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Archive for December, 2016

New Year’s Eve Montreal. 8:17p.m.

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I read today that at 8:17 in MANY Canadian cities, fireworks will welcome the beginning of Canada’s 150th year. Here in Montreal, 5 to 10 cm of snow is supposed to fall this afternoon into the evening. So I don’t think we are going out.

The non-alcoholic bubbly is chilling in the fridge. And the flutes are ready to go.

We actually bought two really pretty crystal flutes when we got married in 2004, for the wedding. Along with a special candle. All three are only used today on New Year’s Eve. Then they go back in the box for another year.

Happy New Year, my reading monkeys.

May 2017 be a much better year than the last.

 


The Night Before, The Night Before, New Years Eve

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“Accept the Past with No Regrets. Handle the Present with Confidence. Face the Future with No Fear…”

Montreal weather, this week, has been all over the map. A flurry here, some freezing rain there, terribly dangerous conditions ensued. As the rain came to an end on Tuesday, Wednesday, it was warm enough that all that ice melted, not before wreaking havoc on the population.

Last night, clouds began to form from fronts coming from the Great Lakes, and warnings went up for some serious snow to fall. It snowed all day, and into the evening. When all was said and done, there was about 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground.

Twitter exploded early this evening telling riders of rapid transit, that buses would be running late (read: Or not come at all) because of heavy snowfall.

I listened to Rafa’s advice, so this afternoon, I downloaded the UBER app to my phone and filled in all the info for tonight’s trip.

I told the app where I was, and where I wanted to go. I set up my payment option and hit the “Request UBER.” Within three minutes my driver was at my front door. He actually called me while I was coming down in the elevator to tell me he had arrived.

I will NEVER take another TAXI in Montreal, so long as I live here.

Taxi drivers here in Montreal have been up in arms about UBER operating here and decimating their bottom lines and livelihoods from direct competition.

If there is one dishonest taxi driver out there, there are more, I am sure !

Thank you UBER.

This will be the last post of 2016. I am looking forward to the WordPress end of year report that comes on New Year’s Eve. After a year of writing, I get the specific stats on just how well we did this year in regards to trends, numbers and readers.

God has been very busy this year, taking many of the most important people that entertainment has ever seen, and will never see again.

In 1977, I was TEN years old, ( My apologies ) when Star Wars came to New Britain, Connecticut. The first time we saw Star Wars was at the Twin City Theatres, across the street, from the store my mother worked in when I was a kid. The name escapes me at the moment.

Star Wars has been a HUGE part of my life, for all of my life. I remember when Return of the Jedi came out, And I specifically remember sitting in the theatre, weeping. I had had a spiritual experience, one of many through the franchise of films.

“Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, You’re my only hope ….”

While God is calling home luminaries of stage and screen, there are those who are speaking petitions to the Almighty, to remove certain people off the face of the earth, specifically. By name …

And I have to agree with them.

Death is never a good option, but, while God is doing what He is doing, why not take a few more for good measure !!!

Let Us Pray …

It is crunch time in the rooms of recovery. We’ve been prepping for this weekend for an entire year. making sure our folks have everything that they need, in terms of time and sobriety. And we even have printed worksheets for people to take home with them, along with a copy of Living Sober, for good measure.

Christmas and New Years can be real killers, both Figuratively and Literally.

As is usual, the stats go down through the weekend, and come January 1st, the stats rise and we welcome folks from all over, to the rooms. We’ve worked very hard this season to anchor our men and women in the rooms.

But, in the end, it all comes down to choices.

There are sober places to go on New Year’s Eve, all over the world.

Sober people really know how to throw a good New Years Eve Party. At least we do, here in Montreal. There are several choices one can make here in the city. Nobody has to be alone, or need to drink. You don’t have to be alone.

I thought about writing a retrospective on the past year, but decided against it.

Good Riddance 2016. It was my toughest year in sobriety for many reasons.

In the end, I am still sober and I listened to good advice where necessary

People might have LOTS of years, but some of those men and women, are not very SOBER.

There but for the Grace of God go I.

Let us turn towards goodness, hope and love.

Goodnight, for the last time in 2016.

I thank all of you who have stayed around, for those who read, and for a certain author, of my acquaintance, who LOVES the LIKE button.

You know who you are.

Many words have been written this year.

On Saturday we will see just how many words were written.

Thank You So Much.

 

 

 


Monday: The Morning Drink, Discuss …

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Can I just say, right now, that it was terribly DANGEROUS outside tonight. A fine sheen of ice covers every square inch of real estate, sidewalks, roads, walls, etc … So much ice that walking from point A to point B was an exercise in fine balance and agility.

People were slipping and sliding all over the place.

The Morning Drink

Did you drink in the morning? For many, the “morning drink” is that fine line, that many used to justify their drinking. If you did not drink in the morning, one was not necessarily an alcoholic, or so we thought.

I have some questions about “The Morning Drink.”

  • What do you consider MORNING ?
  • Is it morning if you did not go to sleep yet ?
  • If your nightly drinking, extended into the morning, does that count as morning ?

I had knowledge of what alcoholism looked like from a family perspective. So my alcoholic practice had certain rules.

  • I never bought alcohol at a liquor store, ever
  • I never kept alcohol in my home, ever
  • I never drank in the morning
  • Once I crossed into hard liquor, I never drank beer again, so beer does not count
  • I always had to go OUT to drink.
  • Or I drank in other places, other than home

When I was much younger, I engaged in levels of alcoholism.

I was told, in my twenties, that alcohol was going to make me acceptable to others. I once had a job, where alcohol was served in the office. Later, I worked for R.C.I. International, then Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Alcohol was served at special events, during work hours, and open bar was the name of the game with new ship introductions.

Happy Hour was very useful, because happy hour got the ball rolling. Then I would drive home, change my clothes and return to the bar, for the nightly drinking ritual until last call or until the ugly lights came on.

Going out to the bar or club was a part of life. It was the lubricating event that usually sealed the deal for human sexual interaction. I drank most nights, but back then, You usually did not drink in the morning, unless ONE, there was an open bar in the a.m.,or TWO, you had alcohol at home, which I never had at home.

When I lived in Fort Lauderdale, you could actually drink 23 hours a day. Beginning at happy hour, (5 p.m.) you would begin the ritual. Then, you either stayed where you were, or you went to a secondary location to continue drinking all night, (8p.m. to 2 a.m.)

When that bar/club/location, closed for the night, you could go to a club, that was open after hours, or open into the wee hours of the morning. (2 a.m. to 6 a.m.)

When that bar/club/location closed, you would be forced to endure 60 minutes without a drink, which usually lent itself to going to the Diner to get breakfast, and give your liver a break for an hour.(6 a.m. to 7 a.m.)

At 7 a.m. one local bar opened for business. It was open for twenty three hours a day.

So if you planned accordingly, you could reasonably drink, 23 hours a day/night.

I only did that maybe a couple of times. That was pretty desperate drinking.

I know, for a fact, that on one particular morning that I continued drinking into that 23rd hour, the next decision I made, sealed my mortal well being and ended my sexual viability.

I can piece together what went down after years of trying to figure out the specifics. That morning, specifically, was the morning that I crossed the invisible line into AIDS.

I know that James was sick when he killed himself, which was a year prior to my diagnosis.

I was working for Todd by then, but I was not yet sober. It would be another year before I got sick, but I was told that I carried for well over a year, before I got very sick with hepatitis hence, activating my immune system, and AIDS exploded into my system.

Like I said, I never drank in the morning, if you want to split hairs.

If I had not gone to bed, it was not morning yet, so that did not count.

It’s that morning drink that will kill you.

It almost killed me – Literally.

Even when drugs were introduced, when I went back out, by my own hand, it wasn’t alcohol that was the problem, it was POT. Our days began with a joint and continued well into the day and into the night, all night, until you either passed out or ran out of weed.

