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.


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 !!!


Blessings …

On September 23, 2016, I had walked back to the Acadie Metro Station coming home from a doctors appointment. On that day, two Mormon Elders were standing on the platform along side me, down the way.

One of them approached me and said “Bonjour..” I replied in English, “Hello.” The Elder wiped his brow and exclaimed, “Oh, Thank God you speak English.” That began a wonderful relationship with the other Elder standing with him, his companion, my best friend Elder Christensen.

Many conversations were had over hot chocolate, over the next few months before Elder Christensen returned home, for he was on the tail end of his two year mission, here in Montreal. It has been two years since the day we first met, yesterday, on the calendar.

This is Elder Christensen’s blessing, that came last night. A little late, but perfectly in God’s time to come now…

Jeremy, Your letter was a catalyst for a God moment. I read, then God spoke. I left Montreal without leaving you the blessing he had for you. I give it to you now, and I hope you can forgive me for being so consumed in myself as I was leaving that I didn’t have the frame of mind to listen to what God had for me to give you then.Today God reminded me of that duty.

You know God better than the vast majority of people, inside or outside of codified religion. You know him because he has worked in you the miracle that he has offered to all his children, but precious few have accepted. The same God that walks the halls of temples lives in the hearts of addicts, sinners, and wayward souls.

He takes those places and makes them holy. He blesses them, enables their growth, and gives meaning and life to the stories that flow from those states. He lets his children suffer so that his work can be made manifest in us.The lower we go, the higher we can one day climb. I believe no one has suffered more than God, and that is what makes him God.

I believe in a God who weeps. I believe in a God who could care less about handbooks and checklists. I believe in a God who knows from experience what it feels like to be Spencer Christensen, Jeremy Andrews, and every other person who has lived and died and will yet live and die on earth. I believe in a God who is a perfect father, who has no desire to see his children burn.

The only punishment that we face in relation to God is that one day, we will be brought back to that infinite expanse of love, truth and mercy that we existed in before this life and will continue to exist in afterwards, and for those that have denied their nature by living lives of hate and lies, and covetousness will have to exist submersed in a sea of something so fundamentally opposed to their nature that it will be pure agony.

The same light that makes heaven shine makes hell burn. We all go back to the same light, and you, Jeremy, know that light. But it does not burn you. You rejoice in it, and it will only increase in you, for many years to come until he calls you home to experience a fullness of the joy you find in him.This light changes us. It purifies and redeems and gives us strength and direction.

To people who live in the dark, that light is hell. They will run the other direction. They have become the dark, and the light is opposed to their nature. You have seen them come into the rooms. I have seen them in their houses, on their streets. They enter, God begins to shine, and they begin to burn. Then they have to choose. Will they keep walking into the light? Will they trust God enough to let him burn them, refine them, and change their desires? 

I am a human being. I fell the same as every other man has fallen. I am a sinner, and without God, I am nothing. I am subject to temptation to let the dark in, I have resisted it, and I have given into it. I have had dark in me, and I have had light. I have been on he beam, I have been off the beam. One of my favorite missionaries in the Book of Mormon wrote

” I am a man; and man in the beginning was created after the image of God, and I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true;And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.” Alma 18:34

The only man who ever walked this earth in perfection was Jesus Christ, the God who suffers,the God who weeps, the God who does not care about handbooks and checklists, the God who knows what it feels like to be me and you. His invitation to be perfect came with this help: We are to be perfect in him, not on our own. He will deal with the demands of justice. We simply have to be changed by his mercy.

Another verse from the Book of Mormon:

“Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot”. Moroni 10.


If I have attained anything spiritually, it is because for all my faults, I do love this God of mine with all my might, mind, and strength, or at least I try to. I have heard his voice. I have seen him fill my life with purpose and clarity. I have felt so loved that I could not hardly believe how beautiful it really was. His grace has been sufficient for me.

Four years ago, because of that grace, I chose to live the life of a healer and a priest. I got as close as I could to him, in his house, and I promised him all my time, talents, and everything that he has blessed me with, and which he would yet bless me, to building up the kingdom of God on the earth.

