Recent Goings On … Books!!

I’ve been sitting on my thoughts over the last little while. Two things i try to avoid, discussion of Religion and politics. The world has so much going on, that I have opinions about, that sometimes, I think to myself, “why bother?”

As a Citizen of the United States, I received my ballot by mail, some time ago. The Dade County Supervisor of Elections is very diligent in making sure all of our ballots arrive with plenty of time, to be sent back in time for the latest election. I filled my ballot out and sent it back a while ago, and got an email confirming that it had been received in Miami.

We did not get the results we all wanted. But that is the nature of the beast, I guess. Too many red voters down south. We watched the returns until the Canadian National News came on, then we went to bed.

It is a very good thing that so many WOMEN won seats in the government last night. That is very gratifying for sure. We are very proud of all the women, and the first two Muslim women to be voted into seats, for the first time in history.

Ilhan Omar, 37, is one of two Democrats to become the first Muslim-American women to enter Congress. She won a House seat in Minnesota.

Born in Somalia, Ms Omar and her family fled the country’s civil war in 1991. She arrived in the US as a teenager after spending four years at a refugee camp in Kenya.

She is also the first Somali-American member of Congress.

Ms Omar will be joined in Congress by Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim woman who won a House seat in Michigan. The 42-year-old is also the first Palestinian-American congresswoman.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bernie Sanders volunteer, is the youngest woman ever to win a seat in Congress.

The 29-year-old, a Bronx native from a Puerto Rican family, overcame a top Democrat to become her party’s nominee for a House seat in New York.

BOOKS AND STUFF …

One of my lady readers suggested that I would enjoy Yuval Noah Harrari’s books, Sapiens and Homo Deus. Yuval is a PHD in history. In reading his bio, there are a few letters behind his name.

A while back, one of my friends suggested to me that I read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. that was a FANTASTIC BOOK ! I love Jared’s voice. I love the way he writes books, and the way he explains his methods and the ways he sees the world, based on his own personal experience.

Jared’s Book, Guns, Germs and Steel, tells the history of the world from the point of 13,000 years ago. He explains all the minutia of the different factors that go into human survival, over the eons. But so much more, Jared discusses the particulars of the land, the axes of that land, whether it is a North South or East West axes, that either makes or breaks each civilization.

Jared goes into great detail. Detail that Yuval does not share with his readers. However he tells stories of those early peoples and how they survived through story telling academically. I found Yuval’s stories great and all, but he lacked the precision data and storytelling that Jared gave us in Guns, Germs and Steel. Yuval writes as an academic, and that’s how I took his book, by the book. He did not engage me as a reader in the story of how the earth populated and grew over the eons.

Jared gives a captivating explanation in great detail of where we came from, how we got here, and how the world became the world it is today, through exhaustive details of every aspect of civilization, which I found captivating and enlightening.

The stories of the first people’s, something that is crucial in Canadian society, I attended a Native Blanket Exercise not long after completing Jared’s book, and through his eyes, while sitting in the First Nations exercise, I knew the story historically, because I read Jared’s book, it made the whole experience for me a much deeper experience as a whole.

Yuval did not share stories like Jared’s. Which sets both books apart in story and scope of subject matter. I do not discount Yuval as a writer of history based on his credentials. But he is an academic, where Jared is a scientist and anthropologist and a student of the world, because he has traveled this world in great detail. That shows in Jared’s books, including Collapse, which I am reading at the moment.

Academics are pigeonholed as writers, because they approach their work as an academic. Which tend to be dry and cold to some, reading an academic treatise rather than a book of exploration and wonder.

Yuval did not capture my imagination enough, and by the end of the book, I wanted to get to the end of the book, soon! However, Yuval has perks in his storytelling. His stories differ from Jared, in scope and academic precision.

Both are great writers, Yuval as a PHD in history, so you could not question his sources or information he provided. I moved from enjoyment reading, into reading a PHD thesis on the history of the world. Written by an academic.

Yuval does have his writing perks as I said …

One very noticeable way in which Yuval writes, is that of his choice of language and who he uses to make points along the way. Most writers will write with a bent towards a neutral voice when telling stories. It is usually the male character who appears in storytelling.

Yuval, turns that around throughout Sapiens … I noticed this little turn right away, and took note that he carried his characters throughout his book.

Yuval always notates a woman when telling his stories.

Instead of always seeing His, or He or male representatives, Yuval uses the Female identifier She and Her. His attention to this very little detail, becomes a very big detail in this book. I found it very interesting that he used this format in his writing.

