First … I would like to take a moment to welcome all of my new readers.
There are more than 230 of you subscribed. Welcome Aboard.
Last night I spent some time working on the template. We’ve changed up the header image and also, I have added new PAGES at the top of the Blog, they can also be found along side the blog, down the right hand sidebar in the column.
The New Pages, well, old pages that I had written over the years, have made their way to the top spot, because they are important to my assorted audience.
Posts on a weekly basis include:
- Sunday Sundries
- Tuesday Vendome – We are in a 12 week Twelve and Twelve Study
- Thursday Men’s Gathering
- Friday As Bill See’s It – The end of the week round up
- And any thing that might float my boat on any given day
And as the seasons change this blog will change along with them. I have all new header images planned for the next few months. Culminating with the Great Holiday Express this Christmas.
As always, you can reach me by either leaving a comment here, or on Twitter which is also on the side bar, Facebook, or by email. If you know where to look, it is there.
Welcome Aboard and we will chat soon.
Goodnight from Montreal.
Courtesy: Ash (special archives)
It snowed last night. They call it a “freak” snowstorm that came from the U.S. It was a good dusting. There are piles of snow in all the correct pile up zones, that will facilitate snow removal eventually, but not a “we need this snow gone now, because there is too much of it” kind of way. A little snow will fall again tomorrow, then freakishly it will warm up and there is actually “rain” in the forecast for Saturday.
Friday – well it is Friday in Australia, the Queen Mary 2 visited Sydney Harbor, Australia. And one of my blogger/twitter friends is visiting Sydney for his birthday, (which is Friday the 14th) I tweeted him this info so that he and his mom can go see her. I watched her sail into the harbor before sunrise (Sydney time).
The sun came out today melting low snow spots. Funny that depending on what side of the wind you were on, there is snow piled up. But in other places, there is no snow accumulation. Case in point …
I walked through the tunnel to the church as I usually do. I arrived at the church and the walkway had been cleared all the way down to the asphalt. It looked like someone had shoveled the snow before I got there.
After set up I went back outside and noticed that parts of the yard out front were free of fresh snowfall. The last remains of snow and ice that fell some time ago and turned to ice, was open to the air. Yet there was snow piled up in other areas and not uniformly across the yard.
Meaning the wind blew snow off the lawn and into piles against the church building. There was plowed snow on the street, Westmount has their own snow plows, they don’t rely on the city plows.
I settled in to wait for the guys to show up. We were a small group tonight, we were missing some folks. But the time was well spent for those who did show up.
We read from “Came to Believe,” the red book. There are two red books, one is a step work booklet, the other is larger (the Came to Believe).
Fortuitously, we read about Step 3 … “What? I don’t Know…”
Fortuitous because this week I am working on my Step Three homework, I have two weeks to finish it. Within that homework, I must memorize the Third Step Prayer … I should already know it, I know pieces of it, I just have to put those pieces together, because at some point, my sponsor and I will recite that prayer together as part of my step work.
I am working on my passport application in the coming days so I can get it into Passports Canada for my trip to Vermont in May for a weekend workshop.
When one speaks about Step Three, it is a foregone conclusion that yes, we are going to talk about God. OR a God of our understanding. For all the people in the room, on any given night, there is a concept of a power greater than ourselves.
For a long time, I knew who God was. I am alive, still, which means there is a God. Because had I not had faith, at the right time, I am sure I would have died, long ago. It was at the time that God made manifest to me in the guise of the man who saved my life.
I’ve told that story over and over.
“Coming to” a second time, things were different. I rooted in one specific hall, that we still use to this day. I’ve gone to many meetings over the last twelve years and a few months. But many folks, prefer this one particular room. (The Hall at St. Leon’s Church) Westmount.
Arriving at the hall is a grand church built in the 1900’s. There are the requisite or fortuitous 12 steps (down) into the hall. There are actually 12 steps. And you arrive at the receiving area into the main hall. Where for a good 60 plus years, there has been a meeting in that hall.
I learned about spiritual experience here. I learned about people in that room. I built theories to explain what happens to people who make that 12 step journey, day in day out, month in and month out, year in and year out.
You learn a wealth of sobriety coming to the same room over a long period of time. Hundreds if not thousands of people come through those doors in any given year. And if they keep coming back, and you keep coming back, eventually God is going to show up.
I’ve seen God.
I’ve seen Him come into a room, sit down, and learn. And at some point, as is the usual case, He makes himself known to me, I can only speak for myself. That happens when someone new comes in for the first time, and over the next days, months and years, they come to learn about that Power greater than themselves.
And eventually, they themselves have a spiritual experience.
When after days, months and years, their inner light begins to flicker, then it begins to burn. That light rises from the heart and body, into the brain and rises above. I’ve seen it happen a few times, when the light goes on in the tower and they see God themselves.
That for me is God. Right there in that specific moment.
God manifests himself.
It may be a trick of light, or I can call it miracle. I’ve seen God’s light shine in that room. I’ve always said that God prefers that room, because He visits that room on the odd occasion.
You just have to be in the moment.
You may also hear God speak at a given meeting. You never know when you sit down with something heavy on your heart, and someone speaks from their heart, and in that moment, as if on cue … God whispers.
You can be a stone cold Atheist, or Agnostic, or someone who just doesn’t know who or what God is. Eventually, the spirit moves, and from every walk of life and way of life, a Power Greater than ourselves becomes known. You may not or you may never call it God.
