Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. B-Down Gobo Light Show – Memories. A Wordpress Production

Human Rights

This is what Religion has done to Us.

5057 Take a look at these horrific images that depict two men thrown from the roof of a building as a crowd watches them fall to their deaths, and they purport to show the bloody Islamic State (ISIS) carrying out public executions before an audience in Iraq’s Nineveh province. And the two victims’ alleged crimes?

They are believed to be GAY.

5058This is extremism at its WORST. Ideology that dictates this kind of atrocity is not religion. Once again, we see that (1) If your religion tells you to go into a public place with a gun and kill people, you need to find a new religion. And (2) If your God tells you to toss a human being off the roof in front of spectators, that is NOT God speaking to you.

These are unequivocal. There are no two ways about it.

I repeat myself when I say that killing an innocent for any reason is a crime against humanity when it is grossly dictated by someones ideology. This is utterly disgusting and repugnant.

These people, need to be stopped.

What do we capture them and send them through War Crimes tribunals, or do we administer vigilante justice and just kill them outright. Crimes such as these warrant the biblical punishment of an Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth.

This is just how this kind of atrocity makes me feel.

God – NO GOD – demands human lives for glory or Jihad. NO GOD !

Where is God while all these kinds of atrocities are taking place? If God did exist, He should act definitively and without mercy. Let the punishment fit the crime.

Smite these men into eternity. No virgins, No redemption, and NO mercy !!!


My Pants Fell Down … UGH !!!

tumblr_m5d9y0DD5f1rvpo0vo1_500 hflockiThey called for rain last night (for tonight), and said the sky would open up and dump cat’s, dog’s and little fishes upon us. They said it would start early and last into the night. Well, it did rain. Once I reached where I was going, after carrying my BIG umbrella, because it was called for “STORM!”

Not …

I was ready to go early, and as I locked the door and called for the elevator, it arrived and I had forgotten my BIG umbrella, so I had to go back and get it, I missed my elevator. UGH …

It was going to be one of those days …

I made stops on the way, and got through the turnstile, and down to the platform, and as I walked onto the train, my belt popped and my pants fell down on the train. One hand was full carrying BIG umbrella, and the other was holding my phone (read: music).

I don’t often shop at Target, for reasons I will share with you now …

They day they opened, I bought a brand new pair of Skull Candy Headphones that were said to be indestructible and would never break ! 6 months later, they crapped out. My $40.00 purchase turned into a $60.00 repair mission. I am waiting for either a new pair or something like them.

Belts and I are not a very comfy couple.

I bought a belt. $30.00… Belts are expensive. This particular belt has a buckle that has two very small pins holding the belt inside the buckle. And let’s just say that the work is shoddy. That belt split in two and both pins fell out of the buckle, hence the belt became useless.

I bought a second belt not long ago (another $30.00). I refused to stand in line for a return because I did not have the receipt. Fast forward to today …

I got on the train and I felt the belt I was wearing come apart. I was not prepared to moon the train car, and I had to pocket my phone and hold my pants up by the belt strap across the transit, onto another train, across the city, up and out of the station, and walked down the hill, holding up my pants with my fingers, until I reached the church … It still had not rained yet …

I get upstairs at the church. and pull my belt out of my bag, because I had taken it off on my transfer stop. I notice that one pin is missing and the other had unwound (read: unscrewed) I don’t usually carry tools with me in my backpack. At least one screw was still there, I was able to re-screw it back into the hole, and I regained my belt.

Thankfully, I did not have to hold up my pants through the night.

It rained …

We sat a nice group. We read from the Twelve and Twelve, Step One … We are working on a 12 week study of the Twelve and Twelve.

What Man or Woman, is ready to admit complete defeat ???

I had been defeated by a faulty belt earlier.

I tell this story about living in an alcoholic home and having a top rate education on alcoholism, you’d have thought I would have learned something, I didn’t. I can’t remember the word obsession ever coming into my lexicon. I never thought about addiction either. And further, I never called myself an alcoholic, but purely, I was.

The lesson I learned the first time is, that if you get sober, and you don’t focus your energy on getting sober and staying sober (i.e. The Work) Using the book and doing the work, you probably will drink again.

The second time I got sober, it was ONLY about my alcoholism. There weren’t any other issues hanging over my head. I don’t know if I would say that my second bottom was lower than the first. The first one was really bad. The second one, not that much. I knew the end was coming. I was tired of delusional thinking and the misery of the morning after. So I stopped.

Life Did Get Better. It only took 12 years and some odd months.

I can’t tell you or stress to you how important it is to be grounded in the Book(s). Had I made this a priority the first time, and not had death staring me in the face, I would be twenty years sober this year.

Alas that did not happen.

“And even in long term sobriety, 10 plus years or more … your sobriety is totally contingent on your spiritual condition and the depth you are rooted in prayer and in the books.”

I had to get into it to reap the rewards of being in it. And they did come.

The ability to give it away, properly, in my opinion, rests in the time you have spent studying the books, saying ones prayers, and working in the books. Until I had sunk into the books, with my sponsor, I was ill prepared to give it away, further than showing up at a meeting and sharing.

It took a year of work, prayer and study, for God to say, “ok, you are ready to give it away, here are your guys … One, Two, and Three … Bing, Bang, Boom !!!”

I am powerless over alcohol, but my life, today, is manageable. The second part of Step One speaks to being powerless over People, Places and Things.

It took a very long time to understand and be able to accept this little fact. However hard I try to please someone, or get someone’s attention, or their approval, i am powerless over people.

The other note I have written in my 12 and 12, at the back of Step One is this …

“While you are in a meeting, your alcoholism is out in the parking lot doing pushups, just waiting for you to come out and take you down.”

I have a friend, in the rooms today, who I have known since the day I arrived here. We were sober together, but he, like many, did not stick and stay.

I am nearing thirteen years, and on this past Sunday he took his Three Month Chip.

A long time ago, (seven or eight years ago) I was at my home group, and some Bozo came in and told me that this same friend committed suicide and was dead. Today, you don’t really hear much gossip like we used to hear. And those jokers are no longer around.

I was not happy and very sad. The one thing you never want to hear about a friend in the room is that he or she is dead, by their own hands. I did not trust this news because, One, that the news came from that particular man, and Two. that in the end, it was just gossip. And when I learned that it was just gossip, I spared not the rod, nor my wrath on him. He did not stick around after that.

Fast Forward to today… I am sitting with this friend and I am so amazed that he is back and sober today. And I was really grateful that he was sitting across from me, alive and well.

I mean it was like a palpable feeling of warmth.

After the meeting I spoke to him and reminded him of that story. And told him how happy I was to see him alive, well and sober once again. And that I remember what it felt like to hear another member tell me that he was dead. My friend is a unique snowflake. There are no other men like him in my life and for that matter, in our rooms.

He is totally special to me because of the long time friendship we share.

I have learned a great deal from him. While he was sober, but more, in why he drank again, and in watching that happen, I learned from him what Not To Do … Spend a number of years in the same room with the same people, you will find that if you stay sober, every person who walks into that room, on any given night, is your teacher.

Only if you pay attention, listen and learn.

The numbers of folks who have come in and either gone out or disappeared is high. I have a ton of stories about these people, many of whom I have already written about in the past.

Our little group is sober another night.

I am grateful on purpose again…

I have been feeling a lot of palpable gratitude as of late. It feels great.

Oh and by the way, when I got home, I found a screw in my toolbox and fixed my belt. Hopefully I have renewed its worth a bit…

More to come, stay tuned …


Smash it, Bash it, Give it All You Got !!!

car smashCourtesy: University of Pittsburgh

It has been a very nice, quiet week so far. All the pieces have lined up in our favor. And we began to rebuild our empire from the pit we have been in for so long. The weather has been stellar as of late. There was cloud in the sky, and it piddled a little before the meeting tonight.

And looking out from my balcony, over to Cabot Square and as far as I can see, the first signs of Fall have begun to appear. On the grand scheme, the signs are still not apparent. But on the small scale, if you know what you are looking for, the signs are there, namely that there are a handful of trees in our neighborhood, looking down from above, that have begun to lighten, ever so slightly.

In the sea of green the one off tree amongst the many, lighter shades are there.

Amazing, we are at the end of August already. Labor Day is this weekend. Students go back to school next week, and the march to Thanksgiving will begin in earnest very soon. It will be a grand affair this year with the infusion of funds into the house as of late.

So that is a thing …

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

What’s up with that car you ask ???

A good friend moved to Pittsburgh recently to pursue his PHD. A very daunting task at that.

Monday was his first day of class. And upon arriving at the university, this car, posted above (imagine in your minds eye, a fully operational and intact vehicle) was sitting on the quad, as you can see in the photo.

There were people gathered around it, and someone had a sledge hammer in their hands and was pounding the car with all they had. So He had to find out what was going on. Upon closer observation, a group was hosting this event, and for the price of a Dollar($$$), you too could bash the hell out of this car too.