These two books, Guns Germs and Steel, and Sapiens, are similar.

Yuval being a PHD in History, I read his book as an academic. Having degrees in Religion and Theology myself. In retrospect, I enjoyed Guns, Germs and Steel much more.

Yuval’s storytelling was really good. But I found his stories glossed over many things that Jared spoke about as important. Where Yuval’s stories are academic in reach, and factually correct, I wanted more out of his text.

The only reason I finished the book, was that I had committed to reading it because one of my women who read this blog suggested it to me. So I wanted to do it proper justice.

If I had to choose who I would read again, hands down it is Jared Diamond. With that said, I bought two more Diamond Books…

Collapse … How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and
The World Until Yesterday … What We Can Learn From Traditional Societies.

I’m really enjoying Collapse.

Once again, Jared’s voice is fantastic. I love the way he writes and the detail he goes into about every subject he writes about so well. He not only uses his scientific work, but work of other scientists and writers, to shed facets of light on subjects that can be rather dark and/or unknown. 

I also picked up a book called Children of God, written by Lars Petter Sveen.

This book is a story about the child and adolescent Jesus. I’m always on the look out for Jesus books. I have read several really good book, one by Reza Aslan, was a fantastic book about Jesus.

Stories about the child or adolescent Jesus do not exist, because there are no stories written about him, during his young life. Every book that is written has to employ side literature, scripture or old papyrus scrolls that still exist in modern days.

Anne Rice took a stab at this topic a while back. So I also have all of her books in my library.

DARKNESS in MONTREAL

It is very dark in Montreal right now. With the clocks going back an hour, by 5 p.m. it is so dark, you’d think it was really 10 p.m. at night.

They tell us SNOW and a lot of it is coming, soon … Upwards of 15 cm will hit the ground come next week. Right now, it has been raining incessantly, for days and nights. It is a bit nippy out. And it will only get colder when the snows finally appear.

I’ve bought some new cold weather gear, gloves and a pair of warm boots. I’ve been updating my wardrobe for a while now. My reason when shopping is that if I buy it, it has to be able to be worn all four seasons and not just in warm weather.

My Hockey under gear warm layer works very well. Last winter I went to a professional hockey shop here in the city, and purchased thermal under gear that I wear as a base layer, along with special base layer clothing.

Some of my favorite clothing makers have great base layer and warm weather gear for both men and women.

Much more to come, stay tuned.

Thanks for the book recommendations.

If you are going to read any books, JARED DIAMOND should be at the top of your read list.


Tragedy and Some Thoughts

Tree of Life Temple Pittsburgh

Nothing ever good comes from violence…

I cannot begin to speak about sorrow. The killing of innocents is a crime against humanity. Saturday’s killing of eleven innocent Jewish Faithful at Tree of Life, was the worst killing of Jews in U.S. History.

Like I said, Nothing ever good comes from violence.

But you know, with every word that President Trump speaks, is another stab at the moral fabric of the nation and the world. Trump knows nothing about being Diplomatic or Human. I don’t think he even knows what it means to be a human being, because the only thing he is concerned with is himself and what’s in it for him.

And his minions do his bidding. One of them sent FIFTEEN, yes, let’s repeat that number, FIFTEEN pipe bombs to assorted critics of the president. What kind of lunatic does that ?  A Trumpian Lunatic, that’s who …

The division of the country is at an all time HIGH. And the bringing together of people, is at an all time LOW.

The only reason I have Twitter is to read news and to be able to Tweet @realdonaldtrump …

I cannot help myself at night, when I send out my presidential tweet of truth and justice. I cannot help myself because the only way to fight fire, is with fire … It may not be very healthy, but I get a rush, knowing that just maybe, the asshole in chief will read some of my very pointed and critical judgments of him.

We mourn the loss of so many innocents in Pittsburgh. The Jewish community here in Montreal, in concert with many many others, have come together in recent days and nights to remember and to mourn and to show solidarity with those who have lost family and friends.

Eternal Rest Grant Them and May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Them.

I know the question that is being asked is What does it really mean to be Jewish in today’s world ? Not that people are walking around with eyes in the back of their heads, but, it is safe to say that people are a little more wary of their surroundings, as of late.

Sad that with the vitriol being tossed into the fray, the crazies are out if force and you never know when a DELPORABLE is going to jump out from behind a bush and WHACK YOU !!!

Yes, I said the word DEPLORABLE …

Because that’s what they are, every single one of them. Those forever Trump and those I only have eyes for TRUMP are all DEPLORABLE !!!

