Sunday Sundries – PRIDE Ottawa Weekend

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Photo: The Parliament of Canada, with projected laser and photo story.

I am back at home tonight, after a whirlwind trip to our Nations Capitol, Ottawa. It was Pride Ottawa this weekend. Saturday was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and humidity. Today (Sunday) was not so nice.

We stood in the rain with thousands of people to watch the Annual Pride Parade in the Nations Capitol. Rafa lives in the heart of the Village, so we had ringside seats for the parade this afternoon. We got lots of beads, water bottles, assorted condoms in pretty packaging, and other assorted items that were handed out by the marchers in the parade.

I have over fifty images from the weekend, that I will upload this week.

Ottawa is a really great city. It was the first time that I was on the ground exploring the area Rafa lives in. We had dinner at King Eddie’s Saturday night, and then we walked around the Parliament Hill neighborhood, ending up on The Lawn of Parliament Hill, for the Grand Fireworks display and the nightly, Northern Lights, Laser Light Show, that is a bilingual presentation, displayed ON the Parliament Building itself. This show runs nightly through September.

It is a genius presentation with lasers, lights and imagery covering the history of Canada.

There were thousands of people on the lawn. We had arrived a little over an hour prior to the show, so we had front row seats on the lawn, directly in front of Center Block.

Many years ago, when I got my citizenship, there was no party, no singing, no national anthem to be sung. Just my certificate and a welcome greeting by our NOW mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre.

We visited Parliament Hill, on our Second Christmas together, Hubby and I, but it was Christmas so we did not see anyone from the government.

Last night, Saturday, We sat on the lawn, watching this fantastic presentation, and at the end, they played the Canadian National Anthem. As the song began we were sitting, midway through, I was seeing people, get up and stand.

I got up and stood … I got very emotional, and stood there and sobbed.

Every time I hear the anthem played, especially at an Olympic Games, my heart swells with Pride for my country. Last night, I had a Spiritual Experience, during the anthem.

It sealed the deal for me, as a Citizen of our great country.

I got my Anthem, On the Hill, With my Best friend, who became a citizen, himself, last year.

To be on Parliament Hill, to celebrate our history with thousands of residents and thousands more tourists, I could not have been more proud to be a Canadian today.

And today, Sunday, we spent the day together at Pride.

I have lots of observations about people, places and things, to write about concerning Pride and the politics we saw in action. There was definitely a political agenda going on.

The whole fluidity issue, the racial divide and the struggle within the whole LGBTQ community, was apparent. There were many more girls and women at the parade, but not so many white men. Lots of families, tourists, and folks with serious axes to grind with the political establishment, other factions of the gay community, and the lengths our young people, on all sides, want to be heard and legitimized.

More on that later this week, once I’ve had time to think it all through.

 

Thursday – If I sit down …

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Courtesy:Followeed

It is December and it has been one hell of a week so far. There is much to say, and there has been plenty of opportunity to speak words, or better yet, write them down. Tonight is that night.

Tuesday was December 1st, World AIDS Day. The yearly date when we honor all those who have died, and for those of us who survived that period of tragic times, we remember.

A particular story came to mind on Tuesday, that I thought about writing down “Again” but decided against it. Suffice to say that those of us who were diagnosed with AIDS or today, HIV, we go from Hero to Zero in no time flat.

Back in the day, AIDS was a death sentence. Today they call it a “manageable condition!” Every new diagnosis under ANY circumstances is very sad.

You would think, in today’s gay community, and for that matter, anywhere in the world, that an ounce of prevention would go a long way, yet there are those who continually decide to play Russian Roulette with their lives. Or are caught up in behavior that is detrimental.

One cannot claim ignorance about disease today.

There are still millions of reasons why we can’t stop marking this day, until a cure is found, that would be available to every single human being, to eradicate this scourge.

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

Once again, now in the U.S., two deranged killers walked into a service center, and killed 14 people in cold blood, and injured many others.

This is just terrible. And there are not enough words to say that is going to make a hill of beans difference, to those who could do something, but they don’t. There aren’t enough prayers to be said, or vigils to attend that are going to change anything.

Sometimes it is well and good to just not say anything, because someone already has said what we are all thinking, and we are powerless to do a god damned thing.

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

Sometime last weekend, I did something to my back. I am not sure what it was, or when it happened, but I have never felt the degree of pain I am feeling today, in all my life. My back is killing me, and I have resorted to taking pain killers just to be ambulatory.

Addicts and painkillers are not a good mix.

