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Archive for April, 2016

Friday -Now

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The weather is holding. Our days are in the mid teens, and the nights have remained in the low single positive digits. Anything below 10c requires a jacket, or an extra layer and a sweatshirt.

Yesterday, we celebrated our first complete month of our new meeting on the M.A. side, here on the Eastern end of Downtown, at St. James United. The meeting has been popular and we are above the water in prudent reserve, so that is a good thing.

The format we choose to run with, the “Topic Jar” is very popular. Folks seems to enjoy that format, within the small room we occupy, and instead of sitting around a large “room” we have a large table, akin to a “Study group” table in a university setting.

The more intimate venue and the choice of the jar, lent to discussion from my fellows that I had not previously heard from them. Most of the members of the Thursday group, also attend regularly, the Monday/Saturday meeting up at Cote St. Catherine.

Today was busy. Hubby had the day off, so I had to change things up a bit, but it all worked out. I had an early meeting, came home, and had a little while before I had to turn around and leave again.

We sat an uber full house tonight, and we listened to the sweetest melody, all of our friends in the same place, reciting the Serenity Prayer.

Pure Joy.

The builds in the neighborhood, are progressing. Le Square is stalled on twelve this week, as they had to pour the elevator banks for the remaining two final floors. However, on the ground floor, the framing out has moved ahead. They are hanging the duct work and filling out the back wall which sits against the old blockage of older buildings that were not torn down in that section of the block. They have moved to the fourth floor with the window cladding, and build out.

Closer to home, La Catherine is into the ground floor build. They are not building across the site, but in sections. The front of the building is set, with large columns and high ceilings. I’m not sure what that floor is going to look like yet, because it is coming along in sections and not a floor wide pour. They are using the crane to move cement from the side alleys, and street side access points.

Time for the weekend.

 


Tuesday -My Chance To Live

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How often, in life, do we get the chance, to live a life of our choosing ?

So many people in the world, never get that chance. For some, they never leave the house, or the neighborhood they were born in/grew up in.

Some believe they are safe and insulated from the rest of the world if they just stay where they are, and they never leave, they never visit other places, and they get stuck in a way of life, that chooses them, instead of them choosing it.

But if you never leave the comfort of your home, and go out and see the world, how will you know if your life is as good as it can be, without finding out whether it could be better ?

Many people in the world are constrained to the life they live, because jobs are scarce, and the necessity of making money to keep a roof over ones head, is primary, so they are stuck in a dead end existence, never able to be upwardly mobile.

How many people do I know, who are stuck in that rut and are miserable, because the only distance they put in their lives, between fact and fiction, is a book, on a commute to and from work … MANY !!!

University used to be a place where work was rewarded with a piece of paper that guaranteed you upward success because you studied hard and have new knowledge that would serve the world and make it a better place for YOU and THEM.

Now, that same university degree, isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.

How many people do I know who went to university, got good grades, and for a while, may have had a position in a career that was going places, then lost said position, and now sit in a cubicle, taking up space, warming a chair, staring into a computer screen eight hours a day, bemoaning the fact that they once had IT, but don’t have it ANY MORE… MANY !!!

For most of my life, I stayed in one location (read:Florida) aside from my tragic decision to explore the mid west, to my detriment, only to return bruised and broken.

But the universe conspired to help me leave that life behind, and strike out for greener pastures above the Northern Border, and a new life in Canada.

I never imagined that life would ever get this good, or that it could get as good as it is. Because people with AIDS in the United States, on government disability, and state assistance, are locked into a certain life, not of their own choosing. I was one of those people. I have a friend who is locked in that life, but he makes it work for himself, even if much of his life was chosen for him.

I got my ticket out of Dead End Existence. And I am forever Grateful for it.

Tonight, we read “My Chance to Live.” A story about a young lady who got sober in her teens, after a short but disastrous career with the bottle and illicit drugs.

Many kids come in, And I say that with respect. Many come, but few stay and even fewer make it to adulthood, without returning to that grind of party, party, party.

Young people who come in, never see the wisdom of such a choice, when they are in the middle of it. They moan over the fact that, maybe some of their friends can drink responsibly, and drug occasionally, but THEY can not.

They don’t see the long haul as viable solution. The ones who fuck off, go back out and they learn just what a horror addiction can be, because some of them return, much more bruised and broken, then when they showed up the first time.

The numbers are low, for the ones who come and stay the first time, but those numbers rise, when a venture into “experimentation” turns into a return to the rooms.

We all reflected on this reading tonight, and everyone had a different identity point with said story.

I have said before that when Todd was in my life, and always looking over my shoulder, and giving me a reason to push forwards, and giving good advice, and protecting me from the world, I prospered. And I flourished.

But when he moved away, I did not have that wise counsel, and for the life of me, I could not figure out a way to make it in the world by myself. And that fact, translated into spinning out of control, trusting no one, and keeping secrets and telling lies.

That ended up in a disastrous slip.

I needed people. I could not make it on my own. I needed help badly.

When  I returned to the rooms, that protection picked up right where I left off, years before. Which led me here, to more people, who would be good for me, for all the right reasons.

I can not make this life, on my own.

Our young lady talks about drinking to fit in … Been there, done that.

Our young lady talks about blackouts … Been there, done that.

But at nineteen, she found her way in, because she had a waitress job, and these happy, smiling, laughing alcoholics came to her establishment, over and over, and at one point, they invited her to a meeting, and the seed was planted.

All she wanted was to get out of this job and get away from these happy, smiling people. But when that happened, she realized that she began to miss them. So she found her way into the rooms for the last time. And she stuck and stayed.

She goes on to talk about progress:

Following the principles laid out in the Big Book has not always been comfortable, or will I claim perfection. I have YET to find a place in the Big Book that says “Now you have completed the Steps; have a nice life.”

The program is a plan for a lifetime of daily living. There have been occasions when the temptation to slack off has won. I view each of these as learning opportunities.

When I am willing to do the right thing, I am rewarded with an inner peace no amount of liquor could ever provide. When I am unwilling to do the right thing, I become restless, irritable, and discontent.

It is always my choice.

Through the Twelve Steps, I have been granted the gift of choice. I am no longer at the the mercy of a disease that tells me the only answer is to drink. If willingness is the key to unlock the gates of hell, it is action that opens those doors so that we may walk freely among the living.

There is a vast amount of wisdom that every young person in the rooms today, needs to hear, so that they stay. We all felt that this story resonated a great deal for all of us.

I think, many sober people can attest to the “It Gets Better Phenomena.” And i, for myself can also add that, over the last fourteen years and four months, everything that I ever needed came from the rooms, and the people in them.

I’ve never had to leave the circle for ANYTHING.

And today, I get to turn around and give it back, in full share, for my friends. Years sober, a few university degrees, years of life experience, and sober living, have changed my life in ways, I never foresaw.

But today, I can honestly give it back in spades.

What a feeling it is, to know that your contribution to the circle, changes lives for the better. It isn’t about me, but with God’s help, I get to give back. I am a confident man, who has talent and love to give back to my friends. And I do that gladly.

My heart is full.

I came, I found, and this is my chance to live …

“Live, Live Live, Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving…”

20 point if you can tell me where this quote comes from …

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

Today I surfed Le Square’s website. And my floor numbers are correct. Today they poured the twelfth story. There are two more to go, to top it all off, fourteen and fifteen.

I say in a matter of weeks the entire build will be completed.

The build out on the lower floors continue. I am sure that they are ahead of schedule now. The weather has been cooperating, so construction is taking full advantage of blue skies and lots of sun.

La Catherine is building the next floor over the garage. Soon they will be out of the pit completely.

More to come.

 


Monday – Le Square Photo Update

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If you look closely at this photo, the concrete building in the background, to the left of frame, below the Lambert Closse street sign, you see windows and balconies. If you count down from the top, the top floor being twenty, three below the seventeenth floor, you can see, exactly where I live. That is my building back there. Looking this way towards Le Square and Cabot Square.

 

This morning I got up and sat and watched Le Square, pour the eleventh floor of the condo building. Later in the day I was at the store, and took a couple of snaps of the build as it is today.

The ground floor looks amazing, Lots of columns and high ceilings. They have framed the second and third floor windows and balconies, as you will see. To the right of frame, you can see columns that go up from the ground to the third floor, which is quite possibly, or may be a grand entrance. I haven’t looked at the plans on the website, just a guess.

The fourth floor is coming along, as framing is going up there as well.

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This will be an ongoing photo journal of progress. La Catherine is tucked away in a pit and behind barrier walls, and I only get a partial shot from my balcony. When they get above the first floor I will be able to document progress.

Tuesday April 26 – 12th floor built and is prepping for pour later this week. 2 more floors to go, 14 and 15.

