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Sober Rants

Wednesday … The Past, The Present, SnowMageddon, Ants and Life

yellow_star_of_davidIn my studies of Religion, I spent a great deal of time, studying the Holocaust. I took specific classes taught by men who were there, and men who’s family were lost in the camps. I took a Master Class on the Holocaust as well.

We also have a Holocaust Museum here in Montreal, that I have visited on several occasions. And on this 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I post these words written by Primo Levy, in honor of all those who were lost, those left behind and words to future generations to never forget.

People who forget the past, are destined to repeat it …

  • If This Is a Man
  • You who live safe
  • In your warm houses,
  • You who find, returning in the evening,
  • Hot food and friendly faces:
  • Consider if this is a man
  • Who works in the mud,
  • Who does not know peace,
  • Who fights for a scrap of bread,
  • Who dies because of a yes or a no.
  • Consider if this is a woman
  • Without hair and without name,
  • With no more strength to remember,
  • Her eyes empty and her womb cold
  • Like a frog in winter.
  • Meditate that this came about:
  • I commend these words to you.
  • Carve them in your hearts
  • At home, in the street,
  • Going to bed, rising;
  • Repeat them to your children.
  • Or may your house fall apart,
  • May illness impede you,
  • May your children turn their faces from you.

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

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Canadians, for the most part, are hearty, strong people, who take what ever Mother Nature throws at us. Snow, for many parts of the country is a norm for at least six months out of the year. Love it or hate it, it is part of our daily lives. The snow storm is one thing, a blizzard is a whole other kettle of fish.

I haven’t seen a blizzard here in Montreal is some time. And since Winter began, our weather forecasters have not really hit the nail on the head when it comes to knowing what the weather is going to do. Several times, we have been warned over the air to expect significant snow fall, that never materialized. So this past week when weathermen in the U.S. were warning people to run to the hills, take cover and hunker down for a historic blizzard ever, I kind of rolled my eyes.

Let’s incite fear and insanity into the lives of millions of people. Let’s shut down the city from top to bottom and turn people’s lives upside down. “because of some snow …” UGH !!!

… Momentary pause to fold laundry …

It was “Do things Wednesday” today. The confluence of many things coming together meant busy busy from early on this morning. Our management takes very seriously, the threat of bugs or any kind of creepy crawly infestation.

Our latest threat is ants … Several apartments have seen more bugs lately, than we have seen in years. I’m not sure where they are coming from, but they made their way all the way into the tower into apartments high up. With a list of affected apartments, they came this morning and tore the apartment apart, taking all the electrical sockets apart and putting poison in the walls.

I had cleaned in anticipation of this coming, and we were told that no prep would be necessary, they lied … So that was this morning.

I needed food, so I went to Provigo and packed a cart full of stuff. I also needed to do laundry, and it seems they have changed the rules in the store, and are no longer giving change at the cashes. I did, in fact get change, but that might change the next time I need it. Which means a trip all the way up the road to the bank, which is a real pain in the ass, when Provigo is right there on the corner.

Just another pain in the ass decision.

I usually do laundry early in the day, to avoid the dinner crush for machines. Most folks are at work or school during the day so I get my machines without waiting. I was the only one up there today, and just finished laundry a short while ago.

Last night, we sat a small group for the meeting. We are listening to the Joe and Charlie Tapes that cover the Big Book. It is a 35 week adventure. The talks run from ten to twenty five minutes with a discussion that follows. It has been hit and miss. People (read: some people) find it annoying. And some stopped coming all together. But after last night’s meeting, and after hearing what our old timers said about … Sometimes you just have to sit down, shut up, and listen, we decided to stick to our guns and not cave because of criticism.

I went ahead and sent notices to our Area Web administrators, and the literature counter as well, notifying them of the format change. That will definitely drum up some more business. We barely hit our monthly cash expenses, with less people, the seventh is less as well, and we have to pump money in to pay our rent and buy coffee.

We are expecting snow for tomorrow and Friday …

More to come, stay tuned …


December 9th 2014 … Thirteen

tumblr_l8yig0qgFp1qbsveko1_500 billypazionis

Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.

In May of 2013, I had been at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. The New York women came to us and I began to watch them and listen to them. I watched what they did for a while and I longed for that kind of life to come to me.

The end of May came with the West Island Round Up. And I heard Lorna Kelly speak, along with a host of others from New York. And I learned, much to my dismay, that I’d been warming a seat for years, and not really doing anything about it. Comfortable at just being a talking head and showing up and doing service.

One of the men who spoke talked about prayer … I prayed, but not with the intensity or meaning that our man was trying to get across to the people sitting in front of him while he spoke. Three, Seven and Eleven, every day, like you mean it. You have the book, why aren’t you working it?

This is how we do it.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!

Are you listening??

I faded from my then sponsor and decided to go it alone. It was time. Days, turned into weeks, which turned into months. I changed up my meetings, added the Friday A.B.S.I. meeting, and I was doing the work, praying and being present for my friends.

In the Summer of 2013, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners, opting for the “other” beginners meeting that was on earlier, because that is where my friends were, or, more to the point, the young men of that I needed in my life and it ended up, this meeting carried me through some tough times. And I gave back to that meeting.

On my 12th anniversary, December 9th 2013, I asked a friend to give me my chip, so it went. Since then, Vendome Beginners moved to the location we are at now, albeit in smaller numbers, we have a committed group of folks who come week in and week out.

There was an old timer there, who had the years, and I was in the market for a new sponsor, in January this year, we went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. He had a few rules that I must agree to follow. I was supposed to call him every day for a month. I did that. At the end of the month, on the last day, I called him, and he said to me that I did not have to call him anymore. And I was like “What?” But I want to call you every day. That was the answer he was looking for.

It has been close to a year, and I call him every day. He also started me on the journey with the Men’s Intensive Big Book, Steps, Study. We have been working our steps in tandem with each other. My sponsors sponsor, my sponsor, and then myself. I had been doing the work, praying and acting As If.

And God seemed to be pleased because he sent me young men to work with, something my life had lacked for all the years I was sober. They have taught me many things, about themselves, and about myself, and about us.

In May of 2014, he invited me to my first Men’s Intensive Weekend at Mad River Barn, in Vermont. Being the only Queer in the bunch, I told them my stories about getting sober in certain groups. And the fact that people sent me away because I was gay! That changed everything. It was the first weekend where men from other places listened to me and spoke kindness to me. I came home from that weekend with lessons I still use today. I work the same way with my guys, that my sponsor works with me.

The weekend after then Men’s Intensive, it was my hope to share a round up with my guys. It was an ok weekend. The singleness of purpose problem was a barrier for my guys, and they felt left out of the US and segregated to just them and the just us club. But the message was clear from the Atlantic Group.

The Mantra was “THE WORK.”

Since May I have talked about the work, and how that has panned out over the past seven months. In October of 2014, we again returned to Mad River for the Fall Men’s Intensive weekend. Sadly, that would be the last time we visited that Inn. This time around, I was asked to speak. Actually, before I even got home from the Intensive in May, an invitation to speak was waiting for me when I got home. So I had months to prepare. I did not get a notice on what I would be speaking on in any case.

Half our number came for the weekend. People were not pleased with the Inn from the last visit and the price had gone up considerably. Nonetheless, I was the opening presenter for Steps One and Two for the weekend.

I met some of the same men as the first time, but also got to meet several other men who had come for the first time. I had been working my steps, working with my guys, and I talked about that with the guys, a handful of them disagreed with my style and approach, and voiced those opinions.

