Christmas Day 2018

Merry Christmas friends, fellows, ladies and gentlemen. Greetings from Montreal, this very bright and sunny Christmas afternoon.

This watch was one of my gifts from hubby. A MVMT Watch. I had visited the site and had chosen 4 watches for hubby to choose from to get me this year, since I have been relying on my I Phone for time since I got it.

We woke this morning, and I called my friend Juan, to wake him up, and set our time for our Christmas dinner together.

Then we made some coffee and set out to open presents.

I got a MVMT Watch, a new deco lamp for my dining room, an electric carving knife (I had actually thought about finding one for myself) but hubby beat me to it.

Nothing too extravagant.

I got hubby some new Canada cozies, Rafa got him an adult fantasy coloring book with added art pens to color with. He got a new fry pan and a salad spinner (since we axed salad from our nightly menus recently).

We don’t go out and spend tons of money because we really don’t need a whole lot, since we have so much to be grateful for as it is. We have life, good friends, and family to celebrate the day with today.

That is enough for us.

We got lots of little doo dads from the family in Ottawa and Guelph this year. Gift cards that will be put to good us soon, and some beautiful serving dishes and candles.

Christmas is a simple affair. The only heavy lifting is the roasting of the turkey, which is a fine art here. Since we have a small galley kitchen, making an entire holiday dinner is a logistical dance of perfection.

Thank you for all my readers who come and read and for all of you who subscribe to my little story telling exercise.

Thank you and now on to 2019 already !!!



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 …

The Big Night Wrap Up

Out with the old and in with the new …

It was a great day. Whenever I get to spend time with my best friend, is a good day, since we don’t see a whole lot of each other because of school and work. Raf drove up mid-afternoon from Ottawa and we did some shopping. The weather was not cooperating, so we tried to stay indoors as much as possible.

Not to mention it gets dark at 4 p.m. in the afternoon.

We bought some gift for family, had some lunch. And came back here to hang out with hubby, to pass the time. I got the first copy of this years Christmas Card, and the most coveted item in sobriety … The hallowed “I Drank At Dr. Bob’s coffee mug.” Locally, there were only two in existence this far North, from Akron Ohio. I had one, but it got shattered on the Lionel Groulx Metro Platform some time ago. The only other Dr. Bob mug was sitting in Rafa’s cupboard, in Ottawa. He gifted me that mug on Friday.

It rained all night. We left home around 6 for the Plateau to park near the church. We walked down Laurier to Starbuck’s. A handful of friends were there already having coffee before the meeting. Talking and doing some step work. My other Bestie Egyptian Joe and his wife Miss. Pina were there, so we visited for a bit, catching up on holiday festivities.

We sat a nominal crowd, not a full house as usual, which was kind of strange. But people won’t come out when it rains, or when it snows. It was the annual Anniversary/Christmas soiree, with a guest speaker.

This was the second speaker to cross my path this week. The first being at St. Matthias on Thursday night. At the end of the meeting I got my 17 year chip from Rafa. And he said, and I quote …

“My best friend called me weird tonight. He elaborated, on the way home. He said, that I don’t shy away from digging for truth, when it is uncomfortable. That if something isn’t working I go find something else that does. That I don’t behave better than anyone else, and that I will ask people in sobriety to help me, even if they are less sober than I am. Because everyone has experience, who has read the book with “their” sponsors. I seek wisdom in quiet ways. I don’t lead with my ego or an attitude. I treat everybody with respect, and I am kind. I don’t follow cookie cutter – the same ole thing, day in and day out. I walk into change and I seek out new ideas when most people won’t. I’m not a “regular” sober person.”

The depth and wisdom I have at this stage of the game, came from everybody who is near me. Thank you to all you young people who keep me honest and give me something to do and someplace to be on a weekly basis. I would not be who I am without all of you.

Let’s get on with Christmas already.

However, a little snow on the ground would be a nice addition.

Seventeen

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.

Last Friday Night in 2017

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It is very important that we have someplace to be, work to do, and people to serve.

We have been repeating this message in every meeting for the last few weeks. Hoping that the message sticks, and that our young people “get it.”

I walked the tunnel tonight, because it is a straight shot down to the Orange Line, instead of walking across the neighborhood to a connection Green Line train. i arrived at the church along with a friend of mine, and together we cranked it out.

While we were waiting for folks to show up, a “couple” walked in the door. I did not recognize them, so I greeted them the same. And I asked the man, if I knew him, and he looked me dead in the eye and said … “YEAH, I WAS YOUR FIRST SPONSOR!”

