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Sunday Sundries – Paris, People, and the End of Provigo

parisThe sanctity of life has once again, been forgotten.

When a group of well organized jihadists scheme, plan, and execute an attack on innocent people, they further prove that men of radical bent, will kill with impunity, with No regards to human life, No religion, and No creed.

They are killing in the name of corrupt ideology.

They are not killing in the name of Islam.

And they surely are not killing in the name of the Prophet, Peace be upon Him.

I kept my counsel until now, because I wanted to watch how the rest of the world framed this atrocity on human life. To see if there would be a backlash on Muslim people, and what kind of repercussions would take place.

One mosque in Ontario was burnt to the ground over the weekend.

I’ve relied mostly on European new agencies for news so that I would not get the taint that Western media tends to spin on any given subject.

The questions have been posed. Who did this, Why, Who funded them, and how did they plan and execute human atrocity and nobody was none the wiser. It did not blip on any radar, no security services had been alerted before hand.

And I read that the French Security services HAD dropped the ball.

The odd parking ticket, left at the club, where almost a hundred lost their lives, led to a hot bed of Jihadi men. Someone is going to pay, dearly.

The nationalities of the victims are coming to light, which then invites international scrutiny and investigations, in addition to the French authorities and French Security Services.

If the war had not been ramped up yet, it will now.

Here in Canada, the official Conservative opposition party, has put a motion forwards to our young rookie Prime Minister, to change his tack, and instead of pulling our air fighters from the Syrian theatre, to keep them there to assist in the destruction of Is.

The world is interconnected. We are one human family. We cannot say that we are not sad, or that we are unmoved.

We must speak up as One People and say “Je Suis Paris …”

Here in Montreal there has been an outpouring of sadness and solidarity over the weekend. Our community has marched in the streets, gathered at the French Consulate, and have spoken out as one in saying that we feel for Paris, and that we are here.

Canada is not immune to terrorism. But we are oceans and miles away from the center of action. And I guess that somewhat insulates us from the broader conflict. But does not make us immune to that “one off” lone wolf attack.

People still go about their business. But I sense that our community is a bit more aware of their surroundings, when out and about. You never know when the next hit is going to come, or from where.

We send all of our thoughts and prayers to the people of Paris and to France at large.

You are never alone. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

The scourge of jihadi terrorism will not win. We will find you and we will kill you.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

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

It was an uneventful weekend here. I am still in rest mode. I did what I had to do over the weekend. I spent time with friends, went to a few meetings, and rested in between.

Tonight was a big night in Montreal Sobriety.

Our humble Sunday Niters Group celebrated 52 years of being a meeting tonight.

In time speak, we are one of just a handful of meetings in the city that are so old. We have an illustrious history, and many old timers who were part of earlier incarnations of our meeting came tonight to celebrate with us.

14 years ago, Sunday Niters was located in a grand church names Saint Jame United, which is on the East end of town near Place Des Arts. The room had vaulted ceilings and a large kitchen with double ovens and counter space. Back in the day we had two meetings. One, a Step Discussion meeting, and Two, a Speaker meeting.

The holiday’s were the best back then, because we cooked massive Christmas Feasts and we fed hundreds of people, in the meeting and off the streets. It WAS the place to be at Christmas.

In 2009, we moved from the East end to our present location, St. Leon’s Church in Westmount, which is just shyly west, of Downtown Montreal. I am just a fifteen minute walk away.

We carried two meetings for a while, until numbers dropped off to far, and we dropped our speaker meeting opting for our single Literature Discussion.

One of our elder men spoke, then we discussed the Home Group. Afterwards there was a feast of food and drink and cake.

It was the first time in my memory that we had this big a turn out.

A good time was had by all.

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

There has been a rumor running around our neighborhood for the past few weeks. On the way out to a meeting one Thursday night, we met up with a friend who worked in our Provigo, just downstairs.

I had commented to her that (over Thanksgiving) that the selection of good had changed to no name brands across the store. I had noticed that many of the name brands I purchase on a regular basis, had been phased out, for yellow box, no name same.

Her reply was, “they are going to close the store.”

Tonight, on the way out, I had to get some soda for the celebration. Now, I know all the cashiers on first name basis. And as I cashed out, she said to me, “will you miss us?” And I asked her why, and she replied, “they are closing the store on January 6th.”

I was like W.T,F.???

The stores lease is up and the Toyota dealership that owns the building, is taking over the space. There is a car dealership, just across the street from the Provigo. Upstairs, above the grocery store is the Toyota service center.

There is going to be a massive move of sites, and the other speculation is that condos are going to be built above the 4 story building that sits on that corner.

There are 4 grocery stores that serve our neighborhood. The IGA which is in the Alexis Nihon shopping mall, 3 blocks down. There is Adonis, which opened on the ground floor of the Seville Condo Project, which is two blocks down. And finally, P.A. grocery store which is a boutique store (which is directly across the street from Provigo, up the block, above Ste. Catherine’s street), with a butcher shop, fine foods, fruits and vegetables. (I don’t consider them a proper grocery store because I don’t shop there except for specialty items I can’t get anywhere else).

It is said that since Adonis opened a year ago, the Provigo sales have slumped enough that closing the store was the only option. I shop at Adonis, well, I shopped at Adonis for a while, and it looks like they are going to become our go to grocery store, because it is closer.

The Alexis Nihon Commission spent millions of dollars over the last year in renovating and retrofitting the mall to bring it up to spec. The IGA footprint was expanded to double its original footprint, and they offer a great shopping experience. However, carrying bags of groceries from the mall – home is going to be a real pain in the ass.

I might have to invest in a roller cart.

Christmas Decorations are up at the mall, and on the way home, I noticed that workers have begun framing out the new occupant (read: Canadian Tire) in the defunct Target space. A wall is being framed in front of the original frontage wall, which has a huge panel of windows to one side that rise to the second floor of the mall. We shall see what direction they take the new store.

The Big Switch is going to take place. The Old Canadian Tire is located on the floor above the ground floor, on the mezzanine. They are going to move it downstairs. Which opens up another store for new occupants. Winners is stuck between the Second and third floor (read: Parking) and they will stay where they are.

The old Target space is a larger footprint than the old Canadian Tire upstairs.

But, their car detail department won’t have a bay on the ground floor, so I am not sure how they are going to work that out. In the building proper, there is a massive car wash, a car service center for Canadian Tire, several business buildings (read: Towers) and many residential buildings (also towers) (read; Westmount Square), all incorporated into the original structure.

On the local scene, Le Square Condo project, just this week, raised its 20 story building crane onsite, that condo project is moving faster along, than Le Catherine, which is just a few spots down the street from home. Le Square, is on Cabot Square. Le Catherine, is on Ste. Catherine’s Street, just across the street from the new Starbucks that opened with the Seville Project last year.

With the loss of Provigo, and the addition of two MORE condo projects going up, the local shopping scene is going to change. Prices are either going to moderate in the existing stores, or they will go through the roof.

We will either Feast or Starve …

Time will only tell how the neighborhood is going to fare with loosing an anchor grocery store.

There are only 41 shopping days until Christmas …

Ho Ho Ho !!!!

