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Women

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…


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 …


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 …


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 …


Sanctuary – There are so many facets

je suis europe

If Jesus walked among us today, what would he say about the state of the world, as we are seeing it right now? Would he be angry, Would he agree with the way the world is reacting to the “least of these” Would he say that we need to buck up and do what is right in the eyes of God ?

Hundreds of Thousands of human beings, (in Europe they call them just “Migrants”) this word does not do justice to those who are, for all intents and purposes, “the least of these.”

In the Middle East, there are problems that are way beyond the abilities of nation states to change, stop, or even make a dent in. I don’t talk about the Middle East, because it is not my area of study. Religion and Theology are my areas of study.

Radical Islam, is entrenched in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other nations. This is not new news. And the battle between Islam and the rest of the world has been going on for centuries. The Caliphate would like you to believe that it is their goal to convert the infidels to Islam, so that we would pledge to the powers that be, our allegiance. And they would occupy the world unchallenged.

The rise of Isis, is a blight on humanity. We have had many chances to stop them. We have wasted every chance we have had to stop them now. We can’t just bomb them out of existence, because of the human shield factor, protecting them from further destruction.

As they moved in, the people began moving out. What do you do with all the people who had been settled in one area of the world, when they leave that area in search of sanctuary somewhere else? What do you do when an entire portion of the world’s population decides to get up and go somewhere else, because of terrorists and Islamic murderers are killing them and others with impunity?

So we have hundreds of thousands of Muslim human beings, seeking sanctuary in Europe. A place, light years from where they have come. We have nations of religious men, women and children on the move.

Islam, as a whole is moving from where they were, to where they want to go.

How do we accommodate these people?

Religious sensibilities say that, well some say that, we should not allow them sanctuary in Europe, that they must go home, or at least go somewhere else, any place else but here.

Because that would upset the fine balance of religion, sectarianism, and ethnic diversity.

You just can’t allow a population to be invaded by another religious faction into a world that may not and probably certainly will not accommodate them.

There is a definite religious divide here.

We must remember that beneath the label of Muslim, these people are Human Beings first.

We cannot allow the world to minimize them into the category of Migrants.

If Europe thinks they are under fire, and they are, we need a new game plan. These human beings need safety, they need sanctuary and they need peace. They need homes.

And that costs money, money they don’t have to spend, nor do Europeans have themselves to give to the poorest of the poor. It just does not work that way.

In the end someone is going to have to pay for this massive human migration. And on whose doorstep do you lay this burden?

It is an impossible question to ask.

But we have been seeing for months, men, women and children are dying by the thousands on rickety boats trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This is a tragedy of immense scale.

These people have nothing to go back to, nor return to the homes they once had, because of the radical ideology of terrorists, and their cut throat way of life. Where there once was the cradle of creation, there is now a wasteland of destruction.

When do we say that we have had enough of this and we set a new goal in mind to rid the world of this scourge on humanity, and we take them out, once and for all and we eradicate them off the face of the earth by any means necessary.

But to do this would incur certain collateral damage on a grand scale.

What do we do with all this land that is now populated by insurgents? They are killing indiscriminately, Westerners and their own. They have gone as far as eradicating historical sites off the face of the earth, because they are in congruent with radical Islam.

Migrants are human beings, no matter what religion they profess. Thousands upon thousands of those human beings are children. Are we going to deny them a future because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time? What are we supposed to do with these families, searching for sanctuary?

Can we afford to slam doors in their faces and build fences to keep them out ?

We can’t surely repatriate them back into Syria or Iraq or other Islamic countries that have forced them out with no real place to go.

They say that this “migration” is the largest migration of people we have seen since World War II.

This human migration is just that, A HUMAN MIGRATION. These are people. People who should be afforded the right to find a home somewhere where they will be safe, and be able to prosper and live without the fear of radical murderers coming to kill them.

But there is just so much space in other parts of the world. What do you do when you add tens of thousands of humans to already existing populations of people all over Europe ? Where do you put them, where do you make space for them ?

The next question is … “Who’s going to pay for all of this ?”

They say that You can’t get something for nothing in this world. Security comes with a cost. And we know, world-wide that millions of people live in “Insecurity and Poverty.” Now we have these humans migrating someplace else, who have nothing and carrying what they can on their backs.

Can we say they are the poorest of the poor? Having been forced from home only to go on the road to hopefully find someplace that will take them in ?

How far does hospitality reach? And are we obligated to extend the hand of hospitality to anyone who shows up on our door step? North America is safe in that we don’t have to worry about the European migration. We do have to worry about the migration on our southern border of the United States. That is an entirely different thread…

So many people with nowhere to go, trying to find sanctuary.

If we want to stop this migration, we need to step up and STOP the war and conflict.

But in order to stop this scourge on the earth would need a decisive attack plan, that seems to me, there is only one way to eradicate them off the earth. But this plan would certainly incur massive collateral damage. It is the only way to really know for sure they are gone is to wipe them off the earth with the only tool we have that would certainly do the job, because we have used it before.

But we swore we would never use it again. And right now the world is in consultation in making sure that certain countries enter non-proliferation treaties.

Then we get the shit end of the deal, that if we use this tool, that land would be unlivable so who ever is left, we would need to find a home, along with the millions of people who are now displaced.

This is a No Win Scenario …

There is no winning any route we take to stop the violence and repatriate human migrants from Europe, back to where they came from.

The worlds nations do not have the balls, nor inclination to do anything substantial that would stop the cycle of violence. We’ve allowed violence to disrupt an entire section of the world.

We’ve not done anything to make it stop. And this is a no win scenario.

These issues are fraught with complications. This is just scraping the surface of what needs to be done for the least of these at the moment.

More to come, just not tonight.

