A Year Later

o-BRENE-BROWN-ORIGIN-MAGAZINE-facebook

My birthday was the 31st of July. The morning of my birthday, when I got up and out of bed, I was still alive. I saw my doctor a couple of days before my birthday, and once again, I thanked him for keeping me alive another year.

This incarnation of my blog reached it’s First Anniversary. Thanks to cowards and their dishonesty. People would rather eat dirt, than be honest.

Without my doctor, where would I be right now ? I Don’t Know …

The people that mattered, celebrated my birthday, each in their own special ways.

A week has passed.

This is what I know right now.

I really do not care if people like me or not. I really don’t care what people think about me, what I wear in public, or how they perceive me.

I know who my friends are. And right now, I know, for sure, that most people, do not care for my brand of sobriety or lifestyle.

I’ve learned how to be Honest. I’ve learned how to be Vulnerable in public. I’ve seen how other people react to my honesty. They don’t like it at all. And would rather eat dirt, than to say anything directly to me. And that’s ok with me.

I don’t need validation from anyone but God. I also know, that if I need to hear God, I know where to go to hear His voice.

The other day, we talked about Acceptance. Page 417, in the Big Book. Acceptance is the answer to all my problems. That’s what the book says.

I know, from years of listening to people SPOUT the wisdom of Acceptance, that some think that Acceptance, says that I have to accept people who use the Looser Line that says: Well that’s just who I am.

They use Acceptance like a Get Out Of Jail Free Card.

It allows alcoholics who don’t care about personal growth or empathy for others, to just sit in the place of being an ASSHOLE.

There are so many assholes out there right now, it is astonishing.

All I want out of this life, is to be Honest. To know how to do the Right Thing, even if it goes against every bone in my body. I work very hard to be a good human being to everyone. Even when much of the people I see, DON’T.

They don’t care about anyone but themselves. People are so consumed with the clothing I wear, and sit in judgment so deep, that it makes me sick.

One of my friends hit a First tonight.

He mentioned Brene Brown. He too, has listened to every one of her talks, and read several of her books, like I have over the past two years. He did it in just a few months.

But he spoke language I Understood and Identified with.

I don’t trust a whole lot of people, that I cannot throw very far. And that’s ok with me. I might not be connected to certain people, like some of my friends are, but if I have to compromise my standards and values, for someone in particular, to want to work with me, I’d rather go it alone.

Because the choices in Men of Sober, Good Standards, LONG Sober, are very few and far between. I know who to talk to. And I know who to avoid.

I’ve lived another year of experiences. Some of those experiences were good, some were not. People don’t have to like me. And I have grown to accept that.

I’m a strange Gay Man of fifty-one years, twenty-five years living with AIDS. And almost seventeen years sobriety. No one has the same life qualifications and identifications.

Once again, I know who my friends are.

And for the moment, that will have to suffice, until conditions change on the ground.

I do what needs to be done. I serve my community. I help my friends. I am kind.

I know my values and my morals. I may not always know the right thing, but like my friend tonight, I trust the little voice in my head more today, than I have in the past.

If it Doesn’t Feel Right, then Don’t Do It.

July 31st … 2018

Spencer 3

I got up this morning with a plan. I jumped in the shower and got dressed and headed downstairs to go visit my friend Dee at her beauty salon, just up the block from home.

I figured that if I stayed home, I would have just gone back to bed and spent the day sleeping, (which, I did not).

She had a client so I hung about and drank my cup of coffee, until she finished and we went and stood outside under the trees for a bit, until her next client arrived. I got a bunch of texts from people spread all over the world, and from Megan, Rafa’s soon to be fiancée … And his mom in Brazil.

71YYF+1ZGSL

I got a book, from my best friend in the post this afternoon. The 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson. He’s a thinker and he is a shit stirrer too. Professor Peterson is a lightening rod for sure. But Rafa likes him and thought to send me a birthday present and introduce the book into our Sober Circle Reading List.

I Instagrammed a photo of the book, and one of my friends, here in town is reading the book right now. There are three people I know reading it. Rafa, Jonathan and then me. But before I can read this book, I have to finish Guns, Germs and Steel by Derek Diamond.