My Sponsor listened to what I had said and told me to ignore them.What I was doing was working, so don’t get caught up in old men being pissy.

On the way to the Mad River Barn, My sponsor, myself and a friend, took an excursion to East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill’s House, where he was born and was raised. We also visited Bill’s and Lois’s grave with a group of women making an intensive weekend there at the house. It was a life changing event for me, and for all those who were there.

Standing on Bill’s Grave, speaking about recovery, to others present, changed my life. I had the opportunity to visit the man who started it all. Then attend an intensive weekend, and then bring all that home for my guys, my friends, my fellows, the list goes on and on. On the way home from that weekend, we visited the next site of the Men’s Intensive for Spring 2015. A little place called Saint Anne’s Shrine in Vermont. About an hours drive from here.

We have celebrated Thanksgiving and we are coming up on Christmas.

Three seems to be the magic number for me. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man who came to our Sunday night meeting, and since. I’ve become his sponsor. You loose one, God gives you another one. They say, when you work with others that, you might find folks to work with, and they might decide that drinking is far more fun, and take leave of you. But when one goes, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. And so that has happened.

The Pre-Cake roller coaster did not take off this year.

There were no massive upheavals, no major issues, no major problems. It has been a slow burn. However, this year, I have not only had myself to work with, but my guys and my sponsor. I’ve really had no down time to think of myself. When the phone rings, it rings, I answer.

It is one thing to be present for your own sobriety, it is totally a different fish, when you are accountable to young men with whom you work with. They call every day. We talk every day, except when life takes precedence. I meet my guys once a week to talk, to read the Book, and to do Step Work. One of my guys moved to the states, this past fall for his M.A. so we Skype every week.

Thank God for technology and sponsorship.

They have totally kept me on my toes and busy with something to do and something new to think about on a daily basis. Working with others is the greatest joy you can have in sobriety. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about them. I’ve truly grown this year, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. All because I have done my work.

Now they do their work.

Continuing the story … This post is a two parter. It is Tuesday and mother nature dropped snow on us today. A little worried about people not coming, my sponsor says … “We went to any length to drink, snow or whatever, people will come, don’t fret!”

Our usual group of folks came. We called New Foundland to talk to one of our women who is up there with her new daughter, and I thought that it would be nice for all of us to talk to her, so we did that. Have phone will chat !!!

We covered the second half of Step twelve. There were lots of laughs and giggles, but it was all business.

So what can I say for sobriety, I am in my steps. My sponsees are in their steps. My sponsor is in his steps. We’ve now heard the steps presented three times in the last year. Twice in an intensive weekend, and once at our meeting for twelve weeks.

This journey to where I am today, started some time ago, and only now can I say, I’ve reaped the rewards of really working my sobriety for all its worth. No roller coaster, no drama. Everything is where it should be and all is well in my world.

It was bittersweet because one of my friends, who was sober, when I FIRST got sober, was here tonight. He got stuck in the revolving door for a long time, and now he is back. He’s got six months. And I think about him a lot. Had he stuck and stayed he would be long sober, longer than I am today, had he stayed. But he didn’t.

I did everything I was told to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain the sober schedule I built thirteen years ago. And I did not deviate from that schedule. Ever. I stayed sober. Many of my friends did not.

What did I do right, and what did they do wrong?

We are all suffering alcoholics. Some got better, some didn’t. At least tonight, all in our number are alive, well and sober.

I am very grateful for all that I have.

Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Another Chance

tumblr_lguex92boy1qgplzqo1_500It is Sunday Night. We had a little rain, and today the temps dropped into single digits. We are sitting at a cool (5c) at this hour.

It was a quiet week. Lots of meetings. Lots of reading. We hit Step Six on Tuesday, and Thursday we read from Came to Believe, and Friday’s topic was on the subject of financial insecurity. I listened carefully to our readings, and came away with some lessons.

It was a blustery weekend, like I said, a little rain, a lot of clouds, and today I broke out my winter jacket for the first time this season. Over the weekend, I crated the a.c. for the second time. And we probably won’t need it again, as the long term forecast says that temps won’t rise into positive double digits again any time soon.

The weather usually goes North just before Halloween. In years past, we have seen negative digits, and even snow on the odd occasion. We know that if it does snow before or on Halloween, that it will be a long and drawn out Winter. The kids will be bundled up in winter coats with their costumes again this year.

There is a load of construction going on in the neighborhood lately. They dug up the sidewalk in front of the Forum just up the block, and are replacing piping in the ground, which has caused a nightmare for pedestrians and the frontage shops in the Forum proper. All the terraces are rolled up because there is no place for them to be aside from the construction.

Cabot Square is coming along ever so slowly. They have yet to complete the bus lane ways that need to be finished before the first snow. And they need to sort out the bus stops for the same reason.

I was up and ready to go early today and arrived and cranked out set up before most folks showed up. We have been seeing good numbers lately, which bodes well for the future. Tonight we sat a full house again, and are one story closer to the end of the book. November 16th is our deadline.

This last section of the book, are stories that range from a few pages to a lot of pages. What else is there to talk about when you are in low bottom territory but I drank, I got drunk, I fell down, having suffered yet another black out and waking up who knows where, how much money did I loose, and what did I do last night? Tonight’s story was quick, dirty and to the point, in five pages.

“Another Chance”

I listed to the read and followed along, because I was in the chair. We got all the way around twice, once for the read, and second for the discussion. Stories like these are warnings to our young people that it can get bad, very quickly, and in short order. Some of them have already been to these places,  And most of our long time members have also visited these places.

I stopped to think about my story, and I realized that at the start of my drinking career I did all those stupid things first. All those activities written about that usually occur at the bitter end, when the drink is really bad, and the obsession is running rampant.

I guess I am glad that I had completed my list of really stupid things first. That speaks volumes to the depth of addiction I had fallen into so quickly, early on. I could not care less about responsibility, paying rent, buying food, making car payments. My vision was very narrow. All I really cared about was where my next drink was coming from, and who would participate in its attainment.

It was also very good that I only had a car for a few years in my twenties. I lost it once to repossession, and my father got it back. That was probably, and still is, in my estimation, a very real resentment my father has against me. He never did anything that stupid, not that I ever knew about. But it is what it is.

Once I had hit my last stop in Ft. Lauderdale, in my 26th year, I lost the car again to flood waters, caused by a hurricane. The car was never the same after that, and I finally had gotten rid of it. I am sure it could have gotten very worse, as I grew up. But I sort of nipped that one in the bud when I got sober the first time. Who needs a car, when you live in the big city. After that round, I stayed close, I have lived in big cities ever since. I don’t need a car here because mass transit is so plentiful.

All those things that happen at the end of ones drinking career that signal that the end is near and that maybe you should stop happened to me. But in reverse order. I had hit rock bottom several times early on but did not get the memo for a while. I just kept going, until, like I have said before, another human being said the word S.T.O.P …

It could have gone on to the bitter end, and that’s how I wanted it, I wasn’t ready to die a gruesome death, I would rather have died from the bottle rather than a terrible disease. That was not to happen.

I would face my challenge sober, and I would, in the end, prevail.

I’ll say it again. When I really needed God, He presented himself to me and saved my life. And I will take that to my grave.

The other identifying factor from most low bottom stories are the drinking bouts that end up in a black out. The Not Knowing. At the end of my slip, I had perfected my drinking to one night a week, because that’s all I could handle. One great night of debauchery.