Stay tuned …


Thursday – The Blank Page Syndrome

sidneysheldonThe weather has been stellar these past few days. It was breezy cool this evening when we left for the meeting. Lows will be steady in the teens for the next week. It will be a full weekend, with the best night of the week tomorrow and the walk home, which I look forward to.

Saturday is going to be warm and sunny, which will be good, because the area is hosting a Sober Family Day on the west end of the city at the Loyola Campus of Concordia University. I got a free ticket tonight from a friend, so I will be going with Baby Mama and Baby LuLu.

For the past two weeks, I have made some significant progress with the baby. For a long time she would not let me hold her, and she would always want to be with mama, but as of late, she is coming around to me, little by slowly. She is happy when I visit and she is engaged and when I visit she goes nuts with her books and stuffed animals, passing them back and forth between me and mama. Wednesday nights, I carry over and cook dinner, this tradition was to make sure that they eat a good meal during the week, and to allow the baby to get to know me.

On Tuesday I was over for a bit before the meeting, and when it was time to leave, I put on my backpack and started for the door, LuLu took both mama and I’s hands and she walked us both to the elevator. That was the first time that she was comfortable holding my hand. And the last week, baby LuLu even lets me hold her, and she stays … that is big !!!

It’s all good.

I’ve begin writing this week. It is sometimes intimidating when you are looking at a blank page, because you need to write something, and sometimes I need to think about how I am going to write and about what. I have my outline, and there are stories that are on the surface, that I can write about. They are not necessarily in outline order. So I am collecting word documents on my desktop of the stories I can comfortably write about.

I still need to talk to my aunt about some things about the family portion of the story. I don’t want to end up telling a story about speculation, but of facts. I need to take care of this sooner than later.

Tonight we heard a friend speak.

They say, that if you stick around long enough, you will eventually hear someone tell your story. I think we hit that marker tonight. This lady friend, has been sober a while, and I had never heard her share, but she hit many familiar topics, and had several similar experiences in her life that I had in mine. She has had her process growing from a drunk into a woman who has emotional sobriety.

I did not get to speak to her after, but I will chat with her when I see her over the weekend.

How do children who grow up in negative homes grow up into mature, emotionally sober adults when we carry around negative baggage from our parents? She seemed to have conquered that dragon, as I have my own.

Like our thanker said tonight, our parents, who told us we were mistakes when we were kids, we are all grown up now, and we should thank those adults because we are beautiful people. And if it were not for them, we would not be here.

It was a good night.

More to come, tomorrow night.


Thursday … FIRE IT UP !!!

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21Courtesy: Minhos21

I’ve been thinking about this image all day long. It goes along with our theme tonight:

BESTS …

After my not so sober post on Sunday, we return to regularly scheduled programming.

We begin on a very happy note.

We are still experiencing on and off rain/sun/rain again/sun … weather

Tuesday, the city was under a severe storm warning all evening, into the night. The threat of rain, and the size of Baby LuLu’s stroller, was the deciding factor for hitting the meeting.

The rain won.

We began reading Living Sober. This book is probably the third most important book to read in early sobriety. The most important book, first, is our meeting list book, because it has all the meetings listed in the city (read: over 500 meetings a week). Second is the Big Book.

Living Sober is the book we suggest our new folks to read because it gives you actual practical advice about how to “live sober,” if only that in the beginning. We are faced with certain situations and life experiences that, when we used and drank, were really, not an issue.

But now we’ve given up the drugs and alcohol, how do we manage and mitigate those situations soberly, when before we used to use? There are many chapters in this book, that talk about various situations, feelings, problems that we may face, now sober.

Along with other sober human beings, having a book that tells you what to do, is also very useful.

But nothing beats talking to another human being when times get tough.

That’s what we are all here for.

Wednesday Night Cookery …

With Baby Mama moving back, we’ve all been working very hard at making sure she has everything she needs. On Wednesday evenings, I go over to her house and I cook a meal that we share, and she gets leftovers for the rest of the week. This is so I ensure she is eating, not that she isn’t, but a little more food is good. Next week she moves into her forever home.

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

Which leads very nicely into tonight’s offering.

We got to St. Matthias early. I got to reconnect with a friend that I spent a good deal of time with, discussing some very serious topics the other night. He listened to what I said and that proved to be useful to him.

Then as we walked back inside the hall, a very familiar woman was talking to our greeter. I had not seen her in a while, she is a West Islander, so seeing her in the city, is a treat.

It was a double treat, because, she was our invited speaker.

She is on her way, God willing, One day at Time, to her five year mark this fall.

The last time I heard her speak was more than four years ago, which would have put her, just inside her first year.

There are no “Bests” in the rooms. We usually don’t think that way. But one of my guys was in the meeting and at the end he said to me that “her share was the best share he had ever heard.”

I have to concur…

The routine in the room is “what it was like, what happened and what it is like now.”

That is the method.

Every delivery of that method differs from person to person, woman to man, young to old.

I’ve said before, that hearing people share, more than once, or even several times in sobriety, allows me to hear wisdom in their words.

Where, in the beginning, we hear the story, and at times, said speaker might be in the middle of their story, so the resolution into “what happened” might not be over yet. They might not understand or see the wisdom or grace of portions of their story, until they are standing on the other side of it, or even, having the wisdom of time, and hindsight to be able to see their progress in certain areas, or have concrete feelings one way or another about their story as a whole.

Here in Montreal, the odds of hearing someone more than once is high. That depends on how many speaker meetings you hit in any given week over long periods of time.

Those odds go up, if you hit meetings here in the city AND hit meetings on the West Island.

I know of a handful of people I’ve heard speak at a speaker meeting more than once. Some, also hit discussion meetings, but many don’t.

Tonight, we laughed, we cried, we sobbed and came full circle and laughed again.

It is very rare to hit all of these in one night.

The loss of a child, I believe, is one of the greatest heartaches, any mother or father can go through, and I can’t touch that feeling because I’ve never lived it.