More to Come.


Sunday Sundries- Inventory

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We saw this sign, Friday night, outside a resto on the way to the Friday night meeting. It has since made the rounds on Instagram.

It was another stellar day today. It’s too bad we can’t do things outside. That would be tossing anonymity out the window, wouldn’t it …

I spent the weekend with my friends, and ended the weekend with more friends.
We sat a full house, heard a speaker on Step Four, and got all the way around the room for discussion. The season of visitors has begun. In past years, our numbers spiked because we are a popular meeting on the weekend. And with concerts and filming in the city this season, we will welcome folks from far and wide.

We talked about Step Four.

I remember how, in that first year, this time around, my First Fourth was a laundry list of “WhoDunItToMe” which turned into speaking “Victimese.” This is a common thought with folks who are up there in double digit sobriety.

Over the years, repeated passed of my Fourth repeated the same shit over and over. I was not mentally ready to drop the rock, however I did read the book, “Drop the Rock.”

Last Spring, I worked another Fourth, because I was with my new sponsor, and the way he asked me to write it differed from past rounds. Instead of the Big Book column format, he had me:

  • Write a dateline/emotion/table (from the year of birth to the present) which would have been 48 entries for me, at the time.
  • Then the three lists:
  • Resentments
  • Fears and
  • Guilts

This last pass was much shorter as I did not retread old material, but drilled down into myself, what I was feeling from beginning to end, to be able to chart what happened when, and how my behavior began, evolved and turned alcoholic.

Then we discussed decisions, some of which were Self Preservation decisions, therefore exempt from the inventory.

But that was not the end of that step.

The year that followed, God began to chip away at my bag of rocks I was carrying around, and after a year and some months of trying to get my attention, dropped the wall on me after the last retreat I attended in Vermont.

Which ended up in an emotional breakdown, which led to a very fast and dirty inventory of shit I really needed to write down and didn’t at the time. This period of time fell between steps Six and Seven. Needless to say when all was said and done, I had indeed

DROPPED THE ROCK(S).

A few weeks back, one of my long sober lady friends spoke at a Thursday night meeting, and she said something that stuck …

The whole point of sobriety is to become free, to let go of the past, and to live in the NOW.

Successive Fourth Steps are required as we get and stay sober. And the Requisite Tenth Step is also the daily inventory that keeps us on track on a daily basis.

Sobriety is supposed to lead to Happy, Joyous and Free.

In the long run, we don’t get sober to remain miserable and mired in the past. We got sober to rid ourselves of the past, get rid of the wreckage of our pasts, to find ourselves, to clean our side of the street, and get right with the God of our Understanding, AND to become Happy, Joyous and Free…

This is as free as I have ever felt in my life.

And the cherry on the sundae, is, when the time is right, and you begin to work with others, is to have a sponsee trust you and you, in turn, get to give it back, by hearing someone’s Fifth Step.

That changed my life in ways I never imagined.

The Steps will change your life in ways you would not imagine…

Happy Joyous and Free …

 

 

 


Friday – Miraculous Power

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“Deep down in every man, woman, and child is the fundamental idea of a God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that Power in human lives are facts as old as man himself.

A.A. pg. 55

A very dreary, rainy day, turned into a glorious Friday night.

I invite you to read this next passage, and then go do it, and afterwards, you can return and read the rest …

Take a moment, or two. Close your eyes, and take a breath. In and Out. Then notice your heart beating. What gives you breath, and What makes your heart beat ?

Something miraculous.

They say, that if you get up in the morning, and you are still breathing, THAT is a good start. Which leads to the next piece of advice. Before your feet hit the floor, before you even get out of bed, we should utter and prayer of thankfulness and gratitude, that you in fact, have another day to realize the best part of you.

Things I wanted to write about, did not make it into print earlier in the week, due to more important things I wanted to say. The Spring season, is in full swing. The terrace footage in the neighborhood has more than doubled, as new bars and restos, have taken sidewalk and street space, which is new build.

My love of reading continues.

On the last round, I bought “Minister Without Portfolio,” by Michael Winter. The novel, taking place in New Foundland, and Afghanistan, was all the rage, according to the liner notes and the blurbs on the back of and inside the cover.

When I finished the book, it just fell FLAT … Not sure what that hype was all about.

This week brings two more books. The first, a National Best Seller, and the Pulitzer Prize Winner for 2015, “The Sympathizer.” Written by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

“The Sympathizer is a blistering, award winning exploration of identity, politics, and America, wrought in electrical pose. The narrator, a Vietnamese army captain, is a man of two minds and divided loyalties, a half french, half Vietnamese communist sleeper agent in America after the end of the VietNam War. A powerful story of love and friendship, and a gripping espionage novel, The Sympathizer examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.”

My trusty book seller Indigo, always has something to read.

The second book, comes by way of a past read. Donna Tartt, another Pulitzer Prize winner for her novel, “The Goldfinch,” has three books on the table. Her earliest book, “The Little Friend,” is an international best seller.

In my humble opinion, The Goldfinch has to be one of the BEST books I have ever read. Her writing and story telling ability is Masterful and Genius. I cannot recommend this book any better than to say, if you haven’t read it yet, you really should.

I also completed my Summer shopping haul. Which added a couple more shirts, pants and assorted add on’s. My wish list is now complete for the year. I won’t need to shop for clothing for a while.

texas longhorn jersey

In other neighborhood news, Le Square is about to build and pour their twelfth story of a seventeen story build. There is framing on floors two and three, and the ground floor commercial stalls are also being built out. As soon as the walls cure on the floors below, they are removing scaffolding and building out.

Closer to home, La Catherine, is finally OUT of the basement. They finally poured the final segment of the parking garage. This took precision timing and MANY cement trucks that were lined up all the way down Ste. Catherine’s Street, and onto Fort, where we live.

I am sure that their build will pick up speed over the next month.

We’ve worked hard on getting everybody back on the bus, where they need to be.

Hopefully we are on the upswing.

I asked Rafa tonight on the way home to reflect on the past two years, and try to see what God is trying to say, up to this point, since God was the discussion topic tonight at the Friday Meeting.

I thought about that question on the way home. You are where you are. With the people you need to be with. You did not find success where you had been, so now you are back here again. So what is God saying ? Maybe you need time to work on relationships with certain people, and work on your sobriety and be friend, fellow and partner. That’s a pretty simple answer, but that’s what I came up with.

There is definitely a God. If you need an example, look in the mirror, and take a breath. And if you are getting sober, go sit in a room with your fellows, and see them get clean and sober, and begin to find their feet, and a power greater than themselves.

You will definitely see God.

I Promise.


Thursday – HELP

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It is a sad day in the music business today. It is always sad when a trailblazing genius of musical craft, dies. Prince was the ultimate Master of musical craft. There will never be another like him, ever.

It has been an interesting week so far.

I try, every day, to do the right thing, and give the right advice. But it seems that not everybody listened, or is communicating when needed, and with that, some have sunk into a funk, and only when the pain gets too much to bear alone, do they ask for help.

All along, everybody knows what they could do, and should do. The problem is that many forget what it was like before The Work, or past conversations and past experiences, and complacency and laziness take over, or maybe it is just that life takes over, and in the busyness of school, work, families, significant others, they loose sight of what they should be doing to make sure everything else in life works well.

Depression is a bitch. And I know a bit about depression, and other forms of it, because of personal experience here at home, and over the years working with kids with disabilities and functional problems. People are suffering across the board lately, and I do what I can to help them.

If you are sad, or you are in difficulty, or you seem to be in a hole that you can’t find your way out of, there is HELP. You are not alone. There are people out here, who can help you. You just need to reach out and make that call.

Sadly, this past week, we have seen example after example of people, in certain mediums online who have no idea how much some people, and kids suffer on a daily basis with depression and suicidal tendencies. And add insult to injury by shooting their mouths off.

Here at home, In Canada, a First World Country, we have failed thousands of kids, families and entire populations of native, and indigenous people who live in Third World communities, live off grid, in places that are difficult to reach, are not connected to Big City Centers, who have no running water, homes that are falling down around them, and recently rashes of kids committing suicide has reached terrible proportions.

The Attawapiskat community located in Ontario has issued an emergency call for help, because scores of their children are dying at their own hands, this epidemic of youth suicide is a scourge on the face of our First World Country.

Canada is NOT doing enough, we have FAILED to help.

The solution is very simple, but because of bureaucratic red tape, native treaties, and policies that really need to be scrapped all together, we could do right by these communities that have nothing, and need so much and go without every day.

When you can’t have WATER, or HEAT, or HOUSING that is solid, and you can’t afford simple food, because of the jacked up prices they pay for food, THIS is unconscionable.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what has to happen to guarantee that generations of kids stay alive. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that if we don’t connect the lost to communities that can help, more kids are going to die.

