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Seasons

Thursday – Some People Don’t make It !

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueThe weather is definitely cooler. The trees have begun their turns. Lots of yellows in the neighborhood. But I haven’t noticed bursts of color in other parts of my commute, as of yet. I was standing on my balcony today and noticed the trees.

The first holiday of the “2015 Holiday Season” is just days away. I went book shopping the other day and I noticed as I came down the stairs to the check out, that they had CHRISTMAS CARDS, out for sale. We are the beginning of October right now. I stepped up to the checkout and looked at the young lady behind the counter and said …”Christmas cards, really, REALLY !!!”

God Give Me Strength !

I’ve finished my read of The Great Reformer, Pope Francis.

It’s difficult not to love a man who lives simply, loves deeply and wants to bring Jesus to the people in every walk of life. A man who calls us to serve, “the least of these” because we can and we must. He wants to build community across racial, socioeconomic, ethnic and religious borders.

The church has had its stance on several fronts that hasn’t changed since the 1960’s. Some of these stances are never going to be changed, and others, it seems are on the table for discussion.

The Pope came to the U.S. with a specific goal in mind. He stayed away from Hot Button issues, however the Papal Nuncio to Washington, who famously, served in the Vatican during the run up to the conclave that elected Jorge Bergoglio pope. He had a major faux pas in bringing that anti-Christ woman to meet the pope. He clearly failed and we are told may pay dearly for that appearance.

One must admire a man, who has stayed “on message” for most of his priesthood. Prior to the Dirty War, Jorge Bergoglio saw the world in a specific way and he treated his priests and others, in a way that was not so papal. Jorge’s saving grace was his spiritual transformation that turned his world upside down. The message changed. And a man who only served the church became a man who served the people. And that changed the entire ball game.

The Pueblo Fiel, the People of God, are the most important part of church. Without them, there is no church. Francis’ entire ministry hinges on serving everyone. And that goes for everybody. Although Francis has shared certain words on specific subjects, the fact that he welcomes “everybody” is telling. We are all people of God, no matter our orientation, background, sin or omission.

If we don’t go out and love our brothers and sisters, who is going to do that for us ?

You might want to judge Pope Francis on his few words, or on what he might be saying, from behind the safety of Vatican walls, but you cannot ignore how Francis goes about his days and nights, the austerity in which he lives, and the way he sees church, which is a total 180 degree change from the Old Guard Papacies.

It is written that Pope John Paul II was a great man, who certainly had his faults. No pope is perfect, as Jorge reminds us. Nobody is perfect. Only God is perfect. I relate the story on one Christmas, before John Paul II became infirm, a group of Cardinals came to greet the pope and ignored the Swiss Guard standing at attention outside the residence. They did not greet him, nor did they acknowledge him either.

Afterwards, Pope John Paul II came outside and spoke to the young man and had a chair for him to sit down, because the Pope had brought him some food to eat. The guard replied that he cannot sit down, “on the job!”

The Pope replied … Well, I am the Pope, have a seat and eat this treat …

This story is a highlight in Pope John Paul II’s reasons for canonization.

When Francis was elected, he shunned extravagance. He paid his bills like any other priest. He rebuffed the papal suite and rooms to go with it. Like John Paul II who wore hand me downs, and very little expensive clothing, Pope Francis is particularly similar to John Paul II in many ways.

I am highly literate on John Paul II.

Pope Francis lives in Casa Santa Marta in a small 2 room apartment. He shares his meals and masses with those who work in the area, in the Vatican, and the residence. He does his daily prayer and meditation to start out every day at 4:30 in the morning.

He works during the day, and at night, he goes into his rooms and changes into simple street clothes, and goes out to meet the poor, to serve them and to be with them. His outreach to the “least of these” is an example of a holy man who forgoes the trappings of Church, and simply goes out and does what is right.

His concern for “the people” and as well, his Church, is indicative of a man who came to Rome, not expecting to become Pope. He had asked certain people back in Argentina to continue their jobs, that he would be back very soon.

As we know, things change. In a very simple but direct address to the cardinals in the pre conclave meetings, swung the pendulum in his favor. And it was because of that 170 word speech, Jorge Bergoglio became Pope.

He never got to go home again. And after becoming Pope, he still calls his friends, and invites them to visit, and he has brought the world he came from, into the world at large.

Before you judge someone or rely on preconceived notions about Pope and the Church, I highly recommend you read what has been written about Francis. It was a truly enjoyable reading.

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

Some People Don’t Make It

Another Thursday and another speaker. This night was reserved for our local DCM. That would be “District Committee Member,” who serves our district of the Island of Montreal fpr the area.

I, for example, hold a position as GSR for one of my home groups. That would be “General Service Representative” The GSR is the go between the group and the district. We meet once a month, to discuss news, hold workshops and do service for our specific groups.

Anyways …

The main message from her tonight was this … We should be so grateful for what we have, and to recognize just what we have in the rooms. That our program is one of “Spiritual Transformation,” that in order to reap the benefits, we heard it again tonight, we must be prepared to go to any length.

It seems the women have the market on this call.

They know what to do, and they do it gladly and willingly.

Some women suffer much more than the men do. And maybe this is why they work it as hard as they do. And some of us men, emboldened by their example have adopted their practices.

Some alcoholics come from alcoholic homes. And others come from homes where they never saw their parents take a drink. Many of us have siblings who drank, got sober, and either by their example we followed in their footsteps, or we got here on our own steam, many of those siblings went back out and paid the ultimate price.

I know, that a good number of our membership have lost family members to the disease of alcoholism. Which makes it a little more personal, why we stick so close to what we have and we go to any length to keep this going, even in the worst of times.

In the end, one of our men took 31 years. There was lots of Cake to go around.

There is only one book I need to read in order to understand where I come from, and quite possibly where I might be going if I stick around long enough to see the miracle happen for myself and my friends.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – A Mish Mash of Many Things …

tumblr_m5c3yfETXv1rv6vzdo2_1280The last assignment that Rafa had for me prior to begin writing was to read The Odyssey of Homer. He had a translation which he said was probably the best translation he had ever read, and I have to agree, this book was translated by Richmond Lattimore.

The photo above, is from the 1997 production of The Odyssey, starring Armand Assante, as Odysseus. I read the book, then downloaded the movie. I had once seen it, and I think I even had a copy on film. But my VHS player has long since gone to its grave…

We had discussed the idea of Nostos, or The Homecoming.

Odysseus goes to Troy to fight in a war, and ends up on an Odyssey that takes him many places, from one island to another, from Circe to Calypso, the Cyclops and a trip down to Hades, after which he finds respite and is conveyed home to Ithaka.

After reading the book, I have some further insight as to how I am going to write. I’ve come to the realization that there are people I just want to write out of the story, or at the least, give them minimal attention, because they are merely players in a narrative that is all about me, and not them.

I had at one time, thought that writing about people, based on a story that could be construed as merely conjecture, because I really don’t know the personal details to a degree that I should, and I could write that into my story, but the simple answer is, “I don’t know …”

I’ve constructed a narrative that I have built after a lifetime of study and still, I can’t say that my take on how this story began, is plausible? But if I take into consideration, sexual mores, and religious practice of the times, and the Catholic beliefs that were also a part of family practice, if I take all this into consideration, in building my story, there is a thread of knowledge, but only to a certain degree. I would need to have a conversation with my aunt and run my theory by her, before I decided to set that story line to paper.

It would not be good, to have a book published, and have someone read it and come back and say, “That’s not how it went down at all …” UGH …

The things we must do to tell a good story.

I’ve worked on chapter titles, but my title still eludes me.