  • Most don’t make it out.
  • Many go back to the bottle, usually much heavier than when they were just “drinking for effect.”
  • Now they were drinking for an entirely different reason.

And let me tell you, this kind of drinking would usually end up in death, for any normal drinker, but for an alcoholic, it is suicidal drinking.

Survival from this kind of drinking is a miracle.

At some point, man or woman, we get to the end of the line. However we get there, we get there, usually in a haze of delusion, or a crash and burn situation.

When the end came for our woman, she made that crucial call.

The man who took that call, was sitting in the room with us tonight.

Hello, Alcoholics Anonymous, my name is ______ HOW can I HELP you?

His first sentence was “IT’S GOING TO BE OK!”

For a woman who had never heard that before, that was earth shattering.

She took herself to what we call “the Squirrel Cage” on the West Island.

The squirrel cage is a small meeting with a handful of folks, which is an offshoot of the main meeting which used to be held at the same time, in the same location, in a different room.

So one used to have a choice. Today, only the Squirrel Cage remains.

A member was at the door, in her words … “600 year old man …”

He welcomed her warmly, took her to get a cup of coffee and sat her down.

She wanted to slink in and not get noticed. We are savvy alcoholics, if you had not figured that out yet. Anyways, at the end of the meeting, folks took her into their hearts, 100%.

She really wasn’t sure about the program or the work involved, but she had to walk her road.

You hear the same things in the beginning.

  • Go to meetings
  • Read the Book
  • Get a sponsor
  • Do the work

Reticent to do all these things, they took time to begin. She sure as hell was not going to get a sponsor, and if she did, it would be a man, like mistakes she had already made.

They told her to find a woman ? A woman, she responds? “Yes a woman.”

In the end she met, in her words… “Hitler.”

Sometimes we need a swift kick in the ass to get started. For most, this approach sends people running for the hills, but there are those who take certain concrete directions from the get go.

Sometimes there is no better time than the present to get started.

And her sponsor said to her …“IF YOU WANT WHAT THE PROGRAM OFFERS, THEN GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING !!!!”

You know, I didn’t get that exact message when I came in, but I was willing to go to any length to get and stay sober, so I did everything I was told, without question. Because the first time was a gift, the second time I had to really work for it, and I worked it for all it was worth.

I was eleven year sober when I heard that exact message.

IF YOU WANT WHAT THE PROGRAM OFFERS, THEN GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING…

Our woman got off her ass and she did the work. She did something that most people balk at, looking into our stories, seeing the pain and heartache, for her this was immense, dealing with the wreckage of her past and making peace with it.

Then the suggestions of prayer and meditation rose.

In her words …”You want me to pray to a God, who took my child?”

You must be kidding.

The vehicle for her prayer life began with her child that she lost.

In her words … “My child came into my life, only to die, and bring me to this place of grace.”

She has come full circle.

She needed her child to get to a certain point. Now, with a few years of wisdom, she was able to let her child go back to God, where He could use her.

All along, there is her son, who now is almost twelve years old. A child that has seen her through all her mishaps and bad decisions. A child who, himself, once or twice, said to her,

“REALLY? Do you think this is a wise decision?”

Her son, had that kind of intuitiveness.

At the end, with him sitting in the passenger seat, mom in her pajamas, no seat belt, drunk, wraps her car around a tree, he survived. When the car stopped, he got out of the car and ran for his life, screaming for help.

Can you imagine what that little boy feels after living the life he had up until that point?

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

On moms first anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, he said no …

On moms second anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, he said no …

On moms third anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, he said no …

On her fourth anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, this time he said yes!

A few days ago, he said to her, “October is coming soon? mom said yes,
and he said, I want to be there.”

These are just snapshots of the entire message.

Points that I think were important to talk about.

Who can you call, and get help, right then and there?
Where can you go, and find people who “know” where we have been and not run?
Where can you go, and have your life change and to see dreams come true, in certain order?

No Where…

We might be a rag tag bunch of alcoholics. But when push comes to shove, we will move mountains to see you succeed. I don’t know any other place that this is possible.

There is no place I would rather be, then here in this life, with my kind of people.

Because I would not have the life I have, or the lives we have, if not for these people.

We laughed, we cried, we sobbed and we laughed again…

I love my life.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – Life Update & Working with Others

BabyL2It’s a baby …

It has been a very exciting couple of days.

Monday early on, my lady friend and I set out for the airport, via the express shuttle from our local Metro Hub. Arriving at the airport, Baby Mama’s flight was due in twenty minutes early, which only gave us a few minutes heads up to get flowers for mama and a balloon for LuLu.

In the arrivals area, there is a barrier that one is not supposed to cross, into the baggage claim area proper. People were crossing the barrier in front of us.

Across the arrivals hall we spied baby mama and LuLu coming. I crossed the barrier and went and greeted her and gathered her luggage and stroller/car seat contraption.

It was a cathartic moment, the day we all worked so hard for, for the last year.

There were tears and lots of hugs. Then the realization that mama was here and that it really happened.

We gathered the bundles and ourselves and took a taxi to her condo where she is staying. It is right down the hill from where she will be living come July 1st.

I have to say that AIR BNB have some really nice properties. And kind folks running them.

The condo is a basement suite with washer/dryer, (read: Fully furnished to high spec) Full kitchen/dining room, Full size bed/room, Fully stocked bath. Security system and A.C. and Heating. The living room is handsomely furnished with a flat screen HD tv and surround sound stereo system.

While we unpacked, the reality was starting to hit.

My lady friend took mama and baby grocery shopping, my old sponsor picked me up and we headed home to get the boxes and furniture that has arrived here for the baby. We drove back to the condo and unpacked and I put together the furniture and un-boxed the rest of the goodies baby mama had ordered.

