usually, no words have been spoken either way, outside of a meeting.

That all changed last night.

It was midnight, and I was talking to a sponsee on the phone, and my neighbor friend (read: From the Rooms) was banging on my door.

Let us set the tone for the story here …

If you have ever seen “The Beach” with Leonardo DeCaprio when the film opens and he is having a conversation with Daffy from room to room, while they share a joint, the lights are flashing and the guns are firing, Daffy is having a complete psychotic breakdown before he kills himself.

My friend was always soft spoken, and he never spoke an ill word to anyone in all the years that I have known him. He was freaking out and was totally out of character.

My friend was having a complete psychotic breakdown. He was bandaged up his arm and he was freaking out, like he was on something narcotic or he was tripping on something, liek I said, totally out of character for him.

He was sweating and flushed, shaking and almost incoherent. He lives a few floors down from me. He kept telling me he needed help and that I had to come now … well I hung up the phone and set off with my keys and no shoes.

Our elevators have video surveillance, and he says to me, we can’t take the elevator because someone is watching him, (read: nobody is monitoring the feed at midnight) so we take the stairs. We get to his apartment and he is camped out in the hallway, with a 12 pack of soda and his bike and all his things.

He begins to weave me a story, of what happened the night before, and begins telling me shit that I should probably not have heard, but he was speaking to me so I listened. I then asked him for his keys because he was locked out of his apartment, he says to me that someone has welded the door shut and he could not get in.

His keys were broken and bent, like they had been forced to turn in a lock further than needed and the keys bent and were unusable. So I thought, I’ll go downstairs and get the super to come open his door.

He is screaming that we can’t take the elevator, again …

11 flights of stairs later, we get to the ground floor, we wake the super, he had taken out his teeth, was in his slippers, and had been drinking, because he stank of beer. UGH !

We got him back upstairs, by the elevator going up, and figured out that the door had NOT been welded shut, that something happened to his keys, we left him in the hallway, while we searched his apartment for vandals or someone who was not authorized to be in there. It was a hoarders nightmare.

We got him into his apartment and I came home.

This morning I got up early and went down to talk to our manager, who is a friend. It seems this psychotic behavior has been going on for a while, because his neighbors on that floor are concerned for their safety, and that the cops indeed were here the previous night, and that this morning he was sitting in the hallway stark raving mad and naked…

Like I said, there must be something in the water, or people have just gone off the deep end.

Tomorrow I need to follow up on this mornings conversation.

He had never been up to this apartment, and I never told him in what unit I lived in before, but in his hour of need last night, he knew where to find me. He came upstairs instead of going to someone else. Not sure why he made that decision, but to think, that I am sober and could have helped him in some way.

Fucking Daffy Duck, Place of birth, Never Never Land …

There is a lot of confidential talking going on and I am doing my best to be present and accountable for my friends. Suffice to say that dead beat dads are a dime a dozen, and trying to get them to pay up their fair share is problematic. And that has been the challenge lately for a friend.

You can either do it voluntarily, or we take you to the cleaners…

It’s your choice buddy !

More to come, stay tuned…

Sunday Sundries – Relationships

tumblr_lx332xnuMf1qajbwho1_500 justathoughtfulmindCourtesy: Just A Thoughtful Mind

It was reported by my sponsor tonight, that when he awoke this morning, up North, at the cottage, that the temps were in the low single digits. We haven’t seen single digits yet, overnight, but little by slowly, the nightly lows have dropped into the mid teens.

We need at least a week of (Tens) for the trees to trigger and begin to turn.

The weekend weather was stellar but will go down hill overnight and well into Tuesday.

We sat a full house tonight, and we got the read and the discussion all the way around the room, and a cake to go with it this evening, ending right on time.

The first section of Experience, Strength and Hope, deals with the stories that were collected and published in the first edition of the Big Book back in the late Thirties.

Those first one hundred sober folks, did not have the Big Book to read, nor Steps to work, nor any of the tools that we have at our disposal today. They had their long suffering wives, their children, and a sparse handful of men, who found the solution.

Within those first 100 sober folks, who counted days and months as something incredible, they only had each other and their story telling ability. It was the spoken word, shared between one alcoholic and another. That is an incredible thought.

A common story, told by an uncommon story teller.

A common theme runs throughout those early stories, that of the:

“Sodden drunk husband, and the long suffering wife with kids in the background.”

It came up in discussion tonight, how many of the wives mentioned in most of the stories, stay. They use all their powers of refusals, denials and threats to get their husbands to quit drinking. Those first stories speak about the wives getting very savvy and find the solution, and then physically driving their husbands to “Town’s Hospital” in New York City for treatment.

