Lotta Birthdays Today

Tonight my friends sat with me at the men’s meeting and we celebrated my birthday together. However my sponsor is in Vermont, but he called to wish me a happy. Nobody believed I was fifty two today. My much older friends are too kind in saying that I sure as shit do not look fifty two and I certainly don’t dress like a fifty two year old man.

I was standing outside the church with a friend and he commented that I don’t seem like I want to really grow old. He is right.

I got a call at 9 am this morning from my friend Juan, then made a date to have coffee with a new friend. He and I see things very much the same when it comes to the book and THE WORK. That conversation lasted two hours.

I came home for a bit, and my Elder Friend Spencer Skyped me surprisingly and this year, instead of his banjo, played happy birthday on his guitar. Nothing like an Elder Serenade for your birthday.

With a few hours to kill, we watched some tv, however my favorite tv news host was MIA again today. I was like, we can turn the tv off now, because I really don’t care what anyone else has to say about current events.

I departed early with cake in hand for the meeting, and arrived well before the business meeting was to start. We end the month tonight with the Seventh Tradition. Money and Spirituality.

It was a lively discussion of all things money from a sober perspective of men who are much longer sober than I am. The one perk, one of my friends and I have today, is that we both read Our Great Responsibility. A book of compiled talks given by Bill W, and a few others, including Lois, his wife, at the General Conferences from 1940 until Bill’s death in 1971.

The archivists in New York General Service Office, took all of the talks Bill W gave, that had been taped for posterity, and lovingly transcribed them all in a book form. Reading the book, I was struck very deeply with the knowledge I now have of just how important the Non-Alcoholic and the Alcoholic Trustees had for the fellowship, even back decades before I was ever born.

Bill said repeatedly that, We Can’t Screw This Up. The fellowship MUST Survive, and go on, for time to come, because several times they all mention US. Us as in the unborn alcoholics who would come after they were long gone. It was so beautiful reading the words of someone who cared deeply that the fellowship would be here, when each of us would need it.

It also tells the story of the struggle to get the first edition printed, the squabbles about money, and property, ego and of Humility. It was not easy, by any stretch what took place, but in the end, here we are.

And I could not be more grateful for those men and women who served General Conference and took such care to make sure the foundation they had lain down would survive for those of us who are here today, all over the world. They had not a clue, how the fellowship would blossom all over the world, in so many languages.

There were a whole group of us celebrating birthdays today. Who knew so many of my Instagram contemporaries shared the same day together, along with a family friend’s son Noah, who turned a bright nineteen years old today. I’ve watched Noah grow up from his earliest years when I became friends with his dad. He was just a small boy when I met his dad. Now he’s a bright, smart, good, and kind young man, like his father and grandfathers.

I don’t know if fifty two is any different than fifty was, and I probably won’t know for some time, until I get a little hindsight to look back on this day. Which is why I am writing it all down before I go to bed.

I lived, the boy who Lived. Thank you Harry Potter.

More to come, Goodnight.

Happy Birthday Harry

Noah Levy, my friend Carmi’s son

Today we celebrate birthdays. Lots of them. Harry turns 39 today, Noah, my friend Carmi’s son, is 19 years old, and I hit the famed age of 52. I’ve lived longer than anyone ever expected, including myself.

Today we are in good company.

Neville Longbottoms birthday was yesterday, the 30th of July. He would also be 39 years old this year.

Sunday: Kindness

Today was a special day. My best friend and his fiancee were coming to Montreal for the day, for Meg’s moms birthday brunch. They were going to see the Carol King Bio Show at Place des Arts afterwards.

I started the morning off at the Old Brewery Mission for my Sunday meeting. Looks like I am going out to the famed Beaver Rehabilitation Center on Wednesday night this week, with the ladies from the Sunday meeting. And one of them is speaking for me at the end of the month.

Afterwards I headed to Place des Arts to meet the party. I got to Complex Dejardins early, and before everyone else arrived. It only took me almost half an hour to find the restaurant, in the maze of the entire complex. Luckily it was sitting in a dark corner where construction walls were up, which made it harder to find.

Eight of us were there. Raf and Meg, her brother Eli, and his girlfriend, Meg’s mom, and two others I did not know. After a leisurely brunch, gifts were exchange for the two birthday girls.