We were all famished and exhausted, it seemed neither of us got very much sleep Sunday night, we ordered some Chalet Barbeque and shared a simple meal. Miss LuLu was a handful and was beginning to realize she was some place new, a new home and lots of new faces.

I think it was all a little too much for LuLu.

We took our leave around seven, when the second string ladies came to visit with mama and baby, so she was not alone. By the time I got home, I was pooped. I crashed.

This evening I met mama and we walked up to the meeting, stopping to show her where she would be living next month. Everything is local. The daycare is just down the road next to the new hospital complex, adjacent to the Vendome Metro station.

The new apartment is up the hill just a few minutes walk, and is equidistant between Villa Maria and Vendome Metro’s. The Tuesday meeting is just across the street from home.

The folks at the meeting tonight were warm and welcoming. The issue of the baby did not come up, it was wise that people kept that opinion to themselves, because by the end of the meeting Mama was in tears of gratitude that she was so warmly welcomed.

All part and parcel of who we really are. Warm and welcoming.

We finished Joe and Charlie. 35 weeks of Big Book lectures.

And the angels sang, Hallelujah !!!

If there is one thing this group has proven in the last year, is that we will go to any length to help our friends. Inside or outside the room. It took a village to make this event yesterday come together. Finding a home, seeing it and securing the address, going to the daycare and arranging baby care, (that was no small task). Then taking care of arrival and getting into her home, away from home.

This is departure week for my guys. Summer Camp starts next week, so people are traveling to get settled in early. Summer Camp is home away from home, it gives our folks another perspective so that they can devote their other skill sets to the task at hand.

Bittersweet because they will be gone until late August.

We are all very grateful and we could not be happier to have baby mama and miss LULU home with us. Their new chapter of life is now open.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Goodbye May … Hello June

tumblr_lxerkgWVPI1r556eno1_500 followeedCourtesy: Followeed

The weather has definitely shifted overnight. Yesterday we hit the 30c mark. Today, when I left the house it was 14c. It was a little chilly, so it was a second layer kind of evening. I did not have to travel far today, the Tour De L’ Isle was today, thankfully they stayed away from downtown.

I left early and arrived at the church and was greeted by the church super. He wanted to tell me of the plans they are putting in place to uber secure the church, after the break in and theft that took place a couple weeks ago. He was able to purchase his stolen tools (read: saws, routers, and other assorted power tools), at a reduced price, less than half of what he paid for them originally, thank you Home Depot for the deals. New doors were put in and other security features will go in including an alarm in our end of the basement. Churches are very popular in the thieving ring in the city. Over the last decade, St. Leon’s has been hit several times.

I find it sad and also sacrilegious to steal from a church, especially one that is on the Heritage Site list. Surely, some people are going to burn in hell for robbing the parish.

We sat an uber full house. And we read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Five.

“Each group has one primary purpose, to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”

Over the years, meeting numbers go up and down. We attribute that to seasons and weather patterns, and also the frequency of hockey games.

I guess you could say that Sunday Niter’s does well in the “carrying the message” responsibility, because our numbers are way up from this past winter. Many folks, this evening, spoke to that effect. We have an open and honest bunch of folks, from across the board, with various lengths of sobriety, and we work very hard at welcoming the newcomer and making you feel at home for the hour or so you are with us.

Some of our folks keep coming back, and over time they learn to share what they have been given, and that keeps them in the loop, and reminds them of how important it is to reach out to new folks as they come in the hall. A day sober will perk someone’s life up, in unexpected ways.

Can you believe it, May is done and Tomorrow is June 1st.

Summer is some time away, but as things go here in Montreal, the Summer season has already started for tourism and the get outside event calendar. We are hopeful that our seasonal summer visitors will return. As the Summer concert series begin and film houses come to film here in Montreal, our numbers will swell. Sunday Niters is a very popular stop on the tour circuit.

Another successful month of meetings in the book. The jobs are all taken for June. The matriarch of our meeting has indicated that she is stepping down and she handed the meeting off to our small group of trusted servants, our main goal, as always, is to keep the doors open for as long as we can.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … Now, Later, Maybe and Never

friends becomeThe Up/Down temperature swings have leveled off, and today we swung into sunny, hot and moderate humidex readings. Thank God for Air conditioning. I was wise to load it up a few days ago, when they warned us that this trend would come.

When temps rise above 18c and above, things begin to get sticky. Living amid the concrete jungle, here in Western Downtown, cement and concrete buildings, warm during the day, then radiate heat when the sun goes down.

We aren’t insulated for seasonal hot and cold. This building is concrete and most apartments have windows across one entire wall, no matter what direction you face. We face West, which means, we get direct sunlight from 11 a.m. through till sundown.

That gets very warm. We get so much sun, that over the past decade or so, we had hung blinds, we papered or foiled the windows to turn sunlight away, these things did not help very much.

When we renovated the space a few months ago, we splurged on special sun sensitive roll blinds that work really well. They cut the heat quotient in a great way. With the added a.c. unit in the bedroom, we can maintain the apartment at a steady cool and comfy level.

It was so beautiful today, that I walked from the Metro to the church on the way out. (read: there was no bus waiting at the station, so I walked it).

It was our fourth year anniversary for the meeting today.

It’s very funny, our meeting.

They say, that all you need to have, to open a meeting, is a resentment and a coffee pot…

You actually need at minimum $350.00 to do it right.

And that is exactly how Vendome started. ONE pissed off alcoholic and his resentments.

Many years ago, well, four to be exact, Tuesday Beginners was in transition. We dropped from two meetings on a Tuesday Night, to just one. One of our members wanted the key and said he would operate the second meeting himself, in our space, inside our window of occupancy.