Trying to fit in, by drinking my way in.

And in the end the night ended with someone pouring my sodden body into a taxi, and finding myself in my bed, having gotten through two locked doors, never knowing how that happened.

To this day, I cannot tell you the who, where, what or why of my black outs.

Either someone removed me by force, or someone was watching out for me without my knowledge. I don’t know, but that is one memory that keeps it green for me. The black outs, that final hangover, the admission that I was licked. The alcoholic who appeared because I asked God for one to appear.

My last drink, was my last drink. So far. To this day. One day at a time.

I’ve seen enough in my lifetime, and over the last almost thirteen years, I have heard stories from my friends and fellows that remind me over and over of just how bad it will get if I ever pick up another drink.

It doesn’t have to get that bad.

There is a solution. The women I know work very hard at working and living in the Solution.

I learned how they do it, and now my guys are doing that as well. By The Book.

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And on an entirely different note…

Here it comes … Are you ready?

There are 67 shopping days until Christmas

More to come Stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Pain is a Bitch !!!

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21Courtesy: Minhos21 – I love this photo …

It was a hit or miss weekend for weather. A little of this, a little of that. Our good stretch of weather came to and end overnight Friday. All that rain they called for did not fall. ( they called for four days of rain).

I always attribute the “hit or miss” aspect to the weather to the frequent flyovers of high altitude aircraft that crisscross the island dropping whatever they drop from planes into the air above the city.

So that is a thing …

Friday was had a good showing and we talked about God, (as we understood Him) in the reading from A.B.S.I. The read speaks about what we call our power greater than ourselves. For every human being that walks into a room, there is a concept. And in the spirit of respect, every point of view must be respected. There is a dichotomy …

This reading #73 comes from a letter written by Bill W. in 1950.

He writes here that you can believe in ANY power greater than yourself, whether that be the room, its people, or God for that matter. It is a liberal thought that whatever works for you is good.

BUT in the Big Book, it says that we eventually come to the point where God comes into the picture. The notion of God is written into the book, as if everyone comes to that one same conclusion. In the back of the book, the book reads that:

… many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God Consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook. Appendix II – Spiritual Experience.

Here is the rub … On one hand Bill says that whatever concept you come up with will work, and nobody has the right to tell you that you can’t or that it is wrong, that we should respect each others beliefs. BUT on the other hand, it all comes down to God Consciousness.

Some people find themselves at odds with this dichotomy.

I know what my concept of a Higher Power is, and that would be God. But that isn’t the same for a number of my friends, and my guys as well. Some may not believe in God, but they have their own concept that works for them, so be it.

I tell this story to my friends. Come to a room and stick and stay, Watch your fellows get sober. This is a long term proposition. Eventually, one or another is going to have a spiritual experience. I’ve seen it happen, many times. The light rises from the belly, up to the head, and comes to rest above them, it is a figure of speech, but the idea is that they have an experience of God, or the power greater than themselves, and if you are there and paying attention, God moves.

So that is a thing …

We sat a full house tonight. We are 5 stories from the end of the Big Book. It has been a year since we started reading the book. That’s a year of Sundays and we will complete the read on November 16th. Between now and then we need to come up with our next reading plan. We are flying by the seat of our pants as of late because our matriarch has been ill and hasn’t been here to chair the next business meeting. The meeting must go on, and we all pitch in to make sure it does.

Tonight’s read … Empty on the Inside.

I identified with feelings and parts of the story. Our writer was a low bottom drunk. Once she started drinking, she never wanted to stop. She flunked out of school, married a man she didn’t really care about, had children she could not possibly take care of nor love properly. Finally she came to when she writes about having one of “THOSE hangovers” and the signs fell before her, one after another.

It is actually emphasized like that in the book.

For me, I prayed for one of “THOSE” hangovers. I needed that final recognition that the end was in front of me. It was one of those signals I needed from God that yes, it was time to STOP. It was great, this evening, that a couple of old timers I really enjoy listening to at meetings came tonight, and I heard that story I hoped to hear.

One of them, was deluded, well, terribly deluded, that he could drink, and drink, and drink. And that his ability to drink copious amounts of liquor was all due to the fact that he had superior genes, that allowed him that ability. Until he had come to the end and had one of THOSE hangovers …

It wasn’t good genes. It was delusion.

Since the crowd was big, we did not get back around the circle. But is was a good evening.

It was a bit chilly on the way home. Definitely a night to layer clothing.

For the last week, I have been in some serious pain. I don’t know what did it, or how it happened. But from my right shoulder to my right wrist, there has been unmanageable pain. Not banging, not pounding, but slow and steady pain that wares at my consciousness. My right arm is my dominant arm, my writing hand, and my mouse hand. Sitting at my desk is becoming a problem. Hubby got me some creme for my arm that I use, and advil to try and alleviate the pain, but that only goes so far.

I called the doc last week and he won’t be in the office until Tuesday coming up. I believe it is an internal problem, and not external as in “a creme will make it all go away.” Not sure quite what the problem is, but it is becoming a real pain in my ass. (Well my shoulder really!)

And that is the last thing to talk about tonight.


Friday – Dependence Healthy or Not ?

tumblr_n8awedCgkN1s25jg6o10_500Courtesy: Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho

Another week has gone. Slowly the sunsets will come earlier and earlier. The trees are beginning to turn, but not as brightly as they should just yet. It is still early.

There comes a time when we need to let people be who they are and to allow them their process. There is a point when one says, choose your battles wisely, and know when to remain quiet.

All I can say for myself is that my life is hundreds of times better than I had ever expected, God has done what I could not do for myself. And I have nothing but gratitude for the people in my life today.

On Thursday night we read “Gratitude in Action,” The story of the founder of the program in Quebec in 1944. This year is the Seventieth Anniversary of that beginning. When you read the book through as we have been doing for the last year of Sunday’s, a common occurrence happens.

When the program began and the book was written, there was a question about how were we going to pay for it, and how were we going to get it out to the suffering alcoholic?

Little by slowly, people stepped out of the shadows all over North America. In cities like Akron, Cincinnati, Montreal, and cities far and wide, people began to contact the General Service Office in New York City. And a letter would begin the interaction, and a response would take place. The book would be sent and another human being was helped to get sober.

In each city the same thing happened. Once a rapport was achieved, the original first contact would get a package of letters from people (in their town or city) that had been written to N.Y.C, for help.

From that contact, each garden blossomed, like mushrooms in the dirt. There were so many letters at G.S.O that the possibility of answering all those letters was slim, so as cities came online, they were able to serve those people who so needed help.

We know where the house sits today in Montreal, where it all started, for both the English and French side. I know men who knew the founder, There are a few old timers who can still tell the tale. This year, at our convention in November, the family of the founder will speak and a celebration of the 70th anniversary will take place.

I missed last Friday night, so I left early to make my transit. I don’t know about you but, some of our bus drivers have issues. At my bus pickup there were several buses sitting in the bay. Their drivers sitting across the street at the depanneur (local store) smoking and talking amongst themselves. Several buses went by us while the queue got longer. Finally a bus came off a run after dropping its passengers and took the run. While the other buses sat there unoccupied.

Tonight’s read A.B.S.I… Dependence, healthy or Not ?

From birth was are dependent on our parents to feed us, change us and keep us safe and teach us about life. I never wanted for anything. I had everything a young person could want or ever need. It was not about riches or being better than another. Interspersed with all the goodness were times of terrible badness. All part and parcel of growing up in my home.