And they had a bag for me. With the above items in it.

  1. A Tea Towel that Raf’s grandmother painted. She paints many of them as a hobby. So I got one.
  2. Raf’s favorite soccer team jersey Palmeiras on the left, and
  3. An official Brazil Jersey with the Number 10 – Pele’s number.
  4. And A door hanging Holy Spirit, a Brazilian tradition to hang over the front door of the apartment.

These days two of my favorite soccer players Lionel Messi at Barcelona and Paulo Dybala for Juventus, both wear the number ten for their respective clubs.

I was not expecting gifts today because it was not my day, so to speak. But I got a fine brunch and gifts from my best friend today. it was just good to get to spend a couple hours with him and Meg.

Because of the terrible snow conditions both here and back in Ottawa, I won’t be going down until April when his school term ends, and Spring finally arrives.

A good day was had by all.

Year End Review 2018

Instead of writing an entire expose of the past year, I thought I would share the first thought that made it into print, the first entry of every month of 2018. A little retrospective, of course. Enjoy !!!

January 2018 …

In 1998, at four years sober, every man I knew, at that four year mark, walked out the doors and drank and used again. Including myself.

At that time, it was the messaging, that just solidified my decision to take my life back into my own hands and go out. When an alcoholic walks up to you and says Get Out and Don’t come back … what are you supposed to do, when you figure out, your options at that point are very slim, on the ground.

February 2018 …

I wrote this letter to my Spiritual Director the other night. It is pertinent to my life today, because it reflects my growth in certain areas of my life at the moment.

I hope that things have gotten a bit better than they were a few days ago. Sometimes it’s a bitch having to recite and accept those pesky slogans …

They might come in handy when necessary, but when they become prayer mantras, that’s the worst, because you know, you have to totally “Turn it over, right ?”

How many times had I heard, Stick with the Winners, and Stay until the Miracle happens, and This Too Shall Pass … UGH

March 2018 …

It has been a few days since my last update. It has been a busy time for everybody all around. We have a family wedding in May, it will be the first time, in many years that the entire family will be in the same location at the same time, to celebrate my niece Melissa and her husband to be, Stephan’s wedding.

We have watched our nieces and nephews grow up into fine young adults. And we spoil them whenever we get the chance. Holidays are always a big deal for our family. We will be traveling to Southern Ontario (on the train) a first for us.

In July, one of my guys, Juan is going to marry his fiancée Nadia, in a very intimate setting here in Montreal. We’ve been working very hard at keeping them “on the beam” so to speak. Juggling school, work, wedding preparations and life, is a tall order. But, like they say, “we have a program for that!”

April 1 2018 – Easter Sunday

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

John 20: 11-18

Now Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

May 2018 …

Two years ago, this very week, May 1st, 2016 to be exact, Fort McMurray, in Alberta, Western Canada was a tinder box, and went up in flames. We covered that tragedy here on the blog. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, thousands upon thousands of homes were burned to the ground.

But, resilient as people are, Fort McMurray is on the rebound as rebuilding has been going on since the all clear was sounded.

Seasonal changes have been occurring … This is fact.

Winters have been long and arduous. The snow pack is deep, again this year. Snow has been falling to the ground across Canada into the month of May this year. Here in Quebec, Winter went so long, we thought it would never end.

June 2018 …

Have you ever loved something so much, that you thought at one point, that you would do that thing for the rest of your life ? Climb the ladder of success, in a field/job, a sport, in music, or a trade ?

And what happens when you reach the point of success, let’s say, “going to an Olympics in Beijing as a Canadian athlete at the top of ones game.” And then having the tables turn on you, and that sport you loved, and gave it all of your heart and soul, and then that passion for the game DIES within, and alcohol becomes your best friend and companion.

July 2018 …

Staying the course, and always doing the next right thing, is good sound advice.

When the chatter in my head is running at fever pitch, and my emotions seem to rule every decision or thought at times, I know that I need to stop and take a break.

Read: I need to STOP and Pray !!!

Funny how things fall into my lap, when I most need them. Or, little signs from somewhere outside of myself, seem to appear, in front of me, at the oddest moments.

I have told the story about my I-Phones tendency to shuffle me a speaker, one speaker in particular, when I really need a talking to. It seems to know me better than I know myself at times, which begs the question … Are Our I-Phones sentient ???