If you do ONE POSITIVE THING, you MUST VOTE if you live in the U.S.

It is a Moral Imperative.

We must be decisive and speak as one, because we are not going to take this shit any longer.

You are either with us or you are against us … Who Said that ???? G.W.B. 

The weather is beginning to get frightful. It has been miserably cold, and rainy. On last nights trip out I dressed appropriately, but found when I got to the meeting, I was colder than I had been in a while.

I bought a new NIKE SNOOD. That is a neck warmer and face guard for footie goalies. I bought it from a shop in the U.K. I found it to work very well.

They say it might be clear for the kiddies on Wednesday night for Trick or Treating. Like I said, it has been raining steadily for days now.

Sunday we sat a Group Conscience meeting for St. Matthias. And it was a gloriously sane and calm event. There really were no grievance to air, and in the end, we only had a list of simple things to talk about, logistical really, as our moderator spoke of. Easy Peasy …

Last night we talked about sobriety and wealth, in the form of economic insecurity from the Big Book. The Family Afterwards.

Sobriety takes time, and not everything all comes back at once and at the same time. Before you can receive, one must be spiritually fit, in the sense that there is an order to the universe, and when we get sober, things come back, ever so slowly. As attested by my own personal experience with money, wealth and material success.

Some people don’t read this chapter of the book right way. but there is some good advice there to have for the future.

We had three anniversaries. One of our young women, who struggled over the holidays last winter, made her year. I told her that if she stayed sober over last Christmas, I guaranteed her that she would STAY sober. And she did. Because I have had opportunity to remind of of Christmas night, last Christmas on several occasions when she was in the thick of it.

A couple more women got a year and another four years. We are so very proud of all of our girls.

We packed the house with upwards of 90 people last night.

And we are staying at our new location. We had our business meeting and a friend and I forced a non confidence vote on the old location, because they have been dicking us around for months and months, so we forced the issue and had a solid vote to remain in our new location for the long haul, because that church has given us carte blanche, and told us that we were welcome to use the space as long as we needed it, no questions asked, AND the rent is cheap.

In 40 days … I hit seventeen years !!!

Hopefully and by the Grace of God.

300,000

It only takes one word, one story, or one action, to impact a life.

We don’t know, sometimes, that what we do, changes lives. We don’t know that something we said might have been the words needed, or the story, poignant, or the action necessary.

I heard it said tonight, “The More I help others, the More I see God.”

St. Matthias turned 71 years years old today, as the one meeting in Montreal, that has been in the same location for 71 years. The English fellowship began in 1945, in the home of Dave B. There were only a handful of men in those days. But from a few sprung more than a dozen, and that dozen turned into twenty five people.

In The Mid Nineteen Forties, the fellowship rented a room, at the Old Montreal Forum (right up the street from my home)  at a prodigious $10.00 a month. Pretty cheap as rent goes for a meeting in 1945. But, the alcoholics as they were, back in the day, enjoyed playing cards till the wee hours of the morning. I guess they needed someplace to be. I can identify.

Sadly, the Forum decided that playing cards till the wee hours of the morning was unacceptable, and tossed the merry sober bunch out onto the street. It was then in 1947 that the St. Matthias group began.

For Seventy one years, people have come through our doors. Calculating the numbers, by our matriarch tonight, she mused that probably, 300,000 people have walked through our doors.

Imagine, just for a moment…

Imagine, just for a moment, That somewhere in the endless reaches of the universe, on the outer edge of a galaxy of a hundred thousand million suns, deep within a cluster of slowly forming planets, that a small sphere of just the right size, lies just the right distance, from its Mother Star, cooling in the coldness of space, try to imagine … 

One of my lady friends drove us to the church this evening, with a car load of groceries, that had been purchased and put together, for tonight’s festive anniversary. With ten members, we dished out a smorgasbord of food, enough to feed over 100 people.

We had set out 140 chairs, and the excess back row at twenty. So 160 chairs.

Every seat was filled.

A few months ago, my lady friend told her story to us. I have said before that a segment of our women have serious death spiral stories, enough of a death spiral, that upon hearing said story, you would think, “there is no way she can pull out of this and survive.” But she and a handful of other women did just that. They survived, got sober and thrived !!!

Tonight, we were blessed to hear her husband share his story.

We don’t know, what we don’t know, when we show up. Bedraggled, and sullen, short on time, and short in temper. We don’t necessarily trust the people we have walked in on.

And we surely, may not be ready for the HUG. You know that HUG that can only come from a recovering alcoholic!

