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.

When Is Accommodation A Step Too Far ?

The Literature we read in every meeting, was codified into being when the fellowship began, and the meeting scripts and literature were finely tuned.

Being gay in A.A. has not been pretty. I’ve been told to leave meetings, and not come back, because some alcoholics found me “a human who was not condoned to sit in the same room with them.”

That caused a Slip back into drinking and drugs, that almost killed me.

When I moved to Montreal, that happened a second time, in a meeting in the West End of the city. I never went back to that meeting, and in as many years, I’ve never stepped into a meeting with any of those men and women, to this day.

Back when I first got Sober, there were dedicated GAY meetings. For Gay men. Even so, there were also dedicated meetings for the GAY Women. Over the years, as gay men died, I was and still am the only surviving man living with AIDS on the English side.

Over the years those gay meetings closed, because they could not be populated to sustain a meeting. And in the early years, LGBT men and women began to assimilate into Straight meetings, into general population.

I know, for a fact, that way back when, there were TRANS men and women, in the system. And I made sure I knew who they were, so that if I was present in a meeting, they knew that that meeting was safe to attend, that nobody was going to harm them or disrespect them, so long as I was there.

Many of those TRANS people have disappeared. I’ve not seen many of them in a number of years now. My folks on the spectrum, have more than alcohol in their stories, those making transitions, so forth and so on. Many of them went back out under pressure and never returned.

In the last year, we have seen the LGBT Spectrum widen. More than we had seen in as many years. With the broadening of the sexual orientation spectrum, the terms Gender Neutral or Non-Binary have become stock.

We have a handful of kids in this gender non-binary grouping. Along with the Gay men and women, and TRANS men and women.

The discussion at business meetings and Group Consciences has turned into fighting matches to AMEND our hallowed literature scripts to accommodate everybody in a meeting.

We’ve now reached the point where the words MEN and WOMEN have been removed from the preambles across the city. The word GOD has been removed to Higher Power, for those who do not even deign to say the word God in community.

AA Preamble. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help other to recover from alcoholism.

This is the way the script has been read for over 80 years.

We’ve now amended that script to say “People.” And Not Men and Women.

Tonight … Was a business meeting that got heated and contentious.

At the Group Conscience a couple of weeks ago, the issue of wording came up and the script changed, voted and with a majority of support is what we read right today.

There are two TRANS women in our group. They come tonight to the business meeting because they had a bone to pick, because they are upset the wording was changed with out THEIR approval or discussion.

They did not attend the group conscience meeting, so they did not get the opportunity to be dissenting voices to the changes.

They came tonight and wanted to verbiage to be changed BACK from “People” to “Men and Women, AND People.” Words were spoken, curses were offered as well. The discussion got very heated.

At one point, I put the motion on the table to change the verbiage back to Men and Women and People.

Sadly, our NON-BINARY kids were in the meeting. Those who offered the change to “People” at the meeting.

I put the motion on the table and we voted.

The motion was voted down. So the verbiage remains “People.”

Our two TRANS women left the meeting in tears, because they feel slighted that Men and Women have been removed from the script, and they, as trans women want inclusion as Men and Women stated in the original.

They left, after Myself and my friend Jim spoke to them. I was outside with one of our women, and Jim was inside with the other. We tried to smooth it over and talk openly and honestly.

We both failed at that.

They will come to the next business meeting next month and try again to raise the issue to put it to a vote to change the wording back to

“Men and Women, with the additional People.”

We’ve tried with difficulty to open the meetings to everyone and not single anyone out or intimate that Everyone is not welcome. That sexual orientation and identity are outside issues, and this is a meeting, and we do things one way and one way only.

We’ve been very accommodating to everyone.

But the Non-Binary camp is powerful and they want things the way they want it, and they don’t want to bend and see that the trans community is just as welcome as they are, and that if we are going to amend the literature as they would like, we have to accommodate everyone equally.

This is the issue of the week right now.

I don’t know quite what to do now.

Suggestions are welcome.

Inside the Circle

The week has come to an end. And Friday’s have always been the best night of the week, because of the people I share company with.

I was taught a long, long, time ago, that if I ever needed anything, ANYTHING, I would need only look as far as the circle. Looking back, I never had to go outside the circle for anything. Whatever that Anything was.

Suffice to say that tonight, several key friends showed up. People I trust, whom I am able to talk to about a myriad of subjects.