So let’s call it Spirit. Let’s call it the people.
Let’s call it a Group of Drunks.
Whatever you call it, make it your own. In your own time, in your own way. It is a blessing to have my friends around me on any given night. They have made me who I am today.
And for that I am grateful.
Spring is just days away now. Let us hope for an end to this long suffering Winter.
More to come, stay tuned …
Living in Florida for the most part of my life, hurricanes were something we learned how to deal with. They came year after year. And for the most part, we survived in tact. Until 1992 … When Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, Southern Miami and Homestead in particular were ground zero.
Everything was destroyed as far as the eyes could see. Millions of people were homeless. With no water, no shelter, and no food. And I was in the middle of it. I was there.
The people in Philippines weren’t so SAFE. More than 11 million from 36 provinces had been affected and more than 10,000 people were feared dead since Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines on Friday. The coming days and weeks are critical. Hundreds of thousands of people have no shelter, food or water and families are already being forced to drink contaminated water from open wells. The threat of disease and malnutrition is high. The need for life-saving emergency aid is huge.
We can change governments, jobs, the economy and even the rights of marriage, but we can’t change Mother Nature. Therefore I urge you to make a donation! Talk to your local charity and Filipino organizations to find ways to help out.
- For a full list of registered Canadian charities, click here
- To donate to the Red Cross’ Typhoon Haiyan fund, click here
I know that the Filipino people will be strong, united and will rise up from this tragedy. But strength comes from the help of others. PLEASE donate if you can. Every little helps!
It takes a village to care for people. And with another natural disaster, it will take the world to bring them back to life. They have so little and need so much, and we (as the world) can give that to them. So please, be generous.
Find the Filipino community where you live and the organizations that are giving aide, and participate.
Thank you …
The Ministry of Pleasure and My Side of the Street.
Photos and text courtesy of The Ministry of Pleasure, U.K.
What a glorious day it was. And as I have said before, all good things must come to an end. The glorious day turned into a beautiful night.
Rain is coming for the next couple of days.
I woke this morning with one thing on my mind … My Turkey !!!
Having done this before – getting the bird into the oven early was my plan, but it was way too early. So around 11 I started baking. And I slow baked the bird for a 3 p.m. setting. And I timed it just perfectly.
We entertained a friend, a neighbor, a mentor, an elder statesman. When you “have” in sobriety, you “share.”
Because that’s who we are.
It’s what we do.
Nobody should be alone on a holiday.
There was plenty of food and lots of conversation. Hubby had someone else to tell about all the work he is doing for his organization. He was very entertaining.
After dinner I did the dishes and we set off just before 5 to set up for the meeting. It is very important to have the rooms open on the holiday. Because nobody should be alone on a holiday.
We sat a fair number. And it was a very interesting meeting.
Our reading came from the founder of Philadelphia A.A. and The Vicious Cycle.
“… At seventeen I entered university, really to satisfy my father, who wanted me to study medicine there as he had. That is where I had my first drink, and I still remember it, for every “first” drink afterwards did exactly the same trick – I could feel it go right through every bit of my body and down to my very toes.
But each drink after the first seemed to become less effective, and after three or four, they all seemed like water. I was never a hilarious drunk; the more I drank, the quieter I got, and the drunker I got, the harder I fought to stay sober.
So it is clear that I never had any fun out of drinking – I would be the soberest-seeming one in the crowd, and, all of a sudden, I would be the drunkest.
Even that first night I blacked out, which leads me to believe that I was an alcoholic from my very first drink.” pg. 222 B.B.
For many newly sober folks at the meeting, very few could identify with our man here. In the end, he was a “weekend warrior” drinking only on the weekends. And identified himself as a “weekend drinker.” He suffered from “I’ll show them-ism, and a little Big Shot-ism.
A friend commented on the text that you aren’t a weekend alcoholic, you are either an alcoholic or you are not. None of this weekend shit …
This story is eerily familiar. Because in the end I was the binge weekend drinker and blacking out was my nightly ending. And it was the fear of “What the Fuck” that brought me to my last drink.
The biggest take away from tonight’s meeting was the shared fellowship. That we are a people, who would not normally mix, yet under a common disease, we are all equals once we step across the threshold into the room.
It is more important on days like this that meeting halls all over the world are open to welcome the alcoholic. I’ve seen it time after time, some people who struggle so much that they can’t see their way out of the forest that is addiction for just a few hours.
And like many, they fail – go out – and drink – and some never returned.
It was a good night.
In Baby News …
This past week, there was a birth in my family. Yes I do have family. The only family who recognize that I live. My mother’s sister’s family is all that there is.
My Cousin Sandy’s -> daughter Jaime had her second child a couple of days ago, and she did not get to term. The baby was born well Premie – coming in at just over three pounds. Haven Lilee Rayne will spend the next month in hospital over in B.C. until she is strong enough to nurse and go home.
I spoke to my aunt last night and she assured me that Haven was well and will survive, even though she is a premie.
There has been nothing but hardship for my cousin’s family. And now it has spanned two generations. When my cousin had her two children, both were born with birth defects and needed multiple surgeries to make them right.
And when Jaime (her daughter) had her first daughter, Jaidyn, On August 11th 2011, Jaidyn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was 3 years old then.
This past week, Jaidyn completed her last Chemo treatment. And she is in full remission. But will need surveillance for the next six months, getting a small dose of chemo each month.