I don’t know what else to tell my folks, to get them back on the bus and reengage in their sobrieties.

We spent an hour tonight talking about relapses, and slipping, and staying sober in the long term, because one of our number is stuck in that proverbial door of do I keep the pot on the living room table, do I smoke it, or do I flush it?

We all offered to get rid of it for her, and she said no.

At some point we all made that choice that we wanted to get clean and sober and were willing to do anything to get there. Sadly, some seem to not take addiction as serious as their fellows, and have begun to use again.

I don’t know what to do now, but be present and available when my phone rings.

So much sadness in the country that has so much to offer.

Nobody is immune. Get on board the bus, and listen.

 

 


Tuesday – Thoughts on Humility and Step 7

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It is written in the book, that Step 7 is all about Humility. It seems, to me, that I have been on this step for a very long time. A lifetime, for that matter. Steps 6 and 7, character defects and shortcomings, are those undesirable traits we want to get rid of.

We read this step the other night in the other fellowship and I got to thinking after the past few entries here that God, in His infinite wisdom, has been working on this for me for a lifetime.

I’ve said before that I have an intimate relationship with God that goes back to my early childhood. And as child and young person, I had opportunity to find Him and seek Him and learn about Him.

Life took its turns and I ended up where I ended up.

Prior to when I left home, I had been on a vacation with a friend, and I met a couple who lived in a swanky apartment in Orlando, close to the Tragic Queendom. I knew then, that that was exactly what I wanted, it cost big bucks, that, in the end, I could not make, for drinking, but I went nonetheless.

It was a crap shoot. I could only get so far, drinking and all, and sooner than later, I lost that swanky apartment and my car, due to drinking. That first move was a futile attempt at wanting something I could not afford, yet went after it anyways.

My wants over rid my base needs.

God does not like it when I “want.” He tends to say NO quite often to them.

I thought I knew better, and I did not. I had “ideas and thoughts” that really did not make it off the paper and into life.

The idea that I HAD to DRINK to get in, was the main focus of my drinking. And I held on to that idea for the major portion of my life. OLD IDEAS.

The theme of acquiring “things, homes, material goods” so forth and so on, was like a merry go round. I would collect things, I would move, I would loose things, and have to start over again. With nothing.

The humbling before God began early on, but I never saw it that way.

God, I think, had been watching out for me in a specific way. Family is the thorn in my side, and I hear other gay men talk about family with reverence, and I heard the other day how important family is and that we should visit them and be with them, and for me that is entirely not the case.

My parents could not wait to get rid of me, in fact, they never wanted me to begin with, as I was the root of all of their problems.

Blame the little children, why don’t you.

I know this today, but did not know this THEN, that God removed toxic and detrimental people from my life on purpose. There is a book called Michael and the Angels, a Kryon parable that talks about the contract we write before birth. That certain people reincarnate together for a specific period of time, which may NOT be a lifetime.

With that thought in mind, my parents were not under contract, past the date they asked me to go. I went on my own volition. But I knew that was coming.

When I got sick, back in the day, everybody walked out. Family included. I think God knew what was good for me, but at the time I did not. God, read: Todd, came to me and those men of that time were the people who mattered. The ones who would be part of my salvation.

Once again, and probably the most important time, I was humbled before God.

Every day, and every night, I began work on my knees, praying with Todd. I had to believe in a Power greater than myself, and Todd was that power. I learned a great deal about humility during those two years with him.

GOD became Incarnate. I know this as FACT. I was there.

The practice of NOT thinking about myself for the most part, was beneficial.

When Todd left and I was left to my own devices, I could not carry forwards what I had learned because there was no one around to help me do that. The all important “other person dynamic” was missing. And I did not find it again.

Alas, I was sober, to an extent.

Words were said, and I began to think wild thoughts, and have desires, well outside my comfort zone. My desires, well outstripped my needs. I could not cover the bills of that move and pawned them off on a friend, that I owe an amend to greatly.

I turned away from God, from my recovery and from my survival, for base desires. Sickly thinking that a stranger was going to fill the hole in my soul.

How wrong I was, to my detriment.

Once again, at the end of that escapade, I was humbled before God.

This was the biggest loss for me. My house, my furniture, everything that I owned. Save a backpack, a duffle bag, my bible and a few odds and ends.

I returned home with my tail between my legs to friends who opened their home to me until I found one of my own. God was there, because the sequence of events that took place were divine. I know this for sure.

And as it happened, and history will tell us, that the rest of this story IS history.

I ended up here.

And for a time, I was good, until my minor hiccup. When I drew out my arms length list of needs (read:wants) and desires for God, that I stupidly shared at a meeting.

To the laughter of my fellows and encouragements like “Keep coming back, and Stay in your day,” that list was whittled down to nothing, by God.

Over the last fourteen years and some months time, God has worked on me, and I see this now, that we read texts over and over, where the hand of God plays into this story.

I thought, a long time ago, that I played a role, or would play a role in a community that I was told, that drinking was my ticket in. Well, I never did find the right community to participate in, but I did find one who’s only job was to facilitate my drinking and using.

Not very healthy at all was it ?

I thought, a long time ago, that trolling for love on the internet was the right thing to do, when I should have been concentrating on getting sober, whatever that might have looked like had I stuck with it instead of fucking off on it.

Not very healthy at all was it ?

I thought, a while back, that God owed me, because I had returned to recovery, how WRONG I was about that.

I found the humble community that I was supposed to be part of, and the man that I spend my life with. Totally by God’s grace. Now I am FREE …

For a long time in sobriety, I bided my time and did what I thought I should be doing, until someone much smarter than me, said, NO, you should do it THIS WAY.

And where did that start ? On my knees, morning, noon and night. Praying …

What, you want me to pray, YES, “I want you to pray.”

Ok, I followed direction.

All along, God had been pruning my proverbial tree of life. Teaching me WHAT was important, WHO was important, and HOW to live.

It wasn’t about ME, or the MONEY, or the THINGS.

It was about my husband, my fellows and my friends.

I learned the value of friendships and relationships. I learned the value of money and what was necessary to survive.

But on the inside, I did not notice God working on the finer details of my life.

And I wrote about this a while back, about God trying to get our attention.

  • The first time God wants us to hear him he whispers,
  • If we miss it, He whispers again.
  • If we miss the second contact, he hits us over the head with a two by four.
  • If we miss that third contact, then he drops the proverbial wall on top of us.

I missed all those queues, and the proverbial wall came down, the night I returned from the last men’s intensive I attended last year.

It seems to me that the lesson of humility has been an ongoing process for me for the whole of my life. Because what I thought I needed was wrong, what I ended up doing was wrong. The people I surrounded myself with was wrong.

Save Todd and the group there.

I did not follow the path into life, that everyone else is supposed to follow.

The life, the wife, the house, the cars, the children, the dogs and the picket fence.

I ended up with two suitcases, a few boxes and a basement apartment in Verdun.

With one pot, no furniture and a clock radio and CBC radio every night.

At least I had meetings and friends, and sobriety.

I am not averse to asking for help, and I sure as shit prosper better, when some one else is in control. Don’t get me wrong, I am in control of me, but not all of me.

I do better, live better, and am a bit more humble when I turn my will and my life over to the God of my understanding.

I do that on a daily basis. And I have hubby who takes care of me and sees to my needs.

I know what to do today. And I do it gladly.

And it begins with prayer, morning, noon and night.

 

 


Sunday Sundries – ANGER (Read: I’ll Show You)

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Acceptance is the KEY to ALL my problems

There are NO justified resentments

Resentments are the dubious luxury of normal men and women. Resentments are a luxury that alcoholics cannot afford

We are POWERLESS over people, places and things

Today was a glorious day. Just GLORIOUS. Twenty degrees, sunny, a cool breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. It was so nice, that we all left home uber early and set off for the church to do The Work with others. A sure sign that Spring has Sprung, and not a day too late.

I made plans, and God laughed at me. (read: the baby slept all day long after not sleeping at all last night, so our venture to the park to play was put off). Boooo…

That gave me an extra hour to luxuriate in my bed before I HAD to get up.

We opened the church and got set up, so The Work could commence. I took those pesky egg timers and tossed them into the trash, never to be seen again. When my chair walked in he went looking for them, and in not finding them, looked at me askance, and I said, “No More Egg Timers EVER” (In my best Joan Crawford imitation).

20 points if you get that reference…

We read from Living Sober, and the chapter on ANGER.

We sat a good number AND we made it all the way around, with time to spare. I had spoken with my chair as to his ability to run the meeting long, because, it is his discretion, as chair to be able to do so. Running long isn’t a problem, when the discussion is going somewhere, and people don’t usually complain. Those who do can just suck an egg.