It’s funny, retrospectively, how things and people and situations can turn on a dime.

A label get applied, a sickness takes place, and voila, shit happens.

People are going to do what they are going to do. And sometimes we are on the end of receiving something bad. Funny, that, in life, how easily people who we are supposed to depend on for love, guidance and support, fail and fail badly.

But it had happened that as people fell away, unable to cope or not wanting to deal, others stepped in and became not only reliable, but dependable. When the chips fall badly, you really get to see what people are really made of and just how much you really mean to them.

When I moved away from home, I wasn’t yet dependent on alcohol. But it became clear to me, with the advice of a mentor that alcohol was going to do for me what I could not do for myself. And I did not know any better, and I should have.

It is the same story – across my life when it came to the drink. And as time went on, it only got worse. There is a fine line that is crossed when dependence becomes delusion.

When I got sick many years ago, if you did not get it fast, someone and something to rely on, humanly and medically, death was a sure bet. I was not wealthy, by any means. It was just me. And I depended on the system, and on people, to help me survive.

Let me tell you that being dependent on a system or a person for your survival is the lowest form of torture.

I learned quickly. I could go from mild mannered human to Cast Iron Bitch in sixty seconds when necessary. When someone tells you that they are going to do something for you, and doesn’t, heads will roll, if they fail to keep up on their words.

Coming off my slip, the system told me where I would live, who would bring me food, who would help me pay my bills, and where I would get all that money to pay for medication that I sure as shit could not afford all on my own. And drinking was not helping. Having to choose between paying rent, buying food, paying for medication and drinking was difficult. Until I took my last drink.

The other variables did not change. I just removed the alcohol.

That is dependence in the worst way. The system expects you to die quickly and not survive. At least that is what they think, but won’t tell you that directly, but it is implied.

I’ve said before that the how and why I got here was divinely inspired. When I turned it over, God moved heaven and earth for me. And that was the most freeing act I have ever felt. I had felt that freedom once before, and it lasted for a while. So I knew what it felt like.

I got here and got connected. I met all the right people. I’ve depended on my friends and fellows like I’ve never been so dependent on anything else in my life, besides God to begin with. As hard as I was dependent on alcohol and drugs at one time, I was equally dependent on sobriety and the people involved.

Everything I have, Everyone I know, Every gift I have received, came from the rooms directly. My life, my marriage and my husband came from the rooms. Marriage is an act of dependence. I depend on my husband and he depends on me. When we met, it was a spiritual connection. When we spoke our vows before family and God, we spoke our dependence on God and each others.

Dinner break …

They put brand new signage on the mall at Alexis Nihon Plaza, and tonight they turned on the new L.E.D. lights very flashy ! It will be nice for Christmas.

They say, in the rooms that, if you put anything, people, places or things before God, it will be a foregone conclusion, that you will loose them.

I’ve learned that lesson, and many others have as well.

Marriage is a union of two people. God plays a central role in my life and our lives. And I learned how to do that by the examples of the many men and women I know today. The women do it far better than the men do. What I know so far, came from them. And I’ve worked very hard to help my guys do it well, as well.

Going to meetings is not an addiction transference. We go to meetings because they give us life and teach us how to live soberly, in a world that revolves around the addiction to things, drugs, alcohol, money, personality, celebrity and so on.

If you want to learn about how to live life soberly, to get around slippery places, I suggest you pick up a copy of Living Sober. That will kill any ill conceived expectations you might have about coming to the rooms.

When the meeting starts and we take that moment of silence, listening to my friends pray in unison is such a wonderful sound. This night is unlike all other nights, however every meeting begins the same way, it just feels differently on Friday’s.

Our men and women come to hear each other. We depend on each other to help us, to hear us, to support us, and to celebrate with us. And we do that in spades.

It was an awesome night. I am very grateful.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … So Many Words to Say

tumblr_ly4f173sus1qcv34vo1_500 flickr joshuauhl terminal 2Courtesy: Joshua Uhl – Flickr – Terminal 2

You never know when a little gift will appear out of nowhere and makes it all possible !

The Canadian Government has addressed the recent call to kill unbelievers by terrorists. To the extent that Citizens who have left the country to fight along side them, and there are many, their passports have been revoked. In addressing public safety, we are told that the governments eyes and ears are open, and that we are safe. Montreal has always been a safe city. But with this round of violence in the world, one never knows. Let Us Pray …

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I want to address something that took place on another blog I read from Far Far Away …

A.A. is a place for people who think they have a problem with drinking. As per the Traditions, A.A. has no opinion on outside issues. Many people suffer from depression and other assorted illnesses, that must be treated with proper medical treatment and supervision.

There is a fine line between abusing prescription drugs, and taking them properly as directed.

Members, for the most part, are NOT doctors. I’ve never met a medical doctor in the rooms in all my years. Many of us suffer from depression in and out of sobriety. And many of us take pills to treat that depression, on top of that I myself take a handful of pills for my HIV twice a day.

I’ve been in a few scrums with militant members on the topic of medical treatment and for some, their take that sobriety and clean time is contingent on the fact that we either take or choose not to take our medication as directed.

IF YOUR SPONSOR OR ANY OTHER MEMBER TELLS YOU TO STOP TAKING YOUR MEDICATION, OR TELLS YOU THAT YOU ARE NOT SOBER OR THAT YOU CANNOT MAINTAIN SOBRIETY WHILE TAKING MEDICATION, YOU CAN PROPERLY TELL THEM TO FUCK OFF.

Nobody has the right to tell you what to do with your own body when it comes to your health and well being. NOBODY ! Medicinal treatment is an OUTSIDE issue.

This discussion has been going around with many of my friends as of late. Too many people suffer in silence because of the stigma of mental illness, depression, and myriads of emotional problems. We are all humans who deserve to live good and healthy lives, and if that health is contingent on medical treatment, you take the treatment and those who would beg to differ fuck em …

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Any Harry Potter fan will know the genius of Hermione Granger. And most of you may have heard about the HE FOR SHE campaign for Gender Equality. Emma Watson, gave an impassioned speech at the United Nations recently. Her speech was lampooned and derided and some even went as far as to tear her apart online and on social media for her desire to see gender equality and her call to the men and boys of the world to take the pledge to support women, where ever they may be, around the world, to help them achieve gender equality across the board.

As for myself, I made my pledge to the cause earlier today making myself Man #79,536 …

Join the cause : He For She.Org

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This morning we got a little gift, which took me out and about to run assorted errands and some shopping here and there. The IGA has a run on coffee, needless to say, coffee has become a major food group for some, so many of us have been buying multiple cans of coffee to put in storage as we need them. We don’t usually get this chance, coffee being so cheap. Many of the meetings I open for have spent considerable cash buying tins.

I needed a new Under Armour jersey to wear with my Germany Team Jersey. I went to the Sports Experts at the mall, and was pleasantly surprised that a good number of the shirts were 50% off, regularly $60.00 a piece. File that one in the WIN column.

I did a good supermarket Safari and got coin for laundry. I figured while the getting was good, I better cover all my bases so I don’t have to go back and forth between here and the store over and over.

Hubby got home a little before I had to leave, which meant I did not have to charge my card with tickets, since he has a monthly pass. I left a little early and already, the sun is setting a little earlier, because it was coming dark by the time the meeting got started, and we used overhead lights instead of a lamp we have because our bulb blew …

We split up the read on Step Four tonight.