Now Haven was born premature. Thankfully, she is healthy and will survive.
We pray for all of them tonight. Especially for Haven.
And now on to Holiday news … A bit brighter yes?
While getting ready for the day, and hubby was out running errands, I turned on the teevee and what was on ??? “HOME ALONE II.”
It is official, the holidays have begun. This, the first Christmas related movie on national tv. here in Canada. And just so you know …
THERE ARE 73 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS !!!
And we end with more happy news …
If you YOU TUBE and are gay, you probably know Will and RJ. From their You Tube Channel (SHEP 689). They were Florida residents where they met in Tallahassee Florida.
(Not a very marriage worthy state we must say)
A couple of months ago, they headed to the West Coast and now reside in Los Angeles California. And this weekend was their 4th anniversary of being a couple.
Yesterday Will asked RJ to marry him on a sunset beach and RJ said YES!
So Congrats to our friends. Long life and happiness.
Go Follow them if you want.
This post was longer than I had originally thought.
It was a full day and this has been the past week in my life.
More to come, stay tuned …
“The way you make people feel says a lot about you.” Jordan Bach
Add another stellar day to the calendar. At the sun’s zenith this afternoon, it was quite steamy out. And the sweaty, dirty, humpy roofer men were up on a second roof just cranking out another new roof.
Several of these men took matters into their own hands as I watched them cut the sleeves off their shirts because it was so steamy up there, out in the sun.
They have another day’s work ahead of them, but the roof is covered and they still have a layer of roofing to put down.
It was a glorious day. I ran some errands, did some supermarket safari this morning after waking in the middle of a very strange dream.
I was on a sinking ship and then found myself in a foreign place, but at the end of the dream, I met up with someone who had been looking for me and knew my name and where I came from … The rest of the dream is gone and I woke up before I could figure out just what was going on.
That’s what usually happens in these technicolor dreams that take place at the very end of a sleep cycle.
I almost went back to bed to see if I could reconnect with the dream and let it play itself out, but that never happens either. Once a dream ends, it is impossible to reconnect to it, later …
I’ve not been able to work that one out.
So I got up – dressed – went to the store – got my laundry money and came home and proceeded to do laundry for the week since we were on our last pairs of underwear in the dresser.
You know its time to do laundry when you run out of clean underwear…
I departed early because I had stops to make on the way and I arrived at the church early and cranked out set up – I had brought a book with me but I was satisfied with listening to music on my phone.
I can’t get enough of Fleetwood Mac.
We sat a full compliment. One of our elder statesmen was in the chair. And he chose to read from Daily Reflections and The Spiritual Angle.
There was a healthy discussion of all things spiritual. From quoting the Big Book and hearing the sainted words of sponsors past, and what each of us has learned about the spiritual path, that is recovery.
One friend has returned to church looking for God, and in that quest to find God, he has a lot of questions. Then he said this … “I’ve never had a spiritual experience of the extraordinary kind, but the educational variety”
And I am half waiting for God to drop out of heaven and tap me on the shoulder and say “Hey, here I am, I wasn’t lost, you were…”
Another member said that if we only took the time to get quiet, and listen for that still small voice, we would make room for God to make His presence known to us.
Tap, Tap, Tap … “This is God, Here I am. I’ve been sitting her waiting for you to find me. All you have to do is look within and notice the breath in your lungs and the life you have – and there I am.”
I’ve lived a long life to this date. And there are many occasions I could tell you about where I saw or felt God’s presence.
The most important spiritual experience, well two of them in fact that happened when I was in seminary and just after I left was when David came to me after he had died.
The first time was the night of his wake – I was there. I returned to the school and went into the chapel to pray. I was alone, and along the back wall of the chapel were confessionals. I heard a door open and footsteps that moved from the back wall to the altar in front of me. The sacrament candle exploded and illuminated the high mural on the back wall above me.
And there was David, standing in front of me wearing my favorite shirt, the one he appeared to me in twice. And he said not to be sad, that he was free.
I have a Miraculous Mary medallion that his mother gave me when he died. I wear it still, to this day. I never leave the house without it.
The second time David appeared was in San Francisco. I had gone on a trip to San Francisco with colleagues. I went on a Mission District tour of an old church. In the graveyard was a life like statue of St. Anthony, our patron saint.
I heard a voice that bade me to follow. So I did. i walked into the church and up to the lectern and a voice said to me “look up …” I looked up and there was David standing on the balcony above the congregation seating.
God exists. And He does great things for us.
When I got sober the first time, God made manifest in the guise of Todd, who became my greatest champion. When I was sick, he took care of me, when I cried, He held me, when I was lost, he found me. And in my worst times, he lifted me up, unlike any other man, IN MY LIFE !!!
I did not die, But I lived.
There is a God.
Over the past almost twelve years, I’ve attended hundreds of meetings in the same space since I got sober. That’s many meetings. That’s hundred of people that have come and gone from those rooms.
If you want to see God – go to a meeting. Participate in someone else’s life. Watch them, over time, get clean and sober.
See the life return, see the light rise in their eyes, and watch THEM find a God of their own understanding, trust me, you WILL see God.
You never know when something you say, may bring God closer to someone than He’s ever been.
I know that this spiritual practice we engage in takes time, and like all things, takes practice, prayer, and patience. I know that after all these years, my spiritual practice has given me words that are not mine at times.
During my days, a multitude of situations may arise. People come into my life right at the right moment, or vice versa, I come into their lives at the right time, because I get to share words with them. I find I have words in my heart that appear when needed and are useful.