The publishing house I contacted when I started this project has been on my case. I have an agent who calls frequently to see how I am coming along, and he wants me to sign a publishing agreement with them. But that is a $2000.00 plus contract. That’s $2000.00 out of my pocket, not theirs.

And I still need to discuss it with hubby first, before I sign on the dotted line.

2015 Fall Haul Episode One …

falcon three aThe theme of this summer has been sporty, chic, based on what everybody else has been wearing all season long. I spent a fair chunk of change on sporty t shirts, and pants in assorted colors to go with my baseball themed clothing line. I have not put on a pair of jeans in months. Because once it does get cold, it is back to the standard warm weather gear. My summer collection consisted of three pairs of sport pant in grey, black and white. All of the t shirts I bought all match and are interchangeable. I splurged on these Adidas, Falcon Three Trainers, all the way from Amsterdam, Netherlands. They are sleek, well fitted and have a certain flare to them.

sk82I don’t shop retail here, unless I have to. And for everyday tops, bottoms, and everything in between, I have a list of European sellers that I buy top quality clothing from. Most of their collections are distinct from Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands. You can’t get them anywhere else, because their clothes lines are one of a kind, and only produced and sold from point of purchase. Sk8erBoy has been a German site that I buy from. I’ve found that their sock line is the best line that I have ever worn. I have an entire collection of short and long socks that I wear from season to season. They are warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. Just this past week, they came out with their “soccer socks line.” The soccer socks trend is a Euro push.

Most sport gear is sold off continent (read: North America) You can’t get sport gear on any site here on the continent, that is just not their market. So in the end, if you want sport gear, you have to go to Europe (read: Germany and the Netherlands) or the U.K. But for the Europeans, sport gear is a serious money spinner. Soccer is not a North American commodity.

I also buy soccer gear from U.K. Soccer Shop. They are top dollar, top of the line, authentic soccer gear for every major team across the board. Their prices are really nominal, and they will personalize whatever gear you buy, for a small fee, then ship worldwide.

The sporty look has been very popular worldwide seeing how soccer has skyrocketed in popularity since the last World Cup. European teams are making a killing with multiple million dollar merchandise sales points across Europe. The brand new 2015-2016 kits have been released for the fall season, which makes last seasons jerseys, one of a kind and now collectors items, and I have several in my collection now. One day they may end up on Ebay and will fetch some serious cash.

Some of my friends have been shopping like mad men as of late, and doing show and tells on You Tube of the latest and greatest must have’s for Fall 2015. I don’t usually shop in fashion houses, like H&M or Top Man, or any of those great shops, however we do have them here.

We really just recycle jackets from year to year. Last year we splurged on new winter gear for both of us, and that seems to do the trick when it gets really cold, and then I just layer t shirts and shirts. I had bought several long sleeve t shirts to go along with my sporty pants sets. When I buy clothing, I have to take into consideration that it has to fit several seasons, meaning it can be worn year round, one way or another, and that they can also look good layered.

Having a handful of long sleeve Henley’s or Under Armour shirts that will go well with an over shirt layered in the winter is a good buy. Two layers usually suffices, but when it really freezes up, adding an extra layer usually works well too.

Just a few notes i wanted to write about tonight.

Time for bed…


You Were A Mistake … Draft #1 … Seasons & Naked and Sacred

do you believe in love

“Quick, Run. Find someplace to hide … Yeah, up the stairs, Go, Quickly, He’s coming. I run up the stairs and dive underneath Grammy’s bed. She is following and stands in the doorway; protective, resolute … You will not hurt that boy !!!

Dad is screaming and shouting, swinging a bat in his hands … You Were a Mistake and Should Never have been Born.”

This scene is repeated many times during my childhood.

Seasons

Human beings transit many seasons in life, and for every season there is a birth, life, growth and in the end death brings up the rear. This story, my story, is a story about seasons, and how I came to be, who I was, and who I am becoming right now. I am a child who was born in Generation X.

In 2011 “The Generation X Report” (based on annual surveys used in the Longitudinal Study of today’s adults) found Gen Xers, defined in the report as people born between 1961 and 1981, to be highly educated, active, balanced, happy and family oriented. Citation, Wikipedia

The city of my birth, New Britain, Connecticut, was a small town with pleasant neighborhoods, multi-ethnic families, a local school, parks and stately family residences. It was a time of plenty for us. I was born to a working class family. My father was in the machine industry, my mother worked in the medical field, and my grandparents worked for the best industry in town, “The Stanley Works.” One of the biggest tool manufacturers in the North East.

My father, war torn, returned from fighting in the Viet Nam war, imported a wife from Canada, and impregnated her. My mother, being a Quebecois Catholic girl, from a very Quebecois Catholic family, one did not impregnate a woman and leave her destitute. I believe that my grandparents were not very happy about this, in the end, my father married her in 1967, which is subsequently also the year I was born.

We lived on Kennedy Drive … Did that mean anything? I think not. Our home was a split ranch with three bedrooms. We had an outfitted basement with the required record player where we played Sonny and Cher, The Mama’s and the Papa’s and the Jackson Five. We had a large kitchen which led off to an outside deck, raised above the back yard, which gave us ample space for a sand pit below. It was a great home. Our neighbors represented many different countries from around the world. My best friends, Jimmy and Steven were from Poland. Theirs was a very kind and warm family, they lived across the street. I had several other friends who lived on the street. We all went to school together. We were quite the melting pot of America way back in the 1960’s.

I have few memories of this place, a Christmas full of snow, an aluminum Christmas tree back lit with a color wheel, dad putting lights on the house, the holidays at Grammy’s house. I do remember walking to and from school. And I have specific memories of classrooms and a teacher, I see places, but not faces.

I am told a story by my mother once … It was my father’s birthday and I had climbed into the kitchen sink, taking with me the flour pot, the sugar, coffee and I had even gone to the trouble of emptying all the tea bags into the sink, attempting to make a cake for daddy … There is also the day I learned about fire … Mom holding my hand over a hot fire on the stove.

If Gen X’ers are said to be family oriented, that indeed would be true. Because I had family in spades. Those first years of my life were managed by all the women my family could throw at me. During this time, all of my family lived no more than twenty minutes away in any direction. While my parents worked, I was shuttled between grandparents and aunts and uncles.

I would not be lying if I said that this was the best time of my life. Being the first born son, I was spoiled and the women did their best to give me everything they thought I would need, when I became an adult.I had three years on my brother, who in turn was created, specifically to be my rival, my challenger, the son who was meant to be born, never to see eye to eye with me, for the whole of my life.

I learned how to take care of a home, I learned how to garden and grow food for the table, I learned numbers by “The Price is Right,” and my ABC’s by “Sesame Street. It was a time of plenty. Family was all we had in those days. And it was a good family, if I do say so myself.

My first memories, nursery school in the basement of a church, Kindergarten in a two classroom building with a large “mud room” between them. Music lessons and the production of The Wizard of Oz, where I played the cowardly Lion. First grade with Miss, Hesslin. Her son, played on my father’s softball team.

Neighborhoods were safe, in those days. Parents did not think twice about allowing their kids to walk to school, because we lived not far away and we did not have a bus to take us. There was a covered bus stop halfway between home and school, where we would gather on the way home to share what we did not eat during lunch that day. I remember the smell of paint, in art class. The library, and the smell of books. I remember playing out in the yard at school, the field trip to the farm, the bull fighting ring, the animals. And sharing milk out of cardboard containers.

