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.

 

Sunday – Pride and One Leads to More

tumblr_mpbpmk3oUO1rnykcvo1_500 scottmalfoyCourtesy: Scott Malfoy

Montreal’s week of PRIDE events culminated earlier today with the annual PRIDE parade which stepped off, just up the block from home, not that I was, in any way, inclined to go anyways.

The older I get, the less I am inclined to go out and parade myself in public, when at the parade all you see is buff beautiful people riding floats and marching. I just don’t get into objectification and all the pretty pretty people. Maybe I am just old and jaded, and maybe it is also the fact that I have bones with the Montreal Gay community that are old bones. I shop where I shop because of the people who work at those shops. And I have gay friends, inside and outside the rooms, but as a community as a whole, many of them turn me off.

But it was a party nonetheless.

I had people to see and things to do well before the meeting even opened, so it wasn’t like I had a block of hours to devote to going to the parade, standing around and people watching. I didn’t. And my people come first in any case.

Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening with some of my guys, since we haven’t been able to spend time together these past few weeks for one reason or another, but the stars aligned yesterday.

Today I had an appointment with a client who is a blog customer of mine. I do web customization and Word Press installs for some of my friends. People want to blog because of their profession and some for personal reasons. One of my clients is a film maker friend from the room, so I have been working with her for a while now, formatting and organizing a bilingual blog (read: French and English) as well as her films. Every Word Press theme is different and offers different perks, so I teach how they work and sit down with them to work out the kinks and the layout.

This site is an uber iteration of Modularity Light Theme. I have tweaked it and worked it out to work for me. Getting to know a theme and how it works, then making that theme work for you takes a while on intense, sit down and thrashing it out. Doing that on a laptop is not my preferred idea of fun, I’d rather work off my desktop. (read: Much Easier)

We cranked out set up between several folks. And our matriarch stood back watching happy, peppy people, smiling and laughing together and we all had a moment of gratitude.

We sat a full house. And we ran the read and the discussion all the way around the circle with not a moment to spare. Tonight’s read: The Car Crasher …

Themes included:

  • One leads to MORE
  • Having just one is impossible
  • Controlled Drinking is useless
  • We need to finally admit we have a problem
  • And we cannot do it alone
  • We need to come to the point where we realize Divine help
  • Then ask for it and accept it when it comes

The theme of drunk driving was popular for discussion. How many of us did it, those who got away with it, and also those who got caught.

I noted that watching my grandfathers, uncles and my father drink with impunity was something that I paid close attention to. Because when I started drinking, I drank with impunity myself as well. And that did not go so well, because there were consequences for my actions, and I paid a heavy price from my family, which made me pretty resentful because why should I be treated any differently, than the way the family treated every other alcoholic in the family?

It was a common belief among us that God does take care of drunks.

It is harrowing to think how many of us tempted disaster by getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, with just us in the car, and for many, with their children in the backseat to boot. These stories are numerous. And Not uncommon. Nary a drunk and their alcohol can be separated for very long.

But I remember one particular day when my mother took me aside and said to me:
“Don’t ever drink and drive, because if you get caught, you are finished.”

That stuck in my brain for all these years. I did pay attention to those words, because I never got caught. I am not proud to say that I drove while intoxicated many times in my early drinking career.

The bar I haunted was mid way between work and home, in those days. I would stop for happy hour and tie one on, then drive the rest of the way home, one eyeballing the white line all the way, get home, change my clothes, and drive back, the same way I had come, to go back to the bar and finish off the night very heavily.

The one time I did get stopped at a checkpoint, I had a roll of Rolaids in my door pocket, so I ate the whole pack, hoping to get the scent of alcohol off my breath long enough to answer coherently, the cop who was asking me if I had drunk that night, to which I said … NO !

That was the last time I took that route home after that.

But like every alcoholic, the party came to an end, when I became a story in the back of the book, when the woman I was living with was getting sober, and I was the alcoholic tornado running through her life, locked me out and asked me to leave. I was not very proud of that either.

All of those friends I used to drink with, including myself, eventually got sober, just not all at the same time, which was a pin in the ass for the early sober folks who had to deal with us drunk a few more years before we would eventually get sober.