More to come, stay tuned …


I’m Always Ok

tumblr_ma62hlMxSo1rdkscno1_500 rthompson80Courtesy: R.Thompson 80

How often do we say to our friends, that, “yeah, everything’s fine, and I’m ok?” And how often do we tell ourselves that everything is fine, and we really want to believe that everything is fine, when in reality, everything is not fine. In fact, things are in really bad shape.

When we are always going, doing, and being, amid the business of our days, we (read: I ) tend to forget myself, because as long as I am not feeling it, or do I feel in distress, I can keep going, until that proverbial wall comes up and smacks me in the face.

Many people run on the premise that as long as I look good to you, then I don’t have to look at me. As long as I put up a good front, you won’t see what a mess I am on the inside, and how unmanageable my life is, as I am trying to manage your life instead.

Try as I might, I never want to admit defeat, in any sense. Try as I might, I feel like as long as I am breathing, and can do things, that I must do them, to the detriment of myself. I tend to take for granted that I am not twenty any longer, and that I am closer to fifty then I am to twenty.

I tend not to, or ever admit that I am that old. Nor do I ever admit that I can’t do everything that I have always done, to the extent that I put myself in mortal danger of sickness, and in the worst case scenario, death …

I’ve been living on borrowed time for so long, that always doing “something” all the time, is natural.

There is a story that comes to mind about Bill W. He never said that he was an alcoholic, however he was. In his life, we alcoholics, wanted to be near him, with him in meetings, and or talking to him about a great many things. Bill could not go out to a meeting and be himself. He never could walk in an anonymous room, and be anonymous. He was saddled with who he was and what he represented to everyone in the rooms.

He just could not “go to a meeting, for himself.”

For a long time now, I have been responsible for many meetings, meaning, I either had the key and had to open, come rain, or come shine, or snow. Or I had to do service, be it coffee, or set up or something else. And I have been doing this for years now. There are not many folks, who come to mind at the moment, who have stuck around, to take over or do something other than coming to a meeting here and there. People just don’t stick and stay where we need them to.

And you can’t ask or force anyone to do anything, either.

For the last month or so, I’ve been sick. The proverbial wall came up and smacked me in the face. And I did not like it, to admit that, I could not do something, kicking and screaming all the way, I had to give up responsibility for some of my chores to someone else. I really needed someone else to step up and be accountable.

My doctor said to me that for a while, until I finished treatment, that I had no other choice than to stay away from the baby, because babies are toxic breeding grounds for sickness and infection, inherently because they go to day care. And kids get sick. And they carry that sickness home with them.

And so over the last few months, being immuno-compromised, found that every time the baby coughed or sneezed, I got sick. This last round got worse and needed professional drugs to get better. I finally got “the message” when over the counter drugs stopped working. Because I was not “getting better.”

So I followed medical advice. I stepped back. And others stepped forward. And I took care of me for the past two weeks. I cut back my schedule. I turned things over to friends. I only hit half the meetings I usually hit, and I spent a great amount of time sleeping and resting, because that’s what my doctor said to do.

This week, as it happened, I began to return to my old life. But now, I am not as “responsible” as I was a month ago. I don’t have to do anything, at the moment. On Tuesday, I visited Baby mama and the baby for the first time in weeks. I also hit the Tuesday night meeting, for the first time in a month. I went for my visit, I stayed a little longer than usual, because I did not have to be “ON.”

I was able to just be me. I walked into the meeting, a friend is opening for me, the coffee was made, another friend was in the chair, and I could sit down, and go to a meeting, and just be me.

I can tell you that there was an entirely different vibe, that I had never felt before.

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

The best gift we can give our friends is our presence. Being there, sitting with, showing up, and not necessarily having to do anything beyond, just being there.

I can do this today. Just be present.

Yesterday, I sat with one of my guys, and I listened to him work his Fourth and Fifth Step, in progression, in real time. I’ve never done that before, and I wasn’t sure just how to do that, so I prayed about it, and decided that it was necessary to see him through this portion of step work and that it just HAD to work.

Presence …

Tonight, it rained. Well, it pissed rain was more like it. Enough rain was falling to warrant an umbrella, but pissy enough that you really didn’t need one.

A young lady spoke. Turns out she is “family.”

So young to be so wise. She walked a long road to get here. But she is here, nonetheless.

In the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

She speaks about God and how she sees God, and connects to him.

She also said that when things are good, she is connected to God. She really doesn’t think about God. But when things hurt or things get tough, she tends to forget God, and she disconnects.

And she has learned that lesson the hard way. Now she respects the connection with her higher power, which she chooses to call God. and she says …

I am Always Ok …

We are always ok. It just depends on how we look at things.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – Celebrations

tumblr_ln3takPnYT1qemrxpo1_500 dyingwontkillyouCourtesy: Dying Won’t Kill You

Another weekend is in the books. Today is day 4 of Nuclear Antibiotic Treatment. I was warned that they are the strongest antibiotics on the market, and they are also doing a number on my innards. I was very sick to my stomach this morning. UGH !!!

It has been an interesting week, and I get glimpses of clarity here and there.

I’ve spent so many months, being all things to all people, to the degree that I forget to pay attention to my own needs, mentally and physically. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for so long, that the time came when I got knocked out of rotation, because I got really sick.

My doctors warns me to take it easy. “Taking it easy and just being” is difficult when you are always moving and engaged. God, in His infinite wisdom, has done for me what I could not do for myself.

Only this weekend, my voice is starting to return.

I’ve been hitting meetings, here and there, but I am not back to full steam with all my responsibilities across town.

tumblr_m1lyltsDdZ1qgwqw9o1_500 pjbudI’ve been seeing the ugly side of my friends recently. And I don’t like what I am seeing, nor what I am hearing from their mouths. Sitting on Step Seven, God is showing me Character Defects and Shortcomings in the guise of my friends and fellows.

Everybody in the rooms is on their specific journey. Not all men and women sit at the same place on any given day. Some are taking it easy and trudging along as they are able, and for some of my friends, they are judgmental about the status progress of their fellows.

Judgmental enough to state that they have specific expectations of their fellows, and that, if you aren’t in it to win it, working your steps and being On Top Of Things 100% at their behest, that there is a certain price to be paid for lack of action.

And that price is the friendship and attention and care that some may bring others, because they feel as if they need to punish some for their inability to “get things done, on their time frame, to their liking.”

And I the thought came that those same friends who expect so much from others, aren’t even engaged in their own step work, none of them. Every time we bring that subject up, they are all busy.

I don’t suggest any work for any of my guys, unless I am it in myself. And I am.

How can you suggest something for another, and not be doing the same yourself?

A certain man I am working with is trying his best, and it hasn’t been a cakewalk.

But I stick with him, because I have faith in him. My personal motto is “You Don’t Turn your back on your friends, ever…”

Others do not share my vision. Having ongoing conversations with some of my friends, about what I can do, or what I should do, have been fruitless. Several suggestions were floated to try and get a pay out. But some of my friends, are unwilling to devote time to people, who aren’t in the solution, as they see fit. They either don’t have the time, nor are willing to spend the time necessary to see things through. (Oh, that’s too much work…)

After a heated conversation the other night, I spoke my opinion. That did not go over very well.

You don’t turn your back on your friends, ever …

That is treason to the soul.