August 2018 …

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

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

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

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

September 2018 …

Summer is officially over. We did not Labor, over the Labor day weekend.

However good news did come.

October 2018 …

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No stone is left un-turned by page 444 …

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

Guns, Germs and Steel is a Winner !!!

Read This Book !

November 2018 …

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?”

December 2018 …

December 9th 2018 came and went without fanfare.

The phone only rang once all day. The Big Celebration will take place on Friday night, at our regular Friday Night meeting. It is our Anniversary Meeting/Christmas Party. And I will take my cake as well.

I’ve been trying to figure out where I sit in the grand scheme of things, a little drop in the Big Ocean of the Universe. I’ve not quite figured that out just yet, so I am still flying by the seat of my pants.

A while back I had a conversation with a friend who is at year seven in his transition, today. Back then, amid some strife in his life, I told him that “What people think of us is none of our business.”

Not long ago, while talking together he parroted back to me that phrase, but he could not place where he had originally heard it. And I said, “that was a sober thought, and it sounds like something I would have said to you in the past. So it went.

We talked about what he calls being “Emotionally Self Sufficient.” Not relying on others, judgments, critiques, support or not support for us, to dictate the men and women we become.

I don’t usually worry about what people think of me, on the whole. It used to bother me when people, in public would critique my outfits or judge me one way or another. I kind of grew out of that insanity. Albeit, the hard way.

It had to be purged amid a pass through my steps this past Fall.

The one thing that haunts me to this day is the nostalgic portion of my brain that gives credence to the thought that people would grow up and finally want to make peace, after a lifetime of vitriol and hatred. In the back of my head I believe that every human has One Redeeming Quality, that can overcome whatever hardness in their hearts, if only they would find it within themselves. Alas, that has not happened.

I really cannot stomach that there are people in my life who hate me and want nothing to do with me because I am Gay and that I chose to take hold of my life, and go my own way, and do my own thing, and I believe, I did a good job so far. Some people don’t get it, and fault me for leaving a nuclear unit to break out on my own. Let’s remember that these same people, pushed me away and out of that nuclear unit, because I was Gay.

So Fuck Me !

There are so many good things in my life today. Today was my Quit Day, smoking cigarettes. I’ve been on Chantix for more than a week now, and just crossed the second week dosing of higher doses of medication. Which has seriously curbed my desire to smoke. That is a thing.

Working with others has kept me busy and on point. Trying to be the best human I can, and teaching lessons to others, that I learned myself many, many years ago, today. Not too many people pay attention to my stories, but there are three men who will listen.

And when I say to them, TRUST ME … I know what I am talking about, because it comes from a place deep within my soul. From the man who saved my life, and said those words to me, when I needed to hear them, and I have survived more than twenty five years now.

Hindsight is truly a gift these days.

Christmas shopping is going on. I did the bulk of my shopping on Tuesday. I had to travel into the Village for some things. And the central village Metro Station is closed for renovations until next June 2019. So I had to figure out how to get out of our intermodal Berri Station, which houses several Metro lines on three levels, down into the ground. The main Montreal bus station and all associated towers and service offices. There are many ways out of the station, but if you take the wrong tower exit, you end up in a particularly “other” area of town that you actually wanted to end up in.

There is a little snow on the ground. It is unseasonably below average cold, but it should warm up into positive numbers come the weekend. Long range forecasts says that snow showers will fall on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are hosting a Christmas Dinner party for a friend, his wife and her mom. Their Second Christmas dinner here at our house.

It will be grand.

All in all life is good. I am still sober. And all is well.

Monday: July 31st … On Being Fifty

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It is the best day of the year, and the most IMPORTANT day of my life.

I have reached the ripe age of Fifty … Harry would be 37 years old today.

I woke up very early this morning, as the sun was coming up. Just to be quiet for a time and appreciate that when I did get up this morning, that my heart was still beating.

I survived. I made it all this way. Miraculous, really. Who knew I’d live this long ?

What has changed ? I jettisoned a whole bunch of takers from my life. I re-ordered my priorities, and closed the book on the last chapter of my life.