DjN0CKUU0AAEslg

After a bit of lunch my Elder Best Friend Spencer called from Utah. He is studying at Brigham Young University. He plays the banjo. He sang me the Birthday Song playing his banjo. I saw this clip art on Twitter the other night and sent it to  him.

The photo at the top of the post is of Elder Spencer, (on the right) his best friend Elder John (in the middle) and a fellow Elder, I do not know. They are at the Salt Lake Temple.

Lots of people sent me wishes on Face Book. My young friend Noah, turned 18 today as well. He is the son of one of my Mentor friends in London Ontario. I have watched Noah, his brother Zach and his sister Dahlia grow up. Zach is the youngest of the three young adults now. We celebrated his birthday with his mom on Face Book.

We will have a simple dinner and call it a night.

Thanks everybody.

Fifty One … Made It Another Year

IMG_0109

 

“… They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.”

We Agnostics, page 51.

Tonight, we ended the month of July, with me in the chair, and we talked about God, Prayer, and Faith.

One over arching comment I heard from my friends is that for many of them, the thought of God, the practice of prayer, the admission of humility and the profession of faith, is a natural part of who they are.

They don’t necessarily “think” about God or Prayer, or Humility, or faith, every minute of the day. Those constituent parts of who they are present in everything that they do, every day. These parts are, in and of themselves, separate, but are unified in a single thought … Presence and Service.

The old story rose in my mind as I sat and listened. And I told it again. Even if my friends have heard me tell this story over and over.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away … Cue the Star Wars Theme …

God has been an integral part of my life, for the whole of my life. Memere and Grammy made sure that I knew of God, and that God loved me.

Memere, one day, when I was very young, took me to church and presented me to God, standing on the altar of that church, where she had a conversation with God, about me.

That visual is burned into the back of my mind.

I served God to the best of my ability, to the extent that in my second year of college, after high school, I ended up in Seminary, studying to be a priest.

I devoted my life to God, in every way possible. But I was not like the others. I did not do evil things that the others had done. I never broke my vows to Mother Church, during that year, and I thought that would get me by.

It didn’t.

At the end of that year, the rector, whom I had issues with personally, said to me that I was not “one of them.” Therefore, it was his decree that I would be told to leave the seminary.

Talk about being resentful and angry about God.

My alcoholism took off full-bore. And lasted until my 26th year of life. I told God to go to hell, that I did not need Him. Took back my will and my life, and pursued life.

I had come out of the closet not long after.
That only added to my alcoholic woes.

On one morning, as I sat in that bar nursing a drink at 7 a.m. fate strolled in to greet me and I danced. That morning would be the last morning.

What I did not know would eventually almost kill me.

On July 8th 1994, I got those words. “You are going to die.” A few days later I called Todd home from vacation and told him I was going to die.

As God as my witness … I may have turned my back on God. But God, in His wisdom, got my attention once again.

Never be thankful for a terminal disease.

Sometimes a fatal disease is just that, a fatal disease.

I took my life in my own hands that morning, and did what I did. And I am the one to blame for my misfortune. It is my fault.

God got my attention. Then He stepped out of Heaven and soothed my soul.

What Todd did for me, I will never forget, will always be grateful for, and remember as long as I breathe air. I will tell his story as many times as I can, because if this story dies. I die with it.

It is the power of God that makes this story critical.

Todd promised me, if I turned my will and my life over to him and trusted him with my life, that he would see to it that I survived. I may have kicked and screamed for a while, but that did not last very long.

As my friends died around me, one after another, and every day that I lived, is a testament to the Power of Todd, Read: GOD.

On the day I said goodbye to him, standing next to his car, as he got into that car, and shut the car door, he forgot to give me one small piece of information,

“What was I supposed to do now.”

I lament that he did not give me that much-needed piece of information. We were so caught up in goodbye that I don’t think that thought crossed his mind, in that moment.

When he drove off, my life drove off with him.

I could not make it alone. I had no idea what to do or how to do it.