Sometimes a kind word comes, a teaching, a lesson from experience, that I get to pass on to someone who might need it. And that has happened in the past few days. On a number of occasions.
When do you pray ???
It depends. It depends on the moment, and what is in front of me. I have friends all over the world by association and in person. Those people I know personally, and those I follow as part of a specific community.
Numerous times a day, someone writes … “Please pray for this or that…”
And momentarily, I stop and I say a prayer. I send light in a specific direction to a particular person. And in the moment I connect with the God of my understanding and WE participate in the life of another, if only for a moment.
Then, at the end of my night, when I sit here and close my day, I recall all those people from the day, and I mention them to God once more, as I give them over for the night into the hands of God.
I’ve learned how to do this over time.
I also realized today after hearing someone mention “church” at the meeting tonight, that he was sitting in Phillips Square … Which is a small square downtown with a statue and several street shops, where people congregate, and across the street from there is Christ Church Cathedral.
And this man walked across the square and went into the church, where he sat down, and eventually knelt to pray. And in that moment, he sat with God.
I realized that yes I go to the Cathedral for services on the odd occasion.
But I miss the sacrament.
I miss the tabernacle and the presence of the Body of Christ in the church.
There are hundreds of churches in this city. Most of them tourist traps. I used to travel to Old Montreal to Notre Dame Cathedral Church/Sacre Coeur to pray before the blessed sacrament. I haven’t done that in a long long time.
But that message made itself perfectly clear to me as I was sitting in a meeting.
Is that ODD or is that GOD ???
I know for me – God exists.
I’ve made space for him in my life.
And that took almost twelve years of sobriety to realize.
And I think I will end on that note.
More to come, stay tuned …
I wonder if indulgences are conditional on sexual orientation???
Courtesy: BillyPazionis Flickr
I would first like to thank all of you who responded to my post yesterday. All your advice was well taken. Since yesterday was a holiday I could not make any headway into information until today.
Last night I filed a grievance with the Administration of the hospital where I am being treated. And I also filed a complaint with the ombudsman who emailed me to say that they would be contacting me.
I am going on with my life because obsessing over dying is not fun.
I was up and around to get out early for the meeting and we took the 90 bus to Vendome. It wasn’t raining but the sky was dark.
The topic was Growing up from As Bill Sees It.
And this is what came to mind.
I was diagnosed about a month before I got sober in 1994. I had to fight tooth and nail to survive because there weren’t dedicated doctors to care for the sick and no social system to engage to get care.
I was forced to grow up quickly and without question because it was just me, save for my crack assistance team who cared for me. Everyone else had scattered.
I had to be hyper-vigilant with my health care providers and I held them up to severe scrutiny and high expectations because this was my life we are talking about. You did not lie to me and you sure as shit did not fuck with me in any way.
If you said something or said you were going to do something for me – you did it and if you didn’t I made life hell for you until you made your word. I had to do that because people are human and sometimes they talk shit.
When I moved here, I got into the clinic at the hospital where I have been. The top dog was my doctor and I released my stranglehold on people opting to trust blindly what I was told.
I laxed my grasp and my hyper vigilance.
I trusted a man without question. Now he has eroded that trust with the way he seems to be treating me. You don’t tell someone you are going to die without proof or FACT. End Point …
Now we wait to see what they administration will do with my case. I will be on top of this as the days progress.
Your prayers and advice are always appreciated. Please keep in touch and I will be in touch.
More to come, stay tuned.
Lifted from: In Dodd We Trust
I recently read a book about relationships that advocated following the Five A’s:
1. Attention [to the other person, what they say and do]
2. Acceptance [of the other person, even if you do not understand]
3. Appreciation [of the positive qualities of the other person, even if there are also faults]
4. Affection [shown in an appropriate and clear manner]
5. Allowing [the other person to be who he/she is, even if you do not agree with everything]
i thought of you, while in the shower
and i thought of how nice it’d be
to have your things among my things
along the bathtub’s edge
and i imagined myself running out of soap
and using yours
and wearing you to work, and the grocery store
and i imagined that night, laying down beside you
and smelling your neck
and finding out where all my soap had gone
It is past my bedtime but there are some things I need to put down before I go to bed tonight. When I got home from the meeting, as I am wont to do, I unpack and change out and sit down at the box and see what has gone on since I had left the house. I was surprised to get a letter from Scotty. Work in Progress
Some time ago, well, a long time ago, I came across his blog and as a young person he exemplified the word faith. His moniker “Live the Word, Breathe Prayer” was a thought that I admired and at that time, wished I could Live the word more fully and to breathe prayer.
Prayer is like a garden that must be cultivated and cared for. There are many ways to pray, and there is the Ladder of the monks that talk about prayer, and that I have posted about some time ago.
I have always aspired to promote people who do good works, share their faith, minister to others and truly live the gospel in their daily lives. For a while I hosted Scotty’s photo on the blog and even created headers of the prayer thought.
After while – some found my blog and began writing and commenting about the fact that I (a sinner) would associate myself with a Good Book Following Christian. I got those nasty emails too.
It seems – over the past year the nasty commenters have tired of berating me and my blog and my journey. I wiped Scotty off the blog so as not to offend any more sensibilities and left it at that.
I still followed the blog from a silent point. Today I received Scotty’s letter and it truly filled my heart with joy. It reads:
I’m not sure if this is still your email but I thought if give it a bash.