My paternal grandparents lived in a split ranch house, with a huge yard around the periphery, gardens located alongside the house. In the backyard, were two gardens. In one corner, a vegetable garden where Grammy grew tomatoes, peppers and all kinds of other things. In the other corner was a rock garden, with brightly painted rocks painted rocks bordering a tiered flower garden. There were century old willow trees in the front yard, maple trees and pines.

The lot next door, held the remnant of a century old building that a family once lived in, but now were ruins. The empty lot was strewn with the refuse of cuttings that Grammy threw over the fence, which took root and raspberries, blackberries and flowers grew aplenty.

The house had two bedrooms, one for Grammy and the other for Grandpa. They had taken to sleeping in separate bedrooms because grandpa was a drunk. (more on that later) There was a full bath upstairs and a laundry drop chute that fell into the basement for washing. There was a laundry line out the bathroom window, connected to another century old tree in the backyard to hang the washing to dry.

My grandparent had lived in this house for decades when I came along. In the living room was an old 78 record player with thick vinyl records, and a grand fireplace, where the Christmas tree was always set up. The den, was a small squat room, with a sofa, a chair for grandpa and the television. Many a night were spent in that room.

In the kitchen, the heart of the home, was an aluminum table seating for eight, and a plush chair that sat besides the door. We never used the front door, unless we were going outside to sit after dinner to enjoy the scenery. The entrance door was in a mud room, sitting between the garage and the main house. My grandmother’s green thumb was present everywhere in the house.

Across the street lived a large family with three generations of them living under the same roof. Mom and pop, on the third floor, sons and daughters on the second, and grandma living in the attic, which was a fully appointed space just for her. She was an old woman and only spoke Italian with Grammy. Grammy was multilingual, and talented beyond her means, when it came to gardening, cooking and gabbing.

Grandpa was a solid man, but he had his problems. Alcohol being one of them. Grandpa was a bottle hider, and a drinker, at any time of the day. Larosas Tavern was fifty paces from the front door, and so was the liquor store. The men of the family spent a pretty penny in both those institutions. And to this day, circa 2015, Larosas is still there.The old house has since been knocked down and the side yard was appropriated to build a larger parking lot for the tavern.

Grandpa had bottle hidden all over the house, so he could get his nip, at arms length from where ever he stood or sat. Alcoholism would be the running theme throughout this story.

Grandpa had his endearing qualities as well. I remember him taking me to a particular ice cream/soda pop place, by a lakeside. You could have your pop and ice cream, then drive just up the road to a park where we would park the car and toss stones into the lake. I don’t remember either of those names, but the memory is clear for me.

My Maternal grandparents had split up and Grand Pere was already living in a home. Memere and my uncle Michael lived together for many years, for a time, they even shared a one bedroom apartment, where I would sleep on the sofa when I would visit. All of us lived a short walk away, meaning I could walk from our home to either house within minutes.

Memere was the woman who taught me about faith and family. Both my grandmothers did that, each in their own way. The Italian on one side and the Canadian on the other. The maternal side of the family boasted six children, Michael, the youngest son, followed by Paula my aunt, Leo, Pete and Guy, my other uncles, and my mother bringing up the rear. My father being an only child bemoaned the extended family and resented and hated them from the get go.

It was safe to say that as long as there was family present, my father’s death wish for me never happened.

My Aunt Paula and Uncle Roger lived a bit away in the mountains. The drive to their house was through cathedral century trees lining the road one traveled. There were apple orchards and  all type of family homes dotting the mountainside. The house was a multilevel home, with a rumpus room, converted from a two car garage, a stately living room with a King Edwardian dining table that sat the entire family. The kitchen was small, compared to the other homes I visited in my childhood. In the 1970’s they built a pool in the backyard, which was a large hillside that dropped into a pond, fed by a stream, that ran behind all the houses on that side of the mountain.

There were many family gatherings in that house, when the Quebecers all came to visit during the summer vacations.

– Naked and Sacred –

As a young child I have fond memories of old churches and polished pews and candles flickering in dark corners of the building, statues of saintly persons who looked out over the congregational spaces and the dark corner grottos making sure we knew that they were watching over us and praying in tandem with the many who came to find peace, solace and faith within those walls.

I remember that day that my Memere took me to that grand church all alone, just her and I and God. It was an afternoon event; she brought me here for mass on a regular basis. These were the days of the old missal books and rosaries, women wearing lace over their faces, it was an ethnic parish church attended by many from ethnic communities all around.

On that day she took me to the church, she had a purpose. I remember this as if it was yesterday because, in my minds eye, this was very important to her. We went to light some candles and leave our offering in that little tin box attached to the candle display, we sat in quiet supplication and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and we lingered to hear the voice of God speak to us. I am sure that Memere and God had brokered an agreement over me.

After a while she got up from her place and she gathered me to herself and we walked to the edge of the banister that protected the main altar from people walking up on the dais. The banister was open, as if to welcome us to step up there – so with great pride Memere walked me ahead of her until I was standing on the dais before God. I must admit there were no words that were spoken to me; this is where the agreement must have been made. Memere looked up that the altar, then at her favourite statue and then beckoned God to look down upon us and take us into His arms and protect us. In that moment I believe I had been “consecrated” to Christ and to God and the Blessed Mother, not to mention Marguerite D’ Youville. (This will be explained later in the timeline)

Memere had a “tight” relationship with God. Her homes were shrines to the family that had gone before us, to the saints who protected us, and the God who gave us life. I always felt naked before God in her house. As if God sat with us daily and saw us for whom we really were simple God fearing folk. I never for one moment feared God. There was nothing I could not say to Him nor ask of Him, but I also knew that there were things one just did not ask of God, because greed and excess were not part of Memere’s lexicon.

I learned to pray the rosary as a young boy, we went to mass frequently. I don’t know if my mother and father were aware that I had so much “sacred time” in my early life. I am sure she knew that if I was with Memere that I would go where she went and I would love her for taking me and I would love the adventure of going to see God all the time.

The church of old is not the church of now, unless of course you live in Montreal and have living “great” relatives who live in a convent not far from home.

Being the first of two children in a family firmly grounded in the late 1960’s brought a lot of opportunities to me as that first child. I had three years on my brother. Three years are a big deal. I had the adoration of the matriarch’s of the family; I had three years of unadulterated wisdom taught to me over time. My time was my own; there was no one to deflect that attention away from me, which endeared me to the hearts of the women of the family. But secrets existed, secrets that would one day turn my life upside down.

My father was an abusive man; he came back from Viet Nam with major issues. I was born out of the man who came back from war, damaged and lost. He took a wife of Canadian blood, gave her an ultimatum and got her pregnant. I was there at the wedding, my mother carrying me in her womb, walked down the aisle that day and agreed to bear his children and live by his rules and regulations. My father, the racist, bigot that he was wanted to force a continental divide to rise from the ground to separate that which made my mother who she was and force her to become the woman he required.

That divide never rose, and my father’s resentment of the maternal “nursery” that I entered as a child began. I guess this is why I am so maternal, because all the men in the family were war shaken and damaged. They worked all the time in business, in the fields and in factories. It was up to the women to rear the children into the people we were to become. My father’s resentment of my presence was well known.

Later in my life I would be told of the fact that my father wanted to kill me, that I was a mistake and should never have been born. He tried many times to snuff my light out as quick as he could. The one thing that he did not expect was the backlash that came in the form of vociferous rebukes by the matriarch’s of the family, hence my “consecration to God.” If I was consecrated to the Almighty, then my father’s plan for ending my life would never come to fruition.

I remember being chased through houses by drunk men in my life, I remember my grandmothers standing in doorways between me huddling beneath a bed, hiding for my life, and my drunk and angry father fighting with them to let him “do it already!” He wanted nothing more than to wipe me off the face of the earth. The women of my family tell me that he fought often with them to abuse me and to hurt me and eventually to kill me.