All of the people who were still alive, already made the trek West. I was the only one who stayed. I stayed because of my heart. I stayed because I was sure, my father would die, and I would make my stand and go to my mother, and reclaim her from my father, and care for her for the rest of my days.

Obviously, that plan never happened.

My parents would rather eat dirt, than accept me as a human worthy of love.

On January 7th 2018, my father died. I got that one wrong.

My mother spit in my face, once again, saying to me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. This is the very same woman I was hedging my bets of saving and being part of her life.

Got that one wrong too.

I did drink again.

At the end of my drink binge, I called out to God. Begged Him for help.

I prayed three prayers in order of necessity.

  • A hangover
  • An Alcoholic
  • And Get me to a Meeting

God did those very things for me, in the order I needed them, miraculously.

I was on the return arc, when Troy walked into my business and his first words to me were: I did not drink today …

Troy was that blessed alcoholic whom God sent. Troy took me to my next, First Meeting. I stayed for the later 10 pm meeting and met the folks who would bring me back to life again. Those original folks are still in my life to this day.

God granted me a few dispensations. And created a number of miracles.

I ended up crossing the border, attaining Canadian Citizenship, I am still sober, almost seventeen years later. And had you told me, back in Miami, back in the day, that my life could have looked like it does today, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.

God moved heaven and earth. And God’s saving grace has made me whole.

There IS a GOD, and I am not God.

Although, I did meet God. I spoke to God. I worked for God. I served God, every day I walked into work and served those men, who are all dead now, until they all took their last breaths on this earth. I was with many of them. When their families tossed them into the gutter and into the streets, I was there, with a few friends, who cared for the sick, until they eventually died, in our arms.

None of my friends died alone. Not One Of Them.

Nobody knows the intricacies of this story. Nobody really cares, even the gay men I know today. They know nothing about AIDS or Living with AIDS. They really don’t care for my stories, because they cannot identify.

If my story dies, I will die with it.

Which is Why, till the day that I take my last breath, I will utter the name of Todd and thank God for saving my life, all these years.

I made it to 51.

Let’s PARTY !!!

Reflections on 50, as we Cross into 51

18x4i327m84fwjpg

Fifty was a ripe, solid, round number.

Did you know that Harry Potter’s birthday is ALSO the 31st of July …

tumblr_mqrucpPYsl1ro4l1eo3_500

 

There weren’t any big bells and whistles. Hell, there wasn’t even a party !

I can say, that 50 was a good year. My health is good. All the numbers are nominal. Got my summer doctors visits in, over the last two months, and we are good to go until January of next year.

My HIV is all but non-existent. With high numbers, nobody is worried, so we keep on keeping on. My diabetes is controlled well. My A1C is down and all those numbers are good to go as well.

But at fifty, men need to take a look elsewhere in their bodies, as we are hitting the age where, doctors are looking internally, to make sure the plumbing is running well, that our prostate is good, and doctors begin the tedious work of doing those cancer screenings more often.

Fifty was also the age that we need to bump up our nutritional intake, and vitamin supplements for people, 50 plus. Because it’s all downhill from here. And we have to keep up muscle mass, eat well, exercise, and take the supplemental vitamins to keep our bodies in shape.

If you are not paying attention to the engine of the car, the frame is going to begin falling apart. If the engine ain’t running well, that car, won’t go very far … so to speak.

I’ve had certain issues begin to come up that are beyond my control, both physically and economically. As we age, teeth begin to fail, erode, and to disintegrate. This is a serious issue for me.

On the negative side of fifty, my fifty year old teeth are not serving me well. Over the last year I have lost four teeth. A month ago, one of my front teeth cracked in half.

I’ve written about this earlier, as it happened. I went to get checked out by two institutions. One a professional dentistry office, and they wanted upwards of $48,000.00 for a rehab job, taking six months to complete.

I also hit the McGill Dental Teaching hospital, and they wanted upwards of $50,000.00 for the job, including braces and adjustments, taking TWO YEARS to complete the job there.

The reality of this situation is this … We cannot afford $48,000 to $50,000.00 dollars.