That idea was instantly nixed …

So he left, and along with my current sponsor, opened a brand new meeting right up against Tuesday Beginners, but half an hour earlier. Which put it smack dab in the middle of the Five o’clock shadows meeting at 5 and Tuesday Beginners at 7.

All three meetings are close. They are all on bus and Metro lines.

A couple of years later, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners and followed my friends over to Vendome. By that time, the original member who opened the meeting copped another resentment with the group, and he fled. Which left us with a meeting to run and populate.

We were at Trinity for a little more than a year, then the N.D.G. Food Bank, was tossed on the street by their landlord, so they really needed a place to operate, because the food bank serves the entire N.D.G. and surrounding Burroughs. They came to Trinity.

Our meeting was tossed into the auditorium where the food bank had set up all around us, so we were sharing space with them, and several other meetings that book ended ours.

That did not go very well, and we ended up moving the meeting to where it is now. Up the hill and close to Villa Maria Metro and the 24 bus route. Sadly, most of the folks who used to come to Trinity, did not follow. We could never figure out the why? It was only 2 city blocks away.

We’ve maintained the group, albeit, by the skin of our teeth. We aren’t making seventh, hand over fist, and funds have fallen off because we can’t seem to hold over many people, they just don’t come week after week, however, we do have a small group of committed members.

Along with our anniversary today, one of our old timers celebrated 29 years of sobriety.

There was cake, and other goodies to feast upon.

We are closing in on the end of our Joe and Charlie Big Book tapes.

AH, I can hear the angels sing …

We have reached Steps Eight and Nine.

It is said that alcoholism is a three fold disease. Spiritual, Mental and Physical.

In steps One, Two and Three, we realize our powerlessness, we come to believe in a Power Greater than Ourselves, and we decide to turn it over. For many, this might be their first time around with (a) god. But many know who God is, and they have turned away for one reason or another. That solves our spiritual problem.

In Steps Four, Five, Six and Seven, we set to paper all those things that hold us back. Resentments, Guilts, and Fears. After an exhaustive, moral personal inventory, we clear away the wreckage of our pasts. Then we unload it upon someone we trust. We figure out from that inventory our character defects and our shortcomings.

It is also said that we continue to work Six and Seven for the rest of our lives.

That solves our Mental problem.

In Steps Eight and Nine, we make our lists of those we need to make amends to, and prepare to do so, as we are able, with this proviso …

An Amends list is not something to take lightly, depending on how much damage you have done to yourself and others. (read: Family, Friends, Employers etc …)

Many come to this point and balk. So Joe and Charlie give us this tool:

  • Make Four lists:
  • Those we can make amends to NOW
  • Those we could make amends to LATER
  • Those whom we could MAYBE make amends to at some point
  • And those we will NEVER be able to make amends to

Reading the text out of the Big Book, Bill covers almost every single situation that might turn up for someone working at this juncture of The Work.

Many an old timer took to the work slowly. But it is what it is. Amends cross many areas.

  • Personal
  • Business
  • Family and
  • Financial

At some point in ones sobriety, we should complete this list, in any way possible, because we drank, for some, in any way possible. And if we had to Beg, Rob or Steal it, alcoholics and addicts have done that. It may take a lifetime, but we only have ONE lifetime.

So we better make it a good life, in the end.

I’ve done these lists. There are people on each of these lists. With the dawn of sobriety the second time, I had to make amends to certain people, which I did early on, because I could.

When I got sober the second time, about a month in, I met those friends I ditched opting for a geographic, instead of honesty and respect. Those amends were made directly, face to face.

Let me tell you, that was not easy. It took everything I had to look my friends in the eyes and ask for forgiveness.

With the dawn of Facebook, I made amends to my friends whom I had not seen in many years. Many of my drinking friends, are sober themselves, so that made it a bit easier, because they were in the program, and the amends were mutual and went both ways.

There is one woman, a good friend of mine, who is still in my life today, who WAS in my life through every stage of my life in recovery the First and Second time.

We had THAT discussion.

She forgave me. But to this day, my heart aches, every time I think about her or see activity on Facebook, because I have unfinished business with her. You see, she was the only friend who was financially involved with helping to take care of me when I was really sick, my family had long since backed out of any responsibility or desire to help me.

And she carried me to my geographical move and then she left and went on to her own geographical cure. I was all the way OUT, she was only PARTIALLY the way out.

Life went on. But I owe her more than asking for forgiveness. One day I hope to make full financial restitution to her in my own way, for everything that she did for me. But I have yet to say these words to her, because they have been a long time coming.

Then on the final list, are those who I will NEVER be able to make amends to. Those are the people who walked out of my life for various reasons, (which are all about them, and not about me, but really, it is all about me no matter how you cut it).

I was an Alcoholic. I was Gay, I was living with AIDS, and I reside in Canada.

All these things are liabilities.

So fuck me for surviving…

We’ve come a long way over the last year or so. Each pass at the steps gives us perspective, insight and then the gift of hindsight. The greater the vision, the greater the effort to sober up.

We grow up when we get sober, and hopefully, we do it right this time.

Maybe NOW, Maybe LATER, MAYBE sometime, and sadly, quite possibly NEVER.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Insidious

tumblr_m187ytnKBN1r3fvxmo1_500 thedarkblueCourtesy: The Dark Blue

It has been an up/down kind of week last week. Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, gave us a week of roller coaster temperatures, from single digit pluses, to ground frost, to windy (I need a jacket) cool, and today we are in double digit pluses. People never knows what to pack, what to wear, so that was a thing…

Life has become very busy, and almost frenetic. I’ve spent a good amount of time with my friends, which has been a real good thing. Getting to spend time with friends outside the normal travel routes is a nice addition.

A few weeks ago, I went to see my main doc for my spring checkup. While I was there, he floated the idea that he might be able to put me on brand new next gen HIV medication. I’ve been on my present regimen for almost ten years now.