You can see above, that my sober decision skills were nonexistent.

Even sober, I could not make things work on my own, and I certainly did not think straight when I was drunk for sure. My brain was fucked for a very long time.

Sometimes, I am under no illusion, that at certain times, I should not do anything, make any decisions, or even leave the house for that matter.

When Todd stepped into my life, He was in the game with me. I was no longer alone, and for a couple of years, under his wing, I did what I was told, I did not make ANY decisions, alone or by myself, and in the end … I Lived !!!

As soon as that guiding hand departed, and left to my own devices, you would have thought that what I learned the two years prior would play out, it didn’t.

The second time I came in, again, I was no longer alone. I put my trust in the group of men and women who helped me get sober again.

When I moved here, I connected to people, who had my back, and the best of intentions. The right people, were in the right place at the right time.

And I’ve said this recently, about my friends … I must have done something right, by NOT doing what I watched my friends do. My decision making skills were honed in the meetings, and with the people I trusted.

I never did anything without a second or third opinion.

Many of the people who got sober when I did, or came in after, and now are double digit sober, are CRACKED in the HEAD. I’ve listened to them week in and week out, and I know what decisions they made, because all those pitfalls are part of their sordid sober story.

And for some, they still, to this day, double digit sober now, Don’t have their SHIT together. Comparing apples to apples, I stayed very close to my center. I never ventured very far from it. And I think that made all the difference.

Foundations …

I was visiting with RAFA earlier tonight, and we were talking about our fellows, and that they see things in a particular way. And when they see or hear something that rocks their moral or spiritual boat/foundation, they loose their shit.

And I jokingly said, I can’t be angry, and I can’t get mad, or show any emotion, in any meeting, in any capacity, in front of any of my friends. I can’t express certain things in public, because that shakes my friends up so much, they they flee in all directions.

I got mad in a meeting, and lost three quarters of my sponsees in one conversation. Rafa, at one time, voiced an opinion, and all of our friends, ostracized him from the fellowship and the group, because he rocked their perfectly tenuous moral boat.

That Boat, I am talking about is like evangelicalism.

Evangelicals are fed one truth. Based on either scripture or a human being (read: Preacher). What they hear, and what they take in, is taken as gospel and that becomes foundational.

Alcoholics and Addicts suffer from the same malady. And I am not sure why. It probably has to do with where they come from, how they were raised, how much life experience they have outside their comfortable community bubble, where they were educated, and finally, how they see the world.

We see this situation play out with our fellows, when you introduce to them alternative ideas or concepts. Or you share an opinion that is not as conservative or as liberal as their own. We’ve seen, over the last year or so, how people react when they hear things that do not necessarily jive with their world views.

Friendships end. Meetings close. Ne meetings open because people are distressed and they need someplace safe to be, so they open a meeting, formed in their image.

People do not return to certain meetings or they go back out and drink and use, which is the most dangerous consequence to differing opinions.

Foundational Sobriety, for some, is as tenuous as the foundation of an Evangelical Christian. They believe certain truths and they bank on those truths never changing, because if they do, people usually implode.

Many years ago, I could not talk about being Gay AND being  a Christian.

That one relationship was so abhorrent to some evangelicals, that they mercilessly attacked me for years, on this blog, until I achieved my degree in Religious Studies in University. Then they just went away …

Thank the Baby Jesus …

They just could not wrap their heads around a Gay man being a Christian. That has changed for some, in today’s day and age, but not for many religious.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

My dalliance with The Church of Latter Day Saints, was an honest endeavor with honest Elders in conversation. It was the Mission President who said, in finality, that in order to be baptized in the LDS church, I would have to annul my marriage.

Not Gonna Happen.

Today, I am still waiting on a meeting with said Mission President. Tonight I got a text saying that they were trying to find time for us to meet, so there is movement there.

The ATONEMENT Is everything. It is the guiding force behind the LDS Church.

I’ve atoned, ten times over.

Good sobriety is all about Good Decision making skills.

At least, that is what I have learned so far, by the example shown by other sober people, in the program, who haven’t all made the wisest decisions, and suffered for their poor decision making skills.

Thank the Baby Jesus, I am not one of those poor souls.

Honestly ! It isn’t my ego that says that, but my soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sunday Sundries: Christmas Wrap Up 2016

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Our Christmas Holiday 2016, is over.

Hubby visited his family in Ottawa Thursday to Saturday and returned early Saturday afternoon. The nieces and nephew are growing like weeds. They have grown so much over the past few years.

My in-laws are not getting any younger. And for a long time, my mother in law has been infirm and was in a cast, so she could not stand and cook, hence their Christmas dinner was catered. My father in law was gifted Netflix for Christmas, and he became a kid in a candy store.

We got lots of goodies, and gifts from everybody.

The packages I sent to St. John’s arrived on Thursday morning. And this morning, mama was up with Lu at 3 a.m. I woke up around 5:30 this morning anticipating a Skype call around 6:30. Sadly, Skype would not work on their end, so I got a blow by blow on the phone. The HUGE PINK TURTLE I sent Lu was a big hit, after she realized what it was.

Everything I sent to mama and Lu was appreciated.

My friend Ben, returned from Palestine last weekend, and gifted me my own Keffiyeh from Palestine. I wore it to a meeting on Thursday night, and what a conversation starter that was. One of the elders who sets up with me, is Palestinian, and has family in Palestine and abroad. He and his wife, live here in Montreal. We had a very lively discussion about world politics and we share very similar thoughts on a great many things.

Here at home we exchanged gifts, and hubby got some more earthenware bowls that he wanted, and I got a new bathroom suite decor in Silver, Grey and Whites, and a stainless steel towel/sundry rack for the wall. The bathroom was the last room to get new fixtures and decor.

I had painted the kitchen and the accent walls a few weeks ago.

We had a family dinner around 2 with my friend Bill and Amy, both from the fellowships. Sharing meals is tradition here at home. And it was very nice. There was plenty of food and conversation. We all left the table 10 pound heavier …

The weather was cold, but no snow. We are sitting at (-8c) with a freezing rain warning in effect through tomorrow morning. UGH…

Just what we need, more ice on the sidewalks. I took a dive on Friday night coming home and ruined my clean white pants. Yesterday I was going to do laundry, and I noticed that I misplaced my laundry card. We have a coin-less system now.

We have prepaid cards that you fill with a credit card and it debits when you do laundry. So no card, no laundry, until I find it, or get a new one on Tuesday. I am hoping I left it in the laundry room, and someone turned it into the office, which is closed tomorrow.

December has been a rough month for some of my friends. We lost a number of friends, and parents earlier this month, Christmas this year was bittersweet.

With a week to go until the end of the year, 2016, was good.

More on that later.

 

 


Thursday: Never Take Anything for Granted

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You never know when something you do, or something you say, will impact a life.

I’ve learned in my life, that it isn’t about STUFF, really. It is about connections, love, giving, sharing. Where in the world can you go, on any given day or night, and know, that every single soul in a particular room, has your back 100% ?

The most important job I have in this life, that I live, is to make sure, the meeting I do service at, is opened, set up, and ready to receive whomever walks through that door.

Service is a thankless job. If we don’t do service, the men and women who count on us to be there for them, will be left standing outside in the cold, with no where to be among their own for the hour they chose to visit us.

When I was young, Christmas was a family event. We all participated in decorating the trees, and bushes and anything that stood still long enough to be lit up with lights, to make sure, our house was the best LIT house on the street.

My parents provided wonderful Christmases throughout my life, until of course they found out that I was gay. Then all that good cheer went out the window. It did not matter that I was still family, what mattered was that I was a confessed homosexual.

Baby Jesus and Homosexual did not compute  !!!

I remember my first sober Christmas, this time around. It was the year 2002. I had met my then boyfriend just a couple of weeks before Christmas. He lived in the apartment we live in today. But the home we live in today, is light years from the apartment we had back then.