Over the past month, my phone has rung less than usual. And I find that odd.

While I was here all summer long, keeping the meetings open and serving my fellows along with a rag tag handful of friends, who were not leaving the city, I did my best.

A second group of people were traveling the world, seeing other places, and working out of province. Now we are all back under the same roof. And everybody is where they are on the journey of life, as we speak.

We celebrated six months of clean and sober time last night, for one of my guys. And I opened the meeting and chaired, because our guy who was supposed to be there, was a no show.

I asked a friend of mine for a topic, and she suggested Step Seven. That was a fruitful discussion when all was said and done. The one word definition of Step Seven is “humility.”

When we need help, most of us, don’t realize we need help until it is too late. Or we think that we just could not ask for help, because we should man up/woman up, and do it ourselves. But that’s what our Higher Powers are for right?

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Most of us say we believe, but when push comes to shove, we forget our belief.

God, it seems, in lots of cases, seems to step in right when we need it, as we need it , as long as we need it. And that has been the case for my friends and myself as of late.

Tonight, I headed out for the Sunday Meeting. I was flying solo for set up, and I had only one chore for tonight, to give another of my men his first year medallion and cake. He has not had a drink for 365 days. We are all so proud of him.

Another of my friends, a fellow woman of our group, took a 24 year medallion and cake from her sponsor. It is still amazing to me every day, how much our women change when they get “into the work.” This is the model that I use for my guys. Reading the Book, doing steps, calling, tenth steps and honest hard work, really does pay off in the long run.

Many are at the stage in sobriety that they are “willing to go to any length to get sober.”

We hear that line read, every time we hear How It Works.”That if you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are READY to take certain steps.”

It took me almost twelve years in the rooms to understand quite succinctly, what that line really means. Because it happened to me. And it has happened to many others as well.

And so, with a little courage, and faith, we work with newcomers and each other. And we invite them to participate. The odds are against us/them. But there are those few who are ready to step up, because stepping back, would mean much more suffering.

The other line that means the world to me comes from A Vision for You …

“Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”

Wow, is that line packed with meaning. For how many years, did I have to trudge this road, to figure out succinctly, what that meant as well?

I had to practice the work and do it myself, and see the results come. Along the way, I was working with a sponsor who cares about me and is always there, work my own steps, go to meetings, hit retreats, and hone my message, and find that voice that suited me.

And voila … God did for me what I could not do for myself. And the men and women who were put in my path, came for a specific reason.

It has become seriously obvious that some of my friends, in the rooms, are sober, (or not so sober) at the moment,(read: Dry) are sick individuals. My sponsor warns me to steer clear of them, and do not react, and not to say a word.

He did tell me to pray for them for 21 days.

I just cannot understand how friends can turn on each other at the drop of a dime.

I watch them act around each other and myself. I listen to the words that come out of their mouths. This is where my sponsor warns me to be vigilant with my words, thoughts and actions, and to pray. The words are incongruous, and I don’t understand detestable language or action.

Friends don’t turn on each other, friends don’t disrespect each other, and once again I repeat, friends don’t turn their backs on their friends.

Sadly this is going on right in front of us at the moment.

I learned a while back, that people may be in the rooms, and have time, but not be very sober.

We have been seeing this thought play out in open community.

Steps Six and Seven take time to present themselves, at least that is how it happened for me.

The diligence of time, and the grace of God and not drinking, has its perks.

It was a good night, capped off with laughter and lots of cake.

In a few weeks time, I hit the 14 year mark.

One day at a time. And by the Grace of God.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … “Your frothy Starbuck’s Drink …”

tumblr_lg42xmuNRI1qd2c7ao1_500 cutelgbtcouplesBeing married, has its perks … Because there is someone there to make it all better…

The last time I saw the baby, I got sick. That was more than three weeks ago. I thought that it would just be a cold or quite possibly a short lived flu… Wrong !!!

My cold just got worse. And added to that I was taking a new pill, and I could not differentiate whether it was the pill making me sick, or something else. When that question arises, in any situation, one should roll the clock back to the point where everything was well and good. And if you can pin point what it was, at that point that changed, one figures out what to do.

I stopped taking the pill, until I could prove otherwise, that IT wasn’t making me sick. All the while, I am spending way too much money on over the counter medication, cough syrup and other cold ending drugs. I had a problem. The simple shit wasn’t doing the trick.

Being immuno-compromised, you must always fear a bug getting worse. Your T- Cells, aren’t always going to work their magic. Sometimes shit gets past the sensors.

I had a laundry list for my doctor, whom I called first thing when I rolled out of bed.

My doctor is not in his office everyday of the week. So it was a shot in the dark to call and actually get his receptionist on the other end.

I am pumped up on over the counter shit, if I sleep on my right side, I wheeze and cough. If I sleep on my left side, I am clear to go. “problem!!!”

I had things to do and places to go, and there was nobody to do my sober chores for me. I got ready to go, and headed for the Metro. I had to make a trip all the way to the East end, to the inter-group office to pick up chips for my guys. UGH !!!

I had a call into my doctor by that point. He had not called back, so I called him again, before I got on the train, I needed to see him, today, if it was possible. I got the green light, to see him, so I ran my errands, because he was not expecting me until around 4.

I was headed way east, I hit my destination with plenty of time. Then I had to decide what to do next. I was on the far side of the grid which lends the ability to take the green line back into the grid and make a transfer to the line that will take me to the line I needed.

There are four lines … Green, Orange, Yellow and Blue.

carte_metro

Quick Metro lesson …

One the left you see Atwater on the green line. I live near that station. I traveled to Pie IX station on the far side East on the Green line. On the way back, I changed stations at Berri (see big yellow box) on the right hand side. This is one connection point between the two solitude’s, the green line and the orange line.

I needed to make my way to the Blue line, which is a trek up the Orange line to Jean Talon station, upper right hand section of the grid. I made my transit towards that doctors office, Which is on the Blue Line at Acadie.

Because to come all the way home, to go all the way back out was pointless.

I had confidence I would get in today, so I packed a book in my bag.

When I got to the doctors office, it was 2 o’clock. Doc told me not to show up before 4.

As is always, I always wait, I am always the last patient, sometimes that is a good thing, because I get ALL the time that I need.

I dressed in my most flashy, long sleeve Sunflower (read:Yellow), shirt.

I get to the doctors office, I walk upstairs, and the office is packed to the rafters, all the chairs were taken and there were men standing up waiting on their wives. In our Greek community, you never travel alone. People travel in packs.

Today I noticed a trend …

As I walked upstairs into the office, it was as if I was walking into a funeral home, being the brightest flower amid a sea of black. Everybody was dressed in black, the men included.

I felt like Luna Lovegood at the Weasley wedding… (10 points if you get that reference).

I had a book, I had a Pepsi, and I had M&M’s … I was good to go.

A few minutes later, I even got a chair to sit in.

I had wanted to ask that question … But it slipped my mind.

I saw my doc. He said I had a little right side pneumonia going on, and maybe a little Bronchitis while we were at it. He gave me some serious Nuclear Fusion antibiotics to take, and sent me on my way.

I left the house at 12:30 in the afternoon. I got home, at was six o’clock.

