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Family

Sunday Sundries … COLD !!!

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclear

Courtesy: Flickr James Clear

The weather is beginning to turn. We are now the fourth week of November and we are heading into negative territory. Currently it is a flat ZERO outside. It was nippy when I left the house this evening, and it was colder when I left, even with layers, as it was, I was chilled.

It was an uneventful weekend. Santa Claus rolled through the city on Saturday morning. Our building sits on the step off corner for all the parades that roll through the downtown core, placing us at the maximum viewing point.

Last night we had a good showing for the Saturday night meeting. And we talked about resisting change.

The book says that when we get sober, the only thing we have to change is everything …

Easier said than done.

I departed as usual and like I said, it was chilly out. It was a good thing that the church’s heating system is computerized. It was nice and toasty when I opened up. We were missing all of our women tonight. The flu is making its way around at the moment.

We sat a small crowd, and read a story that was 14 pages long, so we made two circuits around the room, and then the room got to talk about it.

Some of the old stories are really harsh. Back in the day, not unlike today, in some cases, the man in our story really had it bad. A late bloomer, in regards to when he began to drink, unlike most stories, the early writers, for the most part, were weaned on alcohol, it seemed.

If you end up in a sanitarium once, you might have a problem. In our man’s case tonight, he hit Bellevue hospital thirty five times. Yes, that is correct, 35 times.

He not only drank, he got married, had three children, and was in the hole for most of the story. It was one of the saddest stories we have read to date.

Most sad stories, even in our book, have somewhat happy endings, wherein our folks, find the way, the meet us, get sober, and turn their lives around. But not before some major loss or tragedy.

Early on, a son of our man grows up and with not even two nickles to rub together, becomes a show shine boy, were talking the late 1930’s. He makes some change, but further on in the story, his drunk father happens upon him and dad takes his earnings, and drinks them away.

It is a bad scene. You think, in this read, that things just could not get any worse, and that eventually, he has to Get It. Our man eventually does get it, the kicker in the story was the loss of that son to a streetcar accident.

Now the story reads … nobody would begrudge him a drink, after loosing a child. But bolstered by two recovering alcoholics, one under each arm, our man tackles, identifying his sons remains, then burying that son, sober …

Some of us have had tragic loss in our lives. For myself, when that happened to me, it was the drink that soothed the visual and helped kill the pain of loss, until Todd stepped in and got me the help I desperately needed. That was a year before my own personal tragedy.

You never know when the people in the room are going to come in handy, and to what degree some of us will go to to make sure our fellow men and women, get by, without taking that first drink.

The story talks about us drunks who go to meetings, and are happy, cleaned up folks, who help each other by swapping stories. That’s what our writer calls us, when he opens his story. Because when he was at his worst, he happens upon the rooms, and sees these men doing what they do best, and he just can’t believe his eyes.

But every one of us has a story, a journey we have to walk, before we finally figure it out and we come in.

I’ve had plenty of my share of tragedy. And I survived them.

In two weeks time, I will celebrate 14 years without a drug or a drink.

One day at a time …

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – Thanksgiving

tumblr_lszd4uVmug1r1nriuo1_500 christopherjordanCourtesy: Christopher Jordan

It has been one fully packed weekend. And the rain stayed away. YAY !

All my planning and preparations came to fruition today. I cooked a massive Thanksgiving meal for my family today. This year, Baby Mama and Baby Lu Lu joined the table along with hubby, Bill and myself. It was my crowning achievement, to bring all of us together to share a meal.

I had ordered a HUGE turkey from my favorite butcher, which he gave me a deal on. It came fresh and already cleaned, so it went from freezer to fridge to oven ready. And it came off without a hitch. My Butter/Rosemary/Honey recipe was a smash hit.

It was important that I included everyone at my table. The baby had a great time. She ate and then we let her loose and she had a ball, running around the apartment laughing and giggling.

She loved the mirror we have in the bedroom, but she was amazed at my book collection. Lu Lu is a bookworm, even at her age. We have an entire collection of books at their house for her, which we read to her, often. She sat on my bed, and pulled one book after another off the pile and thumbed through them.

It was the first time that hubby and Bill got to meet the baby and share space with her. I was totally consumed with spending the time with her and mama.

The meal was a success, the dishes got done, and I set off for the meeting on time.

My coffee gal was waiting for me at the church, so we had a long chatty conversation.

I’ve never felt so alive as I did tonight.

And spending the couple of hours with friends was a great end of the day activity. On the way home I got to spend time, with another friend, I don’t always get to see during the week, so that was great.

Tonight’s Read was another story from the First Edition of the Big Book. I have a First Edition Big Book, that was published in 1939. The Story … Lone Endeavor is part of the collection in the book we are reading called Experience, Strength and Hope.

There is an asterisk at the top of the story that reads:

“This story appeared ONLY in first printing of the First Edition.”

Which means, it does not appear in any other edition printed, but we have it to read, because the story is so important. It tells the story about how the fellowship, that did NOT even have a book to send, because it had not even been printed, let alone, was incomplete, at the time this story took place.

The story begins with a mother, concerned for her son’s welfare and life, reads an article about a doctor who seems to have considerable experience, helping men stop drinking. It is the early 1930’s. She is so concerned that she writes New York City to ask for help, for her son.

Letters cross from one side of the U.S. (read: West coast) to the other (read: East coast).

The book is not complete, the only chapters ready for consumption are the First Two Chapters of the book. That would be Bill’s Story and There is a Solution. Those are numbered one and two in my first edition. The doctors opinion, is listed as xxii.

The office in New York sends a multilith copy. Their response to the mother reads as follows:

“About a hundred men, here in the east, have found a solution for alcoholism that really works. We are now preparing a book hoping to help others who suffer in the same way, and are enclosing a rough copy of the first two chapters. As soon as possible we will forward rough copy of the rest of the proposed book.”

“We are sending you a pre-publication multilith copy of Alcoholics Anonymous. We would appreciate hearing about your son’s condition and his reaction to this volume, as this is the first time we have had an opportunity to trying to help as alcoholic at long distance. Won’t you please write us?

Sincerely Alcoholics Anonymous.

multilith: definition: a brand name for a small photo-offset printing machine.
In the end, the son does receive these first two chapters. He is alone, on the West Coast, with only what he has om hand.
And wouldn’t you like to know, that he Got It on the first pass.
There wasn’t a fellowship out there to turn to. He had no personal contact with another alcoholic, Yet. But he got the message, and he turned around and started helping others in his town.
He not only Got it, but got sober, and knew what to do with what he had received.
Would we have had that kind of knowledge and fortitude like that? From two chapters, he got sober, and found others to share it with.
He later writes to New York, telling us that he read those two chapters, and got sober.
He did not have a fellowship of people to turn to. He did not have anyone there to explain what he was reading, or meetings to go to, (at that time, yet). He did not have the lingo we have today.
I imagine for myself, what reading just the first two chapters mean to me, and if that would have been enough, to help me get and stay sober?
The one word that came up in the circle after the read was Willingness.
He sends his story to New York by mail. And he explains his journey to get sober. We certainly take for granted what we have. Tonight’s read, tells us how it really worked without all the bells and whistles and an entire fellowship to turn to.
It was one human being talking to another, via a Very Long Distance.
Incredible.
The story closes with this communication: Via wire …
“Just received letter, may we have your permission to use letter anonymously in book as first example of what might be accomplished without personal contact, important you wire this permission, as book is going to printer.”
His wire arrived next day:
“Permission granted with pleasure, lots of luck.”
This particular story does not appear in my copy of the First Edition, which I said was printed in 1939. So there must have been an earlier printing than the one I own.
How do you end a day like today?
Lots of Gratitude.
More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries – Emotionally Unavailable

maybeThey say, or it was said to me, in the beginning, that

“The only thing you need to change when you get sober, is Everything !!!”