He was going to Ottawa for Christmas. And he gave me a set of keys to this apartment. And he said that I could stay here while he was out of town.

I never left …

We did not get a Christmas tree until Christmas 2003. Because by then, the world had shifted, and not in a good way. The mental illness roller coaster had left the station, and for the first and last time, I went home with him for Christmas. To guard his privacy and protect him from everybody else, because nobody knew the struggle he went through, and to this day, nobody knows about how hard he struggled and what we had to do to keep him safe and sound.

Christmas is an important event in our lives. For a long time, and for many years, after we first got together, Christmas was very paltry. We could not imagine participating in the holiday to the degree that the family participates in Christmas. We just did not have the money to pull it all off.

Peter’s Brother and Sister, have more money than we will ever see. Every Christmas, it is guaranteed, that we will get three sets of gifts. Baskets full of nice things. Useful things, stuff, we would not necessarily purchase for ourselves.

I remember the first year that we could spend money on gifts for everyone. All the adults, and especially the kids in the family. There are five young men and women today. Everybody gets a gift.

Christmas is a well planned event.

Over the years, we have learned the value of a dollar. We live in a very spartan apartment, so there is not a whole lot of room to put STUFF. We do share gifts together. But our lists are very short. And we get to open presents on Christmas gifts on Christmas morning.

For the last ten years, I have opened our home to friends who do not have families, locally, and I invite my friends to our dinner table, both on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a tradition that my step mom taught us about.

There is an incalculable gift when you invite your friends to dine at your table on the holidays. It isn’t about anything but the simple gift of sharing.

Two years ago, Mama and the baby came into my life. Lu’s first Christmas was spent visiting grandma and grandpa in St. John’s. I was here, they were there. This is Lu’s second Christmas. And I am all in.

Today, the shipment of gifts I sent to St. John’s arrived. Lu and Mama will have Christmas in the best possible way. Even if I am not there with them.

I will win the best Christmas Gift EVER award this year for sure.

The most important job I have today, is making sure the meetings I go to are opened, and ready to receive.

I’ve worked in the nightclub business for a long time, when I got sober the first time, and I know very well, the lengths that people go to, to party on holiday nights. Holidays are some of the best nights in club business.

Alcoholics, in recovery, need just as much attention, as their drinking friends and family.

I’ve seen many, many people suffer through the holiday’s. I know what they are going through. I’ve spent fifteen years watching people make choices during the holidays, that were not necessarily, well thought through.

I once spoke my mind to a suffering alcoholic, at Christmas time, and we never saw her again. Where she went, or if she is still alive, is unknown.

I know today, that the best thing I can do for my friends, is to make sure that whatever room, I am in, on any given holiday night, is open and ready to receive.

The hour that people come to the rooms is sacred. You never know, 100% what is going on in someone else’s head, but we all have a idea. We are all there for the same reason.

It is in that hour that we can affect change. You never know, to what degree, an act of selfless kindness, will do for someone who is suffering or just needs a place to be themselves for an hour without judgment or argument.

The room is set up. There is coffee ready to go. And usually, there are treats on the coffee table as well. We really know how to do holidays right, in Montreal.

Spend enough holidays in the rooms, and you will see just what a difference you make in someones life, every year they return to spend an hour with you.

That is the way we form relationships with people. One cup of coffee at time.

One conversation at a time.

One day at a time.

We are called to be kind. We are called to be just. We are called to be merciful. We are called to care. And we are called to do good in people’s lives, because we must.

That is the message of Christmas.

There were no smart phones in Bethlehem. And there was not a single Big Box Store in all of Sinai.

We give because we can, if we are able.

There is so much suffering in the world today. The world needs a day where EVERYONE is kind and just and merciful.

All we can do, is what we can do, on a daily basis, for someone else, because that is what we are called to do.

Find a kindness and do it …

 

 


Monday: The Missing Link

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This morning my phone rang, and as usual I answered it. It is a great feeling to know that I am still useful. This evening I took that friend to a meeting, even though it was bitterly cold outside. We, in Montreal, are still trying to accept that a bitter winter is upon us.

It usually does not get THIS COLD here, this early. But it HAS.

Last night, I had a conversation and today I am blessed to have a best friend in my life.

Very Thankful.

The taxi drivers in Montreal are all tightly wound because of the competition that UBER has put down on them. Yet, there is at least one taxi driver in this city who willingly stole $150.00 from me on a bitterly cold (-30c) night. I’d never taken a taxi before to a meeting, and I won’t soon do that ever again either.

That drama is now being played out by my bank.

Merry Christmas, you dirty animal.

I hope that when karma comes back around that you loose more than $150.00.

Maybe you should loose your cab and your livelihood, because you are a dishonest pig, who should never serve the general public.

Alcoholics are allowed to get angry, at the right moments.

Tonight’s read, The Missing Link, was written in the portion of the Big Book, hosting seventeen stories, of folks who did not loose, anything, nor did they hit bottom, like the stories that come before them.

But it reads in the book that: “Their bottoms rose to meet them, and they realized they had a problem, and they came into the program.”

Oh, we all lamented tonight, that someone should have said STOP. But many of us, at the meeting, all honestly admitted that, for many of us, nobody was going to stop that party where we were concerned. No way, the party was just too good to stop.

I tell this story of my best friends, Peter and Mike.

We, the three of us, along with a sister, used to host, heavy metal vomit parties, with the requisite beer and hard liquor. Alcohol, was readily available to us, at all times, like water. I don’t ever remember having issues with procuring alcohol, ever.

We had a system.

Invitations went out prior to the parties. The girls were always advised to bring a second change of clothes, if they planned on drinking.

After the party, drunken and stupid, we would load, said girls, into a car and drive them around the neighborhood, while they puked it out. We’d bring them back, they would shower and re-dress, then we would take them home. A little more sober than when this all began.

High School is well known for its S.A.T. Tests …

Standard Aptitude Tests.

We did them three times in High School. Well, on my third pass, we decided to throw caution to the wind, and drink excessively the night prior. I was terribly drunk, as my friend carried my limp body into the house. Mum said nothing. And put me to bed to sleep it off.

The next morning we got up and headed into school for the test.

Thank God I was in the library, which was in the biology wing. A bathroom, just down the hall from said library. As each module began, I would start bubbling. Then have to hurl, run to the bathroom, puke it out, come back and finish said module.

It was not pretty at all.

My best friend Peter, committed an indiscretion, with my virginal cousin who was visiting that summer. She gave up her virginity to a boy. My father called her father, who flew down to Florida, for “The Talk.”

I never knew what was said, but after that night, my best friend, was no longer my best friend. In fact, I never heard from him ever again, until I looked him up on Facebook some time ago.

A handful of friends I grew up with eventually got sober. Others still drink, responsibly.

Other friends, I have attempted to reconnect with, were cold and unresponsive. Intimating that it was just ME that had a problem, and that it was good I had contacted them, but thanks but no thanks.

I’ve reflected recently about Listening, Choices and Actions.

From a young age, I listened to many things said to me, around me, and behind my back, and in front of others. I think, growing up, I may have made some wise choices. But you toss a kid into the world, without a safety net and no counsel, those good choices become far and few between.

For the last twenty three years, since my diagnosis, I have been learning how to make good choices. And I know, that when I make choices by myself, that there is a high probability that those choices are going to be SHIT.

I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. And almost died because of really bad choices and actions. So you can say that this last stretch of fifteen years has been in perfecting my listening, my choice making and my actions.

Because our writer honestly asks in his story … “What are shortcomings?”

I am told, and we heard this tonight from our 28 year celebrant that, if you don’t think you have shortcomings, stick around, you may find some along the way.

Another friend of mine, with a little time, is asking this question…

“When is my miracle going to happen. I’ve been around a number of years, and I just can’t seem to find my miracles.”