I promised to live the laws of sacrifice and obedience to the natural laws that come from the light of God. Every day since I have worn the tangible reminders of those covenants.  I have fallen short of those oaths more times than I could count, and more time than I can count, he has forgiven me and made me better with each failure. I hope you can do the same.

My mission is to give God’s children God’s messages and deliver his blessings. He has both for you, Jeremy.

His message is this: He loves you with a love that is so intense and glorious that it defies all human comprehension. He is so intimately aware of your struggles and pain, knowing you because he never at any time has let anything befall you that he hasn’t felt himself. He loves that you know him, and he wants you to know him even more. He brought you out of hell to prepare you for heavenly purposes. One day your story will change the lives of millions.

Read his words, do his work, and you will live to see your life become a window through which hope will shine to those who suffer in darkness because of the weakness and foolishness of men.

He would like me to bless you. I do so as if i had my hands upon your head, as your brother and fellow son of God. 

Jeremy Andrews, by the authority of the holy priesthood which I hold, and in the name of Jesus Christ, I bless you with power, and with patience, and with strength equal to the demands that have been placed upon you, and will yet be placed upon you preparatory to your callings and responsibilities in the work of God upon the earth.

I bless you that you might advance in a fullness of the light of Christ,that he may bless you, purify you, and give you peace as you minister to his children on earth, and that if you will prove faithful in walking according to that light that you have felt, and you will continue to feel, that a merciful God will prepare the way for you, and make available to you all the blessings, privileges, and peace that come from eternal covenants with God.

These blessings will be yours according to your diligence in obeying the truth in the light that you have already received, and that you will continue to receive line upon line until your work is done. All these things I bless you with, In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

God have mercy on me for such a late blessing. I’ll never shut my ears like that again.You are loved, Jeremy. By God, by me, and by those who owe you their lives and sobriety.


Elder Christensen

Friday – September 21, 2018

Mother nature is having a rough time of it lately. There are wind warnings up for Friday, with storms, rain, and thundershowers coming. Temps have dropped drastically over the past few days. Cool enough to warrant a night jacket, and a double layer for tights.

They tell us Fall is right around the corner. But when, is the question.

Our neighborhood has definitely changed over the past few weeks. The old Children’s Hospital is down completely, and construction crews are feverishly pouring the concrete footings for the new condo towers that will be going on that site. There are several “jobs” going on, at the same time. The clearing of the remaining bricks and demolished building parts is continuing. To the East side of the site, footings are being poured. Cement trucks have been working long hours, and weekends to get them poured. To the West side, they are digging the piers into the ground. I think they want to get the clearing done, and cement poured before Winter. At least they will have a head start on winter weather.

Over on Rene Levesque, down the block from here, on the old Monastery grounds, where the city was going to buy the building, the monks in residence, choose to burn the building to the ground rather than anyone else buying the building. In the end everybody lost. A developer bought the plot of land and a new condo building is going up.

The old Provigo/Toyota Car Dealership on the corner, where we used to grocery shop has been leveled. I was in the Post Office last week, and the agent I was talking to told me they are going to build more condos on the site.

With all the upcoming construction, the number of units will more than triple in the next five years.

So far we have:
Le Square – on Cabot Square
La Catherine – On Ste. Catherines Street down the block
Act – Condos next door to our building
7 condo towers with family space going in on the Children’s
1 condo tower on the old Provigo site

That’s a total of 11 new builds in the neighborhood. Le Square, La Catherine, and Act, are complete and populated. Over the next five years the balance of new builds will be completed.

The focus on families, is huge right now, because there are NO family friendly unites anywhere in this neighborhood. Every one of the buildings in this area are only studios and one bedrooms. My next door neighbors had a son about a year ago, and like our unit, it is only a 1 bedroom. In time they are going to nee more space. Space which this building does not offer.

Our building is undergoing some serious change. Finally, they found the money to rebuild the elevator bays, and give us larger, up to date cars. They are working on car two at the moment, which only leaves Car One working. Busy times are a pain in the ass.

They have repaved the front entrance with new pavers, and they are working on the back entrance now. Meanwhile inside the building they have been re-flooring apartments with new laminate flooring. They are constantly changing out old appliances and painting apartments. All this work is going to justify the next big rental increase.