There is a common thread running this past week. Change …

In speaking at length with my sponsor, last week, his advice to me was simple. I need to avoid certain people, to the best of my ability, keep my mouth shut, and not attend the Friday meeting any longer. Because of the unhealthy topic on the table, I am told to just stay away, and not involved myself any further in the drama.

So I add another night to my baby watch.

When does a baby, realize time (read: what day is it), days and presence?

The baby is clearly awake to certain things that we did not expect her to be at this point.

I have a regular, consistent schedule, with Mama and the baby. Sunday afternoons in the park, Wednesday dinner, and now Friday dinner. This past week, we changed up my arrival times, to coincide with the baby going to bed. Instead of her staying up later, we try and put the baby down at a more manageable time.

Wednesday, Mama asked me to come later than I usually do. Not a problem. In the early evening, Mama tried putting the baby down, before I had arrived. But the baby wasn’t having any of that. She wouldn’t go to sleep, and was clearly acting differently.

I’ve kept this Wednesday date since July, so it is consistent. We are now October.

I arrived at the apartment, and mama came down to let me in, and the baby was wide awake.

Clearly, so it seems, she realized, we think, that I had not come, as early as I usually do, and we think, the baby has a grasp on time and presence. I set down dinner, and mama put the baby down and she went for some toys. We put her in her chair to eat, usually she will eat dinner that I make on top of the dinner she gets earlier (read: baby food).

She indeed did eat some chicken, we spent half an hour together, the baby then decided it was ok to go to bed, we think, because she had seen me, and maybe she had been missing me earlier, she demonstrated behavior we had not seen before, in this manner.

Saturday I went to the Saturday meeting, a new addition to the weekly schedule.

I have a book in the works, that I haven’t been writing towards, because I’ve been mulling things around in my head these past few weeks. And it revolves around family. This topic has been on the front burner these past few days.

And again, it was talked about in today’s reading.

Our guy, living in the early 1900’s, told a story about San Francisco before the big fire that destroyed the city. So the story is older, and appears in the First Edition of the Big Book.

Simply, our guy became a drinker, to get over the fact that his father was emotionally unavailable to him growing up. Not satisfied with staying in one place, he starts moving from one location to another. Eventually joining the army, and seeing action in the Great War.

He tells his mother, on the day of his deployment, that if he survives the war, that He will come home and be present and make his home with his mother.

He indeed survives. But already, he is drinking himself two ways from Sunday. Always being able to find liquor, even if it was banned to American troops, as was said in the story.

Anger and Resentment, fear and missing something are all good reasons for an alcoholic to drink, right? Yes …

I have many thoughts in my head tonight. And I chose not to speak at the meeting. But as it went around the room, family was the topic of conversation.

I don’t know when, as children, we ever got the “talk” about being emotionally available to our parents or our brother’s and sister’s. I didn’t. I guess you could say, growing up, that I WAS emotionally available. I had to be, both my parents were consummate drinkers. I had my brother to consider. But as far back as I know it to be, my father always encouraged my brother to be my rival, never to listen to me, or respect me either.

That is a thing.

Growing up, when I got to that jumping off point, and I knew I had to go, I indeed moved out. My brother drove my car up, while I was in the moving truck. We never really had emotional conversations, and he was just “doing a job.” Either to get rid of me, or not, I don’t know.

But in the end, I left. And I left him behind, with my drinking parents.

Should I have thought more about this? Was there more I should have done for him?

This is one particular existential question I ask myself.

Later in life, my brother was never my keeper. Nor my protector. Nor someone I counted on for anything. He never stepped up and said or did anything for me, even when I got sick. He could not have been bothered, either way.

And that was the way we left things in the end.

I wonder, if my parents ever think about emotional unavailability. The fact that when I moved out, i was only thinking about myself, and nobody else. And in the end that was a problem. Because as repulsive as it is, I was irresponsible, and in the end, laid my problems on my father’s shoulder’s without any thought.

He did what he thought he should do, and he bailed me out, the the tune of $30,000.

That was a kick in the rubber parts.

He never mentioned it. And I never brought it up either. But the damage was done.

When I moved out I was emotionally unavailable to the parents, who became emotionally unavailable to me when they figured out I was gay, and it got even worse when I got sick.

As long as I was a straight boy, my father had time for me. Sex talks, learning to drive a car, taking care of the house and cars, he was all in it. Up and Until he figured out that I was gay. So he drank, he beat me regularly, and never said a word about it, ever.

Like He’d ever admit what a fuck he was and what he did to me.

It was like they were relieved of their responsibility, and the fact that maybe they should care, and maybe they should be present and help me, one way or another. But they had made their choice, I was on my own, my father’s humiliation at Christmas Dinner was a dead give away.

Neither my parents, nor my brother and his wife, nor myself are in any way emotionally available to the other. There is just a black pall over us, the lights are out and communication is not a possibility. I made my choices, and now live with the circumstances for those choices.

My brother and my father are both on Facebook. And to this day, neither one wants to even be my friend, or speak to me. And to this day, this fact blows my mind and turns my insides out.

We aren’t getting any younger, and my delusional self longs to believe that one day we will all wake up from this terrible nightmare, and all sit at the same table to talk.

Fat Chance …

I know better than to try and put into words what is in my head. That would be too much emotional and mental energy to point in a direction that probably, still to this day, would be met with silence and derision.

Alone and with one’s thoughts … A mixture, for some, that would lead right back to a drink.

I don’t have that option, it is NOT an option.

I can’t drown my thoughts with alcohol like I used to. And sometimes growing up and coming to is a bitch, because the longer we are sober, and the more hindsight we have to the past, and the more meetings we go to, and topics come up, we re-tread old pain and sorrow, and see it from another perspective, once again …

What do we do with it, when solutions are not forthcoming ?

God only knows, right ???

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – The Baby Almost Killed Us All !

tumblr_lnf35rFEG61qg5qxfo1_500 falloftheromanempireCourtesy: Fall of the Roman Empire

I did A LOT of this over the last six days.

Our visit to the M.U.H.C. hospital last Monday, was the beginning of a weeks worth of pain and suffering. What we did not know then, was that a toxic mix of baby/gastro/sick kids was running rampant through the daycare where the baby goes during the day.

They did not inform the parents that this was a problem. It WAS a problem.

Tuesday morning I dropped labs, that I had some results on Saturday when I saw one of my doctors.

Wednesday, was the Madonna Concert. And like I said, when it was over, I was like, “Is that it?” I wasn’t particularly moved. And now I can safely say that I was hours away from critical mass, the incubation period for gastro was in process.

I had peaked emotionally, Wednesday night.

I had reached critical mass and exhaustion on Thursday morning.

Thursday as the sun rose, and hubby was getting ready for work, I come flying out of bed, and spent all of Thursday, ALL DAY LONG, hugging the porcelain bowl. You would’ve thought I drank a huge amount of liquor or something like that.

I was THAT SICK !

I was so thirsty that I went thought bottle after bottle of juice, several jugs of water, and six or seven ice trays of ice, trying to hydrate. The more I drank, the more came back up. It was so violent that by the end of Thursday, I had no voice.