When we hear the words; Love and Support and Hope and Life, we might not believe with our own ears, what we are hearing. But I know, for me, and our man tonight, the people who were here, when we got here, said just those words to us, and to everybody else who came in after us.

They loved us, until we could love ourselves, beyond our wildest dreams.

Imagine, that if 300,000 people graced our little basement hall, ponder a moment the odds of just how many of them are still sober today.

That number itself would be sobering for sure …

At the end of the night, we did a Sober Countdown. With over 100 people sitting in the room, as a whole, when counted, we had collectively lived 938 sober years,, 78 months, 2 weeks and, 4 days as a whole.

Not many OLD, OLD timers come out much any more. And we did not see the really high number sober folks as in past years. But we hit some in the high 40’s.

In 52 days, by the Grace of God, I will hit Seventeen years of continuous sobriety. A good portion of those seventeen years has been spent, in our little basement hall, every Thursday night. I’ve been on Set up and Coffee for a long time. Our group is heavy on itinerant members who travel often for business and in the Winters, many of them migrate South for the season, so for those months, we fly by the seat of our pants, filling in all the jobs with a short crew of folks who are in town, on any given Thursday.

We aim to change those numbers, in the future.

We are trying to figure out a better way to carry the message, and get people to engage, as new members. We aim to raise our games when it comes to sponsorship and really working with newcomers.

The Twelve Step Rep job is a tough sell. We don’t see many folks come in the door, the first time, take a chip, THEN STAY …

However among us, those of us with TIME do stand up when called upon to represent the group, for both the women and the men. Not many people want to listen to me, or hear what I have to say.

Tonight, I was talking to a friend about her, and as soon as I turned the conversation onto me, she turned away, and began chatting with anyone standing around us, as if she had not seen them in ages, and needed to suddenly catch up.

I Noticed the snub … From someone I did not expect it from.

As the meeting closed, I did a cursory clean up of supplies and carried them to the kitchen for storage. Everybody was eating, and like I said, nobody really wants to hear me talk, so I took my leave, locked the outer door, and came home for dinner.

I enjoy the supporting role in a meeting. I don’t need to be up front at the table, I am more than happy to come in quietly and make some coffee and put out the chairs and supplies, so that when people arrive the coffee is ready and snacks are on the table to be eaten.

That is the most thankless job in the fellowship. And in as many years, I’ve seen a few alcoholics, have ego attacks and loose their cookies, in front of the meeting itself, pissing and moaning that nobody thanked them.

I survived all of them. Today.

A room ready to rock and roll, as the first guest arrives, usually guarantees that they will return, over and over again, because I make a MEAN POT OF COFFEE. Coffee that will keep you up past your regular bed time…

I know how I got sober. Just like I know how all the elder men and women at St. Matthias got sober. We did it the hard way. Working our asses off for each and every day of sobriety.

Sobriety is not easy. But the book does say that “We tried to find the easier softer way, but we could not …” The Fellowship IS the easier softer way, if only people believed us. First they have to Read the Book, and follow some simple suggestions.

And one day at a time, God willing … They too will get sober, in spite of themselves.

A good night was had by all.

300,000 people … Imagine that …

In Order to Move Forward, We Must Review the Past…

We’ve all done things, that we might not want to own up to. It is difficult watching the massive amount of strife going on all around us.

The easy out for what ails us here in Canada, is N.I.M.B.Y. (Not in my back yard). It is far too easy to just turn the channel and ignore what is going on in the world, but I cannot.

In the past little while, a good number of the women I grew up with for the last 40 years, have stated truths, that I had no idea had happened. What do you say to your friends, when they say, out loud, that they too, have been sexually assaulted as young girls.

In a time when we all spent inordinate amounts of time together, sharing meals, homes, and bedrooms. Somewhere in the middle of our lives going on, my friends were violated.

I had no idea.

Human beings are flawed. None of us are perfect. Show me a human being without a skeleton in their closet. I was raised by parents who had skeletons in their closets.

I was having a conversation in my head the other day with the brother who refuses to acknowledge my existence, when I ponder my dead father, and the possibility that my mother will die, and as I was told, nobody would tell me. So I talk to them in my head, when I sleep.

How can you be angry at me for my choices, when it was You to begin with who pushed me out into the street alone, with no street smarts, and left me to the wind, because you could not reconcile your skeleton with my reality.

My father abused me, in every way possible.

So when my friends say, out loud, their truths, I can safely admit that I get it. I understand.