They do not mention “A” particular hospital, but we know from other sources that it is indeed Town’s that many a drunk end up in. From historical literature published much later, we learn about this system and how it worked.

Funny, that in the end, for many drunk husbands, it is the wife who figures out what to do.

Back in the day, one did not read, often, of divorce, but separation is common among the stories. Divorce, was a taboo subject, and was not reported often. Which led to the comments about relationships by some of our folks tonight.

Many of our women noticed the long suffering wife, who stayed by her man.

When I was born in the late 1960’s, alcoholism was rampant. We are three generations strong in the drink. I’m not quite sure if my brother perpetuated the drink, into his own kids.

None of the women in my family would have left their suffering husbands because of the drink. It seemed that those pesky wedding vows, kept them beholden to their sodden husbands, for better or worse, and in good time and bad. They accepted their lots in life and dealt with it each in their own ways.

My father had always told my mother, that she could never leave him, because she had no place to go, and would have no money to get there either. My mother was a captive Canadian wife, whom my father assimilated into American life. She would not have had the wherewithal to find a life on her own, even if she thought about leaving him.

Alcoholism was an evil scourge for us. And God forbid, anyone talk about it openly, or complain about the drunks, running amok in our lives. Nobody ever said a word.

I imagine that today’s divorce rates are high due to many things. We see many separated and divorced folks in the room today. It is not like it was decades ago, with women not having a say in their destinies and lives.

Women today have the ability to tell us alcoholics to “Go Fuck Ourselves…”

The other discussion that came up was about guns. In this particular story, our man is drinking with his buddy. And at some point, both are sodden drunk, and are trying to figure out a way to get back into the house and past their wives, and between them come up with a number of salacious stories about how they got so drunk.

One story goes like this … Our man, sodden with the drink, is standing on a bridge, ready to jump and holding a gun to his head, and his buddy comes upon him and saves his life, and is not delivering said man to his long suffering wife… They end up, not at home, where they planned to go, but in the hovel of a space, where the buddy lives. He has a gun, and attempts to shoot himself, but the gun is empty. Which sends our man running for the hills is fear, and he ends up home, where his wife is waiting … with the solution …

Which brings up the story about Angry Larry …

One of my stories that is in the book talks about my friend Larry. He is another AIDS survivor. Back in the day when we were all sick and dying, many of us were trying to get sober as well.

Larry used to bring a loaded gun to the meeting and he would say that he would either get sober or he was going to kill himself. That went on for a long time.

Larry eventually turned it around and became a leader of the community.

Back in the day, when we were dying of AIDS, heterosexual mortuaries, Read: Straight folks, would not touch a body with AIDS. They would not prepare the dead, nor allow anyone who worked for them to have anything to do with an infected body.

People were turned into the streets.

Larry, in his infinite sober wisdom, figured out what to do and did it gladly.

He built a mortuary. He got a license and opened his services to the community.

Larry did what the straights would not. He allowed his friends to die with dignity, gave them a place to be where family and friends could mourn them properly.

Larry broke the stigma and was celebrated as a hero amongst us.

Let no one forget what he did for the least of these.

It was a good night, everybody is well.

We’ll see you all soon.

Friday – Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

tumblr_lrr3ngz2KM1qcpwebo1_500 p3n1sAnother challenging week is in the books. Working with others IS a full time job. Summer is coming to a close, and we have begun the transition for some of my folks. We will be bringing some people back to Montreal in the next couple of weeks, and next week others will be departing overseas for their next life project.

Working with others, is a full time job. And accountability is high on the radar. There are things that happen in life that we are powerless to change, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be the change we need to have in the moment.

When I first got sober, I needed many things. And as it happened, my friends in the meetings took very good care of me in many ways, and made it possible for me to succeed where failure was a real probability.

Today, I am in a place where I can pay it forward, all those things that were given to me, and to make sure my friends, and their children, are cared for. A food bank is a necessary place here in Montreal. And many families rely on them to feed their families and their children.

Many people do not have stable work that will provide all that they need, and it is difficult for many to make ends meet. Our food banks do wonderful work for our city and the people who populate it.

And I would not be the first to step up and say to my friends, that you won’t need to rely on that food bank, not on my watch. If there is something that I can do for my friends, I will gladly do it, because that is what we do here. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Needless to say, it is never a dull day in my neighborhood.

The Friday night meeting took place and we talked about prayer and meditation. The reading goes on to talk about the “connectedness” we feel, once we have made that connection to whatever higher power we see in our lives.