But because of the transition from multiple sites, into the main Glenn site, everything is upside down. Medical files are currently being digitized and uploaded to computers, because the Glenn is attempting to be paper free.

This has posed numerous problems.

For the last two weeks doc has been trying to find my archive file, which has all of my genetic coding information. They rotate old paper into archives and store them in the basement, so you have to actually go looking for them.

UGH !!!

We’ve been talking on and off for the past week. Monday last week, I got the call about the switch. Doc did eventually find my file, and double checked the genetic profile. When I was diagnosed many years ago they did genotypes and phenotypes to type and cross reference my particular virus type. This will tell doctors what will and won’t work, on a grand scale.

Depending on the viral typification certain drugs are automatically disqualified for future use.

Genetic testing has been useful to optimize drug success. But it also is problematic, because even if new drugs come online, if you don’t match, you don’t get new drugs. Even if they have been reworked and strengthened.

I failed the mark this time around.

Which means, I stay on the present regimen for at least another year, until the next round is released. Bummer …

I’ve been keeping an eye on my baby birdies on the balcony, and I think that mom has abandoned her chicks, because she hasn’t been in the nest for days now, and I am not sure what to do, beyond calling the ASPCA and getting someone out here to take them and nurse them.

Yesterday, it was a double layer kind of day. It was that chilly. Today we are in the twenties, and I chose to walk the outer route to the church. Everyone, well, most of our folks were at the roundup this weekend, so I pulled all the jobs tonight.

We sat a good number and read another serious war story.

The take away:

  • Alcoholism is insidious
  • If nobody says STOP the alcoholic will keep going
  • Where ever you go, there you are
  • Functional alcoholism always devolves into insanity
  • Eventually, if we are lucky, we find the solution

We read all the way around, and the shares went all the way around. What started as many message discussion, turned into a meeting for one particular woman.

Before the meeting started, I was alerted, by a friend, that there was a newcomer in the crowd, which falls to the 12 step rep.

I was feeling a little iffy early on today. I just had a sinking feeling that something was just not right. I can’t tell you where that came from, but it is what it is. I knew my Sunday guy was out at a function, and that the women were at the roundup, so nobody came in early, to either read or help set up. My uneasy-ness was confirmed shortly after the meeting started.

A friend, who is fresh, was sitting in a lump, and I knew there was something wrong.

“The alcoholic will drink again …”

You never know when it will come, but at some point, the only thing that stands between you and your next drink, will be your higher power. This time, it went unused.

Been here and done that.

It only takes a millisecond. One moment of freak. One action, putting a drink to ones lips.

For a few minutes everybody listened.

Anguish is a very heavy emotion. What do you say, what do you do?

At least she made it to the meeting, in one piece.

I just knew something was off tonight.

We strolled home, and I phoned a friend to pick up the pieces.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday – I’ll Take a Pizza

tumblr_noaap7YdC61qds66jo1_r1_500 Mesut OzilCourtesy: Mesut Ozil – Arsenal

The weather is holding. A bit chilly, temps went into single digits last night.

For the last few days, I have been in consultation with people I know and trust. Sobriety is good for many things, having long sober people to talk to is a good thing.

Tonight we were treated to a sober woman, who in June, will reach 42 years sober.

She got sober, when I was just a boy. Almost as long as I’ve been alive.

Her’s was a unique story, players wise. What astounded me was that at age 13, after the family unit failed her disastrously, she struck out on her own. Moving to an apartment not very far from where I live today. At age 13 …

Not being a drinker, YET, served her well. She was employed in a successful career by age 17, and life was colorful, yet sad, and at the right moments, we all laughed, but that did not take away the fact that drinking is a subtle foe.

As alcoholics, we usually don’t survive the YET’S …

Alcohol, as stated by our thanker, is an equal opportunity foe. Alcohol can take down even the strongest people, at the most inopportune times.

Strong women are fixtures in our community. Some war stories are more tragic than others, and hearing the tales told, I ask the question … “how did they get here and survive?”

I know a little about long term survival.

Life takes its course, and our woman walked her walk, she had a child, on the journey, then because of family issues, could not baptise her daughter, so she married someone she later fell in love with, for a name, so that her child could have her name, (read:In the Church).

A while later, she wanted to have her husbands child. After four miscarriages, heartache and loss, she got pregnant again, and carried full term and gave birth. Only to have her child die a crib death, 40 days into her infant life.

In her words … “it seemed a really good time to have a drink.”

One bottle of wine, and she went from zero to hero in very little time.

Life was hard in the fifties and sixties. Women were supposed to play certain social roles, and do social things and be good housewives, living in suburbia.

The war story continues.

One day, she was at work, and a guy walked into her office and said to her, “hi, My name is John (read:not his real name), and I am an alcoholic and got sober in A.A….

Ok, thank you for sharing, good for you.

Here is where I share part of her story. For some of us, the right human being appears in our life, right when we need them, but we may not be ready for the message, right then and there.

That man was a constant in her life for months. He’d call her weekly to check on her, and her response was always the same.

Hello … hello

How are you doing?

Everything is fine.

Good I’ll call you next week.

That went on for months, as our woman wound her way into the pit of hell, ever so slowly.

One night John calls and says, “I’ve got a problem, I have to speak at a meeting, and I need you to come with me for moral support. (momentary vacillation) but she agreed to go.

The meeting they hit that night, is right up the street from home, where I used to go when I first got sober. He took her to dinner and they made a meeting. Upon arriving, she made sure to tell everyone there that she was not an alcoholic and that she was just “here for a friend.”

The literature guy introduced himself to her and offered her some literature. Our woman said that she would find it useful for “some of her friends, but not for her.” (read: at that time).

She went away from that meeting, unmoved.

But we all know that alcoholism is cunning and patient. It took her slowly.

She became a suburbia wife, moving from the city to the West Island.