They were not going to let that happen, my mother was powerless to try and stop him, why, they had an agreement, and she was his bitch, and she did what he said without argument! That was his way unto this very day.

When I was born he gave me my name. I was given to the earth as the man he loved from the war, who died in the war, so every time he looked at me or said my name or heard my name called, the memory of “one dead soldier” would rise to the fore. What kind of man places that kind of sadistic torture on himself? Was he hoping to exorcise that memory from his brain by personal reprogramming? I think there was more to this story than met the eye. Yes, there was, it took me decades to divine the truth from those who knew, and in hindsight I was able to complete the puzzle.

At age 30 I changed that name and exorcised it from my life, it was the final conflict that separated me from my parents. Being gay – HIV Positive and changing my name was three strikes, I was now damned to live without parents. He made damn sure of that.

Needless to say, faith was a priority; God would protect and save me. My grandmothers agreement with God was non negotiable with any one else. Not that my father knew she had this deal on the table. Women are tricky characters you know! When Memere beckoned upon those she regarded as spiritually powerful, hell hath no fury like the wrath of an angry saint and my grandmother generating the turbine of retribution with her dedicated prayers.

Who was God? And why should I care? Because it was beaten into me that I was a mistake and should never have been born, for 18 years my father made it his life’s work to destroy me mentally and emotionally. Later on in my 30’s the revelation of my sexual abuse at my father’s hands would rise from my sobering mind. And you think HE had issues?

I went to church, as a young boy. I would complete all my sacraments in the order of succession. I would be in communion with the church I would pray my rosary and my novenas. God was present in my daily life. I was always naked when I was sacred. There was nothing I held back from God, because my relationship with God was between him and me. To stand before God is to be naked in his sight.

How much more sacred could it be?


Sunday Sundries – Shoots and Buds

tumblr_lrhaqa79eH1qelkcko1_500 benc0baneCourtesy: Benc0bane

If you are going to jump out of a plane, do it with your friends.

This weekend we celebrated the marriage of one of our men to his wife. The thought of marriage was not his first thought when he got here. Among family and friends they shared their vows, and today was their first day of married life.

It could not have happened to a better friend.

The month of May is a very busy in sober land. The first push of sober events begin next weekend, with the Spring Men’s Intensive in Vermont. We will be leaving Friday afternoon, returning on Sunday.

Later in the month, we have the Pioneer’s Roundup and the weekend following is the West Island Round Up. Kind of a One Two Punch of sober experience, strength and hope coming from all over the map.

I have said that the Spring offensives have begun in earnest. People marching in the streets will be the norm for the months to come. Last night they marched Westward through the downtown core, today they marched Eastward for the March against the Armenian Genocide.

I left just in time to see the parade step off not far from home, I was traveling against the tide. A solemn memorial then took place further down into the core.

I’ve been noticing all the shoots and buds that have been appearing in gardens, on bushes and trees. Little by slowly, Montreal is greening up. On my walk to the church we walk through a row of condos, and all of their gardens are coming to life. New flowering plants, the bushes and slowly slowly, the hundred year trees are beginning to bud out.

The trees in the church yard were struck with the blight last fall, so the leaves dropped dead and did not color. Hopefully the long cold winter has killed whatever bug is going around the tree tops.

There were signs on the church door when I arrived this evening, “Le Petite Chanteurs de Montreal” were performing this afternoon. (The Little Singers of Montreal) The BEST youth choir in all of the city. They performed a few months ago and today kicked off their summer tour, which will take them from Montreal to Europe this summer.

In the end, it all came together. We swapped the kids out and restored the hall to normalcy and we had our meeting, albeit a much smaller crowd, because you know, the weather is good, and there was hockey on tap, which gives anyone who enjoys hockey a pass for anything other than the great game.

This week is also auspicious because it is May anniversary sweep for my guys. Today we celebrated one six month anniversary. He survived a terribly stressful trip to Europe that did not end well, because of immigration issues. In the end he navigated the swells, he didn’t drink, and he got back to Montreal eventually, after several trips between Vienna and Frankfurt to sort out his paperwork and passport.

It was a nightmare …

Tomorrow we celebrate a three year anniversary at the M.A. meeting with another one of my guys. I was going to say Friday as well, but I won’t be here on Friday. Oh well.

It was a small meeting and we read a couple of short stories from Experience, Strength and Hope. The sense of gratitude for the first 100 folks who got sober, did it by the skin of their teeth and through fellowship with the suffering alcoholic, affords us the opportunity to read their stories, the first stories, and how they got by in the hardest of times, World War One, the Great Depression.

If it weren’t for them, we would not have what we have today.

It was a good night.

More to come, stay tuned…


Thursday … Hoping for Spring … and … Time

$_57The weather is slowly starting to get better. We are still in the mid teens on the minus side at night, and single minus digits during the day. And by next Wednesday, snow or rain, with a temp of PLUS (2c) …This would be our first positive temp all season long.

Usually, as seasons go, by the end of winter, temps rise enough for rain to fall, which begins washing away snow, salt and all that crap that has been buried for the entire season.

The negative, is all the trash, cigarette buts, and clutter that has been buried all winter appears out of the snow. Which sends city workers into a frenzy to clean it all up, which takes a long time.

Today was a mixed bag. I really had no plans for the day, but I knew when I hit the end of the dream that was going on in my head, as I lay in bed, I wasn’t going to stay in bed any longer. So I got up.

I had thought of doing laundry over the weekend, but I had plenty of time to do it this afternoon, so I dropped my laundry into a machine, did my grocery shopping and cleaned up around, I killed several birds at once. I set them to dry and came back down and showered and I was in a Spring Shopping Mood, and I have been “Spring Shopping” online for a few days now, Looking, Listing and Saving stuff for future purchase.

A Wish List is a useful tool.

I know better than to impulse shop before I’ve investigated my options. So while my clothes were drying, I took a stroll to a new sneaker shop that recently opened, up the block. They paid good money to have someone come and paint a huge mural on the side of the building that faces my building, it was a good visibility decision. (but now they are building a super condo building just beside it which is going to ruin its visibility).

High End Sneakers is Big Business.

Usually, you get a sneak peek, or a shop will pop up in a city for a limited run, or there are underground high end shops located in several cities world wide, that are not known by the general public and only for those who “know” where they are and know the code word to get past the front door. (That is a thing)

In the past, I’ve had to employ good sleuthing to find sneakers online. My Tumblr and Google, and Ebay and a bank account are what I use today. So I went to this store. There were two guys having a conversation in French, while I browsed. Neither acknowledged me in the store.

They had a select line of sneaker, some more ostentatious than others, the wilder the style, the higher the price. Prices ranged from $150 cad to $250 cad. That was way out of my budget. I saw variations on styles I already own, but nothing I considered buying. It was a short visit.

I returned home and resorted to my original thought. I opened Ebay and began to surf. The Spring line is out across the web, and I had a list of stuff I had seen online recently. There were several styles that I was looking at, by color, style, maker and price.

I ended up with the sneaker pictured above. Men’s Adidas, D Rose 3.5 Black, Red and White.

I am an Adidas man, Shoes, Clothing and Sports gear. These rare shoes clock in a $160.00. I had a refund sitting in my account for twenty dollars, and these came to a final price of $68.00 plus shipping, which brought it close to $100.00. I paid less than $100.00 in total. I made my sale before 5 p.m. And as I walked of of the meeting at 9 p.m. They had already been shipped.