I haven’t actually read this step in a while, and many things jumped out at me. I don’t remember doing this step, the first time I got sober. But I do remember my first fourth Step when I got connected here when I was sober a number of months.

It was a long and drawn out process. I wrote pages and pages. In order to stay sober, say some, you need to do a fourth. Many who attempt a fourth in early sobriety, without proper support, drink again. I saw that happen on a number of occasions, in consecutive Twelve Step Intensives.

You start a group of 25 to 30 men or women for that matter.

Everybody is excited to start. By Step three, people start getting ancy and agitated. We lost at least half our men in number when we hit the fourth step. Many of them drank again because the thought of writing it all down was terribly scary.

That happened each time I sat in an intensive.

This time I worked my Fourth with my sponsor of Thirty years. He is working HIS fourth step with his sponsor as I work mine with him. This weekend he is going to Vermont to do his Fifth, and I will do mine soon after.

I think I have learned a lot about my life and how I lived it now that I have been sober for this period of time. Each time you do a fourth, it gets easier. The farther you get from your last drink, and the more you grow up, because the book talks about the man who is still drinking, never grows up until he puts down the drink, the more insight you have into your own life and the life of others.

I get it, I grew up in an alcoholic family. What happened happened. Nobody ever said the word alcoholic, and no excuses were given for what went down, the way we were treated, or the way people acted. We just chalked it up to our lot as family members of an active alcoholic.

I understand now the role I played in people’s lives. I was educated in the drink, but my transgressions were dealt with very heavily. What my parents got away with in their alcoholism, did not happen when I started drinking. They picked apart every decision, they picked apart my life, and punished me for making life – survival – decisions, in sobriety.

When I moved away, it was just me. The only connection I had to home was the car I drove and almost lost because of my drinking. That was  HUGE strike one on me. Thankfully, I did not get to strikes two and three.

Oh wait … I did. Strike two – I was Gay. Strike Three – I am HIV+ …

There were a couple of extra strikes when I made life decisions and moved here. That would be strikes four and five.

From the eyes I have today, I can see why my steps went the way they did in early sobriety. And that kind of insight only comes with time. Lots of time, patience and self appraisal.

I had a really great conversation with a friend tonight prior to the meeting about family, tradition, faith and how that all works in our favor. I see some who have such wonderful family traditions. They practice faith because of tradition. They might not necessarily believe in God, or if there is a God, but they believe in a tradition, in relatives; fathers, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers.

What is handed down traditionally, is so powerful in our lives.

You can’t force anyone to believe in God. And you can’t force the book, and its words, down any ones throats either. But if you gently speak to tradition and of family and of faith, the door is eased open just a bit. I encourage my folks in this respect, and hopefully, one day, their light will shine.

At least that is my hope. One day at a time.

More to come, stay tuned …


God, You Have a Plan, RIGHT ?

maybeThe week came to an end, uneventfully. There were meetings and people, and everybody is good. I kinda dropped into a funk Friday, and took the night off, since it is the only night that I don’t have to do anything, or be responsible for putting on a meeting. I was not feeling all of myself, and if I can borrow a phrase … I was in the “lurgy!” Just feeling Blah and lethargic. I slept the balance of the weekend away. Sometimes my body just needs to sleep, and when that happens, I have no choice but to listen. That comes with the territory.

I departed early tonight to get coffee, which is on sale for a couple more days. We’ve been scooping up multiple cans of coffee for all the meetings in this area. IGA is good for cheap coffee, since my Costco shopper has been MIA for a awhile.

We sat a good crowd. We read “Gutter Bravado” from the Big Book, pg. 501.

We read the whole circle, but did not get back around before time was called.

We sit a good bunch of young people at this meeting. All of them are at different stages. The constant is that they keep coming back, no matter what. They’ve all decided to come for the solution, and that if they come, eventually the path will open.

The story tonight says many things …

  • “Sobriety is about the journey and not the destination.”
  • 3 Words of the Twelve Steps continue, improve, practice
  • Humility is the Key

I picked up on a few things from the read, and a clear picture opened up in my brain as soon as I closed my book. Our writer spoke about his drinking as like a musician, “Practice, Practice, Practice.”

He tells the story of growing up in the Mid West in the 1960’s and visiting the West Coast and how enamored he was with it. He talks about school being a futile effort and then he decided to strike out West, where he quickly devolved into a hobo.

He wasted a good portion of his young life sunk in the bottle and other assorted drugs and such. I could identify with a stretch in the story. I came from an alcoholic home. And my parents used to green light us, drinking at home, they rather preferred us drinking at home than outside.

My drinking picked up in High School, to the extent that at the end of that run, I could have failed out of high school, had it not been for the hand of providence and the truth. I can see, looking back that it began with beer, as long as it was available. We threw in the odd bottle of hard liquor when we could get it. You could say, quite easily, that I spent a few years practicing my drinking before leaving home.

I had to go, and never thought about staying. Nobody offered me another option. And at that point, I did not know what was good for me. I had some good jobs, that paid well, and I did well in them. But the theme was alcohol. And nobody ever said Stop …

If you are a young person, my warning is simple. Don’t waste your young life sunk in a bottle or on drugs. Young people cannot contemplate sobriety early in life because, how would they live without it, until it becomes a problem and the need to be led out of that mine field.

A young life, barely out of the starting gate of life is better off clean and sober. Yes, we all have to have some drinking history, but it is proven that many young people have found their way to us, because it got too bad for them. I don’t know what my life would have turned out like or where I would be right now today, had I gotten sober when the very first warning flag went up. But like I said, I was too dumb, too stupid or too drunk to care, and nobody said STOP.

That is the most important word … STOP !!

I needed to hear it from someone else, because left to my own devices, I did not stop nor would I have stopped. I would have killed myself with the drink rather than facing the music of AIDS so many years ago.

Todd saved my life. And I am forever grateful to him for that life he saved.

I was in a middle class family. But the thought that they would assist in paying for college was a far stretch. I got a years scholarship for junior college, which I used up. But getting any farther was pointless, because One, I didn’t have the grades and Two, I could not afford it.

I grew up, decided that to be myself I had to move away, and the adventure of moving to a new place, only lasted for so long. A few months earlier, I visited Orlando and some new friends I had made. They lived in a certain apartment complex just down the road from the Tragic Queendom.

I loved the complex and set forth the idea that I must live there as well. And that is exactly where I ended up. I barely had the money to afford it, I had a job, that did not go very far, because I was drinking away my car payments, rent and bills. I was terribly woefully ill prepared to be responsible for myself. I was not ready, and nobody stopped me, so I guess silence gives consent.

When I got sick in 1994, Todd said STOP and THAT was ENOUGH. For the first time I got a stab at responsibility and peace of mind. So lets say I began drinking at an early age, (my teens) and stopped for the first time at twenty six. I was on the wagon for a few years.

When I came back the second time I was in my mid thirties. Too old to be young, and too stupid, sunk in the visions of a delusional mind. I was just hanging on. When I made that decision to stop, God stepped in and my life took a turn for the better.

Now almost thirteen years later, I never imagined that my life could be this good, that I would be where I am, with the people I want in my life and the partner I always wanted to have. We all have to trod our own paths. I know that had ONE day changed in the past, had one thing changed along the journey, I probably would not have arrived here and live this life I am living.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.

Some folks are not meant to be in our lives forever. You never know when the lesson is going to happen. I must have missed the warning signs, or was too stupid and drunk to realize they were there, but I didn’t care about anything that getting my next drink, in my twenties … FUCK !!!