My kids have been on my mental radar the entire week. I’ve been talking to my friends about how I can help them. Each person I spoke to, gave me a distinct answer.

Worrying that I could not do anything, turns out that, I actually can do something. Tonight, I spoke to several key people in the circle, familiar with my worries.

I learned who can help me on a greater scale. I learned where I can go to find more help, specifically built to help my kids on the fluid spectrum. I told my friends tonight everything I observed and what I worried about. And with that said, I got solid solutions.

I also spoke to other friend familiar with specific kids in difficulty, and I am pleased that my friends will step up and do what needs to be done to help them. I’m gratified that within the circle we learn to trust each other, and know that if we ask for help, help will come.

Mental Health assistance for our kids is thin on the ground, but there are communities within the circle that CAN help. I know where they are now, and what solutions they offer to our kids.

You might not think we cover all the bases, but as the playing field changes, we adapt. I did not know what we could do for my kids, but I do now.

All will be well.

A good night was had by all.

Christmas Eve 2018

The week, last week ended with a final push to get all the Christmas shopping done. “Mission Accomplished!” Hubby has been in Ottawa visiting his parents for Christmas and they did Christmas Sunday evening with the extended family.

I was “HOME ALONE !!!”

Nope, not stuck in Chicago

Nope, not lost in New York

But, Home Alone in Montreal

But those movies were on the W Network last night. Sadly we don’t have that channel on our list of Cable Channels.

I’ve cleaned all the things that needed to be cleaned. I vacuumed last night at about 2 a.m. because I was wide awake. I scrubbed the microwave, which was badly needed, after looking inside the box. I just usually throw whatever I am heating up, in, and pay no attention the the box itself.

I defrosted/de-iced/gutted my turkey for tomorrows dinner.

I haven’t been to bed yet today.

All of our kids are where they need to be. Everybody is hooked up for friends who went home, in their same cities, so they are buddying up for meetings and fellowship over the holidays. Those kids who are still here will gather tonight for Christmas Eve Meetings, and fellowship.

We’ve all been working overtime with the newbies to make sure they make it through their first Christmases sober, and alive. All is well, through last night.

Hubby returns this afternoon with the loot that came from the extended family and my in laws. When he goes away and I have to think about what I need to cook for dinner, is a hassle. Because usually I don’t have to think about cooking dinner, because he does the cooking, and serves up meals night after night. So I had to shop and cook for myself, which is a strange thing, when he goes away …

Tomorrow I am hosting a Gala Christmas Dinner for my friend Juan, his wife Nadia and her mom, who is now living in Canada, this is her first holiday, in Canada, with SNOW and COLD, with Nadia and Juan. They moved into a larger apartment a few months ago, for more space. We will sit five tomorrow.

This morning I shopped a few items I thought I needed and got supplies for the meeting tonight, and some Chocolate Milk. I’ve been craving grill cheese so I bought some cheese and made a sandwich.

Now I have to drop labs next week, and the last time I ate bread, my triglycerides went up so far, it stunned my doctors, who both called to see what I had done to myself.

I told them I ATE BREAD for God’s sake …

Then they both told me emphatically … NO MORE BREAD EVER !!!

I ate bread this morning. And will eat bread with Hot Turkey Sandwiches later tomorrow night.

The gifts are all wrapped, and under the tree. I bought a few things for hubby that he did not ask for, because as long as we’ve been together, he will never ask for something particular for himself. Not once, ever. So I have to guess what he needs and then shop.

I had ordered a gift from a company called SIRENO, for a keepsake, special pressed key chain, that you can have punched with particular dates. I paid over $50.00 for it, BACK in September… I got a shit package in the mail the other day from China, 3 months later, from a counterfeit group. I lost fifty bucks and the bank won’t refund the money till I get a return response from the counterfeiter themselves.

FUCKING CHINESE GANGSTERS !!!

I’m so pissed I got ripped off on a present that would have been over the top for hubby …

More to come, as Christmas is tomorrow …

A Second Set of Eyes

I have learned over many, many years, that everybody needs a second set of eyes on them. And not many people are afforded this little perk in life. The world operates on the “I can do it myself” mentality. Some make it and prosper, others, find their way into our rooms, and have to begin again, from the ground up.

Recently, I was reading a book. And was pleasantly surprised to learn a piece of truth, that just made everything make sense all of a sudden.

In my life, when my husband was diagnosed as Bi-Polar in 2003, he was very ill and was down for the count for almost an entire calendar year. What I learned in that time was the “Importance” of those second set of eyes.