Holy Shit Bat Man.

I haven’t seen my elder friend in more than fifteen years, since he had moved out of the city, got married to a sober woman, AND they had two kids along the way.

You never know who is going to walk in that door on any given night.

They now live Off Island out in Laval.

It seemed that he had a message to deliver to the GSR of our group, which happens to be me. Since I don’t have a car, and it is a hassle to get off island without one, I skip the monthly GSR meetings for the Northern Area.

He wants to hook me up.

We sat a full house. The flu is going around but through sniffles and sneezes and snarfles and quaffles, our young people all showed up, with stories about how they survived their first Christmases sober.

And once again, I repeated my advice, as I did the other night.

Our folks are set up for New years Eve. Tickets were sold to the Young People’s Conference party Sunday night. People all know where they can go.

A good news item was this … Our young people who did not have family in town, or they did not travel back to see them, all found themselves at members houses for Holiday Dinners. The community stepped up and made sure our kids were not alone.

That pleases me very much.

It’s a good sign, that our young people know what to do, and where to go. They have been steadfast in showing up to every meeting. And the rest of us are on top of them.

Tonight we read about self-pity. Which evolved into beating ourselves up, which then led to talk about our elder SINKING situation.

Before the meeting I was talking to a friend after we set up about last night’s speaker, and we chatted about the elders who go into self-pity mode, then they begin the crank over One, Not feeling good about themselves, Two, Feeling useless, and Three, thinking that disappearing from the rooms is better than engaging people, that THEY think, think little about them.

This is dangerous territory.Which usually leads back to a DRINK.

We spoke about old friends now long gone. When my old sponsor and I were chatting, we figured out that many of those old timers who were around when I first got sober, and that man became my first sponsor, many of them are long dead. There aren’t many old timers from that period of our lives still around.

It so happened, during that first five-year period of my sobriety, we had several HIGH population meetings. We’re talking meetings that would bring in over a hundred people for a regular meeting. There were several meetings like that.

Back in the day, here in Montreal, a good number of founder meetings, brought in hundreds of people. HUNDREDS.

A good six years into my sobriety, you’d be lucky to bring in 40 or 50 members at any given meeting. 60 if you were lucky.

At the five-year mark, all those high population meetings closed, for one reason or another. And almost overnight, every single person who used to go to those meetings, disappeared. It was like a bad magic trick.

People either died, moved off island, or just stopped going to meetings.

The island of Montreal is a big place, and there are nineteen boroughs on the island. Neighborhoods, put simply.

If you drew an invisible line around each neighborhood, you’d have a solid border all the way around. Now, depending in which neighborhood you lived in, dictated which meetings you went to on any given night.

There are over 500 meeting in Montreal in any given week.

So, you live in a particular neighborhood, and you attend particular meetings, in the designated neighborhood you reside in. Most people will not cross that invisible demarcation like drawn around any particular neighborhood.

That little rule of thumb still applies.

Whether you live North or South, East or West. Downtown or Uptown, people will not usually travel outside their comfort zone, except if a friend of your is taking a cake somewhere specific. Then people cross the invisible lines.

This piece of information is something I’ve studied for the whole of my sobriety, in trying to figure out where all those people went, when high population meetings folded.

The age of high population meetings are long gone.

But you know, if you go to meetings in New York City, THEY have meeting attendance in the HIGH hundreds. Like multiple hundreds. Numbers only we can imagine in our minds eyes.

They pack them in, because you can usually find a meeting on any given corner, connected to one of the myriad of churches in New York City. And there are MANY.

We are happy with our current numbers. They are constant. And Strong. And people show up, in the heat AND the cold.

I think they know that we have their backs, that as long as we are there, putting the meetings together, giving them simple jobs to do, they will continue to show up.

The Twenty minutes before and the Twenty minutes after rule still applies.

Coffee, conversation, fellowship after the meeting are also regular occurrences.

Sobriety is Never boring. If you aren’t connected, then WHY NOT ?

If you connect and invest in others, you will not spend so much time in your head, being maudlin, and miserable, beating yourself up, and thinking less of yourself. Because if we are constantly connected to others, in our daily lives, we aren’t so bothered by what’s between our ears.

And not being so bothered with what going on between our ears is better than listening to the hamster crank that wheel at 60 mph.

Suit up and Show up.

It will save your life.

Thursday: Presence

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It is BRUTALLY COLD outside. ( -23c / -32 w.c. ) At this hour. It is so cold that skin that is open to the cold will freeze in moments, if you aren’t protected. The weather people have been warning us for days about this cold snap that will last at least for another week at best.