On the way OUT, I get to the mall, heading for the Metro, and I look up and god dammit, as I live and breathe, there are CHRISTMAS decorations hanging from the ceiling. On the way home, I walk home from that same mall, and wouldn’t you know it, The city has put up the damned flashy light Christmas decorations on the street poles.

Today is November 5th …

Isn’t there something that goes a bit like this:

“Remember, Remember the 5th of November.”

Yeah I will remember it because those damned Christmas decorations are up already !

A long day was had by all.

I completed an entire circuit of the Metro. Feeling strong, I popped a pill and waited for the evening event. The Thursday night meeting. It was time to get back on the hobby horse and give hubby a break, that break being me in the house all the time.

I saw some friends that crossed my path over the weekend, last. There was conversation.

Before I knew it, it was 2 minutes to eight.

I ran back inside, thankfully we had our seats saved with jackets.

Our woman spoke. As she was introduced, she got to the table, and rearranged herself a bit, looked up at us, she took a deep breath, as tears swam in her eyes, and she said the following:

“My husband just walked in the doors!”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after that.

In the end we celebrated five and twenty eight years, respectively.

Five years is a good chunk of time, when you get there.

You come in, and you make your months, then your year, and get that medallion. If you stay sober, you get a silver oval chip at two years, that is a milestone for us, because that silver oval two year chip, gets dipped in gold and you get it again at ten years.

The next stop on the time line is Five years. It is the first marker of serious time.

Then you hit Ten years, Fifteen, Twenty, and multiples thereafter.

Last week we celebrated over sixty years in the same room. And tonight, one of the sponsors, thought out loud, to the rest of us … “Who was here sixty years ago?” Our woman has been in that room for more than twenty herself.

We hopped a bus right away, on the way home.

As I crossed Ste Catherine’s Street towards my building, I got into the slip stream of several people, walking in the same direction I was, walking towards my building. Everybody was walking at their speeds, some making ways for others, and some passing others, left or right, giving them wide berths as not to interrupt their gait…

I pulled up, behind a young woman in white “come fuck me pumps…”

She was headed for my building.

Now it either goes like this, One, you have the key to the door, Two, they have a key to the door, or Three, They are going to wait until you let them in the door while they pay not one ounce of attention to you while in the vestibule.

She was aloof and sucking very hard on some kind of Starbucks frothy drink.

She did not, in any way, notice who I was, nor that I had opened the door. She just floated in the door, unaware, while she was sucking on her drink.

We got in the elevator, and she got off a few floors up. Once again, not even a look !

Yes, dear girl in the “Come fuck me pumps” I opened the door for you, and you didn’t even acknowledge I was even there…

UGH !!!

God give me strength…


Sunday Sundries – Darkness Falls

tumblr_lx61j9MbfB1qlqoewo1_r1_500 niqbaileyCourtesy: Niq Bailey

Last night, we all “Fell Back.” We were headed to bed early again, so that I could get some sleep, I turned all the clocks back and we went to bed.

When I woke up, it was light outside. But the skies were dark and foreboding. Clouds were speeding across the sky, rain was falling, thunder was rolling and lightening was streaking across the sky. It came so fast and furiously. It was a “carry” night.

I have spent the better parts of days and nights resting my body so that I can do what must be done, because for several meetings, I am the sole key holder. I departed for the church at 4:30 and met up with a friend in Westmount Square, and we walked together to the church.

When we entered the church, it was still light outside. And it was raining.

We took our time cranking out set up, because I am not back to 100% myself yet. I just don’t know when this cough is going to let up. It does not seem to want to go, no matter what I throw at it, medicinally.

An hour later, I went outside and darkness had fallen. It was not even six yet, on the clock, but the quality of the darkness made it feel like ten p.m. It felt like it had been dark for hours and hours, and the evening meeting, was taking place in the middle of the night, so it seemed.

And it is only going to get worse, darkness falling during the afternoon rush hour.

A couple of years ago, (the second week of November) it got dark, then it got cold, and then 60 cm of snow fell and the city went into lock down, having not been prepared for that kind of snow so early in the season.

On the way home one of my friends reminded us of this fact.

The 14 day outlook says this weekend we drop from double digit highs, to single digit highs (7’s,8’s,and 9’s) for the following ten days with lows in the (1’s.2’s and 3’s). We will see some rain, but as of tonight, thankfully, no snow …

We sat a packed house. We read all the way around and did not quite get back around for everyone to share.

The short version of tonight’s read …

I drank – I drank more – I blacked out – and could not find my car.

For some, the drink begins tamely, it is enjoyable, for awhile, until …

Then there are others, who begin to drink, and we enjoy that drink so much, that all we want is MORE, until the alcohol stops working for us…

I was warned about drinking and driving early on. I listened to that advice. And in the end, I can safely say, that “I never got caught.”

At one point, I got rid of my car. Which was a good thing.

In tonight’s story, our man is young, goes to fight in the Great War. And the story does tell us that he is Canadian. Canadians, know how to drink, drink well and drink hard.

He mentions that he gets on the wrong train, and ends up somewhere else. On several occasions, he mentions, parking his car in one place, drinking hard, and returns only to find that his car, is not where he had originally parked it.

Our folks tonight, spoke about getting on planes, trains and automobiles, drunk, not knowing where they were to end up, or how they got on planes as drunk as they were.

My experience with drinking and driving, drunk and high were not fun. Watching someone wreck a car (drunk and high), and survive that wreck, only to be airlifted to a hospital a hundred miles away, not knowing if they were going to live or die, was something I lived through.

You can only temp fate so many times, until you get the backlash.

The last year of my drinking was hit and miss. Periods of self imposed sobriety because I could not do the job I had drunk. 2001 was the cathartic year for millions of people. When entire populations of people suffer P.T.S.D. by extension, the drink comes in very handy.

I lived through that, drinking hard, then having the experience, of crash and burn, sobriety, then months of drinking as hard as we could. But that was not sustainable. Not in the long run.

My drinking went from a hopeful magical transformation into a beach buff god, to one of drinking hard, one night a week, ending up in a blackout, and not knowing who took me out of the club, how I got into a taxi, how I got home, and through two key locked doors, several times, before I finally put down the drink.

The end was coming, I could not answer my own questions about the who, what and where.

So I quit. I prayed. and God answered me swiftly.

That human contact, I craved so badly from people I was drinking to impress, turned out to be the wrong people I did not need in my life. In the rooms, I found that human connection that was right and correct. And those people, in that specific 10 p.m. SOBE meeting saved my life.

In the end our man figured out that he had a problem, when things began to happen that did not add up. Getting on the wrong trains, loosing his car, the continual blackouts that did not get better, only worse.

He found, in the rooms, as is told by everyone in those rooms, that we come and we find that which we have longed for for so long, that we thought we had to drink to find, are relieved to learn that we never have to drink again and that the rooms provide everything that we need.

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but Connection.

It is in the connection we make with others, that we find salvation.

It was a good night. More to come, stay tuned…


Approaching Halloween – The GOLD Pill and the Week that was

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21The weather is cooling off. And tonight, I am just burning up.