Some of my neighbors are not pleased with the work going on. Some of our older men in residence are clearly not fans of the company that now owns this building. They are usually outspoken when we connect in the elevators or outside.

I have to say that over the past sixteen years, this building is new from top to bottom. They spent a pretty penny, painting the inside of the building, rolling out new carpet on nineteen floors. They’ve rebuilt kitchens, and refreshed bathrooms. We have front loading washers and dryers on the penthouse floor. We have a cashless system in place that works. They have resurfaced the pool deck. At the moment rent is manageable. We still have space to move on that front.

We are in a holding patter at the moment. Hubby’s new employment has not come through yet. I am hoping they hire him soon, because I want my house back. We’ve seen way too much of each other over the past month.

On October 6th, my dentistry team begins the Big Rebuild in my mouth. Our first appointment on the 6th, is for a surgical extraction and some root canal and fillings. When the work on my existing teeth is done, and I clear up the infection I have at the moment, they will being the final build of my bridges, giving me a new set of teeth, around the ones they are able to save.

I’ve had to accept where I am at the moment, which does not please my friends, but it is what it is. Over the next few months, into the new year, we should have a complete job. And if hubby gets that job, we are waiting for, we will have good insurance to cover the work, because right now I am paying out of pocket for dentistry services. And it Ain’t Cheap …

Tomorrow, well, later today, at the moment, it is 2:42 a.m. will be the best day of the week. And the weekend coming.

Stay tuned for more …

17 September … Fall is Coming

It is Miserably hot this morning with a temp of 32c. I was up early today so I went and did my shop for the next few days. While I was at the mall, I shopped for some shirts I needed and some Fall Decor for my front door.

I got my sweat workout done on my trip out and back.

Friday last, I had another dentist appointment at the Denticare Clinic and I was pleasantly surprised to see that my lady dentist actually had a plan of action she wanted to tell me about.

She did a full exam, with her assistant taking notes as she dictated in French, the full survey was done quite quickly. Here is the plan …

I need one more surgical extraction of a tooth that has disintegrated, and then she will root canal the teeth she can save, and grind and fill the cavities. She said I need six months clear of infection, since I’ve had two now in less than two months. Once I reach that point, clear, she will begin building me a bridge. Unlike an implant a bridge is removable, and also unlike an implant you can add teeth to a bridge as needed.

The route will be much cheaper on the pocketbook, than the $50,000 dollar quote I got from the implant dentists.

This week, temps are all above average for this time of year. But as of last night, I heard the weatherman say that Indeed, Fall will be coming, soon. We have not had a hard frost yet. But it IS snowing out on the Prairies. My friend Randall out in Alberta has had snow on the ground for a few days now. Half of Canada is already into Winter, (out West) and from Manitoba to the Maritimes, we are still sunk in above average, humidly, miserably hot temps.

Florence is making her way up the Eastern Seaboard, and rain will fall later in the week, but we stand to get little rain, because we are on the North side of the storm weather coming. Our geographic location, the St. Laurence river, keep us high and dry for the most part, when wet weather comes up from the south. The river is the dividing line for inclement weather.

We should hear this week, when hubby might start his new job. We are waiting for the hiring manager to get into the office and make contact.

Last week was a great week. My young people stepped up to the plate when I asked them to participate. One of my new friends spoke his first share on Thursday night, and got a swelling of praise from the crowd and several people approached me afterwards to say that my meeting was exceptional. That is high praise, when you get a speaker that totally moves a crowd to applause at the end, after his reading of a poem he wrote for the occasion.

I’m really proud of them. One of our young men is a musician and will be dropping a brand new EP next week. We are so proud of him.

That’s about it for an update. More to come, stay tuned …

Essay: Your Teeth Matter

letsmakeadeal

Many years ago, when I was in rehab, in my first year of sobriety, my counselor had some issues going on with her. Her teeth were giving her grief, and she ignored them, to her own peril. In the end, they had to pull them all, and put in implants. A job that cost a lot of money and caused her months of grief.

I seem to be walking that very same path myself.