I wanted to drop you an email that I should have sent a long time ago.
I owe you a massive apology.
Sorry for caring too much about myself and not enough about others.
I wrote to you a long time ago not quite sure what to do with a couple of comments I’d received when someone had seen my picture on your blog. I immediately sought to “save myself” and didn’t stop to consider how it would make you feel.
I’ve had a couple of years of deep growth where God has been softening my heart, stripping back my pride, and filling me with a compassion that I lacked.
I have thought about that email several times. I think of the grace in your response which I did not deserve. I think of the email I should have sent, which shouldn’t have gone to you but to the people who had made the comments telling them to get a grip. I should have laid aside my own pride and selfish ambition and stuck up for you.
Thank you for your grace, and thank you for all your encouragement. You read numerous blog entries, interacted, and consistently encouraged me. I just read back over some of your comments and feel further conviction and sorrow.
Thanks for the energy you invested in praying for me and advocating for people to support me.
Please forgive me for acting in such a self-seeking way, and in doing so, trampling all over the grace you’d been pouring out.
I pray that God blessed you richly,
Today Scotty is married with a beautiful child. He has suffered with God and he surmounted and won his fight with disease. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to know he won and is well. God is glorious. God is good.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not.
They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
Firstly, welcome to all the new followers of the blog. It seems you like what I am doing, and that is always a good sign of where to go next.
I’ve got a new follower from our magic city of light. And after reading his blog earlier I thought I’d put up something I did a while ago – but never wrote about it because it was a school assignment. Maybe he will engage this post…
I took a semester of Sociology, because my husband is an M.A. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Concordia. This was at Dawson last year.
One of our work papers consisted of performing acts of breaking the norm when it came to mass transit, elevators and escalators.
When I first moved here more than 10 years ago, I fell in love with the city, not only because it was my birth mother’s city and I have family here, I came to visit and decided to stay.
It IS my anniversary of my arrival in Montreal this Easter. And so the first week I visited places, found meetings, found a place to live, sent off my application for my birthright citizenship form, and began to get to know the city.
Coming from Miami, there was little mass transit. One train, One line, and feeder buses connecting both points. I was blown away by the Metro System here. It is a big system. But pales in comparison to other Canadian cities and some in the U.S. like Washington and New York.
Montreal has its own charm. And there were things I learned early on. Like how to line up waiting for the bus in orderly fashion. Nobody seemed to push or barge in front of someone in line. People were polite and orderly.
Escalators … Stand Right, Walk Left. Never stand on the left, and never walk on the right. Except of course you are on a BIG escalator in a station.
Then it is all fair game.
Elevators … Always be kind to your neighbors. I live in a highrise. Never play music while others are in the elevator. It is rude and antisocial. People come in the elevator and talk on their phones. (Like I want to overhear your entire conversation !!! ) Going Up, What floor?, Hello Good day/evening.
If you enter a crowded elevator – take off your backpack and hold it by your feet to save space. THIS GOES for the Metro and the Bus as well. Because sometimes buses and trains are packed in peak hours.
When you get on a bus, if you are in a queue line, you are observant of others in front of you and behind you. Never sit in the front seats of a bus – they are often reserved by handicapped folks, older members or children.
Always be mindful of your bus driver. Be polite. Say hello – good day – have a nice day/night, and goodbye. Preferably in FRENCH !!!
People wait in orderly bunches on Metro platforms. On some platforms there are clear door markers on the floor marking where the doors will open. Always allow riders debarking the train to get off before you barge your way onto the train.
Never sit in marked seats for the pregnant and disabled.
Always be mindful of what is going on ON the train while you ride. You never know when you will get to practice your chivalry or your French. Always be kind – don’t hog two seats because you only need one. Take care to pay attention to others, in case shit goes down while you are traveling.
You will notice that most folks are connected medically to their devices. Be they phones, players, I-phones, MP3 players and the like. Don’t blast your music and be aware of what is going on around you in case you need to step in and do something.
Learning how to navigate the Metro system took some time, until I learned what the directional signs meant. There are four lines. Green Line (downtown) Orange Line (Financial district line – going from one end of the city to the other) and the Blue line (which bisects the city up on the Mountain) from Snowdon to St. Michel. And finally the yellow line which operates from Berri to the South Shore and Ille Ste. Helen (where Expo 67 took place).
Your stop corresponds to the direction the train is traveling. You get on the train in the direction of your stop, the end points are identified on all metro platforms. I live downtown.
Our building sits equidistant between George Vanier on the Orange line, Atwater Metro on the Green line and Guy on the Green line up the way from here going into the East end.
Over the years the STM has perfected the way we use transit. We went from tickets we fed into turnstiles to plastic monthly passes we swiped to the all important OPUS pass that is a rechargeable credit card that holds all kinds of fares, be it daily, weekends, monthly etc …
If you are not fully fluent in French, you will learn, if you come here to live.
French is mother tongue over the transit platform. I’ve learned my French at Dawson and learning to live in this multicultural city. However I identify as a member of the anglo community. I find the only places I use French in my daily life is on transit, the grocery store and the shopping malls. For the most part I live in English Montreal. My meetings are in English and most of my friends are English – but a fair number of my friends are fully multi lingual.
The English AA and French AA share the same space at the Intergroup office. Our meeting lists are printed multi-culturally, French, English, Spanish, and Farsi. With the need of meetings crossing cultures, AA has adapted to the needs of the people in the city.