Our group insurance does not cover major dental issues. And No Canadian insurance outfit does either. I’ve called everyone in the book to inquire, and they all told me that the Canada insurance plans do not cover major dental.

Which means I am FUCKED !!!

I hear about Clear Choice in the States that do the work in ONE DAY. But they finance the whole shebang. We won’t qualify for a loan that large, $48,000 or $50,000.00

I feel bad going to the bank and asking for money that will take the rest of our lives to pay back, and I’m afraid that I won’t live long enough to see that completely paid off, and I don’t feel right saddling my husband with a debt larger that he can visualize and take care of himself, if I die in the interim.

A week ago, I was in Ottawa. It was grim. Knowing I was dentally challenged, made enjoying myself a bit subdued. Nobody wants to see a crack whore on film.

I feel like a crack whore …

When I got back early last week, Something happened in my mouth, and an abscess presented itself, quite forcefully. The pain was excruciating. I’d never felt such pain in my life. By Thursday last week, the pain was so intense, I was having immediate, brain reactions to said pain. The pain cycle was two hours.

Thursday morning I saw my doctor. He took a look and prescribed me antibiotics. When I got them filled, I also got some serious pain killers to go with the antibiotics.

I ate an entire bottle of pain killers over 15 hours.

Like I said the pain cycle was two hours. I timed it. I take two pain killers and the pain would subside somewhat. But would eventually crank back up to 200%, over a two-hour period and then finally peak, with screaming, insane, blinding pain in my head.

Intense pain induces a kind of insanity that I’ve never experienced before. I would swing from placid and happy to intensely bitterly short and angry over a two-hour period.

I thought I was loosing my mind.

Thursday afternoon, I was Hanging out on Google with a friend, and as the conversation went on, the pain began to ramp up and I began to unravel, in front of him. I did not tell him then and there what was going on, because I was trying to keep it together as my brain whirred into NERVES ON FIRE mode.

In the end, I cut the conversation short, and tried to gather my wits, take a pill and try to lay down and get past the fire …

The pharmacist told me that as soon as the antibiotics got into my system, that the pain would go away. That did not happen until Friday evening, when I took my last dose of pain killers, because I wanted to get through the meeting in one piece, so I loaded up before hand, to make sure I would not flip out in front of my friends.

The antibiotics are working.

Now I have to find the method and the money to try and fix WHAT I can get fixed, without breaking the bank, or having to go to the bank and ask for money, that we cannot afford at the moment.

So in financial terms, we are kind of intensely POOR …

Tomorrow we hit 51 …

I am still alive more than twenty four years later.

I am IN THE WORK. Both my guys are IN THE WORK themselves. I am reading the book with my lady friend. I am spiritually centered. I am solid in sobriety. I have good friends. I have meetings and service to do. I am doing everything right, to stave off a drink.

Sobriety serves me very well these days.

Let’s end on a good note shall we…

 

We Went to the BEACH …

guns_germs_steel

It was a fabulous weekend in Ottawa. I love getting on a bus, and having someone else do the driving. I put on some tunes, or I hit a meeting in a pod cast, or I read. On the recommendation of a good friend, I had ordered a couple of books via Indigo last week. One of them, which I took to Ottawa this weekend was Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel” It’s a history of the world kind of book. Very interesting, a little academic, but so far, I have enjoyed the read.

Friday night we hit the Royal Oak for dinner, after my arrival and I got a free dinner because the kitchen screwed up my order. Free Food gets my vote any day.

IMG_0261

Saturday we packed the car and drove into Gatineau on the other side of the river from Ottawa to a National Park, and Lac Philippe. It is a HUGE lake, park, picnic and BEACH park, with all kinds of water fun to be had. Canoes, paddle boards, and stuff like that.

This car was parked right near us, and I had to photograph it because it was cool. A Canadian Maple Leaf car …

IMG_0267

I haven’t been in a body of water, i.e. a beach, since I left Florida all those years ago. We have a pool in the building, but it is enclosed on the 20th floor. And I never use it. So going to the beach was a novel idea.