It did not take long for alcoholism to get its grubby hooks into my soul.

I was fucked from the word Go !!!

Thank God I did not die along the way.

A friend of mine had lunch with a friend who is wanting to make it in, but hasn’t yet. And she came to the meeting and said to us all, what a grace it was to be in that conversation, but she had a question for God … “You have a plan, right ???”

There is a plan. It is not mine. It will become yours once you make that decision. I can’t tell you how it works, or why it works, or what it will do for you. You only need to decide you want a solution, and as soon as you do, heaven will shift and take you in, and put you on the best journey of your life,

GUARANTEED !!!

All is well. We celebrated a cake. Lots of happy sober people.

More to come, stay tuned …


It’s Authentic … Does the Happy Dance

mario 2The great thing about online purchases, is waiting for them to get here.

Canada Post has been cutting service, and combining package and mail delivery to one person instead of two. Back in the day, we had early day delivery. One guy with packages, who would actually bring them to your door, instead of leaving them downstairs, or sadly, leave you just a slip for pickup at a local drop spot. The other would deliver our mail to the building. We got word a few weeks ago about the mail cutback. We have a package delivery sheet outside in the vestibule, but it is a pointless piece of paper.

I have been noticing that the mail does not come until after hours for some strange reason. The office is already closed for the day, so packages go undelivered or a drop slip is left. Last night the mail came after 6 p.m. And today it came late as well.

My copy of “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” came along with my Mario Gotze #19 Germany jersey. I was afraid that it would not be original or come from a far flung place in the world. But no, it was a genuine Adidas Jersey with the original tags attached, and in my size. Such a Sweet Deal !!!

Once again, EBAY did not disappoint !!!

It was a tad bit warmer the past two days. And the rain stayed away tonight, which was a good thing.

Last night I went to a G.S.R. meeting with a friend (General Service Rep).

Cabot Square is all torn up, all the grass is gone, the trees are all bundled for protection from construction, They are doing something funky at the kiosk entrance on our corner, a huge trench is dug and a coffer dam was erected to keep the earth around it from falling into the pit. Rumor has it they are re-purposing the kiosk with restrooms down below ground level.

The regular bus stops are all discombobulated and moved to the Tupper Street approach. Before stops were located all around the periphery of the park. It is said that reconstruction will take a year, UGH !!!

I made my transit well and cranked it out and made coffee and sat outside the church for a bit before folks started turning up. Once again we sat a good group. New faces and our core group of attendees. Tonight we read Step Three from the Twelve and Twelve.

I always tell the same story of meeting God incarnate when I got sick, and how he moved in my life and what I have learned in these past twelve years and some odd months. In the book, it talks about “electricity” how it is there, all the time, and how we depend on it for survival. We can’t see it, but it is there. In some ways, God is all around us, but some can’t seem to find Him, or, they just can’t conceptualize Him, or they can’t wrap their heads around turning it over to Him.

I look at some of our newcomers. One especially. She struggles around God. But at the same time, she has a faith in God in the religions of her father and mother. She sees God there, and she prays and goes to Temple, but when she walks in the room, there is an evident disconnect.

So I was thinking on the way out that she keeps coming back. She likes the group, those in the group and what we have to share every week. And for an hour a week, she climbs the same stairs we do, gets her coffee and takes her same seat, and she let’s go … I don’t know if it makes sense that she is letting it go when she comes, but it evident in the way she speaks.

You can’t push someone into belief. It has to come organically. Watching others begin their journey, is a spiritual experience. The best place to see God move is in a meeting. It is a privilege and a grace to share this time with our fellows.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.

It was a good night. Everybody is good. The weather is holding.

More to come, stay tuned …


Mittens, and Scarves, and Sweaters … Oh My !!!

tumblr_lrddob1hRW1qaw7dbo1_500 jakecooperCourtesy: Jake Cooper

The weather has most definitely changed. When I got up today, I walked onto the balcony and there was a very noticeable “Chill” in the air. At this hour we are sitting at (9c).

It was a good day.

I got some really great news when I checked my email. It seems the seller that I bought my Mario Gozte jersey from yesterday, who sent a hurried email saying that he didn’t have the size I wanted and offered a choice, I sent that email back, this morning he wrote that he INDEED had an XL jersey that I wanted, so no Argentine addition to my purchase, but he is sending along some special gifts.

I got the jersey I wanted in the end.

I decided on a sweater for the evening. When I got downstairs and exited my building, I knew then and there that it was much chillier than I had expected. I could have used a second layer, because I was chilled. I did not feel like going back upstairs to get my fleece. So I set out for the meeting.

I left a bit early to get some things at Target on the way out, I’ve been noticing every time I walk into that store of just how little merchandise they actually have on the shelves. In some departments there is plenty to look at, but other departments have numerous empty shelves.

I wonder how a store that was supposed to rock our world, and our neighborhood, who was supposed to offer us more than the original Zeller’s did, survives with bare shelves, and only a small selection of certain goods?

I hopped the train and made my transit in good time. There were a few folks setting up when I arrived at the church. And we sat a full house again. The reading speaks about Truth, Honesty, Integrity and Amends.

Many of us had something to say. We heard some great thoughts. Someone started the ball rolling, and it went on from there, and after the meeting, people were commenting on just how great the meeting was and that they had learned something from the discussion. Not that we don’t have good meetings, or that we learn from each other on any given Friday night, it was just tonight people got a little deeper and that lent to a great discussion.

By the time we walked to the bus stop to come home, it was chilly.

I noticed on the way out, that folks were bundled up in jackets, scarves, sweaters and even mittens for some. Our nightly temps will be single digits for the next few days. People will be breaking out their winter jackets before too long.

I had mentioned a few days ago that certain civil employees, Police, Fire Fighters, Metro drivers and Employees, Bus Drivers and the like all drive “Sticker” ridden vehicles. Cop cars, Buses, Trains and Fire Trucks are covered in political stickers. On the way home I was talking to one of my friends and I asked him, “when all of this is over, how are they going to get all those stickers off all those vehicles, and not damage them. Not that they aren’t already damaged with sticker glue on windows, hoods and tail ends of cars, the buses, fire trucks and trains. I don’t know how they are going to clean up that mess.

Interesting …

More to come, stay tuned


Thursday … Highs and Lows

Germany-Team-Squad-Fifa-World-Cup-2014This post is brought to you by the German National Team World Cup Winners 2014

There is a theme here, it will become apparent as we go along.

The weather is getting markedly cooler. We are sitting at a tremulous 13c at this hour, with a low of 8c forecast for overnight. And for the next few nights, we will hit single digits as well.

Tonight’s topic was all about CHANGE …

And as I began typing this entry, I got an email from the seller of the Mario Gotze German Jersey that I bought this morning. I did not get my first size choice, but I took second choice and he threw in an Argentine Messi Jersey for free for the lack of stock that I wanted originally.

But I am getting ahead of my story here, so let me back up …

Lately our ISP has become nightmarish. Since hubby started his new job, we have been furiously trying to regain ground by paying backed up bills in large chunks, which leaves little wiggle room for spending and food. This week, we have a wider berth and I got some play money out of it.

Two weeks ago, we had a payment arrangement with our ISP. The night before the payment was due, around 12:30 a.m. in the morning, the ISP shut off our internet. When they do that, you can’t navigate anywhere, you just get their “please call us – it’s important page.” Well that pissed me the fuck off.

The next morning the payment was made, and they turned us back on.