It was Gone, Shot, See Ya !!!

Between bouts of being sick, I got dressed and went to the pharmacy to get some much needed gravol pills and Pepto. I stopped off at the grocery store for more juice, which was a no win scenario.

I slept through most of Thursday.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a wash out as well.

Saturday I had a doctors appointment, that I did make, But that was it for Saturday.

On Wednesday morning at first light, baby mama’s parents flew in from New Foundland to visit and to see the baby. By Friday morning, both were deathly ill. They came, they saw, and they got sick, themselves.

The second string folks who took care of baby mama on Sunday afternoon into Monday both got sick themselves. That would be seven people who were infected inside a weeks time and got deathly sick.

By Monday evening I was feeling well enough to attend our monthly GSR meeting. I had some of my voice back, so that was good. I came home right after, made some dinner and went back to bed.

I was out of commission until today. I went to see baby mama and the baby, on my way to the meeting. It seems, everybody is on the mend. This was the first time that we’ve seen sickness hit so many people in such a short time.

Babies are toxic … Especially when there are several sick babies in a day care.

None of us thought that we would get so sick, taking care of baby mama and the baby, in the hospital. That obviously was the last thought on my mind at the time. I had a job to do and I did that job, until I was finished.

What happened next, almost killed me.

Add sickness, toxic sickness, to someone who has a compromised immune system, this could have ended much worse, at least I did not end up in the hospital myself.

We return to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday – Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries, 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


Friday – Celebrations of Time

tumblr_na1os98mxP1t7d7l8o1_500 freshieCourtesy: Freshie … Celebrating the Montreal Canadiens who played tonight in their playoff championship on the road to the Stanley Cup finals, and mourning the loosing club of this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs… What a disaster !

Spring has finally come to Montreal. And people are loving it. For the past few days, it has been warm enough to go out in shirtsleeves at night. But I carried a hoodie just in case.

It has been a wonderful and warm couple of days. All the rain they said would fall, did not materialize at all. Skies remained blue through the week and into tonight.

Synchronicity – Coincidence – Is it ODD or is it GOD …

Not long ago, I told a story about how the universe is alive and is listening to what we say and watching what we do. And the universe has a funny way of letting us know that it is present in our lives, even if we don’t subscribe to that kind of thought.

I noticed that we have been missing certain people in the meetings. And one particular young lady came to my mind the other night, quite surprisingly. Yes, I hadn’t seen her in a while, I sent that thought out on a Tuesday evening, and the universe responded Thursday night.

I got to St. Matthias early and was sitting out front, and my young lady waltzed up the street to the church. Funny, this is another example of universal consciousness being alive and well.

Yeah, she decided to come to the meeting on her own.

I asked the universe to send her to us.

And she showed up.

Is that ODD or is that GOD ???

Tonight we sat a full house. The topic … “That Spiritual Angle.”

Spend enough time in a room, and we begin to find our spiritual angle. The one that works for us. And I think, among all the meetings I go to on a weekly basis, the Friday night meeting, is the place where our young people, and older people as well, have been actively cultivating their own spiritual angle.

God, Higher Power, Spirit, whatever you call it, has been a constant subject in our meeting for more than a year. That conversation arises from the frequency that As Bill Sees It, deals those topics out. There is a lot of God in that little book.

I’ve learned a lot about the spiritual angle from my friends. In fact, I have come to need it and rely on it and also come to respect what that means to my friends, and how they see the world. We think we must know everything when it comes to God, and some don’t want to know anything about God, but on Friday, we all meet in the middle to discuss it and in that discussion we have evolved.

There is more than one way to skin the proverbial sobriety cat.

Belief and Faith is individual to each of us.

Everybody respects where each of us are on the time line. And nobody sits there and preaches one way or another, like they have the definitive answer. That would be presumptuous and arrogant to say the least.

Knowing God from many directions is very useful in working with others.

It was a full night of friendship and fellowship. The house was packed. And we celebrated three of our number in their Second sober anniversaries. Two is a big deal. The chip is silver and oval in shape and style, rather than the bronze medallion.

When you get your Two, you keep it close, because when you get to Ten, that silver chip, gets dipped in Gold and you get it engraved for your tenth anniversary.

Kind of tradition in Montreal.

Everyone is important in every meeting. But the most important person in any meeting is the newcomer. Celebrations in our group are festive and meaningful, because of the population. Chips are important to our young people, because they see us, and each other celebrate time, and that gives them hope that the gift is there for them as well.

When I began to attend this meeting, it was a small meeting with no more than twenty five people in the back hall around a smaller table setting. I watched two particular people come and and claim a chair for themselves.

Over the last two years our little meeting blossomed into what it is today. We are in the main hall with double the head count, so many heads in that count that we split the group up for sharing so that everyone has a chance to speak.

Tonight, three very important members of our group took their two year cakes.

My recommendation is that you find a meeting to call home, and STAY in that group for as long as it takes. For as long as it takes, will give you the opportunity to watch your fellows get sober. Watching light come to ones eyes and the shadow depart is a blessing. And you too will see what others are experiencing, and you will have those moments too.

I’ve watched my friends come, stay, and get sober, and tonight they hit the Two mark.

We are all so proud of them. Because we are family. That is why those who come, come, and stay, because of that welcome and love freely given.

A good night was had by all.

On my transit back, I saw advertisements on our Metro TV. In many stations, there are flat screen tv’s that show arrival times, weather, news briefs and assorted others media sorts.

Our Glenn Site Hospital that I told you all about some time ago, opens officially on April the 26th. The first of the many hospitals that are moving to the Glenn, is the Royal Victoria, just a stones throw from home. They will commandeer 40 ambulances for a two days, transporting every patient in the Royal Vic to the new Glenn site.

That is going to be One Huge Project …

The Children’s Hospital, just up the street from home moves on May 26th, one month after the Royal Vic transfer. They will also follow the ambulance protocol. Then the old building will be demolished and a new public park will be built on that site.

In a couple of years, there will be plenty of green space, just up the block.

It was a great week. Spring is here, and people could not be happier.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday – The Golden Age, Comfort, and The Mountain

FC Barcelona v UD Almeria - La LigaCourtesy: VIP Football Collection. Lionel Messi FC Barcelona

And the week closes, so glad that we are here. Yesterday it was just wet and cold. Tonight it was chilly, and very windy. We’ve been promised warmer weather in the coming days.

Yesterday we were at St. Matthias for our weekly Thursday meeting. We got to hear stories from one of our Golden Ager’s. I’ve been seeing him around for months. Figured he had all this time and his wife is one of us as well. Last night the chair introduced him to us and he told us that he only had four years, and that he was seventy five years old.

You do the math …

I admire our old timers. They are a wealth of wisdom and love. Sometimes people come to alcohol late in life, after living a full life with decades of hard work, wives, kids and family. In our man’s case, he was sober, for the whole of his life, until his first wife was diagnosed and died as a result of Breast Cancer. A tragedy of the magnitude was the kicker that took our man into the pit of despair.

But the stars aligned and his kids were paying close attention to his deteriorating life.

In the end he ended up strapped to a bed, for ten days. Then he landed in the local rehabilitation center, that we are all familiar with. He did not take right away, he was older than all his housemates, and even older than the man who owned the place.

He got sober.

When it was time to leave, he did not know what to do, or where to go, or how to navigate into this next portion of his life, in his words, he was “scared.” By placing one foot at a time in front of the other, he did the sober dance. He hit his meetings, and did lots of service.