We all laughed at him, in love …

Stick around until the miracle happens.

A woman used to say that to me when I first got sober. Every day.

I forgot that. So I had to go back out looking for my own personal miracle.

How wrong I was.

Now I know that miracles do happen. They have happened in my life. And continue to happen quite frequently.

God is Good.

I am loved.

I have the BEST friend in all the world.

And one day that dirty rotten taxi driver will get his comeuppance.

Karma is a bitch…

 

 


Is Pope Francis campaigning for married priests?

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Just weeks after the conclusion of the Year of Mercy, life for gay seminarians and priests in the Catholic church took a turn toward the merciless.

As was widely reported last week, Pope Francis approved a document called “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” which bans gay men from seminaries and ordination.

Or, at least, most gay men. The document states,

“…the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

Though the Vatican leaves to the imagination what precisely the “so-called ‘gay culture’ might be, the guidelines suggest that gay seminarians who act like straight guys, conceal their sexualities, repress their sexual desires, and oppose any campaign for LGBT rights might be given a small window of clerical opportunity.

The guidelines further note that “such persons in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women,” and, therefore, “one must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

If the church does have “profound respect” for these men, it has a twisted way of showing it.

Less publicized last week was the homily that Pope Francis’ gave at Casa Santa Marta Dec. 9, the day after the release of “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation.”

Though Francis intended to use his message to critique “worldly and rigid priests,” a homophobic, misogynist anecdote in his text seemed to amplify the previous day’s barring of gay men from ordination.

According to Vatican Radio, the pope said:

“About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus — and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero [the clerical clothing store] and saw a young fellow — he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest — before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet, with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno [wide-brimmed clerical headgear], he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and worldly one. And that priest — he is wise, that monsignor, very wise — was able to overcome the pain, with a line of healthy humor and added: ‘And it is said that the Church does not allow women priests!’”

Francis describes the elderly monsignor as a “normal man, a good man” perhaps as a counterpoint to the abnormal, dandyish young man dressing in the mirror. The elderly monsignor is “in love with Jesus” — the only man, apparently, that a priest should ever fall in love with.

The monsignor is so agonized by this preening young cleric, Francis says, that the only way to alleviate his pain is to make a joke. Sadly, this “healthy dose of humor” amounts to one contemptuous punch line aimed at ridiculing the two gravest threats to the Roman Catholic priesthood: women and gay men.

If Pope Francis were simply commenting on the way in which the young man’s prideful posing was a demonstration of the corrupting power of clericalism, his lesson might be worthwhile. But by repeating a joke that mocks the man’s sexuality and belittles the struggle for women’s equality in the church, the pope reveals a disturbing resentment of women and gay men who seek to serve the church in ordained ministry.

The elderly monsignor’s punch line is as homophobic as it is misogynist. It characterizes female behavior as vain and affected. Worst of all, it suggests that the best way to demean a man is to liken him to a woman.

How ironic that Pope Francis uses such a humiliating story to call for humility, and takes such a judgmental tone as he denounces rigidity. How strange that he criticizes a pretentious, worldly young priest by promoting an elite, exclusionary vision of the priesthood.

Though some might argue that the Francis’ joke was just another one of his off-the-cuff remarks, many signs indicate that a more calculated campaign may be afoot.

It’s interesting to note that, in this same homily, Francis claims that we can know “what kind of priest a man was by the attitude they [have] with children.”

“If they knew how to caress a child, to smile at a child, to play with a child . . . it means that they know this means lowering oneself, getting close to the little things,” Francis says.

Is his homily suggesting that heterosexual men and fathers make the best priests?

The pope has never been shy about praising the holiness of the heterosexual family unit. He has called the family the “masterwork of society,” and frequently reminds us that Jesus “begins his miracles with this masterwork, in a marriage, in a wedding feast: a man and a woman.”

In the past six weeks, Francis has made his vision of the priesthood starkly clear. On Nov. 1, he confirmed the finality of the ban on ordaining women, and now he has reaffirmed the ban on most gay seminarians.

All of these clues lead one to wonder whether Francis is preparing the faithful for a new model of the priesthood: one in which young, married men may become candidates for ordination.

Many have lamented the pope’s ban on gay seminarians as a betrayal of his legendary “Who am I to judge?” statement. But perhaps Francis has a much larger agenda at work, and his desperate need to fill the priesthood is taking priority of whatever desire he may have had to be kinder to gays.

Perhaps the movement to push out gay seminarians is part of a concerted effort to make seminary life straighter and manlier for a new crop of hetero hopefuls.

Francis has given clear indications that he is receptive to a conversation about married priests.

This past August, Vatican insider Austen Ivereigh penned an essay declaring: “Next synod likely to focus on ordaining married men.”

Ivereigh cites examples in South Africa and Honduras where teams of married men with families were chosen by their communities to minister part-time while continuing to work in their professions.

“Francis has given many signals of his willingness to open up the question of ordaining married men, even encouraging local Churches to put forward proposals,” Ivereigh wrote.

Some theologians argue that the shift to a married priesthood is relatively simple. Unlike the church’s ban on women’s ordination and same-sex relationships, which are held as “doctrines,” the celibacy teaching is considered a “discipline,” and, therefore, easier to change.

The institutional church has much to gain in instituting a married priesthood. Obviously it would stave off the looming crisis of the priest shortage.

It may also serve as a tool for evangelization and promotion of family, since a priest and his wife would model the gender complementing roles frequently praised by Pope Francis. The husband would be both the father of the parish and the family, and his wife would be the serving, nurturing mother.

It might bring back into the fold all of those heterosexual families who care less about justice for women and LGBT people and more about having a relatable priest who is a husband and father.

The shift would certainly inspire wealthy donors who fund causes that seek to defeat same-sex marriage. They might see married priests as a beacon family values and “traditional marriage.”

Many Catholics often complain that our young, celibate seminarians are very conservative. But they should be warned that there are plenty of young, heterosexual, conservative Catholic men with equally conservative wives who are willing to join the priesthood. And they would gladly vow to uphold the church’s teachings on women, gender complementarity, LGBT issues and even contraception.

If the pope were to begin ordaining married men, most people would immediately laud him as a great changemaker. But when we look at Francis’ reaffirmation of the ban on gay seminarians and women priests, we must wonder whether such a change would truly bring about genuine progress, let alone justice, in our church.

A married priesthood would be a giant leap forward for heterosexual men, but many steps backward for women and gay men who feel called to ordained ministry in their church.

Those who push for a married priesthood must face the reality that they are, wittingly or unwittingly, advocating for the advancement of straight male dominance and privilege in the church. What might seem like an incremental step forward in our church might ultimately create an even more exclusionary priesthood.

[Jamie L. Manson is NCR books editor. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her email address is jmanson@ncronline.org.]


I Got Screwed by a Taxi Driver

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Building on the taxi story from the other night, today was just not my day.

This afternoon I went to check my bank balance to find I had very little money left after my Christmas Shopping Extravaganza. I thought that I had just really over spent my budget.

But No …

I look through my transactions and see that the taxi ride I paid $8.25 for turned into a whopping $158.25…

ATM cards have smart chips in them. Here in Canada, we have what we call Interac.

All you have to do is wave your card over the reader and it debits your account.

Sitting in the back on my taxi, I handed the driver my card to put into the terminal he had in his hand. I did not envision that he was about to royally rip me off for more than a hundred and fifty dollars, over Christmas no less…

My bank statement showed three transactions placed within seconds of each other, When I called the bank to report the fraud, they guy on the other end could see, in time stamps, what the driver actually did with my card.

He ran the transaction for $8.25 which I authorized because that’s what the meter read when we got to the church. He had several other terminals on him which he tapped the remaining $150.00 out in two transactions, just below the limit where a PIN was necessary to complete the transaction. The first was $48.85, the second was for $96.66 …

Going back to that night, I am not sure where that taxi came from or who sent it to my address when the taxi coop said my address could not be found on their map, as if my building just did not exist in time and space.