Last night (Wednesday) the same thing happened again. A payment arrangement was made with a promise that they would NOT turn us off again. (READ: THEY LIED !!!) I was sitting here doing some very important internet sleuthing about some purchases I wanted to make and the internet went dead.

Hubby was already sleeping, but he got up for cookies and I said that the internet was turned off again, needless to say, that pissed HIM the fuck off. I was not happy at all. This morning he called and made the payment as agreed, at the total they requested, then they turned us back on again.

I got up early in the morning because I was on a BUY deadline. Which leads to the jersey story. If you go online and search Gotze jerseys, (One) the price varies from location to location. (Two) if the jersey was on the field, or near the field, the price was much greater. (Three) If the jersey was signed it was astronomical.

I paid a pittance for my jersey, and got a free second jersey for the size mix up. I took a photo copy of the Gotze jersey from the Ebay listing, and when I saved it, the file name was $75.00, which must mean that this original jersey was much more expensive, than the price I paid for it.

mario-gotzeOne of the Gotze jerseys I did see on Ebay ran almost $1000.00 Yes, that is a Thousand !!!

Just because something is on the internet, doesn’t guarantee that you can buy it right off.

Adidas is a sponsor of many soccer teams and their star players, from boots, to clothing to other assorted items. I wanted the GOTZE jersey, and if I could get them, the German team socks, because I am having a love affair with all things German as of late. I’ve been buying a lot of clothing from Germany as of late. Expensive, but well worth the price. Because you can’t get them anywhere else.

There was an article I read online which listed the assorted sellers of German gear.

I chose the easiest one … ADIDAS…

I went to the site last night, opened an account and carted my sock purchase. I thought it was going to be a cut and dry process. This morning I went back to my account and filled out the buy form. I soon realized that it defaulted to Great Britain, and would not let me enter Canada.

Flummoxed… I signed on to the chat service and spoke to an agent who then told me I could only shop on the site associated with Canada/U.S., and not the U.K. Just because it is on the internet, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can buy it.

I go to the Canada/U.S. site, and there is NOT ONE German soccer related item to be had.

Well, if you can’t get it on the Internet, it HAS been proven that if you really want it, then your next stop is EBAY. I can attest to the fact that almost every retail item I have bought that I can’t get local, came from EBAY.

And wouldn’t you know it, there was a U.K. seller, selling the socks I wanted about a pound fifty more than the Adidas site was selling at. They were selling on my side of Ebay so I could buy them, and they only had one pair left. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just BUY IT …

mario 2So out of all of this …

  1. The Gotze jersey is a Large instead of an XL.
  2. I got a free Argentina – Messi jersey for the mix up
  3. Shipping was FREE on that sale
  4. I got the last pair of Germany Team Socks
  5. I spent $65.00 in total. Not a bad haul for one day !!!

After a successful shopping trip abroad, I came back to earth. We needed groceries, and I needed coin for laundry. It rained all afternoon. We have 7 washers and 7 dryers. They are located on the Penthouse floor (20th floor). The exhaust pipe for the dryers goes outside to the roof. When it is muggy and/or rains, you need more coin to dry than usual… UGH !!!

I finished my chores around 3 and took a short power nap. I would have preferred a couple hours or so, but you take what you can get. We had a great wind storm during the rain, and we are on the 17th floor. When the wind blows it shakes the windows and the building buckles. Listening to the wind hit the building is quite unnerving.

I took off early to make stops at the mall on the way, and cranked it out and sat on the stoop for almost an hour before folks began showing up. We read from Daily Reflections. June 8 …

Opening up to change.

The book says that “The only thing you have to change when you get sober is EVERYTHING!!!”

And every day we get a daily reprieve contingent upon our spiritual condition.

The reading speaks of many things like Letting Go and Letting God. Surrender, and Belief.

We talked about relationships being like a garden from which our character defects grow. And I added to that thought that, in my garden, I like to pour MIRACLE GROW on my character defects.

We are all learning about ourselves, no matter how long or young we are in sobriety. Lots of folks on Step 4 from the Men’s Intensive format.

If you really want to learn about yourself, get into a relationship, better yet, step it up and marry that person. This year marks 10 years of marriage for us. And 12 years of being together. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my husband. From one end of the spectrum to the other.

It is a good sign that we can spend inordinate amounts of time sitting in the same room together, and not want to kill each other, and knowing that we KNOW each other, so well, that not one unnecessary word is spoken. Nor has to be spoken.

A rainy day opened up to a breezy beautiful, but rather cool evening.

We all think that jackets may be required from this point on …

It was a good day. A little Yin and a little Yang …

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … You Don`t Always get what you Want !!!

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy:Spoonsdammit

Did you see that MOON last night? At 5 a.m. this morning, I was standing on my balcony and the moon was still up, quite far from setting, even at that hour, sun up was coming quickly, It was quite a sight. Under a cloudless sky, the moon was sparkle bright, lighting up the city from above and there was plenty of light shining down on me.

I awoke to a flurry of email from a bunch of people, one, for the upcoming Men’s Intensive in October, and secondly, great email from friends from afar.

I wrote a short time ago about the headphone debacle that turned into a $60.00 repair mission. I applied for a warranty refund online, then printed out the form that it generated and mailed my broken headphones to B.C..

Today I got an email response from them, saying that my claim had been processed and a resolution was reached. They offered me a coupon for $29.99 for the refund. Not enough to buy a pair outright without using extra funds. On their site the same exact pair I had costs $40.00 plus shipping and handling. And if I want to use the refund towards a new purchase, I will have to pay the balance with a credit card, which we got rid of them a few months ago … UGH !!!

The upside of this is that My direct deposit comes to R.B.C next month, instead of going to a U.S. bank where we were charged outrageous fees for cross border transfers and fees, so I opened a mirror account from my Canadian Bank Institution. I have a brand new Visa/Debit card just waiting to be used, once fund begin redirecting into the account.

That coupon refund is good for a years time. Eventually I will be able to replace my headphones.

On an entirely other thread …

I scored a #19 Mario Gotze German National Team World Cup jersey, AND I found the site that sells everything else that I want and everybody takes Pay Pal, which is a great coup.

tumblr_nbchquNJyQ1rjev45o1_500 footballhqsIt has been a beautiful couple of days. Weather is an ever changing beast, and every time you click the National Environment Canada website, the numbers are different. Suffice to say that this weekend we will see the first pass through single digit temps. Enough of a kick that may begin the Fall turning of the leaves. All we need is a few days with single digits to jump start the process.

I departed with plenty of time to make my transit, and went all the way across and my bus stop at the other end of my transit was reopened, so I rode the bus down the hill instead of having to walk. A nice little perk.

It was week two of our Journey through the steps … And Step Two !

The announcement went into our local Blue Sheet event calendar which is published and mailed out across the city to every group registered with inter group. I sent a short blurb, and in the end we got a full “across the page” event announcement, instead of a small mention. And that must have done the trick, because we sat twice as many folks as we have been sitting for the last few weeks.

Came to Believe … That a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

It does not read (Come to Believe) it reads “CAME” to believe, past tense.

Some would say, and I heard it tonight, that we get to this step, and it already happened. I also heard the phrase “Find God and Find Him Quickly.” The reading outlines the problems some folks may have, and what happens when that happens. It gives options for those averse to the word God.

And we also heard what some of our newer folks did to get to this step and allow it to work for them. I didn’t get a chance to ask her, but one of our women said that her sponsor told her to repeat a short mantra for thirty days, and to see what happens. It did the job. But like I said, I didn’t get to ask her what that mantra was.