IMG_0265

The water was cool, and very welcoming for sure. We hung out in the lake all afternoon, and watched people frolicking in the water.

IMG_0272

After the beach we went to Carlo’s for dinner. It is a roadside retro, restaurant in an old bus, with the retro neon sign above, serving easy quick fare of poutine, burgers, hot dogs and other sandwiches. They have a picnic table area to sit and eat. It was quite good actually. Very enjoyable.

IMG_0283

We then drove over to Wakefield for desert. Wakefield is close to the park we were at, so we parked the car and browsed the little shops in town, and had some ice cream. They built a brand new boardwalk along the river.

It was a special occasion. Rafa crossed his six-year mark a few months ago, so we gave him his six year chip standing at the river walk. Wakefield is where they want to live in the future, so I thought it would be a good spot to mark an anniversary.

IMG_0295

Old train tracks run along the river walk, and there are portal signs along the way explaining the history of the village where ever an old house or building stands along the line. We found this push car on the tracks at the end of the line. The kicker had been disconnected from the push bar, so the little car would not move, but you could push it manually.

The sun had set as we hit the road. And on the highway, the “You have low fuel light came on, and we were running on fumes by the time we found a gas station, thanks to Google Maps … We came into Ottawa around 9:15, and thought we should hit Parliament Hill to see the Northern Lights, light show. So we parked the car at the lot and walked back to the Hill, and got prime seats for the show.

The Northern Lights show runs all summer. It is a multimedia light, laser and film presentation, that is illuminated right on the face of the Parliament building itself. It tells the story of Canada and all the history of our country. It was the second time we have seen this particular show.

IMG_0306

At the end of the presentation, they play O’ Canada.

IMG_0312

Everybody stands while we sing …

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

It was last summer that we first saw this show, and it was an emotional moment for me, standing on the Hill, with my best friend, both of us had become citizens, he, a year or so ago, and me, in 2003. I did not get pomp and circumstance when my papers came through, so standing on Parliament Hill, with my best friend, two new citizens of Canada, singing the National Anthem … Gets me every time.

When I get to the line .. God keep our land Glorious and Free …

My heart swells and tears fall from my eyes. It is like that whenever they play O’ Canada at the Olympics too.

It happened again on Saturday night, however, all three of us were sobbing by the end of the anthem. I think that is the most patriotic thing to do, is stand on the Hill, with your friends and family and sing the national anthem.

I get very emotional over that.

Sunday we slept in until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, had a brief but tasty brunch and I took the bus home to Montreal. Today it is miserably hot. Supposed to rain for he next 4 days. UGH.

We really need the rain.

More to come.

Intelligence Briefing January 6, 2017

facts and fears photo

In the Book, Facts and Fears, written by James R. Clapper the entire last half of the book, deals with “The Election.” Last night, on The Last Word, news was broke, definitively, that President Trump, was given a Classified briefing by all the heads of the Intelligence Services, the FBI and others.

In reading the book, I learned about the basics of that conversation that was had with the then President Elect Trump, two weeks before his inauguration. James R. Clapper, James Comey and a host of other High profile Intelligence Officers sat in on that discussion with the then elect. James Clapper writes in detail of that specific conversation, but he does not discuss the top-secret information discussed.

It was after that top-secret discussion, that James Comey sat with then, President Elect, and discussed the infamous Steele Dossier. The most salacious details of smut, that was collected then disseminated through various media.

President Trump KNEW, every sordid detail of the Russian incursion of our election. He was told specifically what had taken place and by whom. And for the last year and a half, the President of the United States has been LYING, OBFUSCATING and REDIRECTING the truth to fit his own narrative.

On Monday, last, Trump sat with Vladimir Putin for 2 hours, and what they talked about is anyone’s guess. But if Congress has its way, the interpreter that was sitting in on that discussion. will be compelled to testify and tell us exactly, WHAT was discussed, and WHAT was agreed to by our president to Putin.

The President is a LIAR.
The President has participated in TREASON
The President needs to be IMPEACHED and REMOVED from OFFICE

Sooner than Later …