At least here, I can phone up my pharmacy and get over the counter medication. In many Canadian pharmacies, they keep assorted drugs behind the counter, so if you know this, that opens up treatment. I don’t need a script nor do I need to see my doctor, but I will see him on the tenth, if I survive that long …

This afternoon baby mama came over to use my computer and as we sat together, she remarked that etched on my face was the look of pain. I can sit down, but there is no guarantee that I will be able to get back up. During our visit, I had several Holy Shit, moments, where I thought I was going to pass out.

I have only so many pills left, before I need a doctors note, and it is the weekend, so no doctor till next week now. And I sure as shit ain’t going to no E.R. because I will sit there for hours and hours, um NO!

It has been rainy / cold the past few days. Rain, that falls in conjunction with below zero temps, means ice on sidewalks.

I half thought to stay home tonight, but decided to go to St. Matthias and hit a meeting. I left earlier than usual, because walking, reaching, bending and stooping is quite the task, which requires some serious deep breathing and equilibrium.

I got to the church and visited with friends before the meeting, and as a friend sat next to me, I had a Holy Shit moment, and I told her that if I sit down, for any amount of time, that I may not be able to get back up.

I waited until the seventh tradition was started and tried to get up, gritting my teeth, because I had to pee … That was a tedious moment for sure. I did get up, but it wasn’t pleasant.

It was a good meeting, nonetheless.

I was talking to my sponsor and a few friends on Tuesday night, and I was explaining that I was riding that “roller coaster of insanity” and what was going on in my head and they responded with, “yup, you are one of us …”

We pushed my cake back until the 20th, because next Sunday is early, and my anniversary falls on Wednesday the 9th. And superstition dictates that you never take a medallion early.

The 13th, is my sponsors Home Group Anniversary on the West End at Loyola. So He will be there, while I do service at my Sunday Home Group. Which leaves the 20th as the first Sunday we can both be in the same place at the same time.

What is good about living in Canada, is this … When shit goes down anywhere else, the media goes crazy. And for the most part, for what it is worth, Most shit going down elsewhere, has nothing to do with us, and when necessary, which is often, I can either turn the channel, shut down my computer, or turn the tv off …

There is so much tragedy. I can only take so much saturation about death and destruction, not to mention, Republican Presidential hopefuls.

I have little patience for crock of shit politics.

Thank God for cable t.v.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Cold with a chance of flurries

 

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It is Sunday, and this new interface is called “Calypso,” and I don’t like it at all. It is very wonky, and all JAVA, and is supposed to be better than sliced bread … Um, NO !

I want my old post editor back. Much more user friendly.

It is on the cold side, the past two nights. We saw flurries fall a couple of times today, but there is NO snow in the forecast in the next week.

It was an odd weekend. I saw the baby the other night, and she was sniffling and coughing. On Friday morning at approximately 5 a.m. i was hugging the bowl, sick as a dog for twelve hours.

I find that I am so thirsty for anything to drink, and I went to the store twice and spent $30.00 on drinkables, yet I could not quench that thirst, it was insane, not that I kept anything down enough to enjoy it. Hubby brought me meds after work, and I took them and was able to sleep until almost 11 p.m. because I was up so early and did not sleep all day long.

I had the funkiest dream … I was stuck in this warehouse of 70’s and 80’s stuff, like video games, toys and it got crazy when I was sitting in an old style Burger King, playing with toys and food. It just kept getting odder and odder, and it was never ending. Back in the day, I had specific toys, and things I liked. Roller skates, and Solid Gold on tv. It was just odd because I’ve never had visuals like this before.

Saturday, I had things to do, and responsibilities that I had to be present for, so there was no time to lay in bed and feel sick or sorry for myself. I had back to back meetings in another fellowship I belong to. During our two hour break between them, I had dinner with friends, down line, and we watched some John Oliver on You Tube.

We’ve been talking about rigorous honesty of late. It is funny, that the one section of my life that I wanted to forget and never talk about or mention to anyone, has become my greatest teacher, and brought me into the lives of men who have changed my life.

This morning, well, for a while now, I’ve been riding my pre-cake roller coaster, that 30 day period that comes before you take your anniversary cake, when your brain goes on overdrive, and one begins to obsess over needless and useless shit.

But this morning, I needed a brain drain, so I got up and opened a word document, and wrote my script for my share on my anniversary next Sunday. I had very specific things to say, so I wrote them down, so I would not fuck it up. It is going to be explosive.

Tonight we sat only a small number. Lots of people still out sick, and we did not empty the coffee urn once again. wasted coffee…

It was Tradition Night, and the eleventh month, means the eleventh tradition. Attraction rather than promotion. That topic of anonymity came up but not many people spoke towards it.