Last week, I was visiting the baby, and she coughed and sneezed on me, and now I’m not feeling 100% tonight. (It would get worse, much worse) Last night I went to the pharmacy to find some high powered drugs to take, because I was going downhill very quickly. This morning (Sunday) at 5 a.m. I was a mess, and thought for a moment, that the Pharmaprix on Guy used to be open 24 hours. I got dressed, bundled up, walked the four blocks over, (in a rain storm) and wouldn’t you know it, they were closed…

I came back home and got back into bed until 9 when the Pharmaprix at Alexis Nihon would open. Thank God for commercials. Because I went and got a name brand elixir to take to help me. I took a hit standing outside the mall not waiting to get home. I waited an hour, and it didn’t seem to be doing anything. So I took a second hit, that did the trick. I spent the better part of the day hacking into a tub. UGH !!!

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and spend your down time healing, so that you can go out for a couple of hours and do what you have to do, because you have the only key to that particular church basement…

I am still a mess.

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

Last week, Tuesday, I saw my doc. He gave me a clean bill of health. And the discussion continued about changing my twice daily meds (that I only take once a day, but he does not know that) to a single dose pill. I get thousand numbers and nobody is none the wiser.

But I wonder if that has a direct impact on the fact that if the baby sneezes or coughs on me, I get sick within hours ?

The new pill is called TIVICAY. It is a single does HIV medication. That is combined with three other pills that I take, in conjunction with my other medications, nightly. I dropped the script at the pharmacy on the way home, and picked it up on Wednesday morning.

Canada has socialized medicine. We are covered by government insurance. We also have hubby’s insurance to cover other things we might need. I go to pay for my pills, thinking that it would not be so much, I was wrong.

The Tivicay alone cost $599.48 Yes, that’s five hundred ninety nine dollars…

In the end, I paid a grand total of $60.00 for a thirty day supply.

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

I have been taking the new pill for almost a week now. As you might have noticed, this is the addition to this post, which I started on Sunday last, and it is now Friday October 30th.

I have been sick as a dog all week. I’ve spent a good chunk of money on medication that I am still taking today. Baby Mama ended up in the hospital on Tuesday morning because of an adverse reaction to medicine she was taking. So I took the entire week off, which is totally out of character for me, to miss a string of meetings because I was sick.

But my friends stepped up and helped me out. And so this weekend, I return the favor by opening a couple of meetings while my friends get a night off. It’s all good.

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

Last night, I got out of the house for the first time in almost a weeks time, for the Anniversary party for Saint Matthias Group. I can’t remember the date at the moment, but they are in the high sixties, and can claim for fame that their group has been in the same location at St. Matthias for over six decades, when A.A. first came to Montreal in the 1940’s.

Quebec A.A. began with Dave B. A lone member. From there the group grew to twenty five people. A single meeting opened, and spawned two others. Rounding the meetings out was a third meeting at Snowdon. The Westmount meeting moved to St. Matthias and has been there ever since.

The house was uber packed, with probably more than 150 people in attendance. Our speaker came from the South Shore, a woman I have known for the entire time I have been sober. She is sober some 45 years now.

At the end of the meeting, before food was served, there was a sober countdown. Starting with fifty or more years of sobriety, there was one man with that much time. Counting down all the way to One Day, there was one man with one day of sobriety in the room. After the meeting, I said to him, that he was the most important person in the room tonight.

In the end, we counted more than 1,145 years, 9 months and 4 days of sobriety.

We did not stick around, as there were so many people scrambling for free food. So we came right home.

Tonight is my last night off. The pesky cough is still lingering, and my voice is half of what is was, so I get to whisper… UGH !

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – The Express Lane is “8” Items or Less …

tumblr_kzh2y6mHMA1qzmauvo1_500You don’t know you are doing something right, until you read that suggestion in a book, and you realize that you have been using that suggestion all along. That for years and years, you’ve heard the same suggestions, the same slogans, and read and re-read the same books over and over again. And only with a good amount of time and hindsight, can you honestly say that, you have learned to incorporate those lessons into every day life, and be able to safely say that “yes, they really work…”

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

Last Night was a Marathon Television experience. Elections are usually that way. Early on in the evening, we were sitting here watching Labrador, New Found Land, and the Maritime votes come in, and they were all Liberal Red. By 8:15 p.m. with the science of mathematics and statisticians crunching numbers at the highest levels, CTV called a Liberal Win.

I was flummoxed !!!

I was screaming at the tv, like “how do you know this shit? How can you call this election so early?” Thankfully, hubby was there to explain a little more.

This wasn’t my first Canadian election so this was not new news for me.

When the polls closed at 9:30 p.m. across a major swath of the country, the numbers started coming in fast and furiously. It was then we knew that the Red Wave was on its way across the country. We just did not know then, if it was going to be Minority or a Majority.

I think people were surprised to see just how well Justin did in the end.

We got rid of our Prime Minister. The A.B.C. vote worked.

We also recovered many Orange Wave NDP seats, and turned them Liberal Red.

Over time we learn about the men who lead us, and a good friend of mine wrote tonight that:

“The test of a man isn’t shown when he wins but when he loses.”

Both Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair got the raw end of the deal.

The government was replaced, the Prime Minister lost his job, BUT, he won his seat. Close to the time he was supposed to make his concession speech, his press core published a release saying that even though Mr. Harper won his seat, but lost his government, that he would indeed step down as the Conservative Leader.

He did not mention stepping down in his speech. But He spoke eloquently and kindly. It could have been a slash and burn concession, but Mr. Harper took the high road.

And he should be commended for that. Mr. Harper has true character.

Mr. Mulcair, in the same vein, took the high road. He also won his seat in Parliament, but he lost the election to Mr. Trudeau. It was apparent, well before election day, that the NDP was on life support, and that the tide did indeed swing out of his favor over the Niqab debate.

I also heard from a commentator last night that:
“The tide, raises all boats…”

If you stayed up until Prime Minister Elect Justin Trudeau made his acceptance speech, you would have heard him echo many of the ideas he had stated along during the campaign.

I’m really proud that Justin won. I’ve supported him, unfailingly since he was elected Liberal Leader, when not many people were in his camp.

The hopes of Canada rest on his shoulders.

As Rachel says: “Watch this space.”

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

At this point of my life, hubby has given the the ability to chart my own course in life, to do what I do best, and to know that he has my back. The relationship pendulum has swung in his direction for this portion of our journey.

I have my daily routines. My daily chores. And then everything else.

What I choose to engage is my choice. What I choose to invest in is also my choice.

Today was a busy day, as it turned out, and I was also reminded that I was not in control.

I had a doctors appointment. And knowing from past appointments, no matter what time I get there, I am going to wait, and wait, and wait …

I scheduled this appointment so that it would not run up to my early evening activities. I had thought, that I would get in and out in short order, and have room to play.

Not so Grasshopper !!!

It took me 40 minutes to make my transit, I arrived 45 minutes early for a 1:30 p.m. appointment. Thankfully I brought a book with me. I read until my eyes crossed, then I listened to the Virgin Radio station that was playing in the office overhead.

I finally got to see my doc at 3:30 p.m. He was on call for three of our hospitals, all of our hospitals, patient records and information are on one massive main frame that can be accessed remotely from any hospital or doctors office, needless to say, he was no happy.

The office was full of people waiting to see him, and at one point, I sadly got up and had to ask where I was in rotation, because I had someplace to be at 4:30. Bad Boy !