Promises do come true in sobriety.

It is quite the love maker of men and women.

A couple years in, being homed in a particular meeting on the West End, he met, dated, and eventually married a wonderful woman in sobriety. After such tragedy and sadness, and a trip into the pit of hell, our man survived with the help from those who knew him and loved him best, and now he is a very bright light shining for everyone to see.

He told a story about his childhood home, where they are still finding bottles and flasks of alcohol that had been hidden all over the house and basement by his father.

Which brings me to this story about my grandfather, my father’s father.

My grandparents had a huge, 2 bedroom house in Connecticut. I spent a good deal of time in this house, as I did my other grandparents, and my aunts houses.

So my father’s father was a type 3 alcoholic. A bottle stashed in every location he would sit or stand, inside and outside the house. But he was hiding a secret that nobody knew about, until after they had both died.

My father went to close the house, sell what he could, and save whatever he wanted. He has a number of vintage 78 record player, and old phonograph such and so forth.

The house had a huge basement with a root cellar for canning and storage. But the surprise was hidden stapled to the rafters underneath the flooring. Yes, he drank, copiously. But my grandfather was saving for a rainy day it seemed. He had amassed about ten grand in hundred dollar bills, in individual envelopes stapled to the underside of the basement rafters.

In total it was quite the hefty rainy day fund.

This leads us into Comfort …

Today’s reading from A.B.S.I. – Taking our Comfort

I chose the word comfort because it gives me food for thought.

As a young child, I spent a great deal of time, in places that offered comfort. Alcoholism was very alive and well in all of our lives. Amid that insanity, were oases of comfort and calm. As children we don’t usually have to worry about going without, or having too little.

I never went without, and growing up, I seemed to have everything I ever wanted, but I was not a child who demanded MORE. I can’t really put my finger on when MORE became a concept that meant anything as a young person.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

When I moved out of home out on my own, I think I began to cultivate the need for more.

I didn’t want more money, I didn’t want more things. I wanted more friends, I wanted more party, and I surely wanted more alcohol. I can’t tell you where I learned this, if it was a lesson I was taught as a young person. It just happened.

I was never comfortable drinking, because there was always something attached to my drinking. There was always a hunt or a desire. I wasn’t just drinking to be comfortable, I was drinking to be more, because I was told that the only way into the LGBT community was through the consumption of alcohol. And more if you could get it.

I started hitting mountains early on. They kept getting progressively bigger. I seemed to climb well for a while. Until I hit the proverbial Andes, or better yet, the Himalayas.

In 1994, the biggest mountain I would ever see, came into view. I would eventually climb and conquer that mountain, with the help of my guides and helpers.

After that experience, nothing would top that.

Sobriety takes work. It isn’t a cake walk by any stretch of the imagination. Sobriety is a mountain. And the only way up is by the Steps. They just keep coming, no matter how much time you have.

For a long time, we learned how to live and to live together. We learned how to manage life, money and love. It has been a long climb, that has lasted for thirteen years. Last fall, we summited that mountain.

Today, we are comfortable in every way. We are not spoiled. And we do not need “more” than we have. It took a long time to get used to having “enough” because for many years, we barely had enough. So we take nothing for granted.

Everything is where it should be.

God is in His heaven and everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned…


Stroke … Do You Know the Signs ?

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 12.17.52 AMThis story begins on Carmi’s Blog, and the article: Winding Down the Day that Was

Because this story involves one of my long time friends here on the web, I thought that I would share with you my story, as it pertains to this subject … STROKE.

Back in the day, (circa 1979-1982) both sets of grandparents were still healthy, alive and able.

In my junior year in Junior High School, that would have been 8th grade, we got a call from Connecticut and my uncle on the phone saying that my father’s mother, had had a stroke, and was in hospital. What we did not know then, made all the difference.

Simply put, nobody knew what to do, us, or the medical community.

My grandparents lived in a ranch house, with a grand staircase to the second floor and the bedrooms, it would have been a challenge to get a gurney up those stairs, and ambulance service, back then was almost non- existent as it is today.

Time was of the essence and too much time was lost, in treating her properly. They did not have the drugs we have today to take care of patients. So time and medication was limited and the damage was done. My grandmother had total right side paralysis and lost her speech, save for a few four letter words that she shouted at any given moment.

My father took me out of school, at age 13 and charged me with the task of magically showing up at her bedside, in the hopes that my just being there, would rouse her out of her stupor, and that she would see me, the first born grandson she doted upon, and get up and walk and speak normally.

That did not happen.

We took a night flight out, and the next morning we were taken to the hospital. I walked into her room, grammy’s face was half on the pillow, and half sliding off of her skull. She was drooling and bunched up due to paralysis.

I fainted and my skull hit the floor, which sent me to the E.R. to be checked out.

Over the next few days, I sat with her trying to get her to speak, to see letters, and see flash cards, hoping against hope that she would rise up. I failed at this mission. And I don’t think my father ever forgave me for failing this mission.

There were no special therapy houses or clinics. No special wards for those who were suffering. Patients with debilitating issues were sent to the city hospital (read: Insane Asylum) where psychiatric patients were locked up, but there was a ward with regular beds, stuck in between.

That hospital was abominable. My grand parents, together, never got the care they deserved.

A year to the date my grandmother had her stroke, my grandfather was felled by his own.

Now both were in long term care, (read: Asylum) and were moved from site to site.

My father packed up their house, sold off everything that he could, sold the house, and brought my grandparents to Florida, where we could see them daily, or weekly, as it was.

My grandmother moved from a wheelchair to a cane over the next ensuing years. My grandfather was less limited, and only became more of a pain in the ass.

They moved from one care home to the next. They never really rose to the challenge of being able to properly care for long term patients who needed specific care. They were mistreated by staff. The nurses did a half ass job, and some even stole money and clothing that we would give them / buy them over the years.

It was terrible.

Both my grandparents died later on in my life. I was devastated.

My father was never the same, after this entire ordeal. It fucked him up for life.

So the signs … F. A. S. T.

  • FACE … Is your face drooping
  • ARMS … Can you lift them
  • SPEECH … Can you form words, speak
  • TIME … Call 911 immediately

There are several types of strokes, that may happen over a period of time, but they all end up the same way, with a blood clot that travels to the brain, and cuts off oxygen to the brain, therefore causing the death of brain cells and the stroke.

If you think you are having any of these symptoms, stop, pay attention, get help immediately.

  • Do Not Wait.
  • Do not Think, ah, this is just a little problem, it will go away …
  • Think, Act, Get Help Immediately

It could save your life or the life of someone you love.


Are You Who You Want to Be ???

loveThe World is battling the greatest fight of its spiritual life. And we as its people must stand and declare ourselves ready and willing to battle the darkness and proclaim the Light as loud and as Hard as we can. We cannot allow the powers of darkness to win this battle, no matter where this battle is taking place. We must stand up for Justice, Freedom and for Life.

There is no middle path. This IS the path.

Many words have been written about recent events taking place a world away from us. Many of my contemporaries have written words extolling the virtue of a free press and the ability to express ourselves as we wish, in our respective countries where the rule of law is Democratic. Yet, no one I know and have read, approaches this subject matter as I have done so.

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

It was another cold day, snow fell, but it was much warmer today in relation to how cold it has been earlier in the week. I could not reach my friend who usually travels with me on Thursday night, his phone was busy all day, he did not respond to email, and he is elderly, so I worried.