Same day service is a plus.

We left for the meeting, thankful that it was warmer than it has been at night, recently. The same crowd of intrepid meeting goers came. The speaker came from one of our rehab houses here in the city.

This particular site offers a 3 month series, in house meetings, counselors, meals, a place to live and they work you into meetings, as you go along. Some don’t want to be there, but some do.

Some make it, but many don’t.

After you complete your stay, you take a two year aftercare journey, which is mandatory for every person there. You are on a short leash.

So all in all, the run lasts for almost 3 years start to finish.

Meeting Makers make it.

We heard “Insanity” for almost an hour. I was waiting for the moment of clarity, so was my friend.

The one thought that got my attention, was his take on “TIME.”

While he was out there, drinking and using and hurting all the wrong people, he lost things; jobs, homes, girlfriends, and so on. His coping skill was to just “wait it out” and somewhere in his head he thought that if he just waited long enough, things would get better.

His drinking and using escalated. His girlfriend dumped him and married someone else. His using got even worse, if it could get any worse, from what he had already detailed for us. He tried to “wait it out” thinking that she would leave her husband and come back to him.

She didn’t.

How many of us, when we are in the thick of it, try “waiting this out, not really hoping for an end to what ails us, but a wait and see, without the expectation of resolution.”

The end finally came. Honesty dawned upon him. And he told on himself.

He got the help he so desperately needed. Now he is clean and sober almost three years. He is still inside the treatment program, but he gets out to his home group, which is on the West End of the city, and he came to us tonight.

When we get sober, “TIME” takes on new meaning.

I learned this lesson the hard way, walking into my first meetings here with expectations on my list of things I thought I wanted. WRONG !!!

It was good, those first few months in Miami that we counted days. I went just to make sure my friends stayed and came each night to count their days. Out of twenty newbies, nineteen made it.

Counting days, is something we don’t do here, because there aren’t many meetings, on consecutive days at the same location, to be able to do that properly. There are a couple, but not seven days or nights a week.

Sobriety is a full time, Four Season, Make it or Break it kind of job.

People count their days with their sponsors. And at certain meetings, we give consecutive month chips. This goes for the M.A. side of things as well. For the most part, we count 30, 90, six months, then the year mark. And multiples thereafter.

We learn, in the beginning, if you are lucky, the lesson about 24 hours in a day, and One Day At a Time.

Time takes on new meaning.

And if you are really lucky, time turns around for you and instead of working against you,

Time works For You.

We learn patience, which takes time. We learn compassion, which takes time.

And we get sober. That definitely takes time.

The more time you put in, the more you get out of it. It’s all about attitude.

You either bemoan getting clean and sober, or you embrace it. If you embrace it, the much needed attitude adjustment begins to take place. That is the miracle of the program.

We move from waiting for the hell to end, to hoping for the good to come.

Everyone has their journey he said. Some take longer to get here. Some make it, some don’t.

He wanted the help. Had he gone a few days longer, his life expectancy was in real danger.

Grateful for his life today, he is alive, happy, joyous and free.

And don’t we all want to be Happy, Joyous and Free ?

Everybody is sober tonight.

Next week, I will have all my guys in the same city again. Saturday my first takes his year.

I am a blessed man. God is good to us. He has moved heaven and earth for my guys.

And I am grateful.

More to come, stay tuned …


Heart Broken

tumblr_lsdqf5xeZG1r45jjjo1_500 ninatangCourtesy: Ninatang

“The Alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.” B.B. pg. 43

It has been a quiet week. The weather is holding, and the trees in the neighborhood are bright yellow, red and orange. Not all of the trees have turned so brightly as they have in the past. It seems the trees in the church yard have been bitten by the blight once again, so they won’t turn at all, but fall dead and green just like last year.

We hit new high’s on Tuesday with an infusion of new blood in our step series, and that bodes well for the rest of this time commitment for the Tuesday group. People are willing to travel across the island from far and wide to share with the group. I hope this trend continues with the seasonal change that is upon us, people will begin making their choices of just where they will go and to what extent they will commit to attending meetings, once the weather goes North … as happens every Winter.

My guys are working their steps from another fellowship and so tonight we covered Step Six and again as well, lots of new faces, some who are where we are in the book, so that enhanced our discussion as well. Our older members are already beginning to wear down and Winter isn’t even upon us yet, and now I can see where Step Six comes into play with myself specifically in regards to my friends and fellows.

If you want to see your “miracle grown” character defects come to the fore and live outrageously, spend time in a city that has four seasons. As I shared tonight, my greatest test of who I am or more to the point, who I thought I was, was made pretty stark over the last Winter. Simply put, I was not charitable, understanding, nor patient with my friends. And ever since that time, in the past, I have consciously worked on being a man that I could respect myself.

When we make our lists after Steps four and five, we get to see the glaring problems we have with ourselves. Then we get to work that out in real time. Whatever negative trait or feeling one might have, we learn what to replace it with from the garden of goodness and love.

I find that I forget too easily. I find that I need reminders of who I want to be, and my friends and my fellows help me along with my sponsor. I tend to forget that at the farthest point out, my lessons in who I wanted to become began twenty years ago. Had I stayed sober the first time, I would have hit twenty years this year. But I can see just how long those good lessons lasted and when I took my will back and thought that I knew better.

I did not have the personal strength to see through what I had learned and I pissed those lessons away because ” I needed …” I stopped communicating and took matters into my own hands, and in hindsight, I know that taking matters into my own hands is a true recipe for sure disaster.

Sad, that people decide to take matters into their own hands, and we are powerless to stop them.

I worked very hard at what I was doing for the last year. “We are defenseless against the first drink!”

I can’t make you sober, and You are not going to make me drink again…

True lesson …

Winter is coming. And we are all growing older. Now is the time to connect to your fellows. Now is the time to reach out to your elders, your neighbors, your friends. Now is the prime time to open your life and your hearts to those who might slip through the cracks when snow begins to fall, and people will need that helping hand or that kind word, or even an invitation for a meal, holiday or not.

Look around at your friends, fellows and neighbors, and see where you can be of service. Don’t wait for snow to fall or temps to drop. Plan now. Do now. I will tell you that that will make the difference in your life as well as in the lives of others.

This year we are prepared. Last winter lasted entirely too long and took a huge toll on our men and our own peace of mind. So let’s not allow that to happen this year.

Thanksgiving will be here in a couple of weeks. For Canada, that is …

Being present to others, will totally, keep you and your character defects in check.

I learned that lesson the hard way. I don’t intend to repeat it a second time.

A beautiful day and a wonderful evening, turned to sadness, with a single email from a friend.

Which proved once again, that if one fades into darkness, from daily contact, it is a fair conclusion that they indeed went out and drank again.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

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 …


Openings … Prism … and Letting Go !!!

timelapse_video

Today was the Big Day for the REVEAL  …

That was not as BIG a deal as I thought it would be. The ground floor is 95% complete, save for a few still covered spots that are not occupied, and the one build still going on at the tunnel.

But more on that in a few moments.

It is cold, it is warmer, it is cold and it is warmer … Me thinks Mother Nature is having issues. She has a hot flash, then she gets cold, and so on.

The weather through Monday is moderate, then temps go downhill from there. And we hit a bunch of minuses. One of my neighbors from Asia was at the elevator this afternoon and he commented that it was getting colder and that this was his first winter here. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the coming weeks. As we both agreed that it only gets worse from here on out.

I was up early this morning to run some safari and get coin for laundry. And it was a hang up in the laundry room as someone was occupying several washers and they were outside the ten minute rule … which says

“if your laundry sits for more than ten minutes, other tenants have the right to move your laundry to make way for their own…”

I don’t like fussing with other people’s laundry, because that gives them the inkling to fuck with yours.