When you are diagnosed with AIDS, like I was, whatever else was going on in your body took a backseat to your survival, from said AIDS diagnosis. The initial push to survived trumped any other problem, to our own peril, we know today.

The problem with AIDS, and now HIV is problematic. Because the medication you take is solely for the purpose of keeping you alive. And in many cases, the drugs we take are toxic to the rest of our bodies. And in many cases, other areas of care, become infected, or affected. there is no clear cut way, to properly medicate a body that is immuno – compromised.

AIDS does that to your body. You might be able to save the body, but not its constituent parts, separately. So you have to care for what you can, as long as you can, and hope major issues don’t arise. BUT, HIV is capricious. She is stealthy and devious. You never know when something is going to fail, until it fails you. Then you need extra attention or medical attention.

THAT IS, IF YOU CAN AFFORD SAID CARE …

 

We believe that our teeth will always be in our mouths, and that they will be our North Star, and never fail us … Sadly, that is far from the truth.

I should know this because Memere and Pepere, my mom’s parents, and my father’s father all had dentures by the time I came along. Grammy was the only one who died with all of her teeth in tact.

I should have heeded that warning long ago and took it into consideration, but that was not my case. Far more serious issues befell me and the concentration on survival, took precedence over any other arching issue.

Your medical heath came in the order of importance. Survival was at the top of the list. Everything else took a back seat.

Some time ago, my teeth began to fail, as I crossed the FIFTY mark in my life. One at a time. And as they gave me grief, my trusted dentist, who had been located in the HIV clinic, at the Montreal General, did the work for us, at reduced costs, because who could afford full bore dental payments?

Living on a fixed income as we had for so many years, cost us, in more ways than one. Thankfully, hubby has not seen serious teeth issues yet. But he sure is clued in now, because of where I am today.

Thinking that small problems could be “pulled out” and not repeat themselves was a false belief in my own body’s ability to prevent infection and further pain.

Many months ago, hubby insisted that I go find a reputable dentist who could fix my teeth, once in for all. We knew implants were the only real solution. After two sorties into the world of dental implants, and the costs of said work, turned out to be too expensive for our purses, combined.

We cannot afford upwards of $50,000.00 of dental implants.

Basic insurance in Quebec does not cover major dental. So we knew I would be screwed. One outfit, quoted me almost $48,000 and six months work time. The other was higher, around the $50,000.00 mark, with TWO YEARS work time.

I’ve been not doing well since.

Having to accept myself as I am. Knowing there is no viable solution to my teeth problem, at the moment. And having to accept that my friends look at me with pity, that I cannot afford to properly take care of my own welfare, makes me a little crazy, when my friends won’t look me in the eye, or look away from me, when I speak to them is disconcerting.

Over the past two months, I’ve developed serious infections. I had an abscess on the upper left side of my mouth, with a tooth that just disintegrated in my mouth. That got seriously infected and caused serious nerve damage in my mouth and on the left side of my face. My HIV doctor prescribed me Antibiotics for the infection.

That was a week’s treatment for an issue that only got worse. That hole in my mouth is still there, and the infection with it, it only moved around my mouth into the right side of my jaw and the right side of my face.

So, for the last two months, I’ve been on a steady diet of pain killers and antibiotics. I had been eating pain killers like candy, because the pain has been so insane. I’ve had issues with eating food, brushing my teeth, and sleeping at night.

This problem grew exponentially last week. By weeks end, I was a sobbing mess. I do not do excessive pain very well. I can do PAIN. But not PAIN that does not go away, and throbs in my head, like a jack hammer.

One oft day, I was getting ready to Skype with Spencer, and as the call went through and he appeared on my screen, I had a pain attack that went off the charts as I sat in front of him. Clearly, I was headed downhill very quickly. I could not pound away a pain-killer and hope it did the trick in a matter of minutes. WRONG !!!

This went on for two weeks, and culminated last week, when I could not stand the pain any more. I called all the appropriate doctors, my dentist, and made appointments, that fell during the rest of the month, and not appropriately, NOW as I needed them.

I could not get into my HIV doctor because he in on vacation, and when he goes away, nobody takes his patients. That’s just the way the Quebec Medical System works here.