When it comes to Mental Health, we should not try to go it alone. Because for the most part, a doctor, (If you can find one) sees you, (after whatever wait time you have to sit through) gives you a diagnosis, then begins the arduous task of giving one medication, one goes home and begins said treatment plan.

Then What ???

Who is gonna be there to see if what the pills that one is taking is doing the right job, and if not, have the ability to observe from the outside, what is going on in the inside of our “Significant Other.”

I know a lot of kids, in my community, going it alone. They don’t have that second set of eyes on them. In the past, I tried to be that other set of eyes for them, to the best of my ability. All of them, today, are “out there.”

Every once in a while, when sitting in a particular room, those boys and girls sitting with us, connect. And if we are wise, those of us, who know what to do, quietly bring one or two on board with us.

Quiet and Considerate action can be fruitful, if your bank is topped up and you know what to do for your fellows. A long time ago, Todd took a liking to me, and when it was necessary for him to step in and take control, that is exactly what he did. And I live to tell that story, as often as possible.

I get to take the knowledge in my bank and share it with a chosen handful of men, in my life. They trust me enough to listen. And I find that once we begin talking, we find commonality.

I don’t think we are meant to go at life alone, forever. At least, I have not had to Go It Alone for the last little while. If you can step up and be that second set of eyes for someone or to step up and mentor a young person, or go above and beyond the call and really step up your game with your kids, that is the way to go.

We only get this one life. And the faster one realizes that, “You Can’t Take It With You” when you’re dead, we then get to decide how we are going to spread our wealth and treasure with someone who just might need it, when necessary. It does not take much to help our fellow boys and girls.

All you have to do is step up and be counted. To offer a conversation, at first, and see where that goes. You might be surprised that within a simple conversation, we find ways to give back. Quietly and Humbly.

This Christmas is all about Giving It Back.

A number of years ago, when my great aunt Georgette was still alive, and was in the Grey Nuns Convent, just up the block from my home, she would call me into her office and assign me a Giving Back Job, every Christmas.

Every year was a different situation.

One year, I had to provide a Christmas dinner for a family who did not have the money to buy food. Turkey and all the fixings.

A second year, a young family could not afford gifts for their kids, so we shopped for a family and their kids.

A third year, a family could not afford a Christmas Tree and decorations. So we bought them a tree and all the doo dads to go with it.

When I was a kid, my step mom provided fantastical holiday gatherings at her house. My father was not such a fan, but it is what it is.

I have kids to give to this year. I have family that come to our home for Christmas Dinner. Chosen family. The gift of today is the ability to choose our family, when the nuclear family fails to represent.

We don’t need shiny objects or surplus doo dads that we really do not need. I think the best way to be kind, is to find one person, in your “sphere of influence” that has shared with us a passion or a desire.

It is in the listening to another, that we learn just what we can do to make a difference in someones life.

Do you listen to your friends ? Attentively ???

It is Christmas. Find that one human whom you can make a difference for, and then go do it.

Just don’t think about how much it might cost you, because the return on investment could be astronomical. You never know.

Make a difference in someones life this Christmas.

Remember, Miracles count double on Christmas Eve.

Fifty One … Made It Another Year

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“… They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.”

We Agnostics, page 51.

Tonight, we ended the month of July, with me in the chair, and we talked about God, Prayer, and Faith.

One over arching comment I heard from my friends is that for many of them, the thought of God, the practice of prayer, the admission of humility and the profession of faith, is a natural part of who they are.

They don’t necessarily “think” about God or Prayer, or Humility, or faith, every minute of the day. Those constituent parts of who they are present in everything that they do, every day. These parts are, in and of themselves, separate, but are unified in a single thought … Presence and Service.

The old story rose in my mind as I sat and listened. And I told it again. Even if my friends have heard me tell this story over and over.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away … Cue the Star Wars Theme …

God has been an integral part of my life, for the whole of my life. Memere and Grammy made sure that I knew of God, and that God loved me.

Memere, one day, when I was very young, took me to church and presented me to God, standing on the altar of that church, where she had a conversation with God, about me.

That visual is burned into the back of my mind.

I served God to the best of my ability, to the extent that in my second year of college, after high school, I ended up in Seminary, studying to be a priest.

I devoted my life to God, in every way possible. But I was not like the others. I did not do evil things that the others had done. I never broke my vows to Mother Church, during that year, and I thought that would get me by.