I got my wash done, and into dryers before someone came up and finished their laundry. So that was a good thing.

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

I have a doctors appointment at 10 in the morning for x-rays and to see a doctor, not MY doctor, but a doctor nonetheless. I’m hoping I did not do severe damage to my back in the fall.

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

I was out uber early for the church, as I had a tutoring session with one of my boys. He is having a case of the “fuck its” and ran into a wall and almost dropped out of university because of adversity. Thankfully I talked him out of “Fuck It.” We pow wowed and I gave some pointers and gave him several essays to read, so that he would learn what an essay looks like and how one is written correctly. He also has a style guide grading sheet to look at while he studies. Time will tell. We also hooked him up with a rep from the university to get him hooked into student services.

Our meeting was sparse, but the same faces come, and the intimate atmosphere is appealing. One of our men said tonight that he felt that our name has been coming to pass … Changing Attitudes among the men present.

We talked about Letting Go.

This last time I was getting sober, I was an empty shell. Living alone, very few friends who were “involved” in my daily life. Not many at all.

Someone mentioned he was still trying to figure out who he is in sobriety.

When I came back in, I was nothing. I was trying to be something that I could not be. And reclaim or hold on to an age that was long gone.

For the first few months, I had to let go to the process, and trust the people in my life at the time to steer me in the right direction. When I got HERE, I had not very much, not a tv, not a bed, not any furniture.

I borrowed a hand me down throw mattress and I had a radio.

But I had my meetings. And the people in those meetings. Despite my expectations, I had people who told me right from wrong, kept telling me to keep coming back, and stay in my day. It took me a long time to learn how to do that AGAIN.

I had a passing glance of the boy who would later become my husband.

I followed him around, and the rest is history.

I had good people in my life. I worked my steps a couple of times inside of the first two years, and I studied the slogans and I began to practice them one day at a time.

I would get some step time in, and then God would give me something to actively work with to practice what I learned on that pass.

I would study for a few months, or maybe a years time, then something Big happened in my life and I had to work my program to the hilt. And that happened over many years, and to this date.

I don’t plan my days to a severe degree. I usually let things pan out and see what happens. I have chores to do and things for myself. Then I leave a majority of my time to work with others, in what ever way that works out.

I am useful today.

Some friends of mine have problems with asking for help and would rather eat pride and say Fuck it and fail. But it is proven that over the last twelve years, if I needed anything, I brought it to a meeting and spoke up.

You cannot get sober and keep your ego …

There is no shame in asking for help, especially at a meeting, because there is always someone at a given meeting who may be able to help you and if we listen and we find we can’t help you, nine times out of ten, we know someone who CAN help you. So ask away …

It was a good night.

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

I walked my friends to the Westmount tunnel and they walked outside as I took the tunnel. As I plugged my buds in to listen to my music, one channel went out and I only got half sound. I was like “fuck me !”

Like I said above … Target opened their doors today. And there was no BIG BANG details or happy party. Not even on twitter. They put up a huge Christmas tree in the atrium out front of the store. Which is nice.

The Big Open Space is also very attractive. They did a great job on the rebuild. But there is still work going on in other areas of the mall.

Thankfully, Target was open. For a few more minutes at least. Enough time for me to hit the electronics department to buy new headphones.

From my brief visit, I could see that the layout of the store is almost identical to the way Zeller’s had it. Tomorrow I will have a full review after my doctors appointment.

They guy I was talking to said the store was much bigger in size, so there will be more to explore in the morning.

I paid $40 bucks for a new headset, with a small jack for my phone.

I’ve been trying to fill my days with space to listen to music. Which means taking the long way around, and being by myself. Because it is rude to listen to music in the company of others.

I had a listen to Lady Gaga, and that is still a work in progress. I don’t love it like other music she wrote.

But I am LIKING Katy Perry’s PRISM. That is some solid song writing. And it plays well. There is a tone and meaning to the lyrics and I really like what I am hearing.

I stopped at Pharmaprix for some things, then to Provigo for some safari on the way back. I think I am set for now, unless of course I see something I have to have before Christmas tomorrow at Target.

It will be a full day tomorrow – with a meeting tomorrow night and a cake with friends marking time at the meeting.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Equinox

tumblr_mo53oob6II1r6lw4po1_500 freshie

Courtesy: Freshie

Overnight the rain came – in stops and starts. But today was the equinox and summer turned to fall. And it felt a little fall. I noticed that in the church yard, the leaves are falling from the trees, green … They haven’t begin to change and they are already falling.

It was a big day today for our fellow set up girl. I arrived and she was waiting for me to help set up, but more on her mind was the fact that today she was getting her first year chip.

It has been an uphill slog for her. In the beginning she was reticent and very angry and it took time for her to warm to the meetings. And it took many months for her to find her place, as in, a home group, and still to this day, she sometimes can’t find her voice. But today was not one of them.

An entire posse of women came to celebrate with her. They made cupcakes and brought cake which fed the crowd at the end of the meeting.

We are working our way through the first set of stories in the back of the Big Book, and today we read from “Our Southern Friend.” The room was packed so we did not get very far, in order to allow everyone to share.

There were many take away’s from the short portion we read from, a sad story, written a long time ago, it isn’t a pretty story, written in stiltish language.

At one point our writer is sitting an exam he can barely get through because he is hung over and needs a pick me up to complete the task. And the story goes on from there and only gets worse until he admits that “No, I can’t go on like this …”

A poignant episode in my life takes place early on in my drinking career, I was still in High School, and even then, I had the gene …

Every student dreads the S.A.T. test. Having to take it once is a challenge, and twice is torture, and three times is just plain wrong … It fell on us, back then, that we took that test three times during our high school careers. Because it was the almighty S.A.T. score that would get us into the right college.

College … there weren’t many choices for us in Florida, unless you had deep pockets and were able to travel, alas, those choices were not mine. So by the third pass at the test, I was over it before it even began.

The night before the test – my friends and I – a whole group of us drank. I drank until I could not stand up – in fact I was falling down drunk. You could say that even then, I was a true alcoholic. But nobody cautioned me to stop.

The next morning I was green. And hung.

My test site was in the library, which was in the biology wing, that also housed bathrooms and the varsity gym. Each section is timed. And the clock would start and I would run to the bathroom and heave. Hoping to return to the test and complete each section accordingly.

In the end, it was my best showing, score wise.

I was still an alcoholic.

What would my life had looked like if I had gotten sober that far back in my life? I will never know, because the disease took its toll on me and I had to walk this journey to get where I am today. A good friend of mine is coming home from Tokyo for a few days and will celebrate 14 years very soon. He was just a boy when he came in and now he is a man with a life and career.

Not many young people make it in so early and get the gift.

Most of us have to suffer into adulthood before we realize that we are licked and we need help. Which is why we still keep going to meetings, even after years and years. Because if we forget, we are destined to return to the hell that alcoholism is.

There was cake, and lots of conversation. On the way home, it was cooler than I had expected and for the first time this season, I grabbed my toque out of my bag and wore it home.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Exsultet …2013

Easter6 copy

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,

that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy.”

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

(For it is fed by the melting wax,
which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.


Day One – Meeting One … Live and Let Live …

Do you believe in Love

It is a bitterly cold night. We are sitting at (-15c) at this hour.

Last night we rang in the year with the Ball Falling in New York City. Old habits die hard. It just wouldn’t be New Years Eve without the ball. Hubby bought a bottle on non-alcohol bubbly that we drank at midnight. The one night of the year where we break out the crystal flutes that we bought for our wedding night.