I mused on the topic as it went around the room. And I thought about the past. They say that when we point the finger at someone because they wronged us, we can also be reminded that in most cases, it was US who started this whole thing.

But there was/is a time, when people wrong us, and that had/has nothing to do with us.

When my mother, on our last conversation, blamed me for all of her problems and cited my birth to the date I left home as the period that I caused her ten lifetimes of grief, that had nothing to do with ME and had everything to do with HER.

She made the choice to lay back and take it. And it was her choice to carry and give birth, and then decide to keep me. That may have been a choice she was forced into by family, but it was a choice nonetheless. How can you blame a child for ones problems to begin with?

The truth is that I grew up in that abusive, alcoholic home. And what was dealt to me was above and beyond what should be dealt a child in any case.

It was a good thing that I took it and decided against retaliating, because my father could well have been hurt, terribly, and I would have ended up in the slammer.

My parents live in their resentments. I learned how they worked early on. They would cop a resentment in anger and respond with “Watch this, I’ll show you!”

Then proceed to shut your light off, put you in the dark and ignore you for life.

My parents are guilty of many things. Harassment, Denial, Homophobia, Hatred, so forth and so on. They denied me things that a family should never deny a child, young adult, human being.

And how did I respond to this treatment, “I’ll show you.”

For every action an equal and opposite reaction occurs.

When I made my life changing decisions, I was sober. Both times. I made a conscious decision to show them, “I’ll show you!”

Was that right or wrong ?

Self preservation decisions, are just that self preservation.

I pissed a lot of people off the first time I was sober, because I may not have had a drink in a while, but I sure as shit was not as sober as I could have been, (read: The Work). What I did not know then, directly affected what happened next.

I drank and drugged again.

Did I drink or drug out of anger, No not really. The book says, that sometimes anger is a direct result of fear, named or unnamed. I definitely drank out of fear. Being alone, and facing ones own death, is a place of fear, DEFINITELY.

I survived that fate. Famously.

The past is the past. And for a long time, (read: For over a decade in sobriety this time) I lived with rocks in a sack that I was carrying around, never realizing that they were there.

Some say, that if we let go all those rocks we are carrying, the pain and anger that is deep seeded, and internal, subconsciously, when that surfaces, we think, Who will we be without that baggage we are carrying around for no good reason?

Which is why subconsciously, we tend to carry shit for ages, before we get permission in sobriety, in steps Six and Seven, to finally LET IT ALL GO.

Been there, Done that.

I am not my past, But did the past define who I was, YES, definitely. Those moments in the past when I surmounted infirmity, sickness, alcoholism, abandonment, all those times that were hard, I conquered. And yes, that is part of my story. And it defined who I was for ages.

When I moved here, I came with a clean slate. I started a new life, in a new place, with new people, and a new life, sober, a second time. I could write my own story now.

I moved away from, and put down, all that shit that tied me to misery and pain.

I have been angry in sobriety. I have lost my temper and said wrong words. I have stormed out of meetings, vowing never to return. I copped resentments in sobriety that lasted for years. I have not been a perfect sober human, but who is a perfect sober human being?

I don’t know perfect people.

I have also learned the hard way, that when something affects me, I have a choice, to entertain it, or not. If a situation comes up where I can either speak or hold my tongue, for better or worse, it is good advice, just to keep my mouth shut.

If it does not effect you directly or has bearing on your life, let it go.

The book talks about restraint of tongue and pen. And how often am I guilty of committing that sin ?

Problem:

  • Does it have to do with me ?
  • How do I feel about it ?
  • Does it really matter ?
  • Do I really need to get involved ?
  • Am I acting out of EGO or LOVE ?
  • Should I just walk away and keep my mouth SHUT ?

Feelings come, and feelings go. We have the choice to entertain them or not. And what alcoholic, doesn’t like to wallow in anger and resentment, just because it “Feels so Good.”

Oy, I am getting too old for this shit.

I want to be sober in mind, though and action. Which means that I need to be “In the Middle of the Boat.”

Which means I need the work, others, my sponsor and a meeting.

If I am connected to OTHERS, there is no time to be in ME.

Anger and resentment are luxuries that I cannot afford.

Simple.

 

 


Saturday – Triggers

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It is written, in The Book, that:

At some point, the only thing that will stand between you and a “Drink/Drug” will be your Higher Power …

Because I straddle the lines between fellowships, I can speak to both arenas, with clarity.

The Saturday meeting, is usually sparse in attendance. But we sat a small group.

It seems, that even in sobriety/clean time, nobody is immune to the occasional mind fuck that takes us by surprise, when we least expect it.

When the weather gets good, and terraces are open, folks congregate on sidewalks, and they drink/drug and shoot the breeze. And I can tell you that, within 50 feet of where ever you are, in Montreal, someone is “smoking up.”

The Tams opened up a couple of weeks ago. This is an institution here in the city. At the foot of Mount Royal sits a park with a huge statue and obelisk. On Sunday afternoons, people congregate for “The Tams,” (read:Drums).

I enjoy this Sunday event. I hit the Mount Royal Metro and walk up to the park, at the foot of the mountain, I participate in the frivolity and drumming. Law enforcement usually tends to stay away, even though folks smoke up and play their drums and dance.

This came up in conversation on the way home tonight.

After a while, one tires of the drums, and so we take to the trail, and climb the mountain up to the Chalet House at the top. It is an afternoon event. When it is nice outside, one makes use of every hour of sunlight and warmth.

I went through the leftover topics from Thursday night, because the chair could not stay, so that left me to chair the meeting. A friend showed up and the topic I had picked came up in conversation before the meeting, so I went with it, which lent to the hour’s conversation that took on a life of its own.

The day I reach my geographic endpoint, I was given a choice between a joint and a beer. It wasn’t a trigger moment, It was a what do I do first moment.

When I put down the drugs finally, in my rehab house, a month into clean time, a friend offered me a joint, which I calmly declined. I never touched pot again.

When I moved back to Miami, it really wasn’t an issue. The drink was an issue still.

I lived alone, and had few friends, so triggers were almost non existent.

When I moved here, clean and sober, I was warned about certain facts.

Only twice, in early sobriety, was I hit with serious triggers, that were substantial.

One was on Jean Baptiste Day, the first summer, I was sitting on the pier at the Old Port, and folks were double fisting beer, I had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Along with quitting drugs/alcohol/AND cigarettes, I was attempting impossibility.

They say quitting smoking is as bad as quitting heroine.

A few months in, like I said, I was at the Old Port, in a celebratory, atmosphere, and watching folks drink and drug around me, I got thirsty and I wanted to smoke.

I was told that if I had a choice between a drink/drug or a cigarette, that the cigarette was the lesser of the evils.

I maintained my sobriety. But I walked off the pier and bought a pack of smokes, and that was that.

When I met hubby, the first job was to cleanse this apartment of the take out containers strewn all over the apartment, to get rid of 300 beer bottles stacked on the balcony, and to rid the apartment of his old drug paraphernalia.

Little by slowly, we returned the beer bottles, and over the next few months, I got rid of the rolling papers, the rolling machines, and left over baggies.

Over the long haul of sobriety, alcohol was something we avoided. But how can you avoid pot, when your neighbors smoke up, they deal in the hallways, and on every corner and alleyway, folks are smoking up outside ?

I don’t often think about smoking pot or drinking. But I dream about both incessantly.

I either drink or drug in my dreams, and I have conversations with the folks who were there, that I never got to speak to, in the end. And that all takes place in my head, when I am sleeping. And usually I wake up with a sick feeling and the residue of those dreams.

Sometimes, and it is often, at the end of a sleep period, I go into a dream, and I see it, smell it and feel it, I know I am dreaming, and sometimes I carry the dream out of dream state into waking up.

This drink/drug dream situation is common among folks getting clean and sober.

Which usually facilitates, a beating ones self up for even considering using, a feeling that we HAD INDEED drugged or drank, then a hurried call to someone close or to our sponsor, and then a tenth step in addition.

The other night, I was coming home, and I passed the alley way next door, and some kids were smoking up, and as I passed them to the building, the thought came …

I JUST WANT ONE HIT …

When was it ever just one hit ?

As quick as it came, the thought left, and I came home.

Some folks who are new to us, have problems with filling drinking/smoking time with something more substantial. Like calling others, or getting out of the house, or even, hitting a meeting or just doing something new.

Problems such as, “Oh, it’s Friday night, I should smoke up.” or “I am feeling down and stressed, let’s smoke up,” or “That exam is done, let’s celebrate, let’s go smoke up.”

Triggers and slipping are very prominent with many folks.

Those of us who came once, went back out, and then returned again, can attest to these things, quite clearly.

Another problem we see these past few years are old timers, going down the drain.