I half hoped that he was just busy and would meet me at our designated spot to catch the bus, but that did not happen. I got to the park side stop and the bus followed soon after. I arrived at the church and spoke to another friend who attempted to reach our friend by cell at the meeting.

We came to figure out that the power has been out at his building, which is only 1 block away from us, all day long and was only restored around 7:30 this evening. He was trapped in his building. They had no water and no generator to operate their elevators, so the entire building was held hostage all day long into the night.

I knew several days ago who our speaker was going to be this evening. When I got there, the chair asked me to thank the speaker. Little did I know what was going to be said.

Every story is different. We are all different. But there may be shared events in our lives that cross the identification line. I heard several threads that I identified with.

There is something to be said for people who find themselves trapped in a body that is not theirs, and realizing this problem, find a solution, then grow into the people they are meant to be. I speak here for the courage and trials of someone who is transgendered.

I’ve known our speaker for as long as I’ve been sober. We’ve crossed paths over the past decade or more but I’ve never heard her full story until tonight.

She mentioned things that I really did not think about before, but were parts of my own story.

My father fought in a war, loved another man, lost that man in war, and came home and created a life and named that child after the man he lost in the war. In hindsight, I could never fill the shoes of the man I was named after. I was living a life stuck between great love and great hatred.

Our speaker was born into a family that lost a child, and she was the replacement, but she could never fill the shoes that had been left empty by death.

My extended family loved me hard and fought for my survival for years. Where all my father wanted to do was destroy me and kill me, and repeatedly told me that I was a mistake and should never have been born.

She spoke about grievous death.

Early in my life, I suffered grievous deaths, when I lost my father’s parents to strokes, that in the end took their lives later on in my life. But at the time, as a teenager, I worshiped the ground they walked on, the loss was acute. I had lost my greatest protectors. And I faced a much worse threat of imminent death, had my father succeeded in his desire to see me finished.

Those two events took a serious toll on my father and the family by extension. Loosing the people who loved me in opt for parents who did not love me as they should have, left me at a great disadvantage.

I knew early on that I was different, that something was off. I could not name it, but my survival and listening to my folks talk amongst themselves and friends, told me exactly what my problem was and what I had to do to escape.

Alcohol was the vehicle I used to get me where I thought I was supposed to go. And for a decade or more, I never thought about the love I had lost and just how much that loss affected me in my soul. It was like I had entered a time of suspended animation, what was going on inside of me was put to sleep by the repeated use of alcohol.

When the other shoe dropped and I lost the only other human being that cared for me more than the mother who bore me, and was denied the right to attend her funeral because of my homosexuality and my sickness from AIDS, I was devastated. That was a terrible blow when I was newly sober the first time. My parents believed I was insignificant and that I did not matter.

That theme was echoed by our woman tonight.

I would experience several more grievous deaths, and insist that I had to drink to escape the visual and emotional damage those deaths had caused me. How could I live with the vision of a dead boy on an autopsy table, half there and half not, for the rest of my life?

it would take the threat of death to stop my suicide by alcohol.

I had forgotten what it meant to be loved. I had forgotten what it meant to be comfortable in my own skin, because for as long as I could remember, I was never comfortable in my own skin, because growing up, I was a mistake and that I did not matter. I guess the alcohol soothed that ache.

But I never attributed my alcoholism to those factors. I just drank.

Because that what I was told to do to become who I wanted to be.

I spent a little more than a decade, drinking and searching for someplace to BE.

I did not find it because like they say, where ever you go, there you are.

You can’t escape yourself, you carry your baggage with you where ever you go.

I could not escape myself no matter how hard I pounded the alcohol.

This self realization our speaker spoke about in her life, happened to me at age twenty six. Someone loved me in my rawness. Saw that I needed to be loved and cared for, and that was the cathartic experience I needed to begin to build the life I wanted. I had two good years at self realization.

I lost the calm, loving hand that guided my life and was left to pick up the pieces, which did not go so well, and I returned to king alcohol.

The turning point came when I put down the drink the second time. I was broken and delusional, like I have shared many times before. I had a choice to make and I made it.

The changes I began in early sobriety the first time, were completed the second time I got sober.

I set the stage for where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, and why…

My father believed that extended family was useless, that they must be eradicated from out nuclear family lives because they did not fit in with his worldview of complete domination and control. He succeeded in alienating every living person who cared about me in any way.

In the end, when I moved to Montreal, it was an entirely spiritual decision.

My Grandmother, the woman I adored more than life itself, my mother, who had lived here most of her life, until she married my father lived here in Montreal. And later as I learned from my mother in one of our final conversations, I learned of another human being connected to my past.

I came here to connect to the spiritual root of my family. I came here to connect to the spirit of those women whom I adored and were blessed to have in my life, for the short period of time I had them.

That decision was a direct stab to my father’s heart of hearts. I knew that.

I had executed three knife hits to his heart, those hits were unforgivable in his eyes.

I really did not care. How can I respect a man who would never respect me?

The time was ripe for me to grow into the man I was meant to be. And that is when my life intersected with our speaker tonight. I met her in familiar places. We spoke together and we shared together.

We are spiritual beings having a human existence she said. And on our journeys, we are gifted by God to share a bit of the journey together. As we find ourselves and grow into the men and women we are meant to be.

I’ve come through the crucible of hatred and bigotry and homophobia. I’ve come through the crucible of AIDS, and I survived and I live today to tell that tale. My friend who spoke tonight lived through her own crucible being born into a body that was not hers, and she undertook the steps to rectify that problem. And today she is a shining light of love, perseverance and hope.

I did not realize until tonight, just how much the loss of certain people in my life so early in my life had truly cost me. But I did learn about unconditional love. I learned about family, what family really meant, because my family did not live that way in reality.

The kernel of love, faith and family was planted in my garden well before I needed it.

It took me until I arrived in my mid thirties to realize where those kernels were in my soul and I had found the place to plant them, here in Montreal. Once I was settled here, the kernels were planted by God, and I lived one day at a time, and one by one, those kernels sprouted into the life I live today.

I am reminded of just how much I was loved by those who I deemed most important.

I am reminded of just how great a loss it was when they departed my life.

And I chose, by coming here, to honor those women who gave me love and life.

When I crossed the northern Border, there was no turning back.

To be who I wanted to be cost me a nuclear family.

Any L.G.B.T.Q. person will attest to this, that at some point in our lives we are faced with a choice, to live inside a closet or inside a body that is not ours, always looking for who we are meant to be while battling those around us who demand we remain in the boxes they put us in for their own sakes and not for ours, or we break free and we create the family we want with the people who mean the most to us.

Too many teens have died because of this lack of care and love. We MUST break that cycle of abuse and death, if there is to be a future for our young L.G.B.T.Q. people.

I did what I had to do. I do not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it, because even today, I see that life, as it was lived, in a different light, once again.

Sobriety, like life, is cyclical.

Every time we get to review the past, we find further insight to it.

I find it amazing that my friends constantly give me food for thought on any given night.

All it takes is a little time, and a bunch of drunks sitting in a church basement to realize life changing truth. The truth we all share, as we become the men and women we are meant to be,

One Day At a Time.


Sunday Sundries … City Under Seige …

tumblr_m6mdjyafaO1qcv34vo1_500 splitminded

Courtesy: Split Minded

It is Very Scary out tonight. People are invoking the memory of the Great Quebec Ice Storm. And tonight, it is looking very likely that conditions are going to go from bad to worse over the next forty eight hours.

We are sitting at (1c) at this hour. But let’s go back a couple of days.