The City has opened the Metro Stations as warming centers for the homeless. Shelters are stacking more beds, and the city shelter bus transport system is working over time to make sure that people are not sleeping on the streets and in the parks.

But, let’s be honest too. There are those who will NOT accept shelter assistance. Even if it is minus 30 outside. There are those who prefer to sleep on the streets. And again, this year, people will die from cold and exposure. The story is the same across Canada, in many cities, especially in the Prairie Provinces.

A question that was posed to me a very long time ago was this … Not that I came from a four season city, but I live in one now. If you went out to score drugs or alcohol in the middle of a blizzard, or go out in the COLD to SCORE, then you are able to hit a meeting, no matter how cold it is.

I learned when I moved here, what it was going to take to make it out when it is brutally cold outside. Every year I polish my cold weather gear. Since I changed up my wardrobe months ago, My sporty training gear that I do wear, has to be warm.

I spent a pretty penny purchasing Professional Hockey Thermal Gear this year. I went to a local hockey outfitter and I bought the exact same warming system that professional hockey players wear on the ice. Tonight a friend of mine asked me if I was cold, and I told her no, I am pretty well insulated.

I saw an old, lady friend from the Tuesday meeting. She had not seen me in many months, and she was floored when she learned how hard I had been training these past few months, and the way the KETO diet works, and how much weight I have dropped in the last calendar year.

I notice, on a nightly basis, those young people who are suiting up and showing up. They all have been schooled in where to sit ( UP FRONT) and not in the back. They sit AT the table at the other meetings, we call that (Front Row Sobriety). Our young people struggling through their first sober holiday season, have been present.

And WE are present for THEM.

I spoke to a friend tonight about paying it forward. He agreed. If we can circulate young people into service positions now, and hope they maintain a connection to others, in that service, they will stay sober in the long run.

One of our elder men spoke tonight. There are a handful of old sober men, (read: 30 Plus years sober) who suit up and show up and are engaged. A common complaint within our elder men and women community, is that at some point, old timers or elders, think that they have had enough, that they have served enough, and they back off. Some show up, others DON’T. And a handful of them DRINK AGAIN.

Darkness and Cold are harbingers of bad news. If you don’t suit up and show up and remain connected and PRESENT, for yourself as well as for others, You Are SUNK.

I’m happy to report that our young people are actively involved in meeting fellowship and service. We have worked hard to get them to stay and connect, from the very first, NOW, and not wait until they have a bit more time under their belts.

The sooner we get them connected and serving their fellows, the better off they will be for the future. Our Monday crowd is on the beam, so to speak. They are showing up, even when it is brutally cold outside.

New Years is coming up, here in Montreal. And the biggest bash of the city, the FINAL 375th Anniversary Montreal Celebration, takes place on New Years Eve, in the Old Port. OUTSIDE !!!

I was secretary tonight and in  my announcements, I told the crowd that if they wanted to brave the cold like a good alcoholic to ring in the New Year, that was a choice they could make.

But I also gave the crowd a couple of other choices too. The Montreal Young Peoples conference is hosting a New Years Dance and Party, like they do every year. And they bring them in too. Everybody shows up for this yearly event, which is INSIDE.

The third choice is out on the South Shore, that’s a drive from here, across highways that are all torn up and useless due to construction and demolition. But the South Shore groups are hosting a New Years Dance, with food, fun and a live band.

People have choices. I am sure that in every city where people are sober, You Too can find someplace Sober to be for the New Year.

I spoke to a friend the other day about New York City and the Ball Drop. Some people get to Time Square in the afternoon, and they get PENNED IN, for HOURS. In the BRUTAL COLD, with no bathrooms, no drinks, no food. NADA. Just to see that damned ball drop in Time Square.

I watch that ball drop from the comfort of my warm and toasty living room.

Can you imagine that hell on earth, all to say that you at least experienced New York on New Years Eve, I’d rather eat dirt …

Remember that PRESENCE is the greatest gift you can give your family and friends this holiday season, just by suiting up and showing up, You Too can change a life for the better. Because you are there for them, like we were there for you, when you came in.

Now we teach that if this is your first sober holiday, that let this year be a template for you for years to come, when next Christmas you will know what to do and where to do it, so that you keep a room open for those kids who might need it, because this year, you needed it and we were there for you.

Paying it Forward.

If you practice the sober plan of living and you build it into your life, you will always have someplace to BE, something to DO and people to give TO. Year after Year, for the rest of your life.

Sobriety is NEVER boring.

I hope for all of you this New Year.