Working in a high stress career, she drank her way through. John, her alcoholic friend, was still speaking to her, and at one point, she offered that she was in difficulty. he knew she was drinking, and she was over her head in work. And she admitted to having a problem and his response was:

“Well, why don’t you quit?”

So she quit her job.

She then became a suburban wife, and in time, she had all the other wives in the neighborhood drinking just as much as she was, in very little time.

Husbands would be coming home from work, having to pick up their sodden wives to come home and cook dinner, albeit, a little late.

Not soon after her husband informed her that he was leaving her, and he did just that.

At this point, our woman was well south of happy.

She came home one night to a sick child, being taken care of by her babysitter.

That night she said “that prayer.”

“God, if you are up there, please do something !”

Falling asleep on her daughters bed, she woke up there the next morning.

The next day, her daughter was alive and kicking. She took up the phone and called John, and he asked her one question …

“Do you have a problem?”

After listening to John, tell her repeatedly that he was in recovery, getting phone calls every week for months, and attending a meeting once, she had reached the bottom. Denying or not really (read: admitting) that she had a drinking problem.

He took her back to the meeting they attended together months ago.

That man who had given her literature, remembered her by name and said …

Welcome home.

By the grace of God, she has not had a drink in more than 40 years.

In memory of her father, instead of cake on her anniversary, our woman takes a pizza.

It is ODD or is it GOD?

Some of us are damned lucky, for the right human being, to walk into our lives at the right time, even if we aren’t ready to hear the message, as happened to me this time around.

Whatever you call it, “something Greater than Ourselves seems to step in, right when we need it, even if we don’t think we need it at the time.

Oprah says that “When God speaks to us, it is in a whisper, and if we don’t pick it up the first time, He whispers again, if we don’t pick it up the second time, He hits us in the back of the head with a two by four, if we ignore that hit, then He drops a Brick Wall on us.

Obviously, in the end, the brick wall had to fall on our woman.

As it usually has to happen to an alcoholic, because we are thick headed…

The Brick Wall falls …

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Winners, Loosers and Non-Negotiables

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 08:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and UD Almeria at Camp Nou on April 8, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Courtesy: VIP Football Collection / via Getty Images Copyright attributed.
Lionel Messi, F.C. Barcelona

The first HUGE match of the season took place yesterday between Bayern Munich and F.C. Barcelona. Team Messi, went up against a very unprepared Bayern Squad. There are many things being said about Bayern tonight, some, not that kind at all.

Too many good players were out with injuries. Too many players were benched before the match even took place, who would not see any action, even though they were kitted up and ready to play. So the team that Bayern did field, failed in goals.

The Star Players Lionel Messi, was the King of the match, hands down. He just killed the Germans with his Top of the League playing.

I couldn’t give a shit about hockey, unless of course, it is the Olympics and Sydney Crosby is playing for Team Canada.

So that was the big sports news that I am interested in.

I was at the Thursday meeting tonight, and I heard our guy say something that really resonated with me. At some point in sobriety, we learn about people, by listening to them speak, either in person with us, or from the chair, or from their chair.

At some point we might hear something come out of someones mouth, that is a “truth” and you learn what that means for you. Sometimes people talk, and in most cases, they are unscripted and unvarnished. To a degree I am judgmental, but I also attribute my judgment to this:

“When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.”

Oprah said it, and I have used this advice sparingly.

We are not immune to this happening to ourselves.

For a year, my little band of friends at our Tuesday meeting have been working tirelessly in the meeting, and for the most part, outside the meeting, to bring normalcy and sobriety to certain women we know, who are out with small babies.

We’ve invested in these lives because we love our women, all women. Some of those women have just moved back into the city from points farther away, and they have come to our little meeting, because we invited them to come, and guaranteed that we would all welcome them with open arms.

Couples marry and they have children. It is a natural progression in life.

Pregnant women, go to meetings. New mothers, go to meetings. And sometimes they bring their babies with them. And in years past, every “other” woman in the room, knows what to do. One by one, we play hot potato with the babies. We hold them, feed them, rock them, while mom gets an hour to go to a meeting.

That is a certainty. This is how we do things here.

On Tuesday one of our new mothers, brought her daughter with her. We had seated a small group. Caveat … babies are not naturally silent, for long stretches, unless of course they are sleeping.

She came a few times prior to this weeks installment. Every time she came, she got up and left because the baby was a little noisy. She did not get her meeting in.

A particular old timer (read: My Sponsor) who is thirty one years sober has an opinion about small children.

On Tuesday, mom was sitting, baby was chirpy, and we let it go. Nobody said anything. She stayed for the entire meeting. However, five minutes into the meeting, my sponsor was already fidgety. He got up, went to pee, and went home.

After the meeting I called him, and asked what his problem was? His response …

A.A. is not a nursery, we come to get sober, not to listen to babies cry…

This was unvarnished truth. I heard the words, I listened to them as they came out, and right away I knew, in my heart of hearts, that he was telling me a real truth. Not an opinion.

That did not sit very well with me. I said to him, pointedly, that I will not ask a woman with a child to leave a meeting, because she is carrying a baby. I will not go against the third tradition for no reason whatsoever.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

The tradition as it reads in the Twelve and Twelve states:

“You are an A.A. member if you say so. You can declare yourself in; NOBODY can keep you out. No matter who you are, no matter how low you’ve gone, no matter how grave your emotional complications – even your crimes – we still can’t deny you A.A.”

Having a child is not in the handbook. Bringing that child to a meeting, is also, NOT in the handbook.

If you read Tradition Three from the book, and you have studied the early fellowship, this tradition was really needed early on because of all of the strife, judgment and problems, those early drunks had with certain people. Some of those prejudices still exist.

It was a very good thing when the Traditions came in, because they solved a lot of problems.

But like I said, shit still happens in meetings to this day.