They call it the Reckoning …

The world has exploded and chaos reigns at the moment. It is not safe for any of us, right at the moment. It has been said by wiser men than I that,
“People who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it…”

Drinking is not an outside issue for many of us. The severity of just how much one drank, and the situations that followed are what worries us.

I can share a story about high school. A story that many of the boys who participated in this story, would never admit that they participated in them.

I know this because, at one time or another, I went looking for old friends, and they point blank told me to get lost. They had moved on, and I was not invited to join them, because “I” had the drinking problem, don’t you know.

Much drinking took place in my social circle. We even had our own dedicated “Funnel” that was employed at odd times of serious drinking.

Boys and girls drank together. Not that I knew what went on with my friends, to a great degree. But when boys and girls would drink together in the same room, the girls were afforded their dignity. I know this because if girls were invited to the party, they were given certain directions, prior to drinking with us.

We had designated drivers, and after such heavy metal drinking parties, my friend’s sister would gather the girls to clean them up, and change their clothes, and drive them around town, while they puked, to get it out of their systems, before a second designated driver, brought them safely home.

My best friend, who was my best friend for a number of years, transgressed our friendship, by sexually violating my cousin one night. That transgression cost us a friendship, when my father made a call, fifteen hundred miles from home, to my cousins father, who flew to Florida to confront my best friend to ask him “why did you take my daughter’s virginity?”

I don’t know, to this day, the words spoken by my uncle and my father to my then, best friend, because decades later when I quizzed him about that night, he rebuffed me and hung up the phone.

Not a shining moment for him I guess.

Drinking does take a toll on the drinker, and every single person in the orbit of said drinker. Because if you drank like we did, and we know, right at this very moment, a certain man, drank as hard as we did when he was a kid, and he refuses to own up for his actions.

I can tell you from personal experience, that blackout drinking is common. I can also tell you that my friends who were educated in religious institutions, along side the secular schools, drank hard, and some even harder than we did. Because if you were educated by the Brothers of St. Christopher, You’d Drink Too !!!

There are regrets I have to this day. Mistakes I have made. People I have hurt. Memories that won’t go away. Visuals that are burned into the back of my brain. There are things each of us, will take to our graves.

Sometimes, letting sleeping dogs lie, is the best advice.

There are just some stories that will never be righted, for one reason or another. There are some people, who will never allow us to be recognized as humans, imperfect humans, who just would like to be loved.

For once in our lives.

Guns Germs and Steel

The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond

Have you ever wondered, how did we get here? Where did we come from?  Why here and Why now? Why are some countries rich, and others poor? Why do human live where they live today, and where did the first peoples come from?

Being an avid reader poses challenges now and then. Picking up a substantive book, and reading it from cover to cover, requires time, treasure and commitment. I have several substantial books in my “read” library stack. It took me quite a while to consume Guns, Germs and Steel. Not only does this book require time and treasure, it demands of its reader, patience, understanding, and a desire to learn; something that I found, was enlightening and educational.

Jared Diamond begins some 13,000 years ago, when the world was first populated with hunter gatherers. The continents were finding their places, ice ages, came and went. And early humans, as archeologists have studied began to populate the earth. When oceans were shallower, and land bridges existed, in several locations on the earth, people moved here and there.

Indigenous peoples worldwide don’t garner very much respect from the conquering peoples who overtook them. There were multiple indigenous communities worldwide, before the proverbial “white man” came and either infected them with disease, enslaved them to serve, relegated them to reserves or killed them outright in wars and conquests.

This book is methodical in its approach to humanity. And in pain staking detail we learn what peoples lived in prehistory. We learn where they lived to begin with and where they moved, on the earth as time progresses.

We learn how advances in food production, disasters of germs and disease, and the advancing industrial revolution, where guns and steel overpower those who did not have them.

We learn that in historical times, conquest and war, dispensed with entire groups of people. You did not only get the peoples who took up conquest, but the people who suffered because of it. The people who were here, before we got here, grew into some, successful communities. In the end, those vibrant indigenous communities were laid wasted by diseases brought by the conquerors, and the wars perpetuated in the names of Kings, Queens or Country.

As the continents were solidified, where people lived either assisted their success or advanced their demise. Where you lived, in relation to the latitude of your environs, either helped you, or harmed you. The success of peoples, farming, livestock, and growth all depended greatly, on where you sat, on the earth, in terms of latitude and longitude.

The spread of all things necessary for life, worked well, in areas with an expansive East – West axes. Those countries with North – South, axes, did not fare so well, the population and spread of food, animals and technology flourished in the Eurasian, East West Expanse of location.