For a long time, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop in my life.

This specific thought was mentioned by one of our women tonight, and I wanted to say something, but decided against it, opting just to listen to my friends instead.

Owning my dual diseases, I can’t change my alcoholism, the only thing I can change is how I live my life. And that goes just as well, with AIDS. That is entirely another beast in itself. I will never be cured and I will always rely on medication to keep me alive.

But for a good number of years, I lived with the fear that that definite shoe would eventually drop and I would be dealt a heavy price. Having one foot on solid ground and the other on that proverbial banana peel. Waiting for the big slip to happen.

But I have been on a very long upswing. I don’t know what to attribute that to? It could be one of many things that I do, like take my pills religiously, have faith that I believe in my heart of hearts, is the main key to my longevity. I have my patrons and my beliefs. And I have the utmost belief that my prayers do indeed go somewhere and that they are heard and are useful.

I have my rituals, and my daily practice. And I place a heavy amount of reliance on those rituals and beliefs. I do put many of my eggs in one basket. Because I happen to believe that God and my saints and my family and friends on the other side are moving heaven and earth for me.

A pill is only as useful as the energy you put behind it.

You can just “take a pill” and hope that it works. OR you can take that same pill, and EXPECT it to work. To WILL IT to work. The more positive energy you can put behind any treatment regimen, the better that regimen will work for you too.

It has taken me a life time of study to get the practice down and to have utter faith that it works. And the way I know it works, is simply, I am still alive twenty one years later.

We are all living life on life’s terms today. And for now, it seems to be going alright.

Everyone is well and accounted for. Good things are happening.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries – The Universe and Us

tumblr_n0l11e6Twk1sdwwhso1_500 the sneakerboyCourtesy: The Sneaker Boy Well, our Prime Minister spoke to the Governor General and decided to dissolve Parliament, triggering our Next Federal Election Scheduled for October 19th. As I told our M.P. who called on Friday, I am supporting Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party. I just hope voters are not going to be scared into voting the Conservatives back into power, most Canadians agree that change is needed in Ottawa. This will be the longest running election campaign, over eleven weeks.

The Conservative Party has the most money to spend. And by triggering the election today ( Sunday) the other Federal Parties are stuck with just what they have collected to this point. And the Conservative Party is well known for their dirty ads and underhanded way they run a campaign.

We shall see how Canada swings this fall.

Before the meeting, I was talking to one of my lady friends, and I talked about the universe as being full of souls, and all the energy that the universe must have collected over the eons. I also talked about how we are “stardust,” and if we are stardust, then we are a living connection with all that is out there, where we find (in sobriety) a power greater than ourselves. I kept going on and on about spiritual teachings and the Angel and Michael story, that she wants to read now.

There is so much out there, the wisdom of centuries and of men and women and children. How amazing it is to think, that we have the ability to connect with all that energy and being, if we just connected to it spiritually. And how do we do that, with prayer and meditation.

We think, we form thoughts, and where do those thoughts go? Do they stay in our heads, or if we are stardust, part of us is constantly connected to the universe, and if the universe is alive and sentient, then it knows what we think and what we desire, even before we know we need it.

Absolutely amazing, don’t you think ?

It was the First Sunday, and we are back in the book, reading “The Educated Agnostic,” about a man who had the problem, and saw no relief even telling his doctors that he would never be able to quit the drink. Faced with certain destruction his doctors brought him three men to talk to him, each of their own experiences.

His response was the same, “you poor sods, with your simple spiritual practice, good for you, but it won’t work for me.” We know from experience that if one attempts to intellectualize God and the Spiritual practice, you won’t come up with any answers that will help you.

But every story has a happy ending. Little by slowly, over time, our man began to practice these simple spiritual practices, and he too got sober.

So what did we all talk about? God. One of our men spoke about a book he read while on vacation about Joe McCarthy, the demonized senator in the United States in the 1950’s and 1960’s. People feared him, he bullied and threatened those who would speak against him and he went out of his way to accuse people of being communist and traitors. Even the president was afraid of him, until he bucked up. In the end, he read that our demon senator McCarthy died of severe liver disease.

Joe McCarthy was one very big alcoholic, who did not find his solution to his attitude or the drink. In the end it was the drink that killed him.

Funny that, I never knew that or knew about the man beyond documentaries I’d watched on tv. He was so vitriolic – his anger and hatred turned inward, and it was alcohol he used to cut the edge, sadly, like most die hard alcoholics, the drink eventually kills us.

I started my read of the Odyssey last night.

Everyone is good tonight.

