Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

Aids

Thursday – If I sit down …

tumblr_lxerkgWVPI1r556eno1_500 followeed

Courtesy:Followeed

It is December and it has been one hell of a week so far. There is much to say, and there has been plenty of opportunity to speak words, or better yet, write them down. Tonight is that night.

Tuesday was December 1st, World AIDS Day. The yearly date when we honor all those who have died, and for those of us who survived that period of tragic times, we remember.

A particular story came to mind on Tuesday, that I thought about writing down “Again” but decided against it. Suffice to say that those of us who were diagnosed with AIDS or today, HIV, we go from Hero to Zero in no time flat.

Back in the day, AIDS was a death sentence. Today they call it a “manageable condition!” Every new diagnosis under ANY circumstances is very sad.

You would think, in today’s gay community, and for that matter, anywhere in the world, that an ounce of prevention would go a long way, yet there are those who continually decide to play Russian Roulette with their lives. Or are caught up in behavior that is detrimental.

One cannot claim ignorance about disease today.

There are still millions of reasons why we can’t stop marking this day, until a cure is found, that would be available to every single human being, to eradicate this scourge.

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Once again, now in the U.S., two deranged killers walked into a service center, and killed 14 people in cold blood, and injured many others.

This is just terrible. And there are not enough words to say that is going to make a hill of beans difference, to those who could do something, but they don’t. There aren’t enough prayers to be said, or vigils to attend that are going to change anything.

Sometimes it is well and good to just not say anything, because someone already has said what we are all thinking, and we are powerless to do a god damned thing.

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Sometime last weekend, I did something to my back. I am not sure what it was, or when it happened, but I have never felt the degree of pain I am feeling today, in all my life. My back is killing me, and I have resorted to taking pain killers just to be ambulatory.

Addicts and painkillers are not a good mix.

At least here, I can phone up my pharmacy and get over the counter medication. In many Canadian pharmacies, they keep assorted drugs behind the counter, so if you know this, that opens up treatment. I don’t need a script nor do I need to see my doctor, but I will see him on the tenth, if I survive that long …

This afternoon baby mama came over to use my computer and as we sat together, she remarked that etched on my face was the look of pain. I can sit down, but there is no guarantee that I will be able to get back up. During our visit, I had several Holy Shit, moments, where I thought I was going to pass out.

I have only so many pills left, before I need a doctors note, and it is the weekend, so no doctor till next week now. And I sure as shit ain’t going to no E.R. because I will sit there for hours and hours, um NO!

It has been rainy / cold the past few days. Rain, that falls in conjunction with below zero temps, means ice on sidewalks.

I half thought to stay home tonight, but decided to go to St. Matthias and hit a meeting. I left earlier than usual, because walking, reaching, bending and stooping is quite the task, which requires some serious deep breathing and equilibrium.

I got to the church and visited with friends before the meeting, and as a friend sat next to me, I had a Holy Shit moment, and I told her that if I sit down, for any amount of time, that I may not be able to get back up.

I waited until the seventh tradition was started and tried to get up, gritting my teeth, because I had to pee … That was a tedious moment for sure. I did get up, but it wasn’t pleasant.

It was a good meeting, nonetheless.

I was talking to my sponsor and a few friends on Tuesday night, and I was explaining that I was riding that “roller coaster of insanity” and what was going on in my head and they responded with, “yup, you are one of us …”

We pushed my cake back until the 20th, because next Sunday is early, and my anniversary falls on Wednesday the 9th. And superstition dictates that you never take a medallion early.

The 13th, is my sponsors Home Group Anniversary on the West End at Loyola. So He will be there, while I do service at my Sunday Home Group. Which leaves the 20th as the first Sunday we can both be in the same place at the same time.

What is good about living in Canada, is this … When shit goes down anywhere else, the media goes crazy. And for the most part, for what it is worth, Most shit going down elsewhere, has nothing to do with us, and when necessary, which is often, I can either turn the channel, shut down my computer, or turn the tv off …

There is so much tragedy. I can only take so much saturation about death and destruction, not to mention, Republican Presidential hopefuls.

I have little patience for crock of shit politics.

Thank God for cable t.v.

More to come, stay tuned …


I’m Always Ok

tumblr_ma62hlMxSo1rdkscno1_500 rthompson80Courtesy: R.Thompson 80

How often do we say to our friends, that, “yeah, everything’s fine, and I’m ok?” And how often do we tell ourselves that everything is fine, and we really want to believe that everything is fine, when in reality, everything is not fine. In fact, things are in really bad shape.

When we are always going, doing, and being, amid the business of our days, we (read: I ) tend to forget myself, because as long as I am not feeling it, or do I feel in distress, I can keep going, until that proverbial wall comes up and smacks me in the face.

Many people run on the premise that as long as I look good to you, then I don’t have to look at me. As long as I put up a good front, you won’t see what a mess I am on the inside, and how unmanageable my life is, as I am trying to manage your life instead.

Try as I might, I never want to admit defeat, in any sense. Try as I might, I feel like as long as I am breathing, and can do things, that I must do them, to the detriment of myself. I tend to take for granted that I am not twenty any longer, and that I am closer to fifty then I am to twenty.

I tend not to, or ever admit that I am that old. Nor do I ever admit that I can’t do everything that I have always done, to the extent that I put myself in mortal danger of sickness, and in the worst case scenario, death …

I’ve been living on borrowed time for so long, that always doing “something” all the time, is natural.

There is a story that comes to mind about Bill W. He never said that he was an alcoholic, however he was. In his life, we alcoholics, wanted to be near him, with him in meetings, and or talking to him about a great many things. Bill could not go out to a meeting and be himself. He never could walk in an anonymous room, and be anonymous. He was saddled with who he was and what he represented to everyone in the rooms.

He just could not “go to a meeting, for himself.”

For a long time now, I have been responsible for many meetings, meaning, I either had the key and had to open, come rain, or come shine, or snow. Or I had to do service, be it coffee, or set up or something else. And I have been doing this for years now. There are not many folks, who come to mind at the moment, who have stuck around, to take over or do something other than coming to a meeting here and there. People just don’t stick and stay where we need them to.

And you can’t ask or force anyone to do anything, either.

For the last month or so, I’ve been sick. The proverbial wall came up and smacked me in the face. And I did not like it, to admit that, I could not do something, kicking and screaming all the way, I had to give up responsibility for some of my chores to someone else. I really needed someone else to step up and be accountable.

My doctor said to me that for a while, until I finished treatment, that I had no other choice than to stay away from the baby, because babies are toxic breeding grounds for sickness and infection, inherently because they go to day care. And kids get sick. And they carry that sickness home with them.

And so over the last few months, being immuno-compromised, found that every time the baby coughed or sneezed, I got sick. This last round got worse and needed professional drugs to get better. I finally got “the message” when over the counter drugs stopped working. Because I was not “getting better.”

So I followed medical advice. I stepped back. And others stepped forward. And I took care of me for the past two weeks. I cut back my schedule. I turned things over to friends. I only hit half the meetings I usually hit, and I spent a great amount of time sleeping and resting, because that’s what my doctor said to do.

This week, as it happened, I began to return to my old life. But now, I am not as “responsible” as I was a month ago. I don’t have to do anything, at the moment. On Tuesday, I visited Baby mama and the baby for the first time in weeks. I also hit the Tuesday night meeting, for the first time in a month. I went for my visit, I stayed a little longer than usual, because I did not have to be “ON.”

I was able to just be me. I walked into the meeting, a friend is opening for me, the coffee was made, another friend was in the chair, and I could sit down, and go to a meeting, and just be me.

I can tell you that there was an entirely different vibe, that I had never felt before.

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The best gift we can give our friends is our presence. Being there, sitting with, showing up, and not necessarily having to do anything beyond, just being there.

I can do this today. Just be present.

Yesterday, I sat with one of my guys, and I listened to him work his Fourth and Fifth Step, in progression, in real time. I’ve never done that before, and I wasn’t sure just how to do that, so I prayed about it, and decided that it was necessary to see him through this portion of step work and that it just HAD to work.

Presence …

Tonight, it rained. Well, it pissed rain was more like it. Enough rain was falling to warrant an umbrella, but pissy enough that you really didn’t need one.

A young lady spoke. Turns out she is “family.”

So young to be so wise. She walked a long road to get here. But she is here, nonetheless.

In the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

She speaks about God and how she sees God, and connects to him.

She also said that when things are good, she is connected to God. She really doesn’t think about God. But when things hurt or things get tough, she tends to forget God, and she disconnects.

And she has learned that lesson the hard way. Now she respects the connection with her higher power, which she chooses to call God. and she says …

I am Always Ok …

We are always ok. It just depends on how we look at things.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – Celebrations

tumblr_ln3takPnYT1qemrxpo1_500 dyingwontkillyouCourtesy: Dying Won’t Kill You

Another weekend is in the books. Today is day 4 of Nuclear Antibiotic Treatment. I was warned that they are the strongest antibiotics on the market, and they are also doing a number on my innards. I was very sick to my stomach this morning. UGH !!!

It has been an interesting week, and I get glimpses of clarity here and there.

I’ve spent so many months, being all things to all people, to the degree that I forget to pay attention to my own needs, mentally and physically. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for so long, that the time came when I got knocked out of rotation, because I got really sick.