What I did have to say was that the first time I got sober, the room I was in was very nasty and not attractive at all, but that’s where I could hit a meeting, however harsh my peers were towards newcomers. That shitty experience, only added to my alienation from the program and my eventual slip. I had come in contact with enough assholes and homophobes that I was totally turned off with participation and sobriety.

The second time I came in, it was a whole other story. The right people showed up at the right moment, and were very good for me. And when I moved to Montreal, (read: No cell phones yet), I met great people who were attractive in many ways. They took me in and took care of me, and spent time with me, so I was not alone.

I remember one really fun memory… My sponsor at the time, Dave, took me to the mountain in the middle of the night, to climb.

There is a mountain in the middle of the city. There is a trail you can walk, up and down. But on this night, he said that we were going to climb to the top, up the side, and not use the trails. It was odd, but very fun. That was just one of the many attractive things that I did in early sobriety. The other was a few months in, 4 alcoholics climbed into a Toyota and drove all the way from Montreal to Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast for some meetings, and a whale watching tour. That was 17 hours each way. It was fun but a bit irresponsible.

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

Sunday Sundries … Canada Votes Tomorrow and Other Assorted Topics

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

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

PRESENCE…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This has been a long running theme in my life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIQUOR LIQUOR EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CANADA VOTES 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am rooting for the younger, Justin Trudeau.

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

More to come, stay tuned …

Utter Sadness

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Courtesy: Independent.co.uk

The boy was part of a group of 11 Syrians who drowned off the coastal town of Bodrum in Turkey after an apparent failed attempt to flee the war ravaged country

There are too many people fleeing conflict areas, in search for a new home, safety and security. This massive migration of human beings, “yes they are human beings” and not just migrants, where we do let them go, and where do they go?

How are “we” the WORLD to care for these people? There are so many, an entire section of the world has been vacated because of terrorism, and all their people are on the seas, on the trains, all over Europe, they are trying to find home.

They say we need to stop the conflict ! But how do we do that ? We are well over the tipping point on trying to do something to stop it. But the world has failed in its attempt to stop them.

Now all these people are on the move, trying to get somewhere, anywhere, than where they started at. The world needs a response. A GOOD response.

We need to step up as community and do something now.

They are human beings, let us not forget that.

The promises of Canadian Politicians are not good enough, too little, too late.

The world needs to come together to find a viable solution to this human crisis.

Saturday – August 1st, The Writing Process Round Three

the blue moon rafaRafa’s Blue Moon – Friday July 31st 2015

This is the park we were standing in late last night on the way home, and Rafa clicked this photograph with his phone. It has been filtered and treated to get to this image.

It is exactly what we saw in real time.

I met with Rafa this evening for round three of the outline review. And once again, he had plenty of food for thought. He is a classicist and is well read on a great amount of classical literature, which makes him a perfect mentor for my project.

In pondering my theme of “Canada” from the book, this week, he introduced the concept of
“Nostos” or homecoming to me and that it might apply to my story as it has unfolded for him.

The story opens with a God moment, and as the story unfolds, Canada becomes part of my story, but for almost the whole outline, Canada does not appear until I cross the border into Canada.

I was directed to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but no “nostos.” I went to the Oxford dictionary and got the word “homecoming.” Then I thought of Wikipedia, now I know, as an academic, that Wikipedia is never used as a credible source nor should you ever cite or use a wiki entry, on any paper. But this is what they had to say about “NOSTOS.”

Nostos (Greek: νόστος) (pl. nostoi) is the Greek word for homecoming, the idea of returning home from a long journey. Nostos can also mean “Welcome Home” in the Greek language. Nostos is a theme dealt with in many Homeric writings such as the Odyssey, in which the main character, Odysseus, strives to get home after the Trojan War. The plural term nostoi is applied to Greek heroes’ homeward journeys after the taking of Troy and is the name of one of the poems of the Epic Cycle on that theme.

God is there, in my life, I am introduced to Him and He to me. The God thread runs throughout my life, and at one point, I am in seminary, then I am summarily dismissed from that seminary when my concept and practice of faith does not meet muster with my superiors.

And I walk off the grounds and look to heaven and say …”Hey God, don’t you know who I am?” “Do I matter or what, and why am I standing here outside the gates, when I should still be standing inside of them, and I am not, WHY?

I have read “The Odyssey” by Homer as a student, and later in life, saw a television movie of the same book. Tonight, Rafa gave me his copy to read, “The Odyssey of Homer by Richmond Lattimore. I am told, this translation is the best one to read.

Why are you reading the Odyssey? you might ask.

My story is a story of “homecoming.” Beginning in one place, and as a child, I am taken on a journey by my parents. I grow up, go to college and seminary, where my personal odyssey begins.

I say my personal odyssey, because I chose what I was going to do it, I was not led or taken anywhere by anyone else, like my parents, growing up as a child.