Unable to pass up a great deal, (to work off those pre-class jitters) He paid his dollar and heaped tons of abuse on the already falling apart car.

Have you ever seen a “Let’s sledge hammer this car to death event” on a university campus before?

Not me …

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

It was a regular Thursday night. I had stops to make on the way, so I left early. I had chores to do at the church, before we settled into the evenings groove. Namely, those little pegs you find in build project from IKEA, were a serious problem for our little “cabinet that could.”

Every time you put something on “that” particular shelf, it would fall, and the pegs scatter all over the floor or into the assorted boxes we have in the cabinet. So, with trusty Elmer’s Glue in hand, I attempted to fix said cabinet, which took me considerably longer than I had expected because the pegs were scattered all over the place and getting the shelf (out of/and into) the cabinet is a chore in itself, and trying NOT to knock the glued pegs out of their slots was the goal, that took some work …

Hopefully the pegs will never fall out of their holes ever again after tonight.

We sat a small group. We have been members short as of late. Our business meeting was painless and went off without a hitch. We read from the Daily Reflections, August 19 …

A Frame of Reference…

Which speaks to the 4th Step, even though we are in the eighth month of the year, which is solely centered on the Step of the corresponding month.

“Referring to our list (inventory) again, Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened?” B.B. Pg. 67

This portion of the step concerns the fourth column. The one all about us.

There are many people working their step four,as dictated by the Vermont Men’s Step intensive group members. Myself, My sponsor, Other men who we are both sponsoring, and so on and so forth.

It is a departure from the normal “by the book” process. And is done in stages. Stage one deals with your history from birth to the present day, Stage two deals with Fears, Guilts and Resentments. I am stuck at this stage two until the end of the weekend, when my sponsor finishes his up while out of town.

And with tonight’s discussion, I am rethinking my Step as it has panned out.

As a child I grew up in a home that had mixed messages, and assorted frames of reference. I had no voice, no way to defend myself, and no ability to speak my mind. I was forced to play by the rules dictated to me. I made decisions as a young person.

The first major decision I made as a teen ager was to move out of the house and on my own.

I could not be gay in my home.
I could no longer live by the dictates of my father
The abuse was too much and too frequent.

Was that choice selfish? Yes.

But every decision after that was a total failure.

From the age of twenty six to twenty eight, I was forced to make decisions based on self preservation. And I am not sure if self preservation can be considered self centered or selfish? The times dictated that certain decisions be made or else death was a serious end of things.

So I made them. But not alone.

They say when you slip that in essence, “you are giving God’s gift back to Him, saying I don’t want it any more…” I made that decision, on my own, to my own detriment.

Purely selfish and self centered.

During that first sobriety, prior to my slip, I began to construct the life I thought I wanted at that time. Changes I thought were necessary to achieve that, had to be made, so I made a first decision.

Self preservation … Selfish or self centered? You tell me …

After my slip, and in a sober frame of mind, I chose to continue constructing the life I thought I wanted at that time. These decisions would be the final death knell to who I was, in opt for who I wanted to become and where I was going to live and how I was going to do that and get there.

Self preservation… Selfish or Self Centered? You tell me …

I pissed off the right people. People who made my life meaningless, and abused and degraded me. I took a spoon and dug my father’s heart out of his chest and handed it to him on a platter.

Fuck you. Watch this. This is totally about ME.

Coming from where I was (at that time) socially, mentally and economically, bankrupt and poor and living below the poverty level, to where I am today, food, meds, a roof and a life that I could not have imagined thirteen years ago, I made these decisions for self preservation.

Extenuating Circumstances you might say ???

To this day, for some, my voice has been silenced. To this day, for some, my life is inconsequential and unimportant and unworthy of mention.

I benefited from my decisions. Solely made for my benefit as an adult. I struck out for new shores with life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness in mind, and I got it in spades today.

You can’t choose your family. And having three strikes against you is terminal justice for them.

Every time I go back and look at this step as I am working it, I ask these questions of myself, in front of my peers and my fellows. I am not looking for approval. Because this is who I am today. I did these things. And if I am guilty for self preservation, then I am guilty as charged.

No one in my family stood by me when the chips fell where they did. And to this day, they refuse contact so my steps will be woefully incomplete when I finish them, because in the end I won’t get the end I think I deserve or what any loving, feeling human being is deserved by right of existence.

So be it … This is my lot.

So that is a thing as well.

It was a good night. Everybody is sober and happy.

More to come, stay tuned …


In Case of Fire …”BREAK GLASS”

Pope Francis in a selfie photoIt has been a week of change. People have come and gone. One of my men is now living in Pittsburgh and we get to talk every night, thanks to Skype. The wonders of technology never cease.

Last night we heard from a second of my men, who is moving his family back to Oshawa to his family home where the kids will have a house, a yard and parks to play in close to home, which is a big change from their 3 1/2 here in Montreal. That move takes place in a fortnight.

My third and final man is coming home in the days to come, which will be exciting since he has been gone all summer long at camp.

The Friday night commute was quick and painless, and we set up quickly and quietly. Then everyone came for the Friday night meet and greet. It was a full house by the time the meeting ended. We talked about prayer, and we talked about God.

At some point in the game, you get to God. And the Book speaks about the “spiritual experience” and the “psychic change” that has to come about to guarantee a sober life.

Everyone has a story. And at some point or other, in our drinking story, that we get to the end and we say …”God, help me, I can’t go on like this any longer !” In case of Fire, Break Glass…

There has been a lot of talk about religious faith amongst my fellows, which I am going to write about in a separate post later tonight. I read an interesting post last night about religious faith and the belief in fictional characters we find in pop culture and in film. But more on that later.

I’ve noticed along the way that there are buzz words and concepts that have popped up this time around that did not come to mind the first time around, not that I remember. That was more than twenty years ago now.

When I hit my slip, I surely was not thinking about God. He never came up. I never thought about Him. And the thought did not come to mind until I had had my last drink and I finally called out for help. I prayed, and I believe that that is all He needed to hear. You see, God allows us to do what we are going to do, usually He doesn’t act, unless we are in peril, for some.

Over there —> in the Pages if you look down to “Naked and Sacred” you can read my story about my relationship with God, when it started and how I got here.

God was part of my life. I went to church, I attended seminary, visited the Vatican. God and I were close. And as long as I remained “on the beam” my life was pretty sweet. Everything went according to plan, it was never my plan, per se, but it was a plan that worked.

But every time I stepped “off the beam” my life became a real shit storm.

I have had several shit storms in my life. Most of my twenties, half of my thirties. I had brief connection when I got sober the first time, but I account that survival to people and not God. But in hindsight, I have said that when I really needed God, (read: my diagnosis) He came to me in human form. I was so satisfied with my job and the people in my life, I really did not think about God, because He was there, right in front of me.

The second time around I learned how to trust God all over again. And I have said that from the moment I put down the drink, God moved heaven and earth to get me here. And He was running the show. I have stayed “on the beam.”

When I hit my ten year anniversary, the theme of that anniversary was ” I Thirst” a meditation from the journals of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It would not come to pass for another couple of years that God spoke to me. At the West island Roundup in 2013, I met Lorna Kelly. She went to Calcutta and worked along side the sisters and had a relationship with Mother Teresa for years, prior to her death, and later spoke in the case for her canonization.

Anyways … I read both her books. The Camel Knows the Way and In the Footsteps of the Camel. In the story in the first book is all about Calcutta. Lorna steps into the chapel and there stenciled on the wall next to the crucifix are the words … ” I Thirst.” It floored me.

It was also at that roundup that my prayer life got a huge jump start. I was coasting. And the fire that was lit pushed me to new lengths in my prayer life. And from that blossomed a new sponsor, sponsees and something entirely new for my sobriety.

But as of late, I’ve had problems finding God. I know He is there, but there are times that I can’t see him, or I forget to call out His name. And that usually happens when I am stuck on my hamster wheel obsessing or worrying about things that are way outside of my control.

In certain situations, the older I get the angrier I get about people and situations. I imagine in my minds eye that adults grow up eventually and we reach a point that darkness is overcome by the light.

That hasn’t happened yet for me.

I spoke about it last night again, because we read on resentments and anger. And throughout the meeting I heard the the older men speak, and we got two round robins in and I heard those sentences from the book that makes sense of everything that is going on …

  • ACCEPTANCE is the KEY to ALL my problems and that
  • NOTHING absolutely NOTHING happens in God World by Mistake.

God is in control, to the extent we allow that control. But God allows for self will. And when we take back our will, it usually ends up in self will run riot. I would rather not be in that place.

Where ever you are at what ever time it is, no matter what day it is, we are right where we need to be at any given moment on any given day. And that if nothing happens by mistake and I an right where I should be, then I can let go of my expectations and my fears and my pains of heart.

I got here right? Well, God got me here.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

I’ve read countless books about Karma, Family, Parables, Teachings.