Today was a sleep in day. And I guess the day began with the usual routine and the prep to get out to the church. I opted to a later call time since it was a holiday and I arrived at the church about a quarter to five. I was still cranking out chairs when our chair arrived, then others followed.

We had a successful business meeting with new members participating in the decision process of the group. And we will be adding a couple of new books to the reading rotation. We’ve only been using the Big Book, 12 and 12 and Living Sober. But for the next three months we have added As Bill Sees It and Coming to Believe.

We sat a FULL compliment of folks. The room was packed with many friends and fellows, very grateful for the meeting. Some of my friends came that don’t usually come to our meeting regularly. So that was good.

We served up lots of goodies along with the regular fare of coffee and cookies. And that went over very well. The chair read from Living Sober and the topic of Live and Let Live.

“An ancient sage said that none of us should criticize another until we have walked a mile in the other person’s boots. This wise advice can give us greater compassion for our fellow human beings. And putting it into practice makes us feel much better than being hung over.”

When I wrote my 2012 reflection I realized that I had not practiced Live and Let Live very well on certain occasions, with certain people. Like another friend of mine from our meeting says that “she has a problem with hitting the publishing button prematurely before considering what she is saying!”

That has happened in the past. And that jumped off the page to me in stark reality when I wrote about it. I lost certain relationships because of this issue and on the other hand, I ended certain relationships because I had to walk away and live and let live. I also heard to night that some folks forget the “Live” portion of the slogan. That we are so consumed with people pleasing or seeking approval that we forget to live in real time.

One real issue that has dogged me forever and a day is that I am still trying to gain approval or really any word from certain people in my life, and I sent a particular Christmas card out knowing how long a reply would take, and no reply came, again another year has gone by with no response. I did not practice live and let live. I acted on a thought – in good faith – that gave no return on the investment. Sad !!!

The good thing tonight was all of my good friends came to the meeting. A good night was had by all. Lots of first sober New Years in the room, and first holiday seasons for some also. And over the last week or two, we served the community and helped keep numbers sober. Lots of gratitude for simple gestures of kindness.

All in all it was a successful holiday season. No real problems and lots of kindness and fellowship with good friends.

That’s about all I have for you right now.

More to come, stay tuned …


Christmas Night …

a-charlie-brown-christmas2-i

It was a great Christmas Day. I hope you all had a great day as well. We are sitting at a balmy (-9c) at this hour.

We were up around 11 this morning and I put the turkey in the oven to bake around noon, for a 3 p.m. dinner time. This was the first year that we shared our table with guests. I had invited a good friend over for dinner today. We had good food, great conversation. Hubby talked his ear off … He spoke more words today than he usually does in a weeks time … I kid.

We had a simple gift exchange this morning. Since we really did not specify what we wanted exactly, I bought a couple of items for hubby, and he bought me a couple of beautiful shirts. I can always use shirts.

I did the dishes while hubby entertained our guest, and he and I set off for the church around 4:45 for a 5 p.m. arrival. It was a cold night so we traversed Westmount Square. It was odd walking through the tunnel and the Metro Station and having it basically deserted because of the holiday.

On the way through the mall we stopped to see just how Target is going to extend the store outwards from the original front of the space. And it seems that they are expanding out some 30 feet into the mall, and more than 100 feet to the side all the way to the “Yellow” store. That’s about all the space they can have seeing there is a diner directly in front of the appropriated space unless they push them out and they take that space as well. They really can’t extend out any farther because there are retail shops to the opposite side of the store front.

Set up was quick because there were two of us working. Which gave us some time to sit and chat before folks began trickling in. And I was surprised that we sat 23 folks, a good turn out for Christmas. We read from Living Sober and “Being wary of Drinking Occasions.”

Living Sober is a great “first book to read” when you just come in to the rooms. Even before you set eyes on the Big Book or the Twelve and Twelve. Because it deal with REAL life situations. And addresses all those things you might ask about with real advice and guidance. Several members spoke to that point tonight. It was apropos to read this passage, somewhat a longer reading than most of them, but important nonetheless.

It spoke about being wary of drinking occasions. And it gives advice at how to navigate the sticky topic of the fact that we don’t drink, and it gives prudent, honest advice as to how to navigate this topic with friends, family and coworkers. Since it is the holiday season, we get a reminder of just how we can navigate the holiday party, family gathering or night outings with friends.

We went around the room once – everybody got in. And we finished up around 8:15. Several folks brought food, candy, cookies and nachos. And in the end we packed up all the goodies because everybody was stuffed from Christmas dinner. So we will have goodies galore next week on New Years Night.

It was a beautiful bright sunny day. We have a little snow on the ground. And if the forecasters are correct, we will get a 20 cm dump on Thursday. We are hopeful for a good dusting or more.

A good day was had by all. For many at our meeting, this was their First Sober Christmas. And they chose to spend part of their night with us. We are blessed. Many of my friends came to the meeting after serving meals to the community all afternoon. We all believe in random acts of kindness, and many of us did service in some shape or form today. Which made the day rich and hopeful.

In the end, a little kindness went a long way.

I hope you had a good day and we will see you tomorrow.

More to come, stay tuned.


Willing to do Anything …

tumblr_lxvsz5gmwU1qaay1oo1_500 rawrdaniel

Courtesy: RawrDaniel

The plows have been working over time to get what little snow is left on the margins of the streets, Off the streets, because tonight we are in for a real DUMP!!!

All in all we may see upwards of 20cm of snow over the next two days and nights. We are now guaranteed a White Christmas. Our fridge is full of food to cook, the cabinets are stocked with the assorted fixings for Christmas dinner. Hubby leaves for Ottawa tomorrow for a few days to see his family and get the booty we usually haul in for Christmas from all the in-laws and such.

I haven’t ventured to the mall at all. There is only one gift under the tree for hubby, seeing he hasn’t really asked for anything in particular. He forbid me from buying him clothes which leaves little to purchase since we have everything we need. We don’t go out and spend oodles of money any more. it is far easier to cook a good meal – we live a very simple lifestyle.

I was up early today farting around and my usual morning routine. We had some lunch and then took a power nap about an hour or so before I had to be up to get ready to go out this evening.

I left promptly at 6:30 and arrived at my stop and a bus arrived shortly thereafter. Another member was on the bus and we walked up from the stop to the church. We set up the room in short order and sat and chatted.

It is a bitch getting old. But people in the rooms try to approach aging with dignity and courage. We are not immune to cancer and other assorted concerns. But some of my friends are finding it a challenge to do daily things. And I hear their voices speak the words … “I am finding it hard to …” And “I wish I could do …” And “my body is not what it was just a couple of months ago.”

What do you say … We all know the routine. See the doctor, get some labs done and wait to see what they say. It’s the waiting in between that is the challenge. We always want to be supportive and like a mother hen to her chicks… “It will be ok.” The word cancer is spoken with reverence because I have friends who have been down this road recently.

But we press on. Boldly and Courageously.

Our speaker came from the city. A few years sober. Got stuck in the door of dishonesty and using. The quintessential question, “Is alcohol a gateway drug to pot and cocaine?”

You start with one and it leads to another, which leads to a life of dishonesty and I heard it again tonight, our woman drank for effect, for the blackout. Because that is how it always ended for her. We scoff at people who saunter up to the bar and “just have one…” How can you just have one? I can’t have “just one!”

They talk about it in the book. Honesty, Open mindedness and Willingness.