You make an appointment, and hope you don’t progress further downhill in between. I could not get into the dentist either, because she was booked, and they did not think me an emergency, when I made the appointment, last week.

By Wednesday last week, like I said, I was a sobbing mess. I could no longer medicate the pain away. It was just too much on my system. On Saturday, I was up before dawn, waiting for the clinic, in the mall up the street to open.

It became an EMERGENCY VERY QUICKLY !!!

There is a Dental Clinic in Alexis Nihon, right up the street from home. I knew it was there, but never considered walking in there and doing something about my problems, because, I knew, for the last few months, what HAD to be DONE.

There were no two ways about it.

At Fifty One, my teeth need to be replaced.

So This is a General Warning to all of you …

IF YOU DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR TEETH AND TREAT THEM AS IMPORTANTLY AS YOUR MEDICAL HEALTH, YOU WILL PAY, IN THE END.

Having several warnings in my life, did not make any difference. Knowing people, IN SOBRIETY, who walked this same path, did not impress upon me, the importance of self-care.

But, when you know you cannot afford certain care, what the fuck to do ???

When one is stuck between a rock and a hard place, one has to accept certain truths, no matter how egregious they are.

Saturday morning I got an appointment two hours later.

I went to the Dental Care Clinic. They could not have been more accommodating.

They certainly rose to the occasion.

I was seated by my appointment time. They had done the x-rays, and in minutes I had several dentists in the room with me, telling me what I needed to know. One doctor said he could root canal the tooth and save it. That I did not need serious surgical procedures.

But I told him that the tooth had cracked and was broken, and was giving me so much pain that I could not stand it any longer, and that the tooth needed to come out.

The three teeth on my lower right side, from the back coming forwards are close together. The one tooth at the back is safe. The two teeth in front had such cavities, and the nerves in both teeth had been impacted, causing me neural infection on the right side of my face.

The choice was surgery …

A second young woman doctor came in and told me she was gong to freeze my mouth and told the hygienist that she should prep for surgery. About ten minutes later, they went in with both guns blazing.

They pulled and tugged that damned tooth out of my mouth, while I was holding onto the chair for dear life. They cleared the tooth in front of it. And twenty minutes later, the tooth was out of my mouth, and for the first time in weeks, the pain was gone.

Talk about GRATITUDE …

They gave me a second round of antibiotics and pain killers to chase them.

They took great pains to warn me of all the things I could not do, for twenty-four hours after surgery, for if I transgressed the warnings, the pain in return would be greater.

The infection in my mouth was all over the place. One round of antibiotics on their own did not do the trick, and the infection made a tour around my mouth. So after radical dental surgery, another round of antibiotics.

I’m eating on the left side of my mouth. Have been for some time now. Now, I just need to wait out a little longer for the hole to heal over completely, before I introduce food to the right side of my mouth.

The issue of what to do with the rest of my mouth is still in play. I have a follow-up appointment on Friday this week to get a full picture of the severity of my problem, because none of the dentists I HAD SEEN about implants did any kind of explorative foray into my teeth.

First they wanted a commitment AND CASH to begin the process.

I could not commit to either plan, because we could not afford to see it through to the end. And I could not, in good conscience, saddle hubby with a $50,000.00 loan that the bank would not give us even on a good day, and thinking that I would not survive seeing that kind of money paid back in full prior to my own death …

And that my friends is the latest saga in I need new teeth and soon story.

Hubby got the job, in principle, he has been working towards. Hopefully in the next little while he will get his start date. And hopefully soon after that, we may have a solution to my problem.

A Platinum Insurance plan that will cover Major Dental.

If that plan exists,  in the constellation of insurance coverage, hubby is going to BUY IN, and pay the extra costs in having that ability to help me finally.

Needless to say, hubby is clearly aware of my situation, and has had a serious time dealing with his inability to provide properly. Because I live on a fixed income from the U.S. Government and that money only pays for the roof over our heads every month. We do not get any more use out of that monthly stipend. So my hands are tied to what I can contribute to the house purse.

Being fucked sucks …

That is just the reality we live with day in and day out.

Hopefully, a solution is on the horizon. We will find it, one way or another.