One book I love is The Journey Home – a Kryon Parable.

In it the lead character looses his parents very young, and spirals into a pit of depression and loneliness until he winds up in hospital because of a robbery gone very wrong. In the story he gets to take a journey through seven Angelic Houses. And learns many lessons about life.

When we are born, we incarnate in groups usually. Everybody has their prescribed roles, agreed upon before we get here. And certain people may not be on board for the entire journey, because each contract is different. And we may not get very far, but far enough to the point that we either move apart or we die.

I believe that my family had a very short contract. We only got so far before we parted ways and i went on with my life by myself. And I wonder why that happened, well I know why, I am Gay, HIV+ and I live in another country now. Grounds for immediate dismissal.

So that is a thing.

I pray for the time when everybody grows up to a point that communication is possible. But I am not hedging my bets. Cue resentment and anger. 

Unfounded.

I must go on trusting that God knows what He is doing. Can you see I have trust issues?

I am right where I need to be and there are no mistakes.

I must connect daily, many times a day. I must be humble and get on my knees and pray.

There are no two ways around it.

I must remain “On the Beam.”

It is getting late and I have a second post to finish.

More to come, stay tuned …


I May Not Have Another Recovery in Me … Reflections on Death

tumblr_ljxktkG7IG1qdizh9o1_500 lovepainandhopeCourtesy: Love Pain And Hope

It has been a very sad twenty four hours. And I am conflicted.

Up front we must remember that:

  • Never judge another human being, because you really don’t know the struggles they have.
  • Tolerance for those with different struggles
  • But for the grace of God, That could have been me.
  • Every Life is sacred, and we should never take life lightly, or decide to end it prematurely.

I have always said, that if I drank again, I am not sure that I would have another recovery in me because I have used up all my chits. People are talking. And once again, we face the stigma of mental illness and the added struggles of addiction and alcoholism.

I wonder if he had a sponsor? I wonder who he was talking to, because in the end, he wasn’t talking to anyone but himself. And the pain must have been immense to decide to take his life while there were people in the house that could have stopped him.

Married folks usually sleep in the same bed. But they did not. And he went to bed alone, got up alone, and took his life alone.

I’ve seen friends with twenty or more years of sobriety go back out and drink again. For some, to drink was a conscious choice. They knew they were going to do it and they did.

And if they do that, the odds on return get slim, the more time you have.

Alcoholism is the disease that in hushed tones, speaks to us, ever so quietly, “come on, you know you want one, and yes, you can have one, it really isn’t a problem.”

One of my close friends of many years, suffered from breast cancer. Beat it, went through surgery, chemo, reconstruction and came out the other end and one night at dinner, she drank, and not only once, it went on and on.

For months I spoke to her daily, and she did not tell me she wanted to drink, nor that she HAD drank. And one night at a meeting, she got up and took a desire chip. I was so angry. Words were spoken, and our friendship died in that moment. I haven’t seen her since.

It is common to watch people with substantial sober time go out and drink again.

It is terrible and sad.

My sponsor told us and others at the meeting that if we had a sponsor, made use of them, we did not drink, and hit a meeting and worked our steps, that we would not drink today.

His line is very simple… If I did not drink today, it was a good day.

I have several truths.

  • I suffer from depression
  • I have lost love to suicide, so I know how that feels, and what it took for me to recover.
  • I am an alcoholic, who by the grace of God, hasn’t had a drink in almost thirteen years.
  • Suicide is NEVER the answer. No matter what.

When James killed himself in 1993, I was devastated. I was the one who went to the morgue to identify what was left of him due to decomposition. And it was his mother who said to me on the day I signed his remains to be transported home that “For the rest of my life, I hope that when you close your eyes before you go to sleep each night, you see his dead body.”

To this day, if I close my eyes, I can see him lying on that gurney DEAD.

You know what I did on the way home? I went to the bar and drank myself into oblivion. And I did that for days, weeks, a month. Until Todd and Bill stepped in and got me help. I sat in a survivors of suicide group for weeks and weeks.

I’ve seen trauma, I have watched my friends die on my watch. When I was diagnosed I needed serious help. I was suicidal. But there were active people in my life who were there to help me and get me the help I needed. I was not alone.

Why was there nobody who knew what was going on with him? Where was his wife, who was in the house, who did not check on him, and left him there.

People suffer from the “2000 pound phone syndrome.” Addicts, alcoholics and regular people just like you. We’d rather suffer in silence, than pick up that phone to ask for help, because nobody would understand what we are going through and if we are in pain, we do not speak that pain for fear of judgment.

So we suffer in silence.

That is why we go to meetings, we have sponsors and we take numbers.

So that you are no longer alone and that someone will care when you decide to call.

Hubby is Bi-Polar. I lived through his diagnosis. I lived through months of testing drugs until we found the mixture that worked. And I live with the man he is today, because I remember the man he was when I met him. And I was In it to Win It. I married him for all those reasons we speak in our vows. I live them every day of my life. He is never alone.

So we restate that when someone goes out and drinks again, after however long they are sober, the chances of them returning are very slim.

There is a gamut of feelings that take place when we go out.

  • Shame
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Insecurity
  • beating ones self up
  • self loathing

I know I felt a number of these when I finally decided to come back. And it probably would have been worse, had I had a real chunk of sober time that I pissed away.

Which brings up another point. I know what was going on when I went out, and what mistakes I made with the decision to do what I did. TODAY, I know what happens when someone chooses to drink again. I am connected in ways I was never so connected, back in the day.

They say that we plan our slips. And there are only a few inches between us and that next drink. The space that lies between the bar top and our mouths. Just a reach away.

Addiction and alcoholism can be managed. But it takes someone willing to go to any length to stay sober. And even that is a slim proposition. I see people come in and warm a chair for months and months and then decide that a drink would feel better, and they drink again.

At some point we (read:Me) reaches out to a newcomer to get them connected to what they need to be doing so that they don’t have to make that decision. Once they are connected, the decision is already made for them.

I wonder what sober circles for celebrities looks like? Are they in it to Win It?

Depression, on top of addiction and alcoholism is a trifecta that can kill.

And it did. AGAIN.

Usually, when the pain gets so bad that you cannot see light at the end of the tunnel, and you decide to either (1) get help or (2) take your life … there are options.

Suicide is Never an option.

But when we get into that tunnel vision of “all about me” and that “nobody cares or would understand the pain I am in” or “I just can’t face life on life’s terms and I need to get out” how do we help you out of that darkness?

That is why, in sobriety, we are connected to the people we work with on a daily basis. And if professional help is necessary, we help you find those resources so that you can get better.

It is an affront to God to take ones life prematurely.

Only God should choose the time and place of our deaths.

Because when you die, there will be a ripple effect on the water that will flash all over the earth, to whatever extent as your star has risen. So many questions. Why didn’t we know, why didn’t you ask for help, we could have prevented this man from taking his life.

There is no shame, pain or problem, that brought out into the light of day that cannot be surmounted and conquered. There are ALWAYS options.

You don’t have to die to kill the pain.

Because you take a little piece of all of our hearts with you to the grave. And for that we will never be the same. The closer to the event horizon the worse.

We spoke of gratitude tonight.

  • I am grateful for my sponsor, my friends, and my pigeons.
  • I am grateful that I have all that I need
  • I am grateful that I have the medication to take to keep living and be able to afford them
  • I am grateful that I have not had a desire to drink
  • I am grateful that there are people to call, and places to go so that I am not alone
  • I never get to the point that suicide is ever an option.

You DO NOT have to die to kill the pain. There are always options.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is: 1-800-273-TALK.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol click: AA.org 24 hours a day.

Talk to someone, make that call. You are never alone.


Homeless, Hungry, Drunk and High … Redux. The Rebirth and Renewal

 

cabot 2I wrote this some time ago, well, a LONG time ago. July of 2007.

This is Cabot Square – and the Children’s Hospital to the Left of frame.

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Since this writing took place, Cabot Square is now closed and fenced in. It is being re-purposed to reopen soon. The Children’s Hospital is slated for closure and demolition in 2017. It will become a great green space along with Cabot Square.

The area referenced the Stretch from our home towards Alexis Nihon, (the Old Seville Theatre) has been razed, and brand new condos were built on the site, which has rejuvenated this end of downtown. The Hotel du Fort, which was heavily populated by Native peoples was sold and is being turned into condos, so there is no place to stay unless you are a tenant or a condo owner in this section of town.

The Sports Bar on the corner has more than tripled in size all the way down to the Karaoke Bar, which is mentioned here as well. The Old Omer De Sere’s building is slated for rebuilding into brand new High End Condos. Which is across the street from the New Seville Condos.

Starbucks and a brand new Adonis grocery store fronts the Seville complex, on the ground floor.

The entire area around Cabot Square is under renovations. And only a couple of defunct shops still remain from the past, still boarded up.