My doctors warns me to take it easy. “Taking it easy and just being” is difficult when you are always moving and engaged. God, in His infinite wisdom, has done for me what I could not do for myself.

Only this weekend, my voice is starting to return.

I’ve been hitting meetings, here and there, but I am not back to full steam with all my responsibilities across town.

tumblr_m1lyltsDdZ1qgwqw9o1_500 pjbudI’ve been seeing the ugly side of my friends recently. And I don’t like what I am seeing, nor what I am hearing from their mouths. Sitting on Step Seven, God is showing me Character Defects and Shortcomings in the guise of my friends and fellows.

Everybody in the rooms is on their specific journey. Not all men and women sit at the same place on any given day. Some are taking it easy and trudging along as they are able, and for some of my friends, they are judgmental about the status progress of their fellows.

Judgmental enough to state that they have specific expectations of their fellows, and that, if you aren’t in it to win it, working your steps and being On Top Of Things 100% at their behest, that there is a certain price to be paid for lack of action.

And that price is the friendship and attention and care that some may bring others, because they feel as if they need to punish some for their inability to “get things done, on their time frame, to their liking.”

And I the thought came that those same friends who expect so much from others, aren’t even engaged in their own step work, none of them. Every time we bring that subject up, they are all busy.

I don’t suggest any work for any of my guys, unless I am it in myself. And I am.

How can you suggest something for another, and not be doing the same yourself?

A certain man I am working with is trying his best, and it hasn’t been a cakewalk.

But I stick with him, because I have faith in him. My personal motto is “You Don’t Turn your back on your friends, ever…”

Others do not share my vision. Having ongoing conversations with some of my friends, about what I can do, or what I should do, have been fruitless. Several suggestions were floated to try and get a pay out. But some of my friends, are unwilling to devote time to people, who aren’t in the solution, as they see fit. They either don’t have the time, nor are willing to spend the time necessary to see things through. (Oh, that’s too much work…)

After a heated conversation the other night, I spoke my opinion. That did not go over very well.

You don’t turn your back on your friends, ever …

That is treason to the soul.

Over the past month, my phone has rung less than usual. And I find that odd.

While I was here all summer long, keeping the meetings open and serving my fellows along with a rag tag handful of friends, who were not leaving the city, I did my best.

A second group of people were traveling the world, seeing other places, and working out of province. Now we are all back under the same roof. And everybody is where they are on the journey of life, as we speak.

We celebrated six months of clean and sober time last night, for one of my guys. And I opened the meeting and chaired, because our guy who was supposed to be there, was a no show.

I asked a friend of mine for a topic, and she suggested Step Seven. That was a fruitful discussion when all was said and done. The one word definition of Step Seven is “humility.”

When we need help, most of us, don’t realize we need help until it is too late. Or we think that we just could not ask for help, because we should man up/woman up, and do it ourselves. But that’s what our Higher Powers are for right?

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Most of us say we believe, but when push comes to shove, we forget our belief.

God, it seems, in lots of cases, seems to step in right when we need it, as we need it , as long as we need it. And that has been the case for my friends and myself as of late.

Tonight, I headed out for the Sunday Meeting. I was flying solo for set up, and I had only one chore for tonight, to give another of my men his first year medallion and cake. He has not had a drink for 365 days. We are all so proud of him.

Another of my friends, a fellow woman of our group, took a 24 year medallion and cake from her sponsor. It is still amazing to me every day, how much our women change when they get “into the work.” This is the model that I use for my guys. Reading the Book, doing steps, calling, tenth steps and honest hard work, really does pay off in the long run.

Many are at the stage in sobriety that they are “willing to go to any length to get sober.”

We hear that line read, every time we hear How It Works.”That if you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are READY to take certain steps.”

It took me almost twelve years in the rooms to understand quite succinctly, what that line really means. Because it happened to me. And it has happened to many others as well.

And so, with a little courage, and faith, we work with newcomers and each other. And we invite them to participate. The odds are against us/them. But there are those few who are ready to step up, because stepping back, would mean much more suffering.

The other line that means the world to me comes from A Vision for You …

“Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”

Wow, is that line packed with meaning. For how many years, did I have to trudge this road, to figure out succinctly, what that meant as well?

I had to practice the work and do it myself, and see the results come. Along the way, I was working with a sponsor who cares about me and is always there, work my own steps, go to meetings, hit retreats, and hone my message, and find that voice that suited me.

And voila … God did for me what I could not do for myself. And the men and women who were put in my path, came for a specific reason.

It has become seriously obvious that some of my friends, in the rooms, are sober, (or not so sober) at the moment,(read: Dry) are sick individuals. My sponsor warns me to steer clear of them, and do not react, and not to say a word.

He did tell me to pray for them for 21 days.

I just cannot understand how friends can turn on each other at the drop of a dime.

I watch them act around each other and myself. I listen to the words that come out of their mouths. This is where my sponsor warns me to be vigilant with my words, thoughts and actions, and to pray. The words are incongruous, and I don’t understand detestable language or action.

Friends don’t turn on each other, friends don’t disrespect each other, and once again I repeat, friends don’t turn their backs on their friends.

Sadly this is going on right in front of us at the moment.

I learned a while back, that people may be in the rooms, and have time, but not be very sober.

We have been seeing this thought play out in open community.

Steps Six and Seven take time to present themselves, at least that is how it happened for me.

The diligence of time, and the grace of God and not drinking, has its perks.

It was a good night, capped off with laughter and lots of cake.

In a few weeks time, I hit the 14 year mark.

One day at a time. And by the Grace of God.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – The Express Lane is “8” Items or Less …

tumblr_kzh2y6mHMA1qzmauvo1_500You don’t know you are doing something right, until you read that suggestion in a book, and you realize that you have been using that suggestion all along. That for years and years, you’ve heard the same suggestions, the same slogans, and read and re-read the same books over and over again. And only with a good amount of time and hindsight, can you honestly say that, you have learned to incorporate those lessons into every day life, and be able to safely say that “yes, they really work…”

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Last Night was a Marathon Television experience. Elections are usually that way. Early on in the evening, we were sitting here watching Labrador, New Found Land, and the Maritime votes come in, and they were all Liberal Red. By 8:15 p.m. with the science of mathematics and statisticians crunching numbers at the highest levels, CTV called a Liberal Win.

I was flummoxed !!!

I was screaming at the tv, like “how do you know this shit? How can you call this election so early?” Thankfully, hubby was there to explain a little more.

This wasn’t my first Canadian election so this was not new news for me.

When the polls closed at 9:30 p.m. across a major swath of the country, the numbers started coming in fast and furiously. It was then we knew that the Red Wave was on its way across the country. We just did not know then, if it was going to be Minority or a Majority.

I think people were surprised to see just how well Justin did in the end.

We got rid of our Prime Minister. The A.B.C. vote worked.

We also recovered many Orange Wave NDP seats, and turned them Liberal Red.

Over time we learn about the men who lead us, and a good friend of mine wrote tonight that:

“The test of a man isn’t shown when he wins but when he loses.”

Both Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair got the raw end of the deal.

The government was replaced, the Prime Minister lost his job, BUT, he won his seat. Close to the time he was supposed to make his concession speech, his press core published a release saying that even though Mr. Harper won his seat, but lost his government, that he would indeed step down as the Conservative Leader.

He did not mention stepping down in his speech. But He spoke eloquently and kindly. It could have been a slash and burn concession, but Mr. Harper took the high road.

And he should be commended for that. Mr. Harper has true character.

Mr. Mulcair, in the same vein, took the high road. He also won his seat in Parliament, but he lost the election to Mr. Trudeau. It was apparent, well before election day, that the NDP was on life support, and that the tide did indeed swing out of his favor over the Niqab debate.

I also heard from a commentator last night that:
“The tide, raises all boats…”

If you stayed up until Prime Minister Elect Justin Trudeau made his acceptance speech, you would have heard him echo many of the ideas he had stated along during the campaign.

I’m really proud that Justin won. I’ve supported him, unfailingly since he was elected Liberal Leader, when not many people were in his camp.

The hopes of Canada rest on his shoulders.

As Rachel says: “Watch this space.”

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At this point of my life, hubby has given the the ability to chart my own course in life, to do what I do best, and to know that he has my back. The relationship pendulum has swung in his direction for this portion of our journey.

I have my daily routines. My daily chores. And then everything else.

What I choose to engage is my choice. What I choose to invest in is also my choice.

Today was a busy day, as it turned out, and I was also reminded that I was not in control.

I had a doctors appointment. And knowing from past appointments, no matter what time I get there, I am going to wait, and wait, and wait …

I scheduled this appointment so that it would not run up to my early evening activities. I had thought, that I would get in and out in short order, and have room to play.

Not so Grasshopper !!!

It took me 40 minutes to make my transit, I arrived 45 minutes early for a 1:30 p.m. appointment. Thankfully I brought a book with me. I read until my eyes crossed, then I listened to the Virgin Radio station that was playing in the office overhead.

I finally got to see my doc at 3:30 p.m. He was on call for three of our hospitals, all of our hospitals, patient records and information are on one massive main frame that can be accessed remotely from any hospital or doctors office, needless to say, he was no happy.