Old timers are one of two people. ONE, they are engaged and going to meetings, and maintaining fellowship and are IN The Work. Or, TWO, they are disconnected, they stop going to meetings and they avoid fellowship, because the young people, and those in the mid range aren’t connecting with them.

Once they disappear, the forgone conclusion is that it is highly likely that they would drink again, or use again, never return, and end up DEAD.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen it time and time again, old timers who just disconnect and end up down the drain.

It is sad, but entirely avoidable.

But I’ve heard from some old timers, how they are lacking in fellowship and are hitting meetings, filled with young people, but the young people don’t connect with them.

So it is falling to those of us in the mid range, to try and help them, by creating connection.

The One Certain Truth about those early first 100, and even Bill W, himself, the connection of one alcoholic and these days, one addict, with another is of prime importance.

The Connection between two suffering souls.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

I work to keep in contact with the old timers in my social circle, even though I call them and encourage them to return to the fold, many of them are resigned to self isolate and bemoan the fact that they are old and they believe they they are unwanted.

This is also entirely false.

These are some of the things our population is dealing with today.

It all begins with prayer and meditation. Hit those meetings. Find a Home Group, Get Connected, Find a sponsor, and sit down and get right into The Work, right away.

Because these things will save a life, even if they don’t see it now, eventually they will, because they stay clean and sober, in the long haul.

In the end everyone left a little bit stronger, after the discussion we had.

And we even had a five minute meditation, which was new for us.

It was a good evening.

 

 

 

 


Thursday – Isolation in Recovery

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It has been a very exciting week, here in the neighborhood. Wednesday, the New and Improved Canadian Tire opened, quietly, and the people came, by the droves. I was in the mall that day, and had noticed myself, that the store was open.

I spent some time perusing the new digs. As I had seen, behind brown paper, they had set up a “living room space” to one side of the entrance. Also on that side, to my surprise, they built an indoor green house. In that green house were tropical plants, flowers and other assorted flowering trees and bushes.

They are familiar to me because they all grow in temperate climes, but I’m not so sure they will survive a winter in Canada. However, The palms and hibiscus bushes are tempting to buy for my balcony. That is a big maybe for the future.

The store is very large, and occupies the entire footprint of the old Target. They did a fantastic job at stock. A much wider selection of goods that you might need at a moments notice. You could furnish an entire home from this store.

I wondered how they were going to work in an automotive section, because the old store up stairs had access to the car park. They did this by turning the entire left rear section of the store to automotive stuff. There is a huge car park above the mall and is accessible by elevator that sits in the middle of the mall proper.

Le Square, has been pouring a floor a week and setting the forms for the floor above. They have been working long hours. This week, they poured the ninth floor, and today they put up the forms for the tenth.

On the lower floors, they have cleared the scaffolding and began framing the lower floors. Much of the second floor is framed for windows and balconies. They completed almost all of the second floor window framing today. I think they are trying to speed up the ready to open deadline. And while the weather is good, they are taking full advantage of it.

This also means now, that our view of the mall is fully obstructed. Booooo !

The outdoor terraces that front all the bars/restos/and dining establishments have begun to be built for the season. They have been going up all week. This is going to double customer service across the board. Soon, these establishments will be making money hand over fist.

The Bixi season opens this weekend. And this year they are offering a free day to ride, on the last Sunday of the month. This may be very popular to raise ridership, because Bixi has not done very well in years past, yet the city brings them back yearly.

Oh … if you don’t know what Bixi is, they are a bike riding company that rents bikes for a fee, based on subscription. Bixi stands are located all over the city, at key locations. Each station has up to twenty bikes that can be rented, ridden and dropped at other Bixi stations around the city. It’s just another form of public transportation. The city has invested in miles and miles of dedicated bike paths, across the city.

That is a thing …

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

There is something to be said about treating everybody fairly, with dignity and respect.

The Thursday M.A. meeting had its second round tonight. We sat a full table. And we welcomed friends from other fellowships as well. We’ve been plugging our meetings at those other fellowships to see if we can attract more folks to those meetings, and that plan seems to be working.

The Thursday meeting is a “Topic Jar” meeting. Each attendee gets a slip of paper, which they contribute a topic, that goes in the jar. Then we toss the lot and pick one, for discussion for the evening.

Tonight’s topic … Isolation in Recovery.

The first time I got sober, in 1994, it was not pretty. How do you maintain sobriety, when an entire room full of people, is betting on your demise. Back then, I really did not have a choice of where I got sober, because I did not have a car, so getting from point A to B, we difficult. Anyway, I digress …

I stayed sober, despite that negativity. And when I took that first year medallion, I told all those catty queen to go fuck themselves, and I never went back to that meeting.

When I moved to Miami, after Todd and company departed for California, I got connected to a room in Coral Gables, Miami. The Coral Room. This was a club room, open all day, many meetings, many languages and formats.

At the Two year mark, I was asked to speak for the first time. This is the night I got hit with the second bad experience in sobriety. I spoke. Men got up and left the room as I was speaking, waiting outside for me at the end of the meeting who then said to me:

We don’t condone people like you, leave this meeting and don’t come back.

You want a reason to isolate, these two instances are prime real estate.

How could you trust another stranger with honesty, truth and your sobriety?

I went to other meeting, I had friends, but I kept them at arms length. Isolation began, as I trusted no one, and I kept to myself, all the while working with others, and maintaining friendships. But I was the only FRUIT in the basket at that time.

So there were things I never talked about to anyone, because I was gay, and had AIDS as well. I kept secrets and At the point of no return, I planned a geographic, all by myself, and told no one, even until the day the moving truck was parked out front of my apartment.

My friends were like HUH ? Shaking their heads as I packed the truck and then drove away.

I moved to be with another human being, who I had hoped was going to fill the hole in my soul. But what I got, upon arriving was a joint and a beer.

There was no way out. And nobody to save me now. I was Isolated…

I just moved from being isolated in one location, to another. The first location I was at least sober, but I had no sponsor, or The Work, as I know it today. The second location, there was no sober solution or help. I was on my own.

Some potheads, smoke in isolation, and they use in isolation. Even when we smoke and use with others, once we consume, isolation takes over. Then we get selfish, and not want to smoke or use with others, because that limits what we have because we have to share.

And many of us turn away from others, isolate further, smoke up harder and remain stoned for days and weeks at a time.

There is nothing more isolating, then, going to a pot party where copious amounts of pot will be consumed, and once that happens, everybody goes into their own heads and trips, until they come to and you either go home, or you smoke up more, and more, and MORE.

Utter Insanity …

I know today, that I need people. I am not alone. And from the beginning, my friends drilled into me that fact. They gave me jobs to do, responsibility, a little at a time. And since that first day of sobriety, I have had a job to do.

I have someplace to be every night now.

I’ve had a key to a church on my key ring, for more than ten years. And this week, I began a two year commitment as treasurer for my Sunday Evening Meeting. I also keep the money for my Tuesday meeting as well. But the Sunday gig is a massive undertaking, since we are treasury for two meetings and not just one.

I learned ways to never be alone. I did exactly what I was told to do, and I kept that tradition up for the whole of my sobriety, so I am Never Alone.

Which is why, it is so important to get newcomers in the door, give them a little time to adjust, then give them a job. SOON. It keeps them out of their heads, it connects them to a group, and gives them something to do on a regular basis.

Because we all know what happens when we start isolating in sobriety.

But on the flip side, we also learn how to be with ourselves, and be ok with that.

There is a difference in “being with ones self” and “Isolating.”

I love my alone time. I need that as well as I need to be with others. It took me a long time to adjust to having alone time, because in the beginning I was never alone.

When I got involved with hubby, I was not alone ever again. And we had to learn how to live with each other. Life progressed, things changed, we grew up, and now we practice the fine art of “Being together,” and “Being Alone.”

In sobriety, it is fully your choice, but we can safely say, You Are Never Lone Again.

That’s the power of one Alcoholic or Addict, talking to another.

The Power of Connection.

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, IT IS CONNECTION…

Addiction Isolates. But we have a solution for that,

Connection …

 

 

 


Sunday Sundries … Incurable

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The weather is holding. The skies were blue with not a cloud in sight. But it is still chilly. We’ve got some SNOW and then some RAIN coming over the next 48 hours …

But I heard from the tv lady that Spring was coming, we just have to wait for it to get here.

The weekend is almost over. Not much to say about that. We sat a small group last night and we talked about Step 10, and Getting In Touch (read:Using Phone Therapy).

Tonight, we sat a dozen people. And damned if our chairman, held staunch to his fucking egg timers. We ran on time, and twice, I had to tell him to put down that god damned egg timer for God’s sake. He was not happy with me because he left without saying a word after.