Friday night it was cold, a little too cold. But we all traveled to the meeting. It was a mega packed house. Everybody is back from coming and going. Almost all of our youth stayed sober over the holidays, save for a couple.

The lesson here: Family is a good thing, in small doses, when we are in early sobriety. Not having an out or a meeting to get to is fuel for the fire. Spending too much time with your family can really fuck up ones sobriety, as was proven by some of our folks.

The government website, and tv people and everyone else has been waving the “WARNING” flag for the last week, warning us that a storm was coming. We expected snow to fall all day Saturday and we would then have a ton of snow on the ground.

Snowfall did not start until around 6 p.m. Saturday evening, and it snowed into the night, with just enough snow to create havoc on streets and sidewalks. I had shopped like a madman so I wouldn’t have to go out unless it was an emergency, because they warned us a BIG storm was coming.

Well, it never came.

Saturday night came, it was snowy and very cold.

Early in the evening we got a call from my in laws, hubby’s grandmother, his father’s Mother, had died early in the evening. She had Alzheimer’s for many years. In reality, she left the building ten years ago, when she lost her ability to remember us. She was in an assisted lock down care facility, because she was a wanderer. Several times in years prior, she found ways out of the home in the dead of winter on several occasions, and it was good thing that she didn’t get killed or freeze to death wandering around Ottawa in her nighty.

She ended up in palliative care last week, and in the end, they doped her up to make her comfortable. Once you introduce sedatives, morphine or dilauded to the mix, death is not far away. Nana gave up her body after years of being absent to her body. A sad end in any case.

So that happened early Saturday night.

Somebody was on a plow late Saturday night a few blocks from us East, and they hit a gas main, and it exploded. Which plunged our section of the city into darkness. The power went out just after 11 p.m. as the news was starting.

When the power goes out, we loose heat, water and electricity, in one swoop ! We were on the Western edge of the blackout. And thanks to text messages we figured out how far to the East the blackout extended.

My neighbors on our floor began to panic. Really, it was the first time I have seen my neighbors all at the same time. Nobody knew what to do because the lights went out. Like the super was going to be able to turn the lights back on just for the asking … um, NO !

We have an emergency generator that operates the elevators in case this situation occurred.

Someone was stuck in the elevator that is not served by the generator. We have two elevators. One gets juice the other does not. We got the car to ride down to the ground floor and those folks got out. And like good frantic people, some had to go out to see what happened.

I was like – it’s almost midnight, It’s freakishly cold out, and you want to go outside and find the damage? WTF ??? Why not stay inside where it is relatively warm and safe ?

I eventually went downstairs to talk to people on the ground floor to see what they knew, and I found a bunch of folks who lived farther east of us, from their dark buildings, sitting in the darkness in our building, hoping to find electricity and when they got here, we were dark too. So they sat in the dark for hours until the power came back on around 1:15 a.m. in the morning.

We decided that there was nothing to do but to sit in the dark and stare at a single candle burning. Just after midnight we went to bed, the heat had been off for a while, and it was starting to get chilly, so I piled extra blankets on the bed and we went to sleep. Only to be woken by the sound of appliances coming back on, the computer, and finally water being pumped up to our floor and to the ones above.

Massive amounts of people all over the city and far and wide went dark since last night, and crews are working double time to get them all reconnected.

I had an appointment with one of my guys early so I was up and ready to go before I needed to go. It had warmed up enough that the snow that fell, melted. Which in turn created standing puddles of water at every intersection. Water, Water Everywhere …

The house of slush and puddles …

I really need a pair of rubber boots. Because even with my winter boots, my socks got wet.

Imagine folks stranded on street corners not knowing how to ford the lakes of water without getting their feet wet, and trying to get around mounds of snow that had been plowed creating these lakes all over the place. The trek out was tedious.

I got a couple of emails from folks who were not going out. So I opened, chaired, collected the kitty and closed the church. My peeps helped out in between.

Step Four was on the table. Lots of good stuff.

I was afraid nobody would show up, because the weather was frightful. The ice and snow that had collected on the roof of the church fell in great bangs to the ground while we were inside. I could not shovel the walkway, because the snow had turned to ice. Everything was covered in ice. I could only shovel the stoop in front of the doors, so people could get inside.

A handful of hearty weather goers showed up. The hardened “In sleet, rain, snow or ice, nothing will keep us from a meeting” crowd.

Temps warmed up, snow is melting, there is ice covering cars, sidewalks, streets, etc …

We will drop to Minus (-10c) by tomorrow, and (-20c) on Tuesday. Anything that is not iced over right now, will be iced over very soon. Then things could get really dicey.

Getting home was a challenge. It took a bit longer than I had expected because of lakes, puddles, ice and snow. Freakish weather. A lot freakier than it was last winter.

It has been a freakish, sad, and tedious weekend to say the least.

More to come, stay tuned …


I have no opinion on Halloween.

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Courtesy: Don’t Eat Trash – Jeremy

Hey, how are you?

Happy Halloween apparently. I don’t really know what it is because I grew up in Australia. A country on an island in the middle of the ocean, far far away from most. But, i did just watch Blood Diamond. An amazing film that shows how a civil war was fought by soldiers stealing children and retraining them into soldiers by shocking them with ultra violence. At the end of the movie the father character finds his brain washed son, who points a gun at his Dad.

The father stares into the eyes of this hurting, lost, violently brain washed boy and starts speaking truth into him.

“Dia, What are you doing? Dia! Look at me, look at me. What are you doing? You are Dia Vendy, of the proud Mende tribe. You are a good boy who loves soccer and school. Your mother loves you so much….. I know they made you do bad things, but you are not a bad boy. I am your father who loves you. And you will come home with me and be my son again.”

and it smashed me.

These are the words my father said without saying. I was and am his son. I belong with him. He said this in many ways, but he spoke it so often that even when I was bullied at school, even when i was a confused 19 year old who moved out of home, even when i moved to Sweden – the other side of the world…. before i left he told me he was proud of me and I am his.

I’ve never shot anyone. I’ve never been brain washed like in the movie, but… the truth my parents have always spoken over me has protected me and empowered me in so many different parts of my life.

I don’t write this to brag (much). But more to highlight the power of words and truth spoken. Yesterday I talked with one of my friends about how we sometimes believe lies spoken over us purely because there’s no reply to it.

If we are told we are dumb, and no one is telling us any different… then we must be dumb. If we are told we are ugly or worthless or going no where, we believe them… why wouldn’t we.

But this father in the film, and my father in my life constantly spoke truth. This kid was a good kid. Yes he’d shot people, but his father was calling him home, to belong, to be who he actually is.

To push the picture even further, this interaction is a perfect example of how God is with us. And how God craves to be intimate with us like a father to his child. Proud. Protective. Powerful.

God stares us in the face when we point a gun at his and, he doesn’t grab the gun, he doesn’t push us away like he could. He stays in our aim and starts telling us who we are, giving us room to be with him again, completely and instantly.

Try him out. Aim your gun at God and see what he says about you.

again, completely and instantly.

Try him out. Aim your gun at God and see what he says about you.


Sunday Sundries … Brrr It’s Cold !!!

tumblr_mrh2a45JQ31rydszfo1_500 iheefzCourtesy: Iheefz

It is another single digit night, with a low coming in tonight of (5c). Last night, it was very chilly.

In weeks time, the temperatures have dropped considerably and a friend commented tonight

“Where the fuck did September go?”