The AMC Theatres were bought out by Cineplex Odeon, Which now owns the old Forum. But all the downstairs shops, eateries, and Future Shop have all since closed and the ground floor is now dark and vacant. Which is a terrible blight on the Cineplex building.

Pekarna and Tim Hortons is the saving grace for the ground floor shops. They both do good business.

The city hired Reintegration teams and counselors that have been teamed up together with Native men and women to address the problems that this posts addresses in detail. It took almost a decade to see these changes come into effect.

The Homeless are still on the streets. ALL of the men who were homeless that I reference here, are still on the street today in 2014. Dans Le Rue still ministers to the street kids and the missions and homeless shelters are still full to bursting. Fall is coming and soon, Winter will follow. And the homeless will need all the help they can get. But the city has finally found the money, time and commitment to see our most needy on the street are found, named, repatriated and or resettled here.

The Can/Bottle exchange does very good business daily. I see the same men and women coming in with boatloads/shopping cart loads of cans and bottles, and the Provigo keeps up with them, especially when there is an event on the strip.

The angry, belligerent folks I also mention below are gone now. But only one remains. She wants money and will swear obscenities at you if you don’t give and I’ve told her so on several occasions. But life has toned down in as many years with what we used to see on a daily basis.

There is business to be had, and the owners of the many businesses that have opened on this end of the strip will NOT tolerate the homeless or the squatters on the sidewalks, which has facilitated the purchase of prime street frontage where massive terraces now sit for the season until winter when they roll them up until next year.

I still see the same poor folks out front of the grocery stores, but not so many young people much any more. But every now and then.

It works when we purchase already prepared food, and we feed the poor when we can. But it is still overwhelming because I would go broke if I did that every day. And we are not rich people.

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Posted:July 25, 2007 … I was six years sober at the time of this writing.

I guess I am not a thinker, by the standards of some. There are blogs that I read that put my writing of certain subjects to shame. I cannot tell you of the forest or the trees, the birds or the animals, the river or the trail.

I don’t talk about heavy metal drinking and the stupid things I did last weekend so that my friends can read just how much of an insane member of society that I really am. I have my own insanity in my sobriety. And just because I am sober, did not make it all better as I mentioned earlier tonight.

What can I tell you that would make you think? If you walk out the front doors of my building you face the BattleNet 24 Internet Gaming Station. They are always open and never close. There are three radio stations in the building that this cafe is located on the ground floor. The Towers, as I call it is a North – South facing building. We are an East – West facing building.

You cannot walk 50 paces in any direction from this building and NOT run into a busker looking for food, money and beer. There are two pubs located within 200 yards of our front door, and one karaoke bar with pool tables. Our Asian community loves karaoke. I live in what we call the Concordia ghetto area, since we are only a few blocks from campus.

There is an architecture museum across the street on Rene Levesque above the tunnel that I have visited before, when they had an open house and also they had a wonderful Expo ’67 exhibit on the anniversary.

There are 20 churches within walking distance of my home. Pentecostal, Evangelical, Catholic (French) and Catholic (English), Bethel Baptist and Franciscan friary that is due to be closed right around the corner from here.

Are you thinking yet? This will get your juices pumping… I wrote it some time ago on another blog I owned.

A fellow is dealing with the “homeless” factor in his ministry of life. And so I left him some words of advice, But I don’t know how else to tell you this, but share with you Montreal‘s daily ritual.

We have recycling posts (street collecting boxes – that have since been removed in opt for recycling in the stores primarily) all over the city where the homeless go and collect cans and bottles from these depots and they go to the grocery stores to exchange their “returnables” for more beer and wine money. They troll the kiosks and metro platforms and street garbage cans for returnable merchandise day and night. They ride the metro from one end of the city to the other every night. The stores will not sell beer and liquor after 11 pm to stem the problem. In Ontario you cannot buy liquor or beer on Sundays, but in Quebec you can.

So the tide of homeless drunks starts to rise as the stores open and they “stock up” for the morning. Downstairs on the corner (just outside) my front door they sit on the corner begging drugs and money. Out front of the grocery store and on every street corner and in the spaces in between, they sit like hookers who have claimed their spot on the sidewalk.

They are all over the place, “Literally!”

You cannot walk 50 feet in any direction in Downtown Montreal and not get begged for cash or food. Or smell POT in the air from the street kids!!! The kiosks are even worse. One cannot get through the door with out passing by someone sitting IN the doorway where you have to navigate around them, or find them sleeping, “Sprawled out” across the floor in doorways drunk and comatose!

They piss in the kiosks, they throw up on the floors, they beat each other up, and the men are “PIMPING” the women, so you see there is a whole “other” dynamic.

At night, as the evening “MEETINGS” commence they wait like buzzards for free coffee and what ever food is set out for the attendees. And they become belligerent and vocal and VIOLENT towards the people who want a cup of coffee and a cookie because that’s why we have coffee and cookies to help calm them down( the people in recovery). We have decided not to engage the homeless any longer and the city wide “homeless” directors (there are they in Montreal) men who run in homeless circles, powerless to affect change because people are set in their ways.

We have missions in town here that specialize in the feeding and housing of homeless people, every day and every night. The first problem is the sheer NUMBERS of homeless people who have migrated East from the west and up from the U.S. and down from the North, Yes, it IS a very sad reality.

There are natives who are stuck in the divide between their leaving their reservations for the bright big city, they don’t make it and end up hooking and begging in the park, they become addicted, well most are already addicted to something or other, when they get here, and they never return to their homes for fear of persecution and alienation, so they sit in the parks all day and night and troll the strip here in Downtown for cash. They are violent and painfully in trouble with each other. Come sit in Cabot Square with me and watch. It is truly sad.

IN the WINTER when the temps drop to (-20 C ) and farther, the homeless think that they can sleep in the kiosks because of the warmth of the trains, think again. They lock the kiosks at night and the homeless end up on the streets in doorways and under bridges and such. The missions go out with buses trying to get them off the street before they freeze to death. Some don’t make it and invariably, we loose a number of homeless people each Winter.

It is a rude saying, but, If you feed a stray animal they will continue returning to eat as long as food is available. And you know what that means. You will be spending allot of money on a problem that will not go away because of their lack of ability to get off the street and societies apathy to step up and help them as a community! “Oh, but it’s NOT our problem!”

Yes it is and no it’s not.

By whatever default – people end up homeless out of one circumstance or another. NOW, the reality is, DO they want off the street, if you ask any of them here, they will say NO!! So they choose to stay on the street, when they know that help is available and rehabilitation is possible.

Most of our homeless population will not ask for help, (the natives by example). They are a sad lot. Drunk, Addicted, Violent and Doomed by Default. Montrealer’s are FED UP with the population of homeless who have overtaken the streets and green spaces and Metro Kiosks. And the city does SQUAT!! They do nothing, they see nothing, they say nothing.

So what can we do as a religious body, to feed, clothe and assist the homeless, NOT Very Much.

It is a long standing problem with no city wide attention, as of yet. Most Christian people can talk the talk, but they cannot talk the talk and walk the walk for fear of being seen doing something that Jesus would have done, to go out on a Sunday and minister to the poor. Only one man I know did that from Dans le Rue – and he retired and moved away and someone else is taking care of his kids now.

Oh what would their friend and family say if they were seen cavorting with homeless people, God forbid they follow you home! or what happens if you get attacked by one on a bad day or night? Dealing with the homeless here is a dicey business, you never know when one will try to beat you up or stab you for some cash or drugs for their next fix. A homeless person is not above violence. Especially when it comes to jonesing off of drugs. That is for sure on any Saturday night or the full moon.

The “soup truck” cavorts through downtown daily feeding the multitude of young people who hang out at the Berri Metro selling drugs and hooking and such. It is very sad, that if you walk through the village on any corner at any time, they sit there, in their leather and spikes, boots and makeup, with their placards begging for food.

Some of our homeless populations are handicapped (in wheelchairs) and some of our young people have PETS!!! YES dogs and some have more than one. SO it is not only a feed the human story, it is a FEED THE PET AND THE HUMAN STORY!!!

How do we help them, well one at a time, rehabilitation is possible but at the end of the day it is useless. They stay on the streets because they know no different. The shelters and feeding stations are powerless and TOO POOR to feed the multitudes because the city won’t fund the missions and shelters. So individual churches go out and try to make a dent in the sea of the hungry and downtrodden, but alas, they are too numerous and we are too powerless to help so many who are in need.

The worlds poor, are rising in number and dying by the thousands daily in 3rd world and poorer countries, they are dying in the big cities, unnoticed by the daily hum and ritual of every day life and the business of work and survival.

Think before you put yourself out there and try to tackle a cities homeless problem, it takes alot of work, money, food and prayer. And not to mention Fortitude. I am all for helping the homeless, but I know how to pick my battles wisely. I don’t mean to sound so discouraging, but this is the reality in my big city!!

No one is immune to the homeless – we are called to share and to give – but when is enough enough?? If i gave a quarter to every homeless person I saw on the street every day, I would have NO money to feed myself on a daily basis.

THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY OF THEM TO COUNT AND HELP!!

What the saddest fact is in the homeless populations here are the women who have young children, and are on the streets. Just at Cabot square, the mothers work the Upper kiosk at the top of the escalators, and their kids beg at the bottom of the escalators. Junkie mothers with kids in tow, is terribly disturbing, Along with their “pimps” who abuse both the children and the mothers!!

What the fuck is that ??? And we are powerless to change them. Because they are stuck. There are NOT enough resources to help them off the street, get them into rehabs (waiting lists are 6 to 8 months in Quebec) and who is gonna take the children? Like family services has the ability to care for every homeless child and young person on the street? NO!!

There are natives from the many reservations and Inuit locales at all points North. They come to have their children cared for at the Children’s hospital right up the street from here. They pile out of vans, buses and cars. Some are transient and some are better off than others. When a native leaves their reservation in Quebec, it is every man and woman for themselves. Nobody gives a shit. And if they do not assimilate, they end up in a park and on the street, because they get “hooked on whatever” and they don’t repatriate.

There is – along Ste. Catherines Street a city block long mural on the wood that barricades the burned out and empty buildings that LITTER the West end of Downtown like broken defunct sentinels of lore. If you walk from here to Alexis Nihon Plaza, there are Inuit women who are vicious, belligerent, and sometimes violent. If you pass them by when they are drunk and high they swear obscenities at passersby.

They accost people for smokes and money. They are there, in the same spots day in day out… Because they have no place else to go. Cabot Square in the locale in my neighborhood where all native peoples gather. It is a rallying point for the “troops” so to speak. I pass homeless kids in front of the grocery store and I buy them cooked and prepared foods from the deli. We don’t give the kids cash, but we feed them. But they choose to stay on the street, so what are we supposed to do?

We write about these issues and nothing gets done, and I am not a rich aristocrat with money who is sitting on the land on the West end, and developers have not been able to get the land released for development. If it DID get released, we could clean up this end of the city and make it beautiful. But all we see when we walk down the street is hungry, homeless, drunk and high folk, and the burned out decrepit buildings that haven’t seen life in over a decade. The mayor does nothing…

Politics and Crime…

I could go on and on and on… But you get the picture.

If cities and local governments do nothing as they always have, this problem will continue. Until the Worlds governments take a BIG LONG LOOK at the homeless and hungry populations and they DO something concrete to stop it, we will be having this conversation until we all die.

This is a world wide problem, and no you are not alone in your quest to be Jesus, but I know that Jesus is not a “half measure” kind of man, so pick your battles wisely. Mark Kelly from CBC News did a “Seven Series Report” here in Montreal on the homeless last Winter, did it do any good for the city? Not One Bit.

The shelters are still overflowing and they can’t help everyone that Montreal calls homeless and destitute. I know a man who comes to my meeting. He’s been in the program longer than I’ve been in Montreal (now almost 7 years) and he is homeless and prefers the shelter to a life. I look at him and he still doesn’t get it but who am I to judge?

Sometimes the disenfranchised are hopeless which is sad, because I have come so far in the last six years, but many are still where I found them so long ago.

And that is sad…


Wisdom sets In … Motives … It takes Two to Tango

maybeThe city is humming with people coming and going. The Osheaga Festival opened tonight and runs through the weekend, The Berri Transit station was packed with concert goers this evening.

I guess I was right when I said last night that wisdom usually follows a question, and so it has. I sent an email to my sponsor last night before I went to bed, and he followed up with a call today to speak about what I wrote him. He said I did the right thing in opening communication, stating that I was long sober now and that I / we are getting old to harbor such resentments.

Every human being wants to be seen.

Every human being wants to be acknowledged.

Every human being is worthy of dignity and respect.

So looking back on yesterdays post, the question that was posed tonight was, what are our motives and why do we do certain things? Beyond simple connection, my motives are certainly self centered. To make waves, to be petulant and to point fingers.

We, as alcoholics have done damage to others, for the most part, we try to avoid and not see our part in these damages.

Children of abusive alcoholics are certainly victims of indignities beyond their control.

So that is a thing.

When you tell a child that he was a mistake and should never have been born, you damage that child. When you beat that same child into submission continuously, you damage that child.

When that child grows up, he has learned that he was a mistake. That he should not be here, and that takes a toll on that person. And when you follow up that indignity with verbal abuse that he is an abomination and that (having contracted AIDS and is mortally sick) you remind that person that they are less than and that they should die already, what do you think goes through the mind of that person?

When I got sick, I, In turn got sober. I was doing the best I could with what I had. I was young, and I was dying. So I thought. The doctors certainly thought that. When family turns their back on you and humiliates you in front of others, that is an indignity.

I made several decisions during my first sober period that were all about me. I really did not have a sponsor, Puddles had moved to California so I was on my own then. What did I know about sober decisions and correctly motivated actions? First, I made a certain decision about my brothers wedding and I was only thinking about myself. I hurt some people in this process.

I would never be forgiven for that, to this day.

My parents lived in Sarasota and my father would come to Miami on business and he would visit me, only to remind me how abominable I was and that I should die already and leave the family once and for all, because I was unacceptable and an abomination.

One particular night he was in rare form after sharing dinner together, and he started in on me and I asked him to stop the car ( On the Highway) I got out of said car and told him never to come back and visit me until he grew up.

I walked away, down the highway and walked all the way home by myself.

You see my father fought in Viet Nam, (and he fell in love). That soldier was killed in action, Who knew from gay in the 1960’s. My father named me after a dead soldier. He abused me and beat me telling me that I was mistake. I realized that I, as a gay, infected man, would never live up to the honor of that dead soldier. Hence the name change.

Some time later I had a spiritual experience. It came and I acted on it. Again, another decision made in “all about me” mode. I must have been 28 or 29. I went to legal aide, spoke to a lawyer and soon after I had legally changed my name. I was going to reclaim myself once and for all so that whatever life I was going to have, would be of my creation. I would kill that person my father thought was a mistake.

So that is a thing. 

It was a complete dagger to my parents hearts.

My father, the man who for years abused me and degraded me, telling me that I was mistake, would get his comeuppance. I would have the last word for his indignity.

I went on with my life. I survived …

A long time ago, my soldier father met a Quebecois woman, (my mother) they got it on in a drive in theatre in a Ford GTO. And she got pregnant. My ultra Catholic grandparents most likely forced him to marry her because she was carrying his child.

My father buried a secret that I learned about throughout my life. He hated Gay, because he was a heterosexual man with homosexual leanings, and that was abominable to him. Internalized homophobia …

The dog who barks the loudest has the most to hide.

She was STILL a CANADIAN when she had me and my brother.

In 1967 they were married, with me in the oven, at the wedding. I was born in July of 1967. My brother followed in 1970. My father wanted to purge every Canadian family member, ritual, tradition, and way of life from her. He would make her a God fearing, Blood thirsty American, if it was the last thing he would do.

My mother was naturalized in 1974, and became an American.

Fade to black …

Years later we came upon a lie about their actual wedding date. We were told they were married in 1965, and I was born in 1967. And we happened on that lie when on their 25th wedding anniversary, we bought a gift, had it engraved, only to learn the dates were wrong.

Hmmm…

I always say “Never lie to your children, because eventually those lies will come out.”

I stayed sober through my 4th anniversary. And followed several of my friends out the door and into my slip. I came back to Miami in 2000. I had a job that paid cash. I had a studio apartment just off the beach, on Miami Beach. My parents were really not a part of my life, unless they chose to be because I was a faggot with AIDS and an abomination.

When I got sick, they turned their backs on me. And humiliated me.

They had humiliated me in front of guests at a Christmas dinner a year before and I swore that I would never darken their door again. My mother accused me of indignities she thought I had committed on someone I met only once.

On New Years Eve 2000 – into 2001, I was working in a bar doing lights. I went into work at 7 pm on New Years Eve and left work around 8 am the next morning with a mound of cash in my wallet. I went to bed and soon after my phone rang, it was my mother on the phone, telling me that they were in Miami and wanted to see me. (They had been here for a week, but only decided to contact me on their way out of town).

I was happy to oblige. They showed up a short time later. My father parked the car in a no parking zone out front of my building and gave me twenty minutes to speak to my mother. We walked around the short block, while he waited in the car. I even offered to take us all out for breakfast, which they categorically said NO to.

Twenty minutes later, my mother got in the car, they drove off and that was the last time I saw my mother.

So that is a thing

In December 2001, I got sober the second time. I was given a computer which led to my meeting people here in Canada. One thing led to another and I received a letter from Canada stating that If I was born between certain dates, and my mother was a Canadian, that I could apply for a birthright citizenship.

Since my mother was still a CANADIAN in 1967, both myself and my brother were afforded birthrights into Canada.

You know what I did right?