The guy ripped me off.

My statement reads: Taxi Pontiac for: $8.25
Below that reads:        Atlas Taxi for: $48.85
And finally … Transport Service for: $96.66

For a grand total of: $158.25

Now we are out $150.00. And the bank tells me that it could take upwards from 2 to 10 days to recoup the money into my account. So that ties up another $150.00 from hubby’s Christmas account to buy family gifts, that we can’t buy now, because my account is bottomed out from this taxi thrashing, to make sure I have money until the bank returns mine.

Which takes away a total of $300.00 all together.

FUCK MY LIFE you BASTARD.

I hope you wreck your taxi on an ice covered road ….

Karma is a real bitch, especially when you screw over the general public on Christmas.

 

 

 


“The WORK” Listening, Choices and Actions.

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Because we need happy dog photos right about now …

On the way home last night, my friend Juan and I were talking about The Work. Juan just crossed the two year mark last month, and we’ve bumped up The Work for him.

The good thing about having some time under my belt, is this …

I’ve practiced all the suggestions I had been given up to this point, and I know that some of those suggestions worked for me. Many of those good suggestions came LATE in my program, in means of time. In the beginning, it was those simple suggestions that got me started, and that I have maintained for the last fifteen years.

Last night we reflected as a group, “What if someone, when we were in our twenties, said the word STOP ” Would we have listened. And what that might have looked like in retrospect.

These days, with some time, when appropriate, I offer the suggestions I have learned since, to people, who are in their infancy stage of sobriety, the first few years …

The benefit in this actions is that with Them, I can give them some serious nuggets of truth and work, so they get this information early on, and can either choose to put it into action, or ignore everything that I had said to them.

Better to have a bank full of knowledge now, to be able to use that knowledge, than spending a decade or more seeking knowledge, and it come too late in the game, so to speak. Some of the knowledge I learned from years twelve to fifteen, would have been really useful, early in my sobriety, but it is what it is.

In year twelve, I learned, new to me at least, that spirituality was the keystone to getting sober. I knew about prayer long before this, but it had never been made aware to me just how hard I needed to practice my spiritual program, in order to really light the fire in my belly, and for some serious change to come to pass.

I’d read the book, worked steps, successively over twelve years, but I had not really connected with the Greater Power than myself to the extent I really needed to. It took someone from someplace else, to show me what I really needed to do.

THE WORK became the name of the game. INTO the Big Book, Like a trooper in the Marines. Word for Word, Prayer after Prayer. WORK, WORK, WORK, like your life depended on it. Or else one would perish without it.

And I did exactly as I was told to do it.

And the universe shifted for me in ways I had not imagined.

When Juan crossed the two year mark, we began to look at prayer, directly from the book. We set out an ambitious program of prayer and meditation for him. He is practicing the art of finding “Stillness.” Learning how to just “Be Still.”

This is not easy, in a world full of noise and activity.

But if you practice, every day, one finds it.

Had I known this practice early on, to the degree I learned it later on, maybe  my world would have shifted earlier than it had. But once again, lessons come, when they are going to come. When we are ready to hear those lessons and make them work.

Where were we in our heads early on, First, in our drinking careers, and Second, when we were/are in early sobriety ? Would we listen or not?

I know, for myself, how hard I worked to get sober, and the lengths I went to for a meeting, to have friends, and to learn how to be ME. I was involved going into year two, and things got very ugly, right away.

For every day that went by, and challenges came at us, then, I would go to a meeting. I would talk about what was going on, and I would get advice, that I listened to as if it were gospel. I did this day in and day out.

I did stay sober. I did the best that I could have done. And in the long haul, all that investment into my sobriety, it paid off in spades.

I go to the speaker meeting on Thursday nights and I listen. This is another art that one must learn how to do. Every story is important, for the speaker and for the crowd.

We talked last night about choices…

Early on, as I sat in the rooms, I had my life going on. And I was learning, for me, what were good choices. Did I make some bad choices, no. I think I did my best.

All along I was listening to my friends and fellows, and I was watching the choices they made, along the way. And in this witness, I could ask a question, “Should I do what these guys were doing, or not? Were they making wise choices?”

For the most part, I did NOT DO what my friends were doing. I DID NOT make the same choices that some of my friends made. And I sure as shit, DID NOT engage in behavior that some of my friends were exhibiting.

And now I see, today, when I listen to those same friends share at a meeting, just how cracked they still are, because of choices and actions they made early in their sobriety.

I hear old timers talk about the good ole days. And then there are those folks who came in around the same time I did, and/or after. I’ve got fifteen years of listening to bank on. And over the past few months, I’ve heard a number of my fellows, who came in after I did speak.

No two sober journeys are the same. Nobody takes the same road.

And in listening, I see the track that my friends took. I hear the challenges they faced, the choices they made, and what happened because of those choices and actions.

And I think to myself, Thank Christ, I did not make those same choices way back then because I would be as cracked as some of my friends are still today.

We all come to sobriety with our assorted sacks of baggage. We come with all the stuff, we had in our lives, like jobs, family, people, issues, etc …

When we begin to get sober, they tell us that, we have to find the way to work in a sober program, every day, to mitigate our stinking thinking. And to begin the clean up our lives and make them better. That is just the beginning.

I did not have a life to speak of when I got sober early on. I had plenty of time on building the infrastructure of meetings, home groups and service that was solidly in place, as life began to happen around me.

They told me to build my life around my sobriety, not my sobriety around my life. And that if I put anything before my sobriety, I would eventually loose it.

I guess I was listening to the right people, or I was just gullible enough to believe what these people were saying was true. In the end, fifteen years later, I see the wisdom of every suggestion I was given, and now I know that in doing exactly as I was told, I got here.

A lot of my friends, who are sober today, but are cracked in the head, heard much of the same advice I heard, from the same people, in the same meetings, from the very beginning.

Today, I know, that some of my friends, did not listen, nor heed the advice we all heard together, and in not doing so, caused YEARS of strife, pain and fucked up-ness.

I did not second guess what I was hearing from certain people, at the same time I was watching others acting on their will, and that did not end well. Some of my friends drank again, some returned, many did not. Some are DEAD.

As I listen to folks speak these days, I say to myself, I busted my ass to get sober. And I really pounded the pavement, unlike some folks I see today who have some time, who skated along, and are still cracked in the head.

And this is not my ego, at all. And I am not judging my friends. But it is truth, when I hear my friends talk, and they tell stories about what went down in the years after we all came in together, and how much they suffered, because they did not heed the warnings, they made the choices they did willingly, and suffered for those choices.

Meanwhile, I would often say to myself, along the way … Uh, I don’t think I should do the same. I think I will do THIS instead. And a good thing too.

This begs the question … What did I do right, that my friends did not do right ?

Maybe its not a question of right or wrong, but the choices we all make in our lives.

No two people are the same, and no two people make the same choices.

Numbers of folks have come in, in the last fifteen years. And each of those people, chose a path, based on what they were given, what they have heard, and what they chose to do.

I know the path I took. I know that I stuck very close to my friends and fellows. I always had someone in the game with me, at every stage of the game, in multiple places, at the same time. I was never alone. I never made one single decision by myself. Every time I had to do something, either big or small, I passed that decision by at least three people, before I acted on those decisions.

That plan was a success, and paid off in spades, later down the line.

I never went with my first choice. Never go with your first choice.

Many of my friends, did not enjoy the company of people to get them through, early on, like I had, but some did. I had gotten connected to Chabad Lifeline, I was connected in meetings. I had counseling, advice, therapy, meetings, I had all this structure to keep me on the beam. And those people did wonders for my sobriety early on.

I lucked out, that the right people were in my life at the time I really needed them. I don’t know a single soul, who had that kind of grace, in their lives.