The office was full of people waiting to see him, and at one point, I sadly got up and had to ask where I was in rotation, because I had someplace to be at 4:30. Bad Boy !

My numbers are really good. Seeing where my body was traveling that week. The night before I dropped labs, mama and the baby were in hospital, sick. Tuesday morning when I got home, I dropped labs. Wednesday night was Madonna, and at 6 a.m. Thursday morning, i got so sick, I thought I was going to die.

I was up over a thousand again this round. Go figure …

I was sure that my numbers would have tanked, seeing that I was heading for a major illness.

Wrong !

He also spoke to me about a medication change. This has been an ongoing discussion for the last year or so. Finally he agreed that the time had come. My numbers have been high enough that he has decided to begin changing my medications to new single dose HIV meds.

Round one begins tomorrow.

I got out of there, around 4 p.m. and a 40 minute transit to travel to be on time.

Thankfully the trains were on my side. I made it to my next point with ten minutes to spare. Since it was on the Orange line, just below my Blue connection.

The Tuesday meeting is not doing well. And we heard tonight that two more meetings in town, in the English side are closing. That would be five meetings that have shut their doors in the last three months.

There are projects on the table to try and bump up our numbers, but it seems that option one, is not going to happen. The logistics of mama’s and babies and finding the right time, space and help is not easy. Option two begins in November with our newsletter push. If that doesn’t work, then it might come down to option three … shutting the doors.
We are just not bringing in the seventh tradition to warrant keeping a dying meeting open.

I got home and hubby ran some errands and I went grocery shopping …

And wouldn’t you know it, I had six items in my cart and I was in the express lane. As I approached said lane, the couple ahead of me had a pull basket, FULL of SHIT !

Yes, I counted all twenty five items in your basket …

UGH !!!

Easy Does It they say …


Sunday Sundries … Always in the Right Time

jimmy carter

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

Well, for most of us that is …

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

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

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

Learning about death is as important as learning about life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But acceptance is the the key.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is all for tonight.

More to come, stay tuned …


Crazy S.O.T.B. – More Memories 21 Years On …

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Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…

I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…

He wept.

Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…

So it began…

At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Dante would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.

The rule was set…

You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!

Yes Sir…

I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.

This is your life we are talking about…

The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.

Angry Larry…

When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.

People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.

For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.

I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.

Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoke, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men.

We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.

Let’s get it on…

Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.

One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.

So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.

Todd saw to it that I would never go there…

You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.

I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…

I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…

Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.

I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.

But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.

And forgiven by God…

Amen

Goodnight angels of men

In a church,by the face,
He talks about the people going under.

Only child know…

A man decides after seventy years,
That what he goes there for, is to unlock the door.
While those around him criticize and sleep…
And through a fractal on a breaking wall,
I see you my friend, and touch your face again.
Miracles will happen as we trip.

But we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We are a little…

Cray…cray…cray…

…Crazy yellow people walking through my head.
One of them’s got a gun, to shoot the other one.
And yet together they were friends at school
Ohh, get it, get it, get it, get it no no!

If all were there when we first took the pill,
Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe…
Miracles will happen as we speak.

But we’re never gonna survive unless…
We get a little crazy.
No we’re never gonna survive unless…
We are a little…
Crazy…
No no, never survive, unless we get a little… bit…

Oh, a little bit…
Oh, a little bit…

Oh…
Oh…

Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years…

Oh darlin…
In a sky full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
In a world full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Crazy…
In a heaven of people there’s only some want to fly,
Ain’t that crazy?
Oh babe… Oh darlin…
In a world full of people there’s only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy…

Ohh…
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless we are a little… crazy..
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless, we are a little.. crazy..
No no, never survive unless, we get a little bit…

And then you see things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

They’ll break it

Someday…

Only child know….

Them things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…


21 Years on My memories as they happened in real time.

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Here is the story of that week from my journal. If we are to start anywhere, here is the best place.

July 4th 1994

it was a nice day. Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft. Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy. The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft. Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?

Imitate art that week?

I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.

The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.

Anyway, that was that.

Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.

The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went

Hello…

Hello…

Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!

I have some news for you.

Yes, what would that be?

I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…

Silence.

I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!

They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.

Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.

After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Provincetown on holiday. But I would eventually call Todd.

Tuesday July 5th, 1994

I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building. The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”

I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.

You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft. Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.

This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.

Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.

It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm. You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.

He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…

And he tried to leave it at that.

I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,

“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”

He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.

I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.

Friday July 8th 1994

the week passed by without incident. Thursday I waited impatiently for the phone to ring, and every time it did, I would jump through the roof. Alas, Thursday night I went to bed, knowing that tomorrow it would come.

I got up in the morning and drove Josh to work and returned to the house. It was around 11 am that the phone finally did ring. It was Ken. His voice was shaky on the phone, and all he said was “Jeremy, you need to come to the office, and you need to come now!” Then the line went dead. I got dressed and headed over to the clinic. I already knew the answer, but you never know, right? I parked the car, and said my prayers, and I rested for a moment.

I went up stairs and logged in at the reception desk. Ken was nowhere to be found. After a little while they escorted me into an examination room; it was blue in color, very sterile and cold. I sat down on the table and I waited. A few minutes later the doctor came in, file in hand. I guess he wanted to make sure I was prepared for this.

“Well, no better time than the present,” he said.

Let’s get this over with. “Jeremy, you have AIDS and that’s the bottom line. ”

“You are going to die.”

The words rolled off his tongue with the flair and style of a practiced doctor. He sat with me for a few moments while I considered my fate. I think he was hoping that I would say something.

“Thank you for that information,” I replied.

He said that we would need to do a few tests to get started; those labs would show just how compromised my immune system was, and what the next course of action would be.

I did not know how bad things were, but I would soon find out. Back then, who knew from death or life? Drugs were hard to come by, and there surely was no system of treatment in place for me to go to.

He dismissed himself and said that when I was ready, I could leave.

So I gave him a five-minute lead on me, then I gathered up my soul and I walked out the exam room door and out to the car. I looked down from the second floor and Ken was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me. When I got down to my car, Ken stood up opened his arms and embraced me; he was sobbing. I stood there; I guess I was in shock. I stood there and held him, while the wave ran over both of us.

I guess I was not prepared to show my cards just yet. We talked for a little while and we set out a plan of action for the next week. I would return to this lab and get some baseline labs drawn to get a more total picture of my immune system and figure out how I was going to proceed. (That’s what eventually happened in the coming days.)

I drove home. I was relatively calm. It’s funny that I was totally prepared to stand up straight and tall and accept my fate, but watching my friends and coworkers and family crack up was very disturbing. People with AIDS were pariahs! You did not touch them, you did not hug them, and you surely did not want your neighbours or family members to know that you socialized with or employed someone who had AIDS, God forbid we infected someone you knew or even transmitted our disease to you by touch or breathing in the same space!

I got home, and I sat in my space and I tried to make some decisions. Who do I tell and when? I don’t remember what I did that day, but I kept myself busy. I called Todd and Roy, and they were on vacation. When Todd got the news, he was sad, and immediately he stepped up to the plate and became the man who would save my life.

That evening, Friday, I went to pick Josh up at work; I forgot to clear the tape deck in the car. The soundtrack to “Philadelphia” was still in there. It was around 5 o’clock when I picked him up; the sun was setting in front of us as we drove east towards the house. I tapped the tape into the deck, and it started to play…

I watched Josh convulse in the front seat, and throw up out the car door. He was hysterical. I did not have to say a word to him, but he knew. When we got home, he went into the bedroom, he packed his duffle bag, without a word, he looked at me, said goodbye, and walked out the door, got into his car, and drove away. That was the last time I saw him.

Whoa, OK, one down … two more to go.

I had some dinner and proceeded to call my parents. You would have thought that an atomic bomb had been dropped on my parents’ house. My mother, having worked in the health field, said to me that I had gotten what I deserved. She and my father had had a week to consider this topic. We discussed my plan of action, and I called a family meeting that would take place in a week’s time. I wanted everyone to be informed and I wanted to know that I was not alone.

That visit did take place. And it did no good to ensure anything but the disdain and ignorance by my family to step up and get involved in taking care of the future. I had made my choice, by doing what I had done, and I got what was coming to me. My father had made that perfectly clear.

I still do not know, to this day, if James was the contact point of HIV. All I do know is that James was a diabetic and was suicidal. That he was sick those last few months that we were together, and I did his blood tests with his pen. I handled the strips several times a day. And that they tell me was the transmission point. I did not know he had AIDS until well after his death, when a friend of mine called me at work one day back in ’93 to tell me he was sick and had AIDS. I guess it took me a few months to “seroconvert.” This is the process the body goes through when it’s finally hit with viral replication and inception of a virus that the immune system cannot fight alone.

Over the next week, I chose my battles wisely, I told my inner circle of friends. The ones on the inside of the AIDS circle (that I was part of at work.) On the other hand there was the other circle of my “social friends” that had partied with us just a few days earlier. They would never set foot in my house ever again, in fact, and it was as if I had walked off the face of the earth, because I never heard from many of them ever again. The stigma of AIDS back then was deadlier then the virus itself.

Todd eventually returned to Ft. Lauderdale. My landlord and his lover were notified.