I was living in a dead end life, alone, having to choose between paying for food, or paying rent, or buying medication. Because I could not afford to do all three at the same time.

A friend sponsored me into Canada, helping me pay the fees for the application. At Easter time in 2002, April or May, I traveled to Montreal. I stayed two weeks. I had filed for citizenship and went back to Miami, packed my belongings, got on a plane, and did not look back.

A few months later, I was living in Verdun. I got a call from Sydney Nova Scotia. An office worker just happened to pick up my envelope and opened it which began the paperwork process officially. Things needed to be added to the file.

It was then that Immigration Canada went after my mother.

Her paperwork was not in order regarding her naturalization papers and her birth certificate. They needed to be fixed OR they would deport her back to Canada. Needless to say my mother was not very happy with me.

I crossed the border. It was all about survival for me. I was going to have a life, or die trying.

That was the last straw for my father. I left the country of my birth, the very country my father fought to defend in Viet Nam. He told me I was spitting on my birthplace and my country.

That was unforgivable.

Once again, I had stabbed my parents in the heart.

Now I repeat … Parents are supposed to raise children into adults who make their way into the world and make something of themselves. And what ever decisions they make, whether you agree with them or not, you should at least respect them for their decisions.

Aren’t parents supposed to acknowledge their children’s successes?

My mother did in fact correct her paperwork and in February of 2003, I became a Canadian Citizen. I hold dual citizenship today.

My parents were not happy with me at all. I worked very hard for two years trying to keep communications open between us, but in the end, I eventually failed.

My Mother’s last words to me were ” If either me or your father die, nobody will call you and nobody will tell you where we are buried.”

We never spoke again.

So I ask you, who was right, and who was wrong? And who is guilty ???

I got married in 2004. I returned to university and earned two degrees. One in Religion and a second in Pastoral Ministry. I spent two years following that in Cegep, because I had those credits afforded to me by the government.

I have been sober 12 and a half years. Since my moving here my family and I have been estranged. And they say, it is All My Fault.

A few years ago, I found my brother on Facebook, and that twisted my heart. I tried to speak to him and he blocked me. And that broke my heart. I thought that we had grown up and could try and reconnect. That did not happen.

Facebook fucked with my sobriety in a big way.

On July 30th, this year 2014, the day before my birthday, my aunt calls to tell me that my father was on Facebook. And while we were on the phone I looked him up and sent him several messages hoping against hope that he would reconnect. He did not.

Once again, Facebook fucked with my sobriety.

On one hand I want redemption, and acknowledgement and finally some dignity and respect. On the other hand, I want to shoot off my mouth and incite anger and make a scene.

Not all very sober motivated actions.

I wrote here and asked the question. I spoke to my sponsor today and hit a meeting tonight.

And I got my answer.

Always Check your motives …

I did what I needed to do. I opened a door. Whether he responds, is entirely up to him, if he does re-engage or he does not re-engage, I am powerless over people, places and things.

I have to go on with my life.


It’s My Birthday …

reasonsSome people will say that Facebook is so wonderful because it connects you to people and gives you something to obsess over every day. I would add that Facebook is a double edged sword that on one hand brings me my family of choice, whom I adore.

On the other hand it opens up a can of worms that I’d rather not entertain, but I have a very sick perverse need to make a statement and get a rise out of certain people, because you know what, I am worth respect and dignity. I’ve earned it.

And some people, think I am unworthy and that I should be kept in the dark as a punishment for my choices, all of which were made because of certain people in my life, at that time.

They are the reason I became who I am today.

Hating someone because of their sexual orientation is so 1990 ! Hating someone because they made a decision to make important life decisions to stay alive, housed and fed is just so fucking selfish. I made selfish choices because they had to be made, because my life was on the line. And I wanted to live and live well, not die in a hole by myself.

Parents have children to raise them into well rounded adults who can go out into the world and make something of themselves AND when we grow up, aren’t parents supposed to be supportive and respectful of the choices we made as adults ???

Somewhere along my journey, my life became unimportant therefore, irrelevant of notice and should be scorned to the N’th degree.

To put it mildly, I would like nothing better than to become a battering ram and explode like a motherfucking bomb on certain people.

I live. I Lived. I survived.

I earned a place in this world, and no matter what you may think of me,

And they say that “what people think of me is none of my business.” I grapple with that.

I’ve earned respect, dignity and love.

It is obvious to me that certain people didn’t get that memo. And at this stage of the game at 47 years old, I want to sit on my soapbox, grind my teeth and become a very petulant faggot who is stark raving mad at injustice and ignorance.

I learned how to be petulant and sit on my soapbox when I was diagnosed with AIDS. That anger paid off when I needed it. Because when life depends on the responsibility of others to do a job, (well) that you must rely on for survival and they fail to perform said job well, becoming a cast iron bitch really pays off.

I’ve not forgotten how to be a cast iron bitch.

But they say that “Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, that an alcoholic cannot afford.”

And on my birthday, at my Men’s Home Group this evening, we talked about anger and resentments from Living Sober.

I’ve learned in the past few years that I am a very nostalgic Queer man. In many ways.

I wax nostalgic about the past. I long for a specific period of my life to repeat itself, with all the people I knew in that life to be alive as well, knowing full well that we cannot go backwards, and the best of times and the worst of times was really, the best years of my life so far. In a way.

I have spent the last few years collecting things from my past. Photographs, memories, music, so forth and so on. The few family members who are active in my life and who love me for who I am have done wonders to help me with those collections.

I am also a very nostalgic alcoholic. Sickly and perversely,

I hold on to old anger and resentment, but they reside in a specific part of my brain, and only when poked at with a stick do I go there. Facebook gives me that stick to poke them with.

It fucks with my brain, my emotions and my sanity.

I think unclean thoughts. I think up old memories and I long to get up, get angry and become a petulant queer just to fuck with them because of the terrible way they have treated me for decades. I go places in my brain that mere mortals should stay away from. My brain is a location that without proper gear and a hard hat and safety goggles, that one should stay out of. Because I can become spiteful and nasty in a moments notice, Zero to Sixty in 2.0 seconds …

No Very Sober At All …

Wonder, I can be safely sane and spit venom from the other side of my mouth all at the same time. I learned this ability from the right people, who do this to me today.

I’ve learned a great deal about wisdom in my growing age. It began when I turned 40. It has been a long journey of learning certain wisdom, because I have enough years behind me to know for sure that I was there, then, and I learned something, and now I have certain hindsight to know wisdom, for sure. One of my guys asked me tonight what did I learn at 47?

I did not have an answer for him, wisdom usually comes after. Not before. And maybe this tirade of injustice will bear fruit and teach me some wisdom? This is how I am feeling at the moment, it is good that I have the ability to be honest and write it all out so that when I speak to my sponsor tomorrow, I can tell him what I said tonight and what happened and why.

Marines are supposed to be Tough. Strong. Honorable. Honest.

Sadly. there is one particular U.S. Marine who is a coward.

It is sad in today’s day and age that people can punish other people, family and ignore them like they do not exist. That we are unimportant. That we don’t matter.

Queer does that to you.

Hate does that to you.

Ignorance does that to you.

AIDS does that to you.

I get to sit here and pound my fist and make my mark in the world. Because if I don’t, who will?

And is it important in the end? They say you can’t get sober and keep ones ego, and that it isn’t all about me, and that I am not really all that important. And that I should accept where I am and thank heaven that I am alive and be grateful for God’s mercy and kindness and love.

It ain’t very sober but I still make the statement … Don’t you know who I am ???

Don’t you want to know, aren’t you curious? More than a decade has passed and I went on with my life despite your hatred and ignorance. Now I want to swing and scream in your face and provoke you to notice me and for once in my life, respect me. Acknowledge me …

That’s all I got. I am spent. Time for dinner.

More to come, stay tuned …


I am here, I survived, and that matters …

Do you believe in Love

Today is my birthday. Last night I got an odd call from my aunt. Strange that she called because we usually speak on Facebook. Nonetheless, she called, and I figured there was a reason for the call, hoping that she had something to give me, and she did.

It seems my estranged father is on Facebook. He had sent my cousin a friend request, which she denied, and so I sent my father one right then and there. My brother is also on Facebook as well, but he has blocked me. So I looked him up while we were talking and started a short conversation with him. I invited him to friend up, and also to come by here and look me up and also sent him my mobile number to see if he would “man up” and call and speak to me in real time.

Today I am 47 years old. And in a maudlin kind of way, I am reflective. I am currently re-reading Halfway Home by the late Paul Monette, who died of AIDS around the time I was diagnosed in 1994.

I wonder if certain people wonder who I am today, and what I have done with my life and how I have chosen to live that life? And I wonder, does it really matter? Yes, it does. For the one fact that I survived a dreadful disease and I lived and that alone should be a point of respect. I have dignity, a life and I live it fully.

I have been sober now almost 13 years. The running joke is that if I lived to see another birthday, I would live to see the next Christmas. So I made it to my birthday today, so I will make it to Christmas.