I travel from one “island” to another “island.” I am adrift at sea a number of times, and then end up on other islands, and the final move is to “ITHACA.” My story, not unlike Odysseus’ journey to return home to Ithaca, takes a long time, on a winding path, from one place to another, to this person and the next, but it seems, for a while, I may never get there, until a fortuitous letter comes in the mail, with an invitation to come HOME.

But the journey is not complete for Odysseus, he just doesn’t return and become king or get the title or his wife, and all that was his, he has to work his way back, one step at a time, and we talked of other books, that we do not have, the book that comes before the Odyssey, and the one that comes after the Odyssey, telling us what happens to Odysseus after he returns to Ithaca.

When I get here, to Montreal, there is still work to do. I just don’t win the prize, having freshly walked over the border. And in the end there is a penance that I must do.

At one point in my story, I meet a priest who is crippled by M.S. and he becomes my spiritual director. And in telling Rafa this story again tonight, he likens me to a “crippled preacher (read: recovering alcoholic), who must travel and share his message with others,” like Odysseus carries an OAR into/onto the land far from the sea, to share his message, until he reaches a place where nobody has ever seen the sea or know what an OAR is.

My life is an Odyssey, and in the end, I get to return to Ithaca and I am finally restored to who I am and to whom I am to become, something that was rightfully mine as a child, but taken away, and as the story unfolds, I am sailing and traveling endlessly, until I reach Ithaca.

I get to Canada, and I inherit all that is mine to have, passed down from my family, but it takes time to learn just what those things are, what they mean, and why they are important.

So my task now, it to rewrite my outline. I need to gather my stories in the form of “Islands and Time at Sea.” Each episode is a visit to some place, to meet someone or learn something. I am reminded to use literary economy, and use as little words as are necessary to tell my story. And if what I am writing is not relevant to the story, to just leave it out.

I need to thread all the stories together, which is why I am reading the book now, before I start writing, to see how it is written, what words are used and why and what they mean.

Read the Book, work on the outline. I have two weeks to complete this round.

Which is why tonight, I begin my read of the Odyssey.

Sunday Sundries … On a Monday Morning Early

tumblr_ndwhz7VmHB1qzx74yo1_1280It overnight, Sunday into Monday morning. I wasn’t going to post, but thought otherwise.

It was a beautiful Sunday, they are telling us that this week, will be more of the same. We will see the warmest temps yet this summer, this week.

Thank God for Air Conditioning.

I spent some time reviewing my outline and did some additions, and thought about the writing process and how it was going to go. I guess I won’t figure that out, until I actually sit down and start writing.

I spoke to my writing coach this evening on the way home, and I told him that I had finished the theme section and my graph was complete. And he suggested I start writing. I would rather sit on my outline for a few days to think about it and let thoughts foment and let things fall where they may. And on Saturday, we can do another read through, to see what comes out of our discussion of the new material. He agreed with me.

I find it better to have two minds on the process because he is well versed in literature and language and he sees things that I don’t. I tell him stories about the stories and I get his feedback and also his vision as he sees the project roll out.

I need to talk to my aunt to get some info from her about the opening chapter. I know what that chapter is, but I need to fill in some detail that I don’t yet have, and she might be able to fill in some of my blanks so that I can explain locations and setting a bit better, than just writing,

“it started here and we were in this building, so forth and so on.”

That is just too general of a description.

We sat a full house at the meeting, and we read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Tradition Seven. Every group should be self supporting declining outside contributions.

Several topics came up in discussion.

  • Financial Freedom
  • Emotional Freedom
  • Putting something in the basket, because we are accountable and want to fell part of
  • Meetings don’t run themselves, someone has to do the shopping and pay the rent
  • With no supplies, we could not feed and coffee the crowds that come

I think about ALL the money I spent on alcohol in 34 years of drinking. A mid size fortune, to be honest. I could probably have fed a third world country with it.

Now I toss a loonie or a toonie in the basket, across my meetings, because I can, and because what I get back in grace and love, pales in comparison to what I give on a nightly basis.

I also set up, make coffee and buy supplies for several meetings across town.

Everybody is well tonight.

One of our women could really use your prayers. She is in hospital and the light at the end of the tunnel is too far away to see, and she needs all the love and support we can throw at her.

Monday starts another busy week. But I would not have it any other way. I have time to spend with others, and I do that. And I better make the best of my time, because you know, we aren’t getting any younger.

T – Minus 5 days … Friday is my birthday, 48 years, another year closer to fifty.

That book needs to be written soon. I promised hubby retirement money for the bank.

And that exactly what I am going to do.

Goodnight from Montreal