So now that we have given you the pointer of how to navigate our city, we come to the highlight of the post. The breaking social norms exercise. We had a week to complete this task. Then it became a written paper for class.
We were asked to do things a bit differently. With all that I have written above about etiquette and social responsibility this was our task.
1. To sit where we shouldn’t
2. To stand/walk where we shouldn’t
3. Take seats that are not usually sat in (see above)
4. Be counter the flow
And add to this watch how folks respond to breaking the social norm.
I found that I could not break social norms when it came to the bus, metro and escalators. And I surely did not sit in a front seat on a bus, I never sit in the front seats on any bus, Even if I at at the head of a line getting aboard.
I’ve learned in Living here more than a decade, there are unspoken rules that we all live by. And your lessons start the first day you set foot on our streets. We are kind people. We are forgiving. And we are polite.
However, there are those who just don’t fill any of these qualities.
NEVER be rude to an S.T.M Employee.
NEVER be rude to a bus driver.
Just Never be RUDE if you can handle that.
Smile, be kind and be aware of what is going on around you because you might, one day, have to act to help another human being on your day’s journey.
And that is a snapshot of Montreal from my perspective.
What have you learned about people, where you live???
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When we speak it is experience, strength and hope. Not what we give from our pockets.
I’ve never heard someone share from the podium reference to putting anything in the basket. Never. If someone chooses to put money in the kitty it is their prerogative. And not ours to demand, or require, whatever the amount of time someone has. There are people who come to meetings (here) that never contribute to the kitty. And some folks don’t necessarily hear the words, “now it is time for the 7th tradition which states …” you know the rest,
I’ve never heard someone make an issue about giving to the kitty. It’s not our place to do so. If people give they give, and if they don’t they don’t.
I’ve got 11 years. And I contribute to the kitty at every meeting I go to. I also give back in service and speaking on occasion. But I would never drop a word about giving to the kitty, in ANY audience. You have to let people take things in their own time. In time they might begin to give, and maybe they won’t. Nobody is a freeloader if they don’t contribute. People come because they want to get well, and maybe that might mean that they don’t contribute. But it is not our place to place guilt or judgment that they don’t give and they ought to, as you say. What we ought to do is carry the message to the newcomer. What it was like, what happened and what it is like now. In that formula, there is no mention about the kitty in my book !
The 7th tradition is optional, not a requirement.
And if you came to a meeting and said that you believe as members who have gotten the message and come to meetings, and thereby obligating us to give because we have been freely given, I might say aside that it is not our place to say anything about contributions financial or otherwise. Every group ought to be fully self supporting declining outside contributions.
The traditions are there to guide the (groups). The steps are there to guide the (human).
If you feel strongly that long standing members always give to the kitty, i challenge you to pray about what you share from the podium. Why are you focusing on the kitty? And what are you not seeing in your own actions that you should? And does this have to do with other members of the group not giving to the kitty? What are your resentments and your character defects?
Humility – Honesty …
We don’t talk about money from the podium. Bill would never have done that. Go back to the books and read it. The 7th tradition was begun to make sure that meetings become autonomous and that we have enough money to buy books, material, pay rent, 3 months prudent reserve, coffee and (in our case: Cookies). The excess money goes to inter-group or the area or NYC.
The 7th tradition is spoken at some point in the meeting guide, and leave it at that. Be grateful for what the group makes. And not put it on the shoulders of ANY member to be obligated to give at any time. That’s an outside issue. Like I said the 7th is optional not a requirement.
Time to consult your Twelve and Twelve …
Thursday rolls around, the snow is melting fast. We are sitting at (1c) at this hour. It has been a quiet day. I am waiting on a package from Canada Post that is due here tomorrow or on Monday.
It was the usual routine for the day. I had plenty of time to do all the things I needed to do, except supermarket safari, which I did on the way home, instead of earlier in the day.
I met my friend Bill outside to walk to the stop for the bus to the meeting just after 7 p.m. and we arrived shortly thereafter. It seemed many of us who sit on the left side of the room were channeling BLUE tonight, because we all had on blue shirts. It was almost eerie akin to a ole Finchley meeting with blue shirts, sans the ties.
It has been shared that the Bill W. documentary that we all saw a few weeks ago at Parc will be shown on March 28th at Victoria Hall. We all signed up for tickets since seating only allows 200. And they are selling copies of the film on dvd for a sum of $20… So I put my little group of warriors down for the screening, and two copies of the dvd.
We were surprised to hear that one of our fellows was going to speak tonight. His first time out of the chute. They say not to plan what you are going to say or that one should not try to be witty, charming, funny etc … But our man did not get up there without a plan in hand.
The theme of the night was gratitude. And here is where I tell the story about a certain gratitude list that I happened upon some time ago. Because at some point in the history, I got a hit from a writer on this blog. He blog marked my blog on his blog. He was local, but I never knew who it was, and I sent a message that didn’t get a reply. So I followed back.
And as I read, I realized that our writer was a member – and not only that – but he became a member at our home group. So he writes a gratitude list every day, and it has changed his life, and from the get go tonight, you could see and hear gratitude with every word that he spoke.
Every story is unique. And I was, and many of us were happy to learn a little bit more about our fellow. I find it amazing to hear how our friends and fellows have these amazing long term relationships. It is gratifying to know such people, because it is an honest statement of “Being.”