Interesting that many years later, I was at a Pride Celebration in Ft. Lauderdale, and my landlord’s partner was in a wheelchair and sick with AIDS. When we were friends at the time of my diagnosis, they were a happy couple, with all the promise in the world. I had no idea. I did not lose my apartment, my rent was frozen where it was, and they helped me pay bills and buy food. Within days Todd had returned and he came over and we talked. (God, we spent a lot of time talking!)

I was in self-destruct mode. And the stress of being sick with AIDS took its toll. I drank around the clock, I drank at work, I drank after work, and all I wanted to do was die. Todd did what he could at the beginning to keep me on the straight and narrow. He outlawed drinking while on shift, (I was working in a nightclub then) so that kept me sober while I worked.

I would then head out after we closed to the “after hours” club called the “Copa.” It was down the street from where our club was, and they served alcohol till 6am. So I had at least two to three hours to get inebriated nightly. That lasted until the end of August.

One night, I decided that the pain was too intense that dying was a viable option, seeing that I knew what all of the men I knew went through. I was at the Copa one night, and it was hot and I had drunk myself into a very nice BUZZ. The problem here was, I wanted more, and I got more. That night, I collapsed on the dance floor in an alcoholic overdose of gargantuan proportions.

I woke up in my friend Danny’s arms. The ambulance was there and oxygen was administered. I was still alive. That was the last night I drank. That morning, Danny brought me home and he stayed in my house for a week. I could not go anywhere except work. Todd was worried that I was going to try and kill myself again. So I had babysitters when I was not at work. I hit my first meeting on August the 23rd, 1994. By that time, most of the bar staff was all sober, and three-quarters of us were sick with AIDS.

Todd had a safe rule in effect. We had jobs, and we got paid. If we got sick, and could not come to work, our shifts were covered by someone on staff. We did not get fired for being sick. The bar secured for us medical treatment through the local clinic, where one of our friends named Marie ran a community clinic/drug farm.

Ken came to my house weekly to check on me. My world got A LOT smaller.

Everyone outside my work circle walked away. It took me a long time to get over that. They were punishing me for getting sick. Like I needed any more punishment!

The religious fundamentals were making their cases for eternal damnation for gays and people with AIDS, and speaking out whenever we went in public. Funeral homes stopped giving services to people with AIDS and their families because of religious and social pressure.

Life was difficult, But, I survived, because of the community I lived in and the grace of Almighty God.

In retrospect, “it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” and if God gave me a choice to go back and repeat any area of my life over again, it would be that exact period of time, and I would not change one single thing.

For years after my diagnosis, my friends died left and right, 162 people. The Names Project Quilt is a reminder of all the lives I touched and was a part of, and all the men whom I knew and loved.

All the men who were CRUCIAL to my survival (our survival) all the gay men who collected money for People with Aids, the drag queens we loved and admired and partied with over the year, the diehard supporters, are all dead now.

So many boys, so many men, cut down in the prime of life. We were foolish then, and uneducated. It was only after the storm hit that the reality start to sink in. When our friends started dying and we realized that “something serious is going on” did the community got smart.

We built infrastructure. We created homes and safe spaces. We cared for those on the streets, we collected money and food. We cooked and fed people, we washed clothes and in some cases we even changed diapers.

A year later, in 1995, I moved back to Miami, after Todd and Roy moved out west to San Francisco. I did not go with them, I was too young, and I had been banking on the fact that my S.O.B father would die and I would take back my mother. Well, he is still alive, all these years later, and I did not get my mother back. Do I have regrets? Sometimes I do. I sometimes think, “what if?” but that’s all they are, thoughts. You know what they say about living in “what ifs right?” So I don’t think about what ifs anymore, just what will be.

From my diagnosis date through the first eight years of my life with HIV/AIDS, I lived in the United States, and I speak about navigating a U.S. program of medical, social and government system. I immigrated to Canada in April of 2002.


Friday – “Complete Security?”

pope_francis_quote_graphic_1024x512-1-1024x512“Fear of People and of Economic Insecurity will leave us.”

It was another stellar day today. And it was a Go, Go, Go kind of day.

I had some shopping that I needed to do early on, then I was set to have a meal with Baby Mama, while baby LuLu was napping.

I spent some cash on some new summer clothes, that I was in great need of. One of my friends, is a huge inspiration and has great sense in clothing. And as I was shopping, I was thinking about him. I found a few items that were on sale, and I had never seen the shirts before, so that was a deal.

I returned home and went to buy a meal for our lunch date. Single Motherhood is no walk in the park. And trying to build a home by ones self is a daunting task. Thankfully, she is not alone. We have an entire team of folks on twenty four hour duty for her.

While the baby was sleeping, (thankfully we had two hours of peace and quiet) we ate and spoke of many things. People have been coming and going for the past few days. A crib was delivered last night. Today, another woman brought curtains and more pillows for her bed. She also donated an entire bedroom suite for her bed style. So far, the bedrooms are complete with bedding, curtains and furniture. The last room to be furnished will be the living room. We are seeking a driver to ferry them over without having to pay a small fortune for a mover.

I brought new clothes with me to change into because I needed to hit the Shadows meeting at five, where on of my guys picked up his two month chip. Now he is two months clean and sober from all substances. Next month, on his third month, we will assign him a single date for both, so that he is tracking one timeline instead of two.

We went for pastries after the meeting, then hiked back to his house up the mountain, where we found his fiance home from a day of bridal dress shopping. We invited her to come for the Friday Night meeting. I was very pleased to see a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on her bedside table, which started one serious discussion of all things “Potter.”

YAY for Harry !!

A few minutes later, we made a fifty one bus to the Friday meeting. I usually take that bus, but coming from the East, traveling West. This bus was an Eastbound route. I quite enjoyed the bus ride because the route is a remarkably touristy ride, past beautiful neighborhoods that I had never seen, with million dollar houses, and tall stone churches with pristine yards. It also goes past Saint Joseph’s Oratory, the most important of churches here on the island.

We all decided, in the near future to spend a day trekking this route together as a day event.

We made it to the meeting with about thirty minutes to spare. And we scored the ever important Front Row sobriety seats at the table. And the topic tonight talked about “money,” which in turn lead to the mention of the PROMISE, noted above…

It was good to hear shares from across the spectrum concerning this topic.

After I had said my piece about how we learned to respect money and how to properly use it, pay bills, buy food and still have ample, if only just enough, I thought of a particular story that I wanted to write about here.

Do you remember back in the day, father’s went to work and made the money, and mom was in charge of spending it, properly. Back in those days, we did not have credit cards, (we’re talking about the seventies) we either had cash, or when necessary, a check.

I remember my mother using the checkbook, with the ledger.

We would go to the grocery store, and wait in line for the manager of the store to sign off on a check, affording my mother the ability to spend a certain amount of money. Over time that amount would rise. In the eighties, when big box grocery stores appeared, the all important check approval routine was still alive.

Alcoholism was alive and well in my family. My father provided everything we ever thought we needed, but we were not spoiled with riches and spoils. When we moved for the last time as a family, my father climbed the financial ladder so well, it afforded us a three bedroom house, with two car garage, a one acre yard, with many fruit bearing trees, and the biggest ticket item, a screened in, in ground pool.

We had arrived.

Among the families we grew up with two were middle class white, and the third, was the richest family we had ever come to know. They had the same lot, same size, same acreage, and pool, but they were “better off” than my father had ever known. My father could not compete, but he damned well tried. One Ups man ship was the call of the day.

By the time I moved out of the house, I knew how to take care of a house. I had had several part time jobs, so I knew the value of the dollar and the ethic of work. But with stars in my eyes, and alcoholism on my back, I set off to find “gay” in the gayest city of Florida, Orlando, the home of the Tragic Queendom and the ever popular “Parliament House, hotel, pool bar and show lounge.”

Sadly, Alcoholism was rampant. I was powerless and my ethic of work for money fell apart.

The money I spent on alcohol over the decade of my twenties, would probably have bought me a home. And the cash my father paid out to get my car back from repossession, took a direct hit on their retirement for sure. One fact my parents never forgot.

Where they managed money and drank, well on both accounts, I failed at miserably.

After I was diagnosed with AIDS, I was shit house poor. Thankfully the money Todd paid me, more than compensated for my financial situation. What I did not know in the beginning, was the price I would later pay for survival. Back then, twenty one years ago, we got second hand medication from dead people to start with because there was nothing new on the horizon.

Two years later, in 1996, I fell, quite unexpectedly, into a treatment program in Miami, where I began to pay the ultimate price. Imagine how much life saving drugs cost, when you have no insurance. And you are living on social assistance, (that’s welfare speak).

Medication ran thousands of dollars a month. THOUSANDS !!!

Thousands that I did not have, even working under the table, until I got so sick, I almost died to get on disability. I literally stopped taking my pills, did not shower for weeks, and ended up in that social assistance office, where I literally coughed on my social worker, and fearing for her own life, she finally signed off on my application, after four rounds at trying.

That was a sub human existence.

I would not wish that ordeal on my worst enemy.

I am sure, had I stayed in the states, I would be long since dead already.

I think about the things we did to stay high and drunk boggles the mind.

And the amount of money we poured into our addictions.