So many years have gone by for old resentments and anger to fester any longer. I am too old and sober to remain angry and resentful. And I expect that others should be grown up enough to accept life on life’s terms and come to the table, like sane adults.

I matter. I lived. I am alive. I have earned my place in this world. I have earned the respect of my friends and my peers. And I have earned the love of a good man who cares about me and my life, and cares for me like no other has or had.

You just don’t know what years of silence does to someone.You just shut someones light off and plunge them into darkness, it is cruel and unjust. And you should be ashamed of yourself.

Here I am, take it or leave it. This is who I am.

Good and bad.

I lived, God Dammit. Respect !!! You owe me that much. That I lived…


In Case You Stop By … See Me ???

me kennedy drive cousins

 

Remember this man, your father Al?

 

 

me young 1 atkins street

 

Me at Aunt Paula’s

 

 

nordic empress memere 2 copydesktop

Memere on Nordic Empress with me

It was an interesting night last night (Wednesday). I found my father on Facebook and sent him several messages. I also sent him the link to this blog, so I thought I’d post some pictures in case he got lost, to remind him who he is and who I am today, and who is most important to me.


On Being a Tired Old Queen

mustoHello, My name is Jeremy and I am a Tired Old Queen !!! 40 is the new 30, and in a few days I will celebrate my 47th birthday. I survived AIDS and I am in a place I never imagined or dreamed of. I am in new territory and I don’t quite know what to do with myself these days, so we are figuring it out “on the fly!” by the seat of my pants… just the way I like it …

BY Michael Musto – Advocate.com

July 24 2014

The hookup atmosphere in nightlife may have died off, but now there’s room on the dance floor for an older generation. And you don’t even have to know who Liza is to have a good time with them. (But look up Liza, by the way.)

One night, at a nightclub where I was extremely popular, I tried to get into a VIP section, thinking it would be a piece of cake, as usual. But there was a new, 20-ish guy guarding the rope there and he was quite open about not wanting to let me in. As I walked away in dejection, I heard the guy mutter to a friend, “Tired old queen!” I was so horrified I nearly fell over and reached my inevitable death state. I was 29 years old — hardly ready for the glue factory yet. But in the gay club world, where aging seems to be particularly abhorred, I was already heading toward an AARP-like milestone and clearly not eligible for VIP status anymore.

And that was nearly three decades ago! By now, I should be a “tired old queen” times 1,000. I should be shipped directly to the Elmer’s factory on a no-return basis. I’m a walking billboard for the “It Gets Older” campaign, and someone young clubbies probably need to avoid, since older people are generally a reminder of mortality, not something anyone wants to think about when they’re drinking, dancing, and enjoying their own freshness.

But fortunately for mankind, it hasn’t worked out that way. I happen to have good genes, so I look younger than I really am — no, really. Also, all these years of immersing myself in creative scenes and writing about them have given me a certain cachet, so I’ve actually been getting more appreciation than revulsion these days. And I think there’s also been a sea change in the world, a “40 is the new 30” (and so on) feeling that people get better, not older — and gays, as usual, are on top of the trend. As people live longer and garner more visibility for it, there’s not as much ickiness surrounding the fact that they’ve survived. And survived. And survived.

I haven’t had anyone — even club kids — call me a “tired old queen” in years, and I’m thrilled about that. Of course there’s still a downside to being close friends with Father Time: For one thing, you don’t always get offered opportunities because the sense out there is that you’ve shown what you can do and it’s time to let other people try it. But it’s gotten better to be a TOQ, as long as you try to stay relevant without being too needily obvious about it. You need to keep up with the upcoming gays and their references without coming off like grandpa in a scrunchie. It’s important to not lecture too much or offer Sophia Petrillo-like stories of the golden days; they’re boring, even to other old people. (Except for the delightful 29-year-old story that I started this piece with, naturally.) But you also shouldn’t go out of your way to try to sound hip, unless you want to remind people of their grizzled aunt who insists on wearing bikinis by the public pool. In general, oldies should never act like they’re on the same plane as the young, unless they’re Madonna — the only one who can possibly get away with that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, sticking to my aged references may keep me in my comfort zone, but not in others’. Not long ago, I mentioned Liza Minnelli to a 21-year-old woman, who looked as blank as if I’d mentioned Russian composer Alfred Schnittke. She’d never heard of Liza, Cabaret, or even Judy Garland. Granted she wasn’t a gay man, but still, I thought for sure there’d be a little recognition bell ringing, even if just on the order of, “Wasn’t she in the Sex and the City sequel?”

But within the gay world, even preschoolers have heard of Liza, so things are OK. And as gay marriage becomes increasingly prevalent and paves the way for more people looking for partners who’ll love them when they’re old, I think the community will focus less on the vanity, self-consciousness, and fear of aging that has often plagued us in the past. We’re not as shame-based and superficial as we used to be — for the most part — and that carries over into the way we treat other members of the community and, ultimately, ourselves. Meanwhile, my own vanity has prevented me from joining groups like SAGE, which for 46 years has provided valuable support for older LGBTs, because that would be an admission of my wizened state that would be hard to turn back from. (It’s sad, I know, but getting older is complicated.) But I’m still ready to embrace many aspects of being an old gay, as long as my brothers and sisters make room for me and my hanging flesh. 

And they have been! Even in bars! These days, the younger gays don’t go clubbing to get picked up — they know they’re going to take care of that via various sites and apps — so the sight of a senior on the dance floor is no longer considered a horrifying cock blocker. More inspiringly, there’s also an open-mindedness about different types of people and their right to coexist, thanks to increased savviness, so the presence of an old queer no longer seems like a visitation from the Ghost of Christmas Future. If anything, the sight of Larry Kramer, Edward Albee, Harvey Fierstein, or maybe even little old me might perk up just about any party.

So when you see me coming, don’t start cringing and yelling “tired old queen!” Don’t even mutter it to your friend. Try instead to think of me as a welcome opportunity for some wit, insight, and Liza talk, as well as a source of information on the more oppressive (yet wilder) days of being gay. We finally woke up and were able to celebrate fat people as “bears,” why not treat older gays as pioneers and wisdom spouters? I won’t go so far as to say “Without me, you’re nothing,” but let’s face it, I definitely helped. 

Illustration by Paul Tuller


Tragedy … plain and simple

malaysia635This morning, the world had to stop and take a collective breath, all at the same time.

It is never a good sign when first thing in the morning comes news of a passenger plane having been shot down over a war zone !

All our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and the people who were on that flight. How do we make sense of this kind of tragedy?

Eventually, the who, what, where, when and why will be explained. Surely, this event should stoke the worlds governments to do something. Someone made a monumental mistake.

And someone should pay for this kind of indignity.

It was a sad day.

Malaysian Airlines is not having the best of years it seems, like there was a choice of which plane to shoot down, um, let’s see … maybe we will hit that “one.”

There is too much conflict going on and not enough cool heads to prevail.

But what is life without war? I mean what could possibly come of a world that lives for the betterment of humanity, peace and the respect for ALL life !

Somewhere God is up there taking the piss. What does God have to do with this ?

Nothing.

Last night I was listening to the radio and I heard a man say that the extraterrestrials were watching and would, if need be, come down and rescue us from ourselves.

I think we really need someone to come down here and rescue us from ourselves.

Life must go on, and so it did, eventually.

I prepped to go and departed a bit early to make some stops on the way. It was a stellar day to be out. The clouds drifted over and off throughout the evening. One might have thought that the skies were about to open, but thankfully, the weather held.

We sat a small group. Just the regulars. I have sponsees running their steps, so I decided that we would read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 2.

Ah, there is that God word again. “you’re not gonna get me this time …”

I like that I work with guys who are of different minds, and need different work. And I have, at my disposal, multiple forms of step work which has come in handy. My sponsor is apt to tell me that the more work one has, the better the experience. So it goes.

I reflect …

Coming from a U.S. State that has two seasons, wet and wetter, God only shows himself when a hurricane is barking down your door. Then it is true destruction.

Moving to a city in the Northern, “northern” hemisphere, has brought me to a place with four seasons. And if you question the existence of God, or something greater, spend a year thinking about it and watch seasons roll from one to the next.

That is pretty simple, on a grand scale of things.

Our guys all have interesting stories about “coming to.” Where they come from, what it was like, what happened, and then what it is like today. And once again we make this pass across a step so we get further insight into life.

My “best thinking” got me into loads of trouble. And trouble kept me drunk.

I know I prayed for it to end. And it did. God moved in  my life, and the rest is history.

There are plenty of instances throughout my life where God stepped in to show me what can happen if I trust Him. And when that happened I did, but eventually, I took my will back, in essence, I said that “I knew better than God!” And look where that put me?

I am not God, I don’t have all the answers. And I am not the center of the universe.

If you want a sure fire test to prove that God exists, spend a season in a room and watch her people come, come to, and come to believe themselves.