It didn’t.

At the end of that year, the rector, whom I had issues with personally, said to me that I was not “one of them.” Therefore, it was his decree that I would be told to leave the seminary.

Talk about being resentful and angry about God.

My alcoholism took off full-bore. And lasted until my 26th year of life. I told God to go to hell, that I did not need Him. Took back my will and my life, and pursued life.

I had come out of the closet not long after.
That only added to my alcoholic woes.

On one morning, as I sat in that bar nursing a drink at 7 a.m. fate strolled in to greet me and I danced. That morning would be the last morning.

What I did not know would eventually almost kill me.

On July 8th 1994, I got those words. “You are going to die.” A few days later I called Todd home from vacation and told him I was going to die.

As God as my witness … I may have turned my back on God. But God, in His wisdom, got my attention once again.

Never be thankful for a terminal disease.

Sometimes a fatal disease is just that, a fatal disease.

I took my life in my own hands that morning, and did what I did. And I am the one to blame for my misfortune. It is my fault.

God got my attention. Then He stepped out of Heaven and soothed my soul.

What Todd did for me, I will never forget, will always be grateful for, and remember as long as I breathe air. I will tell his story as many times as I can, because if this story dies. I die with it.

It is the power of God that makes this story critical.

Todd promised me, if I turned my will and my life over to him and trusted him with my life, that he would see to it that I survived. I may have kicked and screamed for a while, but that did not last very long.

As my friends died around me, one after another, and every day that I lived, is a testament to the Power of Todd, Read: GOD.

On the day I said goodbye to him, standing next to his car, as he got into that car, and shut the car door, he forgot to give me one small piece of information,

“What was I supposed to do now.”

I lament that he did not give me that much-needed piece of information. We were so caught up in goodbye that I don’t think that thought crossed his mind, in that moment.

When he drove off, my life drove off with him.

I could not make it alone. I had no idea what to do or how to do it.

All of the people who were still alive, already made the trek West. I was the only one who stayed. I stayed because of my heart. I stayed because I was sure, my father would die, and I would make my stand and go to my mother, and reclaim her from my father, and care for her for the rest of my days.

Obviously, that plan never happened.

My parents would rather eat dirt, than accept me as a human worthy of love.

On January 7th 2018, my father died. I got that one wrong.

My mother spit in my face, once again, saying to me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. This is the very same woman I was hedging my bets of saving and being part of her life.

Got that one wrong too.

I did drink again.

At the end of my drink binge, I called out to God. Begged Him for help.

I prayed three prayers in order of necessity.

  • A hangover
  • An Alcoholic
  • And Get me to a Meeting

God did those very things for me, in the order I needed them, miraculously.

I was on the return arc, when Troy walked into my business and his first words to me were: I did not drink today …

Troy was that blessed alcoholic whom God sent. Troy took me to my next, First Meeting. I stayed for the later 10 pm meeting and met the folks who would bring me back to life again. Those original folks are still in my life to this day.

God granted me a few dispensations. And created a number of miracles.

I ended up crossing the border, attaining Canadian Citizenship, I am still sober, almost seventeen years later. And had you told me, back in Miami, back in the day, that my life could have looked like it does today, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.

God moved heaven and earth. And God’s saving grace has made me whole.

There IS a GOD, and I am not God.

Although, I did meet God. I spoke to God. I worked for God. I served God, every day I walked into work and served those men, who are all dead now, until they all took their last breaths on this earth. I was with many of them. When their families tossed them into the gutter and into the streets, I was there, with a few friends, who cared for the sick, until they eventually died, in our arms.

None of my friends died alone. Not One Of Them.

Nobody knows the intricacies of this story. Nobody really cares, even the gay men I know today. They know nothing about AIDS or Living with AIDS. They really don’t care for my stories, because they cannot identify.

If my story dies, I will die with it.

Which is Why, till the day that I take my last breath, I will utter the name of Todd and thank God for saving my life, all these years.

I made it to 51.

Let’s PARTY !!!

Out of Chaos Comes Order …

o-BRENE-BROWN-ORIGIN-MAGAZINE-facebookEvery night that we sit with the Big Book and read it, repeatedly, eventually hindsight takes place and wisdom appears. This does not happen overnight, because we know that sobriety does not happen overnight.