Once again, GOD.

That was the path that was chosen for me, because I happen to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, who stepped into my life and made things happen for me.

In hindsight, all those good graces, came from a Divine Source. I surely was not in control, God was. And I know, that staying on that spiritual beam early on, to the extent that I knew spirituality then, made the difference.

In year twelve, The spiritual fire had been lit anew. A larger, greater fire of truth was opened to me. The flicker of faith was already there, it just needed some fuel to get it burning brighter.

And so it did.

And now we are here, one day into year sixteen.

What is life going to do next. What is the next big adventure, and what choices am I going to make.

That chapter is still waiting to be written.

Let’s get it on, shall we …

 

 


Friday … Let THEM eat the cake !!!

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I’ve been allergic to nuts the whole of my life.

This afternoon, I went to buy a cake for MY cake this evening. I was not really paying attention to the cake that I was buying beyond, it looked chocolate. So I bought it.

The meeting went on, all about a Boomerang …

The discussion went all over the map.

In the end, I reflected back to our folks, that a year ago, to the date, exactly, North End English was in open rebellion between the addicts and the alcoholics. The latter wanted the former to be tossed out on the street, because they were not primarily alcoholic, but addicts come to A.A. because they feel comfortable in A.A. meetings.

This is common. Folks who are other (A’s) sometimes start their journey’s in our rooms, and they either root and stay, or they branch off to their respective fellowships. Our Friday meeting has a very healthy addict population. When we split the meeting for discussion, as always happens, the addicts go to the back room, leaving predominantly the alcoholics at the main, front, table.

A year ago, the battle for who had ultimate authority was playing itself out. One of my best friends, the man who gave me my chip tonight, was the top dog in this fight.

One night, things got physical between He and I. It was the first time, I had ever been assaulted in a meeting. That night, I walked out of the meeting and did not return for months.

My best friend and I were, to coin a story line …

In the Deathly Hallows, when, Ron gets all up in Harry’s business, and starts ranting and raving about “We thought you knew what you were doing, that you had a plan!” That argument escalated where Hermione had to put a shield charm up and something had shifted between Harry and Ron.

“… Harry felt a corrosive hatred towards Ron: something had broken between them.”

“Leave the Horcrux, Harry said …”

That night when my friend attacked me, it was corrosive angry hatred.

My sponsor, then, told me to leave the meeting and not go back and to keep my mouth shut. For months on end, the two of us ended up at the same meetings, and not a word spoken between us.

Do you know how hard it is to see a friend in a meeting and know that human being hates you? It can drive you to DRINK ! That went on for months and months. And I was not allowed to say anything, to allow God to do what He was going to do.

When I took my chip a year ago, I spoke about the strife between someone who was a best friend, who turned into someone who hated me.

A week later, I had gone to my regular Tuesday meeting, and he was there, waiting for me to arrive. That night, we had a spiritual experience. I had kept my end of the bargain up, and did as I was told, and let God do what God was going to do.

In the end, God did what He needed to do.

We pledged never to ever argue again. And from that day forwards, we’ve been the best of friends.

It was my then sponsor, my friend and I, who on a particular road trip to Vermont, a couple of years ago, had the opportunity to visit Bill W’s home, and Bill and Lois’s graves, which are located not very far from where Bill was born, in East Dorset.

That day I had placed my chip on Bill’s grave, as is tradition, when you visit Bill’s grave, you leave a chip, for someone who might come later, might need that particular chip.

We have since come full circle in a years time. And I had asked my friend to give me my chip because in the past, certain people, my friends, were instrumental in helping me stay sober and sane.

When an Alcoholic thinks he has all the answers, and that he or she is in control or thinks, that they might be in a position of power, that is when, and most don’t, realize that we are getting into choppy waters, and maybe we need to step back and look at our motives.

North End English had that terrible experience of some alcoholics who thought they knew best and knew better than God did. We lost an entire group of people in that battle, who never came back.

The meeting survived, but the format was tweaked and the statement in the preamble reflects that …

North End English maintains the Primary Purpose, and the Third Tradition, as it is stated in our literature, You are an A.A. member if you say so …

That paragraph goes on to say, that you are a member if you say so, nobody can keep you out. The meeting went with the abbreviated statement of inclusion.

After the meeting, I went to cut the cake. Not noticing the peanut butter cups, until I further examined the cake, after I had eaten some of the frosting off the knife I was cutting the cake with …

When anaphylaxis began to set in…

My throat started to constrict, I was loosing my voice and my tongue began to swell.

There was No Epi Pen anywhere, had this gotten worse. I could have died right there.

Do Not Eat the food, if there are nuts anywhere near you.

I won’t make that mistake again…


Now You See it, Now you Don’t

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The old Children’s Hospital, which was closed last year, when the new MUHC was opened just up the road at Vendome, has been sitting, empty, vacant, waiting for someone to buy the building, design a plan, and execute that plan.

It seems, we have a plan now …

Courtesy: CTV News Montreal

City council is expected to approve a plan next week to build a half-dozen high rises, a library, a community centre and possibly a school at the site of the former Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Last week the hospital confirmed that Montreal developer Luc Poirier had purchased the building and the land that lies at between Atwater Ave. and Sussex St., and between René Levesque Blvd. and Tupper St. for $25 million.

Poirier sold his interest to Philip Kerub, who along with Devimco, Fiera Capital Corp., and the FTQ’s real estate fund are investing $400 million in the plan to build six buildings that are 20 to 30 storeys tall, and a three-storey building.

Kerub will renovate the three-storey former nurses’ residence that lies at the corner of the lot, and said he will preserve and restore its current envelope. Kerub will also build a tower that will house a hotel, office space, and “high-end condominium units.”

Devimco president Serge Goulet said his company will build the other towers that will include 600 condos, 600 rental units, 160 social and affordable housing units, and a community centre.

The Devimco towers will also include room for stores.

Plans for a school are still being worked out. If a primary school is built, it would be an eighth building on the site, and would decrease the amount of greenspace in the area.

But with close access to the metro and Alexis-Nihon Plaza, developers believe the site is bound to be a hit.

“Location, location, location,” said Brian Fahey of Devimco. “You also have to take into account that we’re going to be respond to demands for people looking for greenspace and community activities.”

The block’s footprint will also expand by removing a section of Lambert Closse St. and incorporating Henri Dunant Park in the northwest corner.

Richard Bergeron, the Executive Committee member in charge of downtown Montreal, said he wants to see a development like this every year for the next 15 years.

“If you look at the objectives of the downtown strategy the goal is to have 50,000 more inhabitants in downtown Montreal from now to 2031. We need to get this objective, to reach this objective, more or less 1,800 new housing units year after year,” said Bergeron.

“If you compare to Toronto, Toronto had 80,000 new inhabitants in the last 10 years downtown.”

Bergeron was enthusiastic that the development has condos, apartments, and social housing in the same location, combined with community services.

“We need that density, that quality of project. We need projects with mixed-use like this project has to have the city that we want,” said Bergeron.

The opposition at city hall pointed out that most of the condos and apartments will be between 700 and 800 square feet, pretty tight for a family.

“We believe and the housing department has done studies that indicate there’s a market for that,” said Executive Committee member Russell Copeman. “If families want homes that are much larger than that, they’re not going to find them in downtown Montreal,” adding that having roughly 2,000 people living in the area will help merchants including those in the old forum.

“We have a marvelous opportunity to contribute to, as Mr. Bergeron said, to the rejuvenation of this neighbourhood,” he said.

The entire project, with its 1,400 housing units and 600 underground parking spots, will be subject to public consultations beginning in January.

If all goes according to plan the demolition of the hospital will begin next summer, and two towers could be completed next year, with the entire project finished in five to seven years.