There is a direct correlation between the location of a people, and the environment they found themselves in. From the Equator, reaching either North or South, temperate regions flourished. Guns, Germs and Steel tells the story of how the world became what it has.

Time, Distance, Location and the problems associated with location either helped peoples grow and succeed, or they took much longer to achieve certain benchmarks in their human existence. All things moving East – West grew faster than those things moving North – South.

Time is measured in hundreds of years,  The movement of people, goods, animals, and agriculture took TIME. And it seems that in pre-history, time is a very important component in the building of peoples, world wide.

Jared Diamond spins a very intricate web of story telling about Time, Talent, and Treasure. How the world built itself, learned how to govern itself, farm the land, produce food, and be able to store that food over Time, and then industrialize, are very important factors in human existence.

Guns, Germs and Steel is not a simple story, it is complex on many levels and explains the difficulty early peoples faced, in maintaining a home, finding food to eat, and learning the hard way, especially, “what not to eat.”

Every continent on the earth has a particular Origin Story. Every peoples who populate the earth, where ever that may be, also have complex Origin Stories. This very complex but wonderful study of humanity is one of the best books I have ever read, on the subject of just How We Got Here !

How each continent and how each people on each continent arrived where they did, and prospered to the level they are at today is studied exhaustively in this text. The Origins of People, Language, Customs and Lives and how all these things moved from one area of the world to other areas of the world is fascinating.

No stone is left un-turned by page 444 …

Pulitzer Prize books must contain certain factors that I always look for, IF a particular book has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Because I have read a handful of winners, that turned out to be real losers.

Guns, Germs and Steel is a Winner !!!

Read This Book !

Insight

What happens when insight hits you, smack in the middle of the forehead, and the forest and the trees can be seen all at once, clearly ? It’s not like I already knew what I know now, it’s just that over the past little while, my fog has cleared a little further.

Hindsight they say is 20/20.

I’ve heard it said, by long sober people, that it takes a LONG time in sobriety, to really crystallize how lonely and isolated we were in our drinking days. LONG TERM sobriety. This piece of advice came from Lorna, who has long since passed a couple of years ago. I still glean wisdom from several of her talks.

I’m not LONG sober, but my chunk of time is significant for me.

A fellow told me last night, that he heard from a secondary source, a complaint about me, regarding a couple of newcomer girls who had issues with me, and instead of coming to me directly, they went to a first source to talk, who then went to a secondary source to get to me. Which really bothers me that people don’t have the balls to walk up to me and say, “hey I’ve got a problem or fuck off for that matter.”

I spoke to one of my lady friends and she said I needed to let up on myself and remember that newcomers come in like porcupines. Sometimes they stay and sometimes they don’t. And for the most part, usually the problem is not with ourselves, but lies with others. Sometimes I don’t recognize that.

The process of self evaluation has been happening for some time, as I finally can put pieces together, that had been disjointed for a long time.

Working steps, with multiple people over the years, has dislodged some thoughts in my head that had been foggy or just that in reality, I had not been seeing myself very clearly. Or did not want to really admit to myself how selfish my drinking career really was. In All My Affairs …

The problem with thoughts, right now, is that, there are not very many people who I would trust with my thoughts, because good solid sober old timers are far and few between. I’m not saying that I am a snowflake, by any means, I’m just saying that there aren’t many people, I know, who have sensibilities to handle a conversation about “The Gay.”

I’ve been reconstructing my drinking history, in clearer terms as of late, and Lorna says that Wisdom sets in “when you call something by its proper name.” It’s an ancient Chinese saying …

Have you ever heard of a Modern Chinese saying ???

I’m calling my drinking history by its proper name. SELFISH.

How isolating is it, when you realize, and not for the first time, how isolating drinking is, when the only reason you are drinking, is because it was the vehicle to “BE SEEN.”

How alone I felt in a room full of people, and believing that the only way I could make my way into that crowd was to drink myself sick, and hopefully reap some fireworks from it. Which at the time usually worked.

Conquest be damned. I always got what I wanted. However, I can safely say that I was not the “Backstabbing” kind of gay man, that many others were. Backstabbing was a fine art, back in the day. If someone could screw you over for a quickie, that’s what happened. And be damned the consequences.

Alcoholism is an isolating disease, when you begin to see it in Long View. Or even begin to be able to see it in long view. I know about the long view, because Lorna introduced it to those of us who were paying attention. At least I listen to her often enough and have been able to apply most of the advice she had given in one of her shares. So I am beginning to see the Long Game in starker perspective.