I guarantee you that you will see God.

I have proof, for my eyes and my soul that there is a God and that He is good.

And I’ve watched my guys come, come to and come to believe.

That is called blessing.

Even if the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and a day cannot go by without someone killing someone else, watching the Holy Land sink further into war and planes falling from the sky, for an hour at least, in the basement of a local church, we spoke of divinity.

And it is to that Divinity tonight that we say our prayers.

May the souls of those departed rest in the hands of God, Eternal rest grant them and may perpetual light shine upon them.

If we ever needed something divine to come to us, this would be about the right moment.

God, where are You???

That is all I have for you tonight.

More to come, stay tuned…


July 8 2014 retrospective from July 8 1994

world-aids-day

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

July 4th 1994

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

Imitate art that week?

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

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

Anyway, that was that.

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

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

Hello…

Hello…

Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!

I have some news for you.

Yes, what would that be?

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday July 5th, 1994

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he tried to leave it at that.

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

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

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

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

Friday July 8th 1994

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

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

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

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

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

“You are going to die.”

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

“Thank you for that information,” I replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whoa, OK, one down … two more to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday … So Long for Now … Changes

tumblr_lgobofjaDU1qzbcvvo1_500 alex-stoddard

Courtesy: Alex Stoddard (Archives)

The weather is looking up for the next few days. It could stay like this for the Summer as far as I am concerned.

The long goodbye continued tonight. My guys are coming to the end of their time with us, and our little community is growing smaller. We said goodbye to one of my guys at the Metro station, tomorrow is move day and Saturday he will depart for the rest of the Summer. Hopefully, he takes with him all the he has learned over the past four months. Canada Wide Calling is going to be very useful.

I departed for the church and met with my other guy for set up. He is going to be a much harder goodbye because he is moving from the city in the coming weeks. I will get to see him on his off days throughout camp weeks.

Again, we have filled him with everything we have got to give.

We read from Daily Reflections, Fear and Faith.

We carry one similar trait. Most of us carry a modicum of fear from our lives into recovery. And in life, a modicum of fear is a good thing, if only to remind us that we are human, and do feel.

There was a great deal of fear in my childhood. A lot of violence heaped upon a small child, if only because he had been born to a father who did not want him. And spent the better part of a decade trying to bring about the end of said child.

What do you do when you are drilled with fear, because you are unwanted, or better yet, being told that you were a mistake. Only to grow up and see the proverbial writing on the wall, and come to know your adversity.

And your destiny …

Then with time, one grows up and has made a life proclamation only then to be branded an abomination. That only adds to the fear of being “other.”

I never made the connection, in my drinking history early on, that I was drinking out of fear. I never blamed anyone for my drinking. I was taught that to be part of that we drank. So that is what I did. To fit in.

I was young and impressionable. I seemed to “fit in” I had all the right friends and drinking buddies. I was part of a greater “Whole.” A Community of sorts. The men I called friends took care of me and cared about me, seriously. They are all long dead now. For what it was worth, I would not have changed one bit of it.

Nobody said stop.

Life threw its curves, and I got sick. It was at this point that I began to drink out of fear. Fear of misery, fear of pain, fear of pain, and most importantly, fear of Death.

I thought it would be better to do myself in before the misery, to save me from what I was seeing in my friends lives. What do you do when a doctor hands you a death sentence and actually tells you when you are going to die?

Thankfully, Todd did for me what I could not do for myself.

He kept me close. He allayed my fears. He gave me a purpose and helped me deal with my fears with practical life lessons that paid off in spades.

I lived …

Most people I know, that means, most of YOU out there, probably never think about your deaths or the end. And you usually don’t think about death until it happens to you within family or friends.

For some of us, that came in spades. What do you fear, after surviving your death date? What could be worse than facing down your own death and surviving???

Everything else after that pales in comparison.

Yes, I went out and returned. The blip on my life radar.

I made certain choices and arrived here. I really did not fear the future because I had all my bases covered. I made sure, this time, that I was going to do it right, from the get go. And I did that.

There has been fear. But I managed. We managed.

I was never alone, at any point in my journey. I worked on my fear, resentment and guilt list on this fourth. All three lists are very short.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

I won’t ever get my day to state my case to certain people. I will never get to defend my life choices to state my case for becoming a grown adult man who is successful, despite the past and the way I was treated by some.

And I have to be ok with that.

I won’t ever get to say goodbye to certain people, if only because they set the rules and I have been forced to comply, not that I haven’t tried to assert myself. People die and I am here and they are there. What do you do when you don’t get to say goodbye? You go on with your life.

When people show you who they are the first time, Believe them.

I should have heard this lesson many years ago. It would have made it so much easier.

And I have to be ok with that.

I don’t fear my death any longer. When it gets here eventually, it will come on my terms, when I am ready to go. After I have fought death to the bitter end.

We choose when we will die. When we at last release our spirits from this life, in the hope of the life after. I’ve earned that choice.

Life is good. Life is as life is.

I have everything I need. And I am ok with that. I have ENOUGH…

I am working with some new folks as of tonight. We’ll see how that turns out.

It is trues that if a number isn’t used within the first 48 hours, it will never be used.

That is why we require a call every day. I am required to call every day, for my own sanity and sobriety.

When you know, Teach. When you have, Give.

There are always people waiting in the wings for someone to reach out and say, “I think you are important.” So let’s begin.

And so we have.

Pray for my guys. They need our faith and prayers.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … The week that was … And More

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Courtesy: SummerDiaryProject – Jase

It has been a busy week. The rains came this evening. Kind of raining in between coming and going. Hit and Miss rain that ended before the meeting ended.

The past few days, we’ve been on information assimilation concerning “the work.” We have all picked apart the best and the worst from the roundup now. Me thinks that they should bring in a new source, let’s say Akron, or Cleveland, or The Pacific Group in California. we may have had our fill of New York City, and the fact that the weekend was mediocre at best, seems to be the common buzz word.

I hit a bunch of meetings, hoping to hook up with a possible pigeon, but he was a no show on Monday night, and I won’t get another chance to see him until Saturday.

My guys are amid their step work. I am mid way through my 4th, waiting on my sponsor to finish with HIS sponsor, so we can move ahead. Lots of good stuff.

Which leads nicely into tonight’s topic and discussion.

We read from the Appendix 2 – and Spiritual Experience.

In A.A. it is enforced that a psychic change or spiritual experience must take place where in a change in attitude and outlook happens, this change guarantees that sobriety is possible.

In the M.A. book, it says that a spiritual experience is not necessary to get clean. it goes on, when working steps that you are allowed to “create” and find a power greater than yourself. For some, that is not always God, in the Deity spectrum.

Something my guys struggle with. My sponsor is of the mind that there are many ways to work a program and that “one way” is not always the “right way.” And sometimes you need to do something else, and We have done that.

I was thinking about Spiritual Experience. And turning my will and my life over to the God of my understanding.

A long time ago, in a church that was familiar to me and my grandmother, one afternoon she took me to church and set me on the altar and prayed, and in my memory it was as if she was turning my life over to the care of God as she understood him. This is one of my first memories that I tracked working my 4th step.

God was always present. For the whole of my life.

The second time I got a pass at turning it over was in High School on a retreat, the first of many over three years time. The One on One retreat where we were introduced to Jesus and at the end we were committing our lives to him, many of us came home on a high, and we learned how to live that commitment in our daily lives. Being a Christian in high school was quite the chore. Because the odds were against us. Carry a bible in ones bag was suspect.

I had several more passes by God in Seminary and in the Vatican itself.

When I came to my last drink the second time, I knew it was coming. The signs were there, and I had began to communicate with God. So that decision to quit was a conscious decision. Bolstered by prayer and a commitment to getting back, but I needed an escort to take me back, and I have written before that that did happen.

The most important spiritual experience this time around always involves other people. Committing to one room, committing to “the Stay” and spending time with others getting sober, watching others have spiritual experiences, is where I have mine, because it is in those moments that I see God.

I know who God is, and I know who God is not.

A university education gave me that, and spending time in the rooms has opened my eyes to the God of many’s understandings. For every human being there is a concept, some are the same, some are different.

My faith is solid so embracing other concepts do not threaten my faith or my spiritual journey.

You see this in real life issues in the world. New takes on religion, spirituality, homosexuality, equal rights and equality, these things shake up the pot of belief and you watch people who think they have a handle on their faith and practice, but if you speak these words to them, their entire lives are turned upside down.

People who do not have a solid handle on their faith and belief are easily rocked when they are asked to consider something more than they know. Hence this new movement of God and the gay Christian. This has totally upturned the apple cart of the belief systems of evangelical Christianity.

It is quite something to watch.

But, Um, Sputtering, total confusion, duh !!!!

Somewhere up there, God is taking the piss …

God is or He isn’t.

I live for spiritual experience, especially when I get to share them with my friends.

That is God in action.

It was a good night, and it has been a good week.

More to come, stay tuned…