Traditions be damned in some people’s opinions.

So I heard that judgmental and sexist remark.

Some alcoholics get sober, some do get SOBER, and some do not. Nobody is immune to judgment or opinion. We all have them. It was my judgment that someone with thirty or more years of sobriety would “behave better” or be a little kinder or compassionate and understanding.

I did not hear that when he said, A.A. is not a nursery.

What I heard was, women with babies do not belong at a meeting. Not mine of course.

For many weeks, I have been in consultation with another Old timer. I respect him a great deal, and I have been talking to him about many things. After this small succinct conversation with my sponsor, I knew the deal was done.

I don’t agree with you, and I won’t be part of your campaign.

I just lost all respect for someone because they were honest, to a fault.

Tonight after the meeting, I asked this other old timer to be my new sponsor.

He respects me as a man, that is mutual.

Tomorrow I am getting in a car, with my present sponsor and going to Vermont for the Spring Men’s Twelve Step Intensive retreat, at St. Anne’s Shrine in the Vermont lake district.

I have shared my displeasure with him.

I paid $200.00 for this weekend. I can NOT go. One, it is nonrefundable, and Two, my husband would kill me if I stayed home.

Suffice to say, I am glad that there are two other people riding in our car. That will make the transits a bit more pleasurable.

But the deed is done. I made my decision. I trust my intuition.

I’m not going to ask my friends, that I have spent inordinate amounts of time ministering to afar and close, ask them NOT to come to the meeting with their babies. That is just NOT going to happen, not on my watch. The other women in the group would agree. You can’t kick someone out of a meeting because they are “with child.”

I will be away until Sunday.

I need to pack my bathing suit before I forget !

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … You Can’t Get Sober and Keep Your Ego !

tumblr_mny6xdcYk61qmbg8bo1_500Courtesy: The Moon and the Stars and the Ocean

Wow, it seems like ages since I last wrote something. Not that there hasn’t been anything to really write about, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t sure I had anything interesting to write.

Monday was M.A. night, I get to see my guys all together for a meeting. Tuesday it was another chapter on Joe and Charlie, we put the cd on and let it roll. It was a good thing that I had looked at the clock when I did, because this particular chapter was going ON and ON and ON.

That’s what happens when we get to Step four in The Work. Anyways by twenty five past seven I shut off the cd and we had a very abbreviated sharing.

Wednesday was my night off.

I’ve been doing some online shopping, and I made a purchase over on Ebay and made the payment and all that stuff. That night I get a note from the seller saying that she could not ship the item through the mail because of its weight, and her other options like Fedex or UPS was going to run in excess of $75.00 … I was like WTF ???

So this was the first time a seller actually voided a transaction, which has tied up funds on the Pay Pal side, since when you make a purchase with Pay Pal, they automatically, electronically send funds to your sales point ahead of them coming out of your bank.

I went online and found a similar product to the ones I really wanted, from a seller in Pennsylvania. Their shipping rates Ground to Canada were $30.00 via UPS, including taxes and fees. I am waiting on my package that should be here Monday.

The weather has been great all week. It has been warm. The kind of warm that is heavy and not much breeze, so it seemed warm in the apartment, I  half imagined putting the A/C in the window but it is way to early to hang the box.

We set off on time for our Thursday meeting. But the STM had other plans. We usually miss a bus that usually passes as we walk up the hill. We had hit that early bus by chance a couple of times, today, though, the bus was late, and it was packed to the rafters. And successive stops just added more bodies to the bus.

We got to hear a young person share tonight. I identified a lot with what she had to say about drinking, partying, expectations and higher education.

It was a good thing I quit drinking before I moved here. Tonight we heard another insane story about what the drink leads some to do just to keep the buzz going for as long as they could.

Now mix copious amounts of alcohol, the desire to be great and unique, and the attainment of Grad School degrees all at the same time.

It is a well known fact, in one particular educational institution, that once you cross the bridge from a bachelors degree into Grad School, it is necessary for you to find yourself, build your ego and become better than your fellows.

Grad school is an egomaniacs play ground.

I tell this story about my time in university.

I did ten years working on two degrees, one in Religion and one in Theology.

The Theology department really wanted me for their Grad program in Theology. I had the grades, and they bent over backwards to fit me in. That was in the late spring after my last graduation.

I had a tight group of friends. We had been friends since the beginning, traveling the same trajectory. By the end of that next summer, we all returned for our first semester of Grad School.

The day I walked into class, that very first day, I knew something was off. Those people I had called friends, didn’t even notice I was in the classroom. They had “cliqued” amongst themselves, and I did not get the memo …

I think I am pretty easy going, and I really didn’t see the writing on the wall about the ego I should have acquired over the summer. I did my best to be part of, but it was clear that I was knocked out of the loop socially.

I had the grades for a while, but my work began to slip. I could not perform like my friends, I wasn’t one of them, so that put me at odds with them. I reached the 2 “C” rule, and they, as hard as they tried to get me in, they turned on me and showed me the door, unceremoniously.

I had been shut out.

Now, I watched several of my friends go through this, and they drank over it, after being sober for a while themselves. I didn’t want to make those same mistakes. I stayed sober, I ended my grad school run with a slow, fail out of the system.

You can’t get sober and keep your ego !

Our young lady spoke to this problem about her ego and how she has managed to let go of some of it, for where she is today. Some people believe that A.A. may not be the only way one can and should get sober.

Perish the thought…

We all take the route that serves us best. There are more than one way to skin the proverbial sober cat. I will never say that you must take this path or that path. All I will say is that If you have a problem with the drink, we have a solution.

Thankfully, she is heading into the solution.

She just isn’t kicking and screaming her way down the steps.

It was a good night.

The summer begins in earnest this weekend. People will begin coming and going so quickly for the next three months.

Stay tuned…