I don’t know how I survived. Maybe my will to live, was alive and just waiting for me to finally stop and get straight. Or something greater than myself had my survival on His mind.

After getting sober this time around, all those years ago, we had a bare apartment, with shoddy furniture, broken appliances but a roof nonetheless.

It only took thirteen years for us to learn about money and how to use it properly. We learned what it was like to have nothing, together, to having a little, and sometimes barely enough. But over time, we learned how to respect money and we learned about what “enough” was.

Today we have enough.

I’ve never been so grateful in my life for health, life and love.

Instead of spending THOUSANDS of dollars a month for medication in the U.S.A. For all of my medication, ALL OF IT, I pay no more than Eighty dollars a month.

You think the decision to move North was wise ???

I do. Certainly.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries, Episode #2 … Honor thy Father and Mother

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Exodus 20:11

יא  כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ, וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ–לְמַעַן, יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ

עַל הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ.  {ס}

Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

The day passed without feeling or anger. And it would have gone untouched, had not a good friend of mine called me tonight, inquiring if I was “ok.” I knew what he meant, and I answered that I was. But after ruminating over this, I owe this letter to posterity.

In a months time I will be 48 years old. I have lived well past my expiration date, as doctors told me several times that I was going to die. God, it seemed, has other plans for me, because I am still breathing.

God spoke to Moses, and these words are inscribed on the stone tablets Moses brought down from the mountain. This is one commandment that I cannot abide with. And it doesn’t abide with me either.

How could one honor thy father and mother, when they could not honor their first born son. How could they create progeny, abuse them throughout their lives and turn on them with hatred and condemnation, and ask a child to “just die already” and expect to be honored themselves?

My father’s two phrases he used to toss around like the scripture he quoted from a bible that he never opened were:

  • Blood is thicker than water
  • Be careful the words you speak, because once you speak them, you can never take them back.

When I was a young boy, I listened well to everything that was spoken by both my parents. I knew I was Gay, before I knew what Gay was. But by the time I had learned what it was, and that I was Gay myself, remaining under my father’s roof was not something I could do and survive, because he tried several times as a child to kill me, chasing me around the house with a bat, only to be thwarted by vigilant grandmothers who protected me from him.

I moved away, but alcoholism followed me where ever I went.

I was a problematic alcoholic, what I did not know created rifts with my parents.
To this day, I don’t think they ever forgot nor forgave me.

I always lived apart from my family, mainly because I knew they would not approve of my lifestyle, and they did not. They made that perfectly clear well before I left the nest. When I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994, I turned to my family. I called them together to tell them and to ask for help and support.

How do you think that turned out? It didn’t …

Along with my then boyfriend, all of my friends, and my fucking family, everybody walked away. My mother worked in home health care, and knew AIDS patients in her line of work. She knew fairly well, what was going to happen to me, in the end.

Do you think that gave her compassion or love? It did no such thing.
No she just wanted the faggots to “just die already !!!”

That Christmas, 1994, I went home for the holiday, against my better judgment. I knew what was coming. I was locked in at night. I could not use the phone, nor could I visit anyone while I was there. On Christmas day my father set a card table in the living room with a plastic chair. He set me a plastic plate, and plastic cutlery and a plastic cup.

The rest of the guests sat at the dining room table and ate in front of me, while I was separate from the group itself. My father humiliated me in front of friends and guests. The son of one of the guests left the main table and came and sat with me so I would not be eating alone. The next day they invited me out on their boat and they asked me for forgiveness for what was done to me, and how horrified they were to see my parents do that to me in front of others.

I NEVER went home again.

I got sober the first time. And a few years in, my father granted me visits with him when he would travel to Miami from Sarasota. But every time he visited he would belittle me and ponder my death right in my face.

One night, on the way home from dinner, (while on the highway) he started in on me. I asked him to stop the car (on the highway) where I got out of the car (on the highway) and walked miles home by myself. I told him never to come back and see me.

The first time I got sober, I was not of right mind in many ways. I was not very sober. As I am sober today. And I made several decisions based on self that were less than charitable.

My sponsor agrees that certain decisions were not self centered but were made out of self preservation.

I pissed my brother and his then fiance off, which afterwards, they would never communicate with me ever again. And that has been their story for more than twenty years.

I could not live up to the man they named me after upon my birth. How could a gay, HIV+ faggot live up to the honor of a man who died fighting a war in Viet Nam? I legally changed my name to be done with them. That was a direct strike across the bow of their battleship.

Years would pass. I would be sober, I would drink, and I would return to the program in due time.

On New Years Day, January 1st 2001, I was sober. I had not drunk. I had just returned from a job at a nightclub, where I had worked an all nighter. Just coming home and getting into bed, my phone rang. My mother was on the line saying that they were in Miami, and would be coming to see me on their way back.

A little while later, they rolled up and my father parked in a fire zone (read: No Parking in a fire zone) with the car idling. I said to them that we could go out for breakfast and that I would pay for parking and food. They said no.

I had twenty minutes to visit with my mother. We walked around the block where I lived. I walked her back to the car, she got in the car and they drove away. I had twenty minutes with my mother after years of no communication or visits.

I later found out that my parents has been in Miami for a week prior to them showing up on my doorstep. A week !!!

I never saw either of them again, to this day …

I got sober on December 9th 2001. I was sober a few months, when the lies my mother told us as children came up. My mother, being a Canadian citizen when I was born, lied to us, saying she was an American.

I got a letter from the Canadian Government soon after offering me a birthright certificate into the country if I met the criteria, which I did. I sent the check and the paperwork.

The way I was living in Miami was not viable. I was barely surviving, even when I got sober.

I turned my sights on Canada. I came up on Easter Ash Wednesday 2002. I stayed a week, I loved it, so I stayed another week. I found a doctor and a home. I flew back to Miami, for a few days, to pack and sent everything North.

Three day later, I left the United States for good. I never looked back.

Moving to Canada was akin to High Treason on my American Father’s honor.

For the following two years, I worked very hard at relationships with my parents. At the two year mark, my mother called and said:

“If me or your father get sick and die, nobody will call you. Nobody will tell you where we are buried.”

That was the last time we spoke.

It is now 2015. I am closing in on Fifty. I am sober. I am alive. I have a life, a home, a husband and all the things I ever wanted and more. I could not be any happier. The life I have today, would never have happened had I stayed in Miami, I would have probably died sooner.

I am an idealistic man who has dreams of grandeur.

I am a lot more sober than I was fourteen years ago, and much more sober than I was the first time, close to twenty years ago. I work very hard at living and being sober.

With the dawn of Facebook, several family member are on the site. And to this day, they refuse to communicate with me. Every year that goes by, and I am still alive, I get angrier and angrier.

All I want, before I die, is for certain human beings to acknowledge me and the life I live.

If I am to honor thy father and mother, they need to step up and honor me, if only for the fact that when they asked me to die, I lived … How can you turn your backs on your children in their hour of need? How can you live with hatred and scorn for so long?

Happy Fucking Fathers Day you hateful old man …

tumblr_m1x5tpsILv1qmi5uao1_500 alexander


Belief, Faith and Practice …

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When is it important to expect Belief, Faith and Practice to be unified?

I have given you some comments via other writers on the recent rash of states decisions to promote the practice of hate and exclusion, in the name of religion or the practice of ones faith, or the fear that the freedom to practice their faith and religion is being diminished because a Christian would have to serve his brother or sister, and that brother or sister being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered.

I can say, with pride, that I earned degrees in Religion and Theology.

I can also say, with pride, that I have the faith of a family and faith of my own to draw on.

When it comes to recovery and my belief, my faith and practice, are rock solid. I have no doubt, in my mind, that there is a God. And I am not He.

Today I speak with my voice to tell you that I am FED UP with governments choices when it comes to legislating hatred on a state level as well as on a governmental level. I am FED UP with Christians who speak from both sides of their mouths, when it comes to faith and practice.

When can you call out a Christian for being not – so – much – a – Christian?

For every man, woman and child on earth, there is a way to practice faith, be that faith among the lists of faiths that are claimed on the earth.

Some say they know God.
Some say they know their Bibles.
Some say they they speak for one, and believe in the other.
Then there are those who know neither.

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

I have, in the past, been called to task for my faith and my practice, when it comes to my education as a Homosexual Christian. I have, in the past, been victimized by one particular church in the United States, who seem to think that being a Homosexual and a Christian, are incompatible with God’s word. That I could not possibly be both. That I can’t be both.

That what I am, is incongruous with who I claim to be.

Today I want to call out all of those Christians, that Speak the name of God, out of one side of their mouths, and also speak and practice hatred out the other side of their mouths.

I don’t believe that God honors a human being that speaks His name so confidently and at the same time can speak and practice hatred and bigotry.

You cannot claim to speak for God and speak His name, and do the exact opposite by your actions. Your faith must abide with your practice.

God does not abide in Hate
God does not abide in Bigotry
God does not abide in Homophobia
God does not abide in Exclusion
Jesus Christ, as I live and breathe, never condoned exclusion
Jesus went out of his way to pointedly INCLUDE everyone that was excluded

We are amid Holy Week and Passover right now. The most blessed and anointed time of the liturgical year for Christians and Jews. Everything we claim to be and the faith we claim to practice, began during Holy Week.