This is what will appear, a block from home, over the next seven years …

deveopment


Thursday: The Way We See the World

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I thought it was bitterly cold earlier today. Well, tonight it got even worse. We are sitting at a very frigid (-19c/-30c Wind Chill) tonight.

I had a conversation with Mama about Christmas earlier, and had some time before I had to head out again. And instead of walking to a bus stop, I called a taxi.

We have what is called a Taxi-Coop. One Number, taxis any time, anywhere …

Well, that isn’t right. I called the taxi company and gave them my address, and the woman on the other end says to me … Your address doesn’t exist. I can’t send you a taxi.

WHAT THE FUCK ???

Then I gave her the closest corner/busy street/location which is a block away.

She found that address (read:Location) which is on the same street on which my building sits.

Fuckity fuck fuck fuck …

I walked outside, and there was a taxi waiting for me outside my building…

How it got there, I don’t know. But the driver had my name.

Mischief Managed.

Speaking of Mischief Managed … I bought a limited edition Harry Potter …

I SOLEMNLY SWEAR I AM UP TO NO GOOD … Winter Jacket 

I did not, at first check on their shipping policy before I ordered it. But if their website is correct, Winter may be over, before I get my jacket.

UGH !

Only thirty people showed up for the meeting.

The take away … If I don’t change the way I think, the world around me doesn’t change either. Some people need to be knocked down a few pegs to see just how insignificant they really are in the grand scheme of things.

Because some Alcoholics have problems of gradiosity and entitlement.

Another man, with some significant time, was on shaky ground tonight. Once again, i was reminded, just how hard I work to stay stopped.

At least now, as a friend said to me before the meeting, I am maturing in sobriety. Keeping it simple is how I do it. I still do service that keeps me mindful of where I came from.

Sobriety is a long haul proposition. And if you haven’t READ the BOOK, we suggest, very highly, that you READ the BOOK.

Osmosis does not work in this case. You can’t suck up sobriety by just sitting in a chair, night after night. At some point, THE WORK will commence.

It is almost Christmas. Misery is right around the corner.

Alcohol makes the world go round, during the holidays. And if we aren’t careful, we might find outselves, holding a glass of champagne bubbles, and once we reach that point,

ALL BETS ARE OFF…

There are EIGHT shopping days until Christmas …

 


Christmas Shopping Extravaganza

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The weather outside is definitely FRIGHTFUL ! We are sitting at a frigid MINUS 15c with a wind chill of MINUS 25c. Earlier today my lady friend and I braved the cold to go shopping at the biggest mall I have seen in Montreal.

I never go that far to shop, but there was a Toys R Us / Babies R Us gigantic store at Angrinon, which is at the terminus of the Green Line, about 20 minutes from home.

And let me tell you that we hit some serious pay dirt. I was shopping till I dropped, looking for the BEST Christmas Gift EVER, for Lu and Mama. We did some serious damage to my wallet when all was said, purchased, wrapped, and then SHIPPED to New Found land.

I have alerted Mama that three boxes are on their way there and should arrive early next week. It is going to be interesting to see Lu’s reaction. I told Mama that her little heart is probably going to explode on Christmas morning.

I am competing, don’t you know, against grandma and grandpa, for the Best Gift EVER !

I think I have this in the bag…

 

 

 


Thursday – The Quiet before the Deep Freeze

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The weather, as we speak, is going where it has not gone yet this season. Double digit Minuses which will last for the next 48 hours or so, with another dump of snow coming over the weekend.

But this IS Canada, don’t ya know !

It has been said that Winter has come much earlier than forecasters had told us it would, or that they had expected …

And I have to be out tomorrow afternoon, Christmas shopping.

It snowed the beginning of the week, enough that the plows and dump trucks have been out two nights in a row. And the bane of our existence, are those trucks with the sirens on them, that drive up and down, SOON TO BE PLOWED streets, alerting the owners of cars parked in PLOW zones, that they must be moved immediately or else be towed at the owners expense.

It has been a quiet week. Another quiet week on the front that really needs some noise. I am beginning to believe that, people who don’t want to see you, or won’t make time to see you, are not worth waiting for, any longer. This saga has been going on for two months with no resolution.

I’m just not hedging my bets any longer that I am going to get the answer I seek. And the other day a good friend of mine that I studied with, and he played the organ at our wedding said this to a question posed …

How many sins must one repent and atone for, before God accepts our sacrifices to Him ? And the answer was stern and swift ….

You don’t have to. He has made the sacrifice; offering himself to God and to man. Live your life. As for those who cannot accept you, “leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Their stubborn pride is their shame, not yours.

I also listened to the advice given to me a few days ago about taking care of my self and my spirit. I have been doing that. I’ve spent time with people I enjoy being with, I had coffee with an elder last Friday night, and I’ve devoted much of my Christmas to my friends and people I care about.

It’s funny really, our Christmas Lists are very short. Hubby does not ask for anything for himself, it always has to do with cooking or food. Hence, home.

I don’t really need anything that much, because I have everything that I need. And today was pay day and I had errands to run, and gifts to get into the mail first thing this morning. I did my grocery shopping, I got my hair cut, and finally came home.

I trolled every site that sells stuff that I think I need. And after that run, of so called “Window Shopping,” figured out that I really did not want to buy anything.

My friend Lisa says this about shopping soberly …

  • Do I need this ?
  • Do I really need this ??
  • Really, Do I need this ???
  • If you answer No to any one of these, then don’t buy it.

I only have one running list of BOOKS, I would like.

I have found the ease and cheaper pricing of Amazon.Ca. I bought a couple of books from them, but my heart rests firmly at Indigo Book Sellers, right up the Green Line.

Twitter is wonderful for news and shopping aggregation.

The New York Times Best Sellers List, The New York Times, Best Books of 2016, are great, and the popular Indigo Recommendation page is also good. I gave hubby a list of books I wanted to add to my library, and in case he gets me a gift card, I can use it online to buy all the books that are presently collected in my virtual shopping cart.

  • The Return by Hisham Matar
  • The Dispossessed by Szilard Borbely
  • Barbarian Lost – Travels in the New China by Sasha Trudeau (Brother of the PM)
  • Israel and Palestine by Alan Dowty – EXPENSIVE at $80.00 cad
  • Where Memory Leads by Saul Friedlander
  • Fragrant Harbour by John Lanchester

All of these come highly recommended, so they are currently, like I said, sitting in my cart. And at night I get that little email saying … “We think you left something in your cart, are you going to buy them?” Hopefully, one way or another …

With Christmas, I either get maudlin and angry and resentful, or I can turn it around and remember that I have the choice to do what is good for myself and my friends.

I chose the l latter of the two.

This afternoon I did some laundry and around 5, I was gonna take a nap, but that did not happen, because my mind was racing. I’ve been re-reading Ben Ehrenreich’s … The Way to the Spring, Life and Death in Palestine again.

I wanted a Kaffiyeh, Because Rafa has one that is beautiful. Thank you Amazon. I also ordered a book,

“Palestine, Drowning in the Tears of God,” by Rev. Anthony J. Mucciolo D.D.

There is so much terrible in the world, and innocent civilians, men, women, and children and young men, are dying by the tens of thousands because of war and strife.Not All Men are created in the image of a terrorist. And outright killing everybody, is a WAR CRIME for sure.

The question of Palestine and Israel is a subject I rarely talk about, because it is complex and fraught with complications, that dipping my toe in the water of education, would take decades. But I know enough to know where to stand in this debate.

Firmly in the Middle of the road …

Like my best friend, and probably because of the way HE sees the world, he encourages me to study the hard truths. And So I’ve been slowly doing that, reading good books, by good authors. Ben Ehrenreich was on the ground, in the thick of it, when he wrote his book about the conflict from the Palestinian side of the equation.

So that is a thing …

After that I decided to to some serious heavy lifting here on the blog. My first blog has been sitting dormant for almost a decade that I’ve been paying for upkeep, space and domain. Why pay for two blogs when I only use one.