In our story our man knows he’s in the mix. He actually figures out that he has a problem, because every time he drinks, he gets fallen down drunk. So he attempts to do some “controlled drinking” which does not end up really working for him.

He comes in and gets some time, but he then begins to think to himself that, alright, I’ve got this licked. Maybe I will go have one beer. Which leads to more beer, which leads him to the pit of despair. He is powerless from the first one. And that for him, like us, One leads to MORE.

Funny how we, many of us, that is, battle with the notion of powerlessness. How dare you ask us to admit we can’t handle our liquor. And then proceed to tell us that alone we are powerless and that we need to find a power greater than ourselves who will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves? That Admission is crucial to getting sober. To finally get to the point that we are willing to concede we may have a problem and that we need help, and that when we ask for help, HELP does appear, seeming out of no where.

Some forget the harrowing details of their last drunk debacle. They get some time and then get cocky and believe that finally they have licked it, and they go back out for some controlled drinking. And that may take a while, but for some, it only takes very little.

Usually they end up in worse state than when they began.

I know why I got sober and how the rooms worked for me.

And I know, also that there are those who hate the very notion of the program.

But I will say this again.

If you come and you get sober, and you work the program like we did it, and your life does NOT get better, we will gladly refund you your misery and you can go on your merry way.

More to come, stay tuned…

Tuesday – Life Update & Working with Others

BabyL2It’s a baby …

It has been a very exciting couple of days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While we unpacked, the reality was starting to hit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the angels sang, Hallelujah !!!

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

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

Bittersweet because they will be gone until late August.

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

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday … Pride … Tour La Nuit Montreal 2015

tumblr_mn0exfnZhI1ra77uvo1_500 heartblackCourtesy: Heart Black

The weather is holding, which was very good tonight.

As the weather gets good, things to do outside increase. There is no time to waste when the weather is this good, because sooner or later, Mother Nature is gonna piss on us.

Tonight in Montreal, was the Tour La Nuit. The first of two bicycle events circling the Island of Montreal and the mountain. The Big Bicycle event comes on Sunday with the Island wide riding event.

I had checked on the transit website before I left to make sure I would not find my travel route blocked. Well, that did not go so well. I departed with PLENTY of time to get up to the church, and made it all the way to my bus transfer, and wouldn’t you know it, there was a stoppage sign on the pole at the bus stop. On TOP OF THAT there was a bus sitting in the bay, with a driver behind the wheel, going no where fast.

I stood for a bit, I had my tunes and my patience was ok. But that did not last. People started leaving the bus queue and others were talking to the driver. I waited, patiently. After while, with the bus still sitting there, I went to talk to the driver.

No Bus – Streets Closed – If you gotta get there, you are gonna WALK !!!

I half decided to turn around and come home. I got past the turnstile, and almost to the platform, and met one of my friends coming from a train that just went through. I told him, “no buses…” And his reply was, “well, we’ll walk it, 20 minutes tops!” I know the route, I could walk it blindfolded.

So we walked a mile to the church.

All the main streets were blocked off. The tour began at seven and began to wind its way around the island of Montreal. Numbers were nominal. We sat two groups. People had decided to walk the mile to the meeting instead of turning around and going home.

The weather was on our side tonight.

Two kinds of Pride

“The prideful righteousness of “good people” may often be just as destructive as the glaring sins of those who are supposedly not so good.”

In sobriety, is there any kind of good pride? Not really.

We are supposed to become, humble, quiet, right sized people. Knowing that we only know a little, that more will be revealed to us. That we are not the center of the universe and that that world does not revolve around us.

I don’t have all the answers.

I’ve learned a few things about pride, righteousness, arrogance and bullshit.

Over the years, I have learned to pick my battles wisely. Like my fellows, I have various opinions on every sordid topic that we are all reading and seeing on tv, hearing on the radio, and seeing in print. I just choose not to give you my opinion, unless that opinion is backed up with honest truth, book studied knowledge and/or practical life experience.

Over the years, I have dealt with certain self righteous people. Over the years, I have dealt with people who thought that I could not possibly be honest and sober (read: at that point in my sober journey). Even when those certain people were rifling through my life tearing me apart in word and action,

I learned that I should never engage negative criticism, for ANY reason whatsoever.

Just wait a while, keep your mouth shut and eventually they will tire, and they will go away.