Was everything that Jesus did and said, faith and practice, just words in a book? How can you look yourself in the mirror every day and call yourself Christians, when you cannot stand up and do and say what Jesus asked you to do and say?

What did he say?

For what ever you do to the least of these you have done to me.
Love your neighbor as yourself.

You cannot serve two Masters.
You cannot serve God and hate your fellow man or woman
Your Faith and Practice must abide
Live the Word, Breathe prayer

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

We cannot stand by and allow the Right, The Christian Right, to roll over and rip apart the fabric of the nation, that we are all a part of and the world at large. We cannot allow Christians who profess Christian faith to oppress and exclude our brothers and sisters, because of their sexual orientation.

This is NOT a just cause.

This is plain and simple. I’m really not sure what Bible these people are reading, nor where it is written that based on ones “Faith and Practice” I (read: GOD) Divine you the right to exclude your fellow man or woman, because of their sexual orientation ! Where did God ever mention exclusion of Gays and Lesbians, Bisexuals or Transgendered humans?

We’ve had this discussion. It is appropriate to mention Matthew Vines and his groundbreaking book, God and the Gay Christian. He, with his minions of believers, are changing the face of Christian faith and practice. We have discussed those seven biblical passages that the most vehement of Christians, still stand behind that allow them to hate and exclude.

When I was a child, I was introduced to God, by women I revere and honor to this day. Everything that I am, came from what they taught me about Life, God, Faith and Practice.

My parents claimed to be Christians, Catholics and Believers. They spent decades waiting for a man of God to absolve them for their choice in preventative birth control, when Holy Mother Church, kicked parishioners out of the fold, because of their choices of preventative birth control.

They eventually got that absolution. They turned around and served God to the best of their ability. And they did that work gladly and without complaint. But when it came to the fact that I was a homosexual, their faith and practice splintered.

They began to speak out of both sides of their mouths.

Well before I ever decided to come out of my self imposed closet, I knew, well and good what they actually thought about Jews, Niggers, Dark skinned Asians. and Homosexuals. I knew this was truth because I listened to them for years, pontificate their hatred and bigotry and serve God at the same time.

My father abused me terribly, because he feared me becoming a homosexual, because I was friends with adult homosexuals and that was an abomination. And he was going to beat homosexuality out of me if it was the last thing he ever did.

But they could not serve two masters. Practice went by the wayside. I cannot tell you what their faith looks like today, because I, along with my aunt Paula, have been blacklisted by the family, shut away in the darkness of radical faith and resentment, to have our voices and lives shut in the dark, never to be acknowledged.

When I got sick and came very close to death, from AIDS, I turned to my family for faith, support and practice. They in turn, turned their backs on me and denied me love, faith and family.

The last holiday I went home for Christmas, my father humiliated me in front of a table full of guests they had invited for dinner. He went on to encourage me to “die quickly!”

My mother, a Christian, a Catholic, at one time, worked in Home Healthcare for the sick. She served the least of these, albeit grudgingly. Every night after work, with colleagues in tow, would come home, pop a beer or two, and talk about the faggots with AIDS that they had to visit with medication to help keep them alive, and their only wish, in that moment, was that for them just to die already !

My parents called me things like dirty homosexual.
They called me sick.
They called me an ABOMINATION …

And they claimed they could use these kinds of words because they read it in their bibles. And believe you me, we had a bible. I never saw them open it nor read from it.

I knew what good faith and practice was. I went to church. I served God. I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary, only to be told that my faith and practice were not good enough to pass muster and they told me to leave and not return.

In my darkest night of horror, the family I trusted to stand with me did not. When I needed them the most, they were absent, by choice. Because of their faith !!!

It then fell to the man named Todd who stepped in and became God incarnate, and he saved my life, when I should have died, by the side of the road, alone and destitute.

He chose to step in. He chose to save me. From all those others in our circle, he picked me.

Because He loved me unconditionally, as God loved me unconditionally.

The family I came from, could not and would not love me unconditionally, because of their faith and practice. Because I was one, a homosexual, and two, because I had AIDS, therefore God’s judgment came down upon me and He spoke my death to them.

Sadly, families all over North America still believe, in faith and practice, that because we are Homosexuals, and some have AIDS, God has spoken his condemnation upon us for our past transgressions and for who we are as human beings.

Therefore we are owed no Love, Respect or Salvation.

It is ABOMINABLE for a Christian to speak out of both sides of their mouths. You cannot serve God and hate your neighbor. You cannot claim to Love God and hate your neighbor.

You cannot love God and Hate your neighbor.

Every day you decide to hate your neighbor, or exclude your neighbor you spit in the face of Jesus and you desecrate the faith you proclaim. You did not do as Jesus asked you to do.

Therefore, can you, Christian, still call yourself a Christian, and hate your neighbor?

That answer is NO !!!

What Would Jesus Do ???

… Jesus Wept …


Sunday Sundries … Shuttered

tumblr_lx332xnuMf1qajbwho1_500 justathoughtfulmindCourtesy: Justathoughtfulmind

We are sitting at a Zero degrees this evening. A bit cool. Slowly, ever so slowly, the snow is melting and bits a pieces of grass have been uncovered in the neighborhood.

On my way out, I passed through the mall, and it is with great sadness that I report tonight that our little Target that couldn’t has been shuttered. What was once a store brimming with possibility, is now an empty shell of its former self. Gone too soon.

Now Target Canada has to make something of all of the branded items that are now useless, like scooters, bags, and shopping carts that bear the Target name. Destroying them is useless, they will have to go back to the U.S. in its closure settlement.

All the Target stores are set to be fully shuttered over the next two weeks. The mall proper will now remove all the signage that hangs inside/outside the mall.

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

It is the last Sunday of the month, we sat a fair crowd tonight. And we read Tradition Three:

“The Only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

The story I am about to repeat, I have never heard come from another human being I know, who is in the room today.

“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling, and unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners,queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely out.

Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics.”

Twelve and Twelve pg. 140

The first time I got sober, was in the fall of 1994. I then relocated from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. I was two years sober at the time of this story taking place. I was attending meetings at a Club Room called “The Coral Room,” in South Miami. A club room hosts meetings all day and night seven days a week.

I was attending an evening meeting, that counted a few hundred in attendance at that particular meeting. Around my two year anniversary, the chair asked me to speak at that meeting. I accepted the invitation. Mind you, I had a lot going on during this period of time.

I was one, trying to stay sober amid still learning how to survive my AIDS diagnosis, just two years earlier. I had about reached my death date, and I was still alive, I did not die, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do now. Nobody knew what to do when they were supposed to die, and were still living.

So that was a thing …

Imagine. a room full of people. I got up there and began my share. Partway through my share, I hit that rough patch, when I disclosed … Hindsight tells me that I should have not disclosed

One by one, men began getting up from their seats, and left the building. In the end, about 100 men had gotten up and left. I finished my share, some clapped, I don’t remember the rest. What I do remember was walking outside after the meeting and was greeted by one of the men, who seemed to want to speak for the rest of them saying:

“We do not accept people like you, we don’t respect people like you, we would like you to leave this meeting and do not come back in the future…”

What the Fuck ???

There were other meetings to go to in this room at other times. I never went to this earlier meeting ever again. But the damage was done. I did not have a sponsor. I did not touch the book, however I was going to meetings, I just wasn’t present for myself to do any good.

I no longer trusted anyone in the program from that point on. I hung on barely.

Two years would pass, and I took my leave of meetings. I went back out and drank again, much to the dismay of the people I counted as friends.

Upon my return a few years later, my friend Troy took me to my next First Meeting. It was a gay meeting at SOBE. (Sober on South Beach) Nobody noticed me, so I hung outside until the 10 p.m. meeting, where I met the people who would welcome me and help me stay sober.

I was sober four months when I moved to Montreal. I was new in the city, and new to the meetings here. One Friday night I went to a meeting on the West end of the city. There was a group of folks at this particular meeting, and they plied me with twenty questions about myself.

You know, the who, what, where and why of it all …

Upon considering my answers, the Patriarch of the meeting stepped up to me and said:

“We think that it would be better if you got sober somewhere else, don’t come back to our meeting.”

This would be the second time in sobriety that someone told me to leave a meeting and go somewhere else to get sober…

Thirteen years later, I’ve never set foot in that hall on the West end. It is a good thing that people usually stay in their general vicinity for their meetings, because I never crossed paths with some of those ignorant fucks ever again.

There are some sick people in the rooms.

When push comes to shove, we are all suffering alcoholics and addicts. Stats today confirm that the presence of dually addicted people are high across the board. Today, we turn no one away, no matter who you are, or where you come from.

We are ALL afforded the chance at recovery and a full share in the Solution that awaits every man, woman and teen ager who walks in the room on any given night.

Hearing “Go Away,” twice in recovery could have ended very badly the second time.

But I did not have a drinking history here. I never drank here and I wasn’t going to try, at any rate. I found meetings to go to where I would not be judged based on my sexual orientation, or my medical situation either. For a while I went to gay meetings and meeting where nobody judged me.

Over the last decade, the dedicated LGBT meetings have fallen apart, and LGBT people assimilated into mainstream meetings across town.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol, there IS a Solution.