For some of us this comes in short order when we get sober, and for others, it takes a little longer. We recognize the dually addicted here and I know the story because I was one of them too. When I regrouped after my slip, the ability to procure pot was non-existent, so I stopped toking. Cold, Clean and For Good.

But it was 2001 and we know what happened in 2001. I remained to drink for a few more months. Just because you quit drinking once, but you are still on the marijuana maintenance program, you aren’t very sober.

So it goes.

We return to the notion of honesty. however hard or bitter a pill to swallow in the face of certain situations, we eventually come to the point where the lies and dishonesty have to stop. I heard the words Selfish and self centeredness.

We’ve all been there.

Our woman finally came to at a meeting and came clean about her lies and dishonesty. She got into the book. And she got “Booked!!!” And now she is sober. Her claim to fame is that of a recovered alcoholic. “Recovered” from a hopeless state of mind and body. We never recover, it is an ongoing process every day and every month and every year. I would never utter the word “recovered” myself.

She says that we coddle the newcomer. Ah well, go to meetings, read the book and do your steps when you feel like it… NO. I was sober some months before I started my steps. But once I got to work, I did them in due course.

But she tells us that we need to get down to work. As soon as possible. Not in the throw a Big Book at you on your first meeting, but, merely suggesting that maybe you really need to get into the book sooner than later.

I know of several young people at this moment who are amid their steps since a week ago Thursday, and I haven’t seen them at any of my meetings, as I usually do. Now this could just be “I missed a meeting,” or “they are out there…”

There really isn’t an easier softer way, however hard we want that path. And people do not like being told what to do in any case. So how do you tell someone “this is how we are going to do this” and not get a fuck you in reply???

Honesty, Open Mindedness and Willingness.

You either want it or you need it. It’s your choice. You might not agree with me or our woman on this point, but if you do what you are told, life will change and things will get better. The best gift of the program comes when you get to BOOK someone and the spiritual experience happens for them and you get to witness those changes. What a blessing.

Our woman came to, got honest, she got Booked, and now she is sober. And she has had her quintessential Spiritual Experience. Don’t you want one too ???

It’s the holidays. And it is the hardest time to get or stay sober. The city will be bustling with meetings on Christmas Day and New Years Day. The West Island will be hosting at Serendipity a whole days events on Christmas. There is no excuse for not getting to a meeting. Because you don’t have to be alone.

I have it on god authority that our girls will all be there on Christmas Day as one of our women celebrates ten years on Christmas and she will be at our meeting. It will be a good day for a meeting. We will cook early here and I will open the room at 5 o’clock. And our meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Having worked in bars during my life I know the biggest days in gay bar business is on Halloween night, Thanksgiving Night, Christmas Night and New Years Eve, bar none. By 5 o’clock folks really need a drink. So the bars will be packed to the rafters.

And as alcoholics … there is only one choice. We don’t get to drink, but we also don’t have to be alone on the holiday.

And for YOU my READER, over this holiday season, please be mindful of your friends and family. Make sure you call them and spread the holiday cheer.

Take a moment out of your festivities and do something for someone less fortunate or alone.

Random Acts of Kindness count double over Christmas.

There is a God, and I am not He.

For us, we are sober by the grace of God and the program. We have a daily reprieve based on our spiritual condition. You are not alone.

Tomorrow I will be posting my Ode to Armageddon.

They say that the world is coming to an end.

But scientists tell us that’s really not the case. I just want to send an email to a certain radio host tomorrow night saying …

You big fuck up, all these past months you have only incited fear and hoarding.

FUCK YOU … The world did not come to an end as they predicted !!!

Mu ha ha ha ha ha ha !!!!

It will be a festive next few days. So Stay tuned for that.


Tis the Season for Random Acts of Kindness …

We are days away from Thanksgiving in the United States. Since Canada is a few months ahead on the schedule, holiday decorations are up and holiday music is playing in the malls. The weather is crisp but no snow as of yet.

Here in Canada, I’ve read stories of people sharing random acts of kindness with their fellow man at several Tim Horton’s by the by. And this informs this post I am writing now.

There is always a chance to act kindly towards friends, fellows and those who might need a little cheer. It doesn’t take much.

A friend, the other day wrote a post about Cancer Warriors on his blog, and I know that as soon as I post this entry, it will appear on his blog.

I have a friend who is a member of my home group, and has been a friend for all the years I have lived in Montreal. Over the past year, life has changed for him as he is in his 70’s now and he has been struck with cancer.

This is the second friend I have walked through cancer with over the past decade or so. And I see him several times a week at meetings and the other night I invited him along to watch the Bill W. movie with my sponsor.

I spoke to him today and he was so happy that we took him along and that he was able to attend the film with friends, and not by himself.

It was nothing really. I just thought that he might enjoy the outing and so he did.

It’s the little things that mean so much to people.

So as we approach Thanksgiving in the U.S. how will you employ the fine act of kindness to your fellow man and woman? A meal is the greatest place to share kindness with fellows. Breaking Bread is the most important act of sharing in community.

As the holiday’s approach I remind you that there are millions of people in need and they are right there under our noses. The homeless and the disadvantaged, the poor and the lost.

There are thousands of homeless kids all over America and here in Canada.

So if you are moved this holiday season to find a kiosk that helps people, spend a buck or two and help another, just because you can. You never know how you will be able to lend a hand.

Look around your community and see what needs are there. Especially those in the North East and New York and New Jersey. So many people are hurting and may not get the chance to celebrate at home a real thanksgiving.

While parades march down the mall in New York City next week, right up the street are people who won’t be celebrating but trying to figure out where they are going to go, where to find their next meal and find fuel and new places to call home.

Buy someone a coffee in line behind or in front of you. Buy a meal for someone on the street. Take some time to give to your local food pantry. Share your goodness with your fellows at church. There are so many places to give…

What will you do for your community and how will you do it?

This is not about us, but about them.

A random act of kindness needs no reward. And should come with none. Do it because you want to not because you have to.

Tis the season for kindness to our fellow man. And it begins with us.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Make the season joyous and bright.


Sunday Sundries …

Courtesy: NiqBailey

They say it’s gonna rain … The Weather channel is focusing on Isaac and its possible landfall in the coming days. I am glad I am not living in the south any more.

I was up early today with not much to do, so I headed out early for the church. There were only a couple of people there when I got there so I helped to do set up. One of my friends came in and noticed that the tables we use were missing from the room, so I called the super to find out where they were because I need them on Tuesday, I was hoping that nobody was using them, in any case he told me that the tables would be returned tomorrow. So it’s all good.

It is the last Sunday of the month. And traditionally, we read from the Twelve and Twelve. And since it is the eighth month, we read Tradition Eight. “AA should remain forever non-professional but our service centers may employ special workers.”

The discussion went around the room about professionalism and the fact that if money became involved in carrying the message, that things would quickly devolve into a mess. Back in the day, there weren’t many people doing the work that had to be done, and Bill used to delegate responses and 12 step work to members in far flung places and to get the message out and to help suffering alcoholics. There is a reason that GSO is there. And in its wisdom the program works, and for the most part alcoholics do the majority of the work. But there are non-alcoholic trustees that work at the New York Level to maintain integrity of the program and to help keep the program on its feet. Suffice to say … we should always maintain a non-professional attitude towards the program. We don’t get paid to carry the message, or earn a princely wage to give it away.

It was supermarket safari on the way home to pick up a few items for dinner and munchies for later on. It has been in the teens at night for the most part, but the last couple of days, it has been hotter than usual. We are on the doorstep of September and Fall is coming quickly, and hopefully soon …

That’s about it for excitement this weekend.

I’m sure I’ll have something more substantial coming up, so stay tuned…