We usually get to the end of September before we hit single digits, but that is not the case here right now. I decided last night to crate the A.C. for another winter. We actually turned the heat on to take away the chill last night.

The Sun tossed earth huge C.M.E’s but we here in Quebec, well, most probably, Montreal, did not get to see any auroras. But many in Canada did get to see them. It was clouded over, overnight both Friday and Saturday night.

It was a quiet weekend, and it was interesting last night, when we went to bed, there was no background hum of the A.C. Just the sounds of the streets rising into the tower.

I set off uber early to work with a friend on a new blog project. That is always fun, trying new things, and seeing what WordPress has to offer new writers. It was all too much to try and fit into a 90 minute consult. Finding the right theme, with the right perks takes time and patience. Knowing what you want the blog to do, is key, then you find a theme and template to match.

WordPress offers a huge amount of choices.

I have been using the same template and interface for many years. I have tweaked my site for optimum efficiency. If you go and make a serious changes with a new template, then you have to go back and redo everything that you had done already for a new space. That takes too much time, and I don’t need that kind of headache.

We got to the church on time, having walked up the block from Second Cup, and cranked it out and made coffee. It was a good crowd. Some new faces, and good discussion.

We read the story “A Vision of Recovery.”

We will soon be at the end of the book before too long.

I listened to the read, and I kind of trolled off topic, since a handful of folks started a tangent thought, so I fed off that for my contribution.

The same themes come up, but I took notice of “Insanity, Promises, Words and Higher Power.”

The insanity of the fact that, it is never just one, there is always more. The promises we make to people in our lives, namely family, that always get broken. I was reminded of what my father always said to me … “Be careful the words you speak, because once you speak them, you can never take them back.” And finally, finding a higher power, or a concept of one.

In the story our man is in the deep end of the pool, not knowing what to do, either attend a neighbors party and drink again, call his sponsor, who did not answer his call, or call on God to help.

He chooses the latter saying, “Well I guess it’s just you and me bud!”

He survives that night, and eventually gets into a meeting and sobers up.

The story ends with two years of sobriety, and his mention of working his Eighth Step.

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

I’ve said before that my steps have been incomplete since the day I got sober, because of extenuating circumstances. You can’t make amends to someone who does not want to be in your life, for reasons well out of your control.

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends, and create the family that you want.

Many people I know, in the rooms, have done just that. We’ve all build our family out of our fellows, male and female. Sometimes you need to detach from people, places and things that do not serve you anymore. In sobriety we grow up, sadly, some people on the outside, do not …

I can’t compete with some of the words spoken to me by family. It’s funny, my father thought that he was the fount of wisdom, and that every words he uttered, advisory or not, was to be obeyed and never questioned.

Sadly, he spoke words, but did not heed them himself.

I remembered those words. So you could say that I was an alcoholic, who did not speak. Rather, I acted. And they say that actions speak louder than words. My actions probably screamed, and I am paying for those actions to this day.

We all grow up. And move into our adulthood’s and lives. There will be people who may not necessarily agree with your choices and the way we choose to grow up. And I’ve learned that expecting someone (read: Family) to grow up and understand is one expectation too many.

Especially when you hear the words …”If either your father or me die, no one will call you and no one will tell you where we are buried.”

Be careful the words you speak, because once you speak them, you can never take them back.

Sadly, she did not heed those word either.

Another week is upon us. It will be a great week, because I will get presents in the mail.

Everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … On the Road

tumblr_l7kzzjlD3L1qzqhkho1_500 twinkobsessionCourtesy: Obsession

Do you ever have a moment like this, when you did something and you should have done something else, and grabbed your head and went “UGH!!!”

They say, in recovery, that “Where ever you go, there you are …”

Which is timely with the introduction of tonight’s read: On the Road

As alcoholics, how many years did we spend, traveling from one place to another, trying to find ourselves, or a life, or something like it?

Our writer tonight, travels roads all over the earth, looking. This after being young and getting blackout drunk and trying to kill his stepfather, the judge says “You can either go to Juvie, or you can leave town until you turn 21!”

Not wanting to go to juvie, our writer takes to the road in search of himself, but never finds himself until he darkens a room of A.A. He spends the better part of his life drinking his way around the world and back again, until he takes his last drink.

And even then, he really did not connect. And every time a sponsor “lovingly suggested” that he do some work, he would summarily fire them and move on to someone else, who had, he thought, a much easier softer way.

Some years into sobriety, say, around the two year mark, we enter what we like to call,the “angry years” where nothing fits, everybody is wrong and has no idea. And if we stay sober through this we eventually get to what we next call the “jumping off point.”

This is the stage where we say “SHIT or get off the Pot !”

There are many ways to approach recovery. I get the slow starters. I understand the questions, the uncertainty, the fear, of just how am I going to live, now that I am trying to get sober, and what will my life look like and what will I do if I can’t have just one???

Come in, sit down, and relax. All the jobs have been taken. Listen and have an open mind.

Eventually, you will hear your sponsor speak, and that is when you know what to do. OR you could just cold cock it and put it out there, that you need a sponsor, and see who rises to the occasion.

That works just as well.

Back to On the Road …

Growing up, I listened to my parents talk, A LOT ! Drunk and Sober. I heard a lot of things, and realized in my journey, that to be myself, I could not do that at home. I had to get out.

My shrink at the time told me what to do …

He said, and I quote “The best way to become part of a certain community is , to go to the bar, sit down at the bar and have a drink. Hell, have two if the spirit moves you, and see what happens.”

The entire decade of my twenties was wrapped up in one sentence.

On a bar stool, looking pretty, talking the right game, drinking the right liquor, and watching what happens.

I can’t tell you how many times I moved during those ten years. I had a brief foray into staying put from 26 to 28, but as soon as I was left to my own devices, I was off and running again. Until I hit my mid thirties. I had finally had enough of trying to find some place I could call my own.

I had come to that “Jumping Off Point” I was 34. Uneducated, by university standards, but wise on finding my way through poverty and sickness. I got sober again, and for a time, I settled where I was because I needed what my friends had and I needed to learn how to get sober again. I did that.

But in the back of my mind, and in my heart, Where I was, was not where I wanted to be.

Montreal was the stopping point.

I had been educated, I was sober, and I had a birthright in hand, that facilitated my last move.

It was the last step, in becoming the man I wanted to be, somewhere that I would call HOME.

Someplace that I could be ME, that I could be free of the past. Free of the pain, sickness and poverty that I was living in prior to my last move.

This time I had ammunition. This time I did it the right way. I found a home, I found the rooms, and I met people who would get me into the life I wanted.

The best piece of advice I heard the first week was this:

Go to meetings. Find a home group.

Build your LIFE around your MEETINGS, not your MEETINGS around your LIFE.

I did that. And I’ve been successful for the last 12 and some years. I never deviated from this advice, unless of course, I could not find another night to have class. Your home group is sacrosanct. You never miss your home group, no matter what. it should be your first responsibility.

Only 2 semesters in ten years did I ever have to miss my home group.

Our young people, in their twenties who are in the nest right now, are still trying to figure out who they will become and how they are going to get through school and life and be social, and NOT drink.

That is a tall order. It is a tall order for most folks coming in the room at any stage of the game. We all say that same thing … How can I survive this life and not drink?

I had to get to the point that moving from place to place was no longer working. I had to get to the point that I was ready to grow up and learn how to live in my skin, and become the man I so wanted to become.

Finding that “PLACE” is integral to success.