Everything in its own time they say …

“A complete change takes place in our approach to life. Where we used to run from responsibility, we find ourselves accepting it with gratitude that we can successfully shoulder it. Instead of wanting to escape some perplexing problem, we experience the thrill of challenge in the opportunity it affords for another application of A.A. techniques, and we find ourselves tackling it with surprising vigor.” pp 275-276 Ed. 4

We don’t know what we don’t know. I know today, that I have specific insight into who I was, at particular points in my personal story.

Growing up in an alcoholic home, I learned, quite forcefully, how to take care of said home. Cleaning, doing laundry, taking care of a pool and mowing the yard. Grocery shopping and cooking dinners were necessary at times as well.

I knew how to do all those things, before I flew the coop, so to speak.

The problem was, that before I got where I was intending to go, my alcoholism was already there, waiting for me, like it knew me intimately, and had plans for me that I really did not ponder as the moving truck pulled up to the building I was moving into.

The following five years was a blur, until I hit my twenty-sixth year of life, and death was staring me in the face. There were no options, but to kiss my ass goodbye and wait to die.

That is, until Todd (read: God), stepped into my life.

At the first, as he demanded my sober heart and mind, what I did not know, I did not know, and Todd had to re-educate me. Chaos reigned in my head and I had lost control of my faculties.

I was powerless over the fact that I was going to die, miserably.

Yes, I got sober. But more importantly, I had a job. A job that paid the bills and kept me alive. Keeping me alive trumped meetings, and the people in those meetings. The first year of my sobriety was a horse race that was bet against me by the very same people who were tasked at carrying the message of sobriety to me and making sure I made it.

However, with a number painted on my back and weekly bets being placed on my eventual slip, what was I supposed to do, when I was locked into one meeting location, because in those days, sobriety in Fort Lauderdale circa 1994 was sketchy?

I went to meetings, and did what I had to do to stay sober. All the while, Todd was keeping me alive, against all the odds.

Had Todd not taken me in and taught me everything that I had to learn, again, I would surely have died like everyone else.

We all know this story. When Todd departed my life, I could not keep it together.

On December 9th, 2001, I walked back into the rooms in SOBE.

The first of two major decisions were made. The second would follow very soon after I got sober, with a government invitation to Canada and a Birthright that was mine to claim.

I was not going to make another terrible mistake.

Soberly and gingerly, at 4 months sober, I came to Canada for a visit. I stayed two weeks, went home, packed my few personal items and my clothes and got back on a plane and I did not look back.

The second major life decision was complete.

A very good thing was that during my first visit I had found a home group, a doctor, and a temporary place to live.

I like to say, at this point that, I met all the right people, at all the right moments, for all the right reasons. I had walked into the sobriety circle. And all the right people took me in and cared for me, in ways, that one does not see in today’s sober circles.

Things are just not the same. However hard I try to carry on that tradition myself.

I had rehab to attend. I had a counselor who kept me on the beam. And all I had to do, in that first year, was stay sober. I learned how to build my life around my meetings. To this day, almost seventeen years later, that particular infrastructure is still in play.

The first job I was given, was to set down chairs and tables, then learn how to make damned good coffee. Today, almost seventeen years later, I am STILL setting down chairs and tables and making damned good coffee.

Whatever you place before your sobriety, will eventually FAIL !!!

I have read the book countless times. I have worked steps over and over. I have been to thousands of meetings, and have had thousands of conversations about sobriety.

I know what I did not know, now, when I did not know what I did not know, then.

The proof is in the pudding. If only, (I know I should never utter those words, IF ONLY) someone had the insight into my sobriety, like Todd had insight into my life, things might have turned out very differently. But they did not.

Life had to take the course it took. Because at each point on that chaotic timeline, I had to learn lessons the hard way, because I really was not sober at all, in the first four years I had racked up in time.

I had the TIME. But I surely was not SOBER.

Sad indeed.

I don’t have fifty years of continuous sobriety. like some of the founders in the book, or like the handful of founders I know today. All I have is what I have worked for.

I took it easy. I followed directions. I did not take chances on making stupid mistakes.
I can safely say, that my stupid mistake generator has been offline for a long time now.

Every decision I made in sobriety, was well-tested and advised over, one issue at a time, one decision at a time.

Into years two and three, life threw me several curve balls, but I tackled them soberly.

And in the ensuing fourteen years, we have conquered every obstacle, soberly, together.

I’ve never had to go outside the SOBER circle ever, for anything. ANYTHING.

The Book is correct …

There is no more aloneness, with that awkward ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again.

Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.”