I’m really not sure where I am, because I feel like I am standing in a forest populated by a handful of good trees, and A LOT of dead trees, just taking up space. The rooms are full of dead space trees right now, and not a whole lot of people are engaged with the business of the day.

We call them “Chair Warmers …”

And like I have said before, people don’t really care for me, and although it bothers me a great deal, I cannot let that get to me and take me down another rabbit hole of beating myself up, because “nobody likes me.”

My friend reminded me last night to be a bit more gentle with myself and remember that most of the problems lie with others and not necessarily with me.

I just know that right now I am a bit rattled. I shared that tragic story the other night, and it haunts me still. I haven’t written down that story in full in a very long time and every time I go back and read it, it triggers flashbacks and horrid pain of just how bad I had become in the middle of one of the most tragic events in my life, that had it gone on, without intervention that came, I probably would have died, even before I got sick in the year 1994.

It is a truism, that not everybody is going to like you, or have to, or must like you. Thursday night I was talking to a friend outside the room, and his sponsor walked up and I stuck out my hand to shake his, and he hesitated, and I saw that hesitation, like he had to decide whether or not he really wanted to shake my hand at all. I don’t get that.

I am kind to everyone. But in the same breath, I intentionally ignore some folks because of the way, I perceived them, at one point or another, in the way they have treated me in the past.

Maya Angelou says that: “People won’t remember what you said, or what you did, what they will remember is now they made you feel.”

I have a memory like an elephant.

And I judge others by the way others have treated me. I stay away from those people intentionally. I don’t acknowledge them, I don’t talk to them, I sit in my seat and pretend they don’t even exist, which is not really very sober, and I get that. Some people are just cowards, and liars, and fakers, and I just don’t have tome to even want to invest in those kinds of people because they have no desire to be kind to me.

I’m in the pot and the water is beginning to boil, and I am feeling the heat, and sooner, hopefully, sooner or later, I am going to need to unload these things on someone, before my pressure cooker explodes.

Pivotal Moments in Time

I hope that for the rest of your life, every night that you close your eyes, that you see my sons dead body in front of you …

It was April of 1993.

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of times.

Little did I know, on one particular day, how bad things could get. What I did not know then, was that things would get progressively worse, and almost take me down with it.

We had worked a fortnight, building the bar from the ground up. I did not sleep, for many hours, during the build period. And it was with great pride and respect, to my fellow men, that the bar opened with great fan fare at the beginning of April 1993. I bar tended that night. And made a ton of money.

The following Sunday, I was at my day job, I still had a day job then. It was a normal day, so I thought, until my mother called me. Which was totally out of character for her, because we had a love hate relationship. She asked me if I had seen James at all, which I replied … NO.

She then offered that his mother had called MY Mother, telling her that James was missing and that I needed to find him.

I met James in a bar one night, and we hit it off. Life, as a young alcoholic who was drinking to be seen, made being seen, a priority. And while it lasted, I took advantage of every moment that I was being seen. I did not know that James was a serial LIAR, and that he would end up being the most irresponsible, deceptive and secretive man I had ever met.

He strung a series of lies together, and disappeared for days, weeks, and months at a time, without a word. He cheated behind my back, and never amended his behavior.

But what stung the most was his most dastardly act.

We had not been together for some time, by the time my mother made that call, that Sunday afternoon, about him being missing.

I would eventually quit my day job, opting to work full time at the bar, in the ensuing days. I sent word out that James was missing, and nobody had any idea where he was. Six days later, it was the cops who found him.

I got a call that morning, by the Fort Lauderdale Police, that James’s body had been found, in an apartment on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale. It was a nondescript apartment complex, I had never visited before.

A detective met me at my car, and asked me to sit in his cruiser with him, while the coroner did his job. It was hours, before they released me. James was dead. How and why he died, I would not know for some time, the answers came in stages.

The next day, I received a call from the coroners office, asking me to come to the morgue and identify what was left of James. I remember it clearly, as if it were yesterday. Because of the curse his mother uttered to me, after I had done, what I had to do.

I walked into the hallway of the building, an exam room to the left and one to the right. It was hazy, because I was sobbing.

The coroner slid back the curtain, and I could see James, stuck amid a scream, plainly etched on what was left of his face. He was still wearing jewelry I had given him. It only lasted a couple of minutes. I made the positive ID and was stuck in place, as I sobbed uncontrollably. It was the most piteous of sobbing. I just could not contain myself.