Tradition Three guarantees you a seat in any meeting world wide.

It was a good meeting. Next month we begin reading Experience, Strength and Hope. Stories from the First, Second and Third editions of the Big Book.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Humility

tumblr_lrdn1q3v991qzjqrio1_500 flickr julianbialowasCourtesy: Flicker Julian Bialowas (Archives)

We are sitting at a frosty (-18c/-27c w.c.) with a low tonight going down into the (-30’s). Where Ontario is, at this hour, under a snow storm warning, there is a blowing snow advisory up for us, but we are not expecting snow until tomorrow. With 10cm falling during the day.

Thank Goodness I don’t have to go out tomorrow…

It was a quiet weekend. This evening I left a few minutes early, because I had a stop to make on the way. It usually takes me half an hour to make my transit. However today, I must have made good time, I had not looked at my clock when I arrived at the church, but cranked it out as usual. When I finished, one of my friends had arrived and I noticed that it was only 4:40 on the clock.

Time must have sped up or I left earlier than I had thought. Any who, it’s all good.

A few folks showed up early to sit and read, having the room open much earlier, allows for folks to come in a be able to sit and read for an hour, prior to the meeting.

Our Matron was away, and I was elected chair by a friend, so I chaired.

We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 7 …
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings!

The buzz word for Step seven is Humility. Where does it come from, and how do we get it?

“Humility, as a word and as an ideal, has a very bad time of it in our world. Not only is the idea misunderstood; the word itself is often intensely disliked. Many people haven’t even a nodding acquaintance with humility as a way of life. Much of the every day talk we hear, and a great deal of what we read, highlights man’s pride in his own achievements.”

“… We saw we needn’t always be bludgeoned and beaten into humility. It could come quite as much from our voluntary reaching for it as it could from unremitting suffering. A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

One of my terrible shortcomings is the fact that over my life, my disregard for God, my living in “all about me,” and taking life for granted, usually landed me in the column of being bludgeoned into humility. This is one very long list of things that happened.

There was a time, that alcohol was ruling my life, when did it not rule my life, you might ask ???

In my twenties, I really could not give a shit about God or what was right, as long as it went my way. The drink, then the social interaction that came from it, fed my emotional, and sexual appetite. I really did not have a handle on the issues of the time (Read: AIDS), I was more concerned with getting a drink, and what would come with it.

When you take life for granted, a myriad of things can happen.

I was screwing myself into a tight hole. Literally !!! I made mistakes. I was not safe. In the heat of the moment, under the control of alcohol and with the drugs that usually came with it, meant that we were not thinking about circumstances, and shit happened.

I can’t be sure of the who, what or why of it. (what’s done is done)

I talk about all that God mumbo jumbo. How, for a time I was a good Catholic boy in seminary. Had they asked me to stay, instead of telling me to go, probably my life would have been different. But I took license with freedom, and took advantage of it as well.

My twenties was a futile effort in growing up. And I know that now. And I paid dearly for that error.

Loosing things, like cars, apartments, personal items happened. But I would just pick up and start over where, that would take place. Then I lost a loved one, to suicide. That loss was horrible. I drank my way past it, right into a therapy group for thirty two weeks.

But God really didn’t have my attention yet. It was still all about me. But Todd was there.

I was still unwilling to bow or get on my knees …

Lessons about humility began in earnest.

I was dating someone at the time, when I began to sero-convert. I got very sick. They gave us these little wallet cards that had this information on it … If you are having these symptoms, you might have AIDS.

Working at the bar brought me into direct contact with AIDS, and people with AIDS, and Todd made it perfectly clear, what my job was, To serve others, and not myself.

I did get sick. I did get AIDS. Doctors told me I was going to die.

I called Todd back from his vacation. He met me at the bar, and I told him that I was going to die.

He wept …

I was ready to bow. The end was coming, and I had nothing to loose any more.

Over the next two years, working at the bar, I had several opportunities to get humble.

I remember each one of them, like it was yesterday.

Every time I returned to “All about Me,” Todd would throw a lesson at me, to humble me.

Working in a bar was dirty work. Men are pigs, and they don’t think for a moment about others, and that bothered me. They would put cups in the toilet backwards and let shit and piss flow all over the floor, and it was my job to clean it up. However hard I protested, Todd ordered that I do the job and not complain.

I had to get on my knees.

Then he would add the clincher …

He would say that “If you can clean up others shit, one day you will be able to do it for yourself.”

I’ve said before that in Todd, God became incarnate. He was the man who saved my life, however hard I protested, at times, He had my best interests in mind. He took it upon himself to see that I lived, and did not die. Every night I came to work, I followed the rule.

“When you come to work, you leave your life outside the door. You come in and do your work, without question. And leave the rest to me.”

I turned my will and my life over to the care of God (read: Todd) every day.

I learned a great many things, that I have collected over in the PAGES.

I learned to serve others, and not worry about me or my needs. I learned valuable lessons like approval, ego, pride and humility. While people were drinking, drugging, and partying, and at the same time, they were dying all around me, Todd and I stayed one step above the water.

Being a servant, does not give you much time to be arrogant or prideful. Todd would have none of that. He kept me on a very short leash. One look and I would kneel.

Today, I am alive. Todd succeeded in keeping me alive. I owe my life to him. And I say that with all the humility of my being. If you want the whole story you can read it in pages.

I began my nights on my knees. And ended them on my knees.

There was no time to waste. When everybody fled, Todd stood firm. In the beginning, I had to grow up and I had to do what ever I was told to do, without question, and yes I did grow up. I learned a great deal from this experience.

When Todd moved away, I ended up alone. I had tools. I had my lessons.

But at the same time, without that hand in my life, I did not know what to do. But I survived.

Problems with people, attitudes and assholes, took me for a ride. I spoke about the space that grows between people, and that slip that is not far behind … That slip came.

Upon my return, I was not ready to bow …

When I knew the end was coming, I knew the end was coming, I got on my knees.

You see, I survived. I lived. I took that for granted. Which kept my slip going for a while longer.

I prayed for things from God. And One, Two, Three, prayers came to pass.

I had One, admitted I was powerless, Two, came to believe, and Three, made that decision.

I decided to grow up, and ended my run here. That is when I learned more about humility.

I got connected, found a home group, and I did service. All because that is what they told me to do.

You can’t keep it, unless you give it away.

I met my now husband, and I learned how to give to my partner, boyfriend, now husband.

I became a man, when I learned how to put the needs of another before my own.

Now that I think about that phrase, I learned this lesson with Todd. However I did not see it.

Even today, I see shades of self centeredness. It returns in my memories.

When life gets too hard to stand, kneel …

kneelI am reminded daily, to be humble. I practice, daily, getting down on my knees to pray.

I take for granted that I lived, more often, than I like to admit. And I usually don’t think about being grateful for being alive, except of course, every time I stand at my medicine cabinet and take my pills.

I rely on doctors, my medication and God for life. I also rely on God to help me stay sober.

I grew up. I’ve learned my lessons about being beaten into humility.

There is so many things to be grateful for. If I think of all of them at the same time, I would weep.

Humble …

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … A Death in the Family … The Day We Could have Skipped

kneelThese are the days, we wished we could have skipped.

I imagined that we’d have a full house, well, as full a house as we have had, but that was not the case tonight.

I have friendships that started when my friends came in and got sober. I am blessed to have these people in my life. A number of years back, I met a particular woman, she’s got a few years now, I’ve watched her grow up into the woman she has become. And I am so proud of her.

Just because we get sober, does not mean that life is going to get any easier. Sometimes it gets a whole lot worse, before it gets better.

Some time ago, we were talking and she told me her father was very sick, with cancer.

Then she said something that totally took me by surprise.

She told me that her father contracted (K.S.) for those of you who do not know what that means, Kaposi Sarcoma, is a gay related cancer that was the bane of our existence when I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. It killed scores of people all over the world from the beginning of the Gay Cancer/AIDS era. It killed most of my friends who contracted AIDS, and with that, developed K.S. lesions all over their body, that finally killed them.

When was the last time you ever heard a heterosexual man, dying from an AIDS related Cancer ??

It seems that he was transfused with a tainted blood supply a number of years ago.

My work, deals directly with those in Recovery, Palliative Care for the dying, AIDS and HIV work, and Spiritual Counseling for those who desire words.

For the last year, my friends father has been in and out of the hospital, finally ending up in palliative care for the last few months.

Not Long Ago, she asked me about where she should devote her time, and what was the most important thing she needed to do? With her parents being older, and her father in palliative care, she and her sisters had to step up and do what they needed to do for their family, and if that meant missing a meeting here or there to do that, was that the right decision ??

Family is the most important part of our lives. So in no uncertain terms I told her that she needed to be with her family and to take care of her father and her mother, to the best of her abilities.

This afternoon, she stood by her father’s bedside, along with the entire family, when he took his last breath in this world.

His name was Francisco.

I got a text as I was leaving the building this evening. I wept …

I made my transit, not knowing what was going to happen.

The weather has gotten very cold. Quite bitter.

I got the coffee on, and set up the room. My sponsor and I spoke yesterday and he was due to call the meeting from Florida, where he is on vacation, to wish everybody a Happy New Year.