And he opened with this thought … That standing up in front of all those people and speaking is a sacred action, and that the room, in itself is a sacred space, which is true.
We – most of us – all drank for many reasons, for the Buzz, for the Effect, and for Bragging Rights. Being gay and lesbian as a young person, puts us in the spot to be bullied and called names. And for some, this truth is one reason that we used to drink. As a young person he was bullied and it wasn’t until just recently that this came to light for him.
To my memory, I can’t recall ever being harassed in school, because I had a group of Christian friends who would never speak a foul word to me. Better than that, it was my own father who called me names and bullied me with his belt whenever the mood hit him. Usually during a roaring bender. I didn’t have to leave the house to hear the word fag, queer or that I was a mistake.
But once our man had his first drink, he realized that “Oh, this is what it is like to be buzzed…” And I like it …
Thus went his life for a good chunk of his life. In the end when he came to the end of his drinking, doing things that he could not remember and having to be cleaned up after by his husband, and being questioned about what he had done, he decided for the second time in his life that the game was up.
Our man got two kicks at the can. The first time he was stepped into the rooms, not our rooms, but other rooms. And he went to meetings, but he wasn’t going to meetings… We respect the dually addicted, and the first time around he was able to give up the drugs because of an important relationship. But he wasn’t ready to put down the alcohol. Because like some, we are able to give up certain addiction, but nobody was going to take away our alcohol.
But things were afoot. And it was time to come clean and get sober. And in reflection, our man, in the beginning, he was reticent, and was not really keen on following directions. He had his ideas of what he should be doing, I know this because I worked with him a while, and that did not go very well. And I had to let him go and watch him find someone he WAS WILLING to listen to and to follow. And that eventually happened.
Hence the gratitude list…
I don’t write gratitude lists. But I write here. Over the past year and a half our man has grown leaps and bounds. He is fully engaged in meetings. He does what he needs to do, and a little bit more. He participates in group business, he chairs meetings, he makes sound recommendations, and he is one gratifying man of the people. And we could not be prouder of him.
In the end one of the Thursday night ladies took a 32 year cake. And we heard on a couple of occasions, just what happens when you get sober. The promises start coming true. As was mentioned by our speaker.
At his first meeting they read the promises at the beginning of the meeting, and just fresh in the door, he heard about all the things he was going to win … A.L.A The Price is Right, in winning the final showcase showdown.
Insert Promises here …
Our woman has traveled around the world, she has worked with the less fortunate and gone to and ministered in areas of conflict in Africa. Just you wait, stick around and just see how the promises come to fruition when you get and stay sober for a long period of time.
I have a good few years on our man, but not as many as our woman tonight. It was a great successful meeting. Everybody left with some gratitude in the hearts and on their lips.
More to come, stay tuned…
Tomorrow is New Years Eve. And it will definitely be a cold one in the Big Apple. This year some folks I know from the Tubes will be in the crowd watching the ball fall and ring in the New Year in the middle of it all.
I went back and perused some old posts from the past year, like my prospectuses and I chose one post per month to see where my head was and whether or not it was screwed on in the right direction. But let’s start with some numbers shall we?
In the year 2011 … I posted 260 posts. Uploaded 404 photos and we ranked 28,000 page views in that calendar year.
In the year 2012 … I posted 272 posts. Uploaded 326 photos and we ranked 47,000 page views in the last calendar year.
That is a rise of 19,000 views.
The goal I had set was to best 28,000 page views and You did that.
To date there are 99 followers of the blog. Which has grown exponentially in the last year. Somebody at Word Press pushed a button for me and the last year has seen an explosion of visitors from 160 countries from all over the world. Ranked first was the United States, Second was Canada, and in Third Place is the United Kingdom.
I don’t know what turned the tide, but I was consistent with my writing, as you all came on board and the numbers began to rise, I wrote more. With the new “LIKE” feature, several weeks went by and I hit records with “liked” posts.
I can only guess that where ever you are you enjoy reading what it is that I write about. And I appreciate all that you have given me this past year.
Let’s see, what do I want to say next? I hit more than 200 meetings in 2012. Which span four nights a week at one point. But I backed down to three for the last 8 to 9 months.
I will start with my 10th sober anniversary. On December 9th 2011. A few months prior to that anniversary, I was bored with my routine, and I was looking for something exciting to happen. I was going to a certain meeting on a Friday night, a speaker meeting. There was an old timer whom I became friends with and he introduced me to many books about the Real Old Timers. One of those books was called 1000 Years of Sobriety. 20 stories from men and women who have been sober more than 50 years.
I joined that group eventually. And did service there for a few months. The culmination of my time there afforded me a Gold Dipped 10 year Medallion on my 10th anniversary. I also got my first Tattoo for the occasion.
But you know, when it comes to people, if you piss me off, I usually write you off. And I had beef with a man who turned me away from service and then I had some readers who would critique what I was writing and bash me for some of the things I was writing. If you don’t like what is here, then go away !!! I got good practice in De-Friending people on Facebook. I stopped going to that meeting and withdrew my membership. Because after a while, I came to see that I didn’t want what they were peddling.
At our Home Group of Tuesday Beginners, we grew from three members setting up and hosting two meetings a week, One a discussion and the other a Speaker meeting, we dropped the speaker and changed format to a Literature Discussion meeting at 7pm on Tuesday night. One night our most dedicated ladies came and said that she had come to join the group because she heard we needed help. And after that more than twenty women followed her.