Sometimes you have to let certain people talk until they are finished. Especially, if they have been sober 10 times the length you are sober… Maybe you really need to hear with that guy is saying and not be obsessed with how long he spoke for.

He wasn’t paying attention to what was being said, for that egg timer in his hand.

Tonight’s read came, once again, from Living Sober.

It is the only book our chair has read in full.

The topic was Alcoholism is an incurable and fatal disease.

I’ve said before, that I am the only person I know at this time, who has a story like mine. I don’t know any gay men, who got sick and survived and got sober along the way. There are none in the rooms that I go to, on a regular basis. Which makes my story unique.

However I am not unique. But it is my story.

I know from incurable diseases. If I had stayed sober, from day one, this year would have been my 22 year sober. Alas, this year WILL be year fifteen, in December.

God Willing.

From birth, into my youth, alcoholism was present. I knew what it looked like, what it felt like, and I also knew, that I did not want to be like any of that.

My father’s father had had a stroke in my teens, a year to the date after my grandmother had her stroke. They both survived a long time. But both died.

My grandfather had developed cirrhosis of the liver, which indirectly contributed to his death in the end. So I knew what that looked like, in the end as well.

I had an education on alcoholism and what it could do to you if you drank.

And I drank anyways. I drank to live and I lived to drink. And I suffered from not only alcoholism, but the disease of MORE.

In my twenty fifth year, I suffered the first debilitating death caused by suicide. My ex, James killed himself, and I was the one to identify his remains, five days after.

On the way home from the morgue that day, I stopped at the bar I was working at and drank myself into the ground. And I did that for a week after, every night.

My boss (read:Todd) and my friend Bill, got me into therapy, that, in the end was as bad as drinking every night. After many weeks of hearing suicide war stories, I had had enough.

I went back to life. I later heard from a friend that he had killed himself because he had AIDS. That was an unconfirmed suspicion on the part of all those involved.

But a year later, I would find myself in a clinic, getting tested myself And didn’t I end up with it myself in the end. I sometimes wonder where the point of transmission was.

This is a question I long harbored. I know of, or more to the point, remember when, it could have happened; in a haze of drugs and alcohol.

When the doctor told me I was going to die, I had a moment. Well, a few moments.

I called Todd home from Province town. Told him I was going to die.

Then for the next month and a few days, I attempted to drink myself dead, because I was hell bent on not dying the way I was watching people die all around me. I was going to go out on my own terms and in my own way.

It was amazing, that while I was sober and trying to survive, all my friends who came to the bar, who were sick, went out on their terms in heir own way, and sometimes by their own hands. Alcohol, Drugs, and Suicide. (read: Friend/Love/Doctor assisted suicide).

Todd had other ideas for me. He set the rules and I followed. Those rules also included getting sober, because it was going to be part of the way he would save my life.

Back in the 90’s, doctors were scarce. And drugs were all but non-existent.

What we did have, from the miracle worker Marie, were drugs that were harvested from the homes of the recently departed. They would go out, bring those drugs to the “farm” they would repackage them, and luckily, there was a doctor who was familiar with AIDS who could give them to us. It wasn’t a matter of prescription.

Nothing was regulated. We gave what we could and were grateful for small mercies.

There were no drugs ON the market that were prescribable.

Not yet at least.

At that time I was dueling DUAL diseases, both were incurable. AIDS would never get that cure or answer. However, the plan of action, outlined in the Book, would help us get sober, and that worked.

Hindsight shows me that I lacked a great deal in “Work.” I was more concerned about survival. Sobriety came in a far second.

I did survive.

I was sober four years, when the ache got bad, and the hole in my soul erupted.

I know what the voice of the snake of alcoholism sounds like, and what it said to me, and at that time, I listened to it, it was rapturous. I was not bothered by AIDS, because I was still alive, and that became secondary to filling the hole in my soul.

I stopped focusing on survival, and not drinking. I turned my attention to filling that hole with the same force that I drank with. That was detrimental.

Because that decision, took me out for a long time.

I was stupid. I knew better, and I ignored that truth.

They say alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful. It is also patient.

It is said, that while we are in meetings, alcoholism is out in the parking lot doing pushups.

I survived a slip, that could have just as easily ended my life. And nobody would have been the wiser about it. Save the one human being who knew where I was, and got me out of there, in one piece.

Back in Florida, in 2001, things were not good at all. But I had had several periods of forced sobriety before I made my way back.

I had my last bottom. I remember it still. I was still alive after all that self abuse.

I really could have died, miserably.

GOD had other plans for me, I am sure of that. There is a God. If you want proof, I have given it to you here and now.

THIS IS a GOD story, all the way.

What I got this time around is a life beyond my wildest dreams. And today, that is a direct result of The Work.

The message came at the right time, from the right person, whom I respect a great deal.

I did the WORK. unlike the first time, I remember reading the book, but I never worked “Steps” however I did have a sponsor. I got sober, in spite of the assholes who were betting on my slipping, that first year. So it wasn’t like I was doing anything great to make that happen.

Todd had the plan and I worked that plan, and I both lived and got sober.

I’ve arrested my alcoholism, but that is only a grace provided by my spiritual condition on any given day. What you get OUT of sobriety, is directly connected to the WORK you put into it.

I know what happens when folks slack off. They get spiritually, mentally and emotionally sick. And now they have to claw their way back into sane sobriety.

HOW …?

By Working their program.

HARD !!!

I don’t ponder dying from AIDS, and I haven’t in a very long time. I don’t either ponder dying from alcoholism either. But I know if I slack off on either front, I am a DEAD MAN.

By taking care of one incurable, I maintain BOTH. They feed off each other.

I don’t have time to get complacent. If I do I am DEAD.

And I know I don’t have another recovery in me.

You only have one life. What do you want to do with it? There are so many options.

If you aren’t doing what you love, then why not ?

If you knew you could do what you love and make that work for you, wouldn’t you want to try? I know, for many, they can’t do what they love and make it work because money is the root of all evil, and we have to keep the roof over our heads.

If you could do what you love and get paid for it handsomely, wouldn’t you want to try?

Sobriety is not about misery. Sobriety is about Happy, Joyous and Free.

If the program doesn’t work for you and if you think you can do better out there on your own, we will GLADLY refund your misery.

It’s your choice.

For many, there really is NO other choice.

Gratitude is the Attitude.

 


Saturday – The Great Reveal. Canadian Tire.

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This is Alexis Nihon Plaza, with the new LED signage on the corner.

The Alexis Nihon business center, resident condos, and further to the left of center, you can see the towers that make up Westmount Square residences.

The other day I posted a sneak peak at the partial reveal of the New Canadian Tire that is taking up residence in the old Target spot.

When Target came, we had high hopes for success. Everybody who came to the mall had expectations of low prices and selections of goods that came from down South. Sadly, eighteen months after opening, dismal sales, the lack of selection, and most importantly, lower prices, did not materialize.

That was Target’s death spiral. Cutting their losses, Target pulled completely OUT of Canada all together. Thousands lost their jobs, merchandise went back, or what ever was left of what had been on the shelves. And that spot sat vacant for some time.

Meanwhile, in other places, big business was jockeying for purchase of old Target locations. And here, rumors flew as to who would fill this gap.

With the refurbished Alexis Nihon Plaza Mall and the refit of the IGA and the addition of new stores, and the relocation of others, they raised the stakes for new business to come in, into a mall that was shiny, sleek and very well appointed. They spent a serious amount of money working on the inside as well as the outside of the building proper.

Millions went into LED lighting on two sides of the building. Brand new signage.

Today, the STM is working on refurbishing the Atwater Metro which connects to the mall directly. They are resurfacing ALL the old brick work on the floors and walls. Inside the station, on the platforms, and all the way into the Westmount Square tunnel, that provides underground access to the entire Westmount Square Complex.

Canadian Tire bid on the old Target spot. The price must have been right, because last year they fronted the Target location, and tore down the store to the bare studs. They chose to keep the glass overlook that extends from the ground floor up through the mezzanine level, where Starbucks was (inside the Target).

Canadian Tire has been a fixture of Alexis Nihon for as long as I’ve lived here, and that store is solid and does solid business. Being a store that offers a wide selection of everything is good for the neighborhood.

My sister in Law and her husband own a Canadian Tire franchise in Guelph, so every Christmas we get lots of new merchandise from their store. The possibilities are endless for a franchise to expand and offer goods that you can’t get anywhere else.

I am sure the buyer for this franchise has their work cut out for them, they have a very diverse population to buy for, and hopefully, successfully, sell to them as well.

With all the new builds going up, and the new builds that have already opened, brings thousands of shoppers to the mall every day.