That First Blog, has been exported off the main frame, and imported into this one. There are close to 4,000 entries now indexed in the back end. And over a thousand images sitting in my image bank now. When I attempted to do this a few years ago, images would not transfer across, now they do. I purchased an image bank upgrade to complete the import, so for those electronically inclined, there is fifteen years of blog in the archives.

Tomorrow, well, in a few hours from now, when temps will be in the MINUS double digits, my intrepid lady friend who lives across town is meeting me for a shopping extravaganza trip so that I can shop for Baby Mama and Baby Lu Lu.

My quest is simple. I need to find the perfect Christmas Present that will knock to socks off of a two year old little girl. Not to mention her mother as well.

Christmas is coming to those I love dearly this year.

It will be merry and bright for sure …

 

 

 


Friday – Updates and Thoughts

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Things are not as they should be right now. One of my sponsees is sitting in a hospital at this hour with a friend visiting from out of town, and during this evening, found out she has an ectopic pregnancy. She is going to loose the baby. Or more to the point, the baby is going to be removed, because it is not viable where it is.

A very sad note for this evening. But both women are doing the best they can at this hour.

Say a prayer for them both.

This evening I sat with an Old Timer from our Best Night of the Week Meeting, before the meeting. And I shared verbal diarrhea with him. We traded ideas of what should happen next, his first response to that question was “The Third Step Prayer…”

Discussion followed.

We have similar thought about a great many things. One thought that came up is that people don’t seem to appreciate the work that goes into a meeting. Starting with managing that space, paying the bills, doing the shopping, setting up, making coffee, washing dishes, and breaking down.

A whole host of people take part in the nightly event (Around the world).

Managing a meeting is a thankless job. And is never really truly appreciated, because you never hear a member come up to you, and say Thank You …BUT you will hear, occasionally from their seats, that they are grateful for the meeting.

Now, in the past, I have seen coffee makers and setter uppers, have mental breakdowns at certain meetings, bitching and complaining quite openly, to the meeting itself, while the meeting is still going on, how ungrateful folks really are, and that said setter upper demands a thank you from everyone sitting in the room.

We are cautioned quite often, that service is a gift of the program, because it keeps us humble and rooted to the reason why we need the meetings, because when we came in there were people doing just what we do today, for us, and at times we can get angry and resentful at the ingratitude of most people who walk through the door every week.

So beware your EGO.

Kindness was the other idea that was floated.

We do this work gladly, because it is necessary, because if we don’t do the service, the meeting isn’t going to happen at all. And he told me that people, over the years, as they come, form the meeting in their image, as they see it. Which leads to a meeting  ever changing. People come, people go. Formats come, and Formats go.

Meetings begin, get popular, have a good run, then, almost mysteriously, they fades to black, when the novelty of a particular meeting looses its shine. People get bored.

Boredom is also problematic.

We do the same rote actions week after week, month after month, year after year. Like a robot. We all have our assigned roles, per week. And on Friday night, we are a well oiled machine. We can crank out set up in twenty minutes with the right number of setter uppers.

People don’t seem to take notice of those of us who do this work.

And one thinks that maybe one day, something we have done is going to surface in someones life, that something we do or say, will make a difference in a life. That may come to pass, and maybe it won’t.

My counsel to folks is this … Pick a meeting. Find a seat, and STAY.

Watch, Listen and Pay Attention.

The reading from A.B.S.I. was long and convoluted. But the front room, went with the:

SLIP … Sobriety Looses Its Priority.

There are a number of young people who come, who are in rehabs across town. So the first horse out of the gate shared on the topic of a slip, and day counts.

There are two schools of thought in this area, and I’ve heard them both spoken over the years.

In the program, you come in, and begin your day count. if you decide to go out a drink again, you start over at day one.Then, there is a more linear view of a slip.

The thought that, when one comes back, that you do not punish the slipper by restarting their day count, but you keep counting to keep the momentum, even though, one drank again.

Well, that started the ball rolling and it just kept going until the top of the hour.

The odds that one enters the rooms, and stays, and makes it a one time drive, are slim. The odds that one returns after a slip, go down even further, the number of times you go back out. Most folks at our meeting has had a slip experience. For one reason or another.

It is usually common that once folks fall off the wagon and drink again, come back and never go back out. But these stories are far and few between. Statistics on this are proof.

An old timer spoke about Alcoholic.

  • The real alcoholic out there, usually would never admit he/she is one.
  • Then there are those who come in, leery, not knowing for sure.
  • There are also those who come in, knowing full well the facts.
  • There are also those who come in and need to figure it out for themselves.
  • And there are those who are mandated to show up by a judge.

Long Sober men and women that have been around double digit years, either ONE, stay put and stick to the rooms, and prosper and do well, or TWO, Long Sober men and women who also have double digit years, come for a while, then they fall off. They stop coming to meetings, and the tape begins to play in their heads …

  • Ah, you’re really not an alcoholic, look how long you’ve gone without a drink
  • Ah, its a waste of time and energy to go out, (in minus twenty temps)
  • Ah, I really don’t need a meeting
  • I deserve a break after so many years, I can take a breather
  • And you know what follows, if the tape continues, don’t you ?
  • They Drink Again … And the odds on return are almost nil

Some people, in sobriety, go through really dark times, either Mental, Emotional, Medical or Financial. They spin out into the darkness. Some find their way, others do not.

I’ve seen medical issues take people out. Men and women fight battles with Cancer, or AIDS, or MS, or any other myriad of diseases. And they either conquer, or they fall. There are just some illnesses that you never come back from.

Death is a forgone conclusion.

But many women, who have, (for example) Breast Cancer, they get diagnosed, and they begin treatment. Radiation, Chemo, Surgery, Reconstruction, and Recovery. This is one serious long haul drag for our women.

With a good support system, women to walk with them, and women who are present for them for the entire journey, those women return victoriously.

On the other hand, (in my own experience), I knew a woman, I was very good friends with. I was here, she was in Florida, getting treatment, surgery and reconstruction. She was victorious. She was long sober, more than twenty years at the time.

I spoke to her every day. We talked about everything, So I Thought.

One night, she went to Lincoln Road, on Miami Beach, for dinner. She ordered a glass of wine, then another. Over the next few weeks, she went to have dinner, with a glass of wine and several more.

She never expressed the desire to drink to me ever. She never spoke about it either.

A few months later, at twenty and some odd years, she returned to Montreal. One night, she walked into the meeting, and when the chip was offered, she got up and took it.

I was mortified.

I was so angry. Words passed between us, she left the meeting, and never came back. And we never spoke again, even though I can see her condo building from my living room windows. She lives that close.

She had been victorious at beating Breast Cancer, so she deserved a break, she said during the meeting. This is not a one off story … But it is my story about her.

Illness is a beast. It fucks with our minds, whatever other issue we are dealing with, falls by the wayside. The tape begins to play, like our men’s tape above, and women find themselves surviving a visit from death, drinking is the least of their worries.

So what does one do with this type of situation ?

I should have kept my mouth shut. Maybe I should have understood what I know today, but did not then. But what can you say when friends keep secrets ?

Secrets and Lies are two markers, that if they begin, a drink is not far away.

Women suffer too. Most in silence, because they don’t know what to do, who to talk to, nor what to say, when this takes place. I’m not a woman, but I know how I felt for her and for me, when she took that chip.

So you see, our jobs, in the meetings, are fraught with complications.

When Sobriety Looses Its Priority, all bets are off.

Man and Woman alike.

Knowing the warning signs, and being present when someone speaks, to have the right words, is a fine art. That does not come over night. It takes time. A lot of time, investment and friendship.

Relationships like that are far and few between.

You cannot walk into a meeting, and sit for very long, and NOT invest in its people.

Once you pick your seat, buckle up and hang on. Because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

It always is…