These Women with Lots of Sobriety came. And they brought their sponsees to the meeting. And now Tuesday Beginners has 23 members. More than half of them are women. I open the room early and every week, like clockwork, they come in two’s and three’s and four’s to read for an hour. And I have grown to love these women with all my heart. They have done great things for many people.
We have become a tributary of New York City. Many of our girls are city gals who travel between Montreal and New York. And we have adopted many practices from New York at our meeting. There are so many folks that there aren’t enough jobs to go around, so we shortened the chair to two week stints, we have a gaggle of greeters, and directors for sponsorship, set up and clean up and literature folks.
The best new thing of the year is that we have a fair amount of LGBT folks at our meeting. Something that I am very proud of. For many years, LGBT folks were scattered around the city – and you would see them here and there. There is an entire city of LGBT folks in the rooms. And we have our own handful and I try to take good care of them. I share all my big events with my people. We are an open and welcoming group to all who come.
This past Winter 2011, saw me work my steps again. I started in a step group, just prior to my 10th anniversary. And I was slated to speak on my anniversary and the chair of the step group gave me a smart ass comment, which did not go over very well. Needless to say I didn’t finish my steps with them. I left the group and worked them directly with my sponsor.
I had a sponsee for a season. And that did not go very well either. And now we are no longer friends and we don’t hit the same meetings either, which is good. Words were said, egos and feelings were hurt, and nothing came of that. Sad.
I could not see sponsoring someones Face Book Statuses. That’s not how it works.
That left me free for the balance of the year to maintain my weekly routine.
I finished School at Dawson College last Spring 2012. I had used up all the credit hours that the province gave me and racked up some good grades, in the end I came away with some new knowledge having taken many different courses over two years time. And when that ended that put A LOT of time on my hands, to find something to do with.
I wrote the State of Our Union in January setting forth hubby’s time line of what was going to happen when. He was supposed to finish his M.A. last summer, and that did not happen. Thank you mental illness.
We were supposed to be riding high on the hog because with his M.A. he would be gainfully employed teaching, but he decided that teaching was not what he now wants to do. Which will parlay into some marketing job in the near future.
New income was supposed to see us into bigger digs not far from here, and we were going to furnish that space with new furniture and really great decor. And that did not happen. Hubby is still writing his thesis for his supervisor. She granted him a shit load of time to work on it. I was more “put a stick up his ass” and make him finish it already, but he is taking his sweet old time. Which keeps me in this holding pattern until he actually does finish his thesis.
We saw his best friend finish and defend her M.A. in the summertime, and now she is back here in Montreal working on her PHD. Hubby could have been there too if he hadn’t fucked off on his work for so long.
We are managing the house we live in and we are living inside of our means. We live very simple lives. This year also afforded me some of the promises. Some of the promises that have been elusive to me came to pass this year, which is a great blessing.
To date, I have lived another calendar year. Which brings us to my 18th year living with AIDS. The pills are working well. And I have been in good health for the entire year. A good year is one that nothing goes wrong with you, like flu or pneumonia or any other AIDS related sickness.
I haven’t dropped labs in some time, and I need to do that because I see the doctor in January, and they are going to have to push that back because I haven’t gone up the hill to do labs. My doctor did say at my last appointment that new meds were coming down the pike and that he would be changing up my pills in opt for some new ones that are once a day dosing and not twice. In his words, I am taking too many pills. I’ve been taking too many pills for a long time.
What have I learned this year? I’ve learned that I live simply and love deeply. Hubby and I are on the same page in many ways. We get along well and we take care of each other. I like this story that on our anniversary, hubby went to a store and bought a card, signed it and enveloped it. The next day, our anniversary I went to a second store and bought a card. Signed it and enveloped it too. And when we opened them, the cards were exactly the same card.
Every year you stay sober, in the beginning it is an outside job. You get to clean up and sort out your life. You read the books, and work your steps and things begin to change. Now that I am beyond my first decade of sobriety, it has come to pass that it has been a very inside job for me.
I have foibles and short comings. I did not do everything right this year. I made some crucial mistakes. I upset some folks, and I ended some relationships that were not working out. I don’t do well with egos and attitudes, or assholes and stupidity. Ignorant is right up there as well.
I turn back to my books that keep me on the beam. I Heard the Owl Call my Name and Nobody to Call me home. I’ve learned a lot about people in the last year. Some good, and some not so good.
I’ve read a number of books this year.
- The Bishops Man
- I Heard the Owl Call my Name
- No One to call me Home
- The Alchemist
- The Way is made by Walking
- Looking for Alaska
- Harry Potter – assorted
- The Historian
- The Wounded Healer
- The Life of Pi
- We Need to Talk about Kevin
- Many Live Many Masters
- John the Baptizer
- Christ the Lord Out of Egypt
- Memory and Identity JP II
- Why He is a Saint – JP II
- The God Box
- Out on Holy Ground
- From Boys to Men
- Halfway Home
- Living on Borrowed Time
- The Betrayal
- John Paul the Great
That’s a long list.
I think I am finished writing this piece. I’ve hit all my bullet point on my outline and I covered the bases on what is going on in my life today. The goal for the next year is to best my numbers that I posted earlier tonight.
Welcome to all my new followers. And as always, if you want me to talk about something or you have a topic that you would like me to write about just drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you all for the great year, let’s now turn our eyes to 2013.
I am sure there is more to come, stay tuned …