James was gone. I had just signed the papers to ship his body home to his family. I called to tell them that he was on his way home, wherein his mother laid out that curse, that reverberates in the back of my brain.

To This Very Night …

I tell you this story, because it was a pivotal moment in my life, a year before I had my last drink. The first time.

I left the coroners office and headed for the bar, where I was employed full time now. I cried all the way there, and then some more.

I drank enough liquor that night to kill an elephant. That was just the beginning…

A week would go by, and I was inconsolable. Todd and Bill knew they had to do something, because I was drinking way too much. Their first attempt to help me, was to get me into therapy. So I sat for weeks and weeks, in a Survivors of Suicide Therapy group.

Every night, the same stories. Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters, telling the same stories of how their respective family members had killed themselves.

Do you think that stemmed my drinking ???

Not One Bit !!!

At one point, my after hours drinking, became, sitting in a bar at Seven in the Morning … I crossed that invisible line I drew for myself. Because I realized that I had begun drinking in the morning. Which was a harbinger of really bad things to come.

It was on one of those Seven AM Drinking sprees, that was my death knell. I know, well, I did not know, or want to know the ramifications of my personal behavior.

But my alcoholism was always tied, inextricably to SEX.

When someone you trust tells you that to become “ONE OF,” and the only way to become ONE OF, was to go to the bar and drink. Alcoholism was just waiting for me, the very first day I was let out of the chute.

It was only a few number of years, before I crossed that invisible line in “alcoholic” behavior. From twenty One to Twenty Five I was an uncontrollable alcoholic, but nobody ever said the word STOP.

Alcoholics have certain parameters we use to judge how BAD our drinking would get. Drinking in the morning is one of them. There is a fine line there, between nightly drinking, and drinking in the morning.

I NEVER drank in the morning. I never had liquor in any home I ever lived in. I always had to go out to get it.

A year would pass.

I sat in that therapy room for months, listening to the same odd stories of death and loss, and that only made me drink MORE.

Until the night that TODD SAID STOP…

He was through watching me drinking myself into the ground. The month before I got sober, July of 1994, I was diagnosed with AIDS. And NOW, I was drinking to kill myself. I was not going to go down in misery, like MANY of my friends had sunken into and died. Alone …

I hit my first meeting. And I stayed sober for four years, because Todd swore that he would never let me die. In that he succeeded.

But the Alcoholic Will Drink Again …

Alcoholics Anonymous is not perfect. And alcoholics are imperfect as well. But an alcoholic TODAY, would never tell someone, sitting in a meeting to GO AWAY and NEVER COME BACK ! Because if you misspeak and say something crass or irresponsible, you might just sign someone’s death certificate.

My eighteen month slip was long and arduous. But I made it back, thank God. Times have changed. And I am still sober today.

I heard a suicide story tonight. And clearly, I identified. I was right back there, standing in the coroners office. And said as much to our speaker after the meeting.

There are pivotal moments in our lives when SHIT HAPPENS.

Some people make it, many others DO NOT.

Like we heard tonight, you know something is wrong, when you STOP going to meetings. And the committee in your head starts to speak in whispers.

That glass of wine, isn’t a slip.
You’re not an alcoholic.
Nobody will know.

Suffering tragic loss, in any form is devastating. Sometimes you just cannot drag yourself back from the brink of death. Or another drink …

Then again, The Grace of God can be miraculous.

Sometimes getting out of hell, needs a little miracle, to jump start the process of healing and sobriety.

I know few people in this place, whose miracle came, not a minute too soon, for us. And I stand with my friend tonight, speaking words of truth when we both can say, that the second time around is NOT a cake walk.

The first time is a gift, the second time, you have to work for it.

I was telling a friend of mine, before tonight’s meeting, that not a whole lot of people, like or even respect my sober journey. Most people think I am a little off base and crazy. But I told him how I operated. It was his choice to either take what I offered him or throw it into the dustbin of pointless conversations.

There are no pointless conversations in sobriety. Because you never know when something you say will impact someone in a way you never expected. And my friend said to me that he knows, for sure, that there are specific young people, who heard me speak words to them, and because of those words, those young people are still sober today.

Because of one act of kindness in a time of intense need.

Suicide is a serious issue. You never know when shit will happen. We just need to be present and listen intently to our friends, and know, for certain, that the time to act is NOW, and not LATER.

There is help out there. If you ever think that the end is better than perseverance though pain, to get to the other side,

THERE IS HELP.

MAKE THE CALL.

You are Not Alone !!!