Now Canadian Tire offers up a much bigger footprint store. And if the old store is our guide, as in products and prices, having a much bigger footprint only means that, what will be on offer will be wider. The old store will move downstairs with the additional space and additional sales points.

I have heard that the Sports Experts is looking to move INTO the old Tire store, and new shops will take over their old location. Not sure how solid that info is, but that’s what I know right now.

The ground floor has new shops, that have opened in the last few months. And this week we saw the opening of new food stalls, and kiosk pods on the Metro Level.

Alexis Nihon is building a solid shopping experience.

With plenty of dinner options, pharmacy on site, Grocery shopping at its best with the new and improved IGA, Telus, Bell, and other assorted telcom locations all in one spot, Alexis Nihon is a one stop shopping experience for whatever you need.

This is a good thing because in a downtown setting, we don’t grocery shop for a week at a time. We shop daily, because it is on the way out or on the way in, to home. Everything we need is just a few blocks from home. Apartments and condos are spartan, so in many places, storage is not GRAND. We are certainly a spartan apartment, so what you buy goes quickly, with boutique stores, one shops often.

So here it is, the brand new Grand Reveal of the New Canadian Tire at Alexis Nihon Plaza.

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This entrance is centrally located “underneath and featuring” the grand glass enclosure reaching through to the mezzanine. This was NOT the case with Target. Their entrance was offset and to the right of center, and the glass enclosure housed a Starbucks.

With a centrally located main entrance, the footprint of the store is wider. If they position the cash in the right place inside (I did not get to see any of that but probably soon), they will have ample traffic access for shoppers. The space being much larger than their older store, One can see, if you get close enough, that they have already staged furniture at the entrance windows.

Canadian Tire is a successful business. And the larger store is going to hopefully do very well, with our neighborhood almost tripling its population in the next year. That is a lot of shoppers coming to the mall.

Alexis Nihon has invested BIG in this neighborhood. Anything is possible.

Build it … and they will come …

We wish Canadian Tire a great success. And welcome to the neighborhood.


The Great Condo Battle. “Le Square” vs “La Catherine”

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Center Canadian Architecture Museum, a short walk from home towards Rene Levesque Blvd, to the South of our building. 

Our little neighborhood, being billed as Shaughnessey Village, has been on a growth spurt these past few years. Every available space has been bought up and new builds are going up.

This, “more than ten year revitalization project” has turned our little, run down, needs to be refurbished portion of Western downtown into a new jewel of the city.

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The old Seville Theatre which sat on the North side of Ste Catherines Street, just a block from home, was knocked down over a year ago, and three condo buildings went up, simply named “The Seville Project.” On the ground floor is an Adonis halal grocery store.

Adonis gave the Provigo a run for its money, and in February, Provigo breathed its last breath and shut down. Provigo was right downstairs. Now a car dealership sits in that space. I’m not sure there is much of a market for new cars, seeing that there is not much room to park, with meters, and terraces all along the strip close to home.

Cabot Square was closed for a year. (Read: The park that runs along the old Children’s Hospital), which has since been closed and moved to the new Glenn Site at Vendome Metro. Cabot Square has been open a while now, having new surface and updated Metro Kiosk, and seating for the people who come.

In the past six to eight months, two condos are in the process of “Build.”

Le Square, directly across the street from Cabot Square. They knocked down a gas station and the end cap old Burger King building that had sat derelict, empty and boarded up for years. They were no great loss to the neighborhood.

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In the background, Le Square. With the grey tower crane. They have been working around the clock on this build. They are pouring a floor a week at this point. Last night, they finished the eighth floor, and worked all night, setting the ninth floor forms in, read columns and elevator casing. Le Square, will be 15 stories when completed, with retail stores on the ground floor. They are working on finishing the lower floors to completion while they pour the upper floors simultaneously.

Sadly, our view of Alexis Nihon Plaza is now obstructed. They spent all that money rebuilding and putting up flashy lights on the building itself. We have enjoyed that view for a while now. NOW, the folks who get to live in Le Square, will be the sole benefactors of that view.

UGH …

In the foreground, closer to the bottom of the photo, is “La Catherine.” The building you see to its immediate right hand side, is the Chinese Consulate building. It houses the consulate, a private apartment on the top floor, with living space and a purpose built game room, with table tennis and a pool table. We can watch the action from our balcony.

La Catherine will be a sixteen floor building. Reported for delivery in the Summer of 2017.

This building is going up, in the same footprint as the prior “Omer DeSerres” art supply shop. They have moved to the ground floor (read: Metro Level) at Alexis Nihon Plaza up the street from home.

La Catherine, has not been on a speedy build timeline. It seems that they are taking their time, or the build is proving to be complicated, because you see the Yellow Build Crane to the Left of Frame.

The only access to the building is on Rue Tupper, (far left). Most everything that must be brought to site, comes down a residential street, blocking traffic at all hours of the day and night.

If need be, they can bring trucks down Ste Catherine’s Street on the North side of the build. But that only hampers traffic on a very busy trafficked thoroughfare.

There is ONE alleyway, that will connect Rue Tupper, with the parking garage access point on La Catherine. This is the only vehicle access point to the building.

The only other access point is the alley that runs from Rue Du Fort (the street we live on), underneath the adjacent condo, behind the low buildings just up / West from our building. You can see a portion of that alley in the build photo above. This is one way they are getting cement trucks to the build site. And they are running them down Rue Tupper.

They haven’t yet completed the parking garage and the floor above it. They are still putting down the floor forms to pour later. It took a long time for this build to get off the ground because of the complicated footprint and heavy machinery access point.

They dug the pit with heavy machinery, but at one point the hole was too deep, and the machinery was IN the pit and had to be hauled out by crane, because the alleyway was higher than the pit, so there was a disconnect.

They set the crane IN the alleyway between Rue Tupper and the build site. When the wind blows, as is often, that crane swings around and around. If ever that crane went down, in a high wind storm, some serious damage would take place, where ever it fell.

Now for the finished builds…

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This is the artists rendition of the completed Le Square Montreal.

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And this is the final artists rendition of La Catherine, upon completion.


Friday … The IDIOT and The Partial Reveal

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Mother Nature pulled another feather out of her hat tonight. It was COLD when I left, hence a little more layering for the trip out and back. When we left the church it was fucking SNOWING again…

Yesterday I reported on what I thought was a pipe burst, but I was no where close on that front. Today I learned the truth, because the apartment manager called hubby at work and told him what really went down.

Days prior to the water shut off, we get letters plastered on the elevator walls, and on each floor. (there are note holders on each floor) The note said …

The water will be off until 4 p.m. PLEASE BE ADVISED to make sure ALL of your faucets are closed, and that all your water delivery locations are secure. Do NOT leave your water on.

This is straight forward direction of what NOT to do, in this case, leave your faucets open, because new water pumps means, that water pressure is going to be higher when they turn the water back on.

Each floor of the building has sets of apartments with the same footprint on every floor depending on where your apartment is located. The East side of the building that faces down town. The West side, who look to Westmount Square. And the South side which looks out to the river.

We are in the West Block. Every apartment in the West block has the same wall structure (read: Footprint) throughout the building. So each room, is the same, floor upon floor, all the way up.

Some FUCKING IDIOT who lives on the 19th floor, above us, put the stopper in his tub. And left the building with his bath tap FUCKING ON !!!!

When the water came on, it gushed into his tub, which filled. But with no drain open, the water overflowed and came cascading down through the walls, and each successive ceiling below his apartment. Hence, WHY I heard water falling INSIDE the walls.

So all the apartments from 19 down, to the lower floors, I’m not sure how far the water got before they turned it off at the source, have been water damaged.

WATER damage is as bad as FIRE.

We are told that the building is billing him for the damages. We shall see where that goes.

Last night we kept towels on the bathroom floor, because water dripped out of the ceiling all night long. The bedroom carpets are stained from water damage. The closet carpet is still wet, and will take time to dry out since it sees no light of day.

The water damage is extensive in the bathroom, from the entire perimeter of the ceiling around the bathroom, all the way down the walls, on all four sides. The brand new ceiling has peeled apart at the seams, and huge water bubbles that filled with water are all over the walls where the paint lifted off the walls from water incursion.

Me thinks we should invest in renters insurance because we don’t have any.

Not that we EVER needed it before. There is only one asshole and he lives above us and quite frequently floods his bathroom which sends water down into our bathroom.

UGH !! STOOOOOPID MOTHERFUCKER ….

The Great Partial Reveal of Canadian Tire

The other day I was at the mall, and I noticed that they lifted the tarp on the front of the new build on the ground (read:Metro) level. We knew it was going to be a Canadian Tire, but not what it is going to look like. Today when I went shopping, I took photos of the partial reveal.

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This is the view from the right side looking down to the Metro level.

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This is the view from the left side looking down on the Metro level.