My numbers are really good. Seeing where my body was traveling that week. The night before I dropped labs, mama and the baby were in hospital, sick. Tuesday morning when I got home, I dropped labs. Wednesday night was Madonna, and at 6 a.m. Thursday morning, i got so sick, I thought I was going to die.

I was up over a thousand again this round. Go figure …

I was sure that my numbers would have tanked, seeing that I was heading for a major illness.

Wrong !

He also spoke to me about a medication change. This has been an ongoing discussion for the last year or so. Finally he agreed that the time had come. My numbers have been high enough that he has decided to begin changing my medications to new single dose HIV meds.

Round one begins tomorrow.

I got out of there, around 4 p.m. and a 40 minute transit to travel to be on time.

Thankfully the trains were on my side. I made it to my next point with ten minutes to spare. Since it was on the Orange line, just below my Blue connection.

The Tuesday meeting is not doing well. And we heard tonight that two more meetings in town, in the English side are closing. That would be five meetings that have shut their doors in the last three months.

There are projects on the table to try and bump up our numbers, but it seems that option one, is not going to happen. The logistics of mama’s and babies and finding the right time, space and help is not easy. Option two begins in November with our newsletter push. If that doesn’t work, then it might come down to option three … shutting the doors.
We are just not bringing in the seventh tradition to warrant keeping a dying meeting open.

I got home and hubby ran some errands and I went grocery shopping …

And wouldn’t you know it, I had six items in my cart and I was in the express lane. As I approached said lane, the couple ahead of me had a pull basket, FULL of SHIT !

Yes, I counted all twenty five items in your basket …

UGH !!!

Easy Does It they say …


Sunday Sundries … Canada Votes Tomorrow and Other Assorted Topics

maple leaf redThis leaf was found on the ground, and set into this photo. What a unique photo incorporating all that is Canada. I really like it.

It has been a very busy week. I haven’t had time to sit down and write, because life is happening at warp speed as of late. However busy it has been, this week, I have had moments of just being present for my friends.

PRESENCE…

I have spoken a great deal about “presence.” And how important that is to others, as well as for ourselves.

Life, it seems, as of late, has been full of opportunity to just be present.

Every day, there is Something to do. Places to go. People to see. Meetings to attend.

I spend a good chunk of time with the baby. And the game is changing up because our friends have now, more time to commit to being present themselves. Which is giving baby mama time to step outside of motherhood, to find the woman she was, before the baby. But she has found that she does not remember the woman she was.

So the task at hand is to realize who she is today.

And we’ve begin the process of being present for her, so that she can take some time to herself during the week, to find herself. It is a good thing.

I have other friends that just need to be loved. The consensus for some of my fellows is that they can’t devote time to people who aren’t “in the game” or “in it for the solution.” I differ in this process. I believe that just being present to begin with, is a start.

We’ve all had things to do this week, which were tedious, and stressful. And on one particular afternoon, I sat with my friends, just to be there, to offer them strength and to witness a change in the way of things.

There have been many ways that “presence” has been presented to me.

This has been a long running theme in my life.

We talked the other night about Ego and Self Esteem. When I think about these two words, images flood my mind.

Nothing kills an ego, faster, than looking down at an overflowing toilet full of shit and piss, because someone has stopped up the toilet with a cup placed backwards in the system.

And knowing that YOU have to clean it up. And not complain about it either.

Todd did a good job at teaching me valuable lessons, I get to draw upon to this day. I’m really grateful that I had the life I have lived up to this point. Because in the end, it has played out quite nicely.

When I came out, I don’t think I ever thought about self esteem. Because I was just a boy, who, with a little alcohol, would find myself, and others, and I would be one of many, just like myself.

The alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself. Until it stopped working.

My brand of alcoholism, was always, trying to find something, do something, or be someone that was unattainable, for one reason or another. I was finished when I put down the drink for the last time. Who I am today, is a direct result of all the work I have put into myself over the last almost fourteen years.

I had to get to the end of whatever road of misery I was on. It was good that I did not have much in the way of things, or money, or responsibility. It was an uphill battle. My life’s career from my teens into adulthood was fraught with complications.

I did have that two year break in the trend of misery, and had the opportunity to live the two best years of my life, with Todd. For a brief time, I knew who I was, I had self esteem, and my life was honored by men I respected and adored.

We read these stories of the folks from the second edition of the Big Book tonight.

I had not wealth, nor title, nor achievement to my name, when I was drinking, and a good thing too. Because it would have been wasted opportunity. God, in his infinite wisdom, held achievement just outside of my reach, until I was finished destroying myself.

They say, that good things come to those who wait …

I’ve learned the fine art of patience and persistence. One day at a time. Sobriety is a long term proposal, that for most, is too daunting to see right now. Which is why, one day at a time, is so useful.

Mortality, or the threat of loosing it is another ego buster. Knowing that your life hangs in the balance, and you are surely going to die, because everyone else is dying or already in the ground, so buckle up and hang on for the ride. Been there, done that …

I get two daily reminders of just who is in charge, and why I am still alive …

Just looking at my medicine cabinet is a sobering thought. That keeps shit real.

LIQUOR LIQUOR EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK …

Living in a big city, with mass transit, that, at certain times of the day, is a nightmare, brings with it a myriad of people, riding the rails. And there are a million and one stories I could tell about them.

Usually, if you travel during rush hour, it is a forgone conclusion, that at some point, the trains are going to stop, for one reason or another. If you travel after 8 p.m. the party crowd tends to ride with arm fulls of beer.

The other day I was on the train, and a gaggle of girls was traveling in the same direction I was. One girl had a bottle of Triple Sec, a second girl had a bottle of Vodka, and a third girl had a bottle of Jim Beam. For a few minutes I sat there, trying to figure out a drink combination from these three liquors …

Having been a bartender myself, I knew what I was trying to figure out.

But I had never used these three in conjunction with each other in the past.

Finally, I had to say to myself that it was either shots or mixers.

Either way, I was glad it wasn’t me carrying any bottles.

Tonight, I had a meeting with a friend, before the meeting to discuss group business. And we headed to the church a little early. And a good thing too.

The streets were packed with parked cars, the organ was cranking in the church, and we walked into the hall, and the smell of booze was sickening.

Apparently a memorial service was going on upstairs, and a wine bar was prepared down in the hall to cap off the service. Our main table was covered in glasses of red and white wine. Funny that all this wine was all over the place, and here were a few members of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting coming to set up a meeting.

That was the closest I have come to open liquor being served in as many years.

Can you say … “Oh, you can have just one … It won’t hurt, will it?”

We set the coffee pot perking and waited out the group to imbibe and go. Which ran the entire time period from when we got there, to six fifteen, when the meeting was supposed to start.

We had to work around them, and set up the room, as we quietly, ushered them out by turning down the lights, and saying nothing. It was all good.

CANADA VOTES 2015

It has been a contentious Seventy Eight Day Campaign. The leaders of our Federal Parties have been battling for votes for the longest campaign yet. Our Conservative leader, the Honorable Stephen Harper is about to loose his position, in an election that is still, too close to call.

The Conservative Party is on its way out, because an overwhelming number of Canadians say that it is time for change. But just what that change will look like is too close to call tonight.