I know for me this time around, I did not have an issue with God. As delusional I was at the end, I at least had a clarity of mind that allowed me to pray. And pray as if my life depended on it, and I think that that was what did it for me. God is there, He just waits for us to call upon Him.

Then He moved …

It took a few months for my head to clear up. The “Not Having” other life issues hanging over my head, allowed me to concentrate solely on sobriety. It was also good that within the first five months of coming back, I sat through a step intensive prior to coming here.

And I remember, I was here for a few months, and I told the guy who was my sponsor (read: for a very short time) that I felt I was ready to work the steps.

And he replied … “Steps? I don’t work steps!”

I dropped him like a hot potato. He eventually went back out and drank.

That set me up for my next sober encounter and my journey through the steps in a 17 week Men’s Intensive. Some make it and some don’t. We started out with twenty five men. By the time we hit Step Four, half that number went back out and drank. At the end of the series, there were only four men left. Myself, my sponsor, a second man and his sponsor.

Coming to believe has become organic. Watching God move is a blessing. Having studied God through Religious and Theological studies in university gave me a book sense. But the richer God experience has come from direct contact with my fellows, watching them get sober. By the book, we may say, there is a God. And religious folks say that they believe in God. And that He does work in their lives.

Hands down, the most ecstatic encounter with God comes, when folks come in and have their spiritual experiences. I have seen it many times. I’ve seen God move in meetings, around us, through other people, that have concretely shown me that God really does exist.

If you question the existence of God, or that you may not believe the same way I do, find a room you enjoy going to, sit in that room, stay in that room, days, weeks, months and years. I promise you that eventually, you too will see God. Hands down it is the best experience I can tell you about.

We are trudging away.

I ask for your prayers for one of our women, who learned recently that her father is very sick, with K.S., I’ve never heard of straight people suffering from a condition, usually associated with AIDS. And it may be that when he was being treated for Leukemia, he received a tainted transfusion. This began twenty years ago. And for a very long time, the doctors did not know what he was suffering from, K.S. began to present but doctors did not catch it or name it until it was too late. What straight doctor thinks of Cancer beyond the vernacular cancer symptoms?

Anyways, Dad is dying. He may have 6 months, maybe a year on the outside.

So if you pray, pray for my friend. She needs all the help she can get.

The one good thing is that she accepts “Thy will be done.” and so do we.

Amid the sadness of terrible news, we laughed with her.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … On the Road

tumblr_l7kzzjlD3L1qzqhkho1_500 twinkobsessionCourtesy: Obsession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That works just as well.

Back to On the Road …

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

My shrink at the time told me what to do …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Montreal was the stopping point.

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

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

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

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

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

Go to meetings. Find a home group.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding that “PLACE” is integral to success.

Because, where ever you go, there you are …

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

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

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

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

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

The rest they say is history.

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

More to come, stay tuned …

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


Friday … Unbearable Weather and Things Like That

tumblr_nbchquNJyQ1rjev45o1_500 footballhqsCourtesy: Football HQS

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

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

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

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

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

The trains were PACKED, across both lines.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eventually they implode. Sad but true.

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

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

And for that I am grateful.

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

More to come, stay tuned …


Living Serenely … Thursday

tumblr_lywgauGWfc1qgdvbco1_500 stalkerCourtesy: Stalker

The weather held. We had a couple days of sun and warmth, that will turn even hotter tomorrow and rain will follow, then temps drop into the twenties. I would rather they drop even further. We are all trying to figure out when we will take our air conditioners out of our windows and just open them up when the temps drop to teens and single digits later.

I was out on time, and cranked it out again. And even though we were down some folks, because a couple of people are on retreat until tomorrow, we sat a full table. During the discussion, one of my friends quoted the quote above during the meeting. And I am sure he saw that quote here. I don’t know anyone who curates photos the way I do, or from the same sources. I’ve never seen my curates show up anywhere else in our circles.

We read from A.B.S.I. and Living Serenely

The reading speaks of the hangover. The ones we had when we were drinking, and once we got sober, the emotional hangover that occurs over time, here and there. Old feelings of Anger, Fear and Jealousy. If we get caught up in old feelings, that is going to turn our days into rough days and even bad days.

If we get stuck in yesterday, we are loosing out on today.

The reading also speaks about inventory.

With my guys, even though they are fresh and a few are in their months, and one is in his years, I ask them to write at the end of the night. A tenth step, a review of their day, even though they are not at that place in their steps.

I encourage them to write, because the women write. I follow the same path the women work the program here. They write every night, an inventory. Then when they call their sponsors the next day, they have something concrete in front of them that they can talk about. And in that process of writing one gets used to writing right away, and not later.

Try it. It works.

To be able to sort your thoughts out onto paper or in space (read: online) every day brings another layer to sobriety. It gets you working right away.

  • Sponsees call every day
  • They write every night
  • They work their steps and we read the book together
  • And they hit meetings

The further in the game you are, the stronger your journey will be, and if you are sandwiched in the books, your sponsors and working with others, for you early sober people, you could say that going to meetings and sharing and participating, is early sandwiching. If you are in this place, I can safely say that over time the obsession to drink will leave you and the urge to drink will dissipate.

This is your journey. And if you really want it, you will go to any length to get it.

The whole point of this work is to change that which needs to be changed. And to be able to accept what God has in store for you, either good or bad. The less time we spend in the past is something we learn how to do over time. Knowing when it happens, to be able to recognize when we dip into the hole, we talk it out, and we walk it out and make the mental and/or emotional correction and we go on with our day.

That’s why it is good to start doing a nightly inventory to see what you did that day, and to be able to shift things for tomorrow, that you did not do the day prior. Lessons. It’s all about Lessons.

Acceptance is the KEY to all of our problems.

And Nothing, Absolutely Nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.

Everything is alright in the END, if it’s not alright, its NOT the end…

Roll with the punches. Every mistake is a lesson. Every good day is bank money. The more bank you accrue, the less the bad days will take you into the hole of anger, fear and self pity.

Our new guys are doing alright tonight.

Everybody is sober another night.

I gave a six month chip to one of my guys tonight – I had been waiting all summer to hand it to him, as he was away at camp all summer, and accrued time while he was gone. So that was a good thing.

A good night was had by all …


Reset … September 3, 2014

tumblr_n6o8y22ofe1rtk6qmo1_500 brazilCourtesy: The Wonders of Brazil

First … I would like to take a moment to welcome all of my new readers.

There are more than 230 of you subscribed. Welcome Aboard.

Last night I spent some time working on the template. We’ve changed up the header image and also, I have added new PAGES at the top of the Blog, they can also be found along side the blog, down the right hand sidebar in the column.

The New Pages, well, old pages that I had written over the years, have made their way to the top spot, because they are important to my assorted audience.

Posts on a weekly basis include:

  • Sunday Sundries
  • Tuesday Vendome – We are in a 12 week Twelve and Twelve Study
  • Thursday Men’s Gathering
  • Friday As Bill See’s It – The end of the week round up
  • And any thing that might float my boat on any given day

And as the seasons change this blog will change along with them. I have all new header images planned for the next few months. Culminating with the Great Holiday Express this Christmas.

As always, you can reach me by either leaving a comment here, or on Twitter which is also on the side bar, Facebook, or by email. If you know where to look, it is there.

Welcome Aboard and we will chat soon.

Goodnight from Montreal.