More to come, stay tuned …

Saturday – August 1st, The Writing Process Round Three

the blue moon rafaRafa’s Blue Moon – Friday July 31st 2015

This is the park we were standing in late last night on the way home, and Rafa clicked this photograph with his phone. It has been filtered and treated to get to this image.

It is exactly what we saw in real time.

I met with Rafa this evening for round three of the outline review. And once again, he had plenty of food for thought. He is a classicist and is well read on a great amount of classical literature, which makes him a perfect mentor for my project.

In pondering my theme of “Canada” from the book, this week, he introduced the concept of
“Nostos” or homecoming to me and that it might apply to my story as it has unfolded for him.

The story opens with a God moment, and as the story unfolds, Canada becomes part of my story, but for almost the whole outline, Canada does not appear until I cross the border into Canada.

I was directed to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but no “nostos.” I went to the Oxford dictionary and got the word “homecoming.” Then I thought of Wikipedia, now I know, as an academic, that Wikipedia is never used as a credible source nor should you ever cite or use a wiki entry, on any paper. But this is what they had to say about “NOSTOS.”

Nostos (Greek: νόστος) (pl. nostoi) is the Greek word for homecoming, the idea of returning home from a long journey. Nostos can also mean “Welcome Home” in the Greek language. Nostos is a theme dealt with in many Homeric writings such as the Odyssey, in which the main character, Odysseus, strives to get home after the Trojan War. The plural term nostoi is applied to Greek heroes’ homeward journeys after the taking of Troy and is the name of one of the poems of the Epic Cycle on that theme.

God is there, in my life, I am introduced to Him and He to me. The God thread runs throughout my life, and at one point, I am in seminary, then I am summarily dismissed from that seminary when my concept and practice of faith does not meet muster with my superiors.

And I walk off the grounds and look to heaven and say …”Hey God, don’t you know who I am?” “Do I matter or what, and why am I standing here outside the gates, when I should still be standing inside of them, and I am not, WHY?

I have read “The Odyssey” by Homer as a student, and later in life, saw a television movie of the same book. Tonight, Rafa gave me his copy to read, “The Odyssey of Homer by Richmond Lattimore. I am told, this translation is the best one to read.

Why are you reading the Odyssey? you might ask.

My story is a story of “homecoming.” Beginning in one place, and as a child, I am taken on a journey by my parents. I grow up, go to college and seminary, where my personal odyssey begins.

I say my personal odyssey, because I chose what I was going to do it, I was not led or taken anywhere by anyone else, like my parents, growing up as a child.

I travel from one “island” to another “island.” I am adrift at sea a number of times, and then end up on other islands, and the final move is to “ITHACA.” My story, not unlike Odysseus’ journey to return home to Ithaca, takes a long time, on a winding path, from one place to another, to this person and the next, but it seems, for a while, I may never get there, until a fortuitous letter comes in the mail, with an invitation to come HOME.

But the journey is not complete for Odysseus, he just doesn’t return and become king or get the title or his wife, and all that was his, he has to work his way back, one step at a time, and we talked of other books, that we do not have, the book that comes before the Odyssey, and the one that comes after the Odyssey, telling us what happens to Odysseus after he returns to Ithaca.

When I get here, to Montreal, there is still work to do. I just don’t win the prize, having freshly walked over the border. And in the end there is a penance that I must do.

At one point in my story, I meet a priest who is crippled by M.S. and he becomes my spiritual director. And in telling Rafa this story again tonight, he likens me to a “crippled preacher (read: recovering alcoholic), who must travel and share his message with others,” like Odysseus carries an OAR into/onto the land far from the sea, to share his message, until he reaches a place where nobody has ever seen the sea or know what an OAR is.

My life is an Odyssey, and in the end, I get to return to Ithaca and I am finally restored to who I am and to whom I am to become, something that was rightfully mine as a child, but taken away, and as the story unfolds, I am sailing and traveling endlessly, until I reach Ithaca.

I get to Canada, and I inherit all that is mine to have, passed down from my family, but it takes time to learn just what those things are, what they mean, and why they are important.

So my task now, it to rewrite my outline. I need to gather my stories in the form of “Islands and Time at Sea.” Each episode is a visit to some place, to meet someone or learn something. I am reminded to use literary economy, and use as little words as are necessary to tell my story. And if what I am writing is not relevant to the story, to just leave it out.

I need to thread all the stories together, which is why I am reading the book now, before I start writing, to see how it is written, what words are used and why and what they mean.

Read the Book, work on the outline. I have two weeks to complete this round.

Which is why tonight, I begin my read of the Odyssey.