Quarter to Six, I was still sitting alone in the bell tower. My phone rang, it was my sponsor.

Last night he got very sick and ended up in a Miami hospital and was released this afternoon. Thank God for travelers insurance. I joked with him, asking what he had to pay out of pocket, and he replied, that he really did not want to know, he got good speedy care, the price for that care, was a non issue.

As we were talking someone came in the door downstairs.

My lady friend came to the meeting. She got to talk to my sponsor a bit, then we called St. John’s New Foundland, to talk to another friend, meanwhile another friend showed up.

We had an intimate meeting for her with three people.

She wasn’t sure if she was going to make it, so I prepared a reading and in the end, that is the reading we stayed with, from A.B.S.I. #303, Loving Adviser …

“Many of my dearest A.A. friends have stood with me in exactly the same relation. Oftentimes they could help where others could not, simply because they were A.A.’s.”

You can only sit in your chair for so long, before you either harden your heart, against your fellows or you engage and invest in their lives.

We always hear about people bringing meetings to those who need them, today, we brought a meeting to a woman we care about deeply. It was a most blessed evening.

If you are the praying type, offer your prayer for a man named Francisco.

Eternal Rest grant him and may Perpetual Light shine upon him.


Monday December 1st … W.A.D. – Blessings and Music

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Sister Cristina Scuccia – suor Cristina is an Italian Ursuline nun who won the 2014 season of The Voice Italy. I happened across Sister Cristina on You Tube. Since we don’t get international television here, one has to resort to online platforms to enjoy something a little different.

So, I had written down the release date of her album and today I went looking for it on several sites and finally found it on I Tunes. I think everybody has an I Tunes account by now.

And I had some I Tunes money in the bank … win …

Track List:

  1. Try – Pink cover
  2. Fallin Free
  3. Like a Virgin – Madonna cover
  4. Somewhere only we know – Keane cover
  5. Blessed be your name
  6. Fix you – Cold Play cover
  7. No One – Alicia Keys cover
  8. I surrender – Hillsong Live
  9. True Colors – Cindi Lauper cover
  10. Price Tag – Jessie J cover
  11. Perto, Longe Ou Depois
  12. L’Amore Vincera

You probably have never heard of Sister Cristina. But it is worth the price. Her spin on this track list is impressive. You can see her videos on You Tube and Like a Virgin on Vimeo.

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world-aids-dayToday we mark World AIDS Day again… twenty one years later, sadly, there still is no cure, and people are still contracting HIV in high numbers all over North America and even worse in Africa.

We don’t usually think of AIDS like we used to.

People are not dying in numbers that are alarming. Here at least.

But that is a different story a world away!

But, as they say, N.I.M.B.Y.

Meanwhile in Africa, disease is a daily struggle. So many people. So much sickness. And the world, as a whole has done little to stop it. AIDS is not the disease du jour any longer. Ebola is at the top of that little list of killers.

But we should not ignore or dismiss the suffering of an entire nation because they are over there and we are over here. I would not be the first to say, that if the world spent as much money on sickness and cures for diseases that they do on national and international defense and war, we probably could make a dent on the list of the dying world wide from sickness.

The world does spend a pretty penny on illness and sickness, in the form of medications. The pharmaceutical industry makes money hand over fist. They would rather you be forced to take their pills for ever, making them hundreds of billions of dollars a year, rather than contribute to curing the sickness that we have to take the pills for …

Isn’t it pure insanity ???

A long time ago, I heard a doctor say that the world would never cure AIDS until it found a cure for cancer. Twenty one years later, I am still taking pills to maintain my quality of life, cancer is still far from being cured across the board, and the pharmaceutical companies are making millions on our backs.

Today my HIV doctor is not worried about me dying from AIDS. He doesn’t worry so much that he cut my doctor visits from four a year to two a year. Pills, Pills, and more pills. He is more concerned with my aging problems, like my diabetes, and my heart, since I have a heredity bulls eye on my back.

But I am alive today because of Big Pharma. So I guess that that is a blessing, right?


Sunday Sundries … The Elevator’s Not Working, Use the Steps …

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Courtesy:Tyler Oakley

What do you do for Labor day? For many on the East Coast, this weekend is the final weekend of Summer, the last weekend to party it up, before season closes.

The weather has been up and down. Rain here, rain there. I, however, got out and back without a drop which was good. I was up and ready to go with plenty of time and sat on my hands for the last half hour before I finally hit the door.

I got to the elevator bank, and there was a woman waiting, the button was pushed. But there was silence. You can hear the elevators coming up and down the shafts, so we stood there for five minutes, ten minutes, no elevators …

I pushed the UP button because the Up brings the elevator right to the floor directly. When you push the DOWN button, the elevator NEVER comes directly to the floor you are on. It always goes up to come down. I don’t know why it does that.

Well, Up didn’t work.

Another of my floor mates came to wait with me, and the elevators were not coming for some ungodly reason. So we walked down seventeen flights of stairs to reach the atrium. I Hate Stairs …

When I got down to the first floor, elevator ONE was stuck in the basement, and elevator TWO was on its way up. A little late for an up since we walked down the entire building…

When I finally got the the church, the door was open and the lights were on, a couple of members got there before me and said that the doors were unlocked when they got there, which means the super must have opened up for me early.

We cranked out set up and sat a full house. We had a bunch of visitors from out of town and we read Tradition Eight… The main take away:

“Money and spirituality don’t mix.”

You can’t turn a profit off of a Twelve Step call. Alcoholics who suffer, some go to rehab, and then they come to us. Some come to us directly. In any case, what would it be like if we charged folks for their sobriety?

There is not a dollar figure large enough that would compensate someone for giving it away. The Book reads “…Freely received, so freely given…”

The rooms gave me everything that I ever wanted or needed. The people in my life I could not put a dollar figure on. When I give it away, to the people I work with, you could not put a dollar figure on the emotional feeling of gratitude one gets, when people you work with get better.

I’ve seen “sober coaches” recently in the news, always coupled with someone who is trying to get sober, usually a celebrity … I wonder how much money they make a week as they “coach” someone into sobriety? And I wonder if that model works?

I mean if you have to pay someone to keep you sober, I think that speaks to the effort or lack there of said effort each sufferer puts into his/her own sober journey.

Yeah, I’ll get sober, my way. I will hire a coach to shadow me 24/7 in all my public events, and I will stay sober. I might not necessarily go to meetings on top of this, or maybe I might, but we’ll see …

We heard about Humility. We heard about Gratitude.

In New York, someone has to keep the doors open in the G.S.O. And someone needs to keep our G.S.O here in Montreal staffed and working. If you read the BOX 459, that comes monthly from New York, you can read all about how the system works, who gets paid and who doesn’t, and WHY?

The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. And Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends on A.A. Unity.

Each group has jobs, that rotate each month. And people do group service to give back for what they have been freely given. And you can’t put a dollar figure on that knowledge.

When a celebrity or a professional comes through our doors, who they are and what they do for a living is left at the door.

There is that separation between the human being and what they do.

However, I know of a handful of sober folks, I count among my friends, who work in recovery houses and rehabs. We know where they work, but when they hit a meeting, they are who they are. I’ve never heard someone mix business with pleasure.

In time you come to realize just how much of a pleasure going to meetings is, because you get to see the people you got sober with, the friends that you have made and we get to share amongst each other what we learn on a weekly basis. And that is a pleasure.

So that is a thing …

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Late night television has been hit and miss the past few weeks. The summer season is coming to an end, and we hit that [buffer zone] between summer and fall programming that always coincides with Labor Day.

Last night we got an encore presentation of “We Were Here.” It was the only worth while program on television at that hour. I guess God had a plan. This documentary has been showing an awful lot this summer. As if to say … This isn’t over, we need to think about this and remember. And we need NOT to forget.

Seriously, how can I forget?

I love one of the final thoughts in this piece about “The Ghost.”

People who lived through that era of time, either watching someone they loved get sick and die, or working on the front lines of treatment and service, Once we have gone through this crucible, we come out the other end. And for some, they never reconnect to life, or to a purpose, and thereby, become a ghost, traveling through life, not connecting, and never finding a purpose for themselves.

I as well, am married to someone younger than me. Who never saw this happen. He did not live through what I did. He did not watch all his friends die gruesome deaths like I did. But when we connected, he got on board 100%.

I’ve had two periods of sickness in the last thirteen years. But it wasn’t a death watch. And I haven’t had another AIDS related illness since.

I know how I got through that period. But I took me a long time to find a purpose in my life, rather than pissing my life away with drugs and alcohol. That point came and I found a purpose, or I thought I did.

When I got here, and was sober a year, my after care counselor asked me “so what do you want to do now?” She gave me an option to find a purpose. I was attached by that time. I went back to school. I had my meetings and good friends.

I found my purpose, and I share that purpose every day with my fellows.

There is that empty space in my heart for all my friends who did not get so lucky. I remember. I miss them. I never forget them. I think about them every time I open my medicine cabinet. The moment I forget or I stop opening that cabinet, I sign my own death warrant.

I remember What it was like, What happened and What it is like now.

How gracefully that thought crosses all the events in my life succinctly.

I have a story and that story matters.

Maya says … When you know good, Do good. When you learn, Teach.

That is what I do every day.

More to come, stay tuned …