Eventually they got tired, and they went away.

I survived, two of the biggest hits to my pride and my life, a few years ago.

I can say that I added a few letters to the end of my business card. Twice. And that paid out to one community that disparaged me in ungodly ways. I can also say that I stayed sober, after being hit by people who wanted to drag me through the mud because of my choice in recovery methods.

Now in my late 40’s I do know certain things as truth. I know who I am, and what my message is and what my goals are. And its not about self righteous pride or ego. I have enough people in my life that keep me in check.

We all laughed at ourselves for an hour. That was right sizing.

I walked all the way back from the church to the Metro. 20 minutes tops.

There were thousands of people riding their bikes around the city, all lit up, some dragging baby buggies behind them. It was very exciting and people were in a festive party mood. Many people had front row balcony seats to watch the spectacle.

The Summer Festival season has begun. For the next three months the city will be buzzing with activity across the board, from concerts, to Pride festivals, to fireworks, to the Best Jazz Festival in the world in July. Let us not forget, the biggest draw of the summer will be the Montreal Grand Prix, that is the crown jewel in Montreal’s crowning events.

I got on the train, came home, and in the end, I got here, at the same time I usually get home on a Friday night. No loss there.

More to come, stay tuned…

The Pride of Canada … Juniors Win GOLD against Russia

canada-10_635x250_1420519026.gifAfter a drought of years, Canada’s Men’s Junior Hockey team rose to the occasion.

The Final Game Canada versus Russia, was a hard fought battle and when it came to an end

Canada won !!!

Our Young men can be proud of their achievement tonight. We are all so proud of you.

You did the Country Proud. Well Done.

It's My Birthday …

reasonsSome people will say that Facebook is so wonderful because it connects you to people and gives you something to obsess over every day. I would add that Facebook is a double edged sword that on one hand brings me my family of choice, whom I adore.

On the other hand it opens up a can of worms that I’d rather not entertain, but I have a very sick perverse need to make a statement and get a rise out of certain people, because you know what, I am worth respect and dignity. I’ve earned it.

And some people, think I am unworthy and that I should be kept in the dark as a punishment for my choices, all of which were made because of certain people in my life, at that time.

They are the reason I became who I am today.

Hating someone because of their sexual orientation is so 1990 ! Hating someone because they made a decision to make important life decisions to stay alive, housed and fed is just so fucking selfish. I made selfish choices because they had to be made, because my life was on the line. And I wanted to live and live well, not die in a hole by myself.

Parents have children to raise them into well rounded adults who can go out into the world and make something of themselves AND when we grow up, aren’t parents supposed to be supportive and respectful of the choices we made as adults ???

Somewhere along my journey, my life became unimportant therefore, irrelevant of notice and should be scorned to the N’th degree.

To put it mildly, I would like nothing better than to become a battering ram and explode like a motherfucking bomb on certain people.

I live. I Lived. I survived.

I earned a place in this world, and no matter what you may think of me,

And they say that “what people think of me is none of my business.” I grapple with that.

I’ve earned respect, dignity and love.

It is obvious to me that certain people didn’t get that memo. And at this stage of the game at 47 years old, I want to sit on my soapbox, grind my teeth and become a very petulant faggot who is stark raving mad at injustice and ignorance.

I learned how to be petulant and sit on my soapbox when I was diagnosed with AIDS. That anger paid off when I needed it. Because when life depends on the responsibility of others to do a job, (well) that you must rely on for survival and they fail to perform said job well, becoming a cast iron bitch really pays off.

I’ve not forgotten how to be a cast iron bitch.

But they say that “Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, that an alcoholic cannot afford.”

And on my birthday, at my Men’s Home Group this evening, we talked about anger and resentments from Living Sober.

I’ve learned in the past few years that I am a very nostalgic Queer man. In many ways.

I wax nostalgic about the past. I long for a specific period of my life to repeat itself, with all the people I knew in that life to be alive as well, knowing full well that we cannot go backwards, and the best of times and the worst of times was really, the best years of my life so far. In a way.

I have spent the last few years collecting things from my past. Photographs, memories, music, so forth and so on. The few family members who are active in my life and who love me for who I am have done wonders to help me with those collections.