Today, we begin writing the next decade …

When I turned 40, and the years that followed, I realized that I KNEW things for sure. It was only after I crossed the 40 mark that that began to dawn on me. So I suppose that whatever I am supposed to know now, will materialize on the days, weeks, months, and years that will follow.

Another personal cull is waiting in the wings, and I will know that list by the close of business today.

All I know is that NOW, instead of Forty years, I now have Fifty years of practical life experience and a BUNCH of sober knowledge about many people. Intimate knowledge that has helped the cull process.

I really know who I want in my life, and who I don’t. I know what I am willing to invest in and what I won’t. I have sobriety that was proofed in the furnace of vulnerability. I got down and dirty in the arena, while everyone else watched from the stands.

Only three people got in the arena with me.

If you aren’t in the arena with me, getting your ass kicked, I don’t need your feedback.

I’ve changed things up here on the blog. Added a few things, took others away.

I’ve decided to embrace the wisdom and look of a fifty year old. So that is a thing.

There are a few things I really need to focus on over the next little while.

Fifty feels good right now. That may change. We’ll see …

Anyways, Happy Birthday Harry …

July 31st – Happy Birthday Harry Potter

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord ( Lord Voldemort) approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him ( that’s Harry Potter), born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …

 

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Today is July 31st, 2016. Harry would be 36 today. We wish him a very happy birthday.

I share this date in common with Harry. Today I turn 49 years old.

It was Harry, who saved my sanity, when I returned to the rooms in 2001.

Saturday July 30 Today we Celebrate Neville Longbottom’s Birthday

neville birthday july 30

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord ( Lord Voldemort) approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him ( that’s Harry Potter), born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …

Neville was the other boy, the prophecy could have mentioned, as he was born at the same period of time that Harry had been. But Voldemort decided to go and kill Lily and James, instead of Neville’s parents. Bellatrix Lestrange tortured his parents into insanity and ended up in St. Mungo’s where we find them in The Order of the Phoenix, in “Christmas in the Closed Ward” chapter.

In the end it was Neville who “killed Nagini, the last Horcrux.”

Neville was born on July 30th 1980, which makes him the same age as Harry, 36 …

From his first days at Hogwarts, Neville was a target for bullies and mean teachers (we’re looking at you, Snape!) He seemed to be a liability in the classroom, not to mention those perilous situations he and his friends kept finding themselves in. In spite of this, Neville’s unwavering loyalty meant he never shied away from danger.

While Harry, Ron and Hermione were hunting Horcruxes in Deathly Hallows, Neville led the rebellion at Hogwarts. After rallying the troops, a war-torn Neville throws himself into combat armed with Mandrakes (he knows his Herbology!) and accepts an important task from Harry – ‘kill the snake’.

It looks like the battle is lost. Neville stands alone and unarmed against Lord Voldemort himself. As punishment for his defiance he is forced into wearing the Sorting Hat, which Voldemort sets ablaze. But Neville breaks free, pulling forth the sword of Godric Gryffindor…

Between his botched potions and runaway toad Trevor, we always felt a bit sorry for Neville. We didn’t know much about him except that he came from a proud wizarding family and his grandmother Augusta raised him to uphold that honour. However, Neville’s shortcomings masked a tragedy that, for many years, he kept to himself.

When Neville was a baby, his parents Frank and Alice Longbottom were tortured to insanity with the Cruciatus Curse. Though he dutifully visits them in hospital, the couple appear to be husks of their former selves, handing Neville empty sweet wrappers. We see this play out in the heartbreaking chapter ‘Christmas on the Closed Ward’.

‘Neville, put that wrapper in the bin, she must have given you enough of them to paper your bedroom by now.’ But as they left, Harry was sure he saw Neville slip the sweet wrapper into his pocket.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

How did the nervous lad with the love of plants grow up to face the Dark Lord? Simple – he never gave up.

Neville didn’t seek sympathy or wallow in despair. Instead he took his pain and channeled it into his training. Spurred by news of the Death Eaters’ escape, he strove to avenge his parents and prevent more innocents from suffering their dreadful fate. The Sorting Hat was right – deep down, Neville Longbottom had the heart of a lion.

Neville’s story is an inspiration to us all. It doesn’t matter how many cauldrons you’ve melted; with hard work and courage, you can still be a hero.

Happy Birthday Neville …