Because, where ever you go, there you are …

I was getting too old to keep looking, and not finding. The time had come to either SHIT or get off the pot, so to speak. I had no more time to waste, time was of the essence. And If I didn’t take that chance that I had, I would never have gotten here.

And I like HERE.  I want to be HERE. I love HERE.

If you don’t know where you are going, then STOP. Sit down where you are and rest. Look around you and survey your surroundings. Study your location and the people in that location. Consult your life map and ask your questions. THEN when you are ready to take that next step, gather your map and your things and take that step.

Growing up was not as hard or as painful as I thought it would be. When I was still drinking, all that mattered was having the delusional life I thought I wanted. WRONG !!! Knowing that where I was at that time, was not where I wanted to be, I think contributed to what I did next.

But I had to put the drink down first to be able to make a conscious life decision.

The rest they say is history.

All my guys are good. I Skyped with Pittsburgh, everyone is well. Our little group is sober another weekend. And we are good to go for the next week.

More to come, stay tuned …

OH, and I SCORED a #19 Germany – Mario Gotze World Cup Jersey. Pictured below and on the sidebar !!! Ten Cheers for EBAY !!! YAY !!!


Friday … Unbearable Weather and Things Like That

tumblr_nbchquNJyQ1rjev45o1_500 footballhqsCourtesy: Football HQS

Boy, was it HOT today. The last time it was this hot, was back in July. And we are under a severe thunderstorm watch at this hour.

I had nothing to do today, so I slept in. In the end I had several dreams one after another covering a few topics that have arisen in my mind over the past week. I am not only ruminating at night before bed, I am dreaming of people, places and things as well. It was interesting to see how the dreams played out. Even while I am sleeping my mind is in overdrive.

When my alarm clock finally went off at 4:30 this afternoon, I was like, NO, More Sleep Please !!!

I diddled here on the computer and got ready to go. I was meeting with one of my guys prior to the meeting, on the other side of town, so I left uber early. It was a miserable 28c out with a humidex of  38c. The skies were growing darker every minute as I made my way to the Metro.

If it was unbearable outside, then it was doubly worse in the tunnels. The heat generated by the trains and the air in the tunnels is really warm. And that warmth is a really good thing come winter. But it was sweaty hot outside, and I was traveling at peak rush hour. I don’t usually travel this early.

The trains were PACKED, across both lines.

When I made my connection, the car was packed wall to wall. It was sweaty hot, I was dripping all over myself and with so many folks around, wiping dripping sweat was problematic. UGH !!!

I arrived at Laurier and when I came out of the station it was dark. It was close to six o’clock. It was also raining. You would have thought that it would be Pouring rain seeing how dark it was outside. By the time I made my stop, the rain was coming to an end. And it seemed a bit cooler out.

We sat a jam packed house. We split up into two groups to allow everyone to get a chance at sharing.

Tonight’s read : A.B.S.I. #68 Giving without Demand.

The read speaks about working with others, and sharing the message. And the why’s, how’s and what for’s. We give it away freely, because it came to us freely. If you try and give it away to one, and it doesn’t take, there is always someone waiting in the wings for what you have to give.

The discussion went around and around, and culminated with a consensus about what we do with what we know, how best to utilize that knowledge and how best to serve.

I noted on the way home to a friend, that our young people don’t seem to realize how much they help us to help them. Our years of time run from days to months, to multiple years. And I have said before that if you listen well to your friends, and your fellows, you learn how to help them with what you know.

But why don’t I have any sponsees? was a general question from folks with a few years.

They go to meetings, and they work, and they share, but the pigeon coop is empty.

I know for me it took a long time until the time was right to begin working with others one on one. But I also said at the meeting, that when we go to a meeting and we share from our seats, we are “working with others” because you never know when something you say will impact someone in a way that betters their journey and they learn something.

Sharing from your chair is a good way to hear yourself speak, to polish your skills at words and work, and it gives folks an opportunity to listen to you, because you never know when someone will walk up to you and ask you to work with them.

I have said before that I had to top off my tanks. And only diligent study, prayer and focus was what was necessary to ignite the universe and in turn the universe sends people to us, at the right moment, for the right reasons.

When you listen at a meeting to your fellows share themselves, the more one listens, the more time you get to hone your skills at words, and eventually you speak up and what happens is that wisdom comes to you and to those listening to you.

I don’t have all the answers. All I have is all what I have learned in 12 years and some months. And it isn’t all about me.

I had to learn, “how to learn” from people who knew how to teach and lead. I listened to people from other places, and how they did the work. And then I practiced. I worked, then the universe opened up to me. That’s how I learned to work with others. By watching others do the work.

We also heard the words, “I can’t get you sober, and you aren’t going to make me drink.”

That is a common phrase we hear from our old timers and new prospects.

In some cases, people came to me, because the moment was there for a connection, deeper than just a phone call to say hello. In other cases, the moment came amid a conversation and the opportunity presented itself to step into a working relationship. Lastly, a newcomer walks into a room seeking direction and out of ten men, I was the only one with a cell phone and offered up my number and things just went on from there.

So you never know when the opportunity to work with someone will come. Be prepared.

But when we get to the end of the first 164 pages of the Big Book, in the reading “A Vision for You” it says that once we get our house in order, we are ready to give, the caveat is that obviously, one cannot give what they don’t have.” Which means that only through learning and study and time in the rooms, can we ever learn how to be present, when to speak up, when to listen, when to step up.

It takes a fine ear to hear the “Words Between the Words.” And that takes a long time to hone.

Like I said, when the universe thinks you are ready, it sends you a nugget. It is then your choice what to do with it. Listen. Listen well.

You can’t lead another human being through the steps until you yourself have done them as well. And it may take a second pass or many passes through the steps until the right opportunity opens up. This calls for patience and humility. Multiple passes through the steps, and working with a sponsor, only deepens our knowledge of how to use what we have learned. And being able to lead from the right direction and motive.

Because if you are in it to glorify yourself or stoke your ego, better sit down and say nothing, rather than opening up your mouth and sticking your foot into it all the way up to your knees !!!

Over time, the ear is refined to hear ego speak, and know when it approaches.

Run, don’t walk, to the nearest emergency exit !!!

We’ve seen many men and women come and go. And we’ve all heard the stories about hallowed and terrible sponsors. The groups have survived them all. One must be careful, what we give and how we give it, and from what direction and our motives. You never want to make a serious situation worse, or further, cause someone to take a drink. And if they do drink, it was their choice. But better to meter your words carefully, to speak wisely and correctly.

If you don’t know what words to use, ask, or pray for wisdom.

It seems the gentle, easy path is the most fruitful. I won’t throw a book at someone who has just come in the door, or someone who has only been in for a short time.

I believe in the come in, pick your chair, sit down in that chair and get used to your chair. You will spend a lot of time in that chair. When you are ready, I am here. I wait for the moment to arrive.

In between that time I am Present. I come, I sit and I listen. And I learn about you. In turn you teach me about myself. Working close with others is a great way to see your own shortcomings and character defects. Which in turn promotes humility.

I’ve seen what happens when someone allows ego to go to their heads.

Eventually they implode. Sad but true.

I sat at the table and when we took our moment, I heard the angels sing when we prayed.

It is the highlight of the week, to sit with my friends and say that prayer together. It is home.

And for that I am grateful.

I made my trek home and when I came out of the station on my end of town, lightening was streaking across the sky. But I haven’t seen any substantial rain fall on either end. Maybe later tonight, we’ll see.

More to come, stay tuned …