We vote tomorrow. I voted in early voting last weekend.

The Liberal Party, headed by Justin Trudeau, The New Democratic Party, headed by Thomas Mulcair, The Parti Quebecoise headed by Gilles Ducepp, and The Green Party headed by Elizabeth May, are all vying for a position.

We have a Green Party. They are not in contention for leadership, but more supportive role in the government. They hold a few seats, and hope to more than double their numbers which will give them negotiating power in coalitions in the next parliament.

It will be a dead heat between Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau for Prime Minister.

The man who wins the most M.P.’s by riding, across the country, will be our next Prime Minister.

I am rooting for the younger, Justin Trudeau.

Stay tuned. It is going to be one rip roaring ride.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – Thanksgiving

tumblr_lszd4uVmug1r1nriuo1_500 christopherjordanCourtesy: Christopher Jordan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely Alcoholics Anonymous.

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

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 …


Sunday Sundries – Emotionally Unavailable

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

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

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

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

So I add another night to my baby watch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is a thing.

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

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

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

This is one particular existential question I ask myself.

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

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

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

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

That was a kick in the rubber parts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fat Chance …

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

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

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

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

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

God only knows, right ???

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday – Feed the “Right” Fire

tumblr_ntaba8OmhQ1uaouwuo1_500

Our local weather has indeed turned. We are sitting at (10c) at this hour.

Last night it was cool enough to warrant a little heat, just to break the chill. Today, as it happened, I crated the A.C. for the Winter. We won’t need it again this year. It was cool and comfortable all day, but as the sun went down, it was markedly cooler.

I broke out the winter jacket and my toque collection.

It is October already, can you believe it? Thanksgiving is not far away. The second Monday in October, but I always cook on the Sunday. And This year I have a full table, with the addition of Baby Mama and Baby LuLu. Which meant, today, I went to my local butcher shop and ordered a 15 lb turkey that will be in on Monday for pick up.

It was a full day of coffee dates and get togethers. I had more coffee today than I usually drink in a weeks time. My tummy is not happy at all.

We headed out for our usual Thursday fare. And a very good friend of mine was in the hot seat.

I’ve known her since she came in. I’ve been present for her, at several meetings in town. And tonight, we got to hear her share.

Oh to be young again.

It is, on one hand, great to see young people in the rooms. But at the same time, it is terribly sad to know that alcoholism is an equal opportunity predator. I was as young as she, when I came in the first time. But I lacked a lot of what I see today in our young people. And I don’t see it the same way in many people, but there are a select few who, have learned about:

“Feeding the right fire.”

I haven’t heard those words in a long time from any of my friends, put so succinctly.

Once a fire is lit, in order to keep that fire burning, we need to feed it with fuel. And for many of us, as young people, we learned of “fire” and were enamored by it. It was warm and soothing, and in the beginning, it kept us warm and shed light on our pains, and fears.

More like, burned away our pains and fears …

But like many, once that fire was lit, it felt so good, that we heaped all the fuel onto that fire that we could to keep the burn going for as long as we could.

Sadly, in the end, we all came to that terrible “Crash and Burn” end.

Some end up in jail, some end up in hospital, many end up dead.

My young friend, at the end, was lying in a tub of water, a broken bottle on the side, and thinking that she could not go on any longer, contemplated joining the “27 Club.”

Ten points if you get that reference …

Most women I know, when the end comes or life takes a serious turn, they do what comes natural, “they call their mothers.”

That started the ball rolling, not to mention closing up shop, moving provinces, and living under “family rehab” as she put it.

She, like many, fed that fire of addiction to its bitter end. She had to stamp it out, once and for all. And she needed help. Months later, she came to us. Now she is one of our gang.

A beautiful young woman of courage, faith and beauty.

She talked of spirituality, that which she chooses to call God. And she warned us tonight that recovery is no laughing matter. And is not for the feint of heart.

Shit is going to get real, and it is going to take work.

Those who begin and end their days praying and meditating, interspersed with meetings, inventories, sponsors, and sponsees down the line, learn about the “Right Fire.”

Spirituality is a fire, that when lit, will warm our hearts and keep us warm in the cold. Because alcoholism is a cold and patient predator. But if we learn early on, what that fire means for each of us, that becomes powerful, personal flames.

Today we feed the Right Fire. And we do what is necessary to keep that fire burning.

Because we all know, each of us, what it felt like to get burned from the inside out, gong down in a hail of drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t pretty in the end.

But as young people, we get sucked into bad fire, and once sucked in, we are on for the ride until it kills us.

Thankfully, our young people lived through burning destructive fire.

Now they are here, safe, clean and sober. They never have to go back.

The rooms might not have been where they really wanted to end up, but for most, I can safely say today, was the best choice they have all made in their lives.

And I get to know these young people.

The best part of my community is that young people are so glad to have us.

That thanking hug was the best part of the night.

Not to mention giving my number to a man, on his valiant return after a slip.

Pray for him.

Feed the RIGHT fire within …


Friday – Choices

tumblr_lndtyet7pF1qhlja3o1_500We are sitting at 11c at this hour, but I could have sworn it was colder than that.

I had checked the forecast prior to leaving, since I had been out earlier today, and it was markedly cooler outside. One layer was just not enough, so to play it safe tonight, I layered and wore a big comfy hoodie. My toque came in handy. I think next time, I am just going to go with my jacket, it’s warm and one layer …

Trains were in both stations on the way out and back, which made it painless and quick.

Tonight’s fare from A.B.S.I. was about choices:

“Looking back, we see that our freedom to choose badly was not, after all, a very real freedom.

When we choose because we “must,” this was not a free choice, either. But it got us started in the right direction.

When we choose because we “ought to,” we were really doing better. This time we were earning some freedom, making ourselves ready for more.

But when, now and then, we could gladly make right choices without rebellion, hold-out, or conflict, then we had our first view of what perfect freedom under God’s will could be like.”

When I was a boy, I listened to a great many things people said around me, and because of those words, I was faced with a choice that I had to make. There was nobody to talk this choice over with, nor was there another “choice” offered.

I could not be GAY at home, hence I had to leave to find my fortune.

The ONE piece of advice I got, was from a shrink who said the following:

If you want to fit in and become part of, go to the bar, sit on a stool, and have a drink, hell, have two, and see what happens.

That really wasn’t a choice, it was more like a command. Thinking, at my age, that that was my destiny, that that was what I had to do to find my way in, I took that choice. I know now that it was a bad choice, because my alcoholism followed me out of home, to where I went (read: Orlando).

Once again, I did not get any other choices offered. Nobody said Stop, and Nobody thought to ask me if I thought I had a problem.

I HAD a problem from day one.

When I turned twenty five, I hit one tragedy after another. The only way out of the pain was to drink. I did not see any other choice to deal with it. At Twenty six, when I got very sick and doctors told me I was going to die, once again, I made a choice, I tried to drink myself to death.

Another bad choice…

When Todd stepped in He finally said the word STOP. He really did not give me a choice in what was going to happen, but I guess you could say, I could have said “go fuck yourself!”

I didn’t.

He wanted me to live. And to do that, I would have to turn it all over to Him, (read: God) I “must” quit drinking, and I “must” find the will to live. These choices were “MUSTS.” They started me in the right direction.