I am also a very nostalgic alcoholic. Sickly and perversely,

I hold on to old anger and resentment, but they reside in a specific part of my brain, and only when poked at with a stick do I go there. Facebook gives me that stick to poke them with.

It fucks with my brain, my emotions and my sanity.

I think unclean thoughts. I think up old memories and I long to get up, get angry and become a petulant queer just to fuck with them because of the terrible way they have treated me for decades. I go places in my brain that mere mortals should stay away from. My brain is a location that without proper gear and a hard hat and safety goggles, that one should stay out of. Because I can become spiteful and nasty in a moments notice, Zero to Sixty in 2.0 seconds …

No Very Sober At All …

Wonder, I can be safely sane and spit venom from the other side of my mouth all at the same time. I learned this ability from the right people, who do this to me today.

I’ve learned a great deal about wisdom in my growing age. It began when I turned 40. It has been a long journey of learning certain wisdom, because I have enough years behind me to know for sure that I was there, then, and I learned something, and now I have certain hindsight to know wisdom, for sure. One of my guys asked me tonight what did I learn at 47?

I did not have an answer for him, wisdom usually comes after. Not before. And maybe this tirade of injustice will bear fruit and teach me some wisdom? This is how I am feeling at the moment, it is good that I have the ability to be honest and write it all out so that when I speak to my sponsor tomorrow, I can tell him what I said tonight and what happened and why.

Marines are supposed to be Tough. Strong. Honorable. Honest.

Sadly. there is one particular U.S. Marine who is a coward.

It is sad in today’s day and age that people can punish other people, family and ignore them like they do not exist. That we are unimportant. That we don’t matter.

Queer does that to you.

Hate does that to you.

Ignorance does that to you.

AIDS does that to you.

I get to sit here and pound my fist and make my mark in the world. Because if I don’t, who will?

And is it important in the end? They say you can’t get sober and keep ones ego, and that it isn’t all about me, and that I am not really all that important. And that I should accept where I am and thank heaven that I am alive and be grateful for God’s mercy and kindness and love.

It ain’t very sober but I still make the statement … Don’t you know who I am ???

Don’t you want to know, aren’t you curious? More than a decade has passed and I went on with my life despite your hatred and ignorance. Now I want to swing and scream in your face and provoke you to notice me and for once in my life, respect me. Acknowledge me …

That’s all I got. I am spent. Time for dinner.

More to come, stay tuned …

I am here, I survived, and that matters …

Do you believe in Love

Today is my birthday. Last night I got an odd call from my aunt. Strange that she called because we usually speak on Facebook. Nonetheless, she called, and I figured there was a reason for the call, hoping that she had something to give me, and she did.

It seems my estranged father is on Facebook. He had sent my cousin a friend request, which she denied, and so I sent my father one right then and there. My brother is also on Facebook as well, but he has blocked me. So I looked him up while we were talking and started a short conversation with him. I invited him to friend up, and also to come by here and look me up and also sent him my mobile number to see if he would “man up” and call and speak to me in real time.

Today I am 47 years old. And in a maudlin kind of way, I am reflective. I am currently re-reading Halfway Home by the late Paul Monette, who died of AIDS around the time I was diagnosed in 1994.

I wonder if certain people wonder who I am today, and what I have done with my life and how I have chosen to live that life? And I wonder, does it really matter? Yes, it does. For the one fact that I survived a dreadful disease and I lived and that alone should be a point of respect. I have dignity, a life and I live it fully.

I have been sober now almost 13 years. The running joke is that if I lived to see another birthday, I would live to see the next Christmas. So I made it to my birthday today, so I will make it to Christmas.

So many years have gone by for old resentments and anger to fester any longer. I am too old and sober to remain angry and resentful. And I expect that others should be grown up enough to accept life on life’s terms and come to the table, like sane adults.

I matter. I lived. I am alive. I have earned my place in this world. I have earned the respect of my friends and my peers. And I have earned the love of a good man who cares about me and my life, and cares for me like no other has or had.

You just don’t know what years of silence does to someone.You just shut someones light off and plunge them into darkness, it is cruel and unjust. And you should be ashamed of yourself.

Here I am, take it or leave it. This is who I am.

Good and bad.

I lived, God Dammit. Respect !!! You owe me that much. That I lived…