Christmas Dinner – Traditions

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Growing up, over the holidays, in our home, those holidays were filled with lots of people, lots of food, good conversations, and always ended in heaps of physical abuse.

When we arrived at the final iteration of home, in my 6th grade year, my parents were introduced to social circles that they had never experienced before, as of yet.

Meeting new people always invited others to ones dinner table, over the holidays. Those dinners became the stuff of legends. My mother perfected her cooking while competing for the top spot ranking of who threw the best soiree…

Hands down, my Step mother had this competition IN THE BAG.

We grew up in the company of several local families who hobnobbed together at festive times of the year. My step mom, Nancy (not my real step mom/but close enough), she and Fred had The House, The Wealth, and the Alcohol, to win the grand prize of best party hosts.

My father, as hateful as he was, and as judgmental he was, and as HOMOPHOBIC as he was, relented when it came to dinner parties, even if those dinner parties had invited guests of the HOMOSEXUAL stripe. Elton, Garcia and Bob, were the three gay men I grew up with.

My step mom knew I was gay, before I openly admitted to anyone that I was gay. So did my parents. It was like, they all knew, and nobody told me. However I had, all along, been doing my gay homework, reading the assorted “Material” my father left out, in their bathroom, for public consumption.

I can’t, for the life of me, believe, that my father did not know, I was reading his smut. I mean, you can’t be that stupid to think that if you leave something in the bathroom to read, that someone isn’t going to pick it up and PERUSE …

Yet, after every dinner party, where gay men were on the field, that I could carry on conversations with, that I never carried on with my own father, made him IRATE. And when we arrived home each night, he would beat the shit out of me, hoping to BEAT THE GAY, out of me.

My step mom had the huge house, with the appropriate dinner table that sat an army of men and women, all at the same time. When we were kids, the kids would find themselves at the kids table in the breakfast nook, off the kitchen. Separated from the adults, until we grew up and had “Come of Age” and were invited to dine WITH the adults.

I was telling my friends at dinner tonight, parts of this story, minus the gore.

Nancy taught us social skills, she raised all of the kids/Nee teenagers, into quite well-behaved and respectable young adults. Alcohol was always available to us. When we crossed the room, into the main dining room, with the adults, we had arrived.

The other day, Nancy’s oldest daughter said that she missed mom. Nancy died a couple of years ago, so holidays are a bit bleak for her daughters. Me as well. Because if it was not for Nancy, we would have never had the life experiences we did, growing up.

I told Dawn that yes, mom is gone, and we miss her terribly. But, the silver lining to missing someone is that Mom sure knew how to throw an A-List dinner party with panache and style.

Juan and Nadia are two very important friends. Juan and I have been friends since the day he walked into Sunday Nighter’s more than three years ago. He is still sober.

When Juan and Nadia got engaged, Hubby and I began to include them in special events, or dinner “Double dates.” Bringing friends into your social circle is an important part of growing into well-rounded sober adults.

So it went. Juan and Nadia had gone to Toronto for Christmas with his parents, to visit his brothers and sisters, down south of us. The weather was NOT stellar, so the drive down and back was fraught with danger.

I had decided this year to change-up my guest list. We put off Christmas dinner until this evening, so that Juan and Nadia could have Christmas Dinner at our place tonight.

This dinner was special. Because my in-laws had gifted us a ton of money in HSBC gift cards for The Bay. We really did not have the proper tools to entertain, because we only have the one set of dishes from our wedding registry.

And in Mom’s honor, I wanted to do this the right way.

I shopped new earthen ware dishes, in yellow, hubby shopped cutlery and glasses. I cooked a turkey dinner to feed a small army. We spent all day yesterday cleaning and scrubbing the apartment to standards that aren’t usually seen.

With the stage set for success, today, we did the shopping that needed to be completed for dinner, and this afternoon we cooked.

Dinner was a grand affair. We learned a little bit more about each other. And as a married couple, our jobs, as friends, is to paint a picture of what married life is going to look like, in a general way. Socializing outside of a meeting can be fruitful and is also important. I don’t invite many people to my table.

Out of respect for my elders, my GAY elders, in the rooms, I always invited a particular friend over for holidays. But after my gay friends turned their backs on me over the last year, my jaded and bruised heart was resolute. No more charity for people who aren’t charitable towards me.

Our little spartan kitchen is not huge. And space comes at a premium. And making a grand holiday dinner work, takes a bit of work. I have a system that I have polished over the past sixteen years of holiday dinners. It all worked.

A good time was had by all.

I think I did Mom proud tonight and I know she was smiling down at me.