But that success was short lived, because I got lonely, and based on that loneliness, I made another choice, once again, ill informed and solely based on self will.

I drank again.

When I took my last drink in December 2001, I had made another choice. A choice that I “ought” to make, because it was the right thing to do. I knew it was the end of the road, because to continue would have probably hastened death much quicker.

I wanted a way out of dead end living in misery, and getting sober was only one portion of that decision (read: Choice). The second came when I was offered a way out. I came to Montreal.

Once again, because I “ought to” take this once in a lifetime opportunity.

This time I did it right. I chose to connect with other folks in the program from the outset. I got connected right away. Those right decisions changed my life, in ways I did not imagine.

It has taken all this time, to find God, because that is who I was seeking. He didn’t need finding, He was right here all along. I just needed to reconnect. I’ve worked very hard at that over the years.

I am not ever alone. There are people to talk to. Life is full of things to do, people to see and choices to make. I’ve learned the importance of having the ability to NOT make decisions or choices all by myself any more.

I trust my God. And my days are not always carefree or easy. I must apply myself every day to make sure I do the right things, make the right choices, for the right reasons, at the right time.

Working with others, is a daily practice. And must come from the right place as well.

All I have to do is ask, when I am in need.

And God provides.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … “Siempre Adelante …” Always Moving Forwards

20140127-pope-x624-1390859938Tonight, Pope Francis is in New York City.

“Siempre Adelante …” Always move forwards,

is a motto Pope Francis has shared for years and years.

I’ve listened to what Pope Francis has said so far. And he has stuck to a theme, a Catholic Theme of being “Our brother’s keepers,” “Charity,” “Being good stewards to the earth,””Respect for life,” and that we should go out from our homes and serve the least of these with all that we have, because as Christians, we are called to serve.

Along this process, I am reading, “The Great Reformer,” about Pope Francis.

Last night, as I was reading, I came across a sermon that the young Archbishop Bergoglio was giving to the church in Argentina. And I found that the message he was sharing so long ago about people, the “Pueblo Fiel,” and what a nation must do to build up its people, to care for the poor and to take care of the world, is the very same message Pope Francis has spoken in the U.S.

Along with his words, are words that come from politicians, who believe they know something particular of the Holy Father, and they speak with indictments against him. One Marco Rubio says that “The pope know nothing about the poor, and also that he wasn’t a scientist, so should keep his counsel to himself.”

I beg to differ…

Jorge Bergoglio was a Jesuit who worked in the Jesuit order for his entire adult life, until he left the order upon assuming the Throne of Peter. He worked in the slums of South America, with the poorest of the poor. Many Jesuit priests worked with the poor, much to the consternation with the church hierarchy, and at one point, with Jorge Bergoglio himself.

Which leads to the term the Pope of the slums …

Jorge Bergoglio is also schooled in science. He is very well learned for a pope.

It was the issue between many of the priests who worked in the favelas, who thought that their work was too important to be stopped. And two priests lost their licenses and ended up being kidnapped by the guerrillas and held captive and tortured.

When American politicians speak about what THEY think is the truth about the Pope, and try to indict him, those men should really shut their damned mouths.

There are common themes that Pope Francis repeats over and over again. They are themes that were born when Francis was a young Jesuit. And as he rose in the ranks of the church, his influence only grew. And the words became flesh for him, in the way he worked so hard for the “pueblo” and what he saw as justice, charity and peace.

We could all learn a little about the life of Francis, and what he sees and believes as important.

But we need to dig a bit deeper to learn that knowledge. The papacy of Francis is still young, but there is a wealth of words written about him, if you know where to look.

I think the themes of Charity, Love and Caring for others is universal. In his speech to Congress today he quoted the Golden Rule …

“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto You.”

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

It has been a challenging few days indeed. I work every day to be present and accountable; consistently. If it were possible, I could use a few more “me’s” right about now.

I had a conversation with a friend the other night. And I am confused as to why people are the way they are. I am powerless over people. And sometimes I place unattainable expectations on them, knowing, that I am flirting with stupidity.

To this end, still, people continue to astound me with their selfishness and self centeredness.

I am not preaching from some lofty perch, like God. And I am surely not arrogant to think I hold sway over anyone except myself. I hear my friends speak words, and they don’t ring true. I have implored my friends with things to do. Certain, Specific, things that need to be done.

We must succeed, or else, great failure is at hand.

We must go out and serve our brothers and sisters with all that we have, if we are able. I am able, and I devote serious time to that outreach work. The more I talk, the less goes into action, by any of the people I need to act. Before I speak, I consider my words carefully. And the other day I found an opportunity to talk and I did that. Hoping that it would bring results.

I am saddened to say, nothing has changed.

I was talking to my friend and I told her my story. Well, one big story. To demonstrate where I learned to be present, accountable and consistent. And she does not dispute my abilities.

But she said to me that There is only one of me. And she fears that I will burn out and go away when I have had enough. I’ve learned that lesson, I am in it to win it.

But she is of the mind that every human being needs three Strong, Present, and Consistent people to guarantee their survival. She doesn’t have those three people. She has me and one other woman, who’s mother is suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease, but when needed she shows up and attends to what needs to be done. The other couple of folks, are unreliable, and inconsistent and can’t be depended on, not for lack of trying, but the lack of desire to be 100% present.

We all have lives. But one of our number is in dire need of support and I do not know what to do for her but to repeat, as often as I can, that right now, I am here.

I fear that message isn’t going to be enough to ground her permanently.

If I can’t get any other players into the game, and things don’t start looking up soon, my friend is going to pack up herself and the baby and go back to New Foundland. Forever.

I don’t know what else to do. My words fall on deaf ears, and my friends are unable to rise to the occasion. And that IS a problem, that I have no solution for.

In the end, I am only one man. I am not God and I can only do so much.

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

I drank, I stank and I sank …

That is the short version of the share we heard tonight.

One of my friends spoke tonight. It was simple and to the point. In seeing another alcoholic drink, get drunk, loose his family, his job, his home and end up sleeping in the park, our man got sober.

Coming in, at first, he believed we’d all be brown baggers, dirty clothed, and sleeping in the park, but much to his surprise, we were happy, clean and well dressed people who welcomed him.

It was the commonality, the identity, and the honesty that kept him.

And for more than twenty five years, our man hasn’t had a drink since.

Tomorrow is Friday. We’ll see what that brings with it.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries – The Silence

tumblr_lndtyet7pF1qhlja3o1_500The Fall Equinox is twenty four days away. Thanksgiving is only seven weeks away. Which then gives way to only 117 days until Christmas … September is going to start with a bang, with a stretch of warms days, and teen nights. Summer isn’t finished yet.

It was the last Sunday of the month, which means Tradition Eight tonight.

Money and spirituality do not mix.

You can’t charge for Twelfth Step Work.

You were freely given, so freely give.

I mused this topic as it went around the room, but in the end, said nothing.

While I was getting sober early on, I was in university earning several degrees that I though might become money spinners. That expectation never materialized. All that time and money spent educating myself – and what am I doing today? I work with others for free !

You can’t put a price on life experience. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay for what life teaches us on any given Sunday …

that is all …