I was IN the old Canadian Tire the other day, which is, right now, located on the mezzanine level, the same floor the Pharmaprix and the IGA are on. They have begun to move merchandise down one floor to populate the new store.

The white photo bomb paper above the sign is a diagonal glass structure that used to house a Starbucks with the old Target. Now that window treatment is part of the main entrance of the new store. You can look down from the mezzanine into the store from above.

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

We had a full house tonight. And the reading was all about forgiveness. Which morphed into a discussion about resentments and Amends, which fall in step nine. We split the house and the discussion went around and around.

Amends that fall into the fourth category list of NEVER are particularly difficult because this list causes a certain spiritual sickness, because we know that they may or may NOT happen. And in certain cases, NEVER is NEVER.

Certainly in my case, Never means Never.

Alcoholics are sick people. Sometimes mentally, sometimes spiritually, and sometimes emotionally. Then there are those who also fall into this category, who may not be alcoholic, but they are sick nonetheless.

I have been blamed for all my mother’s problems. It was all about my “Actions.” My brother is mad at me because of his perception of how I treated him as a human being. My father blames me for all of HIS problems because of my actions as well.

My brother really was not part of my life, beyond sharing a bedroom as kids, and the summer road trips when we had to sit next to each other in the backseat of a car.

When I moved out, he was out of sight and out of mind.

I moved away to be an adult, but my alcoholism went with me, where ever I went.

Time spent together after that is negligible.

When I got sick I called a family meeting, and begged for attention and love and support. Everybody was there, NOBODY engaged. I was on my own.

Fuck me right, it was all my fault …

I was gay, that was abhorrent to my parents and to my brother. I had AIDS, and yes, I am responsible for my actions, but asking for support was, in my perception, something I thought was necessary to survive. I was WRONG !

But survive I did and quite well without them, in spite of them as well.

The last conversation I had with my father was the night, after dinner, when he asked me quite certainly, to JUST DIE ALREADY, won’t you …

He stopped the car on the highway, because I told him to stop. I got out of the car on the highway and walked home and told him never to come visit me again.

He never did.

The last time I saw my parents, on New Years Day, 2001, I had just come home from an all night shift at the bar, and they came by to visit. I asked them out for a meal, which my father said NO to. He parked the car in a FIRE ZONE out front of my building and waited while I had twenty minutes to see my mother.

They drove off, and that was the last time we saw each other.

I played a role in their lives, as they did in mine. Everybody has faults. They made decisions, but I made decisions as well. I made all my decisions, with a sober mind.

When I moved out, I was sober.
When I got sick, I was sober.
When I legally changed my name, I was sober. Maybe not as sober as I should have been, now seen in hindsight.
When I moved to Canada, I was sober. A lot more sober than I was on my earlier decisions.

Holding on to Should of’s Could of’s and Would of’s is spiritual sickness.

It weighs down my heart and soul and makes me sick to my stomach. I stop eating and I don’t sleep very well, and I obsess about things I am powerless over.

After my last conversation with my mother a while back, I was spiritually sick for weeks on end. Tonight when we read the passage from A.B.S.I. I thought to myself that I was spiritually fit. I felt good. I had let it go to God and released them from me.

I pray for them every day. Something I have learned how to do correctly.

I can’t be bothered to obsess over people who mean nothing to me in the grand scheme of things, because it is obvious that they don’t think about me that much either. So we are even in that way.

Yes, they are my family. But they have no desire, nor have they come looking to see me or talk to me or learn anything about me. They all know where I am and how to reach me. For God’s sake they are on FUCKING FACE BOOK. And they all blocked me from access to them, so they had to actively think about me at some point.

Fuck Me …

Pre Cake Rollercoaster

I’ve learned that my person is riding his pre cake roller coaster. And he asked for help, because he is in too much pain. Not that I haven’t told him what he needs to do:

  • Pray Every Day
  • Read the Book
  • Go to Meetings
  • Work with Others
  • Turn up the Heat for God’s sake

I don’t order my guys around all the time. They are free to do what they want. But they keep to a certain level of work every week. I don’t demand, and maybe I should demand, but that is not my style. They know what to do, because I’ve told them all what they really need to do. And if they don’t do what is asked, it is to their detriment.

Now my person is in difficulty because he has failed to work his program appropriately.

Now he knows what to do, because on the way home I gave him the outline of my demands. He either decides to DO IT or NOT. Again, to his detriment.

In order to turn up the heat, you really need to do the work as I have showed them all.

It isn’t my job to order you around.

Your program is your program. And what you put into it, is what you get out of it. And if what you are getting now isn’t enough, then you really did not invest in your sober work fully.

Buckle up and keep your arms and legs inside the car while it is in motion….

May 1st is still a long ways away.

 


Thursday … Because We Need Happy Dog Photos Right Now !!!

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Mother Nature, as of late, has been having some serious PMS.

The weather was nice and warm, then temperatures plummeted into negative territory. Yesterday it SNOWED all afternoon and well into the night. Today, it was cold, wet, very windy, and it was pouring down rain all day into tonight.

Really !!!

And I had things to do today, but that really did not matter.

We were told that the water would be off until 4 p.m. this afternoon, because they were working on the buildings water pumping systems. There are two. From the first floor to the tenth, and the other for the higher floors.

Knowing the water wasn’t coming on, I slept in a bit. At 2 p.m. the water came back on. I flushed the toilet, and ran the shower to bleed the pipes. But I was hearing water running above my head, and all around the bathroom.

It seems, the pipes burst on the 19 floor above us.

In December, the apartment building spent thousands of dollars renovating our bathroom, as well as a few others. The day after they finished, my upstairs neighbor, flooded his bathroom, and we had more water damage coming from the ceiling around the seams where the walls meet the ceiling. (read: All brand new dry wall and paint).

This afternoon, I am hearing water gurgling in the walls themselves. The the water broke through our ceiling, and began to bubble up under the paint. Running down through the wall system inside the paint, and at floor level was coming up through the floors, where the floor meets the walls.

We have an air vent in the bathroom, that leads out through the balcony to send air into the bathroom from outside. Now it was a waterfall. In the end there was two inches of water in my bathroom.

My bathroom, is inside the bedroom proper. Water was coming down the walls, and through to the carpet in the bathroom. Along my bathroom wall, inside the bedroom proper, I have my books stacked against the wall.

The bedroom, closet and bathroom flooded out.

They got soaked wet. I had to throw the ones that were on the bottom away because they were ruined.

The access hatch to our water works is inside the bedroom closet where the clothes hang on that particular wall. Water was coming through the wall, into the closet. All of our shirts got soaked. The carpet was flooded.

I ran downstairs in a panic because the water was pouring out of the ceiling fast and furiously. It seems that the upper pipes burst and flooded several floors, bathrooms.

Eventually the super came up and vacuumed the water, but the carpet is still wet, and I came home, to find towels on the floor, that are soaked, because water is still leaking into the bathroom from above. UGH !!!

They took pictures of the water damage and said that it would all be fixed, AGAIN !

I had an appointment at the bank at 4 p.m., then I was supposed to meet a friend before the meeting, THEN we opened a new meeting on the M.A. side, just a couple of stops up the Metro, that started at 7:30.

God laughed at me…

Oh really, you made plans huh? Well, I have plans of my own for you instead.

I had to move all my books, into the living room, where they are sitting at this hour. I had to empty the closet so that they could vacuum water up, then put everything back when they finished.

I needed to go grocery shopping, at some point. And it was pouring rain.

I really am not willing to go out in the pouring rain to do anything.

But I had to shop. Because I have plans tomorrow afternoon that I have to make.

So I went and shopped. The cleaners came and did their work.

It was now 6 p.m. I thought that I would hit the Thursday meeting instead because it was close, but my friend cancelled on me, so I was clear to hit the new meeting like I was supposed to all along.

I hit the Metro, up two stops, and got lost coming out an entrance I never use, so I was all discombobulated. I walked in circles for a bit, then found my way. I got the the church, and all the doors were locked, the parking lot was flooded and snow was piled up in ruts.

I fell on my ass, in a cold, wet puddle of rain and snow.

Finally I found an open door, and then found the hall they rented us.

Aside from the folks who attend the Mon/Sat meeting, we had two visitors to the new space. And we had what we call a “Topic Jar” meeting. Which is an anonymous drop in the tub topic and we pull them out randomly and discuss.

That was a good format.

Aside from the flood, and being royally fucked mentally and emotionally, I hit a meeting, because that’s what I needed after the afternoon that took place.

It is supposed to rain/flurry tomorrow and Saturday. UGH …

I have a massage on the East End at 3:30, and a meeting set with a friend at 5:30. We will see how that all works out.

I’m not holding my breath …

Until tomorrow …